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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Kushner Nixed National Testing Strategy Because he Thought Covid-19 Would Only Ravage Dem States

A troubling Vanity Fair report says that at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner cobbled together a team which actually managed to come up with a decent national testing strategy for covid-19. Shockingly however, instead of the plan being rapidly deployed nationwide to curb the spread of the deadly virus, Kushner and some White House political operatives decided it would be politically advantageous for Trump, if they shelved the testing plan because the virus at that time was only ravaging blue/Democratic states like New York.

As unbelievable as this sounds, Kushner and the White House operatives believed it would be politically advantageous for Trump if they let people die in blue/Democratic states because they could turn around and blame Democratic Governors for incompetence in the run up to the November elections. The author of the Vanity Fair piece, Katherine Eban, told CNN’s Erin Burnett;“There was a shared feeling which turned out to be spectacularly wrong, that the virus was receding, it was going to be under control, and at the time it was just the blue states where the virus was surging. So the idea was, why go through all the effort to surge up a national plan? It wasn’t going to have political resonance, and if there was a political response that was needed, the blue state Governors could just be blamed..”

You’ll remember a recent Washington Post piece which said Trump, who had previously downplayed the seriousness of covid-19, even calling it a hoax at one point, changed his attitude towards the deadly virus only after senior White House officials presented him with data and maps showing that the virus is beginning to ravage “our people”–Trump’s base of rural White voters in Republican states. This means Trump’s bungled covid-19 response, which has led to more than 150,000 deaths so far and counting, is not only the result of a callous political decision by his son-in -law Kushner, but also the administration’s deep seated racism towards communities of color who Trump considers not “our people”, and who data has consistently shown to disproportionately bear the brunt of covid-19, both in infection rates and deaths. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Bottom line folks, as it currently stands, the coronavirus pandemic is arguably one of the biggest crisis ever to befall the United States, especially if you consider the fact that it has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the U.S. in less than six months, led to levels of unemployment most of us have never witnessed in our lifetimes, dealt a severe blow to the U.S. economy leaving economic giants such as the airline industry teetering on the brink of collapse, changed the manner and format of our beloved professional sports leagues, just to mention but a few. Reasonable people will agree that given the seriousness of covid-19, the American public is totally justified in expecting that the Trump administration, without regard to partisan politics or race, will spare no resources, and do everything in it’s power to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, the Vanity Fair piece saying Kushner shelved a covid-19 national testing strategy for political reasons, and the Washington Post piece saying Trump has not been serious about the pandemic because it’s not ravaging “our people”, prove beyond any reasonable doubt that partisan politics and racism are guiding Trump administration’s covid-19 response. All Americans of good conscience must loudly rebuke this immoral and callous disregard for people’s lives. We owe that to the families of the 150,000-plus people who have needlessly succumbed to covid-19.

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Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick Wants To Limit Mail Voting To Voters Over 65 Because Covid-19 Mostly Kills Them

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick(R)

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick appeared on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom show and parroted the falsehood currently being spread by President Trump that mail-in ballots are prone to massive voter fraud. Lt. Gov Patrick argued that because CDC data has established that it is people over 65 who are mostly losing their lives due to covid-19 , only Texas voters over 65 should be allowed to vote by mail. As shocking as this sounds, Lt Gov Patrick is literally telling Texas voters under 65 not to worry about contracting covid-19 at the polling places because even if they do, it will not kill them–it only kills people over 65. This is sadly, the kind of reasoning you get from a guy who’s second-in-command to the Texas Governorship.

Lt. Gov Patrick said when asked about voters’ valid fears of covid-19, “I want to go back to what the CDC said. 80% of people who have died from the virus [covid-19] are over 65. Anyone over 65 in America can vote safely from home. That’s already the law virtually everywhere–some states have all mail-in ballots on the west coast. So anyone 65 who is really vulnerable can vote from home. This idea that we want to give you a disability claim because ‘I’m afraid to go vote’ if you are under 65 is laughable. You have more chance of being in a serious auto accident if you are under 65 on the way to vote, than you do from catching the virus and dying from it by voting.”

One of the biggest flaws in Lt Gov Patrick’s reasoning (it’s actually totally flawed), is this idea that covid-19 affects one’s life only if it kills you. A leading pulmonologist Dr Andrew Martin, told Heathline, a medical journal that, “Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), seen often in severe COVID-19 illness, sometimes develop permanent lung damage or fibrosis as well.” So voters of color who are especially vulnerable to covid-19, have a valid reason to fear contracting covid-19 because even if it does not kill them, there’s a good chance it will leave them with long-term medical problems. It is not unreasonable, or “laughable” as Lt Gov Patrick put it, for them to opt for mail-in voting.

Lt Gov Patrick also pointed out in the same Fox News segment that some states in the west coast already conduct all their elections by mail. Notably, he didn’t point to any reports of widespread voter fraud in elections conducted by the said west coast states.

Another eye-catching moment in Lt Gov Patrick’s interview was his unprompted revelation that he knew of ways someone can easily steal votes to swing a close election. This was an eye-catching revelation because Texas voters to this day, have a lot of questions as to how Senator Ted Cruz narrowly defeated his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in the 2018 elections.

Lt. Gov Patrick told host Ed Henry, “We [Texas] have so many elections that are so close…….you can swing the balance easily Ed. I can give you ten scenarios but I won’t because I don’t want to give anyone ideas how you can easily steal thousands of votes…” Actually Lt Gov Patrick, Texans would like to find out what you know about easily stealing thousands of votes.

Bottom line folks as we’ve seen numerous times before, Republicans in Texas and elsewhere, will do everything in their power to get as few people as possible to vote. Republicans nationwide have come to terms with the fact they are increasingly becoming a regional party, totally out of step with mainstream American political thought. Lt Gov Patrick’s desperate attempts to stop voting by mail has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with voter suppression–ensuring as few Texans as possible vote in November. It is truly a sad way to “win” an election, but that’s exactly where we are with Trump’s GOP.

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Did Trump Fire State Dept IG Over Probe Into Pompeos?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with his wife Susan

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood, citing a House Democratic source, said President Trump may have fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick because Linick had opened an investigation into Secretary Mike Popmeo and his wife Susan, for improperly using a political appointee to perform personal favors for them. While this kind of allegation would have rocked any other modern U.S. administration, it perfectly fits the corrupt pattern that has been set by the Trump administration.

Westwood specifically said, “House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel who is a Democrat, said that he had learned that the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a Democratic source claimed to CNN that that involved allegations that Pompeo had used improperly, a political appointee to do personal favors for him and his wife.”

This troubling report comes just a few weeks after President Trump removed Inspector General Glenn Fine, who members of congress in a bipartisan fashion chose to oversee the disbursement of $2 trillion in covid-19 stimulus funds. It is difficult at this juncture for anyone not to conclude that the Trump administration is by far the most corrupt in modern U.S. history, especially if one takes into account the fact that despite intense public demand, Trump is yet to release his tax returns, something almost every other modern U.S. president has gladly done.

Bottom line folks as Yours Truly has repeatedly stated, the rampant corruption by the Trump administration has to be called out loudly. We cannot afford to accept this corruption simply because AG Barr’s DOJ will do nothing about it. The fact of the matter is that neither Trump nor Barr will be in office forever, meaning there will come a time, hopefully next year with a Biden administration, when Secretary Pompeo and his fellow corrupt Trump administration officials will be held to account.

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Is Barr’s DOJ Targeting Sen Burr To Thwart His TrumpRussia Collusion Findings?

Senator Richard Burr(R-NC) and U.S. Attorney General William Barr (right)

On Thursday’s edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (TRMS), host Maddow advanced a provocative theory as to the real reason Attorney General Barr’s Department of Justice (DOJ) may be going after senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr(R-NC) for possible covid-19 insider trading. According to Maddow, DOJ and by extension AG Barr’s pursuit of senator Burr may have very little to do with the serious covid-19 insider trading allegations, and more to do with the fact that senator Burr was getting ready to release the final installment of his committee’s findings on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

Host Rachel Maddow said, “As bad as the insider trading allegations are against Senator Burr, we also simultaneously have to worry whether the U.S. justice department under Attorney General William Barr might be targeting Senator Burr for reasons that are less about insider trading and more about convenience to the Trump administration. Sen Burr you will recall, has led the only functional bipartisan congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His committee’s findings have supported the intelligence community’s conclusions that for example, Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump’s candidacy. That is something President Trump continues to deny as recently as an interview that aired this morning. More to the point though, Senator Burr’s committee is set to release it’s final report on the Russia issue in the coming months and that last installment we are expecting is on ‘possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.’ That’s what Burr is working on right now, but he’s had to step down as chair of the committee.”

As Maddow correctly points out, given AG Barr’s demonstrable pattern of acting as president Trump’s personal defense attorney, it is not entirely implausible for one to conclude that the AG’s pursuit of senator Burr is also about defending Trump from a potentially damning senate intelligence committee finding that the Trump campaign did indeed collude with Russia in 2016. Maddow also correctly points out that an investigation into a sitting U.S. senator, especially one who chairs the powerful senate intelligence committee, must have been approved at the very highest levels of DOJ meaning AG Barr’s footprints are all over this.

Bottom line folks, AG Barr has so tarnished DOJ’s reputation that even when it undertakes a valid high profile criminal prosecution like senator Burr’s, the general perception among members of the public is that it must have something to do with helping president Trump politically. The very same thing happened during Jeffrey Epstein’s high profile criminal prosecution. I will say again what I have repeatedly stated before and that is, the only way DOJ can cure its tarnished reputation is for career officials within the DOJ to pressure AG Barr to step aside. Because it is highly unlikely that Trump will ever push aside his trusted defender, the onus is on career DOJ officers to begin demanding that AG Barr step down for the good of the department. Simply put, continued silence by career DOJ officials regarding AG Barr’s conduct at this juncture is tantamount to complicity.

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Trump Repeatedly Praised China’s Covid-19 Response

Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

If you’ve paid attention to President Trump’s covid-19 responses lately, then you’ve definitely noticed a common theme emerging and that is, him blaming everything related to coronavirus on China. This appears to be the new tactic adopted by Trump, his Republicans in Washington and their media surrogates. Trump’s chief media surrogate and in many ways his unofficial adviser Laura Ingraham, is one of the key proponents of this “blame it on China” strategy.

The problem with this “blame it on China” strategy is that Trump has previously gone on the record several times praising China’s response to covid-19.

Trump for example said on February 10 2020, “I spoke with President Xi and they[China] are working very very hard and I think it’s going to all work out fine.”

On February 17 2020 Trump said, “I spoke with President Xi of China and he’s working very hard on this. It’s a tremendous problem[covid-19] but they are very capable and they’ll get to it.”

One day after that on February 18 2020 Trump said, “I think he is doing it very professionally. I know this, President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country, and he is doing a very good job with a very tough situation.”

No reasonable person presented with President Trump’s previous pronouncements about China’s response to covid-19 can take seriously the severe criticism and blame he now heaps at the nation and its leader Xi. Reasonable people will conclude that Trump’s new found criticism of China and its leader regarding covid-19 is nothing but a desperate effort to scapegoat the foreign nation for his own administration’s bungled response to the pandemic.

There’s also this Jan 24 2020 tweet from Trump which further proves that the “blame it on China” strategy has no legs to stand on.

Bottom line folks, the record is very clear that the Trump administration was fairly warned about the severe threat of covid-19 and instead of heeding the dire warnings, Trump and key members of his administration, with the help of their surrogates on Fox News, chose to downplay the threat . 2020 is an election year which means covid-19 response will be on the ballot. It is very important that Team Biden and indeed Democrats nationally make sure that the voting public knows the real covid-19 response story. Simply put, Democrats must reiterate to the voting public that China is not the reason so many Americans needlessly died of covid-19.

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Lara Trump’s Shocking Hypocrisy Over Tara Reade

Lara Lea Trump

In case you missed it, Trump’s daughter in law Lara, who’s also part of his 2020 campaign, appeared on Fox News’ Judge Jeanine show where she made the highly hypocritical assertion that for Joe Biden to prove his innocence regarding the sexual assault allegations by Tara Reade, he must make all relevant documents available for the public’s perusal. Lara’s assertion is highly hypocritical because her father in law is the poster child for hiding documents from the public, including documents related to sexual assault allegations.

Lara Trump told Judge Jeanine, “I would think if you are being accused of something and you were totally innocent, you would go to any length possible Judge, to try and clear your name including allowing people to open up files like that and make sure you turned over every single leaf to prove your innocence and make sure that people understood that these charges were false and that you did nothing wrong but it’s kind of curious that Joe Biden isn’t allowing that to happen…….it’s not a good defense for him and you know what, going forward, he has a lot of questions to answer. There’s a long time between now and November 3rd election day….”

It is the height of hypocrisy for Lara Trump to make such a demand of Biden when her own father in law has been accused of sexual assault by almost 20 women and has yet to make any document available to the public proving his innocence. Trump for example has been accused of making financial settlements to victims of his sexual abuse. Given Lara Trump’s rationale, her father in law could easily disprove these claims by providing financial records showing that he has never made any such payments/settlements. Why hasn’t he?

Bottom line folks, Democrats have to proceed very carefully with this bogus Tara Reade story which at every turn appears more and more like a Trump campaign operation. The Biden campaign should make every effort to respond fully to Tara Reade’s allegations while at the same time demanding that the Trump campaign do the same regarding the almost 20 sexual assault victims that have accused Trump. Simply put, the Biden campaign should resist any attempt at playing nice with Team Trump. If Biden is forced to answer sexual assault allegations, then the Biden campaign must force the mainstream media to demand answers from Trump too.

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