AMERICAblog NewsAMERICAblog News A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:29:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Former CIA/NSA chief: Putin’s “defense” of Trump was meant to hurt Trump Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:05:53 +0000 Former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Michael Hayden was just on CNN talking to Jake Tapper. And what a horrifying interview.

Hayden confirmed my sense that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “defense” of Donald Trump today was not a defense at all. Putin was trying to hurt Trump with the American public, right before Trump’s inauguration.

Specifically, Putin intentionally brought up the specifics of the allegation, made in that former MI6 official’s bombshell memo, that Trump kinkily cavorted with prostitutes while on a trip to Moscow in 2013. (The allegation included the claim that the Russians recorded the entire soirée.) Most of the American media refused to detail those allegations, not even mentioning that prostitutes were involved. But that didn’t stop Vladimir Putin. Putin was happy to bring up the prostitutes, adultery, sexual harassment, and even more discussion of prostitutes.

CNN has the transcript of Putin’s “defense” of Trump. Note that Putin gratuitously brought up “prostitutes” four times. It was intentional. Why? Because it permitted CNN, and others, to simply quote Putin and reveal to their audience that there are accusations that Trump was with prostitutes in Moscow:

“These things that have been alleged are clearly false information,” Putin said during the joint news conference with the Moldovan president.

“It is true that when (Trump) came to Moscow — I don’t remember when, a few years ago — he was not a political actor. We did not know about his political ambitions. He was just a businessman, one of the rich people of America. What do you think — we have special security services running after every American billionaire? Of course not. It is complete rubbish,” Putin added.

Putin joked about the allegations before vigorously defending Trump and attacking those who prepared and published the dossier:

“Did Trump really come and meet with Moscow prostitutes? Firstly he is an adult, and secondly he is a person who for many years has organized a beauty pageant, socialized with the most beautiful women in the world. It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world,” Putin said.

“But finally, you know, what I want to say, prostitution is a serious, ugly, social phenomenon, young women do this connected to the fact that they cannot survive any other way and that is a problem of society but people who order false information and spread this information against the elected President, who fabricate it and use it in a political fight, they are worse than prostitutes,” he added.

First of all, Putin’s claim that the Russian government wouldn’t wiretap foreign billionaires is absurd. That’s exactly who you would wiretap. And everyone knows it. So Putin isn’t defending Trump at all, he’s offering a straw man. He wants the American people to see him defending Trump, so we will get upset about it, and think that “hey, if Putin is defending Trump, maybe there is an untoward connection between the two men.”

Note that Putin also suggest that Trump, a married man with a small child, could have any woman he wants who participates in his beauty pageants. Not only is that adultery and sexual harassment in the workplace, as these women work for Trump, but it’s also the basis of allegations that Trump is already facing, that he made sexually inappropriate comments, and did sexually inappropriate things, while running these various pageants. So again Putin is helping give these stories life again.

Here’s Tapper and Hayden:

TAPPER: Have you ever seen anything like what Vladimir Putin did today in terms of his defense of Donald Trump?

HAYDEN: No, no, we are off the map, in terms of our circumstances and what the Russians are doing…. Putin’s a fairly smart guy, at least tactically. I think he understands, his coming out and saying those kinds of things really are not viewed as a vote of confidence back here in the United States for the president-elect. I think it’s just a continuation of his campaign to poke and meddle and to mess with our heads, in terms of the American political process.

TAPPER: Also you heard Vladimir Putin going into detailed allegations [about Trump], saying they weren’t true, but then describing them. I mean, that’s fairly pernicious.

HAYDEN: It is. And again, back to messing with our heads. Let’s go back to the original covert influence campaign, which certainly was probably the most successful in recorded history. It wasn’t all that covert. The Russians actually got an added impulse to their efforts by having plausible deniability. But in essence, allowing everyone to pretty much see who was pulling the strings.

Hayden then gave an interesting explanation of the credibility of the former MI6 agent’s bombshell memo. Basically, Hayden said, it was clearly written by a professional, but was “raw intelligence.” It hasn’t been corroborated yet. Normally, Hayden said, you’d take that data and compare it against other information you have, look at who these sources are, see what kind of access they have, is it plausible that they’d have access to this kind of information, have they reported accurately in the past? You’d need to look at all of that next, in order to determine the credibility of the allegations.

Hayden also said that Trump can shut down the intelligence community looking into all of these allegations. He may not be able to do stop a law enforcement investigation — meaning, an FBI investigation into laws that were possibly broken — but Trump can tell the intelligence community to stop looking in to all of these allegations about Russian influence.

Hayden then tells Tapper:

HAYDEN: More broadly though, Jake, the intelligence community responds to the priorities of the president. And now, frankly, I’ve got to admit I’m making this up, it’s my judgment as to how it would happen. Because let me repeat, we’re off the map. We have never been in these circumstances before.

TAPPER: Okay, I didn’t find this interview reassuring at all.


And it seems I’m not the only one to interpret Putin’s “defense” today of Trump as an attack on Trump:


But the biggest take away here is that rather than using Trump as an asset, or exclusively as an asset, Putin’s goal with Trump may be the same goal Putin had with Hillary Clinton: to weaken their presidency. Putin “knew” Hillary was going to win. He had no illusions about causing her to lose (though he did). Rather, he wants to make her damaged goods, so that when she was president, she’d be less effective. It appears that Putin is now using the same strategy with Trump.

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Trump to start job with 3 day vacation, won’t be POTUS till Monday Tue, 17 Jan 2017 04:55:59 +0000 In rather bizarre news, incoming Republican President Donald Trump has announced that he won’t really be president until the Monday after his inauguration, as he really wants next weekend off to party.

I’m sadly not making this up.

Trump made the announcement in an interview with the Times of London, quoted by the Hill:

“…[D]ay one – which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday. Right? I mean my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration.”

Yes, God forbid the job of being president of the United States interfere with a good kegger. And hey, who doesn’t announce a 3-day vacation their first day on the job?

Which leaves open the question of who exactly will be president next weekend?

We know Melania and Baron are in hiding in New York City. Ivanka is still moving in. My bet is on Bannon and Flynn. Or maybe, Putin can send someone. I understand Julian Assange is looking for work.

Here’s hoping ISIS has the decency not to attack until Monday.

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Trump is getting policy ideas from the TV show “West Wing” Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:57:06 +0000 Incoming Republican president Donald Trump appears to have gotten his latest crazy idea, to move the White House press corps out of the White House, from an episode of the hit TV show, “West Wing.”

News of the controversial move came this weekend.

Trump’s staff claims that the possible eviction of the press is to give the media a larger room, somewhere far away, where Trump can squeeze in more press — read: more friendly fake press — into the room.

In other words, Trump wants a press room full of sycophantic Jeff Gannons.

Ironically, the West Wing covered this topic 16 years ago in an episode called “The Leadership Breakfast.”

In the segment, below, Sam is arguing with CJ about his great idea to move the press out of the West Wing. CJ tells Sam that it will look like they’ve got something to hide. Sam responds, we do have something to hide. The relevant dialogue starts at the 17:15 mark in the video.

Here’s hoping there are no episodes of “Friends” where Joey nukes the Middle East.

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UDPATE: Trump WH aide Monica Crowley steps down over plagiarism Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:10:23 +0000 UPDATE: Incoming Trump White House aide Monica Crowley has reportedly resigned — before she even took the job — over increasingly allegations that Crowley plagiarized parts of her 2012 book and her Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia.


Senior Trump White House appointee Monica Crowley has been accused of plagiarizing parts of her Ph.D. dissertation from Columbia University in New York.

Columbia should do as it has done at least once in the past, investigate and revoke Crowley’s Ph.D.

Please sign our petition calling on Columbia to do just that.

Crowley, a former Nixon aide, was recently appointed to be senior director of strategic communications for the Trump White House National Security Council, a senior national security position. Just days ago, CNN reported that Crowley had plagiarized more than 50 pages in her 2012 book, “What the (Bleep) Just Happened.” Two days later, Politico reported that Crowley had also plagiarized numerous passages from her Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia. In view of the fact that there are now multiple allegations of plagiarism, this is looking less and less like a simple mistake.

UPDATE: CNN has found that the there are over 40 instances of plagiarism in Crowley’s Ph.D., covering thousands of words.

Monica Crowley Berlin Wall tweetCrowley is also facing criticism for having visited the Berlin Wall a year ago, where she praised how well the wall worked. The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 by the East German police state at the behest of Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviets were concerned about the massive number of East Germans, 3.5 million in fact, who had already defected to the West, many via West Berlin. Over the ensuing 29 years, only 5,000 people were able to escape, while hundreds died trying to cross the Berlin Wall.

So yes indeed, the wall worked.

Monica Crowley has no place in the White House, nor should she retain her Ph.D. from Columbia if the plagiarism charges are confirmed.

Please join us in calling on the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, to investigate Monica Crowley’s Ph.D., and if the plagiarism is confirmed, revoke Crowley’s degree.

Donald Trump repeatedly told us that he would only hire the best people. And the best people don’t cheat.

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Breaking: Trump accuses CIA director of leaking bombshell Russia memo Mon, 16 Jan 2017 01:24:02 +0000 Republican president-elect Donald Trump continued his war on the CIA today by accusing CIA Director John Brennan of being the person who leaked the infamous Russia memo to the press, or at the very least leaking the news that a summary of the memo was included in the President’s recent classified daily briefing.

In a Tweet post just half an hour ago, Trump blasted Brennan for telling Fox News earlier today that Trump “doesn’t fully understand” what’s going on with Russia. Trump then added: “Was this the leaker of Fake News?”

It is assumed Trump means the memo written by a former MI6 agent who detailed claims that the Russians have collected incriminating evidence on Trump, and that the Russians were secretly working with members of the the Trump campaign before the election.

by default 2017-01-15 at 7.59.45 PM

Of course, the memo itself isn’t classified, as it was written by a civilian on a private contract, so Brennan couldn’t have “leaked” anything. It’s not a government document, and it’s been all over Washington for months. Having said that, a summary of the memo was in the President’s Daily Briefing, a highly-classified document. Trump appears to be claiming that Brennan leaked news of the fact that the memo was mentioned in the PDB, which is a more serious claim. Still unsubstantiated by nothing more than Donald Trump’s personal pique.

Trump’s groundless accusation against CIA Director Brennan comes just days after the president-elect compared the CIA, twice, to Nazis. First by tweet, then at a press conference.

Here’s Trump’s tweet, with some background from the NYT:


And here is Trump explaining the tweet in his press conference:

FullSizeRender (10)

CIA Director Brennan is career CIA, having spent 25 years at the agency.

Interestingly, Trump also attacked Saturday Night Live today for last night’s brutal depiction of Donald Trump’s press conference.

by default 2017-01-15 at 8.05.29 PM

Here’s a portion of the SNL skit that Trump was so upset about:

Donald Trump is willing to take American patriots who have given their lives to this country, and throw them under the Russian bus to assuage his own bruised ego. But Trump’s actions are far worse than simply denigrating America’s intelligence community and its brave agents who have risked and given their lives for this country. Donald Trump is trying to destroy America from the inside. Like a foreign infiltrator, Trump is taking down our institutions one by one. From the arts to our spy agencies, he’s trying to dissemble the very fabric of our culture and our government.

Donald Trump is a national embarrassment. And he’s quickly sinking his own presidency before it’s even started.

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FBI Director Jim Comey should NOT resign Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:24:24 +0000 As the author of a Web site calling on FBI Director James Comey to resign, I’ve now changed my mind: Jim Comey should not resign.

I haven’t changed my mind because I’ve changed my mind on Comey himself. I still think Jim Comey, at best, negligently threw the election for Donald Trump. But now that Trump is going to be president in one week, the only thing worse than Jim Comey running the FBI is a Trump stooge running the FBI. And that’s going to happen if Comey steps down.

You see, the FBI director doesn’t step down and get replaced, like nearly every other top administration office when you change presidents. The FBI director is appointed for ten years. Comey was appointed by Obama in 2013. So Comey has another six years, should he choose to stay that long.


Would you prefer this guy?

Here’s the thing. Even if Jim Comey tried to sway the election for Trump, he got caught. Worse for Comey, there’s now an inspector general investigation of how Comey handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, including any and all leaks from the various departments on the matter.

That makes Comey bruised goods. And it arguably makes Comey want to try more than ever to avoid any future appearance of impropriety. And that’s good news for the FBI and democracy in America. At the very least, it’s better news than we can expect from a Trump appointee who would likely do Trump’s and Jeff Session’s bidding.

I’m not saying this is a guarantee. Comey may still be in the GOP’s pocket. Comey may still abuse his authority in the FBI to skew future political battles, and elections, towards the Republican party. But I honestly think he’s our only chance at avoiding someone far worse.

FBI Director Giuliani comes to mind.

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Add your name if you agree: Police MUST report all deaths in custody to DOJ Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:36:27 +0000 As part of our effort to retool AMERICAblog, and amp up our advocacy in the face of the impending Trump presidency, we are now working as part of a coalition of top progressive organizations to regularly promote specific progressive action items that you can take part in.

Our first action: joining with Amnesty International, the AFL-CIO, and NOW (among others) in calling on the Justice Department to enforce existing law requiring local law enforcement to report the deaths of anyone in custody. We already have over 40,000 petition signatures towards out goal of 100,000 — please add your signature as well:

Sign the petition: We need the Death in Custody Reporting Act to be enforced.

As the threat and possible reality of Jeff Sessions becoming Attorney General looms, our demand for justice for the victims of police brutality, and our resolve to fight tirelessly to protect communities going forward, is more important than ever.

Protesters face off with police officers in Ferguson, Missouri the night the grand jury chose not to indict Officer Wilson for Michael Brown's death.

Protesters face off with police officers in Ferguson, Missouri the night the grand jury chose not to indict Officer Wilson for Michael Brown’s death.

Because of the “Death in Custody Reporting Act” and “Arrest Related Death Act” the Department of Justice has the legal responsibility to require law enforcement agencies to report any and all deaths of people while in custody.

To date, although this law has been in place for several years, the financial penalties on law enforcement agencies for not complying have not been enforced.

We need this information. The victims of police brutality are not just hashtags. They are brothers, daughters and fathers, many of whom we never hear about. Police brutality, especially against people of color, is systemic, and in order to address this national crisis legislatively our elected officials need these reports.

Sign here: Tell the DOJ to require accurate data on deaths in police custody.

A coalition of organizations will be delivering your petition signatures to the Department of Justice on January 23rd, no matter who is the Attorney General. We will not be silenced or deterred.

Join us by signing the petition here.

Keep Fighting, JOHN

Petition Partners
The Aafia Foundation
Amnesty International USA
Brave New Films
Coalition of Concerned Mothers
Daily Kos
Every Case Matters
Franciscan Action Network
Moral Movement Alabama
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Pan-African Community Action (PACA)
People Demanding Action
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Social Solutions
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
Working Families Party

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C-SPAN mysteriously replaced by Russian TV, while power goes out at CIA director hearing Thu, 12 Jan 2017 22:14:23 +0000 So it’s been a strange day on Capitol Hill, as the power went out at a congressional hearing for the new CIA director just as the lead Democrat was criticizing Russia, while C-SPAN’s TV feed got mysteriously replaced by the Russian propaganda network, RT, this afternoon.

First, the Senate confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee to head the CIA. The power went out conveniently when the top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Mark Warner, was about to speak.

Adding to the mystery, Warner was talking about Russia’s hacking of our election when the power went out, just as he was about to say the word “Russia.” (I am not making this up.) Here is what Warner was going to Russia — right before “Russia,” boom no lights:

“Chairman Burr and I have committed to conduct a review of the intelligence supporting the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in order to undermine public faith in our democratic process,” Mr. Warner was saying.

They had to move the hearing to another room.

Then, on the House side, C-SPAN got mysteriously replaced for ten minutes by the feed from Russian government propaganda network RT (aka Russia Today).

Again, I’m not making this up.

That’s one heck of a coincidence, both “glitches” have to deal with Russia.

C-SPAN just put out a statement saying they’re hoping this was simply some crossed wires on their end, but while RT is claiming C-Span has exonerated them, it most certainly has not. C-Span simply offered a possible explanation, even though they haven’t yet figured out what happened.

Here’s C-SPAN’s statement:

by default 2017-01-12 at 5.09.33 PM

And here are the Russians lying about C-SPAN’s statement:

by default 2017-01-12 at 5.09.48 PM

The mysterious Russia-related happenings on the Hill happened not one day after Donald Trump loudly complained about a bombshell memo accusing the Russians of having gathered compromising information about the incoming American president, and accusing his staff of secretly collaborating with the Russians during the campaign.

As I said, that’s one heck of a coincidence.


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Michelle Obama surprises people making “thank you” videos for her Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:02:14 +0000 This is really neat. Michelle Obama was on Jimmy Fallon’s show, and they had a segment where people were filming “thank you” videos for Michelle Obama, while speaking to a portrait of the First Lady.

But then, a surprise. Michelle walked on to the stage and greeted them personally.

I got to meet Michelle Obama, very briefly, on three visits to the White House. Even in a brief hello, the woman exudes charm, wit, beauty, charisma. She has that gift that only certain politicians have — that personality bubble that pushes out ten feet from them. Her husband doesn’t have it, she does.

This video is pure Michelle. Watch, smile, enjoy.

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Hacker tool psychologically profilesTrump by his tweets Mon, 09 Jan 2017 23:33:09 +0000 A high-profile American hacker by the name of Jester has created a “Minority Report” style tool that lets him psychologically profile anyone based on their Tweets.

His first subject: Donald Trump.

Jester’s tool, called Internet AWACS, or iAWACS, lets you chart when and how frequently tweets, the tone and mood of their tweets, and the geolocation. The tool also does much more, such as tracking live-shooter situations, keeping tabs on jihadis, and more.

Jester came to my attention a few months ago when he hacked the front page of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaving them a cheeky note signed “Wolverines!” (A man after my heart.) A lot’s been written about Jester, including TIME naming him one of the 30 most influential people on the Internet in 2015.

Back to iAWACS. The tool has determined that Trump’s morning twitter storms tend to happen between the 5 o’clock and the 7 o’clock hour. One can also glean that Trump goes to bed by 11ish, and wakes up around 5am or 6am.

trump tweet sleep schedule

Here’s a closer look at Trump’s tweeting patterns:


iAWACS also found that most of Trump’s tweets originate in NYC, from Trump Tower, but it also put Trump in various states recently (likely his victory tour):


It was particularly weird/disturbing to find Trump’s exact location within Trump Tower, to within one meter of his exact location (I’m told). You’d think this might not be the wisest thing for Trump to be divulging, his exactly location within a meter.


Here’s another location Trump tweeted from in NYC, the Yotel Times Square hotel on the upper west side:


Jester says he’s watched Trump visit his favorite restaurants around town, simply by noting the geolocation of Trump’s various tweets. (Jester notes that Trump does not always have geolocate turned on.)

Jester’s pysche analysis is broken down into four main categories: emotional tendencies; mindset tendencies; social tendencies; and criminal tendencies. Jester notes that the psychological analysis is not his own: “All the Traits are calculated using an IBM WATSON algorithm.” Jester adds that the algorithm then works out your “big five” personality traits.



Where Trump came down, according to iAWACS:

Emotional tendencies: Trump has great emotional range and is somewhat upbeat.

Mindset tendencies: Trump is analytical, but not conscientious.

Social tendencies: Trump is overwhelmingly arrogant, disagreeable and closed to others.

Criminal tendencies: Trump has a greater than average propensity for violence and willingness to commit crimes, and is untrustworthy. [Again, I’m just summarizing the results on the page.]

All that aside, it’s an amazing tool. Here Jesters shows us whose tweeting live, right now (as of the moment I captured the image). You can even watch the tweets flow by, and the images people are posting (which shouldn’t’ be done on a work computer, just saying).


The tool wasn’t created to track Trump — you can enter your own Twitter handle and read up on yourself as well. (And find out more about Jester here.)

Wikileaks threatens to collect dossiers on Twitter users Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:14:27 +0000 In a move some on Twitter are calling Gestapo-esque, appeared to threaten every single verified Twitter user — a move that would appear to violate Twitter’s anti-harassment policy.

In a series of tweets today, Wikileaks stated that it is considering creating a database of the family members, job, financial situation, and home addresses of every “verified” Twitter account. Verified accounts are the accounts with the blue checks that help to denote someone is a celebrity, corporate leader, politician, journalist, etc.

Here are Wikileaks’ tweets:



Wikileaks then went on to try to “explain.” The explanation left much to be desired:


So would Wikileaks hack accounts in order to illegally collect this information? Would Wikileaks accept information that others hack — oh, I don’t know, say some guy named Vladimir does the hacking for you?

It sounds as if Wikileaks is trying to untie some make-believe conspiracy that they think is housed on Twitter. The world is against them, and if they can just connect the dots, they’ll find that we’re all named Rothschild or something.

One irony of course is that Wikileaks’ Twitter account is written by someone anonymously.

People have wondering for a while just what has gotten into Wikileaks, what with Julian Assange stating his preference for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, including Assange’s recent praise for Trump. But this is another matter entirely. Wikileaks just threatened lord knows how many Twitter members. Keeping track of our family members? What does this mean for the privacy of LGTBT people, or victims of domestic violence who are on the run from an abusive spouse?

This is a direct threat from Wikileaks to every single person on Twitter, and would appear to be a violation of Twitter’s rules against threatening other members. In fact, some folks at Anonymous have already weighed in, calling on Twitter to enforce its terms of service against Wikileaks:


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Trump and Russians use same talking point to disparage CIA, Congress over hacks Fri, 06 Jan 2017 18:05:04 +0000 President-elect Donald Trump today used a Russian government talking point to disparage the US intelligence community and Republicans (and Democrats) in Congress who want answers about Russia’s attack on the American election. (I was initially alerted to this by Peter Sinclair on Twitter.)

In an interview with the New York Times this morning, Trump called the investigation of the Russia hack “a witch hunt.” That’s the same phrase used this morning by Russia Today, aka RT, a Russian state propaganda organ.


Here’s Russia Today:


And here’s Trump in the NYT:


It’s no coincidence that Trump and the Russian government are using the exact same new talking point at the exact same moment in time. Either Trump’s team coordinated with the Russians, or at the very least, Trump saw the Russian report and decided to parrot it. Which raises the question of why Team Trump continues to use Russian government sources to inform their campaign and now transition. This isn’t the first time that Team Trump has been caught using Russian talking points.

This also isn’t the first time that Russian propaganda seemed to be in lock stop with those wanting to damage Hillary Clinton with these leaks. We reported in October on how Russia scooped Wikileaks on Wikileaks’ own story on the Podesta emails.

Russia’s state propaganda organ, RT (previously known as “Russia Today”), scooped Wikileaks yesterday on Wikileaks’ own story.

On October 22, at 8:20AM Eastern Time, the Russians tweeted a new story of theirs about the Wikileaks Podesta emails.

Then, 30 minutes later, at 8:50AM ET, Wikileaks announced its new Podesta emails to the world.

In other words, the Russians broadcast the Wikileaks story to the world before Wikileaks itself, and the Russians even had enough notice to write a story about it.

(Twitter adjusts the time-stamp to the reader’s time zone — so the tweets below are time-stamped for my time zone, US Eastern time, and thus are in fact 30 minutes apart.)

And mind you, Trump is attacking the intelligence community for an alleged leak about a leak that Trump doesn’t care about. Trump thinks leaking is fine. He thinks Julian Assange is a hero. He probably thinks Vladimir Putin is a hero (we know he thinks Putin is the victim of a “witch hunt”). So why does Trump care if the CIA leaks to? At least the CIA isn’t trying to subvert our democracy.

Trump is also attacking Republicans (and Democrats) in Congress who has expressed concern about the hacking, and Russia’s overall efforts to influence elections in the US and Europe. So those members of Congress, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, Adam Kinzinger, and everyone else who has disapproved of the Russian attack, are also partners to the “witch hunt.”

As an aside, Trump was in a foul, one might even say deranged, mood this morning. His Tweets were a hot mess. Trump criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appearance on Trump’s own TV show, then Trump again complained about the election, then about the fact that he got caught lying about his premiere campaign promise (to build a wall with Mexico), and more. The tweets were disturbingly personal, insecure and disjointed. It was in that psychological morass that Trump spoke with the NYT.

Here are Trump’s tweets this morning, culminating in Trump’s call for a witch hunt against the American intelligence community. Keep in mind that Trump reportedly is planning to gut the intelligence community because he thinks the CIA made up the story in order to undermine Trump’s presidency. In that context, the “witch hunt” comments make more sense.


Intel leaders: Trump is hurting morale, could force people to leave Thu, 05 Jan 2017 20:25:34 +0000 Intelligence leaders suggested today at a Senate hearing that Donald Trump’s dismissive attitude towards the American intelligence community is hurting morale and could lead to employees leaving the career entirely.

The news came at a much-awaited Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about Russian attacks on the US election, including hacking the Democratic National Committee and then working with Wikileaks to release the information in a manner that would cause maximum damage to Hillary Clinton, thus helping elect Donald Trump president.

When asked by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) how Trump’s “dismissive attitude towards the intelligence community broadly impacted morale in your agencies.”

Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, spoke first: “Well, I haven’t done a climate survey, but I hardly think it helps it.”

Next up was National Security Agency head Admiral Michael Rogers, who said that without the confidence of their leaders, his workers could just walk, in other words quit.

These are unprecedented comments from current military officers, let alone leaders in the intelligence community, about their incoming commander-in-chief. Not only are they suggesting that Trump is hurting the effectiveness of our intelligence, but no one questioned the underlying premise of the question: that Donald Trump is “dismissive” of America’s intelligence community.

These comments come on the backdrop of Donald Trump continuously criticizing and demeaning the intelligence community, including the treasonous suggestion that the CIA, among others, tried to undermine Trump’s election and now presidency. Trump is now reportedly planning to gut the CIA in revenge for the agency concluding that Russia was behind the hack. At the same time, Trump says he believes what Julian Assange and Vladimir Putin say about the hacking more than he believes our own intelligence community.

Trump has now been dismissive of the entire US intelligence community, American POWs, and Gold Star Families. At some point, Donald Trump will need to decide what country he wants to president over, because he doesn’t seem terribly impressed with the one he’s got.

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And unto us a child is born Mon, 26 Dec 2016 21:59:51 +0000 So did everybody hear the Good News? Donald Trump is Jesus. Or at least just like Jesus. That is, if you listen to the Republican party, and Trump’s own incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who is also the current head of the GOP.

You see, in yesterday’s Christmas greeting to the world, the Republican party announced that this year we had a “new king” bringing “good news.” It sure sounded like the Republican party, and Trump’s own White house staffer, was comparing Trump’s election to the birth of Jesus — on Christmas day, no less!

trump jesus

trump jesus

Then to add insult to injury, Trump’s staff compared Princess Donald to Princess Diana.

trump jesus

Oh, but it gets better. When asked what exactly the GOP was implying about Donald Trump, incoming White House communications director and/or press secretary* Sean Spicer accused the media of “attacking Christ.” (There was a bit of intrigue yesterday when the previous incoming communications director, Jason Miller, resigned under a whiff of a scandal.)

sean spicer attack christ

Um. Buzzfeed asked the incoming Trump White House what exactly they were suggesting about Trump and his election. Trump’s campaign took this as an “attack on Christ.” It’s not an attack on Christ unless Trump himself is Christ. Not to mention, where did Buzzfeed attack anyone? And what is the incoming White House communications director doing repping a deity?

The thing is, the reason so many people believed that the RNC had just compared Trump to Jesus on Christmas day is because it’s the kind of thing everyone believed Trump would do. Heck, a few days before they compared Trump to Lady Di. These are not shy people. And the response from incoming communications director Sean Spicer, who earned a reputation of being kind of a jerk during the campaign, and has done little to dispel it throughout this episode, only buttresses the impression that this is an arrogant bunch moving into the people’s house.

So rather than focus so much on how offended baby Jesus is, the incoming White House should ask themselves why so many people are so quick to believe such unbelievable arrogance of the rich guy who’s done little in his life to help anyone but himself.

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Trump NY campaign chair wishes Obama dead, calls Michelle a male ape who belongs in Africa Fri, 23 Dec 2016 18:41:01 +0000 Donald Trump’s New York state campaign cochair Carl Paladino went off on a racist rant this week, wishing death upon President Obama, while suggesting that the First Lady is a male ape who belongs in Africa.

Paladino’s comments fit into a larger pattern of normalization of hate and intolerance since Donald Trump arose on the political scene, including Trump appointing an Alt Right -enabling publisher as his top White House strategist.

(The Alt Right is a newish conservative political movement based on white supremacy and ant-Semitism. Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon was until recently a publisher of a premier platform for the Alt Right. This did not stop Trump from picking Bannon for one of the most senior White House posts. Bannon also ran Trump’s campaign.)

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Here are Paladino’s comments to Artvoice, and alternative paper, when asked about his wishes for 2017:

Artvoice: What would you most like to happen in 2017?

Carl Paladino: Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.

Artvoice: What would you most like to see go in 2017?

Carl Paladino: Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.

Paladino has a history of outrageous comments, including calling gays “dysnfunctional,” telling a Utah delegate that she should be “hung for treason,” and that Mr. Khan doesn’t deserve the title of Gold Star dad because he might be an ISIS sympathizer.

Paladino’s latest comments about President Obama could end up being an incitement to violence, and his comments about First Lady Michelle Obama are flat out racist. The recent “pizzagate” fiasco, where a North Carolina man who follows Republican-generated conspiracy theories opened fire in a restaurant in Washington, DC, shows just how dangerous these kind of incendiary comments really are.

When will Donald Trump show some leadership and rebuke the racism and hatred of the co-chair of his New York campaign?

When will Donald Trump show some leadership and rebuke the co-chair of his New York campaign?

The merits of yelling at Ivanka Trump Thu, 22 Dec 2016 17:54:36 +0000 A man was reportedly kicked off a flight today after yelling at fellow passenger Ivanka Trump that her father was “ruining the country.”

My friend Brett Di Resta tweeted about it today, writing: “Democrats and Progressives, don’t do this please. In other words, don’t be an a-hole.”

Is Brett right? Let’s discuss.

First off, while Ivanka Trump is Donald Trump’s daughter, and de facto First Lady (at least for the time being), Ivanka is also soon to be one of Donald Trump’s most trusted White House advisers. She’s far more than a “first child,” and shouldn’t be treated any differently than we would any other top Trump official.

So the question becomes not “whether it’s fair to yell at Ivanka,” but rather, “whether it’s a good idea to yell at Trump officials at all.” And I’m not entirely convinced Brett is right.

Putting aside the fact that this happened on a plane — planes are notoriously bad places to cause a scene — is yelling at government officials off limits? It isn’t for Republicans. If you’ll remember during the Bush v. Gore recount in 2000, Republican operatives from DC (I knew one of them) stormed the room in Florida where local officials were examining ballots. Those 20-some operatives pretended to be an angry mob of angry voters, irate that the recount was still going on — when in fact, they were working on behalf of the Republican party. And they accomplished their goal: The media fell for it, and reported that the recount was simply out of control!

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Fast forward to the debate over health care reform and “Obamacare.” In that summer of 2009, reminiscent of the winter of Bush v. Gore, the Republicans organized mobs of supporters to storm congressional townhall meetings (the meetings members of Congress hold with constituents back home), and effectively scare the bejeesus out of any legislators thinking of supporting President Obama’s reforms.

Again, it was fake grassroots intended to create a perception that the country was rising up, and it worked.

And just a few days ago, I read about Republican congressmen who are afraid of standing up to Donald Trump, lest Breitbart, Hannity, the racist Alt Right and the rest of the GOP mob descend on them. It happened to one congressman, and all the others got the message. Yet again, Republican bullying tactics did their job.

Yelling at elected officials works.

I remember when I worked for Senator Ted Stevens back in the early 1990s. The Senator had just gotten back from a trip to Alaska, came to see me, and barked at me because some constituent had yelled at him in the airport. It didn’t matter whether the constituent was right — the voter back home had yelled about some issue I worked on, and that was enough to convince the Senator that I had messed up, and that I’d better fix it fast.

The other thing that regularly set Stevens off? Angry letters to the editor in the papers back home.

Republicans understand that mean girls rule.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that folks yell at Ivanka during take-off. But people like Ivanka, who seem to have their heart in the right place (if we can believe what we read about her), and who have zero experience in politics, need to hear from real people about just how concerned we are about her father. (As do the rest of the Trump’s staff, who seem far less good-hearted than his daughter.)

Then again, I once gave a quick snort while walking by Ed Meese.

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We can stop Trump Thu, 22 Dec 2016 14:00:17 +0000 Hi, this is John Aravosis, the editor of AMERICAblog, sending you some holiday cheer, updating you on my recent efforts to stop Donald Trump, and soliciting your financial support for my ongoing work.

As some of you know, I left blogging two years ago to take a job at the United Nations in New York City. At the time, the world was so different and full of hope. Barack Obama was in the White House. LGBT rights were at an all-time high. And it seemed a good time to leave Washington in good hands and venture into the world of international poverty alleviation.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Donald Trump is weeks away from becoming president, and every issue we care about, from LGBT rights to the environment, is now in danger.

As a result, I’ve decided to move back to Washington, DC. I’ll be leaving New York at the end of February — to take the fight directly to Donald Trump, and I hope you’ll consider contributing financially to help support my work.

I am back blogging at AMERICAblog, tweeting on Twitter as well (Twitter has been an increasingly effective platform for influencing the media and developing alliances), and am now working with a growing number of activists and politicos, on both the left and right, to forge a bipartisan coalition to stop Donald Trump. It’s going to take a lot of work, and I’m not promising there won’t be pain along the way — there will. But I truly believe that Trump is stoppable.

One thing I’ve found over the years, whether on LGBT rights advocacy or any other progressive issue, is that regardless of how dire it may look, things will eventually turn around IF YOU WORK AT IT. As many of you know, I’ve been working on LGBT advocacy at the national level since 1993. I never believed we’d win the right to marry in my lifetime; and even worse, in November of 2008, after Prop 8 passed in California, LGBT people thought we were doomed for decades to come. Yet, in fewer than eight years, we’ve now had more LGBT civil rights advances than in the 80 years preceding.

My point is that regardless of how dark the times, your fortunes can turn around precipitously. Things can change, but they won’t unless you shrug off the loss and start fighting again.

I am going to continue blogging at AMERICAblog, and microblogging on Twitter, while I continue to pursue working with our allies in forging a long-term strategy to take on, and down, Donald Trump. But as I do that, I need your help. The ads on the blog no longer make any significant money, and haven’t since the economic crash in 2008. Still, I’ve kept blogging and financing this work via my consulting (or my own pocket), because it’s important to keep fighting the good fight. But in order to do keep doing that, I need your support.

Won’t you please consider making a generous donation to me and my work at AMERICAblog this holiday season?

With your support, I can continue to monitor and expose the incoming Trump administration, and explore ongoing advocacy opportunities to embarrass Trump and build a larger progressive grassroots response.

All of you know the work I do. It’s unconventional and effective. But it’s not supported by the establishment, and never has been. To be an effective advocate and activist outside of the large Washington organizations, you need independent support.

I believe I’ve proven my effectiveness and commitment over these 24 years in progressive advocacy, and hope you will generously support my work this holiday season.

You can donate via this page for PayPal donations.

Or this page for non-PayPal donations.

Thank you all so much for your ongoing support, and your commitment to making a difference. We can and do make a difference when we commit ourselves and believe. I believe we can take down Donald Trump. I hope you do too.

Have a great holiday, and a happy new year.

Editor in Chief, AMERICAblog
New York City

Merry Christmas, from Chiron Beta Prime Thu, 22 Dec 2016 02:06:23 +0000 One of the best Christmas videos ever.

Chiron Beta Prime

This year has been a little crazy for the Andersons.
You may recall we had some trouble last year.
The robot council had us banished to an asteroid.
That hasn’t undermined our holiday cheer.
And we know it’s almost Christmas by the marks we make on the wall.
That’s our favorite time of year.

Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime,
Where we’re working in a mine for our robot overlords.
Did I say overlords? I meant protectors.
Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime.

On every corner there’s a giant metal Santa Claus, who watches over us with glowing red eyes.
They carry weapons and they know if you’ve been bad or good.
Not everybody’s good but everyone tries.
And the rocks outside the airlock exude ammonia-scented snow.
It’s like a Winter Wonderland.

(They tried to decorate and make it look more Christmassy, but what they did was more like Christmas in hell.
They nailed a Santa to a cross in front of everyone,
It wasn’t pleasant but I’m sure they meant well.
And the rocks outside the airlock exude ammonia-scented snow.
It’s like a Winter Wonderland.)

Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime,
Where we’re working in a mine for our robot overlords.
Did I say overlords? I meant protectors.
Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime.

That’s all the family news that we’re allowed to talk about.
We really hope you’ll come and visit us soon.
I mean we’re literally begging you to visit us.
And make it quick before they [MESSAGE REDACTED].
Now it’s time for Christmas dinner – I think the robots sent us a pie!
You know I love my soylent green.

Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime,
Where we’re working in a mine for our robot overlords.
Did I say overlords? I meant protectors.
Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime.
Note: lyrics in parentheses are from the alternate version of the song.

How to stop Trump Wed, 21 Dec 2016 20:37:57 +0000 We’re stuck with President Trump, for now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do things to minimize the damage, and ultimately force him from office.

First off, we have to deal with the elephant in the room — the old, “McConnell said he wanted to stop Obama, and now YOU want to stop Trump — you’re both just as bad!”

In fact, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and many Republicans opposed President Obama from the outset for entirely false reasons.

One, they claimed Obama was a socialist; which at the time, and even more so in retrospect, was equal parts bizarre and absurd.

Second, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that for some Republicans their biggest problem with Obama was his race. Donald Trump leading the “birther” movement comes to mind. Birtherism was about race. Obama was a black man, and some in the GOP felt the need to define him as the “other” — preferably an African other.

McConnell’s concerns about Obama were irrational at worst, and overly-partisan at best. Concern about the imminent Trump presidency, and Trump overall, are not simply rational, they’re bipartisan.

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As for the partisan argument, you did not have lead mainstream Democratic politicos opposing Barack Obama at the start of the Obama presidency. You do have that with Trump, because Trump has embraced dangerous policies (particularly with regard to foreign policy and his embrace of Russia’s Putin, and putting the Russian national interest above America’s own), in addition to having a dangerous temperament. Not only is Trump uncurious (e.g., refusing to take his regular intelligence briefings), but his intellectual inconsistency, penchant for lying, childlike insecurity, and his lack of an emotional sphincter (the most dangerous place in Washington is between Donald Trump and an iPhone) make Trump uniquely dangerous in a way we haven’t seen with recent presidents, especially as it pertains to foreign policy. A lack of predictability, and trustworthiness, in foreign affairs can lead to wars.

That’s why, for starters, I believe it is every patriot’s duty to stop, or at least stymie, Donald Trump by all legal means necessary.

The question, however, is how? The answer: target his polls.

Donald Trump has never been a terribly popular politician. As “unpopular” as the media liked to label Hillary Clinton, Trump was always behind Hillary in the polls. And even today, while Trump’s favorability rating has increased significantly since the election, he’s still at a deficit:

And while I’m not surprised that Trump is enjoying a post-election honeymoon (though he’s still more unpopular than popular), he’s the same Donald Trump, and the polls have consistently showed that people simply don’t like him. With Hillary no longer available as a convenient foil, it’s only a matter of time until the public returns to its pre-election Trump-funk.

And that should be our goal: Help Trump release his inner child who nobody likes.

1. It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to make Trump unlikeable again.
2. As we saw during the election, as Trump’s favorability drops, Republicans in Congress will grow more bold in challenging him (as will Democrats).
3. A bolder Congress is more willing to publicly challenge Trump.
4. A challenged Trump is a less effective Trump.
5. A less effective Trump does less harm and has a harder time getting re-elected.

How to unleash Trump’s inner unlikeability? Focus on his insecurity. Trump’s psyche is a terrifyingly open book. Much has been written by therapists discussing what psychological problems Trump might suffer from, but it’s obvious to everyone that the man is breathtakingly insecure about his place in the world — he needs the approval of others, and nothing is ever enough — and that is where we start.

Trump’s biggest concern of late is his brutal loss to Hillary in the popular vote. Trump is 2.9 million votes behind Hillary in the popular vote, giving her a 2% lead over Trump. For the electoral vote winner to lose by nearly 3 million votes is historically unheard of. It is the worst victory in American history, if you look at the raw vote, and the 3rd worst if you look at his percent loss to Hillary.

The fact that Trump keeps harping on his popular vote loss, including this morning on Twitter, means this is where we start. Below are all of Trump’s tweets of the past few days, including those of this morning — all but one show Trump’s neediness. And this morning’s tweets are all about Trump’s loss in the popular vote:


Folks, Donald Trump won the election. And sure, he likely wouldn’t be president had FBI Director Comey and the Vladimir Putin not thrown the election his way. But nonetheless, Trump won. In one month, he’s going to be the leader of the free world. And it’s still not enough for the man. Trump is still whining about his various insecurities because his inner void remains unfilled. And if winning the presidency didn’t do the trick, nothing ever will.

That insecurity is Trump’s tragic flaw. By playing on it, by poking it and exacerbating it we can get Trump to continually out the real him. And that’s the ironic beauty of the strategy. Unlike the racist birther strategy, ours is based on the truth: We simply want Trump to reveal himself. And I’m wagering that, if past is prologue, the public will be none-too-thrilled when they increasingly realize they elected a child to run and defend the nation.

Now, this is only a first step. We should also be focusing on Trump preparing to sell us out to Russia. That too will hurt his poll numbers, make Trump even more insecure because it undermines his mandate, and it has the advantage of being a concern that Republicans and Democrats both share: Most Americans care more about America’s national interest than Russia’s. In Trump’s White House, it’s not clear whose national interest will be paramount. And that uncertainty, over the long term, inures to our advantage.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

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I’ll work with Glenn Beck to stop Trump; and so should you Wed, 21 Dec 2016 01:00:24 +0000 I’ll work with Glenn Beck in order to stop Donald Trump. And so should you.

I jumped into a discussion on Twitter earlier today between Media Matters’ Oliver Willis and an editor of the conservative Red State blog, Ben Howe.

Oliver and Ben were arguing over whether people opposing Trump should embrace Glenn Beck, the longtime conservative conspiracist and newfound Trump opponent. Ben said yes, Oliver said no, and I agree with Ben. And here’s why.

There is no harm, and a lot of good, to be made forging alliances across party lines order to stop Trumpism at home and across the sea. Let me walk you through the argument. (And use Glenn Beck as a stand-in for any conservative/Republican/other who say they want to help).

1. What’s the harm?

I hear a lot of people talking about how Beck can’t be trusted. And to that I say: So what? How will it retroactively undercut our work over the next year or four if Glenn Beck helps us build a movement to undermine Trump, only to eventually change his mind and support Trump? It won’t.

In order to argue that we shouldn’t work with Beck, or any conservative, you have to tell me why. And by “why,” I mean: “How will it set our movement back working with Beck (or any other conservative)?” If you can’t tell me how we will be worse off working with Beck, then we should.

2. Purity politics are for winners, not losers.

glen-beck-muldaurI’ve never been a big fan of purity politics; the notion that if you don’t agree with me 100%, you’re evil and must be destroyed. There’s a lot of that going around of late on the left and right (on the left, we saw it during the primaries and even during the election itself).

But I’d go even further, I don’t care if you disagree with me 99% of the time. If you agree with me 1% of the time, and it’s an important issue, like the survival of our democracy, I’ll consider working with you. And that’s the way it should be. You do your issues, and our democracy, no favors by steadfastly refusing to compromise on your principles while Rome is burning.

And Rome is definitely burning, baby. Not only is Donald Trump dangerous as hell on the issues and of temperament, but we don’t control the White House, the Congress or the Supreme Court. When you’re about as powerless as it gets, and the survival of the country is at stake, you make other arrangements, including working with some B-list demons if need be.

3. It’s not as if we haven’t worked with the devil before.

During World War II, we worked with the Soviets, for God’s sake. They were truly awful people — like David Duke awful, on steroids. And lo and behold, the Sovs screwed us after the war by grabbing half of Europe, and then getting us into a 46 year Cold War that cost a lot of money, and a lot of lives. But it was still worthwhile joining together if only to stop the Nazis from world domination. Just because coalitions might be temporary, doesn’t make them any less useful.

4. Even Ted Kennedy reached across the aisle.

I worked as a fellow in Senator Edward Kennedy’s office back in the early 1990s, and two things impressed me the most: Kennedy’s willingness to think big (he’d pull a $5 billion amendment out of his hate without giving it a second thought; and his willingness to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans when their interests coincided. Not only did Kennedy work with Utah Republican Orrin Hatch on AIDS issues, but even Jesse Helms’ staff would occasionally help Kennedy’s staff out on LGBT rights issues, of all things. Kennedy’s staff had established a relationship with Helms’ staff, and from time to time, Helms’ staff would throw them a very helpful legislative bone. And if Kennedy could work with Orrin Hatch, and his staff could maintain a useful relationship with Jesse Helms (who was also incredibly helpful on international AIDS issues), then I can work with Glenn Beck.

In the end, it’s not about whether you trust someone or what his motivations are. It’s about what they can do for you. I don’t care about Glenn Beck’s motivations any more than I care what motivates my Cuisinart. I care about its utility, I care about whether I’ll be better off for using it. And it is helpful to our cause to have Republicans — especially the “crazy” ones with an audience — jump ship and join forces with us to stand up to Trumpism.

If we want to take down, or at least neuter, Trump, we need to stymie him. And we need people with a voice, an audience, reach. We need to find people who are able to help us turn the public and the Congress against Trump’s un-American agenda. And some of those, maybe a lot of those, people are going to be Republicans. And that’s fine with me, because I’m here to win.

Why are you here?

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