Category Archives: FBI

Dealing with Tantrums

Democrats, Brett KavanaughAs any parent will tell you a three year old can make an awful lot of noise when he does not get what he wants. Parenting is about what to do when the three year old goes ballistic.

One thing which sometimes works is speaking calmly and rationally to the kid. That can take a while though and is often of little effect in the supermarket. You can go the other route and become angry and hope shock and awe will put out the tantrum. That sometimes works but, honestly, it probably does more harm than good. You can, of course, simply pick up your child – to the relief of bystanders and change venue.

Or you can actually hear what the child is screaming about and see if there is a way to fix the problem.

The Democrats are in the midst of a tantrum royale about Kavanaugh. The fact this is a problem of their own making is not something they are capable of hearing. Nor are they willing to look at the facts presented to date if only because there are so very few actual facts that scrutiny will collapse their narrative. Screaming “Rapist, FBI, #metoo, believe women” is the closest the Dems have come to an argument.

The trouble is that the Democrats have climbed a very long way up the tree of crazy, so far that it is now actually dangerous for them to climb down. Which is a problem for the Republicans and for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Much as I despise Senator Flake, his decision to vote the nomination out of committee but threaten to withhold his vote unless there is a short FBI investigation is a stroke of parenting genius. An FBI investigation does not reach conclusions – as Kavanaugh pointed out yesterday. Rather it looks for evidence and reports back on that evidence. There is no reason an investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations needs to take very long. Five interviews. One with Ford and four with the people (they are not “witnesses” because they are saying there was nothing to see) who have all given sworn testimony that what Ford said occurred didn’t occur.

Now, were I Grassley I would want to secure Democratic buy in on the FBI probe – time limit and the single allegation. I suspect the Dems will hold out for the Ramirez allegation to be looked into as well. That would mean another dozen interviews. But the FBI is a big, sometimes efficient, organization and that is not beyond their capacity.

Will the FBI investigation resolve the allegations? No, because it will simply report the evidence and that evidence will be very much like the evidence we currently have. But the mere fact of an FBI investigation might just be enough to let the saner Democrats begin to carefully climb down the tree.

The objective here is not to prove or disprove the allegations against Kavanaugh – 35 years on, that is essentially impossible – the objective is to end the tantrum.

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State of Play

After the Manafort verdicts and the Cohen plea deal, if you were watching MSM, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump would be packing his bags and getting ready to resign rather than be impeached. Forgiven but still more than a little wrong.

What has actually happened is that one former associate has been convicted on eight out of 18 counts of assorted financial irregularities a decade ago. No Russia, no Trump. But the Cohen plea deal is much more interesting. Essentially Cohen, as part of the allocution leading to the guilty plea, said that he was directed to make payments which would influence the outcome of the election and that this constituted a campaign finance law violation and therefore the person giving him the direction also violated the law.

Cue the Democrats and the MSM. Trump committed a crime, Trump conspired, Trump is not a legitimate President, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee should not be considered because Trump is only in the White House because he committed a crime…and so on. The theme of the day yesterday and I expect pretty much all this week is that Cohen admitted to criminal behaviour and therefore Trump is a criminal for telling him to commit the crime.

When it comes to Trump the MSM is willing to seize on any reed, no matter how slender, to come up with something, anything, to do him down.

Paying off the floozies, or settling lawsuits or paying out subcontractors is pretty normal course business. But wait, this was not billionaire Trump doing it, it was candidate Trump so that’s different…its a reportable campaign contribution and he didn’t report it. Probably not. Watching relatively sane people discuss the question, a reportable campaign contribution is a payment made to, exclusively, further the campaign. Buying a new suit may enhance a candidate’s appearance and therefore contribute to his campaign, but it is also just a normal course transaction and therefore unlikely to be found to be a reportable campaign contribution. And you can go a long way into those woods if you really start looking at the law going to reportable campaign contributions.

The fact that Michael Cohen, in his allocution, said it was a contribution designed to further the Trump campaign is immaterial, particularly as an allocution is only evidence as against the person making it. Cohen’s – or more precisely, the SDNY Assistant DA’s – characterization of the law is not actually the law and, because this will not be going to trial, is not in any sense a finding of law.

It also contradicts Cohen’s prior versions of his story. Plus, it is the statement of a man who has a prosecutorial gun to his head in the form of a sentencing recommendation on the other charges which are, pretty clearly, actual violations of the law.

From Trump’s perspective, Manafort and Cohen are now off the board. It is possible that one or both of them, faced with decades in prison, will “remember” some form of “collusion with the Russians” but, unless they have really solid evidence, those memories are unlikely to gain much purchase. Manafort is already fading from the headlines simply because nothing he was convicted of has anything to do with Trump. Cohen will have a slightly longer half-life if only because his lawyer is an old-time Clintonista and is more than willing to suggest that Cohen has the real dirt on Trump.

But the excitement of bringing these two rascals to court is going to fade fast. Meanwhile, the Dems are hollering for “Impeachment”. It is not very clear that failing to report a possible campaign contribution quite clears the bar of “high crime and misdemeanour”; but no matter, the Democrats want a chance to impeach the Orange Menace.

For the next two months, Trump will be on the road campaigning for Republican Congressional candidates. He’ll stage rallies, tweet his “full and total endorsement”, brag, goose the economy, invite people to the White House and push his band of deplorables to get out the vote. The Republican vote. The Mueller investigation will grind on but it is increasingly irrelevant simply because it has not managed to come up with any actual links between the Trumpsters and the evil Russians.

However, the Mueller investigation is not the only politically significant investigation in operation. The Congressional investigation into the activities of the FBI and the DOJ with respect to the Hillary emails, the DNC hack, the surveillance of the Trump campaign, the Steele dossier and its use to obtain FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, the improper unmasking of American persons by Obama administration officials, the complicity of MSM in the partisan leaks of the FBI and the general corruption of the FBI/DOJ under Obama is coming to a boil. Unlike the Mueller investigation or the trial of Manafort or the plea of Cohen, Trump holds all the cards in the corruption scandal because he can declassify the documents, texts and emails which document what is almost certain to be the largest, most insidious, scandal ever to hit American politics.

Right now this scandal is missing two things: a convenient, memorable, nickname like “Watergate” and an insider whistleblower who can simplify and connect the dots. I suspect both things will be supplied around the second to third week of September. Real crimes committed by senior government officials all of whom supported, well, Hillary. The Democrats won’t stand a chance.

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What the US needs right now

Beverly McLaughlin, the swamp, Mueller, Comely, Donald Trump, Mark Steyn is soooooo mean. He is pointing out that the “independent counsel” and his minions are not independent at all.

“My sweetly naïve understanding of an “independent counsel” is that he should be “independent”. For example, even in the presently desiccated condition of the Commonwealth, it’s generally understood that, when you’ve got a problem and you want someone independent to investigate it, “independent” means outsider.” mark steyn (go read the whole thing, tons of fun)

The Daily Caller is just one of the outlets bringing out the fact that the Mueller investigation is very deep in the swamp:

“A series of new revelations about the FBI under James Comey has provided more evidence that partisan agents may have abused their agency positions for political purposes during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and 2016 presidential campaign.

Top FBI agent Peter Strzok, the public now knows, was removed from the Mueller investigation after a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (IG) investigation revealed damning text messages between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.” daily caller

The American mess is deep and sordid and, frankly, needs to be cleaned up. But by who?

The fact is that virtually any special counsel appointed by the DOJ will be tainted one way or another. And so, apparently, will investigators drawn from the FBI. It is a mess but it also needs to be resolved.

So, a friendly suggestion from Canada.

Our deeply respected, longest serving, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is retiring at the end of the year. Beverly McLaughlin, while I disagree with some of her opinions, is tough, fair-minded and very, very, smart. By the nature of her position, she is “read in” on intelligence and security cleared.  She’ll be bombarded with job offers but, if asked nicely, might be willing to lead an investigation into the whole ball of wax which the 2016 American election created. Russians, Hilly’s server and how it was dealt with by the FBI, Lynch on the tarmac with Bill, Mueller, Comely: the whole thing.

But Bev is not enough. Sending a small detachment of the RCMP – white collar and intelligence – with her, with really serious investigative powers, would get the whole mess cleared up in six months. (The scarlet tunics would be optional but would make great tv as they raided offices and homes of the swamp creatures.) McLaughlin would not proffer charges, rather she would write a report and recommend such charges as arise.

Better still, the Chief Justice and the Horsemen would be paid for – independently – by the Canadian government with a bill to be presented to our American cousins at the end of the investigation.

Sometimes the mess is so big you need an independent professional to clean it up. This is one of those times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No there there

The mighty Mueller and his gunsels have rooted and dug and investigated and produced indictments: for doubtful business dealings predating Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign.

The dummy brigade is going nuts with our own Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella announcing, “And there can be no doubt, now, that Trump’s campaign was effectively run out of the Kremlin.”

As there is nothing at all in the indictment of Manafort and Gates which relates to the Trump campaign Warren and his ilk are forced to rely on the boiler plate “Conspiracy Against the United States of America”. As it is this “United States of America” which is proffering the charges and this same entity in its guise of the Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury whom Manafort is alleged to have defrauded, it is difficult to imagine how else Mueller would have framed the charges.

But, dummy chorus aside, is there anything in the indictment which puts the finger on Trump? On a quick reading I would say there isn’t. It may not have been the smartest thing in the world to hire a guy with Manafort’s connections to doubtful dictators and assorted oligarchs; but against that is balanced the fact that as Trump became aware of those links he first demoted and then fired Manafort.

Maybe these charges are part of a clever leverage scheme to get Manafort, facing an eternity in Federal Prison and the forfeiture of any assets the Feds can trace, to sing. Right out of G-man 101. That is, at best, a maybe. The fact the charges were brought at all suggests that whatever Manafort knew was not enough to avoid liability for his alleged sins. He has, after all, been interviewed by the Special Prosecutors’ office on several occasions and that would have been the time to cut a deal. That these charges have been proffered suggests no deal was done. Now there is, of course, still time for “all of this to go away” if Manafort has something interesting on Trump. But why would he have held it back? I doubt he thought Mueller was just joking around in those earlier meetings.

All of which leads me to suspect that Manafort does not, in fact, have “it” where “it” is the smoking gun of Trump/Russia collusion. And I also suspect that Manafort has a pretty good defence worked out. (And he may be backstopped by the promise of a pardon but I would doubt it; no reason for Trump to pardon a guy on stuff he did a decade ago unless that guy had the real, live, smoking gun.)

Trump, correctly in my view, is taking the position that nothing in the Manafort/Gates indictment has anything to do with Trump or his campaign.Which leaves the partisan ankle biters at CNN with nothing much more than the guilty plea of a campaign volunteer named Papadopoulos. What was he guilty of? Lying to the FBI regarding dates upon which he, apparently on his own initiative,  had conversations with various Russians. Not a great moment for the Trump world but also a very long way from proving collusion. And, with the guilty plea in place, assuming that Papadopoulos had anything to tell, chances are pretty good he’s told it.

Mueller has been on the job for months. He has a team of prosecutors and agents who have looked at every element of the Trump campaign. They have come up with some pretty routine alleged tax evasion and a guy lying to the FBI about the dates of meetings and conversations with Russians. Is Mueller saving “the good stuff” for Christmas? Is he hoping that Trump will suddenly begin to conspire to “cover up” and render himself vunerable? Hard to say but, at a guess, this wimpy set of charges about business activities predating Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign are pretty much the best Mueller has. That could change, but he will have to do much better than this to provide impeachment ammunition. Much better.

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Comey

So Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

On the Left this is the “Saturday Night Massacre”, grounds for impeachment and an obvious cover up of Trump’s treason.  (I always thought David Frum was an idiot and the linked article confirms it.) On the right Trump is seen as taking out the trash and there is no evidence of any Russian links and, hey, the Democrats were calling for Comey’s head only yesterday.

I am delighted Comey was fired simply because he totally blew the Hillary Clinton email case. Not by talking to the press, several times, about an ongoing investigation but rather because, in the face of the law and the evidence, he decided a statute imposing strict liability should be read as if intent mattered. He was wrong. Worse, he was arrogating a decision which was not his to make. Now, admittedly, Loretta Lynch had managed to destroy her credibility as the Attorney General by having a little face time with the husband of the suspect to chat about golf and grand kids; but that does not excuse Comey’s usurpation of the prosecutorial function.

Meanwhile, Trump on advice of his Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General fired Comey. David Frum tweeted that this was a “coup”. Did I mention David Frum really is an idiot. (Needless to say, the Lying Jackal has the Saturday Night Massacre headline front and center at his unlinkable blog.)

The last person to fire an FBI Director was Bill Clinton. Was it a coup? Likely not as the Republic remains and, pace Hilly,  the House of Clinton is not still in office.

A lot of a President’s job is appointing and firing people at the very highest levels. It is routine. Trump, on advice, apparently did not think Comey did a very good job. That is his call and the Director of the FBI serves “at the pleasure of the President” and at the direction of the Attorney General. If they don’t like your style, your decisions or the colour of your socks, out you go.

Bye.

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Cat Meet Pigeons

smoking-gunTrump has been tweeting again and this time he’s dropped the bomb on the Obama Administration’s alleged tapping of the Trump campaign.

Assorted Obama spokespeople have said that Obama himself did not order the wiretaps. Which many have taken as tacit confirmation that there were wiretaps but that the big O did not actually put them in place.

There is a bit of business about two separate applications to the FISA Court which grants wiretap authorizations for surveillance of agents of foreign states – but not Americans. And the wonderfully oily James Clapper told “Meet the Press”:

“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether he could confirm or deny whether the FBI could have tapped Trump’s phones under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Clapper was unequivocal.
“I can deny it,” he said. “There is no FISA court order, not to my knowledge, of anything at Trump Tower.” CNN
That this activity was reported some time ago in the NYT is largely dismissed as the Times apparently relied on a report at Heat Street where the very excitable Louise Mensch reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant.
Clapper has a bit of form as being willing to lie under oath but I can’t see any reason why he would lie in these circumstances when it is pretty much inevitable that a FISA application will or will not have been made and decided. There is a record and that record will come out.
At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Trump is not in possession of some evidence that his campaign was tapped. Otherwise, why make the allegation? (And, for sake of argument, let’s put aside the idea that the human Cheeto is simply a deranged lunatic liable to tweet anything.)
The  “Trump ties to Russia” story keeps surfacing as various members of the “intelligence community” leak material to MSM. There does not seem to be much there but what there is can be amped up and puts the Trump Administration on the defensive.  From his tweets and other statements, it is pretty clear Trump is, like many Presidents before him, annoyed with the leaks.
Unlike many Presidents whose response to leaks usually involves some sort of internal investigation, Trump seems willing to try and get to the source of the leaks. He has called for, and is apparently getting, a full scale Congressional investigation of his allegations within the context of an overall investigation of the “Russian influence” on the election.
One read of this is that Trump wants to put the Russian connection allegations on ice for a while and kicking the whole thing over to Congress might have that effect. It is a plausible explanation but it seems somehow inefficient. Very little reward for a significant risk.
My own sense is that Trump has, or thinks he has, a smoking gun. Something which will tie Obama and his administration to illegal activity. If there was a FISA application there would have to be affidavits in support of that application. There would have to be disclosure of the sources and methods whereby the DOJ (the only entity which appears before the FISA court) concluded that there was foreign agent activity at Trump Tower. And that would open several cans of worms.
It is also pure speculation. What is not speculation is that no one in the Obama administration ever, for a minute, believed that Trump would win. Playing a bit fast and loose with rules when there was a Hillary lock on the next administration might well have seemed like a good idea at the time.After all, the orangutang and his flying monkeys were hardly ever going to be in a position to find out.
If there is a “smoking gun”, Trump, by making his allegations and then calling for a Congressional investigation, is ensuring that its discovery will be the work of Congress and not the Trump Administration. Which is not to say the Trump Administration will not leave a trail of boulder-sized, glow in the dark, bread crumbs which even the thickest Congressional investigator will be able to follow.
Trump and his people know that if they are going to put the Russian claims behind them and, perhaps, tarnish the halo the MSM has placed on Obama’s head, the actual investigation has to be at arm’s length. Trump has got his arms-length investigation, now the question is whether he has the actual smoking gun.
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Inept

Hillary, losing election, rain

Melting….

Hillary Clinton needed to do only a few things well to beat Donald Trump. She needed to put the email scandal to bed. She needed to motivate black voters to show up and vote. She needed to stay out of Trump’s way as he bumbled and lurched along the campaign trail.

A few days before Election day it is not at all clear that she has succeeded in doing any of these things.

A thoroughly professional political operation would have made it its business to know where Hilly’s emails might be. Not where they probably were, rather where they might possibly be. Weiner’s laptop is an odd place for 650,000 emails to have ended up but it was certainly a machine which should have been considered. It wasn’t.

As importantly, the HRC campaign never really came up with a solid message on the emails. Especially the deleted emails. Blaming Russian hackers never got to the bottom of why Hilly caused so many emails to be deleted when they were subject to a Congressional subpoena. And the campaign had to have realized that some of the erased emails would probably be found on other machines. Given that vulnerability it made no sense at all to break the law by having uncleared lawyers vet the trove. What would have made more sense would have been to turn over all the emails – yoga classes and wedding plans and all. Why was this not done? Realistically, because there are some emails in that trove which are ugly if not actually criminal.

No question that the Comey intervention pretty much destroyed the HRC campaign attempt to move on after Comey’s earlier non- exhoneration. But the campaign itself needed to tell a better, more complete, story from the go and it didn’t. That hurts among the undecided because it gives substance to the “Crooked Hillary” narrative. It also hurts in the ranks of committed Democrats. Not because they will suddenly vote Trump, rather because they lose motivation to vote Hilly.

Black turnout is part of the story. The nice white lady was never going to have black turnout numbers anywhere near America’s first black President’s; but to win Hilly had to see a fairly minimal drop off. Early indications are that black voting numbers are down but it is not clear by how much. And some of the polls are suggesting that the black people who do go to the polls are not universally voting for Hilly. Sample sizes are tiny but I think it fair to say that low black turnout will be a thing to watch on Election Day. Whether, if it occurs, it will be reported by MSM is an interesting question.

It would not take much for Trump to do better than the last two Republican candidates in terms of attracting black support. Roper reported 93% to 6% for Obama in 2012. Hitting 10% would be a big step forward for Trump. The Washington Post (as of October 13) reports Hilly as holding 79% of the black vote. Which leaves 21% up for grabs.

Hillary’s ability to get out of the way while Trump defeats himself was deeply compromised by two things: first, the spotlight swinging back onto her reckless emailing practices, the Clinton Foundation pay for play outrages, and the ongoing revelations of what a nasty bunch of people correspond with her campaign chair John Podesta. Second, Trump has figured out a script he can stick to in his well attended rallies. Somehow he has managed to avoid chasing squirrels and shiney objects and focus on his message.

All of which is beginning to suggest a total absence of any sort of preference cascade in Hilly’s direction. At best whe can hope that claiming that Trump is “literally Hitler, a Nazi, a fascist, a KKK supporter, a woman hater and a groper” will scare enough voters into voting for Hilly. But I doubt it.

The question is whether people who are no longer fightened of Trump will vote for Trump. There are a good 40% of the voters who actually like Trump and want to vote for him. This election was never about those voters any more than it was about college educated suburban mums.

If there is going to be a landslide, and I think there will, it will be because Hilly’s support is soft and Trump’s is growing as more and more voters realize Hilly is a crook and, long before she is in office, will be the subject of an active FBI investigation. Not voting for Hilly is not the same as voting for Trump and that is why his current strategy of repeating a sunny vision of an America, Great Again, at rally after rally makes a lot of sense.

The people at the rallies are true believers. Many of them have already voted for Trump. But, as the rallies are covered and the message re-inforced by paid media, the possibility of voting for a positive vision of a strong America is going to be more and more appealing to the undecided voters. If you are undecided the choice between voting for someone who is pretty certainly a crook and someone who offers a positive vision for the country is not that difficult. Especially as the attempt to demonize Trump hit peak effectiveness a couple of weeks ago.

Throughout this campaign the Clinton campaign has spent a lot of money on advertising, most of it negative, and not much time putting their candidate in front of the public. My suspicion is that the HRC internals are saying that the more people see Hilly the less they like her. But you can’t beat a populist with a “front porch” strategy. Especially if buckets of mud from your own back yard are constantly being hurled at that porch.

Even with the MSM carrying barrels of Hilly’s water she has not managed to shed her scandals or, more importantly, connect with the American people in a positive way. She might win but I doubt it. Far more likely is Trump winning one of the great upsets.

 

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What does Comey know?

11 days before the General John Comey announces to Congress that there have been emails turned up in another investigation (Weiner’s sexting a 15 year old apparently attracted FBI attention) which “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.” of HRC’s private server.

Comey is not an idiot. If these were emails about yoga arrangements even if they came off the Clinton private server, he would not decide to continue an investigation he effectively, if incorrectly, ended a couple of months ago.

Realistically, these have to be significant. Exactly how significant will emerge as the investigation progresses; but I suspect they are significant enough that:

  • the investigating agents could make a clear case that they might change Comey’s earlier conclusion
  • that if further investigation was not triggered and the emails came out the FBI would be deeply compromised – even more deeply than when Comey took his dive
  • there was no way that they would not be coming out

Comey is an experienced Washington insider. He is not going to launch a torpedo at the good ship HRC 11 days before the Election unless he absolutely has to.

All of which leads me to conclude that whatever the FBI found on Weiner and Huma’s devices is utterly and irrefutably damning. Or it could be wedding planning. Sure it could.

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Preference Cascade

A few months ago I wrote that I believed that the American Presidential election would be a landslide but I was unsure which side of the mountain was coming down. Wiki-leaks hurt Hillary by exposing the sheer cynicism and routine corruption of Clintonland; but Trump talked about groping women a decade ago so the big guns of the media ignored Wikileaks and concentrated fire on Trump’s sex life.

But today the first boulder of the landslide came crashing down the mountain:

The FBI will investigate whether additional classified material is contained in emails sent using Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was sectretary of state, FBI director James Comey informed Congressional leaders Friday.

The announcement appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s server, which previously ended in July with no charges. The explosive announcement, coming less than two weeks before the presidential election, could reshape a campaign in that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had been leading in public polls.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Comey said that the FBI had, in connection with an “unrelated case,” recently “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”

Comey wrote that he had been briefed on the new material Thursday. “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation,” he wrote. washington post

Two weeks to election day the FBI re-opens its investigation into Hilly. That is something the MSM cannot suppress and it is something that the average voter can take onboard.

Politically the minutia of Wiki-Leaks was gaining traction but, realistically, probably too slowly to reverse Hilly’s momentum. Trump – contrary to the consensus polling – was, in my view keeping the election close. But he was not able to break through and start running up the score in the states he needs to win. The FBI re-opening its investigation will knock the HRC campaign back on its heels. Now Trump’s far greater positive appeal has a chance to create a genuine landslide.

 

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