FBI: Russia Attempted to Bribe U.S. Prior to Obama Uranium Deal, Wired Millions to Clinton Foundation

“Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews,” according to The Hill today.

“They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.”

See the full story here.

Lena Epstein Files with $782k on Hand as Media Scrutinizes Raczkowski’s Past Losses and Fines

PC: WXYZ Detroit

When US Rep. Dave Trott announced his retirement, rumors were immediately spread regarding who will run for the open 11th district seat. In what many expect to be a crowded field, only 3 candidates have officially announced. The field includes businesswoman Lena Epstein, former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, and Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise.

Epstein, who served as a Michigan Co-Chair for the Donald Trump campaign was previously running for US Senate. Just days following the news of Trott’s retirement, she said she was ending her bid for the US Senate, and became the first to announce she would seek the Republican nomination for the 11th congressional district seat.

She’s gained a lot of traction with both 11th district Trump supporters and southeast Michigan business leaders. Epstein said in a press release that she filed last week with $782k cash on hand, and $495k in Gross Receipts for the quarter.

Epstein said in a statement, “I feel humbled and blessed by the outpouring of support we’ve received since I announced my candidacy for the 11th Congressional District. I want to express my thanks to the business leaders and grassroots supporters who have made contributions to our campaign. It is critically important that Republicans nominate a candidate who can defeat the Democrat next year because this will be a highly targeted seat. We must put our best candidate forward.”

Epstein appears to be the strongest candidate in the field so far. She has shown she can raise enough money to win the General Election, and already has a strong grassroots base of Trump supporters that are now fighting on her behalf.

Meanwhile, Raczkowski is being scrutinized by the media for his unsuccessful previous campaigns. Raczkowski has been a perennial candidate who hasn’t won election since the early 2000s when he served in the Michigan House.

Chad Selweski, a Deadline Detroit contributor isn’t letting anyone forget about Rocky’s struggles in recent years.  

“All told, Raczkowski lost a U.S. Senate race in 2002, withdrew from a bid for Michigan Republican Party chairman in 2005, withdrew from a second Senate run in 2007, lost a House election in the old 9th Congressional District (Oakland County) in 2010, considered running for the U.S. House again in the current 11th District in 2012 and 2013, and lost a race for state Senate in 2014.”

Selweski also reports in 2012, Raczkowski raised close to $750,000 before deciding not to run. Some of the funds raised were used to pay himself back for $55,000 in previous personal loans to his campaign committee.

Additionally, Raczkowski has been fined $7,030 by the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections for repeatedly failing to file required finance reports that publicly disclose which individuals and PACs have contributed to his campaign committee.

Raczkowski’s lack of transparency and lengthy history of unsuccessful bids for US Senate, Michigan GOP Chair, Congress, and State Senate should be cause for concern among 11th district Republicans. This is a must win race for the GOP in 2018, and it would be risky to put faith in a candidate that’s been unable to deliver.

Conservative Groups Cheer, Unite around Tax Reform

“Conservative groups are going all out to help President Trump and congressional Republicans get a tax-reform bill across the finish line,” The Hill reported yesterday.

“Unlike with health care, outside right-leaning groups are united in their support of the GOP tax plan. They believe that unity will help reassure Republican lawmakers when they eventually cast votes on a bill.”

Conservative groups joining forces include the American Action Network (AAN), FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Freedom Partners, some of which are engaging in big ad campaigns to promote the GOP’s tax agenda.

“Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urged conservatives on Thursday to push back against criticisms of the tax plan from liberals and lobbyists,” per The Hill’s report:

“‘An army of lobbyists will come to protect the special interest provisions and to derail tax reform,” he said at an event at the Heritage Foundation. “And when that army comes, we must be able to count on the foot soldiers of the conservative movement to see this thing through.'”

The Senate is expected to pass a budget and take up the issue of tax reform this week.

Wisconsin’s Kevin Nicholson Earns Steve Bannon Seal of Approval

Republicans in Wisconsin are lining up to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in next year’s election. One of the most talked about candidates is Kevin Nicholson.

Nicholson. a conservative outsider and former combat Marine who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service, seems to have won the coveted endorsement of strategist Steve Bannon.

In an article from Breitbart titled the “League of Extraordinary Candidates”, Nicholson was mentioned as “pulling ahead” in the primary against establishment-backed state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

And The Daily Beast reported that Nicholson has landed as Bannon’s favored candidate in Wisconsin as well, saying that Bannon was looking to boost “conservatives such as Wisconsin businessman and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson” in the 2018 elections.

Bannon’s endorsement has proven to be a valuable asset to any Republican looking to stand out in a crowded primary field.

Most recently, Bannon threw his support behind former Alabama Supreme Court judge Roy Moore in the special election primary to permanently fill the seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Moore ended up winning the Republican primary against appointed Senator Luther Strange, who had the backing of the GOP establishment.

Bannon-approved candidates have also seen a surge in notoriety for challenging sitting GOP Senators as well. Bannon has pushed for candidates like Kelli Ward to challenge incumbent Senator Jeff Flake, and polls show her already putting up a serious challenge and even beating the establishment Senator with a year still to go.

For his part, Nicholson already has some big-name supporters behind him. The Club for Growth endorsed Nicholson in August, as did former UN Ambassador John Bolton. This puts Nicholson in a good spot as primary season starts to ramp up.

Republicans Get Their Recruit in Missouri

Vol. V, Issue 43 – This week:

  • Christie to leave New Jersey as blue as he found it
  • Hawley provides Senate GOP with some good news
  • Collins won’t run for governor of Maine

Governor 2017

New Jersey: There won’t be any silver linings for Republicans in New Jersey next month. Democrat Phil Murphy is headed for a large double-digit margin over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. The two-term tenure of Gov. Chris Christie ends with the state’s Republican Party in arguably worse shape than it was before he held office. Republicans in New Jersey are a minority party that has no hope on the horizon of holding either chamber of the legislature, or of winning the governorship for quite some time.

This situation dates back to Christie’s decision, in his 2013 re-election, to forge alliances with Democrats rather than looking to build up the state’s anemic GOP by seriously contesting as many legislative races as possible. The bottom line: Aside from a few modest pension reforms, there won’t be much to remember Christie by after he’s gone.

Senate 2018

Missouri: Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley’s decision to get into the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D, is probably the best piece of news Republicans have gotten in months. He’s a top recruit, and he already leads McCaskill in at least one poll, despite the fact that he only just won the statewide office he holds.

McCaskill may have seemed like dead meat before Hawley’s entrance, but Republicans can take nothing for granted in the first Trump midterm. Besides, McCaskill also seemed like dead meat in 2012, yet she survived.

The lesson from that election was that you can’t beat even a weak incumbent with the wrong challenger. You also can’t beat somebody with nobody. And as much as he might be admired by libertarian-leaning Republicans everywhere, outsider Austin Petersen is basically nobody in MIssouri politics. Maybe that’s too harsh, but he’s at least quite unlikely to score a statewide nomination on his first run as a Republican.

Serious Missouri Republicans in the state who had considered running against McCaskill basically got out in anticipation of Hawley running. What’s more, the Club for Growth has already backed Hawley, and Steve Bannon, who plans to run insurgents across the map, has basically indicated he will do nothing to stop Hawley. So the young rising star will have an open lane to the nomination.

That means McCaskill won’t have the option of choosing her opponent this time by intervening in a hotly contested and bitter Republican primary to help her weakest potential opponent (as she did for Todd Akin).

McCaskill has proudly identified herself as part of the “Resistance” this year. In doing so, she has locked herself into a re-election strategy. Her only hope is that the Trump administration becomes so incredibly toxic by next fall that she manages to survive. That’s a reasonable bet in some places, but it’s probably a longshot in Missouri.

Democrats remained competitive in the Show-Me State as long as they did through a combination of white urban gentry liberals, black voters, and rural blue-collar whites. The latter group basically quit the Democratic Party over the last four election cycles, beginning with 2010, and McCaskill’s win was the outlier. Trump’s nomination helped accentuate and accelerate the state’s already-in-progress lurch toward the GOP and away from the Democrats’ cultural leftism. There hasn’t been too much research on the topic, but it isn’t unreasonable to hypothesize that the Ferguson riots played a role in this as well.

Tennessee: Last week we noted that Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R, had jumped into the race to replace Sen. Bob Corker. This week, it appears more and more likely that former Rep. Steve Fincher, who hails from West Tennessee, will also jump into the GOP primary as more of an establishment choice.

Wisconsin: After swearing off a run for Senate all the way back in February, Republican Rep. Sean Duffy started giving off signs in September that he might challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D, after all. He’s suddenly sending more signals to that effect, attacking Baldwin last week over Obamacare. There’s really no reason to launch that specific attack if he isn’t considering a run against her. And he has lots of time, given Wisconsin’s late primary.

Wisconsin Republicans won’t exactly be without a candidate if Duffy stays out — state Sen. Leah Vukmir has already jumped into the race, as has Marine veteran and business consultant Kevin Nicholson. But Duffy is a much more formidable candidate than either of them. And he’s precisely the kind of candidate you think of as feeding off the success of President Trump. The key to Wisconsin, a disproportionately white state, has always been its blue-collar rural areas, which voted for Obama twice and for Trump in 2016.

Trump carried Duffy’s northern Wisconsin district by 20 points in 2016 after Barack Obama came within three points of carrying it in 2012. That seat, previously held by powerful Democratic Rep. David Obey until 2010, has precisely the mix of rural, small town, and blue collar that you’d expect to become Republican in the age of Trump, and indeed Duffy was one of Trump’s early supporters, and a speaker on his behalf at the Republican National Convention last summer.

Wyoming: Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater (now Academi) and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has become Steve Bannon’s apparent favored candidate to take down Republican Sen. John Barrasso in next year’s primary. Exactly why he might choose the Wyoming race over the one in his home state of Michigan remains something of a mystery.

Yes, it’s much easier for Republicans to win in Wyoming than in Michigan, but it isn’t easy just to move to Wyoming (or even to move back to Wyoming) and grab the Republican nomination for something. Liz Cheney learned that the hard way when she briefly explored a Senate primary run against incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi in 2014, and her surname carries a lot more weight in the state’s GOP circles than Prince’s ever will.

Governor 2018

Maine: The news that Republican Sen. Susan Collins is not running for governor must come as a disappointment for Republicans of all stripes. For one thing, she would have had an excellent chance of winning, where few other Republicans do. Another: If she had won, she would have almost certainly had to appoint a more reliable Republican senator to replace herself — after all, who could be less reliable than she is?

This gives the state’s Democrats — a hapless bunch in recent years, despite Maine’s leftward tilt — a much better shot at the governorship than they could have had otherwise. We’re a very long way from knowing whom they will nominate — they have a clown-car primary in the works already — but they probably won’t face the extra challenge of running against of a well-funded liberal independent candidate. That dynamic cost them dearly in 2010 and was at least an annoyance when they lost again in 2014, although exit poll data suggests that Gov. Paul LePage, R, would have won even without Eliot Cutler in that latter race.

Senators Cotton and Corker Attempt to Fix Iran Deal

“Sens. Bob Corker and Tom Cotton plan to introduce legislation that they believe will address flaws in the Iran nuclear deal — a move that comes as President Donald Trump is expected to formally disavow the international agreement struck by his predecessor,” according to Politico this morning.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the president today announced that he would decertify the Iran deal, meaning that he cannot certify that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But Congress is now expected to come up with a new solution to keep Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities.

“The Corker-Cotton plan, according to the summary, would amend the 2015 law that requires Trump to certify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal every 90 days as part of a broader congressional oversight framework. The Republicans’ proposal would institute an automatic reinstatement of U.S. sanctions against Iran if the nation comes within a year of nuclear capability.

 

 

Trump Will Be First Sitting President to Attend Value Voters Summit

“President Trump on Friday will become the first sitting United States president to speak at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit,” The Hill reported yesterday.

The annual conference in Washington, D.C., which begins today, is a political gathering for social conservatives to discuss their shared commitments to such issues as life, religious liberty, and traditional marriage.

Trump also delivered speeches at the summit both in 2015 as well as last year, just before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump: Under New Tax Plan, ‘Typical’ American Household Will Keep $4,000

In a speech to promote his agenda for tax reform yesterday in Pennsylvania, “Trump reiterated during his remarks in Pennsylvania that his goal is to make life easier for the middle class,” according to U.S. News & World Report.  He also said that tax reform would “likely give the typical American household a $4,000 pay raise.”

Several specifics in the plan for tax reform still have yet to be fixed, however: “Trump on Wednesday appeared to change certain aspects of his pitch, creating more uncertainty for analysts. Trump repeatedly said there were currently eight income tax brackets and that the new blueprint would reduce that number to four – appearing to count those whose annual income falls below the standard deduction as their own bracket.

“Less than a month ago, during a tax speech in Indianapolis, he promised individuals would be “subject to just three tax rates” rather than the current seven.”

But reducing the tax burden on the middle class appears to be a major goal for the president, as he recalled “a conversation he had with Patriots owner Robert Kraft a few months ago. Trump said Kraft told him: ‘Give it to the middle class. Don’t give it to us. Give it to the middle class.'”

Back Pocket

Share, Like, and Comment on facebook:

Conservative Intel has partnered with Pat Cross Cartoons!

Pat loves drawing, America, and the Big Man upstairs. His work aims to combine these three elements into a petri dish and see what happens. We hope you will find his work thought-provoking, insightful, profound, and maybe, just maybe, a bit humorous.

We encourage you to visit his website and like his Facebook page!

Trump to Sign Executive Order on Healthcare Today

“The White House announced Thursday that President Trump is taking executive action on health care as Congress stalls on efforts to overhaul ObamaCare, calling for a plan that could let employers band together and offer coverage across state lines,” Fox News reports today.

“The move comes after congressional Republicans repeatedly have been unable to pass legislation repealing or reforming the Affordable Care Act, which critics say has led to rising premiums and diminishing coverage options – in some cases forcing consumers to lose their previous plans and doctors,” says Fox. “Trump’s executive order could clear the way for cheaper, more bare-bones insurance policies.”