The rise and fall of Al Franken: from comedy to politics to disgrace

The Minnesota senator had begun to attain his mark on Capitol Hill as an incisive and amusing presence, but those who knew him alerted he came here with baggage

When Al Franken was mooted as a possible dark horse in the 2020 presidential election, those who knew him warned that he comes with baggage. They little guessed how much.

The Democratic senator announced on Thursday that he will resign in the coming weeks following a string of sex misconduct accusations. It marked a dizzying rise and fall for the comedian-turned-politician whose legacy on Capitol Hill will be heatedly contested.

In his farewell address on the Senate floor, Franken sought to portray himself as a victim.” Some of the allegations against me are simply not true ,” he said defiantly.” Others I remember very differently … But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota .”

Not all the people of Minnesota have been taken by surprise by the events of the past three weeks, however. Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said:” I didn’t know of any of these accusations but he’s a very self-confident person who guess of himself as special. With some of the accusations you see that: what he felt was being goofy or having his style was clearly unacceptable .”

Franken, 66, who grew up in the Jewish community in St Louis Park, a suburbium of Minneapolis ,~ ATAGEND had appeared to be a phase in favour of the debate that politics is enriched by people from varied and colourful backgrounds rather than career politicians.

He first stimulated his name 40 years ago as a writer and musician on the TV slapstick show Saturday Night Live and was twice a guest performer at the White House correspondents’ dinner . He also worked as a talkshow host and wrote books such as Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

Then came an abrupt turning when Franken ran for the Senate in 2008. He went to Jeff Blodgett ,~ ATAGEND who operated the late Paul Wellstone’s Senate campaigns, for advice. Blodgett commented on Thursday:” I would hope that Al Franken would get credit for growing into a senator of real substance, someone who dug deep on issues like net neutrality, mental health and veterans affairs, a senator who paid close attention to his country, and a consistent progressive voice during a tough era for our country .”

During the election campaign Republican attempted to turn his old jokes against him, but in vain. The Democrat creaked home by 312 referendums after an eight-month legal battle. But anyone expecting him to become court jester in the Senate was in for a letdown .~ ATAGEND

Al
Al Franken on election night in November 2008 Photograph: Craig Lassig/ EPA

Facing scepticism over whether he possessed the necessary grativas, Franken chose he had to prove himself as” a workhorse and not a indicate horse”, he recalled in a recent memoir, Giant of the Senate. He subjected himself to what he calls” the DeHumorizer” and became a polished politician who steered clear of reporters.

” Possibly the most ridiculous Politician Skill I had to learn … was how to’ fulcrum ,’ which basically means’ not answer questions ‘,” he writes. But there were occasional lapsings, such as the time he rolled his eyes at the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.” As soon as Mitch had finished his speech, he marched up to the podium and let me know he was furious, as he had every right to be.’ This isn’t’ Saturday Night Live ,’ Al !'”

Meanwhile Franken induced significant contributions to policy, including to Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Jacobs said:” There’s no doubt Al Franken is very bright, “hes having” genuine interest in public policy and he worked hard to prove to his constituents and his fellow senators that he was worthy .”

It paid off. Franken was re-elected by a comfortable margin in 2014. He allowed the mask to slip a little, letting himself be funny again and more media friendly. Thus liberated, he also became one of the Democrats’ hardest hitters, pummeling the education secretary, Betsy DeVos ,~ ATAGEND us attorney general Jeff Sessions and supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch during confirmation hearings.

He also took on unfashionable causes such as net neutrality, and his recent grilling of Facebook and Google over Russian election interference was at once sardonic and incisive, amusing and devastating.

But the inner jester was still there and so were its dark secrets. Allegations began to emerge last month when Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 United Service Organisations tour. He apologised and called for himself to be investigated, but over day a further seven women came forward with asserts about inappropriate behaviour.

On Wednesday more than 30 Democratic Senators called for Franken to stand down .~ ATAGEND No amount of “pivoting” could save him from his past. Jacobs said:” His career was in an industry where outrageous behaviour and sexual aggressivenes have a free rein and the commission has caught up with him with a vengeance. It’s a sad day: he put their own lives on hold and now his career in politics appears to be over. There’s nothing to celebrate .”

During an interview with the Guardian at a cafe in St Paul in September, a casually dressed Franken showed a down-to-earth side of his personality, relating how he had just been to the Minnesota Vikings’ training camp with his son. A stranger approached him and said:” I’m this close to asking for your autograph but the memory will be enough .” Franken graciously insisted on an autograph.

Reaction in his home country is mixed, Jacobs said, with conservatives generally “elated” and some liberals “hopping mad” that the senator has been pushed out of office.” I believe most Minnesotans have a heavy heart. A sense of disloyalty, frustration and annoyance about what’s going on in public life .”

For now, Franken has joined the ranks of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer as out of work and unemployable. But he said on Thursday:” I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice .”

Jacobs suspects he could yet attempt a third act.” He may be forced from office but I don’t think it’s the last we’ve seen of him. He may recover, re-energise and come back as a spitfire comedian looking for retaliation. I would not want to be on his enemies list .”

But some assured Franken’s farewell statements in the Senate as self-serving. His legacy is eternally tainted. Neil Sroka, spokesman for the progressive political organisation Democracy for America, which called for him to resign last week ,~ ATAGEND said:” It’s hard not to see how this doesn’t cast a cloud up what could have been an important career in the Senate, but it’s a shadow that has to exist. There’s a broad sense, at the least among Democrats, that we cannot ignore the victims of sexual harassment: their voices need to be heard .”

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‘Enough is enough’: leading Democrats call on Al Franken to quit

Minnesota senator, 66, recommended by several female my fellow members to resign as allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior mount

Half a dozen female Democratic senators have called on Al Franken to resign, as other women stepped forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of sexually inappropriate behavior. They were joined by the minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and the national party chair, Tom Perez, who also called on Franken to step down.

Franken’s office said he would make a public statement- expected to include a response to the calls- on Thursday. One Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, said he expected Franken to” announce his resignation tomorrow “.

In Facebook posts, tweets and public statement, several Democrats advised their colleague to step aside amid widening accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against powerful humen that have roiled Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington.

” I have spent a lot of day reflecting on Senator Franken’s behaviour ,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual assault, said in a Facebook post that started the cascade of calls.” Enough is enough .”

Gillibrand was joined by Patty Murray of Washington, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Kamala Harris of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Those calls were swiftly echoed by other colleagues, including Dick Durbin, the No 2 Democrat in the Senate, as well as Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, also called on Franken to resign.

” Everybody has to share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party ,” Perez said.

Perez’s remarks came less than 36 hours after the Republican National Committee renewed its support for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate who is facing multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls and women, including sexual assault.

While many national Republican have distanced themselves from the Alabama Republican, he has approved by Donald Trump. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has called on Moore to drop out, has said the Alabama Republican would face an ethics investigation if elected.

McConnell issued a statement calling for Franken to step down:” The near daily barrage of allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Franken are extremely concerning to all of us in the Senate. While the Senate ethics committee is reviewing these serious allegations, it now appears that Senator Franken has lost the support of his colleagues, and most importantly, his constituents. I do not believe he can effectively serve the person or persons of Minnesota in the US Senate any longer .”

Hours afterward, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, weighed in to say he too believed Franken should resign. In a brief statement, Schumer said:” I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately .”

Franken, 66, who has been accused by multiple other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, has apologized for his behaviour and asked the Senate ethics committee to analyse himbut the senators said elected official must be held to a higher standard, putting his political future in question. Franken did not appear in the Senate on Monday.

” This institution has evolved over centuries, it’s evolved over my virtually three decades of service, and it’s evolving once more before our very eyes ,” said Murray, a member of Democratic leadership.

” This current evolution is long overdue. It’s time for us as elected representatives to hold ourselves to a higher criterion, to define two examples, and to live a situated of values that is truly representative and worthy of the Congress, our republic, and our great country .”

Hirono tweeted:” Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve fought with this decision because he’s been a good senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behaviour and his mistreatment of women .”

Harris posted:” Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down .”

Earlier on Tuesday, Politico reported on a new accusation against Franken. A former Democratic congressional aide said the former comedian tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, as he was ramping up his campaign for the US Senate, according to Politico. The aide dodged his advance and alleged that Franken said as she left:” It’s my right as an entertainer .” Franken denied the accusation to Politico.

The calls for Franken to resign come one day after John Conyers, the longest-serving Democrat in Congress, resigned after allegations of sexual harassment. Conyers, who was the top Democrat on the House judiciary committee and spend over a half-century on Capitol Hill, had settled one claim of sexual harassment against him with taxpayer money and had been accused of misconduct by several other former staffers.

Two other members of Congress currently face allegations of sexual harassment: Republican Blake Farenthold of Texas and Democrat Ruben Kihuen of Nevada.

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Democrat official considered replacing Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden

Donna Brazile, former head of Democratic National Committee, says Clintons pneumonia and campaigns odor of failing induced her meditate drastic option

The former head of the Democratic National Committee says she considered initiating effort to replace Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee with then vice-president Joe Biden.

Donna Brazile makes the revelation in a memoir being released on Tuesday entitled Hackers: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Set Donald Trump in the White House.

Brazile writes that she considered initiating Clinton’s removal after she collapsed while leaving a 9/11 memorial service in New York City. Clinton afterward recognise she was suffered by pneumonia.

But Brazile says the larger issue was that her campaign was ” anemic” and had taken on” the odor of failing “.

After holding a dozen combinations to replace Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine from Virginia, Brazile writes that she settled on Biden and Cory Booker of New Jersey as those with the best chance of defeating Trump.

Ultimately, the former DNC head says,” I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them .”

It is uncertain whether Biden was willing to step into the race or even whether he discussed the idea with Brazile. A spokesman for the former vice-president did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Brazile writes that on 12 September 2016, the day after Clinton collapsed, Biden’s chief of staff called saying the vice-president wanted to speak with her and that her suppose at the time was ” Gee, I wonder what he wanted to talk to me about ?”

As for Brazile’s powers to decide the party’s nominee, she writes that as party chair she would oversee the process of replacing a nominee who became disabled.

Brazile writes she believed a joint fundraising arrangement signed between Clinton and the DNC” looked unethical” and she felt Clinton had too much influence on the party during a competitive Democratic primary with rival Bernie Sanders.

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Without the Comey letter I would have won’

During the nomination process for the 2016 election Democrats argued among themselves over whether Clinton was being given an unfair advantage over Sanders, a Vermont independent who sought the party’s nomination with the backing of its more liberal members.

On Saturday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez issued a statement saying he and the DNC leadership were committed to ensuring the nomination process in 2020 will be” unquestionably fair and transparent “.

Among the reforms he said he developed after listening to Democrats across the party spectrum was ensuring that” no candidate participating in our presidential nominating process gains any unjust advantage — real or perceived — during our primary season “. He also said the debate schedule would be decided in advance rather than negotiated after all candidates had entered the race.

Perez also pledged to ensure all joint fundraising agreements would be transparent, including the new Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund arrangements developed with the 50 state parties.

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White House under fire for suggesting general’s remarks should not be questioned

Press secretary calls reporters question highly inappropriate as Frederica Wilson says Kelly lied about her during press provide information on Thursday

The White House has been condemned for attempting to stillnes the media by warning that it is” highly inappropriate” to challenge the veracity of remarks by a military general.

A reporter on Friday questioned a claim by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, a retired four-star marine general, that the Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson had taken credit for securing funding for an FBI building in Florida.

Chip Reid, a CBS News correspondent, said during the daily press briefing:” He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. The money was procured before she came into Congress .”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, replied coldly:” If you want to go after Gen Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate .”

Reid’s follow-up topic was ignored and the implication- from a democratically elected civilian government- that a military general was beyond criticism was troubling to many.

Perry O’Brien, a former army medic who served in Afghanistan, said:” It’s just another example of the administration conceal behind the uniform of others. That’s why it’s so unfortunate to see someone like Gen Kelly enable that and jump on the grenade that Trump hurled .”

O’Brien, organising director of Common Defense, a group of veterans against Trump, added:” When “theyre saying”,’ How dare you criticise a general ?’, how about[ former Trump national security consultant] Gen Michael Flynn, who was the first to resign after we learned they were colluding with foreign powers? I don’t think most generals would say a star on your shoulder stimulates you immune from criticism .”

Kelly appeared at the White House podium on Thursday, to defend Trump against the charge that he caused offence during a bellow with the widow of Sgt La David Johnson, one of four US soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month by Islamic State fighters. Wilson heard the call and criticised Trump for disrespecting Johnson’s widow, Myeshia.

While defending the president, Kelly- whose son Robert was killed in Afghanistan in 2010- accused Wilson of “grandstanding” in a 2015 speech by saying she was instrumental in getting funding for an FBI building in Florida and took care of her constituents because she got the money. Wilson denied the charge and video evidence appeared to support her account.

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John Kelly rebukes Trump critics over military deaths- video

Kelly stood by his accusation, Sanders said on Friday.” Gen Kelly said he was stunned that Representative Wilson induced commentaries at a build dedication honouring slain FBI agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former president Obama on legislation ,” she said.

” As Gen Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honouring American heroes all about yourself, you’re an’ empty barrel ‘. If you don’t understand that reference, I’ll put it a bit more simply. As we say in the south: all hat , no cattle .”

Wilson regularly wears a cowboy hat.

Challenged over the video footage of the speech, in which Wilson praises FBI agents, Sanders insisted:” She also had quite a few comments that day that weren’t part of that speech and weren’t part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there .”

The press secretary also rejected criticism from Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who supports the accounts of the Trump phone call given by her son’s widow and Wilson.

” Certainly, if the spirit of which those comments were intended were misunderstood, that’s very unfortunate ,” Sanders said.” But as the president has said, as Gen Kelly said- who I guess has a very deep understanding of what that individual would be going through – his comments were very sympathetic, very respectful. And that was the spirit in which the president intended them. If they were taken any other style, that’s certainly an unfortunate thing .”

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Trump: ‘I didn’t say what the congresswoman said’- video

According to Wilson, Trump told Johnson’s widow her late spouse” knew what he signed up for, but when it happens it hurts anyway “.

Kelly in effect corroborated that account, saying he had counseled Trump on how to induce the bellow by telling him of the morning he was told of his son’s death. Kelly remembered his close friend, Gen Joseph Dunford, telling him his son” was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed “.

” He knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war ,” Kelly said.” That’s what the president tried to say to the four families the other day .”

Trump, however, continues to vehemently deny that he said such words.

” The fake news is going crazy with wacky congresswoman Wilson[ Democrat] who was secretly on a very personal call and dedicated a total lie on content ,” he tweeted late on Thursday.

Kelly also indicated Wilson had eavesdropped on a highly sensitive call. The congresswoman, a close friend of the Johnson family, pointed out she was in the car when Myeshia Johnson received the call, which was placed on speakerphone.

” I wasn’t listening in ,” she told CNN on Friday.” Please don’t characterize it as that .”

Wilson said Trump’s comments were” not a good message to say to anyone who has lost a child at war “.

” You don’t sign on because you think you’re going to die ,” she said.” You sign up to serve your country. There’s nothing to misinterpret. He said what he said. I only don’t agree with it. I just don’t agree with that’s what you should say to grieving households .”

Regarding Kelly’s statements about the FBI field office speech, Wilson said she had not been a member of Congress in 2009, when the funding mentioned by Kelly was procured. “That’s a lie,” she said of Kelly’s characterization.” How dare he ?”

She added:” I feel sorry for Gen Kelly. He has my sympathy for the loss of his son. But he can’t just go on Tv and lie on me .”

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The Trump-Russia dossier: why its findings grow more significant by the day

As US officers analyse potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, the series of reports by the former UK intelligence official Christopher Steele are casting an ever darker darknes over the president

Nine months after its first appearance, the situated of intelligence reports known as the Steele dossier, one of the most explosive documents in modern political history, is still hanging over Washington, casting a shadow over the Trump administration that has only grown-up darker as time has gone by.

It was reported this week that the document’s author, former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele, has been interviewed by investigators working for the special advise on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are, meanwhile, asking to see Steele to make up their own intellect about his findings. The ranking Democrat on the House committee, Adam Schiff, said that the dossier was ” a very important and useful guide to help us figure out what we need to look into “.

The fact that Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional researchers has far-reaching implications.

Originally commissioned by a private firm as opponent research by Donald Trump’s Republican and then Democratic adversaries, they quote a range of unnamed sources, in Russia and the US, who describe the Kremlin’s cultivation over several years of the man who now occupies the Oval Office– and the systematic collusion of Trump’s associates with Moscow to help get him there.

The question of collusion is at the heart of the various investigations into links between Trump and Moscow. Even a senior Republican, Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, admitted this week it was an open question.

Burr said his committee needed to talk Steele himself to assess the dossier properly and recommended him to speak to its members or staff. According to an NBC report on Friday, Steele had expressed willingness to meet the committee’s leaders.

In his remarks this week, Burr said his committee had come to a consensus in supporting the conclusions of a US intelligence community appraisal in January this year that Russian had conducted a multi-pronged campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, in Trump’s favour.

It is a finding that echoes the reports that Steele was making seven months earlier. Trump has called the assessment a “hoax”, but there is no sign the three agencies that came to that conclusion, the CIA, FBI and NSA, have had any second thoughts in the intervene months.

” Many of my former CIA colleagues have taken[ the Steele] reports seriously since they were first published ,” wrote John Sipher, a former senior officer in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service on the Just Security website.

Christopher
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer who compiled the reports. Photo: Victoria Jones/ PA

” This is not because they are not fond of Trump( and many admittedly are not ), but because they understand the potential plausibility of the reports’ overall narrative based on their experienced understanding of both Russian methodology and the nature of raw intelligence reporting .”

Sipher emphasised the “raw” nature of research reports, aimed at conveying an accurate account of what sources are saying, rather than claiming to be a definitive summary of events. There are spelling mistakes and rough edges. Several of the episodes it described remain entirely unverified.

But as every passing month brings more leaks, revelations in the press, and more progress in the investigations, the Steele dossier has generally gained in credibility, rather than lost it.

Trump Tower meeting

One of the more striking most recent developments was the disclosure of a meeting on 9 June 2016 in Trump Tower involving Trump’s son, Donald Jr, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with a Russian lawyer closely tied to the government, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

After the meeting was first reported on 8 July this year, the president’s son claimed( in a statement dictated, it turned out, by his father) that it had been about adoptions of Russian children by Americans.

The next day that was exposed as a lie, with the publication of emails that made it clear that Veselnitskaya was offering injury material on Hillary Clinton, that an intermediary setting up the session said was ” part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump “.

If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer ,” Donald Trump Jr responded.

Just 11 days after that meeting- but more than a year before it became public- Steele quoted information sources as saying that” the Kremlin had been feeding Trump and his squad valuable intelligence on his foes, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton”, for several years.

A subsequently report, dated 19 July 2016, said:” Speaking in confidence to a countryman in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between them and the Russian leadership .”

The report said that such contacts were handled on Trump’s end by his then campaign director, Paul Manafort, who participated in the 9 June Trump Tower session.

Manafort has denied taking part in any collusion with the Russian nation, but registered himself as a foreign agent retroactively after it was revealed his firm received more than $17 m running as a lobbyist for a pro-Russian Ukrainian party. He is a subject of special attorney Robert Mueller’s investigation and in July the FBI raided his home in Virginia.

Other key protagonists in the Steele dossier have surfaced in subsequent revealings and investigation. Two of them, an Azeri-Russian businessman Araz Agalarov and his son Emin, are described in emails released by Donald Trump Jr as offering to serve as intermediaries in passing on damaging material on Clinton and is reported to have help set up the Trump Tower meeting.

Carter Page

Another key figure in the Steele dossier is Carter Page, an energy consultant who Trump named as one of his foreign policy advisors. Steele’s sources describe him as an “intermediary” between Manafort and Moscow, who had met a Putin lieutenant and head of the Russian energy giant, Rosneft, and a senior Kremlin official, Igor Diveykin.

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Donald Trump and his son, Donald Jr. Photo: Jewel Samad/ AFP/ Getty Images

Page denied meeting either human on his trip-ups to Moscow, which he has said were for business purposes and not connected to his role in the Trump campaign.

Nonetheless, he has become a focus of investigation: it was reported in April that that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an order last year for his communication to be monitored. To obtain the order, researchers would have to demonstrate” probable cause” to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. Page has said he welcomed the news of the order as it demonstrated he was being made a scapegoat of the investigation.

Elsewhere, a Steele memo in September 2016 mentions a “Mikhail Kulagin” who had been withdrawn from the Russian embassy in Washington because of his” heavy participation in the US presidential election operation “.

There was no envoy of that name at the mission, but there was a Mikhail Kalugin; five months ago, it emerged that he had left the embassy in August 2016.

McClatchy reported he was under investigationfor his role in Russia’s interference in the campaign. The BBC reported that the US had identified Kalugin as a snoop.

Facebook

More lately, there has been a slew of revelations about the role of disinformation spread by Russians and other eastern Europeans posing as Americans on social media. The New York Times reported that hundreds and possibly thousands of Russian-linked fake accounts and bots on Facebook and Twitter were used to spread anti-Clinton narratives and messages.

Facebook disclosed that it had shut down several hundred accounts that it believes were fabricated by a Kremlin-linked Russian company to buy $100,000 in ads that are typically promoted racial and other divisive issues during the campaign.

This week, Facebook handed over to Congress 3, 000 ads bought by a Russian organisation during the campaign, and it was reported that many of those ads, some of them Islamophobic, were specifically targeted on swing states, Michigan and Wisconsin.

A Steele memo from August 2016 states that after Russia’s hand had been discovered in the hacking of Democratic party emails and passing them to WikiLeaks for publishing, another boulevard of influence would be explored.

The memo says” the tactics would be to spread rumours and misinformation about the content of what already had been leaked and make up new content “.

The
The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who fulfilled Donald Trump Jr and other campaign figures. Photograph: Yury Martyanov/ AFP/ Getty Images

The Russian official alleged by Steele’s sources to be in charge of the operation, Sergei Ivanov- then Putin’s joint chiefs of staff- is quoted as saying:” The audience to be targeted by such operations was the educated youth in America as the PA[ Russian Presidential Administration] assessed that there was still a chance they could be persuaded to vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump as a protest against the Washington establishment( in the form of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton ).”

The Steele dossier said one of the aims of the Russian influence campaign was to peel off voters who had supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and nudge them towards Trump.

Evidence has since emerged that Russians and east Europeans posing as Americans targeted Sanders advocates with divisive and anti-Clinton messages in the summer of 2016, after the primaries were over.

Unsubstantiated claims

There are other details in the Steele dossier that have echoed in subsequent news reports, but there are also several claims and accounts for which no supporting evidence has emerged.

The startling claim that Trump was filmed with prostitutes while staying at a Moscow hotel in November 2013, when he was staging the Miss Universe contest there, has not been substantiated in any way.

Nor has the allegation that Trump’s lawyer and vice-president of the Trump Organisation, Michael Cohen, travelled to Prague in August 2013 to conspire with a senior Russian official. In a letter to the House intelligence committee, Cohen said he never went to Prague and took issue with a string of other claims in the dossier.

It has however emerged that Cohen was involved in investigating a real estate deal in Moscow for the Trump Organisation while the campaign was in full swing. He has been summoned to appear in open hearing before the Senate intelligence committee later this month.

The Steele dossier, its writer and the firm who hired him, Fusion GPS, have become favoured targets for Trump’s loyalists on Capitol hill. They point to the fact that the genesis of the documents was a paid commission to find damaging facts about Trump.

But the dossier has not faded from view. Instead, it appears to be growing in significance as the investigations have gathered pace.

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Hillary Clinton’s new memoir compares Trump’s ‘war on truth’ to Orwell’s 1984

The former presidential candidates new book, What Happened, tries to come to terms with her election defeat and likens Trump to the dystopian classic

Hillary Clinton employs her new memoir to draw parallels between Donald Trump’s” war on truth” and the Soviet Union and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

” Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism ,” the defeated presidential candidate writes in What Happened, published under Tuesday.” This is what the Soviets did when they erased political protesters from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic fiction Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four thumbs and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner assures five thumbs as ordered .”

The goal is to construct you question logic and and reason and to sow mistrust, Clinton writes.” For Trump, as with so much he does, it’s about simple dominance .”

She argues that Trump has taken” the war against truth” to a whole new level.” If he stood up tomorrow and declared that the Globe is flat, his counselor Kellyanne Conway might just go on Fox News and defend it as an’ alternative fact ,’ and too many people would believe it .”

The cathartic 469 -page memoir is heartfelt, honest and at times funny as it tries to come to grips with Clinton’s personally and politically catastrophic defeat last November. She identifies many reasons, including racism, sexism, the late intervention of the FBI and her own mistakes.

She writes:” I was operating a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly constructed alliances, while Trump was running a reality Tv show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans’ fury and rancor. I was devoting speeches laying out how to solve the country’s problems. He was ranting on Twitter .”

Trump put-downs

Clinton peppers the book with insults aimed at Trump. These include:” a clear and present danger to the country and the world “;” he’d remade himself from tabloid rascal into right-wing crank “;” for Trump, if everyone’s down in the dirt with him, then he’s no dirtier than anyone else “;” he had no ideological core apart from his towering self-regard, which blotted out all hope of learn or growing “.

Bernie Sanders

Clinton also presents little affection for her contender for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, identifying him as another causal factor in her defeat.” His attacks caused lasting damage, inducing it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s’ Crooked Hillary’ campaign. I don’t know if that bothered Bernie or not .”

Clinton was hammered by both Sanders and Trump over her paying speeches to Wall street. She acknowledges these were a “mistake”, explaining:” Just because many former government officials have been paid large fees to give speeches, I shouldn’t have assumed it was OK for me to do it. Especially after the financial crisis of 2008 -0 9, I should have realise it would be bad’ optics’ and bided away from anything having to do with Wall street. I didn’t. That’s on me .”

Trump’ prowls’ behind Clinton during presidential debate

The Russia factor

The Clinton campaign’s annoyance with a lack of media attention toward reported attempts by Moscow to interfere with the race were well-known. But Clinton dedicates a lengthy section not simply to how she and her aides is more and more well informed Russian efforts, but also to warn that Vladimir Putin has only just scratched the surface.

Clinton attests to sharing a relationship with Putin that has long been “sour”, saying of the Russian chairman:” Putin doesn’t respect women and despises anyone who stands up to him, so I’m a doubled problem .”

It was for that reason, and her desire to pursue a more hawkish posture toward Russia, that Putin had developed a” personal vendetta” against her, Clinton writes.

But, she writes, she would not have anticipated the assault that was subsequently waged against her campaign, and the minimizing of Russia’s role behind it.

” This wasn’t the normal rough-and-tumble of politics ,” Clinton writes.” This was- there’s no other term for it- war .”

The meanders are reopened with each revelation about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Clinton was recognized that she has followed” every twist and turn “.

As one of the young lawyers who worked for the House judiciary committee’s impeachment investigation into Richard Nixon, Clinton advises the Trump-Russia investigation is “much more serious” than Watergate.

Each time a new shoe drops, Clinton can’t help but hear Trump’s infamous terms to her in their final debate when she tackled him over his affinity for Putin:” No puppet. You’re the marionette .”

” This human is President of the United States ,” Clinton writes,” And no one is happier than Vladimir Putin .”

But her emails

Clinton is at her most scathing when she reflects on the coverage of her decision to use a private email server as secretary of state. In a chapter dedicated to what she calls the single most decisive factor in her loss, Clinton envisions a history class, 30 years from now, in which students learn about the election that” brought to power the least experienced, least knowledgeable, least competent President our country has ever had “.

” Something must have gone horribly wrong ,” Clinton writes,” then you hear that one issue dominated press coverage and public debate in that race more than any other .”

“‘ Climate change ?’ you ask.’ Healthcare ?” No ,’ your teacher answers.’ Emails .'”

The imaginary dialogue continues, with students asking if international crimes was perpetrated or damage caused to national security. “‘ No and no ,’ the teacher replies with a shrug … Sound ridiculous? I concur .”

She ultimately blames FBI director James Comey, who 11 days before the vote told Congress that relevant agencies had uncovered a new stash of Clinton-related emails, as being decisive in her loss.” My team combated serious headwinds to win the popular vote, and if not for the dramatic intervention of the FBI director in the final days, I believe that in spite of everything, we would have won the White House .”

‘ On being a woman in politics ‘

This is the title of a powerful chapter in the book. In it Clinton argues that sexism and misogyny played a role in the 2016 election.” Exhibit A is that a flagrantly sexist candidate won ,” she writes.” A whole lot of people listened to the videotape of him bragging about sexually assaulting girls, shrugged, and said,’ He still get my election .'”

But Trump did not invent such attitudes, she continues, describing sexism and misogyny as “endemic” in America, pointing as evidence to the YouTube comments or Twitter replies when a woman dares to voice a political opinion. To say it is not easy to be a woman in politics is an understatement, she goes on.

” It can be excruciating, humbling. The moment a woman steps forward and says,’ I’m running for office ‘, it begins: the analysis of her face, her body, her voice, her demeanor; the diminishment of her stature, her notions, her accomplishments, her integrity .”

Hillary
Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia. Photo: Brian Snyder/ Reuters

The former secretary of state admits that she hesitates to go on, mindful that her terms might act as deterrent to women holding a career in politics.” I can’t think of a single woman in politics who doesn’t have narratives to tell. Not one.

” For the record, it hurts to be torn apart. It may seem like it doesn’t bother me to be called terrible names or have my looks mocked viciously, but it does. I’m used to it – I’ve grown what Eleanor Roosevelt said women in politics need: a skin as thick as a rhinoceros hide .”

Clinton acknowledges she was taken aback by the” deluge of hatred” that only seemed to grow as election day depicted nearer, with mob at rallies calling for her imprisonment and T-shirts depicting her severed head like Medusa.” Now people seemed to think I was evil. Not only’ not my cup of tea’ but evil. It was flabbergasting and frightening. Was this all because I’m a woman? No. But I believe it was motivation for some of those chanters and some of that bile .”

In an episode that emerged in previews of the book, Clinton remembers how Trump hovered behind her in the second presidential debate, two days after the released of the Access Hollywood tape in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitals.” Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I strolled, he followed me closely, staring at me, building faces. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. He was literally exhaling down my neck. My skin crawled .”

What to wear

Clinton’s suits became a trademark- a white suit to accept the Democratic nomination; red, white and blue suits to debate Trump three times. Clinton supporters formed an invitation-only Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation.

” As a woman operating for president, I liked the visual cue that I was different from the men but also familiar. A uniform was also an anti-distraction technique: since there wasn’t much to say or report on what I wore, perhaps people would focus on what I was saying instead .”

Regrets

If there is one regret Clinton singles out in her volume, it is remarks she made that, while taken out of context, resounded across middle America with irreversible outcomes.” We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business ,” she said.

She had a plan to reinvest in opportunities for coal miners whose jobs had been lost. But Clinton recognise nominees were trained not to create such devastating soundbites.” If you were already primed to believe the worst about me, here was confirmation ,” she writes.” I felt perfectly sick about the whole thing. I clarified and apologized and pointed to my detailed plan to invest in coal communities. But the damage was done .”

Trump’s inauguration

Clinton agonised over whether to attend.” After the mean-spirited campaign Trump ran, there was a decent opportunity I’d get booed or be met with’ Lock her up !’ chants if I went .” But she was persuaded to be there after checking with George W Bush and Jimmy Carter, both of whom had decided to attend.

” At some phase in the day’s proceedings, Michelle and I shared a rueful seem. It said,’ Can you believe this ?'”

Clinton
Clinton supporters watch outcomes come in on a big screen on election night in New York. Photograph: Justin Lane/ EPA

Clinton asks poignantly:” What would I have said if it were me up there ?” To be the first girl to take the oath would have been” an extraordinary honor “.

Trump’s inaugural address was ” darknes and dystopian”, she writes.” I heard it as a howling straight-out from the white patriot gut .”

“‘ That was some weird shit ,’ George W reportedly said with characteristic Texan bluntness. I couldn’t have agreed more .”

So what happened ?

Along with her blunders and Comey, Clinton refuses to bow down to the notion that the election was not about race. When the individuals who voted for Trump listed their top priorities as national security and immigration, Clinton writes,” that’s a polite route of saying many of these voters were worried about people of color- especially blacks, Mexicans and Muslims, threatening their way of life .”

Cautious not to indict all of Trump’s advocates as racist or xenophobic, Clinton nonetheless states:” You had to be deaf to miss the coded language and racially charged resentment powering Trump’s campaign .”

But she adds:” I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we stimulated. I take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want- but I was presidential candidates. It was my campaign. Those were my decisions .”

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Hillary Clinton’s book has a clear message: don’t blame me | Thomas Frank

Hillary Clinton simply cannot escape her satisfied white-collar worldview. This avoids her from understanding the events of 2016

How do you lose the presidency to a human like Donald Trump? He was the most unpopular presidential nominee of all time, compounding gaffe with blunder and heaping gaffe upon gaffe. Maintaining him from the Oval Office should have been the single-minded mission of the Democratic party. And it should have been easy for them.

Instead they lost, and now their 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton comes before us to account for this monumental failure, to tell us What Happened. Unfortunately, her new book is less an effort to explain than it is to explain away.

No real blame ever resolves anywhere near Clinton’s person. And while she wrestles gamely with the larger historical question of why the party of the people has withered as inequality grows, she never offers a satisfy answer. Instead, most of the blame is directed outward, at familiar suspects like James Comey, the Russians and the media.

Still, by exercising a little discernment, readers can find clues to the mystery of 2016 here and there among the clouds of blame-evasion and positive thinking.

Start at the beginning: why did Hillary Clinton run for chairperson? “[ B] ecause I believed I’d be good at the job ,” she writes. Then, 13 pages afterward:” It was a chance to do the most good I would ever be able to do .”

A would-be do-gooder wants problems to solve, of course, and so Clinton says she turned next to the people who knew what was wrong.” I started calling policy experts ,” she writes,” read thick binders of memos, and stimulating lists of problems that needed more thought .” Lists of problems and solutions are everywhere; reeling them off one after another is one of her favorite rhetorical devices, her way of checking the boxes and letting everyone know that she cares.

Proceeding in this rational, expert-sanctioned way, Hillary Clinton set off resolutely on the road to oblivion.

She seems to have been almost totally unprepared for the outburst of populist rage that characterized 2016, an outburst that came under half a dozen different guises: trade, outsourcing, immigration, opiates, deindustrialization, and the recent spectacle of Wall Street crooks getting bailed out. It wasn’t the issues that mattered so much as the outrage, and Donald Trump put himself in front of it. Clinton couldn’t.

To her credit, and unlike many of her most fervent supporters, Hillary Clinton doesn’t deny that this web of class-related problems had some role in her downfall. When she isn’t repeating self-help bromides or calumniating the Russians she can be found wondering why so many working-class people have deserted the Democratic party.

This is an important question, and in dealing with it Clinton writes a few genuinely memorable passages, like her description of a grotesque campaign stop in West Virginia where she was protested by a mob that included the former CEO of the company that owned the Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 coal miners died in 2010.

But by and large, Clinton’s efforts to understand populism always get short-circuited, likely because taking it seriously might lead one to conclude that working people have a legitimate beef with her and the Democratic party.

Countless inconvenient items get eliminated from her history. She only writes about trade, for example, in the most general terms; Nafta and the TPP never. Her husband’s program of bank deregulation is photoshopped out. The names Goldman Sachs and Walmart never come up.

Besides, to take populism seriously might also mean that Bernie Sanders, who was ” outraged about everything ,” might have had a phase, and much of What Happened is working to blasting Sanders for challenging Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Devote that he afterward endorsed her and even campaigned for her, this can only be described as churlish, if not downright dishonest.

That Clinton might have doing well to temper her technocratic style with some populist outrage of her own merely dawns on her towards the end of the book, by which point it is too late.

Not to mention impossible. Hillary Clinton simply cannot escape her satisfied white-collar worldview- compulsively listing people’s academic credentials, hobnobbing with officers from Facebook and Google, and telling readers how she went to Davos in 1998 to announce her philosophy.

And then, in her conclude chapter, returning to her beloved alma mater Wellesley College and informing graduates of that prestigious institution that, with their” capacity for critical reasoning”( among other things) they were” precisely what we needed in America in 2017.”

I wish it were so. I wish that another crop of upper-class college grads were what we needed. I wish Hillary’s experts and her enlightened capitalist friends could step in and fix this shabby America we occupy today, where racists march in the streets and the Midwest falls apart and cops shoot motorists for no reason and a blustering groper occupies the White House.

I wish it were all a matter of having a checklist of think-tank approved policy solutions. But I know for sure it isn’t. And voters knew that, too.

Thomas Frank is a Guardian US columnist

Ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort tells Senate panel of Russia meeting

Committee rescinds subpoena after Manafort agrees to turn over notes, while Jared Kushner returns to Capitol Hill for second day of private testimony

Donald Trumps former campaign chairperson gratified Senate investigators Tuesday, providing his recollection of a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer and agreeing to turn over contemporaneous notes of the collect last year, according to people familiar with the closed-door interview.

Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Dianne Feinstein had also issued a subpoena for Paul Manafort to testify publicly during a Wednesday hearing before the committee. But late on Tuesday the committee rescinded the subpoena after he agreed to turn over the documents, according to a spokesman for Grassley.

Manaforts appearance on Tuesday came the same morning that Trumps son-in-law and consultant Jared Kushner returned to Capitol hill for a second day of private meetings, this time for a dialogue with lawmakers on the House intelligence committee.

Both Manafort and Kushner have been cooperating with the committees which, along with special advise Robert Mueller, are investigating Russias interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with Trump associates.

The two men have faced particular scrutiny about attending the Trump Tower session because it was described in emails to Donald Trump Jr as being part of a Russian government effort to aid Trumps presidential campaign.

On Tuesday, Manafort met with bipartisan staff of the Senate intelligence committee and answered their questions fully, his spokesman, Jason Maloni, said.

Manaforts discussion with committee personnel was limited to his recollection of the June 2016 session, according to two people familiar with the interview. Both demanded anonymity to discuss details because the interview resulted behind closed doors.

Manafort had previously disclosed the session in the following documents he turned over to the committee. He has now provided the committee with notes he took at the time, one of the person or persons said. The other person told Manafort has also said he will participate in additional interviews with the Senate intelligence committee staff on other topics if necessary. Those meetings havent yet been scheduled.

Also Tuesday, Kushner spent about three hours behind closed doors with the House committee.

Republican Mike Conaway of Texas, who is leading the panels Russia investigation, said he found Kushner to be straightforward, forthcoming, wanted to answer every question we had. He said Kushner was willing to follow up with the committee if it has additional questions.

The committees ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, said the questions touched on a range of issues the committee had been concerned about.

We appreciate his voluntary willingness are in place to testify today, Schiff added.

On Monday, Kushner answered questions from staff on the Senates intelligence panel, acknowledging four meetings with Russians during and after Trumps victorious White House bid.

Let me be very clear, Kushner said in a rare public statement at the White House, I did not collude with Russia , nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.

Emails released this month show that Trump Jr, the presidents eldest son, accepted a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya with the understanding that he would receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help Trumps campaign.

But, in his statement for the two intelligence committees, Kushner said he hadnt read those emails until recently indicated them by his lawyers.

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The Resistance Now: activists say ‘hell no’ to Republican healthcare bill

Progressives sprung into action with dozens protesting outside the Senate majority leaders office, while Democrats took stock after Ossoffs loss

So about that healthcare bill…

Dozens of people were arrested after protesting outside Senate majority leader Mitch McConnells office on Thursday including some in wheelchairs as Republicans unveiled Republicans unveiled Trumpcare 2.0( or are we on 3.0 now ?).

Activists from disability rights organisation Adapt collected outside McConnells office to demonstrate against the bill, which would dramatically cut Medicaid and strip funding from Planned Parenthood, to name merely two measures.

A
A protester is resulted away by police on Thursday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/ EPA

Progressive organisations leap into action to try to defeat it.

Our Revolution set up a page on its website urging people to take action to stop AHCA[ the Senate bill is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act but many of the principles are the same as the AHCA House bill] and avoid millions from losing their healthcare.

The organization has provided a number which will connect people to their Senators office, and has also some talking points.

AHCA would leave 23 million Americans without healthcare.

The bill would allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients and deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

A majority of voters strongly oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act( also known as Obamacare ).

Americans want to expand healthcare , not gut it. In fact, two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all.

Indivisible has its own page too, where people can submit amendments to their senator. “Its about” applying your constituent power immediately to the process, Indivisibles website tells. They also have an extensive listing of reading material and a script people can use when talking to their representatives.

Ossoff: doomed from the beginning?

Thats what a number of progressives told the Guardian, after the 30 -year-old lost to Republican Karen Handel in Tuesdays special election.

Jon Ossoff operated on a centrist, Clinton-esque platform that focussed on rather beige, uncontroversial issues like government garbage. There was no talk of universal healthcare and little of welfare issues. He ran in what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, and lost by only five points, but Ossoff was basically the opposite of the kind of populist candidate the left believes is the way forward.

Hes not in favour of single-payer healthcare, hes not outspoken on campaign finance reform, told Moumita Ahmed, founder of Millennials for Revolution. Why would I as a Republican vote for someone who isnt a Republican, but still has the same values as a Republican?

Jon
Ossoff plus balloons. Photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

Winnie Wong, from People for Bernie, told Ossoffs operate the election was the most expensive House race in history, by the way was a massive failure of Democratic party leadership.

He didnt have a core progressive message and that ultimately is why he lost. The Democratic party could spend $100 m and he would still lose. Because he didnt stand for anything.

but there is hope for a Brand New Congress

Thats the name of a group that selects, trains, is in favour of promotes progressives who want to run for Congress.

Brand New Congress( BNC ), formed in April 2016, currently has 14 candidates who have announced their 2018 mid-term campaigns, including several who are running against incumbent Democrats.

We basically provide full service campaign service, BNCs Corbin Trent told the Guardian this week. Brand New Congress manages press petition, helps with events and vote access, does opposition research on incumbents, and can even help with speechwriting.

Brand New Congress has organized a weekend canvassing kick off for its candidates( who are from across America) on Sunday. Each of presidential candidates all of whom are running on progressive platforms are holding events to boost their campaigns.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley in New Yorks 14 th congressional district, organized for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016.

We have the capacity and opportunity to be ambitious in legislation, Ocasio-Cortez told the Guardian. Because the world is changing in ways weve never seen before.

What were reading

  • Were in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck emergency, writes Rebecca Solnit , in which new groups and alliances are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didnt previously think they were activists. Solnit says there are extraordinary things happening in this moment, in an uplifting survey of the activist land.
  • Progressives should try to speak conservative to score victories, historian and LGBTQ strategist Nathaniel Frank writes in the LA Times. He tells the success of the LGBTQ movement arrived when activists learned to speak the language of those they most needed to enlist rather than those who already agreed with them.

Ron Swanson reimagined as Berniecrat progressive

Parks
Parks and Recreations Ron Swanson … an eerie doppelganger for a Democratic nominee whos stimulating headlines. Photograph: NBC/ NBCU Photo Bank

Randy Bryce, known as @IronStache on Twitter, sprung to fame the coming week when he announced his challenge to Republican house speaker Paul Ryan. In his favor? An evocative campaign advert, a leftwing message, and the mustache, denim and workboots of an all-American.

That masculine, blue-collar image prompted one Twitter user to suggest Bryce was genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen anthems, while several people compared the Democrat to the Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Just not a libertarian.

Randy
Randy Bryce is work for Paul Ryans seat in Congress. Photograph: YouTube

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Georgia special election: Republican Karen Handel beats Jon Ossoff in runoff

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warns helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts

In Georgia the resistance was stopped by the rain on Tuesday when Jon Ossoff, long the best hope of Democrats to win a special election in the Trump administration, suffered a narrow loss to Republican Karen Handelin the Sixth Congressional District.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Handel had 52.4% and Ossoff had 47.6%

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warns helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts and on the hopes of progressives to frustrate Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Blended with an energized Republican base that kept Ossoff from accumulating a significant lead among early voters, it doomed the hopes of the anti-Trump activists who constructed the first time Democratic candidate a minor political celebrity.

The runoff came after a first round of voting in April where Ossoff won merely over 48% of the vote and Handel finished second in a splintered Republican field with only under 20% of the vote. However, Ossoff struggled to match that total as Handel consolidated the Republican vote in a traditionally conservative district in the northern suburbs of Atlanta andended up falling a percentage point short of his much hyped performance in the first round of voting.

Trump took to Twitterto hail the result as a personal victory Thank you @FoxNews Huge win for President Trump and GOP in Georgia Congressional Special Election.

The seat had been vacated by Tom Price when the former congressman joined Trumps cabinet to become secretary of health and human service and previously held by Republican stalwarts like Senator Johnny Isakson and other speakers Newt Gingrich. Although Price won by 23% in 2016, Donald Trump merely narrowly won this wealthy, well-educated district by merely over 1 %.

Trumps narrow win triggered optimism among Democrats that different districts, where virtually 60% of residents have a college degree, could flip as part of the political realignment around the presidents upset victory in 2016. Roughly $ 50 m aimed up being are spending both parties and allied groups in the race as it became the most expensive congressional campaign in the history of the United States.

However, while Democrat had motivated their base and won over skeptical Republicans, the conservative slant of district proved too much even for the nearly unprecedented resources that Democrats invested in the race, even flying in volunteers for last minute doorknocking as local television stations had been saturated by 30 -second advertisements.

Although the race had been cast a referendum on Trump an opinion the President seemed to endorse after the result had been reported both candidates awkwardly danced around his looming presence on the campaign trail. At Handels campaign events, Trumps name ran unmentioned by the candidate and introductory speakers. Instead, there was constant refrain of attack on Ossoff for his ties to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and praise for previous holders of the seat like Price and Gingrich. Ossoff was regularly bashed for the amount of money he created out of state and for having San Francisco values.

Handel, who suggested in the first televised debate of the campaign that Trump should use Twitter less often, told the Guardian in an interview on Monday that she didnt pay attention to the presidents employ of social media. She said I am focused on my campaign, I have precious little time to be on Twitter. Several hours later, her campaign sent out a fundraising email signed by the former secretary of state with the subject line did you insure what Trump only tweeted? after the President employed his ubiquitous social media account to tout her campaign.

Ossoff has also been measured in his attacks on Trump in a traditionally Republican district albeit one that the president barely won in 2016. Instead, the lanky and measured political neophyte focused on banal and politically non-controversial issues like government waste and turning Atlanta into the Silicon Valley of the South and let the progressive anti-Trump exuberance of the Democratic base carry him.

Instead, he has focused on Handels stint as Georgia secretary of state as well as her brief stint with the Susan Komen Race For The Cure, a charity which combats breast cancer, where she resulted an effort to cut off the organizations funding for Schemed Parenthood. The decision triggered a major dispute and funding was eventually restored and Handel had to resign from the non-profit.

In an interview with the Guardian, Ossoff slammed his opponent. Secretary Handels record as secretary of state is extremely weak perhaps because she was too busy preparing her next run for higher office to do her chore. She quit her job early to run for higher office, as so many career politicians do. Her last significant private sector experience, her performance also lacked.

The issue of civility and the growing toxic nature of American political culture became an issue late in the race in the aftermath of the shooting of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Handel pointed to social media and journalism as reasons for the decline of civility in American society in an interview with the Guardian. Journalism is not journalism any more, said Handel. Ossoff stuck to broader topics, telling the Guardian, this is a deep rooted problem in American politics right now “whos going to” take work and bipartisan commitment to trying to mend meanders and focus on substance instead of dread mongering and slander.

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