Former DOJ spokesman blasts Comey after email letter
- Created on 29 October 2016
A former director of the Justice Department’s office of public affairs said Friday that FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing the review of more evidence in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server constituted “such an inappropriate disclosure.”
Matthew Miller, who served at the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder, blasted Comey's move in a 14-post spree on Twitter Friday afternoon, ripping the FBI director for his practices throughout the entire Clinton investigation. Miller said Comey “flagrantly violated DOJ rules” by holding a press conference in July to announce that he was recommending against charges for the former secretary of state, a decision the FBI director said at the time that he made in the interest of transparency.
“But today's disclosure might be worst abuse yet," Miller tweeted, adding that in his experience, the Justice Department “goes out of its way to avoid publicly discussing investigations” when elections are close.
Miller said those precautions are not just limited to public statements, writing that the department often avoids sending subpoenas or taking other steps that might become public until an election is over.
The Justice Department does that, he said, “because voters have no way to interpret FBI/DOJ activity in a neutral way.” Miller wrote that the new information being reviewed by the FBI “might be totally benign & not even involve Clinton. But no way for press or voters to know that. Easy for opponent to make hay over.”
“Which takes us back to the original rule: you don't comment on ongoing investigations,” he added. “Then multiply that times ten close to an election.”
Comey’s behavior has been especially suspect, Miller wrote, because the FBI has chosen not to comment on or even confirm the existence of other campaign-related investigations. He said the bureau is “undoubtedly” investigating any connection between Russian hacking into the email accounts of powerful U.S. political figures and the Trump campaign, but has rightly refused to publicly confirm whether or not an investigation is underway.
“Comey refused to even tell Congress if FBI was investigating Trump camp for Russia hack, but regular updates on Clinton are apparently A-ok,” Miller wrote, adding in the final post from his Twitter flurry that “they shouldn't be commenting on investigations! But that should apply to all. Instead Clinton consistently treated differently/worse.”
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Republicans May Block All Supreme Court Nominees Of A President Clinton, McCain Says
- Created on 17 October 2016
The main pretext Republican senators have offered for leaving open the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia is that the next president, not Barack Obama, should be the one to fill it. But now that his party’s nominee, Donald Trump, seems headed for a loss in November, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appears to be changing his tune ― and may be signaling that more unprecedented obstruction is on the horizon if Hillary Clinton wins the White House.
“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you,” McCain said Monday, according to CNN.
The senator made the comments during a Pennsylvania radio interview in which he threw support behind his colleague Pat Toomey, who is struggling in the polls and may be key to Republicans retaining control of the Senate.
“This is the strongest argument I can make” for Pat Toomey’s re-election, McCain said, and that is “so we can make sure there is not three places on the United States Supreme Court that will change this country for decades.”
Three justices will be in their 80s during the next administration, making the prospect of retirement and more vacancies likely.
The Arizona senator didn’t specify if Senate unification against any Supreme Court nomination by a President Clinton means not holding confirmation hearings or taking a vote on them at all ― as they have done to Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, already the longest-waiting nominee in history ― or if it means voting them down no matter who the nominees are.
He also didn’t note whether other senators are in on this new strategy. But last week, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah indicated he might be ready to reject any name Clinton puts forward, under a theory that Democratic nominees to the high court don’t vote “independently” from party interests.
As with many other things this campaign season, none of this may matter. Later on Monday, McCain, through a spokeswoman, reversed course on his earlier remarks about future Clinton nominees and noted he’d “vote for or against that individual based on their qualification,” according to Talking Points Memo.
The comments come amid a push by the Clinton campaign to spend aggressively in McCain’s home state, where Clinton is inching up on Trump in the polls, as well as plans for first lady Michelle Obama to visit Arizona on Thursday and do what she does best.
As for where Clinton and Trump stand on the Supreme Court, both candidates will likely be asked about it again at the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, where Fox News’ Chris Wallace is expected to dedicate 15 minutes to the subject.
Ahead of the debate, Clinton has already offered a vision of what her nominees might look like, while Trump has drawn up a not-so-short shortlist of potential candidates that was strong enough to get constitutionalist Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to bow to the Republican nominee.
McCain walked back his comments Monday afternoon, and this article has been updated to reflect that.
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Michelle Obama Explains Exactly Why Trump’s Comments About Women Are So Horrific
- Created on 13 October 2016
First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday delivered a stinging takedown of Donald Trump’s vulgar and sexist comments and spoke about the impact they were having on women everywhere. Campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, she said that she couldn’t stop thinking about remarks Trump made in 2005, when he bragged about making unwanted sexual advances and being able to grab women “by the pussy.” The first lady said those words had “shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
With her voice shaking at times, Obama said Trump’s comments made it impossible for her to give her normal stump speech. It “would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream,” she said. “This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season.”
“This wasn’t just locker room banter,” she continued. “This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior and actually bragging about kissing and groping women.”
The first lady said she’d felt the impact of Trump’s words personally, as had other women.
“The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman,” she said. “It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts.”
“It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin,” she continued. “It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them and they’ve said no, but he didn’t listen.”
The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts.Michelle Obama
Obama has been a remarkable surrogate for Clinton on the campaign trail. She also gave an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention in July that described the dangers of a Trump presidency for America’s children. The speech was widely hailed as one of the best of the convention.
As Trump has tried to undermine the credibility of several women who have come forward this week to accuse him of groping them, the first lady said a fear of not being believed was one of the reasons so many women failed to speak up about sexual harassment and abuse.
“All of us are doing what women have always done, just trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it. Trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us. Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak,” she said.
“Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing our emotions and staying quiet because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his.”
Trump’s comments, she said, weren’t just insulting to women, but to men as well.
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“To dismiss this as every day locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere. The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being demeaned and disrespected.”
Obama shared the story of a six-year-old who told his parents that he knew Clinton would win the election after hearing that Trump called someone a “piggy.”
“Even a six-year-old knows better,” she said. “A six-year-old knows this is not how adults behave. This is not how decent human beings behave. And this is certainly not how someone who wants to be president of the United States behaves.”
Regardless of party, Obama added, every American should find Trump’s behavior reprehensible.
“This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to. Democrat, Republican or independent, no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.”
Clinton thanked Obama for her speech in a personally signed tweet on Thursday.
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Flash poll: Clinton wins the second presidential debate
- Created on 10 October 2016
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the explosive second presidential debate on Sunday night, according to live polling taken during the showdown on AOL.com. A slight majority of respondents named the former secretary of state as the winner, with 52.3 percent naming her as the winner compared to to 47.4 percent who namedin the poll taken live during the the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday night.
Clinton started off the debate with a considerable lead that peaked at 12 percent, however, the billionaire businessman narrowed the gap as the matchup came to a close. Hundreds of people voted in the flash poll, which was not a scientific sample.
The results of a separate flash poll conducted at the conclusion of Sunday night's debate rendered an even larger victory for the former New York senator, with Clinton leading Trump by over 25 percentage points an hour after the debate had ended.
On Twitter the conversation seemed to center around Trump's "odd" demeanorduring the contest, with one observer pointing out "Trump seems to be gripping the back of the chair as a way to control himself."
Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter mid-way through the debate to attack Clinton for her controversial "basket of deplorables" comment saying, "Sure. She's only sorry that she got caught calling millions of people #deplorables."
Trump and Clinton will go head-to-head one more time when they face off at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas on October 19.
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Mike Pence To America: Trump Never Said Those Things He Said
- Created on 05 October 2016
Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), spent much of the first and only vice presidential debate Tuesday night doing his damnedest to get Americans to forget all of the offensive things Trump has said. Pence repeatedly tried to skirt around statements Trump actually said — or simply shook his head and ignored the question.
“I’m happy to defend [Trump],” Pence said.
But Pence rarely actually defended Trump. Instead, he dodged or outright denied his running mate’s statements. Some examples:
When Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s running mate, accused Trump of praising Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “great leader,” Pence denied it and called Putin a “small and bullying leader.” But Trump has repeatedly praised Putin.
When Kaine said that Trump recently claimed Putin was not going into Ukraine, Pence denied it. But Trump did say, “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.” Putin took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Pence himself also recently said, “I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has beena stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.”
When Kaine challenged Pence to defend Trump’s comment that more nations should get nuclear weapons, Pence said “he never said that.” But Trump did.
When Kaine pointed out that Trump had once promised to release his tax returns, Pence replied, “He said he will do it.” Trump has repeatedly said he can’t release his returns because he is being audited by the IRS. (The IRS has said nothing prevents him from releasing them.) There is absolutely no evidence that Trump will actually release his returns. His son, Donald Trump Jr., has admitted that there’s a more political reason the campaign is not releasing the returns: It would be a distraction and create too many “questions.”
Kaine said Trump wants to have a “deportation force”: “They want to go house to house, school to school, business to business, and kick out 16 million people.” Pence called Kaine’s statement “nonsense.” Last year, Trump himself used the term “deportation force” in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely. And you’re going to bring the country – and frankly, the people, because you have some excellent wonderful people, some fantastic people that have been here for a long period of time.”
Pence tried to defend Trump’s comments about Mexicans after Kaine pointed out that the GOP presidential candidate has called immigrants from the country “rapists.”
“He also said, ‘many of them are good people,’” Pence replied.
Trump’s actual quote last year was: “When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
When Kaine said that Trump had said women should be punished for abortion, Pence said, “Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.” But Trump did say that women who have abortions should be punished.
Immediately after the debate, GOP operatives piled into the spin room and dismissed the idea that Pence had dodged any topic.
“What didn’t he stand up for?” asked Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “That’s silly to suggest. He defended Trump on every single issue.”
When The Huffington Post cited Pence’s pivot away from the question about Trump’s comments on Putin invading Ukraine, Spicer opted to ... pivot.
“I think Trump had clarified at the time...” he said, trailing off. “Frankly, if I were Democrats right now, I’d be ashamed of the job that Tim Kaine did. He didn’t defend Hillary Clinton.”
Democrats, of course, said Pence spent the whole night trying to avoid Trump’s controversies.
“What you saw was Pence not defending Donald Trump and, frankly, lying or running away,” said Clinton campaign spokeswoman Karen Finney. “The most egregious example was on Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump said he believed Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama. When asked about it, Pence said he absolutely agreed with that. Tonight, he said something completely different.”
For his part, Pence argued that Clinton is the truly offensive candidate in the race for president.
He attacked Clinton and Kaine for suggesting that a black police officer could be biased. People “seize upon tragedy as a reason to use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism,” Pence said. “That really has got to stop.”
And he slammed Clinton for suggesting that many of Trump’s supporters are motivated by bigotry. “Hillary Clinton said that half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables,” Pence said. “She said they were irredeemable, not American. It is extraordinary. She nailed one after another ‘ism’ on millions of Americans who believe we can end illegal immigration once and for all.”
Pence was “gaslighting,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted. As Huffington Post reporter Melissa Jeltsen explained in March, gaslighting — questioning and undermining someone else’s sense of reality — is a favorite tactic of Trump’s. And Pence used it repeatedly.
Kaine wasn’t having it. Trump “started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and he has pursued the discredited and outrageous lie that President Obama was not born in the United States,” he said. He deployed a tactic that the Clinton campaign has used in its TV ads: Simply repeat what Trump himself has said. But Pence deflected or denied each time, calling it part of his opponents’ “insult-driven campaign.”
Because it takes a while to see any changes in polling, we won’t know who “won” the debate for a few days. But there’s not much evidence that winning or losing the debate will swing the election. Presidential debates don’t normally change voters’ views much. Vice presidential debates matter even less.
Nor is there any evidence that Pence or Kaine will help their running mates carry their home states. “A vice presidential candidate’s state of residence generally has no effect on how a presidential candidate performs in that state,” Politico Magazinefound in April. “The vice presidential home state advantage is, essentially, zero.”
Here’s the real reason you should care about what happened Tuesday night: One of these men could very well become president. Fourteen of the 44 presidents of the United States served as veep. Eight of them got the top job because the president died in office.
“You’re not going to take it, are you?” Grace Coolidge asked her husband, Calvin, when he was picked for the vice presidency in 1920. “I suppose I’ll have to,” he replied. Three years later, he was president.
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