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Trump on Putin's criticism of Hillary Clinton and Democrats: 'So true!'

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted his agreement with Vladimir Putin on Friday evening, after the Russian president said top Democrats were humiliating themselves by blaming their election loss on alleged Russian hacking. "Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary and Dems: 'In my opinion, it is humiliating. One must be able to lose with dignity.' So true!" Trump tweeted.

Putin had criticized Clinton and the Democrats at a press conference on Friday, claiming that the allegations of Russian interference during the election was an "affront to their own dignity."

"They are losing on all fronts and looking for scapegoats on whom to lay the blame," Putin said. "It is important to know how to lose gracefully."

It wasn't the first time on Friday that Trump gushed over remarks made by Putin. Earlier, Trump released a statement saying he received a "very nice letter" from the Russian president, adding that Putin's "thoughts are so correct."

The letter, dated Dec. 15, offered Putin's "warmest Christmas and New Year greetings" and stressed the importance of US-Russia relations in "ensuring stability and security of the modern world."

Putin continued: "I hope that after you assume the position of the president of the United States of America we will be able — by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner — to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring out level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level."

 

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Majority Want Monday’s Electoral College Vote Postponed In Wake Of Russia Scandal: New Poll

A majority of American voters favor delaying the December 19th Electoral College vote until electors can be fully briefed on Russian interference in the election, according to a new poll conducted by YouGov.

The survey, sponsored by the progressive advocacy group Avaaz, found 52 percent of people supportive of stalling the vote, set to take place Monday.

A surprisingly high number of people ― 46 percent ― were also willing to support so-called “faithless electors,” the name given members of the Electoral College who spurn the vote of their home state and vote for a different candidate instead.

Trump opponents have been pressuring electors to break with their state’s voters, and a law firm has even offered pro bono, confidential legal advice to any elector curious about his or her options. Avaaz has collected thousands of signatures on a petition calling for the vote to be delayed.

Donald Trump won a fairly wide Electoral College victory on Election Day, but Hillary Clinton is on pace to beat him in the popular vote by some three million. In a sign of how divided the country is, however, more than 1 in 4 Republicans believe that Trump in fact bested Clinton in the popular vote. That belief may stem from a false claim Trump himself made on Twitter, when he said that he would have won the popular vote had millions of people not voted illegally. That came after a separate claim from Trump, that he could have won the popular vote if he wanted to, by campaigning in highly populated states like California and New York.

Some states mandate that electors vote the way their state instructs, but the the 10th Circuit Court ruled late on Friday that such laws are unconstitutional. The court covers the region of Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Only one elector has publicly said he will be breaking from Trump.

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Rural Hispanic voters — like white rural voters — shifted toward Trump. Here’s why.

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Many observers contend that Hispanic voters will shape the future of American politics. But it’s not yet clear exactly what their influence will be. There’s been debate about whether they may portend a permanent Democratic majority; vote according to ethnic backgrounds — Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban American; or hold political points of view that vary by economics or region, much like other Americans.

With the 2016 election, we have a new set of data to help us investigate this question. My county-by-county comparison of election results in 2016 and 2012, drawn from data available at CNN.com, Politico.com, PBS.org and other sites, shows that rural white and rural Hispanic voters have a lot in common.

Or to put it another way, the election of 2016 revealed an urban/rural divide that was as strong as the white/Hispanic divide.

Election analysts have noted that Donald Trump ran up the vote in rural, largely white counties in the Rust Belt and the Midwest. He flipped or narrowed Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in others. Because these rural voters came out so strongly, states that hadn’t helped elect a Republican for a long time — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and most likely Michigan — delivered his electoral victory, however narrowly.

And here’s the surprise: many rural Southwestern counties with large Hispanic, predominantly Mexican populations, moved in Trump’s direction as well.

That wasn’t true in Southwestern states as a whole. States like New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas remained blue or became less red. Hillary Clinton got strong Hispanic turnout in Sun Belt metropolises like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

But if you look closely at many largely Hispanic rural areas in these states, you find that Trump did better — and Hillary did worse — than did Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. Voting in these counties was much like that in similar counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

There’s been contention about how Hispanics voted

When postelection reports suggested that Trump performed surprisingly well among Hispanic voters, the polling firm Latino Decisions rejected the claim. The firm specializes in polling Latino voters, and enumerated the risks of relying on exit polls to understand that electorate’s behavior. The firm vigorously defended its own election eve polls, which suggested that Clinton would rack up historically wide margins from Latinos.

But Latino Decisions, in defense of polls it conducted leading up to the election, has focused on overwhelmingly Hispanic precincts in more urban areas, not the rural communities that tell a different story.

In dozens of rural counties throughout the Southwest, Clinton performed worse in 2016 than Obama did in 2012, as you can see in the figure below. In Guadalupe County, N.M., about an hour’s drive east of Albuquerque, she received 17 percent less of the vote than Obama did four years ago — 53 percentcompared with Obama’s 70 percent. In several other counties where Hispanics accounted for half to nearly all of the population — Rio Arriba, N.M.; Costilla, Colo.; Greenlee, Ariz.; and Duval, Tex., for example — Clinton took home roughly 10 percent fewer votes than did Obama in 2012. In many more heavily Latino counties, her votes lagged behind Obama’s by 3 to 8 points.

 

Even in the South Texas counties that Latino Decisions has named bulwarks of Clinton support — the Rio Grande Valley below San Antonio, where she won between 70 and 85 percent of the vote — she didn’t do as well as Obama had done four years earlier. In Brooks County, which, according to the 2015 American Community Survey, is 89.5 percent Hispanic, Clinton’s tally was 3.9 percent less than Obama’s. In Zavala County, which is 93.1 percent Hispanic, it was 5.6 percent less. In Duval County, which is 88.8 percent Hispanic, it was 9.8 percent less.

Meanwhile, as you can see below, Trump did much better among Hispanics in the rural Southwest than Romney did. He received a greater share of the vote than Romney had in more than a dozen counties with large Hispanic populations: six percent more than Romney in Starr County, Tex., which is 95.8 percent Hispanic; 7.5 percent more in Costilla County, N.M., which is 63.6 percent Hispanic; and 9.1 percent more in Duval County, Texas, which is 88.8 percent Hispanic.

 

Clinton may have received more votes than Obama did in many parts of South Texas, where, as a politically-motivated student at Yale Law School, she knocked on doors in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods for the McGovern campaign. But Trump also received more votes in South Texas than Romney did. Clinton rallied thousands more voters, but so did Trump. His supporters there matched the enthusiasm of Clinton’s, just as they did in dozens of rural counties with large Hispanic populations in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas.

In fact, two Colorado counties where Hispanics constitute about half the population flipped from blue to red. Conejos County, which is 53.7 percent Hispanic, went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. So did Las Animas County, which is 42.6 percent Hispanic. In both counties, turnout was lower for Clinton than it had been for Obama, and higher for Trump than it was for Romney.

To be sure, some of these rural Southwestern counties are extremely small compared with the big cities where Hispanic support for Clinton was strong. In small counties, the Hispanic vote adds up to hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands — while in cities, it totals hundreds of thousands. Therefore, rural Hispanics won’t be credited with moving the needle much in one direction or the other.

So yes, there was a Hispanic “surge” in big Southwestern cities that helped Clinton hold on to New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, and helped make Trump’s margin of victory in Arizona and Texas narrower than it had been for any Republican in two decades. But that ignores the vote in rural counties across the country — including those that are largely Hispanic — that led to Trump’s victory.

Why would Hispanics vote for Trump, despite his many anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican statements?

One answer: poverty. The Hispanic communities in the rural Southwest that moved toward Trump were some of the poorest in their states.

Take San MiguelGuadalupe, and Mora Counties in New Mexico, whose populations are 77.1, 79.2, and 80.2 percent Hispanic, respectively. These three counties have New Mexico’s lowest median household income, highest rates of unemployment, and lowest rates of labor market participation. The median income in these counties for families with a head of household between the ages of 25 and 44 is between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, or about half the national median income ($55,000) for families with heads in the same age range. These counties lost, on average, about 5 percent of their population between 2010 and 2015.

In other words, they’ve suffered the same tough economic circumstances as did some of the Midwestern counties that handed Trump the election. They’re more similar to than different from other forgotten counties across the United States, where voters upended the predictions of pollsters and shouted against the status quo.

Ruben Navarette Jr. wrote in The Daily Beast that the election “boiled down to a brutish tug-of-war between Latinos in the battleground states of the West … and working class whites in the Rust Belt” — let’s add the upper Midwest — and “in the end, Trump found enough white voters to offset losses with Latinos.”

 

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Bombshell Secret CIA Report Says Russia Aimed To Steal White House For Trump

A shocking secret CIA assessment has concluded that Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election expressly to help Donald Trump win, according to an exclusive report Friday by The Washington Post.

Until now, intelligence sources have indicated that Russian hacking throughout the campaign that repeatedly exposed information overwhelmingly embarrassing for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was an effort to undermine Americans’ faith in their government.

Now the intelligence community has concluded that Russia was clearly after a Trump victory and manipulated information to that end, according to sources who spoke to the newspaper.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” a senior U.S. official briefed on the CIA assessment told The Washington Post. “That’s the consensus view.” 

The Trump camp has dismissed the report — along with the credibility of the U.S. intelligence community. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” said a statement by the Trump transition team. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s time to move on and ‘Make America great again.’”

It’s no surprise Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted Trump in the White House. Trump praised the former KGB leader throughout the presidential campaign. He even called Putin a “more effective leader” than President Barack Obama.

Leaked information through hacking operations traced by U.S. intelligence to Russia was eerily silent on Trump and the Republican Party throughout the presidential campaign. Yet the same operations exposed troves of secret, sometimes embarrassing, personal communication involving Clinton and internal planning by the Democratic National Committee. 

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia hacked the Republican National Committee but chose not to release the information, according to a report in the New York Times late Friday.

In addition, intelligence officials discovered breaches by Russian government-linked hackers into the voter registration databases of at least two states.

Links to hackers and the Russian government were detected by U.S. intelligence earlier this year. But Trump dismissed a Russian hand in the operations. He again this week blasted the intelligence findings, even before the latest assessment emerged, as politically motivated and not based on hard evidence.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe [Russia] interfered,” Trump told Time magazine in his “Person of the Year” interview released Wednesday.

“That became a laughing point, not a talking point,” he added. “Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered.’”

The hacking, he said, “could be Russia, it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

Yet at one point during the campaign in July, he appeared to appeal to Russia for hacking help, saying: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from Clinton’s email servers. The seeming request for a foreign government to breach U.S. internet security sparked a storm of controversy, and Trump later insisted he was only being “sarcastic.”

In a September intelligence briefing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly expressed suspicion about Russian links to campaign hacking. He hasn’t commented on The Washington Post’s report on the latest CIA information.

The chilling assessment that it’s “quite clear” Russia’s goal was to get Trump elected was shared with key senators last week in a Capital Hill briefing, the Post reported. CIA officials cited a mounting body of evidence from several sources. Intelligence agencies have identified specific individuals with connections to the Russian government who are believed to have provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails, according to The Washington Post.

Obama has ordered a “full review” of Russian hacking in the campaign following pressure from Congress, the White House announced Friday. He expects to receive an intelligence report on any election interference before he leaves office. Congress will also be briefed on the report.

“We’ve seen in 2008, and this last election system, malicious cyber-activity,” Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters. “We may be crossing a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart those lessons learned.” 

 

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Trump recommits to mass deportation in fiery immigration speech

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Donald Trump's self-declared "softening" on immigration is gone, replaced by a recommitment to a hardline policy that could best be described as mass deportation.

Shouting his remarks to a fired-up crowd in Arizona, which has been home to some of the most contentious immigration policy fights of the last decade, Trump pledged a maximal approach that would target every undocumented immigrant in the country without mercy.

"There will be no amnesty," Trump said. "Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country."

The speech came just hours after Trump appeared in Mexico, where he struck a more conciliatory tone after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's warm-up speakers Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) wore "Make Mexico Great Again Also" hats.

"We will build a great wall along the southern border," Trump said in Arizona before being drowned out by cheers. "And Mexico will pay for the wall."

Whatever crisis of conscience Trump had this month after talking to Hispanic supporters and hearing tales of longtime residents torn from their families passed in the rear-view mirror. Instead, Trump used his remarks in Arizona to reassure his core supporters that he would focus on deporting criminals, but remain true to his original pledge to target all undocumented immigrants without mercy, whether illegal workers or DREAMers or the parents of U.S. citizens.

"We will set priorities, but unlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement," Trump said.

After repeating horrifying tales of murders and rapes committed by undocumented immigrants that he highlighted at his convention, Trump said that anyone who enters the country illegally would be "subject to deportation" and that "is what it means to have laws."

Trump's only advice to undocumented immigrants was to leave the country and try to enter legally. There is no current means for the overwhelming majority to do so -- many are barred under current law from even applying for years -- and Trump offered no plans to expedite their reentry. In fact, he suggested he would restrict legal immigration levels further in order to reduce competition with American workers.

Meanwhile, Trump promised a far more sweeping enforcement regime to carry out his hard turn.

He said he would create a "new special deportation task force" to focus on tracking criminals. But he also promised a major expansion of enforcement in general, including a recommitment to an earlier proposal to triple the number of ICE agents devoted to enforcing immigration laws within the country. He proposed requiring all businesses to use an e-verify system to screen illegal workers and a return to work-site raids.

"If we only enforce the laws against crime, then we have an open border to the entire world," Trump said.

Trump also pledged to deport any undocumented immigrant taken in by law enforcement without regard to the severity of their crime or whether they were convicted. To add teeth to this measure, he threatened to cut off federal funding to any "sanctuary city" that ordered local authorities not to work with federal immigration officials.

"We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime whatsoever and they will be placed in immediate removal proceedings — if we even have to do that," Trump said.

To the extent there was a pivot, it appeared to be from the hard right to the alt right.

"I think I'll watch this speech every night before going to bed so that I will sleep like a baby," conservative author Ann Coulter, who had chided Trump for waffling on immigration earlier this month, tweeted.

At the end, he offered a briefest nod to a possible point, far in the future, when he might consider a "discussion" about what to do with remaining undocumented population, a line that contradicted his earlier pledge in the speech to never entertain legalization.

But the overall message was clear. When it comes to Trump's platform now, and not in some hypothetical land where illegal immigration has been ended, the plan is mass deportation.

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