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Chamber of Commerce attacks effort to ban secretly funded ads

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The nation’s largest and most formidable lobbying group is apparently unsatisfied with being able to spend unlimited amounts of cash to influence elections — they insist they should be able to do so in secret.

Bloomberg News reports that “U.S. companies would lose their ability to secretly finance political advertising run by organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce under a bill being considered by Democratic lawmakers.”

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The effort, led by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would temper the impacts of the monumental Supreme Court ruling this year.

The Chamber forcefully attacked the bill and questioned the intentions of the two Democrats.

“Citizens United is being used as a pretext to pursue much broader regulations of the private sector in the political arena,” Steven Law, the Chamber’s general counsel, told Bloomberg. “Their interest is to intimidate the business community into unilateral disarmament.”

The Chamber has spent over $600 million to influence politics since 1998. It has dwarfed even the second-place American Medical Association’s $220 million in the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Its members are poised to step up their influence in Washington following the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission verdict. Corporations like ExxonMobil, a major force within the group, often channel their efforts through the Chamber, hiding their own identity in political ads.

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The Schumer-Van Hollen bill would make this illegal — and possibly make the organizations less effective in pushing their end-game, according to Yale law professor Heather Gerken.

“Corporations may be the one institution less popular than Congress,” Gerken said. “Those well-funded campaigns may be far less popular if the people know who’s funding them.”

Meanwhile, the Republican Party is working to further loosen campaign finance restrictions.

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“Legal top gun Ted Olson just told USA TODAY that he’s filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Republican National Committee in a case that challenges federal limits on party fundraising,” the paper reported this week.


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Trump spoke with Giuliani on unsecured phones that were vulnerable to Russian surveillance: report

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On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump has communicated with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani via unsecured and unencrypted phone lines that are potentially vulnerable to interception and monitoring by Russian intelligence officials and other hostile foreign powers.

"Trump is not identified by name in the House phone records, but investigators said they suspect he may be a person with a blocked number listed as '-1' in the files," stated the report. "And administration officials said separately that Trump has communicated regularly with Giuliani on unsecured lines."

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Internet debates ‘the dumbest thing Brian Kilmeade has ever said’

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Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade has received a great deal of attention -- and criticism -- during the Trump era.

Kilmeade co-hosts one of the President's favorite shows, "Fox and Friends," with Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt on weekday mornings. He also a show on the Fox News Radio network and frequently appears on "The Five."

The former Ultimate Fighting Championship play-by-play sportscaster has also been harshly criticized for the type of comments that make the show a favorite for the president.

Journalist Molly Jong-Fast, who was widely praised her interview of Lisa Page, decided to explore Kilmeade's comments.

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Trump was ‘in denial’ he would be impeached — until he watched TV yesterday: CNN reporter

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," White House correspondent Boris Sanchez said that President Donald Trump believed for weeks that Democrats were not really going to go through with impeachment — but after watching the House Judiciary Committee testimony on Wednesday, he finally realized they were serious.

"Is it clear how the president is handling this behind closed doors?" asked Cooper.

"Well, for weeks we've been hearing that the president has sort of been in denial about all of this, that he did not actually believe that Democrats in the house would vote to impeach him," said Sanchez. "We're actually told that he's come to terms with that reality in part because he was watching testimony yesterday as he was returning from a NATO leaders meeting in London."

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