Appendix: Democrats Dally While Trump Guts Constitution, Decency, Democracy

 

This tab provides supplementary reading, including source articles, for the Justice Integrity Project column published for the July 4, 2019 holiday, Democrats Dally While Trump Guts Constitution, Decency, Democracy.

The column began:

While the tyrant Donald Trump prepares to reward his Republican donors with prime seating for his taxpayer-funded July democratic debate june27 2019 nypost health for illegals SmallFourth political rally on the National Mall, the American public deserves answers about why the nation's other top officials cannot muster effective responses to his years of law breaking, including his corrupt giveaways as president to family and business cronies --  and his financial alliances with murderous dictators.

The materials are arranged in reverse chronological order below. They total too much material to include as an appendix to the column.

 

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July 17

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: ‘Trump’s Going to Get Re-elected, Isn’t He?’ Thomas L. Friedman, July 17, 2019. Voters have reason to worry. I’m struck at how many people have come up to me recently and said, “Trump’s going to get re-elected, isn’t he?” And in each case, when I drilled down to ask why, I bumped into the Democratic presidential debates in June. I think a lot of Americans were shocked by some of the things they heard there. I was.

I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans and have “Medicare for all” instead. I think we should strengthen Obamacare and eventually add a public option.

I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.

July 16

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Sets the 2020 Tone: Like 2016, Only This Time ‘the Squad’ Is Here, Jeremy W. Peters, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 16, 2019. With three days of attacks on four liberal, minority freshman congresswomen, President Trump and the Republicans have sent the clearest signal yet that their approach to 2020 will be a racially divisive reprise of the strategy that helped Mr. Trump narrowly capture the White House in 2016.

It is the kind of fight that the president relishes. He has told aides, in fact, that he is pleased with the Democratic reaction to his attacks, boasting that he is “marrying” the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, and the Democratic Party to the four congresswomen known as “the Squad.”

His efforts to stoke similar cultural and racial resentments during the 2018 midterm elections with fears of marauding immigrant caravans backfired as his party lost control of the House. But he is undeterred heading into his re-election campaign, betting that he can cast the entire Democratic Party as radical and un-American.

July 14

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump has completely unhinged psychotic racist meltdown, Bill Palmer, July 14, 2019. This past week Donald Trump lost his census battle and lost his Secretary of Labor, even as his Jeffrey Epstein scandal and his concentration camp scandal grew worse for him. So naturally, Trump did what he always does in these situations: he woke up today and tried to create a distraction. But this time around, Trump took things deep into the gutter even by his low standards.

donald trump twitterHere’s what Donald Trump tweeted:

“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

bill palmer report logo headerTo be clear, Trump is referring to the four freshman House Democrats who have been garnering a number of headlines this week. None of them are white. For that reason alone, Trump is telling them to “go back” to where they came from, even though three out of the four of them were born in the United States.

This means Trump is being equal parts racist and clueless. In Trump’s xenophobic mind, based on ethnicity alone, these four women must be foreigners.

U.S. House logoAlso, the four of them are talking about how the “government is to be run” because they were elected to Congress, and their job is literally to help determine how the government is to be run. Trump doesn’t appear to understand that when nonwhite people get elected to office, they have the same say as white people elected to office.

Because Donald Trump went so far beyond the pale with his latest hideous racist meltdown, it’ll receive a lot of negative attention, as it should. But then that’s his goal: Trump wants us to focus on his horrid words, so we’ll focus less on his horrid actions, horrid scandals, horrid crimes, and horrid illegitimate presidency.

U.S. Migrant Detentions

washington post logoWashington Post, Some border centers nearly empty while conditions in others remain dire, Nick Miroff, July 14, 2019 (print ed.).  In the ICE logoweeks since Mexico started an immigration crackdown, the migration wave has been disrupted. But the decline has been uneven.

• Millions paid to former head of nonprofit that ran migrant child shelters, records show
• Planned ICE raids put restaurant industry on edge

washington post logomike pence oWashington Post, At detention facility, Pence sees hundreds of migrants crammed with no beds, Josh Dawsey and Colby Itkowitz, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). During a tour of a Texas center by Pence (right), there were no mats or pillows for those who found the space to rest. A stench from body odor hung stale in the air.

• U.S. plans 2,500-bed migrant center at site of controversial child shelter

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, For Democratic presidential hopeful Steve Bullock, it’s all about the ‘dark money,’ Michelle Ye Hee Lee, July 14, 2019.  Money in politics is the signature campaign issue for Bullock, the 22nd to join the 25-candidate race for the Democratic presidential nomination. To Bullock, the most urgent issues on voters’ minds — income inequality, climate change, taxes, collective bargaining rights and more — stem from the lasting influence of moneyed interests.

democratic donkey logoBullock has been promoting this message across Iowa since joining the race in mid-May, making his case even as he failed to clear a single digit in enough polls to qualify for the first round of Democratic debates last month. In the past week, Bullock made his sixth campaign trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. And he is poised to take his message to a national audience at the upcoming debate in late July, having garnered the necessary support to qualify for the stage this time.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats’ racially charged infighting escalates, Colby Itkowitz, David Weigel and Mike DeBonis, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). Rep. Ayanna Pressley told a liberal conference that the party doesn’t need “any more black voices that don’t want to be a black voice.”

ayanna pressley twitterAn all-out racially charged fight within the House Democratic Caucus escalated Saturday when an African American freshman lawmaker said the party doesn’t need “any more black voices that don’t want to be a black voice.”

U.S. House logoRep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) made those comments during a speech at the liberal Netroots Nation conference where she, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) appeared after a week-long clash with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her allies.

nancy pelosi oThe feud started last month, when the three freshman women of color and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) criticized Democrats who supported an emergency funding bill to send more money to the border. The measure passed, but liberal House Democrats said the bill didn’t do enough to protect migrant children held in federal detention centers amid reports of poor conditions. Omar said a vote for it amounted to a vote “to keep kids in cages.”

In response, Pelosi tried to downplay their influence in an interview with the New York Times. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told columnist Maureen Dowd. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”

Ocasio-Cortez accused the speaker of “singling out” the four women of color, calling it “outright disrespectful.”

saikat chakrabarti twitterThings escalated further on Friday night when the official Twitter account for the House Democratic Caucus highlighted a tweet Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, right, wrote on June 27 criticizing Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), below left, one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress, for supporting the border bill.

“I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system,” Chakrabarti wrote. “And the same could even be said of the Southern Democrats. I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her voters are sharice davidsshowing her to enable a racist system.”

The House Democratic Caucus shared that two-week-old tweet Friday night and offered its own commentary.

“Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color? Her name is Congresswoman Davids, not Sharice. She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue. Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth,” the @HouseDemocrats account tweeted. Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, retweeted it.

washington post logoDonald Trump and Mike Pence logoWashington Post, After signing ‘never Trump’ letters in 2016, some Republicans have second thoughts, David Nakamura, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). National security establishment figures who tried to block him are wrestling with whether to maintain opposition or find a way to support him.

U.S. Legislatures / Gerrymandering

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s One List Where Kirsten Gillibrand Is Winning and Kamala Harris Is Tied With Marianne Williamson, Matt Stevens, July 14, 2019 (print ed.). Amid the relentless focus on Washington and presidential politics, a liberal political action committee has ranked the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on something much lower on the political food chain — what they are doing to help Democrats win state legislative seats.

kirsten gillibrand headshotA ranking released Thursday shows that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, right, Senator Elizabeth Warren of democratic donkey logoMassachusetts and former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas are currently the most engaged with candidates for state office. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are also ranked in the top 10.

“State legislatures are not where the glamour is — they’re just where the power is,” said Daniel Squadron, the co-founder and executive director of Future Now Fund, a PAC focused on state legislative elections. He cited continuing controversies over gerrymandering and abortion as examples of just how much power state legislatures have.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If the Supreme Court Won’t Prevent Gerrymandering, Who Will? Sam Wang (neuroscientist and the director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project), July 14, 2019 (print ed.).  Progressives have long looked to federal courts to guard the rights of racial minorities and dissenters. But that protection is weakening. Faced with the enormous injustice of partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court last month permitted politicians drawing election district maps to discriminate by party and even potentially mask their racial “packing” and “cracking” as mere partisanship. To fill this growing gap, reformers should take an unexpected route: states’ rights.

Putting all federalist routes together — courts, voter initiatives, laws and elections — I estimate that reform is actually possible in the vast majority of states, even without the Supreme Court’s help.

July 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Wake up, Democrats. Trump is on something of a roll, David Ignatius, right, July 12, 2019. The agonizing fact david ignatiusfor Democrats this summer is that President Trump appears to be gaining ground on domestic and foreign policy, while his potential challengers are quarreling and mostly spinning their wheels.

Trump is taunting allies and defying Congress — and seemingly getting away with it. He isn’t just rewriting the political rulebook, he’s tossing it aside. And the painful fact is that the Democrats haven’t figured out a way to stop his forward momentum, even when they believe it’s taking the country over a cliff.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoTrump remains a divisive and unpopular leader who is vulnerable in 2020. But a Post-ABC News poll released last week was the clearest warning yet for Democrats that Trump is gaining strength beyond his core base of support.

Trump’s approval rating has risen 5 points since April, to 44 percent, according to the survey. His disapproval rating is 53 percent, but his support is still the highest he’s had as president. The RealClearPolitics average of major polls shows a similar trend.

July 8

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats, stop embracing losing issues and focus on getting rid of Trump, Richard Cohen, July 8, 2019. The Democratic Party is on a tear. One by one, its candidates have embraced losing issue after losing issue.

First came reparations for slavery, a noble idea lacking only popular support and practicality and possibly amounting to yet another attempt to right a wrong with money. Before that, the various candidates raised their hands in support of Medicare-for-all, which could strip millions of people of their private insurance plans. That is sure to be characterized by Trump as socialized medicine with the sick growing old and dying, covered in cobwebs while waiting to see the doctor. GOP strategists must be hyperventilating over all the goodies arrayed before them. This is a campaign even Trump could win.

The Democratic Party has a possibly fatal inability to prioritize. The urgent challenge is to rid the nation of Trump, not to mollify this or that identity group or wrestle over issues that could not be solved when they were relevant — such as busing

July 4

Trump GOP Critic Quits Party

Roll Call, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash leaves GOP, declares independence, Simone Pathé, July 4, 2019. Amash was only Republican to say justin amashTrump committed impeachable offenses.  Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the first GOP lawmaker to say that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, is leaving the Republican Party.

“No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” he wrote in a Thursday op-ed in The Washington Post that does not mention Trump.

A libertarian who was elected to the House in 2010, Amash has often been at odds with leadership of his own party. On the House floor, he has voted with a majority of Republicans 84 percent of the time he's been in Congress, compared with 94 percent for the average House Republican, according to CQ's Vote Watch. He's supported Trump just 63 percent of the time compared with 95 percent for the party average.

Amash helped found the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus but left the group in June after it condemned his remarks about Trump and impeachment.

That stance also earned him several primary challengers in Michigan’s 3rd solidly Republican District, which backed Trump by 9 points in 2016. Amash won his fifth term representing the district last year with 54 percent of the vote.

The president bid Amash good riddance on Twitter, calling him “one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress” and “a total loser!”

In his op-ed, Amash describes how his parents were Republicans and he grew up supporting GOP candidates. His father was a Palestinian refugee who came to the U.S. when he was 16.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP, Justin Amash, July 4, 2019. In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.

Most Americans are not rigidly partisan and do not feel well represented by either of the two major parties. In fact, the parties have become more partisan in part because they are catering to fewer people, as Americans are rejecting party affiliation in record numbers.

These same independent-minded Americans, however, tend to be less politically engaged than Red Team and Blue Team activists. Many avoid politics to focus on their own lives, while others don’t want to get into the muck with the radical partisans.

But we owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come. Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.

Democratic and Republican Campaigns DecodedToday, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.

Trump's Fourth of July Rally In DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Washington Prepares for a July 4 Spectacle, Starring and Produced by Trump, Michael D. Shear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). The Fourth of July in the U.S. capital is usually celebrated without political overtones: a parade, a concert and fireworks over the Mall. But President Trump added a speech with military commanders, tanks and thousands of troops to create a made-for-television moment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s July 4 Celebration Unsettles Military, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Eric Schmitt and Maggie Haberman, July 4, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s plan to deploy battle tanks in Washington for the July 4 celebration has prompted worries about politicization of the military.

With trouble spots from Iran to North Korea, the military’s role in a Fourth of July celebration in Washington should be the least of the Pentagon’s worries.

Yet some retired and active-duty military officers, and, privately, even some Defense Department personnel said the participation of the military in President Trump’s “Salute to America” appears to politicize the armed forces on a day when the nation traditionally toasts its independence in a nonpartisan environment.

“Put troops out there so we can thank them — leave tanks for Red Square,” said Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general and former head of United States Central Command, who until earlier this year served in the Trump administration as a special envoy to help resolve disputes in the Persian Gulf.

Democratic 2020 Primary

ny times logoNew York Times, A Sprawling Democratic Primary, and No One to Shape It, Reid J. Epstein, July 4, 2019. Twenty-four candidates is too many, some say. And with a leadership vacuum at the top, the party is having trouble sorting it out. John Deeth is the sort of Iowa activist who keeps up with every new twist in the Democratic presidential primary, but there was no way he was going to devote two evenings to watching the first round of debates last week.

Instead Mr. Deeth, a 55-year-old from Iowa City who has volunteered for every Democratic caucus since 1992, spent one debate night watching “Goodfellas” and the other at the grocery store.

“Until this field is narrowed down to serious people, I’m not going to spend four hours watching them,” Mr. Deeth said. “I’m not going to suffer through Andrew Yang.”

Mr. Deeth’s frustration highlights a central challenge the Democratic Party faces as it tries to identify the strongest candidate to take on President Trump: The slate of 24 contenders is too unwieldy for a constructive debate, many activists and strategists say, and too large for most voters to follow. And with a leadership vacuum at the top of the party, there is no one to elevate candidates with an endorsement, or help steer third-tier candidates out of the race when they’ve reached their plausible expiration date.

Of the party’s living former presidential nominees, just Walter Mondale has weighed in on the race, endorsing a fellow Minnesotan, Senator Amy Klobuchar. The rest are keeping their distance from the messy primary, which post-debate polling shows has bifurcated between a top tier of five candidates and everyone else vying just to qualify for the party’s fall debates.

July 3

Trump's July 4 Display

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: On the anniversary of U.S. independence, a Nazi shadow is cast across the land, Wayne Madsen, July 3, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). During an ego-fellating interview with Donald Trump in Japan, Fox News opinion show host and unofficial Trump national security adviser Tucker Carlson and Trump discussed America’s homeless population and agreed that it should be called “filth.”

This sort of language goes far beyond the fascist antics of Trump politicizing Washington, DC’s annual Independence Day ceremony and turning into a political rally and military show-of-force for his crackpot and racist supporters.

Calling homeless people “filth” – Trump did add that some homeless are mentally ill, a wink and a nod to them being useless members of society – comes right out of the playbook of Nazi genocide engineers like Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Dr. Josef Mengele.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s hijacking of the Fourth of July just got a lot uglier, Greg Sargent, July 3, 2019. New details are emerging about Trump’s plans. The Post reports that the National Park Service will now divert millions of dollars previously earmarked to improve parks across the country to fund Trump’s celebration on the Mall.

Meanwhile, a White House official tells The Post that the plans include a plane from Air Force One’s fleet soaring overhead at precisely the moment that Trump takes the stage. Tanks will take part in the display.

As many critics have pointed out, by politicizing the Fourth of July so nakedly, Trump has inevitably transformed the celebration into a campaign event. It remains to be seen whether he will do so explicitly in his speech, but either way, that conversion has already been implicitly accomplished.

It’s the melding of that fact with the particular display Trump is putting on that makes this so ugly. The showcasing of military might, Trump’s association of himself with it, and the unabashed conversion of a paean to the nation’s founding into a reelection event — what it all amounts to is larger than the sum of its parts.

The naked audacity of the usurpation is itself the point. That Democrats and liberals are getting trolled into expressions of outrage over it only reinforces that point to greater effect.

Wall Street on Parade, Commentary: Paul Weiss, the Law Firm that Has Represented Citigroup through Serial Fraud Charges, Is the Number One Donor to Democratic Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, July 3, 2019. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which keeps meticulous tabs on political campaign flows, as of this morning, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – which has represented Citigroup through more than two decades of serial fraud charges – is the number one campaign donor to the Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris.

As the Center notes, the money isn’t coming from the law firm itself, but from its “PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families.”

The campaign ad for Harris reads like this: “Kamala Harris has spent her entire life defending our American values. From fighting to fix our broken criminal justice system to taking on the Wall Street banks for middle class homeowners, Kamala has always worked For The kamala harris debate june 27 2019 filePeople.”

But here we are in the early days of the Democratic primary campaign, when the big money has not even yet entered the fray, and Harris (shown during the debate last week) has already collected $140,475 from the folks at Paul Weiss.

Paul Weiss has offices in New York, Wilmington, Washington D.C., London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Toronto, and Tokyo. Harris hails from California. Why are Paul Weiss lawyers so interested in financing her campaign?

As it turns out, they’re not all that interested. Numerous law partners at Paul Weiss are hedging their bets and contributing simultaneously to other Democratic Presidential candidates.

cory booker headDonations from Paul Weiss also rank number one in the Presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (shown at left); number three in the Presidential campaign of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; number six in the Presidential campaign of Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; and number 9 in the Presidential campaign of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

deutsche bank logoThe name Paul Weiss has become synonymous with getting serial miscreant mega banks on Wall Street off the hook or bargaining down the charges. In May of this year, we reported that the Chief Judge for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote a decision finding that the U.S. Justice Department had outsourced a criminal investigation to the target of the investigation – Deutsche Bank – and Deutsche Bank’s outside law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

July 2

2020 Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamal Harris on June 28, 2019 ( left to right, screengrab).

2020 Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamal Harris on June 28, 2019 ( left to right, screengrab).

Presidential Politico, ‘Her ambition got it wrong about Joe’: Harris faces debate backlash, Natasha Korecki and Carla Marinucci, July 1, 2019. Kamala Harris might be reveling in her sudden burst of attention after roasting Joe Biden over racial issues on the debate stage last week, but a backlash is already brewing.

Biden supporters and Democrats who have attended the former vice president’s events in the days after the first nationally televised debate, are describing Harris’ assault on Biden as an all-too-calculated overreach after she knocked him on his heels in a grilling over busing and his remarks on segregationist senators.

“She played low ball, which was out of character. And he didn’t expect it, nor did I,” said Lee White, a Biden supporter who attended his remarks at the Jesse Jackson Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “She should not have gone that route. She’s much too intelligent, she’s been able to be successful thus far, why do you have to do that.” White, who is African American, said of the underlying segregationist issues Harris attacked: “I thought it was old news.”

One major Biden supporter from California who declined to be named for publication said Harris’ direct attack on Biden was a mistake that would haunt her.

“It’s going to bite her in the ass,” the supporter noted. “Very early on there was buzz … Biden-Kamala is the dream ticket, the best of both worlds.’’

After this week, “That shit ain’t happening.”

The criticism of Harris over her rough treatment of Biden is among the first signs of backlash — including in her home state — against the California Democrat who had a breakout moment in the first presidential debate.

It’s also a sign of the goodwill and loyalty that many still feel toward that the vice president, who has managed to keep many of his backers in his camp, even amid criticism of what was roundly viewed as a subpar debate performance. Indeed, sources say Biden walked away with a $1 million haul after two fundraisers in San Francisco alone this weekend.

“We can be proud of her nonetheless, but her ambition got it wrong about Joe,” said former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the Senate who has endorsed Biden in the 2020 primary. “He is about the best there is; for her to take that tack is sad.”

Harris stunned Biden in the debate, knocking him back on his heels by noting his past “hurtful” efforts to work with segregationists and what she defined as his opposition to school busing. Harris’ emotional recounting of her own experience in the Berkeley school district as a child who was bused to more segregated schools — “that girl was me,’’ she said — became a defining debate moment, and bruised Biden’s status as the Democratic front-runner.

But one of Biden’s supporters called the attack by Harris “too cute by half” after her campaign tweeted out — and quickly began merchandising — a photo of Harris as a young girl. “Couldn’t they at least pretend that it was semi-organic?” the Biden supporter asked, referring to the planned nature of Harris’ debate night ambush.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore? Michael Tomasky, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). They pay lip service to it, but they actively try to undermine its institutions.

rnc logoA number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.

The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.

We have been brought up to believe that American political parties are the same — that they are similar creatures with similar traits and similar ways of behaving. Political science spent decades teaching us this. The idea that one party has become so radically different from the other, despite mountains of evidence, is a tough sell.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump and the Republican National Committee said they raised $105 million, Outdoing Obama, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 2, 2019. President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee on Tuesday said they had raised $105 million in the second quarter of this year, dwarfing what President Barack Obama raised in the equivalent period during his re-election campaign.

democratic donkey logoThe campaign and the R.N.C. said they had a combined $100 million in cash on hand, and that they had raised more money online in the second quarter than in the first half of 2018. The staggering total figure can be plowed into television and digital advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts and other activities related to the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump and his committees raised $54 million, they said, and the R.N.C. raised $51 million. The campaign officials did not say how many individual donors had contributed, or how many gave money in increments of $200 or less. The official report, which will include spending, will be filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 15.

In 2011, during the same period, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign raised $47 million, and the Democratic National Committee brought in $38 million, Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, said at the time.

Mr. Trump’s fund-raising haul is a testament to the more professional operation that his campaign has been running, primarily out of Arlington, Va. In 2016, Mr. Trump poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign. But he also raised a considerable amount from small donors online.

HuffPost, RNC Giving Out Tickets To Trump’s Hijacked Fourth Of July Celebration, S.V. Date, July 2, 2019. hat had been a nonpolitical, nonpartisan celebration on the National Mall will now likely be a multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-financed political rally, critics worry. President Donald Trump has hijacked what for decades had been a nonpolitical Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, packing his ticketed-event speech with political appointees and Republican donors.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee has been offering major donors tickets to Trump’s speech, as have political appointees at the White House and executive branch agencies.

“He’s going to have tanks out there. It’s going to be cool,” joked one RNC fundraiser on condition of anonymity. He said he received an offer for the free tickets on Friday but did not request any. “He wants to have a parade like they have in Moscow or China or North Korea.”

Trump has been enamored of public displays of military might since he attended the Bastille Day festivities in Paris in 2017. His plan for a massive military parade last year was canceled after a Defense Department estimate became public showing that it would cost $92 million and damage the city’s roads because of the weight of tanks and other equipment.

The current plans for Thursday do not include a parade, but Trump is still pushing for tanks or other military vehicles to be displayed on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported, even though their weight is liable to damage the grass and roads. Flyovers by military planes ― including Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron ― are also planned.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor and expert on fascism, said Trump’s need to display military hardware is a feature of authoritarians throughout history. “He needs to colonize our lives. He needs to colonize our public spaces,” she said, adding that it was “dismaying” that the Pentagon this year failed to thwart Trump’s impulses. “The military has been domesticated. I think the will to resist him has evaporated.”

Groups that advocate for government transparency and ethics, meanwhile, railed against the RNC’s involvement. “This partisan appropriation of a public event is consistent with the record of an administration that has no regard for lines between personal or partisan interests and its public obligations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What the polls really tell us about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris after the democratic debate, Bill Palmer, July 2, joe biden kamala harris2019. Three major credible polls have been conducted and published since the debate took place. Just as Palmer Report predicted, all three of them show that Joe Biden is still in first place overall. Any pundits who claimed that the debate would be a “knockout blow” for Biden, or that Harris would catapult twenty-five points into first place based on one debate performance alone, were clearly spewing hyperbole; nothing shifts that dramatically that quickly, particularly this early on. What’s interesting is the spread when it comes to these three polls.

bill palmer report logo headerThe new CNN poll says that Joe Biden is now just five points ahead of Kamala Harris, who has climbed into second place. This poll would signal a seismic shift in the democratic field – if the other new polls were telling us the same thing. But while most news outlets and pundits are jumping on the CNN poll because it’s so ratings-worthy, the other two polls point to more of the status quo. The new Morning Consult poll says that Biden has a twenty-one point lead over Harris, while the new The Hill poll has Biden up by twenty-two points over Harris.

So which of these three widely varying polls should we believe? Statistically speaking, either all of them or none of them. Polls always vary from each other based on methodology and other factors. Those variances tend to be far sharper from one poll to the next immediately after a major event has taken place, such as a debate.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats sue for Trump’s tax returns, Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade​, July 2, 2019. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has denied multiple requests for the records, which the president refused to release during the 2016 presidential campaign.

steven mnuchin wHouse Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking access to President Trump’s tax returns, accusing the Trump administration of an “extraordinary attack” on Congress in preventing the disclosure of the president’s personal financial records.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed the lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department after months of feuding with the administration over the returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who have denied Democrats’ demands for the returns, are named as defendants.

“Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the Nation’s voluntary tax system,” the 49-page law

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats request White House communications sent via personal email, Rachael Bade, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats are asking the White House for copies of all work communications sent via personal email, personal cellphone and other forms of nonofficial transmission in an expansion of their investigation into whether Trump administration officials violated federal record-keeping laws.

The House Oversight Committee on Monday said the step was necessary “after six months of White House stonewalling” on the matter. This year, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) asked the administration about reports that some top White House officials — including President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner — used personal email and encrypted applications to communicate.

Such communications are against record-keeping laws unless they are forwarded to and stored on official channels. The White House, however, has refused to tell the committee about the results of its own internal investigation of the matter, Democrats say. The panel wants copies of all emails that did not comply with this law.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks for military tanks on the Mall as part of grandiose July 4 event, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey​, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). Officials are scrambling to finalize plans for the “Salute to America” celebration, which will also include jet flyovers, fireworks and a VIP section for the president’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith faces plenty of looming priorities this summer, from an $11 billion backlog in maintenance needs to natural disasters like the recent wildfire damage to Big Bend Park.

But in recent days, another issue has competed for Smith’s attention: how to satisfy President Trump’s request to station tanks or other armored military vehicles on the Mall for his planned Fourth of July address to the nation.

The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles , as a prop for Trump’s “Salute to America” is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly.

Associated Press, The Latest: Tanks arrive in DC ahead of July 4 celebration, Staff report, July 2, 2019. At least two Army tanks have arrived ap logoin Washington ahead of a Fourth of July celebration that President Donald Trump says will include military hardware.

An Associated Press photographer says the two M1A1 Abrams tanks are with four other military vehicles on a freight train in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington. The vehicles are being guarded by military police but are visible to passers-by on nearby paths. A military official earlier told the AP that the tanks were transported north from Fort Stewart in Georgia.

July 1

U.S. Politics

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: The 2020 issue that matters is democracy itself, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 1, 2019. The future of U.S. democracy will be on the ballot next year. No one should pretend otherwise. We witnessed President Trump’s obvious disdain for democratic rights and liberties once again last week during his warm encounter in Japan with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

And the Supreme Court’s partisan, antidemocratic decision on gerrymandering, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoJr., showed how dangerous it would be to expand a right-wing majority hellbent on making our system less inclusive, less fair and less equal.

democratic donkey logoFor these reasons, Democratic primary voters should not be knocked for making “electability” their highest criterion in picking a presidential candidate.

Of course, judging who is most likely to win is a difficult and rather subjective enterprise. And this calculation must not be a cover for sexism. But Democrats have no room for error. They need to avoid the sectarian infighting for which their party is famous and find a candidate who can excite turnout while also demonstrating broad reach and political savvy.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Another first: America's senior past president believes current president is illegitimate, Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), July 1, 2019 (subscription required). During a human rights panel sponsored by his Carter Center at the Lansdowne conference facility in Leesburg, Virginia, former President Jimmy Carter called Donald Trump is an illegitimate president.

jimmy carter portrait deftnewsThe Carter Center specializes in monitoring and assisting in the free and fair conducting of elections worldwide. Carter based his opinion on foreign usurpation of Trump’s campaign and his election on the conclusion by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russians interfered in the election on behalf of Trump.

His vice president Walter Mondale suggested that Trump suffers from other issues, those that would make him ineligible to continuing serving in office. Mondale said of Trump, “He’s got something deep in him that is detestable . . . his rhetoric, his harshness, his divisiveness . . . Doctors tell me they think they recognize symptoms of psychological problems.”

 

June

June 30

Constitutional Crisis

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atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Opinion: Bill Barr’s Dangerous Pursuit of Executive Power, Donald Ayer (Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush), June 30,2019. Shown in a screenshot above, Barr is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

Buried behind our president’s endless stream of lies and malicious self-serving remarks are actions that far transcend any reasonable Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)understanding of his legal authority. Donald Trump (shown in a Defense Department photo) disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review.

Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will. To the contrary, in securing william barr o 1992his confirmation as attorney general, Barr (shown in a 1992 photo) successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected hold the Trump administration to established legal rules.

Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush Administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true.

But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular, and his handling of the Mueller report suggest something very different — that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: The Rule of Outlaws, Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, June 30, 2019. Let’s stop pretending the US is still a country of laws, because some people are allowed to get away with even the most blatant violations of society’s rules.

The president is a crook, his staff brazenly disregards laws, he dangles pardons in front of indicted former associates, and is considering pardoning war criminals. And while many companies are not breaking the law, they don’t have to because they helped write them, which means they no longer pay their fair share of taxes — if they pay any at all. And they don’t have to comply with regulations, e.g. to protect the environment, because those are being dismantled.

At the same time, the vast majority of Americans are at the mercy of a justice system that is stacked against them.

Dem. Debate Analysis

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ny times logoNew York Times, Liberals Dominated Debates, and It’s Making Moderates Anxious, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). Some came away from the debates fearful that the party was squandering the chance to make the election a referendum on President Trump. The Democratic debates this past week provided the clearest evidence yet that many of the leading presidential candidates are breaking with the incremental politics of the Clinton and Obama eras, and are embracing sweeping liberal policy changes on some of the most charged public issues in American life, even at the risk of political backlash.

Vowing to eliminate private health insurance, decriminalize illegal immigration and provide government health care benefits to undocumented migrants, high-profile contenders like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are wagering that they can energize voters eager to dismantle President Trump’s hard-line policies.

But with moderate Democrats repeatedly drowned out or on the defensive in the debates, the sprint to the left has deeply unnerved establishment Democrats, who have largely picked the party nominees in recent decades. They fear that advocating a government-run health care system could alienate suburban and upper-income voters who are otherwise eager to eject Mr. Trump from office, while the most progressive immigration policies might turn off the working-class white voters who backed Mr. Trump after twice supporting former President Barack Obama.

Liberals point to polls showing that policies like universal health care and tuition-free college are growing in popularity, and argue that victory in 2020 depends in part on inspiring turnout from young voters and progressives. Yet other Democrats came away from the debates fearful that the party was squandering the chance to make the election a referendum on an unpopular president, and staking its fortunes on untested policy promises instead.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In the Democratic debates, candidates spouted too many economic fairy tales, Steven Pearlstein, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). The nights were filled with anger, passion and high drama, but policies lacked much economic sense.

dnc horizontal logoAs our best president famously warned — and as our worst president daily reminds us — you can fool some of the people all of the time. Indeed, Donald Trump has so mastered the art of the big lie that I doubt Democrats will be able to evict him from the White House by trying to fool all of the people any of the time. The better strategy will be to follow President Abraham Lincoln’s advice and example and offer honesty, integrity, dignity and civility. Binding up the nation’s wounds will require a candidate willing to level with the American people.

In that respect, the debate this week among 20 Democratic presidential candidates was something of a disappointment. To be sure, the two-night free-for-all offered moments of anger, passion and high drama and did a good job in identifying the serious contenders from the also-rans. And while there was no shortage of plans and proposals, the Democratic program that began to emerge contained far too many economic fairy tales.

Let’s begin with the candidates’ description of the economy, in which all but the richest are described as working two or three jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in college loans and afraid to take their kids to the emergency room. Yes, inequality is a problem and too many people are being left behind. But this is also an economy where unemployment is low, wages are rising, 17 million new cars were sold last year, and the reason the middle class is shrinking is that people are moving up as well as down. Bad diagnoses lead to bad prescriptions.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThere’s no better example of this than proposals for tuition-free college and wiping out all student debt. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg get credit for standing up to the progressive mob and pointing out how regressive it would be for lower-income Americans who do not have college degrees to help pay the tuitions of higher-income Americans who do. But the bigger reason more children don’t complete college isn’t the cost — it is that the K-12 public education system failed to prepare them, which is where the real focus should be. As a former Denver schools superintendent, Sen. Michael F. Bennet might have explained that if he had been given that opportunity. And as successful businessmen, Andrew Yang and John Delaney might have noted the folly of giving universities and colleges an invitation to increase their costs once the federal government agreed to pick up the tab.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic candidates veer left, ditching successful midterm strategy, Michael Scherer, June 30, 2019. Embracing liberal positions on immigration, health care, taxes and abortion, the Democratic presidential field has abandoned the strategy that propelled the party to a landslide victory in the 2018 midterms.

U.S. Racial Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, 2020 Democrats defend Kamala Harris after Donald Trump Jr. tweet about her race, Colby Itkowitz, June 30, 2019 (print ed.). “The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called the attacks “racist and vile.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, left, one of only two black candidates in a field of two dozen, had a history-making moment on the debate stage kamala harris portraitThursday night when she challenged former vice president Joe Biden over racial issues.

But as the reaction to her debate performance poured in, so did the racist attacks on social media, where some accused the California Democrat of not being black enough, and others suggested she was not really American.

On Twitter, some commenters suggested Harris was unfairly portraying herself as African American, since she is the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother.

By Saturday, Harris’s campaign spokeswoman had retweeted nearly a dozen comments and articles defending her boss, and Harris’s 2020 Democratic challengers forcefully condemned the attacks on social media.

marianne williamson vox com june28 2019 dcma

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, shown in a Vox screengrab during the June 28 debate.

OpEdNews, Opinion: How Marianne Williamson Won Thursday's Debate (Sunday Homily), Mike Rivage-Seul, June 30, 2019. So, we all watched Thursday's debate in which Marianne Williamson finally participated and showed the country who she is. And she was magnificent. She demonstrated what her spiritual guidebook, A Course in Miracles, calls a refusal to be insane. She embodied that still small voice of conscience the voice for God that today's liturgy of the word distinguishes from the world's madness.

To begin with consider the madness we witnessed Thursday night. It was a perfect reflection of our insane country, of our insane world, of our insane electoral system. There they were: ten of our presumably best and brightest aspiring to occupy what we're told is the most powerful office in the world. They shouted, talked over their opponents, self-promoted, bragged, and put their opponents down.

They offered complicated "plans" that no one (including themselves) seemed to understand. They ignored the rules of the game, recited canned talking points, and generally made fools of themselves and of viewers vainly seeking sincerity, genuine leadership and real answers. Except for that brief exchange about busing between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, it was mostly embarrassing.
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And then there were the so-called moderators who allowed the circus to spin so completely out of control. They issued stern warnings about time limits, frequently set them strictly at "thirty seconds," but then proceeded to allow speakers to go on for three minutes or more. The celebrity hosts were completely arbitrary in addressing their questions unevenly. They repeatedly questioned some of the candidates and ignored others.

Meanwhile, there was Marianne Williamson off in the corner almost completely out of sight and generally ignored by the hosts. When they finally deigned to notice her polite attempts to contribute, no one seemed to know what to do with her comments. There was never any follow-up or request for clarification. Instead, what she said seemed completely drowned out by the evening's "excitement," noise, general chaos, and imperative to change topics. It was as if she were speaking a foreign language. I mean, how do you respond to that "still small voice of conscience" that says:

  • Immigration problems should be understood in historical context; their roots are found in U.S. policy in Central America especially during the 1980s. Such comment invites further discussion. None took place.
  • Removing children from their parents' arms is kidnapping; putting preschoolers in concentration camps is child abuse. Such crimes should be treated accordingly. What retribution did Marianne have in mind? The question went unasked.
  • Health care "solutions" should address environmental questions about chemicals in our foods, water, and air that make Americans sick. The response: "My next question is for Vice-President Biden . . ."

June 29

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Jimmy Carter just dropped a house on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 29, 2019. As Donald Trump has continued to debase and criminalize the presidency, he’s destroyed most of the norms of the office from within. That’s left others in the no-win position of trying to decide whether to ignore the norms of the office from the outside. For instance, the living former U.S. presidents have each taken different and measured approaches to calling out Trump’s horridness. That is, until now.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, President Jimmy Carter – long viewed as one of the highest character people to ever hold the office – flat out stated that Donald Trump isn’t a legitimate president because Russia helped alter the outcome of the election on his behalf. It’s not a big deal for you and me to state this obvious fact. But when Carter said it, his words carried the weight of the office itself, as he’s one of only four people on the planet who have previously occupied and are still around to speak on the office’s behalf.

jimmy carterThe whole thing was even more of a bombshell when you consider that President Carter didn’t merely say that Donald Trump is a bad president or a failed president – he essentially said that Trump is not president. Keep in mind that while Carter has always been known to call it like he sees it, he’s always done it in gentlemanly fashion – he’s a ninety-four year old guy who builds houses for the homeless, after all – so when he comes out swinging like this, it jeff flake omeans a whole lot.

President Carter’s words were met with widespread agreement and praise. Not everyone was happy, though. Retired GOP Senator Jeff Flake, left, tweeted that “This is an awful thing for one American President to say about another. Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.” But then Flake’s tweet got hit with about twenty times as many comments as likes – a sign that most people were siding with Carter over Flake.

June 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says Trump wouldn’t be president without help from Russia, John Wagner, June 28, 2019. Former president Jimmy Carter said Friday that he believes a full investigation of the 2016 election would show that President Trump prevailed jimmy carter portrait deftnewsbecause of Russian interference on his behalf and otherwise would not be in office.

“There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” said Carter, shown in a file photo. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

His made his comments during a panel discussion at a conference in Leesburg, Va., sponsored by the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1982 that focuses on human rights.

Pressed by historian Jon Meacham, who moderated the discussion, on whether he considers Trump to be “an illegitimate president,” Carter replied: “Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Daily, E. Jean Carroll's two confidantes corroborate the account of her alleged sexual attack by Trump, Megan Tuohy hosted by Michael Barbaro, June 2019 [29:35 min. podcast). 

e jean carrollThe writer E. Jean Carroll, left, came forward last week with explosive accusations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. Today, the two women she confided in after the alleged attack discuss it publicly for the first time.

Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, spoke with Ms. Carroll, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin. With Jessica Bennett and Alexandra Alter, she has published an investigative profile of Ms. Carroll, in which her friends and confidantes speak publicly for the first time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Friends of Trump accuser go public with recollections of her description of alleged assault, Colby Itkowitz, June 28, 2019. Two friends of magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll spoke on the record this week about their memories of her telling them that she’d been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.

lisa birnbach twitterLisa Birnbach (as shown on Twitter photo) planned to take her friend’s secret to the grave. When E. Jean Carroll called more than two decades ago to tell her that she’d just been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump in a Manhattan department store dressing room, Birnbach said she begged Carroll to go to the police. When her friend resisted, Birnbach swore she’d never tell anyone.

Even after more than a dozen women came forward in 2016 to accuse the then-presidential candidate of kissing and groping them without consent, Birnbach said she didn’t think about the episode again until Carroll told her last year that she had decided to write about it in a new book.

“I know a lot of women he has hassled,” Birnbach said. Trump has vehemently denied the claim by Carroll, a longtime Elle magazine columnist who went public last week with her description of the alleged assault. She is one of 16 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, allegations he says are untrue.

“I told the truth not as a political observer — I told what happened to my friend 23 years ago,” said author Lisa Birnbach, pictured in 2007. (Louis Lanzano/AP)

Birnbach, a New York-based author, was one of two friends who told The Washington Post that Carroll had described the assault to them shortly after it allegedly happened. They both spoke on the condition of anonymity at the time to protect their privacy.

After Trump and his allies attacked Carroll and her account, Birnbach and the second friend, former New York television anchor Carol Martin, decided to come forward this week, first speaking on the record to the New York Times.

“Apparently my validation makes E. Jean more believable, and my only goal is to be an honest person who tells the truth,” Birnbach said. “I told the truth not as a political observer — I told what happened to my friend 23 years ago.”

June 28

U.S. Politics: Democratic Debate

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ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Faces Repeated Attacks in Democratic Debate, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, June 28, 2019 (print ed.). Kamala Harris pressed Joseph R. Biden Jr. on race, lacing into his remarks about working with segregationists in the Senate. The exchange highlighted Mr. Biden’s vulnerability and the urgency his rivals feel to start sowing doubts about his candidacy.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. repeatedly found himself on the defensive in the Democratic debate on Thursday over his record as well as his personal views, with the most searing moment of the night, and the primary campaign to date, coming when Senator Kamala Harris confronted him over his comments on working with segregationists in the Senate.

Mr. Biden, the Democratic front-runner who was participating in his first major debate in seven years, was at times halting and meandering, but also forceful in pushing back on criticism of his record. Those attacks included a call for the 76-year-old former vice president to “pass the torch” to a younger generation, as well as questions about his positions on immigration and abortion, and his democratic debate june27 2019 nypost health for illegals Smallenthusiasm for working with Republicans.

The Murdoch-owned New York Post mocked Democrats, at right, in its front page coverage.

But the most dramatic exchange was over not only policy — but also personal history. Peering down the stage to look at Mr. Biden directly, Ms. Harris assailed him for remarks he made this month invoking his work in a Senate that included a pair of notorious segregationists. She then went further, recalling that he had also opposed school busing in the 1970s.

“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Ms. Harris said. “And that little girl was me.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic race scrambled after debate, Matt Viser​, June 28, 2019.  Rivals lob attacks at Biden, exposing his vulnerabilities. The high-profile debate exposed decades-old racial wounds and ripped open newfound divisions that moved the 2020 race into uncertain territory.

democratic donkey logoFour hours of debating spread out over two nights has scrambled the Democratic presidential primary race, exposing decades-old racial wounds and ripping open newfound divisions that moved the next phase of the race into uncertain territory.

kamala harris portraitThe high-profile debates in the most crowded presidential primary in history helped clarify the race in several ways. Former vice president Joe Biden, whose standing atop the polls has been the defining characteristic of the first months of the primary, showed how fragile his lead has become as his record, his age and his ideology came under repeated attack in the second session.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), left, had the most personal and captivating performance, delivering a drumbeat of searing lines Thursday that eventually led her to confront Biden as she questioned his 1970s-era stance — one he still holds — opposing federally-ordered busing as a way to integrate schools.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kamala Harris clarifies answer on abolishing private health insurance, Jeff Stein​, June 28, 2019. The candidate said she misheard a question from NBC moderators and that she does not support outlawing private insurance. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) said Friday that she does not support abolishing private health insurance in the United States, saying she misheard a question from NBC’s moderators about Medicare-for-all during the presidential debate.

Thursday night, Harris alone joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in raising her hand when all of the candidates were asked if they would outlaw private health insurance in favor of a government single-payer plan.

tulsi gabbard june 26 2019 dem debate

The Hill.com, Drudge instant poll shows Gabbard winning first Democratic debate in landslide, Joe Concha, June 27, 2019. The conservative Drudge Report's instant poll shows Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii, shown above in a screenshot) as the biggest winner of the first night of the Democratic presidential debates, with nearly 45 percent of the vote just after 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

The unscientific online poll shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at a distant second, with 11.2 percent, followed by former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) at 8.6 percent and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio with 7 percent.

At the bottom of the poll are former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) with less than 4 percent of the vote.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, gained attention for an exchange with rival Rep. Tim Ryan (D) after the Ohio congressman said the Taliban was behind the 9/11 attacks.

“The reality of it is if the United States is not engaged, the Taliban will grow. And we will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts, we have got to have some presence there,” Ryan said.

In response, Gabbard said that the Taliban "was there long before we came in and will be there long after we leave."

"We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we are going to somehow squash this Taliban,” she added.

“I didn’t say squash them," Ryan replied. "When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”

“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did,” Gabbard said before they talked over one another.

Gabbard is at just 0.8 percent in the RealClearPolitics index of polls, trailing front-runner Joe Biden by more than 31 points. She was also the most-searched candidate on GoogleTrends during Wednesday night's event in Miami.

donald trump jr croppedPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump Jr takes idiotic swing and miss at Kamala Harris, Bill Palmer, June 28, 2019. When Kamala Harris dominated last night’s Democratic debate and became the candidate with the current momentum, Trump Jr (right) promptly went after her. Predictably, he attacked her in racist fashion. By the time it was over, he’d screwed up so horribly, his spokesperson was left trying to clean up his mess.

bill palmer report logo headerKamala Harris is descended from an Indian immigrant mother and a Jamaican immigrant father. Last night Donald Trump Jr, who is half stooge and half idiot, retweeted someone who insisted that Harris is “not an American Black.” Junior then added his own words: “Is this true? Wow.” This seems like the kind of thing he’d try to research before just retweeting while admitting he didn’t know if it was true, but then again, he’s an idiot. He’s also a blatant racist.

Donald Trump Junior was, in no uncertain terms, accusing Kamala Harris of not being a real American. This is the same racist garbage that Donald Trump Senior spent years doing to Barack Obama. Fortunately, so many people called Junior out for his racism, he ended up deleting his idiotic tweet. But the hits kept coming, so Junior’s spokesman released a statement to the media insisting that Junior was somehow referring to Kamala being half-Indian – even though this had nothing to do with what he tweeted or retweeted.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Commentary: Raise Your Hand If You’ve Ever Felt Personally Victimized by This Debate, Ian Bogost, June 28, 2019. Political media have abandoned frankness for dankness.

A tweet reading "Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by Regina George" displays a photo of a group of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates all raising their hands.

“We’re not gonna hold back in making sure the candidates stick to time,” the Today Show host Savannah Guthrie threatened at the start of last night’s Democratic debate, the second in as many days. The 60-second constraint the network imposed on the 10 candidates meant that responses would have to be formed from preplanned atoms of ideas, cleverly fused into stable molecules of coherent political appeal.

To succeed in this context—if indeed any successes befell the field, let alone the electorate—requires a precise execution that looks more like internet speech than it does television conversation. The only way to win in this media context is to produce a meme-worthy victory from your own mouth, or to force your opponents to fall into a memeable gaffe. For an idea or action to be real, let alone coherent, it must be created for the express purpose of escaping its original context and living on as a social-media virus.

June 27

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washington post logoWashington Post, Harris-Biden clash on race stands out in debate’s 2nd night, Staff report, June 27, 2019. The second night of the debate was the chance for candidates Sen. Michael F. Bennet (Colo.), former vice president Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang to debate one another and address the country.

dnc horizontal logoSee the latest on the debate from the Fact Checker here. Come back for highlights as the candidates speak.

Harris calls out Biden on race: The sharpest exchange of the debate centered on race, when Harris, the only black candidate on the stage, called out Biden for his comments at a recent fundraiser where he bragged about his relationship with segregationist senators early in his career.

“It was hurtful,” Harris said, saying she didn’t think the former vice president was racist. Then she criticized him in personal terms for his opposition to busing, saying that as a little girl in California she was part of only the second class that was integrated due to a policy of transporting black students to mostly white schools.

“On this subject, it can not be an intellectual debate among Democrats,” Harris said.

Biden seemed prepared for the attack and struck back at Harris, saying that early in his career he became a public defender. “I didn’t become a prosecutor,” Biden said, a knock on Harris, whose past as the top prosecutor in California has stirred suspicion from some black voters.

Biden tried to argue that he opposed busing on only the federal level and didn’t want Washington to dictate policy to local governments.

538.com, Analysis: What Went Down On Night One Of The First Democratic Debates Filed under 2020 Election, Staff reports, June 27, 2019. Micah Cohen: What a night! If you missed it and want to relive all the glory chronologically, just start at the bottom of this live blog and scroll up. If you’re not inclined to do that, though, I’ve got two options for you. First, check back here tomorrow — we’re partnering with Morning Consult to measure how the debates change voters’ views of the race. Second, I asked the live blog team to sum up the night’s events in a newspapery headline.

Laura Bronner: Speaking time — measured here by words spoken by each candidate — wasn’t equally distributed across the candidates. It was moderately correlated with candidates’ polling averages (R=0.55), though candidates like Booker, O’Rourke, Klobuchar and Castro spoke a lot relative to their standing in the polls. Warren, who was the polling leader on stage Wednesday night, got fewer words in than her standing would imply.

Who held the floor in night one? Number of words spoken by each candidate during night one of the first Democratic debate

Cory Booker 2181
Beto O’Rourke 1932
Eliz. Warren 1637
Chuck Todd (mod) 1633
Amy Klobuchar 1614
Julián Castro 1588
Tim Ryan 1383
Tulsi Gabbard 1243
Rachel Maddow (mod.) 1163
John Delaney 1060
Lester Holt (mod.) 1001
Bill de Blasio 881
Jay Inslee 875
Savannah Guthrie (mod.) 748
Jose Diaz-Balart (mod.) 377

Word counts exclude words spoken in Spanish

Nate Silver: Looks like Gabbard edged out Booker in search traffic at the end there.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Media And Public Disagree On Tulsi Gabbard's Debate Performance, B, June 27, 2019. The mainstream media tulsi gabbardseem to judge the Democratic primary debate last night quite differently than the general public.

Quartz cites multiple polls which show that Tulsi Gabbard, right, won the debate: "[T]wo candidates seemed to pique a lot of interest among US voters, at least when judged by who Americans searched for on Google: New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. A poll by the right-leaning Drudge Report also found Gabbard to be the breakout of the debate with 38% of the vote, well ahead of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren in second place. Gabbard also topped polls by local news sites including NJ.com and the Washington Examiner."

Now contrast that with the mainstream media.

The Washington Post discusses winners and losers of the debate and puts Gabbard in the second category: "Gabbard was lost for much of the debate. That may not have been her fault — she wasn’t asked many questions — ...."

Duh!

The New York Times main piece about the debate mentions Gabbard only once - in paragraph 32 of the 45 paragraphs long piece. It does not reveal anything about her actual political position: "There was little discussion of foreign policy until near the end of the debate when two little-known House lawmakers, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tim Ryan of Ohio, clashed over how aggressively to target the Taliban."

The New York Times also has some 'experts' discussing winners and losers. Gabbard is only mentioned at the very end, and by a Republican pollster, as a potential candidate for Secretary of Defense.

CNN also discusses winners and losers. Gabbard is not mentioned at all. NBC News ranks the candidates' performance. It puts Gabbard on place 8 and inserts a snide:
"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii: Seized an opportunity to highlight her military experience in Afghanistan and her signature anti-intervention foreign policy views, without being tainted by her past sympathetic comments on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad."

Most of the above media have long avoided to mention Gabbard and to discuss her political positions. It is quite evident that the mainstream media do not like her anti-regime-change views and are afraid of even writing about them.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Dems, Please Don’t Drive Me Away, David Brooks, June 27, 2019. The dynamic pulling the party leftward. I could never in a million years vote for Donald Trump. So my question to Democrats is: Will there be a candidate I can vote for?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 35 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 35 percent call themselves moderate and 26 percent call themselves liberal. The candidates at the debates this week fall mostly within the 26 percent. The party seems to think it can win without any of the 35 percent of us in the moderate camp, the ones who actually delivered the 2018 midterm win.

The progressive narrative is dominating in part because progressives these days have a direct and forceful story to tell and no interest in compromising it. It’s dominating because no moderate wants to bear the brunt of progressive fury by opposing it.

It’s also dominating because the driving dynamic in this campaign right now is not who can knock off Joe Biden, the more moderate front-runner. It’s who can survive the intense struggle between Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others to be the surviving left-wing alternative. All the energy and competition is on the progressive side. Biden tries to bob and weave above it all while the whole debate pulls sharply leftward.

The party is moving toward all sorts of positions that drive away moderates and make it more likely the nominee will be unelectable. And it’s doing it without too much dissent.

First, there is health care. When Warren and Kamala Harris raised their hands and said that they would eliminate employer-based health insurance, they made the most important gesture of the campaign so far. Over 70 percent of Americans with insurance through their employers are satisfied with their health plan. Warren, Harris and Sanders would take that away.

According to a Hill-HarrisX survey, only 13 percent of Americans say they would prefer a health insurance system with no private plans. Warren and Sanders pin themselves, and perhaps the Democratic Party, to a 13 percent policy idea. Trump is smiling.

Second, there is the economy. All of the Democrats seem to have decided to run a Trump-style American carnage campaign. The economy is completely broken. It only benefits a tiny sliver. Yet in a CNN poll, 71 percent of Americans say that the economy is very or somewhat good. We’re in the longest recovery in American history and the benefits are finally beginning to flow to those who need them most. Overall wages are rising by 3.5 percent, and wages for those in the lowest pay quartile are rising by well over 4 percent, the highest of all groups.

Democrats have caught the catastrophizing virus that inflicts the Trumpian right. They take a good point — that capitalism needs to be reformed to reduce inequality — and they radicalize it so one gets the impression they want to undermine capitalism altogether.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is coming true, Bill Palmer, June 27, 2019. The biggest liability for Donald Trump heading into 2020 isn’t his toxic unpopularity, or his criminal scandals. Trump’s hilariously bad poll numbers make clear that he can’t win of his own accord, so his only hope is that the Democratic candidates beat each other up so badly during the primary, the eventual Democratic nominee will be too damaged to effectively take on Trump. In such case, Trump’s worst nightmare is the scenario in which the Democratic candidates don’t beat each other up.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night we saw some isolated sparring among certain Democratic candidates who have never much liked each other. But for the most part the candidates were respectful toward each other, and avoided hurling cheap insults at each other. In particular, no one on last night’s stage tried to win the night by gratuitously attacking the most popular candidate on the stage, Elizabeth Warren. And no one on stage tried to gain in the overall race by gratuitously attacking the frontrunner, Joe Biden. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to be that kind of primary.

We’ll see what happens in tonight’s debate, where losing candidates will be faced with the chance to try to score cheap points by taking cheap shots at Joe Biden to his face. But if last night was any indication, this is shaping up to be precisely the kind of Democratic primary that will do more harm to Donald Trump than to the eventual Democratic nominee.

June 27

President Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman (Washington Post photo)

In 2017, President Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman (Washington Post photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Tillerson says Kushner left him in the dark on talks with foreign nations, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey​, June 27, 2019.In newly disclosed testimony, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson said President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, right, operated independently with powerful leaders around the world without coordination with the State Department, leaving Tillerson out of the loop and in the dark on emerging U.S. policies and simmering geopolitical crises.

In a transcript of his testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tillerson, left, also described the challenge of briefing a president who does not read briefing papers and often got distracted by peripheral topics, noting he had to keep his message short and focus on a single topic.

“I learned to be much more concise with what I wanted to bring in front of him,” Tillerson told the House panel during a seven-hour session in May.

He stood by his previous characterization that Trump does not dive deep into details and said he learned not to give the president articles or long memos. “That’s just not what he was going to do,” he said.

June 21

Another Assault Claim Against Trump

new york magazine logoNew York Magazine, E. Jean Carroll: “Trump attacked me in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman,” Sarah Jones, June 21, 2019 (excerpted). The cover story New York published today details an encounter the writer E. Jean Carroll had over two decades ago with Donald J. Trump, in which the then–real-estate mogul allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan. Trump is shown in a graphic by A Banana Peeled.

donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaThe episode is one of six incidents Carroll details in the article of attacks on her by men over the course of her life. Another episode involves the disgraced former CEO of CBS, Les Moonves. The cover story is an excerpt from her newest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, which will be published on July 2 by St. Martin’s Press.

When Carroll meets Donald Trump in Bergdorf Goodman, the encounter starts as a friendly one. Trump recognizes her as “that advice lady”; Carroll recognizes him as “that real-estate tycoon.” Trump tells Carroll that he’s there to buy a gift for “a girl,” and though we don’t learn the identity of this mystery woman, Carroll places the ensuing incident in late 1995 or early 1996, during which time Trump was married to Marla Maples.

When Trump asks Carroll to advise him on what to buy, she agrees, and the two eventually make their way to the lingerie section. Trump suggests a lace bodysuit and encourages Carroll to try it on; she, deflecting, jokingly suggests that he try it on instead. After they reach the dressing rooms, e jean carroll twitterevents turn violent. In Carroll’s account, Trump shoves her against a wall inside a dressing room, pulls down her tights, and, “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”

Carroll, 75 (shown in her Twitter photo), is a venerated Elle advice columnist. At the time of the attack, she was well known in her own right. A frequent feature writer for magazines like Playboy and Esquire, she had her own television show on America’s Talking, the precursor to e jean carroll cover new york magazineMSNBC.

Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and the 14th to accuse Moonves of similar offenses. The incidents, which date from the 1990s, are highly specific and related with dark humor.

Carroll says that she disclosed the Trump incident to two friends at the time. New York has verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time, and has confirmed that Bergdorf Goodman kept no security footage that would prove or disprove Carroll’s story.

New York has also sought comment from Moonves and Trump. Through his representative, Moonves told New York that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. A senior White House official said in a statement, “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”