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Monday, March 6, 2017

Breakdown of Voters in Amherst County and Adjacent Areas

Breakdown of Voters in Amherst County and Adjacent Areas

Hillary Clinton won Virginia’s 13 electoral votes. Clinton has 212,030 more votes than Donald J. Trump.   Hillary Clinton was up by 5 points with 99 percent of precincts reporting.   Since this is the ACV Democratic News and the ACV stands for Amherst County Virginia, we're going to look at how your friends and neighbors voted.   This area is heavily stacked right wing republican (approx. 2:1) and they got what they voted for.   (Sadly so did the rest of the country.)   These folks are shamed into silence now, only 45 days in to the folly of voting Trump.    It is now clear the Russians were supporting Trump and involved in our election, but nobody knows what to do about it to make it right.    6 Members of the Trump administration were talking with the Russians during the election.    The AG Jeff Sessions misrepresented his actions when appearing for conformation before Congress and has recused himself from any matter involving the Russians involvement in the election.    He is resubmitting his testimony to try and clarify the record.    It is unclear whether he will be forced step down, only time will tell.    Trump and his team have saddled America with a mess.    Don't spend a moment of your time expecting the GOP to accept responsibility for anything.    The Trump voters think they are "Making America Great Again", pity the fools.

Here's the Breakdown of voters.

Amherst County   Clinton  4,986          Trump      9,643

Lynchburg              Clinton  14,787      Trump   17,979

Nelson Co.               Clinton  3,677         Trump    4,150

Appomattox   Co.    Clinton  2,023         Trump   5,714

Campbell Co.            Clinton    6,597       Trump   19,442

Powhatan  Co.           Clinton   4,057        Trump   11,875

Overall Virginia

Hillary          1,981,473       49.8%

Trump            1,769,443       44.4%

Gary Johnson       118,274        3.0%             Libertaian

Evan McMullin       54,054         1.4%            Independent

Jill Stein          27,638           .7%            Green

Others              31,870          .8%             Independents

Robert Buchanan (Write In-Virginia)
Steven Covington (Independent-Virginia)
J.D. Criveau (Constitutionist-Virginia)
Craig Dell (Independent-Virginia)
Nick Dubois (Independent-Virginia)
Charles Fanning (Independent-Virginia)
Raymond Harding (Constitutional-Virginia)
Michael Jenkins (Independent-Virginia)
Keya Jerry (Independent-Virginia)
Elizabeth Kirk (Independent-Virginia)
Steven Korb (Independent-Virginia)
Robert Lee (Independent-Virginia)
Jack Logsdon (Independent-Virginia)
Andrew Mickert (Independent-Virginia)
Laio Morris (Write In-Virginia)
Deonia Neveu (Independent-Virginia)
Tommy Turner (independent-Virginia)
Mark Wimmer (Independent-Virginia)

Every state has the also rans clogging up the ballot and Virginia is no exception.   The above listing may not be complete as these people are practically unkown.

Barack Obama won Virginia in 2012 by 3.9 percentage points.   The same local areas (Amherst Co., Lynchburg, Nelson, Appomattox, Campbell, Powhatan) voted republican then also, the major difference Obama won.   Trump has in short order shown himself to be a mentally disturbed, ego driven, unstable office holder.   Thus the future of the country is at stake along with our standing in the world order.

I'd bet that these same folks will vote republican again, at the earliest opportunity.  What do you think? 

"Why the hell should I meet with anyone in the district, the people who vote for me continually don't have a clue.   I'll just send them a newsletter and claim I have written or sponsored a bill.    Around election time I'll go to a few local meetings and shake some hands.    When the election is in the bag I'll disappear again for two years."   Bob Goodlatte

Citing no evidence, Trump accuses Obama of tapping his phones during the election

President Trump, confronted by mounting pressure for an independent investigation into his associates’ ties to Russia, unleashed a startling and unsupported attack on his predecessor Saturday, accusing former President Obama of wiretapping his phones during the 2016 election.

Trump’s flurry of Twitter messages, which was supported by no evidence, was bizarre even for a White House with a history of broadsides against political opponents. Throughout the day, administration officials refused to offer any explanation for the president’s missive or any evidence to back it up.

"Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found," Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday, adding: "This is McCarthyism!”

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process.  This is Nixon/Watergate.  Bad (or sick) guy!" Trump wrote in a series of four tweets from Florida, sent around breakfast time.

The charges leveled by Trump echoed an unsubstantiated story line circulating on right-wing media.  The attack came after a stressful 48 hours for Trump during which Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions announced that he was stepping aside from any role in supervising the investigation of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, a subject about which Trump has shown extreme sensitivity.  Trump had publicly said he did not believe Sessions should recuse himself and reportedly was angered by the decision.

As the White House refused to respond to mounting questions from journalists and lawmakers about Trump’s charges of wiretapping, his public schedule for the weekend shifted.  A relatively light agenda was replaced with one that includes meetings with Sessions, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and senior advisors Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Don McGahn.

Veterans of the Obama administration accused Trump of lying outright.

"A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice," Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president, said in a statement.

"Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen," Lewis said.  "Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."

A former senior U.S. national security official called it “irresponsible, extraordinary and dangerous” for a sitting president to accuse his predecessor of wiretapping “based on uncorroborated information in a politically oriented publication.”

Trump’s charges confused lawmakers from both parties, who pointed out that if federal officials had legally wiretapped Trump’s offices, they would have done so with the blessing of a judge who would have been required to find credible evidence that someone there either was acting as a foreign agent or engaging in criminal behavior.   Otherwise, such a wiretap would have been illegal.

Either way, said Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Trump needs to be more forthcoming immediately.

“The president today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information,” Sasse said in a statement.

It would be highly unusual for a sitting president to be aware of a surveillance request, as Trump charged was the case with Obama.  By blaming Obama directly, Trump accused the former president of reaching into a federal investigation or signing off on an illegal wiretap, which is a felony.  Trump’s tweets Saturday were a marked departure from the more subdued, statesmanlike tone he had tried to move toward during his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

The charges tracked with unfounded reports being circulated among White House officials by conservative radio host Mark Levin and the Breitbart News website, which Bannon led before joining Trump’s campaign last summer.

U.S. intelligence officials concluded in January that Russia had launched covert actions and cyberattacks to damage Hillary Clinton's candidacy and help Trump win. But it is unclear if those actions were coordinated with people in Trump's inner circle.

In the meantime, a pattern of Trump officials downplaying their contacts with Russia has stirred calls for further investigation.

Sessions did not disclose meeting Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak when asked about contacts with Russians during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Trump's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned last month when it was disclosed that he had misled Trump administration officials about conversations he had with Kislyak about U.S. sanctions against Russia before Trump’s inauguration.

Democratic lawmakers pounced on Trump’s allegations.

“If there is something bad or sick going on, it is the willingness of the nation's chief executive to make the most outlandish and destructive claims without providing a scintilla of evidence to support them,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

President Richard M. Nixon was convinced that his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, had wiretapped his phone and placed a bug on his plane during the last two weeks of the 1968 campaign. The FBI had never gone that far, but Nixon had reason to be concerned.

The FBI knew Republicans had worked with South Vietnamese officials to scuttle peace talks Johnson was holding and made assurances that Nixon would give them a better deal, and the bureau had Nixon fundraiser Anna Chennault under surveillance.

“I see echoes with the past,” Ken Hughes, a researcher at the University of Virginia Miller Center, a think tank that studies the presidency, said in an interview.

“It is clear that Trump is very defensive and he is very worried,” said Hughes, who wrote a book on the Republican interference in the Vietnam peace talks.

“It might mean the investigation into the Russian interference in our election will expose other things he wants to keep hidden,” Hughes said.

After sending out several tweets accusing the previous administration of gross misconduct, Trump had something else on his mind:

“Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show,” Trump wrote.

Who among you thinks Donald Trump is sane?

ACV Democratic News


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump and The Russian Connection

WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.

 The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.

The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year and had worked as a political consultant in Ukraine. The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.

The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

Mr. Manafort, who has not been charged with any crimes, dismissed the officials’ accounts in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “This is absurd,” he said. “I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”

He added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”

Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia. And it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts might have been about business.

The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.

A report from American intelligence agencies that was made public in January concluded that the Russian government had intervened in the election in part to help Mr. Trump, but did not address whether any members of the Trump campaign had participated in the effort.

 Sessions Lied During Confirmation Hearings

 Jeff Sessions had two contacts with Russian envoy Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign, Justice Department officials confirmed. The Washington Post first reported the meetings Wednesday.

When he was asked in his confirmation hearing whether anyone associated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had communicated with the Russians, Sessions replied that he wasn’t aware of any such “activities,” and added, “I did not have communications with the Russians.” A questionnaire he filled out for the committee also asked whether he had had contact with the Russians, to which Sessions, according to the Post, wrote, “No.”

Attorney General Sessions has provided the following statement: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”  

Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CBS News’ Andres Triay in a statement that “[t]here was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer.” It was, she explained, in his capacity as a senator, and not as a campaign surrogate, that he had spoken with Kislyak, and dozens of other foreign ambassadors, as well.

“Last year, the Senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors,” Flores wrote. “He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign--not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”

While he served on Armed Services, Sessions “discussed relations between the two countries and any positive or negative issues they were facing,” a Justice Department official said. Many of the ambassadors, given the fact that it was a heated election year, would make “superficial comments about election-related news,” but it wasn’t the substance of the discussions, the official said.

The other incident took place when Sessions addressed a group of over 50 ambassadors at a Heritage Foundation event. After his speech, a small group of ambassadors approached him, and Kislyak was among them. Sessions, according to an official, spoke to them as a group, and they thanked him for speaking and invited him to events they were sponsoring. But Sessions, the official said, made no commitments.

Sessions may have thought he was talking with Kislyak in his capacity as a Senate Armed Services Committee member and not as a prominent Trump supporter, but the Post contacted all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee to check on whether anyone else met with Kislyak in 2016. Twenty responded, including Chairman John McCain, and none met with him last year.

At a CNN town hall, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said he didn’t know yet whether “there’s anything between the Trump campaing and the Russians.”

“[I]f there’s something there...the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then, for sure, you need a special prosecutor,” Graham said. “If that day ever comes, I’ll be the first one to say it needs to be somebody other than Jeff.”

This story has prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to call on Sessions to resign, CBS News’ Nancy Cordes reports.

And several other top Democrats – including Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on House Intelligence and Elliott Engel, the top Democrat on House Foreign Affairs are calling on Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation into contacts between Trump associates and the Russians. 

The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December.

But the cases are part of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ routine electronic surveillance of the communications of foreign officials.

The F.B.I. declined to comment. The White House also declined to comment Tuesday night, but earlier in the day, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, stood by Mr. Trump’s previous comments that nobody from his campaign had contact with Russian officials before the election.

“There’s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period,” Mr. Spicer said in response to a question.

Two days after the election in November, Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy Russian foreign minister, said “there were contacts” during the campaign between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s team.

“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Mr. Ryabkov told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

The Trump transition team denied Mr. Ryabkov’s statement. “This is not accurate,” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, said at the time.

The National Security Agency, which monitors the communications of foreign intelligence services, initially captured the calls between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians as part of routine foreign surveillance. After that, the F.B.I. asked the N.S.A. to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed.

The F.B.I. has closely examined at least three other people close to Mr. Trump, although it is unclear if their calls were intercepted. They are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign; Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative; and Mr. Flynn.
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All of the men have strongly denied that they had any improper contacts with Russian officials.

As part of the inquiry, the F.B.I. is also trying to assess the credibility of the information contained in a dossier that was given to the bureau last year by a former British intelligence operative. The dossier contained a raft of allegations of a broad conspiracy between Mr. Trump, his associates and the Russian government. It also included unsubstantiated claims that the Russians had embarrassing videos that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump.

The F.B.I. has spent several months investigating the leads in the dossier, but has yet to confirm any of its most explosive claims.

Senior F.B.I. officials believe that the former British intelligence officer who compiled the dossier, Christopher Steele, has a credible track record, and he briefed investigators last year about how he obtained the information. One American law enforcement official said that F.B.I. agents had made contact with some of Mr. Steele’s sources.

The agency’s investigation of Mr. Manafort began last spring as an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has focused on why he was in such close contact with Russian and Ukrainian intelligence officials.

The bureau did not have enough evidence to obtain a warrant for a wiretap of Mr. Manafort’s communications, but it had the N.S.A. scrutinize the communications of Ukrainian officials he had met.

The F.B.I. investigation is proceeding at the same time that separate investigations into Russian interference in the election are gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. Those investigations, by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, are examining not only the Russian hacking but also any contacts that Mr. Trump’s team had with Russian officials during the campaign.

On Tuesday, top Republican lawmakers said that Mr. Flynn should be one focus of the investigation, and that he should be called to testify before Congress. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said the news about Mr. Flynn underscored “how many questions still remain unanswered to the American people more than three months after Election Day, including who was aware of what, and when.”

Mr. Warner said Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not stop the committee “from continuing to investigate General Flynn, or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.”

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.

When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”…

When asked to comment on Sessions’s contacts with Kislyak, Franken said in a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday: “If it’s true that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in the midst of the campaign, then I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading.

Franken added: “It is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot, in good faith, oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump-Russia connection, and he must recuse himself immediately.”…

Hey, Look, Another Russian Connection in Trump's Cabinet

How many does that make now?

I have to say that, judging from his press availability, and as a first impression, Congressman Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is a very impressively arrogant fellow. From contemptuously shuffling the Logan Act aside ("You a Logan Act guy?" he asked one reporter.) to his arch dismissal of the calls for a special prosecutor, to his clammy misuse of the word "McCarthyism," to his robotic insistence that the real problem here are the leaks about possible Russian influence over the administration—rather than, say, Russian influence over the administration—Nunes is going to be someone to watch going forward. But let's write something new about Russia anyway.

The essential folks at McClatchy have raised some questions about the ownership stake in a Cyprus bank held by Wilbur Ross, who by eight o'clock tonight likely will be your Secretary of Commerce. The bank that does a lot of business with various Russian oligarchs, including, it is alleged, as a spin cycle for money that the Russian kleptocracy would like to have cleaned.

 More recently, he led a rescue of Bank of Cyprus in September 2014 after the Cypriot government — in consultation with Russian President Vladimir Putin — first propped up the institution. "Cyprus banks have a long and painful history of laundering dirty money from Russians involved with corruption and criminality," said Elise Bean, a former Senate investigator who specialized in combating money laundering and tax evasion. "Buying a Cyprus bank necessarily raises red flags about suspect deposits, high-risk clients and hidden activities." The Russian business and government elite have often sought financial security in the Mediterranean island's banking system. Oligarch Dmitry Ryvoloviev took a nearly 10 percent stake in Bank of Cyprus in 2010. Two years earlier, amid the U.S. financial crisis when real-estate prices were softening, Ryvoloviev purchased Donald Trump's Palm Beach mansion for $95 million. The transaction generated questions because of its inflated market price, about $60 million more than Trump had paid for the Florida property four years earlier. When Europe's debt crisis spread and affected Cyprus in 2012 and 2013, that nation's second biggest bank, Laiki Bank, was closed. The government imposed losses on uninsured deposits, many belonging to Russians.

As you might imagine, this whole business came up to no great effect during Ross's confirmation hearings.

    Ross had little history in global banking, but in 2011 he took an ownership stake in Bank of Ireland, the only bank in that nation the government didn't seize. Ross tripled his investment when he sold his Irish stake in June 2014, then months later, he took a gamble on Bank of Cyprus. Six Democratic senators, led by Florida's Bill Nelson, asked for details about his relationship with big Russian shareholders in Bank of Cyprus, including Viktor Vekselberg, a longtime Putin ally, and Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former vice chairman of Bank of Cyprus and a former KGB agent believed to be a Putin associate. Aides to several of the senators confirmed late Friday that Ross hadn't responded to their questions. The White House sent McClatchy to a Commerce Department transition aide, who didn't respond to questions.

(David Cay Johnson's DC Report adds that, when Ross took over the Bank of Cyprus, he installed as chairman a guy who had left Deutsche Bank under a cloud, including a $650 million fine for laundering Russian money. Deutsche Bank, Johnson reminds us, is the president*'s largest known lender.)

It is nothing close to McCarthyism to point out that the entire Cabinet will be full to the gunwales with people who have done serious business with the Russian kleptocrats. At least they'll all have a lot to talk about over vodka at lunch.

ACV Democratic News


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