President Donald Trump should discuss Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the U.S. election in November in an effort to fill intelligence gaps, Senator John McCain said. “I would very much like to see the president address this issue including the issue we continue to wrestle with that is the Russian interference in the last election,” McCain said Saturday at a German Marshall Fund forum in Brussels. “There are a lot of answers that are required.” FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee this week that the bureau is probing Russian efforts to “interfere” in the Nov. 8 election, as well as potential ties between Trump’s associates and Moscow during the campaign. The president’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired for making misleading statements about contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak a few weeks before the inauguration.
The Voting News
National: Schiff: Nunes needs to decide if he wants to lead a credible investigation on Russia | The Hill
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) needs to decide if he wants to conduct a credible investigation into the Russian meddling in the presidential election. “We can’t have a credible investigation if one of the members, indeed the chairman, takes all the information he has seen to the White House and doesn’t share it with his own committee,” Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the panel, said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” Schiff was further pressed on whether he believes the chairman of the committee is a “tool of the White House he’s investigating.”
National: Chairman and partisan: The dual roles of Devin Nunes raise questions about House investigation | The Washington Post
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was on his way to an event in Washington late Tuesday when the evening’s plans abruptly changed. After taking a brief phone call, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) swapped cars and slipped away from his staff, congressional officials said. He appears to have used that unaccounted-for stretch of time to review classified intelligence files brought to his attention by sources he has said he will not name. The next morning, Nunes stepped up to a set of microphones in the Capitol complex to declare that he had learned that U.S. spy agencies had “incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Within hours President Trump was declaring that he had been vindicated for his tweets alleging that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Public attention on the revelation that the FBI was investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow had shifted to questions about whether Trump officials were victims of spying abuse. And by week’s end, a congressional probe capable of threatening Trump was consumed in partisan fighting and scheduling turmoil.
U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented datapublished by an influential British think tank. In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists. VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wasted no time Thursday signing legislation that opponents say would make it tougher to get citizen initiatives on the ballot, but supporters say will reduce fraud in signature gathering. Ducey signed the measure into law less than three hours after it received final House approval. House Bill 2404 bans groups seeking to put an initiative on the ballot from paying petition circulators by the signature and makes it easier to challenge citizen initiatives in court. The governor’s action gives Republicans and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry a victory in one of their top priorities of the year. House Bill 2404 was approved by the Senate Wednesday, with no votes from Democrats, and the House followed Thursday, also without Democratic support.
Arkansas’ governor signed a measure Friday requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, reinstating a voter ID law that was struck down by the state’s highest court more than two years ago. The bill signed by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson closely mirrors the law enacted by the Legislature in 2013 that was found unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court the following year. The latest law is aimed at addressing the argument by some justices that the 2013 law didn’t receive enough votes in the Legislature to be enacted. Unlike that measure, the latest version of the requirement allows voters with a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identity.
State Rep. Emily Slosberg has proposed legislation to make it illegal for candidates to go into people’s homes and help them fill out their vote-by-mail ballot, closing a loophole revealed in a recent Palm Beach Post investigation. Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, cited The Post’s story when she proposed an amendment Wednesday to make the practice a third-degree felony. But she withdrew the amendment for the time being at the recommendation of a colleague. The freshman legislator said she was alarmed by Post stories that revealed that Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard and state Rep. Al Jacquet, both Democrats, won their seats after entering people’s homes and helping them fill out vote-by-mail ballots. Although their behavior drew condemnation from experts who believe it’s an improper campaign tactic, Florida’s laws did not make it illegal.
Kansas: House bill revoking Kobach’s appointment power held ‘hostage’ by GOP chairman | Topeka Capital-Journal
A Republican committee chairman formally submitted a bill Friday to the full House stripping Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach of power to pick the top election officer in the state’s four most populous counties after Democrats complained the legislation had inexplicably disappeared. Rep. Keith Esau, chairman of the House Elections Committee, said bill-drafting issues, instead of his personal opposition to the measure, delayed presentation of the measure to the House in accordance with a rule requiring delivery within two legislative work days. More than a week elapsed between the committee’s approval of Senate Bill 8 and the chairman’s compliance with the rule.
Pennsylvania: The 197th District has an unofficial winner, and an official investigation | Philadelphia Inquirer
The contentious and controversial special election for the 197th District of the state House has an unofficial winner — Democrat Emilio Vazquez. It also has an official investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office into allegations of voter fraud during Tuesday’s election. Staffers from the city’s Board of Elections spent Friday morning methodically combing through long reams of narrow paper tapes, calling out the votes for write-in candidates such as Vazquez. The count showed Vazquez winning with 73.5 percent of the vote. Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, who like Vazquez was kept off the ballot by a Commonwealth Court judge’s ruling, finished second with 10.5 percent. Other write-in candidates took a combined 8.6 percent.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a ruling that overturned the state’s Republican-drawn legislative districts. In a first-of-its kind decision last year, a panel of federal judges ruled Wisconsin’s legislative map was a partisan gerrymander that was “intended to burden the rights of Democratic voters” by making it harder for them to translate votes into legislative seats. In a separate order issued earlier this year, the court told lawmakers to redraw the map by Nov. 1 so it would be ready for the 2018 general election.