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As Donald Trump continues to flirt with a radically transformed post-war world order, a victory for the GOP nominee would mean a political win for the Kremlin.

Trump’s stated belief in both a protectionist foreign policy and a weaker NATO alliance — not to mention his repeated praise for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin — all suggest that a Trump presidency could lead to a previously unimaginable cession of power to Russia.

An article in The Atlantic Thursday, “Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin,” warned that a Trump presidency would collapse the post-World War II order carried by the United States and lead to mass nuclear proliferation.

Indeed, Trump has stated unequivocally that the price of maintaining world peace isn’t worth the cost. He also suggested Thursday that he would not come to the aid of NATO countries that are threatened in some way by Russia.

“If we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of protecting these massive nations with tremendous wealth… I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, ‘Congratulations, you will be defending yourself,’” he said in an interview with The New York Times. The implications of this statement, should Trump reach the Oval Office, are incredibly profound.

All of this indicates Trump would be willing to let Vladimir Putin exert and expand his hegemonic impulse across Eastern Europe — and even further — in order to preserve American resources.

And that’s without considering Trump’s personal admiration for Putin: He has notoriously expressed his respect for the brutal Russian president, who arguably shares his fiery temperament and knack for media manipulation.

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in December, adding that Putin enjoyed high favorability numbers.

Moreover, Putin’s political strategy in Ukraine and Trump’s political strategy everywhere else seem to have been influenced by the same person: As a Slate profile recounts, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort spent almost seven years working for the former president of Ukraine, a corrupt, autocratic Putin surrogate named Viktor Yanukovych.

(Yanukovych left his post amid mass protests in response to his attempts to fix an election. In a column in April on ManafortThe National Memo’s Joe Conason called him a “Ukrainian overlord.”)

Not coincidentally, Trump strategists — who had a mostly hands-off approach to the party’s platform — scrapped a promise to aid Ukraine against Kremlin influence, as The Atlantic article points out.

No wonder, then, that Russia is the only other country in the G20 that doesn’t favor Hillary Clinton by a landslide.


Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he addresses students during his visit to German Embassy school in Moscow, Russia, June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko


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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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