George Will: Los Angeles’ mayor deserves a national hearing

LOS ANGELES — It was dicey being Jewish in a Russia that was tolerant of pogroms, and then came the threat of conscription into the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, so one of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s great-grandfathers headed West to America. Another Garcetti great-grandfather married a Mexican woman who, fleeing revolutionary ferment there, headed north to America. Which is why Garcetti, a fourth-generation resident of the world’s most polyglot city, is as American as a kosher burrito, a delicacy available at Mexikosher on Pico Boulevard.

Trim, natty — colorful socks are, alas, fashionable — and with the polish of one born to public attention (his father Gil was LA’s district attorney who prosecuted O.J. Simpson), Garcetti, like dozens of Democrats who have noticed recent presidential history, is asking: Why not me?

Good question. Although presidents Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge had been mayors of Greenville, Tennessee, Buffalo and Northampton, Massachusetts, respectively, no mayor has gone directly from a city hall to the White House. But the 44th president came from eight years in the nation’s most docile and least admirable state legislature (Barack Obama effectively began running for president as soon as he escaped to Washington from Springfield, Illinois). The 45th came from six bankruptcies and an excruciating television show. So, it is not eccentric to think that a two-term mayor of one of the world’s most complicated cities might be as qualified to be president as was, say, the governor of one of the 23 states (Arkansas) with a population smaller than this city’s. And less challenging: LA’s schools teach children whose parents speak Tagalog and 91 other languages.

Recent history does not suggest that America has such a surplus of presidential talent that it can afford to spurn an audition by a mayor who governs where over 40 percent of waterborne …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Analysis: Trump’s ‘Russia hoax’ turns out to be real

By Philip Rucker | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The hackers, he suggested, may have been Chinese. Or some 400-pound guy sitting in his bed. Again and again, he insisted, Russian interference was a hoax – a fiction created by Democrats as an excuse for losing an election they should have won.

When Donald Trump finally acknowledged publicly that Russians had hacked Democratic emails and interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the then-president elect immediately regretted it. He confided to advisers that he did not believe the intelligence. The last thing Trump wanted to do was to endorse the notion that his victory may have been caused by any force other than his own strategy, message and charisma.

“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!” Trump tweeted last Feb. 26.

But Trump’s own Justice Department has concluded otherwise. A 37-page federal indictment released Friday afternoon spells out in exhaustive detail a three-year Russian plot to disrupt America’s democracy and boost Trump’s campaign, dealing a fatal blow to one of the president’s favorite talking points.

A “Russia hoax” this was not.

The indictment – signed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, and announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, both of whom Trump has at times mused about wanting to fire – reveals that the scope of Russia’s alleged efforts to help Trump defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was extraordinary.

Even Trump seemed to partly concede the point on Friday, acknowledging Russia’s election interference while still minimizing its impact.

“The results of the election were not impacted,” he tweeted. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

John Brennan, who was CIA director at the time of the election, said on Twitter that the indictments reveal the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Timeline of Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election

By Phillip Bump | Washington Post

In a 37-page indictment issued by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday, we got our first detailed look at how Russian trolls working for an organization called the Internet Research Agency allegedly tried to throw the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

While the document is one of the first full articulations of that effort, it isn’t comprehensive. It’s an indictment, focused on a specific set of charges targeting a specific group of people – 13 in total. It doesn’t include, for example, any discussion of how Russia might have hacked the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton campaign. It doesn’t include evidence that senior Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia deliberately to affect the outcome of the race. It doesn’t show Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand directly in the meddling.

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What it does include, though, is significant. It shows a concerted years-long effort by a group dedicated to undermining the American political system. It shows the scale of that effort, eventually involving 80 staff in St. Petersburg, a budget of more than a million dollars a month, hundreds of social media accounts, stolen identities of American citizens – and even visits into the United States by Russians traveling under visas obtained through misrepresentation.

Below, a timeline of what the indictment lays out. We’ve included other noteworthy events as well.

The Internet Research Agency gets to work

June, 2013. The Internet Research Agency (IRA) is registered with the Russian government.

October, 2013. Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik joins IRA. He becomes executive director the next March.

2014. Agency staff begin tracking social media sites related to political issues. Part of the funding for this work comes from …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Kelly makes changes to White House security process

By Roberto Costa | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, under pressure over his handling of allegations of domestic abuse against a top aide, has approved an overhaul of how the White House manages security-clearance investigations, acknowledging missteps but putting the onus on the FBI and the Justice Department to now hand-deliver updates and provide more information.

The five pages of proposed changes, signed by Kelly on Friday, were obtained by The Washington Post.

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Kelly worked closely with White House Counsel Donald McGahn in discussing and outlining the changes, according to officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly. McGahn has also been criticized for his response to former White House aide Rob Porter’s clearance. Porter, who resigned last week, remained as staff secretary, with access to highly classified material, months after the claims of emotional and physical abuse by his two ex-wives were reported to the FBI.

Kelly begins the memo by stating that in the wake of the Porter scandal, “We should – and in the future, must – do better” and acknowledges that problems in the security-clearance process demanded attention.

Later, Kelly writes, “But recent events have exposed some remaining shortcomings,” beyond the changes Kelly implemented since taking over as chief of staff last year. “Now is the time to take a hard look at the way the White House processes clearance requests.”

The document, titled “Improvements to the clearance process,” is addressed to McGahn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray are copied.

The memo says the FBI and Justice Department have offered their cooperation with Kelly’s requests …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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