Russia Using Top GOP Senators For 2020 Election Meddling

Senator Ron Johnson(R-WI) and Senator Chuck Grassley(R-IA)

A bombshell segment on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explored the fact that Russia (read Putin), is planning to meddle in the upcoming November 2020 elections in much the same way as it did in 2016–via a misinformation campaign. The only difference in the Russian misinformation campaign in 2020 however is that this time, instead of relying heavily on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Putin is using two top GOP Senators namely Ron Johnson (WI) and Chuck Grassley (IA), to facilitate the misinformation campaign.

You’ll remember reports by right wing media outlets which suggested that former vice president Joe Biden’s son used his father’s influence to profit from corrupt deals in Ukraine. President Trump seriously played up this supposed Biden-Ukraine scandal in the hopes of knee-capping Biden’s 2020 presidential run, a scheme that didn’t work. As it became evident that Biden was poised to become the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, Senator Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley who heads the Senate Finance Committee, launched investigations into the Biden-Ukraine affair, investigations which many suspected were merely extensions of President Trump’s efforts to undermine Biden’s presidential campaign.

This week U.S. intelligence agencies, in addition to warning us of Russia’s attempt to meddle in our 2020 elections, specifically singled out Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian, as the point man in the misinformation campaign. The shocking part, according to Maddow, is that the same Andriy Derkach, is the one feeding Senators Johnson and Grassley with misinformation about the Bidens for their supposed Senate investigations. In essence, Putin is running his misinformation campaign through two top GOP Senators.

Maddow specifically said, “He [Andriy Derkach] is spreading these claims by providing those claims to…the Republican U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee. The same pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian named in today’s intelligence report also indicates to us that he is spreading these claims by providing them to..the Republican senior U.S. Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, who runs the Finance Committee in the U.S. Senate. This is remarkable, the guy who is named by U.S. intelligence in the specific public warning today about what Russia is doing to interfere in the 2020 elections to try to reelect Trump, the way he’s been doing his work for the Russian government to mess with our election, is by feeding material to a purported investigation of Joe Biden by Senator Ron Johnson on the Homeland Security Committee and Senator Chuck Grassley on the Finance Committee in the Senate.”

Also crucially important per Maddow, is the fact that these two GOP Senators are scheduled to release the findings of their “investigations” into the Bidens, sometime in mid-September, right before the November elections. This leaves absolutely no doubt that Senators Johnson and Grassley are knowingly using their powerful U.S. Senate positions to facilitate a Russian misinformation campaign aimed at affecting the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. This is conduct quite unbecoming of U.S. Senators, and should result in their immediate resignation.

Bottom line folks, America is still coming to terms with the effects of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Congress has expended a lot of time and energy trying to figure out a way of preventing any future foreign meddling in our elections. Where, as here, top U.S. Senators are the ones responsible for facilitating such foreign meddling in our elections, the only solution is for them to resign from the U.S. Senate. Simply put, Americans have a right to free and fair elections, and any U.S. Senator working to deny them of such a right, does not belong in the U.S. Senate.

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Handy List Of Iowa GOP State Senators Mad About Record Voter Participation Due To Mail-In Voting

Iowa witnessed record voter participation in its June 3rd primary elections as a result of a provision that allowed the secretary of state to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters due to the covid-19 pandemic. The noble goal of this provision was to save Iowa voters from going into crowded polling centers which would have increased their chances of contracting the virus. Given the ease and convenience of voting by mail, Iowans voted in record numbers, much to the delight of democracy lovers. Well, it turns out republicans were not happy with the record voter participation. They quickly moved in the Iowa state legislature to prevent universal voting by mail in the November elections–a clear cut effort at voter suppression.

On 6/10/2020 a bill that prohibits Iowa’s secretary of state from mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters for the November general elections passed the Iowa state senate by a vote of 30-19. Needless to say, all the 30 state senators who voted for this voter suppression bill were republicans. Because this is one of the most brazen acts of official voter suppression to date, we have no choice but to name and shame these 30 GOP state senators using our famous “handy list”.

Here’s a handy list of the 30 shameful Iowa GOP state senators who are mad that mail-in voting allowed record voter participation in the June primary elections, and are on a mission to prevent that from happening again this November.

Bottom line folks, there’s no longer any doubt that the unpopular policies of the republican party are increasingly turning it into a marginal/regional party. Republican party leaders have long realized that their only chance of clinging to power is to make sure as few people as possible vote, especially minorities who traditionally vote against them. Where, as here, we witness such a brazen attempt at voter suppression by elected officials, we have no otherwise but to loudly call them out.

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GA Governor’s Former Campaign Manager Is A Lobbyist For Voting Machine Company Responsible For GA Voting Debacle

Tuesday night’s edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show(TRMS) featured a segment about the numerous problems voters experienced when trying to cast their ballots in Georgia’s primary elections. As usual, the voting problems were concentrated in democratic party strongholds–urban areas where minorities live. The Maddow segment however threw in an interesting tidbit into the story and that is, the lobbyist for the voting machine company(Dominion) at the center of Georgia’s primary voting debacle is none other than the former campaign manager for Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp. The full Maddow segment is available here but the relevant clip is below.

Maddow specifically said, “An electronic voting machine company[Dominion Voting Systems] hired [Governor] Brian Kemp’s former campaign manager to be it’s lobbyist, and then the Brian Kemp administration in Georgia, hired that company to replace all of the voting machines in every city, town and county in Georgia, all in record time–literally record time. The state had this board of evaluators that was looking at the various companies who were trying to get that voting machine contract. This board of evaluators looked at the different bids from the different companies and what they were offering. They did not pick the company that Georgia ultimately went with. They picked a different company altogether. But no, the state administration instead decided they would go with the company that Brian Kemp’s campaign manager was the lobbyist for. The company had never had a job this big ever, in fact there has never been a bigger job in U.S. election history. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution pointed out last November, what Georgia was trying to roll out here, was the largest and fastest roll out of elections equipment in U.S. history.”

Maddow’s segment raises the prospect that the Tuesday primary election debacle we witnessed in Georgia may not have been the result of some random or unforeseeable technical difficulties but rather, a well orchestrated plan of voter suppression by Georgia Republicans. Governor Brian Kemp is no stranger to allegations of voter suppression. As a matter of fact Kemp has been a constant target of election integrity/security advocates like Jennifer Cohn for years.

This troubling revelation that Kemp’s former campaign manager is the lobbyist for the voting machine company at the center of Georgia’s voting debacle should be cause for a complete and thorough voter suppression investigation. We simply cannot afford to wait until the November general elections to be “surprised” by the same voting machine problems.

Bottom line folks, there’s no longer any doubt that the unpopular policies of the republican party are increasingly turning it into a marginal/regional party. Republican party leaders have long realized that their only chance of clinging on to power is to make sure as few people as possible vote, especially minorities who traditionally vote against them. What we witnessed in Georgia’s primary elections was just the latest example of GOP voter suppression but it definitely will not be the last. If we are going to have free and fair election this Fall, it is imperative that the mainstream media and members of congress take voter suppression allegations like the ones in Georgia very seriously. Simply put, Governor Kemp must not be allowed to orchestrate yet another voting “debacle” in November for GOP’s benefit.

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Russia Was In A Position To Delete Or Change Voter Data

CBS Face The Nation‘s host Margaret Brennan made a bombshell revelation today when reading from a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report she said, “Russia likely targeted election infrastructure in all 50 states. The first known breach was in July 2016 in Illinois where Russian cyber actors scanned state election systems. They were in a position to delete or change voter data. The report does say some progress has been made but the threat is imperfectly understood…”

This mirrors the recent troubling revelation made by Rep Jackie Speier (D-CA) who said Russia likely tampered with our voting machines in 2016 in ways we may never know.

The idea that Russia tampered with our voting machines in 2016 is still largely treated by the mainstream media as some wild conspiracy theory yet time and again we get evidence showing that it is anything but a conspiracy–the latest being this bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report. The question as to what exactly Russia did in 2016 is one House Democrats and the mainstream media should still be digging into even though the Mueller investigation is now over

Bottom line, if we are going to successfully defend ourselves against another foreign attack on our voting infrastructure in 2020, we need to fully understand what Russia did in 2016 so that we know where our vulnerabilities lie. As it currently stands, the stance taken by House Democrats and the mainstream media is that we need to move on now that Mueller probe is over. Yours Truly strongly disagrees and believes that instead of “moving on”, now is the time we need hunker down and dig deeper into the Mueller findings for clues at to what exactly Russia did in 2016 and ways to stop them in 2020. This issue has to be front and center of mainstream media coverage as we head into 2020.

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McConnell Blocking Floor Debate On Election Security Bill

In case you missed it, Dem Senator Mark Warner(VA) said on CBS Face The Nation that even after all the press coverage about Russia meddling in our elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is yet to schedule a floor debate on an election security bill. As Senator Warner correctly pointed out, this is the “height of irresponsibility.”

Sen Warner told host Margaret Brennan, “I would argue there are three things we can do this week when we come back. First we have to go ahead and pass bipartisan election security legislation to make sure for example that there is a paper ballot trail after every vote.” Host Margaret Brennan then interjected, “There’s been no floor time allowed” to which Sen Warner responded, “There’s been no floor time allowed.” It is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who decides which bills come to the Senate floor for debate.

Ever since the 2016 elections, this has been one of those troubling but recurring themes–the reluctance by both President Trump and Congressional Republicans to effectively address the well documented efforts by Russia to interfere in our elections. It is by far one of the most perplexing topics of modern American politics. Nobody in their right mind could ever have envisioned that we would come to a point where sitting members of Congress would have to be dragged/forced to act to prevent an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power. Sadly, this is exactly where we find ourselves today and Mitch McConnell’s inaction on a much needed election security legislation serves as exhibit A.

Bottom line, Mitch McConnell is up for reelection in 2020 and both Congressional Democrats and the mainstream media have a duty to confront him about his reluctance to have a floor debate on a desperately needed election security bill. Is Mitch McConnell/GOP counting on help from Russia in the 2020 elections? People should no longer shy away from confronting McConnell and other Congressional Republicans with these types of questions. Yours Truly has been doing just that for some time now.

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Austrian Video Reignites TrumpRussia Questions

In case you missed it, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow recently veered into a story about Austrian politics that even by her own admission, appeared awkwardly off topic. However a few minutes into the Austria segment, it quickly became apparent as to how the story was 100% relevant to the current situation in American politics especially as it relates to the ongoing TrumpRussia controversy.

Maddow featured a bombshell video that is reportedly making rounds in Europe showing details of how the Kremlin helped install an ex-Nazi political party to power in Austria. The video which is apparently seven hours long, shows a meeting between an Austrian politician and a Russian woman, the niece of a Russian Oligarch, scheming on how the Kremlin will install the politician’s party(Freedom Party) to power in return for lucrative government construction/infrastructure contracts. In other words, the Russians help the Austrian get elected and once he is in office, he swings Austrian government contracts to companies run by the Russian Oligarch. The full Maddow segment is available here but relevant clip is below.

Maddow summed up the bombshell video thus; “The blonde lady who you see there whose face is pixellated, she is posing in this interaction as the niece of a Russian Oligarch who would like to support the Freedom Party. That’s who these Freedom Party guys think she is. She is visiting from Russia with a whole bunch of money to spend to help them out. In this video which stretches for seven hours, the Vice Chancellor of Austria, the guy in the front of the screen here, head of the Freedom Party….a group founded by ex-Nazis, who they[Russians] elevated to the number two person in that government, he chats with this young woman about what he wants from her uncle, what he wants from a Kremlin-connected Russian Oligarch to support his party and to support his political aspirations. He tells this woman that this Russian Oligarch should use Russian money to take control of the biggest tabloid newspaper in Austria, turn that tabloid into a mouthpiece for the Freedom Party, help them get elected. Once they get control of the government, the Russian Oligarch should then form a construction company and then this guy who would then be running the government would make sure that all the road building contracts, all the big infrastructure contracts in Austria would then go to the new construction company secretly set up for that purpose and run by the Russian Oligarch who spent all that money to get the ex-Nazi party in charge. So you pay for us to get in power, we will pay you. You infiltrate our country and our press on behalf of Russia. You install a Kremlin-friendly far right political party in Austria and once we are in there we will pay you back in cash with public contracts. Win win win!”

Millions of Americans followed closely Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into TrumpRussia. Any one of them presented with the details of this video of the Kremlin’s operation in Austria would immediately be struck by the shocking similarities this video has to the Russian influence in our 2016 elections. The first image that comes to mind when watching this Austrian video is the infamous Trump Tower meeting where Don Jr and other senior members of the Trump campaign met with now confessed Russian agent Maria Butina. Was a similar deal struck–help us get elected and we will pay you back with government contracts?

Fox News and The National Enquirer also come to mind. The Austrian politician is seen begging the Russians to buy an Austrian tabloid newspaper and turn it into his political party’s mouthpiece to help him get elected. Was Fox News, The National Enquirer, or both of them influenced by Russia to help Trump get elected in 2016? Are they still being influenced by Russia for Trump’s benefit as we head into 2020?

The proposed $200 million investment in Senator Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky by a formerly sanctioned Oligarch who was a key TrumpRussia suspect also comes to mind. Is Oligarch Deripaska getting “paid” by Mitch McConnell for helping Republicans win the White House in 2016? Remember Sen Mitch McConnell was one of the Senators who voted down efforts to keep sanctions on Derpaska’s businesses. If the U.S. Senate had left the sanctions intact, Deripaska’s company Rusal would not have been able to invest $200 million in Kentucky.

Maddow also points out the troubling role of Steve Bannon in Russia’s global quest for political dominance. Bannon who was part of the Trump campaign and helped craft Trump’s far right nativist, even xenophobic message, is apparently now based in Europe helping nativist political parties like the one featured in this Austrian video, gain political power in Europe. There is no question that Putin’s Russia is behind Bannon’s efforts in Europe, just like they were during our 2016 elections.

Bottom line folks, this Austrian video is yet another stark reminder that despite Trump’s constant dismissal of the TrumpRussia conspiracy as a hoax, the Russian global political operation is alive and well. Yours Truly sincerely hopes that this seven hour video depicting Russian election meddling in Austria will be carefully perused by the relevant U.S. law enforcement agencies as a blueprint of how Putin’s global election meddling scheme works. Importantly, U.S. law enforcement agencies should look at the implications of this Austrian story to our current political climate. Americans for example would like to know why a formerly sanction Russian Oligarch with deep ties to the Kremlin is all of a sudden making a significant investment in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Isn’t this exactly the kind of pay-for-play scheme we see in the Austrian story? This video should also be cause for further inquiry into the infamous Trump Tower meeting featuring Natalya Veselnitskaya. Lastly but not least, there should be more light shed on the troubling actions of Republican Party operative Steve Bannon who is seemingly helping Russia install nativist, xenophobic governments in Europe. Does that help or hurt the U.S.?

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Harris-Warren The Emergent Dem Power Ticket

The results of the popular #Dem2020Poll not only show a meteoric rise for Senator Elizabeth Warren but also that grassroots Democrats are very open to an all-female Harris-Warren/Warren-Harris ticket in 2020.

Yours Truly began running the popular #Dem2020Poll to gauge who grassroots Democrats wanted to win the 2020 Dem nomination for president way before the November 2018 midterm elections. As expected, there have been a lot of twists and turns as to who grassroots Democrats want to go up against Trump in 2020. In the beginning it was very clear that grassroots Democrats wanted Kamala Harris at the top of the Dem ticket with Joe Kennedy III as her running mate. This later changed to Joe Biden being the favorite, with Kamala Harris as his running mate. After the November 2018 elections, Beto O’Rourke became the favorite, with grassroots Democrats favoring a Beto/Harris or Harris/Beto ticket. Notice that whatever Dem ticket is hot at any given time, Kamala Harris is somehow always in the mix–something Yours Truly predicted from the very beginning—TeamHarris better pay Yours Truly for this expert punditry folks.

Yours Truly memorialized all these #Dem2020Poll twists and turns in this November 2018 post. Well it turns out that we have yet another twist—the Elizabeth Warren twist. In previous #Dem2020Polls, Elizabeth Warren did not perform well and was consistently unable to secure more than 10% of the total votes cast. Recently however, it’s a whole new story. Elizabeth Warren appears to have found her stride and is at this juncture one of the hottest names in the #Dem2020Poll. Yours Truly will leave it to the paid pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows to figure out the real reason behind Elizabeth Warren’s meteoric rise in the polls. Notably however, there appears to be a great appetite for an all-female Harris-Warren/Warren-Harris ticket so much so that they are crushing a Biden-Buttigieg ticket. Yours Truly didn’t see this coming.

Naturally, valid questions have been raised about the viability of an all-female Dem ticket going up against chauvinist Trump in rural and middle America, the tweet below serving as Exhibit A. Again Yours Truly will let the paid pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows wrestle with the viability of an all-female Dem ticket in 2020.

Bottom line, Warren’s 2020 stock is clearly on the rise. How higher up she goes remains to be seen. There’s still a lot of time from now until the Iowa caucuses and many other twists and turns are bound to happen before then. All Yours Truly can leave you with at this juncture is the famous Trumpian phrase, “We’ll see what happens.”

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Lindsey Graham’s Potential Dem Challenger

A South Carolina Democrat, Jaime Harrison, has launched an exploratory committee to run for the South Carolina U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Lindsey Graham. As you know, Lindsey Graham is one of the 22 Republican Senators up for reelection in 2020.

It cannot be left unsaid that Lindsey Graham remains very popular in South Carolina and is heavily favored by pollsters to win reelection in 2020. That however was true for Senator Ted Cruz when Beto O’Rourke declared his candidacy against him yet as we now know the Cruz-Beto race went down to the wire.

Bottom line, the lesson for Democrats from the Cruz-Beto contest is never to cede any ground to Republicans based on initial unfavorable polls. If and when Jaime Harrison officially declares his candidacy(assuming no other Dem declares) the DNC must fully throw it’s weight behind his candidacy and help him fight vigorously against incumbent Lindsey Graham. Simply put there’s great enthusiasm among grassroots Democrats to knock off Trump’s Senate enablers Susan Collins, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn in 2020.

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No Election Interference Discussion in Trump-Putin Call

There was a shocking revelation yesterday that in a Trump-Putin phone call that lasted more than an hour, President Trump never brought up the troubling issue of Russian election meddling, a key finding in the Mueller report. Specifically, the Mueller Report concluded that Russia in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” interfered with the 2016 elections. One of the most important roles of a U.S. President is that of Commander in Chief who is sworn to protect the country from all enemies, local and foreign. Given the recent troubling findings of the Mueller Report vis-a-vis Russia, Americans have a reasonable expectation that as Commander in Chief, Trump would adopt a tough stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shockingly however, at a press briefing to discuss his phone call with President Putin, Trump expressed amusement at Putin’s mocking of the Mueller Report which by all reasonable standards is very shocking behavior by a sitting U.S. President.

President Trump was asked a point blank question, “Did you ask him [Putin] not to meddle in the next election?” to which he responded, “We didn’t discuss that.”

The Russian threat is well recognized both from our law enforcement officials and even members of Trump’s own Republican party. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 identified Russia as America’s greatest geopolitical foe. He repeated this assertion shortly after the release of the Mueller Report. A sitting U.S. President to totally ignoring the very real threat Russia poses to our democracy therefore constitutes a serious dereliction of his duties as Commander in Chief and should engender bipartisan outrage.

There are already enough reasons to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The fact that Trump is now seemingly leaving us open to a Russian cyber attack, one that could disrupt our electoral process, should be the straw that broke the camel’s back. You don’t have to take Yours Truly’s word for it. Senator Elizabeth Warren appears to share the same sentiment

Bottom line, Democrats need to stand up and carry out their constitutional duty as to impeachment which incidentally, was a major reason for their election victory in 2018. If the current Democratic House leadership is not willing to follow through with the people’s demands then tough decisions have to be made, up to and including a change in the Democratic House leadership. People have to know exactly what Russia did in 2016 and at this point it appears only impeachment hearings could shed light on that. Simply put, Mueller failed America by being afraid to make a decision as to Trump’s obstruction of justice. The Democratic party leadership must not be allowed to fail Americans again by being afraid to carry out their constitutional duties as to impeachment of an unfit president, especially in a dire case like this where the unfit President also exhibits a callous disregard for a serious national security issue.

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DHS Gutting Election Meddling Task Force

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

A bombshell Daily Beast piece says despite the threat of a Russian/foreign attack on the upcoming 2020 Elections, DHS is gutting two task forces specifically created to counter such attacks. According to the Daily Beast piece, the two DHS task forces being downgraded are part of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) whose job is to guard the nation against foreign cyber attacks including those targeting our election infrastructure.

This is of course very serious news given the ongoing TrumpRussia investigation but predictably, it has also escaped the attention of the corporate mainstream media which instead devotes much of its attention and resources to Trump/GOP-inspired “scandals” implicating Democrats, the latest being Senator Warren’s ancestry and the mess in Virginia state government.

The Daily Beast reports that the two task forces meant to guard our elections against foreign meddling, especially by Russia, have seen drastic staff reduction since the 2018 midterm elections and there are no plans to ramp them back up to full force even as we face similar threats in 2020.

One of the excuses being put forward by DHS, an unavailing one, is that the task forces were meant to be temporary in nature and therefore as bad as the staff reductions look given the ongoing Russian threat, there is nothing abnormal or sinister about them. In other words the staff reductions were bound to happen one way or another because the task forces were not set up to be permanent.

Bottom line House Democrats and indeed the mainstream media must put pressure on DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to explain why two DHS task forces specifically charged with election security are being downgraded. Simply put, after the horrendous family separation policy and now this, Secretary Nielsen’s tenure at DHS is becoming increasingly hard to justify from both a professional and moral standpoint.

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