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Those you associate with contaminate you, as the Dutch saying goes. Trump's pettiness is rubbing of on MoscowMitch.

McConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war'


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies are embracing a fight with the media and Twitter that has struck a nerve among Republicans. 

Taking fierce criticism over election security, a series of campaign imbroglios and the GOP leader’s response to two mass shootings, the normally tightlipped McConnell and his team have repeatedly punched back at what they view as unfair coverage and leaned into a fight with the social media giant. 

Those tensions, which had been simmering for weeks, erupted on Thursday after the McConnell campaign found itself locked out of Twitter after it shared a video of protestors outside the GOP leader’s House, with one woman overheard saying someone should “just stab the motherf----r in the heart.” 

Instead of backing down, and regaining access to the social media platform, the campaign has dug in, arguing the decision is the latest example of what conservatives see as double standards practiced by the tech giant and media. 

“We firmly believe that if a platform allows #massacremitch to trend but locks our account because we posted threats made against him, there is something deeply wrong with that platform,” Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager, said on Thursday as the standoff stretched into its second day. 

McConnell described himself he in a “major war” with Twitter, accusing them of “selective enforcement” of their rules. 

“The point that we wanted to make is Twitter is perfectly fine with carrying Massacre Mitch, which is obviously an invitation to violence, but when those kinds of words are directed at me they shut us down,” McConnell said during an interview with WHAS, a Kentucky radio station. 

McConnell’s campaign says it shared the video as a way to highlight threats against the GOP leader, who has been at his home in Kentucky recovering after he broke his shoulder on Sunday. 

Twitter says it locked the account because the tweet “violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety.”

Twitter’s guidelines say that users may not post content on the platform featuring violent threats, and it does not lay out how to deal with context such as posting the video for the purposes of highlighting those threats. The company also says that any glorification of violence violates its policies. 

McConnell’s campaign says they appealed the move, but Twitter stuck by its decision.

The back-and-forth comes as McConnell and his allies have engaged in a back-to-back string of scuffles with the media in recent weeks as they’ve batted down campaign criticism and calls for the GOP leader to act on election security ahead of 2020 and gun legislation after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. 

In an unusually fiery speech from the Senate floor late last month, McConnell called out MSNBC and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who called him a “Russian asset,” by name, calling the rhetoric a “shameful smear and based on more lies.” 

“These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They are lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed,” he said during the roughly 30-minute speech. 

Since then his staff and allies have tussled with reporters and took issue with coverage of the GOP leader over social media. 

After a tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) showing a group of young men in “Team Mitch” shirts “groping [and] choking” a cut-out of the freshman lawmaker, McConnell’s campaign fired back that the men were not campaign staff. 

“They’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country,” Golden said.

Meanwhile, Josh Holmes, McConnell’s former chief of staff and a long-time advisor, got in a back-and-forth this week with an NBC News reporter after he criticized the Washington Post. David Popp, McConnell’s spokesman, thanked Milbank late last week for reaching out on a follow up column but said “the premise is rotten garbage.” 

Democrats believe the pushback over the election security criticism shows that they are getting to the GOP leader, with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicting McConnell would bring a bill up for a vote later this year. 

“We're forcing his hand and as I think you've seen by his reaction it’s having some success. Because he knows stymieing it is not good for America and not good for the Republican Party and frankly not very good for him,” Schumer told reporters during a press conference. 

But it’s the fight with Twitter that seems to have struck a chord with Republicans, with large segments of the party rallying to McConnell’s defense. 

“Twitter: Can you tell us that there is no double standard at play here?  If there isn’t, I’d really like to know,” asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a libertarian minded senator who has at times been at odds with McConnell. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who called McConnell a liar on the Senate floor, also came to his defense, tweeting that “this is unbelievable even for Twitter.” 

Several Republican groups, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned outside group, each said they would stop spending with Twitter until the social media giant reversed its decision. 

“We will stand firmly with our friends against anti-conservative bias,” said Parker Hamilton Poling, the executive director of the NRCC.

Republicans have increasingly battled the country’s largest tech companies, which they claim routinely censor right-wing voices. Critics have insisted there is little evidence to substantiate those claims beyond individual anecdotes

“This shows you the political tilt, the left-wing tilt, of these big companies,” McConnell added on Thursday. “And how they try to suppress speech when it’s inconvenient.”  


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Somebody needs to knock him in the head and explain that Scrooge pre-ghost visits was never meant to be an aspirational role model.  $600 is essentially one extra paycheck for many people. That's

This came across my FB feed.  I heard he hates the name - so I'm all for it!  

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This is going to hurt me way more than it hurts you.


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Miracles haven't left the world yet*

GOP Group Runs Ad In Mitch McConnell's Home State Slamming Him For Blocking Election Security Bills


An organization comprised of life-long Republicans unveiled a new TV ad Thursday morning, taking aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for recently blocking election security bills as officials continue to warn about ongoing Russian efforts to subvert U.S. elections.

The minute-long video, created by Republicans for the Rule of Law, comes as Democrats have blasted McConnell and other Senate Republicans for blocking votes on various House-passed measures that would, among other things, provide additional federal funding to states and would require post-election audits, back-up paper ballots and the notification of federal authorities about any offers from foreign entities to help a campaign, candidate or family member of a candidate. It will air on viewers' screens in Washington, D.C., and in the Republican's home state of Kentucky.

"We can't count on Trump for election security," the group's director and longtime Trump opponent Bill Kristol wrote on Twitter. "And Mitch McConnell is blocking the Senate from even considering bipartisan election security legislation. Enough."

The ad begins by highlighting McConnell's move last month to block a vote on two election security bills that Democrats tried to force a unanimous consent vote on.

"The facts are that this administration has made the strides on election security and are vigilant and proactive as we head into 2020," McConnell said on the Senate floor at the time, comments which are included in the ad.

The video goes on to question if Americans can "trust" Trump to tackle election security, featuring the following clips: Trump's decision to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit to say he believed Putin's denial that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections; a clip from an ABC News interview, where Trump said he would accept damaging information on a political opponent from Russia; and his denial of former special counsel Robert Mueller's claim that Russia is trying to interfere "as we sit here."

"You don't really believe," Trump said to reporters at the time when asked whether he raised the topic of Russian election interference with Putin in a recent meeting. "Do you believe this?"

The ad ends by urging viewers to "call Senator McConnell and tell him: America is relying on you to let Congress do its job and secure our elections."

McConnell's office did not respond for comment.

Kristol, along with other Republicans, founded Republicans for the Rule of Law, which is "dedicated to defending the institutions of our republic and upholding the rule of law. We are fighting to make sure that the laws apply equally to everyone, from the average citizen to the president of the United States. We believe in fidelity to the Constitution, transparency, and the independence of prosecutors from politics."

The group has criticized the president on a variety of issues and has also created ads that highlight the damning information laid out in the Mueller report and why Trump should be impeached.

Matt Whitlock, a senior advisor at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is the campaign arm for Senate Republicans, ridiculed Democrats' claims that the election security bills were bipartisan. One of the bills, Securing America's Federal Elections Act, only received the support of a single House Republican: Representative Brian Mast of Florida.

"The House's 'election security bills' were hardly bipartisan. You don't have to accept every Democrat talking point at face value, Bill," Whitlock wrote on Twitter. Whitlock was unable to be reached for further comment.

McConnell has since railed against the pieces of legislation as "highly partisan" and measures that came from the "same folks who hyped up a conspiracy theory" about Trump-Russia collusion, a strong statement that McConnell had no intent on even debating the bills. He's since been given the nickname "Moscow Mitch" by his critics, of which he blasted in a floor speech as "lying" and partaking in "modern-day McCarthyism."

"Leader McConnell's Senate has been a big, black hole," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters last week as the chamber embarked on August recess. "There has not been a single bill open for amendment all year — not one bill."

The New York Democrat expressed optimism about pressuring McConnell and Senate Republicans to act on election security legislation once they return this fall, but it was clear he wasn't going to hold his breath.

"I don't think Leader McConnell will change his behavior overnight," Schumer said.


*yep, another one of my Dutch sayings

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I know it's satire, but it's actually true:


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#MoscowMitch indeed: "How a McConnell-backed effort to lift Russian sanctions boosted a Kentucky project"


In January, as the Senate debated whether to permit the Trump administration to lift sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum producer, two men with millions of dollars riding on the outcome met for dinner at a restaurant in Zurich.

On one side of the table sat the head of sales for Rusal, the Russian aluminum producer that would benefit most immediately from a favorable Senate vote. The U.S. government had sanctioned Rusal as part of a campaign to punish Russia for “malign activity around the globe,” including attempts to sway the 2016 presidential election.

On the other side sat Craig Bouchard, an American entrepreneur who had gained favor with officials in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bouchard was trying to build the first new aluminum-rolling mill in the United States in nearly four decades, in a corner of northeastern Kentucky ravaged by job losses and the opioid epidemic — a project that stood to benefit enormously if Rusal were able to get involved.

The men did not discuss the Senate debate that night at dinner, Bouchard said in an interview, describing it as an amicable introductory chat.

But the timing of their meeting shows how much a major venture in McConnell’s home state had riding on the Democratic-backed effort in January to keep sanctions in place.

By the next day, McConnell had successfully blocked the bill, despite the defection of 11 Republicans.

Within weeks, the U.S. government had formally lifted sanctions on Rusal, citing a deal with the company that reduced the ownership interest of its Kremlin-linked founder, Oleg Deripaska. And three months later, Rusal announced plans for an extraordinary partnership with Bouchard’s company, providing $200 million in capital to buy a 40 percent stake in the new aluminum plant in Ashland, Ky. — a project heralded by Gov. Matt Bevin (R) “as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky.”

A spokesman for McConnell said the majority leader did not know that Bouchard had hopes of a deal with Rusal at the time McConnell led the Senate effort to end the sanctions, citing the recommendation of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

McConnell “was not aware of any potential Russian investor before the vote,” spokesman David Popp said.

Bouchard said no one from his company, Braidy Industries, told anyone in the U.S. government that lifting sanctions could help advance the project. Rusal’s parent company, EN+, said in a statement that the Kentucky project played no role in the company’s vigorous lobbying campaign to persuade U.S. officials to do away with sanctions.

But critics said the timing is disturbing.

“It is shocking how blatantly transactional this arrangement looks,” said Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration and now teaches at Stanford University.

Democratic senators have called for a government review of the deal, prompting a Rusal executive in Moscow last week to threaten to pull out of the investment.

The Rusal-backed project is one of several issues fueling broader scrutiny of McConnell’s posture toward Russia and its efforts to manipulate American voters.

In 2016, McConnell privately expressed skepticism about the intelligence reports on Russia’s activities in the election and resisted a push by the Obama administration to issue a bipartisan statement condemning the Kremlin. Last month, he blocked consideration of election security bills that have bipartisan support, despite warnings from the FBI and the intelligence community about the risks of foreign interference in the 2020 election.

Democrats have accused McConnell of being unwilling to stand up to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, taunting him with the moniker “Moscow Mitch.” The critique has drawn an angry response from the usually understated majority leader.

“I was called unpatriotic, ‘un-American’ and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of boldfaced lies,” McConnell said late last month. “I was accused of ‘aiding and abetting’ the very man I’ve singled out as our adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years: Vladimir Putin.”

A McConnell aide declined Tuesday to discuss discussions that occurred in a classified setting in 2016, but noted that the senator signed a bipartisan letter that fall requested by the Obama administration that warned state election officials about the risks of cyberattacks and urged them to be especially vigilant as Election Day approached.

McConnell has said since then that he supports efforts to improve election security and has budgeted more money for the effort, but does not agree with proposals that would give federal control over election issues that traditionally have been handled by states.

The controversy shows how Russia’s surreptitious 2016 activities, rather than unite U.S. officials, have left Democrats and Republicans bitterly divided — and have triggered heated debate about Russian investments in American businesses.

“You just can’t be so picky,” said Bouchard, who sold a Midwestern steel company he previously owned to another Russian firm. He now says politics shouldn’t get in the way of a good deal for Kentucky: “Whoever is going to help us go in and rebuild this place that’s been decimated, we just welcome it, with open arms.”

But in Kentucky, some leaders are questioning the wisdom of partnering with a Russian company recently punished by the U.S. government.

“Rusal is not okay,” said Kelly Flood, a Democratic state legislator from Lexington who said she regrets a 2017 vote to invest $15 million of state taxpayer money in the project. “It’s not okay that we’re turning to Deripaska, given the damage he’s done to our democracy. . . . Rusal’s reputation is now ours.”

A lawyer for Deripaska did not respond to a request for comment. He has denied being beholden to the Kremlin.

“While I realize I’ve involuntarily become a lightning rod for the anger some Americans have about the elections result, they need to look elsewhere for a scapegoat,” Deripaska told The Washington Post in February. “I am nobody’s man, in Russia, the U.S. or anywhere else, for that matter.”

A promise for Appalachia

In Ashland, a city of 22,000 wedged along Kentucky’s border with West Virginia and Ohio, there has been enthusiasm for the Braidy Industries project, a venture the company says will bring as many as 650 new high-paying jobs to a region hit hard by the impending closure of a major steel mill and the decline of coal mining.

Bouchard said the idea for the mill was his brainstorm: a new environmentally friendly, low-cost, nonunion facility that will roll sheets of lightweight aluminum that are increasingly in demand to build cars and airplanes.

He said he was leaning toward building the mill in Indiana until an hours-long meeting with Bevin in March 2017 persuaded him to give Kentucky a closer look.

Bevin got the state legislature to agree in the waning hours of their 2017 annual session to make a $15 million equity investment in the Braidy project.

“That’s skin in the game, and that means the state is behind you,” Bouchard said.

Flood said lawmakers were informed of the governor’s proposal at 9 one night as they raced to meet a midnight deadline. She said lawmakers were told only that the appropriation was needed to create jobs in hard-hit Appalachia, but not how the money would be invested. The bill passed unanimously.

Bevin, who in his bid for reelection is blasting Democrats as socialists, has fielded criticism that he steered the government to buy stock in a private company.

“This is a handout. This is a giveaway,” said Jim Watson of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Positions, a free-market think tank. He said he understood the desire to create jobs in a hard-hit region; some impact studies show the mill could indirectly result in thousands of new jobs. But, Watson added, “I think the excitement of that overrode some of the due diligence.”

A spokeswoman for Bevin did not respond to a request for comment. State officials have said the investment will make Kentucky more competitive to attract high-wage, high-tech jobs in the future.

In a 2017 radio interview, Bevin said he thought the Braidy project would be “transformative.”

“That’s going to be one of the best investments the state has ever made,” he said.

Early on, the Kentucky project apparently caught the attention of Rusal, which is the world’s second-largest aluminum producer.

A top Rusal executive told Bloomberg News in an interview in June that the project was “discussed long before Rusal was sanctioned.”

“We just had to put the talks on hold after sanctions,” he added.

An EN+ spokeswoman said the early conversations about the Kentucky project were all internal. She declined to comment further.

Bouchard said he was talking to other possible investors for the project from the time the company first announced it would build in Kentucky in 2017. But he insisted they did not include Rusal — and said that a partnership with the Russian company was not even on his radar when the Treasury Department announced sanctions about a year later, in April 2018.

“Not even a thought,” he said.

The sanctions allowed the government to freeze any Rusal assets in the United States and made it illegal for Americans to do business with the company.

At a groundbreaking for the mill a couple of months after the sanctions were announced, Bouchard and other speakers emphasized that the project would produce American-made aluminum sheets.

“This is what hope feels like,” Bevin said at the event, according to a video posted online, adding, “We are Kentucky.”

But Bouchard said he encountered an unexpected problem: with aluminum ore in short supply, he was having trouble finding smelters with the capacity to produce enough raw material for his plant. He said he traveled the world, meeting with Rusal’s competitors, but was only able to find 60,000 tons of raw aluminum to purchase. He needed more.

In late December, he said an aluminum industry consultant alerted him to a new low-carbon smelter that Rusal was building in Siberia. Bouchard said he quickly concluded that the Rusal plant, set to open in 2021, could produce the aluminum Braidy needed.

At that point, he said he became convinced that a partnership with Rusal would be a dream deal, providing his company with much-needed capital and access to raw aluminum. But sanctions, he said, stood in the way.

Bouchard said he contacted his lawyers for advice. They were clear: He could talk to Rusal, but he could not legally conduct negotiations with the company while sanctions were in place.

That same month, Treasury announced plans to lift sanctions on Rusal. But Congress still had a chance to block the move.

Bouchard said that by the time of his January meeting with the Rusal executive in Zurich, he knew the sanctions could be ending. Still, he said, he thought the final decision could be months or years away.

On the night of his dinner in Zurich, which was first reported by Time magazine, the outcome of the sanctions debate remained uncertain, with some Republicans expressing concerns about the plan.

Over the meal, Bouchard said he told his Rusal counterpart, “Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen with sanctions. . . . I don’t know if it’s a month or 10 years, but if the day comes and sanctions go away, I’d love to meet again.”

EN+ declined to comment on the dinner.

Rolling back sanctions

In April 2018, after the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England, the United States imposed sanctions on some Russian entities, including Deripaska and his companies. “Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006, published by WikiLeaks, referred to Deripaska — who founded Rusal and had financial ties to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s now-jailed former campaign chairman— as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.”

In announcing the new sanctions, Treasury noted that Deripaska had been investigated for money laundering and accused of “threatening the lives of business rivals” and having ties to organized crime. The U.S. government has not accused Deripaska of personal involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Deripaska sued the U.S. government earlier this year, alleging that the sanctions relied on “false rumors and innuendo and originate from decades-old defamatory attacks by Deripaska’s business competitors” and have led to the “utter devastation” of his reputation and economic well-being. He told CNBC in March that he thought the sanctions represented the “weaponizing of the financial system” and that they crushed “all concept of presumption of innocence and fair process.”

The sanctions caused Rusal’s stock price to plummet and disrupted the international aluminum market, drawing complaints from some U.S. trading partners.

In December, Mnuchin said the Trump administration was prepared to lift sanctions imposed on Deripaska’s companies, while keeping sanctions on Deripaska personally, to restore order to the international aluminum market.

He said that Deripaska had agreed as part of the deal to reduce his ownership stake in the firms he once controlled.

“These entities are undergoing significant restructuring and governance changes that sever Deripaska’s control and significantly diminish his ownership,” Mnuchin said in the statement. “If these companies fail to comply with the terms, they will face very real and swift consequences.”

Members of Congress were skeptical.

“There are too many open questions about whether Deripaska will still control the companies,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in January. “With the threat that Russia poses to the United States, to our friends and allies, to democracy around the world, Congress cannot just look the other way when the administration rushes a decision like this.”

With strong Republican support, the House on Jan. 14 overwhelmingly rejected the administration plan to lift sanctions, 362 to 53.

But the effort failed in the Senate, thanks in part to McConnell and strong lobbying efforts.

The effort to lift sanctions was led by Lord Gregory Barker, the new British chief executive of EN+, and included former senator David Vitter of Louisiana, now a lobbyist at Mercury Public Affairs, according to public lobbying records.

Vitter and Mercury warned that failure to lift Rusal sanctions would “open the Trump administration up to criticism for harming U.S. manufacturers and consumers,” according to lobbying records. Vitter was spotted in McConnell’s office days before the vote.

Michael Crittenden, a spokesman for Mercury, said the Braidy project “categorically” did not figure into the firm’s sanctions lobbying. He declined to comment on whether anyone at Mercury knew there was a possibility that Rusal might invest in the project if sanctions were lifted, citing a company policy about not commenting on client matters.

Just before the vote, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned the Senate that providing sanctions relief “gives Vladimir Putin exactly what he wants” at a time that “Russia continues to run rampant over international norms, to meddle in democratic elections, and to destabilize the world.”

McConnell called Schumer’s resolution “a political stunt.” And he rejected claims that he or others in the GOP were soft on Putin.

“We Republicans are hardly strangers to the need for strong policies concerning Russia,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “We have long seen Vladimir Putin for the KGB thug that he is.”

At McConnell’s urging, the measure was defeated on Jan. 16, falling three votes short of the required three-fifths majority needed to overcome a threatened filibuster.

oining in opposition was Kentucky’s junior GOP senator, Rand Paul.

A spokesman for Paul said the senator was unaware of the prospect of a major Rusal investment in Kentucky at the time and said he voted against the measure because he opposes sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea as a matter of principle.

“We were not involved, consulted or aware of any investment discussions with any foreign entity” before the sanctions vote, said Kelsey Cooper, Paul’s communications director.

Similarly, McConnell said he was not motivated by any Kentucky interests.

“It was completely unrelated to anything that might happen in my home state,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol in May. “A number of us supported the administration. . . . And that’s — that was how I voted — the reason I vote the way I did.”

A new partnership

Less than two weeks after that January vote, Treasury announced that it had accepted Rusal’s plans to limit Deripaska’s control over the company and removed sanctions.

Four weeks later, Rusal executives were in Ashland, touring Braidy’s mill site. By April, the new partnership was announced. As part of the deal, Barker, the British head of Rusal’s holding company, will become co-chairman of Braidy Atlas, the company that will operate the mill.

Bouchard, who said he had watched the Senate sanctions vote live on television, was thrilled.

“For me, to this day, this is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to northeast Kentucky — Rusal saying yes to our deal,” Bouchard said. “Particularly if you think about Appalachia and what’s happened there — you know, those people today are jumping up and down and welcoming them, Rusal, because they’re helping rebuild the community.”

With sanctions lifted, EN+ is “exploring and acting on strategically expanding our global partnership and opportunities, including in the United States,” the company said in a statement.

EN+ is “the only global producer capable” of supplying Braidy with the low-carbon aluminum it had been seeking, and a result, “the whole project would not have been possible without Rusal’s investment,” the company said.

Despite the 2018 groundbreaking, Bouchard agreed that getting the mill open would have been difficult without Rusal. “It would have imposed upon us a real challenge that would have been tough,” he said.

Braidy is gathering additional investors and hopes to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. The firm plans to begin producing aluminum sheets by September 2021.

In Ashland, Braidy has opened a headquarters in a downtown office building, but it has not yet begun building on its site, city officials said.

And some lawmakers are voicing concern about Rusal’s role, including Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), a McConnell ally who has clashed with Bevin and criticized state investment in a project whose prospects he said appear uncertain.

“I hope we can get some jobs there. But it’s not looking real good for this business,” Comer said in a television interview in April. “I would have not taken the Russian money if I was a start-up.”

On Friday, the chief financial officer of Rusal said during an earnings call reported by Bloomberg News that the company could pull out of the project if U.S. officials continue applying pressure on the company.

The comment was an apparent reference to recent efforts by Democratic senators, led by Ron Wyden of Oregon, to secure a review of the Kentucky deal from the U.S. government agency charged with examining national security implications of foreign investments.

Barker issued a statement from London, saying Rusal’s parent company “remains committed” to the project. Bouchard, in a separate statement, blamed the media for “taking an active role in trying to undermine” a project that could create many jobs.

Wyden rejected such complaints, saying he and several Senate colleagues were pushing ahead on a request for a review of the Russian investment.

“The national security of the United States is more important than the preferences of a Russian company,” Wyden said Sunday in a statement. “I’m not going to let up because Rusal finds oversight inconvenient.”


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On 8/14/2019 at 8:41 AM, GreyhoundFan said:

Just another example of blatant corruption.  I say blatant because it's right there in the open, totally obvious, in our faces.  

In Kentucky, I hope everyone doubles down on the  #moscowmitch handle in political advertising, and why they are doing so.  That said, I wonder how much aluminum production figures into the state economy. I recall that an ex from the distant past worked for Alcoa in Kentucky and the work paid well. 

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Isn't #MoscowMitch lucky that he can afford it?

McConnell undergoes surgery to repair shoulder fracture


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell underwent successful surgery to repair a fracture in his shoulder — an injury he suffered when he fell at his Kentucky home earlier this month.

The surgery occurred Thursday in his hometown of Louisville, a McConnell spokesman said Friday. "The surgery was performed without incident, and the Leader is grateful to the surgical team for their skill," McConnell spokesman David Popp said in a brief statement.

McConnell's staff did not immediately respond to an email seeking additional details about the procedure.

The six-term senator fractured his shoulder when he tripped on his home's patio during the first weekend of August. He was treated that day and released.

The day before his injury, McConnell attended the Fancy Farm picnic — Kentucky's premier political event — where he and many other of the state's political leaders gave stump-style speeches before a raucous crowd. The 77-year-old McConnell has been working from home since his injury, his staff has said. His recovery comes while Congress is on its August recess. The surgery will prevent the senator from attending a Kentucky Republican dinner in Lexington on Saturday, his staff said.

McConnell is a key congressional ally for President Donald Trump and is running for another term next year in Kentucky.

May his recovery be as painful and protracted as his corruption is deep.

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1 hour ago, fraurosena said:

Isn't #MoscowMitch lucky that he can afford it?

Yes, he has good insurance. He just wants to take insurance away from everyone else.

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Very interesting thread that discovers a possible and quite plausible reason for #MoscowMitch.

[17 tweets in all -- 18 now, he's still tweeting as I post; no unroll available yet]


Edited by fraurosena
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I hope Amy can crush #MoscowMitch:


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This person may be on to something. The thread gets a little technical at times, but you can get the gist of it anyway. I don’t think it’s fear of a scandal that has MoscowMitch jumping through hoops, but rather that the Russians have kompromat because of this.


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This just chaps my hide. #MoscowMitch needs to go. "McConnell to Supreme Court: We won’t let Dems 'pack the court'"


Mitch McConnell is at war with Senate Democrats over the Supreme Court all over again.

The Senate majority leader and his 52 GOP colleagues sent a letter to the Supreme Court on Thursday pushing back against a Democratic amicus brief urging the court not to take up “political ‘projects” like a new challenge to New York City’s gun laws.

Led by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, five Democratic senators argued earlier this month that the case was part of a drive to install a conservative majority on the court and strike down gun laws. The Democrats closed their letter by suggesting that voters may eventually demand the Supreme Court be “restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics” if it continues on its current course.

McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Senate GOP said the effort “openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the [New York] petition as moot.”

“The implication is as plain as day: Dismiss this case, or we’ll pack the court,” the Republicans wrote in the letter, first reported by the Washington Post, adding that they would fight against any restructuring plans.

“We share Justice Ginsburg’s view that ‘nine seems to be a good number,’ they said. “And it will remain that way as long as we are here.”

The letter to the court is the latest turn in the battle between McConnell and the Democratic minority over the fate of the Supreme Court.

McConnell blocked President Barack Obama from filling a vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, then confirmed President Donald Trump’s replacement Neil Gorsuch a year later after eliminating the filibuster for the Supreme Court nominees.

Last year, McConnell pushed through the controversial confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual assault. Kavanaugh is widely viewed as more conservative than his predecessor, Anthony Kennedy. McConnell has also said he would consider filling any vacancies ahead of the 2020 election as well, despite having blocked Obama’s pick in an election year.

Citing polling data showing concern about the Supreme Court being infused with politics, the rising influence of the conservative Federalist Society and the spate of 5-4 decisions on charged issues, the Democrats argued that “the Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it.”

Whitehouse’s brief was joined by Democratic Sens Dick Durbin of Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

The 53-member Senate Republican majority — from moderates like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to conservatives like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul — agreed that “judicial independence is under assault,” but not from the right.

“Democrats in Congress, and on the presidential campaign trail, have peddled plans to pack this court with more justices in order to further their radical legislative agenda,” the senators wrote. “The Democrats’ amicus brief demonstrates that their court-packing plans are more than mere pandering. They are a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rights of all Americans.”


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Didn’t he say that if Hillary had been elected, he’d block all of her nominees?

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1 hour ago, smittykins said:

Didn’t he say that if Hillary had been elected, he’d block all of her nominees?

Just like he blocked Obama's.

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A good one from Dana Milbank: "A new nickname for McConnell: ‘Muzzle Mitch’"


Sticks and stones may break his bones, but poor Mitch McConnell thinks words hurt him, too.

The Senate majority leader is distressed that people are calling him names. First there was “Moscow Mitch” (because he refuses to do anything significant to stop Russian interference in U.S. elections), and then there was “Massacre Mitch” and even “Murder Turtle” (because he refuses to take up gun-violence legislation despite massacre after massacre). At the risk of hurting the Kentucky Republican’s tender feelings still further, I suggest another moniker: Muzzle Mitch.

McConnell, who styles himself a champion of free speech, has lately not been such a fan of free speech directed against him. The psychological boo-boos done to his thin skin have stirred him to hypocrisy.

On radio host (and Post contributor) Hugh Hewitt’s show this week, McConnell renewed his complaint that calling him Moscow Mitch is unacceptable — “modern-day McCarthyism,” he said. “You know, I can laugh about things like the Grim Reaper, but calling me Moscow Mitch is over the top.”

Oh? McCarthyism, by definition, is a type of defamation using indiscriminate allegations based on unsubstantiated charges. But the allegations underlying Moscow Mitch are specific and well-substantiated. He has blocked virtually every meaningful bill to prevent a repeat of Russia’s 2016 election interference. He led the effort to help a Russian oligarch’s business evade sanctions, and when that business then made a substantial investment in Kentucky, former McConnell aides lobbied for it.

McConnell’s view that the speech he dislikes is defamatory clashes with his professed First Amendment devotion. His money-is-speech argument has prevailed at the Supreme Court, causing the current flood of unlimited dark money in politics and the unparalleled vitriol it injected. He has, to his credit, defended flag burning, saying, “in this country we have a long tradition of respecting unpleasant speech.” He also has championed free speech on the Senate floor.

“Hearing criticisms of one’s beliefs and learning the beliefs of others is simply training for life in a democratic society,” he said in June 2017. “It doesn’t mean one has to agree with those opinions, but no one is served by trapping oneself and others in cocoons of ignorance. That is hardly the recipe for a free and informed society.”

He and his aides have certainly asserted their own rights to make objectionable speech. Hours after the El Paso shooting in August, his campaign tweeted a photo of fake tombstones bearing the name of McConnell’s Democratic Senate challenger Amy McGrath, among others. McGrath protested that McConnell used “imagery of the death of a political opponent (me).” In another contemporaneous incident, young men (apparently volunteers) wearing “Team Mitch” campaign T-shirts posed in an Instagram photo groping and choking a cardboard cutout of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

McConnell’s campaign brushed off both, saying the tombstones were a light-hearted homage to a cartoon, and the young men were not campaign staff and their actions not “significant news.”

But Team Mitch takes a less tolerant view of speech directed at him. In July, McConnell delivered a tirade on the Senate floor denouncing criticism of him (by me and others) as a threat to America’s survival. “Keeping our Republic means we can’t let modern-day McCarthyism win,” he said.

In August, when I detailed McConnell’s role in helping Russian interests escape sanctions, his former campaign manager (and still informal adviser) Josh Holmes proposed that McConnell file “a defamation suit” against me, adding: “This guy deserves to lose his job and the Post should pay a price.”

And when 25 anti-gun-violence demonstrators protested outside McConnell’s Louisville home in August, McConnell’s campaign said these were “serious calls to physical violence, and we’ve alerted law enforcement.” But Louisville police told the New York Post the group was “protesting peacefully.”

Examples of threats, taken from expletive-laden Facebook Live footage, included signs saying “F--- YOU MURDER TURTLE” and a woman who encouraged somebody to stab a hypothetical voodoo doll representing McConnell in the heart and wished that McConnell, in a recent fall, had broken his neck.

Talk of violence against public officials (and journalists) is disgusting, albeit commonplace these days, and I deplore the vulgar speech outside his residence. But this sounds more like the “unpleasant” but protected speech McConnell once defended than the criminal “actual threats” McConnell’s team claimed. (Ironically, a McConnell campaign tweet showing demonstration footage caused Twitter to make the dubious call to block the campaign’s account.)

Congress returns next week, and McConnell will again do his muzzling thing. He has served notice that he will squelch debate on any gun-related proposal unless President Trump supports it. “If the president is in favor,” he told Hewitt, “I’ll put it on the floor.”

No alternative ideas will be considered. Thus spake Muzzle Mitch.


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On 9/20/2019 at 8:57 PM, GreyhoundFan said:


This, more than anything else, is the reason why Trump got in the Oval Office in the first place, and is still in there no matter which egregious felonies he commits. MoscowMitch and his GOP are bought and paid for by the Russians.

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It's your fault you are where you are, asshole!

Now own it.

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Did MoscowMitch admit to his role in getting Trump elected? He seems proud of the fact too. I can't wait till next year's elections, when this arrogant attitude will come to bite him in the ass when he's overwhelmingly voted out of office. 


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With friends like #MoscowMitch, who needs enemies? "McConnell once called Biden ‘a real friend’ and a ‘trusted partner.’ Now he’s quiet as Trump, GOP attack him."


Three years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute to a former colleague in the most personal of ways. Leading off tributes from the Senate floor, the Kentucky Republican hailed the honoree’s rise from “unknowing despair” to forge “unlikely friendships” and whose word was so good you could “trust him implicitly.”

Finally, McConnell looked up at the Senate’s presiding officer, growing slightly emotional. “You’ve been a real friend, you’ve been a trusted partner, and it’s been an honor to serve with you,” McConnell told Joe Biden, then serving out his final weeks as vice president, on Dec. 7, 2016. “We’re all going to miss you.”

Now, McConnell has remained conspicuously quiet as three Senate committee chairmen have begun two separate probes into his onetime “trusted partner.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the State Department for records related to Biden’s work on policy toward Ukraine as vice president, and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee have requested records from the Treasury Department regarding any reports of “suspicious activity” related to business dealings by Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son who served on the board of a Ukraine energy company while his father was in office.

In so doing, Senate Republicans have thrown their support behind President Trump’s ruthless approach to the 2020 elections and his defiant defense against the House impeachment inquiry, by trying to muddy the waters and suggest that one of his leading Democratic rivals engaged in some loosely defined corruption.

Democrats have accused Republicans of rank hypocrisy given the laudatory comments they made about Biden during his years in the Senate and as vice president, particularly Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Now the Judiciary Committee chairman, Graham’s public adoration of Biden included a tearful 2015 HuffPost interview recounting how he “is as good a man as God ever created.”

Graham continues to say he respects Biden but that he cannot give him “a pass” over allegations his son financially benefited from his father’s actions as vice president regarding Ukraine, something that has driven a wedge between the former friends.

“Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life,” Joe Biden told CNN.

But McConnell’s handling of Trump’s focus on the Bidens will prove more crucial than whatever Graham, who faces reelection in 2020, cooks up in his committee. In an impeachment trial, McConnell does not have the same sort of procedural power that he regularly wields, but he holds more clout than any Senate leader in a generation and can make his views known in a way that will probably determine outcomes on which witnesses to call and when to end the proceedings.

Some rank-and-file Republicans have begun suggesting that they would call one or both of the Bidens during an impeachment trial, something that would only require 51 votes in a Senate in which McConnell has 53 members in his GOP caucus.

McConnell would not address what type of witnesses he would support calling, when asked whether he backed calling people who were not asked to testify by House Democrats, a vague but clear reference to Hunter Biden.

“It’s way too early to scope out or announce how we might handle impeachment when it gets to the Senate. We’re all having what-if discussions, but I think just laying out various hypotheticals now is not helpful,” McConnell told reporters just before Thanksgiving. “The House is going to do what the House is going to do.”

As the presidential campaign took off in the summer, Biden’s work with McConnell and other Republicans seemed to be an Achilles’ heel for the former vice president, part of his seemingly out-of-step belief that if Trump is defeated, the days of bipartisanship could return to Washington.

Now, many congressional Republicans are playing to Trump’s burn-it-all-down ethos to savage Biden, who still talks about finding common ground if he can win the presidency. These Republicans have questioned Biden’s work in pushing for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor as his son served on the board of an energy company in the country, Burisma, despite the fact that U.S. and European leaders all supported his actions as part of an effort to oust corrupt government officials.

Yet Graham and other Republicans only recently took interest in Hunter Biden’s position with Burisma, even thought it was announced in 2014 and dissected in several mainstream media outlets over the next two years.

Biden supporters cannot even fathom the idea that McConnell actually believes the allegations coming from Trump and his allies. Ted Kaufman, the former top Biden aide who replaced him in the Senate in 2009, returned to Washington that day in December 2016 to honor Biden.

Kaufman saw McConnell’s speech as a throwback to less partisan times, a genuine bond between two leaders. “That is a great example of the Senate of 40 years ago,” said Kaufman.

That speech capped off an eight-year run in which Biden and McConnell served as dealmaking emissaries between the Obama White House and a congressional Republican leadership team that loathed Barack Obama.

Their first big deal together came toward the end of 2010, after House Republicans routed Democrats in the midterm elections and won the majority. Biden and McConnell hatched an agreement to extend Bush-era tax cuts another two years until after the 2012 elections. A couple months later, the GOP leader hosted Biden at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

“You want to see whether a Republican and Democrat really like each other,’’ Biden said. “Well, I’m here to tell you we do.’’

By the summer of 2011, as a partisan standoff sent the U.S. Treasury hurtling toward a default on the federal debt, Biden and McConnell stepped in to broker a complicated, temporary peace, and by the end of 2012 — as all these budget deals were about to expire creating a “fiscal cliff” — McConnell shouted at White House aides for a serious negotiating partner.

“There is a reason ‘Get Joe on the phone’ is shorthand for ‘time to get serious’ in my office,” McConnell recalled in 2016.

That week began with McConnell renaming a portion of an extensive medical research bill after Biden’s son, Beau, who died in May 2015 from brain cancer. McConnell was the only Senate Republican to travel to Wilmington, Del., for Beau Biden’s funeral.

After McConnell hailed Biden three years ago, five Senate Republicans joined a long line of Democrats to praise him, and several more inserted tributes for the record. “His word is his bond,” Graham wrote of Biden.

As he closed out his remarks, McConnell told the story about Biden in Louisville talking about how they really were good friends. “It was true then, and it is true today,” McConnell said three years ago.

It remains to be seen whether that is true two months from now.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Great op-ed: "President Mitch McConnell"


I guess we can get back to impeachment.

Donald Trump announced the Iran crisis was over Wednesday, adding that Americans “should be extremely grateful and happy.”

It’s not entirely clear who he wants us to be grateful to. God? Fate? The ayatollah?

Let’s take a wild guess that the answer is living in the White House.

It was a very short talk — less than 10 minutes — but the president still managed to give himself multiple pats on the back. (“Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before. …”)

And, naturally, blame everything bad on Barack Obama. Trump threw in one whopping inaccuracy — this would be our friendly, peace-loving version of “big fat lie.” He is going to spend the rest of his life claiming the Obama administration paid Iran billions of dollars to get the nuclear peace accord. Utterly false, but you will never talk Trump out of it, any more than you’ll convince him that windmills don’t cause cancer or that he didn’t really win the popular vote.

Dark, suspicious minds wondered if the president had started the whole Iran crisis to get Americans to stop thinking about the impeachment story. Certainly possible. This is a guy who knows how to distract. He golfs, he tweets, he creates crises.

If Trump thought there was any chance of actually getting kicked out of office, God knows what he’d do. Invade another country? Arrest Nancy Pelosi? Pretend to adopt a pet?

Fortunately for him — if not for us — Mitch McConnell is running everything. The House impeachment vote is, of course, a done deal. The bill is going to reach the Senate sometime soon, and the majority leader has been dropping tiny hints that he’s leaning toward giving Trump a pass. (“I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”)

During their deliberations, the senators apparently won’t be hearing from John Bolton, who’s now jumping up and down and waving his hand in an effort to volunteer to serve as a witness. Bolton would be the ideal person to ask about Trump’s plan to trade military aid to Ukraine for political dirt on Joe Biden. Granted, he’s a little late out of the gate. Probably been busy searching his conscience. Can’t possibly have anything to do with having a book coming out.

Doesn’t matter. McConnell has expressed zero enthusiasm for the idea of letting Bolton come — unless Donald Trump decides that the Senate’s top priority should be an unconstrained search for the truth. Hehehehe.

It would take four Republican defections just to get Bolton in the door. Even the most theoretically independent of them — even the ones who are at no political risk whatsoever — seem too terrified to stand up to their leader. (O.K., Mitt Romney, one last chance.)

Some of the Republicans might think wistfully that Mike Pence — even Mike Pence — would be a big improvement over the guy we’ve got now. For the country, maybe, but not for Mitch McConnell. Trump is the perfect president for Mitch. For the past three years, the senator from Kentucky has basically been running the government. Somebody has to do it, and the administration’s people are barely capable of opening their office doors.

Trump’s two big victories as president have been the tax cut — organized and pushed through to law by Mitch McConnell — and a raft of new conservative federal judges. Listen to the president and you’d think he had the opportunity to name them all because Barack Obama just forgot — or was too lazy — to fill any openings. (“He gave me 142!”)

In the real world Obama was nominating judges like crazy. McConnell refused to even give them a hearing.

Thanks to his pal and protector Mitch, Trump has it both ways on issues like gun control and prescription drug prices. He can say he’s in favor of change without taking any risk that anything will be presented for his signature into law. Mitch has it all covered — with a lid. The House passed more than 400 bills last year, and about 80 percent of them are sitting around moldering on the Senate runway.

This is incredible power for a politician who’s never been elected to national office and isn’t even popular in his home state — one recent poll put him at the very bottom of the Senate, with a 37 percent positive voter rating in Kentucky.

Nevertheless, the country’s been Mitchified.

It’s really the McConnell era, and we ought to be discussing that every day, particularly whenever Donald Trump is within earshot.

There’s only so much the media can do to make this situation clear. We have certain journalistic rules against beginning news stories with, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who actually runs the country, expressed support for his minion, Donald Trump. …”

But nobody’s stopping you. Tweet away. It’ll drive the president crazy. No idea how McConnell would react. He’s probably too busy making all the real decisions to notice.


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