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Scandal-plagued Trump cabinet member just replaced his department’s inspector general with a political appointee

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is plagued by scandals — facing about a dozen different investigations of his conduct — but he may have found a solution to his oversight woes: replacing the person investigating him with a political stooge.

The Hill reported first Wednesday morning that the Interior Department Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall will be replaced by Suzanne Israel Tufts, who has been serving in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As an assistant HUD secretary, Tufts has already been confirmed by the Senate — meaning she can be installed in Kendall’s place without another vote.

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The report notes that President Barack Obama had tried to confirm Kendall officially as the department IG in 2015 — which would have removed “acting” from her title. But at that time, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was leading an intransigent opposition to Obama appointments, and she was blocked.

Now, Zinke and the Trump administration will have the ability to replace a career official with a political appointee who could potentially wipe the slate clean of the investigations against the Interior Secretary if she so chooses.

Even if Tufts doesn’t take such a brazen approach, any outcomes of her investigations of the sitting secretary will likely be tainted by the dubious manner of her appointment.

“This is a very big deal,” said Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general. “Politicizing the oversight function is dangerous, especially in the absence of any Congressional oversight. Changing IGs in the midst of multiple serious investigations of the agency’s head should raise alarm bells everywhere.”

NBC News reported that Kendall appeared to have no knowledge of the change when The Hill‘s report was published, which cited a department-wide email from HUD Secretary Ben Carson announcing the move.

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Trump panicked White House attorney will flounder on TV during Senate impeachment trial: report

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President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have begun to debate how best to handle the impeachment trial. And one of the key questions at hand is who will represent Trump in the Senate.

One obvious choice would be White House counsel Pat Cipollone. But according to The New York Times, there is a problem: Trump is scared that he might not be particularly good on national television.

"Mr. Cipollone is expected to represent Mr. Trump at the trial, along with the president’s outside lawyers," reported Sheryl Gay Stolberg. "But the president has also been quizzing people about who his lawyers should be, and has noted Mr. Cipollone’s lack of TV experience, as the trial will be televised, a person involved in the planning said."

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Russia went looking for puppets in America — and they found Trump and the Republicans

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The Russians wasted decades infiltrating the left attempting to gain purchase in American political life. There was the Communist Party USA, of course. Established in 1919, the CPUSA grew through the 1930s and boasted a membership of about 100,000 at the beginning of World War II. A hundred thousand! Whoop-de-doo!

This article first appeared in Salon

Then there were the spinoff lefty parties like the Socialist Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Workers World Party, the Socialist Labor Party, the Progressive Labor Party — we could go on listing one splinter group after another with “socialist” or “labor” or “workers” in its title. They were tiny groups with memberships that were sometimes less than 100, and they would all deny being infiltrated by the Russkies, naturally. So would the “New Left” groups that came later, like SDS and The Weathermen. Nobody wanted to admit they were under Russian influence. Everything they were doing, from opposing the war in Vietnam to civil rights to fighting for free speech, was being done for completely pure reasons.

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2020 Election

William Barr made it clear this week that he’d sign off on a sham investigation into the Dems’ 2020 nominee

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

A perfect storm propelled New York's sleaziest real estate developer to an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite winning three million fewer votes than his opponent, but Nate Silver made a compelling argument that the letter James Comey sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day announcing that the FBI was re-opening its probe into Hillary Clinton's emails was decisive.

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