U.S. Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, is rushing to defend former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who shared detailed polling data with a suspected Russian spy.
His reasoning that it was OK to share data on a U.S. presidential election with an alleged Russian intelligence operative?
“This was someone that Paul Manafort had known for a very long time and trusted.”
That’s what Lankford said, as Raw Story‘s Martin Cizmar noted:
“We need to get the whole story on it because it makes it seem like it was some secret backchannel communication,” he said of the secret backchannel communication between the Trump campaign and a charged Russian spy which Manafort lied to investigators about. “If it was, this was someone that Paul Manafort had known for a very long time and trusted.”
Lankford served in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms before being elected a U.S. Senator in 2014.
He also served as the director of student ministry at a Southern Baptist camp for 15 years before coming to Congress, according to his official bio on his Senate website, 20 years at the ministry in total.
That is the extent of his pre-lawmaker experience.
And yet he sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, and had sat on the Select Committee on Intelligence. Lankford is a frequent guest on cable news programs, frequently weighing in on matters of national security, including the Russia investigation.
On Wednesday Senator Lankford defended Manafort, after Manafort’s own attorneys incorrectly redacted a critical court filing. The filing revealed Manafort shared (presumably) secret Trump campaign polling data with a suspected Russian intelligence operative, Konstantin Kilimnik.
The Washington Post reported that Kilimnik, “who began working for Manafort’s consulting firm starting in 2005, has been charged with helping his former boss to obstruct Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. He is believed to be in Moscow.”
Lankford assured CNN Wednesday morning that Manafort’s sharing of the data with an alleged Russian spy does not constitute collusion. (Experts say it is evidence of collusion.)
While he does have a Masters in Divinity, he does not have a law degree, yet Sen. Lankford is all too willing to go on national television and use the cloak of his office to shield the president’s former campaign chairman, and by extension, the president, by giving his opinion on a legal matter.
The Oklahoma Senator characterized Manafort’s association with Kolimnik as “an ongoing relationship,. Lankford noted that Kilimnik “also previously worked for the Russian military,” but sloughed it off, saying, “so did most everybody in that, so I don’t see this as a deliberate contact with the Russian government, this was a person that he’d worked with for a decade and a half at that point, in Ukraine.”
Senator Lankford is literally saying it’s OK that Manafort shared intelligence – polling data – with a suspected Russian spy, because Manafort knew him “for a very long time and trusted” him.
That’s exactly how spies get the information they need.
.@SenatorLankford says he doesn’t think Trump’s campaign boss giving polling data to person connected to Russian intel is collusion b/c Manafort knew the intel agent previously.
“This is an ongoing relationship that Manafort had…I don’t see this as deliberate contact w/Russia” pic.twitter.com/yvsjM7y5yI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 9, 2019
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Rep. Greene Files Bill to Eliminate ATF Then Attacks Biden Over Drug Cartels – Which ATF Targets and Investigates
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Thursday announced she has filed a bill that would eliminate the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). One hour later in a spottily-attended press conference Greene angrily attacked President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, whom she falsely accused of allowing the U.S. southern border to be “wide open” to allow drug trafficking.
“President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are in business with the cartels,” Greene declared, lying to reporters. “They are in business with the criminals. Because their border policies, of ripping our southern border wide open is allowing the cartels to get rich beyond their wildest dreams, as they traffic humans and drugs across our border.”
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) June 17, 2021
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives works to target, investigate, and prosecute cartels that traffic in illegal guns – and drugs.
Earlier this month, for example, the Dept. of Justice published a press release announcing “Eight Members of Armed Drug Trafficking Organization Charged by Federal Indictment.”
“This case,” DOJ says, “was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lake City Police Department.”
The indictment charges “eight individuals in Florida with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute MDMA, also known as ‘ecstasy’ or ‘molly’, and α‑Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, also known as ‘alpha-PVP’ or ‘flakka.’ If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States intends to forfeit property that was used to facilitate the offense or that is traceable to proceeds of the offense, including approximately $185,000 in cash, a 2015 BMW 550i, a 2015 Lexus IS 250, a 2013 Audi A8 L Quattro, a 2020 Ryker Rally Edition motorcycle, two Rolex watches, numerous pieces of jewelry, and five firearms.”
It’s the forfeiture of the firearms that Greene has a problem with.
“I just introduced the bill to eliminate the ATF,” Greene says in her recorded video Thursday, during which she mispronounced the word “introduced.”
“The war on gun owners’ rights has been waged long enough and it’s time to stop it.”
Just moments ago I introduced legislation to ELIMINATE the ATF (H.R. 3960).
The ATF’s unconstitutional war on gun owners and our Second Amendment rights must end. pic.twitter.com/dTOVkxuh2Q
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) June 17, 2021
Those eight individuals captured by federal authorities, including by the ATF, are U.S. citizens, gun owners, living and operating in Florida, who “were part of an armed drug trafficking organization that distributed illegal narcotics, primarily out of a ‘trap house’ on 14th Street in Jacksonville, beginning in July 2018 and continuing until April 13, 2021, when six of the defendants were arrested,” the DOJ statement says.
That investigation is far from the only one that makes Greene’s desire to eliminate ATF problematic if she actually is concerned about drug trafficking and cartels.
A few headlines:
It is a joint effort– the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team aims to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs in South Dakota, comprised of Pennington County Sheriff’s deputies and Rapid City Police officers, they work with the State Division of Criminal Investigations, Highway Patrol, and federal agencies like the DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security to fight illegal drug distribution, from the top down.
If Greene wants to get rid of illegal drugs getting rid of the agency that gets rid of illegal guns isn’t going to help.
Watch: Trump Uses Positive COVID-19 Test of Pence Press Secretary to Advocate Against Testing
President Donald Trump revealed that the member of the Vice President’s staff who tested positive on Friday for coronavirus is Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller. Miller happens to be the spouse of Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller, as CNN reports.
The President used the news to advocate against coronavirus testing, suggesting that because someone could become infected any time after being tested it might not make sense to test for the virus that has killed more than 78,000 people in America to date.
“She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of a sudden today she tested positive,” Trump said during a lunch meeting with House Republicans in the State Dining Room.
The President said Miller has been tested repeatedly and her tests always came back negative, but this time she tested positive.
“This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great,” Trump said, which violates medical experts’ findings and policies.
Trump did not appear to understand that identifying those who test positive prevents the spread of the virus and allows them and others they may have infected to be quarantined. It also gives them time to get medical attention, which could be life-saving.
Trump’s personal valet tested positive earlier this week. Some say the President should have been quarantined as a result.
The United States, which has the highest death toll and highest number of coronavirus cases currently ranks 40th in per capita coronavirus testing (where number one is the most tests per capita.) The U.S. also ranks 13th highest in per capita deaths.
The U.S. has had more coronavirus cases than the next six countries combined, but given the low amount of tests the true number could be worse.
President Trump discusses Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Pence, testing positive today for coronavirus. Trump says she hasn’t come into contact with him, and that Pence has tested negative https://t.co/9T8aUPjUrs pic.twitter.com/xnV8qIOjbl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 8, 2020
Giuliani ‘so what’ if Trump talked to Cohen
Rudy Giuliani, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, had an unusual take on the issue of President Trump speaking to Michael Cohen prior to his congressional testimony, a key part of a recent story initially broken by BuzzFeed News and questioned, in part, by both the administration and the Mueller investigation.
“Did President Trump or anyone on the Trump team ever have a conversation with Michael Cohen about his congressional testimony?” asked host Jake Tapper.
Giuliani had a unique take on any discussions the president may have had, saying that the president never would have pressed Cohen to lie, but would have worked to make sure that they all had the same “version of the events.”
“As far as I know, President Trump did not have discussions with him,” said Giuliani. “[They] certainly had no discussions with him in which he told him or counseled him to lie. If he had any discussions with him, they’d be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them which they all believe was true. I believe it was true. I still believe that it may be true.”
Pressing further on his point after Giuliani had tried to argue the semantics of just what is a “deal,” as well as trying to again discredit the Steele Dossier, Tapper again pressed Giuliani about the President speaking to Michael Cohen about his testimony.
“You just acknowledged that President Trump might have talk to him about his testimony,” said Tapper.
“And so what if he talked to him about it,” interjected Giuliani
View the whole interaction below:
Image via screen capture from video source.
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