As Syria war tightens, U.S. and Russia military hotlines humming

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Source: As Syria war tightens, U.S. and Russia military hotlines humming

As Syria war tightens, U.S. and Russia military hotlines humming

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AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (Reuters) – Even as tensions between the United States and Russia fester, there is one surprising place where their military-to-military contacts are quietly weathering the storm: Syria.

It has been four months since U.S. President Donald Trump ordered cruise missile strikes against a Syrian airfield after an alleged chemical weapons attack.

In June, the U.S. military shot down a Syrian fighter aircraft, the first U.S. downing of a manned jet since 1999, and also shot down two Iranian-made drones that threatened U.S.-led coalition forces.

All the while, U.S. and Russian military officials have been regularly communicating, U.S. officials told Reuters. Some of the contacts are helping draw a line on the map that separates U.S.- and Russian-backed forces waging parallel campaigns on Syria’s shrinking battlefields.

There is also a telephone hotline linking the former Cold War foes’ air operations centers. U.S. officials told Reuters that there now are about 10 to 12 calls a day on the hotline, helping keep U.S. and Russian warplanes apart as they support different fighters on the ground.

That is no small task, given the complexities of Syria’s civil war. Moscow backs the Syrian government, which also is aided by Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as it claws back territory from Syrian rebels and Islamic State fighters.

The U.S. military is backing a collection of Kurdish and Arab forces focusing their firepower against Islamic State, part of a strategy to collapse the group’s self-declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.

Reuters was given rare access to the U.S. Air Force’s hotline station, inside the Qatar-based Combined Air Operations Area, last week, including meeting two Russian linguists, both native speakers, who serve as the U.S. interface for conversations with Russian commanders.

While the conversations are not easy, contacts between the two sides have remained resilient, senior U.S. commanders said.

“The reality is we’ve worked through some very hard problems and, in general, we have found a way to maintain the deconfliction line (that separates U.S. and Russian areas of operation) and found a way to continue our mission,” Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, the top U.S. Air Force commander in the Middle East, said in an interview.

As both sides scramble to capture what is left of Islamic State’s caliphate, the risk of accidental contacts is growing.

“We have to negotiate, and sometimes the phone calls are tense. Because for us, this is about protecting ourselves, our coalition partners and destroying the enemy,” Harrigian said, without commenting on the volume of calls.

The risks of miscalculation came into full view in June, when the United States shot down a Syrian Su-22 jet that was preparing to fire on U.S.-backed forces on the ground.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said those were not the only aircraft in the area. As the incident unfolded, two Russian fighter jets looked on from above and a American F-22 stealth aircraft kept watch from an even higher altitude, they told Reuters.

After the incident, Moscow publicly warned it would consider any planes flying west of the Euphrates River to be targets. But the U.S. military kept flying in the area, and kept talking with Russia.

“The Russians have been nothing but professional, cordial and disciplined,” Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the Iraq-based commander of the U.S.-led coalition, told Reuters.

DIVIDING LINE DOWN THE EUPHRATES

In Syria, U.S.-backed forces are now consumed with the battle to capture Islamic State’s former capital of Raqqa. More than half the city has been retaken from Islamic State.

Officials said talks were underway to extend a demarcation line that has been separating U.S.- and Russian-backed fighters on the ground as fighting pushes toward Islamic State’s last major Syrian stronghold, the Deir al-Zor region.

The line runs in an irregular arc from a point southwest of Tabqa east to a point on the Euphrates River and then down along the Euphrates River in the direction of Deir al-Zor, they said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, during a visit to Jordan this week, said the line was important as U.S.- and Russian-backed forces come in closer proximity of each other.

“We do not do that (communication) with the (Syrian) regime. It is with the Russians, is who we’re dealing with,” Mattis said.

“We continue those procedures right on down the Euphrates River Valley.”

Bisected by the Euphrates River, Deir al-Zor and its oil resources are critical to the Syrian state.

The province is largely in the hands of Islamic State, but has become a priority for pro-Syrian forces. It also is in the crosshairs of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters last week that there would be an SDF campaign toward Deir al-Zor “in the near future,” though the SDF was still deciding whether it would be delayed until Raqqa was fully taken from Islamic State.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by John Walcott, Toni Reinhold


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Damnatio memoriae: No further news transpired on Peter Strzok’s departure from the Mueller’s Investigative team, and no explanations or additional information were provided so far. The mystery is deep… – M.N. – peter strzok – Google Search

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Image result for damnatio memoriae

No further news transpired on Peter Strzok’s departure from the Mueller’s Investigative team, and no explanations or additional information were provided so far. The mystery is deep… Curiously enough, it looks like the FBI site blocked all the information about him. Apparently, it was needed. That what they advised:

“No results found. Search instead for:

All these are very interesting search terms, but we would really like to learn more about Mr. Strzok. 

In history, this FBI’s tool of blocking the inconvenient information was called the “damnatio memoriae” and was used without any compunctions and broadly in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The American idiom for this psychological device is quite straightforward but somewhat superficial and concrete: “Out of sight (and the website, we should add), out of mind”. I doubt very much that this dictum will work sufficiently in the case of Mr. Strzok and the panoply of the related issues connected with him. 

Dear FBI, the suspense and the expectations of the future revelations in your coming arias are quite high in this unforgettable masterpiece of a political opera. Sing! Sing! Sing!

What is going on? 

Is FBI the Stalinist organization? (Sh, sh, sh – do not disclose this best-kept secret in Washington, D.C.)

Please, contact us if you have any valuable information on this subject. 

M.N.

Source: peter strzok – Google Search

Story image for peter strzok from Business Insider

A top FBI investigator has unexpectedly stepped away from special …

Business InsiderAug 16, 2017
Peter Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence investigator, is now working for the FBI’s human resources division, according to ABC. It is unclear …
The following article describes Mr. Strzok’s role in “Clinton emails investigation”: 
“The two letters, dated October 23, 2015 and January 20, 2016, and marked “For Official Use Only,” were written by Peter Strzok and Charles H. Kable IV, the section chiefs of the FBI’s counterespionage section, and sent to Gregory B. Starr, the assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. They were written while the FBI was investigating Clinton’s use of an unsecure, private email server and the dissemination of classified information.”
M.N.: The issue of Clinton’s emails might very well has been used as a distraction, to deflect the attention and to divert the resources from Trump and his campaign. By whom? The role of the Russians is very well known and indisputable, but the ultimate players: the Germans? the Israelis? the Mafia? – remain a mystery also, and the most intriguing one. 
Were there any connections between these hypothetical players and Mr. Strzok? This is the hypothetical but not the unreasonable question, and we do not have any answers, or even the attempts to answer, or even the attention and the willingness to discuss this subject in depth, that it deserves, in the mainstream media. Not yet. 

peter strzok is removed – Google News

 

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Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation – Review of news and recent posts

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Image result for Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation

Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation – GS

Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation  

4 reasons why many Northeast Philly Russians still support Trump | Commentary
 Sentencing of Disgraced Former  Congressman Anthony Weiner Postponed
Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings
The Art of the Steal: Trump Illegitimacy Is Glaring | Advocate.com
The US Elections of 2016: Democracy or the blatant, criminal manipulation of the voting masses?!
Oct. 28: The biggest political scandal since Watergate: 12 Days That Stunned a Nation: How Hillary Clinton Lost NBC News
Anthony Weiner was the first The hypothesis: Anthony Weiner was the first to talk about Trump and Russia. Anthony Weiners sexting case was a sting operation by FBI and others to tarnish Mrs. Clinton by association, it led to October 28 Letter and benefited Trump.
Putin Names New Ambassador to US
Top Navy admiral orders fleetwide investigation following latest collision at sea The Washington Post
The Failing Trump Presidency The New York Times

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Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation – Google Search

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Source: Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation – Google Search

Story image for Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation from Newsweek

Lovers’ Quarrel: TrumpPutin and the World’s Most Dangerous …

NewsweekAug 10, 2017
President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake … A subsequent investigation discovered that around 4,000 targeted emails were …. attempts to get the Russian Embassy’s dachas reopened in May, but …

Story image for Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation from Tablet Magazine

October 3, 2016: Netanyahu tasks deep cover Mossad agent …

Tablet MagazineAug 7, 2017
… to Congress reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email … November 9, 2016: Netanyahu congratulates Trump on his election …

Story image for Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation from The Week Magazine

What happened? What happened?! You blew it, Hillary.

The Week MagazineJul 29, 2017
The point isn’t that Comey and Putin and unsavory political views played no role. … that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s email server, … Trumpcampaign collusion) hadn’t broken into John Podesta’s email …

Story image for Trump, Putin, and Reopening of Emails Investigation from IVN News

From Russia Meddling to DNC Incompetence: Where We Are and …

IVN NewsAug 11, 2017
I just finished reading “TrumpPutin, and The New Cold War” that … saying the bureau was reopening its investigation into Ms. Clinton’s emails, …

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4 reasons why many Northeast Philly Russians still support Trump | Commentary

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Michael Novakhov: We do not really know how the Russian Americans feel about Trump: no systematic and professional opinion polls were conducted, and the anecdotal reports do not make the picture. We have also to assess the role of the Russian propaganda and the Russian Intelligence in building the support for Trump in the Russian speaking community in the US, which they regard as their “base”, which is also the very important issue, for a variety of reasons. 

“Everything will be OK” is the common refrain among saleswomen in local stores when asked about Trump. “He can change the country for the benefit of the people.”

Source: 4 reasons why many Northeast Philly Russians still support Trump | Commentary

4 reasons why many Northeast Philly Russians still support Trump

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Across from Independence Hall, a street artist recently was drawing a poster with two men she clearly did not admire, President Trump and Vladimir Putin. They were depicted as trampling on the U.S. flag, and on the Liberty Bell between them was a sign reading, “Sold.” Above the picture the artist had written, “Stop selling us to the Russians, Trump.”

“Stop selling us to the Russians, Trump.”

Her message reflects what many people in Philadelphia think about the accusations of collusion in last year’s U.S. election, Many, but not everyone.

The city’s Northeast section is home to a large number of Russian Americans. Along Bustleton Avenue, caviar and pelmeni (meat-filled dumplings) are sold in the supermarkets. Signs in Cyrillic letters advertise shoe stores, pharmacies, and hairdressers. Many here do not share the concerns of the street artist downtown. “Everything will be OK” is the common refrain among saleswomen in local stores when asked about Trump. “He can change the country for the benefit of the people.”

Signs on Russian-owned businesses in Northeast Philadelphia.

The word Russian for this community is not entirely correct. Many immigrants and their families came from Russia, but even more from Ukraine, or Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and other former Soviet republics. Some began arriving in the 1970s, when Moscow lifted the Iron Curtain a little bit and allowed Jews to emigrate. What connects the immigrants from all the former Soviet republics is their common history and language.

Many of them voted for Trump and continue to support him despite his low approval ratings and the turmoil of his first six months in office. As for the allegations of collusion, many Russian Americans dismiss them as part of a conspiracy, disruptive actions by Democrats and the media.

“Trump was presumed guilty and now they are trying to find proof,” says Diane Glikman, 45, host of a Russian-language program on the internet. She represents a view among many along Bustleton that Trump could succeed politically if only given a chance.

I lived in Moscow for a few years and I also know the views of many immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Germany, my home country. There, conservative views predominate among the immigrants, especially among older citizens. More than a few praise Putin as a strong leader and a counterweight to the West, a person who represents their conservative views.

None of the people I spoke to in Philadelphia praised Putin. Gary Vulakh, 57, who came from Ukraine almost 40 years ago and runs a small jewelry repair shop, calls the Russian leader a “terrorist.” Others said the ongoing Russia hacking investigation makes Putin seem stronger than he is. “He is not so powerful,” says Malvina Yakobi, 57, the editorial director of the Russian-English newspaper Philadelphia News. Few believe the Kremlin could meddle in a U.S. election. “Could they do anything like that?” Vulakh wonders. “Everything is done by the Democrats to impeach Trump.”

The Russians in Philadelphia may not fully support Trump’s friendliness toward Putin, but they still back the U.S. president overall, roughly for four reasons.

First, they wish for good relations between the United States and Russia, which they believe will promote peaceful cohabitation and bring more stability to the world.

Second, many separate Trump’s admiration for Putin from his promises on domestic issues. Russian Americans, Yakobi explains, are “the biggest American patriots.” Having escaped the repressive Soviet Union, U.S. values such as freedom and justice are of the utmost importance. So, naturally, they want their new country to succeed.

Third, they like having a successful businessman in the White House instead of just another politician.They want to see a break from politics as usual and an establishment — what Yakobi calls the “corrupted” administration of President Barack Obama — that they see as ignoring the needs of too many in the country.

Fourth, though many themselves were newcomers to the United States, they like a president who promises to stop uncontrolled and illegal immigration. “We waited five or six years to get citizenship,” says Glikman. They earned their blue passports by learning the language and working hard, even in jobs that were far below their education level. They believe, as Glikman says, that Trump “is not against immigrants when they work hard.”

Though the community often leans Republican at election time — Democrats are seen as too “socialist,” like the government many Russian Americans fled — it is not monolithic in its support for the current president. In some cases, a vote for Trump was more a vote against Hillary Clinton. As Yakobi, who came to the United States from Georgia, says, last November’s election did not leave “a great choice.” And even though the president may be a role model for achieving the American dream, not all are on board. “Even within families, there are very different opinions,” Glikman notes. “The Russian community is split up … like the rest of the country.”

Oliver Bilger is a writer for Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel newspaper who is working with the Inquirer as part of the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship Programobilger@philly.com


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 Sentencing of Disgraced Former  Congressman Anthony Weiner Postponed

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Source:  Sentencing of Disgraced Former  Congressman Anthony Weiner Postponed

Sentencing of Disgraced Former  Congressman Anthony Weiner Postponed

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The sentencing of Anthony Weiner, the 52-year-old former NYC Congressman who fell from grace after a much-publicized sexting scandal, was postponed last Friday by a Manhattan judge.

According to a NY Post report, Weiner’s sentencing was delayed at the request of his lawyers, who asked that federal Judge Denise Cole postpone their client’s sentencing until Oct. 6. Cole partially complied, holding the sentencing (initially scheduled for September 8) off until September 25.

On May 19, Weiner confessed to sending obscene material to a teenage girl, a scandal which ruined his career, reputation, and marriage to his wife Huma Abedin, who filed for divorce following Weiner’s admission of guilt.

In a report, News 12 Westchester said Weiner’s legal team have stated they need additional time to prepare a sentencing recommendation that suits Weiner’s ongoing treatment.

In addition to his legal woes, Weiner is currently paying a heavy price for his actions in other ways.

“Nobody speaks to him. He is truly ostracized,” a source cited by Page <a href=”http://Six.com” rel=”nofollow”>Six.com</a> said. “People won’t even get on the elevator with him.”

In his confession earlier this year, Weiner expressed contrition for his actions, saying he had no excuse for his behavior.

“I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” he said during a May appearance in Federal Court. “I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly.”

In an emotional plea statement in May, Weiner acknowledged that his “destructive impulses brought great devastation to family and friends, and destroyed my life’s dream of public service. And yet I remained in denial even as the world around me fell apart.”

According to a Washington Post report at the time, Weiner’s attorney, Arlo Devlin-Brown, said his client had “apologized, offered no excuses, and made a commitment to make amends.”

Devlin-Brown also said he believed Weiner had accepted “full responsibility for the inappropriate, sexually explicit communications he engaged in early last year.”

Weiner resigned in 2011 after sending an explicit photo to a minor via Twitter (usingh his Twitter account accidentally). Weiner also confessed to engaging in similar behavior with at least six other women, a fact he confessed to in 2011.

By: Yosef Delatitsky


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Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings

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The former FBI director leading the probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is taking a page from the playbook federal prosecutors have used for decades in criminal investigations, from white-collar fraud to mob racketeering:Follow the money.

Source: Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings

“The July raid on the home of Manafort, whose financial dealings and previous work for a Russian-backed party in Ukraine have come under scrutiny, was seen as an effort to get him to give up any damaging information he might have on Trump or others.

Manafort changed lawyers after the raid, announcing he would hire Miller & Chevalier, which specializes in international tax law and fraud. The move was made because Mueller’s investigation of Manafort appears to be moving beyond collusion with Russia to focus on potential tax violations, said a person familiar with the matter.

John Dowd, another Trump lawyer, called the raid a “gross abuse of the judicial process” for the sake of “shock value”

— another indication that the Trump team is chafing increasingly at Mueller’s hard-charging approach.”

Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings

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The former FBI director leading the probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is taking a page from the playbook federal prosecutors have used for decades in criminal investigations, from white-collar fraud to mob racketeering:

Follow the money. Start small and work up. See who will “flip” and testify against higher-ups by pursuing charges such as tax evasion, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Special counsel Robert Mueller — himself a veteran prosecutor — has assembled a team of 16 lawyers experienced in complex criminal cases for his investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential campaign.

They even staged a dramatic early morning raid in late July on the home of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort — a classic shock-and-awe tactic reminiscent of raids the FBI used against four hedge funds in an insider-trading probe in 2010 and earlier against mobsters like John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family in New York.

“You’re always looking for people on the inside to testify about what goes on,” said Jeffrey Cramer, a former prosecutor who’s now managing director of consulting firm Berkeley Research Group LLC. “You go for the weakest link, and you start building up.”

Trump’s Red Line

Mueller was given a broad mandate in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate not only Russia’s interference and potential collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Now, the expanding investigation risks a showdown with Trump, who has warned that looking into his family’s real estate deals would cross a red line.

While Trump’s legal team doesn’t anticipate that Mueller will violate his mandate, it’s prepared to take action if he does, Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, said in an interview. Matters that would be out of bounds include looking at Trump’s taxes or real-estate transactions of the president or his family members, Sekulow said.

“If we felt there was an issue that developed that was outside the scope of legitimate inquiry we would, in normal course, file our objections with the special counsel,” Sekulow said. “If we weren’t satisfied with the resolution we would look at going through the appropriate channels at the Department of Justice.”

People ‘Speculating’

Sekulow also said it’s “fundamentally incorrect” to assume that Mueller is conducting a mob-style investigation when it comes to Trump and his family members, at least based on what he’s seen to date.

“People are speculating on things without a full grasp of the nature of what’s taking place,” he said.

Rosenstein said on “Fox News Sunday” this month that “we don’t engage in fishing expeditions” and Mueller needs to come to him for approval to investigate any potential crimes beyond his mandate. Mueller and Rosenstein declined to comment for this story, according to their aides.

Those who have worked with Mueller said he knows how to build a case piece-by-piece.

“Mueller is no dummy,” said William Mateja, a former federal prosecutor who investigated white-collar crime and served at the Justice Department when Mueller was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “You use crimes like money laundering and tax evasion to get cooperation from people who might be in the know.”

Among the experienced prosecutors he’s recruited in that effort is Andrew Weissmann, who worked in the 1990s to dismantle crime families on racketeering charges. He squeezed lower-level mobsters to become cooperating witnesses, a tactic that eventually led to the conviction of Genovese crime boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante for racketeering in 1997. Later, Weissmann led the Enron Task Force that investigated and prosecute cases involving the defunct Houston energy trader.

Greg Andres, another team member, is a former deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division who took down Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino. He also prosecuted former Credit Suisse Group AG broker Eric Butler for securities fraud. Butler was convicted in 2009.

To be sure, Mueller’s team is using 21st century technology to investigate last year’s hacking into Democratic Party computers and moves to “weaponize” social media to influence voters.

But it’s also using time-tested methods, casting a wide net to find out “who are the true power players” with knowledge of what was happening in Trump’s campaign and during his transition to the White House, said Ronald Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“The core part of Robert Mueller’s mission is to understand whether people associated with the campaign were associated with Russians determined to influence the election results,” said Hosko, who’s now president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

Trump Buildings

The investigation is examining Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial New York hotel development with Russian associates and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, Bloomberg News reported last month. Sekulow said he hasn’t seen any evidence the investigation is looking into Trump’s real-estate transactions.

Trump associates who are central figures in Mueller’s investigation include Manafort, the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn, who was ousted as national security adviser, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the investigation. Mueller is now in talks with the White House to interview current and former administration officials, including recently departed White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the New York Times reported.

“They’re looking at where are various people getting money from, and they’re going to try to figure out not only where did it come from, but who can they connect it to,” said Mateja, now a shareholder at the law firm of Polsinelli PC. “Can they connect it to Donald Trump?”

What’s not known publicly yet is whether any of those under investigation are cooperating to help Mueller build a case, Hosko said.

Pressure to Act

Mueller’s investigation is likely to continue through next year if not longer, increasing pressure on him to announce indictments against those who committed relatively small offenses and who aren’t needed to further the investigation, according to Hosko.

“The longer it drags out, the louder the complaints will get that there’s nothing that’s been proven,” he said.

The July raid on the home of Manafort, whose financial dealings and previous work for a Russian-backed party in Ukraine have come under scrutiny, was seen as an effort to get him to give up any damaging information he might have on Trump or others.

Manafort changed lawyers after the raid, announcing he would hire Miller & Chevalier, which specializes in international tax law and fraud. The move was made because Mueller’s investigation of Manafort appears to be moving beyond collusion with Russia to focus on potential tax violations, said a person familiar with the matter.

John Dowd, another Trump lawyer, called the raid a “gross abuse of the judicial process” for the sake of “shock value” — another indication that the Trump team is chafing increasingly at Mueller’s hard-charging approach.

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Read the whole story
· · · · ·

The Art of the Steal: Trump Illegitimacy Is Glaring


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The Art of the Steal: Trump Illegitimacy Is Glaring | Advocate.com

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Image result for The US Elections of 2016

“If the election of Donald Trump is based on fraud and concealment, how is he the legitimate president of the United States?”

Source: The Art of the Steal: Trump Illegitimacy Is Glaring | Advocate.com

See also: russian twitter bots and key election states – GS (Google Search)

The Art of the Steal: Trump Illegitimacy Is Glaring

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We have been had. The Trump campaign engaged in fraud during the 2016 presidential race to entice you to give him your vote. Most of us didn’t fall for it, but enough did in the “right” states and the numbers game known as the Electoral College gave the presidency to Donald Trump. Fraud is the knowing misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment. There is intent to deceive and the victim must justifiably rely on the lie.

On June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met at Trump Tower with Russians for the purpose of obtaining “dirt” to damage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Two weeks later Donald Jr. told CNN’s Jake Tapper in no uncertain terms there was no Russian meddling in the campaign. On July 24, while he was still Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that neither he nor the Trump campaign was involved with Putin and his regime.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe the email chain about and sent prior to the June 9 meeting provided to us recently by Donald Jr. himself mentions the Russian government and its favoring of Trump in the presidential election. Kushner just forgot about the meeting and didn’t mention it when he first filled out his application for a security clearance after his father-in-law won the election.

Do you think some voters relied on the strong statements of Donald Jr. and Manafort that there was no involvement with Russians and, and to paraphrase Donald Jr., the Clinton people were crazy and lower than low to intimate that? What if they had admitted the June 9 meeting back in July 2016 when asked about Russia and candidate Trump said then, as he did after the revelation in July 2017, that anyone would have taken the meeting and it was just opposition research that everybody does? Do you think he would be in the Oval Office today? Do we have fraud here?

In July 2016 the FBI began its investigation into possible ties with the Trump campaign and Russia. By September 2016 it was being discussed within the intelligence community and the upper echelons of the United States government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear his doubts as to the accuracy of the intelligence community’s assessment that there was Russian involvement in our election. He threatened to make it a partisan issue if brought to the American people by President Obama. We, the uninformed people, went to the polls on Election Day.

If the election of Donald Trump is based on fraud and concealment, how is he the legitimate president of the United States? The swearing in of an illegitimate president-elect cannot make him legitimate. Everything he has done in the office is tainted with his illegitimacy. Our divisively partisan Republican Congress, led by McConnell and Paul Ryan, will distract, evade, and tap dance before it will impeach under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution. What is the nation’s remedy for a president illegitimately elected through commission of fraud by his campaign and inaction by compliant Congressional leadership? Look to the Tenth Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment was added to appease the anti-federalists who were concerned about a too powerful overreaching federal government and it reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The power to declare an executive illegitimate is not mentioned in the Constitution, nor does the document prohibit states from declaring the commander in chief illegitimate. Impeachment, though, can occur only because of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. It says nothing about the illegitimacy of an executive who took power as the result of a fraudulent campaign.

There is one group of people who have stood up to Trump, and that is the governors. The states fought back about the travel ban and beat back the voter fraud nonsense. Several of the governors are not pleased about the health care debacle we now face. Can the states declare our executive and all he has done while illegitimately holding office null and void, and remove him along with the entire executive branch? Of course not, but that would be a swamp draining like no other.

The United States Declaration of Independence tells us governments are of men and derive power from the consent of the governed. It also says we have unalienable rights to the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have been had, and we do not have to give our consent.

SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician who previously served as an FBI agent. Her latest EP is Making Waves Again.

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The US Elections of 2016


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The US Elections of 2016: Democracy or the blatant, criminal manipulation of the voting masses?!

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The US Elections of 2016: Democracy or manipulation of the voting masses? – Google Search

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Oct. 28: “The biggest political scandal since Watergate”: 12 Days That Stunned a Nation: How Hillary Clinton Lost – NBC News

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“But for the Clinton campaign, the final 12 days — Comey, WikiLeaks, a more disciplined Trump and drubbing in key battlegrounds on Election Day — represented their worst two-week stretch of the general election.

“Campaigns have been told for years to expect the unexpected. But in this election we needed to expect the unbelievable, and we didn’t,” said Jesse Ferguson, the Clinton campaign’s deputy national press secretary and senior spokesperson.

“A lot of things came together to create what happened,” Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told NBC News.

“We had a bunch of black swans that converged on us.” 

Source: 12 Days That Stunned a Nation: How Hillary Clinton Lost – NBC News

Oct. 28: “The biggest political scandal since Watergate”

12 Days That Stunned a Nation: How Hillary Clinton Lost

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WASHINGTON — Less than two weeks before Election Day, Hillary Clinton held a clear lead in the polls and it looked like her campaign was trying to run up the score — just as the race was about to turn upside down.

At 12:37 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 28 — with 12 days left in the election — the campaign blasted out an advisory to reporters announcing that the former secretary of state would be campaigning in reliably Republican Arizona, a move that suggested her team was gunning to compete in states well beyond the battlegrounds they needed for victory against GOP nominee Donald Trump.

They had every right to be confident.

The RealClearPolitics polling average from the day before showed Clinton leading Trump nationally by nearly six points (for perspective, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by four points in 2012). State polls had Clinton ahead in key battlegrounds like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Even the data team doing analytics for the Trump campaign was telling reporters that, as of Oct. 27, they had just a 15 percent chance of winning.

Watch Trump Repeatedly Condemn the Clinton Email Scandal in Final Campaign Days 1:43

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All this was happening while early voting was taking place in states across the country.

In retrospect, however, the race was never as stable as it appeared. A contest featuring the two most unpopular candidates in modern presidential campaign history made the political terrain unstable — and more susceptible to sudden shifts.

And the ground began to move under the Clinton team’s feet just 20 minutes after its Arizona announcement, with a tweet from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who said the FBI was looking at Clinton’s emails — again.

“FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened.”

Clinton and her team were suddenly on defense, and would remain there for the rest of the race. It was a true October surprise.

In the nine months since the election, political observers have pointed to various reasons why Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won: FBI Director James Comey’s intervention; Russia and WikiLeaks; Clinton’s failure to campaign in Wisconsin; African-Americans who didn’t turn out as strongly as they did for Obama; and Trump’s strong performance among working-class white voters in the Rust Belt.

But the real tale of 2016 is how the final 12 days of the election turned a race that seemed out of reach on Oct. 27 into an upset decided by a total of 80,000 votes in three states. To tell that story, NBC News interviewed nearly a dozen top Clinton and Trump operatives for their insight and perspective. Both sides agreed that the underlying volatility of the race, combined with the way the final days unfolded, produced a most unexpected result.

“Unlike 2012 or 2008, there was a ton of instability in this race,” said Navin Nayak, the Clinton campaign’s director of opinion research. “If you were the person dominating the news, you went down.”

Indeed, Clinton’s lead had expanded during rough news cycles about Trump (the Khan family, the debates, the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape), and it shrank during rough news cycles about her (the Clinton Foundation, the 9/11 fainting spell, Comey’s Oct. 28 letter).

And that made every day count down the home stretch.

“I’ve always said, ‘God is looking out for us’ when Election Day was so much later than usual — Nov. 8th, not Nov. 4th, not Nov. 3rd,” said Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager and now works in his administration. “It really helped to have that [extra] week.”

Even the Clinton camp’s Arizona announcement that Friday was more about running out the clock — by giving a hungry press corps something to cover — than a genuine effort to run up the score, according to multiple Clinton campaign officials interviewed for this article.

They knew the race was far from over.

“We were vulnerable to an October surprise,” said Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign’s national press secretary. “We were living high on the hog of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape,” he added in reference to their lead in the polls.

Here’s a look at how the final 12 days changed the race:

Oct. 28: “The biggest political scandal since Watergate”

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +4.6 percent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 81.5 percent chance to win

The first 27 days of October couldn’t have gone better for Clinton — or worse for Trump.

Clinton bested her Republican rival in all three presidential debates, according to snap polls. The “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump was caught boasting that he could do anything to women(like “grab ’em by the p***y”), had his campaign in damage-control mode. And it seemed that a different woman each day was accusing Trump of inappropriate behavior.

By mid-October, Clinton’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls had jumped to seven points — the same as Obama’s winning margin against John McCain in 2008. And an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of Pennsylvania showed Clinton ahead of Trump by double digits in that all-important state.

But that good run for Clinton ended on Friday, Oct. 28, as her 7-point advantage in the RealClear average shrank below 5 points.

Comey informed Congress that his agency had found emails in an unrelated case — a probe into former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., then-husband to Clinton aide Huma Abedin — which appeared “pertinent” to the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server. And he said the FBI was reviewing them.

Strikingly, Comey’s announcement was vague.

“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony,” Comey said in his letter.

Image: Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheerTrump seized on the development, which he used to resurrect the months-long controversy over Clinton’s emails and private server.

“They are reopening the case into her criminal and illegal conduct that threatens the security of the United States of America,” Trump said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire less than an hour after the news broke. “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”

He would repeat the thrust of this message against Clinton over the next 11 days, and his supporters would respond with “lock her up” chants. “She’ll be under investigation for years. She’ll be with trials. Our country, we have to get back to work,” Trump said on Nov. 4 in New Hampshire.

“If she were to win this election, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. In that situation, we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial,” he said the next day in Nevada.

That became Trump’s closing argument — Watergate, endless investigations, criminal activities and an inability to govern.

Of course, what voters didn’t know until after the election: The FBI, for months, had been investigating the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.

Oct. 31: “FBI searches emails!”

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +3.1 percent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 75.2 percent chance to win

The Comey story wasn’t just about how Trump seized on it; it also was about how it was covered.

On October 31, three days after the FBI director’s letter to Congress, Comey continued to dominate headlines and evening newscasts.

  • “Clinton Works to Keep Trump and Emails at Bay,” said The New York Times
  • “Get ready for four more years of Clinton scandals,” was the headline for conservative columnist Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post
  • “Is new scandal just like the old scandals? Controversies haven’t swayed voters much in the Clinton-Trump race. Email inquiry is the latest test,” The Los Angeles Times said
  • “Email Review Underway,” was the lead story on NBC’s “Nightly News”
  • “FBI Searches Emails,” was the top news that night on ABC
  • “FBI Investigation,” said CBS

Nearly half of the lead stories on the three broadcast network’s evening newscasts from Oct. 28 to Nov. 7 were about Clinton’s emails.

Nine months after the election, top officials who worked for both the Clinton and Trump campaigns believe Comey’s intervention — and its aftermath — affected the race.

Multiple Trump aides said they gained ground on Clinton after the third presidential debate when the GOP nominee focused on abortion and the Supreme Court, bringing conservative voters back into the fold. They also said they benefited from news stories about rising Obamacare premiums and a sharper campaign message from Trump himself.

Comey, they said, added to a snowball that was already moving down the mountainside.

“It certainly had an effect,” said Matt Oczkowski, who directed Trump’s analytics team. “Comey brought these voters out of the woodwork. People had a reason to vote against Clinton.”

Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, had a slightly different take.

“The Comey letter may have been mildly helpful, but it did not lead to 306 electoral votes,” she said. “That was baked in the cake earlier on.”

But the Clinton camp believes Comey’s intervention was much more significant.

“In the last two weeks, it was the only jolt to the system that occurred,” said Oren Shur, the Clinton campaign’s director of paid media. “We recognized at the time that it was impactful. We didn’t recognize at the time that it was determinative.”

Elections number-cruncher Nate Silver of the website FiveThirtyEight agrees.

“At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him,” Silver wrote. “At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.”

The New York Times’ Nate Cohn has been more skeptical that Comey’s announcement cost Clinton the election, pointing out that her poll numbers had been declining before Oct. 28: “[I]t’s now clear that Mrs. Clinton was weaker heading into Oct. 28 than was understood at the time. Several other polls were conducted over the same period that showed Mr. Trump gaining quickly on Mrs. Clinton in the days ahead of the Comey letter.”

In May, the American Association for Public Opinion Research concluded that the evidence Comey tipped the election to Trump is, at best, mixed. “[T]he Comey letter had an immediate, negative impact for Clinton on the order of 2 percentage points. The apparent impact did not last, as support for Clinton tended to tick up in the days just prior to the election,” the association wrote.

But the way Clinton and her top campaign officials see it, a different president would be sitting in the Oval Office had the race ended two weeks earlier.

“If the election had been on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said last spring.

Nov. 2: “Stay on point, Donald. Stay on point”

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +1.7 percent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 67.7 percent chance to win

Comey wasn’t the only surprise of the final two weeks of the campaign. The other was how Trump, uncharacteristically, stayed on message.

He was no longer attacking former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, criticizing a Mexican-American judge, or asking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” — which he had said in what turned out to be his final news conference of the campaign, on July 27.

“We are going to win the White House, gonna win it,” Trump said in Pensacola, Florida, on Nov. 2. “Just —we’ve gotta be nice and cool, nice and cool. Right? Stay on point, Donald, stay on point. No sidetracks, Donald. Nice and easy.”

Indeed, Trump fired off 138 tweets and retweets in the final 12 days of the contest, and none were controversial — which allowed his campaign to keep the focus on Clinton, and away from its candidate.

Meanwhile, on the same day Trump was telling himself to “stay on point” in Florida, Clinton made that campaign stop in Arizona.

Image: Clinton watches the World Series baseball game between the Chicago Cub and the Cleveland Indians“This state is in play for the first time in years. Arizona has only voted for a Democrat for president once since 1948, and that was my husband in 1996,” she told 15,000 voters in Tempe.

In fact, multiple Clinton campaign officials said in post-election interviews that the Arizona trip was intended to regain a sense of momentum after the final debate on Oct. 19, not as a real play to win the state.

Clinton campaign officials were also thinking about proposing a fourth presidential debate, and they had even floated the news that Clinton was considering Vice President Joe Biden as her secretary of state — anything to change the subject.

What had concerned me greatly after the third debate was being [adrift] at sea. No moorings, no bearings, nothing to anchor yourself. The danger zone for us was always when there was nothing else going on in the race,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director.

“Can the actual election come fast enough?” Palmieri said in summing up her feelings about the campaign’s final two weeks.

Nov. 3: A sigh of relief, or were the polls wrong?

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +1.3 percent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 66.2 percent to win

The same day Clinton traveled to Arizona and Trump was urging himself to “stay on point,” nail-biting Democrats got some good news from public polls in key battlegrounds taken during and after Comey’s seismic announcement.

A trio of polls had Clinton up 4-5 points in Pennsylvania. She also was narrowly ahead in Florida and North Carolina, although those surveys were well within the margin of error. The gold-standard poll in Wisconsin showed Clinton leading Trump by 6 points in the state.

As NBC’s First Read concluded on Nov. 3, “Team Clinton breathes sigh of relief, but they’re not in the clear yet.”

Clinton would go on to lose all four of those states on Election Day.

The national polls, it turned out, were fairly accurate: The final RealClearPolitics average had Clinton ahead by three points. And she ended up winning the national popular vote by 2 points, 48 percent to 46 percent, or nearly 3 million votes.

But the state polls were a different story, and it wasn’t just the public data. Clinton’s internal polling had her up by about 6 points in Wisconsin at the end of the election. Internal Trump numbers also showed Clinton ahead in the state, although by a smaller margin.

And the Republican National Committee was sharing numbers with reporters that had Clinton leading in Florida.

“Everyone’s data was wrong — in the same direction — and that created a conventional wisdom that was off,” said Nayak of the Clinton campaign.

Nov. 4: “Boy, I love reading WikiLeaks”

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +1.6 pecent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 64.5 percent chance to win

Another major plot in the presidential race was Russia’s alleged intervention in the contest — a story that continues to unfold today.

Less attention, however, has been paid to how Trump and his team seized on that Russian meddling, which the U.S. intelligence community says included the hacking of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails — and their release via WikiLeaks.

Watch Trump Continuously Mention WikiLeaks in Days Leading Up to Election 1:43

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The revelations from Podesta’s emails — including excerpts of Clinton’s paid speech to Goldman Sachs, advisers’ candid criticisms of their candidate and a memo on “Bill Clinton Inc.” — all fueled negative headlines. And Trump pounced:

  • Oct. 31 in Warren, Mich.: “Did you see where, on WikiLeaks, it was announced that they were paying protesters to be violent, $1,500?… Did you see another one, another one came in today? This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove”
  • Nov. 2 in Orlando, Fla.: “WikiLeaks just came out with a new one, just a little a while ago, it’s just been shown that a rigged system with more collusion, possibly illegal, between the Department of Justice, the Clinton campaign and the State Department”
  • Nov. 4 in Wilmington, Ohio: “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks”

NBC News counted 145 mentions of WikiLeaks by Trump in the last month of the race.

Beyond the headlines and attacks from the stump that they produced, the WikiLeaks revelations hurt Clinton because voters couldn’t tell the difference between them and the longstanding controversy surrounding Clinton’s own emails, according to top campaign officials.

“People conflated WikiLeaks with Hillary’s emails,” said Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director.

“Benghazi, Comey, WikiLeaks all sounded like the same thing to voters,” added Robby Mook, the campaign manager.

(Both Russia and WikiLeaks have denied that Russia was behind the 2016 hacks and email revelations.)

Nov. 6: “It’s a totally rigged system”

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +1.8 percent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 64.9 percent chance to win

Comey wasn’t finished making news in the final two weeks of the election. And once again, it was Chaffetz who broke it first.

“FBI Dir just informed us ‘Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Sec Clinton,'” Chaffetz tweeted about the second letter Comey had sent to Congress.

Image:In other words, the FBI’s investigation into those additional emails didn’t uncover anything new. Nearly all of them were duplicates of emails the agency had already seen.

Trump railed against Comey’s second letter, and he used it to re-litigate the controversy over Clinton’s emails, telling voters it was now up to them “to deliver justice” on Election Day since no one else would.

“Right now, she is being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system,” Trump said in Michigan.

“Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it. The FBI knows it. The people know it. And now it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on Nov. 8th,” Trump added.

For the Clinton campaign, Comey’s second letter appeared to be great news — it looked like Clinton was in the clear of any wrongdoing.

NOV. 6: Trump Calls on Voters to ‘Deliver Justice’ After Comey’s Second Letter 1:05

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But months later, top officials believe the second letter only revived the email story two days before the election.

“At best, it hurt as much as it helped,” said the Clinton campaign’s Shur. “It just brought it all up again,” Palmieri added.

On May 3, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Comey at a Senate hearing why he made that Oct. 28 announcement in the first place, especially given existing Justice Department guidelines against interfering in upcoming elections.

Comey replied that he faced two options: One, speak about the newly found emails. Or two, conceal them.

“Speak would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days. Lordy, that would be really bad,” he told Feinstein. “Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we’ve gotto walk into the world of really bad. I’ve got to tell Congress that we’re restarting this.”

He added, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision.”

Comey was fired six days after that testimony.

Nov. 8: Election Day

RealClearPolitics national polling average: Clinton +3.2 percent/FiveThirtyEight forecast: Clinton 71.4 percent chance to win

Despite the jarring events of the final two weeks, all signs still pointed to a Clinton victory. The early-vote numbers from Florida and Nevada looked good for the campaign. And the last national polls — from NBC News/Wall Street Journal, ABC/Washington Post, CBS and Bloomberg — boosted Clinton’s lead in the RealClear average above three points.

But Trump clobbered Clinton in the voting on November 8, especially in key battleground states, as contrasted with the early voting.

Take Florida, for example: Nearly 70 percent of votes were cast in the state before Election Day, and Clinton enjoyed an estimated 4-point lead over Trump — about 240,000 votes.

Image: Early Voting Begins In Florida“[Trump] won Election Day by 13 points,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who closely examined Florida’s early-vote numbers.

According to the exit poll data, Trump won those who said they decided their vote in the last week by 11 points in Michigan, 17 points in Pennsylvania and Florida, and a whopping 29 points in Wisconsin. (By contrast, Clinton won the late deciders in Virginia — a state she carried by five points.)

From the Trump team’s perspective, the final 12 days of the campaign allowed them to pull off perhaps the greatest political upset in American history.

The Trump analytics data that showed him with only a 15 percent chance of winning on Oct. 27 was up to a 35 percent chance by Election Day — and that was assuming Trump wasn’t going to win Florida.

“We still didn’t think he was going to be the definitive winner,” said Oczkowski. “But 35 percent is within striking distance.”

But for the Clinton campaign, the final 12 days — Comey, WikiLeaks, a more disciplined Trump and drubbing in key battlegrounds on Election Day — represented their worst two-week stretch of the general election.

“Campaigns have been told for years to expect the unexpected. But in this election we needed to expect the unbelievable, and we didn’t,” said Jesse Ferguson, the Clinton campaign’s deputy national press secretary and senior spokesperson.

“A lot of things came together to create what happened,” Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told NBC News. “We had a bunch of black swans that converged on us.”

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Ischia earthquake: Last of three brothers freed from rubble – BBC News


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