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Category Archives: Ron Paul

Ron Paul: ‘Iraq War Diaries’ At Ten Years Truth is Treason – OpEd – Eurasia Review

Posted: October 29, 2020 at 6:23 pm

The purpose of journalism is to uncover truth especially uncomfortable truth and to publish it for the benefit of society. In a free society, wemust be informed of the criminal acts carried out by governments in the name of the people. Throughout history, journalists have uncovered the many ways governments lie, cheat, and steal and the great lengths they will go to keep the people from finding out.

Great journalists like Seymour Hersh, who reported to us the tragedy of the Mai Lai Massacre and the horrors that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, are essential.

Ten years ago last week, Julian Assanges Wikileaks organization published anexposof US government wrongdoing on par with the above Hersh bombshell stories. Publication of the Iraq War Diaries showed us all the brutality of the US attack on Iraq. It told us the truth about the US invasion and occupation of that country. This was no war of defense against a nation threatening us with weapons of mass destruction. This was no liberation of the country. We were not bringing democracy to Iraq.

No, the release of nearly 400,000 classified US Army field reports showed us in dirty detail that the US attack was a war of aggression, based on lies, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and injured.

We learned that the US military classified anyone they killed in Iraq as enemy combatants. We learned that more than 700 Iraqi civilians were killed for driving too close to one of the hundreds of US military checkpoints including pregnant mothers-to-be rushing to the hospital.

We learned that US military personnel routinely handed detainees over to Iraqi security forces where they would be tortured and often killed.

Ten years after Assanges brave act of journalism changed the world and exposed one of the crimes of the century, he sits alone in solitary confinement in a UK prison. He sits literally fighting for his life, as if he is successfully extradited to the United States he faces 175 years in a supermax prison for committing espionage against a country of which he is not a citizen.

On the Iraq war we have punished the truth-tellers and rewarded the criminals. People who knowingly lied us into the war like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, the Beltway neocon experts, and most of the media, faced neither punishment nor professional shaming for their acts. In fact, they got off scot free and many even prospered.

Julian Assange explained that he published the Iraq War Diaries because he hoped to correct some of the attack on truth that occurred before the war, and that continued on since that war officially ended. We used to praise brave journalists not afraid to take on the bad guys. Now we torture and imprison them.

President Trump has made a point of singling out the US attack on Iraq as one of the stupid wars that he was committed to ending. But we wouldnt know half of just how stupid and evil it was were it not for the brave actions of Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Journalism should not be a crime and President Trump should pardon Assange immediately.

This article was published by RonPaul Institute.

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Ron Paul: Big Holes In The Covid ‘Spike’ Narrative – OpEd – Eurasia Review

Posted: July 21, 2020 at 11:56 am

Motorcycle accidents ruled Covid deaths? In the rush to paint Florida as the epicenter of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, government officials and their allies in the mainstream media have stooped to ridiculous depths to maximize the death count. A television station this weekend looked into two highly unusual Covid deaths among victims in their 20s, and when they asked about co-morbidities they were told one victim had none, because his Covid death came in the form of a fatal motorcycle accident.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In fact the spike that has dominated the mainstream for the last couple of weeks is full of examples of such trickery.

Washington state last week revised its Covid death numbers downward when it was revealed that anyone who passed away for any reason whatsoever who also had coronavirus was listed as a Covid-19 death even if the cause of death had nothing to do with Covid-19.

In South Carolina, the state health agency admitted that the spike in Covid deaths was only the result of delayed reporting of suspected Covid deaths.

An analysis of reported daily Covid deaths last week compared to actual day-of-death in Houston revealed that the recent spike consisted largely of deaths that occurred in April through June. Why delay reporting until now?

We do know that based on this spike the Democrat mayor of Houston cancelled the convention of the Texas Republican Party. Mission accomplished?

Doesnt it seem suspicious that so many states have experienced delayed reporting of deaths until Fauci and his gang of experts announced that we are in a new nightmare scenario?

Last week in Florida which is perhaps not coincidentally the location of the Republican Partys national convention another scandal emerged when hundreds of Covid test centers reported 100 percent positive results. Obviously this would paint a far grimmer picture of the resurgence of the virus. Orlando Health, for example, reported a positivity rate of 98 percent a shocking level but a further investigation revealed a true positivity rate of only 9.4 percent. Those anomalies were repeated throughout the state.

Cases once meant individuals who displayed sufficient symptoms to be treated in medical facilities. But when the scaremongers needed a second wave they began reporting any positive test result as a Covid case. No wonder we have a spike.

Politics demands that politicians be seen doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is more harmful than doing nothing at all. That is why Washington is so addicted to sanctions.

The same has been true especially in Republican-controlled states in the US in response to the coronavirus. Faced with a virus that has killed about one-third as many people as the normal, seasonal flu virus in 2018, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has endorsed a partial shutdown of the economy resulting in millions tossed into the despair of unemployment. Then he arbitrarily shut down bars because massively increased testing showed more people have been exposed to the virus. And he mandated that people wear face masks. Neither shutting down bars (instead of restaurants or Walmarts) nor forcing people to wear masks will have any effect on the progression of the virus through society. But at least he looks like hes doing something.

We are facing the greatest assault on our civil liberties in our lifetimes. The virus is real, but the government reaction is political and totalitarian. As it falls apart, will more Americans start fighting for their liberty?

This article was published by RonPaul Institute.

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Local golf league results and upcoming events – The Ledger

Posted: at 11:56 am

Results from golf league play around Polk County through July 20.

Results from golf league play around Polk County through July 20 with format, date, event and winners by flight or class in alphabetical order.

Big Cypress 18-Hole Ladies, Nine-Hole Event, Low Gross/Net, July 14: First Flight Gross - Heidi Aittama 34, Jan Turner 39, Net - Jennifer Renaud 34, Joanne Burkemper and Diana Berube both at 36; Second Gross - Anne Merritt and Jennifer Hostutler tied at 45, Net - Barb Fatzinger 33, Linda Kimberlin 34. Closest to pin: No. 5 - Heidi Aittama plus 2-19 HDCP, Linda Kimberlin 20+ HDCP.

Big Cypress Men's Thursday, Three Clubs and a Putter, July 16: First Flight - Joe Greco 72, Eddie Kiena and Ray Berube tied at 74; Second - Mike Schaeberle 73, Bob Chapman 75, Arnie Howard 73. Closest to pin: No. 5 - Joe DAmbrosio, Bob Chapman; No. 8 - Timmy Monahan; No. 13 - Ray Berube; No. 15 - Eddie Kiena, Eddie Lane.

Cleveland Heights Tuesday Men's, Draw and Quota Points, July 14: Herb Koffler/Dave Neal/Steve Criss plus 6, Keith Lohman/Paul Pelchat/Ron Moisuk plus 3, Mike Mimnaugh/Ron Berry/Dick Gebo plus 2. Closest to pin: No. A2 and C8 - Dennis Compton. Best Over Quota: A - Herb Koffler plus 6; B - Keith Lohman plus 5; C - Dave Neal plus 2.

Eaglebrooke Men's Early Morning Group, July 18: Team Best vs Average Score, July 18: Paul Rouleau/Mike Gilbert/Richard Grant/Tyler Wright minus 5.7, Wayne Fugett, Paul Meyer, Ladd Kline, Al Hanif minus 3.7. Team Point Quota, July 19: Smith Patterson/John Johnson/Kyle Thomas/Jeff Lang and Dan Girata/Albert Sagnella/Richard Grant/Tony Autorino tied at plus 11.

Hamptons Men's, Net Stroke Play, July 14: A Flight - Chuck Swafford 50, Joe DeBonis 54 on a match of cards over Bill Spivey; B - Terry Foster 54, Bob Miller 55, Bill Colclaser 57. Closest to pin: No. 5 - Joe DeBonis; No. 10 - Mark Torr.

Lake Ashton Blue Man Group, Four-Player Team, Best Net on Par 4s, Best Two Nets on Par 5s, Best Three Nets on Par 3s, July 15: Front 9 - George Wilkinson/Larry Griffin/Jim Fish/Ed Costello 36, Doug Stanforth/Ron Watterson/Gary Robillard/Ghost 39, Gator Patrick/Tom Anderson/Jim Smith/Nolan Hake 41; Back 9 - Joe Ricobonno/Steve Burrell/Bob Yeager/Ron Mckie 43, Jim Blackwell/Rich Burns/Jerry Getters/Mike Costello and Ken Engh/Art Luke/Jim Jameson/Norm Wirtala tied at 45.

Lake Ashton Ladies 18-Holers, Four Player Scramble, July 14: First Flight - Mafie Walker/Janis Vasquenza/Lynne Abbott/Marie Clauser 53.3, Colette McKie/Cheryl Coveleskie/Margaret Volpe/Pat Hodges 54, Cheryl Winchester/Mary Anne Stadfeld/Carole Ferrieri/Jackie Tressler 54.2.

Lake Ashton Ladies Niners, Four-Player Scramble, July 14: Carolyn Alvaro/Ann Lake/Diane Struble/Liz Meigel and Carol Zalesky/Brenda Arant/Carol Gillespie/Loretta Hieronimus tied at 25, Laverne Anderson, Linda Ford, Jane Poole, Missy Prescott 26.

Lake Ashton Men's, Two Best Nets Even Holes Plus Three Best Nets Odd Holes, July 15: Chuck Randall/Ron Mcdonnell/Mike Krigelski/Randall Carpenter 164, Rolly Geyer/Jim Capra/Tim Prokop/Jim Ford 165, Larry Wilson/Ted Hall/Don Connors/Courtney Smith 167.

Lake Bess 7 a.m. Tuesday Mens Scramble, Random Team Draw, July 14: Tom Houston/Pat Ferrio/Henry Adams/Joe Gulini minus 5. Closest to pin: No. 7 - Mark Detrick.

Lakeland Elks Lodge 1291 Monday League, Wedgewood, July 20: A Flight - Jim Preston plus 5, Bob Kutsch plus 4 on a match of cards over Carl Hatfield, B - Bill Soldrich plus 4 on a match of cards over Bob Fuschetti and Mike Powell. Closest to pin: No. 8 (50/50) and No. 15 - Bill Soldrich.

Ridge Men's, Wedgewood, July 16: Paul Forkner plus 5, Bobby Lassiter plus 3, Dob Smith and Dennis Johnson tied at plus 1. Closest to pin: No. 4, 11, 17 - Blake Tyler; No. 6 - Dob Smith.

Schalamar Creek Couples', 4 Person Scramble (9 Holes), July 15: First Flight - Richard Romero/Linda Romero/Glen Valentine/Ginger Valentine 34, Ted Reid/Ginny Reid/Don Taft/Kathy Taft 35.

Schalamar Creek Ladies', Low Gross/Low Net (9 Holes), July 14: First Flight Gross - Crystal Santopadre 50, Dianne Lang 52, Linda Romero and Carol Sutton tied at 38.

Schalamar Creek Men's, Two-Man Best Ball, July 13: Clayt Liljequist/Paul Loftis 59, Jim van DeVelde/Larry Smith and Greg Spencer/Glen Valentine tied at 61; Second - Jerry Throgmorton/Terry Phalen 56, Joe McElhenny/Don Gledhill 57, Don Abbott/Ed Herring 62.


BARTOW INDIVIDUAL POINTS, Wednesdays, nine holes, make up your own foursome, $17 ($12 green fee and cart), pays all plus scores, night specials in the lounge. Call 863-533-9183.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS MENS, tee times available 7:30-8:30 a.m. Wednesday through Monday and Friday, groups or individuals welcome, quota points with skins optional, eight to 10 groups now play. Call Paul Boeh at 863-738-4129.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS TUESDAY WOMENS, every Tuesday, tee times start at 8:30 a.m. Call Shirley Kalck at 863-853-9566.

HUNTINGTON HILLS TWO-ASIDE, Saturdays, 18-Hole Points Quota. Check in by 8:15 a.m. Contact Terri White at 863-5594082 or

HUNTINGTON HILLS WHY WORRY WEDNESDAYS, Nine-Hole Quota Points, 5:15 p.m. shotgun start. Contact Terri White at 863-559-4082 or

LAKELAND MENS SENIOR GOLF, 7:30 a.m. shotgun starts, play against golfers within your handicap. Call Ed Young at 863-648-9695.

LPGA AMATEUR GOLF ASSOCIATION is looking for women and men to play in weekly Wednesday league and every other Saturday at various courses in the Winter Haven/Lakeland/Orlando and other areas. For more information, email Kathy Mannahan at

POLO PARK MENS TUESDAY SCRAMBLE, 7:30 a.m. sign in. Random team draw. 18-Hole. For more information, call Polo Park Pro Shop at 863-424-3341.

POLO PARK MENS SATURDAY SCRAMBLE, 7:30 a.m. sign in. Random team draw. 18-Hole. For more information, call Polo Park Pro Shop at 863-424-3341.

RIDGE MENS THURSDAY QUOTA POINTS TOURNAMENTS, 7:30 a.m. tee time starts. Call Carroll Lasseter at 863-299-5350.

WEDGEWOOD THREE-MAN SCRAMBLE, nine holes; Tuesdays at 5 p.m.; call Marcus at 863-858-4451 by 2:30 p.m. to play.

WEDGEWOOD TWO-ASIDE GAME, 9 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays; 18-hole points game with skins and blind draw; call Marcus at 863-858-4451.

WEDGEWOOD MIXED CO-ED SCRAMBLE, 2 p.m. Thursdays. Call Marcus at 863-858-4451 by 1 p.m. to play.

E-mail results of local golf tournaments, aces and upcoming tournaments to; or mail to Golf News, Ledger Sports Department, P.O. Box 408, Lakeland, Fla., 33802. Include complete scores and league names. Deadline is Monday at 5 p.m.

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Lovers of liberty lose big with Justin Amash’s reelection decision – Washington Examiner

Posted: at 11:56 am

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who know who Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan is view him through the lens of where he (and they) stand on President Trump.

Thats a pity.

The congressman was the only Republican to support the articles of impeachment against Trump, and the negative reaction from the MAGA-centric GOP base was just as extreme as Resistance Democrats rush to embrace him. The heat from conservatives would become so hot that Amash would soon leave his party to become an independent and then eventually embrace his identity as a tall L Libertarian in full, even briefly seeking that partys presidential nomination.

Trump-loving righties did not care that Amash had the most fiscally conservative record in Washington, just as much as Trump-hating lefties did not care, or at least ignored, that Amashs unshakable small-government political philosophy ran counter to their collectivist or socialist agendas. Both camps perceptions of Amash were all about Trump. They still are.

On Thursday night, amid that climate, Amash announced he would not be seeking reelection for his seat, leaving it to the two major parties to duke it out. A conventional Republican or Democrat will no doubt fill that seat.

But Amash was always anything but conventional. Long before the current president radically shuffled our politics, one would be hard-pressed to find a stauncher defender of the Constitution and the nation's founding principles than him. On civil liberties, foreign policy, the drug war, the size of the government, taxation, education, systemic racism, social tolerance, religious liberty, and more, Amash always stood for the Bill of Rights and individual rights against the authoritarian tendencies in both parties.

One of the highlights of Amashs political career came in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowdens 2013 revelations that the U.S. government was mass-surveilling its citizens in every way imaginable. Amashs amendment to rein in NSA surveillance that year failed 205-217, a close loss that resulted in a failure to protect the public's Fourth Amendment privacy rights but cemented the Michigan congressman as one of the leading civil libertarians in Washington.

Amash was one of the few libertarian Republicans to get elected in the wake of then-Rep. Ron Pauls popular 2008 and 2012 grassroots presidential campaigns, along with fellow House member Rep. Thomas Massie and Pauls son, Sen. Rand Paul, all of whom have led the libertarian faction of the Republican Party for the last decade.

Each of these three men has virtually the same voting record when it comes to policy. They only differ on their approach to Trump. But since Trump is the only thing that has mattered to anyone for the last four years, what leaders actually stand for has mattered less than crude tribalism. Conservatives who are glad Amash will be gone because he dared to defy their glorious leader have nary a principle to stand on in making such an argument. Liberals who once, and might still, praise Amash for defying his partys president completely disagree with him on what government should or should not do.

Amash has remained an unwavering libertarian throughout his decade in Washington, and you arguably wont find a more dedicated champion of the principles that founded this country than this son of immigrants who aspired to become a U.S. congressman out of a pure desire to do what he thought was right.

Whatever happens in November and no matter where you stand on the president, Trumps indelible mark on our politics will not soon pass. For lovers of liberty, neither will Amashs.

Jack Hunter (@jackhunter74) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is the former political editor of and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Sen. Rand Paul.

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Big Crypto Hacks: Bad Crypto News of the Week – Cointelegraph

Posted: at 11:56 am

It has been all over the news about the great Twitter Bitcoin hack of 2020. Weve got you covered if you havent been paying attention to #CryptoTwitter this week.

After a period of calm in the cryptomarkets, last week showed some movement. Unfortunately, it went in the wrong direction. Bitcoin was down about 3 percent over the last seven daysand it got off lightly. Ethereum fell more than 5 percent and Bitcoin Cash dropped over 8 percent.

One reason for the fall might be a relationship between stocks and digital coins. Analysts note that Bitcoin shows a 95 percent correlation with the S&P 500, and the Fear and Greed Index suggests that greed is moving the stock market while fear is holding onto cryptocurrencies.

There has been plenty of movement and in different directions: Tesla stock is rocketing even as Bitcoin volatility hits a three-year low. Binance coin has risen 17 percent. Other analysts suggest that a crypto winter could be over as take-up of digital coins increases, especially those with proof-of-stake protocols, but the data says that people are holding onto Bitcoin but trading Ether.

People should certainly be holding tightly onto their Bitcoins when theyre using Twitter. A massive hack of the social media platform placed scam messages on the accounts of Elon Musk, Kanye West, Bill Gates, and Joe Biden among others. The messages asked for donations of Bitcoin and promised a 2:1 return. Reports suggest that victims sent around $118,000 worth of Bitcoin to the address in the posts.

One set of transactions, though, contained a hidden message apparently suggesting that the scammers use Monero instead of Bitcoin. The hackers appear to be associated with the now-defunct website but we still dont know who was behind it. Justin Sun wants to find out. His was one of the accounts hacked. Hes offering a million dollars to anyone who can help track them down.

He probably shouldnt give that million dollars to Joshua Thomas Argires though. The 29-year-old Texan is alleged to have filed false loan applications worth $1.1 million to the Covid-19 Paycheck Protection Program. He then used the funds to buy cryptocurrency. Argires has been charged but he should count himself lucky.

The bodies of two promoters of the OneCoin scam have been found in suitcases in Mexico. The men, Oscar Brito Ibarra and Ignacio Ibarra, had been kidnapped and suffocated to death.

While Joe Biden scratches his head over the Bitcoin Twitter hack, Ron Pauls political director is quietly mining Bitcoin and building a new blockchain company. In China, the central bank is considering allowing the Tencent delivery giant Meituan Dianping to accept digital yuan and Japans giant financial institution, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, is planning to release a token later this year.

OKEx CEO Jay Hao is continuing to insist that Dogecoin is serious despite the recent TikTok pump scheme. Its not just Twitter that struggles with cryptoscams.

Check out the audio version here:

Joel Comm is an internet pioneer, New York Times best-selling author, futurist speaker and co-host ofThe Bad Crypto Podcast. Thats a fancy way of saying he writes words, says things and loves to play with cryptos

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Big Crypto Hacks: Bad Crypto News of the Week - Cointelegraph

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"Another Level Of Stupid" Stories That Are Totally Facepalm-Worthy – BuzzFeed

Posted: at 11:56 am

"I once had to take my husband to seek medical care at a 'doc-in-the-box' situation. When doing the usual triage routine, the tech took his weight and height. She said, 'OK, youre 189 pounds and 6'1".' He said, 'What!? Ive always been 5'11.' And she said, 'No, youre definitely 6'1". He kind of puffed up for a minute, feeling all tall and cool, and said, 'Huh! maybe I grew since the last time I was measured.'

"We got to the exam room and he said to her again, 'Are you sure? Ive always thought I was 5'11".' And she said, 'No, definitely. Youre 71 inches, so 6 feet 1 inch.'

"My husband and I exchanged glances. 'Oh, no, 71 inches is 5'11",' he said.

"She said, 'No, Im 61 inches and Im 5 feet 1 inch, so if youre 71 inches, youre 6 feet 1 inch!' And he said, 'Yeah, but...feet have 12 inches, not 10, so 71 inches is 5 feet and 11 inches.' She said, 'Well, thats how we do it here.'

"I literally choked on my water. My husband and I couldnt make eye contact until she left the room, and then we freaked out. It was hilarious and terrifying that this medical tech didnt understand basic measurement."


"Another Level Of Stupid" Stories That Are Totally Facepalm-Worthy - BuzzFeed

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The Life and Adventures of Ron Johnson: His Journey Through Multiple Untruths to the Fable of Obamagate – Just Security

Posted: at 11:56 am

The Lugar Center is a fairly recent addition of the sort of traditional institute in Washington that prevailed before Donald Trump. Its mission is to advance an internationalist foreign policy, bipartisan governance, and bring together experts to bridge ideological divides. It was founded by one of the last of the moderate Republicans, Richard G. Lugar, the late U.S. senator from Indiana, who once seemed to define the mainstream of a now bygone party, in the forefront of legislation to curb nuclear proliferation, but was purged in a brutal primary, losing to a Tea Party candidate who declared rape that resulted in a pregnancy was a gift from God.

On May 27, the Lugar Center released its first comprehensive Congressional Oversight Hearing Index, an in-depth study of the due diligence of every committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate in holding the executive branch accountable, concluding with a grade for each committee. If a House or Senate committee is failing to meet historical standards, because of partisan bias, the inattention of the committee chair, or any other reasons, the COHI will illuminate that shortfall, the Center stated. While many committees received high grades, the lowest gradean F for failurewas awarded to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The report observed that the committee previously had been one of the most active in the Senate, but that its hearing schedule had fallen dramatically. On the Lugar Centers carefully considered Bell Curve, the committee was at rock bottom and its chairman had flunked.

Trumps Senators

Just a week later, on June 4, that chairman, Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, who had come to power on the Tea Party wave that carried out Richard Lugar, rammed through authorization for 35 subpoenas to fulfill President Donald Trumps reported demand at a meeting on May 19 of Senate Republicans to get tough on the Obamagate conspiracy, a purported Deep State plot of the Obama administration and the intelligence community to destroy his presidency by investigating his campaigns links to and possible collusion with the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Days before, on May 24, Trump declared, Im fighting the deep stateI have a chance to break the deep state. Its a vicious group of people. Its very bad for our country. And thats never happened beforeThey never thought I was going to win, and then I won. And then they tried to get me out. That was the insurance policy. Shes going to win [Hillary Clinton], but just in case she doesnt win we have an insurance policy. And now I beat them on the insurance policy, and now theyre being exposedAnd a lot of other things are going to come out, but you dont even need other things. What theyve done is so corrupt, theyve tried to take down a duly elected president of the United States, happens to be in this case, me, but we can never allow it to happen again.

Then he praised Ron Johnson as his champion. And I want to take my hat off to Ron Johnson. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The job hes doing is incredibleI see that a lot of subpoenas out. So its a much different thing. We caught them in a very corrupt, you could call it treasonous, because it is, its treasonous. We caught them in a very corrupt act.

On May 11, when asked at a press briefing to explain the crime Trump was accusing former President Barack Obama of having committed, he said, Its been going on for a very long time You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. A short while later, on May 13, Trump tweeted it was the greatest political scandal in the history of the United States, OBAMAGATE. Fake News@CNN and Concasts own MSDNC are only trying to make their 3 year Con Job just go away.

As Johnson geared up to send out his flurry of subpoenas, Trump tweeted encouragement to his tens of millions of followers, America is proud of Ron Johnson. He never gives up! Johnson retweeted, Thanks, @realDonaldTrump.

Every Democrat on both the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee objected to the motion to issue subpoenas in pursuit of Trumps theories. I cant support this kind of dragnet authority to conduct politically motivated investigations, said Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in response to the push from the Judiciary Committees chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, the ranking member on Homeland Security, called it a fishing expedition which did not become a priority until we entered into an election year. Then both committees approved on a Republican party line vote the authority to grant a total of 88 subpoenas to plumb the mysteries of Obamagate.

Enter Barrs Justice Department

While Trump was furiously tweeting about Obamagate and urging on Ron Johnson, Attorney General William Barr stepped from behind his curtain to make a statement on May 18 about the ongoing investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation being conducted by his appointee, U.S. Attorney John Durham. In light of Trumps accusation of criminality aimed at former President Obama, Barr clarified that Obama and Biden would not be targets. Whatever their level of involvement based on the level of information I have today, I dont expect Mr. Durhams work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. He added, Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others. Then he offered misleading words in his usual banal style: As long as Im attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends. This is especially true for the upcoming elections in November.

But Barr indicated something other than Olympian reserve above the campaign fray. His statement, while intended to make his actions appear purely non-political, laid out the political scenario for when the scheme will reach its crescendo. He pointed Durham to target and prosecute Obama subordinates for potential criminality. Without naming names, Barrs list consists of those very same former prominent officials on the subpoena lists of Ron Johnson and Lindsey Graham. Those lists are the ramshackle skeleton of the Obamagate conspiracy theory: former CIA director John Brennan, former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI director James Comey, former national security advisor Susan Rice, former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and a host of former intelligence community officers who have long been hate figures in the Trump demonology. (As a matter of course, the Democrats request to add the gallery of Trump usual suspects to the subpoena list was blocked: Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and more.)

An agitated Barr would not allow his signaling in his May 18 remarks to remain his last. We cant discuss future charges, but . he said in an exclusive interview on June 10 with Fox News, as he then proceeded to discuss future charges. But people should not draw from the fact that no action has been taken that taken yet [sic], that that means that people or people are going to get away with wrongdoing. Barr repeated the Trump conspiracy theory including parts that fly in direct contradiction of a Justice Department Inspector General conclusions on the matter: For the first time in American history,police organizations and the national security organizations were used to spy on a campaign, and there was no basis for it. The media largely drove that, and all kinds of sensational claims were being made about the president that could have affected the election. And then and then later on, in his administration, there were actions taken that really appear to be efforts to sabotage his campaign. Barr promised that Durham was looking at a whole range of Obama officials to indict.

The Two Rivers Meet

The summer hearings seem barely disguised as preparation for an October Surprise. Barr has emerged from the shadows just as the previously moribund Senate committees suddenly have stirred to life as Obamagate star chambers. In a symbiotic relationship, the Senate operations will orchestrate propaganda for Fox News and the Wurlitzer of right-wing media in an overture to Durhams report and possible indictments that may be sprung during the climax of the presidential campaign. Im going to do this through October, Graham tellingly said in a June 5 interview onFox News. At his hearing authorizing subpoenas, he filled the air with threatening cries. Comey and McCabe and that whole crowd their day is coming,he said. He felt compelled to demean Robert Mueller and the Mueller Report as off script. The lengthy list of names he brandished need to be fired, they need to be disciplinedthough none are in any current government position from which they could be fired or disciplinedor, Graham threatened, they are good candidates to go to jail. Another Republican member of the committee, Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, appearing to have a flashback, railed about Hillary Clinton. What did Hillary Clinton know about the dossier and when did she know it? he chimed in. But Hillary Clinton is not on the subpoena list, at least for now.

Ron Johnsons statement at the June 4 meeting of the Homeland Security Committee in which he hammered through his authority to mass produce subpoenas made plain that a good deal of the animating motive and guiding focus of both the Senate and Durham investigations is the case of Michael Flynn, Trumps first and short-lived national security advisor.

Flynn committed perjury by lying to the FBI about his discussions after the election with the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, telling him not to retaliate in kind to U.S. sanctions imposed under Obama because there would be a new policy under Trump, an implication that the sanctions would be lifted. Flynn then lied about his conversations to Vice President Mike Pence, who publicly repeated his falsehoods. Through the FBIs Crossfire Hurricane investigation into whether Trumps associates were cooperating or conspiring with Russia to influence or interfere in the 2016 election, Flynns contacts were discovered and exposed. He was fired by Trump, pled guilty twice and then sought to rescind his plea. In December 2019, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, David Horowitz, issued a report stating that the standard for predication, opening an FBI investigation into Flynns Russian ties, was legitimately authorized, based on an articulable factual basis that [he] may wittingly or unwittingly be involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation which may constitute a federal crime or threat to the national security, and finding no evidence of political bias or improper motivation.

What Really Happened with Flynn

On February 14, 2017, the day after Flynns dismissal, Trump pressured FBI director James Comey not to open an investigation. I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go. The Mueller Reportconcludedthat the circumstances of the conversation show that the President was asking Comey to close the FBIs investigation into Flynn. Trump directed Flynns deputy, K.T. McFarland, to write a document to confirm that Trump had not directed Flynn. She refused and instead wrote a memo to the White House legal counsel to memorialize the irregular request that appeared like a quid pro quo in exchange for an ambassadorship, according to the Mueller Report. When Comey refused to drop the Flynn probe, Trump fired him, triggering the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Russian interference in the election. Trumps personal attorney John Dowd called Flynn and left a voicemail for him: We need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake ofprotecting all our interests, if we can, without you having to give up anyconfidential information.Then he called Flynns attorney to warn him that if theres information thatimplicates the president, then weve got a national security issue. Trump refused to provide a written answer to Muellers question to him about Flynn.

On May 5, Barrs Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the case against Flynn, who was awaiting sentencing. Barrs filing claimed that the FBI investigation was conducted without any legitimate investigative basis, Flynns lies lacked materiality, he was somehow tricked by the FBI agents into lying, and anyway the FBI really didnt think he was lying. The DOJ prosecutor quit the case in protest. In a report on the DOJ motion on June 10 to the judge overseeing the case, U.S. District Court judge Emmet Sullivan, former federal judge John Gleeson stated that the DOJs claims are not credible, and instead are preposterous, and riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact. The facts surrounding the filing of the Governments motion to dismiss constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse, Gleeson wrote. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump. On Trump and Barr, Gleeson concluded, If the Executive wishes for the Judiciary to dismiss criminal chargesas opposed to issuing a pardon or taking other unilateral actionthe reasons it offers must be real and credible.

The Tracks of Senator Johnsons Disinformation

Seeking to dominate the battlespace for Trumps retribution, Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson have been assigned the task of serving subpoenas throughout the long hot summer, the equivalent of lobbing flash grenades and tear gas to clear the path for Barrs march to October. Johnsons statement to his committee, amounting to his order of battle, was a haphazard series of distortions, omissions and half-truths, which he claimed were undisputed, his characteristic method, as he said, to challenge the false narrative against Trump.

Well, no, the Steele Dossier, compiled by Christopher Steele, the former MI6 British secret service agent who had spent much of his career doing intelligence work in Russia, was not, as Johnson asserted, ordered up by the DNC and Clinton campaign to produce fabricated foreign opposition research. Steele was in fact initially hired by the conservative website The Free Beacon and paid by Republican donor Paul Singer to help the Jeb Bush campaign. There has been no proof that the Steele Dossiers principal substantive allegation regarding the Russian effort to assist in Trumps election was false, or that the information was manufactured by the Russian government or its agents deliberately using Steele as its outlet. On the contrary, the U.S. intelligence community as well as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have stated that the Russian government and its intelligence services intervened in the election to help Donald Trump. Some of the indisputable facts of that interference are set forth in the Mueller investigations indictment of 13 Russian agents and three Russian companies, including the Internet Research Agency, which the group itself described as information warfare against the United States, using fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016. supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (Trump Campaign) and disparaging Hillary Clinton. The Mueller Report, moreover, identified 272 contacts between Trump agents and Russian operatives, not one of which was reported to the FBI. Mueller stated, the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.

Well, no, despite Johnsons insistence, it was not the Steele Dossier that was used to instigate an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and obtain FISA warrants. The origin of the investigation can be traced to the former foreign minister of Australia and ambassador to the UK, Alexander Downer, who was alarmed after Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos informed him that Russia indicated to the Trump campaign that the Kremlin could assist in the election through the anonymous release of derogatory information on Clinton. Downer told his government, which in turn related it to the FBI, which then interviewed him.

Well, no, the unmasking of Trump officials by dozens of political appointees in the waning days of the Obama administrationthat is, national security and law enforcement officialswas neither unusual nor illegal. And, as it happened, Flynn, often claimed to have been unmasked, was not after all masked in the FBI document on his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Well, no, Flynn was not the innocent victim of a surprise FBI interview. His perjury cannot be blamed on being startled. No FBI agent instructed him to lie. And, well, no, the case against Flynn would not have been dismissed on the basis of an FBI memo that was suddenly suppressed. And so on.

Johnsons tendentious complaint amounts to a defense of Trump on the curious assumption that the FBI has no legal predicate to engage in counter-intelligence operations against foreign adversaries, particularly Russia in light of its history of corrupting American officials and intelligence officers, not that Johnson or the staffers who wrote his statement grasp the absurdity of their own argument. In order to vindicate Trumpand Flynnboth of them must be the victims of the Deep State (i.e., the U.S. intelligence community, State Department and professionals of the Justice Department), who must be the true perpetrators, and the official findings of culpability for those who have committed crimes must be reversed. The Department of Justice has a solemn responsibility to prosecute this caselike every other casewithout fear or favor and, to quote the Departments motto, solely on behalf of justice, stated former judge Gleeson. The perversion of justice requires the inversion of the storyline.

Senator Joseph McCarthys Successor

Johnsons mlange of misleading assertions may be fabricated, but it is also prefabricated. The rickety edifice of his argument was manufactured prior to arriving at his shop, indeed, delivered to him with instructions and quickly constructed. His value appears to be in following instructions. If he were an imaginative flimflam man in his own right, Trump (and Barr) would not rely on him to perform as expected. (In this respect he stands as a contrast to Lindsey Graham.) Johnsons method is apparently second-hand, borrowed from Trump, who acquired its secrets from his first lawyer and mentor in the dark arts, Roy Cohn, who honed it as counsel to another senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy.

The original technique perfected by McCarthy was best described by Richard H. Rovere, the writer for The New Yorker, who knew McCarthy and was the author of the most incisive biography. Rovere wrote:

The multiple untruth need not be a particularly large untruth but can instead be a long series of loosely related untruths, or a single untruth with many facets. In either case, the whole is composed of so many parts that anyone wishing to set the record straight will discover that it is utterly impossible to keep all the elements of the falsehood in mind at the same time. Anyone making the attempt may seize upon a few selected statements and show them to be false, but doing this may leave the impression that only the statements selected are false and that the rest are true. An even greater advantage of the multiple untruth is that statements shown to be false can be repeated over and over again with impunity because no one will remember which statements have been disproved and which havent.

The Senate hearings on Obamagate promise to be a cavalcade of witnesses, each linked in a chain of a conspiracy so immense to prove the multiple untruth. The witnesses appearances under subpoena project a perceived assumption of guilt, as McCarthy instinctively understood when he exploited his senatorial immunity to use the Chamber as the stage setting for a courtroom where his accusations never had to meet the rules of evidence. Even the odd disconnected fact that somehow arises in the Obamagate hearing will be, as it was by McCarthy, hammered out of shape and into line to fit the larger untruth.

But Ron Johnson is no Joe McCarthy, who was, at least before Trump, the most gifted demagogue ever bred on these shores, according to Rovere, a fertile innovator, a first-rate organizer and galvanizer of mobs, a skilled manipulator of public opinion, and something like a genius at that essential American strategy: publicity. McCarthy was a little noticed sleazy Republican senator, pocketing money on the side from various lobbyists, and looking for a dramatic issue to exploit for his reelection when at a dinner a companion suggested that he use his perch as chairman of the subcommittee on Permanent Investigations to seize on Communist subversion. Thats it, said McCarthy. The government is full of Communists. In a speech in 1950 at Wheeling, Wester Virginia, he told a Lincoln Day gathering of a Womens Republican Club that he had the names of 205, or 81, or 57 Communists in the State Department. His crusade of Multiple Untruth was off to the races, the first against the Deep State, accusing not only the State Department but also the CIA and the Army of being infiltrated by Communist agents, and accusing General George C. Marshall of being part of a conspiracy so immense. McCarthys youthful counsel, Roy Cohn, created new investigations to ferret out subversives and homosexuals when McCarthy himself was stumped for fresh targets. McCarthy played the Washington press corps like a Stradivarius, inventing stories as he walked the corridors of the Capitol with reporters, terrorized two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, reached 50 percent approval with the public (a number that Trump has never attained), and was allowed free rein by his fellow Republican senators until his utility as a weapon to smear Democrats as traitors ended when he veered too far off the rails in his attack on the Army. He was censured (Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut was prominent in proposing the motion), fell into an alcoholic stupor and drank himself to death.

Roy Cohn went back to New York, where he would meet Donald Trump and introduce him to the Mafia families who were Cohns clients and would pour the concrete for Trump Tower. Cohn would teach him his methods of intimidation and deceit, and before his death from AIDS pass his handling over to his protege Roger Stone, who made his chops as a ratfucker doing dirty tricks in Nixons reelection campaign and became Trumps chief political advisor.

In 2016, Stone apparently kept Trump closely informed in advance of Wikileaks schedule for publication of Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russian military intelligence. In written testimony to Muellers questions, Trump denied any such knowledge. But in the unredacted version of the Mueller Report, the special counsel wrote that the Presidents conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the Presidents denials and would link the President to Stones efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks. Stone was scheduled to report to federal prison on June 30 for seven counts of federal crimes including lying to Congress, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice, before being sprung by Trumps commutation that raises questions whether the two might be prosecuted in the future for obstruction of justice. The line from McCarthy to Trump, from demagogue to demagogue, is just a hop, skip and jump.

Johnsons Political Groundings

In Ron Johnsons telling, the miraculous revelation that he should run for the U.S. Senate struck him in a single blinding moment like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. A voice spoke to him. I was sitting at home watching Fox News and Dick Morris came on, he recalled. The polymorphous perverse political consultant, a Fox News talking head, in 2010 flacking for the Tea Party, from which he was personally profiting with a series of front groups, uttered these inspirational words: You know, if youre a rich guy fromWisconsin, step up to the plate. Johnson turned to his wife and asked, Is he, like, talking to me?

Johnson had not run for any political office before. He was an accountant who made his fortune the old-fashioned way: he married it. His wifes brother, Patrick Curler, installed him as president in the family business, which Curler had inherited from his father. The Pacur company (named for Pat Curler), based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, manufactures specialty plastic wrapping for medical devices among other products.

Johnsons most notable public appearance before his Senate run was as a witness in early 2010, testifying before a state senate committee hearing against the Child Victims Act that would eliminate the statute of limitations for reporting crimes of pedophilia. The Green Bay, Wisconsin Catholic Diocese had just confessed that there were substantial allegations of sexual abuse of minors against 48 priests. Johnson, a Lutheran, was a member of the dioceses financial council, which would be involved in any compensation, and he made the novel argument that efforts at achieving justice would only have the perverse effect of leading to additional victims of sexual abuse if individuals, recognizing that their organizations are at risk, become less likely to report suspected abuse. Johnson, however, failed at the time to inform the committee of his membership on the Churchs finance counsel. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which identified him as an Oshkosh businessman, reported, Johnson had little to say about the victims of sexual abuse in his testimony. His was largely a financial concern. The bill was also opposed by the insurance industry. Johnson later explained he was concerned about its financial effect on other groups and businesses. The bill was successfully killed. Johnsons shielding of child molesters in the priesthood was his first success in public policy.

In 2009, a year before Johnson said he heard the commanding voice of Dick Morris, he was already speaking at Tea Party rallies, the start of his self-financed campaign for the Republican senatorial nomination. Im happy to associate myself with the people of the Tea Party, he said. But few knew who he was, he seemed vague about specific Tea Party doctrines and Tea Party groups denied that they endorsed his candidacy. Yet his money overwhelmed opposition and wariness. When he gained the nomination at the state convention, he admitted, I think what was most gratifying to me about it is it really wasnt endorsing me because people dont really know who I am. He was elected in the Republican wave of 2010, defeating the incumbent Democrat, Senator Russ Feingold.

Johnson proved himself to be a reliable party-liner. He called Obamacares provision for contraception an assault on religious freedom, accused Planned Parenthood of being vested in the barbaric practice of harvesting human organs, insisted there was no scientific evidence for climate change, tried to gut financial regulation, and, echoing what he heard on Fox News, took to denouncing The Lego Movie, which he labeled insidious anti-business propaganda. The films cartoon villain was an evil businessman. Thats done for a reason, he explained. Our news media is not on our side, certainly not entertainment media.

There was one other position on which Johnson hewed to the party line: the Obama administrations supposed weakness toward Vladimir Putin, a megalomaniac and a danger to the civilized world. Johnson demanded in 2015 that Obama take a more aggressive stance against Russia, especially on Ukraine. Obama, he charged, had not taken the time to explain why Vladimir Putins aggressive expansion threatens our national security and the world order.

When Trump clinched the Republican nomination for president, but before the Republican National Convention, Johnson tried to create some degree of separation from him. His endorsement, he said, would not be a big embrace. Ill certainly be an independent voice where I disagree with a particular nominee. After the Access Hollywood tape was disclosedGrab em by the pussyJohnson behaved as though Trump would lose. Im not going to defend the indefensible, he said. But I will hold whoever is our president accountable. At a campaign rally just before the election, Johnson called for Hillary Clinton to be impeached for her emails when she became president. Im not a lawyer, he said. I would say, yes, high crime or misdemeanor.I believe she is in violation of both laws. He may have never realized how foolish that sounded.

With Trumps freakish victory Johnson instantly transformed himself into a courtier. He was more than a dependable vote, more than another Republican who held his tongue and held on for dear life. He has aggressively inserted himself into peculiar situations abroad, suddenly popping up in the middle of Trumps clandestine relationships with Russia and Ukraine, and giving murky explanations for why he was there, what he was doing and who sent him. In Moscow and Kyiv, here was Sinclair Lewis Babbitt-like American archetypal figure from the 1920s, the conventional businessman booster from the small-town Midwest, as Zelig, Woody Allens nebbish chameleon who makes startling appearances ingratiating himself with almost every celebrity of the same period. The key to both fictional personalities is the urge for conformity. Johnsons one-dimensional lack of complication has landed him in the midst of tangled situation. His simple-minded Republican ambition to get ahead has propelled him into Trumps abyss, which he has mistaken for a ladder of success.

Johnson Goes to Russia

What does July 4thh mean to me? Freedom, tweeted Ron Johnson, on July 4th, 2018. He celebrated that day in Moscow with a group of seven other Republicans. (There were no Democrats on this congressional delegation.) The Republicans announced that they hoped to meet with Putin, who would have a summit with Trump the next month in Helsinki, where Trump declared that he accepted Putins statement that Russia had not interfered in the U.S. election. But Johnson and the others were not granted an audience with the Russian leader. Instead they were greeted by Sergei Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Michael Flynns interlocutor, and now a member of Russias upper house of parliament. We heard things wed heard before, and I think our guests heard rather clearly and distinctly an answer that they already knewwe dont interfere in American elections, said Kislyak. Another Russian official they met, Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov, said he had met with many American lawmakers in years past and that this meeting was one of the easiest ones in my life, according to the Washington Post. The question of election interference, he said, was resolved quickly because the question was raised in a general form.One shouldnt interfere in electionswell, we dont interfere, Nikonov said. The Post reported: On Russian state television, presenters and guests mocked the U.S. congressional delegation for appearing to put a weak foot forward, noting how the message of tough talk they promised in Washington changed a bit by the time they got to Moscow. We need to look down at them and say: You came because you needed to, not because we did, Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military expert, said on a talk show on state-run television.

As soon as Johnson returned home, on July 7, the former hardliner on Russia told the right-wing Washington Examiner that hes worried that Congress over-reacted to Russias election interference, which resulted in legislation that tied Trumps hands with mandatory sanctions. Ive been pretty upfront that the election interference as serious as that was, and unacceptableis not the greatest threat to our democracy, he said. Weve blown it way out of proportion[as if its] the greatest threat to democracyWe need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively.He added, And I think youd be hard-pressed to say that sanctions against Russia are really working all that well.

The next day, TASS, the Russian state news service, publicized: US Sanctions Against Russia Not WorkingUS Senator Johnson. Sputnik International headlined: GOP Senator After Moscow Visit: US Sanctions On Russia Not Working That Well. Johnson had provided a propaganda coup for Putin.

Later that July, Trump was busily engaged in what the Mueller Report documented as the fourth of his ten obstructions of justice against the investigation into his collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 election: The President Orders [Chief of Staff Reince] Priebus to Demand [Attorney General Jeff] Sessionss Resignation. Trump was obsessed with raising a conspiracy theory that the Clinton campaign had colluded with Ukraine against him to counter the reality of what Russia actually had done. The Mueller Report cited his tweet of July 25, 2017: Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaignquietly working to boost Clinton. So where is the investigation A.G.

Trump soon worked his obsession into an elaborate multiple untruth that it was Ukraine that hacked the DNC server, not Russia, that Ukraine falsely blamed Russia, that when the FBI attempted to retrieve the server Ukraine gave it to the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which he claimed was a Ukrainian company and supposedly hid the server in order to protect Hillary Clintons role in the secret plot against him. None of these claims were true.

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council senior director on Europe and Russia, in her testimony before the House impeachment committee, called Trumps story an alternative narrative that undermined U.S. interests and aided Russia. These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes,she said. This alternative narrative is a Trump conspiracy theory that could be quashed by facts, yet became an impetus behind Johnsons investigation, one of his Holy Grails.

Even before Johnsons mission to Moscow, Trump had for months been piecing together the operation that would attempt to force an investigation into Joe Bidens alleged promotion of his son Hunter Bidens business interests in Ukrainea charge that was entirely false and has been repeatedly refutedand would eventually seek to force an exchange for the manufacture of that political smear for U.S. military aid to Ukrainethe proposed transaction that was the grounds for Trumps impeachment. Johnson would soon plunge right into the middle of the Trump teams machinations in Ukraine.

The Ukraine Scheme

In April 2018, Trump hired Rudy Giuliani, as his personal attorney, who in turn hired two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Russian born businessmen living in Florida, where they had contrived a variety of sketchy schemes. (One of Parnas firms, Fraud Guarantee, which had no identifiable customers or office, paid Giuliani a $500,000 consulting fee.) At a dinner at the Trump Hotel on April 30, Parnas reportedly told Trump that the U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was unfriendly to the president and his interests, that her presence stood in the way of the Giuliani operation. Trump vehemently replied that she should be fired.

The effort to discredit and oust Yovanovitch was launched immediately. On May 9, Parnas and Fruman got Congressman Pete Sessions, a Republican of Texas, to write a letter to the State Department demanding her dismissal, claiming she had spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration, in exchange for a promise to raise $20,000 in campaign contributions through a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action. Sessions appeared as Congressman-1 in the federal indictment of Parnas and Fruman. Parnas and Fruman committed to raising those funds for Congressman-1. Parnas met with Congressman-1 and sought Congressman-1s assistance in causing the US Government to remove or recall the then-US Ambassador to Ukraine, the indictment stated.

Giulianis group quickly added new partners, who reportedly met regularly to plan their strategy, using the Trump Hotel as their headquarters. There was, secretly, Congressman Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee with an incorrigible penchant for arcane conspiracy theories, and his aide, Derek Harvey. There were the conservative husband-and-wife team of lawyers, Joseph DiGenova and Victoria Toensing, Fox News talking heads, who represented not only Parnas and Fruman but also the Ukrainian oligarch Dimitri Firtash, who had been Putins man in Kyiv and was under indictment for corruption by a U.S. federal court. And there was John Solomon, the ubiquitous right-wing journalist, who, according to theColumbia Journalism Review,has a history of bending the truth to his story line and distorting facts and hyping petty stories.As it happened, DiGenova and Toensing were his attorneys, too.

Beginning in March of 2019, the team instigated Solomon to produce a series of convoluted articles in his venue, The Hill newspaper in Washington, that asserted that Ambassador Yovanovitch had conspired with Hillary Clintons campaign and George Soros and his agents to leak damaging information about Paul Manafort, Trumps campaign chairman and the former political consultant for the Russian backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, and that the ambassador conspired to suppress Ukrainian investigations into corruption in order to cover up Joe Bidens involvement in his sons business. Solomon also wrote that Firtash was a victim of the Soros group and framed by Robert Mueller to get some dirt on Donald Trump. I said, Giuliani explained, John, lets make this as prominent as possible.Ill go on TV. You go on TV. You do columns.

Trumps personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, provided Giuliani with contact information for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. God almighty I have a lot of stuff in writing, Giuliani said, and on March 28 sent over to Pompeo a dossier containing Solomons articles trashing Yovanovitch. On April 5, six former U.S. ambassadors sent the State Department a letter expressing deep concern about recent uncorroborated allegations against here that are simply wrong.

Yovanovitch sought advice on how to handle Solomons onslaught from Gordon Sondland, Trumps ambassador to the European Union, a former hotelier who had given Trumps inaugural committee a large donation. Sondland told her, You need to go big or go home, suggesting that she tweet out there that you support the president. She also consulted Kurt Volker, the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. It will all blow over, he said.

Meanwhile, William Barr, Trumps attorney general, prepared to go where his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, had not.

On April 10, 2019, Barr announced that he was launching an investigation into both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign, and emphatically added that spying did occur. Four days later he appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to conduct the probe. I think its a great thing that he did it, Trump said. I am so proud of our attorney general that he is looking into it. I think its great. On April 24, Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News that in fact an investigation had unearthed evidence of a plot on the part of Ukraine to help elect Hillary Clinton, sounds like big, big stuff, and Im not surprised. Giuliani tweeted, Keep your eye on Ukraine.

On April 24, Yovanovitch received an abrupt telephone call from Carol Perez, director general of the State Departments foreign service.She said that there was a lot of concern for me, that I needed to be on the next plane home to Washington. And I was like, What? What happened? And she said, I dont know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane. And I said, Physical security? I mean, is there something going on here in the Ukraine? Because sometimes Washington has intel or something else that we dont necessarily know. And she said, No, I didnt get that impression, but you need to come back immediately. And, I mean, I argued with her. I told her I thought it was really unfair that she was pulling me out of post without any explanation, I mean, really none, and so summarily.

I do wonder why its necessary to smear my reputation falsely, Yovanovitch testified before the impeachment committee, Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.

George Kent, the deputy assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, confirmed her account in his testimony. Mr. Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information about Ambassador Yovanovitch, so this was a continuation of his campaign of lies. About John Solomon and his stories, Kent was scathing. It was, if not entirely made up in full cloth, it was primarily non-truths and non-sequiturs. But the State Department ordered Kent not to complain. I was told to keep my head down and lower my profile in Ukraine, he said. The intimidation signaled that the Giuliani operation was in charge.

On May 19, Trump gave an interview to Fox News brazenly laying out the conspiracy theory he wanted to be affixed to Biden. Biden, he calls them and says, Dont you dare persecute, if you dont fire this prosecutorThe prosecutor was after his son. Then he said, If you fire the prosecutor, youll be okay. And if you dont fire the prosecutor, Were not giving you $2 billion in loan guarantees, or whatever he was supposed to give. Can you imagine if I did that?

Johnsons Front Row Seat

A day after Trumps interview on Fox News, Ron Johnson wandered into the scene. On May 20, in Kyiv, he attended the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in the company of Sondland, Volker, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas. Perry seems likely to have had his own ulterior agenda. He would secure a lucrative oil and gas deal from Ukraine for two of his political supporters, who also happened to have hired Giulianis law firm, after Perry proposed that Zelensky take one of them as an adviser. At the same time, Giuliani was rooting around Kyiv, trolling for disinformation to use against Biden and meeting with people close to Yuri Lutsenko, the prosecutor general, embittered at Yovanovitch and Biden for their anti-corruption efforts. Lutsenko had met previously with Giuliani and Parnas, volunteered himself as a source for Solomons stories, but finally had a falling out with Giuliani when he failed to initiate an investigation into Biden.

Johnson came to Kyiv brandishing credentials as a close observer of the state of play. Serving as chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and vice chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, he had advocated military aid since the Russians had invaded eastern Ukraine in 2015. He arrived amidst the upheaval at the embassy, the orchestrated publicity campaign against Yovonavitch and her sudden removal under the cloud of a false threat to her security. Johnson was surely aware of the broad nature of these events but apparently made not a murmur of protest. He presented himself as an expert on the ground and influential figure in his own right, but he was beginning his career as an innocent abroad.

Upon the delegations return to Washington, the four men met on May 23 with Trump in the Oval Office. Their agenda, according to Johnson, was to secure a statement in support of Ukraine, an invitation to Zelensky to the White House and the appointment of a new ambassador with strong bipartisan support. Trump was having none of it. He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country, full of terrible people, Volker testified. He said they tried to take me down. In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past. He was clearly receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view. It was apparent to all of us that the key to changing the Presidents mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani, Sondland testified. When the meeting was raised during the impeachment, Johnsons mind went blank on Sondlands account. I am aware that Sondland has testified that Trump also directed the delegation to work with Rudy Giuliani, he wrote. I have no recollection of the president saying that during the meeting. It is entirely possible he did, but because I do not work for the president, if made, that comment simply did not register with me. After the meeting, Sondland, Volker and Perry, anointed to work with Giuliani, dubbed themselves the three amigos.

Indeed it was that Oval Office meeting, Ambassador William Taylor testified, in which the irregular channel began, with the three amigos, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Giuliani in pursuit of Ukraine investigations of Biden in exchange for military aid and a White House visit.

One other man was present at the May 20 meeting, Charles Kupperman, deputy to National Security Advisor John Bolton, who reported back to Bolton. It was a classic, Bolton wrote in his memoir, The Room Where It Happened:

I dont want to have any fucking thing to do with Ukraine, said Trump. They fucking attacked me. I cant understand why. Ask Joe diGenova, he knows all about it. They tried to fuck me. Theyre corrupt. Im not fucking with them. All this, he said, pertained to the Clinton campaigns efforts, aided by Hunter Biden, to harm Trump in 2016 and 2020. Volker tried to intervene to say something pertinent about Ukraine. Trump replied, I dont give a shit. Perry said we couldnt allow a failed state, presumably a Ukraine where effective government had broken down. Trump said, Talk to Rudy and Joe. Give me ninety days, Perry tried again. Trump interrupted, Ukraine tried to take me down. Im not fucking interested in helping them, although he relented to say Zelensky could visit him in the White House, but only if he was told how Trump felt in the matter. I want the fucking DNC server, said Trump, returning to the fray, adding, Okay, you can have ninety days. But I have no fucking interest in meeting with him.

Trumps violent obscenities, contempt for Ukraines precarious security, obsession with conspiracy theories, bottomless sense of personal grievance, and complete knowledge and command of the Giuliani operation somehow escaped Johnsons memory and were airbrushed from his account.

Two weeks earlier, Trump had summoned Bolton to a meeting in the Oval Office with Giuliani. Also present were Trumps chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and legal counsel Pat Cipollone. Trump ordered Bolton to work with Giuliani in dredging up material to be used against Biden and influencing Zelensky to start an investigation. Bolton simply ignored Trumps directive. He wanted no part of what he called a drug deal. Even after they became public, I could barely separate the strands of the multiple conspiracy theories at work, Bolton wrote in his memoir.

Giuliani continued his gyrations for an investigation of Biden, but Zelensky did not start a probe and Trump withheld the nearly $400 million in military aid that the Congress had approved. The stalemate led to Trumps notorious perfect phone call to Zelensky on July 25. Trumps statement at the top of the conversation was often cited: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. But what followed, the part spelling out the favor, was his demand for confirmation of his conspiracy theory and for Ukraine to work with Barr to pursue it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike I guess you have one of your wealthy people The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think youre surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, its very important that you do it if thats possible. In short, the object of the Trump-Zelensky call, a key piece of evidence in Trumps impeachment, is the same object that is central to the overarching conspiracy theory of Obamagate.

Two weeks earlier, on July 11, Johnson jumped down a rabbit hole to follow the trail of the Trump conspiracy theories. The White Rabbit that Johnson chased was a heavy set and shady Ukrainian named Andrii Telizhenko, a former low-level employee at the Ukrainian Embassy to the U.S. who had parlayed himself into Giulianis fixer, boasting of smoking fine cigars and sipping expensive whiskey with him from Kyiv to New York. Telizhenko was a man of many dubious deals. He had offered a Ukrainian magazine editor cash to lobby Republican senators on behalf of two pro-Russian media outlets in Ukraine that broadcast propaganda in favor of the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, according to a CNN report. Telizhenko was also the consultant for international relations for Pavel Fuks, the Ukrainian oligarch who had reportedly been Trumps partner to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. (Fuks was also Giulianis client.)

Telizhenko was a fertile source of conspiracy theories for Giuliani, which he retailed to an avid Trump, who insisted to everyone from his attorney general to his national security advisor that they prove to his satisfaction. Telizhenkos tales ranged from Bidens corruption to how the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. ordered him to work with the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up damaging information on Paul Manafort. (Telizhenkos talent was featured on numerous programs broadcast by the pro-Trump, far right One America News Network, including The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, and Mass Murderand Ukrainian Witnesses Destroy Schiffs Case Exclusive with Rudy Giuliani, in which Giuliani interviewed him.) Borys Tarasiuk, Ukraines former foreign minister, familiar with Telizhenkos antics for years, told the Kyiv Post, Idont think that this person deserves much attention. Hes a crook.

I was in Washington, Telizhenko recalled, and Senator Johnson found out I was in D.C., and staff called me and wanted to do a meeting with me. So I reached out back and said, Sure, Ill come down the Hill and talk to you. Telizhenko told the Washington Post that he and Johnson discussed a whole range of theories, particularly the DNC issue, focusing on what the Post described as his unsubstantiated claim that the Ukraine Embassy directed him to find incriminating material on Manafort. Seeking a comment from Johnson, the Post received this strange and uninformative response: An individual close to Johnson confirmed that staff members for one of his committees met with Telizhenko as part of an ongoing investigation into the FBI and its probes of the 2016 election. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declined to say whether the senator was involved. Telizhenko resolved that mystery, posting a picture of himself meeting with Johnson on his Facebook page. How Johnson knew that the peripatetic Telizhenko was briefly in Washington was left unexplained.

Johnson returned to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky on September 5, this time accompanied by Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and the new U.S. ambassador William Taylor. Zelenskys first question to the senators was about the withheld security assistance, Taylor testified before the impeachment inquiry. Both senators stressed thatbipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington was Ukraines most important strategic asset and that President Zelensky should not jeopardize that bipartisan support by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics. Yet that day Trump extended the hold on the aid.

The whole affair burst open on September 9. Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community notified the House and Senate intelligence committees that a whistleblower had filed a complaint on August 12 about Trumps pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden as the price for releasing military aid. The House demanded the release of the complaint and announced it would investigate Trump and Giulianis operation. On September 10, Bolton resigned. On September 11, Trump released the Ukraine aid. On September 25, the White House released a version of Trumps perfect call asking Zelinsky to do us a favor, though. On September 27, Volker resigned. That day, Johnson and Grassley sent a joint letter to Barr, citing Telizhenko as their source, demanding, Are you investigating links and coordination between the Ukrainian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee? If not, why not?

Johnson Digs a Hole

On October 3, Trump held an impromptu press conference on the South Lawn of the White House. Mr. President, what exactly did you hopeZelenskywould do about the Bidens after your phone call? asked a reporter. Well, he replied, I would think that, if they were honest about it, theyd start a major investigation into the Bidens. Its a very simple answer. Then he added, And by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine. Trumps remarks caused an uproar, taken as a brazen confession about Ukraine and committing another offense in his call for China to interfere for his political benefit.

Visiting the Middleton, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, Ron Johnson immediately defended Trumps comments. I want to find out what happened during 2016, he said, adding about Trumps call for China to investigate Biden, Idont think theres anything improper about doing that. The next morning, moving on to Sheboygan, Johnson tried to clean up his statement. No, and Im not sure thats whats happening, he said, denying Trump was calling on China to interfere in American politics.

Then Johnson leaped into the breach in a valiant effort to absolve Trump. He seemed to believe that by disclosing previously unknown stories he could be the hero. But in two interviews he gave on October 4, one to the Wall Street Journal and the other to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Johnson seemed to provide further evidence of Trumps guilt and dissembling, and made himself appear to be playing the fool.

To the Wall Street Journal, Johnson claimed that in a phone call on August 31 Trump flatly denied any quid pro quo of Ukraine political assistance for U.S. military aid. He said, Expletive deletedNo way. I would never do that. Who told you that? Johnson explained that he had learned about the quid pro quo from Sondland the day before. Sondland, he said, told him Ukraine would appoint a prosecutor to get to the bottom of what happened in 2016if President Trump has that confidence, then hell release the military spending. Johnson went on: At that suggestion, I winced. My reaction was: Oh, God. I dont want to see those two things combined.

To the Journal-Sentinel, Johnson elaborated on the August 31 call with Trump. I tried to convince him to give me the authority to tell President Zelensky that we were going to provide that. Now, I didnt succeed. The Milwaukee paper reported, Trump said he was considering withholding the aid because of alleged corruption involving the 2016 U.S. election. Johnson stood by the president, saying he was sympathetic to his concerns and didnt see any bad motives on his part.What happened in 2016? What happened in 2016? What was the truth about that? Johnson said about Trumps concerns.

With his stumbling interviews, Johnson revealed that he had been aware of the internal discussions about a quid pro quo before they were made public with the disclosure of the whistleblowers complaint, that rather than seek the truth of the matter he accepted Trumps falsehoods, and confirmed that Trumps motive involved not one but two conspiracy theories, one about Biden and the other about DNC server. Johnson also appeared to have inadvertently made himself into a material witness in an impeachment inquiry with a conflict-of-interest in serving as a juror in a Senate trial. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson just did Trump no favors on Ukraine, ran the headline on an analysis in the Washington Post by Aaron Blake. Johnson apparently thought [he] might help President Trump weather his Ukraine problem. But what he said was decidedly unhelpful for Trump.

Instead of rescuing Trump, Johnson had created more trouble. His effort to wipe up his little mess trying to justify Chinese interference had led to a bigger mess that seemed to implicate Trump in all the charges against him. Johnson now tried to contain his muddle with more damage control. He booked himself on NBCs Meet the Press for Sunday, October 6. His performance was an overlooked minor absurdist classic, half Samuel Beckett and half Abbott and Costello. Johnson was waiting for Godot to arrive with the answer to his quandaries while explaining who was on first.

The dialogue started with Chuck Todd, the host of Meet the Press, playing himself as an earnest journalist asking the question that should be asked, in other words, the straight man. Let me start with something you told the Wall Street Journal late last week. You had said when Mr. Sondland Gordon Sondland seemed to imply that the frozen military aid was connected to a promise by Zelensky for investigations, you said, At that suggestion, I winced. My reaction was, Oh God. I dont wanna see those two things combined. Why did you wince and what did you mean by those two things combined?

Johnsons opening lines established a tone of whining victimization followed by a non sequitur. Well, fir first of all, your setup piece was you know, typically, very unbiased. But, you know, le let me first, before I started answering all the detailed questions, let me just talk about why Im pretty sympathetic with what President Trump has gone through. You know, Im 64 years old. I have never in my lifetime seen a president, after being elected, not having some measure of well wishes from his opponents. Ive never seen a presidents administration be sabotaged from the day after election. I Ive never seen no no measure of honeymoon whatsoever. And so what President Trumps had to endure, a false accusation by the way, youve got John Brennan on you oughta ask Director Brennan what did [FBI agent] Peter Strzok mean when he texted [FBI agent] Lisa Page on December 15th, 2016? (Strzok had been removed from the Mueller investigation after his text messages to Page, which contained anti-Trump sentiments, were disclosed.)

With the formalities of throat clearing out of the way, the interview took off. It is worth quoting at some length to convey the full extent of the Trump defender dissolving into dogmatic incoherence in the face of the skeptical reportorial question.


I have no idea why


Were gettin no, thats thats



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The Life and Adventures of Ron Johnson: His Journey Through Multiple Untruths to the Fable of Obamagate - Just Security

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Almeada Sanchez Sloan Wilson Tipton | News, Sports, Jobs – The Review

Posted: at 11:56 am

EAST LIVERPOOL Almeada Sanchez Sloan Wilson Tipton, 77 of East Liverpool passed away at her home on Saturday, July 18, 2020 surrounded by her family. Almeada was born on November 26, 1942 in Wheeling, WV, the daughter of William Paul Tipton. She resided in the area for most of her life.

Almeada was a member of the Edwardian Ladies as well as a member of the Campground Community Church. She was among the best knitters and crocheters in three counties. Almeada was also a master of the craft of Cherokee Finger Weaving and beading. She was a member of Turtle Clan. Almeada was known for her endless generosity and kindness, influencing generations in our community. She leaves behind many who called her their second mom or grandma.

Almeada leaves behind her two sons, Joseph Williams of New York City and Robert Williams of Ireland. Also surviving are three brothers: Bruce, Ron and Preston Tipton, all of Wisconsin, and one sister, Kathy Coughenour, of Peoria, OK; her granddaughter, Sarah Williams and great grandson, Gary Rawleigh.

As per Almeadas wishes, no funeral service will take place. An open house gathering will take place on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 from 1PM until 8PM at her home: 806 St John Street East Liverpool, OH. Please call Joe at (646) 510-6194 to arrange your safe visit.

Family and friends may view this obituary, sign the guest book, and leave condolences to the family at


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AUTO RACING: Mitchell outduels Puckett in Twin 45s – Evening News and Tribune

Posted: at 11:56 am

JEFFERSONVILLE Jeremy Mitchell and Ricky Puckett dueled Saturday night at Sportsdrome Speedway.

The two went back and forth in theXtreme 8 Bud Light Mania Twin 45 races.

Mitchell, the fastest qualifier, beat Puckett in the first 45-lap race. Puckett, however, countered and took the checkered flag in the second 45-lap race over Mitchell. Mitchell was the overall winner by points, though, while Puckett took second. Mike Berry, who finished fourth in both races, was third overall while Darrin Greenwell, who was sixth and third respectively in the two races, finished fourth overall and Steve Moneypenny, fifth in both races, was fifth overall.

Also Saturday night, Nick Cooper took the checkered flag in the 28-lap Race8 Pro Fwd while Austin Baum was the fastest qualifier, and the winner, of the Pro Fwd Oval.

In the Ford Oval races, Jesse Suell won the 30-lap A Feature No. 1 while Perry Whitsett took the checkered flag in the 30-lap A Feature No. 2.

In the Ford Figure 8, Robbie Greenwell crossed the finish line first in his orange No. 40 ahead ofMarcus Elliott and Daniel Lister.

The final race of the night, the Ford Powder Puff, was a last-lap dash. In the end, Maranda Jane held off a fast-gaining Miranda Basham at the finish line.



Fastest qualifier:Jeremy Mitchell 21.431

Overall finish:1. Mitchell,2. Ricky Puckett,3. Mike Berry,4. Darrin Greenwell,5. Steve Moneypenny,6. John Groulx,7. Doug Wicker,8. Tom Johnson,9. Todd Whitfield,10. Jake Wells.

1st 45-lap race:1. Mitchell,2. Puckett,3. Wicker,4. Berry,5. Moneypenny,6. Greenwell,7. Groulx,8. Johnson,9. Whitfield,10. Wells.

2nd 45-lap race:1. Puckett,2. Mitchell,3. Greenwell,4. Berry,5. Moneypenny,6. Groulx,7. Johnson,8. Josh Logsdon,9. Whitfield,10. Wells.


Heats (from July 11th):Ty Scott, Ryan Seay

28-lap feature:1. Nick Cooper,2. John Franzell,3. Alex Bube,4. Brandon Dalton,5. Tom Johnson,6. Billy Hines,7. Dean Riley,8. Morgan Jeffries,9. Donald Coffey,10. Brian Isgrigg.


Fastest qualifier:Austin Baum 15.944

Jurek's LawnCare 40:1. Baum,2. Brandon Dalton,3. Nick Cooper,4. Jamie Bierman,5. Zach Curtis,6. John Franzell,7. CJ Higgins,8. Alex Bube,9. Carter Cook,10. David Gilliland.


30-lap A Feature No. 1:1. Jesse Suell,2. James Blanchard,3. Joel Smith,4. Paul Taylor,5. Daniel Durrett,6. Carl Harding,7. Paul Hartlage,8. Ron Phillips,9. Robbie Greenwell,10. Leonard Blanchard.

30-lap A Feature No. 2:1. Perry Whitsett,2. Adam Grimsley,3. Zach Minton,4. Marcus Elliott,5. Brandon Winters,6. Derek Smith,7. Denny Wilder,8. John Lister,9. Jason Adams,10. Ken Tungett.


30-lap feature:1. Robbie Greenwell,2. Marcus Elliott,3. Daniel Lister,4. Paul Hartlage,5. Andy Perryman,6. Ricky Puckett,7. Jacob Robertson,8. Joel Smith,9. Derek Smith,10. Justin Groulx.


30-lap feature:1. Maranda Jane,2. Miranda Basham,3. Christina Jessie,4. Leslie Blanchard,5. Katie Shelton,6. Kaci Franklin,7. Krista Tungett,8. Tiffany Shelton,9. Brandi Tungett,10. Kyla Hall.

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What We Learned From New FOIA Documents About The DOJs Wire Act Opinion –

Posted: July 15, 2020 at 9:58 pm

Freedom of Information Act documents turned over to New Jersey paint more of a picture of what happened leading up to and in the wake of the Department of Justices decision to alter its opinion on the federal Wire Act in 2018.

Online Poker Report has received the results of the request from NJs attorney general. AG Gurbir Grewal was looking for information relating to outside groups lobbying efforts in the FOIA request. In particular, he was trying to find a link between the DOJ opinion and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a longtime opponent of online gambling in the United States.

The 2018 Wire Act opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel changed the DOJs stance on the Wire Act, saying it applies to all forms of interstate gambling, not just sports betting. That stance threatens the legality of online casinos, online poker and online lotteries in states that have legalized any of those things, in addition to other things, including multi-state lottery products.

A federal court has already rejected the new DOJ memo; the case is still active in appeals court.

Heres what we learned from the FOIA documents. While there is no smoking gun linking Adelson or his lobbying group to the DOJs change on the Wire Act, it does detail interactions between the department and outside sources.

All documents and emails referenced below are from the FOIA request.

The FOI uncovered that as early as March of 2017, some at the DOJ were already looking at changing the departments opinion on The Wire Act. According to guidance from the DOJ in 2011, the Wire Act applied only to sports betting and other forms of gambling that might cross state lines.

This correspondence took place more than a year and a half before the new OLC memo (written in 2018, and released in early 2019). It also roughly coincides with outside efforts to effect this change from a law firm (Cooper and Kirk) that works with the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. CSIG is believed to be bankrolled by Adelson.

Heres an email from February of 2017, an introduction of a lawyer for a firm that works with CSIG, that likely led to a memo from Cooper and Kirk on the Wire Act.

That led to email exchanges in 2017 where CSIG lawyers were interacting with the DOJ in March and trying to set up a meeting. The email below is from Acting Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General James Mann:

More on DOJ actively engaging with someone from Steptoe on the issue, which seems to imply the DOJ working actively with outside sources regarding the Wire Act opinion:

CSIG, as we already knew before the FOIA, submitted its Wire Act memo in April 2017:

The issue continued to have momentum in May:

Graham is Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has long advanced Adelsons agenda on other topics as well as online gambling.

The issue made its way to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a week later in a memo that was entirely redacted except for a footnote:

While not a smoking gun, it would be quite the coincidence if these lobbying efforts started and the reaction started soon thereafter. The DOJ attempts to distance itself from those lobbying efforts in answering reporters questions after the Wire Act opinion was released in 2019:

Interestingly, the CSIG had a press release ready to go soon after the Wire Act opinion was released.

Then acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker denied any influence in the crafting of the opinion.

Regardless, a lot of the heavy lifting on the early understanding of the Wire Act opinion happened well in advance of the opinion actually dropping, and a lot of people in the DOJ were thinking about it.

This is perhaps not shocking, as the DOJ is part of the executive branch.

Nevertheless, multiple people at the White House (WH below) were interested in what was going on around the Wire Act. This could just be standard operating procedure to loop in White House on a change in the interpretation of the law, but there was a lot of White House interest.

Here is an email chain that came just as Online Poker Report broke the news that a Wire Act opinion was coming (the Twitter post referenced is a link to OPRs story in December):

More from a few days later:

More after the opinions release:

The FOIA request had hoped to turn up more evidence that Adelson was working with the DOJ and/or the White House to change the Wire Act interpretation. While it didnt do that, it did demonstrate a lot of White House involvement that could potentially be explained by the normal course of business.

Adelson has been a large donor to the campaign of President Donald Trump and has demonstrated he has the presidents ear on other issues.

The FOIA request also turned up lots of correspondence with the DOJ about the 2011 and 2018 Wire Act opinions.

Notable, former US Sen. Ron Paul urged the DOJ to keep the opinion in place way back in June of 2017:

Its not entirely clear why Paul was writing this at this exact moment in time, but he had been an opponent of repeated Congressional efforts to change the Wire Act to cover online gambling.

Former Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning also wrote the DOJ asking for the 2011 opinion to stand, according to the FOIA documents.

The FOIA also includes a number of other letters regarding the status of the opinion before and after it was issued.

A sidenote to all the documents in the request: Shortly after the US Supreme Court ended the federal ban on sports betting, the NCAA and the NFL had a meeting with the DOJ. This had been previously reported.

Its not clear if the Wire Act would have come up at this meeting, but it is included in the FOIA documents:

A letter from the NCAA and NFL to the DOJ did mention the Wire Act in passing.

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