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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Current location: Greenfield
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 02:28 PM
Number of posts: 57,726

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Journal Archives

GOP Rep. Says He Used 'Poor Choice Of Words' In Comment About Town Halls

By ESME CRIBB Published MARCH 2, 2017, 6:57 PM EDT

Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) said on Thursday that he used "a poor choice of words" when he compared holding town halls to "the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them."

"While there was no malicious intent, I regret that my words may have distracted from an important point," Bost said in a statement emailed to TPM. He described protests at town halls as "coordinated disruptions taking place across the country."

"When the booing and shouting drowns out the conversation we’re trying to have with our constituents, it becomes that much harder to govern," Bost said.

In a meeting with the editorial board of The Southern on Friday, Bost said that in-person town halls "are out of control."

"You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need," he said.



Sessions: My Russian Contacts Have Been 'Hyped Beyond Reason'

Source: Talking Points Memo

By CAITLIN MACNEAL Published MARCH 3, 2017, 8:49 AM EDT

After he announced that he would recuse himself from any probe related to the Trump campaign, Attorney Jeff Sessions appeared on Fox News Thursday evening, where he lamented the amount of attention paid to his two encounters with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign.

Fox News' Tucker Carlson asked Sessions if he felt the coverage of his meetings amounted to a "witch hunt," as President Donald Trump has suggested.

“I do not think what was said about that meeting I had with the Russian ambassador was legitimate,” Sessions replied. "I think it was hyped beyond reason, and I think it was unfair.”

Earlier in the interview, Carlson also asked Sessions why he did not amend his statement to the Senate about his encounters with Russian officials when Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser over his failure to disclose conversations with a Russian official.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sessions-russia-meetings-hyped-beyond-reason

Sessions recusal can't be the end of the story - WaPo Editorial Board

By Editorial Board March 2 at 7:51 PM

“I DID not have communications with the Russians.” At the least, Attorney General Jeff Sessions misled Congress when he said this in his January confirmation hearings. The Post reported Wednesday night that Mr. Sessions had contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on at least two occasions — once after he spoke at a Heritage Foundation event at the Republican National Convention last July, and again in Mr. Sessions’s Senate office in September.

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Mr. Sessions began by reading a prepared statement arguing that his declaration was “honest and correct as I understood it at the time.” That, he claimed, was because he was referring to his role as Trump campaign surrogate, not his position as a senator who regularly meets ambassadors. In fact, his extemporaneous response to a question was more fitting: “In retrospect, I should have slowed down and said, ‘but I did meet one Russian official a couple of times.’ ” Yes: If not at that time, then at least following the hearing, when Mr. Sessions and aides should have reviewed the testimony he had just given — under oath — and noticed that his statement was deeply misleading. Imagine Republicans’ reaction if Hillary Clinton had attempted to spin her way out of a dubious statement in such a hair-splitting way.

The Post reached out to the other 26 Senate Armed Services Committee members, where Mr. Sessions served, and all 20 who responded, including Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), said they did not meet with the Russian ambassador last year. Even so, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a Thursday morning news conference, there are a variety of plausible and appropriate reasons Mr. Sessions may have met with Mr. Kislyak. The damning issue is that Mr. Sessions misled senior government officials and the public about his contacts. This was the same lapse that brought down former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and it underlines broader questions about the opaque relationship between Mr. Trump and the regime of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. Those questions remain unanswered.

Mr. Sessions at least announced Thursday that he would recuse himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.” He should have taken this step weeks ago — and it should extend to any probe of after-the-election conversations between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Flynn. Mr. Sessions should appoint a special counsel capable of conducting a thorough and unbiased inquiry into all of the contacts between Mr. Trump and his associates and Russia — including Mr. Sessions’s.


Jeff Sessions's puzzling press conference

By Aaron Blake March 2 at 5:01 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced that he will recuse himself from any investigations involving the Trump campaign — a response to the heat he's taken after it was revealed that he failed to disclose contacts with Russia's ambassador last year.

The move is clearly intended to stanch the bleeding. But in the course of making his announcement, Sessions didn't do himself too many favors.

In his initial statement, Sessions maintained that he had done nothing wrong. He said that his response at his confirmation hearing to Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) question about contacts with Russia “was honest and correct as I understood it at the time.” But he also said that he would nonetheless update the record to clear things up, and he conceded at the end of the news conference: “In retrospect, I should've slowed down and said I did meet with one Russian official a couple times — that would be the ambassador.”

(Transcript of Jeff Sessions’s recusal press conference, annotated)

So he didn't do anything wrong, but he should've done something else and will fix it. And also, the “as I understood it at the time” is pretty weasel-wordy. It sounds as though Sessions is saying he misunderstood the question, which is perhaps the best explanation he can offer, given how broad and unprompted his denial was. This is also, notably, something that could come up were he ever charged with perjuring himself. To commit perjury, you have to know you were lying; misunderstanding the question would apparently be his defense.

Sessions also opted to make some somewhat off-color and casual comments about the matter.


Not Enough. Jeff Sessions' Russian recusal is a good start but we need an outside investigation

By Robert Schlesinger | Managing Editor for Opinion
March 3, 2017, at 6:00 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions misleadingly answered a question he wasn't asked and then tried to clean it up by refuting allegations that weren't made.

This is full-spectrum care and feeding of a metastasizing scandal: Whether or not the revelation that Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 campaign – despite telling Congress otherwise – proves damning (and it may), the attendant cover-up, hubris and general ineptitude provided more questions than answers about connections between Donald Trump and the government of a chief foreign adversary.

It's no wonder that the Sessions news prompted a voluble round of furor, from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi calling for the attorney general's immediate resignation to Republicans like House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and others calling for his recusal from any campaign-related investigation, which did come Thursday afternoon.

That was an adequate start but it's not enough. Merely removing Sessions from the equation won't guarantee a robust search for the truth. We need an independent investigation.

The episode stems from Sessions' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify on his nomination to be attorney general. At the hearing, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken noted a report that the Trump campaign had had ongoing communications with the Russian government. If the reports prove true, Franken asked, "what will you do?"


WH Now Says Flynn Had Meeting With Russian Ambassador At Trump Tower


The phone calls with the Russian ambassador that led to Michael Flynn's ouster as national security adviser were an afterthought Thursday as Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped in front of TV cameras and addressed revelations that he had met twice with that envoy during the campaign.

So it was a good moment for the White House to confirm to the New York Times that, in addition to those calls, Flynn met with ambassador Sergey Kislyak for about 20 minutes at Trump Tower in December.

Spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Times that Flynn, in addition to President Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, met with Kislyak to build a relationship and "establish a line of communication."

Flynn resigned last month and apologized for not informing the President and Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of the calls he had with Kislyak before inauguration. Reports that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the envoy contradicted statements from Flynn and the White House denying he had done so.



GOP Rep Says Holding Town Halls Is Like Being Yelled At In A Ritual By 'Orientals'

By ESME CRIBB Published MARCH 2, 2017, 5:19 PM EDT

Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) said late last week that holding town halls is not "productive" and compared it to "the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them."

"You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need," Bost said Friday in a meeting with the editorial board of The Southern. "The amount of time that I have at home is minimal, I need to make sure that it’s productive."

Bost said that in-person town halls "are out of control" and that instead of holding public events he is "busy trying to work on the issue."

"If all you want to do is stand and yell at me," he said, "we're not going back and forth."

Bost's office did not immediately respond to TPM's requests for comment.



Ex-Christie associates lose bid for new trial in 'Bridgegate' case

Source: Reuters

02 MAR 2017 AT 17:04 ET

A federal judge rejected a request for a new trial by two former associates of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who were convicted for their roles in the “Bridgegate” lane closure scandal.

The decision late Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton clears the way for the two defendants to be sentenced on March 15.

Bridget Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff under the Republican governor, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted in November of orchestrating the shutdown of access lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

U.S. prosecutors said the resulting gridlock in Fort Lee, New Jersey, was intended to punish the town’s Democratic mayor for declining to back Christie’s re-election campaign.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/ex-christie-associates-lose-bid-for-new-trial-in-bridgegate-case/

What The CIA and FBI Knew About Trump Before 2016 - by Josh Marshall

By JOSH MARSHALL Published MARCH 2, 2017, 4:41 PM EDT

As you've likely inferred from my recent posts I've spent a lot of time in recent days and weeks piecing together different elements of the Trump/Russia story. I've brought other colleagues into the work and plan to expand that once we have people hired for the three new investigative positions I discussed last month. Today everyone is talking about the inexplicable news about Jeff Sessions. But there's another dimension of the Trump/Russia story which has only become clear to me recently but which provides a critical backstory for understanding the background of this scandal and news story.

Let's go back to the story of Felix Sater, the Russian-American immigrant, convicted felon and longtime Trump business associate we discussed last week.

Let me review two separate streams of information which are critical to understanding the story. First, here are some basic and well-attested facts about Felix Sater.

Sater began his professional life as a New York City stock broker; spent 15 months in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a broken wine glass in a bar fight; and then became involved in a pump and dump penny stock scheme in association with the Gambino and Genovese crime families. When he and his associates were arrested in the securities fraud scheme in 1998, Sater tried to make a deal to save himself.

Sater began his professional life as a New York City stock broker; spent 15 months in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a broken wine glass in a bar fight; and then became involved in a pump and dump penny stock scheme in association with the Gambino and Genovese crime families. When he and his associates were arrested in the securities fraud scheme in 1998, Sater tried to make a deal to save himself.


Exclusive: Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention

Source: USA Today

Steve Reilly , USA TODAY 5:00 p.m. ET March 2, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not the only member of President Trump’s campaign who spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a diplomacy conference connected to the Republican National Convention in July. At least two more members of the Trump campaign’s national security officials also spoke with Kislyak at the event, and several more Trump national security advisers were in attendance.

It's unknown what the Trump campaign officials who spoke with the ambassador – J.D. Gordon and Carter Page – discussed with him. Those who took part in the events in Cleveland said it is not unusual for presidential campaign teams to interact with diplomats.

However, the newly-revealed communications further contradict months of repeated denials by Trump officials that his campaign had contact with officials representing the Russian government.

The Justice Department’s acknowledgement Wednesday that Sessions spoke with Kislyak twice in 2016 has led to calls for him to recuse himself from investigations into the Trump team’s contact with Russia. By Thursday afternoon, Sessions said he would recuse himself.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/02/exclusive-two-other-trump-advisers-also-spoke-russian-envoy-during-gop-convention/98648190/
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