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Democrats Cry Foul Over ‘Rigged’ Primary Election

Prominent Democrats are expressing outrage over revelations from former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile that Hillary Clinton’s campaign rigged the primary election against rival Bernie Sanders.

Brazile, in an excerpt from her upcoming book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, claims that prior to securing the party’s nomination, Clinton, through a joint fundraising agreement signed with the DNC, agreed to finance the DNC in exchange for power over the organization’s operations.

Normally, a nominee wouldn’t exert control over the national party apparatus until after accepting the nomination. According to Brazile, though, the Clinton camp took control of DNC operations in August 2015, nearly a year before Clinton accepted the nomination.

Brazile said the arrangement was “not illegal, but it sure looked unethical.”

“If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity,” she wrote.

The DNC is, ostensibly, a neutral organization meant to facilitate the contest between Clinton and Sanders, though Sanders supporters had long claimed the party showed a clear preference for Clinton.

Several prominent Democrats were quick to pounce on Brazile’s claims. Senator Elizabeth Warren, when asked by CNN if she believes the DNC rigged the primary contest against Sanders, said one word: “Yes.”

Warren, who campaigned heavily for Clinton during the election, called the Clinton revelations “a real problem” for Democrats.

“What we’ve got to do as Democrats now is, we’ve got to hold this party accountable,” she said.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who previously served as the DNC vice-chairwoman, called for a complete overhaul of campaign finance laws and a restructuring of the national party in response to the revelations the DNC rigged the nomination process in favor of Clinton.

“The DNC secretly chose their nominee over a year before the primary elections even occurred. This shines a light on how deeply broken our campaign finance laws are, and how they’ve weakened individual candidates while strengthening and empowering political parties and special interests,” Gabbard says in a video released Friday.

Gabbard said campaign finance laws “allowed the Clinton campaign to bypass individual campaign contribution limits by funneling millions of dollars through the DNC and state parties — taking control of the DNC in the process.”

Brazile laid out in her book, published by Politico, how the Clinton campaign used the DNC as “a fund-raising clearinghouse” in order to skirt election finance laws. Individuals are allowed to contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign, but the limits for state parties and the national committee are a lot higher.

Under the joint fundraising agreement Clinton signed with the DNC, individuals could write a check for $353,400 to the joint account. The money would first be deposited in state party accounts, before being transferred back to the DNC, and on to Clinton.

“Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn,” Brazile wrote, referencing the Clinton campaign headquarters in New York.

Ties to Obama

According to Brazile, former President Barack Obama and former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz left the DNC $24 million in debt following the 2012 presidential election, which led to the “unethical” agreement with the Clinton campaign.

“What had happened?” Brazile wrote. “The party chair usually shrinks the staff between presidential election campaigns, but Debbie had chosen not to do that. She had stuck lots of consultants on the DNC payroll, and Obama’s consultants were being financed by the DNC, too.”

The Clinton campaign cleared up the pre-existing debt left behind by the Obama campaign and, in return, the DNC agreed to let the Clinton campaign “control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised,” Brazile said.

Brazile took over as chairwoman of the DNC when her predecessor, Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign after emails released by WikiLeaks appeared to show her coordinating party efforts with the Clinton campaign.

Trump Calls Russia Probe ‘Disgrace" Wants Clinton Investigation

U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday federal probes into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election to help him win are a “disgrace,” and he questioned why investigators are not looking into a disclosure the Democratic National Committee acted improperly in favor of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during last year’s primary election season.

Trump raised questions about the DNC controversy in a series of tweets prior to departing for a 12-day trip to Asia, and one day after former interim DNC Chairwomen Donna Brazile disclosed an agreement between the DNC and Clinton’s campaign that effectively allowed Clinton to reign over the party’s finances and other operations before the primary elections began.

“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems..,” Trump tweeted.

 

In a second tweet, Trump referred to Brazile’s revelation, which was made in her new book, and cited a number of other issues surrounding Clinton and the DNC.

“…New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus….”

In yet another tweet, the president then turned his attention back to federal investigators, whom he suggested are not doing their job effectively.

“….People are angry. At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!”

Trump implied in his fourth tweet that allegations are untrue his presidential campaign colluded with Russia to capture the White House last year.

“The real story on Collusion is in Donna B’s new book. Crooked Hillary bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary from Crazy Bernie!”

In an apparent reference to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, the president used his derogatory nickname for her, in reference to an interview Warren had with CNN Thursday, saying she believed the Democratic primary elections were rigged to help Clinton win.

“Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.”

Before leaving the White House for his trip to Asia — his longest foreign presidential trip to date — the Republican president criticized the probes into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia and again turned his attention to the Democrats.

“There was no collusion, there was no nothing. It’s a disgrace frankly that they continue.” He added: “… they should be looking at the Democrats,” he said. “They should be looking at a lot of things and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”

After Trump departed for his trip abroad aboard Air Force One, he resumed his tweeting, suggesting supporters of Clinton’s Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders are angry about his loss in the primary elections.

“Bernie Sanders supporters have every right to be apoplectic of the complete theft of the Dem primary by Crooked Hillary!”

“I always felt I would be running and winning against Bernie Sanders, not Crooked H, without cheating, I was right.”

The president’s focus on the Democrats comes four days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged two former Trump campaign aides in connection with the probe into Russia’s attempt to influence last year’s presidential election.

Paul Manafort, who for three months was Trump’s campaign chairman last year, and former business associate Rick Gates, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington as part of Mueller’s criminal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. They were the first charges Mueller has made public in his five-month probe, although the allegations did not relate directly to the election.

Manafort was charged with conspiring against the U.S., money laundering, and lying to the government as part of a wide-ranging lobbying effort for former Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych.

In addition, Mueller disclosed that former Trump foreign affairs adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty October 5 to lying to federal agents in January about his contacts with people “he understood to have close connections to senior Russian government officials.”

As he spoke with reporters Friday at the White House, Trump said he has few recollections about a March 16 meeting with Papadopoulos, at which Papadopoulos allegedly offered to set up a meeting for the candidate with Vladimir Putin.

“I don’t remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time ago. Don’t remember much about it,” said Trump.

Trump’s flurry of activity on Twitter Friday came hours after one of his Twitter accounts, “(@realDonaldTrump),” was deactivated for 11 minutes Thursday evening.

Twitter initially said the account had been inadvertently deleted due to human error, but later said it was deactivated by an employee on the worker’s last day on the job.

“We are conducting a full internal review,” the company said.

 

Trump: American Public ‘Deserves’ Clinton Investigation

President Donald Trump said Friday the American public “deserves” a federal investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.

Trump launched a multi-part Twitter attack criticizing his former 2016 rival. Trump writes: “Crooked Hillary bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary from Crazy Bernie!” He adds it’s the “real story on Collusion.”

Trump’s accusation follows Politico’s publication of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor. Brazile writes that she believes no laws were violated, but that a funding agreement “looked unethical.”

Late Thursday, Trump tweeted without evidence that he believed they had acted “illegally.”

In subsequent tweets Friday, Trump highlighted criticism of the DNC from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom he has mocked by calling her “Pocahontas.” He also called on federal authorities to launch an investigation.

“Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.,” he tweeted.

The fundraising agreement, signed in August 2015 during the primary process, was unusual for an open seat and, according to Brazile, gave the Clinton campaign oversight of some DNC decisions. Months later, Clinton’s chief challenger, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, signed his own agreement with the party.

Trump and his campaign are subjects of a wide-ranging investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. The White House has repeatedly sought to turn the attention of the probe, which is looking into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, to Clinton and her campaign.

Ivanka Trump: World Needs More Women in STEM Fields

Ivanka Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter and informal adviser, told a summit in Tokyo Friday that the world must boost women and minority participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Ivanka Trump, seen as an important influence on her father, has made women’s issues one of her signature policy areas since beginning her role at the White House. Her comments came ahead of her father’s trip to Asia, his first since taking office in January, that begins in Japan on Sunday.

 

WATCH: Ivanka Trump on Women’s Participation in STEM Fields

“Female and minority participation in STEM fields is moving in the wrong direction,” she said at the World Assembly for Women summit. “We must create equal participation in these traditionally male-dominated sectors of our economy.”

She said her father’s tax reforms, unveiled by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, would benefit American families.

“We are seeking to simplify the tax code, lower rates, expand the child tax credit, eliminate the marriage penalty, and put more money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans,” she told a meeting room in a Tokyo hotel that had a number of empty seats.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government was aiming to mobilize women in Japan’s workforce and boost economic growth, launching policies such as improved childcare in his “Womenomics” program.

“We’ve put our full strength into creating an environment where it’s easy for women to work,” Abe said in an opening address to the conference. “I really feel that Japan has come a long way,” he said. 

Japan’s gender gap remains wide despite such efforts, with little progress made since Abe vowed at the United Nations in 2013 to create “a society where women can shine.”

Japan ranked 114 out of 144 in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report, sandwiched between Guinea and Ethiopia and down 13 places since Abe took power.

Abe appointed only two women to ministerial posts in a Cabinet reshuffle in August, down from three and five respectively in his previous two Cabinets. Only 14 percent of Japan’s lawmakers are women.

Men also dominate decision-making in business in Japan. Only 3.7 percent of Japanese-listed company executives were women at the end of July, according to the Cabinet Office, barely changed from 3.4 percent a year earlier.

 

Twitter Employee ‘Inadvertently’ Deactivates Trump Account

President Donald Trump’s @realdonaldtrump Twitter account was “inadvertently deactivated” by a Twitter Inc. employee Thursday and was down for 11 minutes before it was restored, the social media company said.

“Earlier today @realdonaldtrump’s account was inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee,” the company said in a tweet.

“We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again,” it added.

A Twitter representative declined to comment further. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has made extensive use of messages on Twitter to attack his opponents and promote his policies, both during the 2016 presidential campaign and since taking office in January. He has 41.7 million followers on Twitter.

His first tweet after Thursday’s outage:

In a similar incident last November, Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s account was briefly suspended as a result of what he said was an internal mistake.

Facebook Pressured to Notify People Who Saw Russian Posts

Facebook received several tongue-lashings during U.S. congressional hearings this week, but the world’s largest social network also got an assignment: Figure out how to notify tens of millions of Americans who might have been fed Russian propaganda.

U.S. lawmakers and some tech analysts are pressing the company to identify users who were served about 80,000 posts on Facebook, 120,000 on its Instagram picture-sharing app, and 3,000 ads that the company has traced to alleged Russian operatives, and to inform them.

The posts from Russia were designed to divide Americans, particularly around the 2016 U.S. elections, according to Facebook, U.S. intelligence agencies and lawmakers. The Russian government has denied it tried to meddle in the elections.

“When you discover a deceptive foreign government presentation on your platform, my presumption, from what you’ve said today — you’ll stop it and take it down,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed told Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday.

“Do you feel an obligation, in turn, to notify those people who have accessed that? And can you do that? And shouldn’t you do that?” Reed asked.

Stretch responded that he was not sure Facebook could identify the people because its estimates have relied on modeling, rather than actual counts, but he did not rule it out.

“The technical challenges associated with that undertaking are substantial,” Stretch said.

Critics of Facebook on social media and in media interviews have expressed skepticism, noting that the company closely tracks user activity such as likes and clicks for advertising purposes.

Facebook declined to comment on Thursday.

As many as 126 million people could have been served the posts on Facebook and 20 million on Instagram, according to company estimates.

Social media critics

Many of them will not believe they were manipulated unless Facebook tells them, said Tristan Harris of Time Well Spent, an organization critical of advertising-based social media.

“Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene, and they’re the only ones with access to what happened,” Harris, an ex-Google employee, said in an interview Thursday.

The 2.1 billion people with active Facebook accounts often get notifications from the service, on everything from birthdays and upcoming events to friend requests and natural disasters.

Shortly before 6 p.m. EDT on Thursday, more than 83,000 people had signed a Change.org online petition asking Facebook to tell users about the Russian posts.

Lawyers for Twitter and Alphabet’s Google also said their companies would consider notifying customers.

The intelligence committee’s vice chairman, Senator Mark Warner, drew an analogy to another industry.

“If you were in a medical facility, and you got exposed to a disease, the medical facility would have to tell the folks who were exposed,” Warner said.

IN PHOTOS: A Look at Russian Social Media Election ‘Meddling’

‘Duty to warn’

U.S. law includes a concept known as “post-sale duty to warn,” which may require notifying previous buyers if a manufacturer discovers a problem with a product.

That legal duty likely does not apply to Facebook, said Christopher Robinette, a law professor at Widener University in Pennsylvania. He said courts would likely rule that social media posts are not a product but a service, which is exempt from the duty. Courts also do not want to interfere in free speech, he said.

Robinette added, though, that he thought notifications to users would be a good idea. “This strikes me as a fairly significant problem,” he said.

Social Media Companies Face Tough Congressional Questions on Russian Election Interference

Facebook, Twitter and Google executives testified in public before Senate and House investigations into Russian election interference for the first time Wednesday, amid disclosures that Russian influence on social media platforms was much wider in scope than previously understood. The lawmakers had tough questions for the Silicon Valley executives as VOA’s Katherine Gypson reports from Capitol Hill.

New York Uzbeks Seek Greater Community Outreach, Societal Inclusion

As U.S. authorities seek motives that might have led 29-year-old suspect Sayfullo Saipov to run down and kill innocent pedestrians and cyclists in Lower Manhattan, New York’s Uzbek community believes his radicalization can be attributed in part to a lack of language and culture-specific inclusion among Uzbek nationals attempting to integrate into U.S. culture.

Trump Election Anniversary Approaches

Wednesday, Nov. 8, marks the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election as the 45th U.S. president. Trump’s surprise election sent shockwaves across the country and around the world, but his first nine months in office have often been chaotic. Trump has followed through on some of his election promises, but failed on others. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.