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Connie / Flickr

Russia Russia Russia! 

Michael Flynn is the key to the Russia scandal — and he may have just flipped on Trump

Michael Flynn, who served as President Trump’s national security adviser for just 24 days before being cut loose, may be the key figure to unraveling the entire Russia scandal. If that’s true, the president just got some very, very bad news in the form of a New York Times report

if Flynn is cooperating, it can only be because he has information to offer Mueller on someone more important than himself. That’s how it works. And who is more important than Flynn? Only a very small number of people. Among those implicated in this whole affair, that group may consist of Jared Kushner and Trump, and that’s about it.

Which means we may be getting closer to answering a question I’ve been asking for a long time: Why was President Trump so intensely focused on protecting Michael Flynn?

Given that Trump is not known for being loyal to those who work for him, that was rather curious. Donald Trump looks out for Donald Trump, and if you become a liability to him, he’ll very quickly start acting as though he barely knew you.

It’s almost as though Trump wanted to make sure Flynn didn’t turn on him.

Special Counsel Mueller Probes Jared Kushner’s Contacts With Foreign Leaders

Robert Mueller’s investigators are asking questions about Jared Kushner’s interactions with foreign leaders during the presidential transition, including his involvement in a dispute at the United Nations in December, in a sign of the expansive nature of the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s alleged meddling in the election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known

 Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.

Preet Bharara: Helping Mueller probe might be only ‘sane’ move for Flynn

Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said Friday that aiding Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation  may be the only “sane” move remaining for former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

Flynn has become a central part of the ongoing federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In a tweet Friday morning, the former U.S. attorney who was fired by President Trump said that aiding Mueller might be Flynn’s only chance to save himself and his son after recent reports that prosecutors have enough evidence to charge Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who also worked on the campaign.

“If you’re dead to rights, flipping on others and cooperating with the prosecution is the only sane and rational move,” Bharara tweeted.

“Also, prosecutors accept cooperation only if you can provide ‘substantial assistance,'” he tweeted, adding that he believes that means Flynn could provide evidence on his superiors.

“Higher up in the food chain,” he continued, adding: “Stay tuned…”

Good Election News

Blast From the Past: The Current Political World Mirrors 2009

The party not occupying the White House seizes control of governor’s offices in New Jersey and Virginia. An unexpectedly competitive special Senate election threatens the chamber’s balance of power. Major legislation being forced through along partisan lines heads for a climactic holiday-season vote. Veteran lawmakers of the governing party race for the exits.

Such was the state of play at this moment in 2009 when President Barack Obama and Democrats ruled the roost. Such is the virtually parallel political landscape now with President Trump and Republicans in charge: Substitute Doug Jones of Alabama, a Democrat, for Scott Brown of Massachusetts, a Republican, and switch the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with the Affordable Care Act.

It ended badly back then for Democrats, who lost the House in the 2010 midterm elections and suffered setbacks in the Senate, severely limiting Mr. Obama’s ability to pursue his agenda during his remaining six years in office.

History is already repeating itself. And the striking comparisons are not lost on either Democrats or Republicans.

The House majority is slipping away from Republicans

By changing ratings in 7 races (6 to favor Democrats), Cook leaves Democrats with more than four dozen competitive possibilities. Among the toss-up-or-worse seats, Republicans have 18 at risk, and Democrats have only 4. In the “leans”/”likely” category, Republicans have 45 seats that aren’t entirely solid. Democrats have 16. (If you separate out just the “lean” seats, Republicans have 20 at risk while Democrats have only 5.)

Over in the Senate, it’s not likely but certainly possible Democrats take the majority. It is increasingly likely that Doug Jones will win the Alabama seat, narrowing the GOP majority to 51-49. If the two most vulnerable Republican seats flip (Nevada and Arizona) and red-state Democrats hold on (Missouri and Indiana are the most vulnerable), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his Republicans are back in the minority.

In short, despite their shellacking in 2016, Democrats have a reasonable chance of staging a rather quick comeback in Congress and in state races (Republican governors will be defending in 26 states, some in blue states such as Illinois, Maine and Maryland). Former president Barack Obama, fairly or not, is blamed for hollowing out the Democratic Party; Trump could do the same for Republicans.

Anti-Trump fervor can’t fully explain what happened this month

For all the talk of a backlash to Trump, there is a compelling argument that the outcome in Virginia’s gubernatorial race was driven largely by the diverse slate of down-ballot candidates and a surge of grass-roots energy, beginning with the Women’s March, that activist groups channeled into contesting local elections. “Given the election results, and the number of new candidates elected,” writes Joan Walsh at the Nation, “it’s possible Virginia saw something new: a reverse coattails effect, where the surge of candidates running for the state House, most of them women, helped propel Northam and his ticket to victory.”

Another significant progressive victory occurred in Philadelphia, where Larry Krasner won the race for district attorney. As a civil rights attorney known for representing Black Lives Matter and Occupy and suing the Philadelphia police department 75 times, even Krasner acknowledged that he was an unlikely choice to become the city’s top prosecutor. “I’ve spent a career becoming completely unelectable,” he quipped at a debate this fall. Considering the police union’s endorsement of his Republican opponent, there were whispers before the election that, even in heavily Democratic Philadelphia, Krasner could lose. He won by a nearly 50-point margin.

On the other side of the country, progressives earned yet another big win last week in the Albuquerque mayoral race with the election of state auditor Tim Keller. Running a publicly financed campaign, Keller built a platform that included support for paid sick leave, community policing and early childhood education. He won 62 percent of the vote on his way to reclaiming an office that Republicans have controlled for the past eight years.

 It proves that when they campaign on bold, progressive ideas, collaborate with the grass roots and compete everywhere — up and down the ballot — they can guarantee that it won’t.

With Democratic sweep in Virginia, progressives hopeful

Liberal dream bills, once considered dead-on-arrival in Virginia’s overwhelmingly Republican House of Delegates, face better odds in a reshaped Richmond after Democrats swept state elections earlier this month.

“There are advocacy groups in Virginia where there are cobwebs everywhere because they are pushing things that would never fly with Republicans in control,” said Josh Stanfield, who leads a PAC devoted to electing progressive House members. “Now they can have real tangible demands. Every constituency can come and say, ‘Look, there’s no longer an excuse not to get this done.’ ”

Rural Democrats, left for dead, see an opening in Pennsylvania

“For every vote we lose in western Pennsylvania,” former governor Ed Rendell said in 2016, “we’ll gain a vote in the Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh suburbs.”

Democrats no longer talk like that, although they remain skeptical about competing for rural votes as long as the national party moves left on abortion, environmental issues and gun rights.

In the 18th District, Democrats came up with a solution: Don’t move left. Lamb and his two strongest rivals all blurred or conceded on some social issues, and the Democrats who decided the race were fine with it.

“This region’s got a lot of farmers, miners, a lot of conservative-type people,” said Tom Murphy, Westmoreland County’s recorder of deeds, who backed county commissioner Gina Cerilli over Lamb. “You need to talk to them if you’re going to win.”

RNC, NRSC have no plans to back Moore despite Trump’s signal of support

This is good news because Jones has been outspending Moore by 11 to 1.  Without the RNC and NRSC that will continue.

Why 2020 Will Be the Year of the Woman

In this post-Weinstein moment, Democrats are pining for the karmic justice of defeating Trump with shards from a glass ceiling. 

The 2020 Democratic primary landscape looks to be tilted to another woman presidential nominee. In 2016, women composed nearly 60 percent of the Democratic presidential primary electorate, many of whom are understandably pining for the karmic justice of defeating Trump with shards from a glass ceiling that Hillary Clinton could not break.

Moreover, the Democratic Party rank-and-file are defiantly continuing their tighter embrace of cultural liberalism in reaction to Trump’s shotgun marriage with social conservatives. In 2001, according to Gallup, only 36 percent of Democrats considered themselves liberal on social issues. Since 2015, self-identified social liberals encompass a 53-percent majority of Democrats. These are voters who ignored the naysayers and elected the first African-American president. They’ve grown accustomed to breaking barriers and won’t readily accept a coldly pessimistic argument that running another woman against Trump would be a bad idea.

Good Legal News

Another federal judge just dealt a big blow to Trump’s ban on transgender military service

A federal judge has put President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people openly serving in the military, including the prohibition on the military paying for gender-affirming medical services, on hold.

US District Judge Marvin Garbis’s decision on Tuesday, reported by the Washington Post, argued that trans service members who challenged the ban have “demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.”

Garbis’s preliminary injunction goes further than a previous decision by a federal court in Washington, DC. That decision blocked the portions of Trump’s ban that would have prohibited new trans recruits into the military and potentially forced the military to discharge existing trans service members. Garbis’s order, which comes from Maryland, additionally blocks Trump’s order banning the military from paying for gender-affirming medical services, particularly surgeries.

Judge permanently blocks Trump’s sanctuary cities order

A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump’s executiveorder to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

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