Tag Archives: Election 2016

How Many Dots Does it Take to Make a Smoking Gun? Trump Campaign Collusion with Russia Should Nullify 2016 Election

 


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet at a presidential election debate in 2016: Clinton calls Trump, “Putin’s Puppet.” Now she has suggested that the Trump campaign helped “weaponize” Russian hackers, contributing to her defeat © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

How many dots does it take to make a smoking gun?

By now it is irrefutable that Russia meddled, interfered and likely tilted the 2016 Presidential Election enough to cheat Hillary Clinton out of the presidency and hand it to Donald Trump. That should be enough to nullify the election, but, like the Republicans’ refusal to follow up on blatant impeachable offenses – conflicts of interest, self-dealing, violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, obstruction of justice (firing FBI Director James Comey in order to interrupt the Russia investigation, witness tampering by threatening to expose tapes, prodding other heads of intelligence agencies to end the Russia investigation or come out with some favorable statements; firing US Attorney Preet Bharara, who apparently was getting too close in his investigations into Trump financial dealings) – they are more interested in controlling every branch of government in order to have unimpeded path to fulfill their agenda, than they are in insuring the sanctity of the election process and our democracy.

But as the revelation by the NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner, the 25-year-old Air Force veteran charged with mailing classified information to a news organization, showed, the Russian engagement with the election process was a lot greater than the government has revealed. In fact, Russian actors tampered with the election databases in 39 states. We are being led to believe that they did not alter votes or tabulations, but how do we really know that to be true, especially with the ease and vulnerability of “black-box voting”?

Now Trump is blaming Obama (what else is new?) for “allowing” the Russians to hack into election databases and “doing nothing” (not true) and after months of denying Russian interference altogether, now accuses Obama of “collusing” and “obstructing”. Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others have said that Russian attempts to meddle in elections is nothing new, but what was achieved in the 2016 election was way more intensive and more effective than ever before. What if they only tossed people off the rolls – in Wisconsin, where Trump “won” by about 23,000 votes, there were 200,000 votes suppressed.

And as Hillary Clinton (who has been proved right in all her claims) said, the Russians needed help – an enabler – to “weaponize” their hacking and their interference. They needed to know just which electoral districts they could penetrate in order to move an imperceptible number of votes for Trump to win. That’s why despite winning the national popular vote by 3 million, it took only a difference of a mere 70,000 votes across three states to give Trump the Electoral College.

So here’s my theory on the case: The Russians were hacking and having a fake news campaign designed to destabilize the election and engender mistrust in the democratic election process, and weaken Clinton’s presidency once she won. (Trump constantly claiming that the election would be “rigged” if he didn’t win, and inciting his followers to take 2nd Amendment remedies is what shut up the Obama Administration from going public and kept Democrats from screaming “foul” after the election). And Obama also feared that unleashing a counter cyber strategy, like shutting down their power grid, or some major sanctions, would cause Putin to cause more havoc in the election, since “black box voting” has so little security to begin with.

But at some point, either the Russians made Trump an offer he couldn’t refuse (because of what they had on him, financially and personally), or the Trump campaign actively partnered with the Russians to “weaponize” – that is pinpoint – where their cyber attacks, fake news and social media trolling could be most effective.

It is notable that while the Russians released hacked emails from the DNC in order to embarrass Clinton and discourage (suppress) voters, they also hacked into the RNC but did not release any of the information.

Russia could have used the threat of releasing the information to blackmail or extort support from the Trump campaign, in order to insure promises or force Trump campaign to more actively engage with the Russians. Evidence? The only change the Trump campaign demanded of the Republican platform was to soften its stance against Russia over the Ukraine and Crimea. In December, when Obama kicked out Russian diplomats from their two compounds (one in Glen Head) as punishment for the election meddling, Michael Flynn met with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, apparently to give assurances that the sanctions would be lifted once Trump was inaugurated, which is likely why Putin didn’t counter with sanctions against US diplomats, and more importantly, reverse the economic sanctions that crippled the Russian petro economy (and would have paved the way for Exxon-Mobil’s $500 billion deal with Rosneft).

But let’s look at the web of ties between Trump, his campaign and Russia that go back a decade or more to business connections, and begin with financial ties:

The Trump boys boasted that they didn’t need money from American banks (which had stopped lending because of the string of bankruptcies), but had all they needed from Russian oligarchs. There were efforts to launch real estate ventures in Russia through Bayrock Associates, a shady Russian-connected outfit, which had partnered with Trump on at least four major but failed American projects: the Fort Lauderdale Trump Tower, the Trump Ocean Club in Fort Lauderdale, the SoHo condominium-hotel in New York, and a resort in Phoenix. (Trump claimed he didn’t know Felix Sater, the Russian-born managing director at Bayrock, who was convicted of fraud for running a $40 million penny stock fraud in collaboration with the New York and Russian Mafia, even though Sater resurfaces as an “adviser” to Trump campaign to try to “fix” a deal with Russia, has a business card that identifies him as an adviser, has an office in Trump Tower a floor below Trump’s and there are photos of them together.)

People are only looking at Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign – but what if it began even earlier. Like when that Russian oligarch paid double what Trump had spent on a Palm Beach mansion just two years earlier, handing Trump a $45 million windfall which Trump could use to fund his campaign. A big appeal for Trump supporters was that he was supposedly self-funding his campaign (nonsense), so that he could appear “independent” of “special interests” and “The Establishment.” This may well have been a ploy to funnel foreign donations into a campaign, evading legal restrictions.

One of the only banks to continue to capitalize Trump businesses was Deutsche Bank, which has been fined $425 million over laundering $10 billion  for Russian oligarchs. Coincidence? Deutsche Bank also gave Jared Kushner’s business a $285 million loan just before the election, a loan which Kushner had to give a personal guarantee, but which Kushner failed to disclose on his financial and security forms (along with meetings with Russian Ambassador and the head of VEB, a state-run “bank” tied to Putin and Russian oligarchs, used purely to launder money whose CEO is an alum of Russia’s spy college; as well as Kushner’s talks with the Russian Ambassador over establishing a back-channel to Putin that would evade US surveillance.).

Jared Kushner was responsible for the Trump campaign data mining operation that pinpointed districts needing to be turned. And it was Robert Mercer, the billionaire who is Trump’s principal donor (and who chose many of his cabinet members and aides, including Michael Flynn), whose data operation, Cambridge Analytica, was used (Steve Bannon was VP) – that’s how the Russian hacking and fake-news operation may well have been “weaponized.” The purpose of the data-mining operation, as noted in Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s report, was to suppress voting by key pro-Clinton demographics: women, blacks and liberals. (See also: “Did Russians Target Democratic Voters, with Kushner’s Help?” Newsweek).

But I believe the key was Michael Flynn, who Trump was forced to remove as National Security Adviser, who had the contacts, knowledge, and motive as the former Director of Defense Intelligence Agency from which he was fired by Obama, plus had financial ties to Russia and Turkey which he failed to disclose or get authorization for, a criminal act, to marshal the Russian hacking campaign. That’s why Trump went to such lengths to try to get Comey to stop investigating Flynn.

More evidence of collusion? Paul Manafort, who Trump was forced to fire as his campaign manager, a decade ago had secretly worked for a Russian oligarch to advance the interests of Putin and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, according to The Associated Press, expertise and contacts he could have adapted to the Trump campaign. Roger Stone, whose dirty-tricks experience dates from the Nixon campaign and boasted of ties to Wikileaks, “predicted” when Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails would be released by Wikileaks; Nigel LeFarge, the British Brexit vote guy who became Trump’s ally, met with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in London pretty much just as Trump, on the campaign trail, was delighting in the latest Wikileaks anti-Clinton leak and cheerleading Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails.

More contacts between Trump campaign and Russia: Jeffrey Sessions, now Attorney General; Erik Prince (formerly Blackwater), a major campaign donor (his sister is Betsy DeVos, now Education Secretary), met secretly to set up back-channel with Russians on Trump’s behalf; Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is being investigated as whether he discussed Russia’s hacking of Democratic National Committee emails with a Russian official in Prague (he denies it).

Trump’s campaign, and now his cabinet, is chock full of Russian connections: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, was on the board of the Cyprus Bank used by Russian oligarchs to launder illegally gotten cash (did Trump also use that bank); and Jared Kushner, plus Carter Page (who was actively being recruited as a Russian agent), Steve Miller and likely others. (For a more complete list, see Politico).

The hold over Trump goes way beyond the puppy love he has for the murderous dictator. It suggests he is fearful of what Putin can do to him, what Putin has on him and/or his family. The influence was first apparent during the Republican Convention when the only modification the Trump campaign made was to loosen the platform item against Russia for Ukraine. The impact has already been clear in Trump actions:  bringing Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov into the Oval office, where he boasted about firing Comey and unmasked an Israeli spy; weakening NATO, pulling out of the Paris Climate Change agreement, isolating the US and ending US global leadership.. And of course, Trump has been dying to end sanctions and give back the Russian compounds.

It is also telling that while Trump is obsessed over the Russian investigation, he has done nothing at all to secure elections from cyber attacks by Russia or any other foreign government (except to blame Obama for everything and accuse Obama of “collusing” and “obstructing”).

Finally,Trump doth protest too much about the Russian investigation, and worked way too hard to protect Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor who Trump was forced to fire, who had the intelligence background (he was fired by Obama as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency) to make contacts with the Russian hackers. Why go overboard to protect Flynn? Likely because Flynn is the key to collusion with Russia, along with Paul Manafort who he was also forced to fire as campaign manager.

If there were no “there” there, Trump would want a thorough and speedy conclusion, rather than first firing US Attorney Preet Bharara, who apparently was getting too close in his investigations into Trump financial dealings; and then Comey.

The final evidence of collusion during the election and corruption now is that Trump and Sessions have done absolutely nothing to secure our elections from interference, while doing everything possible to appease Putin’s interests and obstruct the investigation.

Trumpers/Republicans keep moving the goal posts to what would have been prosecuted as obstruction of justice and collusion with adversarial foreign power to steal the election. Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner – bless her – shows that the government already has information that shows more aggressive interference with voting than the massive hacking and disinformation campaign designed to suppress turnout among those who might have otherwise voted for Clinton. It suggests that Russian agents may have gone so far as tampered with voting lists (perhaps contributing to the 200,000 fewer voters in Wisconsin, where Trump won by about 25,000) and even vote tabulations. The government may have more information about that that it is withholding from Congress and the American people, or has yet to pursue the investigation to its conclusion where it might demonstrate that to be true. It is very telling that Trump only won the battleground states that up until election day were polling in Clinton’s favor, by less than 1% – small shifts and tilts by Russian operatives, working in collusion with the Trump campaign (as Clinton noted, the Russians needed help to most effectively “weaponize” their campaign, to know which districts to focus on) indeed could have swung enough votes to secure the Electoral College.

So far, Trump keeps insisting there is no evidence of actively colluding to steal the election. But we don’t actually know if that is true, especially since the investigation is just unfolding despite everything being done to obstruct, slow and end the investigation, thanks to a free press (so far), we are learning more each day. If it is found that the Trump campaign in fact had ties to Russia, it would not be sufficient remedy to impeach Trump and leave Pence and Trump’s cabinet in place.  There would be cause to nullify the election altogether, remove his entire administration (who are “fruit of a poison tree), and install Clinton who actually won.

Never happened before? Nothing like Trump and the Russian election tampering ever happened before either.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

To Get to a More Perfect Union, Reform Electoral College, Promote Access to Ballot Box

Electoral College reform and a greater federal role in setting minimum national standards for access to the ballot box are necessary to insure that Americans get the president who reflects the will of the majority in a free and fair democratic election © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Electoral College reform and a greater federal role in setting minimum national standards for access to the ballot box are necessary to insure that Americans get the president who reflects the will of the majority in a free and fair democratic election © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

There is no question that the will of the majority was thwarted in the presidential Election of 2016 – but if ever there was a time when the Electoral College should have proved its purpose, it was this election.

Instead, the Electoral College demonstrated the worst of all anti-democratic worlds: denying the popular will while also enabling the exact sort of candidate that Alexander Hamilton described in justifying the Electoral College: so “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” and to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”. Trump fails on all accounts.

And here, you have not only Hillary Clinton receiving nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump – the most in history for any candidate who did not go on to win the presidency – but you have clear evidence of foreign manipulation (the Russian hacking, very possibly with collusion by the Trump campaign), fake news, not to mention voter suppression (interesting that every battleground state where Clinton lost was also where Republican legislators had imposed measures designed to suppress the vote of groups inclined to vote Democratic; in Wisconsin, 300,000 registered voters lacked the photo ID necessary to cast their ballots. Indeed, two weeks after the election, a federal court struck down Wisconsin’s legislative map as illegally partisan. And,  “on Election Day, there were 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina,” (www.thenation.com/…)

The result was that Democratic-leaning voters had hours-long waits which many could not afford. And then there was the call-out by Donald Trump for vigilantes to police “you know which” neighborhoods. Turnout was affected. Indeed, despite historic levels of engagement in Election 2016, the number of votes cast in Ohio was down 1.1% and down 4.0% in Wisconsin – more than the margin of victory for Trump. That’s the art and the science of voter suppression, which was the primary strategy for the Trump campaign.

But instead of serving properly as a check-and-balance, everything that is undemocratic and archaic about the Electoral College (devised to give disproportionate power to slave-holding states and small rural states) was in play. As a result, a single voter in Wyoming is worth 200 times a voter in California, rendering this country’s notion of “one person, one vote” and “equal justice” a fraud.

(Why is it that only rural, white Middle Americans are considered “Real Americans,” but coastal, urbanites, professionals, college-educated people are considered “elites” not deserving of a say in their governance?)

Its malfeasance justifies the rising calls to abolish the Electoral College altogether – which would require amending the Constitution which is unlikely. Instead, there are calls to dramatically reform it to more properly address 21st century America, through changes that the states can make to the regulations that bind their Electoral Voters, now termed “faithless” if they vote against their state’s popular vote.

The predominant reform is for states to join the National Popular Vote (NPV) compact would require participating states to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. It wouldn’t take effect until enough states joined in to add up to the 270 electoral votes required to elect the president– ten states and the District of Columbia have already signed on, totaling 165 electoral votes.

If the compact were in place, Hillary Clinton, who received nearly 3 million more popular votes than Donald Trump, who only won the Electoral College by winning the slimmest of margins (less than 1%) in a few battleground states (amounting to about 70,000 votes altogether, the result of concerted voter suppression actions by Republicans), would have been President.

But this election also demonstrated how easily even a 21st century populace can be manipulated by fake news, social media and a populist snake-oil salesman, not to mention the possibility of hacking the election architecture. Indeed, it would seem that the Electoral College does have a purpose as envisioned by the founders of the Republic, as a check on populism.

Still, there are ways to make the Electoral College more democratically representative, while still functioning as a “check and balance.”

First, there needs to be an end to “winner take all” which basically erases the votes of millions of voters. Instead, states should apportion their electoral votes based on the popular vote in the state. That would be a much more representative method and more efficiently make each state and each person’s vote count.

During this election, we kept hearing how discouraged and disaffected those who would vote for third-party candidates, and their complaint that the two-party system is what is so detrimental to a true democracy. But multiple candidates virtually guarantee that the winner does not represent the majority, as is clear in 2016, where the scant votes for Jill Stein in Michigan gave the state to Trump, putting him over the Electoral top despite winning only 46% of the national popular vote.

So the second element is to allow the lowest vote-getting candidates to give their Electoral Votes to one of the top two candidates.

Another idea which would be very possible in the age of sophisticated electronic voting, is for “second choice” weighting, and if no candidate gets 50.1%, then a run off of the two top vote getters (as is the case in some primaries).

The end to “winner-takes-all” and allocation by popular vote in a state could not happen until virtually all the states (and not just Blue states or Red states which have voted for a Democratic president) have approved the policy.

Federal Government Needs to Guarantee Minimum Standards for Voting

It may surprise people to realize the federal government has no authority over elections, which are controlled by states – even within states, counties may have different rules (so much for Equal Protection). Indeed, the Constitution does not actually provide a right to vote at all, and the Roberts right wing Majority on the Supreme Court did its damage to remove what oversight the federal government had when it eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

There needs to be a new Voting Rights Act that protects the essential principle of one-person, one vote and the federal government, under the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, should have the ability to establish minimum standards for access to the ballot box. It should protect more than racial discrimination, but should acknowledge partisan discrimination as a threat to the spirit and essence of democracy.

What else is needed to reform a weakened election system in these days of technological sophistication, a sprawling and diverse voter population, and the huge stakes to controlling the political reins of power? Here are more ideas:

  • An end to partisan-control of drawing district lines; standards that affirm – as the Voting Rights Act did – that districts have to be contiguous and make sense
  • And end to partisan control of state elections (like Katherine Harris, Secretary of State in Florida 2000 and also the chair of George W Bush’s campaign who purged voting rolls of 20,000 people and did all she could to insure Gore never got a fair count)
  • Requiring notification to every voter before an election confirming their registration, voting place and hours, and if a voter has been removed or purged or changed for any reason, timely notification with a process to challenge
  • A standard to allow voters to vote where they were last registered
  • To address the very real possibility of hacked black-boxes, require a paper trail and mandatory audits of a certain number of voting places to confirm the veracity
  • Minimum national standards for where polling places can be designated, how many voting machines per voting-age population, minimal number of hours open, early voting days, including spreading voting to the weekend before Election Day, and making Election Day a national holiday
  • A requirement that if a voter moves and re-registers, that notice be sent back to the prior voting place to be removed
  • Clearer, more uniform regulations about where people can vote if they are in college or have moved (for example, allowing people to vote by absentee at the last previous registered place)
  • Automatic sending of voter registration materials upon 18th birthday
  • Establish criminal penalties for interfering with voting, whether fraudulently telling people the wrong date, time or place to vote, ripping up voter registrations or interfering with voter registration; penalties for states that impede voter registration such as failing to process registrations in a timely way
  • Restore reasonable controls on spending – by wealthy donors and corporations – eliminate SuperPacs, pass the DISCLOSE Act, overturn Citizens United
  • A new Voting Rights Act that goes beyond racial discrimination but includes any type of systematic discrimination to dilute “one-person, one-vote”
  • Constitutional amendment that affirms the right to vote (the Constitution doesn’t actually provide it now)

None of this will happen because the Republicans have realized they can keep power without ever having to worry about the demographic shifts and pesky things like needing a majority. Putting a gate at the ballot box has worked very well.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Appeal to Electoral College Voters: You Can (Should) (Must) Save US and Elect Winner of Popular Vote, Hillary Clinton

The Electoral College voters need to have courage and show they are true patriots and elect Hillary Clinton, winner of the popular vote, the next president © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Electoral College voters need to have courage and show they are true patriots and elect Hillary Clinton, winner of the popular vote, the next president © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Petitions are circulating such as this one from Credo:

“Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president and did not win the support of the majority of the American people. Hillary Clinton is set to win the majority of the vote by more than 2 million votes despite widespread voter suppression and the FBI’s interference in the election. Honor the majority vote and elect Hillary Clinton on Dec. 19.”

I’m wondering how many of the electoral voters are actually Never-Trumpers, and now, since they have seen how Trump would govern, who he intends to appoint to run the country (a climate denier to run the EPA; an anti-public education billionaire to run Education; an unhinged fired General to run national security), might be having a twinge of remorse, especially given the fact that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes (most ever for a candidate who didn’t actually win the presidency), and new revelations about Trump’s conflicts of interest, his lack of transparency and his pay-to-play approach to foreign relations (an echo of Richard Nixon’s, “If the president does it, that means it’s not illegal”).

Nor did Trump “win” the key swing states that put him over 270 electoral votes fairly.

Reports of Russian interference that turned the tide of the election should be a grave concern to Electoral College voters, if they consider themselves patriots. Throughout the campaign, it was clear the Russian government was actively working to influence the outcome in Trump’s favor. State-sponsored Russian hackers provided troves of damaging emails and documents to WikiLeaks and other websites. Paid Russian trolls disseminated fake news across US social media sites to spread misinformation favorable to Trump. And though Trump lied about it, his campaign was in direct contact with the Russian government throughout the election, including his strategist Roger Stone (who cut his teeth on the Richard Nixon campaign).  Trump has well established connections to Russia through many business dealings, and he spent considerable time during the campaign praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Now that Trump has access to classified intelligence and the nuclear codes, we can’t trust what he will do with them. His presidency is a clear threat to American democracy and our national security,” writes Josh Nelson, Deputy Political Director for CREDO Action from Working Assets.

Moreover, there is strong evidence of voter suppression aimed at likely Democratic voters (minorities), including making it difficult to obtain newly required voter ID materials, closing polling places and reducing early voting.  In Wisconsin, where Clinton lost by only 27,000 votes, 300,000 eligible voters lacked the strict forms of ID needed to vote, and the state saw its lowest turnout in 20 years, especially in Black communities. And across the country, Black people were forced to wait in line twice as long on average as white people.

In North Carolina, there were 158 fewer early voting polling places in Black communities, and Black turnout was down 16 percent. And by the way, how is it possible that the Democratic won the Governor’s race, but that Clinton at the top of the ticket didn’t win? – why is there no challenge to that vote, as the losing Republican Governor has waged?

“It’s entirely possible that without voter suppression, Clinton would have won the Electoral College along with the popular vote,” Nelson states (though it is harder to prove voter suppression than lie about the existence of voter fraud).

Indeed, Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.5 million – a bigger margin than many elected presidents won by, and the biggest margin of any person who did not go on to actually become president (Al Gore included). Trump has already proved he will dismiss the will of the majority. Why is it that the “Real America” disqualifies urbanites, women, minorities, professionals, college educated people, especially Ivy Leaguers?

In just the first week since seizing the election, Trump has demonstrated that he will be exactly who he showed himself to be, starting with the Team of Thugs, Reprobates, Misogynists, Corporatists, Racists, White Supremacists, not to mention those who are totally inexperienced to carry out the functions they are tasked with, he has surrounded himself with and who he is naming to cabinet and key offices. It is emerging as a “Team of Billionaires and 1-Percenters,” who built their financial empires on the backs of the very white working class people that Trump pretended to care about.

He has shown that he will protect his own business profits at the expense of the national interest – unabashedly doing business and extracting favors from foreign dignitaries, evoking Richard Nixon’s line, “If the president does it, then it isn’t illegal.” There is no doubt that he has realized he could leave office $100 billion richer. He absolutely doesn’t care about conflicts of interest. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had done anything remotely like that upon becoming the president-elect. They would have impeached her before inauguration day (Republicans mounted a special investigation into the Clintons’ Christmas card list when Bill took office).

Trump already showing he will trample transparency and a free press, preferring to continue to tweet outright lies should also have the Republican electors who claim to be the guardians of the Constitution quaking. That he will attack the press and a Hamilton actor appealing for his administration to just consider all Americans, but not condemn the Neo Nazis who are cheering his victory with a Hitler salute, that he dictates to the media how they will photograph him, and shuts out media that he feels don’t represent him well, are only the preview to the propaganda he will wage.

And now Trump declares he would take away citizenship and jail anyone who burns the flag, which the Supreme Court has already ruled is protected free speech – further evidence that he aspires to follow Vladimir Putin’s model. Trump doesn’t know and doesn’t care about civil rights or the Constitution.

And those Electoral Voters should be downright shaking about the fact Trump has declined taking the daily Presidential intelligence briefing (instead obsessing over convincing Carrier Air Conditioners not to move to Mexico), and from all accounts, dismissive of Obama’s advice to him on such critical topics as the urgency of keeping North Korea in check – an echo of George W. Bush’s dismissal of President Clinton’s intelligence advisers warning him of Osama bin Laden as a grave threat, only to stand by as four hijacked planes, circling around for hours, hit their targets on 9/11 without any defense. But Trump believes, “I know more than the generals” and yet, he was shocked to hear General Mattis tell him that torture doesn’t work. Shocked!

The Republican electors may be cheering Trump’s plan to install climate deniers to run Energy and Interior and overturn climate action, the Iran nuclear deal, cancel international agreements,  repeal Obamacare and women’s reproductive rights; that he will voucherize Medicare and privatize Social Security, create a registry for Muslims, and install one billionaire to destroy public education and another billionaire who amassed his fortune taking advantage of bankrupt companies to be Secretary of Commerce – but they who claim to be patriots should have concern that Trump will do all of this without care, awareness or interest of the larger consequences to the majority of Americans who rejected him.

But the Republican electors should be downright quaking in their proverbial boots over Trump’s irresponsible, erratic and ignorant foreign policy, already demonstrated in how he praised the Philippines President (for his extrajudicial murders), antagonized China in speaking directly to the President of Taiwan (when China could instantly crash the US economy and move more aggressively into Asia-Pacific territorial waters), dismissed the nuclear threat from North Korea, even as South Korea’s presidency is toppling, and embraced Putin, effectively giving him license to stampede through Ukraine and into the Balkans.

And the only reason Trump will be president is for the voter suppression and likely election (not voter) fraud tactics (not to mention the unprecedented intrusion by FBI Director James Comey just 11 days before the election) that managed to tilt key swing states by the 1-2% margin for him to hit the magic number of 270 Electoral Votes despite losing the popular vote by a wide margin. You only needed Russia to tamper with a few votes here and there in precincts in the swing states to swing the election – indeed, only 100,000 votes among three battleground states that were polling in Hillary’s favor just before the election: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

And so I write this as a last-ditch appeal to the Electoral College voters to do the right thing, the moral thing, and in those narrowly decided battleground states, vote for Hillary Clinton. This isn’t a violation of the Constitution; at most, they would have to pay a $1000 fine for respecting the will of the people. A chance to show courage and be a true patriot.

It is clear that along with the myth of the American Dream, the US has never actually been a democracy, even in present times – between the limits on access to the polls, gerrymandering, the ways that money influences elections, and the Electoral College. And instead of getting better – with the 15th, amendment giving black men the right to vote, and the 19th amendment giving women the vote – those who would obstruct democracy have only gotten more lethal, devious, and technological.

Face it, the Founders weren’t gods from Apollo, they were human beings, embarking on a great experiment in governance and were skeptical of actually giving power to ordinary people. In fact, the Constitution only gave the vote to white property-owning men. How did it happen in Jacksonian times that white men without property all of a sudden got to vote, without a amending the Constitution, while non-white males and women had to wait for Constitutional amendments?

Now, in a capitulation to the idea that 2016 may be a done deal, a movement is underway to democratize the election in time for the 2020 presidential contest.

It may be time to abolish the Electoral College but that would require amending the Constitution but since that is not likely (look at how miserably efforts to amend the Constitution to overturn the notion that corporations are people and cash is free speech). Or, since that is not likely given the fact that the party is power has benefited so royally, the Electoral College needs to be modified, which can happen at the state level.

This nation was founded as an imperfect union, set on a journey to become a more perfect one. We have yet to get there, but over time, there has been movement toward the ideal of one-person, one-vote democracy.

The Electoral College is yet another archaic relic of the Founders’ experiment and concession to small states and slave-holding states in order to keep a fragile union together. But while the furor over the 2016 election has people talking about a Constitutional Amendment to abolish it, that won’t happen because it has worked so effectively for the party in control, along with gerrymandering, Citizens United, Voter ID and all forms of anti-democratic, voter suppressing tactics.

The electoral votes awarded to states are not even reflective of the state’s population, once again giving small, rural (white) states (that Republicans like to call “The Real America,” effectively dismissing the citizenship of urban-dwellers, college-educated, professionals, women, non-whites, non-Christians) disproportional representation (like the US Senate) and moving this nation even further away from the mythical principal of “one person, one vote.”

Indeed, if California was apportioned electoral votes based on its population, it would have 200 votes instead of the 50.

“Today, the vote of a citizen in Wyoming is four times as powerful as the vote of a citizen in Michigan,” Lawrence Lessig writes in the Washington Post. “The vote of a citizen in Vermont is three times as powerful as a vote in Missouri. This denies Americans the fundamental value of a representative democracy — equal citizenship. Yet nothing in our Constitution compels this result.”

For this reason, Republicans, who, in their 2012 “autopsy” only feigned concern for Hispanics, women, blacks because they believed the demographics were going against them, have realized that, just like in controlling the House and Senate, they can control the White House very effectively without a popular majority. They can advance policies that go against the interests of most Americans (so much for the white working class “finally” getting their populist advocate).

“Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president,” Lessig writes, arguing that the Electoral College should vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump and not veto the people’s choice. “That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions  — most important, the electors themselves.

“The framers believed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, that ‘the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the [president].’ But no nation had ever tried that idea before. So the framers created a safety valve on the people’s choice. Like a judge reviewing a jury verdict, where the people voted, the electoral college was intended to confirm — or not — the people’s choice. Electors were to apply, in Hamilton’s words, ‘a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice’ — and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about ‘winner take all.’ It says nothing to suggest that electors’ freedom should be constrained in any way. Instead, their wisdom — about whether to overrule ’the people’ or not — was to be free of political control yet guided by democratic values. They were to be citizens exercising judgment,  not cogs turning a wheel.”

And so I write this as a last-ditch appeal to the Electoral College voters to do the right thing, the moral thing, and in those narrowly decided battleground states, vote for Hillary Clinton. This isn’t a violation of the Constitution; at most, they would have to pay a $1000 fine for respecting the will of the people. A chance to show courage and be a true patriot.

See also:

Election Irregularities Demand Audit Before Vote is Certified

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Election Irregularities Demand Audit Before 2016 Vote is Certified

An audit of election results in battleground states, deemed “too close to call” on Election Night, is necessary so Americans can have confidence the right candidate takes oath of office on January 20, 2017 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
An audit of election results in battleground states, deemed “too close to call” on Election Night, is necessary so Americans can have confidence the right candidate takes oath of office on January 20, 2017 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Let’s be clear: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes (the largest number for anyone who didn’t actually win the presidency) and pretty much by the margin that was forecast. She wasn’t a “bad” candidate. It wasn’t that she didn’t talk enough about an economic policy that would lift up everyone, or that she didn’t have enough policies. It wasn’t that she didn’t offer the so-called white working class a vision of a better future. The election was stolen.

Yet, she lost every “toss-up” battleground state by the narrowest of margins, only 1-2%, resulting in Trump winning the Electoral College votes (theoretically; there is still hope the voters will do the right thing and cast their ballot for the winner of the popular vote).

Does anyone doubt that if the situation reversed and Trump won the popular vote by millions but failed by thousands to win the Electoral Vote that Trump would have fought the result up to the Supreme Court (a la Bush v Gore), and his minions would have taken to the streets with guns? Even now, he is fomenting the lie that three million votes were cast illegally. This is who claims the presidency?

But in a brilliant manipulation, Trump railed about how the election would be stolen (from him), forcing Democrats –and particularly Hillary Clinton – to assert that American elections have integrity, and that any challenge would undermine the essence of a democratic republic, a peaceful transition of power, in order to prevent any contest. They were played, as is apparent with Trump replaying Clinton’s own statements (omitting the fact that it was Green Party candidate Jill Stein, not Clinton, who is demanding recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania). This isn’t up to Hillary Clinton or anyone. The voters need to know if the votes were accurately counted.

Meanwhile, Trump is now trumpeting – without any proof – that 3 million votes were cast illegally (the only person I have heard who was caught casting 2 ballots was a Des Moines woman who voted twice for Trump).  And if he believes that, he more than anyone, should be demanding recounts.

It is apparent that the shortfall in Electoral Votes was chiefly the result of Voter Suppression, with states unleashed by the weakening of the Voting Rights Act, and voter repression tactics in key sections of swing states designed (successfully) to shift 1-2% of the votes. This was clear in Wisconsin and North Carolina. But there is evidence also that in some key districts, the electronic voting machines may have been hacked in order to give the win to Trump, which demands proper audit and recount to assure Americans the rightful outcome of the election.

Add to this the reports that Russia hacked some state elections rolls, interfered with the election by hacking into Democratic National Committee and by paying trolls to disseminate false news (viewed 15 million times). Is it so implausible that a few – not an entire state – but enough precincts which rely on electronic voting without a paper trail could be hacked?

“Americans should demand this simple step to ensure that the machinery of democracy worked.

DFA members have spent years working to ensure our elections are fair, accessible, and verifiable,” Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America, wrote in an email.

This shouldn’t even be controversial. There should be routine audit after every election to assure that the electronic tallies conform with paper ballots, and full recounts where less than 2% margin separates the winners. Most urgently, given the fact that we have now seen cyber warfare with penetration of even the most secure government sites including the National Security Agency, electronic-only voting systems should be replaced with systems that generate a paper trail.

The Department of Justice was mum when I asked whether or how many complaints have been filed – whether voters found they were purged from the rolls when they arrived to vote, or whether long lines or inaccessible polling places kept them from casting their ballot.

“The Justice Department does not tally the number of callers to determine whether federal action is warranted. Investigatory decisions are based solely on the facts and evidence as they relate to the federal statutes the department enforces.”

But with Republicans now content they have found the means to control power without needing to secure a majority of voters – not for the House, the Senate or now the White House – necessary election reforms will never happen. And Trump is already signaling further attacks on voting rights, under the guise of promulgating the lie of rampant “voter fraud.”

That’s why this audit is so important now. And why the Electoral College should make the moral choice and cast their votes for Clinton.

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

What’s at Stake in this Election? Everything

Hillary Clinton at a rally following the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Long Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton at a rally following the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Long Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Most elections involve some measure of hysteria, assertions that they are “transformative,” “historic,” and “the election of our lifetime.” This election between Hillary Clinton, the most qualified candidate ever to seek the most powerful office on the planet and the first woman to ascend to the Presidency, and Donald Trump, the most unfit, is just such an election.

“We’ve never had such a stark contrast – of character, of vision. The stakes in this election could not be more clear,” First Lady Michelle Obama declared.

Their differences are not merely matters of degree, these two individuals are diametrically opposed in every conceivable way.

But even if Donald Trump weren’t the most temperamentally unfit, inexperienced, morally bankrupt and wrong-headed candidate to ever seek the presidency, I would still whole-heartedly endorse Hillary Clinton, beginning with her biography, her career, her values, and finally, her experience, her competence, her platform and agenda.

I could go down the list of the extraordinarily detailed policy plans she has presented – to address income inequality, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, climate action, education, college affordability, health care, drug prices, infrastructure development, research and development, women’s reproductive rights, gun violence prevention, voting rights,  workers rights, parental leave (I could go on and on and on). (Go to her website, hillaryclinton.com, for details.)

I am cheered that at last, a Presidential candidate really “gets it” – prioritizing issues that have never before been at the forefront precisely because she is a woman and understands what families are going through, what women are still going through, the struggle the middle class is going through. She knows the slings and arrows of being the first woman to have crashed through the barriers to become a major party’s nominee for President and (hopefully) and would be the first woman to hold the office in our history. She brings that sensibility, that understanding, that lifetime of triumphing over adversity as a true trailblazer for women’s equality, going back to her earliest years after Yale Law School, fighting against discrimination and the backlash in Arkansas until she dropped her “Rodham” name for a married name of “Clinton.”

And in the same way as I whole-heartedly supported Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, she has the skills, the big-picture vision, the pragmatism and the tools to actually get these done (assuming she isn’t blocked, obstructed, stymied and delegitimized by the Republicans as they already promise they will do as they did to Obama). I am excited about a pragmatic progressive as President.

But while Hillary Clinton has been specific in her long, long list of policy proposals, which indicate her sensibilities and priorities, Donald Trump, has been vague, offering pie-in-sky – promising on Day 1 to end criminal violence, restore law and order, defeat ISIS (the list goes on and on giving you the idea that Day 1 will be Biblical in length). To the extent he has been more detailed, he has been frankly, frightening.

His pronouncements of what he would do to the nation domestically (repeal Obamacare, rescind the Clean Power Plan, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, shut down the EPA, overturn regulations, eliminate corporate taxes, round up millions of undocumented immigrants), would destroy millions of jobs, raise the national debt and plunge the US into another recession. But while what he would do domestically is chilling, his outrageous, erratic statements about military and foreign policy are horrifying.

His fawning over dictators, strongmen and tyrants like Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, while gushing in the admiration they express for him, and indeed, his close collaboration with Russian interests (including encouraging Russian espionage and interference in US elections) is unsettling, but his willful ignorance, naivete about his role as Commander-in-Chief should strike terror.

Trump has said he knows more than the generals, has touted using torture and killing family members of suspected terrorists. He has said he would not come to the support of NATO allies who don’t pay and would advocate nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea, and is cavalier about using nuclear weapons in Europe (“If you have weapons, why wouldn’t you use them?” “I would bomb the shit out of them.”). He tries to disguise is lack of an actual plan by saying he wants to keep it “secret” and he wants to be “unpredictable.”

Trump has demonstrated over and over that he is temperamentally, intellectually and morally unfit as commander-in-chief, and completely ignorant and inept in anything approaching foreign policy. His undisclosed but suspected business dealings, including Russian oligarchs and debt to the Chinese National Bank, coupled with his propensity to use his campaign to enrich his business, are warnings that he would run foreign policy for his own self-interest. Indeed, as a narcissist, he would conflate the national interest with his own.

Since declaring his candidacy, he has swept away decades that have slowly led to a cultural acceptance of diversity, reinvigorating racism, misogyny, religious bias. He’s made it okay to hate “others” and brought White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis unbelievably out of shadows and into the mainstream.

Trump has run as the “successful businessman,” the anti-politician, the outsider with the predictable outsider, non-politician slogan of bringing “change” to Washington and “draining the swamp”.  And during a campaign built upon one lie after another (75% of the time, according to fact checkers), the biggest lies are that he is a successful businessman, a philanthropist (he isn’t), and basically everything he has promised. Trump has basically boasted that he sees politics as a sales job – or more accurately, a Con Job – leaving a string of defaulted and defrauded investors, contractors, workers and customers. For him, getting sued and suing (3500 lawsuits, including pending ones concerning Trump University and an allegation of rape) are all par for the course – he thinks because he has more money than his adversary, he will win. (Not to mention his henchman, Roger Stone, who may well have been the connection between Russian hackers and Wikileaks, was a dirty trickster for Richard Nixon.)

He has stoked a strain of populism that is virulent, divisive, full of hatred and bigotry – because it has served his political purpose. He has shown contempt for the Bill of Rights protections of religious freedom, press freedom, freedom of speech and ignorance of the Constitution.

Consider who Trump, who has surrounded himself with bullies, misogynists, profligates, sexual predators, racists and corporatists, would appoint to key offices: Roger Ailes, Steve Bannon, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Steve King, David Duke, Carl Icahn. And he has already provided a list of Supreme Court likely nominees, each and every one who would overturn Roe v Wade and continue down the anti-democratic path to oligarchy.

Finally, consider the fact that if Donald Trump wins the election, it means that the Senate and House will also remain in Republican hands, the Supreme Court will shift wildly further toward right wing extremism overturning civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights, criminal, economic and environmental justice for decades; all the committees will remain in control of Republicans who have been responsible for the stagnation, gridlock and dysfunction in government that is the source of national malaise.

“We can’t have a racist climate denier who lies about his personal fortune lead our country,” said Raúl Grijalva. “Our country needs a president who understands that issues like climate change, systemic racism and immigration reform are serious and demand a competent federal response.

“Donald Trump has nothing to offer but anger and grievance and blame. And so he – his closing argument asks, what do you have to lose? Well, I’m here to tell you: everything,” President Obama said at a campaign event in Miami Gardens, Florida. “Progress is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot.”
Quite literally, all the values that America is supposed to stand for are on the ballot.

It’s why this is not an election where out of pique against Hillary Clinton (recognizing a 30-year propaganda campaign waged, yes, by a right-wing conspiracy), voters either cast a ballot for the absolutely unvetted third party choices, Gary Johnson (whose outrageous comments suggest he broke his own promise not to smoke marijuana during the campaign), or Jill Stein (if the same level of scrutiny had been leveled, or the same standard of measure, would they get a vote?), or stay home. Staying home is exactly the objective of Donald Trump’s campaign, whose officials have declared that the only way Trump can win is to suppress the vote of three key groups: idealistic white idealists, young women and African-Americans.

On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton is elected, there will be comprehensive immigration reform, a further move toward universal access to health care and rationality in drug prices, continued push to climate action and environmental protection, tax reform that both promotes jobs creation and narrows income inequality, pay parity and paid parental leave, more access to child care, affordable college tuition, and a wide array of policies that promote the well being of families and working people, and the biggest investment in infrastructure since World War II.

“This is truly an unprecedented election,” First Lady Michelle Obama declared in Winston-Salem. “I don’t think we’ve ever had two candidates with such dramatically different visions of who we are and how we move forward as a nation. One candidate has a vision that’s grounded in hopelessness and despair, a vision of a country that is weak and divided, where our communities are in chaos, our fellow citizens a threat. This candidate calls on us to turn against each other, to build walls, to be afraid.

“And then there’s Hillary’s vision for this country, a vision of a nation that is powerful and vibrant and strong, big enough to have a place for all of us, a nation where we each have something very special to contribute, and where we are always stronger together.”
What’s at stake? The Supreme Court. Climate Action. Immigration Reform. Civil Rights. Criminal Justice Reform. Tax Reform. Economic Justice. Environmental Justice. Women’s Reproductive Rights. Women’s Rights. Voting Rights. Gun Violence Prevention. Diplomacy. Alliances. National Security.

And on January 20, 2017, if she is elected – as I pray she is – I hope she will take the oath of office as Hillary Rodham Clinton and forever be known as President Rodham-Clinton. She never gave up her individuality and her personhood because she was married, and her legacy should be in her own name, as well.

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Hillary for America Highlights Differences in Candidates’ Vision; Releases ‘Trump Effect’ Video

New Hillary for America video documents “The Trump Effect.”
New Hillary for America video documents “The Trump Effect.”

Hillary for America has released a new video on the “Trump Effect,” highlighting the differences between Hillary Clinton’s vision and approach and Donald Trump’s.

“Hillary Clinton believes in an America where everyone counts and everyone has a place. She’s spent her life acting on those beliefs, from her early work at the Children’s Defense Fund through a campaign that has consistently called out Trump’s division and hatred while offering a policy agenda that would bring people together and address the issues that keep us apart. Hillary has prioritized issues like immigration reform, endingLGBT discrimination and criminal justice reform.

“American voters face a choice of two different visions for America:  Donald Trump’sdark and divisive vision that could tear our country apart, or Hillary Clinton’s hopeful, inclusive vision that says we’re stronger together.

“Donald Trump set the tone of his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants and has continued using those kinds of insults and divisive comments through today. From Muslims to Gold Star families to a judge of Mexican heritage born in America to one of his own African American supporters just this past week, no one has been safe from Trump’s insults and lies.Trump has also built his political identity on conspiracy theories, starting with the racist lie that President Obama was not born in America and support from hate movements like the alt-right—whose leaders Trump has embraced.”

Clinton has been  campaigning in Nevada and Arizona where she highlighted Trump’s divisive agenda and the high stakes in this election by pointing to Trump’s long record of insults against communities of color. In Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio’s backyard, Clinton will counter their attempts to silence Latinos by mobilizing the community to break with history and turn the state blue on November 8th.

Also today, Hillary For America is launching a new video showing how Trump words and actions have encouraged bullying and fear in schools across our country, something experts are calling the “Trump Effect.”  Children — members of the groups that Trump so frequently attacks — are speaking out about the harassment and threats they are facing because the Republican nominee has targeted who they are or how they pray.

WATCH: “The Trump Effect

“As millions of Americans continue to vote early, and with election day less than a week away, it’s worth taking a look back at Trump’s history of divisive and hateful rhetoric,” the campaign noted:

THE “TRUMP EFFECT”

  • Trump’s rhetoric has given rise to bullying and violence in schools and communities across America.
  • Adopted children in Wisconsin and New York worried they would be sent back to Africa.
  • A child in New Jersey worried he, his mother, and sibling would be separated from his father because they have a different skin color.
  • California school children have endured xenophobic taunts on the playground, including being told they were “born in a Taco Bell.”
  • Students broke out into chants like “build the wall”  when their sports teams competed against Latino students in ColoradoIndiana and Wisconsin. A fraternity in Louisiana constructed a wall made of sandbags “emblazoned with pro-Trump slogans.”
  • A teacher in Arizona allegedly told a student “I can’t wait until Trump is elected. He’s going to deport all you Muslims.”
  • A man and a woman were attacked in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. respectively by people who attributed their motivations to Donald Trump.

AFRICAN AMERICANS

  • Trump, for years, peddled a racist lie that President Obama was not born in the U.S.
  • Trump pointed at an attendee and called him “my African American” during a campaign rally.
  • Trump to African Americans and Hispanics: ‘You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?’
  • Trump retweeted “racially loaded” and “wildly inaccurate” statistics claiming Blacks were responsible for 81 percent of White homicides.
  • Trump blamed crime in majors cities on Hispanics and African Americans.
  • Trump claimed crime in Oakland and Ferguson was so bad that it was dangerous like Iraq and has continued to compare inner cities to war zones.
  • Trump to a Black Lives Matter protester: “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
  • Trump paid for a racially provocative ad calling on New York lawmakers to reinstate the death penalty for five young African American men who were wrongfully accused of raping a woman.

IMMIGRANTS, LATINOS

  • Trump called Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists.”
  • Trump said Mexican immigrants bring “tremendous infectious disease.”
  • Trump on Judge Gonzalo Curiel: “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
  • Trump refused to stop using the term “anchor baby.”
  • Trump referred to some Hispanic immigrants as “bad hombres.”
  • Trump has said he would have a “deportation force” to go roundup and deportundocumented immigrants.
  • Trump would deport children born in America because he does not think their citizenship is valid.
  • Trump said Mexico was sending “The bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them.”
  • Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, is currently on leave from his job as head of Breitbart News. Breitbart drove conspiratorial reporting about Chobani in retaliation for hiring immigrants and refugees, making the company’s founder the target of vicious social media attacks.

MUSLIMS

  • Trump called to ban an entire group of people based on their religion.
  • Trump on his proposed Muslim ban: “I’m not softening my stance at all … In fact, you could say it’s an expansion.”
  • Trump said “I’m looking now at territories. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim… Now, we have a religious, you know, everybody wants to be protected. And that’s great. And that’s the wonderful part of our Constitution. I view it differently. ”
  • Trump defended his Muslim ban by comparing it to Japanese internment camps. Not surprisingly, he said he might have supported internment camps.
  • Trump suggested he would create a database to track American Muslims.

VETERANS, SERVICE MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • Trump repeatedly attacked a Muslim Gold Star family who lost their son in Iraq.
  • Trump claims that U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan would be alive if he had been president.
  • Trump calls our military “a disaster.”
  • Trump said “our military can’t beat ISIS.”
  • Trump said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
  • Trump said the generals have been “reduced to rubble.”
  • Trump said John McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured.
  • Trump suggested veterans experiencing PTSD aren’t “strong.”
  • Trump’s businesses have reportedly fired employees for their military service.
  • Trump scammed veterans through his sham Trump University.

DISABLED AMERICANS

  • Trump mocked a disabled reporter.
  • Trump reportedly called a deaf actress on the Apprentice “retarded.”
  • Trump referred to a paralyzed news commentator as a “guy that can’t buy a pair of pants.”
  • Trump faced a series of lawsuits for failing to comply with the ADA.
  • Trump repeatedly attempted to kick disabled veterans off of Fifth Avenue over two decades, calling the situation “deplorable.”

DISCRIMINATION IN TRUMP BUSINESSES

  • Trump was twice sued by the Department of Justice for discrimination in housing.
  • Trump employees marked applications from minorities with “C” for “Colored.”
  • The housing complex that was one of Trump’s first real estate deals faceddiscrimination charges.
  • Trump’s businesses lagged in minority hiring. Former employees who worked for Trump over several decades said they don’t remember a single black vice president-level executive at Trump Tower.

TRUMP AND HATE MOVEMENTS

  • Trump’s campaign shared an anti-Semitic image on his twitter that first appeared on white supremacist websites.
  • Trump has received an outpouring of support from hate movements like the alt-right.
  • White Supremacists used Trump’s candidacy as a recruiting tool.
  • White Supremacists and Klan members supported Trump, comparing his views to their views.
  • Former KKK Leader David Duke said Trump has “Made it OK to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view.
  • Virginia KKK Leader Endorses Trump: ‘What He Believes In, We Believe In.’”
  • Trump on being supported by White Supremacists: “A lot of people like me.”

TRUMP ENCOURAGING VIOLENCE

  • Trump said to a protester “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya” and mourned “we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days … They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
  • Trump offered to pay the legal fees of a supporter who attacked protester.
  • Trump claimed he could “shoot somebody” and not lose any votes.
  • Trump called to throw a protestor out into the cold without their coat.

Lesson of 2016: Election Reform is Urgently Needed. Here’s What Needs to be Done

The 2016 Presidential Election has underscored the need for urgent reform of the election process © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The 2016 Presidential Election has underscored the need for urgent reform of the election process © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

This unprecedented 2016 Presidential campaign has raised doubts and heightened cynicism about this nation’s election process – which itself depresses turnout if people believe their vote does not matter, or who are fed such a negative impression of a candidate that they cannot bring themselves to vote for either one.

Reform of the election process is urgently needed if, in fact, this country is to remain a democracy in more than myth or nostalgic longing. Already, this election has invited worldwide mocking, with the United States being  held in the same regard as a Banana Republic, especially with the language of Donald Trump, who threatened to unilaterally assign guilt and jail his opponent, weighed whether he will accept the results (“I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.”) thereby undermining the basic pillar of America’s democracy, a peaceful transition of power, and actually pronounced, “Let’s cancel the election and just give it to Trump.”

It’s been part of a tactic – to depress turnout by making people think their vote doesn’t count, and anyway, the election is rigged so why bother. Certainly, smearing an opponent so viciously, as Trump has done, is part of the campaign strategy, as his own officials have boasted, that they are targeting voter suppression of three groups: white liberals, young women and African Americans.

And, indeed, elections can be rigged and elections have been stolen – the elections of 2000 and 2004, which provide textbook cases of how to steal an election, come to mind. (George W. Bush, who actually lost Florida, the Electoral College and the popular vote, is truly the only illegitimate president this country has had.)

Indeed, because of the systemic “rigging” – including gerrymandering and voter suppression programs masqueraded as “protecting the integrity of the ballot” from voter fraud, in 2014, despite a million more votes being cast for Democrats in Congress, Republicans were still able to retain a massive majority – 56% in the House, the largest majority since the 71st Congress of 1929-31. Voter suppression tactics as well as the dark money – anonymous funding from outside sources (thanks again to the SCOTUS Right Wing Majority Citizens United decision) make it easy for wealthy partisans and corporations to literally buy a small population state’s Senators, where media costs are much lower than say California or New York. Because states no matter how small or large each have two Senators, the Republicans have 54 seats (54%) but represent 47% of the population.  So even though a majority of Americans vote Democratic, it’s Republicans who have controlled. Hardly a mandate for right-wing policies and obstruction they have heaped on the American people.

It may surprise people to realize the federal government has no authority over elections, which are controlled by states. Indeed, the Constitution does not actually provide a right to vote at all, and the Roberts right wing Majority on the Supreme Court did its damage to remove what oversight the federal government had when it eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

There needs to be a new Voting Rights Act that protects the essential principle of one-person, one vote and the federal government, under the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, should have the ability to establish minimum standards.

What else is needed to reform a weakened election system in these days of technological sophistication, a sprawling and diverse voter population, and the huge stakes to controlling the political reins of power? Here are more ideas:

  • An end to partisan-control of drawing district lines; standards that affirm – as the Voting Rights Act did – that districts have to be contiguous and make sense
  • And end to partisan control of state elections (like Katherine Harris, Secretary of State in Florida 2000 and also the chair of George W Bush’s campaign who purged voting rolls of 20,000 people and did all she could to insure Gore never got a fair count)
  • Requiring notification to every voter before an election confirming their registration, voting place and hours, and if a voter has been removed or purged or changed for any reason, timely notification with a process to challenge
  • A standard to allow voters to vote where they were last registered
  • To address the very real possibility of hacked black-boxes, require a paper trail and mandatory audits of a certain number of voting places to confirm the veracity
  • Minimum national standards for where polling places can be designated, how many voting machines per voting-age population, minimal number of hours open, early voting days, including spreading voting to the weekend before Election Day, and making Election Day a national holiday
  • A requirement that if a voter moves and re-registers, that notice be sent back to the prior voting place to be removed
  • Clearer, more uniform regulations about where people can vote if they are in college or have moved (for example, allowing people to vote by absentee at the last previous registered place)
  • Automatic sending of voter registration materials upon 18th birthday
  • Establish criminal penalties for interfering with voting, whether fraudulently telling people the wrong date, time or place to vote, ripping up voter registrations or interfering with voter registration; penalties for states that impede voter registration such as failing to process registrations in a timely way
  • Restore reasonable controls on spending – by wealthy donors and corporations – eliminate SuperPacs, pass the DISCLOSE Act, overturn Citizens United
  • Ultimately, all states should adopt proportional voting to allocate Electoral College Votes that more accurately reflect the will of the people, rather than winner-take all.
  • A new Voting Rights Act that goes beyond racial discrimination but includes any type of systematic discrimination to dilute “one-person, one-vote”
  • Constitutional amendment that affirms the right to vote (the constitution doesn’t actually provide it now)

See: How the 2016 Presidential Election May Well Be Stolen

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

How the 2016 Presidential Election May Well Be Stolen

The 2016 Presidential Election has underscored the need for urgent reform of the election process © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The 2016 Presidential Election has underscored the need for urgent reform of the election process © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

In only one respect, Donald Trump may well be right: there is great potential for 2016 to be a stolen election – but in his favor.

To the extent the election is stolen or rigged, this is how: voter suppression (outright intimidating voters at the polls as well as depressing turnout through a disinformation campaign), election fraud, hacking of election results, and intimidation at the polls. While in-person voter fraud is a phantom boogeyman, these are more likely and more lethal to a fair election.

“Let’s cancel the election and just give it to Trump” Donald Trump told a rally in Toledo, Ohio, once again charging the election is rigged and exhorting his minions to vote, then go to other voting places to “watch.”

“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” Trump told supporters in Ohio in his first comments since the final debate, when he said he would withhold acceptance of election results, thereby threatening a peaceful transition of power. “I’ll keep you in suspense.”

Revving up his minions with charges of a “stolen election,” Trump has urged his most rabid supporters to racially profile people coming to the polls. And in this election, more states have open-carry, so one could conceivably imagine a couple of thugs standing with an assault rifle at the door. This makes the US look and feel more like a Banana Republic than the “beacon of democracy” we hold this nation to be. This is actually a violation of the consent decree imposed on the Republican National Committee stemming from voter intimidation tactics that resulted in Republican Tom Kean defeating Democrat Jim Florio for New Jersey Governor, but should also be a crime.

And afterwards, many of his minions, so convinced by Trump that the election would be stolen and that Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency and a danger to national security and the nation’s existence, are ready to mount violent revolution.

Can you imagine this is America? Former one-term Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh tweeting that if Trump loses on Nov. 8th, he will grab his musket on Nov. 9th? That you have schools closing or moving their students away from polling areas fearing violence?

“We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” a senior Trump campaign official boasted to Bloomberg/Businessweek, against three targeted groups: white liberals, young women and Black Americans – three groups key to a Clinton victory.

Key to this strategy is disinformation – lying, misrepresenting policies – and anything that reinforces the image created over decades by right-wingers that Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy. In this, FBI James Comey went beyond the pale in resurrecting the email controversy from the unrelated investigation into Congressman Anthony Weiner’s sexting. Trump is having a field day, conflating the vague suggestions of what, exactly? with a breach of national security.

Young voters who tend to move around a lot, rent and not own a home, and not register at a new location and college kids who registered during high school and then again at their campus – are intimidated not to vote because of intentional confusion over their right to vote. Students are also threatened with losing state aid, that they will be found in violation for failing to get a new drivers’ license, registration and insurance, etc. Republican operatives literally challenged Bard and Vassar students in upstate New York as they attempted to vote in 2009 and 2010.

Here’s another source of intimidation: actual extortion to scare off Clinton votes. The threat of armed insurrection if Clinton wins is as if to say, if you don’t want a revolution on your hands, you will not vote for Clinton.

And Republicans are already (even before election day!) threatening nonstop investigations leading toward impeachment if Hillary is elected, which also means a continued policy of obstruction and gridlock, as if to suggest, “We dare you to vote for Clinton.” Will voters actually vote for Trump thinking it as a means of relief? What a mistake, since right-wing Republican extremists would have a clear path to overturn every progressive policy put into place since before Theodore Roosevelt.

This will be the first Presidential Election since the rightwing Majority on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, unleashing a hoard of regulations in states and localities explicitly (unabashedly in some cases like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and North Carolina) designed to suppress, obstruct, depress and disenfranchise voters who tend to vote for Democrats.

The pretext for this wave of regulations was the phantom bogey-man of Voter Fraud. While in-person voter fraud is rare (according to a Washington Post study, just 31 instances in 1 billion ballots cast from 2000 to 2014), those who argue for the dire need to “preserve the sanctity of the ballot,” can point to problems with the voting rolls. Some estimates put the number of dead people still registered as 2 million. Indeed, there may be irregularities with as many as 24 million registrations – the occasional Mickey Mouse among them – but that doesn’t mean Mickey Mouse is  voting. (What it does mean is that incredibly low turnout number – 60% for a Presidential election – may be artificial.)

There is no evidence that zombies are voting. No truth to the myth that black people are being bused in from other states to vote eight or nine times in inner cities as the hysterical former “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani accused, or that illegal immigrants are registering, let alone actually casting a ballot, as Donald Trump has charged.

Some 2.9 million are registered in more than one location – but how many people are going to risk five years in jail to vote twice?

However, this is definitely a weakness in the system because, as of now, no one checks. So you can very possibly have someone still registered where they grew up and registered in their new location, voting in person and by absentee.

The absentee ballot is a significant weakness in the integrity of the voting system, but interestingly, none of the Republican-lead voter ID laws and other restrictions would address the problem of in-person voter fraud. So you have to question why that would be, if it is so, so terribly important to Republicans to protect “the integrity of the ballot.”

Still, using “in-person voter fraud” as a pretext, Republican-dominated legislatures have unleashed a whole series of regulations designed to suppress voting –imposing new voter ID requirements and making it difficult for some demographic groups to obtain necessary ID (gun permit is OK, college ID not OK), literally making it hard to reach offices to obtain the ID, limiting hours, and denying applications even after providing ample documentation, and ultimately not processing registrations in a timely fashion (as many as 100,000 in Georgia); shutting down polling places or not having an adequate number of voting machines on hand, so that people are forced to wait hours on line (as in Arizona); reducing the number of early voting days, which hurts young parents and wage earners (as in North Carolina).

These tactics disproportionately hurt women (whose names change frequently over the course of their life), young people who move around a lot and rent instead of owning a home, old people who don’t drive or have their original birth certificate, minorities, poor people, homeless people, hourly wage people who are disadvantaged when voter registration places and polling sites and hours are made hard to reach – voters who are deemed more likely to vote for Democrats.

It starts with gerrymandering districts – cracking and packing districts, drawn into contorted Rorschach shapes, to dilute the voting power of a targeted group – so that the candidate gets to choose voters rather than voters choosing their representative. And with Big Data-mining technology that have become available since 2010 – when Republicans made a concerted strategy to take over State houses in advance of redistricting– they are able to gerrymander districts with extraordinary precision never before known. That’s the election rigging that is most profound.

North Carolina State Representative David R. Lewis, chairman of the redistricting committee, openly admitted, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map in a way to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

Then there are other tactics, which are chalked up as if a game rather than a criminal violation of Equal Protection under the Constitution: destroying voter registrations, sending out notices of wrong election dates, times and places or threatening that anyone with outstanding parking ticket will be arrested for attempting to vote. Also, purging voting lists based on the similarity of names to felons or people registered in another district or some other bogus excuse (Ohio purged 144,000 voters from in its three biggest, Democratic-leaning counties – those containing the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati), without giving the voter a chance to protest. (See New York Times, Critics See Efforts by Counties and Towns to Purge Minority Voters From Rolls.)

Indeed, some states – where there is a high minority population – refuse to reinstate voting rights to people who have served prison sentences, and because of the systemic racism in arrests and incarceration, some 6 million African-Americans are permanently disenfranchised.

Hacking? If Russian-agent hackers could penetrate state voter databases – let alone the NSA, Office of Personnel Management, Colin Powell and the DNC – there is no reason why they couldn’t invade individual precinct tallies, or even impact where the local district totals are tabulated at the state level.

The argument that a national election can’t be hacked because it is too decentralized at the state and county level is not entirely true, because a president isn’t elected by a cumulative popular vote, but by electoral votes – it would only take manipulating results in key counties in key battleground states to swing the election, and if the election is tight in those places, no one would be the wiser. Indeed, experts have shown how easy it is to hack voting machines – going back to the 2000 election – and it is suspected that the 2004 Bush v Kerry election was stolen by shifting the tallies in Ohio. (Walden O’Dell, CEO of the Diebold voting machine company, had promised, ”I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president. Early voters in Florida have already complained they saw their votes switched, evoking the 2000 election.)

Some 14 states vote on machines that do not even provide a paper trail so cannot be audited, and in 43 states voting machines – purchased with federal funds after the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA), itself a reaction to the disastrous 2000 election debacle – are more than 10 years old. One of them is Pennsylvania, a state that could prove pivotal this election, where Trump has centered his “stolen election” meme and is recruiting poll watchers into minority districts. (“You know what I mean.”)

The impacts of voter suppression tactics are already being seen in early voting patterns, as Eliza Newlin Carney reported in The Election is Rigged After All — Against African Americans.

All of this means that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic candidates need overwhelming, uncontestable majorities to make sure there cannot be the subtle irregularities.

Some polls are indicating just such a win, but even so, Trump acolytes are threatening revolution because they believe the polls are rigged and the election will be stolen.

Trump has fed into this, declaring that if he loses, it means that the election was stolen from him is strategic: In the first place, this is a guy whose entire life revolves around him being a “winner” – even failures (like multiple bankruptcies) are to him successes (since he manages to shift harm to others and reap benefits). Also, it sets him up as a martyr (he’s already compared himself to Jesus), to lead this phantom “movement” (“like nothing this nation has seen before,” he claims), in order to bolster his newest business/narcissistic (Trump TV) media enterprise. (He is likely the first candidate in  history to make a profit on a campaign, with his campaign “expenses” being revenue to the Trump Organization.)

But there is strategy, as well: Trump’s ploy in charging the system is rigged and inviting scorn saying he would not necessarily accept the results, thereby threatening a bedrock tradition preserving American democracy, the peaceful transition of power, is aimed at getting Democrats to insist the election cannot be rigged, and cower Hillary Clinton and Democrats from contesting elections that have in fact been manipulated, as in Florida 2000. He’s already planted seeds that Ruth Bader Ginsberg should recuse herself if a Bush v Gore redux comes to the Supreme Court, which would give Republicans a 4-3 majority to anoint Trump.

But elections can be stolen and have been stolen. Florida 2000 provided a manual for how it is done. (Just watch the movie, “Recount,” to see the GOP stole Florida in 2000, with complicity of Governor Jeb Bush, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Truly chilling.)

And Trump, by challenging the accuracy of polls that predict Clinton the winner, is aimed to disguise an actual election rigging and voter suppression, so that Trump can emerge the winner despite polls that predict otherwise. Trump will simply say “I told you so.”

All of this should not discourage people from voting. On the contrary, people should be more determined than ever to exercise their right to vote, and a big margin is more important than ever to counteract a rigged election. That’s what happened in 2008 with Barack Obama’s election.

See next: 2016 Presidential Election Points to Needed Reform 

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

FBI Director Comey Under Fire for Unprecedented Action Rekindling Clinton Email Issue

Hillary for America Chair John Podesta: “It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary for America Chair John Podesta: “It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus demanded FBI Director James Comey release more details about the letter he sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day – an unprecedented action – renewing the email scandal that has plagued Secretary Hillary Clinton’s entire campaign. Otherwise, they charge, it raises questions about Director Comey’s political motivations, handing Donald Trump’s campaign the ammunition they were looking for to depress voter turnout.

“For months, Donald Trump and his henchmen have led chants of ‘Lock her up.’ Now they are trying to turn this letter into something it is not, because the only way he can win is to hijack the election,” stated Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Illinois), and suggested that FBI Director Comey was similarly bullied into making this unprecedented statement, with the effect of breathing new fire into the Trump’s imploding campaign.

But, Gutierrez asserted, “The more we learn, the more we know it is overblown. Initially we told that the investigation has been reopened. That’s debunked. The emails don’t come from Clinton’s server at all. It may be that most or all are duplicates of others that have already been turned over.”

But he said, it raises questions about Comey’s own motivations. If only to give an update on an investigation, he noted, “You don’t hear Comey giving updates” on Russia’s role in the hack of the Democratic National Committee and whether the Trump campaign had any involvement.

“Why go so far as to send this highly questionable, unusual letter? [With so little information] it doesn’t make sense…He sent it, knowing it would be leaked, and he sent to 8 Republican chairmen who were sworn to defeat Clinton.

“Trump may bully the FBI but we cannot let him bully us out of this election,” he said.

Congresswoman Lujan Grisham of New Mexico called it, “another political ploy that has nothing to do with fairness or even professionalism.”

The action casts a shadow over Comey’s leadership, Grisham charged. “It is very difficult for them to rebut the presumption that this was politically motivated, which really should shake us to our core about the DoJ and FBI. This is absolutely unprecedented. You don’t engage this way, so close to an election and without any facts.

“Given that there has been a lot of pressure to the FBI to do something, find something, it is not difficult to figure it out. It allows one side to paint a scenario.” The conclusion that must be drawn, she said, “is that it is aimed at voter suppression, to depress turnout because Clinton is the most qualified candidate ever to run. She has incredible, proven track record for getting things done that this country needs to get done. It appears that that kind of distraction that might suppress remaining voters to stay home. We need Comey and FBI to explain.”

To illustrate how unusual Comey’s action is, she said, “it is not the practice of the FBI or Justice Department to release any kind of information related to ongoing or potential investigation, of which this is neither. And members of Congress should not engage or interfere. Because if you don’t hold to that practice it minimizes the independence and objectivity of the office. That highly unprofessional, out-of-practice effort, particularly engaging 8 Republican members of Congress, told us this is political.

“This has nothing to do with private server, Secretary Clinton’s emails. This is about somebody who has worked with Clinton, and part of an entirely separate investigation.”

Congressman Joaquin Castro (Texas) highlighted the unprecedented timing of releasing such a potentially inflammatory statement just 11 days before an election.

“This would be strange before a City Council election, much less a Presidential election…Director Comey showed extremely poor judgment in deciding to release the letter he did yesterday. He is irresponsible if he does not provide further information as to why looking at these emails. There has been no indication the emails are from or to Secretary Clinton or that she is involved in any way.”

The Hillary for America campaign documented the reaction:

Comey Under Fire After Sending Unprecedented Letter

FBI Director James Comey is under widespread criticism for breaking department precedent by commenting on an ongoing investigation, and doing so just days before a presidential election. Indeed, the Washington Post reported this morning senior Justice Department officials made perfectly clear to Comey that he would be in violation of long-standing DOJ policy.

Moreover, according to CNN, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates both objected to Comey sending this inappropriate letter to Congress. Nevertheless, Director Comey independently decided to move forward, rattling the presidential election with a note that was heavy on innuendo and extremely light on actual information or needed details.

The result? Broad bipartisan condemnation and demands for the swift disclosure of more information:

Washington Post: Justice officials warned FBI that Comey’s decision to update Congress was not consistent with department policy: “Senior Justice Department officials warned the FBI that Director James B. Comey’s decision to notify Congress about renewing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was not consistent with long-standing practices of the department, according to officials familiar with the discussions. Comey told Justice Department officials that he intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails. These officials told him the department’s position “that we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” said one Justice Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the high-level conversations.”

CNN: Comey notified Congress of email probe despite DOJ concerns: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates objected to FBI Director James Comey’s decision to notify Congress about his bureau’s review of emails related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, law enforcement officials familiar with the discussion said. Comey decided to disregard their objections and sent the letter Friday anyway, shaking the presidential race 11 days before the election and nearly four months after the FBI chief said he wouldn’t recommend criminal charges over the Democratic nominee’s use of the server.

New York Times: Justice Dept. Strongly Discouraged Comey on Move in Clinton Email Case: “Mr. Comey’s letter opened him up to criticism not only from Democrats but also from current and former officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, including Republicans. ‘There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,’ said George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under the first President George Bush. ‘Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences.’”

Politico: Comey’s disclosure shocks former prosecutors: “James Comey’s surprise announcement that investigators are examining new evidence in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server put the FBI director back under a harsh spotlight, reigniting criticism of his unusual decision to discuss the high-profile case in front of the media and two congressional committees.”

Los Angeles Times: “The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.

Washington Post Editorial: The damage Comey’s bad timing could do: “Mr. Podesta said he is ‘confident’ full disclosure ‘will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.’ If so, the question will be how badly damaged was Ms. Clinton’s candidacy by the 11th-hour re-eruption of a controversy that never should have generated so much suspicion or accusation in the first place.”

New York Times Editorial: “But Mr. Comey’s failure to provide any specifics about a new, potentially important development, less than two weeks before Election Day, is confounding. As Mr. Comey put it in July: “The American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest.” They deserve details even more urgently today.”

Bloomberg: FBI Shocker on Clinton Fuels Criticism of Comey’s Tactics: “FBI Director James Comey is facing extraordinary pressure to explain himself after dropping a bombshell on the campaign of Hillary Clinton just 11 days before the presidential election… Former prosecutors and lawmakers from both parties expressed shock and dismay at Comey’s highly unusual decision, which flouted decades of legal custom that call for avoiding taking actions that could affect the outcome of an election.”

Washington Post: FBI Director James B. Comey under fire for his controversial decision on the Clinton email inquiry: “Nick Ackerman, a former federal prosecutor in New York and an assistant special Watergate prosecutor, said Comey ‘had no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI has ever reviewed.’”

Huffington Post: News Outlets Dial Back Reports Of FBI ‘Reopening’ Clinton Email Case: “The story took several other turns on Friday afternoon that complicated the early, screaming headlines, and then ensured the story would remain a topic of discussion in the days ahead. Multiple outlets subsequently reported that the new emails weren’t sent by Clinton and didn’t come from her private server.”

CNN Legal Analyst, Paul Callan: Time for FBI director Comey to go: “Comey’s public announcement in July that the FBI had concluded its investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in the conduct of official State Department business and would not recommend the lodging of criminal charges was historically unprecedented in a high-profile political case.”

Washington Post Op-Ed by Former DOJ Spokesman Matt Miller: James Comey fails to follow Justice Department rules yet again: “With each step, Comey moved further away from department guidelines and precedents, culminating in Friday’s letter to Congress. This letter not only violated Justice rules on commenting on ongoing investigations but also flew in the face of years of precedent about how to handle sensitive cases as Election Day nears…. The director of the FBI has great power at his disposal…. With that independence comes a responsibility to adhere to the rules that protect the rights of those whom the FBI investigates. Comey has failed that standard repeatedly in his handling of the Clinton investigation.”

New York Times: F.B.I. Chief James Comey Is in Political Crossfire Again Over Emails: “The reaction was swift and damning, with Mrs. Clinton’s supporters and even some Republicans blasting Mr. Comey. Indeed, Mr. Comey, who was attacked this summer by Democrats and Republicans for both his decision not to bring charges against Mrs. Clinton and for the way he handled it, found himself in an even stronger crossfire on Friday.”

Los Angeles Times’ Michael McGough: FBI director should have known what his Clinton emails letter would unleash: “Having raised new doubts about Clinton so close to an election, Comey has an obligation —a moral obligation if not a legal one — to do everything he can to expedite the “additional work” required to determine whether this new information does, in fact, cast doubt on his earlier conclusion that Clinton wasn’t criminally culpable.”

Aurora Sentinel Editorial: FBI’s Comey needs to come clean on details, motivation — or resign: “If there’s damning or critical information about Clinton staff handling of email that creates the clear and immediate threat to national security that would warrant such a ploy, Americans deserve to have Clinton explain them, and Clinton must get that opportunity. Otherwise, Comey needs to apologize for his infelicity and possibly politically motivated stunt, and immediately step aside.”

Newsweek: Hillary Clinton’s Emails: The Real Reason The FBI Is Reviewing More Of Them: “Unfortunately, by trying to have things both ways – revealing the change in circumstances while remaining vague about what the agents know – Comey has created that misleading impression that could change the outcome of a presidential election, an act that, if uncorrected, will undoubtedly go down as one of the darkest moments in the bureau’s history.”

New Yorker: James Comey Broke With Loretta Lynch And Justice Department Tradition: “Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.”

Charlotte Observer Editorial: Comey drops Hillary Clinton email bombshell; so tell us more: “But it is extraordinary for such volatile information to emerge so close to Election Day and that’s especially true given how few specifics are known. Because Comey was so vague, voters can’t know what to think. The new emails could be anything from meaningless to evidence of criminal activity by Clinton to most anything in between.”

ThinkProgress: The ‘new’ Clinton emails might all be duplicates: “So, to be clear, the FBI Director delivered a gut punch to the Clinton campaign, despite the fact that 1) he doesn’t know what he has; 2) it may be something that he already had; and, 3) whatever it is that he has, it reportedly didn’t come from Secretary Clinton, and was not sent to her.”

Huffington Post: Heat Rises For FBI Director James Comey As Both Campaigns Demand Email Answers: “Both camps demanded that FBI Director James Comey disclose more details about the emails and the bureau’s investigation, which he made known in a letter to Congress just 11 days before the election…. Many challenged the FBI director’s motives, increasing the pressure on him to comply with calls from both campaigns for more information.”

See: Trump Trumps Up Non-Story About FBI Looking into Additional Clinton Emails

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Yet Another ‘Bombshell’ Clinton Revelation Fizzles As Facts Come Out

Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate, campaigning for President © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate, campaigning for President © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It is so concerning how the Donald Trump campaign has seized on the vague statement FBI Director James Comey made, initially first to eight Republican Congressmen, and only later did he bother to clue in the Democratic members of the committees. Trump seized on this revelation as 1) “bigger than Watergate” and 2) satisfying that in fact, the FBI was not part of the conspiracy to rig the election as he had previously charged. But it has fed into the Trump campaign strategy which, in face of dwindling poll numbers, has focused on suppressing turnout from those who would vote for Clinton.

Here’s how the Hillary for America campaign has responded:

“Yesterday, Republican Congressional leaders leaked an unprecedented letter from FBI Director James Comey, with initial reports including dire headlines for Hillary Clinton. But like most “bombshell” discoveries about Clinton over the course of this campaign, it fizzled rapidly as facts actually became available,” the Hillary for America campaign stated. Let’s review…

YESTERDAY’S BOMBSHELL: NBC News: FBI re-opening investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened”
  • GOP: “BREAKING NEWS: The FBI is re-opening their investigation into @HillaryClinton’s secret server.”

…facts emerge:

  1.       Investigation not reopened. Huffington Post: News Outlets Dial Back Reports Of FBI ‘Reopening’ Hillary Clinton Email Case
  2.      No emails had been withheld. NBC News: “the e-mails Comey announced today were NOT originally withheld by Clinton or campaign.”
  3.      Emails not from Clinton’s server. Bloomberg: New Clinton E-mails Not From Her Private Server, AP Says
  4.      Emails reportedly not to or from Clinton. Los Angeles Times: “The emails were not to or from Clinton”
  5.      No indication emails bear significance. Comey memo to employees: “we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails”
  6.      Many emails likely duplicates of ones already turned over. ThinkProgress: The ‘new’ Clinton emails might all be duplicates
  7.      Comey letter violates DOJ policy. Washington Post: Justice officials warned FBI that Comey’s decision to update Congress was not consistent with department policy
  8.      Comey overruled AG Loretta Lynch. CNN: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with FBI Director James Comey’s decision to notify Congress about his bureau’s review…”
  9.      Former officials on both sides of aisle criticized Comey. New York Times: “Mr. Comey’s letter opened him up to criticism not only from Democrats but also from current and former officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, including Republicans.”
  10.   Clinton and Trump both calling for more information. Huffington Post: “Both camps demanded that FBI Director James Comey disclose more details about the emails and the bureau’s investigation” 

This is hardly the first time. It seems the script is always the same, the campaign noted:

  1.       Bombshell allegation is made hastily without facts available
  2.      Media breathlessly covers the latest supposed Clinton Scandal
  3.      Republicans declare that this time they’ve found the smoking gun
  4.      Initial explosive reports slowly fizzle on account of facts

Here are five of the many recent examples:

BOMBSHELL: @GOP, 8/30/16: “BREAKING: State Dept discovered 30 emails recovered from Hillary Clinton’s private server that discussed Benghazi.”

…facts emerge: Los Angeles Times, 9/7/16: “There appears to be only one new communication related to Benghazi… a complimentary note from a diplomat to Clinton, praising how she handled herself before a Senate panel investigating the matter.”

—-

BOMBSHELL: @GOP, 5/5/16: “Hacker ‘Guccifer’ told news outlets that he repeatedly accessed Clinton’s unsecure email server & that ‘it was easy’”

…facts emerge: FOX News, 7/7/16: Comey: Hacker ‘Guccifer’ Lied About Accessing Clinton’s Emails

—-

BOMBSHELL: @AP, 8/23/16: “BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation.”

…facts emerge: Vox, 8/24/16: “Except it turns out not to be true. The nut fact that the AP uses to lead its coverage is wrong, and Braun and Sullivan’s reporting reveals absolutely no unethical conduct….  the AP excluded from the denominator all employees of any government, whether US or foreign.”

—-

BOMBSHELL: Washington Post, 8/22/16: The FBI found 15,000 emails Hillary Clinton didn’t turn over. Uh oh.

…facts emerge: CNN, 10/7/16: “Okay, so what’s in this latest batch? Short answer: No bombshells. More than half of the emails are these so-called “near duplicates” of previously released emails… There are also a number of emails between Clinton and her close aides in which they discuss scheduling matters — timing for phone calls, meetings, etc…. None of the new emails contained information marked as classified or upgraded to classified.”

—-

BOMBSHELL: The Hill, 7/5/16: FBI director: Clinton emails were marked as classified at the time

…facts emerge: MediaIte, 7/7/16: FBI Director Admits Hillary Clinton Emails Were Not Properly Marked Classified

See: FBI Director Comey Under Fire for Unprecedented Action Rekindling Clinton Email Issue