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Tx State Senator: Russians assured me of no future election meddling

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Recently, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) traveled to Russia to meet with officials and one of the people he brought along was Texas State Senator Don Huffines. Reading about the trip in The Dallas Morning News, Huffines, a Republican, boldly states that he’s been assured by Russian officials that no future election meddling in American elections will happen. No, really.

Huffines traveled all the way to Moscow to deliver the message: don’t mess with Texas elections. By the same token, American elections in general. His interview, while braggadocious about his personal role in securing the alleged promise from a Russian official, was hardly a profile in courage. He consistently backed off from speaking about President Trump or Trump’s approach to Russian relations in general. Huffines was interviewed Thursday and was still in Moscow.

We have met with Konstantin Kosachev, a member of the Russian senate and a chairman of the foreign relations committee, and with Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy of what’s really their state department. We were supposed to meet with their secretary of state, but he was on vacation and was too far away to make it.

[Note: Kosachev is among the Russians personally targeted by U.S. sanctions, and he has repeatedly denied Russian interference in the 2016 election. Ryabkov has been a leading figure in efforts to calm tensions between the U.S. and Russia, especially after last year’s tit-for-tat decisions to expel hundreds of diplomats from each country.]

It was mainly a meeting with Sen. Paul, and a chance for him to visit with the Russian government. My role was to — I came over here very concerned about meddling in our elections. We have a committee in the Senate on elections security, and I am a member of that committee and it’s something I’ve worked on and have been talking about — the need to make sure our elections are safe and secure. So, my message is that we’re very concerned about the meddling and I wanted to come look them in the eye and tell them Texas is upset, and we don’t want any foreign government meddling in our elections.

He finally got to the good part. After reassuring Texans that he paid his own way, he took credit for Russian promises not to meddle in our elections. (Emphasis mine)

I came here — spending my money, as you know I don’t take a legislative salary or accept government benefits; I certainly paid for the whole trip — to tell them that we don’t want them meddling. And it succeeded. They said they would not meddle in our elections.

In fact, Kosachev said so in a press conference [after the meeting.] He said that because I asked him to say that.

 

Though I am just reading about this remarkable claim, a bit of breaking news over here, a roundtable discussion took place Monday in Moscow in which Huffines participated. Also around the table were Senator Paul and Cato Institute CEO Peter Goettler.

“Don Huffines regularly hears from Texans who are concerned about the security of our elections, and who are alarmed by Russia’s efforts to undermine our democratic institutions,” Huffines’ chief of staff, Brent Connett, told The News. “In meetings with Russian officials, Senator Huffines is having frank discussions, relaying Texans’ concerns, and demanding that Russia stop meddling in our elections.

Does the trip make him a traitor? Apparently, some Americans have clapped back on Senator Paul and his delegation’s decision to go and talk to the Russian officials.

“LOL. No,” he answered. “I love my country & I swore an oath to uphold & defend our divinely-inspired US Constitution. I stand for liberty. I stand for election integrity. And I’m over here demanding that Russia stop messing with Texas elections.”

Huffines and his twin brother were asked by their longtime friend, Senator Paul, to be a part of his trip to build opportunities for communication with Russia. Paul specifically points to former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and his talks with President Reagan, which drew criticism from both Russians and Americans at the time, especially the private meeting between the two. Sound familiar? Paul had a private meeting with Gorbachev on this trip.

“President Gorbachev was instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain and restoring ties with the West, and he knows firsthand the critical necessity of engagement,” Paul said in a statement. “Our conversation further encouraged me that open dialogue between our two nations does not have to be a thing of the past. While our discussion focused on various items, the importance of nuclear disarmament was greatly discussed.”

“I’m pleased to announce that we will be furthering this conversation,” Paul said. “We have invited members of the foreign relations committee of Russia to come to the United States and meet with us in Washington.”

Huffines admits that the Russian officials did not claim previous interference in American elections. They denied any meddling and Huffines says he doesn’t believe them. He believes, as most Americans do, that there was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He thought it was important, though, to hear from Americans face to face that the meddling must not happen again.

They responded [to our concerns about the meddling]. The conversation lasted about 10 minutes. They had done some homework on Texas. Nothing significant, but they had points they made about Texas to just add to the discussion. The chairman spoke mostly, but many of the others at the table were English speakers so we had quite a bit of conversation in English, which was then relayed by individual translators for the Russians who did not speak English.

Huffines was careful to not step on Senator Paul’s toes. He spoke at length about the importance of opening communication between the two nations. He also admitted it is important to trust but verify any claims made by Russians to U.S. officials on future behavior.

While happy to take credit for eliminating future Russian meddling in our elections (sarcasm mine) he steered clear of opining about Russian sanctions or the topics of discussion brought up by Senator Paul.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

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Forecast: GOP now more likely to have *at least* 54 Senate seats next year than to lose its majority

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A nifty catch by Philip Klein, eyeballing the latest data from Nate Silver’s model (as of 5:15 p.m. ET). Check it yourself. Democrats momentarily have an 18.4 percent chance of gaining two seats and winning a majority next month. Whereas Republicans have a 9.1 percent chance of gaining three, a 5.5 percent chance of gaining four, a 3.2 percent chance of gaining five, a 1.4 percent of gaining six, a 0.7 percent chance of gaining seven, and a 0.3 percent chance of shooting the lights out and gaining eight (which would leave them one seat shy of a filibuster-proof majority, for what it’s worth). Add those up and you get a 20.2 percent chance of 54 or better.

Which can be summed up in four words: Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Klein on the path to 54:

Though Republicans were always favorites to keep the Senate, their odds have improved in recent weeks, with three states in particular giving them a boost. Republicans are now considered “likely” to keep their seats in Texas and Tennessee and North Dakota seems ready to flip into the Republican column. Barring any other major upsets, victories in those three races would be enough for Republicans to keep the Senate — hence their 81.6 percent chances overall.

To get to 54, the most likely scenario would be that Republicans win the tossup states of Nevada and Missouri, and then surge to victory in Arizona and Florida (two races that are currently tilting Democrat, but well within range of Republican victory). Beyond that, they’d have to start flipping some seats that are currently considered “likely” to remain Democrat, such as Montana and West Virginia.

Eh, I don’t know if Montana and Indiana, the latter of which he neglected to mention, are all that “likely” to remain Democratic. They’re leaning that way, with both Jon Tester and Joe Donnelly clinging to three-point leads. But Montana hasn’t been polled in three weeks and the latest from Indiana has Donnelly up four but with just 44 percent of the vote. In fact, in none of the four polls dating back to August has Donnelly topped 44, suggesting that a lot of Hoosiers are thinking hard about whether to stick with the incumbent. It’s likely that the GOP will be disappointed somewhere on Election Night — Missouri, Nevada, and Arizona are all leading candidates — but going for one for two on Montana and Indiana seems doable.

Whichever way they do it, if they can get to 54 then Collins and Murkowski might well be nonfactors during the next SCOTUS battle. Flake won’t be in the Senate at all, of course. Trump really might have the arsenal he needs to fill a Ginsburg or Breyer vacancy with a conservative.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news, also from Silver’s model:

Click the link and add up the different probable outcomes and you’ll see that the GOP has about the same odds of holding the House as Democrats do of winning … at least 54 seats. They’ve got a 10 percent chance of winning at least 60. Gonna be a lot of subpoenas for Pat Cipollone to cope with next year.

There are no new swing-state polls as I write this but keep an eye on the one of Arizona that’s currently in progress (yes, in progress) at the NYT’s site, the Upshot. As I write this at a little after 5 p.m. on the east coast, they’ve compiled a sample of 299 people — not large enough yet to give us confidence in the topline numbers but large enough to make it worth paying attention to. Currently Martha McSally leads Kyrsten Sinema by four points, 49/45. If that holds through the end of the poll, it would be the second straight survey showing McSally ahead after trailing for most of the race. (The previous poll had her up six.) Stay tuned.

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Midterm 2018 TEXAS: Robert (Beto) O’Rourke vs. Ted Cruz

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Texas is Texas.

You don’t mess with Texas!

Texans don’t want a far left US Senator who lies about his background and police records, DUI included, and abuses everything the Lone Star State stands for.

Senator Ted Cruz is up by at least 5 points — but that is not enough.

Cruz is a real conservative and an intellectual giant. He has the highest possible ratings from conservative groups as a sitting US Senator.


We can’t let him down.

His opponent Beto (really Robert) O’Rourke isn’t Hispanic but he is loudly PROGRESSIVE.

He is a phony.

He is a Democratic Socialist and would spell doom for our Republic.

He wants open borders, more rights for criminals, and an end to the petroleum economy.

In Texas?

Trump won Texas by 9 points.

Cruz should win reelection by at least that amount.

Recall Cruz not only voted for Judge Kavanaugh but he articulately defended due process and innocent until proven guilty – the very hallmark of western jurisprudence.

We need him; America needs his voice in the Senate.

There has not been a Democrat to hold statewide office in Texas since 1994!

Keep it that way.

Cruz is a star in national politics and a firm vote for our side. He makes America first! And he is the best advocate for Texas bare none.

Turnout is critical.

Cruz MUST win.

Make this viral in every corner of Texas.

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Pat Robertson: C’mon, we’re not going to blow up a key Middle East alliance over one little murder

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Lefties are marveling that a brand-name Christian conservative would be encouraging followers to look the other way at an assassination, but they’re forgetting Jesus’s parting words at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: “If you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs.”

Wait, am I misremembering? My youthful memories of the gospels are not the best. I think perhaps the savior’s actual parting words were “Velvet glove, iron fist.”

I mean, that at least sounds like Jesus.

Lotta mixed feelings about the evangelical turn towards hard-nosed realpolitik under Trump. On the one hand, the gripe about Christian conservatives used to be that they were forever trying to inject morals into the messy business of politics, made more uncomfortable by the fact that many millions of people disagree with some of their stances on sexual morality and resent their attempts to convert them into policy. Well, good news: Between Robertson’s take on the Khashoggi affair and the complete pass given to Trump on matters like Stormygate, there’s less moralizing than ever.

The bad news? I’m unclear from the clip below on how many murders Pastor Robertson would be willing to tolerate in the name of preserving the alliance and “$100 billion worth of arms sales,” as he notes in passing. Presumably his interest in the latter answers my question: Some of those weapons will be used to continue killing civilians in neighboring Yemen, as he doubtless knows. If Robertson’s willing to condone that in the name of checking Iran, naturally he would condone looking the other way at a lot of things, Khashoggi’s murder just one among them. Christianity’s nice and all but we’ve gotta live in the real world.

I honestly don’t know whether to call him a fraud or to salute him for taking a cold but sober view of the international chessboard.

There may be another reason why he and POTUS’s friends at CBN are rushing to provide cover here, though:

To some extent the Saudis’ problem is Trump’s problem. Right now Trump can afford to ignore the Democrats’ interest in finding out how much his and the Kingdom’s interests overlap. In three months, with the House likely in Democratic hands, it’ll be harder.

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