Biden Defended Russia During 2012 Election, Denied It Was a ‘Major Adversary’

During the 2012 presidential election, recently announced 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden downplayed the threat posed by Russia and heralded the Barack Obama administration’s “Russian reset.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran on a Russia-skeptical platform. After Obama was caught on an open mic promising his Russian counterpart “flexibility” following the election, Romney lamented that, “This is without question our number one geopolitical foe, they fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.”

When asked about those comments on CBS’s Face the Nation, then-Vice President Biden defended Russia and cast Romney as a warmonger stuck in the past.

“Governor Romney’s answer I thought was incredibly revealing. He acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary. I don’t know where he has been,” Biden said.

“I mean, we have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us on Iran…” he continued. “One of only two ways we’re getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia. They’re working closely with us. They have just said to Europe, if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf, they’ll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. That’s not—this is not 1956.”

“He just seems to be uninformed, or stuck in a Cold War mentality,” Biden said. “So, I think what the—the exchange did, it exposes how little the Governor knows about foreign policy.”

Biden kept the attack up later that month, insisting that Romney viewed Russia “through a cold war prism,” a line the New York Times noted was ” borrowing the thought from Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev.”

“Under President Obama’s leadership, our alliances have never been stronger…” Biden said in the same speech. “We’ve forged a new relationship based on mutual interest with emerging powers like China, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa—all of which are helping advance American security.”

Several Democrats have formally apologized for their mockery of Romney’s rhetoric towards Russia, including former Secretary of State Madeleine AlbrightPaul Begala, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, and former Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.

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Biden: I Asked Obama Not to Endorse Me

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he had asked former President Barack Obama “not” to endorse him as he formally entered the 2020 race for the White House.

“I asked President Obama not to endorse,” he told reporters in Delaware. “And he doesn’t want to—whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”

Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for Joe Biden, had said earlier the former vice president had asked Obama “not” to endorse him in his 2020 bid, so he could make the case for change himself.

Biden officially entered the fray on Thursday, posing his candidacy as a battle with President Donald Trump for America’s soul. An Obama spokesman released an expression of support for Biden, as the two are close friends, but it was widely viewed as unlikely he would endorse, given the early stages of the primary and the crowded field.

“The vice president actually asked the president not to endorse,” she said on MSNBC. “He wanted to make the case. He is running in this race because he believes we need to restore the soul of this nation. We need to rebuild the backbone of America and that we need to unify and come together. Voters know Joe Biden.”

MSNBC host Hallie Jackson asked her to explain why Biden would ask that, saying that seemed counterintuitive.

“He wants to make his own case,” she reiterated.

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Biden’s First Campaign Stop: Home of Comcast Executive

Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will attend a fundraiser at the home of an executive of Comcast, which owns NBC.

David Cohen, a senior executive vice president and the chief diversity officer for the company, will host a fundraiser at his Philadelphia home on Thursday, Common Dreams reports. The event will also include Democratic members of Congress and important donors.

Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which runs NBC, MSNBC, and other news networks.

Biden spoke with donors on Wednesday, according to Politico.

“The money’s important. We’re going to be judged by what we can do in the first 24 hours, the first week,” Biden reportedly told the group.

“I get calls from people all over the world—world leaders are calling me—and they’re almost begging me to do this, to save the country, save the world,” Biden added.

Biden entered the 2020 presidential race with a video posted on his Twitter account Thursday morning.

“We are in a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said in the video, before highlighting President Donald Trump’s remarks following the August 2017 white supremacist riot and counter-riot in Charlottesville, Va.

Biden faced controversy earlier this month when several women claimed he made them feel uncomfortable with “unsolicited touching.”

“I am sorry I didn’t understand more,” Biden said in response to the accusations . “I am not sorry for any of my intentions. I am not sorry for anything that I have ever done,” he said. “I’ve never been disrespectful, intentionally, to a man or a woman.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported this week that Biden considered homosexuals to be “security risks” in the 1970s.

Biden has faced scrutiny for his authorship of President Bill Clinton’s crime bill, which progressives have criticized for its strict approach to criminal justice.

Biden has said he is “not at all” regretful of the bill, and has claimed he got “stuck” writing it due to his position in the Senate.

Justice Democrats expressed opposition to Biden’s candidacy in a series of tweets posted within hours of his official campaign announcement on Thursday morning.

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Female Former Colleagues Voice Support for Stephen Moore

Female former colleagues of Stephen Moore voiced their support for his nomination by President Donald Trump to the Federal Reserve, amid accusations that Moore wrote sexist columns about the inferiority of women in sports in the early 2000s.

Moore came under scrutiny earlier this week when the pieces he wrote for National Review resurfaced. Moore wrote college basketball games should be places where “men can take vacation from women” and joked that women should be banned from refereeing, beer vending, and announcing sports events.

“This was a spoof. I have a sense of humor,” Moore told CNN’s KFile in response.

Ann E. W. Stone, an activist who has worked with Moore, said she supported his nomination and commended him for his decades of experience in economic policy, adding that he should not be judged for his sense of humor.

“He genuinely has a good sense of humor and the ability to make both good and bad jokes. I have been told I have that same ability although my staff claims most of my jokes are lame, so I feel his pain,” she said in a statement obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “Steve Moore will bring a much-needed different perspective to the Federal Reserve. It is well overdue. He has a record of being right on the economy and he is one of the architects of the success we are currently having.”

Lisa B. Nelson, a long-time friend and associate of Moore, emphasized that his decades of expertise make him fit for the role.

“Steve is a man of integrity, an independent thinker and has always been an advocate for economic policies that will produce economic growth, better wages and that would keep unemployment at the lowest rates possible,” Nelson said in a statement. “Steve has spent his life’s work on behalf of the American individual—regardless of sex or race, Steve has been a tireless advocate for a better life for all Americans which he believes strongly in.”

Other women also supported Moore’s nomination, saying that the criticisms leveled against his character are unfair.

“The recent and unnecessary attacks on Moore’s character are indicative of how far his opponents will go to derail such a supremely qualified candidate,” FreedomWorks activist Ronda Vuillemont-Smith said. “I fully support Moore’s candidacy for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.”

FreedomWorks activist Vera Anderson added that at every event she’s attended, Moore has shown concern for the needs of women.

“He’s shown himself to be an upstanding citizen who will go above and beyond to connect with the activists,” she said. “He cares about us and he deserves our support.”

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Justice Democrats List Reasons to Stop Joe Biden

Justice Democrats expressed opposition to the candidacy of former vice president Joe Biden in a series of tweets posted within hours of Biden’s official campaign announcement on Thursday morning.

“The old guard of the Democratic Party failed to stop Trump, and they can’t be counted on to lead the fight against his divide-and-conquer politics today. The party needs new leadership with a bold vision capable of energizing voters in the Democratic base who stayed home in 2016,” Justice Democrats tweeted.

“While we’re going to support the Democratic nominee, we can’t let a so-called ‘centrist’ like Joe Biden divide the Democratic Party and turn it into the party of ‘No, we can’t,'” the thread continued.

Justice Democrats argued Biden “stands in near complete opposition to where the center of energy is in the Democratic Party today,” arguing members of the party are “increasingly uniting around progressive populist policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college, rejecting corporate money and ending mass incarceration and deportation. We don’t need someone who voted for the Iraq War, for mass incarceration, and for the Bankruptcy Reform Act while voting against gay marriage, reproductive rights, and school desegregation.”

“Life expectancy has decreased for a third straight year in our country. We need Democrats who will fight racism and inequality with solutions that match the scale of the crises we’re facing — not piecemeal compromises with corporate America and the party of Donald Trump,” the thread concluded.

Biden announced his candidacy in a video posted on his Twitter account on Thursday. The former vice president is considered a front-runner in the Democratic primary, and he currently leads the crowded field of candidates in polls.

Earlier this month, Biden faced controversy as several women claimed he made them feel uncomfortable with “unsolicited touching.” The Washington Free Beacon reported this week that Biden considered homosexuals to be “security risks” in the 1970s.

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‘Nonpartisan’ Mueller Investigation-Focused Group Tied to Dem Dark Money

A “nonpartisan” group launched to “protect” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump that is now pushing for the release of the full, un-redacted Mueller Report is tied to a liberal dark money organization.

Protect the Investigation, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan” initiative formed to “educate the American people about the importance of the special counsel investigation and its findings,” is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) “fiscal sponsor” that is used as a pass-through entity for big money Democratic donors.

Protect the Investigation is a registered trade name—or fictitious name—by the Sixteen Thirty Fund with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, records show. The name was registered on June 28, 2018 and is scheduled to expire on June 27, 2020.

“The Special Counsel investigation was a probe into Russian interference during the 2016 election that charged 37 people and entities of criminal wrongdoing, including Trump’s campaign chairman,” the group writes. “The American people demand to know what the Special Counsel Robert Mueller found, and the Department of Justice must release the full, original report with all the underlying evidence.”

Several of Protect the Investigation’s “partner organizations” are tied to Arabella Advisors, a D.C.-based social venture firm that provides consulting to liberal philanthropy endeavors. The Sixteen Thirty Fund falls under the umbrella of Arabella Advisors. Arabella Advisors is managed by Eric Kessler, a former Bill Clinton appointee and member of the Clinton Global Initiative. Douglas Hattaway, owner of Hattaway Communications, a D.C.-based strategic communications firm that has represented the likes of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Center for American Progress, a left-wing group founded by former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, directs the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

One such partner of Protect the Investigation that is also tied to Arabella is Demand Justice, which is also a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Demand Justice is led by Brian Fallon, Clinton’s former campaign spokesman, and is geared towards fighting Trump’s “takeover” of federal courts. The group was first pitched to the Democracy Alliance, the left’s largest dark money donor network that was co-founded by Soros, at its Spring 2018 conference, according to documents previously obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Another partner, Tax March, is also a registered trade name of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which has given at least $921,000 in grants to partners of Tax March.

Protect the Investigation’s goals have shifted over the months.

In September 2018, Protect the Investigation claimed that democracy was “under attack” because of Russian interference in the election and argued the Mueller investigation was important in uncovering ties between President Trump and the Russian government. In November 2018, the group claimed that the investigation had “repeatedly been undermined by Trump.” The group is now calling for the full, un-redacted version of the Mueller Report be released.

Five days before Attorney General William Barr released a brief summary of the Mueller report, GBAO, a Democratic firm, held focus group sessions with Iowans in an attempt to see how Americans would process the Mueller Report. The GBAO research sessions were conducted on behalf of Protect the Investigation.

Many individuals on Protect the Investigation’s advisory board have suggested Trump should be impeached.

Before the release of the Mueller report, Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and CNN legal and national security analyst, argued that there might be grounds for impeachment.

“Reupping this piece explaining why being manipulated by a foreign power while POTUS – even if it doesn’t ‘break the law’ – is still, and perhaps especially, grounds for impeachment,” Rangappa wrote on Twitter in early April, linking to a Politico piece on Trump’s Moscow deal.

Following the release of the Mueller Report, Rangappa later retweeted an article titled, “The Mueller Report is an Impeachment Referral.”

Max Bergmann, another board member who is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, in 2018 told his followers on Twitter to “normalize impeachment.” Bergmann later stated that the Mueller Report laid out a case for obstruction of justice.

“Commentators need to stop saying no criminal conduct was revealed. There was!” Mueller laid out obstruction of justice,” Bergmann tweeted. “This is a crime! He explicitly said he c/dn’t make a ‘prosecutorial judgment.’ But he laid out a crime! One that also impacted the conspiracy investigation.”

Bergmann retweeted an article that criticized House Democrats for not weighing in on impeachment following the release of the Mueller Report.

Ned Price, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency until February 2017 when he published on op-ed explaining why he quit over Trump taking office, also sits on the advisory board.

A recent investigation by the Capital Research Center found that the elaborate dark money operations that fall under Arabella Advisors has facilitated $1.6 billion from left-wing donors in recent years through its pass through “fiscal sponsor” entities that house groups and initiatives such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund in recent years.

Protect the Investigation did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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McConnell Bill Would Raise Age for Tobacco Sales to 21

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, will introduce a bill next month to raise the national age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21, primarily to curb the rise in teenage vaping.

“For some time, I’ve been hearing from the parents who are seeing an unprecedented spike in vaping among their teenage children,” McConnell said in a news release. “In addition, we all know people who started smoking at a young age and who struggled to quit as adults. Unfortunately it’s reaching epidemic levels around the country.”

McConnell is following in the footsteps of 12 states and several other local governments that have raised the sale of tobacco products to 21 years old. The legislation will be crafted using the state bills as a guideline, according to the news release. Similar to the state bills, the federal legislation will exempt active military personnel.

Defenders of the bills frequently say that when 18 through 20 year olds have access to tobacco products, they can easily transfer them to their underage friends. Some surveys have shown that the vast majority of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21 and about half begin smoking before the age of 18.

McConnell’s legislation may be part of a larger plan by regulators to clamp down on vaping products. Less than a month ago, the Food and Drug Administration announced a plan to more heavily regulate and even restrict some flavored tobacco products. The regulations would be aimed at products with fruity flavors, which some believe are motivating children to start smoking.

In a press statement earlier this year, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that these fruity vaping products are not becoming a less harmful alternative for people who would otherwise be smoking. Rather, he said that these are children who would not have smoked cigarettes, but were pulled in by the fruity flavors.

But some promoters of vaping products say this crusade will do more harm than good, often arguing that these products are providing healthier alternatives to conventional cigarette smoking. They have also argued that consumers should not have their choices restricted.

“Banning the sale of cigars and dip with characterizing flavors is an unfair policy that singles out adult tobacco consumers and inhibits them from buying the products they choose to enjoy,” a statement from Citizens for Tobacco Rights says.

“Flavor bans unfairly and unnecessarily limit the ability of adult tobacco consumers to purchase products that they prefer,” it reads. “Banning the sale of these products to adult smokers and dippers just isn’t fair, plain and simple. Instead of a ban depriving adult tobacco consumers of products they want, the focus should remain on responsible marketing, responsible sale at retail and reducing underage access to tobacco products.”

Patrick Hedger, director of policy at FreedomWorks, a nonprofit promoting limited government, said in a phone interview that heavier restrictions on vaping products are a threat to personal liberty and may do more harm than good.

The FDA’s moves are a classic example of “the government coming in and saying ‘we know what’s best,’” and that not being the case, Hedger said.

Congress initially wanted to promote vaping products as a way to wean people off of smoking, which Hedger said is more harmful to health. Because these products offer a safer alternative, he said it would be dangerous for the FDA to more heavily regulate them.

Although Hedger said that children vaping is a problem, he warned that regulators are falling into the “Nirvana fallacy,” or the idea that regulations can achieve the perfect outcome of eliminating all tobacco use. Instead, he said that more heavily regulating vaping products takes the government backwards if their attempt is healthier citizens.

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Bernie Sanders in 1970s: Millionaire Senators are ‘Immoral’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said it was “immoral” that members of the U.S. Senate were millionaires during a campaign in the 1970s.

Sanders’s remarks were published in December 1971 in the Bennington Banner, a Vermont newspaper, CNN reports. Earlier this month, Sanders revealed he was a millionaire.

Sanders’s presidential campaign acknowledged he made the comments.

“Yes, it is true: Senator Sanders said in the 1970s that it is immoral that the government too often represents the interests of the super-wealthy and large corporations—and yes, it is also true that Senator Sanders has continued to demand a change from that for his entire life,” campaign spokesman Josh Orton said.

“As the son of an immigrant who grew up living paycheck to paycheck, Senator Sanders believes elected officials should represent the interests of working people, not corporations, special interests or the ultra-wealthy,” Orton continued. “This view has guided his work in politics, not the pursuit of personal wealth. Senator Sanders’ family has been fortunate, and he is grateful for that because he knows the stress of economic insecurity. That is why he works every day to ensure every American has the basic necessities of life, including a livable wage, decent housing, health care and retirement security.”

Sanders’s comments came during his campaign for Senate as a member of the Liberty Union Party, a self-described “radical political party” that advocated extensive nationalization of the economy.

Sanders said senators at the time served “the interests of corporations and big business —- their fellow millionaires.” He also proposed replacing legislators’ annual salary with the average income in each member’s home state.

“I think the result would be that this country would immediately stop wasting billions on weapons which never get off the drawing boards, and on the support of military dictatorships throughout the world,” Sanders added. “I also have a feeling that a lot of tax loopholes that the corporations and millionaires receive would soon disappear.”

In an interview earlier this month, Sanders embraced his millionaire status.

“I wrote a best-selling book,” Sanders said. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

Sanders made more than $1 million in both 2017 and 2018, mostly from royalties from his book Our Revolution and the young-adult adaptation Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution.

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Swalwell Repeatedly Refuses to Accept Mueller Finding on Trump-Russia Conspiracy: ‘He Acts Guilty!’

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) repeatedly refused to take Robert Mueller’s conclusion that President Donald Trump didn’t conspire with the Russians during the 2016 election on Wednesday, maintaining his claim that Trump was a Russian asset who could be blackmailed by Vladimir Putin.

The 2020 presidential candidate and cable news fixture was one of the leading Democratic voices in Congress pushing the collusion storyline over the past two years. MSNBC host Ari Melber played a montage of Swalwell’s Russia claims and noted Swalwell appeared to affirmatively claim a “personal link” between Trump and Putin’s Kremlin.

Over the course of the investigation, Swalwell called Trump a Russian agent, said collusion evidence was in “plain sight,” and claimed Trump had both personally and through his campaign colluded with the Russians. In spite of Mueller’s report not finding proof of conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians in their election interference campaign, Swalwell told Fox News on April 19 that “this president in no way is cleared.”

“Do you accept the findings in the Mueller report that do not support some of those claims?” Melber asked.

“I accept that I probably should have been out there a little bit earlier, because who knew how many links there were, there were 200 pages of links,” Swalwell said. “I accept that prior congresses did not have an imagination to see a president or a campaign have so many [sic] concerning conduct and not write laws to prohibit it, but it didn’t meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. But here’s what we know. The Russians helped Donald Trump.”

“So you’re no longer maintaining that he is effectively a, quote, Russian asset,” Melber said.

“No,” Swalwell said. “I think he acts on Russia’s behalf, and I challenge him to show me otherwise.”

Melber countered President Barack Obama could have been accused of advocating on Cuba’s behalf with his policy there, but he contrasted that with Swalwell’s consistent claims of coordination between Trump and the Kremlin.

“You clearly in those quotes, though, were discussing it at the level of a financial link or a conspiratorial collaboration, which Mueller’s evidence doesn’t support,” Melber said. “So I want to find out do you accept that?”

“There’s evidence of collusion and coordination there. It doesn’t go beyond a reasonable doubt, but that doesn’t mean this is a good guy,” Swalwell said.

Swalwell said if Trump was able to “be blackmailed by a porn star,” a reference to Stormy Daniels and her lawsuit against Trump, “how do we know he’s not going to be blackmailed by Vladimir Putin?” Swalwell has previously said he did not care about allegations that Trump orchestrated a payoff to hush up an affair Daniels said she had with Trump in 2006.

Mueller repeated his question again: Was Swalwell maintaining his asset theory, in spite of Mueller not documenting that explosive claim?

“I think he acts on Russia’s behalf too many times, and he puts their interests ahead of our interests,” Swalwell said. “He acts guilty, Ari!”

Swalwell listed off policies by Trump he considered positive to Russia, like trying to pull American troops out of Syria or being cagy about his one-on-one meetings with Putin. However, the administration has also pursued anti-Russia policies, such as opposing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, arming Ukrainians fighting the Russians with anti-tank missiles, and boosting NATO’s military readiness.

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Cory Booker Made $1.7 Million in Five Years Off Speaking Gigs

Newly released tax returns for Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) show he earned over $1.7 million through public speaking in just five years.

Booker’s 2020 presidential campaign released ten years of his tax returns on Wednesday afternoon. Among the numbers that jump off the page are the large profits he made off public speaking.

In 2009, the first year Booker made his returns available for, the senator reported $341,380 in profit off public speaking. He went on to report $195,510 in 2010, $406,304 in 2011, $347,594 in 2012, and $411,345 in 2013, which was both his first year filing as a member of the U.S. Senate and his most profitable.

There are no reported profits of public speaking in Booker’s five most recent returns. In total his available tax returns show $1,702,133 in income off public speaking.

Booker served as mayor of Newark, New Jersey from 2006 until his election, during which he was earning a six-figure salary from the city.

The now-available tax returns did not show where his lucrative speaking engagements were held, but some information on that can be gathered through his required Senate financial disclosures.

His earliest annual report, covering 2012, show a wide array of paid speeches universities such as New York University’s Stern School of Business, which paid him $24,500, and financial companies such as Jane Street Capital, which paid him $17,500. He also delivered a speech to Equality Virginia, a political group, for $27,500.

Booker is languishing in early polling of the crowded 2020 Democratic field, placing seventh in the latest RealClearPolitics average at 3.5 percent average support.

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