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‘Very strong evidence, if not proof’: Trump’s campaign may have illegally coordinated with the NRA during the 2016 election: report

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On top of suspicions that President Donald Trump’s campaign nefariously coordinated with the Russian government as a part of the 2016 campaign, and in addition to the sworn statement by Michael Cohen that Trump directed him to engage in criminal campaign finance violations, the Trump campaign now stands accused of another form of illegal campaigning: coordinating with the National Rifle Association.

The allegations come from Mother Jones and in a joint investigation with The Trace.

According to the report, Trump and the NRA both targeted ads to the same area in Virginia, during the same timeslot and to the same demographic with ads that were complementary. This wasn’t merely a coincidence, either. The report found that both the NRA and the Trump campaign directed the ad buy through two nominally separated organizations that, in fact, are hard to distinguish.

The ad buys by both the Trump campaign and the NRA were even authorized by the same person, according to the report: Jon Ferrell, the CFO of National Media.

It is a violation of campaign finance laws for outside groups to coordinate their election spending with a candidate, so these findings raise serious questions about the campaign’s and the NRA’s legal exposure. And since other evidence makes clear that the Trump campaign was hardly ethically rigorous when it came to its regard for norms, laws, and national security, the allegation isn’t particularly hard to believe.

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The report continued:

Reporting by The Trace, which has teamed up with Mother Jones to investigate the NRA’s political activity, shows that the NRA and the Trump campaign employed the same operation—at times, the exact same people—to craft and execute their advertising strategies for the 2016 presidential election. The investigation, which involved a review of more than 1,000 pages of Federal Communications Commission and Federal Election Commission documents, found multiple instances in which National Media, through its affiliates Red Eagle and AMAG, executed ad buys for Trump and the NRA that seemed coordinated to enhance each other.

Individuals working for National Media or its affiliated companies either signed or were named in FCC documents, demonstrating that they had knowledge of both the NRA and the Trump campaign’s advertising plans.

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This is very strong evidence, if not proof, of illegal coordination,” Larry Noble, a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, told Mother Jones. “This is the heat of the general election, and the same person is acting as an agent for the NRA and the Trump campaign.”

Ann Ravel, a former chair of the Federal Election Commission, reviewed the records for the outlet and agreed.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where illegal coordination seems more obvious,” she said. “It is so blatant that it doesn’t even seem sloppy. Everyone involved probably just thinks there aren’t going to be any consequences.”


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2020 Election

Here’s how Trump hopes to recreate his 2016 presidential win — and how Democrats can send him packing

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Writing for CNN on Saturday, election forecaster Harry Enten explained how President Donald Trump's recent, racist behavior lies in his desire to recreate the same electoral conditions that gave him a victory in 2016 in the presidential election next year.

"The Trump strategy is pretty simple: 1. Drive up the unfavorable ratings of his Democratic rival as he did in 2016 in order to compensate for his own low ratings. 2. Bank on an electoral college/popular vote split as he did in 2016. 3. Use a campaign of racial resentment to drive up turnout even more among groups favorable toward the President," wrote Enten. As he noted, Democrats have excellent odds to flip back Michigan and Pennsylvania, but they will have to work harder to win back any of the other states Trump flipped from the 2012 Obama camp — in particular Wisconsin, which was the closest state after those two.

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US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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