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The Left Column

Judi Lynn


(AP) Two former aides to New Jersey's governor have been sentenced to jail for creating traffic jams at the busiest bridge in the United States for political revenge, bringing the case to a close.

But appeals and a pledge from one of them that the fight isn't over promise to keep the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal hanging over Republican Gov. Chris Christie's final year in office.

Bridget Kelly told reporters after she was sentenced to 18 months in prison Wednesday that she won't be a scapegoat.

Her attorney pointed out that her testimony that she told Christie about the traffic jams while they were happening was never contradicted.


Trump Russia dossier key claim 'verified'

(BBC) The BBC has learned that US officials "verified" a key claim in a report about Kremlin involvement in Donald Trump's election - that a Russian diplomat in Washington was in fact a spy.

So far, no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency - nothing.

But the FBI Director, James Comey, told a hushed committee room in Congress last week that this is precisely what his agents are investigating.


Trump took 69 days to accomplish something country's most unpopular presidents took yrs to achieve

(Business Insider) If Trump sinks any lower, he will be one of just six presidents to do so, as Johnson and Reagan bottomed out at 35%. Here's a list of the presidents who hit 35% or lower in the Gallup approval rating, with how many days it took them to get there:

Trump | 69 days
Truman | 524 days
Reagan | 741 days
Carter | 851 days
H.W. Bush | 1,283 days
Nixon | 1,659 days
Johnson | 1,725 days
W. Bush | 1,926 days

L. Coyote

Moderate Dem rejects invitation to meet Trump aides at WH

(The Hill) Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said he is not accepting an invitation to meet with President Trump's top congressional aides.

“I was asked if I would be interested in going over to the White House for a meeting,” Lynch said in a statement to the Boston Globe.

“They said they were looking for ‘moderate’ Democrats — which I am. But under the circumstances I felt like they were trying to divide our party so I declined the invitation.”


Democrats Could Retake the House In 2018

(Political Wire) Josh Kraushaar: “Demo­crats now have a real­ist­ic shot at re­tak­ing the House in 2018. Each of the past three midterm elec­tions have swung wildly against the party in power—re­flect­ive of the long­stand­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion of voters to­wards polit­ic­al lead­er­ship, no mat­ter who’s in charge. Trump’s job ap­prov­al rat­ing is hov­er­ing around 40 per­cent, a tox­ic level for the dozens of Re­pub­lic­ans run­ning for reelec­tion in swing dis­tricts. Re­pub­lic­ans would be fool­ish to as­sume that Pres­id­ent Obama’s co­ali­tion of mil­len­ni­als and non­white voters—many of whom stayed home in past midterm elec­tions—re­mains dis­en­gaged giv­en their aver­sion to Trump.”

“Polit­ic­ally speak­ing, the health care bill couldn’t have been more dam­aging for Re­pub­lic­ans. In a dis­cip­lined Con­gress, safe-seat Re­pub­lic­ans would be more will­ing to take risky votes so those in com­pet­it­ive seats could main­tain some in­de­pend­ence from the party. But this time, hard-line con­ser­vat­ives in the Free­dom Caucus de­clared their un­stint­ing op­pos­i­tion early on, for­cing some vul­ner­able Re­pub­lic­ans to go on re­cord in sup­port of the un­pop­u­lar le­gis­la­tion—which didn’t even come to a vote. Adding in­sult to in­jury, Trump bragged on Twit­ter that the health care ex­changes would col­lapse as a res­ult of his in­ac­tion—the worst pos­sible mes­sage to send to any­one who viewed Trump as a can-do ex­ec­ut­ive.”


Trump's Business Network Reached Alleged Russian Mobsters

(USA Today) To expand his real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.

The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Trump told reporters in February: "I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. I have no loans with Russia at all."

Yet in 2013, after Trump addressed potential investors in Moscow, he bragged to Real Estate Weekly about his access to Russia's rich and powerful. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” Trump said, referring to Russians who made fortunes when former Soviet state enterprises were sold to private investors.


National Security Trump administration sought to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress...

(Washington Post) The Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation of links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, The Washington Post has learned, a position that is likely to further anger Democrats who have accused Republicans of trying to damage the probe.

According to a series of letters reviewed by The Post, Yates was notified earlier this month by the Justice Department that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege.

Ms. Yates and other former intelligence officials had been asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week, a hearing that was abruptly canceled by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Yates was the deputy attorney general in the final years of the Obama administration, and served as the acting attorney general in the first days of the Trump administration.


"This is what a cover-up to a crime looks like." Rep. Eric Swalwell on Devin Nunes

But Swalwell (D-Calif.), also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, disputed the chairman’s argument Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s not an internet cafe. You can’t just walk in and receive classified information,” Swalwell said of the White House, adding that when a member of Congress visits, “everyone in the building knows that you’re there in the building.”

“This is done because the White House wanted it to be done,” the California Democrat said. “And this is what a cover-up to a crime looks like. We are watching it play out right now.”


Top Intel Dem Schiff calls on Nunes to recuse himself from House Russia investigation

(CNN) Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Russia investigation, called on House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation in a stunning split between the two top investigators.

"After much consideration, and in light of the Chairman's admission that he met with his source of information at the White House, I believe that the Chairman should recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation, as well as any involvement in oversight of matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition, as he was also a key member of the transition team," Schiff said in a statement Monday, following a meeting of the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.


First on CNN: Border wall ask: $1 billion for 62 miles

(CNN) The Trump administration wants the first $1 billion of border wall funding to cover 62 miles -- including replacing some existing fencing along the southern border.

The $999 million requested by the White House in its budget supplement for just defense and border security spending would cover just 48 miles of new wall, according to justification documents from the Department of Homeland Security obtained by CNN.

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