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CORRUPTION

McConnell Allies Under the Microscope as Trump Official Is Investigated for Awarding Senator’s Friends Lucrative Contracts

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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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CORRUPTION

Busted: Barr Personally Briefed Trump on DOJ Investigation Into 9 Discarded Ballots

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Attorney General Bill Barr personally briefed President Donald Trump about nine ballots that were found discarded in Pennsylvania.

President Trump first revealed the investigation onto the small number of discarded ballots in an interview with Fox News Radio on Thursday. He later repeated and embellished his claims when talking with reporters later that day.

ABC News, which first reported Barr’s extreme involvement with the case and briefing the president, noted that Trump, “without evidence, argued that it bolsters his baseless claims of widespread fraud in mail-in voting.”

Trump used the information from the attorney general to spread more false allegations about by-mail voting being unsafe.

The Justice Dept. Thursday afternoon issued a press release claiming all nine were ballots cast for Trump. It later deleted that document and published a new one stating 7 of the 9 indicated votes for the president, and two were sealed and the contents unknown.

It is generally not regular practice for an attorney general to brief a president about a small situation. It is almost unheard of for the DOJ to issue a press release or comment on an investigation in progress, especially to reveal major details about the case.

“They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in — but in a certain state and they were — they had Trump written on it, and they were thrown in a garbage can. This is what’s going to happen,” Trump told Fox News Radio. “This is what’s going to happen, and we’re investigating that.”

He later told reporters, “You know they found I understand eight ballots in a wastepaper basket in some location, they found it was reported in one of the newspapers that they found a lot of ballots in a river. They throw them out if they have the name ‘Trump’ on it I guess,” the President claimed.

“Okay, well they still found them in a river whether they had a name on it or not but the other ones had the Trump name on it. And they were thrown into a wastepaper basket.

NCRM found no reports of ballots being found in a river.

NBC News on Thursday noted that “the White House appeared to have a coordinated rollout of the information coming from the Justice Department.”

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CORRUPTION

‘What Does Putin Have on Him?’ Trump Gives Russia a Pass on Alexei Navalny Poisoning

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All eyes have been on Russia since opposition leader Alexei Navalny fell ill in Siberia.

Navalny was finally air-lifted to German, where the government announced toxicology tests found “unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent,” according to CNN.

“Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “This poison can be detected without a doubt in the samples.”

Trump was asked about the poisoning on Friday against the backdrop of the alleged pattern of Vladimir Putin poisoning political opponents.

But Trump refused to condemn the attack or hold Putin to account.

“Once again Trump passes on a chance to hold Russia accountable. What does Putin have on him?” CNN analyst Joe Lockhart asked.

Here’s what others were saying:

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CORRUPTION

DeJoy ‘Surprised and Confused’ After House Oversight Committee Subpoenas Him for Ignoring Deadlines

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The Democratic-led House Oversight Committee has followed through on its promise to subpoena the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, after he failed to meet deadlines for document production in both the House and Senate.

“You are hereby commanded to be and appear before the Committee on Oversight and Reform,” the subpoena, signed by Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) reads.

The Postmaster General says he was “surprised and confused” upon receiving the subpoena.

“We remain surprised and confused by Chairwoman Maloney’s insistence on issuing a subpoena to the Postal Service in the midst of ongoing dialogue with her staff,” the USPS says, as USAToday’s Nicholas Wu reports. “We fully intend to comply with our obligations under the law.”

The Committee has been investigating why the USPS has been removing hundreds of mail sorting machines and post office collection boxes, also known as mailboxes, and suspending overtime.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez weighs in:

 

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