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Peter W. Smith, GOP Operative Who Sought Clinton’s Emails from Russian Hackers, Committed Suicide, Records Show

In a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, which includes a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.

Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it published stories about his efforts beginning in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump‘s campaign, as an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump’s national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia.

At the time, the newspaper reported Smith’s May 14 death came about 10 days after he granted the interview. Mystery shrouded how and where he had died, but the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.

However, the Chicago Tribune obtained a Minnesota state death record filed in Olmsted County that says Smith committed suicide in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic at 1:17 p.m. on Sunday, May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached. A medical examiner’s report gives the same account, without specifying the time, and a report from Rochester police further details his suicide.

In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.”

“Tomorrow is my last day,” Smith told a man at the hotel while he worked on a computer in the business center, printing documents between 8 and 9 p.m. on May 13, according to the police reports.

One of Smith’s former employees told the Tribune he thought the elderly man had gone to the famed clinic to be treated for a heart condition. Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo said Thursday she could not confirm Smith had been a patient, citing medical privacy laws.

The Journal stories said it was on Labor Day weekend in 2016 that Smith had assembled a team to acquire emails the team theorized might have been stolen from the private server Clinton had used while secretary of state. Smith’s focus was the more than 30,000 emails Clinton said she deleted because they related to personal matters. A huge cache of other Clinton emails were made public. Read the rest of this entry »

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SHOCKING! Political Media Earns Poor Marks From Americans 

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Cameron Easley  reports: As political journalists prepare to gather at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday to celebrate their work, a new Morning Consult poll is likely to make many of them cringe.

In the new poll, roughly half (51 percent) of Americans said the national political media “is out of touch with everyday Americans,” compared with 28 percent who said it “understand the issues everyday Americans are facing.”

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President Donald Trump, a frequent public antagonist of the press and the first president in 36 years to skip the confab, is also slightly more trusted than the national political media. Thirty-seven percent of Americans said they trusted Trump’s White House to tell the truth, while 29 percent opted for the media.

Only 38 percent said they have “a lot” or “some” trust in the media covering Trump’s White House fairly, compared with about half (52 percent) who said they didn’t have much or none at all. Almost half (48 percent) also said they thought the media has been harder on Trump than other past presidential administrations.

Partisanship was the main determining factor on how Americans felt about the state of national political reporting and analysis, with Republicans expressing much stronger misgivings about the media than Democrats.

Republicans (67 percent) were almost twice as likely as Democrats (36 percent) to say the media was out of touch with everyday Americans. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of Republicans also said they trust the White House more to tell the truth, compared with 54 percent of Democrats who backed the media. Read the rest of this entry »


Noted Media Expert Van Jones Calls Out Hollywood, Reality TV for Trump’s Rise, Says ‘SNL’ Should Air 24/7

Ericka Franklin reports: Thursday morning, the Montage in Beverly Hills became the stomping grounds for EMA as it kicked off its inaugural two-day Impact Summit.

“Look, Hollywood created ‘The West Wing.’ That opened the door for a President Obama to be taken seriously as a cerebral, high-integrity candidate. Hollywood also produced reality television, which lowered the bar for any kind of rational discussion or role models and that gave you Donald Trump.”

Along with the most environmentally conscious suited professionals, the event drew Malin AkermanLance Bass, and Van Jones who delivered a keynote, “Where We Went Wrong and How We Can Change the Future.”

“I think this town needs to take a lot more seriously the stories it’s telling. The same Hollywood liberals that cash all these checks from reality TV when they look in their bank account are now sad from looking at their TV every night.”

Before addressing the crowd, “The Messy Truth” host spoke with Variety to weigh in on the media’s impact on politics.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to find better ways to listen to each other,” he said. “People are now almost completely isolated from each other from a media point of view. The media is no longer just what happens on television. Algorithms that Twitter and Instagram and [others] use that suggest you follow this person and this person are killing us. They only suggest you follow people that are just like you. The algorithms never say maybe because you’ve followed a hundred liberals maybe you want to consider following one conservative. Nope. You follow one hundred liberals, they’ll let you follow a thousand, ten thousand, and a million liberals. You’ll never hear from somebody else.”

“We can’t recover from two things and the world can’t recover from two things. One is nuclear war and the other is runaway catastrophic climate change. Those two threats are now more present than they’ve ever been in the history of this country because of the president.”

Regarding the impact of commentary from late-night television and President Donald Trump’s administration, the former Obama administration advisor was all for the satirical jab saying, “I think ‘SNL’ should be a 24-hour, seven-day a week station.”

He also mused on how film and television run adjacent with the vote. “Look, Hollywood created ‘The West Wing.’ That opened the door for a President Obama to be taken seriously as a cerebral, high-integrity candidate. Hollywood also produced reality television, which lowered the bar for any kind of rational discussion or role models and that gave you Donald Trump. I think this town needs to take a lot more seriously the stories it’s telling. Read the rest of this entry »


YOU’RE FIRED: Obama Holdover Sally Yates, AG Who Ordered Justice Deptartment Not to Defend President’s Travel Ban, Fired

Sally Yates, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. March 24, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

‘It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws’

Matt ZapotoskySari Horwitz and Mark Berman reports: President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

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“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday. The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions. More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.

What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Aren’t So Sure About Donald Trump, But They Love Ivanka 

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Japan is warily welcoming Donald Trump as the US president, wondering what his administration will mean for their security alliance and already seeing what it means for their trade relationship.

But there are no such mixed feelings about Trump’s eldest daughter: Ivanka Trump is widely revered as the perfect woman here.

“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle.”

— Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram

Among some Japanese women, Ivanka Trump is seen as an aspirational figure who has combined motherhood and career while managing to look perfectly put-together all the time (although her glamorous Instagram photos never show the retinues of nannies and assistants and hairdressers that answer the question of “how does she do it all?”).

Japan remains a highly patriarchal society, where men spend long hours at the office and women are often expected to give up their jobs after getting married or having babies.

“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much.”

— Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.

But Trump offers an example of how to be strong but not scary, said Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.

“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much,” Shinzato, who blogs about Ivanka Trump’s fashion and lifestyle, told the Japan Times.

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“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”

As a result, the Trump daughter has quite a following here. The Japanese internet was abuzz after the election at a tabloid report that Trump might be the next American ambassador to Japan, and she won Japanese fans when she posted a video of her daughter, Arabella Rose, performing the song “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” by the Japanese comedian known as Pikotaro.

Japanese women gush about her on social media.

“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle,” wrote Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram.

“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower.”

— Mari Maeda, on Twitter

On Twitter, news announcer Mari Maeda posted a photo of Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower,” Maeda wrote.

“What a figure she has even after having three children. So frank and cute! Her jewelry brand is popular but some fans say they want her to become the president because of her intelligence and beauty.” Read the rest of this entry »


New York Times Horrified Trump Wants To End ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ 

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‘Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists…’

Peter Hasson reports: The New York Times’ editorial board took a stand Thursday against President Donald Trump’s vow to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth.

“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law.”

The Times’ editors worried that Trump’s approach to fighting radical Islamic terrorism — which they referred to with scare quotes — is “more likely to further inflame anti-American sentiment around the world than to make the United States safer.”

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“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law,” they wrote. Read the rest of this entry »


John Fund & Hans von Spakovsky: Why Trump’s Probe of Voter Fraud Long Overdue: Obama Has Hid the Data for 8 Years


Japanese Women See Aspirational Qualities in ‘De Facto First Lady’ Ivanka Trump

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Ayako Mie reports: Miyu Toyonaga was thrilled when she discovered who had visited her Instagram account last April. It was Ivanka Trump, her fashion icon, and she had liked a photo of Toyonaga with a leather clutch purse from Ivanka’s namesake brand.

“In a way I aspire to be like her. I would like to keep working even after I have a baby and have the option of living overseas.”

— 2012 Miss World Supermodel Japan

The 32-year-old Toyonaga, who works at the Tokyo office of an Australian commercial real estate firm, said she was struck by the elegant style and successful career of the model-turned-business executive when she first saw her Instagram pictures two or three years ago.

“In a way I aspire to be like her,” said the 2012 Miss World Supermodel Japan, who is preparing to set up a fashion e-commerce site like Ivanka. “I would like to keep working even after I have a baby and have the option of living overseas.”

Toyonaga’s views are unlikely to be embraced by those Americans still depressed about the stunning victory of her father, Donald Trump, in the U.S. presidential election in November.

Less than two weeks before he takes office, Ivanka has come under fire for her political ambitions and influence over the president-elect.

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“It goes without saying that she is very beautiful. But at the same time, she is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting…men too much. That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”

–Shinzato, who has been introducing Ivanka’s fashion and overall lifestyle on her blog and an online publication called 4yuuu!

Donald Trump’s favorite child is also rumored to be replacing her media-shy stepmother, Melania, as a de facto first lady, as the former Slovenian fashion model stays in New York while her husband moves into the White House this month.

But some 10,800 km away from her glamorous Upper East Side apartment, Ivanka might find more supporters like Toyonaga.

[read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

For some Japanese women who struggle to juggle demanding jobs as working professionals, mothers and wives, America’s next “first daughter” might offer her own “Ivanka-ism” or post-feminist wisdom on how to survive in a male-oriented society.

The suave fashion entrepreneur appears to have mastered a successful career and picture-perfect family life with a millionaire husband and three children, without launching an all-out feminist war against what her father represents — a white, male-dominated, capitalist system.

Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old girl, said she believed Ivanka was the opposite of failed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has often antagonized men in her efforts to climb the corporate and political ladder.

It was clear from her Instagram pictures, Shinzato said, that Instagram-savvy Ivanka marketed her image as a daughter, wife and mother, while finding success in her career.

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“It goes without saying that she is very beautiful,” said Shinzato, who has been introducing Ivanka’s fashion and overall lifestyle on her blog and an online publication called 4yuuu!

“But at the same time, she is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting . . . men too much.

“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”

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Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for tapping more female talent, the environment for female working professionals has not improved significantly in Japan.

There remains a massive shortage of nurseries, and incidents of pregnant women being harassed in the workplace still surface. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Press Itching to Attack Trump and ‘Can’t Take a Month or Two Off’ 

Responding to Donald Trump’s statement in support of Jeff Sessions, Charles Krauthammer said that it’s hard to tell what the president-elect is thinking, and that the media is foolish to criticize him this early.

Media members gather in the parking lot at the National Cryptologic Museum at Fort Meade near the scene of a fatal shooting on Monday. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

 

 


[VIDEO] Media Critic Mollie Hemingway Puts a Spell On CNN’s Brian Stelter

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The Media Needs To Wake Up And Get Its Credibility Back

‘The really alarming thing is that a lot of people in the media aren’t listening…the media need to wake up because it’s actually a very important time to get our credibility back…’

Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway joined CNN‘s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday to talk about what the media got wrong and how to make amends.

“They’re deciding to quadruple down on everything they got wrong, disparaging people who they don’t understand, don’t even seek to understand, and continuing to avoid dealing with the fundamentals of this race.”

Mollie Hemingway Basically Sets CNN on Fire

Ace writes:

…A little background: Brian Stelter, who is supposedly CNN’s “media critic,” does nothing but criticize those who criticize the media, suggesting they’re dangerously undermining a key part of democracy….(read more)

…CNN should just officially change his title to Official Establishment Media Defender. I’ve never seen him say anything about the media except it’s awesome and anyone who disagrees is a liar….But he did have on Mollie Hemingway, who told him, essentially, “I refuse.”

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“Maybe what you need to realize is that for a lot of people who don’t share your political opinions, that’s what it feels like. What you’re going through right now is what it felt like for the last eight years.”

Read the rest of this entry »