U.S. Politics

The FBI. Giuliani. Of Course.

Upon his graduation from Cardozo Law School in NYC, my son’s first public policy job gave him invitations to Giuliani’s second inauguration.  He asked me if I wanted to go…knowing his mom was a policy wonk.  

Needless to say I went for the experience not for the person getting sworn in to a 2nd term.  That was in the winter of 1998.  I moved to Georgia a few weeks later and never looked back.  I do not like the man…at all.  There’s a long sordid history that can be researched online about his racism. inept handling of major police cases and the awful publicized affair he had before divorcing his wife.

ESQUIRE

Since the passing of Mike Royko and with the possible exception of Kevin Cullen at The Boston Globe, there is no reporter who knows an individual city as well as Wayne Barrett knows New York. Years ago, when he was writing for The Village Voice and I was starting out at The Boston Phoenix, Barrett was one of the people I read to learn the difference between the alternative press and everything else. He is steeped in the political history of modern New York, particularly the history of the last quarter of the 20th Century and the various ambulatory relics who are still wandering through our politics here in the first quarter of the 21st.

On Thursday, in The Daily Beast, Barrett came as close as anyone has in explaining the Byzantine internal politics of the FBI as regards the presidential campaign. It involves Rudy Giuliani, his pals in the FBI from his days as a U.S. Attorney, and his current role as security jefe for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago.

Hours after Comey’s letter about the renewed probe was leaked on Friday, Giuliani went on a radio show and attributed the director’s surprise action to “the pressure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it politically.” “The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion [not to charge Clinton] being completely unjustified and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integrity,” said Giuliani. “I know that from former agents. I know that even from a few active agents.” Along with Giuliani’s other connections to New York FBI agents, his former law firm, then called Bracewell Giuliani, has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents. The group, born in the New York office in the early ’80s, was headed until Monday by Rey Tariche, an agent still working in that office. Tariche’s resignation letter from the bureau mentioned the Clinton probe, noting that “we find our work—our integrity questioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for political gains.”

Of course not.

Barrett further identified James Kallstrom, who ran the FBI New York office under former director Louis Freeh, a running buddy of Giuliani. As Barrett demonstrates, Kallstrom has been more than vocal in his dissatisfaction with the fact that no Clinton has yet been clapped in irons.

Kallstrom has, like Giuliani, been on an anti-Comey romp for months, most often on Fox, where he’s called the Clintons as a “crime family.” He has been invoking unnamed FBI agents who contact him to complain about Comey’s exoneration of Clinton in one interview after another, positioning himself as an apolitical champion of FBI values. Last October, after President Obama told 60 Minutes that the Clinton emails weren’t a national security issue, Megyn Kelly interviewed Kallstrom on Fox. “You know a lot of the agents involved in this investigation,” she said. “How angry must they be tonight?” “I know some of the agents,” said Kallstrom. “I know some of the supervisors and I know the senior staff. And they’re P.O.’d, I mean no question. This is like someone driving another nail in the coffin of the criminal justice system.” Kallstrom declared that “if it’s pushed under the rug,” the agents “won’t take that sitting down.” Kelly confirmed: “That’s going to get leaked.”

Apparently, ever since news of the Comey letter broke last Friday, Kallstrom has been on a kind of victory lap around the various platforms of the Fox News empire. Meanwhile, Barrett got him on the phone and prompted an energetic tap dance.

Kallstrom adamantly denied he’d ever said he was in contact with agents “involved” in the Clinton case, insisting that he didn’t even know “the agents’ names.” He asked if this story was “a hit piece,” and contended that it was “offensive” to even suggest that he’d communicated with those agents. When I emailed him two quotes where he made that claim, he responded: “I know agents in the building who used to work for me. I don’t know any agents in the Washington field office involved directly in the investigation.” Later, though he acknowledged that “the bulk” of the agents on the Weiner case are “in the New York office,” even as he insisted that the “locals” he told Pirro would’ve leaked the renewed probe had not Comey revealed it were not necessarily agents. He declined to explain why Megyn Kelly stated as a fact that he was in contact with agents “involved” in the case. Asked in a follow up email if he suggested or encouraged any particular actions in his exchanges with active agents, Kallstrom replied: “No.”

Politics be damned, it’s time for the White House and/or the Attorney General, the nominal superiors of everyone who works for the FBI, to come off the bench and break this scam once and for all. This is now for more than just this election. This is law enforcement trying to force its will of the civil authorities, no different from some backwater sheriff who has compromising photos of the mayor.

And, as far as the immediate future goes, this is going to be a stunning chapter when Dante comes back from the dead and writes the definitive history of this campaign.

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U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: November 4, 2016

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Clinton’s lead over Trump narrows
Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump has narrowed to three percentage points as the Nov. 8 presidential election nears, down from nine points in mid-October and four points on Oct. 4, according to aNew York Times/CBS News Poll released Thursday. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had the backing of 45 percent of likely voters in the national poll; GOP nominee Trump had 42 percent. Respondents largely agreed on one thing: Eight in 10 said the nasty campaign had left them more repulsed than enthusiastic. Polls also shifted in key battlegrounds, with Clinton pulling nearly even with Trump in Georgiawhile he regained an edge in Arizona.

Source: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

2. FBI, facing questions of bias, looks into its own Twitter account
The FBI has launched an internal investigation into one of its own Twitter accounts, which was dormant for a year and suddenly started tweeting documents related to the presidential candidates days before the Nov. 8 election. The FBI Records Vault account first made positive mention of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s father, then posted documents regarding President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich, raising suspicion the account was being used to boost Trump and hurt his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. One source said anti-Clinton agents are behind leaks about what prosecutors have dismissed as flimsy allegations against Clinton in recent days. “The FBI is Trumpland,” the agent said.

Source: New York Daily News, The Guardian

3. Melania Trump makes rare appearance, calls for civility
Melania Trump made her first speech on Thursday since the plagiarism flap at the Republican convention, calling for “kindness” and “respect” in politics and promising to combat cyberbullying as first lady if her husband, Donald Trump, is elected president. Mrs. Trump, speaking in the potentially key swing state of Pennsylvania, also promised to be an advocate for women and children. Her speech was part of a last-minute appeal by the Trump campaign to women voters, who have increasingly backed Democrat Hillary Clinton after weeks of coverage of a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about kissing and groping women without their consent.

Source: CBS News

4. 240 migrants drown off Libya
About 240 people have drowned off the coast of Libya over 48 hours this week, bringing the number of refugees killed trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea this year to at least 4,220, the United Nations’ migration agency said Thursday. Survivors told authorities that the latest victims died when rubber dinghies they were traveling in capsized in high seas. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said European nations could prevent further tragedies by volunteering to take in more refugees who feel they have to risk the voyage to escape violence or poverty in their home countries.

Source: Reuters, The Associated Press

5. South Korean president takes blame for scandal
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday took sole blame for a scandal involving allegations that a personal friend used their relationship to extort money from businesses. Park apologized, promising to submit to questions and cooperate fully with prosecutors investigating her friend Choi Soon-sil. “I again deeply apologize for causing an immeasurable disappointment and worry,” Park said. “All this is my fault, caused by my negligence.” Park said she put too much faith in her friend, saying: “I feel a sense of shame and ask myself, ‘Is this the reason I became president?'”

Source: The Associated Press, The New York Times

6. U.K. government says it will challenge Brexit ruling
British cabinet ministers said Thursday that the government would challenge a High Court ruling requiring a parliamentary vote before officially starting negotiations for the U.K. to leave the European Union. Brexit Secretary David Davis said the government had “the biggest mandate in history” to get the process underway after 17.4 million voters backed exiting the E.U., and that waiting for lawmaker’ approval would disrupt the government’s plans to get the job done. The court will consider the appeal next month.

Source: BBC News

7. Iraqi troops oust ISIS from parts of Mosul
Iraqi forces have taken control of several districts in eastern Mosul, the military said Friday. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Thursday said there could be “no retreat” for his forces as Iraqi soldiers and their allies pushed into the city, ISIS’ last major stronghold in Iraq. “This raging battle and total war, and the great jihad that the state of Islam is fighting today, only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory,” al-Baghdadi told supporters.

Source: CNN, Reuters

8. North Dakota Capitol locked down, 14 arrested for pipeline protest
North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers arrested 14 Dakota Access Pipeline protesters on Thursday at the state Capitol. The building’s doors were locked from the inside at about 4 p.m. after dozens of protesters rallied outside, singing, “We Will Not be Moved.” The people arrested were charged with disorderly conduct. The rally participants were making a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which hopes to prevent the pipeline from passing on the edge of its reservation due to concerns the project would taint the water supply and damage sacred sites.

Source: Argus Leader

9. Justice Department sends poll monitors to North Carolina
The Justice Department has informed four North Carolina counties that it is sending observers to monitor their polls on Election Day. The counties include Forsyth, Wake, Robeson, and Cumberland. The state has 15 electoral votes, and is considered a key battleground in the presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. Election officials did not say why the observers were coming, but the North Carolina NAACP on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit accusing election boards in Cumberland, Moore, and Beaufort counties of illegally canceling the registrations of thousands of voters, most of them minorities.

Source: Slate, Fayetteville Observer

10. World Series finale most-watched baseball game in a quarter century
More than 40 million people watched Game 7 of the World Series, making the decisive cliffhanger the most-watched baseball game in 25 years. The 10-inning game, in which the Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year championship drought by beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7, capped a series that was already a ratings success. Game 5, in which the Cubs started their comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series, was watched by more people than that evening’s Sunday Night Football match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles — the first time a World Series game has topped SNF since 2013.

Source: Variety

U.S. Politics

Possibility of FBI leaks to Trump campaign raises alarm

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW (Clip)

Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for The Guardian, talks with Rachel Maddow about concerns about connections between the Donald Trump campaign and the FBI, particularly the New York field office, and the apparent willingness of some in the FBI to politicize the bureau to help Trump. Duration: 20:29

MSNBC

2015 GOP Senate Majority · U.S. Politics

FiveThirtyEight’s extraordinary prediction model is failing in the Clinton-Trump race — and that’s according to its guru, Nate Silver

image via wikipedia

image via wikipedia

RAW STORY

Telling political junkies to stop checking fivethirtyeight.com obsessively is likely to be met by the same hollow-eyed stare from a lab rat that spends its day clicking a lever for bumps of cocaine.

The internet venerates the website’s founder, Nate Silver, as “America’s Chief Wizard” after his statistical polling model correctly predicted the results of the 2012 presidential contest in every state and the District of Columbia. But Silver’s fans are freaking out as Trump’s chance of winning has tripled in two weeks.

However, the wild swings toward Trump are more a sign that an orange-furred monkey wrench has jammed FiveThirtyEight’s soothsaying machine than a candidate who is detested by nearly 60 percent of voters is suddenly floating to the top of the 2016 shitshow. Trump can win and X factors such as possible hacking of the electoral process that add unpredictability. But his path is still precarious and not one otherprofessional election handicapper records the seismic shift in Trump’s chances that FiveThirtyEight does.

To Silver’s credit, he’s cast doubts on his poll-based forecasting this year. He mentionsthe lag time in how polls react to dramatic news such as the FBI’s email bombshell. He highlighted a survey showing little movement in voter preferences since January 2016. FiveThirtyEight also notes, “Trump supporters are more likely than Clinton voters to make it through the likely voter screens, indicating they are more vocal and enthusiastic in their support.” In other words, it’s likely Comey’s ill-advised letter about Clinton’s emails has depressed pro-Clinton respondents in polling more than it will at the voting booth. On the flip side, after Clinton’s average lead stretched to 7.1 percentin mid-October, this was likely affected by Trump supporters shunning pollsters, particularly after Trump’s rants about a rigged media, rigged polls, and a rigged election.

If you’re hell-bent on checking FiveThirtyEight constantly (as I still do), then it’s worth keeping in mind reasons why a Clinton victory is likelier than Silver’s model predicts.

The main issue is FiveThirtyEight works best when electoral coalitions are well-defined and change slowly as they have been since Bill Clinton was in office. Trump has scrambled all that, however, and analyzing polls cannot account for rapid demographic shifts. Trump’s bastion of working-class white men includes significant numbers of Democrats who’ve crossed over since 2012. But it’s come at the cost of alienating usually solid Republicans like college-educated whites. He’s spurred Latinos, Asians, and Muslims to mobilize in record numbers to defeat him. And the gender gap is wider than ever, with women favoring Clinton over Trump by an average of 16 pointsin October polls. This overlaps with a remarkable geographic shift in which Democrats are quickly gaining ground in Sunbelt states that were a redoubt of Reagan conservatism, while traditional Democratic strongholds are crumbling in Midwest regions that are older, white and working class. The focus on Trump’s working-class support also misses one crucial aspect: a majority of the white working class is female, and they began rejecting Trump after the Access Hollywood tape scandal. These groups are huge at a national scale, but this fine-grained detail disappears in polls of a thousand respondents.

Two other significant reasons why FiveThirtyEight overestimates Trump’s chances is early voting and get out the vote. More than 35 million Americans have already voted, which is 28 percent of the total vote in 2012. In nearly every battleground state early voting is outpacing last election, meaning Clinton banked millions of votes when her numbers were peaking. One poll of early voters indicates Clinton is ahead by enough to tack on a 1.3 percent advantage in the final election results.

Many of these factors are evident in Nevada. FiveThirtyEight shows Trump neck and neck with Clinton, but Silver admits early voting shows a six-point gap favoring Democratic voters. This is consistent with FiveThirtyEight’s failure to predict Harry Reid’s 2010 Senate re-election and its underestimate of Obama’s 2012 victory margin. Six years ago Reid edged out Tea Party kook, Sharron Angle, thanks to an extraordinary turnout machine he’s assembled after more than 30 years in public office. Nevada also has its own election oracle in reporter John Ralston, who correctly called the two races Silver flubbed. Ralston’s dive into 622,000 votes already cast, which already accounts for 61 percent of 2012 totals, bears grim tidings for Trump even in best-case scenarios.

If Trump loses Nevada, Silver says he wins in only 9 percent of scenarios. That’s a far cry from the 35 percent mark Trump just touched. Trump’s campaign is treating Nevada is a lost cause as he eyes richer electoral prizes like Michigan and Wisconsin that are even further out of his grasp. Even if Trump wins Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Arizona, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, he still loses the election. So he needs to snatch away a Midwestern state from Clinton.

Trump is also paying the price for outsourcing get-out-the-vote operations, just like those who suffered the overpriced “dreadful pieces of meat” known as Trump steaks. GOTV is warfare through electoral means and requires a command staff, hundreds of offices, tens of thousands of paid staff and volunteers, and coordination both strategic and minute with the campaign. Trump has none of that. A month before the election, FiveThirtyEight counted 2.5 Clinton field offices for every one of Trump’s. His campaign is also plagued by chaotic websites and offices listed in demolished buildings. Field offices can’t be thrown up like lawn signs, and in battleground states a ground game could add as much as three to five points.

Clinton’s GOTV is sophisticated enough to target strongly Democratic but low-propensity voters. Silver points out polls can’t factor this in, which includes one organization that has dispatched 500 paid canvassers in Florida to the field for months to activate a pool of 384,000 Latino voters. Trump is also outmuscled by unions spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying thousands of full-time canvassers in the field for the Democrats. Similar efforts are yielding dividends among Latinos in Arizona and Asian-Americans in Nevada. And Michigan’s Arab-American and Muslim-American firewall will easily keep Trump at bay.

Democrats are hand-wringing over declining African-American turnout, and this has put North Carolina and Ohio in peril, but the surge from women, college-educated, and racial minorities from Virginia to Nevada will offset this deficit. Republicans are already embroiled in civil war, which is damaging Trump in Wisconsin and Utah. Democrats are united and feature a stellar array of surrogates on the hustings, such as the Obamas, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and an A-list of celebrities. Donald Trump has the Pharma Bro, an underwear model, a disgraced baseball star, and a felonious “Real Housewife.”

There is also little evidence of “shy” Trump voters that polls allegedly fail to register. And Trump’s attempts to activate whites who normally don’t vote looks to be a dud as well with an analysis of newly registered and “missing” voters favoring Clinton. Perhaps there might be a last-minute upsurge, but it’s unlikely to overcome all these obstacles.

Silver cautions as well that the history of presidential elections and scientific polling is so scanty in terms of data that it’s dicey to draw any broad-based conclusions. For instance it’s conventional wisdom that as goes Ohio, so goes the nation, but Trump looks set to win Ohio but lose the general election, a first in 14 straight presidential races.

FiveThirtyEight’s model worked fantastically well when the sailing was smooth, but it is foundering in the violent seas of 2016. The Cook Political Report, the brainchild of  the dean of election forecasting, Charles Cook, observes that despite Clinton’s eleventh-hour woes, “The race has tightened to its ‘natural resting place’ with a 2-4 point lead for Clinton,” while Trump’s “path to 270 electoral votes remains decidedly and almost impossibly narrow.”

The best prediction of how the 2016 campaign ends is likelier to be a metaphor than math: Hillary Clinton’s near-collapse at the September 11 memorial where her entire team sprang into action to shield her and lift her over the finish line. And no statistical model can predict a moment like that.

U.S. Politics

Chaffetz Ties Himself In Knots Arguing His Vote For Trump Isn’t An Endorsement

Jacquelyn Martin

TPM LIVEWIRE

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Thursday took pains to distinguish between announcing his vote for Donald Trump, endorsing the nominee and defending him, saying he would only vouch for his own vote until Nov. 8th.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Chaffetz why he’d announced last week on Twitter that he would vote for Donald Trump, but not “defend” or “endorse” him.

“Everybody, think, is struggling with their own decision,” Chaffetz began. “I struggled with this. I am not going to endorse Donald Trump. I am not going to do that. I can’t defend the comments that he made. But elections are tough decisions. At this point you have two people, and one of the two, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, will become the next president of the United States.”

Blitzer asked Chaffetz, who said he had already voted for Trump last week, to clarify why he had seemed to change his position since un-endorsing Trump on Oct. 7.

“You said you couldn’t look your daughter and your wife in the eye and say you were going to support Donald Trump after that ‘Access Hollywood’ video came out,” Blitzer noted.

“I guess I do see a difference between an endorsement and publicly defending somebody,” Chaffetz replied.

Blitzer pressed Chaffetz to explain the difference: “If you tell your supporters in Utah, ‘I am voting for Donald Trump,’ that sounds to me like an endorsement,” the CNN host said.

“Well, I– I think they’re different,” Chaffetz said. “I think the endorsement is far different than who you actually vote for. You know, it’s the one vote I actually do for myself. I don’t represent anybody else. We all get the same vote.”

Blitzer asked Chaffetz if any new information had come to light, then, before he announced he would in fact vote for Trump.

“I thought maybe I could go through this without having to talk about who I was actually going to vote for,” Chaffetz said. “But people wanted to know. And I am in a public spot. So I said, all right, I’ll tell you who I am going to vote for, and I’m going to vote for Donald Trump.”

MATT SHUHAM

U.S. Politics

CNN Panel On Melania’s Cyberbullying Stance: ‘Talk To Your Husband’ (VIDEO)

CNN Panel On Melania’s Cyberbullying Stance: ‘Talk To Your Husband’ (VIDEO)

screen grab

ADDICTING INFO

The wife of a cyberbully spoke today about what she would take on as First Lady if her husband is elected. Melania Trump wants to take on Internet bullies because “our culture has gotten too mean and too rough,” she said. “We must treat each other with respect and kindness, even when we disagree,” she added.

It was as if Mrs. Trump has never seen Mr. Trump’s Twitter timeline or heard his disparaging remarks about women, Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, people with disabilities and prisoners of war.

On Twitter, the racist Alt-Right movement which backs Trump has coordinated to bully people off of the social site. Anyone who is active on that site, especially females, knows this is true.

A CNN panel reacted to Melania’s big speech today in disbelief. The irony in Mrs. Trump’s speech was as thick as her husband’s head.

Brooke Baldwin noted that Donald Trump has attacked a lot of people and just not on Twitter. He has disparaged Heidi Cruz’s appearance.

Dana Bash said, “Actually hearing the words out of her mouth, all I kept thinking was ‘Have you met Donald Trump?’”

“Maybe you should talk to your husband,” Bash said, “about the example that he has set on this issue.”

Watch:

We remember when Donald mocked a reporter’s physical disability. When he mocked Sen. John McCain for being a prisoner of war while in captivity for 5½ years in North Vietnam. McCain’s captors slammed a rifle butt into his right shoulder and after being moved to a camp, he was tortured.

By the way, Donald Trump received multiple deferments to avoid the Vietnam War. As a bit of irony, McCain supports Trump’s bid for the White House. It’s almost as if he’s in captivity again.

So does Ted Cruz, who lost his spine and conscience recently. After insulting Ted Cruz’s wife, the Texas Senator also joined Team Trump.

Hey guys, we know you’ve “met Donald Trump.” And so has Melania. What we’re saying here is that Melania is so full of shit, we’re going to have to put a toilet flush on her jaw.

Conover Kennard

U.S. Politics

‘Why the Russians Are Backing Trump’: Maddow Previews Blockbuster Newsweek Story

maddow-newsweekedited

Screen_grab

MEDIAITE

Just as has been done previously with huge stories broken by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow got a hold of some excerpts of tomorrow’s article and shared them with her viewers.

In this instance, Eichenwald’s report appears to show the real reason why Russia and Vladimir Putin are backing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The story also has the subtitle that claims Putin wants to weaken NATO.

One of the parts of the story that will come out in tomorrow’s issue is that Russia was apparently freaked out when the GOP candidate attacked the Khan family, believing that these actions would end up with Trump being forced out as the nominee.

According to the article, Russian officials who were hacking to influence the election felt that if Trump were replaced by the Republicans, the next candidate wouldn’t be as good for Russia. Thus, they stopped hacking documents for a while.

Maddow also noted that the article shows U.S. allies in Western Europe are are concerned that they will not be able to trust Trump.

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]