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Farmers Are Cheering Trump’s Repeal of an Environmental Rule That Doesn’t Affect Them

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump rose to power amid solid support from the agricultural heartland—he gained endorsements from dozens of farm-state pols and agribiz execs and polled well among farmers. Since the inauguration, however, things have been rocky. Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-refugee machinations amount to an attack on Big Ag’s labor pool, and his moves to kill trade pacts endanger much-needed export markets. But with the stroke of a pen on Tuesday, the new president delivered a gift that delighted his ag supporters.

But did Trump serve a real policy triumph, or an empty gesture?

To answer that question, you’ll need a bit of background. What the president did was sign an executive order commanding the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Waters of the United States Rule, a policy put into place by the Obama administration. WOTUS, as it is known, is a kind of addendum to the Clean Water Act of 1972, designed to define the kinds of waterways that are under EPA regulation. It was triggered by a split 2006 Supreme Court decision called Rapanos v. United States over whether a developer could fill in a wetland to build a shopping center.

WOTUS has emerged as a major bête noire in some ag circles. Agribiz lobbyist Larry Combest, a former US rep from Texas, declared it “one of the biggest land grabs in American history.” The American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents the interests of Big Ag, has vilified WOTUS since its inception, charging that it gives the EPA massive power to regulate farms.

At his signing ceremony, Trump gave voice to these complaints. Deeming WOTUS “one the worst examples of federal regulation,” Trump insisted that “it has truly run amok” and is “prohibiting farmers from being allowed to do what they’re supposed to be doing.” Echoing the Farm Bureau, he said WOTUS meant that the EPA can regulate “nearly every puddle and every ditch on a farmer’s land,” and vowed that his executive order would “pave the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.”

Just one problem with that rhetoric: WOTUS has very little to do with farming. The original Clean Water Act exempted agriculture, and WOTUS maintains that status, notes Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group. “What’s so bizarre about the fight over WOTUS is that the only sector of commerce that’s clearly exempt from the rule has kicked up the most dirt about it,” Faber said. Granted, defining what constitutes a waterway worthy of regulation is a complex process, and even WOTUS’s supplementary introduction is 299 pages. But concerns about ag are dispensed with on page 8:

This rule not only maintains current statutory exemptions, it expands regulatory exclusions from the definition of “waters of the United States” to make it clear that this rule does not add any additional permitting requirements on agriculture.

In a January 2017 report, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service analyzed the WOTUS and came to the same conclusion as the EPA: The final rule “makes no change to and does not affect existing statutory and regulatory exclusions: exemptions for normal farming, ranching, and silviculture activities such as plowing, seeding, and cultivation.” The report notes that the Obama administration at one point proposed an interpretive rule that triggered confusion in the ag world about whether farm ditches might fall under regulation. But the EPA withdrew that particular proposal way back in January 2015, the CRS report states.

What’s more, says Faber, replacing WOTUS will be a long slog, requiring a lengthy rulemaking process. And once that process is done, he adds, the new rule will itself be subject to lawsuits from environmental groups that it’s deemed too weak.

So why did Big Ag fight so hard to kill WOTUS, and cheer so much when Trump moved against it? Faber declined to speculate.

I put the question to William Rodger, a spokesman for the Farm Bureau. He declined to talk but pointed me to brief the group filed in 2016 urging a federal court to overturn the rule. The document lists examples of farmers who, it insists, would run afoul of WOTUS.

One, in Oklahoma, had planned to clear a 50-acre plot next to his property for cattle grazing and farming. “But because the property contains a small creek bed—which is usually about 5-6 inches deep but ‘will often go dry’—the creek is likely to be deemed a ‘tributary’ under the Rule,” the doc states. As a result of the rule, the farmer “has therefore been forced to halt all plans for improving his property because the new regulation, if allowed to go into effect, will require him to obtain a costly jurisdictional determination from the Army Corps of Engineers and, depending on the outcome, a permit from EPA.” But an EPA fact sheet on WOTUS makes clear that such intermittent streams aren’t in fact regulated.

The Farm Bureau document also notes a farmer whose land has drainage ditches “that would also likely count as ‘tributaries’ under the Rule if it were allowed to come into effect.” But the EPA fact sheet states that “farmers, ranchers and foresters continue to receive exemptions from Clean Water Act Section…when they construct and maintain irrigation ditches and maintain drainage ditches.”

Even so, at an event after Trump signed the executive order, the Farm Bureau treated EPA Director Scott Pruitt to a “hero’s welcome” for his role in Trump’s WOTUS move, Bloomberg reports. In a statement, the group’s executive director, Zippy Duvall, insisted that the “flawed WOTUS rule has proven to be nothing more than a federal land grab, aimed at telling farmers and ranchers how to run their businesses,” and praised Trump for delivering a “welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country.”

Seems to me that by celebrating Trump’s attempt to dismantle a rule that so little affects agriculture, Big Ag is being a pretty cheap date—especially given what’s going on with trade and immigration.

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Farmers Are Cheering Trump’s Repeal of an Environmental Rule That Doesn’t Affect Them

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The "Pristine" Films That Got Snubbed by the Oscars

Mother Jones

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Jackie Chan flicks are no longer the only place where you’ve seen an Asian or Asian American actor play a meaty role onscreen in the US: On TV, they’ve appeared in trail-blazing shows like Fresh Off the Boat, Master of None, and The Mindy Project. Director Jon M. Chu wants to assemble an all-Asian cast for a film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel Crazy Rich Asians, making it one of the first films from an American studio to do so in years.

But the demographic still remains one of the most invisible groups in the media. In 2014, more than half of films and TV shows had no speaking or named roles for Asian characters, according to a recent study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Controversies over the whitewashing of Asian characters took center stage last year, with several prominent actors and producers speaking out. For instance, the creators of Ghost in the Shell, a film adapted from a Japanese manga and anime film, faced backlash after casting Scarlett Johansson, a white actress, as the lead Japanese character.

Melissa Powers and Matthew Eng, both 23 year-old NYU graduates, decided they’d had enough of the whitewashing. Last year, they began producing Asian Oscar Bait, a podcast entirely devoted to Asian stories that, they argue, deserve to be on everyone’s television. The podcast has gotten a few nods from indie publications and it caught my eye for the specificity of its approach: In each episode, Powers and Eng take a story about Asians or Asian Americans and pitch it as a film, suggesting actors, directors, and even writers who could possibly take on the work.

The podcast retells lesser known stories in history, such as Fred Korematsu vs. United States, a Supreme Court case in which a Japanese man, Fred Korematsu refused to go to an internment camp in 1942. Another episode, “The Donut King,” digs into the story of Bun Tek “Ted” Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee who made a fortune selling donuts in California, until he lost everything—a “Wolf of Wall Street meets Krispy Kreme” kind of tale, says Powers. The podcast is a response to the notion that there aren’t enough Asian directors or actors in Hollywood, she says. “Our tagline is: There are no excuses.”

I spoke with the Eng and Powers to get their take on Asian representation at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Mother Jones: What got you interested in Asian representation and diversity?

Melissa Powers: I am Singaporean American, but I grew up in China. I never realized there was a lack of Asian representation in media until I came to the US for university. One moment in particular stuck out me: I was watching Tomb Raider 2, which is a very mediocre film, but there’s a scene where Gerald Butler interrogates a family of Chinese fishermen and speaks to them in Chinese. Obviously his accent is terrible, but I just replayed that scene over and over because I was like, “Oh my God, someone is speaking Chinese in a big Hollywood film.” I just watched it for hours. That really showed me how starved I was for Asian representation, without actually realizing it at the time.

Matthew Eng: I’m half-Chinese—my dad grew up in America and is Chinese—and I don’t look Chinese at all, but it’s a part of my background, undeniably so. While I was in a screenwriting course and producing my own screenplays for class, I began to notice this inclination to create characters who were always white. That’s not an accurate representation of the world I grew up in or the types of stories I think should be told, but it was something I tended to do anyway.

Going off of that, I became more attuned to the film industry and the entertainment world. I began to notice that whenever an Asian actor would appear in a film, they would only be playing roles that could only be played by Asian actors, and those roles weren’t necessarily the meatiest parts of the films or TV show.

MJ: You tackle the Oscars in one of your episodes. How was representation this year when it comes to Asians?

MP: Atrocious! Ai-Ling Lee is the first Asian woman to be nominated for sound editing for La La Land, which is cool, but at the same time, Dev Patel is one of the very few Asian people ever to be nominated for an acting role in Lion. It’s very distressing. But hopefully it won’t be worse than last year’s Oscars with Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen making fun of those poor Chinese kids.

If you consider Iranian people to be Asian, which I do, though not everyone does, Asghar Farhadi is nominated for best foreign language film for The Salesman. He won’t come into the US because of the Muslim ban, and I think he says he plans not to. I think his absence will be felt and I hope people will acknowledge that.

ME: Dev Patel is fairly good in Lion, but I think there’s a lot of other Asian actors who I would have liked to see get nominated. It really fucking boggles me that Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden was not nominated in any technical categories, when that film could not be any more pristine a piece of filmmaking. The actress, Kim Min-Hee, is totally phenomenal. In an ideal world, her performance would be an Oscar contender.

I also talk about Andrew Ahn’s independent film Spa Night a lot, which is a story about an Asian man’s queer sexuality. It’s something I’ve never seen portrayed before with that remarkable detail and attention. But it’s not going to be on the radar of Oscar voters.

Melissa and Matthew with their producer, Caroline Pinto. Asian Oscar Bait

MJ: So what Asian films should have been at the Oscars this year?

MP: We’re both in agreement that The Handmaiden should have been there. But in the future, I’d like to see the Academy’s be more generous towards genre films like sci-fi and horror, because I think those genres tend to be places where people of color get to do more in the role.

ME: The Handmaiden is my number one egregious absence from the Academy. But there’s another film that came out last year called Dheepan by Jacques Audiard. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes but completely disappeared when it came to the States. It’s about a Sri Lankan couple who are refugees, and find this young French girl and pose as a family to get into France. It really reflects the times, and the performance by this first-time actress, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, is just beyond words for me. If an American director made this story, it would have received a modicum of attention. There’s amazing cinematic craftsmanship that’s going on in all corners of the world, and you just have to look beyond your backyard.

MJ: If you could make one of your episodes into a film, which episode would that be, and why? And how likely would that story get an Oscar nomination?

MP: I think the Fred Korematsu story would be a shoo-in for an Oscar nom. However, the one I’d be more interested in seeing is the Mazher Mahmood story. His name is going to be familiar to most Brits—he was a tabloid journalist involved in a ton of scandalous stories for News of the World, and is currently in jail for tampering with evidence.

He’s the kind of anti-hero that enthralls Hollywood critics and audiences. Think of Wolf of Wall Street—you have drugs, celebrities, and this razor sharp focus with being number one. At the same time, his story has more than a traditional rise and fall narrative. Mahmood has a strange relationship with his own background (British Pakistani) that no one seems to address. Even though he grew up amongst South Asians, he consistently used his minority status to put other people of color at ease and weasel stories from them, usually putting them in jail in the process. There was an incident where he collected buses of illegal immigrants under the guise of giving them jobs, and instead drove them straight to a detention center. As an Asian person, it really amazes me that he could betray “us” like that.

We don’t really see this kind of betrayal onscreen. In fact, we rarely see Asian antiheroes onscreen. This would easily score Best Actor, Best Screenplay (Mahmood has a book so possibly Best Adapted Screenplay), and potentially Best Director. This would require a minority screenwriter and director, to navigate how Mahmood used and abused the fact that he was an Asian man. And I’m just saying, Riz Ahmed needs that Oscar vehicle.

ME: I would definitely love to see Merle Oberon’s story, chronicled in our second episode, as the basis of a film. It’s such a fascinating, eye-opening, and totally dramatic story of lifelong deception, but it also intersects with the golden age of Hollywood history, making it the type of film the Academy loves to honor any chance it gets. Oberon concealed her half-Indian origins in order to attain cinematic stardom in the 1930s, concocting an entire back story that involved a false upbringing in Tasmania and forcing her Indian mother to pose as her live-in maid in order to ward off any suspicions from her famous friends and consorts. Insane, right?

That being said, I’m not sure it would score any nominations beyond Best Actress for whoever plays Oberon (and, I don’t know, possibly a costume nomination) because the Academy has an annoying tendency of under-rewarding films that could traditionally be described as a “women’s picture,” meaning any movie that puts a woman at its forefront.

Even so, I would love to see this movie made and, preferably, with an actual Indian actress playing Oberon. If this actress were nominated, she would become only the second Asian performer to ever receive a Best Actress nomination. The only other Asian nominee in this category happens to be Oberon herself, for 1935’s Dark Angel, which means that yes, the only Asian woman ever nominated for Best Actress in Oscars’ nearly ninety year history didn’t even want people to know she was Asian! You truly can’t make this stuff up.


The "Pristine" Films That Got Snubbed by the Oscars

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Trump Pals Have a Plan For Lifting Sanctions on Russia

Mother Jones

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The president’s friends have a proposal for him:

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

….Mr. Cohen said Mr. Sater had given him the written proposal in a sealed envelope. When Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early February, he said, he left the proposal in Mr. Flynn’s office. Mr. Cohen said he was waiting for a response when Mr. Flynn was forced from his post. Now Mr. Cohen, Mr. Sater and Mr. Artemenko are hoping a new national security adviser will take up their cause. On Friday the president wrote on Twitter that he had four new candidates for the job.

The “Ukranian lawmaker” is a pro-Putin opponent of the current regime in Ukraine. Sater is, um, a guy with an interesting background: “mafia linked,” spent some time in prison, worked as an FBI informant, and spent several years as a close business associate of Donald J. Trump. Oh, and Sater was born in Russia and continues to have lots of contacts there.

And Cohen? Well, he’s the guy who could actually get inside the White House and deliver the letter. You remember Michael Cohen, don’t you?

Every time we turn around, there’s something new linking Trump to Russia. Just a few days ago, FBI Director James Comey briefed the Senate Intelligence committee about the ongoing investigation of Team Trump and its ties to Russia, and all the chatter afterward was about how the senators seemed kind of shaken by what they heard.

Who knows? Maybe it all turns out to be nothing. But there sure is a lot of smoke out there. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a fire too.


Trump Pals Have a Plan For Lifting Sanctions on Russia

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Why Does a White Guy Always Have to Be the Hero?

Mother Jones

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Chinese director Zhang Yimou, of Hero and House of Flying Daggers fame, made his English-language debut with The Great Wall, which opened Friday. But in a story set in ancient China, Matt Damon’s character sticks out like a sore thumb. The presence of his pale mug in movie posters and trailers drew backlash even before the film’s release. “We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world,” Fresh Off the Boat actress Constance Wu wrote in a Twitter tirade. “We don’t need salvation.” Damon and Yimou felt compelled to publicly defend the film, with Damon calling it “historical fantasy.”

The lack of people of color in starring roles is a longstanding Hollywood problem, and things are especially bad for Asians. A 2016 study (PDF) by the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California found that more than half of films and TV shows had no speaking roles for Asian characters—and it’s exceedingly rare to see Asians in lead roles. Producers often claim there just aren’t enough roles for Asian actors, which is true—or vice versa, which is not. Often, when the opportunity arises to cast Asian characters, Hollywood decision-makers hire white actors to portray them. Sometimes they simply rewrite nonwhite characters as white ones. These things are called whitewashing.

The Great Wall exemplifies a related Hollywood trend wherein white characters play a dominant role in a foreign situation, while nonwhite locals are reduced to sidekicks or people “to be killed or rescued—or to have sex with,” as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen put it recently. Vogue recently added to the outrage over cultural tone-deafness by presenting Karlie Kloss, an American model of German and Danish descent, as a geisha—for the magazine’s diversity issue, no less. Vogue later removed the photographs from its website and Kloss apologized for her participation, but it was yet another episode in America’s long history of whitewashing Asians. We’ll leave you with this brief history of the same. Dig around and you’re sure to find plenty more.


The first Charlie Chan film is released, starring Japanese actor George Kuwa, but the films fail to win large audiences until Warner Oland, a Swedish actor, takes on the role. The Chan films become extremely popular, with more than 40 made, but are later criticized for racist stereotypes.

Wikimedia Commons


Merle Oberon, whose partial Indian ancestry she keeps a secret for most of her life, is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She is later credited as the first (and only) Asian-American ever nominated in that category.


In Dragon Seed, Katharine Hepburn, plays Jade, a Chinese woman who stands up to Japanese invaders. Turhan Bey, who is of Turkish and Czech descent, co-stars as her husband.

Katharine Hepburn and Turhan Bey in Dragon Seed. Wikimedia Commons


Rex Harrison portrays a Thai king in Anna and the King of Siam, the film adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. A 1951 remake continues to use non-Asian actors in the role—Russian-born Yul Brynner is the new king.


Marlon Brando plays Sakini, a Japanese translator on the island of Okinawa after World War II, requiring hours of daily makeup work. “It was a horrible picture,” he later writes, “and I was miscast.”


Mickey Rooney dons yellow-face, prosthetic teeth, and taped eyelids for his role as Audrey Hepburn’s temperamental landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (His “bucktoothed, myopic Japanese” is “broadly exotic,” the New York Times writes.) Rooney is later taken aback to learn that his portrayal is considered racist. “It breaks my heart,” he tells the Sacramento Bee in 2008, adding, jokingly, “Those that didn’t like it, I forgive them.”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Wikimedia Commons


Sean Connery, 007, goes undercover Japanese in You Only Live Twice. (His makeup job would fool nobody, let alone a Bond villian.)


In the TV series Kung Fu, David Carradine plays Kwai Chang Caine, a Buddhist monk versed in the martial arts. Bruce Lee had originally pitched the series and hoped to star in it, but the producers went with Carradine instead. Kung Fu became one of the most popular shows of its day.

David Carradine in Kung Fu. Wikimedia Commons


Asian actors and artists in California protest Hollywood’s attempt to revive Charlie Chan with Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. “I don’t think racism is funny any more,” San Franciscan Eliza Chan tells the Washington Post. “We have been called “Charlie” for so many years. We have been made fun of—the way we speak, the way we act—people expect us to be like Charlie Chan, and we can’t stand that any more.”


British actor Ben Kingsley, whose father is Indian, wins a Best Actor Oscar for Ghandi. He is the first—and as of 2017, the only—actor of Asian descent ever nominated in the category, much less win.

Director Richard Attenborough, left, and actor Ben Kingsley pose with their Ghandi Oscars. Reed Saxon/AP


Japanese-American actor Gedde Watanabe portrays the (ostensibly) Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. Mainstream audiences find the caricature hilarious, but many Asian-Americans cringe. “Because there were so few Asian actors onscreen at that time, people were looking for Kurosawa in a comedy,” Watanabe recalls in a 30th anniversary interview. “Sixteen Candles wasn’t that kind of movie.”

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.


A British theater production of Miss Saigon, a retelling of Madame Butterfly in the context of the Vietnam War, almost doesn’t make it to Broadway after a union protests the casting of British actor Jonathan Pryce in a Eurasian role. Although Pryce, who wears eye prosthetics and bronzer for the performance, wins a Tony and the play goes on to become one of Broadway’s longest-running hits, Miss Saigon continues to be criticized for its stereotypical portrayals.


Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai features Tom Cruise as Capt. Nathan Algren, a guilt-wracked former Union Army soldier who gets to be the hero when he helps some rebel samurai fight a corrupt Japanese empire—it’s all about Cruise, of course. Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter savages the film: “Basically what Zwick has done is to take Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves and insert it into the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, with a samurai clan in the role of an Indian tribe.”

Warner Bros.


Ang Lee is the first Asian director to win an Oscar, for Brokeback Mountain.

Director Ang Lee accepts his Oscar from Tom Hanks. Chris Carlson/AP


White actors play the leads in the live-action film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, previously an animated series with characters of Asian and Native American descent. Fans pan it and the movie flops.

Avatar: The Last Airbender series. Nickelodeon

The Last Airbender movie. Paramount Pictures


White actor Jim Sturgess dons yellowface and doctored eyes to play a Korean character in Cloud Atlas. Director Andy Wachowski defends the casting: “The intention is to talk about things that are beyond race. The character of this film is humanity.” It’s not Sturgess’ first brush with whitewashing: In 21, a film based on the true story of college card-counters who gamed the casinos, he plays a student who in real life was Chinese-American.


Emma Stone stars as a half-Asian character in Aloha, which flops at the box office. The role, she says later, opened her eyes to Hollywood’s diversity problems and “flaws in the system.” Director Cameron Crowe also apologizes, calling the casting “misguided.”

Feb. 2016

In an otherwise spot-on monologue—”I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards”—Oscars host Chris Rock rips Hollywood’s lack of diversity, yet manages to stereotype Asian Americans, who are all but invisible in American films

April 2016

The creators of Ghost in the Shell, adapted from a Japanese manga and anime film, face backlash after casting Scarlett Johansson as the Japanese main character. Tilda Swinton also gets hit with criticism for her role as the Ancient One, a Tibetan character, in Dr. Strange.

Ghost in the Shell, 1995. Production IG

Ghost in the Shell, 2017. Paramount Pictures

May 2016

Comedian Margaret Cho, Nerds of Color blogger Keith Chow, author Ellen Oh and other Asian Americans start a monthlong #WhiteWashedOut campaign that calls on Hollywood to stop whitewashing Asians and urging white actors to reject Asian roles.

Nov. 2016

Hong Kong actor and director Jackie Chan accepts an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in an emotional speech: “After 56 years in the film industry, making more than 200 films, breaking so many bones, finally this is mine.” He is one of four filmmakers to receive the lifetime achievement award.

Jackie Chan at the Governors Awards. Chris Pizzello/AP

Feb. 2017

Matt Damon plays a European mercenary who saves China from monsters in The Great Wall. Actress Constance Wu takes issue: “We like our color and our culture and our strengths and our own stories,” she writes. “Hollywood is supposed to be about making great stories. So make them.”

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Why Does a White Guy Always Have to Be the Hero?

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GOP Senator Calls for Investigating What FBI Did About Russia-Trump Intelligence

Mother Jones

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The night before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, the New York Times dropped a bombshell: intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been examining intercepted communications and financial transactions in an investigation of possible contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials. This report seemed to confirm previous indications that the US government has collected sensitive intelligence about interactions between Trump insiders and Russians. And hours before the inauguration, I ran into Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has been one of the few Republicans to call for a special investigation of the Russian hacking that helped Trump, and I asked him about this latest development.

Graham, a member of the Senate judiciary committee, said that he didn’t know anything about the intelligence intercepts. He remarked, “I want to learn and investigate all things Russian, wherever it leads.” He noted that it was clear that Vladimir Putin’s regime had “tried to undermine our election” and “succeeded in creating discontent and discord.” He added, “I want to know what they did and who they did it with.” He went on: “I want to see all of it…I want to know what Russia did…If there is campaign contacts, I want to know about it.”

Graham said he hoped to examine what the FBI knew about any Trump-Russia contacts and what actions the bureau had taken. (Before the election, FBI Director Jim Comey talked rather publicly about the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of her email at the State Department. But Comey has declined to say anything in public regarding whether the bureau has probed links between Trump associates and Russians.) “I hope to be able to work with Sen. Grassley the chair of the judiciary committee to look into the FBI’s role,” Graham said, “in terms of what they did, what they know, and what they can provide to Congress.”

At the moment, the Senate investigation of the Russian hacking and possible contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign is being conducted by the Senate intelligence committee. So it’s unclear whether Graham will get his wish for a judiciary committee inquiry into the FBI end of this matter.

Before darting off to inauguration business, Graham, who often tussled with Trump during the 2016 campaign, criticized the incoming president for trying to downplay Russian meddling in the 2016 election. “Trump,” he said, “seems to be in the forgive-and-forget mode.” He noted the “biggest mistake” Trump could make would be “forgiving Russia…for what they did in our election.”


GOP Senator Calls for Investigating What FBI Did About Russia-Trump Intelligence

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