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Democratic Lawmakers Further Investigate Russia’s Involvement In U.S. Election

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump who has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as a fruitless "witch hunt," dismissed the sharing of data with Kilimnik as inconsequential. 

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Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves U.S. District Court after a hearing in Washington, May 23, 2018. VOA

Senior Democratic lawmakers called Wednesday for further investigation into a revelation that in 2016 Donald Trump’s then-presidential election campaign chairman gave polling data to a man U.S. prosecutors have linked to Russian intelligence.

On Tuesday, portions of a court filing by lawyers for convicted former Trump campaign head Paul Manafort were inadvertently made public. They showed he shared the data with a business partner and Russian-Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik.

Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee’s new Democratic chairman, noted that Schiff had described the revelation as “stunning” to The Washington Post. He referred Reuters to Schiff’s statement that lawmakers on the committee “need to find out” about Manafort’s interaction with Kilimnik on polling data.

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller has charged Manafort and Kilimnik in its investigation of Russian interference in the election and whether Trump campaign members coordinated with Moscow officials. Trump denies any campaign collusion with Russia.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, speaks to the media about national security as North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, right, listens, in Greensboro, N.C., Sept. 26, 2014. V

 

Warner’s call

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been conducting a bipartisan investigation into Russian election meddling, also called for further probing of the matter.

“If accurate, this is damning evidence of a senior Trump campaign official providing information to individuals tied to Russian intelligence at the height of the Kremlin’s effort to undermine our election,” Warner said.

There is no evidence that Trump was aware that Manafort was sharing the data with Kilimnik, who was described by Mueller in court documents last year as having “ties to a Russian intelligence service.”

Rep. Jackie Speier of California, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the revelations raised new questions about possible “collusion” between Trump’s election team and Russia.

“It’s a significant revelation that further makes the case for cooperation between the president’s team and Russia on steering the outcome of the 2016 election,” Speier told Reuters.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2017. VOA

Tuesday’s court filing was submitted by Manafort’s lawyers in response to allegations that their client had lied repeatedly to Mueller, breaching a plea deal under which Manafort agreed to assist Mueller’s probe.

Because of a formatting error, the redacted portions of the filing as initially submitted could be electronically reversed, and an uncensored version was circulated by journalists and others on the Internet. It was later replaced with a properly redacted version.

‘Ukrainian peace plan’

In addition to the polling data revelation, the filing also showed that Mueller believes Manafort lied to prosecutors about his discussions with Kilimnik about a “Ukrainian peace plan” and a previously undisclosed meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik in Madrid. Manafort’s lawyers said any incorrect statements by him were unintentional.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former Trump campaign aide told Reuters that he was unaware Manafort had shared data with Kilimnik and found the news “disturbing” and especially problematic because the data were provided to a foreign national.

Also Read: The Senate Judiciary Committee is Renewing Its Attempt To Protect Special Counselor Robert Muller

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump who has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as a fruitless “witch hunt,” dismissed the sharing of data with Kilimnik as inconsequential.

“It’s not a crime to talk to a Russian,” Giuliani said. “They are searching for what doesn’t exist. The president did not conspire with the Russians.”

Giuliani also said Wednesday that Trump’s legal team told Mueller that the president will not answer any more questions in the investigation. (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s why Americans Prefer Single-Family Homes

Are Americans Ready to Let Go of Single-Family Homes?

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This is a great way for (homeowners) to rent out their basement, or rent out half their homes. VOA

By Dora Mekouar

For decades, many Americans have viewed owning their own home as a tangible symbol of the American Dream. But the question of whether that dream includes dividing one single-family home into two — along with other higher housing density options — is about to be tested in a handful of states nationwide.

Virginia is one of the latest states to tackle the affordable housing crisis by considering zoning rules to allow denser — and, potentially, more affordable — housing, in any area now zoned for single-family homes.

“If a property owner feels it fits their need to upgrade to a duplex from a single family’s owned property, then they will go about it through a local approval process,” says Virginia House Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, who represents a district in suburban Washington, D.C. “After the local approval process is completed, then they can create their two families’ owned property as they see fit.”

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Virginia lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow an accessory dwelling, for example, a separate structure, basement apartment or garage apartment, on lots zoned for single homes. VOA

Samirah introduced a bill to allow duplex homes, like townhouses and cottages, in any place that’s currently zoned for single-family homes. The specifics of what those multi-family properties would look like will be left to local governments. The bill does not ban single-family homes.

It’s the kind of move toward creating more affordable housing that’s already been introduced on the West Coast of the United States. Oregon was the first state in the country to ban restrictive single-family zoning in July 2019.

Planning experts and local officials say suburban sprawl has negative impacts on the environment, puts a heavier burden on local services, isolates people, and excludes lower income households and households with people of color from certain communities through economic means.

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In Virginia, builder Carrington Homes offers an accessory dwelling unit, a second living unit (left), as an option for their new homes. VOA

A 2019 Harvard housing report found a “relative lack of smaller, more affordable new homes.” The same report finds that about half of all renter households nationwide spend almost one-third of their income on housing.

But the move away from single-family zoning won’t be an easy one.

“At some level, that development pattern is really uniquely American,” says Robert Parker, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon.

“People who have lived, and grew up, in low-density suburban developments have a strong preference for that. They can’t really envision a future that’s substantially different than that.”

The size of the average house has more than doubled since the 1950s. In 2019, the average size of a new single-family home was 240 square meters (2,584 square feet), according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

Americans clearly like their space. But millennials — people in their mid-20s to late 30s who make up the nation’s largest living generation — have their own ideas about what the ideal home looks like, according to a Portland, Oregon-area survey cited by Parker.

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Christine Minnehan sweeps up in front of her “granny flat” located in the backyard of her Sacramento, Calif home . VOA

“Eighty percent of them would prefer to live in a detached, single-family residence, and so it really begins to become a matter of scale and amenity,” Parker says. “A lot of those those younger households are really looking for smaller units in walkable neighborhoods and, increasingly, the development community is beginning to recognize that and thinking about ways that they can build those environments.”

Samirah, the Virginia delegate, expects some pushback from people who are worried their neighborhoods could become less desirable, but he says correctly organizing density can benefit property owners, including those who are struggling financially.

“People think it’s going to be a major shift in the landscape of suburbia. I think that’s a false narrative,” Samirah says. “This is a great way for (homeowners) to rent out their basement, or rent out half their house, or whatever it may be…If you’re thinking of retiring, instead of selling your house and moving out to another area, it also helps them keep their families in place.”

“You can have a mixture of densities that’s not detrimental to a set of lifestyles that people hold very dear, that will allow housing choice for households that are struggling to find housing that’s affordable to them in environments that are conducive to the lifestyles that they would like to lead,” Parker says.

Also Read- 2000-2019: The Hottest Decade Measured

He adds that the suburban way of life isn’t going anywhere in the near future.

“There’s little that we can do to retrofit suburbia moving forward so that land use pattern is pretty well ingrained and it’s going to be there for generations.” (VOA)