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By Robert A. Vella

Recently released evidence from the Mueller investigation reveals how Donald Trump was determined to obtain hacked Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential election while his campaign was also pushing a spurious conspiracy theory which might shift blame for meddling in the U.S. election from Russia to Ukraine.  These revelations confirm the purpose of Special  Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between Russia and Trump.

On the impeachment front, federal prosecutors in New York are investigating contacts between Trump’s “personal lawyer” Rudy Giuliani and former congressman Robert Livingston Jr. (R-LA) concerning the ouster of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.  The CIA whistleblower who exposed Trump’s attempt to coerce the Ukrainian government for personal political gain has informed congressional Republicans that he/she would provide written answers to their questions.

In other news, there are three stories related to Trump’s anti-immigration policies, a single voting machine vendor which is under scrutiny for numerous election irregularities, how U.S. family farms are going into bankruptcy because of Trump’s trade war against China and because of extreme weather disasters triggered by climate change, an emergency declaration in Germany regarding the rise of dangerous right-wing extremism, and the achievement of New Zealand’s gun buyback program in the wake of the tragic Christchurch massacre.

New Muller revelations

From:  Mueller interview notes obtained by CNN show Trump’s push for stolen emails

President Donald Trump and other top 2016 Trump campaign officials repeatedly privately discussed how the campaign could get access to stolen Democratic emails WikiLeaks had in 2016, according to newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller‘s special counsel investigation.

CNN sued the Justice Department for access to Mueller’s witness interview notes, and this weekend’s release marks the first publicly available behind-the-scenes look at Mueller’s investigative work outside of court proceedings and the report itself. Per a judge’s order, the Justice Department will continue to release new tranches of the Mueller investigative notes monthly to CNN and Buzzfeed News, which also sued for them.

A retelling of events from former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, who served alongside campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is the fullest detail revealed by the Justice Department yet on discussions within the Trump campaign as it pursued damaging information about its Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. The documents were stolen by the Russians, the American intelligence community has found.

From:  Internal Mueller documents show Trump campaign chief pushed unproven theory Ukraine hacked Democrats

Newly released documents show that Manafort’s protege, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, told the FBI of Manafort’s theory during interviews conducted as part of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Gates told the FBI that Manafort had shared his theory of Ukrainian culpability with him and other campaign aides before the election.

The new information shows how early people in Trump’s orbit were pushing the unsubstantiated theory about Ukraine’s role.

[…]

The documents were released in response to lawsuits filed by BuzzFeed and CNN seeking documents related to Mueller’s investigation. BuzzFeed on Saturday published the first installment of internal Mueller records, released by the Justice Department to the news organization in response to a court order.

Impeachment developments

From:  Possible contacts between Giuliani, former congressman examined in Ukraine probe

A new name in the House impeachment inquiry, former Republican Rep. Bob Livingston, has surfaced in the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors in New York into efforts by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates in connection with Ukraine, multiple sources have told ABC News.

More specifically, the sources said, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are looking into whether the former congressman had contact with Giuliani related to the push for the removal of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

From:  Whistleblower willing to answer GOP questions, lawyer says

Washington — A lawyer for the whistleblower who reported concerns about the president’s dealings with Ukraine told CBS News he offered to have Republicans on the House Intelligence Community submit questions to his client directly without having to go through the committee’s Democratic majority.

Attorney Mark Zaid told CBS News he contacted Representative Devin Nunes, the committee’s ranking member, on Saturday to say his client is willing to answer Republicans’ questions under oath and penalty of perjury if lawmakers submitted written questions to the whistleblower’s legal team. The inspector general of the intelligence community, a Trump appointee, could verify the whistleblower’s identity in order to satisfy the committee’s minority members while protecting the individual’s anonymity.

Zaid said the offer underscores his client’s desire to ensure his complaint is handled in a nonpartisan way.

Other news

From:  US judge blocks Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday put on hold a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants prove they will have health insurance or can pay for medical care before they can get visas.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the rule from going into effect Sunday. It’s not clear when he will rule on the merits of the case.

Seven U.S. citizens and a nonprofit organization filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday contending the rule would block nearly two-thirds of all prospective legal immigrants.

Related stories:

Trump approves plan to cap refugees at 18,000 in 2020

Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall

From:  The Market for Voting Machines Is Broken. This Company Has Thrived in It.

In Georgia, where the race for governor had drawn national interest amid concerns about election integrity, ES&S-owned technology was in use when more than 150,000 voters inexplicably did not cast a vote for lieutenant governor. In part because the aged ES&S-managed machines did not produce paper backups, it wasn’t clear whether mechanical or human errors were to blame. Litigation surrounding the vote endures to this day.

In Indiana, ES&S’ systems were plagued by mishaps at the local level. In Johnson County, for instance, the company’s brand-new machines faltered in ways that made it difficult to know whether some people had voted more than once.

[…]

The vote in 2006 in Sarasota, Florida, was just one. There, ES&S machines lost around 18,000 votes; it is still unclear why. The loss was far more than the margin of victory, and a lawsuit followed that ultimately resolved little. The company said in a statement that a variety of testing done on its machines supports its claim that the devices were not at fault, but the county wound up canceling its dealings with the firm shortly afterward.

Despite such stumbles, ES&S — based in Omaha, Nebraska, and employing roughly 500 people — controls around 50% of the country’s election system market, the company says, meaning that some 70 million Americans vote using the company’s equipment.

From:  Trade wars, climate change plunge the family farm into crisis. Is it an endangered American institution?

Farm bankruptcies in September surged 24% amid a perfect storm created by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and Europe, slumping commodity prices, and a year of unfavorable weather. This August, the USDA reported that more than 19.4 million acres of farmland nationwide weren’t planted due to record spring rains and historic, catastrophic flooding.

According to a report released Wednesday by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest general farm organization, U.S. farmers increasingly depend on trade aid and other federal programs for income. Record-high debt and a rise in Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies should come as no surprise, the Farm Bureau reported.

From:  Eastern German city declares ‘Nazi emergency’

The resolution said the city was “worried that anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, discriminatory and far-right positions which include violence” were on the rise in Dresden.

It called for a “strengthening of a democratic culture”, making a priority of “the protection of minorities, human rights and victims of extreme-right violence”.

The motion also stressed the importance to fight “anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia”.

More Than 32,000 Prohibited Guns Turned in, as New Zealand Buyback Deadline Approaches

8 thoughts on “Sunday Topics: New Mueller revelations, impeachment developments, and other news

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