With months to go until the 2020 election, the presidential transition process is already underway.
With months to go until the 2020 election, the presidential transition process is already underway.
The 2020 presidential election is more than five months away. So it may seem a bit early to think about — much less prepare for — a possible presidential transition.
But under law, and behind the scenes, that’s just what the Trump administration and staffers for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, have begun to do.
In part it’s to avoid recreating the famous scene from the 1972 movie The Candidate, in which the character played by Robert Redford has surprised himself and everyone else by wining a Senate race. On election night, he turns to his campaign manager and asks, “Marvin, what do we do now?”
Chris Lu, executive director of former President Barack Obama’s transition in the 2008 presidential campaign, said he and Obama were both aware of that scene, and planned accordingly.
“We did not want to be declaring victory on election night in 2008 and not know what the next step was,” he says. “And it’s one of the reasons we started planning so early.”
Lu says the process was a bit different 12 years ago.
“That was during a much different time, where transitions were largely done under the radar,” he says. “It was considered unseemly to plan a transition. It was considered measuring the drapes. Now, previous presidential candidates had all planned transitions, but it wasn’t done openly.”
But now it is.
Since 2008, Congress has approved laws formalizing the process and ensuring there is buy-in from the two major candidates, even at this stage of the campaign.
“A transition project is a huge, huge undertaking, whether President Trump wins reelection or whether [former] Vice President Biden wins,” he says.
“If Biden wins, he’ll need to appoint 4,000 people, 1,200 of whom need to get confirmed.” If Trump wins reelection, Marchick says, “history shows that almost half of the officials in office at the second inauguration leave within six months.”
Earlier this month, as required, the Trump administration named a coordinating council, led by new chief of staff Mark Meadows, to organize the White House’s transition efforts and deal with the Biden campaign. And the Office of Management and Budget sent a note to agencies telling them to get ready. Biden has told supporters that his campaign is making plans, too.
Part of the reason for all of the advance work is that a transition is a vulnerable time for government. Martha Joynt Kumar, who heads the White House Transition Project, says that lesson was learned in 2001.
“There were many vacancies in positions in the whole national security area when the attacks occurred on Sept. 11,” Kumar says. “So they wanted to move up the preparations so that a president-elect has a group of people that have already gotten their security clearances and are ready to go.”
And the unique circumstances of this year’s coronavirus pandemic, Kumar says, raise their own set of issues.
“There is a possibility of a second wave and that second wave could be occurring around the time of an election,” she says. “So there’s a lot of thought that has to go into it,” even including preparing office space.
The General Services Administration has allocated space in the Commerce Department building in Washington, D.C., for the Biden transition team.
Marchick says it’s even possible that the pandemic may necessitate a virtual transition this year, on top of everything else.
“Today we have the worst unemployment since the Great Depression,” he says. “We add to that a health crisis. We’re in a highly polarized political environment.”
He says that combination may make this transition the most consequential since 1932, when Franklin Roosevelt succeeded Herbert Hoover.
Former Obama transition director Lu says the key thing to prepare for in a presidential transition is the unexpected. Obama was elected in the middle of the Great Recession, for example.
Lu says the transition team had prepared work in “a dozen or 15 different policy areas, everything from immigration to education to health care. But obviously, as the fall of 2008 moved along, the most important thing was getting the economy back up and running.”
Lu says transition officials “need to prepare, but you also need to understand that things change, and you need to be nimble.”
Our original article was flagged by Facebook and Twitter as “misinformation” even though we sourced dozens of people making these initial claims. Oregon officials worked with Facebook and Twitter to scrub the story, and now Politifact has chimed in as well, also taking everything the state officials word as undisputed truth — without interviewing a single victim of this ballot scam.
No evidence? Except we’ve included in our articles dozens of screen captures of people making these claims. Apparently Kertscher didn’t bother to actually read the articles he is “fact checking.”
He goes on to explain how the ballots are supposed to work in Oregon:
The situation in Oregon highlights one challenge of mail balloting, even as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it to Americans as a way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
In Oregon, primary elections are closed, which means only registered Democrats and registered Republicans can vote in their respective primaries.
So, Oregon voters registered as Republicans receive ballots with Republican primary races on them and voters registered as Democrats get ballots with Democratic races. Nonpartisan contests appear on both ballots.
In the May 19 primary, there were partisan races for president as well as Congress and other offices; and there were nonpartisan races for offices such as state judge and county sheriff.
Anger and confusion surfaced when some voters received ballots with only nonpartisan races.
Some users claimed a conspiracy against Republican voters. Others pointed out that under the state’s Motor Voter Act, which took effect in 2016, Oregonians are automatically registered to vote when they apply for, or renew, their drivers licenses.
By default, those voters are registered as having no party affiliation. They have to take another step to register a party affiliation with the state. In the case of the May 19 primary, a voter had to register their party affiliation by April 28 to receive the partisan ballot.
That meant some voters who were registered as nonaffiliated didn’t get to change their affiliation in time.
There had been indications that many voters could find themselves in that situation.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported in December that according to the Secretary of State’s office, the number of non affiliated voters had increased by nearly 60,000 since the beginning of 2019. The news story said that was largely due to the motor voter law and the fact that most voters don’t select their party affiliation even though they should receive a postcard from the state instructing them on how to do so on the state elections website or by mail.
Some voters might have forgotten
It’s not clear whether longtime voters who complained about receiving a nonpartisan ballot simply did not realize they were not registered as a Democrat or Republican, or if mistakes were made by state officials, perhaps at the DMV, that resulted in voters being defaulted to nonaffiliated status.
Andrea Chiapella, a spokeswoman for Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican, said the office received a few requests to look into what might have happened, but that “we haven’t found any improper changes” to a voter’s party affiliation without the voter’s permission.
“We get a handful of these complaints every two years during a primary” involving both parties, she said, “and none have ever shown evidence that the political party was fraudulently changed.”
Oregon election officials say they got their usual rash of complaints this year from voters who were certain they had registered as Democrat or Republican and were upset when they received a non-partisan ballot for the May primary without contests for president, Congress, secretary of state or the Legislature.
Many voters called election offices, complained to friends and took to social media to insist something nefarious had occurred.
The Republican Party of Oregon, which normally hears such complaints in “onesies or twosies” per election cycle, has been hit with an absolute avalanche of complaints this month, said spokesperson Kevin Hoar. Readers claiming to be lifelong Democrats as well as a few who say they registered as Republicans have insisted to The Oregonian/OregonLive in recent weeks that someone switched them to unaffiliated status without their knowledge.
But election officials say they never change a voter’s party identity unless the voter makes such a request. To change party identification, a person must know the voter’s name, birthdate and Oregon driver license or state ID number and indicate the new party identity online.
“We get a lot of (such complaints) every primary election where party matters,” said Eric Sample, spokesperson for the Multnomah County elections office. “But no one is going in and changing voter registration” except when a voter requests it online.
Andrea Chiapella, spokesperson for the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees voter registration, said, “We don’t change party unless requested by the voter. So even if they were inactive for a time, it would not revert to (non-partisan) for any reason other than the voter requesting that change.”
Right there Chiapella invalidates all of the claims about the DMV’s automatic Motor Voter system registering people as non-affiliated, because these voters are saying they didn’t request any change.
Hammond’s article continues:
When voters think their party identification has been changed, typically from Democrat or Republican to unaffiliated with any party, what actually happened is almost invariably one of two scenarios, according to Chiapella, Sample and party registration records obtained in previous years by The Oregonian/OregonLive under a public records request:
>> The voter was registered to vote at the DMV under Oregon’s “motor voter law.” All Oregon citizens who obtain or update a driver’s license or state ID and are not already in the state’s voter registration database are registered to vote as non-partisan electors. They are then sent a follow-up post card that allows them to decline to be registered or to register as a member of a party, either online or by returning the postcard. The vast majority of voters registered in that way take no action and remain unaffiliated with a party.
>> The voter updated their registration, inputting a new address or similar information, and also changed their party affiliation in that online request. Those requests may have come in through a third-party portal, such as the U.S. Post Office-endorsed site mymove.com rather than directly from a state or county elections web site. Oregon elections officials advise Oregonians to always use the state election website or their county elections website.
In the cases of voters who complained that they suffered an unfair switcheroo and were willing to provide their names, The Oregonian/OregonLive found that nearly all had never before voted in a primary election. In a general election, all voters see the nominees from both major parties on their ballots.
In other words, if you were a huge fan of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November 2016 or rooted for Knute Buehler or Kate Brown for governor in November 2018, and saw that candidate’s name on your ballot, that’s wasn’t an indicator you were registered as a Democrat or a Republican.
Still, many more voters than usual seem to have been caught unaware and have complained vociferously. Not being able to vote for the candidate of one’s choice for president, secretary of state, Congress or the Legislature feels wrong in a Democracy.
Sample said that was why his office sent out the unprecedented notification this year: “We wanted to make everyone aware, with the primary, ‘Hey make sure you are registered with the party you want to be.’”
In other words, the state is using the old, “We investigated ourselves, and we found nothing wrong,” routine, while basically saying the voters are too stupid to understand how their own voter registration works, despite having no problems in past years.
If there are that many moving parts, and that many access points where one’s registration can be changed, and that many people who would have access to input information affecting one’s registration, then that would be more areas where the registration system could be vulnerable to tampering.
Curiously missing from both Betsy Hammond’s and Tom Kertscher’s reports are interviews with people who claim to be affected by the ballot scandal.
“Statements online that say that party has been changed against their wishes is misinformation and our Elections Director is trying to work with Facebook and Twitter to have it deemed as such and removed,” Secretary of State spokeswoman Andrea Chiapella told Lead Stories.
“There hasn’t been any consistent reason as to why they thought they were registered with a party and were not, some of it has been simple misreading of their ballot,” she added.
While a Facebook group organized around the issue has more than 1,000 members, the number of alleged changed ballots is claimed to be in the hundreds.
The majority of the Oregon Republican party appears to be unaffected by the issue. More than 335,000 Oregonians cast a vote by mail in the Republican Party primary for the Secretary of State’s office, for instance. Only about 40% of voters participated in this year’s primary.”
Could you imagine the liberal outrage if 1,000 people in inner city democrat strongholds were turned away from the polls because, they couldn’t show ID!
There would be protests, buildings would be burned down, cop cars would be flipped over, windows of businesses would smashed out…
Meanwhile, Twitter promptly removed the @MyPartyWasChanged account after only a few days of existing.
This was shortly after Juanita Broaddrick posted our second story on this scandal:
THIS IS HUGE: Oregon Government Orders Facebook to Remove Gateway Pundit Article on Republican Ballot Scandal – Facebook Complies — Despite Hundreds of Confirmed Testimonies https://t.co/36fwhoTzFl
MEANWHILE, in addition to flagging our original story as “misinformation” with a link Alexis Tereszcuk’s state apologist article, they are now including a “Partly False” rating from Politifact whenever anyone tries to post a link to our first story on this continuing scandal.
Greg Rosen, who lives in Sandy, said he first noticed an issue in 2018. While he didn’t have any documentation, he said he re-registered with the Republican Party ahead of the 2018 primary. This year, he said he received a nonpartisan ballot and could not vote in the Republican primary.
“I just want it fixed. I want to be in the elections. I feel like my vote was robbed from me and I just want it solved,” said Rosen.
Rosen said he doesn’t know why this would have happened. He said he tried to change his party registration again this week, after he discovered he wasn’t registered with a party.
Voter registrations won’t be updated again until after the May election is certified in June.
The issue appears to be happening around the state. A Facebook paged called “My Party Was Changed Oregon” has nearly 2,000 members with many people claiming their party affiliation was incorrect.
Andrea Chiapelli, communications director for the secretary of state, said they also see reports like this during the primaries.
“Our office is diligently working through each request we get to look into the claims that party affiliations have been changed without consent. We have not found any cases of fraud or malfeasance,” said Chiapelli. “We hold our elections to the highest standard and are ensuring that they are safe and secure. If there are any cases of fraud, we want to identify those.”
Some have questioned if the change in party affiliation was related to Oregon’s motor voter law, which took effect in 2016 and automatically registers people who were not registered to vote. Chiapelli said their office will send voters a letter asking which party they want to join. If that person doesn’t reply, they will be nonaffiliated. Chiapelli said the DMV will not change someone’s party.
So what’s happening?
There doesn’t seem to be a single answer. Chiapelli said each person has a unique case. Some of it may be a misunderstanding about what a voter should be receiving, said Chiapelli. For example, nonaffiliated voters and members of minor parties will have received nonpartisan ballots.
Deschutes County clerk Nancy Blankenship told NewsChannel 21 when asked about one such complaint, “We only take instructions from what the voter tells us. Mistakes do occur, but we take precautions to limit those as much as possible.”
Blankenship said Tuesday the county clerk’s office accidentally put the wrong ballot in the wrong envelope for two people.
“We want to own up to that,” Blankenship said. “It wasn’t that they had a wrong party, it was just we made a mistake. But all the other calls we’ve been fielding is people forgetting what party they registered with.”
Blankenship said she received several calls from people who said the last time they registered a party was in the late ’90s or early 2000s.
“If we made a mistake, we want to correct that,” Blankenship said. “If you’re under the impression we sent you the wrong party ballot, we want to verify either ‘Yes, we did,’ or ‘No, we didn’t.’”
She said the county clerk’s office can also send screenshots of people’s past voter records.
Jody Logsdon of Redmond said she was registered as non-affiliated for years, until changing her registration to Republican in 2008. She said when she checked online, she noticed her party had been changed back to non-affiliated. She said she changed it back to Republican online, but still received a non-affiliate ballot in the mail.
It’s not just residents of Deschutes County claiming they received the wrong ballots in the mail.
Jessica Maxfield-Walters, who lives in the La Pine area and is registered to vote in Klamath County, told NewsChannel 21 she had a similar experience.
“I checked online afterwards, and it said I was unaffiliated, which was weird,” Maxfield-Walters said. “I thought when you change your party, you get a card in the mail, and I never got a card in the mail.”
Maxfield-Walters said she is not going to vote in this election because she does not feel it is right to vote under a party she did not willingly register with.
So at least one official seems genuinely concerned and is trying to rectify the situation.
The story is still developing and we anticipate having many more updates throughout the week.
A sign encourages newly sworn-in U.S. citizens to register to vote outside a naturalization ceremony in 2019 in Los Angeles. After failing to get the now-blocked citizenship question on the 2020 census, the Trump administration is continuing to gather government records to produce citizenship data for redistricting.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A sign encourages newly sworn-in U.S. citizens to register to vote outside a naturalization ceremony in 2019 in Los Angeles. After failing to get the now-blocked citizenship question on the 2020 census, the Trump administration is continuing to gather government records to produce citizenship data for redistricting.
Information from the U.S. Army, federal prisons and the Department of the Interior’s law enforcement system are among the newly disclosed batch of records the Census Bureau says it is using to comply with President Trump’s executive order for citizenship data, according to a memo the bureau quietly posted on its website earlier this month.
Put together, these records could be used to yield data that could radically change political mapmaking and shift the balance of political power across the U.S. over the next decade.
Instead of drawing voting districts based on the number of overall residents in an area, the citizenship data the Trump administration wants created — detailed down to the level of a census block — may allow mapmakers to redistrict using the number of citizens old enough to vote. A GOP strategist concluded that excluding U.S. citizens under the age of 18 and noncitizens, both those lawfully and unlawfully in the country, from the numbers used to remake political maps would be “advantageous to Republicans & Non-Hispanic Whites.”
That method of redistricting was one of the main uses of the data outlined in Trump’s executive order, which also noted that the information could help the government “generate a more reliable count of the unauthorized alien population in the country.”
Last year, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced in the White House Rose Garden that the citizenship data “may be relevant” in an ongoing federal lawsuit the state of Alabama and Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from that state, has filed against the Census Bureau to get unauthorized immigrants excluded from the 2020 census numbers used to redistribute congressional seats and Electoral College votes among the states.
The pandemic-related delays have led the bureau to ask Congress to push back by four months the legal deadlines for delivering the results of the 2020 census, including redistricting data the bureau now would like to provide to the states by the end of July 2021.
If a new law is passed that allows for that extension, the bureau is also expecting to release the citizenship data as ordered by Trump by July 31, 2021, James Whitehorne, the head of the Census Bureau’s redistricting and voting rights data office, told redistricting officials last month during a webinar organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The House Democrats’ new coronavirus relief bill does allow for a deadline extension for redistricting data from the 2020 census. But the bill — which is not expected to get support from the Republican-controlled Senate — also includes a provision that would stop the efforts to create the citizenship data requested by the Trump administration.
Asked how the more recently disclosed sources of records are helping the Census Bureau’s researchers develop citizenship data, the bureau’s public information office directed NPR to slides the agency’s officials presented last year that said they help researchers link records about the same individual and determine whether that person is a U.S. citizen.
The Census Bureau is obtaining these records through sharing agreements negotiated with the other agencies, and the bureau has said the records are “stripped of any personal identifiable information and are used for statistical purposes only.”
Still, Latinx community groups in Arizona and Texas represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC are trying to stop the release of the citizenship data with a federal lawsuit against the administration. The challengers contend the production of the data is part of a conspiracy to prevent Latinos, noncitizens and other immigrants from receiving fair political representation.
In response to the Census Bureau’s announcement last month about delaying its field operations for the 2020 census, Thomas Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, called continued work on citizenship data a “dangerous diversion from the necessity of concentrating on Census 2020 in the Bureau and from accomplishing pandemic recovery efforts in other federal and state agencies.”
Amy O’Hara, who previously led the Census Bureau’s Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications, has also warned about the dangers of directing limited resources during the pandemic to creating more detailed citizen voting age population data, also known as CVAP.
“The sources for CVAP are mostly new to the Census Bureau, requiring more effort to understand the files and how to appropriately link it with other data,” O’Hara, who is now a research professor at Georgetown University’s Massive Data Institute, says in an email. “This competes with staff time for planned uses of administrative data, and with emerging needs during the pandemic, like correctly counting college students.”
Still, the citizenship data could be useful to at least one state.
Critics of the proposed constitutional amendment worry that it could lead to redistricting based on the number of citizens old enough to vote rather than of all residents, including children.
“The Supreme Court held in 2016 that it is constitutional to draw districts on the basis of total population, so that every district has the same number of people,” explains Michael Li, a redistricting expert who is a senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, in an email. “But the court left open the question of whether it might also be constitutional to use another population basis, such as eligible voters. That open question could be one of the big fights of this decade.”
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Germany’s data protection commissioner Ulrich Kelber has warned federal authorities against using Facebook’s WhatsApp messenger while working from home during the coronavirus crisis, in a letter leaked by media on Sunday.
“Even in these difficult times data protection should not be neglected. For this reason I would like to point out that the use of WhatsApp by a federal agency is out of the question”, Kelber said in an email published by the German digital rights blog, Netzpolitik.
He warned that, although Facebook could not read encrypted messages, the application was providing it with other “metadata” like the IP address, location and the mobile operating system that could be used to piece together the user’s profile.
German authorities use the app to timely inform citizens about disinformation and digital fraud schemes. Kelber said this proved that a trusted information service needed to be created to satisfy the country’s strict data protection rules.
WhatsApp Messenger is an American freeware, cross-platform messaging service owned by Facebook that allows users to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls, as well as share images, documents, user locations, and other forms of media.
A species of massive lizard is causing concern for wildlife officials in the US state of Georgia, who are attempting to eradicate the invasive reptilian from the state after numerous sightings.
The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) is a massive lizard that can get as big as 4 feet long and weigh 10 pounds or more and is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The reptiles have been very popular in the exotic animal trade, particularly in Florida, which sits close to Georgia and supports more non-native species of reptiles and amphibians than anywhere else in the world.
However, due to the lizards being released into the wild by owners or escaping, the invasive species is now causing trouble further up the East Coast in Georgia. The voracious, reptilian predators have been found consuming a variety of native wildlife.
“Tegus will eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds – including quail and turkeys – and other reptiles, such as American alligators and gopher tortoises, both protected species. They will also eat chicken eggs, fruit, vegetables, plants, pet food, carrion and small live animals, from grasshoppers to young gopher tortoises,” states the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
According to the Orianne Society, which works to conserve critical ecosystems for imperiled reptiles and amphibians, this is now the third year in a row that full-grown, adult Argentine black and white tegus have been trapped in the wild in southern Georgia. The tegu lizard population was found in Tattnall and Toombs Counties and has the potential to spread rapidly.
The sizeable lizards’ particular fondness for eggs makes their current proximity to gopher tortoise and eastern indigo snake populations in the state even more concerning. Georgia Southern University’s Department of Biology and the US Geological Survey are currently leading efforts to identify the extent of the population in order to evaluate eradication potential within the state.
Georgia’s winters have been hypothesized to be a potential deterrent for many invasive reptile species becoming established in the state. However, the three consecutive years of tegu captures strongly suggest the reptiles are able to survive the colder climate. There is also a possibility that adults have already bred, which would dramatically increase their number out in the wild.
The Orianne Society says it is critical to remove invasive species early in the invasion process in order to stop them, and all tegu sightings should be immediately reported to Georgia DNR.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, the Orianne Society wrote, “Tegus seen in Georgia can and should be shot on sight.”
Top officials with the Hillary Clinton campaign re-engaged with the opposition researchers behind the Steele dossier just three weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, newly declassified congressional witness transcripts reveal, indicating her campaign’s participation in an ongoing and well-funded effort to undermine the president by casting him as a tool of the Kremlin.
Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta testified that he met on Feb. 10, 2017, with Daniel Jones, a former aide to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Glenn Simpson and his partner Peter Fritsch of Fusion GPS. In separate testimony, Clinton’s senior foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan revealed he also participated in the meeting. The Clinton campaign had funneled money through a law firm, Perkins Coie, to pay Fusion to compile the now-discredited dossier which was a prime driver of the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories – and FBI investigations — that have shadowed his administration.
“They were interested in trying to raise money to continue their efforts to investigate the Russian interference in the campaign,” Podesta told the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017. The transcripts of his and Sullivan’s testimony were among the dozens of Russiagate interviews that had been withheld from the public for more than two years before being released last week.
Podesta said he agreed to help the trio open doors to big Democratic fund-raisers and sit down for press interviews and documentaries regarding any “new developments” uncovered by dossier author and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Sullivan accompanied Podesta to the meeting, which he said lasted about an hour and was held in an office building in Washington.
“Was the conversation about the then-dossier?” a House panel staffer asked Sullivan, who had previously worked in the Obama administration as Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser.
“I mean not specifically about the dossier,” Sullivan replied. “lt was sort of about the effort that they had put in to finding out ties between Trump and Russia and what their belief was based on the accumulation on that.”
Sullivan testified behind closed doors in a separate hearing held about two weeks after Podesta’s testimony.
Neither man was asked whether their efforts were known by Clinton, who has publicly suggested that Russia has compromising information. Podesta’s testimony did confirm earlier reporting by RealClearInvestigations that Clinton knew her campaign was paying opposition researchers to examine Trump’s ties to Russia.
Just 10 days before the February 2017 meeting, Jones had incorporated a nonprofit called The Democracy Integrity Project (known internally as TDIP) after huddling with Simpson. The goal of their ongoing project is to “prove” the allegations in the dossier, while digging up new dirt on Trump and feeding it to media outlets, congressional investigators and the FBI to derail his presidency.
The work of such opposition research outfits has become a mainstay of Washington journalism. In their book, “Crime in Progress,” Simpson and Fritsch detail their access to top journalists at The New York Times and other influential publications.
Mimicking the Clinton campaign, TDIP hired Fusion GPS and Steele to conduct the new opposition research, paying them millions of dollars. Podesta steered his repurposed partners to donors at a time when the Clinton campaign had not yet closed its books; the campaign was still open. In 2017 alone, TDIP raised more than $7 million with his help.
The well-funded project’s work – which dwarfs the original work done for the Clinton campaign, both in budget and scope — has been largely shrouded in mystery. But a months-long examination by RealClearInvestigations, drawn from documents and more than a dozen interviews, found that the organization is running an elaborate media-influence operation that includes driving and shaping daily coverage of the Russia “collusion” theory, as well as pushing stories about Trump in the national media that attempt to tie the president or his associates to the Kremlin. For instance, TDIP was behind stories keeping alive the dossier’s discredited claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had met during the 2016 campaign with Kremlin officials in Prague, a rumor that has now been thoroughly debunked by inspector general and special counsel reports.
The group also feeds information to FBI and congressional investigators, and then tells reporters that authorities are investigating those leads. The tactic adds credibility to TDIP’s pitches, luring big media outlets to bite on stories. It mirrors the strategy federal authorities themselves deployed to secure FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign: citing published news reports of investigative details their informants had leaked to the media to bolster their wiretap requests.
Until recently, TDIP emailed a newsletter to influential Democrats and prominent Beltway journalists under the heading “TDIP Research” – which summarized the latest “collusion” news, and offered “points of interest” to inspire fresh stories regarding Trump’s alleged ties to Moscow. The bulletin is now being distributed by an affiliated nonprofit, Advance Democracy Inc., which lists the same mailing address as TDIP.
Recipients of the TDIP bulletins have included journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post and investigative reporters at BuzzFeed, ProPublica and McClatchy, as well as news producers at CNN and MSNBC, according to the project’s email distribution list. Democratic aides on Capitol Hill have also subscribed to the newsletter.
TDIP has also pitched leads to the FBI and congressional investigators. In fact, a month after meeting with Podesta and Sullivan, Jones hired a team of computer scientists to analyze web traffic between the Alfa Bank and Trump Organization servers, and shared the findings with his former colleagues at the FBI (Jones joined the FBI as an analyst after working in a national service program launched by the Clinton administration). This was a second attempt at convincing the FBI there was a nefarious backchannel between the Russia-based bank and Trump. An attorney for the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign had already provided former FBI General Counsel James Baker with a thumb drive outlining the tip during the 2016 campaign.
That same month, March 2017, agents nonetheless visited the offices of the Pennsylvania company that housed the Trump server. But their second investigation proved to be another dead end. The sinister communications Jones claimed were flowing between the Trump server and Alfa Bank were found to be innocuous marketing emails. In other words, spam.
Jones also hired as a project partner the Austin, Texas-based cyber research firm New Knowledge to identify fake social media accounts allegedly controlled by Russia to support Republicans and Trump policies ahead of the 2018 congressional elections. But New Knowledge was busted doing the same thing – creating fake Facebook profiles of conservative voters to draw divisions among the GOP to throw chaos into a Senate race in Alabama. It’s not clear if Podesta or Sullivan were aware of this “false flag” operation.
Jones has also regularly communicated with investigators for Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, hoping to spread more Trump-Russia conspiracy theories. Last month the Republican-led panel affirmed American intelligence officials’ finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The panel is preparing to release a separate bipartisan report examining claims Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia. It is said to exonerate Trump.
During the 2016 campaign, Jones had worked for Democratic lobbyist Tom Daschle, who endorsed Clinton and was close to Podesta. Merging forces with Jones and Simpson fit a plan hatched by Podesta right after Clinton’s surprise defeat in November 2016.
“Within 24 hours of her concession speech, [Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook] assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up,” Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes report in their book, “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.”
“For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public,” wrote Allen, who works for NBC News Digital, and Parnes, who reports for The Hill. “Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”
The plan, according to the book, was to push journalists to cover how “Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign,” and it clearly succeeded. After the election, coverage of the Russian “collusion” story was relentless, and it helped pressure investigations and hearings on Capitol Hill and even the naming of a special counsel. TDIP’s dossier reboot put the influence operation into overdrive.
A month after TDIP was formed in 2017, former Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri summed up the post-election strategy in a Washington Post column comparing “Russiagate” to Watergate and encouraging the press and other Democrats to “turn the Russia story against Trump.”
“If we make plain that what Russia has done is nothing less than an attack on our republic, the public will be with us. And the more we talk about it, the more they’ll be with us,” she advised. “Polls show that voters are now concerned about the Russia story and overwhelmingly support an independent investigation.”
Though the Trump/Russia conspiracy theory was officially debunked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report in March 2019, it has tied up the Trump presidency. A separate report released late last year by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz also debunked many of the theories propagated by the dossier, while uncovering misconduct by the FBI in using the dossier to obtain warrants to electronically eavesdrop on a Trump campaign adviser.
Podesta’s and Sullivan’s recently released testimony provides evidence that the Clinton team and other Democrats never stopped campaigning against Trump. Hillary Clinton didn’t just pay for the Russian-sourced opposition research on candidate Trump before the election; her top aides helped bankroll continuing efforts to cast the now sitting president as a Russian agent.
BREAKING: Top Clinton Campaign Officials Podesta and Sullivan Secretly Joined Forces With Fusion GPS After The Election — To Re-Push Anti-Trump Dossierhttps://t.co/l1k2pw1bmT
On Wednesday, US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook warned that the US would force a unilateral “snapback” of all UN sanctions against Iran if the Security Council did not extend its arms embargo, promising that the embargo would remain in place “one way or another.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused the US’s top Iran official of making fresh “foolish claims,” noting that Washington has no business talking about the terms of an agreement it’s not part of.
“Making foolish claims by US officials is nothing new,” Zarif said, speaking to reporters late Wednesday, addressing Hook’s comments earlier in the week telling presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that “nothing will be left of the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement] until you return to it.”
“It is none of Brian Hook’s business to say ‘nothing will be left of the JCPOA’,” Zarif said. “What is important is between Iran and the JCPOA’s remaining parties,” Zarif added, recalling that the US quit the agreement in 2018.
“It is not unexpected of those advising people to drink or inject disinfectants to fight the coronavirus to come forward and say they are still a party to the agreement after officially leaving it,” he said.
Iran has “carried out all our measures within the framework of the JCPOA” and is calling on other signatories to do the same, the top Iranian diplomat stressed, referring to the European signatories’ inability to date to come up with a mechanism which would allow Iran to sidestep crushing US banking and energy sanctions.
Zarif stressed that that the JCPOA remains a “strong document,” and suggested that the US will one day recognize that its actions over the past two years to undermine the agreement “will be to their own detriment.”
US officials have recently made an attempt to extend the UN Security Council’s arms embargo against Iran, which is set to expire in October, making the legal case that the US is still a party to the Iran nuclear deal, despite withdrawing from the treaty in 2018. On Wednesday, Brian Hook penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, warning that the US would try to enforce a unilateral “snapback” of all UN sanctions against Iran if the Security Council did not extend the embargo. According to Hook, Russia and China have no reason to use their veto power to prevent the prolongation of the embargo. Russian officials, for their part, have repeatedly indicated that the embargo issue was “closed,” and that the US has no recourse to challenge the functioning of a deal it is not part of.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Newly-declassified US intelligence documents reveal Joe Biden was on a list of former Obama-era officials who received intelligence on former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
The chronological list shows Biden as the last of 28 former Obama administration officials to be notified of Flynn’s identity, having received the information on 11 January 2017, nine days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to documents released by Senator Chuck Grassley on Wednesday.
Today, Senator @ChuckGrassley and I received a list of individuals who requested the unmasking of Lt. General Michael Flynn and others who received access to that information.
In addition to Biden, the list includes some of the most senior officials in the Obama administration, including FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and US Ambassador the UN Samantha Power.
“We are making this public because the American people have a right to know what happened”, Sens. Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley, who released the documents, said. “The records are one step forward in an important effort to get to the bottom of what the Obama administration did during the Russia investigation and to Lt. General Flynn. We will continue to review this information and push for additional relevant disclosures until we are satisfied that the American people know the full truth”.
The Justice Department recently dropped its prosecution of Flynn after declassified documents revealed the former Trump adviser was allegedly forced into a perjury trap.
Retired Army Gen. Flynn, now 61, was prosecuted for lying to investigators about holding conversations with then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. He pleaded guilty in December 2017, but in mid-January, Flynn withdrew his guilty plea because of the government’s “bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement”, as he said.
A newly published list of US officials who were interested in National Security Agency (NSA) records on Trump adviser Michael Flynn includes President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, as well as Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden is listed as requesting the unmasking on January 12, 2017, the same day the Washington Post published a story claiming that Flynn had misreported his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, based on leaked NSA information.
Yet on Tuesday, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he “knew nothing” about the investigation of Flynn, and accused the Trump administration of using the former adviser’s case as a “diversion” from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The unmasking log was provided by the NSA to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last week, and sent by the Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard Grenell to two senators who requested it, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), who published it on Wednesday.
In addition to Biden, the document shows that then-DNI James Clapper made three unmasking requests about Flynn, CIA Director John Brennan made two, and FBI Director James Comey made one.
Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff at the time, made a request on January 5 – the very day Obama met with all the intelligence principals, and a day after FBI agent Peter Strzok intervened to keep the case on Flynn open despite the lack of any “derogatory” evidence. Strzok would later be sent by Comey to interview Flynn and edit the notes of that interview (the “302”) to imply Flynn had lied to him, resulting in the former general’s prosecution by special counsel Robert Mueller.
What the documents also show is that the Obama administration’s interest in what the NSA might have on Flynn began soon after the November 2016 election, with then-US envoy to the UN Samantha Power filing an unmasking request on November 30. She filed six more after that, the last dated January 11, 2017.
Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak about US sanctions against Russia was on December 29, 2016, after Obama suddenly announced the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of two diplomatic properties, citing Moscow’s alleged “meddling” in the presidential election.
Evidence that only recently emerged in the Flynn case showed that the leadership of the FBI and the Department of Justice sought to interview him using the pretext of the Logan Act, an 18th-century law which has never been used to prosecute anyone, and did not apply in this instance since Flynn was not a private citizen, but an official of the incoming administration conducting routine business during the presidential transition. This new evidence led the DOJ to announce last week it was dropping all charges against Flynn.
Between the manufactured pretext to go after Flynn and the prior revelation that four FISA warrants used to spy on the Trump campaign via adviser Carter Page had been entirely based on the discredited ‘Steele dossier’, the Trump administration has argued that they were unfairly targeted by its predecessor in what amounted to an illegal coup.
The GBI tweeted Sunday that it is investigating a Facebook post that contains a threat to future protests connected to Arbery, who would have turned 26 on Friday, but was shot and killed Feb. 23.
On Sunday night, the agency said it had arrested Rashawn Smith, 20, and charged him with dissemination of information relating to terroristic acts. He was taken into custody in Midway, Ga.
Police said he created a Facebook account of an unwitting individual to post a hoax threat.
The GBI has arrested Rashawn Smith, age 20, & charged him with Dissemination of Information Relating to Terroristic Acts for a Facebook post that contained a threat to future protests related to Ahmaud Arbery.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has sought to declassify a list of former Obama administration officials who were allegedly involved in the so-called “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in his conversations with the former Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, a senior U.S. official tells ABC News.
Grenell, who remains the U.S. ambassador to Germany along with being the acting DNI, visited the Justice Department last week to discuss the declassification of the list, according to the official.
Recall, General Flynn’s December 2016 phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were intercepted and Flynn was illegally unmasked — after Flynn’s identity was revealed, the transcripts of his phone calls were then leaked to the Washington Post.
Flynn’s leaked calls were published by WaPo’s David Ignatius on January 12, 2017 which led to Flynn being fired as National Security Advisor in February of 2017.
Obama’s former NatSec advisor Susan Rice was forced to acknowledge she unmasked Trump’s senior advisors during the transition period, however she maintained it was not politically motivated.
According to previous reports by John Solomon, Obama’s Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power also unmasked hundreds of Americans in Obama’s last year in office.
In fact, Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on a near daily basis.
Congressman Nunes has been on the front lines accusing the criminal Obama administration of illegally unmasking Trump’s transition team and it looks like we may soon find out who targeted Flynn!
The Justice Department dropped its case against Flynn last Thursday after bombshell documents were released showing he was framed by the FBI.
Fauci becomes third member of White House coronavirus task force to enter quarantine
by By Monica Alba and Alicia Victoria Lozano/NBC News
Three members of the White House coronavirus task force will self-quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19, administration officials said Saturday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, will quarantine for 14 days. Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, has already gone into quarantine.
Fauci, who has emerged as the most high-profile public health expert on President Donald Trump’s task force, will follow a “modified” quarantine for the next two weeks after “low-risk” exposure to a White House aide who tested positive for coronavirus, according to an administration official.
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.
She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – two daughters-in-law; Suzy and Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.
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At least 4,900 seniors have died in New York State nursing homes from the coronavirus so far this year. Around 20 percent of all New York state deaths were in nursing homes.
Recently Republican Chele Farley called on Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate this state policy that lead to so many deaths in New York state.
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4,900+ seniors have died from #COVID19 in NYS nursing homes following the state’s order that facilities cannot refuse a patient based on infection status. Read my letter to AG Barr requesting a federal investigation into these deaths & the role played by the state’s bad policy. pic.twitter.com/FbjUmU5W5X
Health officials are failing to provide evidence outlining the reasons why the UK government decided not to copy South Korea’s Covid-19 action plan – including mass testing – according to the Commons Science Committee chairman.
Greg Clark, who is also a former minister, said on Thursday that it is “regrettable and concerning that this evidence is being withheld” from his panel of MPs – despite senior officials at Public Health England (PHE) promising to provide it in March.
The Tory MP said he believes that the decision to reject South Korea’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak “may be one of the most pivotal decisions made in this pandemic.” In February, South Korea had the most coronavirus patients of any country in the world, other than China where the deadly disease was first reported late last year.
However, South Korea very quickly suppressed and drove down the country’s infection rates with a combination of mass testing, contact tracing, isolation and surveillance. To date, South Korea has only recorded just over 250 deaths, while the UK’s death toll has rocketed past 30,000.
Clark – who served under previous PMs Theresa May and David Cameron – revealed that PHE officials had told his committee on March 25 that they would publish the evidence “in the next few days.” However, it has still not emerged.
During the UK government’s daily Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday, Professor Dame Angela McLean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, insisted that ministers should look to South Korea as a “fine example” and follow its policy.
Boris Johnson’s administration has become embroiled in controversy surrounding a lack of tests in the UK, and questions over their validity. Official figures published on Wednesday showed that the government had failed to achieve its 100,000-tests-a-day threshold for the fourth day in a row.
Critics have also hammered UK officials after it was revealed that Covid-19 home-testing kits sent out in the post to recipients – before reaching laboratories – are being counted in the government’s official daily figures.
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A “controlling and possessive” Minnesota man has allegedly admitted to fatally strangling his wife when she threatened to leave him, before burying her in a crawl space beneath their home and calling authorities to report her missing in an elaborate scheme to cover-up the crime, authorities said.
Joshua David Fury, 28, was charged Tuesday with murder and second-degree murder for the April 30 slaying of his wife, 28-year-old Maria Fury, whose body was found Saturday after an exhaustive large-scale search that included several helicopter flyovers, according to Hennepin County Attorney’s office. He was being held at Hennepin County Jail on Wednesday.
“He said he strangled her during an argument about [Maria] leaving him,” according to the criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast, adding that Fury “placed both hands around [Maria’s] neck and squeezed until he felt a snap” before placing a “plastic bag over her head and nose” until she stopped “death breathing.”
Frantic to cover his crime, Fury told authorities he then wrapped his wife’s arms in duct tape and hid her body in the crawl space under their Maple Grove home before waiting several hours to call the police to report her missing. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed to The Daily Beast the 28-year-old died of asphyxiation from the duct-taped plastic bag—which was still on her face when she was found.
“Maria Pew is a victim of a horrific, unthinkable crime,” Maria’s family said in a statement. “But we will not allow her to be remembered that way; Maria would hate it if the world saw her as a victim. Maria was so much more. She was our daughter, our niece, our cousin, our friend; she loved her family and was fiercely loyal. A happy, strong, resilient, supportive, and caring individual, Maria did so much in her 28 years. But she also left behind hopes and dreams, and she left undone infinite possibilities.”
According to the complaint, Fury called the Maple Grove Police Department at around 6:00 p.m. on April 30 to report his wife missing, claiming she did not come home after “going for a walk.” He initially said he had returned home an hour earlier to find Maria’s cell phone on the kitchen counter, prompting him to check her normal walking route.
Deputies who responded to the couple’s home outside of Minneapolis immediately launched a search, spending two hours canvassing the surrounding area with the aid of a helicopter. The complaint states that an initial sweep of the couple’s home revealed nothing unusual and noted that Fury “genuinely appeared concerned” about his wife’s wellbeing.
On May 1, authorities continued a large-scale search and began to interview friends and family. During questioning, the complaint says investigators learned about the couple’s marital problems. Maria’s mother expressed her daughter’s intent to leave her husband and friends described Fury as “controlling and possessive.”
That same day, authorities obtained a search warrant for their home with recovery dogs—who found indications of “human remains” in the “lower-level crawl space with a dirt floor covered in plastic.” Authorities discovered the body at about 1:30 a.m. on May 2, after officers spent hours working together “with a system of buckets and tarps to remove the dirt” from the small crawl space.
Throughout the investigation, Fury allegedly gave “multiple statements in which he denied harming” his wife and even attempted to blame his wife’s ex-boyfriend for the crime. The complaint states that after Fury was arrested on May 2, however, he “told police he was telling the truth about everything.”
During a police interview, the 28-year-old admitted to killing his wife and burying her body in the crawl space, stating the crime was spurred by an argument about her leaving him. He told police that after he killed her and wrapped her in the same duct tape he was later going to use to “hang her missing posters,” he cleaned up the house and went to work.
Fury told authorities the murder and cover-up took only two-and-a-half hours.
The complaint says Fury told officers he “suffers from depression and attempted to commit suicide” after he killed his wife. He admitted he’d previously threatened to kill his wife when she said she wanted to leave him.
Adopted as an infant from Mexico City, Maria was described by her family as an “intense feeler” who loved animals, exercise, and her family. In an effort to use their tragic loss to help others, her family launched Maria’s Voice, an online campaign dedicated to raising awareness of domestic violence.
“If we can change the outcome for at least one woman, Maria would be so proud and honored,” the family said in a statement, adding that a push to support safer housing programs might “change the ending of Maria’s story for other women.