Late last week, the two Republican FEC commissioners blocked an investigation into whether Russians used the National Rifle Association (NRA) to pump millions of dollars into the effort to help Donald Trump get elected in 2016.
Early last year, McClatchy DC reported that the FBI was investigating whether Russian banker Alexander Torshin, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, had illegally donated large sums to the NRA to get Trump elected.
In March, the FEC launched a preliminary investigation into the matter. Now, however, the commission’s Republicans have blocked the agency from investigating further.
“This is an abandonment of the Commission’s basic duty to investigate wrongdoing, and is contrary to law,” commented FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub in a statement.
“All our lawyers had to do was pick up the phone, call the FBI, and ask: Are you, in fact, investigating the Respondents for the violations alleged? But when I suggested that the Commission instruct OGC to do so, the Republican commissioners refused,” Weintraub wrote. “We still do not know the answer to this foundational, eminently knowable, question.”
Her Republican colleagues rejected the accusations. Commissioner Caroline Hunter told Newsweek that Weintraub’s “statement is long on conjecture and short on the evidence and the law.”
“Some allegations are too serious to ignore,” Weintraub stated, “Too serious to simply take Respondents’ denials at face value. Too serious to play games with.”
John Bolton Ordered Staff to Report Trump and Guiliani Because of Illegal Ukrainian “Drug Deal.”
The New York Times is reporting that, responding to the Ukraine scandal, Trump aide John Bolton warned “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up.”
Seems he was fired because he would have no part of President Donald Trump’s off-the-books shadow government Ukraine extortion scandal. Bolton also apparently implicated both the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvany.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs Fiona Hill to tell White House lawyers, The New York Times reports in a bombshell article late Monday night.
Bolton, who resigned from the Trump administration hours before President Trump tweeted he had fired him, instructed Hill “to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Mr. Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on a rogue operation with legal implications,” Hill told House of Representatives investigators on Monday.
EMERGENCY: Turkey Holding US Nukes Hostage
The military situation near the Turkish border in Syria remains in flux, with allegiances shifting quickly amid uncertainty of how everything will shake out. But the fast-moving developments also have drawn attention to a lesser-known fact of US foreign policy:
The Pentagon has about 50 tactical nuclear weapons stored in Turkey at its Incirlik Air Base, reports Business Insider. The big question: Is it still safe to keep them there now that US-Turkey relations are fraying? Related coverage:
- Under review: Officials in the State and Energy departments have begun “quietly reviewing” plans to evacuate the weapons, reports the New York Times. “Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages,” writes David Sanger. “To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.
- In vaults: The bombs have been stored in underground vaults at Incirlik since the 1960s, per a backgrounder in the New Yorker. That goes back to the days when Incirlik turned into a crucial Cold War base. The story says the vaults “hold about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs—more than 25% of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile.”
This intervention has precipitated an all-new crisis in the region, prompted the start of at least a tactical withdrawal of U.S. forces from much of the country amid concerns they could be caught in the fighting, and led to calls for an arms embargo and major sanctions on the Turkish government.
Matt Gaetz Caught Spying for Trump
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was reportedly booted from a closed-door interview of President Donald Trump’s former top Russia aide, Fiona Hill.
According to CNN’s Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Rajuand others, Rep. Gaetz, known as a vociferous defender of President Trump and his agenda, was ejected just before the proceeding began.
“Matt Gaetz emerges from closed-door interview with Fiona Hill saying he was kicked out by House Democrats [because] he’s not a member of the three committees conducting the interview,” Raju reported just before 11 a.m. Monday morning. “He said he consulted with the House parliamentarian, who ruled that he could not be there.”
Hill was testifying in front of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees as part of their impeachment inquiry into Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and subsequent efforts to conceal the content of the conversation. Hill was subpoenaed by the committees.
Rep. Gaetz is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and does not sit on any of the committees that subpoenaed Hill. Gaetz, as you’ll see, was quick to point out that House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) claimed to have begun an impeachment inquiry before Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) backed one and before the three other committees got involved.
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