New York Times: FBI Director Comey blew up election in effort to ‘shield’ FBI from criticism

The New York Times has a deep-dive into Comey’s FBI suggesting what we’ve long suspected; Comey’s letter to Congress “informing” them that the FBI had “new” information in the long-running hunt for something damning in Hillary Clinton’s emails was done not out of high-minded concern for the country but two considerably less noble concerns; distrust of Democrats in the Justice Department—especially Attorney General Loretta Lynch—and protecting the department itself from criticism.

Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.

He most emphatically did not, of course, acknowledge that his FBI was actively investigation the Donald Trump campaign for potential collusion with Russian hacking efforts. The public deserved to know that the FBI was investigating the next

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A chief RNC digital strategist’s $1 million racket: Direct all party business to your own company

One of the coolest millions you could ever make is to found a political company, then get a prime RNC post and direct all the party’s candidates to use the services of the business you founded. Nice work if you can get it—if you can stomach working for the Republican party, that is. And we assume you can’t.

But it sure wasn’t a problem for Gerrit Lansing, co-founder of the political donations company Revv, then chief RNC digital strategist, followed by a short-lived stint in Trump’s White House, writes Shane Goldmacher.

The Republican Party’s top digital strategist in 2016 got a nearly $1 million payout from a firm he co-founded that collected online contributions to the party and its nominee, Donald Trump — despite earlier claims that the strategist had severed his ties to the company. […]

Republican operatives representing multiple GOP presidential and Senate campaigns said that Lansing pushed them to use the

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Surprise: New data shows racism was a prime motivator for Trump voters

Analysts are now digging through the 2016 American National Election Study released last week and political science professor Thomas Wood reached the perhaps not so surprising conclusion that racial bias was a prime motivator for white Trump voters, while white Clinton voters were conversely much less influenced by it. 

First, Wood used the answers from about 1,200 respondents nationwide to show how the incomes of 2016 voters corresponded to their candidate. In his research, Wood only analyzed white voters in order to isolate competing motivational factors.

2016 was plainly an anomaly. While the wealthy are usually most likely to vote for the Republican, they didn’t this time; and while the poor are usually less likely to vote for the Republican, they were unusually supportive of Trump. And the degree to which the wealthy disdained the 2016 Republican candidate was without recent historical precedent.

Just to give you a taste, the dashed line in the

Screen_Shot_2017-04-17_at_8.46.19_AM.png

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This week in the war on workers: How far did union households swing toward Trump?

Did Donald Trump really make major inroads with union households? Sociologists Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice take a look at the (imperfect) data and conclude that the story is more complicated than the headlines have made it out to be.

On the one hand, “In 2016 the partisan split among union households was smaller than at any time since Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984.” But there’s a but, and it centers on third-party candidates:

Trump did outdo Mitt Romney’s performance among union household voters – but by only 3 points.  Much more significantly, between 2012 and 2016 the share of the union household vote going to the Democrat in the race shrank from 58% to 51%, with the share of union household members saying that they voted for neither the Democrat nor the Republican in the race tripling, from 2% to 6%.

This isn’t great news, but it’s

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James Comey is the only one who’s ‘confused’ about which side the FBI chose during the election

FBI director James Comey appears to be confused about the role his agency played in the 2016 presidential election. He claimed Wednesday that his organization is “not on anybody’s side,” writes Meredith McGraw:

“We confused people — we did a lot last year that confused people, because they’re seeing the world…through sides,” Comey said during an event in Washington, D.C. for a new television documentary about the FBI. “If you see the world through sides, the FBI doesn’t make a lot of sense to people. Because you’re saying, ‘why did they help this person and hurt that [person]?'”

“We don’t see the world that way,” Comey added. “We are not on anybody’s side. We really don’t care. We’re trying to figure out what’s true, what’s fair, that’s the right thing to do.”

The FBI may be trying to figure out what’s true and fair now, but

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WashPo: Judge granted FBI warrant to monitor Trump aide Carter Page

Nice scoop here from the Washington Post reporting that the FBI sought a court order last summer to monitor Trump campaign aide Carter Page, and a judge found probable cause to approve that warrant as a part of the agency’s inquiry into the campaign’s Russian ties.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

The FBI investigation

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Counterintelligence investigation of possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia began last July

The New York Times reports that the CIA and FBI began examining suspected ties between Russian hacking efforts and the Trump campaign significantly earlier in the campaign than was previously known—and that the CIA, in particular, considered the situation “urgent”.

The former officials said that in late August — 10 weeks before the election — John O. Brennan, then the C.I.A. director, was so concerned about increasing evidence of Russia’s election meddling that he began a series of urgent, individual briefings for eight top members of Congress, some of them on secure phone lines while they were on their summer break. […]
The officials said Mr. Brennan also indicated that unnamed advisers to Mr. Trump might be working with the Russians to interfere in the election.

That was in August. But just how long before that did the intelligence community open their investigation into possible Republican campaign collusion

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News roundup: Comey confirms investigation into ‘coordination’ between Trump campaign, Russia

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.

— FBI Director James Comey

With that blockbuster opening, James Comey confirmed in today’s House Intelligence Committee hearing that U.S. law enforcement agencies are conducting an investigation into potential “coordination” between the Republican presidential campaign and foreign intelligence agents. For those who missed today’s events, a brief roundup of today’s hearing and other related news:

• The purpose of today’s hearing was to update the House as to the state of U.S. investigations into state-sponsored Russian hacking and propaganda efforts aimed at the

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Russia-Trump meetings occurred as Putin weighed whether to shift hacking efforts to support Trump

As we learn of more and more contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russian officials or go-betweens, both in the United States and in Moscow, let’s engage here in a few theoretical questions as to what might have been going on. And we don’t need to get too conspiratorial about this; at this point, the simplest explanations are still likely the best.

And the simplest explanation for Russia’s peculiar attentions towards Donald Trump’s top advisers is the one we already know. From the declassified version of the intelligence community’s report on Russian state espionage efforts during the 2016 election:

Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. […]
We assess Putin,

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Russia-Trump meetings occurred as Putin weighed whether to shift hacking efforts to support Trump

As we learn of more and more contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russian officials or go-betweens, both in the United States and in Moscow, let’s engage here in a few theoretical questions as to what might have been going on. And we don’t need to get too conspiratorial about this; at this point, the simplest explanations are still likely the best.

And the simplest explanation for Russia’s peculiar attentions towards Donald Trump’s top advisers is the one we already know. From the declassified version of the intelligence community’s report on Russian state espionage efforts during the 2016 election:

Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. […]
We assess Putin,

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Senate Intelligence committee asks agencies to preserve materials related to Russian election ties

On Friday, members of the Senate Intelligence committee received a classified briefing on the investigation into Russian interference in the November election from FBI Director James Comey. It was notable primarily for the stone-faced silence with which senators sidled by the press after the meeting.

That same evening, though, the committee took action.

The Senate intelligence committee has sent formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to a probe the panel is conducting on Russian interference in the 2016 election and related issues, a congressional aide said Saturday.

Among those “related issues”: Alleged contact during the campaign between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures, as well as conversations between now-resigned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

As for what the move “means”, it means that the committee does indeed expect to delve into Russian

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Senate Intelligence committee asks agencies to preserve materials related to Russian election ties

On Friday, members of the Senate Intelligence committee received a classified briefing on the investigation into Russian interference in the November election from FBI Director James Comey. It was notable primarily for the stone-faced silence with which senators sidled by the press after the meeting.

That same evening, though, the committee took action.

The Senate intelligence committee has sent formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to a probe the panel is conducting on Russian interference in the 2016 election and related issues, a congressional aide said Saturday.

Among those “related issues”: Alleged contact during the campaign between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures, as well as conversations between now-resigned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

As for what the move “means”, it means that the committee does indeed expect to delve into Russian

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Remember that Senate Russia hacking investigation? Republicans are hoping you don’t

Congressional Republicans don’t want to do a serious investigation of Russian election interference and ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. It would be a bad look to say “we’re not investigating at all,” though, so they’re doing several half-hearted investigations instead, with Democrats—joined by John McCain and Lindsey Graham in the moments they get up their nerve to oppose their party—pushing for those investigations to stop being polite and start getting real. 

The Republican chairs and Democratic ranking members of the three Senate committees looking into the issue are “planning to meet in the coming days,” Politico reports.

In an interview Tuesday, [Mark] Warner said five committee staffers are dedicated to the investigation and that more could be added if needed.

“I think the intelligence professional staff on both the majority and minority are quite good,” the Virginia senator said. “I think if we need more, we’ve worked

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House Russia hacking investigation will look at campaign ties, but Democrats say more is needed

As Democrats continue to push for meaningful investigation into just what exactly happened with Russian election interference, and, in particular, connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, the chair and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee have announced what that committee’s investigation will cover:

The scope of the Committee’s inquiry has included, and will continue to include:

  • Russian cyber activity and other “active measures” directed against the U.S. and its allies;
  • Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns;
  • The United States Government response to these Russian active measures and any impact they may have on intelligence relationships and traditional alliances; and
  • Possible leaks of classified information related to the Intelligence Community’s assessments of these matters.

But Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s ranking Democrat, says it shouldn’t just be the House committee on

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FBI had been investigating Russian pro-Trump hacking since last spring, report says

Excuse me? Can we pile this onto the already towering stack of reasons to be outraged that, 12 days before the election, FBI Director James Comey made a big issue of Hillary Clinton emails that turned out to be, by his own admission, totally meaningless?

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, two people familiar with the matter said. […]

The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry.

For months? Since last spring? Let’s

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Department of Justice to review charges of FBI misconduct during 2016 election

Well, Trump’s gonna blow another gasket.

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 Inspector General announced Thursday.
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, according to a news release from Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

One of the biggest questions to be answered: whether the FBI properly followed procedure “in actions leading up to or related to” Comey’s public announcements on the state of Clinton-related investigations. Another topic will be the truly bizarre FBI move to publicize Clinton-related documents on Twitter, in the weeks immediately before the election, using an account that

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Democrats call for ‘truly bipartisan’ Russian election interference investigation

Congressional Democrats, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings, have introduced a bill to create an independent commission investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Citing the declassified intelligence report concluding that Russia sought “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process” and the possibility it could happen again, Cummings on Monday emphasized that the bill “is not just about the past. It is about the future.”

These Russian attacks on our electoral process were attacks on our Constitution, our people, and our nation. And our intelligence agencies are warning us that if we do not respond now, the Russians will attack us again.

We are all Members of the Congress of the United States of America. We have taken an oath to protect and defend our Constitution and our nation. That is what this legislation is about. It is not about Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, or Republicans, or

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Trump’s takeaway from Russia hacking report: Blame the victim, deny it mattered, suck up to Putin

Here’s what Donald Trump was saying about the report on Russian election hacking rather than expressing concern or, dare I suggest, outrage that a foreign government is implicated in interference with American elections:

  • He put the blame on the DNC for being hacked. “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place.The Republican National Committee had strong defense!”
  • He maintained that there was no evidence the hacking affected the election results, even though the unclassified report said it never made an assessment about the impact on the outcome (“The U.S. Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion”). Trump tweeted: “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!”
  • He stressed the need

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Intelligence report: Russia tried to help Trump win by ‘discrediting’ Clinton

Russia aimed to help Donald Trump win the election using covert techniques, according to the declassified intelligence report released Friday. Ken Dilanian writes:

In “Key Judgments,” the report says, “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

The report says that the Russian government tried to help Trump “by discrediting Secretary Clinton.” It says that the CIA, the FBI have “high confidence” in this judgment, while the NSA “has moderate confidence.” […]

The report does not offer any assessment about whether the hacking, leaking, and proliferation of fake news stories helped Trump win. Director of National Intelligence James

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Democrats can no longer bail out Republican voters. They’re up sh–t’s creek.

It’s hard to find any silver linings in our current political situation. They exist! They’re just hard to find, and particularly hard to stomach at the moment. Whatever benefits will accrue won’t happen for several years, and we can genuinely wonder if there’ll even be a planet in four years after popular vote loser Donald Trump is done with the place. 

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But there is one silver lining that I’m enjoying right now—the comeuppance Republican voters will get when they no longer have Democrats to bail them out. Finally, those assholes are getting exactly what they voted for, and only what they voted for. 

For too long it’s been easy to vote Republican. They could cast their angry vote (whether out of racism, or bigotry, or mean-spiritedness) for Republicans, always knowing that some Democratic-held institution (the presidency, a filibuster-empowered Senate minority, etc.) would mitigate the worst

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