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Bombshell: Moscow Thought Trump’s Attacks on Khans Showed Him ‘Psychologically Unfit,’ Certain GOP Would Dump Him

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Report: ‘Why Vladimir Putin’s Russia Is Backing Donald Trump’

A third bombshell report by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald was published Friday morning, revealing the depths of the Russian government’s backing of Donald Trump, including a tremendous and widespread hacking and disinformation campaign to support him. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC previewed the report Thursday night (video above.)

In the lengthy exposé, Eichenwald writes that the Russian government thought Trump’s weeks-long attacks on the Khans, the Gold Star family who addressed the Democratic National Convention, was so inappropriate it would lead Americans to dump him.

“Trump’s behavior, however, has at times concerned the Russians, leading them to revise their hacking and disinformation strategy,” Eichenwald reports. 

“For example, when Trump launched into an inexplicable attack on the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who died in combat, the Kremlin assumed the Republican nominee was showing himself psychologically unfit to be president and would be forced by his party to withdraw from the race. As a result, Moscow put its hacking campaign temporarily on hold, ending the distribution of documents until Trump stabilized, both personally and in the polls, according to reports provided to Western intelligence.”

And it appears the Russian government is funneling information – or disinformation – into the Trump campaign.

“Trump and his campaign have also spread propaganda created as part of the Kremlin’s effort, relying on bogus information generated through traditional Russian disinformation techniques,” Eichenwald charges. 

“In one instance, a manipulated document was put out onto the internet anonymously by propagandists working with Russia; within hours, Trump was reciting that false information at a campaign rally. The Trump campaign has also spread claims from Sputnik, another news outlet identified by American intelligence as part of the Russian disinformation campaign. For example, almost immediately after the posting of an article by Sputnik attacking this Newsweek reporter, the Trump campaign emailed a link to the piece to American reporters, urging them to pursue the same story.”

The article also dives into the great concerns our NATO allies have about Trump, including his apparent protection of Putin and the Russian government. 

During the final presidential debate, despite having been briefed by U.S. intelligence officials about Russia’s hacking, Trump on stage wholly denied Russia’s involvement.

The words that so shocked the British were ‘our country has no idea,’ and ‘I doubt it,'” when Clinton accused the Russians of hacking, Eichenwald reports. “All of the NATO allies are sure Russia is behind the hacking. All of America’s intelligence agencies are, too. The foreign intelligence services had been sharing what they knew about this with the Americans, and Trump had been told about it.”

“But he blithely dismissed the conclusion of not only the United States but its allies as well, based on absolutely nothing. Trump had no apparent means of developing his own information to contradict the findings of intelligence agencies around the world. And that he would so aggressively fight to clear Putin, and cast aspersions on all Western intelligence agencies, left the British officials slack-jawed.”

The entire story is at Newsweek and worth a read. 

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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‘Genius’ Madison Cawthorn Mocked for Claiming the Constitution Prohibits Airlines From Requiring Vaccinations

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U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn is once again being mocked, this time for yet again not understanding the very basics of American democracy.

On Thursday the Republican from North Carolina claimed it is “illegal” and unconstitutional for airlines to require passengers to be vaccinated, because “you actually have a constitutionally protected right to free, unrestricted travel within the United States.”

That last part has a tiny shred of truth to it. Just not in the way Congressman Cawthorn thinks.

(Those inteested in the legal mechanics should examine this and this.)

Anyone could take a minute to come up with arguments why his claim is false, including that anyone driving a car is required to have a driver’s license and insurance, and wear a seat belt.

The freshman Congressman was quickly mocked:

 

 

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29 Months Later Bill Barr’s Super Secret Russia Special Counsel Files His Second Indictment – for Alleged Lying

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In April of 2019 then-Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut to open and lead an investigation into Russia – not into how Russia has been attacking the United States via cyber warfare, undermining Americans’ trust in American institutions, and using social media to do it, but into whether or not the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been warranted in opening an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including its investigation of Donald Trump.

On Thursday, 29 months after Barr first appointed John Durham (photo, right) to lead that super-secret investigation, 11 months after Barr secretly turned Durham into a special counsel to ensure the investigation would continue past his and Trump’s tenure, and after spending untold millions of taxpayer dollars, the Dept. of Justice has announced Durham has obtained a second indictment.

“A prominent cybersecurity lawyer was indicted on a charge of lying to the F.B.I. five years ago during a meeting about Donald J. Trump and Russia, the Justice Department announced on Thursday,” The New York Times reports.

The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, “of the law firm Perkins Coie, which has deep ties to the Democratic Party — is accused of making a false statement about his client at the meeting.”

Mr. Sussmann’s defense lawyers have denied the accusation, saying that he did not make a false statement, that the evidence he did is weak and that who he was representing was not a material fact in any case. They have vowed to fight any charge in court.

At issue is who was Sussman working for when he “relayed concerns by cybersecurity researchers who believed that unusual internet data might be evidence of a covert communications channel between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and with Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution.”

Apparently not at issue is if the Trump Organization or campaign had a secret communications channel to a Kremlin-linked organization.

Frequent viewers of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow are likely familiar with her reporting on Alfa Bank, including this segment from October 2018:

Durham has not obtained any indictment against anyone in Russia, any Russian operatives, any Trump Organization or campaign official, or anyone who may have been involved in Russia’s attack on the United States.

The only other indictment Durham has obtained from his two-plus year investigation? The Times in 2019 reported on a “low-level” FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, who “altered an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap,” on Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor.

One expert calls the indictment “weak.”

 

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Newly Unredacted Documents Reveal a Litany of Allegations Against Pompeo, His Wife, and State Dept. Staffers

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Newly unredacted records from a whistleblower complaint in the State Department have shed light on more allegations against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of his former staff.

According to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pompeo and others were accused of misconduct.

The publication reports: “The alleged misconduct included false or misleading statements to the agency’s legal department, misuse of government resources on personal and political activities potentially prohibited by the Hatch Act, verbal abuse of employees by Mike and Susan Pompeo and directives to staff not to communicate in writing in order to evade transparency laws.”

The unredacted documents come two years after the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was filed with the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is said to have excluded many of the previous redactions in the version of the documents released to CREW.

“The complaint alleges “[s]everal senior career Foreign Service officials who held positions of responsibility within the Executive Secretariat” turned a blind eye to Pompeo’s “questionable activities” and, in some cases, “facilitat[ed]” them, according to CREW.

Employees in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser “expressed concern that some of these activities may have violated [the] Hatch Act or other regulations,” but the whistleblower was “unaware that any resolution was reached, potentially because senior officials in the Executive Secretariat repeatedly declined to seek clarification or guidance from [the Office of the Legal Adviser] despite requests from subordinates to do so.”

The new documents also detail the aftermath of former Inspector Steve Linick’s removal from his post, which was part of a larger Trump-led effort to oust inspectors. The report also indicated that staff members were “stunned” by the directive.

“[T]his is all so surreal three days later. I’m nervous about the future,” the OIG employee wrote in a May 18, 2020 email. In a later email, the official added, “I just heard Trump say we needed to get rid of the ‘Attorney Generals’ as a whole…Oh dear.”

CREW has also received other documentation as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit aimed at uncovering information about Pompeo’s attempts to hinder the investigation into the allegations of misconduct against him.

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