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Billionaire Alleged Body-Slamming Republican Greg Gianforte Projected Winner in Montana Special Election

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A Democrat Hasn’t Held Montana’s Sole Congressional Seat in 20 Years

Republican Greg Gianforte is the projected winner in the race to fill Montana’s open seat in the U.S House of Representatives. The AP called the race at 12:35 AM EDT.

Earlier:

Descision Desk:

Cook Political Report:

Just past midnight, with 65% of the vote counted, The New York Times reported Gianforte had nearly 50% of the vote:

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The quiet special election to replace a GOP congressman became a breaking news story overnight, when GOP candidate Greg Gianforte late Wednesday allegedly “body-slammed” a reporter asking a question about health care policy.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke was picked from obscurity by President Donald Trump to become Secretary of the Interior. Billionaire businessman Greg Gianforte, a far right wing anti-gay Christian extremist billionaire known to have a problem with his temper allegedly knocked a reporter for The Guardian off his feet, grabbed him by the neck, and repeatedly punched him, according to a Fox News reporter who was in the room late Wednesday afternoon. 

Gianforte had several thing going for him: timing. Before his alleged assault (for which he was cited hours later, after massive public outrage that he was allowed to leave the scene and drive away despite the local sheriff being on hand) about 65 to 70 percent of votes had already been cast.  

He also had another thing going for him: Montana conservatives.

Thursday night CNN reported people in Montana they talked to delivered a “groundswell” of support for Gianforte, and called his (alleged) assault, which sent the reporter, Ben Jacobs, to the hospital, “Montana justice.”

That support translated into dollars:

Speaking of dollars, Republicans poured millions into this race, Democrats, once again, didn’t bother:

Not much was known nationally about either candidate.

The Democrat, Rob Quist, describes himself as a “small businessman, award-winning songwriter, and entrepreneur.” Known as the cowboy poet, he’s spent a lot of time traveling across Montana. And beyond. He even performed at a nudist resort in what his communications director called “a naked attempt to distract voters from Greg Gianforte’s shady Russian investments,” USA Today reported last month.

Gianforte has a far different background. He is a young earth creationist, or at least his foundation has funded a museum that is. Along with some very anti-gay groups.

“In 2006, he established the Gianforte Family Foundation with his wife ‘in response to God’s great goodness to them,'” HuffPost reported in 2015, before his failed gubernatorial attempt.

The foundation focuses on “improving education, lifting people out of poverty, protecting the unborn, and Christian outreach.” According to its website, last year’s grantees included groups against gay marriage, such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, as well as the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, which aims to show “the adventure of receiving [Jesus Christ] as Savior and Lord.”  

Gianforte has indicated in the past that he doesn’t see the need to separate his faith from his professional life. According to National Journal, last year he personally lobbied against a local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nondiscrimination ordinance. In a February talk at the Montana Bible College, he said, “there’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement.” 

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Gianforte. Trump, who won the state by 21 points, recorded a robocall for the Montana Republican. Pence traveled to the state to campaign with him (photo, above).

Sadly, few national Republicans denounced Gianforte, while many more offered varying degrees of support. 

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DEEP STATE HYSTERIA

Undercover Operatives Waged Sting Operation to Discredit ‘Deep State’ Officials on Trump’s Enemies List: NYT

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Undercover operatives from right wing Project Veritas worked with a former British spy trained by Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince to wage a smear and sting operation to discredit “deep state” federal government officials on President Donald Trump’s enemies list while he was in office, including the National Security Advisor and FBI agents.

The New York Times broke the bombshell story, reporting that the “campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks.”

“The campaign,” the Times reports, “shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump’s allies had about a shadowy ‘deep state’ trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president.”

“Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018.”

Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group’s operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The Times’ extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.

The Times reports the operation was run out of a house that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.

“The operation against Mr. McMaster was hatched not long after an article appeared in BuzzFeed News about a private dinner in 2017. Exactly what happened during the dinner is in dispute, but the article said that Mr. McMaster had disparaged Mr. Trump by calling him an ‘idiot’ with the intelligence of a ‘kindergartner.'”

Those allegations were never proven, although they echo what some others inside the administration, like first Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had allegedly stated.

In the end, McMaster resigned amid far right-wing attacks, but no recordings of him calling Trump an “idiot.”

Read the entire New York Times investigation here.

Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr 
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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Newsmax Host Off Air After Online Outrage Over Antisemitic Remarks

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Newsmax TV host Grant Stinchfield will be off the air for the remainder of the week after massive outrage over his antisemitic remarks Wednesday night. Stinchfield claimed that American Jews’ “home country” is actually Israel, not the U.S., in a rant attacking President Joe Biden.

Eric Bolling, the former Fox News host who has seen his own share of controversy, in a tweet announced he will be covering for Stinchfield, which The Wrap reported.

“If you are Jewish and you are a Democrat and you are living in America today, how do you support an administration that turns its back on your home country?” Stinchfield had said, as Media Matters reported.

Outrage, especially from Americans who also identify as Jewish, was massive, as NCRM documented.

In March Stinchfield came under attack after claiming there was a “strong case” that President Joe Biden is “not really a Catholic.”

 

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CRIME

Active Duty US Marine Corps Officer Arrested for Alleged Role in January 6 Insurrection: DOJ

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice has announced the arrest of a 40-year old active duty U.S. Marine, a commissioned officer stationed at Quantico, for his alleged role in the January 6 insurrection.

Citing court documents and security camera footage, DOJ in a statement says Major Christopher Warnagiris “violently entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, after pushing through a line of police officers guarding the East Rotunda doors. Once inside, Warnagiris positioned himself in the corner of the doorway, using his body to keep the door open and pull others inside. When a U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officer tried to pull the doors shut, Warnagiris refused and continued pushing it open. Warnagiris can be seen pushing the officer in an effort to maintain his position in the open door in security camera footage and publicly available video footage captured shortly after 2:25 p.m.”

Warnagiris “is charged with federal offenses that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and obstruction of justice, among other charges. Warnagiris will make his initial court appearance today at 2:00 p.m. in the Eastern District of Virginia,” the DOJ said.

HuffPost senior justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly adds:

On Wednesday several Republican members of Congress stated: “There was no insurrection. To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie,” the insurrectionists were merely “peaceful protestors,” and the attack on the U.S. Capitol looked like “a normal tourist visit.”

 

Image: DOJ

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