Posts tagged with "Politico"

Hillary Clinton trashes Trump over tweeted voter conspiracy theory

August 21, 2019

Hillary Clinton recently said that she “lives rent-free” in President Donald Trump’s mind. Indeed, the POTUS continues to contest the fact that she won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election—by nearly 2.9 million votes.

What’s more, Trump has asked the DOJ to investigate the former Secretary of State’s emails, her server, her business deals, and her husband.

But this week he returned to his familiar “ballot box” theme, according to a report by Politico—forcing Clinton yet again to rebut his conspiracy agenda.

“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump tweeted on Monday. “This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”

While Trump did not cite the source of his claim, according to Politico, it came minutes after a segment on Fox Business Network referred to congressional testimony in July from behavioral psychologist Robert Epstein.

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Epstein claimed that, based on his research, “biased search results generated by Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton.”

Epstein appears to have been citing a study based on a collection of tens of thousands of search engine results collected in the run-up to the 2016 election. The study analyzed a relatively small sample size: The results of 95 different voters, just 21 of whom he says were undecided. He based the results on a phenomenon he calls “Search Engine Manipulation Effect.”

Google has denied Epstein’s claims. Company Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December that Google had investigated Epstein’s findings and found his methodology flawed

According to the Politico report, Epstein also claimed in his congressional testimony that Big Tech, if left unchecked, could shift as many as 15 million votes toward a particular candidate in the 2020 election. Trump appeared to have nudged that number higher in his tweet Monday.

But Hillary clapped back, tweeting, “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”

Research contact: @politico

Andrew McCabe sues DOJ and FBI, alleging his ouster was retaliatory and demanded by Trump

August 12, 2019

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe filed suit [Civil Action No. 19-2399] in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 8 against Attorney General Bill Barr, the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for ending his career on March 16, 2018—just before he would have qualified for his retirement benefits following 21 years of public service, Politico reported.

“Defendants responded to Plaintiff’s two decades of unblemished and non-partisan public service with a politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018— on the very night of Plaintiff’s long-planned retirement from the FBI,” McCabe said in his complaint.

He added, “Defendants’ actions have harmed Plaintiff’s reputation, professional standing, and dramatically reduced his retirement benefits. Plaintiff asks this Court to find that his demotion was unlawful and his purported termination was either a legal nullity or, in the alternative, unlawful, and to award him any and all relief necessary for him to retire as he had originally planned: as the Deputy Director of the FBI and an agent in good standing, with sufficient time in service to enable him to receive his full earned law enforcement pension, healthcare insurance, and other retirement benefits.”

The ousted FBI official also specifically named President DonaldTrump—acting in an official capacity as President of the United States—as the individual who was “responsible and accountable for Defendants’ actions.”

He alleged that the president, in conspiracy with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, executed the scheme to deprive him of his job and retirement funding.

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” McCabe said in his complaint, adding, “Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme. Defendants—as well as then-Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Defendant Barr’s predecessor—knowingly acted in furtherance of Trump’s plan and scheme, with knowledge that they were implementing Trump’s unconstitutional motivations for removing Plaintiff from the civil service. “

According to the Politico report, the lawsuit comes just two days after former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok filed a similar lawsuit, alleging that Trump’s vendetta against him led to his unceremonious firing, despite a formal disciplinary process that recommended a less severe punishment.

Strzok is seeking his old job back or compensation for his lost pay and benefits.

Although both men made plain their dislike of Trump, they say it never affected their official actions at the FBI. McCabe argues that Trump’s Twitter threats also coerced his subordinates at the Justice Department to do his bidding.

“Trump demanded [McCabe’s] personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, [FBI Director Christopher] Wray, and others served as Trump’s personal enforcers rather than the nation’s highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump’s unlawful whims instead of honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution,” McCabe’s suit charges. “Trump’s use of threats and accusations to cause his subordinates to act is memorialized in his tweets and other public documents, including the Special Counsel Report.”

Research contact: @politico

Schumer predicts ‘Moscow Mitch’ will capitulate on election security

August 5, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) rarely budges in the face of political pressure. But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) thinks election security could be the exception, according to a report by Politico.

Calling the political plays on August 1, Schumer anticipated that—under the pressure of the “Moscow Mitch” campaign (a moniker that McConnell is said to dislike intensely)—the GOP leader soon would buckle and take up federal election security, a once-bipartisan issue.

“I predict that the pressure will continue to mount on Republican senators, especially Leader McConnell, and they will be forced to join us and take meaningful action on election security this fall,” Schumer said. “My prediction is our relentless push is going to produce results.”

McConnell is being bashed by pundits, Democrats, and even former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current presidential candidate Julián Castro as “Moscow Mitch.”

In response, Politico said, this week, McConnell mounted a forceful defense on the Senate floor of his decision not to move forward on federal election security bills. He called suggestions that he’s “un-American” or a tool of Vladimir Putin a “smear” and an example of “modern-day McCarthyism.”

“I worked to ensure Congress sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the states to improve their defenses, and applauded the whole-of-government efforts that the administration continues,” McConnell said on July 29. “Some of my colleagues quickly pivoted right back into hysterical accusations that only fan the flames of this modern-day McCarthyism. These pundits are lying when they dismiss the work that has been done.”

But Democrats remain unconvinced that enough is being done to protect the election system from attacks by the Russians, as well as other incursions.

Senator Schumer even  suggested that—because he has not “heard one good reason from Republicans why they shouldn’t do it”—there could be something more nefarious afoot, Politico reported.

“Is it, I hope not, that they think if Russia interferes it will be benefit them? Is it, I hope not, that they’re afraid of President Trump who has this childish and puerile view that if he admits there is Russian interference it makes his election illegitimate?” Schumer asked on Thursday.

Research contact: @politico

‘Fortune’ may be favoring just a few Democratic candidates

July 17, 2019

Eleven Democratic presidential candidates—nearly half of the whopping field of two dozen or more who have announced that they are running—spent more campaign cash than they raised during the second quarter of the year, according to new financial disclosures filed July 15  and posted by Politico.

Indeed fortune is smiling on just a favored few—among them, Pete Buttigieg ($24.8 million raised in Q2), Joe Biden ($21.5 million), Elizabeth Warren ($19.1 million), Bernie Sanders ($18.2 million), and Kamala Harris ($12 milion).

In the second tier are, Corey Booker ($4.5 million), Amy Klobuchar ($3.9 million), and Beto O’Rourke (3.6 million).

Eight contenders active in the spring limped forward with less than $1 million in cash on hand, and several top-tier contenders were already spending multiples of what their lower-profile competitors raised, the news outlet reported.

Already, California Representative Eric Swalwell has pulled out—acknowledging the problematic math facing a lower-tier contender. Swalwell’s campaign raised just more than $880,000 in the second quarter from donors and, like many of the others at the bottom of the pack, well outspent what it raised.

“We had the money in our account to continue to try to qualify for the upcoming debate,” Swalwell told Politico. “But we believed that even if we had done that, that when we looked at the September debate, it just wouldn’t add up.”

The financial squeeze is set to drastically shrink the lineup of Democratic contenders in the coming months, barring major shifts in momentum, as candidates grapple with the doldrums of summer fundraising and the high costs of staffing national campaigns and building donor lists big enough to qualify for future Democratic National Committee debates, Politico says.

The numbers also reveal the tremendous pressure on lesser-known candidates to make a splash in the debates at the end of this month — potentially the last chance some will have to attract a burst of support as their expenses pile up.

“This is the doomsday scenario for a lot of campaigns, where they’re grasping for air to keep their campaigns alive and to live another day,” said Andrew Feldman, a Democratic strategist in Washington. “You can’t build an organization. You can’t build an operation that turns enthusiasm into votes without having resources to do it.”

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper spent a half-million dollars more than he raised in the second quarter, finishing June with $840,000 in his campaign account, Politico said.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro spent more than 80% of the amount he raised, despite a fundraising bounce following his highly regarded debate performance in the closing days of the fundraising period. He was left with about $1.1 million, the politico news outlet noted.

Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, raised about $3.1 million in the second fundraising quarter; however, he reported spending $3.2 million and finished with only $1.2 million in the bank.

Some of these candidates need a miracle,” Matthew Littman, a Democratic strategist and former Joe Biden speechwriter who now supports Kamala Harris, told Politico. “It’s like if you’re a baseball team and you’re 15 games behind in mid-July, the odds are that you’re not making it to the playoffs.”

He said, “If you don’t have the money, you’re not going to have the infrastructure. And if you don’t have the money or the infrastructure, what are you going to do to break through? At this point, it’s just very, very tough.”

Could there be a miracle? It’s doubtful. “You’re not going to see a lot of people continuing to give to a person with no money left,” Feldman said.

Research contact@politico

House Democrats file suit in federal court for President Trump’s tax returns

July 3, 2019

It has been nearly two months since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), evaded Democrats’ request for President Trump’s tax returns—facetiously saying that the financial information could not be released in light of “serious issues” about whether their demand was proper.

A May subpoena from the panel also was treated as inconsequential.

As of July 2, Neal said he had no choice but to file suit in federal court in order to compel the Internal Revenue Service to turn over the records.

“In refusing to comply with the statute, Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people,” the lawsuit (Case No. 1:19-cv-1974)—filed against the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, Steven T. Mnuchin, and IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia— says.

Neal is seeking the President’s tax returns using an arcane IRS provision known as 6103, which allows the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to request and obtain an individual’s tax information for a legitimate legislative purpose.

According to a report by Politico, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow had a terse response to the suit.

“We will respond to this latest effort at presidential harassment in court,” he said.

And that may be sooner than he thinks: While the fight over Trump’s taxes could be lengthy, with the administration likely to try to drag out the proceedings beyond next year’s elections, Politico said that “some see signs the courts are trying to move quickly on the oversight challenges.”

“They’re not unaware the administration is throwing up roadblocks at every conceivable opportunity and I think they understand that the system itself is under stress,” Kerry Kircher, who was the House’s general counsel from 2011 to 2016 and deputy counsel from 1996 to 2010, told the political news outlet, adding, “The judiciary is aware of the need for some expedition here, and that we can’t go through the usual processes where it takes a couple years for these cases to work themselves out.”

Neal asked the court for a speedy decision, reminding it that sessions of Congress only run two years.

“If this Court does not redress Defendants’ noncompliance quickly, the Committee will be unable to fulfill its essential role of overseeing the Executive Branch or to carry out its constitutional obligation to legislate,” the suit says.

Research contact: @politico

Pelosi: White House did not warn me about retaliatory strike against Iran

June 24, 2019

Not only did President Donald Trump not seek ratification from Congress for a military strike on Iran on June 21—but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Friday that she had not even been informed of the administration’s plans for retaliation against the Islamic Republic.

The White House cancelled its plans ten minutes before the action, with planes already in the air. The president explained that he had halted the military action because it would have resulted in a “disproportionate” number of Iranian casualties after no Americans were killed in that nation’s strike on a U.S. drone on June 20.

Just a couple of days earlier, the House had voted to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force—however, the bill had not yet received approval from the Senate, so the president was not clearly obligated to ask for Congressional ratification.

However, Politico reported, Pelosi is second in line to the presidency, and as a formal courtesy, would traditionally have been informed of the contemplated action.

Indeed, the news outlet noted, conventionally, House and Senate leadership, and chair and ranking members on the national security-related and other key committees are told about an imminent U.S. military action.

Some effort was made to keep them in the loop: Senior lawmakers were briefed at the White House about how the United States planned to respond to the drone incident on Thursday afternoon, but no set plans were made at that time.

In a formal statement Friday, Pelosi warned, “We are in an extremely dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran.  We must calibrate a response that de-escalates and advances American interests, and we must be clear as to what those interests are.

“During our meeting with the President at the White House,” she added, “Congressional Leaders stressed the necessity that we work with our allies and not strengthen the hand of Iran’s hardliners. Democratic Leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.

She noted, “We have no illusions about the dangerous conduct of the Iranian regime.  This is a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart, and strategic approach.”

Research contact: @SpeakerPelosi

Brinksmanship: Unable to cut deal, Nadler soon may subpoena Mueller to testify before U.S. public

June 12, 2019

When and if former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress, his face will be familiar—but the story he tells won’t be, according to findings of a CNN poll fielded in May, which found that fully 75% of Americans have not read the Mueller report on Russian interference into the last presidential election and obstruction of justice by the Trump administration.

Most legislators have failed to read the 448-page document, either.

But that doesn’t include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York)—who  told Democratic leaders at a closed-door meeting this past week that he could issue a subpoena to within two weeks to Mueller, if he is unable to reach an agreement to secure the former special counsel’s public testimony, according to two sources familiar with the meeting, Politico reported.

Nadler’s comments clarified whether the chairman had considered compelling Mueller’s attendance at a public hearing. The committee is still negotiating with Mueller, who, according to Nadler, is thus far only willing to answer lawmakers’ questions in private—a nonstarter for most House Democrats.

The sources cautioned the news outlet that the committee has not settled yet on a timetable for a potential subpoena to Mueller. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) hosted the meeting, and four other committee chairs were in attendance.

However, according to Politico’s sources, Nadler told reporters that he was “confident” Mueller will appear before his panel, and that he would issue a subpoena “if we have to.”

“We want him to testify openly. I think the American people need that,” Nadler added. “I think, frankly, it’s his duty to the American people. And we’ll make that happen.”

This week, the committee began to hear testimony related to the report, in an effort to educate the American public.

In addition, Nadler said that, with the threat of a civil contempt citation from the committee hanging over his head, Attorney General William Barr had agreed to release the underlying documents to the report, which had been requested by the House Judiciary Committee back in April.

However, on June 11, word came out that the White House would work with the Department of Justice to decide exactly how much (and what type of) material would be released—leaving the actual evidence that the committee would be permitted to see in question yet again.

Research contact: @politico

House Dems to hold contempt vote against Barr and McGahn on June 11

June 5, 2019

The House will vote next week on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress, Politico reports.

Barr—who misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report to Congress and the U.S. public, according to the investigators—also has failed to comply with a subpoena for a fully unredacted copy of the report and underlying evidence; McGahn balked at a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

According to Politico, the resolution, to be introduced on June 11, would clear the way for the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr and McGahn to court to enforce their subpoenas; and would enable Democrats to set in motion their obstruction of justice investigation against President Donald Trump.

“This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.

The vote also will offer broad authority for congressional committees to take legal action against the Trump administration in future subpoena fights, Democratic sources told the news outlet.

The vote—which is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer, and other top members of House leadership—will authorize the House to hold the two men in civil contempt. Democrats will forgo an effort to hold them in criminal contempt—which Democratic sources described as an empty gesture because Barr, in particular, would never face charges from his own Justice Department.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on June 1 that he was pressing for a floor vote on contempt for Barr as quickly as possible so that the committee could take Barr to court and attempt to enforce its subpoena.

The move comes as a growing number of House Democrats are calling for Trump’s impeachment—and they may not be satisfied with a slap at his attorney general, Politico said.

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are threatening to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena seeking information about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Research contact: @politico

Trump disagrees with allies and advisers on North Korea

May 29, 2019

President Donald Trump seems to be distancing himself from friends and foes, alike. He is isolating himself from the nation’s longtime allies abroad—and even from his own advisers—regarding America’s relationship with North Korea, as he avidly insists that his denuclearization talks with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un will prevail going into his 2020 reelection bid.

The widening gap was apparent on Monday morning, May 28, Politico reported, when Trump disagreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint news conference, when asked about recent North Korean missile tests.

Abe had called the tests of several short-range ballistic missiles “quite a regrettable act,” that violated a United Nations Security Council resolution; echoing language that Trump’s own National Security Adviser, John Bolton, had used on Saturday,.

However, Politico noted, the president on Monday, at the end of his short trip to Japan to meet the new emperor, insisted that he was not “personally” bothered by the tests and was “very happy with the way it’s going” in his efforts to engage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Notably, Trump said he did not think the tests violated the U.N. resolution.

“My people think it could have been a violation,” Trump said. “I view it differently.”

It was a striking break that revealed Trump’s desire to retain a talking point he has long used at rallies—that he’s responsible for pulling America back from the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, the political news outlet said. It’s a stance that has been increasingly difficult to maintain as talks between Washington and Pyongyang appear to have broken down after two summits between the two countries’ leaders.

It’s also clear, Politico reported, that Trump sees the issue almost singularly through the lens of his personal relationship with Kim.

Kim, Trump said, “is looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. … He knows that, with nuclear, that’s never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well.”

North Korea’s missile tests were the first since 2017 after Trump threatened “fire and fury” if Pyongyang didn’t stop its nuclear weapons tests.

Since then, North Korea has paused its nuclear weapons testing, pushing the United States to ease up on sanctions in exchange for the minimal steps it has taken to denuclearize. Trump balked at such a deal in February and ended his second summit with Kim early.

Fearful of the threat that North Korea’s missiles posed to Japan, Abe has long courted Trump on the issue. On Monday, Abe praised Trump for breaking “the shell of distrust” with Kim and announced that he, too, would hold a summit with the North Korean leader. But even after saying the United States  and Japan were “the same” on North Korea, he reiterated that North Korea had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution. “It is of great regret,” he said.

The divergent remarks came after Trump on Sunday appeared to brush back his own national security adviser on Twitter.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” the tweet read.

The tweet came shortly after Bolton had confirmed for the first time that the administration had “no doubt” the missile tests violated international resolutions.

In recent weeks, Trump has privately joked about Bolton’s hawkish impulses: As a private citizen, Bolton advocated for a preemptive strike on North Korea and advocated for regime change in Iran. Publicly, Trump has even said that he “tempers” Bolton’s more aggressive instincts.

Trump will return to Japan next month for a meeting of the world’s top economies.

Research contact: @politico

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Schiff says Barr misled the American public and ‘should step down’

May 2, 2019

The attorney general of the United States is a liar and he should resign. So said the Chairman Adam Schiff  (D-California) of the House Intelligence Committee on May 1, following the release to The Washington Post of a March 25 letter written by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In that correspondence, the Russia investigator voiced grave concerns about the nature of the four-page summary of his team’s report written by AG William Barr and released the day before.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote in the letter, which he also saved to his files for posterity.

“We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25,” Mueller continued, noting, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The special counsel went on to urge the attorney general to distribute the executive summaries of the report prepared in advance by his team. “Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would anser congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation,” he said.

Mueller also followed up his correspondence with a call to Barr, during which he expressed similar concerns.

However, not only did Barr refuse to release the executive summaries in a “piecemeal” fashion, but, according to a May 1 report by the Post, “he disclaimed knowledge of the thinking of Special Counsel Robert Mueller” during two separate, back-to-back hearings on April 9 and April 10.

“No, I don’t,” Barr said, when asked by Representative Charlie Crist (D-Florida) whether he knew what was behind reports that members of Mueller’s team were frustrated by the attorney general’s summary of their top-level conclusions.

“I don’t know,” he said the next day, when asked by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) whether Mueller supported his finding that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice.

Now, Schiff has a case against AG Barr:  “I think his statement is deliberately false and misleading, and yes, most people would consider that to be a lie,” Schiff said on CBS This Morning, as reported by The Hill.

“Look, there’s no sugar- coating this, I think he should step down,” Schiff said. “It’s hard, I think, for the country to have confidence in the top law enforcement official in the country if he’s asked a direct question as he was and he gives a directly false answer, so this is serious business.”

“After two years and work and investigation implicating the president of the United States, for the attorney general to mislead the public for an entire month before releasing that report is inexcusable.” 

Schiff is the highest-ranking Democrat on Capitol Hill so far to call for Barr to step down. He follows Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s call for Barr to resign.

Tuesday’s revelation upped the ante for Barr’s appearance Wednesday morning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and led to a cavalcade of criticism from House and Senate Democrats, The Hill reported.

“The Special Counsel’s concerns reflect our own. The Attorney General should not have taken it upon himself to describe the Special Counsel’s findings in a light more favorable to the President. It was only a matter of time before the facts caught up to him,” Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Tuesday, demanding that Barr hand over Mueller’s letter to Congress by 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to Politico, in a separate statement on Wednesday, on CNN claimed Barr’s statements might be considered perjury “for an ordinary citizen.”

“It’s worse when it comes from the attorney general of the United States because it means the public cannot have confidence in what he says,” Schiff said. “It means that we cannot have confidence in how he administers justice.”

And in a separate tweet, Schiff wrote, “No one can place any reliance on what Barr says. We need to hear from Mueller himself.”

Research contact: @RepAdamSchiff