WHY SENATOR BENNET DOES NOT SUPPORT A FILIBUSTER

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/164667/littwin-bennet-trump-gorsuch-supreme-court-filibuster-nuclear-option

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by Mike Littwin
April 03, 2017
Littwin: Bennet won’t support Gorsuch filibuster, but says it’s complicated
First the news. Michael Bennet tells me he’s not going to vote to filibuster Neil Gorsuch.
“I don’t think it’s wise for our party to filibuster this nominee or for Republicans to invoke the nuclear option,” Bennet says.
That makes him the fourth Democratic senator to break from the ranks and the only one from a state that voted against Donald Trump. Republicans still need four more Democrats to defect to block a filibuster, and, at this point, it seems unlikely they’ll get them.
This vote was always going to be a lose-lose proposition for Bennet. He would either have to enrage the Democratic base with a decision that looks like heresy — which is what he’s done — or vote against a fellow Coloradan who is strongly supported by the downtown legal and business establishment, which, not coincidentally, generally supports Bennet. Gov. John Hickenlooper laid out the case when he said he wouldn’t blame Democrats for trying to delay or block Gorsuch after the Merrick Garland fiasco, but that he was “honored” a Coloradan as talented as Gorsuch was nominated.
But the decision is more complicated than local politics. And it’s more complicated than Gorsuch’s obvious qualifications. Bennet’s vote for cloture is not simply a vote for Gorsuch. Bennet says, in fact, that if Republicans go nuclear, “all bets are off,” presumably meaning that if it comes to an up-or-down vote, he’s going to vote down. And no wonder.
When I ask Bennet to describe his view on Gorsuch as a potential justice, he responds “very conservative,” and not in a good way. He means it in the way Gorsuch decided the Hobby Lobby case and dissented in the “frozen trucker” case — taking a strongly pro-business slant in which for-profit businesses can have religious beliefs and praying-for-their-life workers can be fired for choosing not to freeze to death.
Bennet’s vote is to try to save the Supreme Court filibuster, which may be the Democrats’ only hope of blocking future Trump nominees who Bennet guarantees will be “far more extreme.” It’s a long-shot hope. Mitch McConnell has promised to use the nuclear option — ending the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees as Harry Reid did for all other lifetime judicial nominees in 2013 — if Democrats filibuster Gorsuch. But if Republicans are prepared to go nuclear over Gorsuch, they can go nuclear at any time. There may be nothing to save.
Bennet, whose case would be stronger if he unequivocally said he would oppose Gorsuch in an up-and-down vote, says opposing the filibuster is worth the risk. Otherwise, Democrats are putting all their chips on a bet they know they can’t win.
“If the nuclear option is invoked,” Bennet is saying by phone from his Washington office, “that means Gorsuch will be confirmed on the court with a 50-plus-1 vote. He’s going to be confirmed either way. But then the next justice will be confirmed with a 50-plus-1 vote. And the next justice.
“Trump might get two more nominees in his first term as president. Having a 51-vote threshold guarantees that you’re going to have far more extreme nominees.”
That’s the danger. Very conservative Gorsuch would replace very conservative Antonin Scalia. But the three oldest justices on the bench are swing vote Anthony Kennedy, who’s 80, liberal Stephen Breyer, who’s 78, and very liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, though she figures to live forever, is 83. All three, it should be noted, are votes in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade. If Trump replaces even one of them, that would probably swing the balance of the court against Roe. If he replaces all of them — and this is where someone raises the point about elections mattering — conservatives could have a 7-2 majority.
So, this is the crux of Bennet’s argument. Yes, Merrick Garland should have been nominated, and, yes, the liberal wing should have a 5-4 majority and, yes, McConnell did basically steal the seat, and, yes, Democrats should not just back away from that insult, and, yes, Gorsuch is a very conservative jurist who could be on the court for 30 years or more, and, yes, the Democrats risk giving Trump a victory at a time when he is floundering at every turn and, yes, the danger of thinking too long-term in politics is that you never really have any idea what will happen tomorrow.
But this is what could happen next. Trump’s approval ratings, already at historically low ratings at this point in a presidential term, could continue to slide. He’s around 40 percent now and could easily fall another 10 points. Is there a point at which Republicans abandon him? The 2018 and 2020 elections are the places to look. And if the filibuster remains in place, will Republicans, with a truly unpopular president and with the prospect of supporting a truly extreme nominee and with the future of Roe in the balance, vote to overturn it then?
Overturning Roe has been the holy grail for Republicans ever since it was decided, but it would almost certainly be a political disaster for them. And if three Republicans abandon Trump at the next nomination — which Ted Cruz is already predicting will look like Armageddon — the Supreme Court filibuster, should it still be alive, could be saved.
This is the argument Bennet has been trying to sell. “I’ve been spending weeks in conversation with Democrats and Republicans trying to put the genie back in the bottle, to get people to understand what the stakes are,” Bennet says. “I’m not very optimistic that any of this is going to bear fruit. But it’s gut-check time now. Are Democrats really going to filibuster the nominee? Are Republicans really going to use the nuclear option?”
Bennet makes a rational case. But we live in an irrational time. Do you fight Trumpism strategically or do you fight it at every turn? Senate Democrats, with their 48 votes, are at a loss and have done nothing to prepare the base for what happens when Democrats inevitably lose the Gorsuch vote. At this point, it’s all about resistance. And though Bennet makes a good case, at this time, with this president, it’s hard to see how the Gorsuch fight could be about anything else.

Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats via Flickr:Creative Commons

Vast Underwater Ocean Trapped Beneath Earth’s Crust

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Jun 13, 2014 11:33 AM EDT

Scientists have discovered evidence of a vast water reservoir trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, capable of filling Earth’s oceans three times over.

Located 400 miles (660 km) beneath Earth’s crust, this body of water is locked up in a blue mineral called ringwoodite that lies in the transition zone of hot rock between Earth’s surface and core. Interestingly, this water is not in a form familiar to us – it’s neither liquid, ice nor vapor. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University suggests it means that water on Earth may get pushed to the surface from below, contradicting previous beliefs that water was delivered via icy comets.

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” Jacobsen, co-author of the paper published in the journal Science, said in a press release.

“I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades.”

Ringwoodite here is key. Its crystal-like structure makes it act like a sponge and draw in hydrogen and trap water.

Jacobsen and his colleagues based their findings on a study of the transition zone, an underground region extending across most of the interior of the United States.

Along with Jacobsen’s lab experiments on rocks simulating the high pressures found deep underground, the study compiled data from the USArray, a network of seismometers across the United States used to measure earthquake vibrations.

It produced evidence that melting occurring 400 miles beneath the surface, plus the movement of rock in the transition zone, leads to a process where water can become fused and trapped within the rock.

Scientists were astounded because most melting in the mantle was previously thought to occur at a much shallower distance – about 50 miles (80km) below the Earth’s surface.

And according to The Guardian, Jacobsen said that this trapped, hidden water may explain why Earth’s oceans have stayed the same size for billions of years.

“If [the stored water] wasn’t there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountaintops would be the only land poking out,” he said.

The findings were published June 13 in the journal Science.

Katherine Stinson: Her Story

 

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Before there was Amelia Earhardt there was Katherine Stinson. A decade after the Wright Brothers lifted off the ground, Katherine Stinson achieved the unthinkable in a male-dominated field: she learned how to fly! This is the inspirational story of a brave, talented, young woman who fought for what she believed in — that she could fly and be the best. She traveled around the world, set records, cheated death, was adored in the United States, Japan, and China and shows us that with great spirit and believing in oneself, anyone can accomplish their dreams.

Katherine Stinson: Her Story | New Mexico PBS

 

Katherine Stinson, aka “The Flying Schoolgirl”

Stunt-flyer Katherine Stinson, along with her brothers Jack and Eddie and sister Marjorie, ran a flying school in San Antonio, Texas, and was the fourth woman in the U.S. to earn a pilot’s license. The first woman to fly the mail, she set increasingly longer endurance and distance records, and gave flying exhibitions in Japan and China. Stinson, like Ruth Law, volunteered to fly combat missions for the Army and was rejected. She ended up flying for the Liberty Loan Drives. Marjorie Stinson was also a pilot and trained Canadian pilots for the British Royal Flying Corps at the family flying school, where her students were nicknamed “The Texas Escadrille.” In 1918 Katherine Stinson traveled to Europe and worked for the American Red Cross as a flyer and an ambulance driver. After she contracted influenza, Stinson eventually developed tuberculosis and had to retire from flying in 1920.

 

A brief biography of Katherine, Edward, and Marjorie Stinson, American aviation pioneers.

DOW’S TOXINS GET GREEN LIGHT

pesticide_cautionDow’s toxic Enlist Duo pesticide just got the green light in 34 states.

 

Scott Pruitt and the Environmental Protection Agency are putting corporate interests ahead of people’s health and the health of our planet. Now, we’re taking them to court.

Dow AgroScience’s Enlist Duo is a highly toxic pesticide with extremely adverse effects on human health and wildlife. It is a mixture of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and 2,4-D, a known carcinogen and a component of Agent Orange. Knowing this, the Environmental Protection Agency still approved the agricultural use of this pesticide in 34 states.

Last week we filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA and the Trump administration challenging the agency’s decision. This is an uphill battle and we need your continued support. Become a monthly donor today and your first 12 monthly gifts will be matched $1-for-$1 by a generous donor.

Using this toxic duo on corn, soybean and cotton plants will have grave effects on farmworkers and the surrounding communities. Enlist Duo not only damages neighboring crops and threatens endangered species such as the whooping crane, but has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems. Simply put, the EPA’s decision could have a lasting impact and devastating consequences.

Moreover, the decision reinforces a disturbing trend in which crops are being genetically engineered to withstand these toxic pesticides. Companies like Dow and Monsanto not only sell the expensive GE seeds but also the pesticide cocktails that are sprayed on them—all for a substantial profit. This toxic cycle benefits the company’s bottom line at the expense of the public’s health.

Using this toxic duo on corn, soybean and cotton plants will have grave effects on farmworkers and the surrounding communities. Enlist Duo not only damages neighboring crops and threatens endangered species such as the whooping crane, but has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems. Simply put, the EPA’s decision could have a lasting impact and devastating consequences.

Moreover, the decision reinforces a disturbing trend in which crops are being genetically engineered to withstand these toxic pesticides. Companies like Dow and Monsanto not only sell the expensive GE seeds but also the pesticide cocktails that are sprayed on them—all for a substantial profit. This toxic cycle benefits the company’s bottom line at the expense of the public’s health.

Last week we filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA and the Trump administration challenging the agency’s decision. This is an uphill battle and we need your continued support. Become a monthly donor today and your first 12 monthly gifts will be matched $1-for-$1 by a generous donor.

 


 

Not so long ago, environmental destruction nearly drove America’s bald eagles to extinction in the wild. DDT, then a popular chemical for mosquito management, poisoned the fish eaten by these iconic birds, thinning the shells of their eggs to the point that many eaglets were crushed in the nest before they could ever hatch.

But that was before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established.

Since then, the EPA has helped clear choking smog from the skies of major cities, kept dangerous pesticides from poisoning rare wildlife and pets, and largely eliminated the threat of acid rains to North American forests.

Now the EPA — and its vital, nature-protecting work — is under assault.

Environmental Action has launched an all-out campaign to protect this, our nation’s most important guardian of the environment, and we need your support to fund these urgent efforts.

The Trump administration’s recently released budget proposal calls for:

    • Slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by nearly a third;
    • Reducing the agency’s staff by more than one-fifth; and
    • Eliminating at least 50 programs that protect our air, water, wildlife and wild places.

These cuts would have real — and devastating — consequences in CO, across the country, and around the world.

That’s why Environmental Action has launched an all-out campaign to save the EPA. With your support, we can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, educate the media and lawmakers, and — ultimately — Save the EPA!

Health in the 18th century

Eighteenth-century recipes

This is the first half of a paper given at the Roehampton Postgraduate Conference, 17 June 2010.

What were the main health problems in the 18th century? The plague was no longer an issue (although there were occasional outbreaks even as late as the 20th century in the tenements of Glasgow). Smallpox and typhus were almost as bad, though, and there were also high death tolls from measles, scarlatina, diphtheria and tuberculosis, then called consumption. Particularly among the poor rickets and whooping cough were both dangerous, as was diarrhoea in infants. Skin and eye diseases and parasitic infections were common, as were rheumatism, ulcers, kidney and bladder stones, and bad teeth, which led to internal infections. Recipe books include remedies for everyday complaints such as coughs and colds, stomach upsets and headaches, as well as spots, warts and dandruff, cuts, bruises and burns.

When we’re ill in the 21st century…

View original post 1,642 more words

THE ORIGIN OF THE TRUMP FORTUNE

http://www.thevint agenews.com/2016/09/23/origins-trump-fortune/

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Donald Trump has deep roots in Germany.  His grandfather, Friedrich Trump was born in the small southwest German town of Kallstadt in 1869. Even today, the town has just over 1,000 inhabitants.

At the age of 16, he emigrated to the United States to join his sister in New York. He immediately found work with a German barber, who hired him to help with his barbershop.

Trump stayed at the barbershop for six years, living in a tiny apartment and barely making a living.

When Trump heard of the gold rush frenzy in the upper Northwest, he decided to go and seek his fortune. He Americanized his first name to Fred and headed to Washington state.

At the age of 22, he became the owner of a restaurant in the red light district of Seattle, but before long found himself growing restless and sold out.

With hundreds of gold prospectors passing through Seattle on the way to Alaska, Trump decided that building hotels and opening restaurants was the key to success.He and his friend, Ernest Levin started a business from a tent on Dead Horse Trail. The Trail, also known as White Pass, was a well-traveled dirt trail that was so narrow and steep that many horses were unable to navigate it, causing over 3,000 to die by getting stuck in the mud, falling off cliffs or simply from exhaustion on the trail.

Trump and Levin took advantage of this opportunity to acquire free meat for their restaurant.  Their success allowed them to move to a two-story building in Bennett Town in Canada. They christened their new hotel and eatery “The Arctic” and advertised themselves as the “Newest, Neatest, and Best Equipped” establishment north of Vancouver.

According to Gwenda Blair, author of a revealing book delving into the “narcissistic personality disorder of Donald”, The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate, Fred Trump was a hard living and hard drinking man and catered to men of the same caliber.

The restaurant, which operated twenty-four hours a day, offered such delicacies as caribou, goat, rabbit, squirrel, and moose meat. Fresh fruit was also on the menu. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries were popular with the patrons after spending so much time riding the rugged trail.

“Customers depended on him for food, liquor, and women.” wrote Blair.  Of course, the modern Trump family vehemently denies the claim that prostitutes were “on the menu”, but history suggests otherwise.

In 1898, grandfather Trump and 30 other prospectors invested in a schooner that was described by a newspaper in North Dakota as “one of the most complete outfits ever taken out of Seattle.”

The schooner, named Elsie, was a fifty-six-ton sailing vessel costing $3,500. The men also invested about $15,000 in supplies to outfit the ship for three years.

Frederick (Friedrich) Trump
Frederick (Friedrich) Trump

Elsie and the men left Seattle in 1898 looking for gold in Kotzebue, a town in northwest Alaska.  Unfortunately, the schooner ran aground on Chirikof Island in the Gulf of Alaska due to an inexperienced captain. Elsie was stuck about three hundred yards from shore in three feet of water among the island rocks. The crew set up tents and were able to live off the ship’s provisions for about a month.

At this point, Trump feared the group would not survive much longer and began to pen a goodbye letter to the family in Germany. Before Trump completed his written farewells, the group was found by a passing Barkentine, a schooner with three masts.

The Elsie, as reported by the Alaska Dispatch News, was the only schooner to have ever run aground at the time.

Four years after the Elsie was abandoned, Trump sold his interest in the Artic to his partner and returned to Germany with his fortune to marry his childhood neighbor, Elizabeth Christ, and raise a family.

Trump’s mother did not approve of the match, deeming Elizabeth a lower class citizen.

The couple married nonetheless. German authorities, however, refused to allow Trump and his new bride to remain in Germany because of his draft dodging and refusal to pay taxes.

They also informed Trump that his German citizenship was no longer valid because he had left Germany for the United States to avoid military service.

Elizabeth Christ Trump
Elizabeth Christ Trump

Fred and Elizabeth moved to New York, and by 1904 Elizabeth had given birth to their first child, Elizabeth, followed by the son, Fred Jr. in 1905 – the future father of Donald. Another so,  John, was born in 1907.

Grandfather Trump died in Queens, New York, during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic at the age of 49, and is buried in Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Queens County.

At that time, his net worth was about $32,000, which translates into over $500,000 in modern currency.

Grandmother Trump and her fifteen-year-old son, Fred Jr. went into the real estate and building business, laying the foundation for the Empire now controlled by her grandson, Donald Trump.

DEFUNDING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/610

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This bill will effectively start the school voucher system to be used by children ages 5 to 17, and starts the de-funding process of public schools.

The bill will eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) of 1965 which is the nation’s educational law and provides equal opportunity in education. It is a comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL classes, classes for minorities such as Native Americans, Rural Education, Education for the Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability Programs.

The bill also abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards in school breakfast and lunch. For our most vulnerable, this may be the ONLY nutritious food they have in a day.

The bill has no wording whatsoever protecting special needs kids, no mention of IDEA and FAPE.

Some things the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) of 1965 does for Children with Disabilities:

-ensures access to the general education curriculum
-ensures access to accommodations on assessments
-ensures concepts of Universal Design for Learning
-includes provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based interventions in schools with consistently underperforming subgroups
-requires states in Title I plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).

 

EAT ONLY ORGANIC

Spinach jumped up four spots on this year’s Dirty Dozen™ list putting it in second place for produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue, just behind strawberries. Spinach contained the most pesticides by weight, including a neurotoxic bug killer called permethrin, which has been banned on food in Europe and is linked to ADHD in kids.

 

STRAWBERRIES HAVE THE MOST PESTICIDE RESIDUE

 

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Trump’s Extreme Oligarchy

 

  by Simon Johnson


Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the IMF, is a professor at MIT Sloan, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of a leading economics blog, The Baseline Scenario. He is the co-author, with James Kwak, of White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You.


 

WASHINGTON, DC – US President-elect Donald Trump is filling his cabinet with rich people. According to the latest count, his nominees include five billionaires and six multimillionaires. This is what is known as oligarchy: direct control of the state by people with substantial private economic power. Given that the Republicans also control both houses of Congress – and will soon make many judicial appointments – there is virtually no effective constraint on the executive branch.
In many instances – including the United States today – the initial reaction to such a government includes the hope that perhaps rich people will be good at creating jobs. They made themselves rich, goes the logic, so maybe they can do the same for the rest of us.

Hope usually dies last, but the incoming administration’s proposed economic policies are not encouraging. The organizing principle seems to be to discard pragmatism entirely and advance an extreme and discredited ideology.
The central theme of Trumponomics so far has been swift and sharp tax cuts. But Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a prominent and articulate deficit hawk; he will have a hard time supporting measures that increase the national debt.
To some extent, tax cuts will be justified with overly optimistic projections regarding their impact on economic growth, as was done under President George W. Bush, with generally disastrous effects. But there is a limit to how much pressure can be put on the Congressional Budget Office, which is responsible for providing credible assessments of the fiscal impact of new policies.
Trump seems determined to lower income taxes for high-income Americans, as well as to reduce capital-gains tax (mostly paid by the well-off) and nearly eliminate corporate taxes (again, disproportionately benefiting the richest). To do this, his administration will seek to increase taxes on others, and now we are beginning to see what this will look like. People close to the president-elect are considering an import tariff, set at around 10%.
This tariff will undoubtedly be presented to the public as a move to make American manufacturing great again. But a tariff is just another name for a tax that increases the costs of all imported goods. This could help a few firms at the margin – and presumably Trump’s team will highlight news stories (real or fake) about a few hundred or even a few thousand jobs being “saved.”
But the cost per job will be high: all imports will become more expensive, and this increase in the price level will filter through to the cost of everything Americans buy. In effect, the oligarchs will reduce direct taxation on themselves and increase indirect taxation on everyone – much like increasing the sales tax on all goods. Under any such proposal, the burden of taxation would be shifted from the better off to those with less income and little or no wealth.
And that may be just the start of the negative impact on most Americans’ wellbeing. If Trump increases tariffs on imported goods, some or all of America’s trading partners will most likely retaliate, by imposing tariffs on US exports. As US export-oriented firms – many of which pay high wages – reduce output, relative to what they would have produced otherwise, the effect will presumably be to reduce the number of good jobs.
Some countries – such as China – may deploy other punitive measures against US firms operating on their territory. The net effect will again be to reduce employment, both worldwide and in the US. The world has had much experience with “trade wars,” and it has never been positive.
Why would a group of American oligarchs pursue such a disastrous policy? The Trump administration is taking shape as a coalition of businesspeople who wrongly believe that protectionism is a good way to help the economy and market fundamentalists who now dominate the Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives.
Before Trump’s rise to prominence, the House Republicans were developing a set of policies structured around deep tax cuts, sweeping deregulation (including for finance and the environment), and repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature health-care reform, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). They were, however, resolutely in favor of freer trade – and the Obama administration’s plan was to enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, with substantial Republican support in Congress.
Trump’s election has not changed the core House Republican agenda – in fact, it has brought that agenda’s architects into government, at OMB, at the Department of Health and Human Services, the CIA, and other prominent positions, with more likely to follow. As my colleague James Kwak explains in his new book Economism, their pro-market thinking has gone too far and is unlikely to lead to good outcomes.
Selling Trump’s signature issue – protectionism – to the House Republicans was not easy. But now that they have started to think about an import tariff as part of their tax “reform” package, they will all start to get on board. And they will offer various strange justifications that deflect attention from the essentials of their policy: lower taxes for the oligarchs and people like them, and higher taxes – not to mention significant losses of high-paying jobs – for almost everyone else.

TRUMP’S RUSSIAN SCANDAL

 

DOSSIER PROVING TO BE RIGHT: Rachel Maddow takes the lead in the investigation of the Russian Connections as Congress defaults.

 

By Steve Benen
The first real sign of trouble came last summer, when Republican officials were putting together the party platform at their national convention in Cleveland. As regular readers know, when Republican officials were putting together the party platform, Donald Trump and his campaign team were completely indifferent towards the document and the process – with one notable exception.

The only thing Team Trump quietly pushed was a subtle change to make the Republican platform more in line with Russia’s foreign policy preferences. One GOP congressman was quoted saying soon after that the “most under-covered story” of the Republican convention” was Team Trump’s efforts to change the party platform to be more pro-Putin.

About a month later, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked the then-candidate about this. “I wasn’t involved in that,” Trump said. “Honestly, I was not involved.” Told that members of his team were responsible for pushing the platform in a direction Russia wanted, Trump added, “Yeah. I was not involved in that.

Left unresolved is why Team Trump found it necessary to change the platform, and who on the Republican’s team pushed for the change. As Rachel noted on last night’s show, this report from Politico brings the story into sharper focus.
U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, came under scrutiny from officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department partly because of at least two trips he took to the U.S. during the presidential campaign, according to three international political operatives familiar with the agencies’ interest in Kilimnik.

Kilimnik, a joint Russian-Ukrainian citizen who trained in the Russian army as a linguist, told operatives in Kiev and Washington that he met with Manafort during an April trip to the United States. And, after a late summer trip to the U.S., Kilimnik suggested that he had played a role in gutting a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform that would have staked out a more adversarial stance towards Russia, according to a Kiev operative.
I’m not in a position to say whether Kilimnik’s claims are true, but it would at least make sense of a story that, to date, has been very difficult to understand.

It also dovetails with a CNN report from last week in which J.D. Gordon, the Trump campaign’s national security policy representative at the Republican convention, said he helped push for the platform change that “Donald Trump himself wanted and advocated for.” Gordon later told TPM he spoke with RNC officials about the platform language, but denied having “pushed” for the change.

Shortly after learning about the platform change, practically everyone on Team Trump shrugged their shoulders and proceeded to spend months denying any involvement. Now, however, we’re learning that those denials, like so many claims about the Russia scandal, weren’t entirely true.

Complicating matters further, we also have this Politico report from Tuesday,
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski approved foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s now-infamous trip to Moscow last summer on the condition that he would not be an official representative of the campaign, according to a former campaign adviser.

A few weeks before he traveled to Moscow to give a July 7 speech, Page asked J.D. Gordon, his supervisor on the campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, for permission to make the trip, and Gordon strongly advised against it, Gordon, a retired Naval officer, told POLITICO.

Page then emailed Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks asking for formal approval, and was told by Lewandowski that he could make the trip, but not as an official representative of the campaign, the former campaign adviser said.
Hmm. Donald Trump chose Carter Page, who has extensive Russian ties, as one of his top foreign policy advisors for reasons that are still unclear. Page sought and received permission from Team Trump to go to Russia in July, and a week later, Team Trump quietly pushed the Republican platform in a more Putin-friendly direction. (A week after that, Wikileaks started publishing stolen documents from the DNC, believed to have been taken by Russian officials to help the Trump campaign.)

What’s more, let’s also not forget that the now-infamous dossier about Trump and Russia, which remains unverified, specifically alleges not only that the Trump campaign was aware of the Russian hacks, but the change in the Republican platform was part of a quid-pro-quo between Team Trump and Moscow.

And while there are plenty of important questions about the validity of that dossier, key pieces of the document now appear to be accurate.

Health care and wiretap conspiracy theories have helped push the Russia scandal off front pages, but the controversy continues to move forward in a way the White House should find alarming.