Home News Maria Butina, Planned Parenthood, Chief of Staff: 3 Stories You Should Read 12/10/2018

Maria Butina, Planned Parenthood, Chief of Staff: 3 Stories You Should Read 12/10/2018

by Confluence
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In the category of:  Not so shocking but still really important.

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina poised to plead guilty in the case involving suspected Kremlin attempts to influence NRA

Prosecutors said her goal was to advance the foreign policy aims of the Kremlin and that she was acting at the direction of a Russian government official, Alexander Torshin, a former senator who now serves as deputy director of the Russian central bank.

Butina has been jailed for nearly five months since her July arrest. In that time, her case had been embraced by the Russian government, which had vigorously protested that she was an innocent student whose incarceration was unjust. With the plea deal, Butina could be released in coming months and deported to Russia.

Butina was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, rather than special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — an indication that Mueller may have determined that her activities did not directly connect to his investigation, which involves scrutinizing any links between Russia and President Trump’s campaign.



In the category of:  Thank Goddess for the Courts.

Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood in funding fight

The Supreme Court Monday rebuffed efforts by states to block funding to Planned Parenthood.

It left in place two lower court opinions that said that states violate federal law when they terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood affiliates who offer preventive care for low-income women.
It would have taken four justices to agree to hear the issue, and only three conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — voted to hear the case.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared to side with the court’s liberals in not taking up the case — showing an effort to avoid high-profile abortion-related issues for now.
Roberts and Kavanaugh “likely have serious objections,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “But such votes seem to be a signal that they would rather avoid contentious, high-profile disputes for now, at least where possible.”
At issue is not whether states can provide federal funding for abortion. Instead, the case concerned whether they can block Medicaid funds from offices that provide such women with annual health screens, contraceptive coverage and cancer screening.


In the category of:  No one wants to go to jail.

Trump is having a tough time finding his next chief of staff

With John Kelly’s exit and Nick Ayers out, there’s no obvious candidate for the job.

Nick Ayers, who is currently Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, was reportedly whom Trump had in mind for the job, but the 36-year-old operative is apparently out of the running. He tweeted on Sunday that he would be leaving the White House at the end of the year.

That leaves onlookers — and, apparently, many in the White House — with a big question: If not Ayers to replace Kelly, then who? It’s not clear anyone, including the president, has any obvious answers.

There are a number of names in the mix, though none is the obvious frontrunner: House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, according to the New York Times. The Times reports former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie have also been mentioned. According to Politico, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is also in the running.

But of those names, it’s not clear who actually wants the job.


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