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David Holmes explains how Trump’s conspiracy theory on Ukraine serves Putin’s interests

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House impeachment witnesses Fiona Hill and David Holmes explained what Russia’s president Vladimir Putin gained from Republican conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine for 2016 election interference.

President Donald Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate those claims, which are disputed by U.S. intelligence services, in addition to announcing a probe of Democratic rival Joe Biden — and the two impeachment witnesses explained how that helped Putin.

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“First of all, to deflect from the allegations of Russian interference,” testified Holmes, who served three years in the U.S. embassy in Moscow. “Second of all, to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine, which Russia wants to essentially get back into its atmosphere of influence. Thirdly, to besmirch Ukraine and is leadership and degrade and erode support for Ukraine from other key partners in Europe and elsewhere.”

Hill, who served more than two years as the White House adviser on Europe and Russia and wrote a highly regarded biography of Putin, cautioned against the notion that Trump had adopted the Kremlin’s viewpoints.

“I think we have to be very careful about the way that we phrase that,” she testified. “This is a view that President Putin and the Russian security services and many actors in Russia have promoted. I think this view has also got some traction perhaps in parallel and separately here in the United States and those two things have over time started to fuse together.”


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2020 Election

Trump advisors futilely trying to get him to stop ranting about statues as his re-election prospects collapse: report

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According to a report focusing on Donald Trump's rally at Mt. Rushmore on the evening before the 4th of July, advisors to the president ate attempting to get him to start focusing on bread and butter issues that will get him re-elected instead of harping on statues being pulled down by protesters across the country.

As the Daily Beast report illustrates, their efforts appear to be futile based upon his Friday night speech.

With the president trying to fire up the crowd by insisting, “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders. They think the American people are weak, and soft, and submissive,” the Beast reported that Trump, "decided to focus heavily Friday evening on protesters and Black Lives Matter activists who want various American monuments, including those honoring Confederate, white-supremacist, and slave-owning figures of history, torn down and destroyed for good. "

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Trump’s a traitor — and the Russian bounty scandal is the final straw

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The first story of the rest of Donald Trump's life was published last Friday in the New York Times, revealing that the Russian intelligence agency known as the GRU has been paying bonuses to Taliban fighters to kill Americans, and that this intelligence had been reported to Trump and had been known at least since March. The story was subsequently confirmed by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the AP.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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2020 Election

GOP scrambling to pay for Jacksonville convention after Trump yanked it from North Carolina: report

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According to a report from the New York Times, Republican officials are having difficulties getting donors to pay for the Republican National Convention to be held in Jacksonville, Florida after Donald Trump yanked the gathering out of Charlotte, North Carolina in a fit of pique over COVID-19 health restrictions.

At issue, the report notes, is that millions of dollars were spent in North Carolina where a smaller event will now be held, and now the party is, in essence, forced to pay for a second convention.

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