Former Ukraine diplomat Marie Yovanovitch has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) - Former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat who during the impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump offered a chilling account of alleged threats from Trump and his allies, has a book deal.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt confirmed Friday to The Associated Press that it had ...

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'American voters should decide American elections – not Putin': Trump accused of threatening democracy after fresh warnings over Russian interference

'American voters should decide American elections - not Putin': Trump accused of threatening democracy after fresh warnings over Russian interferenceUS intelligence officials warned Congress that Russia plans to interfere in 2020 Democratic elections and challenges in November, but officials in Moscow are dismissing the allegations as "paranoid" while Washington leaders condemn Donald Trump's reported efforts to dismiss the threat.Following a 13 February briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, the president reportedly berated the national intelligence director for allowing the hearing to take place, which allowed his Democratic impeachment foes to hear testimony about foreign interference similar to the Russian efforts at the centre of an investigation in 2016.

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Trump Tries Georgia End Run On Senate Race

By David Kamioner | February 21, 2020

The GOP has a problem in Georgia and his name is Doug Collins. Not that Collins isn’t sharp and a strong Trump supporter. He proved both by his exemplary performance during the House impeachment sham.

The issue is that his political ambitions could throw an easy GOP seat to the Democrats.

GOP Senator Johnny Isakson resigned late last year due to health reasons. GOP Governor Brian Kemp appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler to take the seat until a special election this November. Trump and the GOP party organization endorsed Loeffler for the seat. But then Collins got in the picture.

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Looking at very strong polling numbers against Loeffler, he’s bucking the GOP and the president and running for the seat. His excellent performance during impeachment must have only given him more confidence in his decision and made him think the president would not come down too hard on him.

He is right about the president, but not about the party. They had this to say when he made his decision: “This shortsighted decision is stunning,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin. “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump. Not to mention the people of Georgia who will stand to bear the burden of it for years to come. All he has done is put two senate seats, multiple house seats, and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in play.”

You can’t really blame Collins. It’s a rule in politics to look out for number one and take your shot when it’s there for you. The party and the president do not agree because Georgia has weird election rules. All candidates run in November and the top person takes the seat. However, if no one takes a majority then a runoff happens in January. So if too many Republicans run, a Democrat can sneak in through the middle and take the seat because the GOP vote gets split.

Got that?

So, not a happy situation in the GOP Georgia family. Thus, dad steps in.

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The president is offering the high-powered DNI, Director of National Intelligence, post to Collins. It’s the most important intel post in the nation and would give Collins serious creds for higher office. If Collins took it that would get him out of the way in Georgia and make everyone happy.

But Collins isn’t biting. Friday morning he told Fox News that he is still running for the Senate seat. He could be holding out for a better price. Or perhaps he looks at his good numbers in the race and thinks Trump will go easy on him and be distracted by his own race.

But the president has just started his pressure on Collins. We’ll see what happens as November get closer.

This piece originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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The post Trump Tries Georgia End Run On Senate Race appeared first on The Political Insider.

The intelligence community erupts as Trump purges everyone opposed to Russian election interference

Step One: The intelligence official in charge of election security delivers the required briefing at a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee and informs the members of that committee that a) Russia has already engaged in interfering with the 2020 election, b) it is trying to sow dissension among Democrats, and c) the ultimate goal is to support Trump. 

Step Two: Republicans on that committee rush to Donald Trump, not to warn him about Russian interference but to complain that Democrats know about the interference. Trump responds by hauling in the acting director of national intelligence, raking him over the coals, and replacing him with a man whose entire skill set consists of making hate-tweets and promoting Russia.

Step Three: Chaos. Only … not enough chaos.

On Friday morning, NBC News was one of several outlets reporting a “near meltdown” in the intelligence community after the news was released that acting direct of national intelligence Joseph Maguire was to be replaced by xenophobic hate-bomb specialist Richard Grenell. Much of what’s happening inside the ODNI hasn’t become public, but there has apparently been enough pushback that Trump has already announced that Grenell will be a short-term appointment until he picks someone else.

Then, on Thursday evening, Trump offered the role to Doug Collins—an offer that still seems to be open. But Collins has already declared that he doesn’t want the job, because he’s still intent on running for a Senate slot in Georgia, a task that’s been complicated by Trump’s praise for the recently appointed Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

As of Friday morning, Trump has announced that he will be appointing someone other than Grenell, but who that someone will be is still up in the air. In the meantime, the intelligence community has joined the Judiciary Community at full boil. It’s become absolutely clear that Trump is purging intelligence officials whose only crime is that they provided accurate intelligence to a committee that is not just cleared, but required to receive that information.

When word came that Maguire was being swapped out for Grenell, the initial reaction was a mixture of two parts disgust and one part puzzlement. Grenell has absolutely no experience in intelligence, and he’s never run so much as a shoe store. What he has done in his short time as U.S. ambassador to Germany is offend American allies and widen the fractures in the NATO alliance as he praised neo-fascist leaders, attacked his host country for admitting refugees, and defended Russian leader Vladimir Putin. But of course, Republican leaders in Congress rushed to applaud this appointment, even as everyone else scratched their heads.

It didn’t take long before the reasons behind the intelligence makeover became clear. At a closed-door briefing for the House Intelligence Committee last Thursday, intelligence official Shelby Pierson provided a required update on what the intelligence community knew about the security of the 2020 election. Pierson revealed that Russia was already actively engaged in interfering in the upcoming election, and that it was interfering for the purpose of supporting Donald Trump.

Republicans present at that meeting—who included Devin Nunes, Mike Conaway, and John Ratcliffe—rushed to the White House in concern. But they were not concerned about the Russian interference. They were concerned that Democrats knew about the interference. Trump shared that concern and seemed to be convinced that Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff had been given some special information, though there seems to be no indication that this is true.

Trump then called in acting DNI Joseph Maguire and reamed him out for allowing Pierson to give a long-scheduled and congressionally mandated briefing. Even though Maguire had been instrumental in trying to block the intelligence community whistleblower report that started off the impeachment investigation of Trump from ever seeing the light of day, that little favor did not seem to cool Trump’s fire. At the end of the day, he canned Maguire and went looking for someone who would be loyal to Trump rather than to the nation.

What’s happening at both the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at this moment is a last stand by those who have some concern other than protecting Trump’s political interests. What’s most frightening is just how small that group of fighters appears to be.

Doug Collins says he won’t be intel chief after Trump floats him for DNI job

Rep. Doug Collins quickly shot down speculation that he would be nominated as the next director of national intelligence after President Donald Trump floated the Georgia Republican for the role of America’s spy chief, insisting Friday that he would instead continue his campaign for Senate.

“Wow, you know, it is humbling. I mean, it’s amazing for a trooper’s kid from north Georgia to have the president think that much of you — to mention my name among others to be this position,” Collins told Fox Business, hours after Trump revealed Thursday night to reporters on Air Force One that he was considering the congressman for the post.

“But let me just tell you right now that I know the problems in our intelligence community, but this is not a job that interests me at this time,” Collins added. “It’s not one that I would accept because I’m running a Senate race down here in Georgia.”

Collins’ dismissal of the president’s suggestion comes after the White House on Wednesday tapped Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and a staunch Trump loyalist, to take over for outgoing acting national intelligence director Joseph Maguire.

Trump’s decision to elevate Grenell, who has not served in any U.S. intelligence agency, has alarmed critics who fear the president is seeking to politicize one of the most sensitive offices in the federal government and bend the intelligence community to his will.

The president’s proposal to install Collins as national intelligence director on a permanent basis was also likely to have elicited significant criticism — especially given that it is not the first time Trump has explored choosing a fierce congressional ally for the job.

Trump previously nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to become national intelligence director in July, but Ratcliffe withdrew himself from consideration just five days later in the face of heavy scrutiny.

Ratcliffe previously served as the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, but had minimal experience in the intelligence community beyond his six-month tenure on the House Intelligence Committee. Both Ratcliffe and Collins were vocal defenders of the president amid former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the House impeachment proceedings.

Collins is now waging a campaign against appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler to complete the term of former Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned last year — bucking the wishes of Georgia’s Republican governor and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but invigorating supporters of the president who view him as a more sincere Trump devotee.

“I’m very humbled by the president. I’m a supporter of this president. I’m going to continue to fight for this president in the House this year,” Collins said Friday. “And we’ll be in the Senate next year because this intelligence community has to get right. And I’m sure the president will pick somebody appropriate for that job.”

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Trump Rocks Rallies Out West, Slams Bloomberg And Hollywood

For those who don’t particularly care to get their political and cultural analysis from leftist cable news, there is another pundit out there who has usually gets it right.

The president of the United States.

Wednesday and Thursday nights were no exception, as President Trump took well-aimed shots at a range of topics and targets at a raucous rally in Phoenix, Arizona and at a similar event in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Arizona, much to Democrat chagrin in 2016, is solid red. Colorado was until recently thought to be solid Democrat territory, though current analysis could put it in the toss up column for November.

Trump continued his mocking of Mike Bloomberg in Phoenix on Wednesday, “I hear he’s getting pounded tonight — you know he’s in a debate. I hear that pounding. He spent $500 million so far and I think he has 15 points. Crazy Bernie was at 30.”

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His son Don, Jr. echoed his dad on social media, “Like a deer in the headlights! Like I said last week Mini, you can’t buy personality or wit and the whole world just saw it.”

The president also justifiably hit Amy Klobuchar’s campaign as “dead” on Wednesday because of her disastrous debate performance and her junior high school airhead question of Pete Buttigieg, “Are you calling me dumb?” Pete may have only implied it, Amy. But we have no problem answering, yes.

For good measure, in Phoenix he compared Pete Buttigieg to Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Newman. We get that, though also see a lot of Pee wee Herman there.

Commenting on pop culture in Colorado Springs on Thursday he said, “By the way, how bad were the Academy Awards this year? ‘And the winner is a movie from South Korea’. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of that, they give them the best movie of the year? Was it good? I don’t know. I’m looking for like, let’s get ‘Gone with the Wind.’ Can we get ‘Gone with the Wind’ back, please? ‘Sunset Boulevard’? So many good movies.”

The crowd loved it.

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“The winner is from South Korea. I thought it was best foreign film. Best foreign movie. No — did this ever happen before? And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got up and gave a little wise guy statement.”

On both nights the president went on to recount his accomplishments in office and take other hard punches at the Democrats for the impeachment drama and their knee jerk leftism.

This piece originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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Russia is interfering in the 2020 election, and Republicans are moving to protect … the interference

The story has come out in pieces over the last two days, but those pieces are slotting into place with sickening clarity: Last week, a member of the intelligence community testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to support Donald Trump. Republican representatives rushed to the White House in concern, not about the interference, but about the fact that Democrats knew about it. And Trump then responded by  purging the intelligence community of anyone who was trying to combat the interference.

The result is that not only is Russia known to be interfering in support of Trump, but Republicans are openly acting to support that interference. And the intelligence community is being flipped from an instrument meant to protect the nation into one that exists entirely to support Trump.

Hundreds of times, maybe thousands, Republicans, and even some Democrats, have sounded the same refrain when Trump removed some adviser, ambassador, official, U. S. attorney, or general. “Donald Trump deserves someone he can trust as his ...“ … whatever. In fact, Donald Trump Jr. made exactly that statement about incoming director of national intelligence Richard Grenell on Wednesday evening, after Trump had exiled the current acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, for the crime of telling Congress what it is legally required to know.

That formula, the one that starts with “Trump deserves …,” is a recipe for disaster. And that disaster has already arrived.

Within weeks of occupying the White House, Trump put those people he “deserved” in charge of the EPA and the Interior Department, in charge of Energy and ICE. Trump got exactly what he needed to please the crowds at his rallies. The nation got national monuments destroyed, public lands given away, and environmental protections slashed. It also got parents being taken away in front of their kids, an ugly and useless wall being erected along the border, the destruction of the immigration policies that have defined America, and children in cages. That is what it means when Trump gets what he “deserves” and America doesn’t.

It took Trump longer to overcome the judiciary. From the moment he sat down in the Oval Office, the justice system has been a thorn in his side. Whether it was judges ruling against his travel ban, U.S. attorneys stubbornly continuing to investigate crimes committed by Trump’s company and friends, or even Trump loyalist Jeff Sessions stepping aside from the Russia investigation, the whole judiciary seemed to represent a limit on his authority. Then Trump got the attorney general he deserved. And the hundreds of new federal judges he deserved. And America got laws that protected Trump from charges, or investigation, or even mention in any criminal affair. 

There should have been a roadblock at the legislature, but despite all the efforts made in the House, the narrow Republican majority in the Senate had already made it abundantly clear that it was the Senate he deserves. Trump got a big tax cut—not just for “billionaires” in the abstract, but a huge reward for himself of tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Trump got the judges he deserves, the Cabinet officers he deserves, the support for bombing and murder that he deserves, the voter suppression he deserves. And of course he got the impeachment trial strangled in its crib, just as he deserves.

Fresh off that endorsement of everything he deserves, Trump launched into full-on purge mode, clearing out the remaining members of every agency that thought they were there for something other than what Trump deserves. The State Department and the NSA, a second pass through the DOJ … giving Trump what he deserves.

Now he’s got what he deserves. He’s got an attorney general willing to set aside the law for Trump. He’s got a Republican Congress that is protecting him even if that means openly acting against the nation. He’s got an incoming DNI who knows nothing about intelligence … but knows that he is exactly what Trump deserves.

One more visit with Masha Gessen:

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.

Of course, the United States has much stronger institutions than Germany did in the 1930s, or Russia does today. Both Clinton and Obama in their speeches stressed the importance and strength of these institutions. The problem, however, is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them—including the ones enshrined in law—depend on the good faith of all actors to fulfill their purpose and uphold the Constitution.

Elections are also an institution. Their free and fair execution is just as dependent on the “good faith of all actors,” and not on Donald Trump getting what he “deserves.”