A government watchdog is calling for new legislation to remove political self-dealing from the grant application process after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao apparently rewarded political supporters of her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Kentucky’s largest transportation grant application under the Trump administration benefited from an unfair advantage that appeared to have political implications, and the Government Accountability Office called for changes to the award process — and congressional Democrats have asked for an investigation, reported Politico.
“We quite frankly feel legislation is needed to compel DOT to address all the issues that we’ve raised that would really address the transparency, the accountability, the documentation,” said Susan Fleming, director of GAO’s physical infrastructure team.
Boone County, a Republican-leaning suburban district in Northern Kentucky, got a $67.4 million transportation grant after department staffers gave county officials extra time to complete the application.
The department failed to show why Boone County and 41 other applicants got extra time, while another 55 incomplete applications were set aside.
Emails obtained by Politico also show that Boone County officials were in contact with Chao’s aide Todd Inman, a former McConnell campaign staffer who has served as a liaison between Kentucky officials the Transportation Department.
“It really invites skepticism, and it raises questions about the integrity of the process and ultimately the decisions that are made,” Fleming said. “Are these decisions driven by merit? Or are they driven by other factors?”
House Democrats have asked the Transportation Department’s inspector general to investigate whether Chao and Inman had favored their home state, and Politico confirmed that review had been opened.
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Leaked Kremlin Documents Reveal Putin Holds Blackmail Leverage Over Trump – and That’s Why Russia Backed Him
A leaked document appears to confirm rumors that the Kremlin holds blackmail leverage over former president Donald Trump.
Russian president Vladimir Putin personally authorized a secret spy agency back “mentally unstable” Trump for U.S. president during a Jan. 22, 2016, closed session of that country’s national security council, according to what appears to be leaked Kremlin documents obtained by The Guardian.
“It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump’s] election to the post of U.S. president,” the paper says.
The documents include a brief psychological assessment of Trump as “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex,” and also refer to “certain events” that happened during his previous trips to Moscow.
More details about those events are listed in an appendix to that document, but that portion of the papers remains undisclosed.
Those present agreed that Trump in the White House would help Russia create “social turmoil” in the U.S. and weaken the American presidency, two of Moscow’s top strategic objectives.
A decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature authorized Russia’s three spy agencies to work toward getting Trump elected, as the former reality TV star and celebrity businessman was emerging as the Republican Party’s presidential frontrunner.
Watch: Trump Says He Will Be Judged ‘Because of What We Did’
Donald Trump, the former president, gave a lengthy interview to Bill O’Reilly, telling the former Fox News host, “I think in the end I will be judged not necessarily for controversy but because of what we did.”
O’Reilly had asked Trump, “How does it feel to be the most controversial president in history?”
Trump bristled at the question, refusing to agree to the accusation.
“I don’t think I’m the most controversial,” he insisted, unable to offer a name for which president was more controversial than he.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think I’m – look I did a good job. I did, I think a great job,” he claimed, despite leaving office with a 34% approval rating, 400,000 Americans on January 20 dead from a pandemic he refused to control, and unemployment far higher than when he took office.
Instead, Trump touted his “biggest tax cuts in history,” which is a false.
“If I didn’t come up with a vaccine,” Trump claimed, taking total credit for the coronavirus vaccine (there are 3 currently approved by the FDA under an emergency use authorization), despite one of the three having been developed without any government assistance.
“Somebody said the other day,” Trump claimed they were a historian, “they don’t know of any president that’s done more,” he claimed, not naming the historian or saying what he did was constructive or destructive.
“I think in the end I will be judged not necessarily for controversy but because of what we did.”
“They’ll know what you did,” O’Reilly said.
Trump’s family business and its CFO are currently facing a “15-count indictment alleging criminal tax fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records,” which he denounces, along with the Manhattan DA prosecuting the case, earlier in the clip.
Watch (relevant segment starts at 3:13):
.@BillOReilly asks President Trump about rising violent crime, the indictment of the Trump Organization, and his controversial presidency.
“I think, in the end, I will be judged not necessarily for controversy but because of what we did.” pic.twitter.com/DJzbdxv53Z
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) July 9, 2021
Recording Between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine Official Reveals Outright ‘Quid Pro Quo’
CNN has revealed the recording of the call between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aide where the former president’s lawyer pressured the country to investigate the conspiracy theories created around now-President Joe Biden.
The call from 2019 took place between U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker and Zelensky’s aid Andriy Yermak and happened ahead of then-President Donald Trump’s infamous “quid pro quo” where he demanded a “favor” for aid allocated to Ukraine.
“During the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly told Yermak that Zelensky should publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump,” said the report, noting “these separate claims are both untrue.”
“All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said on the call, according to the audio. “… Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”
“I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was a certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election,” Giuliani told Yermak at one point, using another false claim that the U.S. embassy attempted to “produce dirt on then-candidate Trump and Paul Manafort.”
“Another one was involved with (George) Soros … Soros apparently is behind a lot of this,” Giuliani claimed of the liberal billionaire that the right-wing loves to create conspiracies about.
Giuliani then brought up the conspiracy theory that Biden wouldn’t give money to Ukraine if they didn’t fire a top prosecutor in the state that the international community believed was corrupt.
“To me, as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe,” Giuliani said. “A bribe is offering something of value in exchange for official action. So, he offered Poroshenko a $1.2 billion loan guarantee, critical to Poroshenko’s success as president, in exchange for getting rid of a prosecutor general.”
CNN reported that Guiliani repeated over and over again how necessary the investigation was, even claiming the diplomatic relations would improve between the U.S. and Ukraine if the probe was launched, another example of a quid pro quo.
Giuliani and Volker both told the Ukraine official that such a public announcement would certainly ensure an approved visit to the U.S. for Zelensky, a third bribe.
“That would clear the air really well,” Giuliani said, in the recording. “And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside … I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship.”
Read the full report at CNN.com and hear a segment of the audio below:
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