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By Jane C. Timm

Hours after Republicans pushed through bills curbing the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, Wisconsin Democrats charged Wednesday that it was nothing but a naked partisan power grab denying the will of the voters and would lead to gridlock and lawsuits.

“Certainly, physically I’m tired, but I’m sort of demoralized by what took place,” state Rep. Gordon Hintz, the Assembly Democratic leader, told NBC News. “It was a bad day for democracy.”

The legislation weakens the governor’s authority, limits early voting and dilutes the attorney general’s power by requiring a legislative committee to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits. Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul campaigned on withdrawing Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Evers called the bills a “hot mess” on Wednesday, and said he’d personally call on Walker to veto the legislation. He also encouraged Wisconsin voters to pressure Walker not to sign the bills into law.

Republicans say it’s a better balance of power, while Democrats and advocates say the laws are a power grab by a GOP hellbent on limiting the power of their political rivals.

“Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on Nov. 6th,” Evers said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat who served as the state’s attorney general as well, said the legislature’s move “lacked class.”

Doyle remarked that while former President George H.W. Bush was being praised for gracefully losing an election — famously wishing successor and rival President Bill Clinton well in a letter — the state’s Republicans were engaging partisan ploys.

“In Wisconsin, you’ve seen the Republicans go the opposite way: We’re mad, we lost, and we’re going to try and change the rules,” he told NBC News.

He said the legislation’s restrictions on the governor’s ability to staff the state jobs agency until September will make the governor’s work more challenging.

Hintz said he fears the bills will lead to gridlock because of court challenges and unintended consequences.

“Rushing through legislation on three days notice, in an all night session, always leads to unintended consequences and outcomes that you ultimately have to go back and fix. It’s a very bad way to do business,” Hintz said.

Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, said that Republican legislative efforts in Wisconsin as well as in Michigan are “a dangerous assault on our democracy.”

“Changing the rules when you don’t like the outcome is a move befitting a playground bully, not elected leaders in the world’s greatest democracy. Yet unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re seeing lame-duck Republicans attempt in Wisconsin and Michigan,” she said.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who lost his re-election effort last month to Evers, was booed and heckled at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday for his support of the bills; the legislation will go into effect upon his signature.

Democrats won every statewide election including governor and attorney general and 205,000 more votes than Republicans according to Washington Post election data, but Republicans maintained a 27-seat majority in the legislature.

Hintz said the legislation — and GOP control — is thanks to partisan redistricting done by Republicans, insulating them from facing blowback at the ballot box.

“This is the government you get when you get to pick your voters,” he told NBC News.

Doyle, who retired from politics in 2011, said the week’s events in Wisconsin were a good example of the nation’s political dysfunction.

“These districts are so divided, so safe Democrat or safe Republican,” he told NBC News. “That means that you have this phenomenon where the legislatures are playing to their bases and not to the middle. And I think everybody who looks at what’s happening with our current situation in legislatures — and in Congress — would say that’s the cause of the problem.”

Shaquille Brewster contributed.



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EU believes second referendum MORE LIKELY likely than no deal says Hague

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THE European Union believes a second Brexit referendum is more likely to happen than the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal, former Tory leader William Hague has said as he set out exactly what Theresa May should say to European leaders to get a new deal.

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Trump ally Roger Stone says he still has not been contacted by Mueller’s team

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By Anna Schecter and Michael Cappetta

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has never contacted former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone during its 19-month investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Stone and his attorney said in interviews Tuesday.

Stone has told reporters in the past that he’s had no contact with Mueller, and that remains true as 2019 approaches.

“Nothing’s changed,” Stone said during an interview with NBC News on Capitol Hill while he was protesting with InfoWars’ Alex Jones outside a hearing where Google CEO Sundar Pichar answered lawmakers’ questions about alleged political bias.

Stone’s ties to President Donald Trump go back four decades. He worked for the Trump campaign as an adviser for a short time in 2015 and continued as an informal adviser after leaving his role. During the summer of 2016, he made several public statements that seemed to indicate he had spoken to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or could be interpreted to mean he had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks was going to release hacked Democratic emails, which he denies.

More than 10 of his associates have now been called before a grand jury in D.C. to answer questions from Mueller’s prosecutors related to Stone and WikiLeaks.

Stone said several months ago that he expects to be indicted. Even though he says he has not been contacted by Mueller’s team, he wrote in an August email to supporters that “Robert Mueller is coming for me” and that Mueller’s investigators are “examining every aspect of my personal, private, family, social, business and political life.”

Legal analyst Daniel Goldman said based on the number of witnesses interviewed there is no question the special counsel is conducting a serious and intensive investigation into Stone, but that his appears to be a tricky case and it is by no means a certainty he will be charged.

“In order for Stone to be charged with conspiring with others to interfere with the fair and proper administration of the 2016 election, the special counsel must determine that he took specific actions to coordinate with WikiLeaks and assist in the dissemination of the hacked emails… If he merely learned about it and did not take any steps to assist or coordinate, then he did not commit a crime,” said Goldman, an NBC News legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Stone testified before the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017 about Russia and Trump and Tuesday he stood by his testimony saying everything he told the committee “is true and accurate.” He noted he supplemented his testimony with four documents at the request of the committee, which “bolsters my testimony.”

In one of the supplemental documents he provided the committee he named Randy Credico as his backchannel to WikiLeaks. When asked Tuesday why he didn’t initially name Credico, Stone said he “feared professional reprisal against [Credico] in the workplace, yet I was persuaded by the committee and my own attorneys to identify him which I did.” Stone and Credico texted about WikiLeaks during the summer and fall of 2016, with Credico texting at one point he was “best friends” with Assange’s lawyer. Credico has repeatedly denied that he got any inside information from WikiLeaks.

In another supplemental document for the committee Stone acknowledged a brief meeting in Florida with a Russian named Henry Greenberg during the campaign.

“The question before House Intelligence Committee was did I meet with any representatives of the Russian State. [Greenberg] does not qualify,” he said Tuesday.

Stone recently declined to speak with the Senate Judiciary Committee in its Russia probe.

During the heat of the campaign in June 2016, Assange announced he had emails damaging to Clinton. Communications reviewed by NBC News show that Stone and others made efforts to try to learn details about what was coming. The Friday before the Democratic National Convention, Assange released the first batch of DNC emails.

On Aug. 8, 2016, Stone told the Southwest Broward Republican Organization, “I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

On Aug. 21, 2016, he tweeted, “Trust me, it will soon [sic] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Two months later Assange began releasing Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. His attorney notes that this tweet followed a series of tweets about Podesta the week before. Podesta was the subject of Republican opposition research during the campaign and some in Stone’s camp have said that it was not out of the blue that Stone would text about Podesta.

Stone has been saying for months that the statements he made in 2016 were political bluster in the heat of a campaign, and his attorney said that media focus on them takes them out of context. Stone maintains he has never spoken to Assange, and while he may have asked people to find out details about the content and timing of WikiLeaks’ publication of Democrats’ emails that would be damaging to Clinton, he in no way colluded with WikiLeaks and did nothing illegal to try to help the campaign of Donald Trump.

In the wide-ranging interview with NBC News Stone said he never spoke to candidate Trump about WikiLeaks during the campaign.

Stone’s friend Jerome Corsi has been questioned by Mueller’s team and was offered a plea deal for lying to investigators, which he rejected. Corsi has sued Mueller and other government agencies for allegedly trying to blackmail him into lying. Asked what he thinks about Corsi’s approach, he said, “I wouldn’t do it the same way.”

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Michael Cappetta reported from Washington, D.C.

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Theresa May FINALLY wins a vote after Brexit SHAMBLES – but its not what you think

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THERESA May has finally won a vote after her chaotic Brexit shambles and opposition from all sides on her withdrawal agreement. But it’s not what you think.

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