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Russian banker and spy infiltrated the NRA with the Kremlin’s blessing: report

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A Russian bank official kept the Kremlin updated on efforts to cultivate ties to the NRA in hopes of influencing U.S. politics, according to an intelligence report.

Alexander Torshin, who was then deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, and his protegée Maria Butina aggressively courted NRA leaders, and they kept senior Russian government officials updated on their efforts, reported The Daily Beast.

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The website reviewed a U.S. intelligence report showing that Torshin briefed Kremlin officials and recommended they participate in his influence operation.

“This reporting indicates that Alexander Torshin was working with the blessing of the Kremlin, at a minimum,” one European intelligence official told the website. “The NRA is quite powerful, so when you look to influence U.S. politics, you should consider them as a convenient target.”

The 30-year-old Butina pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to act as a foreign agent under the direction of a Russian official identified as Torshin, who recently retired from the Central Bank of Russia.

The newly revealed intelligence report is based on conversations from 2015, before NRA leaders visited Moscow on a trip organized by Torshin and Butina.

The report shows Torshin suggested Russian officials reach out to American political figures through the NRA due to its strong influence, and the banker urged someone from President Vladimir Putin’s executive office to meet with the group.

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“My assessment of what was happening with Torshin and Butina and the NRA was that the Russians decided, a good period of time before 2016, to run an influence operation here in the U.S. with a couple of different goals,” said Steve Hall, who oversaw the CIA’s Russia operations. “The obvious goal was the one the intelligence community assessed back in 2016, which was to help Donald Trump win and increase the likelihood that Hillary Clinton would lose. In addition, they wanted to create as much chaos in our democracy as possible.”


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White losers have always tried to punish black election winners — Mississippi case just the latest example

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The recent experience of Hester Jackson-McCray, a black Democrat who narrowly defeated a Republican incumbent in a Mississippi statehouse race, echoes America's long history of criminalizing black politicians.

GOP legislator Ashley Henley, who lost by 14 votes, asked the Republican-controlled statehouse to overturn the results based on her claims of election irregularities, and that's not the first time in U.S. history that whites have sought to punish black politicians for winning, reported The Guardian.

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Trump is wallowing in ‘self-pity’ even though McConnell promised to protect him: Morning Joe

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Appearing on MNBC's "Morning Joe," New York Times reporter Peter Baker said Donald Trump is wallowing in "self-pity" that fluctuates with "combativeness" as he worries about the effect being impeached will have on his legacy.

Speaking with host Joe Scarborough, Baker filled in the blanks from his Times report, saying the president is obsessed with the impeachment hearings and Senate trial still to come.

Asked by host Scarborough about Trump's "humiliation," Baker said, "He can count on the Republican-controlled Senate to hold the trial where he seems almost certain to be acquitted, or at least see the charges dismissed in some fashion."

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WATCH LIVE: House holds historic vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump

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After a 14-hour House Judiciary Committee Thursday hearing considering the impeachment of Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans on the committee will reconvene once again Friday morning where they are expected to finally vote on the articles of impeachment before sending them to the House floor for a full vote scheduled for next week.

According to NBC, "In a surprise move, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler delayed the vote until Friday morning at 10 a.m. after more than 14 hours of debate. There were five votes on Thursday: one to eliminate the first article on abuse of power, a second to strike a reference to former Vice President Joe Biden, a third to note the aid withheld from Ukraine was eventually released, a fourth to strike entire second amendment on obstruction of Congress and a fifth to strike the last lines in each article. All were voted down and along party lines."

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