We Resist: Day 302

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Somebody Struck a Nerve!

There is just so much news regarding Russian interference and associated investigations today. I'm sure I didn't even manage to collect all of it, but here's a heaping helping...

Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: Senate Judiciary Committee: Kushner Forwarded Emails About a 'Russian Backdoor Overture and Dinner Invite'. "Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, forwarded emails about a 'Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite' to Trump campaign officials and failed to produce those emails to the Senate Judiciary Committee, two senators on the committee said in a letter to Kushner's lawyer on Thursday. Kushner also failed to produce emails he was copied on involving communication with the anti-secrecy agency WikiLeaks and with a Belarusian-American businessman named Sergei Millian, the senators said. Millian most recently headed a group called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce."

Esme Cribb at TPM: Mueller Issued Subpoena to Trump Campaign Officials in October. "Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, issued a subpoena in October to more than a dozen members of [Donald] Trump's campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, that Mueller requested documents and emails from a number of top officials on Trump's campaign, but did not ask any of them to testify before his grand jury. According to the report, the subpoena was a surprise to Trump's campaign, which is providing documents on an 'ongoing basis' in response."

Michael Gerson at the Washington Post: The Russia Investigation's Spectacular Accumulation of Lies. I strongly disagree with Gerson on just about everything, including a significant part of this piece, lol, but this is a good observation: "In all of this, there is a spectacular accumulation of lies. Lies on disclosure forms. Lies at confirmation hearings. Lies on Twitter. Lies in the White House briefing room. Lies to the FBI. Self-protective lies by the attorney general. Blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people for whom truth, political honor, ethics, and integrity mean nothing." Yep!

Tucker Higgins at CNBC: Russian Ambassador Says He Won't Name All the Trump Officials He's Met with Because 'the List Is So Long'. "Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ]First, I'm never going to do that,' he said. 'And second, the list is so long that I'm not going to be able to go through it in 20 minutes.' Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel. ...[H]e also joked about American investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, called [Donald] Trump 'witty,' and said that U.S.-Russian relations were worse than at any point since the end of the Cold War."

Abigail Tracy at Vanity Fair: The Ex-Spy Behind the Trump-Russia Dossier Left a Clue for Mueller.
In December of last year, Steele informed Luke Harding, a journalist for the Guardian, that "the contracts for the hotel deals and land deals" between Trump and individuals with the Kremlin ties warrant investigation. "Check their values against the money Trump secured via loans," the former spy said, according to a conversation detailed in Harding's new book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. "The difference is what's important."

According to his book, Steele did not elaborate on this point to Harding, but his implication was clear: it's possible that Trump was indebted to Russian interests when he descended Trump Tower's golden escalator to declare his candidacy. After the real-estate mogul suffered a series of bankruptcies related to the 2008 financial crisis, traditional banks became reluctant to loan him money—a reality he has acknowledged in past interviews. As a result, the Trump Organization reportedly became increasingly reliant on foreign investors, notably Russian ones. As Donald Trump Jr. famously said in 2008, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."

The significance of such transactions is not lost on Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Josh Meyer at Politico: Papadopoulos Claimed Trump Phone Call and Larger Campaign Role. "George Papadopoulos claimed last year that Donald Trump telephoned him to discuss his new position as a foreign policy adviser to his presidential campaign and that the two had at least one personal introductory meeting that the White House has not acknowledged. Papadopoulos also claimed that he'd been given a 'blank check' to choose a senior Trump administration job and authorized to represent the candidate in overseas meetings with foreign leaders, and at a campaign event in New York."

Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley at NBC News: Does Cooperating Witness Have Info on Flynn Tie to Turkey? "A gold trader who is close to Turkish President Recep Erdogan is now cooperating with federal prosecutors in a money-laundering case, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, and legal experts say prosecutors may be seeking information about any ties between the Turkish government and former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Reza Zarrab, a dual Turkish-Iranian national, faces charges in federal court in Manhattan for skirting sanctions on Iran by allegedly moving hundreds of millions of dollars for the Iranian government and Iranian firms via offshore entities and bank accounts. But Zarrab is now out of jail and speaking to prosecutors — a move Erdogan had been desperately hoping to avoid."

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: 5 Points on the Cleric Targeted in Mike Flynn's Shady Dealings with Turkey. "The focus of former national security adviser Mike Flynn's tangle of business dealings with Turkey is one man: Fethullah Gulen, an ailing septuagenarian Muslim cleric who lives in a Pennsylvania compound. Plenty of ink has been spilled about the hundreds of thousands of dollars Flynn received to produce negative PR materials about Gulen and about Flynn's alleged discussions with Turkish officials about forcibly removing him from the U.S. What's received less attention is why Turkey would take such extraordinary steps to take down the aging cleric, and why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government thought Flynn would be able to facilitate them."

Ari Berman at Mother Jones: Hillary Clinton on Trump's Election: "There Are Lots of Questions About Its Legitimacy".
A year after her defeat by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton says "there are lots of questions about its legitimacy" due to Russian interference and widespread voter suppression efforts.

In an interview with Mother Jones in downtown Manhattan, Clinton said Russian meddling in the election "was one of the major contributors to the outcome." The Russians used "weaponized false information," she said, in "a very successful disinformation campaign" that "wasn't just influencing voters, it was determining the outcome."

Republican efforts to make it harder to vote, through measures such as voter ID laws, shortened early voting periods, and new obstacles to registration, likewise "contributed to the outcome," Clinton said. These moves received far less attention than Russian interference but arguably had a more demonstrable impact on the election result.

...She noted that this was the first presidential election in more than 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court gutted the law in a 2013 ruling, and 14 states had new voting restrictions in effect for the first time. "So many places have really tried to make it as difficult as they possibly could for young people, for African Americans, the elderly, to vote," she said.

For Clinton and others who question the legitimacy of the election results, particularly due to Russian interference, there's not an obvious next step. "We don't have a method for contesting that in our system," she said. "That's why I've long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened."
Ben Popken at NBC News: Russian Trolls Duped Global Media And Nearly 40 Celebrities. "What do [Donald] Trump, CNN anchor Jake Tapper, The Washington Post, Breitbart, and Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter, all have in common? They and nearly 40 celebrities and politicians were all roped into retweeting or otherwise engaging with accounts created by a Russian 'troll factory' to millions of followers, according to a new exclusive analysis. Over 3,000 global news outlets also inadvertently published articles containing embedded tweets by the confirmed Kremlin-linked troll accounts in over 11,000 news articles in the run-up to the 2016 election, separate exclusive reporting shows."

Phew! In other news...

Brian Fung at the Chicago Tribune: FCC Repeals Decades-Old Rules Blocking Broadcast Media Mergers, Possibly Easing Way for Sinclair-Tribune Deal. "Federal regulators rolled back a series of decades-old regulations on Thursday, in a move that will make it far easier for media outlets to be bought and sold — potentially leading to more newspapers, radio stations, and television broadcasters being owned by a small handful of companies. The regulations, eliminated in a 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, were initially put in place in the 1970s to ensure that a diversity of voices and opinions could be heard on the air or in print." This is bad. This is very, very bad.

Aggelos Petropoulos and Richard Engel at NBC News: A Panama Tower Carries Trump's Name and Ties to Organized Crime. "Ventura did sell the initial units, and later hundreds more. He is now a fugitive. In May 2009, Ventura was arrested in Panama for real estate fraud, unrelated to the Trump project. Mauricio Ceballos, a former financial crimes prosecutor in Panama who investigated Ventura, said that dozens of complaints against Ventura crossed his desk accusing him of double- and triple-selling apartments, both at the Trump Ocean Club and other developments. ...The investigation revealed no indication that the Trump Organization or members of the Trump family engaged in any illegal activity, or knew of the criminal backgrounds of some of the project's associates. But Ventura said that the Trumps never asked any questions about the buyers or where the money was coming from."

[Content Note: Targeting dissidents] Breanna Edwards at the Root: Texas Motorist Whose Vehicle Boasts Profane Anti-Trump Sticker Arrested on Previous, Outstanding Warrant. "Nothing to see here. Nothing at all. It's just that a Texas motorist whose truck caught a lot of attention in the past 24 hours over a bold sticker in its rear window declaring, 'FUCK TRUMP AND FUCK YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM,' has since been arrested." Like I keep saying, targeting dissidents is a central feature of authoritarian regimes. Brace yourselves for more of this.

[CN: Sexual harassment] Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Florida Dem Chair Resigns After Allegations of Inappropriate Comments. "Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel resigned on Friday after several women accused him of making inappropriate comments and leering at them, creating an uncomfortable work environment. In a statement announcing his resignation, Bittel apologized to 'all who have felt uncomfortable during my tenure.' Six women who spoke with Politico said that Bittel made suggestive comments, invited women on his private plane, remarked that women were attractive, and had stress balls in his office shaped like breasts. 'There was a lot of boob stuff in his office,' one woman who encountered Bittel while working as a fundraiser told Politico. 'I was told by other women not to go into his bathroom. I was warned.'" Rage.

[CN: Sexual harassment] Seth Abramovitch at the Hollywood Reporter: Transparent Star Alleges Jeffrey Tambor Sexually Harassed Her, "Got Physical". "[Trace Lysette], who is transgender, is the second on the Transparent payroll to come forward with allegations that Tambor, 73, has subjected them to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and generally abusive behavior on the set of the critically adored series. The first accuser, Van Barnes, is a trans woman who worked as Tambor's personal assistant, and whose allegations have led to an internal investigation by Amazon Studios." Seethe.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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