2016 Campaign

FBI Probes Possible Covert Kremlin Aid to Trump

“The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump,” McClatchy reports.

“Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win… One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.”

Walker Paid Off Debt By Selling Donor List

“In clearing more than $1 million in campaign debt over the past year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got the majority of the money by selling his donor list to other candidates,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“In 2016, Walker brought in more than $823,000 by selling his donor list to other GOP candidates such as U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and Ben Carson, the nominee to serve as U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, Federal Elections Commission records show. His massive list of contributors was marketed aggressively for him by Granite Lists of Dublin, N.H.”

How Trump Came Up with ‘Make America Great Again’

Washington Post: “It happened on Nov. 7, 2012, the day after Mitt Romney lost what had been presumed to be a winnable race against President Obama. Republicans were spiraling into an identity crisis, one that had some wondering whether a GOP president would ever sit in the Oval Office again.”

“But on the 26th floor of a golden Manhattan tower that bears his name, Trump was coming to the conclusion that his own moment was at hand. And in typical fashion, the first thing he thought about was how to brand it.”

“Five days later, Trump signed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in which he asked for exclusive rights to use ‘Make America Great Again’ for ‘political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues and fundraising in the field of politics.’ He enclosed a $325 registration fee.”

Feinstein Says Russia Altered Election Outcome

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) told NBC News that she believes Russia tried to interfere in the presidential election and that their activity ultimately altered the outcome.

Said Feinstein: “I’ve had all of the major classified briefings. I have been astonished at what has been a two-year effort at Russia to spearfish, to hack, to provide disinformation, propaganda wherever it really could. And I think this has been a very sophisticated effort.”

She added: “I’m certainly not gonna leave this in limbo, because this is the future of America, it’s the future of democracy. And if we can’t carry out an election without disinformation being pumped into it by another country, we’ve got a huge destruction of our system going on so we have to — we have to be full and robust in this look.”

Trump’s Win In Ohio Was Historic

Columbus Dispatch: “With the ascension of Donald Trump coming this week, we decided to look again at Ohio’s presidential election results — and stumbled across some amazing facts that perhaps shed a different light on his victory than what we’ve seen to date.”

“In 22 counties — exactly a quarter of Ohio’s total — Trump rolled up the largest percentage of any Republican ever. Yes, that’s since 1856.

“So that’s higher than the Bushes, Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt and several Ohio GOP presidents — all the way back through Abraham Lincoln.”

“In 11 additional counties, the Trump share of the vote was the second highest for a Republican in Ohio history.”

Clinton Aide ‘Went Off His Meds’ to Act as Trump

Politico reports on how Clinton aide Philippe Reines prepared himself to act as Donald Trump in mock debate sessions:

He experimented with a self-tanning lotion on his face. Before prep sessions, Reines began suiting up with velcro knee pads (to keep his legs straight), a posture enhancer (to keep his arms back), and dress shoes with three-inch lifts (to match Trump’s 6’1 frame). His longtime tailor fit him for a loose-fitting suit with large cuffs. His goal was not a “Saturday Night Live”-style caricature of Trump, so he didn’t try to replicate Trump’s famous mane. But he wanted to approximate his physicality so that Clinton would grow accustomed to Trump’s looming presence when she saw Reines in her peripheral vision.

He also sat down with Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter-turned- tell-all critic, to better understand the man’s psychology. Hoping to fully become the character he had been cast to play, Reines briefly went off his meds (he declined to say which, or if he has since resumed them).

Comey Angers Lawmakers

“Embattled FBI director James Comey has refused to clarify whether his organization is investigating Donald Trump’s ties to Russia in a closed briefing on Friday for members of Congress, angering legislators who recall his high-profile interjections about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign,” the Guardian has learned.

“Comey’s lack of candor in a classified setting, intended to brief members on the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia interfered in the election to benefit Trump, follows a public rebuff this week to senators seeking clarification.”

Is Davos Part of the Problem?

“Kenneth Rogoff can pinpoint the moment he started to grow concerned Donald Trump would be the next U.S. president: It was when Rogoff’s fellow attendees at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting last January said it could never happen,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Rogoff: “A joke I’ve told 1,000 people in the months since leaving Davos is that the conventional wisdom of Davos is always wrong. No matter how improbable, the event most likely to happen is the opposite of whatever the Davos consensus is.”

“The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny. After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.”

Trump Could Easily Halt Investigation Into FBI Actions

Jeffrey Toobin: “It is well within the realm of possibility that the Trump Administration will kill this investigation before it even begins. The President-elect clearly believes that all the recent attention paid to the hacking of the Clinton campaign’s e-mails, apparently by Russian forces, was contrived to deprive him of the legitimacy he so craves. It’s easy to imagine that he will view the investigation of Comey the same way, since so many people have attributed Trump’s election to that last-minute development, rather than to his campaign. The only thing standing in the way of his firing the inspector general is a political norm, and Trump has shown gleeful disdain for such standards. In a similar vein, Sessions (or his deputy) could decide to prohibit the inspector general from conducting this inquiry.”

Justice to Investigate FBI’s Actions Before Election

“The Department of Justice inspector general will review broad allegations of misconduct involving the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices and the bureau’s controversial decision shortly before the election to announce the probe had resumed,” the Washington Post reports.

“The probe will be wide ranging — encompassing the FBI’s various public statements on the matter, whether its deputy director should have been recused and whether Department of Justice or FBI employees leaked non-public information.”

New York Times: “Chief among those actions was the decision by Mr. Comey’s to write two letters on the email matter within 11 days of the election, creating a wave of damaging news stories about the controversy late in the campaign.”