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Updated: 17 hours 55 min ago

Review now finished of evidence seized in Michael Cohen raid

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 23:19

A Special Master who waded through evidence seized in an April 9 raid on the ex-personal lawyer of President Donald Trump said Thursday that she had finished reviewing documents and other materials that had been the subject of attorney-client privilege claims, keeping some items private, but delivering the vast majority to federal prosecutors for their review.

In a document submitted to a federal judge on Thursday, retired federal judge Barbara Jones said simply, “the Special Master has concluded her review.”

Indicating that all evidence legally available to prosecutors has been handed over, she said one final release of 2,558 items ‘designated “not privileged” and/or “not highly personal” has been made to the Government,’ Jones wrote.

New: The special master in SDNY's Michael Cohen investigation has filed her sixth and final update of the material seized in the April FBI searches.

The filing says the special master has now concluded her review.

— erica orden (@eorden) August 9, 2018

With most of that evidence from the Cohen raid – which was denounced by the President back in April – now in the hands of federal prosecutors, the question is what will federal prosecutors do with that information – and will it lead to any charges being brought against Cohen, or possibly lead to any investigative actions involving President Trump.

While no details have officially been released by either the Special Master or the court about the evidence, at least one item is a tape recording that Cohen made of a conversation he had with the President just before the 2016 election, concerning payments to a woman who claimed she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

“Just as Richard Nixon learned, tapes don’t lie,” Cohen’s new lawyer Lanny Davis said several weeks ago, as the Cohen and Trump teams battled over whether the tape showed Mr. Trump had said to pay the woman in cash.

Truth is once again on @MichaelCohen212 side. @POTUS @realDonaldTrump used the word cash, despite @RudyGiuliani falsely accusing Mr. Cohen. Just as Richard Nixon learned, tapes don’t lie!

— Lanny Davis (@LannyDavis) July 25, 2018

Reports have indicated that Cohen could be under investigation for campaign finance law violations involving such payments, and that he also may be under investigation for tax fraud – but no charges have been made against Cohen, who for years operated as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and ‘fixer.’

Cohen has been quiet in recent weeks, after giving interviews and making statements which made clear his loyalty was to his family and country – not to President Trump.

Mr. Trump has not tweeted about Cohen since early May, when the President tried to explain away Cohen’s legal work dealing with women who said they had an affair, saying there was no link to the 2016 elections.

“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” the President tweeted on May 3.

In Trump push for Space Force, Congress not yet convinced

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 17:05

As Vice President Mike Pence told a Pentagon audience on Thursday that a new branch of the military known as the “Space Force” should be set up by 2020, the Congress has yet to approve the creation of such a plan, shrugging off repeated calls by President Donald Trump for a new part of the armed forces.

“Establishing a Space Force is an idea whose time has come,” the Vice President said in a speech.

“What was once peaceful and uncontested, is now crowded and adversarial,” the Vice President added, making the case for a sixth branch of the military to deal solely with threats in space.

“We must have American dominance in space,” Pence declared.

.@VP Pence: "The time has come to establish the United States Space Force." pic.twitter.com/MUsZD1NcEA

— CSPAN (@cspan) August 9, 2018

But on Monday, when President Donald Trump signs a major defense policy bill into law, during a trip to Fort Drum in New York, that piece of legislation will not contain any language to create a space force, as lawmakers remain cool to the idea.

The plan does require a provision for the Defense Secretary to develop a ‘warfighting policy’ in space by March of 2019, noting that U.S. “national security satellites face growing
threats from potential adversary attacks, such as anti-satellite weapons or jamming.”

The initial estimate out of the White House is that setting up a new “Space Force” would cost $8 billion over five years, as the Vice President compared it to previous military expansion in the history of the United States.

“Just as in the past when we established an Air Force, the idea of establishing a Space Force is an idea whose time has come,” the Vice President added.

Space Force all the way!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2018

Something Pence hasn’t mentioned: Setting up a Space Force is going to be a massive bureaucratic undertaking. Oh, and it’s going to cost money.

— Connor O'Brien (@connorobrienNH) August 9, 2018

“Before you spending more money unnecessarily on a military presence in space, why not work on solving problems here on Earth,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), as Democrats denounced the idea.

“What a joke,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).

“Stop wasting money on useless walls and intergalactic armies,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

“Maybe we should rename Medicaid Expansion “Space Force” and we could save lives,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Space Force is a silly but dangerous idea.”

Space Force is a silly but dangerous idea. Medicaid expansion is not silly or dangerous. We should do the second one. Vote!

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 9, 2018

What will happen now is a report from the Pentagon, in a bid to set out a multi-year process to create the Space Force – but Congressional approval will be needed – and that’s still a long shot on Capitol Hill.

Democrats press ‘culture of corruption’ argument against GOP, Trump

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 00:33

As a Republican Congressman from New York was indicted Wednesday on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI, Democrats in Congress turned up the volume on a throwback political argument which helped them win control of the Congress in 2006, again pressing the case that voters should toss Republicans out of office, arguing the ‘swamp’ is filled by GOP lawmakers and Republican officials who are corrupt.

“The American people deserve better than the GOP’s corruption, cronyism, and incompetence,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, as securities fraud and insider trading charges were unveiled on Wednesday against Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY).

“The charges against Congressman Collins show the rampant culture of corruption and self-enrichment among Republicans in Washington today,” Pelosi added in a statement.

Much as President Donald Trump used the phrase “Drain the Swamp” over the past few years at his rallies, Democrats say it doesn’t take much to see Republican wrongdoing in that ‘swamp.’

“I think it’s obviously very, very disappointing,” Democratic Rep. David Cicilline says of Rep. Collins' indictment. “I think it feeds into the narrative, sadly, that we’re seeing so much from this administration and Republicans in Congress, this culture of corruption" pic.twitter.com/al2cVxXERm

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 8, 2018

“Trump, Collins, Pruitt, Price, Flynn, Manafort, Gates, Kushner,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI). “It’s not a coincidence, it’s a pattern of people putting themselves first and our country second.”

“This is what corruption looks like,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) after the Collins indictment.

As for Collins, he vigorously denied any wrongdoing in a statement hours after pleading not guilty to federal charges.

“The charges that have been levied against me are meritless,” Collins said of the 22 page complaint brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which was chock full of evidence that showed Collins tipping off his son, who then told his girlfriend and her family, as they all sold stock in an Australian biotech firm before news of a failed drug trial sent the stock plummeting in value.

“I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name,” said Collins, who said he would remain on the ballot for November, and would not give up his bid for re-election in western New York.

"The charges that have been levied against me are meritless and I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name," Republican Rep. Chris Collins says after being charged with insider trading https://t.co/2hyaHiYb70 pic.twitter.com/KSpdT99NgM

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 9, 2018

Even before the indictment of Rep. Collins, Democrats felt that they had no shortage of stories and targets to highlight on the campaign trail when it comes to questions of ethics, without even bringing up the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Some of the examples they raise:

+ The multiple investigations of now former EPA chief Scott Pruitt.
+ A number of ongoing investigations of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
+ Financial questions about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
+ Excessive use of military planes for travel by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
+ Questions about President Trump’s businesses.
+ Ex-Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who resigned without paying back an $84,000 harassment settlement.
+ Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who resigned after disclosure of a sexual harassment claim.
+ The resignation of Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), who reportedly asked his mistress to consider an abortion (she did not get pregnant).
+ Excessive travel costs run up by former HHS Secretary Tom Price.
+ Travel costs involving former VA Secretary David Shulkin, which included Shulkin’s chief of staff doctoring evidence presented to internal investigators.
+ HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s $31,000 dining room set.
+ The head of the CDC resigning after it was revealed that she bought tobacco stocks soon after taking her federal health job.
+ Questions about stock purchases by ex-Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), which included buying the same stock involved in the Collins case.

“The Collins indictment represents everything Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have stood for since taking office,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

I am not clever enough to make a “drain the swamp” pun/retort so I will just say wow these guys are so corrupt and the only remedy is to throw them out of office.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 8, 2018

For some on Capitol Hill, it’s a throwback to 2006, when Republicans in Congress seemed to melt down before the mid-term elections with a number of ethical problems, highlighted by the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), after questions surfaced over his contacts with teenage House Pages.

And with the 2018 elections not far off, Democrats have clearly decided to press the ‘culture of corruption’ argument, in hopes that it can help them regain the majority in Congress in November.



GOP Congressman charged with insider trading, lying to FBI

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 15:03

In an investigation into investments in an Australian biotech firm, federal prosecutors have charged Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), his son, and his son’s father-in-law with conspiracy and securities fraud, alleging that they used inside information to shield themselves from major financial losses.

Collins, one of the staunchest allies of President Donald Trump in the Congress, was also charged with lying to the FBI during an April 2018 interview, as prosecutors charge that he relayed information about a failed drug trial by the company, Innate Immunotherapuetics.

“While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Rep. Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who took Collins off the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee hours after the indictments were made public.

Neither the Speaker, nor House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, called for Collins to resign.

Federal prosecutors said the charges were straightforward – that Collins wrongly took non-public information, and gave it to his son, and his son’s in-laws.

“Today, we announce criminal charges against Christopher Collins, a United States congressman. Congressman Collins is charged with insider trading and lying to the FBI," says US Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York https://t.co/s8dnfU84ia pic.twitter.com/sHmNuudmOW

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 8, 2018

The charges say that the Congressman’s son, Cameron Collins, used information from his father to trade his stock in Innate, and also passed it on to his father-in-law, who forwarded to others as well.

“All of the trades preceded the public release of the negative Drug Trial results, and were timed to avoid losses that they would have suffered once the news became public,” the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors read.

The feds say Collins found out about the drug trial failure while he was attending the Congressional picnic at the White House in June of 2017.

“We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated,” attorneys for Collins said in a statement issued before his arraignment.

STATEMENT: Attorneys for Rep. Collins Respond to Charges Filed Today https://t.co/rzNnUmyJDd

— Rep. Chris Collins (@RepChrisCollins) August 8, 2018

The Congressman did not trade his shares, because of restrictions involving Innate shares in Australia, but he “instead tipped” his son, who quickly moved the next morning ‘to sell approximately 16,508 shares of Innate.”

The charges say Cameron Collins not only sold shares, but also told his fiancee, his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, and a friend, about the drug trial failure, allowing them to sell shares in the company, and avoid major financial losses.

The Congressman, his son, and his son’s father-in-law also all face charges of making false statements to the FBI, denying that they had been wrongly given any inside information by Rep. Collins about Innate’s drug trial failure.

Collins had been under a U.S. House Ethics Committee review over questions about whether he had received inside information about the stock – and there had also been stories about whether he wrongly forwarded information to other lawmakers, who purchased stock as well.

“The charges against Congressman Collins show the rampant culture of corruption and self-enrichment among Republicans in Washington today,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“The Ethics Committee must accelerate its own investigation into Congressman Collins’ illegal abuse of the public trust,” she added in a statement.

Other Republicans who bought stock in Innate included ex-Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX).

None of them were linked in any way to this indictment.

Price, who was President Trump’s first HHS Secretary until resigning in late September of 2017, may have made out the best of any lawmaker who bought the Innate stock – Price was forced to sell his stock in February 2017 as part of a divestment agreement when he joined the Trump Cabinet.

Just a few months later in June of 2017 came news of the failed drug trial, and the plunge in the share value of Innate.

Republicans struggle to hold Ohio GOP seat in Congress

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 03:43

In a district that President Donald Trump won by 11 points in 2016, Republicans used a late television ad blitz along with help from the President and Vice President, to squeak out an apparent special election victory in a Congressional district in central Ohio on Tuesday, leaving unanswered questions about whether Republicans can keep control of the House and Senate in November.

With 100 of precincts reporting, GOP State Sen. Troy Balderson led by 1,700 votes over Democrat Danny O’Connor; as of late Tuesday night, it still wasn’t clear whether provisional and uncounted absentee ballots could trigger a mandatory recount, if the final margin was less than 0.5 percent.

Elections officials said late Tuesday that as many as 8,400 ballots could still had to be counted over the next ten days under Ohio election law – but the extra votes seemed to come mainly from areas that backed Balderson.

“I’m sure Republicans will celebrate tonight, but a 1-point victory in that district is nothing to commend,” said GOP pollster Frank Luntz.

If anything, tonight's #OH12 result reinforces our view that Dems are substantial favorites to retake the House in November.

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) August 8, 2018

The final count won’t happen immediately: “By state law, outstanding provisionals and absentees are not tabulated before the 10th day following the Election,” state elections officials made clear.

While the final results won’t be official until later this month, the bottom line for many elections experts was that this race never should have been so close – and Democrats were more than happy to peddle that line as well.

“This district should have been a slam dunk for the GOP,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), who leads Democratic election efforts, “and the fact that we are still counting ballots is an ominous sign for their prospects in November.”

“Republicans may celebrate a squeaker of a victory but not a single one is resting easy tonight,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), as Democrats pointed to the roster of GOP districts which had less than an 11 point Trump edge in 2016.

“Trump is the reason this seat was even competitive,” said election expert Nathan Gonzales.

There are 71 GOP-held house seats that have better 2016 presidential margins for Democrats than #OH12

— Daily Kos Elections (@DKElections) August 8, 2018

Still – even with votes to count – it was seemingly a win for Republicans, and their side was more than happy to trumpet that fact.

“Congratulations to Congressman-Elect Balderson on his hard-fought victory tonight,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), who heads the GOP effort to hold on to the U.S. House in November.

“A very special and important race!” President Trump tweeted from his New Jersey golf retreat.

Mr. Trump had held a rally on Saturday night in what turned out to be the key county – Delaware County – which provided Balderson with his lead.

“After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting,” the President wrote on Twitter.

Twitter for the last week – "What will it mean if Republicans lose OH-12." Twitter for the next week – "Well they won BUT…." My view – yes, the GOP has headwinds going into the Fall but a win is a win is a win. There are no points for second place.

— Brian Walsh (@brianjameswalsh) August 8, 2018

“Winning really is a big deal here,” said GOP strategist Liam Donovan, “whatever the margins.”

But others didn’t share that Republican optimism about what it meant for November.

“In the end, we’re going to wind up with an incredibly tight race in a Trump +11 district,” said elections expert Brand Allen. “This is not good news for Republicans.”

I’ve worked in Ohio presidential and senate races for Republicans and the idea of #oh12 being a close race is sort of like hearing gravity is a regional phenomena. It’s not how the world is suppose to work. https://t.co/waJPaiJb1S

— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) August 8, 2018

If Balderson prevails, he will likely be sworn into office after Labor Day – and then he will have to run for re-election in November, two months after assuming office.

U.S. to slap 25 percent tariff on $16 billion in Chinese imports

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 22:23

The Trump Administration on Tuesday took another step forward in a growing trade battle with China, releasing a final list of almost $16 billion in imports which will be hit with 25 percent import tariffs, carrying out President Donald Trump’s pledge to confront China over unfair trade practices, as the President has threatened such tariffs on over $200 billion in Chinese products.

“Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect the additional duties on the Chinese imports on August 23,” the office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced.

The list of 279 different import items is extensive in nature, covering everything from lubricating oils to chlorinated synthetic rubber, to sawing machines, fertilizer distributors, railroad axles, multimeters and more.

The Chinese government has vowed to match the U.S. tariffs dollar for dollar, as President Trump has made clear he will not back down in his effort to force changes by Beijing.

Unlike tariffs that Mr. Trump placed on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico, and Europe, there is clearly more support in the Congress for trade action against China – even though it may cause economic collateral damage back in the United States.

“China steals and uses American trade secrets on a regular basis,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “The only way to get China to drop its barriers is to retaliate against them until they do.”

#China blatantly cheats & steals & 20 years of playing nice doesn’t work. So what are we supposed to do,unconditional surrender? Here is an idea for fair trade,treat China the way they treat us. Same rules on their products & companies as they have on ours https://t.co/YmMYRrhwma

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 7, 2018

But the latest round of tariffs by the Trump Administration again brought concern from farm groups in the United States, which have been especially vocal in their opposition to new tariffs, worried that agricultural products will be caught in the crossfire, damaging foreign market access for years to come.

“We need a change in course on tariffs before they cause any more damage in Minnesota and across rural America,” said Kristin Duncanson, a farmer from Mapleton, Minnesota, as the group Farmers for Free Trade has tried to rally the industry against the President’s tariffs.

“Farmers fear the worst,” as the group focused its concerns today on yet another Midwestern state.

I spent some time with soybean farmers in rural Illinois getting screwed by Trump's tariffs. They're bracing for economic ruin, but still won't blame Trump for this mess. https://t.co/ouZNsP6WHd

— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) August 7, 2018

“Trump’s tariffs are putting the livelihood of thousands of hardworking farmers across the heartland at risk,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL).

But the President sees this issue much differently.

“When we make a car and we send it to China, they charge us a 25 percent tax,” the President said at a rally last Saturday in Ohio. “When they make a car and send it to us, we charge them essentially nothing.”

“And we’re standing up to China,” Mr. Trump added. “We’re standing up because it’s just been unfair.”

With 13 weeks to Election Day, Ohio special is big focus today

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 08:00

As voters go to the polls on this Tuesday for Congressional primaries in four states, the main story line tonight will be a special election for a U.S. House seat in the state of Ohio, as Republicans struggle to hold on to a seat which has been easily in the GOP column for years, as a defeat will be seen as a clear rebuke of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party writ large in a key mid-term election year.

“He’s really tough. He’s really smart. He never stops working,” President Donald Trump said at a Saturday night rally for Republican Troy Balderson, a state Senator from Zanesville, in the eastern portion of the 12th District.

“He’s never going to let you down,” the President added.

Democrats though say their candidate, Danny O’Connor, has been surging in the polls and can pull off an upset.

Final early vote totals for Franklin County for special 12th Congressional District election:
Dems – 59.5%
GOP – 21.1%
Unaffiliated – 18.8%

Early in-person voting only: Dems 67%, GOP 17%, Unaffiliated 16%

— Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) August 6, 2018

Here’s some of what to watch for tonight:

1. The main event – Ohio’s 12th District. Let’s just be very up front and honest. There is no reason that Republicans should be in danger in this district. I’ve been all through this part of Ohio a number of times, from the Y-shaped bridge in Zanesville, to the suburban Republican areas of Westerville, up the roads of Republican-leaning counties to the north of Columbus stretching through Delaware to Mansfield, and the endless string of gorgeous farmland and Americana that runs throughout Ohio 12. Other than the areas of this district which dip into the state capital of Columbus in Franklin County, Donald Trump won this district easily in 2016, by 11 points, larger than his 8 point win statewide over Hillary Clinton. The Republican candidate, Troy Balderson, has gone negative in recent weeks against his Democratic opponent, Danny O’Connor – that should be an indicator of where the GOP thinks this race is right now. It’s close. We’ll see what happens when the votes roll in.

Troy Balderson's special election eve message:
"My liberal Democratic opponent, Dishonest Danny O'Connor, has done nothing but lie to Ohio voters this entire campaign and I can promise you this: **IF** Danny wins on Tuesday, the Democrats WILL take back the House in November…"

— Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) August 6, 2018

2. What does a victory mean for November? If you’ve been along with me for the last 30-plus years on Capitol Hill, you know that both parties are able to issue some of the most amazing political spin possible after special elections – covering the range of possibilities from, ‘it doesn’t matter,’ to ‘this is evidence of a giant wave in November.’ Think about what we have watched in a series of special elections in Congress since President Trump took office – the main story line has been Democrats getting out and voting in larger numbers. They don’t always win, but they certainly have been more motivated in most of those races. Do some Trump voters stay away from the polls on Tuesday in Ohio? Do some more mainstream Republicans pull the lever for a Democrat to send a message? A win is a win is a win for either party. A win for Democrats will have a lot of people wondering if they are surging for November. A win for Republicans will make many wonder whether President Trump can help offset likely mid-term GOP losses.

Ohio Republicans privately were appalled that @JohnKasich went on @ThisWeekABC to say Balderson did not invite @Potus to Ohio last Saturday. One more example of the deep divisions between Kasich and Trump. @OhioPoliticsNow @Ohio_Politics @NRCC

— Jack Torry (@JackTorry1) August 6, 2018

3. Trump’s endorsement also on the line in Kansas. A day before primary voting in the Sunflower State, President Trump endorsed Secretary of State Kris Kobach for Governor – over the sitting Republican, Gov. Jeff Colver. Kobach has been a favorite of Trump’s for some time, chairing the now-defunct commission on voter fraud, which found no evidence to support President Trump’s claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 elections. To say the least, Kobach is a conservative lightning rod who drives Democrats nuts, as the President is clearly a fan favorite. Democrats actually think they have a better chance to win in November if Kobach is the GOP nominee for Governor. But Kansas remains a very red state, and an uphill fight for Democrats, even with Kobach as the nominee. The President’s endorsements have certainly made a difference before – and we’ll see what happens in Kansas on Tuesday night.

Kris Kobach, a strong and early supporter of mine, is running for Governor of the Great State of Kansas. He is a fantastic guy who loves his State and our Country – he will be a GREAT Governor and has my full & total Endorsement! Strong on Crime, Border & Military. VOTE TUESDAY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018

4. In all, five states are voting on this Tuesday. While it won’t get as much attention as the special election in Ohio, voters are also going to the polls Tuesday to vote for Congress in Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington State. So far this year, only three sitting members of the House have been defeated in a primary, and looking at the roster of races up in these states, there are very few opportunities for that to increase, as this is mainly about setting up the ballot for November. One race on the radar involves Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), who has had to work a bit harder than usual in his St. Louis district, fighting a challenger who has been backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the political newcomer who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in a stunning upset in late June. Here’s the latest numbers on where we stand with change in the Congress – once again, there will be a lot of new faces arriving on Capitol Hill. Probably more than you think.

5. Where is the 2018 mid-term election heading? I get asked this question all the time by my friends and colleagues. My answer is simple – I don’t know. Logically, this should not be a good year for the party that controls the White House. History shows that the party in charge should lose seats in the mid-term elections. In the first mid-term for President Barack Obama, the Democrats lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate. In 1994, Republicans won control of Congress in a backlash to President Bill Clinton, taking 54 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate. But Republicans have typically fared better in that first mid-term since World War II than Democratic Presidents. And if there is one lesson from 2016, you should not count out President Trump. He will be very active on the campaign trail this year. In a sense, he is making this election a referendum on himself. And many Democrats want to make it a referendum on him as well. Who wins in that? The trends seem to be in the favor of Democrats, but Election Day is still 13 weeks away.

Steve Bannon on 2018 midterms: "This is President @realDonaldTrump's first re-elect. This is gonna be an up or down vote. It's a referendum on the Trump presidency." #Hannity pic.twitter.com/AgANT3dgYj

— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 28, 2018

You can find me on Twitter tonight, @jamiedupree for the latest coverage of the results.

As Trump takes summer break, Russia probe does not

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 14:25

While President Donald Trump spends this week at his New Jersey golf retreat, legal action continues to churn on a variety of fronts related to the question of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, actions taken by the Trump Campaign, and activities of one of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyers, as the President on Monday again denounced the direction of the investigation, arguing that Democrats were just as guilty of collusion with the Russians during the last election.

After issuing as series of tweets on Sunday in which he denied wrongdoing by his son, Donald Trump Jr., and denied knowing about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower involving a Russian lawyer offering ‘dirt’ on the Hillary Clinton campaign, the President seems likely to see more developments as he takes his White House break this week.

Here is some of what the President may be keeping tabs on:

1. Second week of the Paul Manafort trial. Last week, the President compared the legal plight of his former campaign manager to legendary gangster Al Capone, who was finally tripped up by the feds on tax evasion charges. Manafort right now is going through a trial in a Virginia federal court on tax evasion and bank fraud charges. So far, the testimony has been mainly from people who worked with Manafort’s finances, detailing illegal actions on his taxes and finances, as five different witnesses have been granted limited immunity in exchange for their testimony in this case. This week could also feature testimony from Manafort’s former right hand man Rick Gates, who not only worked with Manafort during the time that he was paid big money by the government of Ukraine, but also was a top deputy to Manafort on the Trump campaign, and stayed on after Manafort left, ultimately working as deputy chairman on the Trump inaugural committee. Gates has already plead guilty in the Russia investigation, and is cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. If Gates testifies this week, look for him to get a rigorous cross-examination by Manafort’s attorneys. Again, while this trial is not about Russian interference, even the judge has openly said he knows the feds are trying to use it to pressure Manafort into cooperating against the President.

2. Trump says effort to get Clinton dirt ‘went nowhere.’ The President himself stirred more interest in what he knows about the Russia investigation on Sunday, when he went on Twitter, and fully acknowledged that the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer said to be a Kremlin intermediary, was all about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. The President rejected news reports that he is worried about legal jeopardy for his son, Donald Trump Jr., who along with Paul Manafort, and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, attended that meeting. The President’s tweet was a direct confirmation that the original cover story about that meeting – put out by the White House, Trump lawyers, and Trump Jr. – was not true. This was not a get together about U.S.-Russian adoption policies. This was an effort to get campaign help from intermediaries who said it was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” This was the White House explanation to reporters from August of 2017.

3. Still no deal on a Mueller-Trump interview. While the President keeps saying that it is time to end the Russia investigation, his legal team continues to wrangle with the office of the Special Counsel over possible testimony by the President. One of the President’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, told ABC’s “This Week” that any attempt to subpoena the President would result in an extended legal fight, which might even make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. And Sekulow made clear on Sunday that no final decision has been made on whether the President will actually answer any queries by Mueller’s team.

Pres. Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow says "at this point," the legal team's "inclination" is for Pres. Trump not to sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.

"The president has been clear that he wants to interview … his legal team is concerned" #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/m0PeW1e5Ys

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 5, 2018

4. Feds continue to get information from Cohen raid. While the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections goes on, lawyers for the President are also still going through items seized in an FBI raid from earlier this year on ex-Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen. The special master appointed by a federal judge to rule on claims of material that might be considered off limits because of attorney-client privilege continues to churn through those materials – last week she handed over another 531 items to federal prosecutors in New York, while refusing to turn over 1,315 other items, because of their privileged or personal nature. While there is a lot of focus on the Russia probe, the Cohen situation is also a legal matter which can’t be shrugged off by the White House.

5. If you’re wondering, this Cohen review ain’t cheap. The work being done by the special master in the Michael Cohen case, former federal judge Barbara Jones is not pro bono – by any means. Working through her law firm, Jones in the month of June billed $368,081.56 in work, as part of her efforts to rule on privilege claims in the massive amount of evidence seized in the April 9 raid on Cohen. The cost of that work is being split evenly by the federal government and the Trump Organization.

6. NRA tells court it may have to make major cuts. the NRA is now saying that some of its operations could be in financial jeopardy, just two years after spending a record amount of money on the 2016 elections. In court documents filed in a lawsuit the NRA is bringing against the state of the New York, the NRA charges that New York has leaned on major insurance companies to not sell policies to the gun rights organization, and that the NRA might have to curtail its work. “Absent such coverage, it is likely that NRATV would be forced to cease operating; moreover, the NRA could be forced to cease circulation of various print publications and magazines,” the group said in a recent court filing. Meanwhile, there have also been reports raising questions about whether the case of 29 year-old Mariia Butina – jailed on charges of illegal political activity in the U.S. backed by wealthy Russians – that the investigation and her recent arrest spurred a change in leadership at the top of the National Rifle Association.

This spring, Georgia's Carolyn Meadows briefly served as NRA president, while Ollie North prepared himself for the job. Mother Jones suggests the Russia investigation was a factor: https://t.co/1r2onVaCbV

— Jim Galloway (@politicalinsidr) August 6, 2018

7. Trump keeps pressing Russia claims against Clinton A day after sparking front page headlines with a series of Sunday tweets about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the President on Monday returned to Twitter for a familiar argument that Democrats were the ones committing collusion with Russia, not the Trump Campaign. “Hillary Clinton and her team 100% colluded with the Russians,” the President said in his first tweet of the day, as he quoted conservative commentator Dan Bongino from an appearance on ‘Fox and Friends,’ pointing out that a Democratic law firm had funded the research into the “Steele Dossier,” through the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The President’s first two tweets of Tuesday showed that while he might on a break from the White House, his mind is not taking a break from the Russia investigation.

“Collusion with Russia was very real. Hillary Clinton and her team 100% colluded with the Russians, and so did Adam Schiff who is on tape trying to collude with what he thought was Russians to obtain compromising material on DJT. We also know that Hillary Clinton paid through….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018

….a law firm, eventually Kremlin connected sources, to gather info on Donald Trump. Collusion is very real with Russia, but only with Hillary and the Democrats, and we should demand a full investigation.” Dan Bongino on @foxandfriends Looking forward to the new IG Report!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018

Trump confirms original explanation for Trump Tower meeting was not accurate

Sun, 08/05/2018 - 16:30

In a flurry of tweets on Sunday morning where he again lashed out at the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any ties to his campaign, President Donald Trump acknowledged that his son had met with a Russian lawyer in June of 2016 in order to get ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton, making clear that previous explanations saying it was a meeting about U.S.-Russian adoption policies were not true.

“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere,” said Mr. Trump in a tweet, rejecting press stories this weekend that he is concerned that his son Donald Jr. could be in legal jeopardy over the meeting.

The original story about the June 9, 2016 meeting, where Trump Jr., the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and top campaign aide Paul Manafort, met with Russia lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, was that the group “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”

But that Russian adoption cover story has now changed – though the President again on Sunday denied that he knew about the meeting with the Russian lawyer in advance.

Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018

…Why aren’t Mueller and the 17 Angry Democrats looking at the meetings concerning the Fake Dossier and all of the lying that went on in the FBI and DOJ? This is the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country. Fortunately, the facts are all coming out, and fast!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018

Too bad a large portion of the Media refuses to report the lies and corruption having to do with the Rigged Witch Hunt – but that is why we call them FAKE NEWS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018

The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018

On an extended summer break at his New Jersey golf course, the President’s comments on Twitter about the Russia investigation came as the Special Counsel’s office is still trying to reach an agreement for testimony by Mr. Trump in the investigation of Russian interference in 2016.

On the ABC News program, “This Week,” one of the President’s attorneys said any effort to force Mr. Trump to talk would result in a legal fight that might get to the nation’s highest court.

Pres. Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow says if special counsel Robert Mueller were to subpoena Trump to testify in the Russia investigation, it would spark a legal battle that would go to the Supreme Court https://t.co/CVDPt82gep #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/g2PeApRRwO

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 5, 2018

Sekulow was also pressed on why he also had said that the Trump Tower meeting was about adoption.

“I had bad information at that time and made a mistake in my statement,” Sekulow said on ABC, as he said that, “over time facts develop.”

As one might expect, Democrats in the Congress were less than charitable in their reaction to the President’s Sunday tweets.

The Russians offered damaging info on your opponent. Your campaign accepted. And the Russians delivered.

You then misled the country about the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting when it became public.

Now you say you didn’t know in advance. None of this is normal or credible. https://t.co/AEDYiIbXyY

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 5, 2018

Conspiring with a foreign power to get dirt on an opponent in US elections is a violation of campaign finance laws.

This tweet by @realDonaldTrump also shows he lied when he drafted the statement about the meeting. It wasn't about Russian adoptions.#SundayMorning Thoughts https://t.co/Dp5RYbxYDT

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 5, 2018

In July of 2017, Trump Jr. was forced to acknowledge that the meeting had not been about adoption, as emails showed the subject line was, “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” offering what was characterized as “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”


FBI releases heavily redacted documents on Steele contacts

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 19:29

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday released 71 pages of material documenting contacts with ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, confirming that he had been used as a “Confidential Human Source,” and that the FBI terminated its relationship with him after Steele leaked information to the press about his dossier on President Donald Trump.

“CHS (Confidential Human Source) was used as a source for an online article,” the FBI “Source Closing Communication” document states, then describing that the bureau would no longer work with Steele, because of the leaks.

“On November 1, 2016, CHS confirmed all of this to the handling agent,” the document stated. “Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence on behalf of the FBI.”

While Steele’s name does not show up at any point in the documents released on Friday – the material released by the FBI Records vault was titled, “Records Between FBI and Christopher Steele Part 01 of 01.”

Other than the first page, which laid out some of the reasons why officials “deem the individual not suitable for use” as a confidential informant, most of the material in the 71 pages released by the FBI was redacted.

At one point, the document shows that Steele was "notified of deactivation" as an FBI confidential source, and that his response was to have "acknowledged receipt and understanding" of the FBI decision.

After that first page – absolutely everything was redacted, including information on payments to Steele made by the FBI, and the dates on which those payments were made.

Because of the document redactions, it was not clear how long Steele and the FBI had a “Confidential Human Source” relationship.

You can download the document release on the FBI Records Vault site.

There are only a few clues here and there in most of the document about what the FBI relationship was with Steele – in one “Payment Request” form, the “Financial Justification” for paying him was described as “Operationally justified” – but no additional information was made public.

There was also one time in February of 2016, where an FBI document states that the bureau “verbally admonished” Steele – but there is no indication what the subject was of that rebuke.

At that time – February 2016 – Steele was working for Fusion GPS, but his work to dig up possible dirt on Mr. Trump was at that time being funded by Republican sources. It was only after the President captured the GOP primary race in 2016 that Democrats then contracted with Fusion GPS to continue Steele’s work.

2.0 is nice, but I’m still searching for my real voice

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 23:45

As a battery of top officials were addressing reporters in the White House briefing room on Thursday afternoon about the question of possible foreign interference in the 2018 elections, instead of quickly filing stories about how the Trump Administration is trying to prevent a repeat of Russian actions from the 2016 campaign, I was hundreds of miles away to again see a top neurological expert in hopes of recovering my voice.

My voice struggles of the past two years have been diagnosed as “Tongue Protrusion Dystonia,” a rare neurological condition where my tongue misbehaves, not allowing me to properly form words and sounds.

And that’s a problem when your main job is that of a radio news reporter.

“The tongue is a very complicated muscle,” said Dr. Hyder Jinnah, who is treating me at the Emory University Brain Health Center in Atlanta.

Three months ago, Dr. Jinnah gave me two Botox shots in the hopes that it would slow my tongue, and keep it from popping out of my mouth when I talk, leading to a situation where I can only get out one or two words, often in a strained and strangled sound.

Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any change from that first round of shots, so I was back at Emory for another round, hoping for a more positive result.

“We usually start with a conservative dose the first time,” the doctor said, as he used a special instrument to listen for the sound of the needle going into the right muscle area.

“That little rumbling noise you hear is muscle of your tongue talking to us,” the doctor said at one point.

If you look at the picture, you will note that the doctor was injecting Botox into my tongue – not by going into my mouth – but by coming up from underneath.

“Most people don’t think about getting after the tongue from under the chin, but that’s actually the easier way to do it,” the doctor told me.

And once again, there was a camera crew on hand to record my treatment efforts.

“Maybe one time it can just be the two of us here,” Dr. Jinnah said with a smile.

Earlier in the day, I had gone over to our company’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta, to meet the person who helped find the outfit in Scotland that built a voice app for me to use on the radio, which we are calling “Jamie Dupree 2.0.”

The first time I had been to Emory in March to see Dr. Jinnah, my day had started with an unexpected summons from a top bigwig at Cox Media Group – I actually thought I was about to lose my job – but instead, I was given the news that Mike Lupo had found a company called CereProc.

Over the last few months, I had been on numerous conference calls with Mike, emailing furiously back and forth with him about the voice development, but this was the first time I was able to thank him in person for helping me to get back on the radio.

Like the good guy he is, Lupo said he was only doing his job when someone above our pay grade asked him to look into how they could develop a computer generated Jamie Dupree voice.

“He said, ‘Stephen Hawking talks; how does that happen? Can you look into it?'” Lupo wrote me in an email.

Sitting with a mutual friend in the company cafeteria, Lupo and I quickly discovered some intersections in our lives, as both of us had lived in the Detroit area in the past – while I delivered the Detroit Free Press as a kid, he worked for the same newspaper as an adult, at one point covering the automotive industry, which was where my father worked for a quarter century.

I shook his hand earnestly to say ‘thanks’ – not only for helping to find a way to get me back on the radio – but also for something which had clearly saved my job.

Also as part of my visit to Atlanta, I stopped in at the flagship radio station of the Cox Media Group, WSB-AM/FM, where I have been the Washington Correspondent for almost 30 years – seeing my colleagues, and showing off my new Jamie Dupree 2.0 voice.

“I thought it was going to be a big machine,” said afternoon anchor Chris Chandler with a big smile, as my colleagues seemed genuinely amazed at how I can just type words into a special text-to-speech program, and watch it spit out my computer generated story.

Like our listeners, my colleagues are happy to have me back on the air after an almost two-year absence, even if it isn’t my real voice.

“I can hear you in that voice,” one of them said.

Added value in my evening on @wsbradio yesterday: @jamiedupree was low-key in the house!!!! Here he is demonstrating his Jamie Dupree 2.0 software. Very cool. pic.twitter.com/lbHFlQrcny

— Fireball Turnbull (@DougTurnbull) August 2, 2018

The reaction from our listeners has been very positive – and that was reinforced when I went out to my company’s corporate HQ.

It was raining hard as I drove into the visitor’s parking area, even though I had a badge which could get me into the employee parking garage.

One of the security aides came out and wondered why I was showing her an employee badge at the visitors entrance.

“Because I don’t work here,” I said slowly, struggling to get out every word and sound with my voice.

She looked at my badge. She looked at me.

“Jamie Dupree,” she said, with the tone of someone who was trying to figure out why the name was familiar.

“Jamie Dupree,” she repeated. “Jamie Dupree 2-point-oh,” she then said with a smile, waving me through.

A few hours later, I was waiting at the airport for a delayed flight home, when a woman named Becky came up to say hello, telling me how much she enjoyed hearing my 2.0 voice.

“You can totally tell it’s you,” she said. “My husband and I love to listen to you.”

Encounters like those with my listeners give me hope about my real voice.

“We keep our fingers crossed,” Dr. Jinnah had said earlier in the day.

And so do I.


With Manafort on trial, Trump erupts over Russia probe

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 16:30

With his former campaign manager on trial across the Potomac River for tax and bank fraud, President Donald Trump called on the U.S. Attorney General to end the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, taking to Twitter to again denounce the investigation into any possible links between Moscow and his campaign.

“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” the President said in a series of posts on Twitter.

Tweeting from the White House, Mr. Trump compared the legal situation of Manafort to that of legendary Chicago gangster Al Capone, who was chased for years by the feds, before ultimately being convicted on tax evasion charges.

It was just one of a series of tweets from the President on Wednesday, in which he again denounced the Russia investigation, being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and “Public Enemy Number One,” or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018

“FBI Agent Peter Strzok (on the Mueller team) should have recused himself on day one. He was out to STOP THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP. He needed an insurance policy. Those are illegal, improper goals, trying to influence the Election. He should never, ever been allowed to……..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018

…..remain in the FBI while he himself was being investigated. This is a real issue. It won’t go into a Mueller Report because Mueller is going to protect these guys. Mueller has an interest in creating the illusion of objectivity around his investigation.” ALAN DERSHOWITZ….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018

..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018

Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion – a Hoax!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018

Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX. The Democrats paid for the phony and discredited Dossier which was, along with Comey, McCabe, Strzok and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, used to begin the Witch Hunt. Disgraceful!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018

At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the President’s tweets, saying it was not a directive to the Attorney General.

“It’s not an order, it’s the President’s opinion,” said Sanders, who added the President has been ‘crystal clear’ about his feelings about the Mueller investigation.

“It’s not an order, it’s the President’s opinion,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says about President Trump’s tweet calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Russia investigation pic.twitter.com/SqtcKTaCmi

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 1, 2018

“Certainly, the President has been clear,” Sanders added, “he thinks Paul Manafort has been treated unfairly.”

On Capitol Hill, Democrats had a much different take on Wednesday’s tweets, as lawmakers said it was obvious what was going on with the President’s call for Attorney General Sessions to end the Mueller probe.

“He’s panicking,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

“How is this not obstruction of justice?” asked Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA).

I’m sure we will soon find out what has President Trump so panicked, but he is clearly trying to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation. That is obstruction of justice. https://t.co/ahB7AIWOxq

— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) August 1, 2018

The President of the United States just called on his Attorney General to put an end to an investigation in which the President, his family and campaign may be implicated.

This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it. https://t.co/F8b6a0IGOh

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 1, 2018

“Obstruction in plain sight,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

“The trail of evidence regarding conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice is leading closer to the President and people important to him,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX).

In echoes of 2016, Facebook deactivates fake political accounts

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 01:37

Cracking down on accounts which were stirring political debate in the U.S. on issues that crossed party lines, the social media giant Facebook announced Tuesday that it had found evidence of “coordinated inauthentic” political behavior, raising questions about new efforts – possibly by Russia – to tamper with the 2018 election climate in the U.S.

“We’re sharing what we know today because of the connection between these bad actors and an event planned in Washington next week,” said Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook in a call with reporters, who added that the investigation was still in an early stage.

“This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want organizations or individuals creating networks of accounts that mislead people about who they are or what they’re doing,” Sandberg added.

The rallies that Facebook wanted to head off were set for August 10 and August 12 not far from the White House – targeted against conservatives, and aligned more with “Resist” groups who oppose President Donald Trump’s administration.

Examples of other graphics sent out by these fake accounts – one of which was labeled “Resisters” – was a photo of President Trump, saying he only needs to tweet two words, “I RESIGN,” as the examples of social media messages and memes released by Facebook showed that like in 2016 – the social media postings touched on hot button issues in the American political landscape which would inflame both political parties.

As for who was responsible for these accounts and the fake rallies, Facebook officials said that just wasn’t clear, noting that the groups behind these postings had clearly learned some lessons from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based, Internet Research Agency, IRA, did in the run up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Sandberg said.

“As we’ve developed this investigation, we’ve been working closely with law enforcement and have briefed lawmakers on what we’ve found,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of cybersecurity for Facebook.

“Our team has determined these actors have gone to greater lengths than those we’ve seen before to conceal their identity and origin,” he added.

Facebook officials said more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the deactivated pages, which were created between March 2017 and May 2018.

“This is information warfare,” declared Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during a Tuesday evening speech on the Senate floor, as he displayed some of the content identified by Facebook.

“This is not a pro-Trump message or a pro-Democrat message,” Rubio said. “This is an outrage message.”

“This is not a relic of 2016,” Rubio added.

#Putin interference is not on behalf of GOP or Dems. It’s 21st century information warfare against the American people. Today’s @Facebook revelations show how an anti-American dictator uses our computers & mobile devices to divide us against each other: https://t.co/hGYerR85zc

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 1, 2018

“We know that Russia is coming back in 2018, 2020, and beyond,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “Americans in Washington and in Silicon Valley have work to do.”

The revelation from Facebook came as the Senate Intelligence Committee was ready to hold a hearing on Wednesday with a group of social media experts.

“The goal of these operations is to sow discord, distrust, and division,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who will chair the hearing.

“The Russians want a weak America,” Burr added.

Kick the can – Congress okays seventh short term flood insurance plan

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 17:55

For the seventh time in less than a year, the Congress has sent President Donald Trump a short-term extension of the federal flood insurance program, as lawmakers continue to search for a bipartisan legislative fix to a program that is already in over $20 billion in the red.

“Congress has got to start doing things differently,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “The current program is unsustainable, and taxpayers deserve better.”

The Senate voted 86-12 on Tuesday for a four-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, as the White House has urged Congress to agree on major financial reforms.

“As currently structured, the NFIP cannot handle catastrophic losses like those caused by the devastating hurricanes in 2017,” the White House said last week.

. @SenJohnKennedy on Senate passage of NFIP extension: It would have been bone-deep, down-to-the-marrow stupid to let the National Flood Insurance Program expire in the middle of hurricane season & my colleagues realized that @theadvertiser, @thenewsstar, @shreveporttimes, #NFIP

— Deborah Berry (@dberrygannett) July 31, 2018

The lack of a deal on federal flood insurance is simple to explain – there’s no agreement on how best to improve the program, no consensus on how much of a private market to create, and strong resistance from coastal areas to the idea of large increases for homeowners in flood insurance premiums to pay for the program.

“The NFIP is broke, outdated, and in need of critical reforms,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), who wants to see more private flood insurance, and competition, as part of the answer.

“Today, we are in the middle of Hurricane season and the NFIP still owes over $20 billion to the U.S. Treasury,” Ross added, as lawmakers reminded each other that Congress forgave another $16 billion in debt last year.

“The National Flood Insurance Program is in desperate need of changes.” said Sen. Marco Rubio, as both the House and Senate have different plans on what needs to be changed – but no agreement on how to forge a bipartisan compromise.

Maybe the biggest single stumbling block is a familiar one – how to fund the federal flood insurance program without setting higher premiums that residents of flood-prone communities cannot support.

“People have been living near the water since Moby Dick was a minnow,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). “Few of them are living in luxury beach homes.”

The deal approved today will extend the flood insurance program through the end of the current hurricane season – but there’s no guarantee any deal will be reached by the end of November, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another short-term extension of the program.

One reason is that with the elections in November, the House has only 27 scheduled legislative work days – during seven work weeks – over the next four months.

Five things to know about the Paul Manafort trial

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 08:00

As former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort goes on trial Tuesday in a federal court in Virginia on charges of tax and bank fraud, the specter of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections – and any ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign – won’t be the main issue on the docket, but it will certainly be in the background as the trial gets underway.

Manafort faces a variety of charges – subscribing to false individual income tax returns, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts, bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy.

In all, Manafort faces 18 federal criminal charges, as he will be the first to go through a trial involving the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

What’s at stake, and what might we see in the weeks ahead?

1. This trial is not about the Russia probe – but it is. While Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is in charge of this prosecution, the charges of tax and bank fraud levied against the former Trump Campaign Manager have nothing to do with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. But the specter of the overall Mueller probe certainly is the elephant in the courtroom, as the judge has made clear in previous hearings on the case. “You really don’t care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” Federal Judge T.S. Ellis said back in May to lawyers for the Special Counsel’s office. “You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment. That’s what you’re really interested in,” the judge added. While backers of the President hailed that talk in May, the judge refused to set aside the prosecution, allowing the trial to go forward.

2. What is the trial of Manafort actually about? Before working on the Trump Campaign, Manafort was an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, who was the President of Ukraine between 2010 and 2014, a leader who was more friendly to Moscow and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The case against Manafort centers on whether Manafort was paid millions of dollars for his work on behalf of Yanukovych, then failed to report that income to the IRS, employing a variety of ways to launder the money for his own personal use in the U.S., mainly by disguising it through transactions with shell companies. “As explained at the hearing, the government expects to prove that Manafort earned for than $60 million dollars from his Ukraine work…and failed to report a significant percentage of it on his tax returns,” the feds argued. The second part of the charges center around whether Manafort lied to U.S. banks about his personal debts, as he applied for very large loans. One of the loans – for $16 billion – came from an Illinois bank run by an economic adviser to the Trump Campaign, and who reportedly was interested in a post in the Trump Administration, raising questions of a quid-pro-quo. Two people who work for that bank were given limited ‘use immunity’ to testify in the case against Manafort. None of the five are household names – some more conservative news outlets had said that Tony Podesta, the brother of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, would be granted immunity for his testimony. That did not happen in this case.

3. This trial is not the venue for testimony on the Russia probe. Federal prosecutors have already made clear that they do not intend to use this first trial against Manafort (there two already scheduled – the next in September in Washington, D.C.) to start making the case about possible ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign. “The government does not intend to present at trial evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government,” the Special Counsel’s office stated in court papers filed in recent weeks. But as stated above, part of the prosecution of Manafort will show his ties to pro-Putin groups, and one of the star witnesses will be his former top aide, Rick Gates, who has already cut a plea bargain with Mueller to provide testimony in the Russia investigation. While the feds say they aren’t going to bring up the issue of Manafort and Russia, one can’t rule out the possibility that little pieces of evidence get dropped along the way in this trial related to that issue.

4. Trump has said little about Manafort trial. While President Trump has routinely attacked the Russia investigation, and the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the President has rarely addressed the legal fate of his former campaign manager, downplaying Manafort’s importance to Mr. Trump’s bid for the White House. “Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time,” the President tweeted in June. As for the charges of financial wrongdoing – “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” the President tweeted in October of 2017, as he then segued into a familiar argument. “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?” Certainly the outcome of this case – while not focused on the issue of the Russia investigation – could have a major impact on where that probe goes. An acquittal for Manafort would be a major boost for critics of Mueller, especially President Trump.

As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of “Justice” have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign? Should have told me!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2018

5. Manafort’s legal problems don’t end with just this trial. This is not the only trial set for Manafort, as a second case against him in a Washington, D.C. federal court deals with money laundering, and not registering as a foreign lobbyist, for his Ukraine work. That trial is not set to begin until September. The big question about Manafort is fairly simple – would he ‘flip’ and offer testimony against the President if found guilty in this first trial? Manafort was involved in some key moments which have come under scrutiny in the Mueller investigation, like the infamous June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting where Russian emissaries were supposedly ready to offer ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. It is not clear what other evidence has been generated by the Mueller investigation with regards to Manafort. It could be there is nothing of note. Or, it could be that there is more. But those questions are for another day – and not for this trial.

President Trump again threatens government shutdown over immigration

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 18:53

Two months before a funding deadline for the U.S. Government, President Donald Trump on Monday signaled that he would favor using the threat of a government shutdown to force action on tougher immigration legislation, arguing once more that the Congress needs to vote on major changes to current U.S. immigration laws, which Mr. Trump says are not tough enough.

“I would certainly be willing to consider a shutdown if we don’t get proper border security,” the President said, amplifying a tweet from earlier in the day in which he again called for action by the Congress.

In a joint news conference with the Italian Prime Minister at the White House, the President indicated he would not think twice about using the leverage of a government shutdown to force the Congress to act on legislation which would toughen U.S. immigration laws.

“I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” the President said. “It’s time we had proper border security.”

“I’ll always leave room for negotiation, but this has been many years.” Trump says on his government shutdown threat over border wall funding. “I would certainly be willing to close it down to get it done" #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/UsTLHcKUcc

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) July 30, 2018

But Mr. Trump’s efforts to get changes through the Congress – an end to ‘catch and release’ of immigrants illegally entering the United States, the end of the ‘visa lottery’ program, and an end to what’s known as ‘chain migration’ – have borne little fruit.

Back in February, the Senate was unable to muster even a majority for a bill backed by the President, getting only 39 votes for a plan favored by Mr. Trump.

More recently in the House, Republicans in June failed to rally behind a pair of immigration reform bills which contained provisions backed by the President.

We must have Border Security, get rid of Chain, Lottery, Catch & Release Sanctuary Cities – go to Merit based Immigration. Protect ICE and Law Enforcement and, of course, keep building, but much faster, THE WALL!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2018

While it might seem like there is a lot of time to reach a deal – the House is off on an extended summer break until after Labor Day, as lawmakers there have only 11 scheduled work days between now and October 1 – when the new Fiscal Year begins.

That would seem to leave little time for action – and little time to hash out a compromise on immigration, which so far has proven elusive for President Trump.

Among Republicans in the Senate, there was not much of an embrace for the idea of a shutdown.

CORNYN also says he doesn't think a shut down is going to happen, and says of immigration policies Trump wants included in the funding bill: "We’ve had a vote on some of those and they didn’t pass, and so I don’t know anything that’s change on any of those."

— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) July 30, 2018

New: Amid Trump threats to shut it all down, McConnell remains publicly upbeat: “I’m confident we can avoid a shutdown,” he tells me just now.

— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) July 30, 2018

Trump hits news media, Mueller in series of tweets

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 00:51

President Donald Trump on Sunday vented his frustration with both the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any possible ties to the Trump Campaign, and also again blasted the the press, as he accused the news media of never-ending negative coverage of ‘the tremendously positive results we are achieving.’

“I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry,” the President said in a flurry of salvos at the news media on Sunday, in which he took specific aim at the New York Times and Washington Post.

Tweeting from his golf club in New Jersey, the President revealed that he had a recent meeting with the Publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, as Mr. Trump said he spent time talking about “Fake News,” again labeling the the press the “Enemy of the People.”

Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018

When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk! Very unpatriotic! Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018

…dying newspaper industry. No matter how much they try to distract and cover it up, our country is making great progress under my leadership and I will never stop fighting for the American people! As an example, the failing New York Times…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018

The mention of the meeting with the New York Times Publisher drew a response from the “Gray Lady,” as Sulzberger said by talking about the meeting, the President had violated the off-the-record nature of the sitdown.

In a statement issued by the paper on Sunday, Sulzberger said he accepted the meeting with the President to push back on Mr. Trump’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”

“I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” Sulzberger stated on Sunday.

“I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists “the enemy of the people,” Sulzberger wrote. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

On the Russia investigation, the President once more accused Mueller of supposedly ignoring wrong doing by Democrats, continuing to press the GOP argument that the Justice Department has gone easy on questions involving Hillary Clinton, while doggedly pursuing issues related to Mr. Trump.

For the second time in the last eight days, the President said the “The Robert Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt” was now employing 17 “Angry Democrats,” up from the usual figure of 13 which the President has used for months.

It was not immediately apparent why the President now indicated that number had changed.

It was also not immediately obvious what spurred the sudden spasm of tweets about the Russia investigation – though the trial of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort does begin on Tuesday.

While that case was spurred by the work done by the Special Counsel’s office – the actual details of the bank and tax fraud charges brought by a federal grand jury do not seem to have any tentacles to the broader Russia investigation.

There is No Collusion! The Robert Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt, headed now by 17 (increased from 13, including an Obama White House lawyer) Angry Democrats, was started by a fraudulent Dossier, paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC. Therefore, the Witch Hunt is an illegal Scam!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018

Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI (one day before appointment as S.C.) & Comey is his close friend..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018

….Also, why is Mueller only appointing Angry Dems, some of whom have worked for Crooked Hillary, others, including himself, have worked for Obama….And why isn’t Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity & real Russian Collusion on the Democrats side-Podesta, Dossier?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018

During a speech to a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City last week, the President made clear his contempt for the news media.

“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” he said as members of the audience booed the assembled press corps.

The VFW issued a statement after the President’s speech saying, “we were disappointed to hear some of our members boo the press during President Trump’s remarks.”

“We were happy to have them there,” the VFW tweeted.

With House gone, Congress again poised to fail on spending work

Sat, 07/28/2018 - 08:00

As the U.S. House left Thursday on an extended summer break which will last until Labor Day, Republican leaders in Congress signaled that 2018 won’t be much different from the past twenty-plus years on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers once more will not get their spending work done on time by the end of September, requiring the approval of a temporary funding plan to avoid a government shutdown on October 1.

“There will be some bills that won’t pass or won’t be ready by then,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan of the fiscal deadline, acknowledging at a Thursday news conference what everyone on Capitol Hill already knew, that Congress won’t finish its spending work on time for the twenty-second consecutive year.

So far, the House has approved six of the twelve bills which fund the operations of the federal government. The Senate has voted on three of those spending bills.

Lawmakers in the House certainly have the time to act on the six unfinished bills awaiting action – but the House is now gone until September 4 – leaving only 11 scheduled legislative work days in September – between the end of July and the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

While the Senate will work most of August – the House schedule shows no legislative work in August in D.C. – and if you’re not in session, it’s sort of hard to pass bills.

In an event this past week at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, there was no surprise at the inability of the House and Senate to do their spending work on time among those who have worked in Congress or watched lawmakers up close for years.

“I think a lot of it is there is just not the will to get the appropriations process done each year,” said Molly Reynolds of the Brookings Institute.

Since Congress reformed its budget process in 1974, Congress has only completed spending work on time in 1976, 1988, 1994, and 1996.

And this year will be no different, requiring the use of stopgap funding measures, known as “Continuing Resolutions,” and maybe a giant “Omnibus” funding bill to finish that spending work – something President Donald Trump had vowed not to do this year.

“I think he better be prepared to sign another Continuing Resolution or an Omnibus bill before the year is out,” said Bill Hoagland, a former top staffer on the Senate Budget Committee.

So far, the House has approved 6 of the 12 spending bills for 2019:

“Best case scenario – five or six (bills) – probably more realistic three or four, will be signed into law,” by October 1, said Donald Wolfensberger, a former top staffer on the House Rules Committee.

“So, you are going to have a Continuing Resolution, and they’ll be back after the election to patch things up,” Wolfensberger added, which brings into play the possibility of an Omnibus funding bill, something which President Trump said in March he would not approve.

“I will never sign another bill like this again – I’m not going to do it again,” the President said in March, when Congress jammed all the 12 spending measures into one giant bill, and sent it to the White House for his signature.

This time, maybe what the President will be asked to sign in terms of overdue spending legislation will be something a bit smaller – but still, it won’t happen until after the spending deadline.

“We know that Congress is quite bad at meeting these deadlines,” said Reynolds of Brookings, as some have suggested getting rid of the fiscal year, and simply budgeting on a calendar year basis, or move to a two-year ‘biennial’ budget.

“I guess the big question always looming as we near October 1, is will there be another government shutdown?” said Wolfensberger.

“I don’t think either party wants to have one, because it’s not going to help either party in the November elections,” he added.

Obviously, it would be much easier to get the work done – if the House was in session in August.

Reminder: Since 1974, the Congress has finished its spending bills on time (by October 1) in 1976, 1988, 1994 & 1996

— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) January 19, 2018

“Congress and members of Congress could stand up and make the process work better,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center, who noted that a special panel is now looking at changing the budget process.

“The current budget process has dysfunction and disorder built into the process,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who is on a special House-Senate committee to consider changes to the budget system on Capitol Hill.

One piece of that dysfunction might be the five week break the House is now on, which all but insures failure when it comes to finishing the spending bills for 2019.

But that reform effort won’t change the budget process this year, again raising the threat of a government shutdown and an omnibus funding bill – a repeat Capitol Hill has seen every year since 1997.

Trump trumpets trade tactics at Illinois steel mill

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 22:19

A day after agreeing to wide-ranging negotiations on trade with leaders of the European Union, President Donald Trump took credit for a resurgence in heavy industry jobs in the steel industry, arguing that his tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Europe, Canada, and Mexico were bolstering American security and economic growth.

“We love our steel workers, and our steel workers are going back to work,” the President said at a U.S. Steel plant in Granite City, Illinois, which has added on shifts since Mr. Trump’s tariffs were put in place.

“We are once again pouring new American steel into the spine of our country,” the President said to cheers.

In his remarks, Mr. Trump mixed in support for his tariffs with pointed talk for other nations, saying that “no one rips off the United States” on trade anymore.

President Trump: "We're putting the world's trade cheaters on notice. No one rips off the United States of America and nobody takes advantage of our workers or our companies anymore. And this includes protecting our great farmers."

Full video here: https://t.co/ijOy8Q7Qg0 pic.twitter.com/3EnyCeH55U

— CSPAN (@cspan) July 26, 2018

While the President trumpeted his stance on steel and aluminum tariffs, he also gave a brief mention to an emergency $12 billion bailout plan for farmers which was issued this week by the Agriculture Department, as farm communities have been hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from other nations, angered by the steel and aluminum import duties.

Mr. Trump said he believes farmers understand their pain is part of his larger plans.

“They interview them on television, and they say, ‘he’s doing the right thing,'” the President said of farmers hit by tariffs and lost markets.

“We’ve given them a little help,” Mr. Trump said of the $12 billion aid plan. “We’re giving them a little help.”

Asked about the aid by reporters at the White House on Thursday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin bristled at the characterization of the aid plan as a ‘bailout.’

“We’re not bailing out any farmers, that’s a ridiculous comment,” Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin pressed whether $12B aid to farmers is a “bailout”:
“We're not bailing out any farmers, that's a ridiculous comment. It's not a bailout… to the extent that other countries unfairly and illegally target our farmers, we will stand up and fight for them."

— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 26, 2018

But farmers – and farm state Senators – have been growing increasingly vocal in recent weeks, worried that their trade losses will continue for years.

At a hearing with the U.S. Trade Representative on Thursday, Senators chided the Trump Administration’s trade policy choices, as they were told there would be no aid for anyone other than farmers.

“Are you also talking about aid for small businesses…who are being hurt by this policy?” asked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

“Agriculture has been particularly targeted,” said Robert Lighthizer, echoing the President’s complaints about retaliatory tariffs, which have been aimed at more than farm products.

“So you’re not contemplating that kind of assistance for other small businesses that are being hurt by this trade war?” Shaheen pressed.

“No. Not at this time,” said Lighthizer.

Despite the bipartisan complaints, there is no sign that Congress will act on any legislation to roll back the President’s tariffs.

The House on Thursday went home on an extended summer break, as lawmakers on that side of the Capitol won’t be back for legislative action until after Labor Day.

Speaker Ryan opposes GOP bid to impeach Rosenstein

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 17:10

Breaking with a group of more conservative GOP lawmakers, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that he did not support an effort unveiled last night to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, as Ryan argued that despite concerns over cooperation from the Justice Department, the dispute did not merit such a constitutional showdown.

“Do I support impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not,” Ryan said at a news conference, just before House members went home for an extended summer break which will run until after Labor Day.

“I don’t think we should be cavalier with this process, or with this term,” said Ryan, referring to the impeachment process, which hasn’t been used against a federal official – other than a judge or President – since 1876.

“I don’t think this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” Ryan added.

.@SpeakerRyan: "Do I support impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not."

Full video here: https://t.co/VfBrKwwbo0 pic.twitter.com/nwjOi9kaac

— CSPAN (@cspan) July 26, 2018

But a small band of Republicans from the House Freedom Caucus see things much differently, as they introduced a resolution to impeach Rosenstein on Thursday night, complaining that Rosenstein – who oversees the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections – has dragged his feet on turning over documents about that investigation.

“We can’t get answers for the American people if we can’t get information from the DOJ,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

“It’s time to impeach Rod Rosenstein,” Jordan added, just hours before he announced he would try to succeed Ryan as Speaker, if Republicans can keep the House majority in the 2018 elections.

“We have had enough,” said Freedom Caucus head Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

“The DOJ has continued to hide information from Congress and repeatedly obstructed oversight–even defying multiple Congressional subpoenas,” he added.

Rosenstein has engaged in an obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress. The delays, obfuscation and intransigence demonstrate a disregard for his sworn duties to the Constitution and the American people. Enough is enough. #ImpeachRosenstein https://t.co/PMfdJMOsO1 pic.twitter.com/A9vWNJrVfr

— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) July 26, 2018

But while critics of Rosenstein were loudly pronouncing their effort, it’s clear they don’t have the votes to get a majority of the House to join with them – and even if they did, the Senate does not have a two-thirds super majority to convict and oust Rosenstein.

In a news conference with reporters, Speaker Ryan said while there have been problems getting documents, he believes there has been a lot of compliance in recent months from the Justice Department.

“We do not have full compliance – and we have to get full compliance – but we are making tremendous progress,” Ryan added.

The issue isn’t going anywhere for now, as lawmakers go home for an extended legislative break – leaving the matter until September, or later.

You can read the full text of the Rosenstein impeachment articles at this link.