2016 Campaign

Hopes Dim for Congressional Russia Inquiries

New York Times: “All three committees looking into Russian interference — one in the House, two in the Senate — have run into problems, from insufficient staffing to fights over when the committees should wrap up their investigations. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has barely started, delayed in part by negotiations over the scope of the investigation. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while maintaining bipartisan comity, have sought to tamp down expectations about what they might find.”

“Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling.”

Axios: “Mueller was always going to be the last word. Turns out he may have the only definitive word.”

Why Did Trump Get Away with What Weinstein Did Not?

Washington Post: “The Weinstein scandal, which has featured graphic accounts of assault from a string of celebrity accusers, has sparked a national debate about sexual harassment. Many women, inspired by a #MeToo campaign, have taken to social media to tell their own stories, and calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline have risen sharply.”

“But for Trump’s accusers, the renewed debate offers a reminder that their allegations did not have the same effect.”

“Trump, unlike Weinstein, was able to deflect their claims — despite the disclosure of a video in which he was heard bragging about the kind of behavior some of the women had alleged. Trump has never followed through with his vow to sue his accusers or produce the ‘substantial evidence’ he said would refute their claims.”

Why Facebook Doesn’t See They’re a Problem

BuzzFeed News: “To truly understand how Facebook is responding to its role in the election and the ensuing morass, numerous sources inside and close to the company pointed to its unemotional engineering-driven culture, which they argue is largely guided by a quantitative approach to problems. It’s one that views nearly all content as agnostic, and everything else as a math problem. As that viewpoint has run headfirst into the wall of political reality, complete with congressional inquiries and multiple public mea culpas from its boy king CEO, a crisis of perception now brews.”

Trump Suggests Russia, Democrats and FBI Conspired

President Trump delivered a conspiracy theory via a remarkable tweet in which he suggested Russian officials, the FBI and the Democratic Party worked together to create a dossier of potentially incriminating information about him during the 2016 presidential election.

“Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”

CNN: “Even by Trump standards, this morning’s tweet is somewhat remarkable.”

Trump Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda

Daily Beast: “Some of the Trump campaign’s most prominent names and supporters, including Trump’s campaign manager, digital director and son, pushed tweets from professional trolls paid by the Russian government in the heat of the 2016 election campaign.”

“The discovery of the now-unavailable tweets presents the first evidence that several members of the Trump campaign pushed covert Russian propaganda on social media in the run-up to the 2016 election.”

Russian Oligarch Ties Kushner to Kremlin Bankers

A prominent exiled Russian oligarch told NBC News that he is “nearly certain” Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not “acting on his own behalf” when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December.

Longtime Putin rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky says he believes the likelihood that Putin “personally” tried to cooperate with the Trump campaign to affect the election is a “9 out of 10.”

GOP Lawmakers’ Posh Hideaway Bankrolled by Secret Cash

Several major corporations and trade groups secretly bankrolled a plush hideaway for lawmakers at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year, according to records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

The groups funded a limited liability company called “Friends of the House 2016 LLC” which in turn, paid for the design and outfitting of an exclusive office, lounge and gathering space for Republican lawmakers and controlled access to the so-called “cloakroom.”

“The limited liability company effectively hid the corporations’ contributions from public view at a time when activist groups were pressuring companies to scale back giving to the Republican convention, and a few of the companies had publicly minimized their participation.”

Russian Trolls Were Told to Watch ‘House of Cards’

Yahoo News: “The Russians who worked for a notorious St. Petersburg ‘troll factory’ that was part of Vladimir Putin’s campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election were required to watch the House of Cards television series to help them craft messages to ‘set up the Americans against their own government,’ according to an interview broadcast Sunday (in Russian) with a former member of the troll factory’s elite English language department.”

Subpoena Orders Trump To Turn Over Documents

A high-stakes legal showdown is brewing for President Trump, as a woman who said he groped her has subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Trump’s reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’, accused Trump of kissing and grabbing her when she went to his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007 to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization. After Zervos made the accusation last October, just weeks before the election, Trump denied her accusation and called it a lie.”

“She responded by suing him for defamation. As part of that suit, her lawyers served a subpoena on his campaign, asking that it preserve all documents it had about her.”

Trump Accusers Frustrated As Weinstein Falls

BuzzFeed News: “For all the women who have cheered as accusations against the producer Harvey Weinstein force a public conversation about sexual misconduct, one small group of women has watched with frustration. They are some of the dozen women who publicly accused Donald Trump of groping or kissing them — accusations that Trump has denied.”

“In a sharp contrast to the women who accused Weinstein, Trump’s accusers did not see the public turn against him, the board of his company fire him, or the police launch an investigation. Instead, these women watched the man they say humiliated and abused them get elected president of the United States.”

Flynn Ally Sought Help from the ‘Dark Web’

“A close associate of Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn arranged a covert investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, and through intermediaries turned to a person with knowledge of the ‘dark web’ for help,” the Guardian reports.

“Flynn is personally and ideologically linked to Barbara Ledeen, a longtime conservative activist who works for the Republican senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate judiciary committee – which is now investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

“Ledeen’s name was redacted on the FBI documents describing the investigation, which were released last year in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. But a person who reviewed the unredacted documents confirmed to the Guardian that Barbara Ledeen was the subject. Her involvement was also confirmed by the Senate judiciary committee in response to the Guardian’s questions.”