Moores Defeat in Alabama Deals Trump a Rebuke Ahead of 2018 Races – Trending Stuff

The defeat of Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race by Democrat Doug Jones was a stunning rebuke to the GOP’s anti-establishment wing led by Steve Bannon and a major political embarrassment for President Donald Trump.

Moore’s candidacy was the opening gambit in Bannon’s war to oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP’s congressional leadership. While Trump backed Moore’s primary challenger at McConnell’s behest, he jumped in with a full-throated endorsement of Moore a week before the election in an attempt to put him over the top.

All that unraveled on Tuesday night. While Jones is unlikely to be seated before the Senate votes on a massive tax-cut plan, the finger-pointing that began among Republicans regarding his election points to an underlying chasm in the party that may impair its ability going forward to fulfill the president’s agenda.

Trump, who once said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still win votes, found his limit with Moore — even in a state he won by 28 percentage points just one year ago. Combined with recent Republican losses in statewide elections in Virginia and New Jersey, Moore’s defeat blows a hole in Trump’s aura of political invincibility that will embolden Democrats as they prepare for the 2018 congressional elections.

The result was also a loss for McConnell and congressional Republicans because it trims their Senate advantage to 51-49 as they enter some tough negotiations on spending with Democrats next year. But it also may bring some measure of relief to GOP lawmakers running for re-election who feared the sexual misconduct claims against Moore would taint the party for years to come.

The outcome isn’t likely to quell the fight with Bannon’s insurgency.

Minutes after the race was called, Andy Surabian, a Bannon ally who is senior adviser to the pro-Trump Great American Alliance, laid the blame at the feet of the Senate’s top leader.

“Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment got their wish: they successfully delivered Alabama to a liberal Democrat,” Surabian said.

On Wednesday, Representative Pete King, a Republican from New York, said the election result underscores the failure of Bannon’s strategy. “After Alabama disaster GOP must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon,” he tweeted. “His act is tired, inane and morally vacuous. If we are to Make America Great Again for all Americans, Bannon must go! And go NOW!!”

Republican Carlos Curbelo of Florida taunted Bannon for backing “disgusting Roy Moore.”

Doug Jones celebrate at an election night party in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., on Dec. 12.

Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg

“Congratulations to the Bannon wing of the @GOP for gifting a seat to @SenateDems in one of the reddest states,” Curbelo wrote on Twitter. “You have no future in our country’s politics.”

It was Trump who sounded a gracious note at the end of the night, congratulating Jones on Twitter “on a hard fought victory” and saying Republicans will have another shot at the seat in a short time — Jones will face re-election in 2020.

On Wednesday morning, Trump changed his tune and said he knew all along that Moore couldn’t win because “the deck was stacked.” “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election,” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday morning. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, prevailed in a solidly Republican state by running a low-key local campaign while Moore was consumed by a national furor following allegations he had molested teenage girls while in his thirties.

With Moore out of the picture, Republicans may have dodged a bullet. They now won’t have to answer uncomfortable questions about why they tolerate a colleague accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl and assaulting a 16-year-old. McConnell had promised an ethics investigation of Moore if he won. That might have led to a contentious vote on expulsion, which in turn would have kept alive uncomfortable questions about Trump’s own conduct. More than a dozen women have accused the president of sexual harassment or other misconduct over the years.

McConnell’s allies were so worried about Moore that they spent millions trying to defeat him in the primary. Now the majority leader can point to Moore’s defeat as another in a string of disastrous candidates pushed by the party’s right wing that have cost the GOP Senate seats in Delaware, Indiana and Missouri.

“Any illusion that Steve Bannon’s brand of politics could be successful vanished when a state like Alabama became competitive,” said Josh Holmes, former campaign manager and chief of staff for McConnell. “You’d have to be absolutely blind and willfully ignorant to not realize this has been a national embarrassment.”

Even without the sexual misconduct claims, Moore was a polarizing figure. He was twice ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to follow federal court orders, argued in 2006 against allowing Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota to serve because he is Muslim, and backed impeaching Supreme Court justices who voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Bannon has pledged to run insurgents against every GOP incumbent except Ted Cruz of Texas. Now he’ll have a much harder time carrying that strategy into November’s congressional elections.

Dealing with Moore would have been a daily challenge for a Republican Party already struggling to unite behind its agenda. Moore said he was running so God could save the country, and he vilified McConnell and other leaders as establishment sellouts.

He favored bans on homosexual conduct and gays serving in the military. He had said he believed former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., and recently was quoted as saying at a rally that the U.S. was great before the Civil War “even though we had slavery” because, he said, families stuck together and the country had a direction.

$100 Check

Some Republican senators engaged in public debates over just how much to oppose Moore. Senator Jeff Flake tweeted a photo of a $100 check he sent to Jones, while Nebraska’s Ben Sasse tweeted that both Flake, in backing Jones, and the Republican National Committee, which renewed its financial support for Moore, had gotten it wrong. Strikingly, Republican Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator, said he didn’t vote for Moore and instead wrote in the name of a “distinguished Republican.”

The outcome adds urgency to Republican efforts to send a massive tax-cut bill to Trump’s desk before Jones can be seated — by Jan. 3 at the latest — and it greatly complicates Trump’s plan to attempt a broader repeal of the Affordable Care Act next year.

The one-seat gain gives Democrats a slightly better shot in 2018 at winning the Senate majority, which they could use to control the agenda, investigate the president and block nominees, from the Supreme Court on down.

On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, told MSNBC that McConnell should hold the tax bill until Jones is sworn in so that Alabamans can have their voices heard. Van Hollen said that, while that was unlikely, he sees a national trend in which voters are signaling that “they don’t like Trumpism and they want to go in a different direction.”

A Democratic majority is still a long shot. The election map strongly favors the GOP, with 10 Democrats up for re-election in states won by Trump and just one Republican incumbent — Dean Heller of Nevada — running in a state won by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

To take the majority, Democrats would likely need to re-elect their incumbents, defeat Heller and pick up an open seat in Arizona or Tennessee — or, in perhaps the dream Democratic scenario, topple Cruz in Texas.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Trump Claims Millions Voted Illegally, Without Giving Evidence

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump claimed without providing evidence that he would have won the popular vote if millions of illegal votes were excluded, hours after criticizing an effort to recount votes in three battleground states.

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, Trump, a Republican, told his 16 million Twitter followers Sunday. In a subsequent tweet, he claimed the media wasnt reporting serious voter fraud in the Democratic-leaning states of California, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Trump offered nothing to back up his allegations of wrongdoing in the Nov. 8 election — one that returned to his pre-election mantra of a rigged result. Although Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton 306-232 in the state-by-state Electoral College, the former secretary of state leads Trump by more than 2.2 million votes in the nationwide popular vote, according to a running tally by the non-partisan Cook Political Report. A Trump spokesman didnt immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cook shows Clinton with 64.65 million total votes to Trumps 62.42 million, or a lead of 48.2 percent to 46.5 percent. Third-party and other candidates received 7.19 million votes, or about 5.4 percent. In 13 swing states, Trump won 48.4 percent of the vote to Clintons 46.6 percent.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump had criticized recounts proposed for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are being spearheaded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein — an effort that Clintons campaign said Saturday it would join.

Efforts Sad

In seven early-morning Twitter posts, Trump recounted previous comments by Clinton on the need to accept the election results, culminating in her concession speech on Nov. 9. So much time and money will be spent — same result! Sad, Trump concluded. On Saturday, he called the Green Partys recount efforts a scam to fill up their coffers.

The president-elect spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and returned to New York late Sunday. Several potential hires are due to visit Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan on Monday to interview for administration posts, including John Allison, a former chief executive of BB&T Corp.; Paul Atkins, a former Securities and Exchange commissioner; and David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

Trump aides on Sunday fanned out across political talk shows to cast cold water on the recount efforts.

Millions Raised

Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, said on Fox News Sunday that the planned recount would serve only to divide this country when we need to come together.

The effort was confounding and disappointing, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on NBCs Meet the Press. It turns out Team Hillary and their new BFF Jill Stein cant accept reality, Conway said Saturday in a statement.

Stein has raised more than $6.1 million for her recount effort, with a $7 million goal, according to a running tally on her website.

Clintons campaign will participate in the recount in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said Saturday.

Elias, in a post on the blogging website Medium, added that he doesnt expect the action to overturn Trumps election. He also detailed exhaustive efforts already undertaken by the Democrats team to assure the validity of the vote.

Clintons campaign hadnt planned to initiate the recounts on its own because it hasnt found any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, Elias wrote.

A senior administration official, meanwhile, said in a statement that the government didnt observe any increased level of malicious cyber-activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cyber-security perspective.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-27/trump-suggesting-voter-fraud-says-he-won-the-popular-vote

Trump Claims Millions Voted Illegally, Without Giving Proof

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump claimed without providing evidence that he would have won the popular vote if millions of illegal votes were excluded, hours after criticizing an effort to recount votes in three battleground states.

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, Trump, a Republican, told his 16 million Twitter followers Sunday. In a subsequent tweet, he claimed the media wasnt reporting serious voter fraud in the Democratic-leaning states of California, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Twitter: Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Twitter: Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Trump offered nothing to back up his allegations of wrongdoing in the Nov. 8 election — one that returned to his pre-election mantra of a rigged result. Although Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton 306-232 in the decisive state-by-state Electoral College, the former secretary of state leads Trump by more than 2.2 million votes in the nationwide popular vote, according to a running tally by the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him, Alex Padilla, Californias secretary of state, said on Twitter. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a President-elect.

Election officials in New Hampshire and Virginia also said there wasnt evidence for Trumps claim.

No Credible Evidence

Cook shows Clinton with 64.66 million total votes to Trumps 62.43 million, or a lead of 48.1 percent to 46.5 percent. Third-party and other candidates received 7.24 million votes, or about 5.4 percent. In 13 swing states, Trump won 48.4 percent of the vote to Clintons 46.6 percent.

There is no credible evidence I have seen to show large numbers of noncitizens voting in U.S. elections anywhere, Rick Hasen, a political science professor at University of California, Irvine, told PolitiFact in its Nov. 18 fact-check debunking claims similar to Trumps, which have spread on conspiracy-theory websites. The idea that 3 million noncitizens could have illegally voted in our elections without being detected is obscenely ludicrous.

Pressed for evidence for Trumps claims, spokesman Jason Miller told reporters Monday that the media should give the appropriate level of attention to vote integrity concerns as opposed to just chasing the shiny object of the Jill Stein recount effort, which he said has no chance of overturning the elections outcome. He referred to disputed research by two political scientists published by the Washington Post in 2014, and to a 2012 Pew Center on the States report calling for error-plagued and inefficient voter-registration systems to be modernized.

Stein Recount

Earlier on Sunday, Trump had criticized recounts proposed for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are being spearheaded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein — an effort that Clintons campaign said Saturday it would join.

Jill Stein
Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

In seven early-morning Twitter posts, Trump recounted previous comments by Clinton on the need to accept the election results, culminating in her concession speech on Nov. 9. So much time and money will be spent — same result! Sad, Trump concluded. On Saturday, he called the Green Partys recount efforts a scam to fill up their coffers.

Michigans Board of State Canvassers certified Trumps 10,704-vote winning margin there on Monday, and Stein has until Wednesday to ask for a recount, the Associated Press reported.

Millions Raised

Trump aides on Sunday fanned out across political talk shows to cast cold water on the recount efforts.

Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, said on Fox News Sunday that the planned recount would serve only to divide this country when we need to come together.

The effort was confounding and disappointing, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on NBCs Meet the Press. It turns out Team Hillary and their new BFF Jill Stein cant accept reality, Conway said Saturday in a statement.

Stein has raised more than $6.3 million for her recount effort, with a $7 million goal, according to a running tally on her website.

Clinton Support

Clintons campaign will participate in the recount in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said Saturday.

Elias, in a post on the blogging website Medium, added that he doesnt expect the action to overturn Trumps election. He also detailed exhaustive efforts already undertaken by the Democrats team to assure the validity of the vote.

Clintons campaign hadnt planned to initiate the recounts on its own because it hasnt found any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, Elias wrote.

A senior administration official, meanwhile, said in a statement that the government didnt observe any increased level of malicious cyber-activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-11-27/trump-suggesting-voter-fraud-says-he-won-the-popular-vote

Trump Claims Millions Voted Illegally, Without Giving Proof

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump declared without offering proof that he would have won the popular vote if countless prohibited votes were left out, hours after slamming an effort to state votes in 3 battlefield states.

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you subtract the countless individuals who voted unlawfully, Trump, a Republican, informed his 16 million Twitter fans Sunday. In a subsequent tweet, he declared the media wasnt reporting major citizen scams in the Democratic-leaning states of California, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Twitter: Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Twitter: Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Trump used absolutely nothing to support his accusations of misdeed in the Nov. 8 election– one that went back to his pre-election mantra of a rigged outcome. Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton 306-232 in the definitive state-by-state Electoral College, the previous secretary of state leads Trump by more than 2.2 million votes in the across the country popular vote, according to a running tally by the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

It appears that Mr. Trump is bothered by the reality that a growing bulk of Americans did not elect him, Alex Padilla, Californias secretary of state, stated on Twitter. His unverified accusations of citizen scams in California and somewhere else are unreasonable. His negligent tweets are unbecoming and unsuitable of a President-elect.

Election authorities in New Hampshire and Virginia likewise stated there wasnt proof for Trumps claim.

No Credible Evidence

Cook programs Clinton with 64.66 million overall votes to Trumps 62.43 million, or a lead of 48.1 percent to 46.5 percent. Third-party and other prospects got 7.24 million votes, or about 5.4 percent. In 13 swing states, Trump won 48.4 percent of the vote to Clintons 46.6 percent.

There is no reputable proof I have actually seen to reveal great deals of noncitizens enacting U.S. elections anywhere, Rick Hasen, a government teacher at University of California, Irvine, informed PolitiFact in its Nov. 18 fact-check exposing claims just like Trumps, which have actually spread out on conspiracy-theory sites. The concept that 3 million noncitizens might have unlawfully enacted our elections without being identified is obscenely ridiculous.

Pressed for proof for Trumps claims, representative Jason Miller informed press reporters Monday that the media ought to offer the suitable level of focus on vote stability issues rather than simply chasing after the glossy things of the Jill Stein recount effort, which he stated has no opportunity of reversing the elections result. He described disputed research study by 2 political researchers released by the Washington Post in 2014, and to a 2012 Pew Center on the States report requiring ineffective and error-plagued voter-registration systems to be improved.

Stein Recount

Earlier on Sunday, Trump had actually slammed states proposed for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are being led by Green Party prospect Jill Stein– an effort that Clintons project stated Saturday it would sign up with.

Jill
Jill Stein
Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

In 7 early-morning Twitter posts, Trump stated previous remarks by Clinton on the have to accept the election results, culminating in her concession speech on Nov. 9. Much time and loan will be invested– very same outcome! Unfortunate, Trump concluded. On Saturday, he called the Green Partys recount efforts a fraud to fill their coffers.

Michigans Board of State Canvassers licensed Trumps 10,704-vote winning margin there on Monday, and Stein has up until Wednesday to request for a recount, the Associated Press reported.

Millions Raised

Trump assistants on Sunday fanned out throughout political talk reveals to cast cold water on the recount efforts.

Reince Priebus, the inbound White House chief of personnel, stated on Fox News Sunday that the prepared recount would serve just to divide this nation when we have to come together.

The effort was frustrating and confounding, Trump senior consultant Kellyanne Conway stated on NBCs Meet journalism. It ends up Team Hillary and their brand-new BFF Jill Stein cant accept truth, Conway stated Saturday in a declaration.

Stein has actually raised more than $6.3 million for her recount effort, with a $7 million objective, inning accordance with a running tally on her site.

Clinton Support

Clintons project will take part in the recount in order to guarantee the procedure continues in a way that is reasonable to all sides, Clinton project legal representative Marc Elias stated Saturday.

Elias, in a post on the blogging site Medium, included that he does not anticipate the action to reverse Trumps election. He likewise comprehensive extensive efforts currently carried out by the Democrats group to ensure the credibility of the vote.

Clintons project hadnt prepared to start the states by itself due to the fact that it hasn’t discovered any actionable proof of hacking or outdoors efforts to modify the ballot innovation, Elias composed.

A senior administration authorities, on the other hand, stated in a declaration that the federal government didnt observe any increased level of destructive cyber-activity targeted at interfering with the election on election day and thinks the elections were reasonable and totally free from a cybersecurity viewpoint.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-11-27/trump-suggesting-voter-fraud-says-he-won-the-popular-vote

Heres my special New Years wish for all women

Heres my special New Years wish for all women
On Jan. 1, 2017 frevelers celebrate the new year in New York’s Times Square. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

With the arrival of 2019, many of us will make New Year’s resolutions and will begin the year with hopes, dreams and wishes. My wish for 2019? For women to stand up for each other – not tear each other down.

In the United States, women are the majority of the population. Currently, the male population is about 163 million – or 49.4 percent of the country. The female population is just over 167 million – or 50.6 percent.

Yet despite our being in the majority, we don’t hold anywhere near our share of political offices. In 2018, women made up just 23 percent of the U.S. Senate and 20 percent of the House. Those numbers rose slightly in the November midterm elections and will amount to 23 percent in the Senate and 24 percent in the House in 2019.

Things are much worse in the corporate world. There were only 24 women on the list of corporate CEOs of Fortune 500 companies for 2018 – just 5 percent. The number was down from 32 female CEOs in 2017.

Why do you think that is? I’ll tell you. Women don’t support each other like men do.

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Just look at politics. Women didn’t even get the right to vote until the Constitution was amended in 1920. And then it wasn’t until 2016 when a major political party nominated a woman – Democrat Hillary Clinton – for president.

In an interview with the New York Times, Clinton spoke about how misogyny is used as a tool to hold women back.

But it’s not only the men doing this. In my opinion, women can be women’s worst enemy or obstacle. It is also why I believe we have never had a female president in the United States. We just don’t support each other in the numbers that we could.

In the 2016 presidential election, turnout was lower than it was in 2008 or 2012, when there was no female at the top of either party’s ticket. Even President Trump tweeted about the Women’s March participants: “Why didn’t these people vote?” Good question

We need to support each other, have each other’s backs and then I believe in the future we will have equal pay, equal treatment, equal representation in politics and more seats at the table of CEOs<br> 

History suggests that the biggest obstacle to a woman being elected president it that she is not a man.

But it goes farther than our gender. It is how we women treat each other. Let’s just look at our treatment of very powerful political women.

In the 1990’s, Hillary Clinton was attacked for not having “stayed home and baked cookies and had teas,” choosing to pursue a career instead. She was attacked while first lady of Arkansas for not using her husband’s last name, but then eventually switched from Hillary Rodham to Hillary Clinton.

When then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the vice presidential running mate of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain in 2008 – the same year Clinton sought the Democratic presidential nomination in a contest with then-Sen. Barack Obama – frequent comments were made about “Mrs. Clinton is pantsuits; Ms. Palin is skirts.”

In 2011 there was a near-obsession with whether or not House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif., had undergone plastic surgery

And when Hillary Clinton was running for president against Donald Trump, former New York City Mayor and current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort and said: “Hillary was also here …. And she actually fit through the door.”

There were gasps and looks, but there was also laughter – and it wasn’t just the men who were chuckling.

Recently, former first lady Michelle Obama said during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” that as she left the White House after Trump’s inauguration, she thought “Bye, Felicia!” That was a comment that many felt she was using as a way to smugly dismiss incoming first lady Melania Trump.

When Christine Blasey Ford accused then-Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, a majority of women believed her – but 77 percent of Republican women did not.

And it’s not just women who might not like or oppose another woman because they’re of a different political mindset.

Just recently, outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said of incoming House Democratic freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview:  “I’m a little confused why she’s the thing.”

I too have been the victim of attacks. Comments directed against me include: “Shut your mouth unless you’re going to put another scoop of Haagen Dazs in it, fattie.” “Why don’t you stick a missile where the sun don’t shine and move to Iraq?” “You’re too old to wear your hair like that.”

The list goes on and sadly, the attacks didn’t come from men. They came from women.

This is nothing new. Even Psychology Today published an article headlined: “Why ARE some Women Nasty to Other Women?”

Now I know some of you are thinking: things are changing; just look at the #MeToo movement or the fact that in the last midterm election, a record number of women ran, were nominated and won seats in Congress.

That’s true and that’s encouraging, but it doesn’t go far enough.

And I won’t go as far as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who said that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.”

But I will say that we need to stop judging each other’s appearance, stop being obstacles to each other’s successes. We need to support each other, have each other’s backs and then I believe in the future we will have equal pay, equal treatment, equal representation in politics and more seats at the table of CEOs

It’s simple, ladies. If we are to hold up “half the sky” then we need to truly hold one another up. And that is my New Year’s wish for our gender. Happy 2019!

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY LESLIE MARSHALL

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

Grassley Says Spooked Kushner Wont Agree to Russia Interview – Trending Stuff

Grassley Says Spooked Kushner Wont Agree to Russia Interview – Trending Stuff

A “spooked” Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, won’t agree to a staff interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley said.

The Iowa Republican said at a committee hearing Thursday that he now plans to release transcripts of the panel’s interviews with other participants in a 2016 meeting between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. That means the public could have its first glimpse of Donald Trump Jr.’s account of the event soon.

The meeting at Trump Tower in New York during the presidential campaign is one of the clearest known contacts between those close to Trump and Russians, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees investigate whether anyone around the president colluded in Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

Trump Jr. has said he took the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya because he was promised damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton, but nothing came of it. Others attending included Kushner, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin.

Related story: Mueller Probe Said to Quick Pace as Key Phase Nears End

“I had hoped to speak with all the witnesses surrounding the Trump Tower meeting before releasing any interview transcripts, but with the unilateral release of the transcript for Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, it seems to have spooked other potential witnesses,” Grassley said Thursday. “As a result it looks like our chances of getting a voluntary interview with Mr. Kushner has been shot.”

Kushner’s legal team didn’t formally decline an appearance with the Senate Judiciary Committee, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. But they asked for guidance on when lawmakers are allowed to disclose information and whether the committee had received the transcript of Kushner’s interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, created a stir by releasing the transcript of the interview with Simpson, whose firm commissioned a dossier of unverified allegations concerning Trump and Russia. Republicans say the dossier, largely paid for by Democrats and Clinton’s campaign, was misused to open the continuing investigations into Trump.

Grassley noted that Feinstein already has access to the transcript of Kushner’s interview with the Intelligence Committee, where the California lawmaker is a senior member, and said he hopes to see it as well.

For more on Russian interference in the U.S. election, check out the podcast:

Release Date Unclear

Grassley said he would discuss how to release the transcripts with Feinstein, and he told reporters he didn’t know how soon the Trump Tower material will be made public.

“That section of our investigation is done,” Grassley of Iowa said.

But Feinstein said Thursday that the committee should still hold public hearings with Kushner and Trump Jr. “which we agreed to pursue last year.”

She also said the transcripts should first be handed over to Mueller.

“I agree the transcripts should be released to Mueller, and to the public when it won’t interfere with the investigation,” Feinstein said in an emailed statement.

Other Figures

In addition to the interview with Trump Jr., Grassley intends to release transcripts of interviews with other figures involved with the Trump Tower meeting, including Akhmetshin and Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who helped set up the event, as well as Veselnitskaya’s written answers to questions, according to a Judiciary Committee aide who asked not to be identified discussing the plans.

The announcement by Grassley came a day after two other Judiciary Committee Democrats, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse, called on Grassley to share the transcripts with Mueller, particularly the Trump Jr. interview. 

Grassley expressed an openness to sharing the transcripts with Mueller in comments to reporters Wednesday, but he said Mueller hadn’t asked for them.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

GOP Access to FBI Files Rattles Agents Caught in Political Fight – Trending Stuff

GOP Access to FBI Files Rattles Agents Caught in Political Fight – Trending Stuff

The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say.

Some officials view the department as capitulating to a small group of Republicans who are intent on helping President Donald Trump undermine the integrity of the FBI and, by extension, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election.

It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics, only to be besieged over the last two years by questions about its handling of politically sensitive investigations into Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Trump.

One agent said he’s now concerned that forms identifying FBI informants would be handed over to Congress. If that happened, he said, it would cause him to think carefully about whether to withhold sensitive information from future reports.

Another agent said recent statements about the bureau by Trump and congressional Republicans have made it more difficult for him to get informants to open up.

Trump has tweeted that the Federal Bureau of Investigations is “in Tatters — worst in history” and has said a senior official committed “treason.”

A QuickTake Q&A: Your Guide to Understanding the Trump-Russia Saga

As the Russia investigation continues to hang over the White House, Republicans in Congress have sought to turn the tables on the FBI by calling into question the fairness and methods of senior agents. They’ve been requesting documents and holding public hearings that focus on alleged wrongdoing or political bias by agents.

FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki is to be interviewed behind closed doors on Thursday by members of two House committees, according to two officials familiar with the plans.

The controversy over giving Republicans access to sensitive investigative materials has struck a nerve because it comes after months of rare, intense political scrutiny of the FBI, including former Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server.

In the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, Comey angered Republicans by announcing that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information, a departure from normal procedures calling for the bureau to remain silent when crimes aren’t found. Then, he angered Democrats by briefly reopening the inquiry shortly before election day, a move Clinton contends cost her the election.

The actions by Comey, who was fired by Trump in May, and the criticism that followed began a shift for an agency that was long viewed as apolitical and whose leaders won support from both parties.

Unrest in Ranks

A dozen current and former officials — all from the career ranks of the FBI and Justice Department, as opposed to the president’s political appointees — spoke to Bloomberg News on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters and express their concerns.

Their views weren’t uniform but collectively represent unrest and morale problems within the ranks of agents, prosecutors and career officials in response to attacks on the integrity and leadership of the FBI and Justice Department.

Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, said special agents “are focused on the Constitution and protecting the public” and “their work should be recognized, not denigrated.” The association represents 14,000 active and retired special agents.

“Attacks on our character and demeaning comments about the FBI will not deter agents from continuing to do what we have always done — dedicate our lives to protecting the American people,” O’Connor said in a statement. “The true story of the FBI cannot be reduced to partisan talking points.”

The FBI declined to comment for this story.

Meeting With Ryan

Tensions between Republicans and the Justice Department deepened in recent weeks as lawmakers demanded sensitive documents and agency leaders resisted turning them over. The standoff led to a dramatic meeting between House Speaker Paul Ryan, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray to discuss potential contempt of Congress charges for failing to turn over documents.

In the end, the Justice Department agreed to give lawmakers material they requested, though it’s unclear whether Republicans will get everything they want.

On Jan. 11, the Justice Department began giving two House committees what could amount to more than 1.2 million documents about FBI investigative decisions made in 2016, including related to the investigation into Clinton. Additional documents are expected to be provided in the coming days.

Current and former officials expressed a number of concerns. One agent said some officials working on Russian counterintelligence probes of any kind might now be hesitant to report their findings to superiors, given the political furor over the Mueller investigation.

A former senior agent said the credibility of the FBI is on the line, and close attention is being paid to how the situation is handled by Wray, who took over as director in August. Agents are waiting to see how assertive the director will be in defending them and other career officials and whether he’ll refuse to hand over documents that might compromise covert sources and operations, the former agent said.

Bias Alleged

Other officials said they’re worried about an effort by Trump and his allies to oust anyone seen as being disloyal to the president. During a hearing in December, Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas named specific FBI officials and asked Wray whether they’ve ever openly displayed a bias against the Trump administration. 

Republican criticism about Mueller’s probe intensified after the recent revelation that a top FBI agent assigned to the special counsel’s team sent anti-Trump texts in the summer of 2016. One exchange by the agent, Peter Strzok, with another senior official included remarks “that there’s no way” Trump would win the election but “we can’t take that risk.” Mueller removed Strzok after learning of the texts.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 11, Trump said the agent committed “a treasonous act” by plotting to overturn the election results. The president also called for Republican investigators in Congress to conclude their probes swiftly.

Wray hasn’t said anything publicly in response to Trump’s suggestion of treason. However, he has repeatedly defended the integrity and professionalism of the FBI workforce in speeches and congressional testimony.

Inspector General

The documents now being turned over were requested by Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Some of the requested documents were outlined in a Nov. 3 letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein. The documents sought appear to dovetail with areas that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is investigating, such as the handling of the Clinton probe. Horowitz plans to wrap up his investigation in March or April.

It’s uncertain whether the information being turned over might add to Republican claims of bias in favor of Clinton and against Trump during the presidential campaign, and even to efforts to undercut Mueller’s investigation.

“We want the information that Horowitz has,” Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said. He said interviews also are being arranged with seven FBI and Justice Department officials, as well as others.

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