Russian Tried to Broker ‘Backdoor’ Meeting With Trump

“A senior Russian official who claimed to be acting at the behest of President Vladimir Putin of Russia tried in May 2016 to arrange a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“The news of this reached the Trump campaign in a very circuitous way. An advocate for Christian causes emailed campaign aides saying that Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank who has been linked both to Russia’s security services and organized crime, had proposed a meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. The subject line of the email, turned over to Senate investigators, read, ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite,’ according to one person who has seen the message.”

Kushner Testified He Didn’t Know of Wikileaks Contacts

“White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told congressional Russia investigators that he did not communicate with WikiLeaks and did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign who had,” CNN reports.

“But Kushner did receive and forward an email from Donald Trump Jr. about contact Trump Jr. had with WikiLeaks, according to a new report this week and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Speed and Subterfuge Is Key to GOP Tax Strategy

John Cassidy: “It is entirely conceivable that, in two weeks’ time, the Republican Party’s leaders will have largely succeeded in railroading through Congress an unpopular, regressive, and damaging tax reform. That was their plan from the beginning, and so far it has worked out much as they intended. On Thursday, the House, spurred on by Paul Ryan, voted to approve its version of the legislation. Now everything depends on what happens in the Senate.”

“To get their tax plan through this final legislative stretch, the Republicans will try to rely on speed, subterfuge, and diversion. McConnell and Ryan have read the opinion polls. They know that there is widespread opposition to their plan’s major elements, such as its big tax cuts for corporations, unincorporated businesses, and rich people (like the President), or its new limits on popular deductions for mortgage interest and state and local taxes.”

“That explains why the Republicans didn’t hold any hearings in the House, and why they are adopting similar blitzkrieg tactics in the Senate. The G.O.P.’s strategy is to rush this thing through before the other side has time to organize a defense.”

Democrat Facing Moore Is Raising a Torrent of Cash

“The Roy Moore scandal has unleashed a torrent of online donations to Democrat Doug Jones, who was collecting around $250,000 per day in its immediate aftermath,” NBC News reports.

“Democrats may end up in the unlikely situation of dramatically outspending the GOP in the Senate contest in deep red Alabama now that national Republicans have abandoned Moore. The Republican candidate’s bank account had been depleted by a tough primary battle even before nine women came forward to accuse of him of sexual impropriety.”

Florida Democratic Chair Ousted for Being ‘Creepy’

Tampa Bay Times: “Stephen Bittel’s rocky tenure as Florida Democratic Party chairman ended in disgrace Friday after he resigned following accusations from women that he leered at them, made suggestive comments and created an unprofessional work environment.”

“Bittel’s position became untenable after all four major Democratic candidates for Florida governor urged his ouster following a Politico Florida report late Thursday in which six women anonymously complained about Bittel’s behavior. They said he was ‘creepy’ and ‘demeaning.’ Bittel apologized, but it was not enough.”

Bannon May Find Donors Hard to Get

“Steve Bannon has vowed to lead a ‘season of war’ on Washington’s Republican establishment. But donors most likely to fund a disruptive campaign may be hard to win over,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Bannon is planning to support primary challengers to GOP senators with a goal of toppling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell… Turning that into reality likely would require tens of millions of dollars to rally voters and build the name recognition of various candidates facing well-financed, sitting senators. Indeed, outside groups spent nearly $3 million in 2012 helping Richard Mourdock defeat Republican Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana. Mr. Mourdock went on to lose the general election.”

“In recent weeks, however, two of the biggest GOP donors who have funded disruptive campaigns in the past have distanced themselves from Mr. Bannon. And the turbulent Senate race in Alabama, where Mr. Bannon backs Republican candidate Roy Moore, who is facing sexual assault allegations, has energized Mr. McConnell’s defenders.”

Trump Now Paying His Own Legal Bills

President Trump “has begun paying his own legal bills related to the Russia investigation and will no longer use political donations to his reelection campaign or the Republican Party to cover the costs,” Reuters reports.

His lawyer says the president now wants to make the party “even.”

Trump Plans to End Work Permits for H-1B Spouses

“The Trump administration has plans to stop granting work permits to spouses of H-1B holders, a move that would overturn a 2015 rule and affect thousands of foreigners currently in the United States,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“About 100,000 spouses and children of H-1B visa holders come to the U.S. on H-4 visas each year, a number that has been steadily increasing since 2012.”

Ohio Candidate Details His Sexual Past

Ohio Supreme Court Justices Bill O’Neill (D), who is running for governor, wrote on Facebook about his own sexual past:

Now that the dogs of war are calling for the head of Senator Al Franken I believe it is time to speak up on behalf of all heterosexual males. As a candidate for Governor let me save my opponents some research time. In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females. It ranged from a gorgeous blonde who was my first true love and we made passionate love in the hayloft of her parents barn and ended with a drop dead gorgeous red head from Cleveland.

Now can we get back to discussing legalizing marijuana and opening the state hospital network to combat the opioid crisis. I am sooooo disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago.

Peace.

Moore Often Sided with Defendants in Sex Crimes Cases

“Democrats and news outlets have noted, sometimes with scandalous subtext, that Mr. Moore dissented from the Alabama Supreme Court’s majority in several instances to side with a person accused of sexual crimes.”

“A New York Times review of 20 cases focused on sexual crimes or misconduct during Mr. Moore’s tenure on the Alabama Supreme Court found that he sided with the accused 13 times, a higher rate than almost all of his colleagues.”

Digital Media Is In a Total Meltdown

Just look at the headlines this week: Mashable sold itself for a fifth of what it was valued at two years ago. Vice and Buzzfeed missed their revenue targets by a wide margin.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo summed up what’s happening this way:

We’re actually in the midst of a digital news media crash, only no one is willing to say it. I’ve mentioned before that digital news media in the midst of a monetization crisis. But again, it’s a full blown crash.

The problem is that so many news sites are confused about their customer. Is it the advertiser or the reader?

If you’re an advertiser, you’ll do much better placing ads on Google and Facebook. A digital news site just cannot compete with their ability to target customers.

That’s why I moved Political Wire to a membership model a couple of years ago. I want this to be the best site for readers. But it relies on your direct support. Those who support the site get new features, a cleaner reading experience and no ads.

Join us for just $5 a month or $50 a year.

The Conservative War on the Media Backfires

The Atlantic: “With sexual misconduct allegations continuing to mount against the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, Moore has defied calls to drop out of the race by advancing an audacious conspiracy theory—that partisan fabulists in the mainstream media are working with his enemies in the political establishment to wage a nefarious smear campaign against him. Not long ago, such claims likely would have backfired. But in the Trump era, anti-press sentiment has reached a fever pitch on the right—something candidates like Moore are eagerly exploiting.”

“Charlie Sykes, a former conservative talk radio host, said Republican voters have been conditioned over years of right-wing media consumption to reflexively reject any news that challenges their worldview.”

“In Alabama, Sykes said, a ‘nightmare scenario’ is unfolding. ‘You have credible journalism being attacked and ignored amid a flood of misinformation and bizarre propaganda,’ he said, adding that his compatriots in the conservative media who are horrified by Moore need to grapple with their own culpability. ‘I think we should be horrified by the monster we helped create.'”