Quick Takes: What’s Up With Pence’s Investigation Into Voter Fraud?

* Because Trump depends on our short attention span to avoid accountability for his lies, I’m going to occasional revisit the outrageous one he told about 3-4 million people voting illegally. His attempt to cover that one up was to say that he was appointing VP Mike Pence to lead an investigation into the matter. So what’s up with that? Here is the most recent report I could find. It’s from NPR over a month ago:

You might be asking yourself, whatever happened to Vice President Mike Pence’s investigation into President Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally in November? It’s been over a month since the president said he would ask Pence to lead a “major investigation” into those claims and the overall issue of voter fraud.

Well, apparently, not much has happened so far. A spokesman for Pence said in an e-mail this week that they’re “still doing the necessary groundwork.” And White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that the Vice President has been “talking to folks potentially to serve on” his task force and that several secretaries of state have expressed interest.

But a spokesperson for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) says they’re unaware of any of their members being approached to participate in the investigation. And when NASS representatives went to the White House Tuesday to get an update on the vice president’s plans, they were told there was “no information to share” at this time.

In fact, it’s hard to find anyone involved in voting issues who’s been approached to be on the vice president’s task force — or at least to admit it.

NPR dropped the ball on this one. According to their headline, the investigation is “off to a slow start” when in reality, it’s not happening at all.

* This is dangerous.

Iran is sticking to the terms of its nuclear deal made with the Obama administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has concluded, but he questions whether sanctions should keep being lifted, given Iran’s continued support for terrorism.

The Secretary of State said the Trump administration was reviewing the lifting of sanctions against Iran, arguing that the country remains a sponsor of terrorism. Tillerson came to the conclusion Tuesday during a routine, quarterly report to Congress on Iran’s progress in the nuclear deal.

Reapplying sanctions would violate the terms of the groundbreaking deal signed with Iran by former President Barack Obama, Russia, China and EU partners.

* Yesterday, when I chronicled the Trump family’s ties to China, I left out one name that cropped up pretty regularly because I didn’t see anything concrete that was worth including. Today, Aaron Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey fill in the gaps.

Billionaire investor Steve Schwarzman’s newfound status as a trusted outside adviser for President Donald Trump has created blurred lines in which the Blackstone CEO is offering guidance on policies that could boost the fortunes of his company and his personal wealth.

The starkest example was Trump’s reversal last week on labeling China a currency manipulator — a central campaign pledge that could have dealt a major blow to U.S.-China relations. While many factors likely played into Trump’s decision, including the president’s desire to encourage China to get tough on North Korea, it also followed extensive advice Schwarzman had given the president on the topic, warning Trump against such a move.

Even if Schwarzman was acting in the capacity of an economic expert, those policy changes directly help Schwarzman’s bottom line as CEO of Blackstone, the private equity giant.

That is a perfect example of how Trump develops his policies. Even when he might get it right, it’s for the wrong reason.

* I’m not sure whether this is good or bad news, given AG Sessions’ radical agenda. But it certainly represents incompetence.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making aggressive law enforcement a top priority, directing his federal prosecutors across the country to crack down on illegal immigrants and “use every tool” they have to go after violent criminals and drug traffickers.

But the attorney general does not have a single U.S. attorney in place to lead his tough-on-crime efforts across the country. Last month, Sessions abruptly told the dozens of remaining Obama administration U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations immediately — and none of them, or the 47 who had already left, have been replaced.

* Recently we learned that Blackwater founder Eric Prince went on a clandestine trip in January to meet with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Keri Geiger and Michael Riley just reported yesterday that Prince was an active advisor to Trump during the transition with close ties to Michael Flynn. In light of all that, it is interesting to listen to this November 4th interview he did with Breitbart. It happened two days before FBI Director Comey sent a letter to Congress stating that the emails on Huma Abedin’s computer were all duplicates. Was Price engaging in “active measures” to spread fake news and lies about Clinton? You tell me.

* Finally, I suppose that Trump will react to this photo comparison the same way he did to the ones comparing his inaugural crowd to that of Obama’s. So be it.

Apparently the people who didn’t show were “StandingPats.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.