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Trump publicly humiliates Jeff Sessions, demands arbitrary prosecution of political opponents

July 25, 2017 aurorax 0

The president escalates his war on the rule of law.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Less than a week after President Trump declared war on the rule of law by launching highly unusual attacks against the country’s three top law enforcement officials during an interview with the New York Times, Trump took news shots at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in a series of tweets posted Tuesday morning.

On the heels of those attacks and amid reports that Trump is considering firing Sessions, the president’s latest incendiary tweets — which trash Sessions for not being hard enough on Hillary Clinton — seem intended to force his hand-picked attorney general to resign.

Trump began by asking why Sessions isn’t investigating the baseless notion that the Clinton campaign colluded with Ukraine — a claim Sean Hannity has been pushing on his Fox News show.

Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – “quietly working to boost Clinton.” So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity

 — @realDonaldTrump

Within 10 minutes, Trump posted another tweet suggesting he doesn’t think Sessions is being hard enough on Clinton in general.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!

 — @realDonaldTrump

Because Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe after he misled senators during his confirmation hearing about whether he met with Russian officials, he is thus unable to protect Trump from the ongoing investigation. A new attorney general in Sessions’ role could make decisions that influence the ongoing probe, such as firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In the recent New York Times interview, Trump expressed frustration with the fact that Sessions has recused himself from the probe — saying that if he had known Sessions would render himself unable to protect him, Trump would have chosen someone else to be the attorney general.

Ordered by court to disclose his Russia contacts, Sessions releases blank sheet of paper

On Tuesday morning, Trump made clear he wants the Department of Justice and FBI to launch new, arbitrary persecutions of his political opponent Hillary Clinton.

Former FBI Director James Comey closed an investigation into Clinton’s email practices more than a year ago. Trump abruptly fired Comey in May.

Trump also blasted the person who would oversee any new hypothetical Clinton investigation — Acting FBI Director McCabe — falsely asserting that McCabe’s wife, who ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat in Virginia, received money from Clinton.

Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!

 — @realDonaldTrump

Trump went on to praise White House adviser Jared Kushner’s closed-door, unsworn testimony on Monday, and indicated that despite evidence showing that his campaign was eager to collude with Russia, he still thinks the multiple Russian probes are nothing more than a “witch hunt.”

Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!

 — @realDonaldTrump

The White House has also been making a concerted effort to undercut the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia by attempting to paint Mueller as a Democratic operative. White House officials have repeatedly highlighted that members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democratic candidates.

In reality, Mueller was appointed FBI Director by Republican President George W. Bush, and Trump has in fact given more money to Democrats than Mueller’s team combined.

Since firing him in May, Trump has also smeared former FBI Director James Comey as a liar and a leaker.

In this context, the message that emerges from Trump’s repeated attacks is clear — Trump will not tolerate law enforcement officials who refuse to do his bidding, are unable to protect him, or try to operate independently of his political prerogatives.

Trump publicly humiliates Jeff Sessions, demands arbitrary prosecution of political opponents was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Intelligence intercepts indicate Sessions lied about why he didn’t disclose Russia contacts

July 22, 2017 aurorax 0

He said it was about his role as a senator. New evidence suggests it wasn’t.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

According to U.S. intelligence interceptions detailed by a Washington Post report, when then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year during the campaign, the two discussed various campaign-related matters and policy issues important to Moscow.

That’s based on intercepted reports Kislyak delivered to his superiors back in Russia after each of the two conversations he had with Sessions, who now serves as President Trump’s attorney general. Though it’s of course possible that Kislyak may have mischaracterized or exaggerated what was discussed in the meetings, the U.S. officials who spoke to the Post said that the former ambassador had a reputation for accurately relaying details about his meetings with government officials. The new report also jibes with a report from someone who was in attendance at the Republican National Convention, where one of the meetings took place, who said Sessions and Kislyak discussed the campaign.

When the Post reached out to Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, she responded that she could not comment on an anonymous, uncorroborated intelligence intercept. But according to the Post, “she reiterated that Sessions did not discuss interference in the election.”

The revelations, if true, undermine the various narratives Sessions has spun about his interactions with the Russians, of which at least two are known.

It would confirm that Sessions did, in fact, lie to the Senate during his confirmation hearing when he claimed that he didn’t have communications with the Russians. He argued during his testimony in June that he believed Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) question referred specifically to meetings related to the campaign. Now, even if that was the cause of his supposed misunderstanding, it still doesn’t substantiate his answer.

The report also contradicts his excuse for not noting the meetings with Kislyak on his security clearance forms. When that news came to light in May, Flores explained that an FBI employee had told Sessions he didn’t need to list meetings with foreign ambassadors that happened in his capacity as a senator. Another spokesperson, Ian Prior, similarly claimed that Sessions “was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.” But if he was discussing the campaign, the meetings were most certainly not in his capacity as a Senator.

The suspicious circumstances of Sessions’ second meeting with the Russian ambassador

Just last week, Sessions responded to a court order directing him to release the part of his security clearance detailing his foreign contacts by releasing a mostly blank piece of paper. The only part of the form that wasn’t redacted was the box that was checked “No” in response to a question about having any contact with a foreign government.

Flores’ insistence that Sessions did not discuss interference in the election at the meetings mirrors his own claim during congressional testimony in June that it’s an “appalling and detestable lie” to suggest he participated in any collusion with the Russian government. But during that hearing, he also insisted 26 different times that he didn’t remember details of what was discussed at the meetings.

The news about Sessions’ meeting comes just two days after President Trump lashed out at the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions announced his recusal after revelations of his meetings first came to light, although he did still participate in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the Russia investigation. Trump fumed that if he had known Sessions would recuse himself, he would’ve appointed a different attorney general — implying that Sessions’s missteps were to blame for the chain of events that resulted in the appointment of a special prosecutor.

It also comes about ten days after another set of astounding revelations about a meeting Donald Trump, Jr. had during the campaign with a Russian lawyer tied to the nation’s spy agency and other prominent Russian officials. The meeting was set up with the promise of opposition research about Hillary Clinton and spoke blatantly about the Russian government’s support for Trump’s candidacy. Then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House adviser Jared Kushner also participated in that meeting.

At Thursday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Trump remains “frustrated by the continued witch hunt of the Russia investigation.” That same day, reports revealed Trump has been investigating the breadth of his presidential pardon powers, including whether he can pardon himself.

Intelligence intercepts indicate Sessions lied about why he didn’t disclose Russia contacts was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Voter fraud panel official: ‘We may never know’ if Clinton won the popular vote

July 19, 2017 aurorax 0

She won by several million votes.

CREDIT: MSNBC screengrab

The vice chairman of Donald Trump’s Commission on Voter Integrity made a bizarre claim during a MSNBC interview on Wednesday.

When MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked if Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) thought Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election by three to five million votes, Kobach responded, “We’ll probably never know the answer to that question.”

When she pressed him on the matter, he repeated: “We may never know the answer to that question.”

Clinton won the popular vote by about three million votes — a result Kobach implied could have been skewed by massive voter fraud. But according to a 2014 investigation into voter fraud, cases of fraud occur about three times per 100 million voters, and about 120 million people voted in the 2016 election. In fact, voter fraud is so rare that more people are struck by lightning than commit it, according to Politifact.

For the most part, conservatives agree that Clinton did, in fact, win the popular vote without the aid of voter fraud. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said there was “no evidence” of voter fraud in the election, a statement that was echoed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Even Fox Business conceded that Clinton won the popular vote by about three million votes.

Kobach’s claim, however, is backed up by one very powerful conservative voice: that of the President of the United States. President Donald Trump claimed in November that he, in fact, had won the popular vote, “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

 — @realdonaldtrump

This isn’t the first time Kobach has said something like this. Earlier this year, he said that “we may never know” whether Trump’s claim of widespread fraud is true or false — but that the allegation wasn’t the reason why the commission was founded.

In fact, the commission appears to be laying the groundwork for voter suppression by flogging spurious allegations of widespread fraud.

Voter fraud panel official: ‘We may never know’ if Clinton won the popular vote was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

LOL! New Bloomberg Poll Shows Trump More Popular Than Hillary

July 18, 2017 aurorax 0

They say you shouldn’t beat a dead horse. But sometimes, if the horse was of a particularly Wiccan and satanic variety, beating a dead horse can be quite satisfying. Case in point? Hillary Clinton. Usually, seeing Hill-dawg’s shriveled mug in the news triggers involuntary cringing. And vomiting. Not this time. A new Bloomberg poll shows her popularity has […]