News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
After nearly two years of calling Russian election interference a hoax and its investigation a witch hunt, on Friday afternoon President Donald Trump is scheduled to preside over the first National Security Council meeting devoted to defending American democracy from foreign manipulation.
Nineteen months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge, current and former officials tell NBC News.
After terrorists struck on 9/11, the U.S. government passed laws, boosted funding, and reorganized itself with the goal of making sure such an attack could never happen again. But no such wholesale changes have taken place in the nearly two years since Russia sought to manipulate the 2016 election, cyber aggression that some lawmakers have called an act of war.
From The Hill
President Trump’s base would support Vladimir Putin for U.S. president before voting for a Democrat, liberal commentator Ron Reagan, the son of former President Reagan, said in comments Thursday on MSNBC’s “Hardball.”
The former Air America Radio host blasted Trump voters as not “in touch with reality.”
“The most important thing to them [is that Trump] seems to hate the same people that they hate,” he said. “If it was left just up to Trump’s base, they would elect Vladimir Putin as president of the United States over virtually anybody with a D after their name.”
From New York Times
With a lineup of prayer meetings, humanitarian forums and religious panels, the National Prayer Breakfast has long brought together people from all over the world for an agenda built around the teachings of Jesus.
But there on the guest list in recent years was Maria Butina, looking to meet high-level American officials and advance the interests of the Russian state, and Yulia Tymoshenko, a Ukranian opposition leader, seeking a few minutes with President Trump to burnish her credentials as a presidential prospect back home.
Their presence at the breakfast illuminates the way the annual event has become an international influence-peddling bazaar, where foreign dignitaries, religious leaders, diplomats and lobbyists jockey for access to the highest reaches of American power.
Using state public records laws, ProPublica has obtained police reports and call logs concerning more than 70 of the approximately 100 immigrant youth shelters run by the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. While not a comprehensive assessment of the conditions at these shelters, the records challenge the Trump administration’s assertion that the shelters are safe havens for children. The reports document hundreds of allegations of sexual offenses, fights and missing children.
The recently discontinued practice of separating children from their parents has thrust the youth shelters into the national spotlight. But, with little public scrutiny, they have long cared for thousands of immigrant children, most of them teenagers, although last year 17 percent were under 13. On any given day, the shelters in 17 states across the country house around 10,000 adolescents.
The more than 1,000 pages of police reports and logs detail incidents dating back to the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2014 during the Obama administration. But immigrant advocates, psychologists and officials who formerly oversaw the shelters say the Trump administration’s harsh new policies have only increased pressures on the facilities, which often are hard-pressed to provide adequate staffing for kids who suffer from untold traumas and who now exist in a legal limbo that could shape the rest of their lives.
“If you’re a predator, it’s a gold mine,” said Lisa Fortuna, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Boston Medical Center. “You have full access and then you have kids that have already had this history of being victimized.”
From The Hill
Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is trailing Democratic challenger Tony Evers by 13 points in the upcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial race, according to a new poll released Thursday.
Of the registered voters surveyed in the NBC News/Marist poll, 41 percent backed Walker in the race, compared to the 54 percent who supported Evers.
When asked if Walker deserves to be reelected, 34 percent of the voters agreed with the statement. Sixty-one percent said a new person should be given a chance, and 5 percent were unsure.
Walker, who ran for president in 2016, is running for his third term as governor.
From The Daily Beast
The Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 election cyberattacks targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill as she began her 2018 re-election campaign in earnest, a Daily Beast forensic analysis reveals. That makes the Missouri Democrat the first identified target of the Kremlin’s 2018 election interference.
McCaskill, who has been highly critical of Russia over the years, is widely considered to be among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats facing re-election this year as Republicans hope to hold their slim majority in the Senate. In 2016, President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by almost 20 points in the senator’s home state of Missouri.
New documents filed in court by Paul Manafort’s lawyers appear to contradict his legal team’s own claims that the former Trump campaign chairman’s team only lobbied on behalf of the Ukrainian government in Europe.
The revelation could be important as Manafort is trying to fend off charges from special counsel Robert Mueller that Manafort failed to register as a foreign agent in connection with his lobbying work for the Ukrainian government. Earlier this year, Mueller accused Manafort and his former deputy, Rick Gates, of secretly organizing a group of former European politicians known as the “Hapsburg group” to lobby in the U.S. for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his party.
But, according to prosecutors, Manafort and his longtime associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, pressed those involved in the lobbying campaign to stress that the effort was focused exclusively on the European Union. A federal judge later ruled that Manafort was attempting to tamper with the testimony of potential witnesses and ordered him jailed over the incident.
A Friday Bonus Note From The “That’s a Little Awkward” File
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 27, 2018