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Danziger: Greased Skids

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Trump Blames Schiff For Disclosure Of 2020 Russian Meddling

Donald Trump is apparently still mad about the recent congressional briefing from intelligence officials who warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help him win — even after he ousted his top intelligence official and replacing him with an inexperienced loyalist.

On Sunday, he launched a baseless attack on House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff.

“Somebody please tell incompetent (thanks for my high poll numbers) & corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff to stop leaking Classified information or, even worse, made up information, to the Fake News Media,” Trump said, despite having no evidence that Schiff (D-CA) leaked anything. “Someday he will be caught, & that will be a very unpleasant experience!”

Earlier this month, the intelligence community’s top election official, Shelby Pierson, told the House Intelligence Committee repeatedly that Russia had “developed a preference” for Donald Trump and wants to see him reelected in November, according to the Washington Post.

After learning of the briefing, Trump fired his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and replaced him with Twitter troll Richard Grenell.

Trump reportedly incorrectly believed that only Schiff had been briefed — when it was indeed the bipartisan House Intelligence Committee — and worried that Schiff would “weaponize” this information against him.

Since the start of the House impeachment inquiry in September, Trump has made Schiff a constant target, mocking him with insulting nicknames, claims of corruption, and accusations of “criminal” behavior.”

He even went to so far as to demand the congressman be arrested for treason for paraphrasing Trump’s July 2019 phone call with the Ukrainian president.

Schiff said Thursday that Trump appeared to be “again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling. Exactly as we warned he would do.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sanders Responds To Report That Russia Is Aiding His Campaign

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) urged Russia to stay out of the upcoming 2020 election in response to a new Washington Post article, which reported Friday that the Democratic frontrunner has been briefed by U.S. officials that the foreign government is trying to boost his candidacy.

“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement. “My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”

He also said:

Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend. He is an autocratic thug who is attempting to destroy democracy and crush dissent in Russia. Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election.

The news comes following an uproar between President Donald Trump and the former director of national intelligence. Joseph Maguire, who had until this week been the DNI, resigned from the government on Friday according to CNN. He’s being replaced by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who has no background in intelligence but is a fervent Trump loyalist.

According to multiple outlets, including CNN, Trump recently became angry at Maguire when he learned that one of his subordinates had briefed members of Congress on the finding that Russia was intervening to help Trump win re-election. Trump “complained that Democrats would use it against him,” the New York Times reported.

But the finding that Russia is intervening in 2016 and throwing support behind both Sanders and Trump wouldn’t be surprising. As the Post noted, federal prosecutors said that the Internet Research Agency — funded by Russia to interfere in 2016 — told its paid online trolls to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them).” This fit with the broader goal of feeding discord in the United States in an attempt to weaken the country. But the intelligence community also reported that President Vladimir Putin and his government “developed a clear preference for” Trump during the campaign.

And though they’re potential competitors, there’s no contradiction in Russia supporting both Sanders and Trump. The Kremlin could hope to see Sanders win the Democratic nomination and for Trump to win in the general. However, the news reports about the intelligence findings are far from sufficient to draw conclusions about Russia’s true intentions.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Stone Gets 40 Months As Judge Charges He ‘Covered Up’ For Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Judge Amy Berman Jackson has sentenced Trump ally Roger Stone to 40 months in prison. The sentence follows an outcry over President Donald Trump’s interference in the case and the radically different sentencing memos that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued earlier this month.

Last year, Roger was found guilty on seven criminal courts in federal court, including witness tampering and lying to Congress.

The sentence that Jackson handed down was neither as harsh as what the DOJ originally recommended nor as lenient as what it recommended in a subsequent sentencing memo. On Monday, February 12, the DOJ issued a sentencing memo that recommended seven to nine years in prison for the veteran GOP operative and self-described “dirty trickster.” But after Trump posted an angry tweet lambasting that recommendation, the DOJ issued a new sentencing memo the following day and recommended a much more lenient sentence — inspiring four federal prosecutors to resign from Stone’s case. Three of them are still with the DOJ, although one of the four left the DOJ altogether.

Trump fueled the controversy when he tweeted, “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not even been brought.”

Although Jackson’s sentence was less severe than what the DOJ recommended on February 12, she was highly critical of him and said that he “indicted” himself.

Trump has not ruled out of the possibility of granting Stone a presidential pardon. And on Thursday morning — before the sentence was handed down — Fox News’ legal analyst, libertarian Andrew Napolitano, told the hosts of Fox and Friends that Trump “might” pardon Stone the day of the sentence.

“I’m suggesting he might pardon Roger Stone today, because the minute he signs that pardon, this judge is divested of jurisdiction in the case,” Napolitano asserted.