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OPINION

Not Just Dog Walking – IG Trump Fired Had ‘Mostly Completed’ a Report on ‘Fast Track’ of Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

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The Inspector General fired by President Donald Trump late Friday was investigating the possibly illegal orders from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a staffer to walk his dog and pick up his dry cleaning, and other personal errands. There are also complaints about the “quasi-official role” Pompeo’s wife (photo) plays in the State Dept.,  as she did when he was head of CIA. And the White House freely admits Pompeo asked Trump to fire Steve Linick.

But The Washington Post reveals Linick wasn’t just investigating the dog walking – which may have been leaked to throw reporters off the scent of the real scandal.

Linick had “mostly completed” a report on what may have been a false or illegal emergency declaration allowing the fast-tracking of a massive $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. President Trump has strong ties to that country’s leaders and appears to have done them many favors, including protecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the cover up of the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“House Democrats have discovered that the fired IG had mostly completed an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s widely criticized decision to skirt Congress with an emergency declaration to approve billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year, aides on the Foreign Affairs Committee tell me,” says Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent. “Committee Democrats have also learned that the State Department was recently briefed on the IG’s conclusions in that investigation, aides say.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) told Sargent, “Everybody has been trying to figure out why this relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is so strangely close.”

Last year in July Trump vetoed a bill that would have blocked the sale of the weapons to Saudi Arabia – and then turned around and did it anyway.

The dog walking investigation might have been legitimate, and it’s an abuse of taxpayer funds that in any other administration would have led to the Secretary of State’s immediate “resignation.”

But the investigation into billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which some now say might be evidence of corruption, may be the real reason.

No one knows, because Trump fired the Inspector General.

UPDATE –
NBC News confirms: “Linick was also investigating use of emergency declaration last year to sell arms to Saudis over objections of Congress.”

 

Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo arrive in Rome, Italy, on October 1, 2019.
State Department photo by Ron Przysucha via Flickr

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OPINION

Fox News Anchor Hosting First Presidential Debate Picks Trump Campaign Talking Points as Topics

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Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who will moderate the first presidential debate in one week from today, has decided on the topics. The Commission on Presidential Debates has released the list, and at least half are literally Trump campaign issues and talking points.

The list includes: The Trump and Biden Records, The Supreme Court, Covid-19, The Economy, Race and Violence in our Cities, The Integrity of the Election.

Americans have said in large numbers the debates are of minimal importance to their decision-making, and polls show most voters are already decided. NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray on Sunday reports a new NBC News/WSJ poll shows “a combined 71% of voters don’t see the upcoming debates as being very important to deciding their vote.”

Just 18% say they are extremely important, and 44% says they are not at all important.

But allowing Trump to take a victory lap over seating his third Supreme Court justice seems unfair. Voters continue to see Trump as the better of the candidates to manage the economy – despite record unemployment. Race and violence in our cities feeds right in to Trump’s lies about “suburban mothers,” and supposed fear of Black people. Election integrity is an issue only because Trump has lied about the safety of voting by mail – and worked get the Postal Service to slow down deliveries.

Obvious missing topics, to name a few: climate change, police violence, health care, abortion, unemployment, immigration, Russia, America’s standing in the world, the extreme politicization of the federal government, extreme corruption in the federal government, and civil rights.

The debate will be Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 9 PM ET to 10:30 PM ET.

 

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OPINION

‘This Is for the People to Decide’: Jaw-Dropping CNN Supercut Lays Bare the GOP’s Stunning Hypocrisy on SCOTUS

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As the battle over replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who died Friday from complications of pancreatic cancer — takes shape in Washington, D.C., Republican senators who previously refused to hold a vote on former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick are now having their words thrown in their faces.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on Saturday played a devastating supercut that features Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explaining why they would not vote on Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said in 2016 — laying out what Cooper described as an “eerily similar” situation as the one currently playing out in Congress. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,’ and you could use my words against me and you would be absolutely right.”

“We’re setting a precedent here today, Republicans are, that in the last year, at least of a lame duck eight-year term, I would say it’s going to be a four-year term, that you’re not going to fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court based on what we’re doing here today,” he added. “That’s going to be the new rule.”

In his own floor speech on the matter in 2016, McConnell likewise urged Congress to give the American people a say in the Supreme Court pick.

“The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country. So, of course, of course the American people should have a say in the court’s direction,” McConnell said.

Cruz — who was shortlisted by Trump as a potential SCOTUS pick earlier this month — also insisted in 2016 that Congress should not move to replace Scalia until after the election.

“I don’t think we should be moving forward on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term, Cruz said. “I would say that if it was a republican president.”

“President Obama is eager to appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement this year,” he continued. “But do you know in the last 80 years we have not once has the Senate confirmed a nomination made in an election year and now is no year to start. This is for the people to decide. I intend to make 2016 a referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Of course, all three men have now signaled they’re much more likely in 2020 to jam a conservative Supreme Court justice down voters’ throats on the eve of an election. After President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted that the Senate has an “obligation” select a replacement for Ginsburg, Graham said he “fully” understands where the president is coming from.

In case that statement seems vague, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman added: ”I will support President [Trump] in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.”

And McConnell has also insisted “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

And in perhaps the least surprising flip-flop of all, Cruz on Saturday wrote an opinion piece for Fox News that outlined 3 reasons why the Senate must confirm Ginsburg’s replacement before election day. In it, he touted Trump’s “list of extremely qualified, principled constitutionalists who could serve on the Supreme Court” — which, of course, included himself — and argued that going into an election with an 8 person bench could trigger a constitutional crisis in the event of a contested election.

Amazing how now of the senators were concerned with such a problem when Obama appointed his nominee.

Watch the video below to see the blatant hypocrisy for yourself:

 

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OPINION

Trump Just Set a Trap for Himself and Walked Right in – Commits to ‘Distribution’ of Coronavirus Vaccine Within Weeks

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President Donald Trump for months has been promising a coronavirus vaccine by November 1 – just days before Election Day. It started back in early August, when he told Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera a vaccine would be ready before the end of the year, and it “could be much sooner.”

“Sooner than November 3?” Rivera asked Trump – feeding him an impossible expectation.

“I think in some cases, yes possible before, but right around that time,” Trump replied, taking the bait.

It didn’t take long for the Candidate-in-Chief to power up the campaign lies and wouldn’t you know, America, Trump promised we will have a coronavirus vaccine in early October.

“We’re within weeks of getting it,” Trump promised ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Tuesday night. “You know, could be three weeks, four weeks, but we think we have it.”

On Wednesday Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, pushed that date even earlier, to “potentially by the end of September.”

Trump is all in, and one-hundred percent committed to a vaccine in the next few weeks.

He has laid a huge trap for himself, walked right in, and has no way out.

Trump very easily could have declared, when Americans don’t have access to the vaccine by the end of September, or the beginning of October, or November 1, that he just meant the vaccine would be approved. Ready to be manufactured.

On Wednesday Trump promised “distribution” of the vaccine within weeks, meaning in the hands of doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who will begin to inoculate America. (He also said nothing about safety or effectiveness.)

The Director of the CDC on Wednesday told America a coronavirus vaccine would not be “generally available” until early spring or in the summer.

Trump told reporters Dr. Robert Redfield was mistaken.

And then, he walked right in to his own trap.

“I’m telling you, here’s the bottom line,” Trump said at Wednesday’s press conference, while lashing out at a reporter. “Distribution’s going to be very rapid, he might not know that, maybe he’s not aware of that, and maybe he’s not dealing with the military, etc., like I do. Distribution’s going to be very rapid.”

One hour earlier Joe Biden told Americans they should not trust a vaccine from the Trump administration unless the president can answer three basic questions:

  1. “What criteria will be used to ensure that a vaccine meets the scientific standard of safety and effectiveness?”
  2. “If the administration greenlights a vaccine, who will validate that the decision was driven by science rather than politics? What group of scientists will that be?”
  3. “How can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place safely, cost-free and without a hint of favoritism?”

Voters should judge the candidates by their promises, if those promises are realistic, and if they keep them. And cast their ballot accordingly.

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