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CNN panel: No way Jared Kushner was ‘lone-wolfing’ backchannel pitch to Russians – Trump was involved

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On CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Wolf Blitzer’s panel too a long hard look at reports that White House adviser Jared Kushner reached out to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret backchannel communications line with the Kremlin, suggesting he was the messenger boy for President Donald Trump.

Former CIA officer Phil Mudd was the first to bring up Trump’s name.

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“There’s a judgment by Jared Kushner and the president’s team that says, ‘I trust the Russians more than I trust the Americans. I’m going to go talk to the Russian embassy because I don’t trust American channels,'” Mudd explained. “We don’t know what he said and whether anything he said was either inappropriate or illegal, and I’m going to presume he did this at the behest of the president-elect of the United States.”

CNN correspondent Chris Cillizza seconded the motion, saying there was nothing in Kushner’s background to suggest he might initiate the proposal.

“I find it hard to believe no, matter what you think of Jared Kushner, that he was lone wolfing it on this,” Cillizza explained. “That he developed a plan entirely independent of Donald Trump or Mike Flynn or anybody else. What we know about him is that, yes, he is a member of the family. He is a trusted adviser, but he’s not someone, I don’t think, who believes he should just go and run channels, particularly at that point, particularly in the transition period.”

“So I think it does not look great, particularly because of the context,” he continued. “This is not the first story we have heard about something — to Phil’s point, espionage, treason, something that looks had a little bit odd to a number of people who spent a lot of time there, related to the Trump administration, Trump transition and Russia. I think that’s part of the problem. A lone event that happened in a vacuum, might not be great for Jared Kushner, maybe shouldn’t have done it, but when you have Mike Flynn and Carter Page and Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner having other meetings with Russians that were not disclosed, it looks like something that merits investigation.”

Watch the video below via CNN:

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.

His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.

Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:

Winners

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice,  and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.

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Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst

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Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.

"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."

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Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.

WATCH: Protesters interrupt the #DemDebate as the debate nears end. pic.twitter.com/TKCn6eIEsN

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020

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