Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Report: No direct link between Donald Trump and Russian government

Seven days before Election Day, one senses that the major news organizations are rushing out their presidential backgrounders.

This morning, the New York Times explains how Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used the loss of other people’s money to avoid paying taxes. On the other hand, the same newspaper appears to acquit Trump of having improper connections to Russian president Vladimir Putin:  

For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.


Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.


More from that Survey USA poll commissioned by 11Alive: Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson touches the 50 percent mark in his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. The poll also registers 54 percent disapproval of Amendment 1, the proposed change to the state constitution that would permit the state to take over individual failing schools. Crosstabs can be found here.


Joe Whitley, appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as U.S. attorney in Georgia, was on GPB’s “Political Rewind” on Monday to discuss the decision by FBI Director James Come to inform Congress of a new cache of emails that may or may not be related to the agency’s investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server.

Should Clinton win the presidency next Tuesday, Whitley suggested that Comey, in the third year of a 10-year term, might choose to leave early:

“One of the reasons that the FBI director serves a 10-year term is to sort of remove him from the political apparatus. However, the trust and confidence of the president you serve is really important. I’ve seen situations where the president has lost trust in the FBI director…

“In those situations, the director may make a decision to choose to move along. It’s a town where politics is not beanbag, and it’s a tough situation for the director to be in. I think he might have looked into the crystal ball and thought about what the consequences might be.”


Another day, another domino falls within Gov. Nathan Deal's administration. Clyde Reese, the head of the Georgia Department of Community Health, will fill an opening on the state Court of Appeals left vacant by the retirement of Herbert Phipps. The appointment of the 57-year-old was a bit of a surprise, given that Reese has never tried a case.

Phipps, meanwhile, had served on every bench in Dougherty County before he was tapped for the appeals court about 17 years ago. The Daily Report has more from Reese's application for the post:

Reese also noted his current position involves leading the largest health agency in state government, with an annual budget of more than $14 million.


"Despite my lack of courtroom or judicial experience," Reese wrote, "I feel I am well qualified for this vacancy due to the depth and breadth of my legal career."

Reese's departure comes just as hospitals and the Georgia Chamber are making the case for expanding Medicaid coverage, in some fashion, under the Affordable Care Act. So who replaces Reese, who has overseen the program, becomes quite important.


Ouch. Ohio Gov. John Kasich made good on his vow not to vote for rival Donald Trump, instead writing in Arizona Sen. John McCain for president on his absentee ballot, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Kasich's refusal to support the Republican nominee after dropping out of the presidential race has reportedly stuck with Trump. McCain's reaction to Kasich's nod, meanwhile, was short and sweet:


Our friend Todd Rehm of GaPundit fame points us to a Macon Telegraph video on this:

A saxophone made famous by president-elect Bill Clinton, who played it in a 1992 visit to Macon, is being sold as part of the Bob Barnette estate. Barnette, the former director of the Sugar Bear Band of Central High School, died in April of 2016.


Democrat Jim Barksdale has sought to tie U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. According to the GOP press release, turnabout is fair game:

"By sending and receiving classified information on her private e-mail server, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put our country and innocent, American lives in danger," said John Padgett, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.  "If Jim Barksdale continues to back Clinton, he is simply putting politics and party ahead of the people he wants to serve in the United States Senate.  It's time for Barksdale to withdraw his endorsement and condemn the reckless, egregious behavior of Hillary Clinton."


New Yorker magazine has a thorough look at the plight of evangelicals – specifically, the Southern Baptist Convention – in this age of Donald Trump.


Advocates of the half-penny sales tax for the expansion of MARTA rail within the city of Atlanta will host a bash at 7 p.m. this evening at the Atlanta History Center. Attendees include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, MARTA board chairman Robbie Ashe and MARTA general manager and CEO Keith Parker. Judging by Ashe’s wardrobe, at right, the event is not a black-tie affair.


A group of Kennesaw State University students, faculty and others are planning a rally this afternoon on the school's campus green to protest Sam Olens being named the university's president earlier this month.

The Facebook invitation for the event is vague about its organizers. It lists concern about the then-Georgia attorney general being named to the university's top post by the state Board of Regents "without a national search." About three-dozen people have RSVP'ed.


What's there to do on Halloween for a politician who doesn't have to worry about an opponent on next week's ballot?

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.