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Ron Paul: Trump Does The Bidding Of ‘Deep State’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

For many years, former Rep. Ron Paul was the most prominent libertarian in Congress — often frustrating fellow Republicans by voting against their spending bills. Paul, now 84, left Congress in early January 2013 but still speaks out about politics. And in his February 24 column for the Ron Paul Institute’s website, the Texas libertarian is vehemently critical of President Donald Trump for, as he sees it, throwing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the bus.

Paul hasn’t always been critical of Trump. The former Texas congressman asserts that in 2016, Trump “upset the Washington apple cart” and “set elements of the Deep State in motion against him.” But Paul quickly adds that Trump has since become part of the “Deep State” he once challenged.

“Trump loved it when WikiLeaks exposed the criminality of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party as it cheated to deprive Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party nomination,” Paul writes. “WikiLeaks’ release of the (Democratic National Committee) e-mails exposed the deep corruption at the heart of U.S. politics, and as a candidate, Trump loved the transparency. Then Trump got elected.”

Paul goes on to say that the “real tragedy of the Trump presidency” is “nowhere better demonstrated than in Trump’s 180-degree turn away from WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.”

According to Paul, Trump’s administration is pushing for a “show trial of Assange worthy of the worst of the Soviet era” — and the U.S. “is seeking a 175-year prison sentence.”

“It is ironic that a President Trump, who has been (a) victim of so much Deep State meddling, has done the Deep State’s bidding when it comes to Assange and WikiLeaks,” Paul laments. “President Trump should preempt the inevitable U.S. show trial of Assange by granting the journalist blanket pardon under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Head Of Pro-Rand Paul ‘Super PAC’ Indicted For 2012 Campaign Violations

By Timothy M. Phelps, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — In a further blow to the fundraising efforts of GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul, the Justice Department on Wednesday indicted the head of his main “super PAC,” on charges stemming from the 2012 campaign of Paul’s father, Ron Paul.

Jesse R. Benton of Louisville, Ky., was charged with covering up campaign payments to an Iowa state senator to persuade him to abandon his support for then-Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign and instead endorse Ron Paul. Benton was also charged with lying about it to the FBI.

Also indicted were two of Benton’s associates from the Ron Paul campaign, John M. Tate and Dimitrios N. Kesari, both of Virginia.

As the 2016 campaign heats up, the indictment serves as a reminder to political operatives that the FBI is watching.

“Violating campaign finance laws by concealing payments to an elected official undermines our electoral system and deceives the public,” said David J. LeValley, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. “The FBI will aggressively investigate those who corrupt the integrity of our democratic process.”

Benton is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter and has long been allied with the Paul family. Last year, news of the investigation into the 2012 payments forced Benton to resign as manager for now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign.

The indictments mark the latest problems for Rand Paul, a Republican Kentucky senator who has been struggling to stand out in the crowded field of Republican candidates and has lagged well behind his rivals in fundraising.

Photo: Rand Paul speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Feb. 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Md. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

What Clintons Do Is ‘Scandalous,’ What Republicans Do Is… Ignored

Whenever a transgression against transparency is charged to the Clintons, whether real, alleged or invented, America’s political media rise up in sustained outrage. From the offices of the New York Times Washington bureau to the Manhattan studio of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, journalists bitterly protest Hillary Clinton’s erased emails and her family foundation’s fundraising methods. And they will surely snap and snark about her “scandals” from now until Election Day.

Which under present circumstances might be justified, since she happens to be running for president — except for one glaring problem. Very few in the press corps apply the same standards to any Republican politician.

Nobody will ever get to see the thousands of messages erased from the private email account used by former Secretary of State Colin Powell when he held that high office. He got rid of them and got away with it (as most likely did former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who implausibly claimed not to have used email, when the State Department asked for hers).

Or at least such is the attitude of the press and punditry, who seem to believe that the dumping of Powell’s emails is somehow “different” from what Clinton did. And it is, of course – because she turned over more than 30,000 emails, while he turned over zero. But there is no sound of furious buzzing within the Beltway over the Powell emails; instead there is absolute silence.

Do readers and viewers want to know what Powell and Rice’s emails said about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, a topic of political and historic interest? Don’t they have a right to know? Well, Washington journalists who claim to represent the public interest don’t care.

And the double standard protecting Republicans extends well beyond the email “scandal.”

Consider the Clinton Foundation, whose critics complain that its fundraising has been opaque and suspect. The names of all of its donors have been posted on its website for years (except for a tiny 0.3 percent who gave to a related Canadian foundation and went unreported for arcane legal reasons).

To this day, however, George W. Bush’s foundation, which collected $500 million to build and endow his presidential library in Texas, has refused to disclose the name of every donor. The names that have been disclosed are difficult to find, unless you visit the library itself.

Like Bill Clinton, Bush began to raise money for his library from undisclosed donors while still in office, which raised ethical concerns. Bush told reporters that he might well raise money from foreign donors (which he did) and might not disclose any of their names (he disclosed some, years later). He hosted White House dinners and meetings around the country for potential library contributors, also unnamed.

Only after the London Sunday Times caught a lobbyist pal of Bush on videotape in July 2008 — soliciting $200,000 for the library from someone who claimed to represent a Central Asian dictator — did the Bush White House promise not to raise money from abroad while he was still president.

Yet this little scandal provoked no more than a few days of press coverage, a flurry of denials, and one or two tut-tutting editorials. And now that brother Jeb is running for president, nobody thinks to demand all the names of all the Bush library donors, so the press and public can gauge their potential influence on the candidate.

No, that kind of obsessive inspection is reserved for one political family. Their name is not Bush.

Those Clinton Foundation critics have gone so far as to claim that it isn’t a charity at all, despite top ratings by Guidestar and Charity Watch. A Wall Street Journal editorial snarled that any good done by the foundation is merely “incidental to its bigger role as a fund-raising network and a jobs program for Clinton political operatives.” Actually, the foundation has employed thousands of people, few of whom had any political ties, to bring vital services to the poor around the world.

But there is at least one tax-exempt entity that serves no charitable purpose, existing only to employ political aides and family members: the “Campaign for Liberty,” dubiously subsidized by campaign funds left over from Ron Paul’s political accounts.

Its employees, which include most adult members of the Paul family and most of Ron and Rand Paul’s top operatives, move between “charity” and campaign. It reimbursed Ron Paul’s expenses, even after taxpayers had already paid those same travel bills. Its current leadership is entangled in a festering scandal in Iowa, where prosecutors are investigating the alleged bribery of a local GOP official who shifted from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul in 2012.

Which other presidential candidates are involved in such non-profit nastiness? How many used private email accounts and conveniently lost the archives? Voters will probably never find out – because nobody named Clinton is involved.

Paul Hopes His Opposition To Patriot Act Boosts Campaign Support

By Sean Cockerham, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — As his fellow Republican Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, pushes this week to reauthorize the Patriot Act, Rand Paul took his presidential campaign to Independence Mall on Monday and said he’d do whatever he could to kill the law and the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

“One senator came up to me and said, ‘If you defeat the Patriot Act, what will happen? How could we possibly survive?'” Paul said on a muggy afternoon, outside the Philadelphia hall where the Constitution was adopted. “And I said, ‘Maybe, just maybe, we could rely on the Constitution for a few hours.'”

Paul’s vow to fight the Patriot Act sets up a showdown with McConnell, and it’s an important moment for his campaign. Polls show Paul mired in the middle of a crowded field of Republican contenders, and he’s hoping his threat to filibuster over the mass collection of phone records will bring back the excitement of the 13-hour anti-drone talkathon on the Senate floor two years ago that launched him into national prominence.

“If he pulls this off, I think it will be important in reminding the libertarian/civil liberties-leaning people what it was they liked about this guy in the first place,” said Brian Doherty, senior editor at the libertarian Reason magazine and author of a book about Paul’s father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Rand Paul, who said he intended to filibuster the provision, said this week’s battle over reauthorizing the Patriot Act would be “a great and momentous debate” over the Constitution’s right to privacy. The act, which passed by lopsided margins following the terrorist attacks of September 2001, handed largely unchecked powers to federal investigators to combat terrorism. Since then some courts have found provisions unconstitutional.

But Paul didn’t sound confident of winning. It would take 60 votes in the Senate to defeat his filibuster, but he said, “The rules are tricky in the Senate.”

“We do not have the votes to ultimately defeat the Patriot Act. I can delay it. … What I will demand is we have time on the floor to debate this, and I will demand that amendments that we put forward are given a chance on the Senate floor,” Paul said, surrounded by a crowd of youthful supporters.

Paul’s position on the Patriot Act puts him at sharp odds with his rivals for the Republican nomination. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the National Security Agency’s data collection program important for protecting the nation’s security, and “the best part of the Obama administration.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has also defended the program, as has South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wants changes to the program but doesn’t go as far as Paul. Paul said he’d offer amendments with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who’s also threatening a filibuster.

Time is running out for the Patriot Act, making Paul’s filibuster threat far more effective. Section 215, used to justify the bulk collection of phone data, is set to expire June 1, as is the “lone wolf” provision, meant to surveil targets not directly connected to terrorist cells, and a measure that allows the government to use roving wiretaps to track suspects who switch phones or locations.

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Congress is scheduled to leave for a weeklong Memorial Day break at the end of this week, so timing is tight. Complicating the debate is an appeals court ruling this month that the mass collection of phone records is illegal because it wasn’t properly authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The court let the program continue temporarily, effectively giving Congress a chance to rewrite the surveillance law. The House of Representatives, with the president’s support, passed the USA Freedom Act last week with changes to the bulk collection system, but Paul said the measure didn’t go far enough.

His filibuster threat was cheered by a crowd that had paid $45 apiece to hear him, in a suit and cowboy boots, speak earlier Monday at the National Constitution Center (they’ll also get copies of his book when it comes out May 26.) “It’s a good idea,” said Robert Reed of Pine Hill, N.J. “There is too much government.”

But McConnell, the Senate majority leader, was dismissive Sunday of the filibuster threat being made by his fellow Kentuckian.

“Everybody threatens to filibuster. We’ll see what happens,” McConnell said in appearance on ABC.

McConnell wants to continue the bulk collection of phone records, and he’s pushing for at least a two-month reauthorization of the Patriot Act to allow time to negotiate.

Paul won supporters two years ago when he launched a filibuster in protest of what he deemed a risk of drone strikes to U.S. citizens on American soil. But Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said in an interview that Paul now had a fine line to walk as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination between firing up libertarian-minded backers and not appearing weak on national security and foreign policy.

“Foreign policy is driving him down in the polls, but it’s stances like this on the Patriot Act that are still sparking interest in him,” said O’Connell, who advised the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “He has to be able to use the Patriot Act debate to leverage it into a wider foreign-policy debate.”

Paul, who’s feuded with the hawkish McCain on foreign policy issues, said Monday that American intervention had backfired in Iraq and Libya.

“We get rid of the strongman, and we have chaos and we have the rise of radical Islam,” he said.

(c)2015 McClatchy Washington Bureau, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky speaking at a physician roundtable at the Chaparral Suites in Scottsdale, Arizona. January 15, 2015. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)