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Two Longtime Republican Operatives Indicted — and There’s a Russia Connection: Report

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Reuters legal reporter Jan Wolfe revealed Monday evening that two Republican Party operatives have been indicted after helping Russians donate to political campaigns in 2016.

The Justice Department revealed in a statement that Kentucky’s Jesse Benton and Florida’s Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead were “charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a foreign national, effect a conduit contribution, and cause false records to be filed with the FEC, one count of contribution by a foreign national, one count of contribution in the name of another and three counts of making false entries in an official record.”

Benton was just pardoned by former President Donald Trump for a bribery scandal while working for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Iowa in 2012. In that scheme, Benton and colleague John Tate bribed state officials to change their endorsements to Paul for the Iowa Caucus.

After being pardoned for that, Benton is now being indicted again along with Wead for arranging for a Russian National who wanted to donate to a 2016 presidential campaign to be able to meet with the candidate.

“Benton reached out to individuals at Political Committee B, the national party committee for Political Candidate 1’s political party,” the indictment explains. “He then arranged for Foreign National 1 to attend a political fundraising event and get a photograph with Political Candidate 1, in exchange for a political contribution to Political Committee C, a joint fundraising committee comprised of the campaign committee for Political Candidate 1, Political Committee B, and related state committees. Foreign National 1 ultimately wired $100,000 to Company A, a political consulting firm owned by Benton.”

He then tried to disguise the wire transfer by labeling it “consulting services” and crafted a “cover story.”

Wead went to the fundraiser with the foreign national Sept. 22, 2016 with a translator (Foreign National 2). They all three had their photos taken with the candidate.

“Following the event, Benton repeatedly represented to a consultant working for Political Committee B and Political Committee C that he had already sent the promised contribution for the event, but in actuality he delayed sending the contribution,” said the DOJ. “Benton ultimately filled out a contributor form, indicated that he was the contributor, and used a personal credit card to make a $25,000 contribution. Benton retained the remaining $75,000 of Foreign National 1’s money. Because Benton falsely claimed to have given the contribution himself, three different political committees unwittingly filed reports with the FEC that inaccurately reported Benton, rather than Foreign National 1, as the source of the funds.”

Read the full report at the DOJ.

 

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Former US Secretary of State, Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell Remembered by Those Who Knew Him

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Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, died Monday morning of complications from COVID-19. The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was 84 and battling a blood cancer that impacts the body’s ability to fight infections, along with Parkinson’s. His family in a statement said he was fully vaccinated.

Powell served under both Republican and Democratic Presidents, including serving as United States National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan.

News of his death has shocked the nation, with many who knew him sharing their memories of the highly-respected diplomat and military leader.

A sampling.

This article will be updated with more reactions throughout the day.

 

Image by U.S. Department of State via Flickr 

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Morning Joe Panel Issues a Warning – and Explains How the GOP Could Win in 2024 ‘In a Landslide’

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A discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on comments made by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who said he didn’t see Donald Trump successfully winning the 2024 presidential election, led to an agreement by host Joe Scarborough and marketing expert Donny Deutsch that the GOP could reclaim the White House that year — as long as Trump wasn’t the Republican Party candidate.

Speaking with Axios, the Louisana Republican questioned whether Trump could even be the nominee, saying, “President Trump is the first president in the Republican side at least to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning.”

Using that as a springboard, host Scarborough asked Deutsch whether Cassidy was off base with his comments.

“Does Donald Trump still own the Republican Party? Yes,” Scarborough began. “But that Republican Party is a lot smaller and a lot less influential in suburbs across America and more educated Americans if you look at the polling number. Again, I know everybody is scared of Donald Trump, it just does not seem like the trend lines are going well for him in terms of putting together a coalition that can win.”

“Here is the fact,” Deutsch exclaimed. “If the Republicans ran anybody but Donald Trump, they would win in a landslide. Anybody just right of center.”

“Anybody?” the MSNBC host prompted.” Donny, nobody has said this enough. You go back and look at 2020, Democrats were shocked by how badly they underperformed in the House and shocked how badly they underperformed in the Senate. Donald Trump had to work overtime to make Mitch McConnell the minority leader in Georgia — they had to work overtime to lose that. You look at state legislatures across America that were less connected to Trump and they did very well. You look at governorships less connected to Trump and they did very well. Republicans had a pretty, darn good election cycle in 2020 despite the fact they should have been wiped off the face of the political earth because of the insanity and the neo-fascism Donald Trump was pushing.”

“If anybody except for Trump ran, they would have won by 20 points,” Scarborough added.

“I would like to to see polls, a poll of Trump against Biden, which I think Trump would eke out a victory, ” Deutsch claimed. “But then I want to see pools with Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis or fill in the blank and they’ll win by double digits. You know, I live in this bubble and this very kind of blue state and I can’t tell you the unrest with the feeling the Democrats are in control and running things and Biden is not putting his hands on the wheel and nobody on deck. That is the concern the Democrats have. If Republicans are smart they would move away from Trump. Can they and will they? You and I don’t know that. But, clearly, if they did, it would be a landslide.”

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Watch: Pete Buttigieg Perfectly Slaps Aside Conservatives Criticizing His Paternity Leave

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Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg perfectly dismissed conservative critics who took issue with his taking paternity leave following the premature birth of his twins.

Sitting down with host Jake Tapper, the Democrat sat and watched a clip of Fox News host Tucker Carlson making a crude joke about “breastfeeding” — which led Buttigieg to make his case.

“What’s your response?” host Tapper asked.

“As you might imagine, we are bottle feeding and doing it at all hours of the day and night,” Buttigieg explained while smiling. “I’m not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of our premature twins. The work we are doing is joyful, fulfilling, important work — it’s important work and it’s work that every American ought to be able to do whether they welcome a new child into their family.”

“I campaigned on that, so did the president, by the way,” he continued. “We are pretty much the only country left that doesn’t have some kind of national policy for paid leave. I think it’s us and New Guinea. It’s past time to make it possible for every American, mother and father, to take care of their children when a new child arrived in the family.”

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Related:

Pete Buttigieg Brilliantly Destroys Tucker Carlson After Fox Host’s Homophobic Hit Job

Tucker Carlson Unleashes Ugly Homophobic Attack on Pete Buttigieg – and Every Parent Taking Paternity Leave

 

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