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Establishment Dems pressuring new congress members to attend AIPAC Israel junket: report

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For years, freshman Democratic lawmakers have faced pressure to attend an AIPAC sponsored trip to Israel, where they were denied access to Gaza and other territories controlled by Israel.

The pressure remains stronger than ever today, reports The Intercept, even as Israel’s mideast policy is increasingly questioned.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) assured AIPAC that this year the trip would be as well attended as it has been previously. “Like many of you, I’ve traveled to the communities in the south of Israel that have endured rockets and tunnels. I’ve traveled with over 150 of my fellow Democratic members of Congress to meet with those who live under the constant threat of terror,” he said in an April address to AIPAC.

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“This August, I will travel with what I expect will be our largest delegation ever – probably more than 30 Democratic members of Congress, including many freshmen,” Hoyer added. “They will see first-hand the threats and challenges faced by Israel and its people as well as their extraordinary courage and achievements. It has been – and continues to be – the platform of our party and the priority of our Democratic caucus that ‘a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism.’”

The Intercept traces the ways that AIPAC’s influence may be starting to wane. For example, when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was besieged by accusations of anti-Semitism, Democrats stopped short of officially condemning her on the House floor. She also remains on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“AIPAC’s inability to make that happen was an additional setback for the organization, which only heightens the importance of a successful trip,” writes The Intercept.

Yet, the trip remains a must, thanks in large part to Hoyer — who has resisted calls by members to take part in a trip organized by the reformist group J-street.

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“Hoyer, according to former members of Congress who have resisted the pressure to join AIPAC’s delegation, uses his power over the House floor agenda to coerce participation,” writes The Intercept.

“A member who refuses an invitation can find it difficult to have his or her bills brought to the floor for a vote. “His senior staff lock down cooperating members by getting their bills to the floor and punishing non-cooperators,” said one former representative who rejected the invitation. “I was tortured for a decade because I refused to go on that trip and went with J Street instead.”

But some of the most prominent new members of Congress are avoiding the AIPAC trip.

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“Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, announced late last year that she would be skipping the AIPAC trip and instead leading her own delegation to the West Bank,” The Intercept writes. “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York announced she’d be skipping the trip as well.”


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Trump’s capitulation cheered on Russian TV: Ambassador McFaul says ‘they are joyous in Moscow’

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America's former ambassador to Russia explained how their state media is celebrating President Donald Trump's capitulation in Ukraine and Syria.

Ambassador Michael McFaul was interviewed Wednesday by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"How do you think this should play out, now that they are assembling step-by-step insider accounts with people who are bravely stepping forward, some giving up their careers, Mike McKinley and others having had to quit over this," Mitchell noted. "How do you think this plays out legally or in terms of the politics of impeachment?"

"Well, legally, I’ll defer to others who are more expert. I think what it does underscore is how grossly inept and just broken down the Trump foreign policymaking process is," McFaul replied.

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Feds investigating whether Rudy Giuliani was a victim of foreign spy effort targeting Trump

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President Donald Trump's defense attorney is not only a subject in a criminal investigation, but is also part of a counterintelligence probe into whether he was compromised by a foreign power, CNN reported Wednesday.

This is an investigation that goes far longer and back further than we realized and also that it’s much broader than we initially thought," CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Pérez reported.

"One of the things we’re getting a picture of, a better picture of is this involves not only Giuliani’s financial entanglements with allegedly corrupt Ukrainian figures but also counterintelligence angle is there to this and the idea that perhaps Rudy Giuliani and some of his business dealings were part of essentially an influence operation, a foreign influence operation with a target being the Trump White House," he reported.

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Internet recoils at Trump’s latest ‘insane’ news conference: ‘Maybe this guy shouldn’t be president’

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President Donald Trump ranted at length about the Kurds, military deployments overseas, Sen. Lindsey Graham and former President Barack Obama in a bizarre conversation with reporters in the White House.

The president met with the media Wednesday afternoon during a bilateral meeting with Italian president Sergio Mattarella, and he touched on a bewildering variety of topics -- much to the confusion of onlookers.

This is fucking insane.

This press conference is purpose-built to empower and delight every bad actor in the world.

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