News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Alabama Senate Race, RUSSIA Update and Much, Much More

Happy Monday morning.

Here is what’s on the President’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
  • The President will then have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
  • The President will then participate in a presentation of the Friends of Zion award with Faith Leaders.
  • Later in the afternoon, the President will meet with Congressman Bill Shuster before participating in a signing ceremony for Space Policy Directive – 1.
  • The President will then participate in a swearing-in ceremony for Jamie McCourt as the U. S. Ambassador to France and U.S. Ambassador to Monaco

Tomorrow is election day

Tomorrow is the big day in Alabama, the day the voters head to the polls to choose a Senate replacement for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. President Trump has recorded a robocall for Republican Roy Moore, and former President Obama has recorded a call for Democrat Doug Jones.

Alabama’s other Senator Richard Shelby (R) appeared on disgraced cable news station CNN’s State of the Union wind tunnel on Sunday and shared his thoughts on the race.

“I’d rather see the Republican win, but I would hope that Republican would be a write-in. I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name,” Shelby said. “I’d rather see another Republican in there, and I’m going to stay with that story. I’m not going to vote for the Democrat, I didn’t vote for the Democrat or advocate for the Democrat. But I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore.

“The state of Alabama deserves better.”

Other politicians from the state, however, are supporting Moore.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who has said that she found the allegations against Moore credible, nonetheless said she would vote for him. Republican Reps. Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt have both said they will vote for Moore, as have Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and the state’s secretary of state, John Merrill, who told the Associated Press that he has already cast an absentee ballot for Moore.

So if Moore wins, how will he be treated in the Senate? Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) says he will be treated to an ethics investigation. Moore strategist Dean Young doubts that.

You can check out the polling on the race here.

The latest on the [alleged] sexual harassment beat

There will be a press conference today featuring the women who have come forward and accused President Trump of sexual misconduct.

The conference is being hosted by Brave New Films, a documentary group that released a film about the allegations against Trump in November.More than a dozen women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump during his presidential campaign.

Trump has denied the reports and the White House has said its official position is that the women are lying.

Ambassador Nikki Haley says Trump’s accusers “should be heard.”

On Friday, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) decided to resign immediately from the House of Representatives. He had previously said he would resign at the end of January.

The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with fertility issues for years. But the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

The AP reported that Franks was going to pay his future baby-carrier a hefty $5M.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) was shocked to learn that the Senate Chief Counsel’s office paid out an accuser $220,000. The accuser claims Hastings “touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job.”

At the state level, we have Democratic California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who will resign after being accused of publicly masturbating in front of a lobbyist. Really man, really?

Lobbyist Pamela Lopez publicly accused Dababneh of following her into a bathroom, masturbating in her presence, and pleading with her to touch him during a party in Las Vegas last year. She described the incident during an October interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Turning to Hollywood, a Disney executive has been charged with felony child sex abuse.

Heely’s allegedly abusive past is not strictly news, however, as the high-powered and highly-paid executive was arrested over the accusations on November 16 by Santa Clarita deputies affiliated with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Heely was quickly released on $150,000 bail after that arrest last month.

On Wednesday, the charges against Heely were formalized. Prosecutors charged him with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child, felonies, which combined, carry up to almost 10 years in prison.

Here’s a good piece over at the American Interest about why we have to be careful about going on a Warlock Hunt.

RUSSIA: FBI backs Sessions, Schiff spinning out of control

The FBI told and an aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Sessions did not have to disclose foreign contacts that occurred in the service of his job as Senator, according to a newly released document.

The FBI email from March bolsters the explanation by the Justice Department for why Sessions didn’t disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador in his application for a US security clearance. When the omission of the foreign contacts on the form was first reported by CNN in May, the Justice Department said Sessions’ office was advised by the FBI that he didn’t need to disclose the meetings.

An FBI agent, whose name isn’t made public in the document released by the bureau, was responding in March to a query from Sessions’ assistant. The assistant sought confirmation of what she said was an earlier conversation on the matter. At the time, news of Sessions’ Russian contacts had recently become public and prompted fierce political criticism.

Mean while Rep. Adam Schiff, appeared on CNN’s State of Union, to promise that evidence in the Trump/RUSSIA collusion is “pretty damning.”

“The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help,” Schiff said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“And that’s pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not,” he continued.

Here’s Schiff going into more “detail:”

“You have, in late April, the Russians approaching the Trump campaign and saying, ‘we have stolen Hillary Clinton emails,’ ” he said.

“You have only weeks later the Russians making another approach to the campaign, this time at the highest levels, offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.”He also mentioned other communications, including Donald Trump Jr.’s communications with WikiLeaks.

“So, we have all these facts in chronology. You would have to believe that these were all isolated incidents, not connected to each other. It just doesn’t make rational sense,” Schiff said.

The campaign accepted help?” Wasn’t this the implication of  CNN’s humiliating non-retraction retraction of a story claiming Don Trump Jr. got a “heads up” from Wikileaks about a document dump that quickly turned out to not be a heads up at all?

And actually, they aren’t isolated incidents, they are repeated instances of the RUSSIANS trying to influence the Trump campaign. Do we have anything where the Trump campaign accepts help or agrees to work with RUSSIA or seriously responds to any of these touches? I haven’t seen anything like that, have you? The emails we have surrounding the Trump Tower meeting indicates the Trump camp was aware they knew they had to be careful with the RUSSIANS and blew them off.

“Russia has been eager to meet with Mr. Trump for some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss,” the adviser told Manafort.

Manafort reacted coolly, forwarding the email to his associate Rick Gates, with a note: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips.

From campaign advisor Sam Clovis: “We thought we probably should not go forward with any meeting with the Russians until we have had occasion to sit with our NATO allies.” and “There are legal issues we need to mitigate, meeting with foreign officials as a private citizen.”

In the same email chain, Kubic, the retired admiral, reminded others about legal restrictions on meetings with certain Russian officials, adding, “Just want to make sure that no one on the team outruns their headlights and embarrasses the campaign.”

So, put up or shut up, Schiff.

Historical picture of the day:

Demonstrators mass on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall, Dec. 11, 1969, protesting what black groups called “an obvious national pattern” to raids by police on Black Panther headquarters. Leaders of several black organizations called for a one-day strike by Los Angeles? black residents. The Los Angeles Panther headquarters was raided Dec. 8 after a four-hour siege by police. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)

Other morsels:

Deadline week crunch for health law sign-ups under Trump

Gov. Jerry Brown blasts Trump: He doesn’t fear God because he doesn’t believe in climate change

Massive California wildfire now the fifth-largest in state’s history

Palestinian president won’t meet Pence during visit

Pence hits Palestinian leadership for backing out of meeting

Arab ministers demand reversal of Trump Jerusalem decision

Swedish synagogue firebombed amid Jerusalem protests

Palestinian stabs Israeli security guard in Jerusalem terror attack

Israel, Turkey leaders trade insults over US Jerusalem decision

Turkey’s Erdogan calls Israel a ‘child-murderer’ state

United States still sending ‘full’ team to Olympics despite North Korea’s threats

German intelligence warns of increased Chinese cyberspying

Pro-Trump students in MAGA hats booted from ‘safe space’ campus coffee shop

Woman charged with battery after McDonald’s bacon argument turns physical

The 10 biggest box-office bombs of 2017

Ohio couple told again to get rid of ‘support’ goats

FAA warns against flying drones near California wildfires

Study Calls to Eliminate Cords on Window Blinds

Oberlin College accused of bullying small business over students’ arrests

The FBI is now investigating the NY Governor’s office

Chelsea Handler mocks Sarah Sanders’ appearance, says she ‘deserves it’ for being ‘pure evil’

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!