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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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.
HUD Instructed Landlords to Use Reserve Funds During Shutdown – Not Knowing Federal Program Had Expired
Secretary Ben Carson‘s Dept.of Housing and Urban Development on Friday tried to contain the damage caused by President Trump’s shutdown of the federal government. HUD sent letters to 1500 landlords that were part of a federal program, instructing them to use reserve funds from a federal program to avoid evicting tenants.
HUD officials, according to The Washington Post, were unaware the program they directed landlords to use had already expired.
Calling it “a last-minute effort to prevent the eviction of thousands of tenants,” the Post notes a “lot of those tenants live in units covered by a HUD program that many agency officials didn’t realize had expired on Jan. 1,” and adds that “they are now unable to renew.”
This ignorance of its own programs is just another example of the Trump administration’s apparent lack of understanding of what the government does and how it works.
“The officials said they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.”
One conservative commentator put it more succinctly. “Team Trump was so ready to shut down” the government, David Frum tweeted, because “they had no idea” what the government does.
Image by HUD via Flickr
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