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House Intelligence Committee releases full report on Russia investigation

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Republicans, too, had complaints Friday. Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who led the committee’s Russia probe, and Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., were strongly critical of the intelligence community for the significant number of redactions they made to the document, and said they would press to make more information public.

“I am extremely disappointed with the overzealous redactions,” Conaway said. “When we started this investigation, we set out to give the American people the answers to the questions they’ve been asking and we promised to be as transparent as possible in our final report. I don’t believe the information we’re releasing today meets that standard.”

The committee voted along party lines in March to formally close the Russia investigation, after just more than one year. Democrats have continued to press ahead with their own investigation, which included an interview just this week with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

“Republicans chose not to seriously investigate — or even see, when in plain sight — evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, instead adopting the role of defense counsel for key investigation witnesses,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement. “There is no denying the abundant evidence that the Trump campaign sought, and was eager to accept, the assistance of a hostile foreign power bent on interfering in our election.”

The final report, drafted by the Republican majority, does criticize some Trump campaign officials for taking “ill-advised” meetings with Russians, some with links directly to the Kremlin. It acknowledges that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort expected to receive “but did not ultimately obtain” information from a Kremlin-linked lawyer that could damage the Clinton campaign. It also notes that Donald Trump Jr. “briefly met” a Russian government official at National Rifle Association conference, but says there was “no evidence” that they discussed the presidential election.

The report does strongly criticize the Obama administration for in its view failing to adequately confront Russian efforts to meddle in the U.S. election. It also repeats charges of a memo drafted by Nunes that the Justice Department misled a judge in its effort to obtain a secret surveillance warrant on Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy aide.

To cast doubt on the idea that Trump campaign officials actively cooperated with Russians, it points to the Trump transition team’s attempt to establish a back-channel with the Russian government to suggest there was no existing relationship by that point.

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Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain, GOP governor

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PHOENIX — Arizona Republicans voted Saturday to censure Cindy McCain and two prominent GOP officials who have found themselves crosswise with former President Donald Trump.

The censures of Sen. John McCain’s widow, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Gov. Doug Ducey are merely symbolic. But they show the party’s foot soldiers are focused on enforcing loyalty to Trump, even in the wake of an election that saw Arizona inch away from its staunchly Republican roots.

Party activists also reelected controversial Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who has been one of Trump’s most unflinching supporters and among the most prolific promoters of his baseless allegations of election fraud.

The Arizona GOP’s combative focus has delighted Trump’s staunchest supporters and worried Republican insiders who have watched the party lose ground in the suburbs as the influence of its traditional conservative establishment has faded in favor of Trump. A growing electorate of young Latinos and newcomers bringing their more liberal politics have further hurt the GOP.

“This is a time for choosing for Republicans. Are we going to be the conservative party?” said Kirk Adams, a former state House speaker and chief of staff to Ducey. “Or is this a party … that’s loyal to a single person?”

It’s a question of Republican identity that party officials and activists are facing across the country following Trump’s 2020 loss, and particularly after a mob of his supporters laid siege on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Nowhere is the question more acute than Arizona, where the state GOP’s unflinching loyalty to Trump stands out even in a party that’s been remade everywhere in the image of the former president.

Ward has relentlessly — but unsuccessfully — sued to overturn the election results. The party has used its social media accounts to urge followers to fight and perhaps even to die in support of Trump’s false claims of victory. Two of the state’s four Republican congressmen are accused of playing a role in organizing the Jan. 6 rally that turned violent.

After dominating Arizona politics for decades, Republicans now find themselves on their heels in the state’s highest offices. President Joe Biden narrowly eked out a victory here, becoming just the second Democrat in more than five decades to win the state. Consecutive victories in 2018 and 2020 gave Democrats control of both U.S. Senate seats for the first time in nearly 70 years.

Ward, a physician and former state legislator who lost two Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate, defeated three challengers to win a second term.

In a brief interview, Ward acknowledged “disappointment at the top of the ticket” but said she and many other Republicans still question the results showing victories for Biden and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Judges have rejected eight lawsuits challenging Arizona’s election results.

Ward pointed to GOP successes down the ballot, noting Republicans defied expectations in local races.

Ward said she’s a “Trump Republican” who will “always put America first, who believes in faith, family and freedom.” The way forward for the GOP, she said, is keeping Trump’s 74 million voters engaged.

“Yes, I will be radical about those things because those are the things that keep this country great,” Ward said. “The people who are complaining are the people who actually put us in this spot where we are in Arizona, people who have been mamby pamby, lie down and allow the Democrats to walk all over them.”

The censures target some of Arizona’s most prominent Republicans,

Cindy McCain endorsed Biden and became a powerful surrogate for the Democrat following years of attacks by Trump on her husband. She was also targeted by the state party for her support of “leftist causes,” including gay marriage.

“Maybe (Ward) should be reminded that my husband never lost an Arizona election since his first win in 1982,” McCain said in a statement before the vote.

Flake was one of the few congressional Republicans who was openly critical of Trump for failing to adhere to conservative values. He declined to run for reelection in 2018 and endorsed Biden in last year’s election.

“If condoning the President’s behavior is required to stay in the Party’s good graces, I’m just fine being on the outs,” Flake wrote on Twitter before the vote.

Ducey is being targeted for his restrictions on individuals and businesses to contain the spread of COVID-19. While it’s not mentioned in the proposed censure, he had a high-profile break with the president when he signed the certification of Biden’s victory.

“These resolutions are of no consequence whatsoever and the people behind them have lost whatever little moral authority they may have once had,” said Sara Mueller, Ducey’s political director.

Many traditional conservatives fret that the censures and Ward’s combative style turn off the swing voters and ticket-splitters who handed Democrats their recent victories. But they say the party’s decisions will reflect only the views of about 1,500 committed activists.

John McCain was censured by the state GOP in 2014 and went on to comfortably win a Republican primary over Ward and a general election. The self-described maverick, known best for his willingness to buck his party, had strained relations with the state party for much of his career but was consistently reelected by wide margins.

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‘EU megalomaniacs are unbearable!’ MEP turns screw on bloc after UK diplomat row erupts

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EU technocrats trying to install a post-Brexit ambassador in London have been lambasted as “unbearable” and “megalomaniacal” by a French MEP.

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SNP sparks furious row as Sturgeon accused of 'stashing away' cash for independence drive

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FINANCIAL sparks are set to fly next week with Scotland set to unveil its annual budget but SNP ministers have been accused of not being transparent with their funding.

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