By Glenn R. Simpson and
Mr. Simpson and Mr. Fritsch are the founders of Fusion GPS.
“As the founders of Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the reports by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele that raised some of the earliest warnings of Russia’s actions, we’re willing to clear up some of the nonsense now so abundant on the right.
House Republicans like Representatives Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan seem eager to portray Fusion as co-conspirators with the Ukrainians in some devilish plot to undermine Mr. Trump’s 2016 candidacy. That could not be farther from the truth. None of the information in the so-called Steele dossier came from Ukrainian sources. Zero. And we’ve never met Serhiy Leshchenko, the Ukrainian former legislator and journalist whom Republicans want to blame for the downfall of Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
That said, our investigation of Donald Trump did get a great boost because of Ukraine, just not in the way Republicans imagine. We began looking into Mr. Trump’s business dealings and ties to Russia in the fall of 2015 with funding from Republicans who wanted to stop his political ascent. The Ukraine alarms went off six months later, when candidate Trump brought into his campaign none other than Mr. Manafort, a man with his own tangled history with Russian oligarchs trying to get their way in Ukraine.
It turns out we already knew a great deal about Mr. Manafort’s activities in Ukraine because we worked on several stories about his work for Russian-backed politicians eight years earlier, when we were both still writing for The Wall Street Journal. That reporting threw a spotlight on how Mr. Manafort, while representing clients involved in fierce geopolitical struggles over Ukraine, had neglected to comply with a lobbying law requiring that he register as a foreign agent — the very law, among others, to which he pleaded guilty of violating.”
“On Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, not far from where I live, there’s a small neighborhood hardware store called Chelsea Convenience Hardware, which is distinguished by its unlikely display of dozens of Russian nesting dolls in the storefront window. Inside, tools and supplies are piled to the ceiling, and when you enter, the owner, Naum Feygin, an immigrant from Boris Yeltsin’s Russia, looks up to ask you what you need.
The “convenience” in the store’s name is no misnomer, for the place is extraordinarily efficient. It is cheaper and faster than ordering from Amazon and offers expert advice that reduces the risk of buying the wrong thing. It is all too easy on Amazon, for example, to buy halogen bulbs that don’t fit your lamp base; Mr. Feygin has spared me many such headaches. And the store’s small size is a virtue: Unlike at Home Depot, you can be in and out in 10 minutes.
Nonetheless, Chelsea Convenience is set to close at the end of November, another casualty of rising commercial rents and competition from e-commerce. The closing is of no great economic significance, other than to Mr. Feygin. But it is a microcosm of the forces reshaping the United States economy, often paradoxically and for the worse. Why is a less efficient, less personalized and more wasteful way of buying screws and plungers — ordering online — displacing the local hardware store?”
Margret Renkle is not like any other journalist I follow. She writes today mostly about gratitude to her mother and her female ancestors It might be iimpossible to read this and not insert yourself into the story she weaves, with your own losses and loves, and family heros.
She writes,: “I’m the keeper of other family rings: my great-grandmother’s, my grandmother’s, my mother-in-law’s. From time to time I would take them out to ponder for a moment, but I never thought to wear them. Along with my mother, these women are at the very heart of the essay collection that was about to send me out on a book tour, and one day it finally dawned on me that their wedding rings would make the perfect talismans against fear. They would remind me that worry is pointless, that fretting about my own shortcomings as a public speaker would not in any way make me a better public speaker. I took out the wedding rings of all my treasured forebears and put them on.
In what might be another minor miracle, for we are clearly in the realm of magical thinking here, it worked. I stood in front of microphone after microphone, spinning the thin bands around my fingers, and I looked out upon all those strangers, and, lo, I was not afraid.”
“But here’s why I’m ultimately optimistic: I see how much the election of Mr. Trump acted as an impetus for people who care about democracy to get involved. The 2018 election registered the highest turnout midterm election in 104 years, and the smart money is on a similarly high turnout election in 2020. It may sound strange to say, but Mr. Trump’s election may yet turn out to be the shock and near-death experience that American political system needed to right itself.
I’m also optimistic because the one reform with the most potential to break our zero-sum partisanship, ranked-choice voting, is gaining tremendous momentum at the state and local level. In 2018, Maine became the first state to use ranked-choice voting for federal elections (after Mainers approved it in two statewide referendums). This month, New York City voters adopted it. Also in 2020, expect voters in Alaska and Massachusetts to decide whether they want in on ranked-choice voting.
By removing the spoiler effect of third parties, ranked-choice voting can break the us-versus-them force driving our partisan warfare, and create space for a political realignment that creates new coalitions to shape economic reforms and negotiate social change.”
Susan Rice has just written what I wanted to say about these brave and articulate Foreign Service officers etc.. She wrote:
“Second, these hearings have amply demonstrated the extraordinary caliber and character of our nonpartisan career Foreign Service officers, civil servants and uniformed military personnel. The intellect, integrity, selflessness and sense of duty displayed by each of the officials who testified — even in the face of harsh personal attacks and efforts at witness intimidation orchestrated by the president — are extraordinary. They reflect the commitment to country that I witnessed every day for 16 years when I was privileged to serve alongside these kinds of apolitical officers.
Yet Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have denigrated and demeaned these public servants, placing them in physical danger — just because they prioritized their duty to the law and the Constitution above slavish devotion to any president. Beyond this disgrace, the president and his acolytes are assassinating the collective character of all career public servants — disparaging them as the “Deep State,” “Never-Trumpers” and un-American.
In rhetoric that recalls the darkest days of McCarthyism, Republican leaders will seemingly stop at nothing to destroy public faith in our public servants. This is the very “deconstruction of the administrative state” that Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, heralded as the administration’s goal. And who wins when the State Department, intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the Pentagon struggle to attract and retain top talent? Not Americans. It serves only our adversaries who want to hollow out our bureaucracy, weaken our national institutions and discredit our democratic model.”