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Morning Reads: Trump’s Russian Connections Scrutinized; Democrats Sue Over Voter Intimidation

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Trump's Russian Connections Scrutinized

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump steps off of his private jet as he arrives for a campaign rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Robots at work –> The FBI is using a computer program to search hundreds of thousands of emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer, looking to see if there is any classified information that may have come from Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Michael Schmidt, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman report for The New York Times. (Former Congressman Weiner is separated from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.) “The software should allow them to learn relatively quickly how many emails are copies of messages they have already read as part of the investigation into the use of Mrs. Clinton’s private server,” The Times reports, although it is unlikely that investigators will be able to finish their work by Election Day.

The Russian connection –> Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sent a letter to FBI head James Comey accusing him of a double standard — releasing information that could damage Clinton’s electability while sitting on information that could damage Trump’s. “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Reid wrote. “The public has a right to know this information… And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public.”

A flurry of other Russia-related articles followed Reid’s letter. A CNBC story seemed to confirm Reid’s allegation; Eamon Javers reported that, according to an anonymous source, Comey “argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the US election.” NBC News reports that the FBI is investigating Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business ties to Russia. Mother Jones’ David Corn writes that “a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump — and that the FBI requested more information from him.” And Frank Foer reports for Slate that a Trump computer server seems to have been in communication with a Russian bank.

But: Despite a summer spent investigating much of the above, “Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government,” Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers write for The New York Times. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, FBI and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.”

Illegal tax dodge –> Also from The New York Times, new information suggests Trump’s efforts to get around the IRS may have broken the law: “Newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he were audited. Thanks to this one maneuver, which was later outlawed by Congress, Mr. Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes.”

Voter intimidation suit –> Todd Ruger for Roll Call: “Democrats filed lawsuits against the Donald Trump campaign and other Republicans to stop potential voter intimidation at the polls in four battleground states. The complaints — filed Sunday by state Democratic parties in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona — came nine days before the presidential election, and allege a ‘coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation’ that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, which bans private conspiracies to intimidate or threaten voters.”

China slams Trump on climate change –> The Paris climate deal came about largely because, even though China and the US opted out of previous emissions-cutting deals, both countries chose in 2014 to make a public commitment to fighting global warming. So Donald Trump’s promise to pull the US out of the deal does not make the Chinese happy. Reuters reports: “The world is moving towards balancing environmental protection and economic growth, China’s top climate change negotiator told reporters, in response to a query on how China would work with a Trump administration on climate change… ‘If they resist this trend, I don’t think they’ll win the support of their people, and their country’s economic and social progress will also be affected,’ Xie Zhenhua said. ‘I believe a wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends.'”

Utah race gets ugly –> “A white nationalist leader who has funded several ads supporting Donald Trump has a new robocall in Utah targeting Evan McMullin, the upstart who could prevent a Trump victory in the Beehive State,” Lisa Mascaro reports for the Los Angeles Times. In an apparent bid to rankle Mormon voters, the ad smears McMullin, an independent conservative candidate around whom many of the “Never Trump” people have rallied, by calling him a “closet homosexual” and noting that his mother divorced his father and married a woman.

No comparison –> Also at the Los Angeles Times, Aaron Bady, an editor at New Inquiry, looks at the difference in law enforcement responses to the Malheur wildlife refuge occupation last winter and current protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline: “The rancher-militia occupation last January at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, and the ongoing Native American occupation of the site of a proposed oil pipeline near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas make for interesting comparisons. On Thursday, for example, the same day that seven of the Malheur militia members were found not guilty of nearly all charges related to the Oregon standoff, 141 protesters in North Dakota were arrested by a law enforcement officers from at least seven states, using military-grade, anti-riot technology.”

Too clever by half –> The Boston Globe and the Center for Responsive Politics investigate a possibly illegal practice by a Boston law firm, whose members donate the maximum to candidates for office and are then reimbursed by the firm with “bonuses” in the amounts of their contributions.


Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.