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GOP's Kennedy, hoping to aid Trump, keeps echoing Russian propaganda

12/02/19 09:20AM

On multiple occasions, U.S. officials have explained to elected policymakers the dangers of promoting Russian disinformation. In fact, the New York Times reported two weeks ago that American intelligence professionals have informed senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a lengthy campaign "to essentially frame" Ukraine for Russia's 2016 election attack.

As regular readers know, it was against this backdrop that Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) appeared on Fox News last weekend, insisting that Ukraine may have been responsible for the Russian attack, apparently indifferent to the fact that he was helping disseminate a bogus Kremlin message.

The Louisiana Republican soon after walked back his comments, at least a little, though he continued to argue that there's "a lot of evidence" that Ukraine "did try to interfere" in our elections -- which, again, is exactly the kind of propaganda Moscow wants American politicians to repeat.

All of which set the stage for Kennedy's appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, where the conservative lawmaker told Chuck Todd, "I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election." The Republican added that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko "actively worked for Secretary Clinton."

It led the host to remind the senator of an important detail:

"You realize the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin."

Todd added that senators were recently briefed on the importance of not saying what Kennedy had just said on the air: "[T]his is a Russian intelligence propaganda campaign in order to get people like you to say these things about Ukraine."

The Louisianan replied, "I was not briefed."

It's not enough to simply marvel at the lengths some Republicans will go to in order to shield Donald Trump from accountability. It's not enough to note that the bogus claims Kennedy has peddled are wrong. It's not enough to be gobsmacked by a sitting GOP senator's capacity for willful ignorance.

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Navy's Spencer: Trump has 'little understanding' of military service

12/02/19 08:40AM

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer prioritized military discipline, the rule of law, and the integrity of the Uniform Code of Military Justice system. Donald Trump did not. It led the latter to fire the former -- and offer some unfortunate presidential references to the "deep state."

But unlike so many of those who've been forced from their posts as a result of a Trump tantrum, Spencer isn't exiting the stage quietly. The former Navy secretary took some not-so-subtle jabs at the president in his departure letter -- explaining, for example, that the rule of law "is what sets us apart from our adversaries" -- which Spencer followed with an op-ed in the Washington Post, first published the day before Thanksgiving.

Spencer noted the president's interest in the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL and accused war criminal, whom Trump took an unusual interest in as a result of conservative media, which turned Gallagher into a cause celebre. After explaining in his op-ed the process of the White House's intervention, Spencer noted that the president "has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices."

His op-ed concluded:

Our allies need to know that we remain a force for good, and to please bear with us as we move through this moment in time.

It was a rather brutal line, effectively signaling to the world that Trump's time will pass, and the United States will eventually reclaim its status as a responsible global superpower.

What's more, Spencer isn't the only one speaking out in stark terms about the president's reckless antics.

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White House balks at participating in this week's impeachment hearing

12/02/19 08:00AM

As the congressional impeachment inquiry shifts this week to the House Judiciary Committee, this appears to be the moment Donald Trump and his team have been waiting for. With the House Intelligence Committee having completed hearings as part of a lengthy fact-finding process, the Judiciary panel offers the president and his lawyers an opportunity to begin presenting a defense.

With this in mind, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) formally extended an invitation to the White House last week, urging the president to "stop complaining about the process" and begin participating in the impeachment proceedings. Nadler gave the White House a deadline of Dec. 6 to make its intentions known.

Last night, as NBC News reported, he received a response.

The White House said Sunday it will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday but left open the possibility that it may take part in future proceedings.

In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called the hearing, which will explore the "historical and constitutional basis of impeachment," unfair.

Politico's report added, "The decision indicates that President Donald Trump has listened to his allies and some congressional Republicans who argued that a White House presence at the hearing would validate a process they have harangued as illegitimate and partisan."

Of course, Republicans have harangued that the process has been illegitimate and partisan because, in its preliminary stages, Team Trump wasn't able to testify or present a defense. Now that the president and his attorneys have been invited to participate directly in the process, they've effectively decided to boycott?

The one thing Team Trump said it wanted most -- a chance to participate and present a defense -- now appears to be the thing Team Trump won't accept.

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Abortion clinics face down myriad pressures to remain open

Abortion clinics face down myriad pressures to remain open

11/29/19 09:34PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the lengths to which abortion clinic operators like Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women, have to go to stay open to patients while dealing with hostility from protesters, state legislatures, and judiciaries, not to mention funding issues and the challenge of recruiting physicians who could be threatened by... watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 11.27.19

11/27/19 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* From bad to worse for Giuliani: "President Trump's personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, negotiated this year to represent Ukraine's top prosecutor for at least $200,000 during the same months that Giuliani was working with the prosecutor to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions."

* The right expected way too much from the Horowitz report: "The Justice Department's inspector general found no evidence that the F.B.I. attempted to place undercover agents or informants inside Donald J. Trump's campaign in 2016 as agents investigated whether his associates conspired with Russia's election interference operation, people familiar with a draft of the inspector general's report said."

* Trump's latest legal setback: "A federal judge in Oregon blocked President Donald Trump's bid to deny immigrants visas unless they buy health insurance within 30 days of entering the country or otherwise show they can cover their medical costs."

* DHS: "The internal watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security found that the Trump administration anticipated it would separate 26,000 children if the "zero tolerance" policy of 2018 had been allowed to continue, and that the agency knew it lacked the technology to track and reunite children with their parents."

* Dems seem to be raising a legitimate point: "As the Justice Department's internal watchdog prepares to release a long-awaited report examining the FBI's conduct in 2016 and 2017 in the Russia investigation, Democrats are expressing frustration over what they view as his failure to examine the conduct of Donald Trump's attorneys general over the past two years."

* Climate crisis: "With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously."

* Remember last week, when Trump's EPA started rolling back chemical-plant safeguards? "An explosion at a chemical plant in southeastern Texas early on Wednesday injured at least eight people, shattered the windows of nearby homes and forced residents near the site to flee as orange flames shot into the sky."

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