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Key Dem points to evidence of collusion between Russia, Team Trump

03/23/17 08:00AM

Russia's intervention in last year's presidential campaign is no longer in doubt. What's unclear is whether Vladimir Putin's government received cooperation from the Republican campaign officials in Moscow and was eager to help.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who's helping lead a congressional investigation into the Russia scandal, appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend, and raised a few eyebrows with vague references to circumstantial evidence.

"There is circumstantial evidence of collusion," Schiff said, referring to alleged cooperation between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign. "There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that's where we begin the investigation.... There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation. The American people have a right to know and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more."

Schiff made related comments to Rachel a day later.

But on MSNBC yesterday afternoon, the California Democrat again talked to Chuck Todd, and this time he took another step forward when describing the nature of the evidence.
TODD: But you admit, all you have right now is a circumstantial case?

SCHIFF: Actually, no, Chuck. I can tell you that the case is more than that. And I can't go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. So, again, I think -

TODD: You have seen direct evidence of collusion?

SCHIFF: I don't to want go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and it very much worthy of investigation. So, that is what we ought to do.
When we contacted the congressman's office, asking if Schiff may have misspoken, and giving him a chance to walk this back, his office said Schiff meant what he said.
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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 3.22.17

03/22/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* The latest from London: 'Three people were killed and 20 others were wounded Wednesday in a terrorist attack at Britain's Parliament that sent crowds of tourists and lawmakers running for their lives. The victims included a police officer who was stabbed at the House of Commons and died despite the efforts of doctors and a passing government minister to save him."

* Despite all the focus on the far-right opponents of the Republican health care bill, this afternoon, two center-right House GOP lawmakers announced their opposition to their party's legislation. For Republican leaders, that's really not a good sign.

* Supreme Court: "About 40 minutes after Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began his second day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, all eight of the justices he hopes to join said a major disability decision Gorsuch wrote in 2008 was wrong."

* The U.S. Secret Service "requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post."

* NATO: "President Trump will travel to Brussels in May for a NATO summit, the White House said Tuesday. The announcement comes as Trump has roiled the alliance with renewed complaints about how much European allies are paying for their defense. "

* Trump's first Labor Secretary nominee was forced to withdraw. His second Labor Secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, is facing some serious questions about a deal he struck with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager, who faced allegations that Epstein "sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17."

* What's Trump's net worth? It's a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

* GOP governors hate the White House's health care plan and also hate the White House's budget: "As Mr. Trump and his advisers press for bone-deep cuts to the federal budget, Republican governors have rapidly emerged as an influential bloc of opposition. They have complained to the White House about reductions they see as harmful or arbitrary, and they plan to pressure members of Congress from their states to oppose them."
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Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff listens during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, Aug. 17, 2016. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Trump's former campaign chair worked to 'benefit' Putin's government

03/22/17 12:42PM

Paul Manafort, who helped lead Donald Trump's presidential campaign as its chairman and de-facto campaign manager, has long had important ties to the Russian government. Indeed, it led to his ouster from Team Trump.

In mid-August, a month after Trump officially became the Republican nominee, Manafort resigned following reports that he helped a pro-Russian party in Ukraine secretly route payments to two prominent D.C. lobbying firms.

But the revelations surrounding Trump's former campaign chair aren't nearly over. The Associated Press reported this morning:
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.
In a memo at the time, Manafort wrote that his work "can greatly benefit the Putin Government" and "can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government."

Asked for a reaction, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told NBC News, "It would be inappropriate for us to comment on a person who is not a White House employee."
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Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 3.22.17

03/22/17 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* The RNC is reportedly launching a new digital ad campaign intended to pressure congressional Democrats to vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court confirmation and the Republican health care plan.

* And speaking of digital ad campaigns, as Rachel noted on the show last night, the DSCC is launching a new spot of its own, pushing opposition to the Republican health care plan.

* At a fundraiser last night, Donald Trump claimed "most people don't even know" that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and he suggested someone should alert voters to this fact through commercials.

* On a related note, the fundraiser, held for the House Republicans' campaign arm, raised more than $30 million, which Politico noted was "a record for the event."

* The good news for Republicans: officials found an instance of voter fraud in Colorado. The bad news for Republicans: the alleged fraud was perpetrated by the former chairman of Colorado Republican Party.

* Trump has reportedly agreed to deliver the commencement address at Liberty University, an evangelical college in Virginia founded by Jerry Falwell, on May 13.

* Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) apparently feels safe dipping his toes back into political waters again, announcing this week that he's supporting former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie's gubernatorial campaign this year.
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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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