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Nov. 12

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump, Ukraine and Impeachment: The Inside Story of How We Got Here, Sharon LaFraniere, Andrew E. Kramer and Danny Hakim, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). In five months, President Trump’s fixation with Ukraine as a solution to his political problems upended American foreign policy and threatened his presidency.

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, White House infighting flares amid Democrats’ probe, Erica Werner, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Rachael Bade, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Two of President Trump’s top advisers are battling over strategy, contributing to the administration’s increasingly tenuous response to the inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cites Ukraine’s corruption, European stinginess to justify his actions. Neither rationale withstands scrutiny, Karen DeYoung and Ellen djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomNakashima, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Defense and State departments have certified that Kyiv has taken “substantial actions” to tackle corruption. And European nations spend more on Ukraine than the United States does.

washington post logoWashington Post, Career federal employees take risky and rare role in impeachment drama, Lisa Rein, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Trump and his allies have long been suspicious of the permanent bureaucracy. This week’s hearings highlight the rift between political appointees and career federal employees.

As diplomats kick off nationally televised impeachment hearings on Wednesday, it is clear how, more than in any political scandal in modern history, career employees have emerged as crucial witnesses.

Rank-and-file bureaucrats who work in the federal agencies that handle national security will defy the directive of the White House to stay quiet, instead describing what they saw as they went about, in their view, just doing their jobs.

Their role in recounting to the public how President Trump and his allies attempted to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals will not come without risk. All but one of the 11 career Foreign Service staff, military officers and Pentagon officials who first testified in closed-door depositions in the Capitol basement are still in government.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: To Exonerate Trump, Republicans Embrace Russian Disinformation, Michelle Goldberg, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). In this week’s impeachment hearings, michelle goldberg thumbexpect a lot of G.O.P. conspiracy theorizing. On Friday, House investigators released the transcript of the former National Security Council official Fiona Hill’s testimony from last month. It showed a Republican staff member trying and failing to get Hill to concede that there might be some validity to the conspiracy theories underlying Donald Trump’s demands of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

“Are you familiar with the, you know, the allegation about Serhiy Leshchenko?” asked the Republican aide, Steve Castor. He added, “You know, relating to publicizing Manafort’s role in the Ukraine?”

Leshchenko, whom I interviewed in October, is a former member of Parliament in Ukraine and probably the most famous investigative journalist in the country. He helped expose the so-called black ledger that listed $12.7 million in secret payments to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, from his client Viktor Yanukovych, the wildly corrupt Russian-aligned oligarch who ruled Ukraine until 2014. Manafort is in federal prison in part for failing to disclose or pay taxes on the millions he sucked out of Ukraine. Nevertheless, to make Trump’s demands of Zelensky seem just and rational, some Republicans have started painting Manafort as the victim of Leshchenko’s plotting.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why is Bolton aiding Trump’s ‘drug deal’ coverup? Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). John Bolton witnessed a “drug deal.” Why won’t he tell the dana milbank Customcops? President Trump’s former national security adviser wanted nothing to do with the “drug deal” Trump advisers were “cooking up” on Ukraine, according to an aide’s impeachment testimony.

Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, teased House investigators Friday with a letter saying his client has first-hand knowledge of “many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far.” And yet Bolton so far chooses to cover for the drug dealers.

Inside DC

ny times logoFlag of TurkeyNew York Times, Behind Trump’s Dealings With Turkey: Sons-in-Law Married to Power, David D. Kirkpatrick and Eric Lipton, Nov. 12, 2019. A trio of sons-in-law have developed an informal line of communication between President Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Informal relationships between family members help explain the course of diplomacy between the White House and Turkey’s leader.

ny times logoNew York Times, E.P.A. to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules, Lisa Friedman, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). A new agency rule would restrict the science that can be used in drafting health regulations by requiring researchers to turn over confidential health data. The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking.

A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently.

The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Gavin Newsom accused PG&E of mismanaging funds and ‘corporate greed.’ The utility helped fund the careers of the governor and his wife, gavin newsom headshot CustomDouglas MacMillan and Neena Satija, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Over the past two decades, the California governor and his wife have accepted more than $700,000 from Pacific Gas & Electric, its foundation and its employees as the utility has supported his campaigns, ballot initiatives, inauguration festivities and his wife’s film projects, records show.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter hospitalized to relieve pressure on his brain due to recent falls, Michael Brice-Saddler, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Last month, the former president was hospitalized for a minor pelvic fracture after falling at home.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, A general was the leading suspect in the biggest anti-corruption case in Mexico. Then he disappeared, Kevin Sieff, Nov. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The prosecution of the former chief of security for Mexican state-run oil company Pemex is seen as a test of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s anti-corruption drive. It isn’t going well.

Nov. 11

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump, shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Disorienting Defenses of Donald Trump, Editorial Board, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The president and his allies ask Americans to reject the evidence before their eyes. The case for weighing the impeachment of President Trump boils down to a few simple points:

In an effort to win re-election in 2020, Mr. Trump apparently attempted to extort a foreign government into announcing an investigation of his top political rival. The president did so while also trying to revive a conspiracy theory that casts doubt over whether the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf.

Witnesses have already testified that in order to achieve those goals, Mr. Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid against the bipartisan wishes of Congress. All the while, the president and his staff have refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation into what transpired.

Republicans find themselves in a tough spot. Lawmakers swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, which obliges them to act as a check on the executive branch and any abuses of its power. Yet instead of considering the testimony, many Republicans have chosen reflexively to defend Mr. Trump — not an easy task in the face of such strong evidence of inexcusable behavior.

rick perry michael bleyzer us embassy kyiv via ap Custom

In this Nov. 12, 2018, photo provided by the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Energy Secretary Rick Perry talks with Michael Bleyzer during a speech in Kyiv, Ukraine. Bleyzer and Alex Cranberg, two political supporters of Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil-and-gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country’s new president. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv via AP)

Associated Press, After boost from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine, Desmond Butler, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun and Richard Lardner, Nov. 11, 2019. Two political ap logosupporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country’s new president.

Perry’s efforts to influence Ukraine’s energy policy came earlier this year, just as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s new government was seeking military aid from the United States to defend against Russian aggression and allies of President Donald Trump were ramping up efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry’s supporters little more than a month after the U.S. energy secretary attended Zelenskiy’s May inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers. One of the four names was his longtime political backer Michael Bleyzer.

ukraine flagA week later, Bleyzer and his partner Alex Cranberg submitted a bid to drill for oil and gas at a sprawling government-controlled site called Varvynska. They offered millions of dollars less to the Ukrainian government than their only competitor for the drilling rights, according to internal Ukrainian government documents obtained by The Associated Press. But their newly created joint venture, Ukrainian Energy, was awarded the 50-year contract because a government-appointed commission determined they had greater technical expertise and stronger financial backing, the documents show.

Perry likely had outsized influence in Ukraine. Testimony in the impeachment inquiry into Trump shows the energy secretary was one of three key U.S. officials who were negotiating a meeting between Trump and the Ukrainian leader.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotWhite House and State Department officials have testified that the president would only meet with Zelenskiy, right, if he committed to launching an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. In the impeachment inquiry against Trump, the officials have also said that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being withheld until Zelenskiy publicly announced such an investigation.

rick perry oThe sequence of events suggests the Trump administration’s political maneuvering in Ukraine was entwined with the big business of the energy trade.

Perry made clear during trips to Kyiv that he was close to Bleyzer, a Ukrainian-American investor and longtime Perry supporter who lives in Houston, and Cranberg, a Republican mega-donor who provided Perry the use of a luxury corporate jet during the energy secretary’s failed 2012 presidential bid.

Perry’s spokeswoman said Wednesday that the energy secretary has championed the American energy industry all over the world, including in Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Rejects Legal Alliance With Mulvaney, Peter Baker, Nov. 11, 2019. A lawyer representing the president’s former national security adviser filed a motion opposing an effort by Mick Mulvaney to join a suit on impeachment testimony.

john bolton youtube guardianA long-simmering feud within the White House broke into the open on Monday as a lawyer for John R. Bolton, right, President Trump’s former national security adviser, filed a motion trying to keep Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, from joining a lawsuit over impeachment testimony.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer argued in court papers that Mr. Mulvaney should not be allowed to jump into the existing lawsuit as a plaintiff because his interests are significantly different. But the legal schism underscored a broader rift between Mr. Mulvaney, who facilitated Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for damaging information about Democrats, and Mr. Bolton, who tried to resist it.

Lawyers for the various parties are scheduled to hold a conference call later on Monday with United States Senior District Judge Richard J. Leon, who is overseeing Mr. Kupperman’s lawsuit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley’s real disclosure: Concerns about Trump’s dangerousness went right to the top, Aaron Blake​, Nov. 11, 2019. It's not that Nikki Haley (right) turned John Kelly and Rex Tillerson down; it's that these two top aides tried to recruit her to resist him in the first place.

djt nikki haley Custom 2Ever since September 2018, we’ve been trying to figure out who the “senior administration official” was who wrote that anonymous New York Times op-ed. This official described a “resistance” from inside the Trump administration that has worked to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The author now has a book coming out.

So when Nikki Haley comes out and tells us that the president’s former chief of staff and secretary of state spearheaded just such an effort, maybe the story isn’t that she said no?

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump Jr. went to UCLA to decry ‘triggered’ liberals. He was heckled offstage by the far right, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 11, 2019. Supporters from the "America First" faction of President Trump's vocal far-right base heckled his son at a book talk as part of a campaign to upend Turning Point USA events. Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign senior adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle came prepared with snappy rejoinders for liberal protesters who might taunt them on Sunday at the University of California at Los Angeles, where they promoted Trump Jr.'s new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.”

But when unruly heckling drowned out the couple’s answers, leading the pair to walk offstage, it wasn’t leftists who cut the event short. Instead, the rebukes came from a crowd of young people who rank among the most ardent and extreme supporters of President Trump.

The chaotic scene contradicted Trump Jr.'s central thesis that liberals have grown so intolerant of dissenting voices, conservative politicians can no longer engage in civil discourse. It also exposed an increasingly hostile fissure between conservative student groups like Turning Point USA and a hard-right faction of young Trump devotees who have flocked to self-professed “American Nationalist” Nicholas Fuentes and his “America First” movement.

HuffPost, Legendary Journalist Bill Moyers Says He Fears For The Nation For The First Time In His Life, Mary Papenfuss, Nov. 11,2019. "Society, a democracy, can die of too many lies — and we’re getting close to that terminal moment,” he warns. Veteran journalist Bill Moyers said Sunday that for the first time “in my long life” — including the Depression and World War II — he fears for the nation’s survival.

bill moyers 2005A “society, a democracy, can die of too many lies — and we’re getting close to that terminal moment unless we reverse the obsession with lies that are being fed around the country,” Moyers (shown in a file photo) told Brian Stelter on CNN.

Hope rests in citizens paying careful attention to the televised impeachment hearings beginning this week on Wednesday and Friday in the House, noted Moyers, who served for two years as President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. He has urged PBS to rebroadcast the hearings during prime time so that they more easily be seen by working people.

“Do facts matter anymore?” Moyers asked, referring to the impeachment investigation. “I think they do. I think they mattered in the Watergate hearings, in the Clinton hearings, and I think they’ll matter this time, too.”

He referred to Trump’s “astonishing” response from the crowd at a campaign rally last month in Louisiana.

“They believed everything he said,” Moyers noted. “I’m hoping only 10% of those people watch the hearings ... They will see it is not a witch hunt, and they will begin to doubt their master. And they will begin to break off and maybe become a citizen again.”

Moyers believes Trump still has a “pretty good” chance of winning the 2020 election, but that only a “slight shift” in people who “begin to doubt” could make a significant difference.

U.S. Supreme Court / DACA

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 ny times logoNew York Times, How the Trump Administration Eroded Its Legal Case on DACA, Michael D. Shear, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Adam Liptak, Nov. 11, 2019. When the Supreme supreme court graphicCourt hears arguments on Tuesday, the administration’s attempts to end the program protecting “Dreamers” could rest on a top aide’s actions in 2017.

The case, one of the most important of the Supreme Court’s term, will address presidential power over immigration, a signature issue for Mr. Trump and one that has divided the nation since he took office. The court’s decision could also have an enormous effect on the lives of the young people in the program, who are known as Dreamers and are broadly seen as sympathetic by large majorities in both parties. Related story:

Bolivian Coup Alleged

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary:Trump honors Native American Heritage Month with coup against Bolivia's first Native American president, Wayne Madsen, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallleft, syndicated columnist, author of 16 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 11, 2019 (excerpted with permission). Donald Trump, who has a schoolboy’s view of Native Americans as having been “savages” who besieged wagon trains of “peaceful” European settlers, has chalked up on his record of seedy deeds the military overthrow of Bolivia’s first Native American president, Evo Morales, an ethnic Aymara.

evo moralesTrump has been eyeing Morales, right), the leader of Bolivia’s Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, for some form of retribution ever since Morales scolded Trump in person during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on September 26, 2018.

Morales, as president of the Security Council, lectured Trump on America’s past abuses. The Bolivian president cited the United States as having “financed coups cia logod’etat and supported dictators,” and having instituted a border policy that “separated migrant children from their families and put them in cages.” Trump kept his head down during the tongue-lashing, only raising it periodically to glower at Morales, who was wearing the formal garb of his native Aymara people.

On November 10th, Morales received his belated response from Trump in the form of an old-style military coup. Even though Morales agreed to a new election, he and his entire MAS government, including Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Chamber of Deputies President Victor Borda, and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra -- all in the line of succession to the president -- were forced to resign by the Bolivian military and national police. Without a constitutional successor to Morales, the military and national police commanders took over in a classic Central Intelligence Agency textbook coup from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

ny times logoNew York Times, Evo Morales Urges Resistance to New Bolivian Government, Clifford Krauss and Daniel Victor, Nov. 11, 2019.  The former president’s stance could complicate efforts to form a transitional administration and hold fresh elections.

U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Peter T. King announces retirement, becoming the 20th House Republican not to seek reelection next year, John Wagner​, Nov. 11, 2019. The 14-term congressman and former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee joins a growing number of Republican members of Congress who have announced retirements, resigned or republican elephant logosaid they will seek another office next year. By comparison, eight Democrats have announced they will not seek reelection.

In a Facebook post Monday, King, 75, peter kingleft, one of the more moderate members of the GOP caucus, said he made the decision after “much discussion” with his wife and children.

“The prime reason for my decision was that after 28 years of spending 4 days a week in Washington, D.C., it is time to end the weekly commute and be home in Seaford,” King said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision.”

King represents a South Shore Long Island district that includes parts of Nassau County and Suffolk County. He won reelection in 2018 with 53 percent of the vote over Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley — his lowest percentage since first being elected in 1992.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Day of rage plunges Hong Kong into turmoil after police shoot protester, Anna Kam, Casey Quackenbush and Ryan Ho Kilpatrick, Nov. 11, 2019. Thousands of demonstrators clashed with riot police in the city’s financial district and violent confrontations erupted at university campuses, plunging Hong Kong further into turmoil.

washington post logoturkey flagWashington Post, ‘Filled with hatred and a lust for blood’: Turkey’s proxy army in northern Syria accused of abusing civilians, Asser Khattab, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.).  Residents of the border area blame the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army for an array of human rights violations.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. will leave up to 600 troops in northeastern Syria to prevent ISIS resurgence, top general says, Karen DeYoung, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). As mark milley army chief of staffmany as 600 U.S. troops will remain in northeastern Syria to continue counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State, Gen. Mark A. Milley, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Turkey begins deporting suspected Islamic State militants, including U.S. citizen, Kareem Fahim, Nov. 11, 2019. The interior minister said foreign-born militants would be deported even if their home countries had stripped them of citizenship. Turkey said on Monday it had deported an American citizen accused of belonging to the Islamic State militant group, as the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began following through on a pledge to repatriate foreign-born militants detained in Turkey.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Ismail Catakli, did not identify the American suspect. Citizens of Denmark, Germany and France would also be sent back to their countries in the isis truckscoming days, he added.

turkey flagLast week, Turkey’s interior minister said the suspected militants would be sent home, even in cases where governments had stripped suspects of their citizenship. “We are not a hotel for anyone’s Daesh members,” the minister, Suleyman Soylu, told reporters last week, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, or ISIS. “What am I supposed to do with your terrorist?”

The problem of what to do with foreign-born ISIS members gained new urgency after Turkey launched a military offensive into northern Syria last month, against a Kurdish-led militia that holds thousands of suspected Islamic State militants. JIP Editor's Note: At left is a file photo of an ISIS truck convoy years ago in the group's heydey in Syria. Its main smuggling routes for oil went through Turkey with the apparent complicity of Turkish authorities.

oleg sokolov

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia’s greatest Napoleonic reenactor was found drunk in a river with the severed arms of his lover in his backpack, Will Englund, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Oleg Sokolov, who is one of Russia’s most prominent reenactors of the Napoleonic wars, is accused of killing a woman thought have been one of his students.

Sunday was to have been the day when Oleg Sokolov (shown above in a file photo), in full Napoleonic costume, would take his life in spectacular fashion at St. Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Fortress.

Instead, having been fished out of the Moika River early Saturday morning with a backpack containing a woman’s severed arms, he was in the Mariinsky Hospital, still very much alive but recovering from hypothermia and facing a murder charge.

Trump Tax Return Fight

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge rules Trump’s lawsuit to block House from getting his state tax returns belongs in N.Y. court, Spencer S. Hsu​, Nov. 11, 2019. A federal judge in Washington dismissed President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the House Ways and Means Committee from using a recently enacted New York law to request his state tax returns, saying that for now the case belongs before a judge in New York.

carl nicholsThe decision by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, right, injected new urgency into Trump’s effort to shield his state tax records from Congress.

The House panel, chaired by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), has not requested Trump’s state returns. Trump’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in July preemptively, arguing that without an emergency court order blocking a congressional request, his New York returns might be disclosed before the president’s opposition could be heard in court.

While the case was pending, New York state tax officials agreed not to turn over Trump’s records any sooner than seven days after Nichols ruled on whether the Trump lawsuit should be heard before him or before a federal judge in New York. On Monday, Nichols concluded the latter, dismissing the New York state defendants and giving Trump the option of refiling his lawsuit against them in his home state, effectively setting the seven-day clock running, if the House were to ask for Trump’s returns.

“Based on the current allegations, Mr. Trump has not met his burden of establishing [the court’s] personal jurisdiction over either of the New York Defendants,” the state’s tax commissioner and attorney general, Nichols wrote in a 19-page opinion.

Nichols, a Trump appointee [and longtime Federal Society member] who joined the bench in July, withheld ruling on the president’s argument but acknowledged the New York state officials’ position that Trump’s lawsuit involves a New York state law and “alleges no events or omissions” in Washington by state officials.

Nichols said the president also could refile his case in Washington against the House committee, if and when it makes a request. House general counsel Douglas N. Letter had urged Nichols to reject Trump’s lawsuit, saying the committee's decision whether to use the new state law is “absolutely immune” from court review under the Constitution’s grant of legislative powers to Congress.

More U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: You Must Never Vote for Bloomberg, Charles M. Blow, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). His expansion of the notoriously racist stop-and-frisk program is a complete and nonnegotiable deal breaker. Stop-and-frisk, pushed as a way to get guns and other contraband off the streets, became nothing short of a massive, enduring, city-sanctioned system of racial terror. This system of terror exploded under Bloomberg, with his full advocacy and support.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Don’t Expect Polls to Change Republican Minds, Nicole Hemmer (author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics), Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). And almost every day brings new details from the transcripts of the impeachment hearings, each with damning testimony of corruption republican elephant logoand obstruction that promises to build even more support for removal — enough, even, to move Republicans on the issue.

But that hope springs from a false premise — that as the polls go, so goes the Republican Party. That’s no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for a generation.

One of the two major parties no longer feels beholden to public opinion. And that’s why, even though an October Fox News poll indicated that 51 percent of voters favor both impeachment and removal for Mr. Trump, we shouldn’t expect Republicans in Congress to fall in line.

ny times logoNew York Times, Close Kentucky Race Was Ripe for Twitter, and an Omen for 2020, Matthew Rosenberg and Nick Corasaniti, Nov. 11, 2019 (print ed.). As activists, trolls and bots spread unfounded claims of voter fraud, a contested governor race was a preview of what many fear for the presidential election.

Nov. 10

Global Politics / Media

 

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans attempt to move impeachment inquiry away from Trump, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 10, 2019. A list of witnesses demanded Saturday fits a pattern for GOP lawmakers, who have focused heavily on pushing conspiracy theories and attacking Democrats as unfairly partisan.

republican elephant logoHouse Republicans on Saturday pressed ahead with their efforts to move the impeachment inquiry away from President Trump, calling on Democrats to add witnesses to the probe including former vice president Joe Biden’s son and the whistleblower whose initial complaint kicked off the investigation.

The GOP demands were met with immediate skepticism from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who warned against “sham investigations” of the Bidens and other issues in a clear signal that many of the witnesses were unlikely to be called.

  • Analysis: An oral history of how Trump allegedly tried to leverage a White House visit for an investigation into the Bidens rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, left, with businessman Lev Parnas last month at the Trump International Hotel shortly before the arrest of Parnas and his colleague Ignor Fruman while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Associate Says He Gave Demand for Biden Inquiry to Ukrainians, Ben Protess, Andrew E. Kramer, Michael Rothfeld and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 10, 2019. The claim by the associate, Lev Parnas, is being vigorously disputed. Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country’s new leadership, a lawyer for the associate said.

The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.

The claim by Mr. Parnas, who is preparing to share his account with impeachment investigators, challenges the narrative of events from Mr. Trump and Ukrainian officials that is at the core of the congressional inquiry. It also directly links Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to threats of repercussions made to the Ukrainians, something he has strenuously denied.

igor fruman mugBut Mr. Parnas’s account, while potentially significant, is being contradicted on several fronts. None of the people involved dispute that the meeting occurred, but Mr. Parnas stands alone in saying the intention was to present an ultimatum to the Ukrainian leadership. Another participant in the meeting, Mr. Parnas’s business partner, Igor Fruman, right, said Mr. Parnas’s claim was false; the men never raised the issues of aid or the vice president’s attendance at the inauguration, lawyers for Mr. Fruman said.

Mr. Giuliani denied Mr. Parnas’s contention that he had delivered the warning at the direction of Mr. Giuliani. “Categorically, I did not tell him to say that,” Mr. Giuliani said.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine scandal henchman Lev Parnas just sold out Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2019. Well that was a plot twist we didn’t see coming. Based on the moves that Lev Parnas has made over the past week, we were fully expecting him to sell out Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal. But now details are leaking out about what Parnas is planning to give to the House impeachment inquiry, and in a surprise twist, Parnas is also selling out Mike Pence (shown at far left above with others mention in this column, including Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas between Pence and Donald Trump, with the latter's counsel Giuliani at right).

bill palmer report logo headerLev Parnas fired his Trump-connected lawyer several days ago and announced that he was planning to fully cooperate with the House impeachment probe. Now, according to the New York Times, Parnas is planning to testify to the House that he told Ukrainian President Zelensky that unless an investigation into the fake Biden scandal was publicly announced, Mike Pence would not be attending Zelensky’s inauguration. This changes just about everything.

One of Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen is now directly confessing that he personally carried out a portion of the quid pro quo extortion scandal. This is devastating to Rudy for obvious reasons – and it’ll help ensure that Rudy never does get out of prison. It’s also ugly for Donald Trump, because it means Trump wasn’t just asking Zelensky to “do me a favor though.” Trump went so far as to send a thug to threaten the President of Ukraine unless he granted that (illegal) favor.

This is also quite ugly for Mike Pence, who will now be stuck trying to convince the public that when Trump and Giuliani were sending Parnas to threaten to withhold Pence’s presence from Zelensky’s inauguration, Pence somehow didn’t know it was going on. Pence ended up not attending the inauguration after all, meaning he had to have been in on it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley says Tillerson, Kelly tried to recruit her to subvert Trump to ‘save the country,’ Anne Gearan, Nov. 10, 2019. Two of President Trump’s senior advisers undermined and ignored him in what they claimed was an effort to “save the country,” former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley claims in a new memoir.

state dept map logo SmallFormer secretary of state Rex Tillerson, right, and former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but rex tillerson exxon mobil Smallshe refused, Haley writes in a new book, With All Due Respect, which also describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and imperious and Kelly as suspicious of her access to Trump.

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote.

“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote of the views the two men held.

djt nikki haley Custom 2

Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Nikki Haley is so eager to go down with Donald Trump’s sinking ship, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2019. Nikki Haley (above) ruined her once-promising political career when she went to work for the Donald Trump regime. She knows it, and doesn’t appear to believe she can get anywhere by coming out against Trump, so instead she keeps emphatically marrying herself to Trump’s sinking ship.

bill palmer report logo headerBut this isn’t going to magically put her back in the game either, so the question has been why she’s destroying what’s left of her reputation in the name of trying to prop up the ghost of Donald Trump.

Now we have our answer. Nikki Haley is doing what failed politicians always do: she’s cashing out.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: A Threat to a Whistleblower Is a Threat to Us All, Celia Wexler, Nov. 10, 2019. House Republicans and President Donald Trump are trying to unmask the Ukraine whistleblower. If they succeed, will future whistleblowers keep silent? The anonymity of the Ukraine whistleblower is hanging by a thread. Conservative media outlets have been reporting the name of the person they believe filed the complaint that triggered the impeachment process.

The person’s alleged identity has been circulated on Capitol Hill by House Republicans, and tweeted out by the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

We already know what President Donald Trump thinks about the whistleblower. He considers him or her to be a “almost a spy,” and a “never Trumper” who deserves to be unmasked. A few days ago, Trump opined: “The whistleblower should be revealed, because the whistleblower gave a false story.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective, Despite Trump’s taunting and harassment, whistleblowers remain undaunted, Joe Davidson, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). For a man whose job includes protecting federal whistleblowers, President Trump’s actions to undermine one in particular could hamper whistleblowers generally.

Yet, despite intimidation from the nation’s highest office, the Ukraine matter whistleblower — actually, whistleblowers — remains undaunted.

“The harassing and taunting comments, usually rife with hate but truly masking fear, that have emanated from the president and his allies have done nothing to deter the whistleblowers,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who represents them. “They fulfilled their lawful obligations to the Constitution of the United States, and they did so following the rule of law.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s attacks on the judiciary are dangerous. Good for this judge for speaking up, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Federal judges mostly speak through their opinions. When they give speeches or write law review articles, they tend to take measured tones. On the rare occasions they tread into issues touching on current paul friedman graphicpolitics, they usually do so obliquely.

So it was all the more striking that Paul Friedman, a highly respected federal district court judge, used the occasion of an annual lecture before a group of the capital’s most distinguished judges and lawyers not merely to defend the independence of the federal judiciary but to take on President Trump directly.

“We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms,” Friedman said. “He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.” 

Palmer Report, Opinion; The real reason the witness testimony is so devastating to Donald Trump, Robert Harrington, Nov. 10, 2019. The fact that Fiona Hill was born in England and not, say, Ukraine, will play somewhat less well at the propaganda mill of the shivering, superstitious, conspiracy-mongering camp of the alt-right. Fear not, however, it didn’t stop them from finding other ways to try to get to her.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Dr. Hill relates in her just-released testimony of October 14, “My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again, frankly, as it’s been announced that I’ve been giving this deposition, accusing me of being a [left-leaning billionaire philanthropist George] Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the President, and, you know, of various improprieties.”

It is instructive to note that many of these conspiracy theories Dr. Hill, left, relates come straight from Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s Nixon-adulating acolyte, and Alex Jones, he of the alt-right “InfoWars,” the propaganda machine of which Jones is the chief villain. Both Stone and Jones unreservedly love the Constitution when it comes to the Second Amendment and fiona hilloccasionally hate it when it comes to the First.

It is also instructive to note that, a full week before Matt Gaetz and company stormed the SCIF and ordered out for pizza, the transcript relates that Congressman Gaetz attempted to illegally insinuate himself into Fiona Hill’s hearing. Chairman Adam Schiff had to repeatedly point out that, as Mr. Gaetz was not a member of any of the invited committees, he was not permitted to remain. Gaetz wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t until the Chairman threatened to deduct Gaetz’ time-wasting antics from the time allotted for questioning the witness by (actually invited) Republican members of the committee, that Gaetz relented and left the room – in an infantile pout.

What Gaetz pretends not to get and what everyone else bothers to think about and understand is, the reason for the closed door nature of these hearings is to ensure that witnesses do not collude with each other, either accidentally or on purpose. This practice bore some interesting fruit when, 15 days later, Alexander Vindman testified. The juxtaposition of Vindman’s and Hill’s testimonies is what made it necessary for Ambassador to the European Union Gordon D. Sondland to recently amend his testimony in order to avoid perjury charges. Notice the similarities in side by side statements.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump learns that fake charities are tons of fun until you get caught, Kathleen Parker, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Imagine President Trump’s surprise upon realizing that a charity bearing his name did not mean the money belonged to him.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoSo it has come to pass with a New York judge’s ruling Thursday that the president had misused money given to the Donald J. Trump Foundation and, as part of a settlement, will have to pay $2 million in damages. Not only did he use the money for himself, including the purchase of a 6-foot-tall portrait of None Other, but he also filled the board of directors with family members (the usual suspects: Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric) and at least one officer, Trump Organization CFO donald j trump foundation logo graphicAllen Weisselberg, who didn’t know he was even on the board, according to court documents.

The man who popularized “fake news” apparently also invented a fake charity. They’re tons of fun until you get caught. But there was nothing fake about the money Trump spent that was intended for others.

pam biondiThere were some “charitable” donations, such as a $25,000 check in 2013 to a political committee connected to then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R), left. Charities are prohibited from making political contributions. And, in 2016, while in Iowa at a political rally, Trump issued a $100,000 check from the foundation to a local veterans group. Again, money from charities is prohibited by federal law from “participating” in political campaigns.

The Trump Foundation was something of a ruse. The board had never met in 19 years, from 1999 to 2018, when it agreed to shut down. Trump, though he gave $5.5 million over the foundation’s life, didn’t surrender a penny between 2009 and 2015.

Global Politics / Media

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I worked on political ads at Facebook. They profit by manipulating us, Yaël Eisenstat, Nov. 10, 2019 (print ed.). I joined Facebook in June 2018 as “head of Global Elections Integrity Ops” in the company’s business integrity organization, focused specifically on political advertising. I had spent much of my career working to strengthen and defend democracy — including freedom of speech — as an intelligence officer, diplomat and White House adviser. Now I had the opportunity to help correct the course of a company that I viewed as playing a major role in one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

facebook logoIn the year leading up to our 2016 election, I began to see the polarization and breakdown of civil discourse, exacerbated by social media, as our biggest national security threat; I had written about that before Facebook called. I didn’t think I was going to change the company by myself. But I wanted to help Facebook think through the role it plays in politics, in the United States and around the world, and the best way to ensure that it is not harming democracy.

A year and a half later, as the company continues to struggle with how to handle political content and as another presidential election approaches, it’s clear that tinkering around the margins of advertising policies won’t fix the most serious issues. The real problem is that Facebook profits partly by amplifying lies and selling dangerous targeting tools Democratic-Republican Campaign logosthat allow political operatives to engage in a new level of information warfare. Its business model exploits our data to let advertisers aim at us, showing each of us a different version of the truth and manipulating us with hyper-customized ads — ads that as of this fall can contain blatantly false and debunked information if they’re run by a political campaign. As long as Facebook prioritizes profit over healthy discourse, it can’t avoid damaging democracy.

Ultimately, I was not empowered to do the job I was hired to do, and I left within six months. I don’t know if anybody up the chain ever considered our proposals to combat misinformation in political ads. But based on the company’s current policy allowing politicians to lie in ads, and the dissent letter signed in late October by more than 250 Facebook employees disagreeing with the policy, it seems clear that they did not.

Yaël Eisenstat is a visiting fellow at Cornell Tech in the Digital Life Initiative and a former elections integrity head at Facebook, CIA officer, and White House adviser.edia News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Saudi Twitter breach is a warning to all technology companies, Editorial Board, Nov. 10, 2019. The Justice Department this week charged two former Twitter employees with accessing the firm’s data on more than 6,000 users. One account belongs to Omar Abdulaziz, a high-profile dissident who lives in asylum in Canada, and the description of another matches an anonymous critic of corruption who tweets under the handle @Mujtahidd. The architect of the Saudi regime’s aggressive online repression twitter bird Customoperation once hinted that authorities had ways to unmask online gadflies who were using pseudonyms for protection. We now know at least one of those ways.

The story rings an alarm about Saudi Arabia’s reach, but it also provides a more general warning to technology companies sitting on stockpiles of sensitive personal information. Security professionals across industries see insider threats as a rising concern, and Silicon Valley has hardly been a stranger to the risk. Vice has reported on Myspace employees harnessing a tool called “Overlord” to read users’ messages and passwords back in that platform’s heyday; Snapchat employees have allegedly snooped on saved photos and location information; a Yahoo software engineer recently pleaded guilty to tracking down private photos of women.

This is an issue Silicon Valley firms should prove they have a handle on, lest the next Cambridge Analytica break out — this time from within.

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: Media beware: Impeachment hearings will be the trickiest test of covering Trump, Margaret Sullivan​, right, Nov. 10, 2019. On Wednesday — as televised impeachment hearings begin in the House of Representatives — journalists need to be on their game. The stakes don’t get much higher when it comes to fulfilling their core mission: informing citizens of what they really need to know.The president’s distraction machine will be revved up as he fights for survival.

More World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns amid growing protests following disputed election, Anthony Faiola and Rachelle Krygier, Nov. 10, 2019. ​Morales’s call for evo moralesnew elections after an audit found “manipulation” in last month’s vote did little to quell the unrest and increasingly violent protests demanding he step down.

Evo Morales, right, the elder statement of the Latin American left, resigned as president of Bolivia on Sunday after his offer of new elections failed to quell an increasingly violent uprising Sunday following the release of a scathing international audit that found “clear manipulation” of the vote last month in which he claimed victory.

U.S. Agriculture / Food 

washington post logoWashington Post, The end of Florida orange juice? A lethal disease is devastating the state’s citrus industry, Darryl Fears, Nov. 10, 2019. There are so many dead and dying Florida groves — thanks to a citrus disease that scientists compare to HIV — that some economists have administered last rites to the state’s $9 billion citrus industry.

Nov. 9

Global Headlines

  • Washington Post, They fled to Europe for a better life. Now, they are returning home, Chico Harlan, Nov. 9, 2019. A voluntary deportation program, funded by Greece and the European Union, has become one of the most significant pathways of reverse migration.
  • New York Times, Ruling Over Holy Site in Favor of Hindus Gives Modi Major Victory, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2019. The decision allows for Hindus to build a temple where a mosque once stood and sets Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a path to remake the country as a Hindu nation.
  • Washington Post, One farm family’s struggle after debt pushes a husband to suicide, Annie Gowen | Photos by Ricky Carioti, Nov. 9, 2019. Chris Dykshorn had been despondent over the couple’s finances, crippled by surplus grain he couldn’t sell because of the trade war and flooded fields. At the end of May, he texted: “I seriously don’t know how we r gonna make it.” The next day, he wrote: “I just want to sit in the house and cry.” On June 13, he went to the utility room to get his gun.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff just blew up the House GOP’s latest wacky scheme to derail Trump’s impeachment, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2019. Earlier today, House Republicans tried to turn the impeachment process on its head by revealing a list of witnesses they’d like to call. The list was so cartoonishly absurd, all we could do was roll our eyes. It told us everything about the kinds of antics that Donald Trump’s House GOP allies are planning to rely on – and it promptly got shot down accordingly.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Republicans almost comically announced that they want to call Hunter Biden as a witness. Yeah right. They also named Nellie Ohr and Alexandra Chalupa, two frequent targets of Trump’s lunatic phony conspiracy theories. Again, not happening. Then, just to show how idiotic and sophomoric the House GOP effort is, their list hilariously included “the whistleblower” and “the whistleblower’s sources.”

adam schiff squareThe thing is, House Republicans don’t get to make any decisions on witnesses. The House Democratic majority gets to make those decisions. Sure enough, it took House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, right, all of a few minutes to announce that none of these nonsense requests were going to be granted. Trump’s House GOP allies will whine about how unfair it is that they didn’t get their way, and no one will care.

Once Donald Trump’s impeachment reaches the Senate trial stage, Senate Republicans will theoretically be allowed to call any witnesses they like. But if they start trying to subpoena people like Hunter Biden and Nellie Ohr, it’ll blow back on them spectacularly, as the public will conclude that they’re trying to prop Trump up by any means – and the Republican Senators will start to lose their seats in the next election. In any case, the Senate trial is still a ways off. For now, all the House Republicans can do is whine.

nancy pelosi djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: House Democrats hope Intelligence Committee will do what other panels have failed to do, Paul Kane, Nov. 9, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee, in a pair of hearings with career diplomats, hopes to do what other panels have failed to do in their previous attempts at high-profile investigations of President Trump: deliver a dramatic rendering of the facts that are easily understood by the average voter and make clear how those actions represent abuses of power that are considered high crimes and misdemeanors.

U.S. House logoHaving learned lessons about those previous mistakes, Democrats fashioned the resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry to address several procedural hiccups that they believe will make these new hearings more dramatic. And, more broadly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), above left, has recently begun to hold weekly huddles with the Democrats who are most often on TV news shows talking about the investigation. The purpose is to work on message and drive home the importance of keeping the focus on Trump’s actions and not getting distracted by side characters, such as the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

• Facebook and YouTube block spread of supposed whistleblower’s name and photo
• Senior White House official said he had ‘no doubt’ of quid pro quo, latest transcripts show,
• Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman wanted to be American as can be. Now Trump questions his motives.

ny times logoNew York Times, How State Department’s Dissenters Incited Revolt, Then Rallying Cry, Michael Crowley, Lara Jakes and David E. Sanger, Nov. 9, 2019. Shock, anger and sadness are giving way to pride among career diplomats that they are defending American ideals and trying to hold the Trump administration accountable.

ny times logoNew York Times, No Charitable Thought for Donald Trump, Editorial Board, Nov. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Fined $2 million after admitting his foundation was his piggy bank, the president shows he always comes first. On Monday, President Trump will kick off the 100th New York City Veterans Day Parade, at which he is likely to boast, as is his wont, of his devotion to the men and women who have served in the military.

donald j trump foundation logo graphicBut a legal settlement announced on Thursday reveals that for Donald Trump, personal interest outranks even the needs of veterans. Under the agreement, a New York judge ordered the president to pay $2 million in damages after Mr. Trump admitted that his now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation (shown in a parody graphic) largely benefited Donald J. Trump.

In a stipulation, he essentially agreed that the foundation was what the New York attorney general’s office said it was when it filed suit last year — a piggy bank to pay bills and fund political spending. It’s an interesting admission as the House seems ready to accuse him of using the Pentagon budget for his own political ends.

The president acknowledged in the settlement that his 2016 campaign controlled the $2.8 million the foundation had raised at a fund-raiser for veterans in Iowa in January 2016, only days before the state’s presidential nominating caucuses. The fund-raiser was used, in the words of the judge, “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP asks for Hunter Biden, whistleblower to testify publicly, Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 9, 2019. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.

House Republicans sent Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) a list of witnesses they want to testify in the impeachment inquiry, including former vice president hunter bidenJoe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, left, and the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against President Trump.

adam schiff squareBut Schiff, right, is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.

“We expect that you will call each of the witnesses listed above to ensure that the Democrats’ ‘impeachment inquiry’ treats the President with fairness, as promised by Speaker Pelosi,” wrote Devin Nunes (Calif.), ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee. “Your failure to fulfill Minority witness requests shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw another one of his own loyalists in the garbage, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2019.  If you’re committing crimes on Donald Trump’s behalf, or if you’re trying to cover up Donald Trump’s crimes, you are an idiot. You’re an idiot for getting involved with such worthless fraud to begin with; even if you want to pursue a life of crime, you could find far more success by going elsewhere. You’re also an idiot because Trump is one of the most disloyal people in the history of crime.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump stood on the White House lawn on Friday and said this about U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland: “I hardly know the gentleman.” Nevermind that this statement is plainly, laughably untrue. It’s also just vicious. Sondland gave a million dollars to Trump’s inaugural fund, which we all know went straight into gordon sondland oTrump’s pocket. Sondland, right,  had no dog in the Ukraine fight, yet he loyally carried out Trump’s criminally corrupt Ukraine scheming anyway. Yet when things got so hot for Sondland that he had to reluctantly confess his own role in Trump’s criminal scandal, Trump had the nerve to claim he doesn’t know the guy.

As this is playing out, Donald Trump’s oldest friend Roger Stone is on trial for the crimes he committed in the name of helping Donald Trump rig the 2016 election. Trump won’t lift a finger to help Stone. We know this because Trump didn’t lift a finger to help Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, or anyone else who got caught committing crimes on Trump’s behalf. Stone will die in a cage just like Manafort will die in a cage, because Trump is just that vicious in his disloyalty to mick mulvaney djt 2 Smallthose who helped him get to where he is.

Of course Donald Trump’s cartoonish level of disloyalty is going to be his own undoing. Trump’s House GOP allies are preparing to scapegoat Trump loyalists Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney (shown at left) in a last ditch effort at insulating Trump – but Mick and Rudy are two nasty pricks who will take Trump down if he takes them down. And Cohen, who just wants out from under this mess, is about to testify to the New York grand jury that’s set to indict Trump, ensuring he goes to prison as soon as he’s out of office. Trump’s disloyalty will help ensure that Trump will die in a cage as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney asks to join lawsuit over impeachment testimony, Derek Hawkins, Nov. 9, 2019. The acting White House chief of staff said he was facing conflicting orders from House Democrats and the White House over whether he must participate.

Child Sex Trafficking

ny times logoNew York Times, Child Abusers Run Rampant as Tech Companies Look the Other Way, Michael H. Keller and Gabriel J.X. Dance, Nov. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Though online platforms bar child sexual abuse imagery on the web, criminals are exploiting gaps. Photos and videos haunt victims into adulthood as search engines, social networks and cloud storage continue to recirculate images.

Migration / Climate Change

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Will Nationalism and Fascism Rise Along With Sea Levels? Milicent Cranor, Nov. 9, 2019. When rising temperatures and sea levels displace tens of millions of people in the near future, will these climate refugees be welcomed elsewhere or met with hostility? Here is a preview of what’s to come.

U.S. Elections

White House Chronicle, Warren’s Weakness — She Always Takes the Bait, Llewellyn King, Nov. 9, 2019. Solid, middle-of-the-road, fad-proof Democrats are not happy. They are the ones most likely to have thrown their support early to Joe Biden, and who now are eyeing Elizabeth Warren with apprehension and a sense of the inevitable.

elizabeth warren npc jip 11 18 15 IMG 1217 SmallWarren (shown in a 2017 Justice Integrity Project photo) exhibits all the weaknesses of someone who, at her core, is not a professional politician. She blunders into traps whether they are set for her or not. She is vulnerable to the political equivalent of fatal attraction.

Where Biden stumbles over the issues of the past, Warren walks into the traps of today. She is one of those self-harming politicians who shoots before she takes aim.

Then there is the Medicare for All trap into which Warren not so much fell as she propelled herself. Because Bernie Sanders, who reminds me of King Lear, and his field commander Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others on the left favored it, Warren had to leap in, ill-prepared.

Warren seems determined to embrace the one thing that makes the left and its ideas electorally vulnerable: The left wants to tell the electorate what it is going to take away.

Consider this short list of the left’s confiscations that the centrists must negotiate, not endorse: We want your guns, we want your employer-paid health care, we want your gasoline-powered car, and we want the traditional source of your electricity. Trust us, you will love these confiscations.
Those are the position traps for Warren. To make a political sale — or any sale — do not tell the customers what you are going to take away from them.

Nov. 8

Legal Scandal Headlines just security logo

Just Security, Public Document Clearinghouse: Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry, Julia Brooks and William Dawley, Nov. 8, 2019. Just Security has compiled and curated all publicly available documents in Congress’s impeachment inquiry concerning President Donald Trump in connection with Ukraine. This collection seeks to include significant original source material, including relevant legislation, letters, subpoenas, deposition transcripts, executive branch communications, and litigation documents.

Please contact us if there are documents you believe should be added to the Clearinghouse. For documents related to Congress’s various Russia investigations, see our Public Document Clearinghouse: Congressional Russia Investigations.

Readers may also be interested in Just Security’s Ukraine Timeline and Kate Brannen’s “A Who’s Who of Ukraine Witnesses.”

steve bannon file

Politico, Steve Bannon: Roger Stone was our unused WikiLeaks ‘access point,’ Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, Nov. 8, 2019. At Stone's trial for lying to Congress, Bannon was careful to note that the Trump campaign never asked Stone to contact WikiLeaks. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign thought primarily of one person when it wanted to find out what was going on with WikiLeaks: Roger Stone.

That’s the readout Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign CEO, delivered during a much-anticipated appearance Friday at Stone’s federal trial on charges that he lied to Congress and intimidated a witness.

roger stone donald trump2Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone just got a house dropped on him – and it’s bad news for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. It’s been ten months since Roger Stone was indicted and arrested on federal charges. But now that his criminal trial has finally started this week, things are progressing rather quickly. Today an unlikely witnesses testified for the prosecution – and by all accounts, it was particularly devastating to Stone.

bill palmer report logo headerRoger Stone (shown with his friend Donald Trump in a file photo) has admitted on Twitter that he was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election, while he was a Trump campaign adviser, and while WikiLeaks was strategically releasing stolen DNC emails to try to help the Trump campaign. This led prosecutors to subpoena Steve Bannon, who was in charge of the final months of the Trump 2016 campaign, to testify today about the conversations that he had with Stone about WikiLeaks.

Bannon testified today that Stone repeatedly implied that he was in communication with WikiLeaks, and that he knew the upcoming email releases were going to be bad for Hillary Clinton. NBC News legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner says that Bannon’s testimony “crushed Roger Stone’s defense and also provided a direct and compelling link between the Trump Campaign and Julian Assange/Wikileaks.” This is bad for Team Trump on two levels.

First, it all but ensures that Roger Stone will be convicted on at least some of the charges. This will put Stone in the position of having to decide whether to bet his life on a Trump pardon that may or may not ever come, or whether to cut a plea deal against others in the Trump regime. Second, this helps House Democrats establish that the Trump campaign was criminally conspiring with Russian cutout WikiLeaks, if they decide to include this as part of their impeachment argument.

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial set to turn to alleged witness threats, contacts with Trump campaign about WikiLeaks, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Nov. randy credico ari melber screenshot Custom8, 2019. Former radio show host Randy Credico returned to the witness stand Friday in the trial of Roger Stone, who is accused of lying to Congress and then threatening Credico not to tell lawmakers the truth about their conversations.

Jurors have seen Stone’s words in texts and emails, but Credico told them firsthand that he felt that when Stone used a Godfather II movie reference with him he was trying to persuade Credico to mislead Congress by claiming not to recall certain information.

Politico, Roger Stone's odd friendship with Randy Credico, Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, Nov. 8, 2019. Stone is facing charges he tampered with Credico's testimony as they got drawn into the congressional Russia probe.

Credico’s 90-minute grilling by Stone defense lawyer Robert Buschel was high drama. Stone’s team painted Credico as a habitual liar who had repeatedly portrayed himself as someone who actually was in close contact with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange as it mysteriously hinted that a huge dump of politically explosive material was coming.

ny times logojohn bolton youtube guardianNew York Times, Bolton Knows About ‘Many Relevant Meetings’ on Ukraine, Lawyer Says, Peter Baker, Nov. 8, 2019. John Bolton, right, President Trump’s former national security adviser, knew of many details of the Ukraine pressure campaign, his lawyer told lawmakers. Mr. Bolton would be an important witness in the impeachment inquiry, but his lawyer wants a court to rule on whether he should testify.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump’s ‘demand’ for Biden probe was ‘prerequisite’ for meeting, Ukraine expert told investigators, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 8, 2019. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a National Security Council official who listened to the president's July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said “there was no doubt” that Trump was seeking political investigations of political rivals, according to a transcript of his testimony released today.

The transcript was one of two made public Friday by House impeachment investigators, who also released one documenting the closed-door deposition of another National Security Council official, Fiona Hill, who also expressed concerns about efforts to pressure Ukraine. Both Vindman and Hill are in discussions to testify publicly after open hearings begin next week, according to people familiar with the plan.

Washington Post, Rep. Jim Jordan named to Intelligence Committee, setting up lead role in public hearings

washington post logoWashington Post, Second person says he told Rep. Jim Jordan about sexual misconduct at Ohio State, Rick Maese and Mike DeBonis​, Nov. 8, 2019. The wrestling referee says a jim jordan headshot Customschool doctor, Richard Strauss, performed a sex act in the shower next to him. Jordan, right, was an assistant coach at the time and has denied ever seeing or ohio state buckeyes logohearing of sexual abuse.

A college wrestling referee says he reported sexual misconduct involving a former doctor who’s been accused sexually abusing nearly 300 hundred men over a 17-year period to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State.

The congressman was dismissive, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, and the doctor, Richard Strauss, continued to treat and abuse students at the school.

Excerpts continued below. The Justice Integrity Project also has been covering the Stone trial in person.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt rudy giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: State Dept. official says Giuliani was engaged in a campaign ‘full of lies’ about former ambassador, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez​,​ Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer (shown above in a file photo), for engaging george kent oin a smear campaign against the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to the transcript U.S. House logoof his closed-door deposition released by House investigators Thursday.

Kent, right, testified that Giuliani’s “assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.”

Earlier Thursday, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Pence on Europe and Russia, appeared after being subpoenaed and testified behind closed doors for about five hours as former national security adviser John Bolton declined to appear before House investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Official’s testimony sums up Trump’s Ukraine demands as ‘investigations, Biden and Clinton,’ Greg Jaffe and Mike DeBonis, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). The transcript of Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent’s deposition suggests that he will detail his frustrations in especially stark terms when he appears in a public hearing.

washington post logoWashington Post, House GOP looks to protect Trump by offering up deputies as fall guys, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Republican lawmakers are trying to raise questions about whether envoy Gordon Sondland, President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were rudy giuliani recentactually representing the president or pursuing their own agendas.

House Republicans’ latest plan to shield President Trump from impeachment is to focus on at least three deputies — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union gordon sondland oGordon Sondland, left, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and possibly acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who they say could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy.

All three occupy a special place in the Ukraine narrative as the people in most direct contact with Trump. As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initiated the impeachment inquiry Sept. 24, congressional Republicans have struggled to come up with a consistent and coherent explanation for why Trump tried to coerce a foreign leader to investigate the president’s domestic political rivals.

Pro & Con Trump Books

washington post logoWashington Post, Visit to Arlington Cemetery reminded Donald Trump Jr. of all his family’s ‘sacrifices,’ he writes, Reis Thebault, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.).  It was the day before his father was inaugurated president of the United States when the weight of the office first washed over Donald Trump Jr., right.

donald trump jr book cover triggeredPresident-elect Trump and the new first family were at Arlington National Cemetery, where Trump was to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“I rarely get emotional, if ever,” Trump Jr. wrote in his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” “Yet, as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.”

djt maga hatHe also had another revelation as he watched his father standing in front of the tomb, surrounded by more than 400,000 graves, listening to the Army Band bugler playing taps: The Trump family had already suffered, he recalled thinking, and this was only the beginning.

“In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed — voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office,’” Trump Jr. wrote.

The book bills itself as a 300-page evisceration of PC culture — “the book that leftist elites don’t want you to read,” its Amazon page twice crows. In it, Trump Jr. writes, “A victimhood complex has taken root in the American left.” Yet, in his telling, the real victim is often him, his father or another Trump family member.

[Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle face a barrage of tough questions on ‘The View’]

His framing of the Arlington Cemetery anecdote, in particular, has provoked fervent criticism and accusations of callousness.

washington post logoWashington Post, Book by ‘Anonymous’ official describes Trump as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation, Philip Rucker, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). The author, described only as a “senior official” in the administration, claims that high-ranking officials considered resigning en masse last year in a “midnight self-massacre” to sound a public alarm about President Trump’s conduct.

donald trump twitterSenior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a “midnight self-massacre” to sound a public alarm about President Trump’s conduct, but rejected the idea because they believed it would further destabilize an already teetering government, according to a new book by an unnamed anonymous a warning cover Customauthor.

In A Warning by Anonymous, obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release, a writer described only as “a senior official in the Trump administration” paints a chilling portrait of the president as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation he was elected to lead.

The author — who first captured attention in 2018 as the unidentified author of a New York Times opinion column — describes Trump careening from one self-inflicted crisis to the next, “like a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.”

Inside DC

paul friedman graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ‘violates all recognized democratic norms,’ federal judge says in biting speech on judicial independence, Trump keeps lashing out at judges, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 8, 2019.  In an unusually critical speech that lamented the public’s flagging confidence in the independence of the judicial branch, a federal judge slammed President Trump for “feeding right into this destructive narrative” with repeated attacks and personal insults toward judges he dislikes.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman of the District of Columbia (shown above) said Trump’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms” during a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington on Wednesday.

“We are in unchartered territory,” said Friedman, 75, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.”

Other judges have raised similar concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and the increasingly partisan interpretation of judicial rulings, but as a senior judge and secretary of the American Law Institute, Friedman’s criticism carries weight.

Trump has denounced judges who have halted some of his administration’s most hotly debated policies, including his threats to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities and his attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The president also has attacked judges over rulings that negatively affect him personally.

In 2017, Trump tweeted how a judge’s decision not to imprison Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after walking away from his battalion in Afghanistan, was a “total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.” On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump had suggested Bergdahl was a “dirty rotten traitor” who should be sentenced to death.

Trump also attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, when the federal jurist from the Southern District of California was assigned to preside over a fraud case involving Trump University, a real estate seminar program. Trump suggested Curiel, an appointee of President Barack Obama, could not remain impartial in the case because of his Mexican heritage, despite the fact that the federal judge was born in Indiana and the case had nothing to do with immigration or foreign affairs. Trump ultimately settled the suit, which alleged the seminars used false advertising to ensnare attendees, for $25 million.

steven menashi screenshot Custom

Roll Call, Trump judicial pick blows off Democrats’ questions on Ukraine, Todd Ruger, Nov. 7, 2019. An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to say whether he played a role in White House events now at the heart of the accelerating House impeachment probe — and Republicans haven’t let that halt his move through the confirmation process.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to advance the nomination of Steven Menashi, above, who works in the White House counsel’s office. President Donald Trump picked him for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit based in New York.

Stone Truth, Defendant's Announcement: Roger Stone's Trial Opens In Washington, DC on Nov. 5th, Roger Stone, Nov. 7, 2019. Despite a 2 year multi-million-dollar investigation, Roger Stone is not charged with Russian collusion or Wikileaks collaboration and the government has not charged Stone with having advanced knowledge of the source or content of the Wikileaks disclosures during the 2016 election including John Podesta’s e-mails. Stone is charged with witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstruction.

Prior to his being subjected to a broad media gag order, Stone has vigorously contested the charges and entered a “not guilty” plea. (See collection of news stories with links).

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Inquiry Tests Ties Between Barr and Trump, Peter Baker, Katie Benner and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 8, 2019 (updated). Attorney General William Barr has not publicly defended President Trump against the Democratic inquiry as he did with the Mueller investigation. The reluctance hints at a new distance between the two men, according to people who have spoken with them.

william barr new oFor a while at least, he seemed to have found his Roy Cohn, a lawyer to defend him against his accusers and go after his enemies. But the relationship between President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr, right, may be growing more complicated with the rising threat of impeachment.

Rather than publicly join the fight against House Democrats pursuing the president, Mr. Barr has remained out of the fray, resisting requests by intermediaries from Mr. Trump to go before the cameras to say no crime had been committed. While Mr. Barr exonerated the president in the spring at the end of the Russia investigation, he has been more reticent in the current matter.

The reluctance hints at a new distance between the two men, according to people who have spoken with them. Mr. Trump, angry with his coverage, is aggravated with Mr. Barr for urging him to release a reconstructed transcript of the telephone call with Ukraine’s president at the center of the impeachment drive. For his part, Mr. Barr was bothered that Mr. Trump on that call lumped him together with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s private lawyer, like interchangeable parts of his personal defense team.

Palmer Report, Commentary: The scam toilet company is back, and this time the crap is hitting Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani announced his newly hired criminal defense team, and we brought you the story of how one of Rudy’s new lawyers stands accused of having once dangled a Trump pardon at Michael Cohen. Now more information has surfaced about Rudy’s legal team, and it’s a bunch of crap – literally.

bill palmer report logo headerAwhile back, Donald Trump appointed a profoundly unqualified doofus named Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. It didn’t last long, and Whitaker is best remembered for sweating profusely during a press conference. Somewhere in there it was reported that Whitaker, right, was involved with a patent marketing matthew whitaker agcompany that allegedly scammed a guy who had come up with a design for a toilet for well-endowed men. The story served as comic relief and then disappeared after Whitaker left the job and disappeared.

But now it turns out one of Rudy Giuliani’s newly hired attorneys has also counted the scam toilet company as a client, as flagged on Friday night by Rachel Maddow. Maybe this is just a coincidence. But it does stand out as being odd that the same lawyer is now associated with two of Trump’s stooges, even though one case was about alleged marketing fraud, and the other case is about a criminal conspiracy against the United States. Those two things don’t seem to go together.

In any case, nothing Rudy Giuliani does these days seems to be on the up and up, and most of it is just plain weird. Now he’s hired the scam toilet guy to try to get him off the hook in an SDNY criminal case that threatens to send him to prison for the rest of his natural lifespan. Something about this just doesn’t smell right.

Politico, Transcript reveals how Adam Schiff booted Matt Gaetz from the deposition room, Caitlin Oprysko, Nov. 8, 2019. The House intelligence chair scolds Gaetz: “You're going to matt gaetz o Customremove yourself.” President Donald Trump’s allies took to heart his request that Republicans start fighting back against House Democrats’ impeachment investigation, and one transcript released Friday vividly captures how one such lieutenant tried to crash the proceedings.

At the beginning of the closed-door testimony of Fiona Hill, the White House’s top Russia hand, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff notices a face out of place: Rep. Matt Gaetz, right,a flamethrowing congressman and Trump ally from the Florida Panhandle.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commerce Dept. aides knew Alabama storm forecasters were not responding to Trump but rebuked them anyway, Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman, Nov. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Officials insisted on admonishing the forecasters, even knowing they had no political motivations when they contradicted President Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed to the state.

Senior aides at the Commerce Department forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to publicly rebuke its weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., for contradicting President Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed to that state, even after NOAA informed them that the agency’s meteorologists were not aware at the time they were contradicting the president, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

The NOAA officials spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity surrounding ongoing investigations into the agency’s actions regarding Hurricane Dorian. NOAA and its National Weather Service are part of the Commerce Department.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump White House official resigns as impeachment scandal spirals out of control, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. Just how poorly is impeachment going for Donald Trump? The majority of Americans now want him impeached and removed – and this is before the televised impeachment hearings begin next week. Thus far every closed-door witness has made things even worse for Trump. Now we’re seeing another sign of just how ugly this is all getting.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as former Trump White House National Security Adviser John Bolton plays games about whether he’ll testify to the House impeachment inquiry, one of his key underlings, Earl Matthews, is now resigning the Trump White House. More to the point, NBC says that Matthews played a key role in the meetings surrounding Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal.

There is no indication that Matthews participated in any wrongdoing, and in fact it appears that in general, National Security Council personnel were adamantly opposed to Donald Trump’s criminal scheming against Ukraine. But the timing of Matthews’ resignation can’t be ignored. Perhaps he expects to be called as a witness and he wants to get out of the White House before he testifies and things get awkward. Or maybe he just sees the writing on the wall and now expects the Trump regime to collapse entirely under the weight of impeachment.

In any case, Donald Trump’s White House has had an unprecedented number of firings, resignations amid controversy, and resignations in protest. Trump is now on his fourth White House National Security Adviser. His first, Michael Flynn, has since pleaded guilty to a felony and is headed to prison. His third, John Bolton, was fired as the Ukraine scandal and coverup unraveled.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has complete meltdown on White House lawn, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2019. Donald Trump and his allies have spent weeks accusing House Democrats of doing something shady by holding closed-door witness depositions as part of the impeachment inquiry, even though it’s standard practice to keep witnesses from knowing what other witnesses have already said. Now that the hearings are set to begin taking place on live national television in just five days, Trump is singing a different tune.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump had a complete meltdown on the White House lawn today, as he took questions from reporters and then proceeded to give increasingly histrionic answers. At one point Trump asserted that “they shouldn’t be having public hearings” because his impeachment is a “hoax.” What, so now Trump wants the hearings to go back to being behind closed doors?

Reality show host Donald Trump understands the power of television better than anyone, and he’s panicked that the world is about to hear all about his crimes.

 washington post logoWashington Post, DeVos cancels nearly $11 million in student loans that the Education Dept. sent to unaccredited for-profit colleges, Danielle Douglas, Nov. 8, 2019. The Education Department said Friday it will cancel federal loans provided last year to students at four Art Institutes locations after revelations that officials knew the for-profit colleges were not betsy devos oaccredited and ineligible to receive such aid.

The federal agency (led by Secretary Betsy DeVos at right) has been embroiled in controversy over its efforts to shield Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University, from the consequences of lying to students about the accreditation of its since-closed schools. Documents released in October by the House Education and Labor Committee show the department provided $10.7 million in federal loans and grants to students at Art Institutes locations while the schools were not fully accredited. Now those loans will be forgiven.

Media / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Why did Google take action against some pro-Trump ads? It’s one of the many mysteries of its political ad rules, Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 8, 2019. Last month, Google took action against seven ads purchased by President Trump’s 2020 campaign, claiming that they violated the company’s rules — even though they had been viewed at least 24 million times.

google logo customBut Google said little else: It didn’t share a copy of the ads in question or disclose what standards they had violated. To experts, those unknowns are just two of many mysteries that demonstrate the company’s continued struggles to spot and shield users from potentially problematic political content with the 2020 presidential election a year away.

Much like its Silicon Valley peers, Google finds itself under heightened scrutiny for the powerful targeting and messaging tools it provides candidates and their allies pay to expand their audience online. The issue has commanded unusual public attention in recent weeks because of Facebook, which maintains a policy that essentially permits politicians, including Trump, to lie in their political ads.

U.S. Crime, Courts

josh gerstein headshot CustomPolitico, Manafort's former son-in-law gets 9 years for array of scams, Josh Gerstein, right, Nov. 8, 2019. Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law was sentenced to more than nine years in prison Friday for a wide-ranging series of fraud schemes the court said bilked victims out of more than $6 million. As U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. imposed the sentence of nine years and two months on Jeffrey Yohai, the judge blasted the would-be real estate developer as a serial scammer whose “horrific” crimes posed a significant threat to the public, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said.

Birottte, below left, said Yohai’s fraud spree demonstrated both “sophistication” and an “evil mind,” as well as Yohai’s belief that he “could do anything he wanted,” the andre birotte jr 2015prosecution spokesman said.

Yohai pleaded guilty to a brazen array of frauds, including renting out luxury homes without the permission of their owners, selling non-existent backstage passes for the Coachella music festival, and pawning band equipment that belonged to someone else.

jeffrey yohai CustomAmong those swindled by Yohai, right, was the award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman and Guy Aroch, a prominent photographer, who both invested millions in real estate deals with Yohai. Some of Yohai’s frauds were carried out while he was on bond after pleading guilty in a real estate fraud case nearly two years ago.

“Defendant has done tremendous damage to a huge number of victims,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Brown wrote in a September court filing. Yohai “has shown an almost unbelievable compulsion to defraud others, to the point that he could not stop even while awaiting this court’s judgment on him in the first case, which strongly suggests that he will continue on his criminal path despite having been blessed with so many advantages.”

“Worse, he seems to enjoy committing fraud and revels in cheating others out of their hard-earned money, as though he thought real work was only for paul manafort mugpatsies,” Brown added. Prosecutors, who charged that Yohai’s scams totaled more than $13 million, asked that he receive a 15-year prison term. The sentence the judge imposed was substantially shorter, but still lengthy for a financial fraud. He ordered a total of $6.7 million in restitution.

Yohai’s sentence is about a year-and-a-half longer than the term his former father-in-law (shown at left in a mug shot) ultimately received on the tax and fraud charges he was convicted on following a jury trial in Virginia last year, as well as two other charges he pleaded guilty to as part of a deal to avert a second trial in Washington on charges of being an unregistered foreign agent, money-laundering and obstruction of justice.

U.S. Foreign Policy

Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Vlodomyr Zelensky (file photos, left to right)

Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Vlodomyr Zelensky (file photos, left to right)

Roll Call, Impeachment strains longstanding bipartisan support for Ukraine, Rachel Oswald, Nov 8, 2019. Consensus built on keeping Ukraine inside the Western European camp. ‘That’s not believable’ — Cardin has heated exchange with administration official Turkey sanctions bills likely to move despite ceasefire Pence says Turkey has agreed to cease fire in northern Syria

The bipartisan backing for Ukraine in its long face off with Russia has been a hallmark of Congress’ role in foreign policymaking for decades. Congress — both parties — has generally been willing to confront Moscow more forcefully over its treatment of Ukraine than the Trump, Obama or George W. Bush White Houses.

But with U.S. policy toward Ukraine the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward Kyiv out in the open, and Republicans not wanting to break with their GOP president publicly over Ukraine policy, concern is rising that this longstanding bipartisan consensus to keep Ukraine inside the Western European camp could erode.

So far, the consensus on Ukraine in Congress seems largely to be holding, at least publicly, through lawmaker endorsements for continued military and economic assistance to Kyiv.

But on the less-tangible forms of support that Congress provides to Ukraine, such as oversight hearings of administration foreign policy, co-signing letters of support on Ukraine-related issues, or pressing for language in spending bills that require the State and Defense departments to spend foreign aid on Kyiv, there are signs of a partisan split.

Legal Scandal Headlines (Cont.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial set to turn to alleged witness threats, contacts with Trump campaign about WikiLeaks, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 8, 2019.  Former radio show host Randy Credico told jurors Stone played a role in his decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right before Congress.

randy credico ari melber screenshot CustomFormer radio show host Randy Credico,left, returned to the witness stand Friday in the trial of Roger Stone, who is accused of lying to Congress and then threatening Credico not to tell lawmakers the truth about their conversations.

roger stone headshotJurors have seen Stone’s words in texts and emails, but Credico told them firsthand that he felt that when Stone used a Godfather II movie reference with him he was trying to persuade Credico to mislead Congress by claiming not to recall certain information.

At the time, Stone was trying to learn more about hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign that might tank her run against then-candidate Donald Trump. The emails were stolen by Russian agents and shared with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which released them at critical points in the 2016 election cycle, according to prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Second person says he told Rep. Jim Jordan about sexual misconduct at Ohio State, Rick Maese and Mike DeBonis​, Nov. 8, 2019. The wrestling referee says a jim jordan headshot Customschool doctor, Richard Strauss, performed a sex act in the shower next to him. Jordan, right, was an assistant coach at the time and has denied ever seeing or hearing of sexual abuse.

A college wrestling referee says he reported sexual misconduct involving a former doctor who’s been accused sexually abusing nearly 300 hundred men over a 17-year period to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State. The congressman was dismissive, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in ohio state buckeyes logofederal court, and the doctor, Richard Strauss, continued to treat and abuse students at the school.

Ohio State says it’s aware of 1,429 instances of fondling and 47 instances of rape involving Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005. Thursday’s filing marks the 13th lawsuit against the school.

Jordan has found himself at the periphery of the controversy because some former wrestlers have said he was aware — or should have been aware — of Strauss’s misconduct. Jordan has denied any knowledge of the abuse, and did so again on Friday.

“Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any kind of sexual abuse, and if he had he would’ve dealt with it,” Jordan spokesman Ian Fury. “Multiple investigations have confirmed this simple fact.”

richard strauss osu lantern screenshotThe lawsuit comes as Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has taken a leading role in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump as perhaps Trump’s most aggressive defender. Inside numerous closed door interviews conducted over the past six weeks, Jordan and a senior Oversight Committee aide reporting to him led GOP questioning.

While he is not on the House Intelligence Committee, which is set to conduct public impeachment hearings starting next week, House GOP leaders are likely to try to place him on the panel for the occasion — a move that is being considered at least partly at the behest of Trump, who considers Jordan one of his most able public defenders on Capitol Hill.

Top House lawmakers of both parties have largely kept quiet about the Ohio State allegations, allowing investigations to play out. When the university issued a report in May finding that investigators could not make “conclusive determinations” about whether particular employees knew of Strauss’s conduct, Jordan claimed vindication.

Media News / Free Press

colombia flag nameColombia Reports, Commentary: Duque urged to reject beating of journalist asking him about children’s bombing, Adriaan Alsema, Nov. 8, 2019. Colombia’s press freedom foundation urged President Ivan Duque on Thursday to reject the beating of a journalist who asked him about a bombing in which eight children died.

In a statement, press freedom foundation FLIP said it “rejects the attacks on journalist Jesus Blanquicet of newspaper El Heraldo” after the reporter asked Duque to comment on the bombing that triggered the resignation of his defense minister on Wednesday. Blanquicet was punched by police after he had asked the president for comment about the bombing Duque initially praised as an “impeccable operation.”

In an apparent panic reaction, Duque asked the journalist: “What are you talking about, man?” after which presidential guards and cops pulled the journalist away and later punched him in the ribs.

With several other journalists present, presidential adviser Karen Abudinen subsequently asked Blanquicet to delete the president’s reaction, which the journalist refused.

Caracol Radio reported on Thursday that, according to Duque, Blanquicet had not identified himself as a journalist and the president didn’t hear the question.

The message that the Presidency leaves with its action is forceful: journalists who investigate uncomfortable matters are punished with aggression. This message not only reaches the assaulted journalist, it also reaches other journalists and media in the country, who may be deterred from asking uncomfortable questions, and officials and citizens, who may interpret this as an authorization to assault journalists.

Following the incident and amid persistent questions whether the president knew he authorized the bombing of a FARC dissident camp where victims of child recruitment were held, Duque shunned all contact with the press and even social media.

Nov. 7

Lead-Poisoned Children

ny times logoNew York Times, Flint’s Children Suffer in Class After Years of Drinking the Lead-Poisoned Water, Erica L. Green, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.).The city’s schools are overwhelmed by demands for individualized education programs and behavioral interventions for children with high lead exposure. Five years after Michigan switched Flint’s water supply to the contaminated Flint River from Lake Huron, the city’s lead crisis has migrated from its homes to its schools, where neurological and behavioral problems — real or feared — among students are threatening to overwhelm the education system.

EPA Clean WaterThe contamination of this long-struggling city’s water exposed nearly 30,000 schoolchildren to a neurotoxin known to have detrimental effects on children’s developing brains and nervous systems. Requests for special education or behavioral interventions began rising four years ago, when the water contamination became public, bolstering a class-action lawsuit that demanded more resources for Flint’s children.

That lawsuit forced the state to establish the $3 million Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence, which began screening students. The screenings then confirmed a range of disabilities, which have prompted still more requests for intervention.

The percentage of the city’s students who qualify for special education services has nearly doubled, to 28 percent, from 15 percent the year the lead crisis began, and the city’s screening center has received more than 1,300 referrals since December 2018. The results: About 70 percent of the students evaluated have required school accommodations for issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as A.D.H.D.; dyslexia; or mild intellectual impairment, said Katherine Burrell, the associate director of the center.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top EPA official, watchdog engaged in a standoff that inspector general calls a ‘flagrant problem,’ Juliet Eilperin​, Nov. 7, 2019. The inspector general said chief of staff Ryan Jackson, below left, is refusing to cooperate with a probe of his efforts to influence a scientist ahead of her congressional testimony. Environmental Protection Agency officials are in charles sheehana standoff with the agency’s independent watchdog over a probe of EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson’s efforts to influence a scientist ahead of her congressional testimony.

In a letter released publicly Wednesday, acting EPA inspector general Charles J. Sheehan informed Congress that his office had encountered a “flagrant problem” in ryan jackson epalight of Jackson’s refusal to cooperate with an ongoing audit and investigation focused on his activities while in office.

“To countenance open defiance even in one instance — much less two, both by a senior official setting precedent for himself and all agency staff — is ruinous,” Sheehan wrote.

Agency officials have pushed back at the accusations, arguing that they had sought to accommodate the IG’s requests. “I have neither delayed nor refused to fully cooperate with EPA’s Inspector General,” Jackson wrote in a Nov. 5 letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that was released by the agency.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logodonald j trump foundation logo graphicWashington Post, Judge orders Trump to pay $2 million to charities over misuse of foundation, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold​, Nov. 7, 2019.​ The settlement brings to an end a lawsuit filed last year by the New York State Attorney General’s Office that alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Twitter War Room Aims Its Punches at Decorated Colonel, Mike McIntire and Nicholas Confessore, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). A White House attack on Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, right, who testified on the Ukraine call, depends on innuendo spread in dark corners of the internet. President Trump has used social media to frame his impeachment defense, torch inquisitors and undermine key witnesses.

Days after a decorated Army lieutenant colonel offered damaging testimony about President Trump’s conduct on a July phone call with Ukraine’s leader, Mr. Trump stood on the South Lawn and issued a vague but ominous warning.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019“You’ll be seeing very soon what comes out,” Mr. Trump said on Saturday, referring to the officer, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman.

Mr. Trump was not more specific. But an attack on Colonel Vindman’s character and motives was already making its way from the dark corners of Mr. Trump’s social media following to the front lines of the impeachment battle. One day earlier, the right-wing commentator Jack Posobiec had retweeted a lengthy thread by a Florida man — a fan of QAnon, a fringe conspiracy about the “deep state” — claiming to have witnessed Colonel Vindman “bash America” in conversation with Russian officers during a joint military exercise in Germany in 2013.

That accusation was unsubstantiated and has been rejected by some of the colonel’s colleagues. Even so, Mr. Posobiec’s post was retweeted by Mr. Trump’s son and chief defender, Donald Trump Jr., driving it through conservative social media circles and onto pro-Trump websites, whose stories the younger Mr. Trump promoted to his four million followers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How a former senator and defense secretary explains Republican spinelessness, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 7, 2019. “I think it’s either fear or complicity.” That jennifer rubin new headshotis how former Maine Republican senator and secretary of defense William S. Cohen tries to explain Republicans’ subservience to President Trump and willful disregard for replete evidence of corruption. “It’s predominantly fear. He will target them,” Cohen tells me in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

He points to Trump’s public declaration that four congresswomen of color should “fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” and “go back" home. Trump, in Cohen’s eyes, ”put a target on their back.” He also cites Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was told her safety was at risk when she was ordered back to the United States, and the recent conviction of a woman caught sending white powder to Cohen’s former staffer, Sen. Susan Collins william cohen full photo(R-Maine). Cohen, in other words, thinks there is more than the threat of an errant tweet. The prospect of actual physical harm cannot be ignored.

Cohen, left, has no doubt that Trump has abused his power and committed impeachable acts. He starts with Trump’s public accusations and threats against lawmakers. “Certainly that’s an abuse of power. There’s nothing like the president basically inciting [attacks].” Trump does this, Cohen says, when he suggests a “civil war” would occur if he were ousted. “Now we have people walking around with AR-15s and AK-47s. What are we doing here?”

Cohen talks in terms Republicans rarely do these days. He sees the presidency as a fiduciary role, a position of trust. “We hold fiduciaries to a higher standard than we do anyone else,” he explains. “Power must be entrusted to someone, but no one can be trusted with power.” Hence, we have our checks and balances. For Cohen, Trump’s conduct unquestionably is impeachable. “It’s not a close call for me,” he says.

On Ukraine and Trump’s holdup of aid to extract election fodder, Cohen says, “I think it was perfectly corrupt.” He suggests that this is part of a pattern we have seen ever since Trump demanded that then-FBI director James B. Comey pledge personal loyalty. “We’re on the road to tyranny if people don’t step up,” Cohen says bluntly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It’s too late to save yourself now, Bill Barr, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 7, 2019. For Bill Barr, it’s too little, too late. In my news colleagues’ latest scoop, The dana milbank CustomPost’s Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report that the attorney general declined to fulfill President Trump’s request that he publicly exonerate Trump’s “perfect” call with Ukraine’s president — following several actions recently in which “the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House.”

The distancing maneuver is plainly an attempt by those sympathetic to Barr to make him look a bit less like the president’s mob lawyer — done anonymously so that Trump wouldn’t rage at Barr but instead blame the “degenerate” Post, as he did Thursday. But Barr has sealed his fate.  Barr has turned the Justice Department into a shield for presidential misconduct and a sword wielded against political opponents.

Even as Barr’s latest distancing gambit debuted, he was due to huddle Wednesday with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Trump’s loyal defender, to decide how to michael horwitz headshotrelease an inspector general’s report examining the FBI’s investigation into Russian 2016 interference and Trump’s campaign. Notably, the Justice Department inspector general himself, Michael Horowitz, was “not expected to attend,” The Post reported, leaving Barr and Graham free to decide what should be declassified to put Trump in the best possible light.

Barr’s team aims to get that report out in the coming weeks, just in time for Barr’s holiday party at the Trump International Hotel, for which the attorney general is paying upward of $30,000 to the president’s business. Barr must have liked what he saw when he dined at the hotel earlier this year on a night when Trump was also there for a fundraiser.

Rewarding Trump loyalists’ demands, Barr appointed a prosecutor (in addition to the inspector general) to examine the Trump-Russia probe, which has mushroomed into a criminal investigation of the investigators. Among those leading the probe? Nora Dannehy, the special prosecutor who decided not to charge any members of the George W. Bush administration after the politically motivated firing of U.S. attorneys and subsequent lies about the actions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind the Deal That Put Giuliani Together With a Dirt-Hunting Partner, Kenneth P. Vogel, Ben Protess and Sarah Maslin Nir, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). Rudy Giuliani rudy giulianiwanted $500,000 to help a venture started by a man who would go on to help him in Ukraine. A Republican donor put up the money.

It has been one of the enduring mysteries of the impeachment drama: Where did a cash-strapped Ukrainian-born American businessman get $500,000 to pay President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani?

It turns out that the money came from a Long Island lawyer named Charles Gucciardo, a Republican donor and supporter of Mr. Trump. The payment was part of a deal in which Mr. Gucciardo would become an investor in a company started by the businessman, Lev Parnas, according to Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Gucciardo’s lawyer and other people familiar with the arrangement.

The money, paid to Mr. Giuliani’s firm in September and October 2018, cemented a relationship between Mr. Parnas and Mr. Giuliani (shown together at left at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC). Within months that relationship would evolve into a critical front in the campaign by the president and Mr. Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Customgovernment to start investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically.

Mr. Gucciardo, 62, a plaintiff’s lawyer, has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, and there is no evidence that he was involved in the Ukrainian pressure campaign.

Mr. Gucciardo’s lawyer, Randy Zelin, said Mr. Gucciardo invested in the company because of Mr. Giuliani’s involvement. “He understood that he was investing in a reputable company that Rudolph Giuliani was going to be the spokesman and the face of,” Mr. Zelin said, comparing Mr. Giuliani’s role to the one he had played for the personal data-security company LifeLock, which ran commercials featuring Mr. Giuliani. “When you think of cybersecurity, you think of Rudolph Giuliani,” Mr. Zelin said.

The company being promoted by Mr. Parnas, Fraud Guarantee, was billed as a way for investors to get insurance against the risk of being defrauded. Mr. Gucciardo’s money was a loan that could be converted into a stake in the company, according to people familiar with the deal. But it is not clear the stake would have any value, since Fraud Guarantee does not appear to have any customers.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Facing Investigation, Giuliani Needed a Lawyer, but Firms Stayed Away, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum and Michael Rothfeld, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said on Wednesday that he had assembled a legal team to represent him in the criminal investigation into his activities related to Ukraine, an announcement that came after weeks of sputtered attempts to find a lawyer willing to take him on as a client. After weeks of looking, Mr. Giuliani said he assembled a legal team to represent him as he comes under scrutiny from federal prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr declined to hold news conference to say Trump broke no laws in Ukraine call, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2019. Attorney william barr new oGeneral William P. Barr, right, turned down a request from the president to declare that a call in which Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate a political rival was aboveboard, people familiar with the matter said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump asked the attorney general to say that no laws were broken in the Ukraine call. He said no, Michael D. Shear, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump asked that Attorney General William P. Barr hold a news conference to declare that he had broken no laws in a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that is now at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, but Mr. Barr declined, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Trump’s request came shortly after the White House released a reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call in which the president pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. An intelligence whistle-blower pointed to the call as evidence that the president had tried to enlist a foreign power to help him in the 2020 presidential election, and House Democrats started an impeachment inquiry Justice Department log circularinto whether the president’s conduct warranted his removal from office.

Mr. Trump, who has aggressively pushed Republicans and administration officials to say he did nothing wrong, has repeatedly said the call was “perfect.” In the days after the reconstructed transcript was released to the public, the White House told the Justice Department of Mr. Trump’s desire for Mr. Barr to appear republican party upside downpublicly, according to the person who was told of it. The request was first reported by The Washington Post.

Mr. Trump asserted Thursday on Twitter that The Washington Post had “MADE UP the story” and denied that he had asked the attorney general to speak publicly about the phone call — adding that he never asked his attorney general “to hold a news conference.”

washington post logoWashington Post, At Roger Stone trial, a key witness takes the stand, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 7, 2019. One of the star witnesses in the trial of political operative and longtime President Trump friend Roger Stone took the stand Thursday, starkly contradicting Stone’s under-oath testimony to Congress about efforts to learn about Democratic emails hacked by Russia.

Punctuating his testimony with jokes, dated pop-culture references and offers to do impressions, comedian and former radio host Randy Credico told jurors that — contrary to what Stone told lawmakers — he was not Stone’s secret back channel to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, which published the emails that authorities say were hacked and ultimately released to benefit Trump’s campaign.

Stone’s trial is the last case filed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Investigators had initially been exploring Stone as they examined a possible conspiracy between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

roger stone headshotTwo days of testimony have shed new light on why investigators were keenly suspicious of the campaign, and of Stone in particular.

Prosecutors have said that phone records show Stone, shown in a file photo at right, and Trump talked on key dates of WikiLeaks’ actions. Prosecutors also spotlighted text messages and emails from Stone and his associates that, they contend, seem to show efforts to get in touch with the group.

On Thursday, prosecutors sought to prove to jurors that Stone had lied and obstructed — comparing documentary evidence to Stone’s recorded words to the House committee, and displaying inflammatory messages that Stone sent to Credico.

“You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends,” Stone wrote in April 2018, adding later, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die. . . .”

washington post logoWashington Post, Alex Jones threatened to name a Roger Stone juror. Experts say that might be jury tampering, Deanna Paul, Nov. 7, 2019. The right-wing conspiracy theorist broadcast on his show the name and face of an individual who he believed had been seated on the jury in the trial of Stone, a longtime Trump adviser.

On the first day of political consultant Roger Stone’s trial in federal court in Washington, D.C., on charges of false statements and witness tampering, Judge Amy Berman Jackson cautioned people in the courtroom against releasing jurors’ names.

But Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was undeterred, the Daily Beast first reported. Ignoring her warning, Jones broadcast on his show the name and face of an individual whom he believed had been seated on Stone’s jury, calling the person an anti-Trump “minion” and launching a flurry of witness tampering and obstruction of justice allegations.

Although Jones held up a photo of a person who had no connection to the Stone trial, legal experts maintained the effect was the same as if the person had been a juror.

Jury tampering is an intentional effort to sway a juror’s opinion or decision in a case by communicating with them either directly or indirectly through an improper channel, outside of legal arguments and evidence presented in court.

It doesn’t matter whether he revealed the right or wrong name or image, according to Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. His actions were not about a particular juror, but rather they were aimed at intimidating the others on the jury, she said.

“It’s really about protecting the integrity of the process. Jurors must be impartial, and judges work to ensure that,” she said.

Rocah said Jones was sending a message: “You’re going to face the wrath of Alex Jones and his extremist following,” urging them to harass any juror who convicts his friend of lying to investigators, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

• At trial, key witness contradicts Stone’s testimony to Congress

Palmer Report, Opinion: Has Robert Mueller finally found a way? Bill Palmer, Nov. 7, 2019. When a FOIA request revealed internal notes from Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation earlier this week, it revealed that Mueller had amassed all kinds of incriminating evidence and testimony against Donald Trump and others, yet Mueller never did anything with it before handing in his report and going home. It raised questions about what Mueller was really doing, and if he had any endgame strategy at all. The Roger Stone trial is now suddenly casting all of this in a different light.

bill palmer report logo headerWe all know that corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr came in and stabbed Robert Mueller in the back by forcing him to end his probe, and then lying to the public about what was in Mueller’s report. Barr will end up in solitary confinement after Trump is gone, but that doesn’t do anyone much good right now. When Mueller had the opportunity to publicly expose the incriminating evidence against Trump during his televised congressional testimony earlier this year, Mueller mostly sat there and refused to elaborate on anything, in some of the most useless testimony of all time.

robert mueller full face fileWe were all left wondering why Robert Mueller, right, was refusing to do the right thing. He had a microphone, all he had to do was use it. It’s not as if he was worried about keeping any potential criminal cases intact, because best anyone can tell, they all got shut down. But then the Roger Stone trial started up this week, and we all thought it was simply going to be about perjury and witness intimidation and the like. Then the prosecutor, who was a member of Mueller’s team, opened his mouth.

On Wednesday it immediately became clear that the prosecution is planning to use the Roger Stone trial to spell out Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election, and what Stone was doing with that illicit information within the Trump campaign. It was revealed that Trump 2016 campaign big wigs Rick Gates and Steve Bannon are going to testify for the prosecution. It’s starting to look like Trump is being put on trial by proxy.

You can argue that this is too little too late in terms of informing the public about Donald Trump’s election crimes, and that Robert Mueller should have simply spoken to the public when he had the chance – and you’d be right. But it’s notable that when Bill Barr came in and shut Mueller down, Mueller’s final move was to quickly indict and arrest Roger Stone. It’s as if Mueller decided that putting Stone on trial was Plan B to work around Barr’s villainy. We’ll see how much comes out at trial this week. Has Mueller finally found a way to play some role in exposing Trump’s crimes? We’ll see.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bolton is said to be willing to defy White House and testify if court clears way, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger​, Nov. 7, 2019. Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the john bolton full cropped Customway, according to people familiar with his views.

Bolton, right, could be a powerful witness for Democrats: Top State Department and national security officials have already testified that he was deeply concerned about efforts by Trump and his allies to push Ukraine to open investigations into the president’s political rivals while the Trump administration held up military aid to that country.

The former national security adviser, who abruptly left his post in September, is expected to confirm their statements and describe his conversations with Trump, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry.

However, Bolton, a longtime GOP foreign policy adviser, does not want to comply with the Democratic inquiry without a court ruling on the ongoing constitutional dispute between the Trump administration and Congress, the people said.

U.S. District Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson in Washington heard oral arguments in the McGahn case last week and said she would probably issue an opinion before the end of November.

  • Washington Post, Inquiry turns to Pence adviser who heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian leader
  • Washington Post, Live Updates: Trump lashes out at lawyer for whistleblower, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez​, Nov. 7, 2019. The president called for an immediate end to the impeachment inquiry.

U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, How Would Warren Pay for Her Sweeping Policy Ideas? Thomas Kaplan, Aliza Aufrichtig and Derek Watkins, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). Elizabeth Warren’s agenda would cost more than $30 trillion. She plans to offset much of that cost through new taxes on the richest Americans and corporations.

bernie sanders dem debate msnbcpng

ny times logoNew York Times, Sanders to Spend Over $30 Million on Advertising in Early States, Reid J. Epstein and Sydney Ember, Nov. 7, 2019. As he steps up his efforts in Iowa, Bernie Sanders is using a traditional media platform to try to bring new voters into the political system to support him.

The campaign has so far largely flouted traditional politicking, wagering instead on robust on-the-ground organizing to bring new voters into the political process.
But in earmarking tens of millions of dollars for television advertising between now and Super Tuesday in early March, the campaign is following a more established and analog path to accomplish what it says is the same aim.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Claim Trump Closed a 17-Point Gap in Kentucky. That’s Not Quite What Happened, Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 7, 2019. Public and internal Republican Party polls suggested the race had been extremely close before President Trump arrived.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump threatens student protesters at Alabama football game, Bill Palmer, Nov. 7, 2019. Donald Trump keeps attending sporting events, presumably in the hope that the crowd will fawn all over him and make him feel better about himself as his entire life falls apart. But the World Series and the UFC fight night aren’t Trump rallies, and Trump got roundly booed at both. Now Trump is trying again, and he’s taking the bizarre step of threatening potential protesters.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump is supposedly going to attend an upcoming University of Alabama college football game. He must have figured he would get a warmer welcome in a deeply red state. But college campuses tend to be far more enlightened than your typical Trump rally. And so the Alabama Student Government Association issued a warning to students which was widely interpreted as a threat that if they dare to boo Trump, they’ll lose their seats for the rest of the football season.

The Alabama SGA ended up issuing a followup statement spelling out its regret at having implied a political context to its warning, and stressed that it was instead merely talking donald trump twitterabout “altercations.” But by that time, AL.com had posted this tweet: “The Alabama SGA warns groups: Protest Trump during the LSU game and risk losing your reserved seating.” Donald Trump then retweeted that tweet.

Don’t underestimate the significance of this. The President of the United States just threatened a bunch of college kids that if they dare to boo him during a football game, they’ll lose their access to future football games. This is nothing short of maniacal. It’s impeachable all on its own. If anything, Trump is only further encouraging University of Alabama students to boo him – and at this point we wonder if his babysitters will even let him attend the game.

washington post logoWashington Post, Billionaire and ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg takes steps to run for president, Matt Viser and Michael Scherer, Nov. 7, 2019. Former New York Mayor michael bloomberg2Michael Bloomberg is making plans to enter the Democratic presidential primary campaign this week, a development that could reshape the field just three months before voting begins.

Bloomberg, right, who as one of the world’s richest men would bring significant financial resources to his own campaign, plans to file paperwork this week and has dispatched staff to Alabama to ensure he can get onto the ballot in a state that has a Friday filing deadline.

The move marks a major reversal for Bloomberg, who announced in March that he would not run for president, and is a reflection of some worry among Democrats about the candidates polling at the top of the current field. Bloomberg’s entry would pose particular problems for Joe Biden, who has attempted to build a coalition of moderate Democrats but has struggled to harness the energy showcased by more liberal candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

washington post logojeff sessions ag oWashington Post, Jeff Sessions plans to run for former Senate seat in Alabama, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Sean Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2019 (print ed.). The wild card in the race will be President Trump and whether he will weigh in against his former attorney general and in favor of other Republicans who have already announced their candidacies.

U.S. Public Health

washington post logoWashington Post, Walgreens handled nearly 1 in 5 of the most addictive opioids at height of crisis, Jenn Abelson, Aaron Williams, Andrew Ba Tran and Meryl Kornfield​, Nov. 7, 2019. The company acted as its own distributor and, according to a lawsuit, failed to report suspicious orders of pain pills and prevent diversion to the black market.

World News

The Grayzone via Consortium News, Opinion: U.S. Congressional Panel Plots Next Phase of Dirty War on Syria: Occupy Oil Fields & Block Reconstruction, Ben Norton, Nov. 6, 2019. A Washington foreign-policy apparatchik who oversaw the bipartisan Syria Study Group has outlined a sadistic strategy for preventing reconstruction of the “rubble.”

Despite President Donald Trump’s order of a partial withdrawal of troops from Syria, the United States’ regime-change war against the country continues in broad daylight. At a U.S.-funded think tank at the forefront of shaping Washington’s interventionist designs, an American official succinctly laid out the continued-regime change strategy.

Dana Stroul, a longtime U.S. diplomat who oversaw a congressionally mandated study of Syria, outlined the four-pronged plan for what she called the “new phase” of the war:

  • U.S. military occupation of Syria’s “resource-rich” “economic powerhouse”;
  • “Diplomatic isolation” of the Syrian government;
  • Economic sanctions against Damascus and its allies; and
    “Preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back into Syria.”

U.S. Homelessness, Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Las Vegas bans homeless people from sleeping on some streets, Kayla Epstein​, Nov. 7, 2019. Amid protests and boos, the Las Vegas City Council approved a controversial measure that critics have called a “war on the poor.” The new ordinance, passed at a contentious council meeting, makes it a misdemeanor for homeless people to camp or sleep on the streets if beds at established shelters are available. The new restrictions would apply to certain parts of the city’s downtown area, not the Las Vegas Strip, Reno Gazette Journal reported.

Officials argued the legislation was “aimed at getting the city’s homeless population off the streets and connected with services,” Fox 5 reported. But Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I), a sponsor of the bill, and the City Council faced a raucous demonstration from activists as the law passed 5-2.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump boasts that his landmark law is freeing these inmates. His Justice Department wants them in prison, Neena Satija, Wesley Lowery and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 7, 2019. A rift has emerged between White House allies who worked to pass the First Step Act and the Justice Department officials now attempting to limit the number of inmates who benefit from it. The five former inmates assembled on the White House stage weren’t scheduled to speak, but President Trump couldn’t help himself. “Where’s Gregory? Greg?” he said. “Come on, get up here!”

From behind the president, Gregory Allen saluted and then made his way to the microphone. “Two months ago I was in a prison cell, and I’m in the White House,” declared Allen, a Florida resident who had been freed under Trump’s signature criminal justice legislation. “That’s continuing to make America great again!”

The gathering in April was a triumphant celebration of the First Step Act, the most sweeping overhaul of the federal criminal justice system in a generation. Since its passage nearly a year ago, the law has led to the release of more than 3,000 inmates — including Allen, who was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 2001.

The Justice Department, though, had never wanted to let Allen out of prison. In fact, even as he and Trump shared a joyous embrace on television, federal prosecutors were trying to persuade a judge to put Allen back behind bars.

#MeToo Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, With Ohio State facing latest sex abuse suit, attorney says May report ‘barely scratches the surface,’ Rick Maese, Nov. 7, 2019. An investigation this year found more than 177 former Ohio State University students were abused by a former school doctor over a 17-year period, but recently filed lawsuits allege there were far more victims and more severe offenses than the findings by the independent law firm that conducted the probe on behalf of the university.

ohio state buckeyes logo“That barely scratches the surface,” said Ilann Maazel, a New York-based attorney who’s part of a legal team representing more than 80 alleged victims. “One hundred and seventy-seven is a tiny fraction of the number of people who were abused by this man at Ohio State. That’s becoming absolutely obvious.”

Nearly 300 alleged victims have joined more than a dozen lawsuits to say they were victimized during their time at Ohio State. Five lawsuits were filed last month alone, according to the Columbus Dispatch, and a 13th was filed Thursday morning in federal court. Most involved athletes who say they were examined and assaulted by Richard Strauss, left, a doctor who was employed by the school from 1978 to 1998. The latest complaint was filed in U.S. District Court of the Southern richard strauss osu lantern screenshotDistrict of Ohio on behalf of 43 people who levied an array of detailed charges against the university and Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005.

In May, Ohio State released results of the independent investigation, which was conducted by Seattle law firm Perkins Coie, and made clear there could have been more victims than the 177 who spoke with investigators. Since that time, lawyers say dozens more have stepped forward, including athletes from at least 15 sports.

“The sheer volume of sexual abuse committed by Richard Strauss over a 20-year period is staggering,” said Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Ohio State Accountability Project, a nonprofit advocacy group that has run TV and radio advertisements in Ohio demanding further accountability from the school. “With every lawsuit filed and report released, we learn that hundreds of teenage students were abused multiple times and that Ohio State University was aware and did nothing.”

Several former students told Perkins Coie investigators that Strauss showered with athletes, fondled them during exams, unnecessarily requiring full or partial nudity. Two alleged that Strauss performed unwanted oral sex.

Last month, the school issued its annual crime report and revealed that it is now aware of 1,429 instances of fondling and 47 instances of rape involving Strauss. The school used the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of rape, which includes digital and oral penetration.

nbc news logoNBC News, Referee says he told Rep. Jim Jordan that Ohio State doctor performed sex act in shower, Corky Siemaszko, Nov. 7, 2019. A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, who was then the assistant coach.

jim jordan headshot Custom“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan's response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.

John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss, who was found by independent investigators to have sexually abused 177 male students over two decades.

Jordan, a powerful Republican congressman and a top defender of President Donald Trump in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, has repeatedly denied knowing anything about what Strauss did to the wrestlers he helped coach from 1986 to 1994. He has said the allegations against him were politically motivated.

ohio state buckeyes logoJohn Doe 42 said that when he informed Jordan and Hellickson about what happened, their response was, “Yeah, yeah, we know.”

“It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing so the attitude was it is what it is,” he told NBC News. “I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”

Former Ohio State wrestler Dunyasha Yetts was the first person to say he spoke to Jordan directly about Strauss. He previously described how he went to see Strauss for a thumb injury, and when the doctor tried to pull down his pants, he stormed out and complained to Jordan and Hellickson.

republican elephant logo“It’s good that people are starting to come forward and say the truth, which is that Jordan and the other coaches knew what was going on and they blew it off,” Yetts told NBC News.

Other former Ohio State wrestlers have said Jordan had to know about Strauss because he shared a locker room with them and took part in discussions about the doctor, who died in 2005.

Jordan’s spokesman, Ian Fury, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit was filed by 43 survivors against Ohio State, claiming the university's “ingrained culture of institutional indifference” enabled Strauss to sexually abuse former students and athletes from a half-dozen other sports.

Nov. 6

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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U.S. Election Results

matt bevin andy beshear Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Win Big in Virginia and Claim Narrow Victory in Kentucky, Jonathan Martin, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Andy Beshear, a Democrat (at right above), held an edge over Gov. Matt Bevin (above at left) in the Kentucky governor’s election. Republicans won the governorship in Mississippi. Democrats won complete control of the Virginia government for the first time in a generation on Tuesday and claimed a narrow victory in the Kentucky governor’s race, as Republicans struggled in suburbs where President Trump is increasingly unpopular.

In capturing both chambers of the legislature in Virginia, Democrats have cleared the way for Gov. Ralph S. Northam, who was nearly driven from office earlier this year, to press for measures tightening access to guns and raising the minimum wage that have been stymied by legislative Republicans.

In Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin, a deeply unpopular Republican, refused to concede the election to his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear. With 100 percent of the precincts counted, Mr. Beshear was ahead by 5,100 votes.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosMr. Beshear presented himself as the winner, telling supporters that he expected Mr. Bevin to “honor the election that was held tonight.”

Mr. Bevin’s troubles did not appear to be a drag on other Republicans, who captured every other statewide race in Kentucky — a sign that Kentucky voters were rejecting Mr. Bevin and not his party. Daniel Cameron handily won the attorney general’s race, becoming the first African-American to claim the office and the first Republican to do so in over 70 years.

Republicans did manage to capture the governor’s mansion in Mississippi as Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated Attorney General Jim Hood by about five percentage points in an open-seat race that illustrated the enduring conservatism of the Deep South. The final governorship up for grabs in these off-year campaigns is in Louisiana where Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, is facing re-election a week from Saturday.

andy beshear steve beshear twitter Custom

Kentucky's Attorney General Andy Beshear, right, the apparent winner of Kentucky's gubernatorial election on Nov. 5, poses with his father, Steve Beshear, a fellow Democrat and a two-term Kentucky governor (Twitter photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Kentucky outcome embarrasses Trump, worries many in GOP ahead of 2020, Robert Costa​, Nov. 6, 2019. The outcome, despite President Trump’s raucous rally for Gov. Matt Bevin, underscored how Republicans are struggling to navigate choppy political waters as the 2020 campaign now begins in earnest.

President Donald Trump officialDemocrats’ claim of victory Tuesday in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, as well as the Democratic takeover of the Virginia state legislature, left Republicans stumbling and increasingly uncertain about their own political fates next year tied to an embattled and unpopular president.

Many allies of President Trump rushed to explain away the poor performance of incumbent Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) as an anomaly, while other GOP veterans expressed alarm about the party’s failure in a state where Trump won by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016 — and where he just campaigned this week.

Although Bevin was controversial and widely disliked, he was also a devotee of the president, embracing Trump’s agenda and his anti-establishment persona. And in the contest’s final days, Bevin sought to cast his candidacy as a bulwark against House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of Trump.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: In Kentucky, a strong hint of things to come? Wayne Madsen, Nov. 6, 2019. What Republican state Senate President Robert Stivers said about wayne madesen report logothe close gubernatorial election that saw Democratic Attorney General Andrew Beshear edge out a close victory over Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, a Trump loyalist, should normally shock the nation.

But in the era of Trump, taking non-democratic actions to maintain political power is the new reality. Showing once again that if Republicans cannot win an election, they will simply steal it, Stivers suggested that the Republican-controlled state legislature could ultimately decide the victor of the gubernatorial race.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Republicans in Virginia brace for a new political reality as Democrats take full control in Richmond, Paul Schwartzman​, Nov. 6, 2019. The GOP faces sweeping policy changes and the specter of redrawn legislative districts after the 2020 Census.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Cyclist who flipped off Trump wins county supervisor seat representing his golf club, Paul Schwartzman, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). A legion of reasons propel political neophytes to run for office, but none may be as unusual as what inspired Juli Briskman, the cyclist who gave President Trump the finger two years ago and found herself without a job and at the center of a national uproar.

On Tuesday, Briskman got a new job, winning a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors — ousting a Republican in the process.

“It’s feeling fantastic, it’s feeling surreal,” Briskman, 52, a Democrat, said by telephone as she celebrated her victory. “The last two years have been quite a ride. Now we’re helping to flip Loudoun blue.”

[She famously flipped off the president; now she is running for office]

In 2017, Briskman was engaged in a different form of flipping, this one involving her middle finger, which she raised as she rode a bicycle alongside the presidential motorcade as Trump departed his golf club in Sterling.

The moment was captured by a photographer, whose picture of Briskman — her back to the camera, finger raised — found its way to Twitter and set off a social media storm. Days later, after she told her bosses that she was the woman behind the finger, her employer, Akima, a government contracting firm, fired her. A single mother of two, Briskman, who began her campaign for supervisor eight months ago, said she was intent on basing her campaign on issues and not the incident involving her finger.

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Sondland Updates Impeachment Testimony, Describing Ukraine Quid Pro Quo, Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). A critical witness in the impeachment inquiry offered Congress substantial new testimony this week, revealing that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted.

gordon sondland oThe disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, right, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in four new pages of sworn testimony released on Tuesday, confirmed his involvement in essentially laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged.

The testimony offered several major new details beyond the account he gave the inquiry in a 10-hour interview last month. Mr. Sondland provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. By early September, Mr. Sondland said, he had become convinced that military aid and a White House meeting were conditioned on Ukraine committing to those investigations.

Mr. Sondland had said in a text message exchange in early September with William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, that the president had been clear there was no quid pro quo between the aid and investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats. But Mr. Sondland testified last month that he was djt phone plane shealah craighead whonly repeating what Mr. Trump had told him, leaving open the question of whether he believed the president. The new account suggested that Mr. Sondland may have not been completely forthcoming with Mr. Taylor, and that he was, in fact, aware that the aid was contingent upon the investigations.

In his updated testimony, Mr. Sondland recounted how he had discussed the linkage with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw. Mr. Zelensky had discussed the suspension of aid with Mr. Pence, Mr. Sondland said.

“I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Mr. Sondland said in the document, which was released by the House committees leading the inquiry, along with the transcript of his original testimony from last month.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Five takeaways from Gordon Sondland’s and Kurt Volker’s transcripts, Aaron Blake, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The testimony of two diplomats closely involved in talks with Ukraine undercut many of the Trump team's chief arguments.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes falsehoods central to impeachment defense as incriminating evidence mounts, Toluse Olorunnipa and Philip Rucker, Nov. 6, 2019. The president’s precarious strategy has come under increasing strain as Democrats release transcripts and prepare to hold public hearings.

Standing before a crowd of supporters this week in Lexington, Ky., President Trump repeated a false claim he has made more than 100 times in the past six weeks: that a whistleblower from the intelligence community misrepresented a presidential phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry that threatens his presidency.

“The whistleblower said lots of things that weren’t so good, folks. You’re going to find out,” Trump said Monday at a campaign rally. “These are very dishonest people.”

Behind him were men and women in “Read the Transcript” T-shirts — echoing through their apparel Trump’s attempt to recast an incriminating summary of his July 25 call with Ukraine’s president as a piece of exonerating evidence.

It’s a form of gaslighting that has become the central defense strategy for the president as he faces his greatest political threat yet. But the approach is coming under increasing strain as congressional Democrats release transcripts and prepare to hold public hearings presenting evidence that directly undercuts Trump’s claims.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Tax Return Case Confronts Supreme Court With Momentous Choice, Adam Liptak, right, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton adam liptaksustained unanimous losses when they sought to withhold evidence, suggesting that the president may face an uphill fight. In a matter of days, President Trump will ask the Supreme Court to rule on his bold claim that he is absolutely immune from criminal investigation while he remains in office. If the court agrees to hear the case, its decision is likely to produce a major statement on the limits of presidential power — and to test the independence of the court itself.

Mr. Trump has been the subject of countless investigations and lawsuits since he took office, including a 22-month inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to look into his campaign’s ties to Russia. But the new case, concerning an investigation by Manhattan prosecutors into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, will be the Supreme Court’s first chance to consider the president’s arguments that he is beyond the reach of the justice system.

mazars logo croppedThe case concerns a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. On Monday, the federal appeals court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Trump’s request to block the subpoena, which seeks eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.

The appeals court’s ruling was narrow and modest, hewing closely to the circumstances of the dispute before it. If the Supreme Court adopted the lower court’s reasoning, it would answer only the question of whether state prosecutors may require third parties to turn over a sitting president’s financial records for use in a grand jury investigation.

But such a ruling, rejecting a sweeping claim of immunity, would nonetheless be a once-in-a-generation reckoning with whether and how presidents can be investigated.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Investigators Summon Mick Mulvaney to Testify, Catie Edmondson, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats cited evidence that the president’s acting chief of staff might have been “directly involved” in Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. House impeachment investigators on Tuesday called on Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s acting chief of staff, to testify this week in their inquiry into President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, closing in on the upper echelons of Mr. Trump’s staff as they near the end of their fact-finding phase.

mick mulvaney omb SmallMr. Mulvaney, right, has emerged as a central figure in House Democrats’ investigation because of his proximity to the president as well as his own actions. He undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo when he admitted at a news conference weeks ago that the White House withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to further the president’s political interests.

“I have news for everybody: Get over it,” he told reporters at the time. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” He backtracked hours later and tried to deny that he had ever confirmed such an arrangement.

Mr. Mulvaney, who has remained defiant throughout the inquiry, is unlikely to cooperate with House investigators. He ignored a subpoena issued last month from House investigators for documents related to the inquiry, and his top aide, Robert Blair, refused to comply with a subpoena to testify this week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Public Impeachment Hearings Will Begin Next Week, House Says, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 6, 2019. The House will hear publicly from three senior U.S. diplomats involved in the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy. It is a sign that Democrats feel they have enough evidence to present to voters, and will almost certainly usher in an intense round of partisan warfare.

The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first of a series of public impeachment hearings next week, Democrats announced on Wednesday, calling three senior State Department officials to testify as they begin laying out their case against President Trump.

In the debut of the sessions expected to be televised live from Capitol Hill, lawmakers plan to question William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior American diplomat who oversees policy in the region, during a joint hearing on Wednesday. Then on Friday, they will take public testimony from Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, about her abrupt recall to Washington this spring amid a campaign by Mr. Trump and his inner circle to smear her as disloyal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Democrats withdrew a subpoena of a former top Trump aide who had filed a suit over whether he should comply, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 6, 2019. Here’s the latest on Charles Kupperman (left) and his lawsuit, which had implications that went beyond his own testimony. John A. Eisenberg, the National Security Council’s top lawyer, declined to appear for a deposition on Monday, saying he would wait until there was a resolution in Mr. Kupperman’s case and follow whatever the judge ruled.

charles kupperman croppedMr. Kupperman’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser. Democrats have not subpoenaed Mr. Bolton to testify. If they do, Mr. Cooper is likely to file a similar suit asking a federal judge to determine whether Mr. Bolton should speak with investigators.

The decision to drop the subpoena is the latest example of how Democrats have struggled to get the advisers who dealt directly with Mr. Trump to testify. In the first month of the impeachment investigation, Democrats made great headway gaining the testimony of officials from the National Security Council and the State Department who were involved in Ukraine policy but infrequently interacted with Mr. Trump.

Much of that testimony painted a damning picture of a president outsourcing America’s foreign policy to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, but gave little insight into what the president said behind closed doors. Some Democrats and impeachment experts believe that if Senate Republicans are going to turn on Mr. Trump and convict him at an impeachment trial, investigators will need to develop new evidence related to Mr. Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the House just withdrew its latest impeachment subpoena, Bill Palmer, Nov. 6, 2019. Earlier today, John Bolton let it be known through his associates that he was planning to use the Don McGahn court case as a guidepost for whether he should show up and testify to the House impeachment inquiry. We flagged this as odd, considering Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman is also in the midst of a separate court case over his testimony. Why wouldn’t Bolton be using the Kupperman case as a guidepost?

bill palmer report logo headerNow we have our answer. The House impeachment inquiry is announcing that it’s withdrawing its Charles Kupperman subpoena, because it’s not interested in waiting for Kupperman’s testimony until the court case finishes playing out. Considering that the Kupperman ruling could arrive within weeks, we find this fascinating. It means impeachment really is moving just that fast. We’re also taking it as a sign that Kupperman’s testimony isn’t all that important.

Kupperman likely can’t tell the public anything about Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal that it isn’t already going to hear from other former Bolton underlings like Fiona Hill and Colonel Vindman, who have already testified privately, and who are certain to testify in front of the television cameras once public hearings get underway next week. Kupperman also lacks the starpower of someone like Bolton, meaning he’s not going to change any minds that aren’t already going to be changed by Hill and Vindman.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Republicans consider including Bidens in potential impeachment trial, Rachael Bade and Robert Costa​, Nov. 6, 2019. There is growing GOP interest in scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings as a counter to House Democrats’ inquiry. Yet many Senate Republicans have reservations about such a strategy, fearing it would look overtly political and that it may not be appropriate, or even possible, to include such witnesses in an impeachment trial.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

 washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutor says Roger Stone lied ‘because the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,’ Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 6, 2019. President Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone lied to Congress “because the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” a federal prosecutor said Wednesday at the opening of Stone’s trial for allegedly trying to conceal his efforts before the 2016 election to gain insights about Democrats’ hacked emails.

Stone’s trial is the last case filed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation of Russian interference in the presidential campaign, and prosecutors wasted little time connecting Stone’s alleged crimes to the interests of the Trump campaign.

Minutes into their opening statement, prosecutors linked the charges against Stone (shown above in a file photo) directly to Trump, citing phone records that showed the two talking at key moments.

“The evidence in this case will show Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who was a member of Mueller’s team, told the jury of nine women and three men at the federal courthouse in Washington.

Stone’s lawyer told the panel his client had no intention of lying, and appeared voluntarily before the intelligence committee. While Stone may have bragged about connections he didn’t have, Rogow said, his client did not mean to lie to lawmakers.

Stone, 67, a longtime Trump adviser and political consultant, has pleaded not guilty to a seven-count indictment.

Prosecutors contend he lied on several points: when he told the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017 that he did not have texts or emails about his 2016 discussions surrounding WikiLeaks; when he said that he had only one associate who tried to act as a go-between with Assange; and when he claimed that he never spoke to anyone in the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks’ plans.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stone Trial Links Trump More Closely to 2016 Effort to Obtain Stolen Emails, Sharon LaFraniere, Nov. 6, 2019. Newly revealed calls between President Trump and Roger Stone dovetailed with key developments in the theft of Democratic emails, prosecutors said. President Trump was more personally involved in his campaign’s effort to obtain Democratic emails stolen by Russian operatives in 2016 than was previously known, phone records introduced in federal court on Wednesday suggested.

Federal prosecutors disclosed the calls at the start of the criminal trial of Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s longtime friend, who faces charges of lying to federal investigators about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Russian intelligence officers had funneled tens of thousands of emails they stole from Democratic computers to WikiLeaks, which released them at critical points during the presidential race.

The records suggest that Mr. Trump spoke to Mr. Stone repeatedly during the summer of 2016, at a time when Mr. Stone was aggressively seeking to obtain the stolen emails from Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. The prosecutors noted that they did not know what Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump had discussed. But they stressed that the timing of their calls dovetailed with other key developments related to the theft and release of the Democratic emails.

The phone records are the first concrete suggestion that Mr. Trump may have had a direct role in his campaign’s effort to benefit from Russia’s hidden hand in the election. At the very least, the calls and other evidence underscored the eagerness of senior campaign officials and other Trump associates to reap the rewards of what the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, later called a sophisticated and alarming covert Russian influence operation.

And the disclosures came amid the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure a different foreign government, Ukraine, to potentially interfere in the 2020 election, again in ways that would personally benefit him.

Mr. Mueller scrutinized the links between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign during his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 race. But the phone calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Stone were not described in the version of Mr. Mueller’s report that was publicly released last spring, most likely because officials redacted evidence related to continuing criminal investigations and prosecutions, including the case against Mr. Stone.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Mormon Family Massacre Stuns Mexico, Laying Bare Government’s Helplessness, Elisabeth Malkin, Kirk Semple and Julie Turkewitz, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). When the gunfire on a rural roadway finally stopped, six children and three women were dead. Many questions remained on Tuesday about what happened on that lonely stretch of road a day earlier, amid the rugged scrubland of the Mexican border state Sonora.

But coming closely on the heels of two other prominent episodes of violence, the ambush horrified a nation reeling from a record-high number of murders. And it added to the pressure on Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to fulfill the promise he made when he took office nearly a year ago: that he would curb the killings.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Extremely Evil Misconduct’: Thailand’s Palace Intrigue Spills Into View, Hannah Beech, Nov. 6, 2019. Six months after the Thai king’s coronation, aide after aide has been ousted and denounced, even as he moves to bolster his authority.

maha vajiralongkorn CustomNearly half a year ago, King Maha Vajiralongkorn (right, shown in a 2017 photo) was crowned in a lavish spectacle culminating in the placement of a 16-pound crown on his head. Since then the 67-year-old king has assembled a court whose intrigue frequently spills onto the pages of the Royal Thai Government Gazette, which normally records more anodyne matters.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends much of his time in Germany and has not continued the tradition of communing with ordinary Thais, at least in photos that have been made public. The king has taken high-profile steps that appear to have bolstered his authority. Last year, he assumed oversight over the Crown Property Bureau, whose fortune, believed to be upward of $30 billion, helps make him one of the world’s wealthiest royals.

Media / Politics

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

Donald Trump, his lawyer and special envoy to Ukraine Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, are shown in file photos.

washington post logoWashington Post, News organizations resist Trump’s pressure to release whistleblower’s name, Paul Farhi, Nov. 6, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump and his allies say there’s a gaping hole in the middle of the biggest news story in years: the name of the federal whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry that now threatens Trump’s presidency.

cia logoThey’ve called on news organizations to reveal the name of the CIA officer who first raised concerns about Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine. Yet despite apparent knowledge of the individual’s identity among people in Washington, his name hasn’t been widely reported.

One online publication, Real Clear Investigations, offered a lengthy, if unconfirmed, account about the whistleblower’s identity last week. But its reporting was largely ignored. Outside of a few conservative news sources such as RedState.com and Breitbart and personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, the story didn’t get much traction.

Some in the media say the whistleblower’s identity is less newsworthy now that multiple federal officials have corroborated elements of his or her complaint that Trump allegedly volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotstrong-armed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, during a July phone call, insisting that his government investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a Democratic rival (shown below right), and his son, Hunter.

The mainstream media’s silence is puzzling to Tom Kuntz, the editor of Real Clear Investigations (RCI), which published its whistleblower investigation last week.

joe biden o“The silence has been deafening,” he said. “It’s almost like there’s a code of omerta [the Mafia vow of silence] about what media organizations can report. . . . There’s a herd mentality and a reluctance to cut against the grain.”

RCI is an offshoot of Real Clear Media, a digital company best known for Real Clear Politics, a site that aggregates a wide spectrum of political reporting and commentary and produces original work. RCI is funded by a nonprofit foundation associated with the for-profit company.

According to its most recent IRS filing, the foundation is in turn funded by foundations associated with conservative philanthropy. Among others is the Ed Uihlein Foundation, a longtime donor to conservative causes, and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which has funded an array of think tanks and organizations headed by people close to Trump’s campaign and transition committee. The Scaife Foundation has been a leading funder of the climate-change counter movement.

Kuntz says journalists should identify newsworthy sources whenever they can, so that readers or viewers can judge their credibility for themselves. In the case of someone asserting that a crime had been committed, he argued that it’s also a question of fairness and due process. That is, Trump should be able to face his accuser, as Trump himself has argued.

Inside DC

paula white cain facebook

Daily Mail, 'You're going to get a vision!' -- Televangelist Paula White promises spiritual results in exchange for donations up to $2,000 in sermon quid-pro-quo after Donald Trump hires her for White House post, David Martosko, Nov. 6, 2019. A Florida televangelist who has taken a job in Donald Trump White House said in a sermon on Sunday that Christians who give money to her ministry will receive life-clarifying 'visons' from God.

Paula White (shown above in a Facebook photo on her site) has been close to the president since at least 2002, and she says the pair once planned to open a megachurch together. She preaches the 'Prosperity Gospel,' which says giving money to churches and religious causes brings health and wealth.

She prayed Sunday that congregants would open their wallets. 'Maybe that's a sacrifice of fifty dollars or a hundred dollars, maybe it's a thousand dollars, whatever it is you speak,' she told the Almighty.

'Some of us are gonna get a covenant seed right now,' she said, referring to her belief that cash donations are 'seeds' that grow into karma-like benefits that return to the giver in larger ways.

White claimed at Trump's 2020 re-election launch event that his opponents were a 'demonic network.' Now, as the closest thing the president has to a spiritual mentor, she is on the government payroll.

White claimed Trump hired an architect and wanted her to take the project over once it was built, but a divorce from her second husband a year later sidelined everything.

She is now married to Jonathan Cain, the keyboardist from the rock band Journey. Thrice-married like Trump, White's first husband exited their marriage because of her affair with fellow faith-healer Benny Hinn.

Trump, she said, is a quiet Christian who 'doesn't know "Christian-ese".'

But he proposed 'a crystal cathedral for God,' similar to televangelist Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles. Schuller, then an active preacher, died in 2015.

White's role in the government, the official said, is largely about communicating 'deliverables' that evangelical voters care about.

Those include statements about 'religious liberty,' policy dictates that marginalize abortion rights, and efforts to unshackle pastors from the tax consequences of politicking – all garden-variety red meat for Republicans wooing the Bible belt.

On Friday, for instance, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a regulatory change designed to protect adoption agencies that refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Nov. 5

U.S. Election Results

ny times logoNew York Times, Virginia Makes Historic Shift From Red to Blue, Trip Gabriel, Nov. 5, 2019. Democrats completed Virginia’s historic partisan shift from red to blue on Tuesday, winning majorities in both chambers of the legislature and consolidating power across state government for the first time in a generation.

democratic donkey logoIn an election where passions about President Trump and the impeachment inquiry drove voters on both sides, a revolt against the president in Virginia’s rapidly growing suburbs helped remake the state’s political map. Now, under Gov. Ralph Northam, who survived scandal earlier this year, Democrats are positioned to advance a set of sweeping liberal priorities.  In 2017, Republicans clung to power in the House by a single seat that was decided by a random drawing after the election in that district resulted in a dead tie.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland just formally revised his House impeachment testimony – and it’s devastating to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2019. Today we saw the gordon sondland osecond round of House impeachment inquiry transcripts released, this time involving U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, right. We knew this would be an interesting one, due to the sheer amount of controversy surrounding Sondland’s testimony. Now it turns out Sondland went back and revised his initial testimony, and let’s just say that it’s not good news for Donald Trump.

Gordon Sondland originally testified that he wasn’t aware of any quid pro quo at the time he was interacting with Ukraine officials, and that no one in the Trump administration had bill palmer report logo headertold him about what was going on. But several subsequent witnesses have since testified that not only did Sondland know about Trump’s quid pro quo, he was the ringleader behind it. This led multiple House Democrats to publicly accuse Sondland of perjury, which could have resulted in felony charges against Sondland once Trump is gone.

european union logo rectangleThis apparently scared Gordon Sondland straight, because the New York Times is now reporting that Sondland went back and provided the House impeachment inquiry with four pages of revised testimony this week, in which he confirms that Donald Trump was running a quid pro quo, and admits to his own role in carrying it out.

This is huge, because while Gordon Sondland’s original testimony was bad enough for Donald Trump in its own right, his revised testimony is far worse for Trump. It looks like Sondland wasn’t willing to bet his future on Trump pardon that was never going to arrive anyway, and he’s instead seeking to make amends with the House. Instead Sondland’s testimony could end up helping to send Trump to prison when this is all said and done.

washington post logoWashington Post, Transcripts offer insights into hostility faced by former ambassador, Greg Miller, Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). marie yovanovitchThe former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testified that she was the target of a shadow campaign to orchestrate her removal that involved President Trump’s personal attorney and Ukrainian officials suspected of fostering corruption, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday by House impeachment investigators.

In one of the most gripping passages of her testimony, which took place Oct. 11, Marie Yovanovitch said that she remained worried that she would be a target of retaliation by Trump, who referred to her in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president as “bad news” and someone who was “going to go through some things.”

ny times logoNew York Times, An associate of Rudy Giuliani has broken ranks and opened a dialogue with investigators, Ben Protess, Michael Rothfeld and William K. rudy giulianiRashbaum, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Parnas could offer Congress a vein of information about a political pressure campaign in Ukraine. An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, who was involved in a campaign to pressure Ukraine into aiding President Trump’s political prospects has broken ranks, opening a dialogue with congressional impeachment investigators and accusing the president of falsely denying their relationship.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffThe associate, Lev Parnas, shown in a mug shot at left, had previously resisted speaking with investigators for the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings, which are examining the president’s pressure attempts in Ukraine. A former lawyer for Mr. Trump was then representing Mr. Parnas.

But since then, Mr. Parnas has hired new lawyers who contacted the congressional investigators last week to notify them to “direct any future correspondence or communication to us,” according to a copy of the letter.

The lawyers also signaled on Monday that Mr. Parnas, who was arrested last month on campaign finance charges, is prepared to comply with a congressional subpoena for his documents and testimony. More of this excerpt below.

Mr. Parnas, a Ukrainian-born American citizen who was central to Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump’s rivals, could offer Congress a vein of information about the efforts in Ukraine.

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: Republicans prefer compromising US intelligence agents, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 5, 2019. The Republican Party has a nasty habit of exposing wayne madesen report logoCentral Intelligence Agency officers, many of whom work in the field.

louis gohmertThe latest example of such violations of operational security is the de facto compromise of a CIA officer, the alleged whistleblower who submitted a complaint through proper channels on Donald Trump’s extortion phone call on July 25, 2019 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Three Republicans in Congress are doing everything possible to expose the whistleblower.

Three Republicans in Congress – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Louis Gohmert (R-FL), right – are doing everything possible to expose the whistleblower.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP used scattershot strategy in early days of inquiry, transcripts show, Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Republicans demanded transparency in public but complained behind closed doors about the release of information, going after colleagues who were quoted in media reports about witness appearances, republican party upside downand quizzing witnesses themselves.

The efforts by GOP lawmakers to shape the Democrats’ inquiry emerged in full view for the first time Monday with the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from two early witnesses: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine sticks it to Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2019. GOP operative and proud “Never Trumper” Rick Wilson likes to say that everything Donald Trump rudy giuliani recenttouches dies. He’s correct, of course. That mantra also increasingly appears to apply to Rudy Giuliani these days. He conspired with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman in the Trump-Ukraine scandal, and as a result, those guys have both been arrested. Now Rudy has taken down one of his co-conspirators on the Ukraine side of the scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerMonths ago, Rudy Giuliani managed to talk a Ukrainian prosecutor named Kostiantyn Kulyk into launching a sham investigation into the Bidens. That investigation ended up getting shut down because it was completely illegitimate. Now Ukraine has taken things further by belatedly firing Kulyk, according to Reuters, ostensibly as a way of trying to completely wash its hands of the criminal scheme that Rudy has been running. Kulyk is shown at right in a Reuters photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi. 

This comes amid scattered reports yesterday that Rudy Giuliani is still trying to make his fake Biden scandals stick in Ukraine. Rudy is the guy who’s in too deep and just doesn’t kostiantyn kulyk headshot reuters viacheslav ratynskyiknow when to quit. Last night Lev Parnas fired his Trump-affiliated lawyer and announced that he’s going to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry.

Parnas has apparently had enough of Rudy Giuliani’s crap and is looking for a way out of this mess, even as Rudy just keeps going and going. he’s like the Energizer bunny of stupid. We’re not sure who’s going to be the one to tell Rudy that it’s over. Sooner or later the SDNY will handcuff him. Until then, he’s just going to keep digging himself a deeper hole.

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite Trump’s visits to his properties, some of his businesses show new signs of financial decline, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell, Joshua Partlow and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 5, 2019.  Profits at the president’s Chicago hotel fell 89 percent from 2015 to 2018, from $16.7 million to $1.8 million, according to documents filed with Cook County, Ill.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump called woman who says he sexually assaulted her, phone records show, Joshua Partlow, Nov. 5, 2019. Summer Zervos, a former candidate on “The Apprentice,” is suing President Trump for defamation. Trump has denied accusations of sexual impropriety and called Zervos and other accusers “liars.”

More than a decade ago, Donald Trump made phone calls from his cellphone to a former candidate on “The Apprentice” around the same time that she says he sexually assaulted her, according to phone records made public Tuesday.

The excerpts from Trump’s Verizon cellphone bills over a three-month period in 2007 and 2008 show that Trump exchanged calls with Summer Zervos on at least six occasions, summer zervos cnnincluding on a day that Trump’s private calendar has shown that he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

That hotel stay is a key part of Zervos’s defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York State Supreme Court. Zervos, shown in a file photo, says that Trump forced himself on her with unwanted kissing and groping while she visited him for lunch in his hotel room.

The phone records “corroborate [Zervos’s] account of the sexual assaults with even more granularity and with a degree of precision that [Zervos] could not have known were she not telling the truth about those interactions when she spoke publicly about them before this case was filed,” her lawyer, Mariann Wang, said in a court filing. Zervos’s legal team released the records Tuesday.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kurt Volker just dropped a house on Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2019. / The House impeachment inquiry has released the testimony transcripts from kurt volkerGordon Sondland and Kurt Volker today. Sondland’s testimony, which he revised to acknowledge that Donald Trump is incredibly guilty in the Ukraine scandal, is getting most of the bill palmer report logo headerattention. But the Volker testimony is also notable – particularly with regard to Rudy Giuliani’s fate.

Kurt Volker, left, didn’t just testify that Rudy Giuliani had been carrying out corrupt hijinks in Ukraine all along. Volker also provided emails which strongly suggest that Rudy was attempting to get Volker to perjure himself. As flagged by Marcy Wheeler, Giuliani sent Volker an email ahead of his impeachment testimony which said this:

Kurt,

Thanks for the support. All I need is for you to tell the truth. You called me about Yermak and I reported back to you and Sondland, e.g., a conference call on Aug. 11. Three others before. Really this is not hard just fair to affirm truth.

Rudy.

You see the problem here, right? If Rudy Giuliani was really telling Kurt Volker to tell the truth, he wouldn’t have needed to then spell out specifically what he wanted Volker to say. In other words, Rudy was trying to get Volker to give false or misleading testimony under oath. That’s a crime – and it’s one that SDNY can charge him with when it indicts and arrests him for his overall role in the Ukraine scandal. Rudy is more screwed than ever.

Political Parody

Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NYC Bids Adieu To Donald Trump, Frank Sinatra-style song by Pete Caldera, regular performer at Carnegie Club in New York City, Nov. 5, 2019 (1:53 mins.).

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Pompeo Faces Political Peril as Diplomats Revolt, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, Nov. 5, 2019 (updated). As President Trump’s first C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo was briefed by agency officials on the extensive evidence — including American intercepts of conversations between participants — showing that Russian hackers working for the government of Vladimir V. Putin had interfered in the 2016 American presidential campaign. In May 2017, Mr. Pompeo, right, testified in a Senate hearing that he stood by that mike pompeo o sec stateconclusion.

Two and a half years later, Mr. Pompeo seems to have changed his mind.

As Mr. Trump’s second secretary of state, he now supports an investigation into a discredited, partisan theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the Democratic National Committee, which Mr. Trump wants to use to make the case that he was elected without Moscow’s help. “Inquiries with respect to that are completely state dept map logo Smallimportant,” Mr. Pompeo said last month. “I think everyone recognizes that governments have an obligation — indeed, a duty — to ensure that elections happen with integrity, without interference from any government, whether that’s the Ukrainian government or any other.”

Mr. Pompeo’s spreading of a false narrative at the heart of the Ukraine scandal is the most striking example of how he has fallen off the tightrope he has traversed for the past 18 months: demonstrating loyalty to the president while insisting to others he was pursuing a traditional, conservative foreign policy. Mr. Pompeo, 55, now finds himself at the most perilous moment of his political life as veteran diplomats testify to Congress that Mr. Trump and his allies hijacked Ukraine policy for political gain — and as congressional investigators look into what Mr. Pompeo knew of the machinations of Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. trying to finish report on Russia probe before Thanksgiving, Devlin Barrett, Robert Costa and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 5, 2019. The potentially explosive inspector general report about the FBI's investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign will mark a major public test of Attorney General William P. Barr’s credibility.

U.S. Media / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department fishing for details about anonymous ‘resistance’ op-ed writer, Reis Thebault, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The author, identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” is set to release a tell-all book this month.

The Justice Department is looking for identifying details about the anonymous Trump administration official who excoriated the president’s “amorality” in an unsigned New York Justice Department log circularTimes opinion column last year, according to a letter the agency sent Monday.

The author of the column, whose identity has remained a secret for more than a year, has also written a tell-all book that will publish this month — and Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt wants proof that the writer is not bound by a government nondisclosure agreement.

Either that, Hunt wrote in the letter, or the book’s publisher and the author’s agents should turn over the official’s employment information: where in the government the person worked, and when he or she worked there. If the official had access to classified information, Hunt warned, the book should be “submitted for pre-publication review.”

The letter — addressed to Carol Ross at the publishing company Hachette Book Group and literary agents Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin — was part of the agency’s “routine fact-gathering process,” said a Justice Department official.

But Latimer denounced Hunt’s request as an attempt to “intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels.”

#MeToo & Media

 Virginia Roberts Giuffre shows her photo at age 16 (Emily Michot Miami Herald via Zuma Wireire

Virginia Roberts Giuffre shows her photo at age 16 (Photo by Emily Michot, Miami Herald, via Zuma Wire

bbc news logo2BBC News, Jeffrey Epstein: ABC stopped report 'amid Palace threats,' Nov. 5, 2019. Leaked footage shows a US TV anchor complaining that editors "quashed" a story about paedophile Jeffrey Epstein due to pressure from the Royal Family. ABC's Amy Robach is seen in the clip griping that her interview with an alleged victim of Epstein and Prince Andrew never made it to air.

"The Palace found out and threatened us a million different ways," she says. ABC News said there was "zero truth" to the claim, while Buckingham Palace told the BBC "this is a Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001matter for ABC".

Epstein, a wealthy and well-connected financier, was found dead in a jail cell in August while awaiting trial for sex crimes. His death was ruled a suicide by investigators. In the video, Ms. Robach vents frustration that her 2015 interview with Virginia Giuffre -- formerly Virginia Roberts -- was never broadcast.

The clip was leaked on Tuesday by Project Veritas, a group that seeks to expose perceived liberal bias in the mainstream media.
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Ms Giuffre, 35, alleges she was abused by Epstein and was ordered to have sex with powerful men including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. (Roberts is shown at center as a teen with the Prince Andrew while Epstein's friend and alleged fellow trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell looks on.)

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Dominated Syria’s War. Now It’s Sending Mercenaries to Libya, David D. Kirkpatrick, Nov. 5, 2019. Moscow is plunging deeper into a war of armed drones in a strategic hot spot rich with oil, teeming with migrants and riddled with extremists.

Russian FlagAfter four years of behind-the-scenes financial and tactical support for a would-be Libyan strongman, Russia is now pushing far more directly to shape the outcome of Libya’s messy civil war. It has introduced advanced Sukhoi jets, coordinated missile strikes, and precision-guided artillery, as well as the snipers — the same playbook that made Moscow a kingmaker in the Syrian civil war.

“It is exactly the same as Syria,” said Fathi Bashagha, interior minister of the provisional unity government in the capital, Tripoli.

Whatever its effect on the outcome, the Russian intervention has already given Moscow a de facto veto over any resolution of the conflict.

The Russians have intervened on behalf of the militia leader Khalifa Hifter, who is based in eastern Libya and is also backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and, at times, France. His backers have embraced him as their best hope to check the influence of political Islam, crack down on militants and restore an authoritarian order.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six deaths in one family over 14 years. Police say they found their killer: The daughter-in-law, Niha Masih, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Neighbors described the suspect as “pious.” Her sister-in-law called her “jovial.” But in the press, Jolly Joseph was known as the “cyanide killer.”

india flag mapKoodathayi is an unremarkable landlocked village in the state of coastal Kerala in southern India. But in October, police there claimed to have made an “unbelievable” discovery: A woman had killed six relatives over 14 years with cyanide.

Jolly Joseph, a 47-year-old mother of two sons, was arrested in October for the murders of her first husband and five others between 2002 and 2016. Police say she has confessed to the killings.

washington post logoWashington Post, USAID helped set up microfinance in Guatemala. It’s funding illegal migration, Kevin Sieff | Photos by Sarah L. Voisin, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The development agency helped establish Guatemala’s largest microfinance organization and supported local banks. But access to credit has helped make this Central American nation the largest single source of migrants to the United States over the past year.

washington post logoWashington Post, 9 members of Mormon family are killed in Mexico; Trump offers military support, Mary Beth Sheridan​, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The deaths of the three women and six children, who were part of a community of dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, highlighted the growing danger posed by organized-crime groups. Assailants have killed at least nine members of a Mormon family in northern Mexico, authorities reported Tuesday, burning alive a woman and her children in a brutal assault that highlighted the growing danger posed by organized-crime groups around the country.

The vicious attack stunned a nation still reeling from an assault by Sinaloa Cartel gunmen on the city of Culiacan, which forced the government to hand over the son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman shortly after he was captured. The attack occurred on Monday when two of the women were driving a group of children from Bavispe, in Sonora state, to a Mormon community known as La Mora in neighboring Chihuahua state. Organized-crime groups in the area have been fighting and may have initially mistaken the vehicles for their rivals, according to news reports.

One vehicle, driven by Rhonita Miller LeBaron, had a flat tire, and the second car turned back to get help, according to the reports. The assailants attacked the first car, killing the driver and her four children — including two 6-month-old twins, according to the reports. They then set the vehicle on fire. When the rest of the group returned to the site in two vehicles, they were also ambushed. Several other children escaped.

The LeBarons are descendants of Mormons who moved to Mexico in 1924, after disagreeing with the central church over polygamy. For decades, they lived quietly in farming communities, maintaining close ties with the United States and speaking both Spanish and English.

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: After the U.S. outlawed polygamy, thousands of Mormons fled to Mexico, Michael S. Rosenwald, Nov. 5, 2019. The exodus began in 1885, led by Mormons who refused to give up the now-abandoned practice of plural marriage. On Monday, nine people from that Mexican community were killed in a brutal ambush.

More on Trump Probes (Noted Above)

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, left, with businessman Lev Parnas last month at the Trump International Hotel shortly before the arrest of Parnas and his colleague Ignor Fruman while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

 ny times logoNew York Times, An associate of Rudy Giuliani has broken ranks and opened a dialogue with investigators, Ben Protess, Michael Rothfeld and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Parnas could offer Congress a vein of information about a political pressure campaign in Ukraine (continued from above). 

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffThe associate, Lev Parnas, shown in a mug shot at left, had previously resisted speaking with investigators for the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings.

“We are willing to comply with the subpoena to the extent that it does not violate any appropriate privilege that Mr. Parnas may properly invoke,” said Joseph A. Bondy, who along with Edward B. MacMahon, Jr. now represents Mr. Parnas. Mr. Bondy said that given the federal criminal charges, his client may invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate himself.

The turnabout occurred after Mr. Trump denied knowing Mr. Parnas when he was arrested.

“Mr. Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him,” said Mr. Bondy, whose client has maintained that he has had extensive dealings with the president.

Mr. Parnas initially remained in Mr. Trump’s camp after House Democrats on Sept. 30 requested documents and testimony from him and Mr. Fruman. The men hired John Dowd, a lawyer who had earlier represented the president at one stage of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump signed off on the hiring of Mr. Dowd, according to an Oct. 2 email reviewed by The New York Times.

Mr. Parnas hired Mr. Giuliani in 2018 to help with a venture called Fraud Guarantee. But as of early this year, their relationship had shifted: Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman began assisting Mr. Giuliani in efforts to unearth negative information in Ukraine about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and his son Hunter.

Inside DC

National Security Archive, Archive, CREW, Historians Sue Pompeo, State Department over Failure to Create Records, Staff report, Nov. 5, 2019. Impeachment Inquiry Shows No Notes for June 28 Ukraine Phone Call. Related Suit Seeks Court Review of White House Failure to Document Heads of State Meetings.

The National Security Archive, together with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), sued Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Department of State today for violating the Federal Records Act by failing to create and preserve essential State Department records (see the complaint).

Evidence from the House’s impeachment inquiry, including from Ambassador William Taylor, the chargé d'affaires for Ukraine under the Trump administration, and from former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, all speak to a pattern and practice of bypassing official record-keeping procedures at the State Department.

In discussing a June 28 State-organized phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Ambassador Taylor testified that, not only did the Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland exclude most of the regular interagency participants from the call, but that “Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy to the call.” This is a direct violation of the State Department’s obligation under the Federal Records Act to document agency policies, decisions, and essential transactions.

Nov. 4

U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, One Year From Election, Trump Remains Highly Competitive in Key States, Nate Cohn, Nov. 4, 2019. Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomAcross the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points among registered voters but stays within the margin of error.

elizabeth warren o purpleMr. Trump leads Elizabeth Warren, left, by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago. The poll showed Bernie Sanders deadlocked with the president among registered voters, but trailing among likely voters.

The results suggest that Ms. Warren, who has emerged as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, might face a number of obstacles in her pursuit of the presidency. The poll supports concerns among some Democrats that her ideology and gender — including the fraught question of “likability” — could hobble her candidacy among a crucial sliver of the electorate. And not only does she underperform her rivals, but the poll also suggests that the race could be close enough for the difference to be decisive.

washington post logoWashington Post, Three governor’s races will test whether every election is about Trump, Tim Craig and Seung Min Kim​, Nov. 4, 2019 (print ed.). In Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana, Democrats are sticking to local issues while the president tries to weaponize opposition to him and to the impeachment inquiry.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosAs Andy Beshear campaigned through eastern Kentucky this weekend, the Democratic candidate for governor seemed well aware that he didn’t have much time to deliver his message before President Trump arrives here to attempt to suffocate it ahead of Tuesday’s election.

In speech after speech, in rural counties where Trump received as much as 80 percent of the vote just two years ago, Beshear delivered his closing message to voters in less than five minutes. He vowed to expand health care, support teachers and public education, and stop the hard-edge, divisive politics that have consumed Kentucky and the nation over the past several years. He did not mention Trump or the impeachment inquiry targeting him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says he is ‘completely at ease with death,’ Katie Mettler, Nov. 4, 2019.  Jimmy Carter reflects on death as he returns to teach Sunday school jimmy carter portrait deftnewsfollowing injury. Two weeks after fracturing his pelvis in a fall, former president Jimmy Carter, left, was back at church on Sunday, teaching from the book of Job. Carter, 95, has lived longer than any other former president in U.S. history. He was hospitalized Oct. 21 after falling at his home in Plains, Ga. — his second fall that month and third this year.

But during a sermon at Maranatha Baptist Church on Sunday, from a motorized lift chair before a congregation of 400 people, Carter said he has been “at ease with death” for years, CBS News reported.

Carter has been teaching at church since his teens, according to the Associated Press, and he refused to miss another Sunday school lesson because of his health. The Rev. Tony Lowden said Secret Service agents, friends and fellow churchgoers encouraged the ex-president to refrain from teaching after his pelvic fracture, which came two weeks after the former president fell and required stitches on his forehead.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexual assault, sues him for defamation, Beth Reinhard, Nov. 4, 2019. She detailed the alleged incident in June. He has denied ever meeting her. A writer and longtime women’s advice columnist on Monday sued President Trump, accusing him of defaming her this summer after she claimed he sexually assaulted her two decades ago in an upscale New York City department store.

e jean carrollE. Jean Carroll, left, publicly described the alleged assault for the first time in June, in a published excerpt of a memoir. At that time and in the new lawsuit, she said that after running into the then-real estate developer at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, they chatted and shopped together before he attacked her in a dressing room. She said he knocked her head against a wall, pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she pushed him off and ran out.

Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,” Carroll said in a statement. “No person in this country should be above the law – including the president.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Court blocks Trump effort to withhold tax returns from N.Y. prosecutors, Jonathan O'Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Deanna Paul, Nov. 4, 2019.
The case tests the limits of presidential power and sets the stage for a Supreme Court fight. A federal appeals court on Monday rejected President Trump’s effort to block New York prosecutors from accessing his tax records and Trump’s sweeping claims of presidential immunity.

In trying to block a subpoena for his private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election, Trump’s attorneys have argued that as president Trump is immune not only from prosecution but from investigations.

But in the decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that “any presidential immunity from a state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such subpoena.”

Rebutting the argument that allowing the case to proceed would hinder the president in his official duties, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said that Trump was not at risk of imminent arrest or imprisonment — and wasn’t required to do anything.

“The subpoena at issue is directed not at the President, but to his accountants; compliance does not require the President to do anything at all,” Katzmann wrote. He was joined by judges Denny Chin and Christopher F. Droney, all of whom were nominated by Democratic presidents.

The ruling does not mean that Trump’s tax records will be turned over immediately. Trump plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, according to Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.

Palmer Report, Opinion: There’s a grand jury that’s deep into the process of criminally indicting Donald Trump, and no one is talking about it, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2019. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled this morning that accounting firm Mazars USA must turn over eight years of Donald Trump’s tax returns to the New York grand jury that subpoenaed them. This will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which may or may not even agree to hear the case, and we’ll see how that goes. But the biggest story here continues to be the grand jury itself.

bill palmer report logo headerBy definition, grand juries only exist for one reason: to bring criminal indictments against people. The fact that this grand jury is seeking Donald Trump’s tax returns means that it’s targeting Donald Trump for indictment on state charges. It’s already been separately reported that prosecutors in New York have pulled Michael Cohen out of prison so he can testify before this grand jury, which means the indictment goes beyond the scope of just Trump’s tax returns – which means Trump is going to be indicted whether the grand jury gets his tax returns or not.

djt michael cohenThis opens up a whole lot of questions about whether New York will indict Donald Trump on state charges while he’s still in office, or whether it’s planning to leave the indictment under seal for now and then arrest him the minute he’s no longer in office. If New York does indict Trump before the election, it’ll set off a whole new round of legal battles about whether Trump would be forced to stand trial while still in office, and so on.

But those are questions that will have to be answered at a later date. For now, the headline is that there’s a New York grand jury that’s deep into the process of indicting Donald Trump on state charges – and even though everyone is aware of the grand jury’s court battle over Trump’s tax returns, most observers are overlooking the fact that there’s a grand jury targeting Trump, period.

washington post logoWashington Post, House investigators release deposition transcripts, subpoenas to testify, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Elise Viebeck and Brittany Shammas, Nov. 4, 2019. House investigators on Monday released the first transcripts from closed-door depositions taken as part of the impeachment inquiry as four White House officials, including John Eisenberg, a lawyer central to the Ukraine controversy, defied subpoenas to testify.

U.S. House logoThe refusals to cooperate are coming on a day in which Trump tweeted that he sees “no reason” for lawmakers to summon witnesses regarding his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he again contended was “perfect.”

House Democrats are encountering renewed stonewalling from the White House as they attempt to move deeper into the ranks of officials with knowledge of Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when U.S. military aid was being withheld from that country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney allies try to stonewall Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Erica Werner, Nov. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Budget chief and other top aides will attempt to create firewall after other senior officials gave testimony that questioned Trump’s motivations.

One of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s top allies is preparing to deliver what President Trump wants but has failed to achieve so far in the impeachment inquiry: unquestioning loyalty from administration staff.

russell voughtRussell Vought, right, a Mulvaney protege who leads the White House Office of Management and Budget, intends a concerted defiance of congressional subpoenas in coming days, and two of his subordinates will follow suit — simultaneously proving their loyalty to the president and a creating a potentially critical firewall regarding the alleged use of foreign aid to elicit political favors from a U.S. ally.

The OMB is at the nexus of the impeachment inquiry because Democrats are pressing for details about why the White House budget office effectively froze the Ukraine funds that Congress had already appropriated.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, A conspiracy of hunches: Roger Stone trial set to start this week, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Nov. 4, 2019. Roger Stone (shown above in a file photo) heads to trial this week in federal court, where prosecutors plan to dive back into an episode of political chicanery, alleged lies and conspiratorial texts that parallels the nascent impeachment inquiry into his longtime friend President Trump.

The trial of Stone, who has long cultivated a public image as a dirty trickster on the edges of mainstream politics, is due to start Tuesday. He has been charged with lying to Congress and trying to tamper with a witness during a congressional investigation into interference in the 2016 election.

His trial offers the possibility of fresh insights into the strange quest by some in Trump’s orbit for a kind of political kryptonite to use against then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — secret emails that would, they hoped, destroy her candidacy. After Trump won the presidency, Stone’s role came under intense public scrutiny as a possible conduit between Trump’s campaign and WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that had published Clinton-related emails stolen by Russian government hackers.

The Stone indictment suggests that what prosecutors found instead was a failed conspiracy among conspiracy theorists, bookended by investigative dead ends and unanswered questions for the team of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The 23-page indictment against Stone was the last set of criminal charges leveled by Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election before he shut down his office earlier this year.

Prosecutors aim to show that Stone’s private text and email conversations prove that his statements to lawmakers in 2017 were lies meant to hide the extent of his election-year efforts to learn what dirt WikiLeaks might have against Clinton, and when WikiLeaks might release the information.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House claims Kupperman and former White House counsel Donald McGahn are “absolutely immune” from congressional subpoena, Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 4, 2019 (print ed.). A federal judge on Monday fast-tracked a former national security aide’s request for the courts to decide whether he must comply with a White House order not to testify or Congress’s subpoena in the House impeachment inquiry.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, right, of Washington ordered final arguments to be held Dec. 10 at the request of Charles Kupperman, a former deputy national security adviser in the richard j. leon Trump administration.

Leon had previously said he intended not to take up the merits of the lawsuit until a later date. His shift comes as more White House officials have defied subpoenas but sets up a potentially landmark legal battle over the White House’s ability to defy Congress’s impeachment powers.

Kupperman, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit asking for a court to resolve the competing demands.

House Democrats subpoenaed Kupperman on Oct. 25 to appear for a deposition three days later, which he declined. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told Kupperman not to comply, saying that a current and former senior adviser to Trump is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to his service as a senior adviser to the President.”

The accelerated hearing came after Leon last week had said the December date is intended to focus only on whether the lawsuit should be dismissed, leaving any debate over the conflict’s substance to next year.

The judge’s new schedule still leaves it doubtful — even if a court upholds the subpoena — that Kupperman’s case will wind through the courts in time for him to testify before hearings that House Democratic leaders have said they want to finish by year’s end.

However, extraordinarily rapid rulings by Leon and by a federal appeals court, where the losing side is expected to turn, could possibly bring the dispute up for arguments before the Supreme Court in the spring. That could lead to a ruling over the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches before the 2020 elections.

In a hearing last week, Leon, a 2001 nominee of President George W. Bush, acknowledged the need to move quickly in what he called “a matter of great public interest and a matter of great urgency to the country.”

“When it’s a matter of this consequence to this country, you roll your sleeves up and get the job done,” Leon said at the Thursday hearing. [The Justice Integrity Project attended the hearing -- JIP editor's note.]

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower Is Willing to Answer Republicans’ Questions, Lawyer Says, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The lawyer said his client would respond to written questions, but Republicans have pushed for him to appear before an open hearing in the impeachment inquiry.

The whistle-blower who touched off an impeachment inquiry with his explosive complaint about President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is willing CIA Logoto answer House Republicans’ written questions, his legal team said on Sunday.

The offer was intended to deter Republican attacks and show that the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer, is above the political rancor unleashed by House Democrats’ inquiry. But it appeared not to satisfy House Republicans, who, led by Mr. Trump, have assailed the whistle-blower as politically motivated and demanded his identity be revealed.

Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer for the whistle-blower, directly challenged those attacks on Sunday. “Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective,” he wrote in a long statement on Twitter. “That is not our role.”

Reuters, Ukraine to fire prosecutor who discussed Bidens with Giuliani: Source, Polina Ivanova and Ilya Zhegulev, Nov. 4, 2019. Ukraine plans to fire the prosecutor who led investigations into the firm where Joe Biden’s son served on the board, a central figure in the activity at the heart of impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump, a ukraine flagsource told Reuters.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has acknowledged meeting the prosecutor, Kostiantyn Kulyk, to discuss accusations against the Bidens.

The decision to sideline someone who played an important role in Giuliani’s efforts to find out damaging information about the Bidens comes as Ukraine has tried to avoid getting drawn into a partisan fight in Washington.

Trump’s Democratic opponents have launched impeachment proceedings, arguing that Trump abused his power by pressing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens to hurt the former vice president, front-runner to challenge him in the 2020 election.

kostiantyn kulyk headshot reuters viacheslav ratynskyiThe source said a decision had been taken to fire Kulyk (shown at left in a Reuters photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi) for failing to show up for an exam that all employees of the General Prosecutor’s Office have been ordered to pass to keep their jobs during a clean-up of the prosecution service.

Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka has already fired more than 400 prosecutors, or around a third of all staff.

Some prosecutors have told Reuters that many of those sacked had refused to sit the exam in protest at what they see as a purge designed to cement new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s political control of the service.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotZelenskiy, right, has said the overhaul is essential because the office is widely distrusted by Ukrainians and had been seen as a political tool for the well-connected to punish their enemies.

Trump discussed investigating the Bidens during a July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy. Trump’s Democratic opponents have launched impeachment proceedings, arguing that Trump abused power to press Ukraine to hurt a political foe. Trump calls the investigation a witch hunt and denies wrongdoing.

Reuters was unable to reach Kulyk for comment. He was not present at a home address where Reuters has spoken to him in the past.

Kulyk did not show up for the mandatory exam, which was imposed last month, the source said. He also did not file an official justification for missing it, as other prosecutors have done, and will consequently be dismissed, the source said. His dismissal will take place by Dec. 31, if not earlier.

Earlier this year, Kulyk compiled a seven-page dossier on the business activities of Hunter Biden in Ukraine, two sources told Reuters. Reuters could not independently verify the burisma logoexistence of such a dossier but Kulyk detailed his investigations into areas of interest to Trump and Giuliani in an interview with a pro-Trump columnist for The Hill newspaper in April.

Kulyk has been responsible for formally investigating a criminal case related to the founder of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Biden’s son sat on the company’s board from 2014-2019. In a recent interview, Giuliani told Reuters he met Kulyk in Paris. He said at that meeting Kulyk echoed allegations that in 2016 Biden had tried to have Ukraine’s then-chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, fired to stop him investigating Burisma. Biden has accused Giuliani of peddling “false, debunked conspiracy theories” for repeating these allegations.

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Serves Notice to Quit Climate Accord, as Diplomats Work to Save It, Lisa Friedman, Nov. 4, 2019. The United States formally notified the United Nations that it would leave the Paris climate agreement, starting the clock on a yearlong withdrawal process. The move, coming on the first day possible under the accord’s rules, leaves diplomats to plan a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy.

The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations on Monday that it would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, leaving global climate diplomats to plot a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy.

The action, which came on the first day possible under the accord’s complex rules on withdrawal, begins a yearlong countdown to the United States exit and a concerted effort to preserve the Paris Agreement, under which nearly 200 nations have pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and to help poor countries cope with the worst effects of an already warming planet.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the notification on Twitter and issued a statement saying the accord would impose intolerable burdens on the American economy.

“The U.S. approach incorporates the reality of the global energy mix and uses all energy sources and technologies cleanly and efficiently, including fossils fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy,” Mr. Pompeo said.

President Trump has long held that the accord would cripple growth and intrude on American sovereignty. “It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Pittsburgh, Pa., along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France,” he said in 2017 when he announced that the United States would withdraw from the accord. “It is time to make America great again.”

Nov. 3

U.S. News Headlines

Details below

 

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: President Trump may have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, Gary Stein (a lawyer in New York and a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York), Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). It’s a felony to order federal government workers to further a partisan political campaign.

President Donald Trump officialLegal analysis of the Ukraine controversy has so far focused on whether President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky involved extortion, bribery or solicitation of an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign source. But as the House investigation has proceeded, a more straightforward legal case has emerged: The president, and possibly other officials, may have violated the Hatch Act’s civil and criminal prohibitions on the use of executive branch powers for partisan ends.

As the recent testimony of acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. — among other evidence — makes clear, State Department officials and other government employees were enlisted in the effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. As Taylor put it in a Sept. 9 text to the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, the goal appeared to be to use the levers of U.S. policy to extract Ukraine’s “help with a political campaign” — Trump’s campaign for reelection.

An enterprise of that sort emanating from the Trump White House, if proved, would be the very kind of activity the Hatch Act was designed to prevent. The text of the law flatly states that an employee of the executive branch may not, among other things, “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

This prohibition has been part of federal law for more than a century. President Teddy Roosevelt used very similar language in an executive order he issued in 1907, modeling it, in turn, on a civil service rule dating to the administration of Chester A. Arthur. In 1939, Congress codified the strictures in the Hatch Act after an investigation confirmed that officials in Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration had promised jobs and promotions in exchange for votes.

As spelled out in federal regulations, the Hatch Act bars a federal employee from “using his or her official title while participating in political activity” or “using his or her authority to coerce any person to participate in political activity.” “Political activity” is defined as “an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group” — which, of course, would include activity directed toward the success of Trump’s reelection campaign or the failure of Biden’s presidential campaign.

Importantly, the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act’s civil restrictions on political activity. But that’s not the end of the matter. The Hatch Act also includes criminal prohibitions that apply to everyone, including the president, and at least two of them are relevant to the investigations surrounding the Ukraine matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, A presidential loathing for Ukraine is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). One theme that runs through almost all of the accounts from witnesses who have testified before House lawmakers is President Trump’s unyielding loathing of the former Soviet republic, which dates to his earliest days in the White House.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)Three of President Trump’s top advisers met with him in the Oval Office in May, determined to convince him that the new Ukrainian leader was an ally deserving of U.S. support.

They had barely begun their pitch when Trump unloaded on them, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting. In Trump’s mind, the officials said, Ukraine’s entire leadership had colluded with the Democrats to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign.

“They tried to take me down,” Trump railed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: To Beat Trump, Focus on His Corruption, David Leonhardt, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Personal attacks don’t hurt him. Substantive ones do. House Democrats are doing the right thing by pursuing impeachment against President Trump. But it does create a political quandary for their party.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoDemocrats have been most successful against Trump when they have focused on his unpopular policies, as they did during the 2017 fight over Obamacare and the 2018 midterms. They have been least successful when focusing on his outrageous behavior, as Hillary Clinton did in her 2016 campaign. Trump’s supporters seem to take his personality as a given and aren’t moved by complaints about it. Some fraction of them, however, can evidently be swayed by his Justice Department log circularfailure to live up to his policy promises.

Given the severity of Trump’s misbehavior — turning American foreign policy into an opposition-research arm of his campaign — Democrats had no choice but to start an impeachment inquiry. Yet they need to remember that impeachment is an inherently political process, not a technocratic legal matter. It will fail if it does not persuade more Americans of Trump’s unfitness for office. It will succeed only if he is not president on Jan. 21, 2021.

And it is far more likely to succeed if Democrats can connect it in voters’ minds to a larger argument about the substance of Trump’s presidency.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Internal Mueller documents show Trump campaign chief pushed unproven theory Ukraine hacked Democrats, Rosalind S. Helderman and Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort (shown above in a screenshot during the 2016 campaign), suggested as early as the summer of 2016 that Ukrainians might have been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign rather than Russians, a key witness told federal investigators last year.

rnc logoNewly released documents show that Manafort’s protege, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, told the FBI of Manafort’s theory during interviews conducted as part of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Gates told the FBI that Manafort had shared his theory of Ukrainian culpability with him and other campaign aides before the election.

The new information shows how early people in Trump’s orbit were pushing the unsubstantiated theory about Ukraine’s role.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: As impeachment enters a new phase, keep an eye on endangered Republicans, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Always backing the president no us senate logomatter what could turn the GOP’s fortunes in the 2020 elections.

President Trump and his Republican allies can’t seem to decide whether they want his defense to be based on substance — He did nothing wrong! It was a perfect call! — or procedure — Democrats were out to get him from the start! It’s a Soviet-style inquisition! That confusion is no surprise: Both arguments are unconvincing, and Republicans will increasingly have to figure out how to deal with that unpleasant reality.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Takes In a Different Kind of Fight: U.F.C. in New York, Kevin Draper, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.).President Trump’s appearance at Madison Square Garden came days after news emerged he had changed his residency to Florida.

Mr. Trump traveled to New York City on Saturday night to U.F.C. 244, sitting near the thick of the action at the mixed martial arts event at Madison Square Garden.

At his second sporting event in a week, and just days after news emerged that he had changed his residency to Florida instead of New York, Mr. Trump received a djt maga hatvery loud, mixed reaction as he headed toward his seat next to the octagon as “Back in Black” by AC/DC blared throughout the arena.

Many fans, already standing as the president entered just before 10 p.m., booed loudly, while others cheered. Some held a large sign that said “Trump 2020 Keep America Great,” and others gestured obscenely toward the president.

Waiting for the pay-per-view fights to start, Mr. Trump stood from his seat and waved to the crowd, as many spectators took photos and videos. In a suit and red tie, he gave a thumbs up to the TV camera.

U.S. Health Care / 2020 Elections

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Medicare for All Program: Democratic presidential candidates are stagnating, Webster G. Tarpley, Nov. 2, 2019 (1:49 hours). Dr. Tarpley, an author, historian and longtime progressive activist, attacks health care and tax programs of Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as unrealistic and doomed to lose webster tarpley podium2popular support over time before the general election when Republicans unleash their well-funded attacks.

Tarpley, right, advocated much-expanded government-backed health care offerings but only when they are devised and funded under such attractive circumstances that consumers choose them over existing programs.

"What makes you think that you can then win a general election," he asks of particularly of Warren, who announced details last week of a "Medicare for All" program that like Sanders would replace existing private insurance for an estimated 160 million Americans. "It's not 'What do I have on my Christmas wish-list for mush-heads?' And then vote for that, Tarpley continued. "No! It's got to be 'We've got to defeat Trump -- guaranteed avoidance of a fascist dictatorship."

"You can't bet the ranch that Trump is going to be made into such a pariah that he can't show his face in public. That would be most welcome but you can't count on it."

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Money Farmers: How Oligarchs and Populists Milk the E.U. for Millions, Selam Gebrekidan, Matt Apuzzo and Benjamin Novak, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The European Union spends $65 billion a year subsidizing agriculture. But a chunk of that money emboldens strongmen, enriches politicians and finances corrupt dealing.

Under Communism, farmers labored in the fields that stretch for miles around this town west of Budapest, reaping wheat and corn for a government that had stolen their land.

european union logo rectangleToday, their children toil for new overlords, a group of oligarchs and political patrons who have annexed the land through opaque deals with the Hungarian government. They have created a modern twist on a feudal system, giving jobs and aid to the compliant, and punishing the mutinous.

These land barons, as it turns out, are financed and emboldened by the European Union.

Every year, the 28-country bloc pays out $65 billion in farm subsidies intended to support farmers around the Continent and keep rural communities alive. But across Hungary and much of Central and Eastern Europe, the bulk goes to a connected and powerful few.

Our reporters describe their quest to obtain government data on the subsidies, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.).

ny times logoMohammed Bin Salman Al-SaudNew York Times, Saudi Aramco I.P.O. Is Announced, Michael J. de la Merced and Stanley Reed, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Saudi Aramco is moving to become a public company. While the listing may be the biggest ever, it falls short of Saudi Arabia’s audacious goals. The nation's de facto leader, Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud, is shown at right.

SouthFront, Apparent US Mercenaries Spotted In Syria’s Rumeilan Oil Field Area (Video), Staff report, Nov. 3, 2019. U.S. mercenaries seem to be actively operating in oil-rich areas controlled by the US miltiary in eastern Syria. For example, supposed US-linked mercenaries could be seen on a recent video released by the Kurdish ANHA news agency from the Rumeilan oil field area.

ny times logoNew York Times, Flood of Oil Is Coming, Complicating Efforts to Fight Global Warming, Clifford Krauss, Nov. 3, 2019. A surge of oil production is coming, whether the world needs it or not. The flood of crude will arrive even as concerns about climate change are growing and worldwide oil demand is slowing. And it is not coming from the usual producers, but from Brazil, Canada, Norway and Guyana — countries that are either not known for oil or whose production has been lackluster in recent years.

This looming new supply may be a key reason Saudi Arabia’s giant oil producer, Aramco, pushed ahead on Sunday with plans for what could be the world’s largest initial stock offering ever.

Together, the four countries stand to add nearly a million barrels a day to the market in 2020 and nearly a million more in 2021, on top of the current world crude output of 80 million barrels a day. That boost in production, along with global efforts to lower emissions, will almost certainly push oil prices down.

Lower prices could prove damaging for Aramco and many other oil companies, reducing profits and limiting new exploration and drilling, while also reshaping the politics of the nations that rely on oil income.The Tax Wall Street Party is calling on our supporters everywhere to intervene and to buttonhole the Democratic candidates...please tell us how you're going to do this?

U.S. Politics, Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Million D.U.I. Cases a Year, but Breath Analysis Often Fails Test, Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Nov. 3, 2019. The devices, found in virtually every police station in America, generate skewed results with alarming frequency, a Times investigation found.

A million Americans a year are arrested for drunken driving, and most stops begin the same way: flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror, then a battery of tests that might include standing on one foot or reciting the alphabet.

What matters most, though, happens next. By the side of the road or at the police station, the drivers blow into a miniature science lab that estimates the concentration of alcohol in their blood. If the level is 0.08 or higher, they are all but certain to be convicted of a crime.

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White nationalists march in Charlottesville, Virginia during a march and counter-demonstration that ended in a fatality, many arrests and follow-up litigation. The story below explores deceptive tactics used by activists during follow-up litigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, The ‘race whisperer --  A black activist convinced a neo-Nazi he’d save him from legal ruin. Then the real plan began,  Katie Mettler, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). James Stern knew he would need proof of this conversation later, so while his phone rang in late February he opened his Tape A Call app and hit record.

Stern, 55, billed himself as a community activist and minister, though his do-gooder credentials were accompanied by a history of criminal opportunism. He had spent much of his life in South Central L.A. trying to build connections between warring groups: the Bloods and the Crips, Korean grocers and their black neighbors, and now between himself — the son of an Ethiopian Jew — and the neo-Nazi on the other end of the phone.

For weeks, Stern had been courting Jeff Schoep, the longtime leader of the National Socialist Movement, in recorded phone calls.

His mission: to persuade Schoep, 45, to turn over the country’s largest neo-Nazi group to a black man.

His promise: to get Schoep and his organization removed from a federal lawsuit alleging that he and two dozen other hate groups and their leaders had conspired to commit violence while organizing the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge temporarily blocks Trump order requiring would-be immigrants to prove they have health insurance, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Kayla Epstein​, Nov. 2, 2019. 
A federal judge on Saturday blocked a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants to prove they had insurance or could pay for medical care before they can obtain visas.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon in Portland, Ore., issued a temporary restraining order the day before the policy was set to go into effect.

The October proclamation required that prospective immigrants demonstrate they could obtain health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the United States — a demand that immigration and health experts said would be particularly onerous for low-income immigrants who may not be coming to the United States for a job that provided health insurance or who may be unable to pay for foreseeable medical costs.

The rule was scheduled to go into effect Sunday. The temporary restraining order will remain in place for 28 days.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘My 82-year-old bones hurt’: Jane Fonda spent the night in jail to protest inaction on climate change, Hannah Natanson, Nov. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The actress, who organized the anti-climate change “Fire Drill Fridays” with advocacy group Code Pink, was arrested mid-protest.

One of the first things Hollywood star Jane Fonda did in jail was give up her red coat.

The wraparound garment — colored the exact shade of a winterberry — earned fame of its own over the past month, becoming a trademark feature of Fonda’s weekly appearances on Capitol Hill to protest the United States’ lack of action on reducing climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Fonda, who organized the anti-climate change “Fire Drill Fridays” with advocacy group Code Pink, was arrested mid-protest around noon on Nov. 1 — marking the fourth time police apprehended her but the first time they incarcerated her for civil disobedience.

Jail — where Fonda, 82, spent the night Friday — was apparently chilly. “There was a woman who was very cold and I loaned her my coat,” Fonda said in an interview shortly after she was released Saturday afternoon (without charges, according to her attorney Mark Goldstone). “But I did have to take it back: It was my mattress.”

More Trump Probe Commentary

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Donald J. Trump shown at the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) convention in 2013 (Gage Skidmore photo).

Buzzflash, Opinion: Impeach Me or I'll Steal the 2020 Election: Trump's Dare to Pelosi, Mark Karlin, Nov. 3, 2019. Trump has implicitly thrown down the gauntlet to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats: Impeach me or I’ll steal the 2020 election. It is such an audacious and corrupt implied threat that it defies the imagination. But a public challenge it is.

After all, Trump has publicly asked for foreign powers to interfere in the US election. His defenders are now admitting that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was indeed a quid pro quo request for “a favor” to investigate the Bidens. But they are trying out a new line of defense on behalf of Trump, as noted in a MEDIAite email:

djt nancy pelosiAfter varied attempts sway public opinion on the impeachment inquiry, Trump's surrogates are trying out a new argument: what President Trump did on the call with Zelenksy may have been unseemly, but it wasn't a crime and therefore not an impeachable offense.

Trump publicly told the DC press corps, and the world, that he might ask the Chinese for help in investigating the Bidens, something he reportedly did in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to his public announcement.

In short, whatever Trump’s cynical denials, he has made it clear that he welcomes foreign interference if it helps him get elected again in 2020.

American Independent Institute via Buzzflash, Opinion: As Trump Assumes Powers of a Mussolini-Wannabe, Congressman "Mad Dog" Louis Gohmert (R-TX) Claims Impeachment Would Lead to a Dictator. Say What, Louie? Olliver Willis, Nov. 3, 2019. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) claimed this week that the impeachment inquiry currently underway in the House of Representatives would lead to a civil war and a dictatorship in the United States if Donald Trump were removed from office.

Gohmert made his comments Thursday night while guest-hosting the radio program “Breitbart News Tonight,” which is part of the controversial conservative Breitbart News.

Earlier in the day Gohmert said in Congress that the inquiry was “push[ing] this country to a civil war.”

He expanded on that take during Thursday night’s radio show. “What is a better description than civil war is actually — this is a communist revolution,” said Gohmert.

In reality, impeachment has been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution since its ratification in 1788. Article II, section 4 of the Constitution lays out the power of Congress to remove officials including the president and vice president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Constitution does not associate these powers with civil war or communism, or any particular political ideology.

Air Force Seeks Larger Presence In Nevada

washington post logoWashington Post, Draft bill would set aside two-thirds of Nevada wildlife refuge ‘primarily’ for Pentagon’s use, Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin, Nov. 3, 2019. The U.S. Air Force is seeking to assert control over as much as 1.1 million acres for training troops and testing weapons, according to a legislative proposal sent by military planners to the Interior Department.

McDonald's CEO Forced Out

washington post logoWashington Post, McDonald’s pushes out CEO over consensual relationship with employee, Hannah Knowles​, Nov. 3, 2019. Steve Easterbrook “demonstrated poor judgement” according to the board of directors, which voted to oust him following a review that concluded he violated the company’s policy against romantic relationships with direct or indirect reports.

Nov. 2

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

Palmer Report, Opinion: What was Robert Mueller DOING? Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 2, 2019. Thanks to newly granted FIOA requests on the part of CNN and BuzzFeed, we’re getting a look this bill palmerafternoon at the first batch of internal memos from the Robert Mueller probe. These stunning memos reveal that Donald Trump, his campaign, and the Republican National Committee were conspiring with Russia and WikiLeaks on a level far deeper than anyone knew.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, it turns out Donald Trump instructed his team to obtain the stolen DNC emails, and Michael Flynn, below at right, then told Trump that he would use his Russian intel contacts to try to obtain them. The Republican National Committee also had advance knowledge of when WikiLeaks was going to release new batches of stolen DNC emails.

These are the kinds of felonies that send people to prison for a very long time. Robert Mueller had all of this information dating back to when Rick Gates cut his plea deal in February djt prison palmer reportof 2018 – and yet nothing came of it. This was long before Bill Barr came on the scene. We don’t know if Mueller put prosecutions in motion that were later Michael Flynn Harvard 2014shut down by Barr, or if those prosecutions are still underway, or if Mueller just didn’t do anything.

We do know that Robert Mueller apparently ended up including all of this damning evidence in his final report, which he expected would make its way to Congress. By that time Barr was in charge, and he redacted the most incriminating parts of the report. Now it’s finally starting to come out, and it should play a key role in impeachment.

But now more than ever, we deserve answers on why Mueller was sitting on a goldmine of information that could have sent Donald Trump (shown in a Palmer Report illustrative image) and dozens of other people to prison forever, and nothing came of it. Did Mueller simply fail us, or was Mueller’s work sabotaged on a criminal level?

washington post logoalexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Washington Post, White House official who heard Trump’s Ukraine call testified that he was told to keep quiet, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, testified that he received the directive from John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, after White House lawyers learned that a CIA employee had raised concerns about the phone call, according to people familiar with Vindman's testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction, Philip Rucker, Rachael Bade and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as “Never Trumpers” and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomTo the Democratic leaders directing the impeachment proceedings, Trump’s actions to stymie their investigation into his conduct with Ukraine add up to another U.S. House logolikely article of impeachment: obstruction.

The centerpiece of House Democrats’ eventual impeachment charges is widely expected to be Trump’s alleged abuse of power over Ukraine. But obstruction of Congress is now all but certain to be introduced as well, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides, just as it was five decades ago when the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against then-president Richard Nixon. But Nixon resigned before the full House vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing number of GOP senators consider acknowledging Trump’s quid pro quo on Ukraine, Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Facing mounting evidence, some Senate Republicans argued privately this week that they should acknowledge the arrangement while saying it was not illegal and not impeachable.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: The stakes just got a lot higher for the rogue White House lawyer, Bill Palmer, Nov. 2, 2019. As more House impeachment testimony continues to surface, more and more of the focus has begun to point to one White House lawyer in particular. Now the stakes for that lawyer have just gotten a whole lot higher.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst we learned that Colonel Vindman testified that White House lawyer John Eisenberg (shown in a 2006 screenshot) had said he was going to hide the Trump-Ukraine transcript on the secret server. Then we learned that Eisenberg also allegedly told Vindman not to speak to anyone about what he’d heard on the Trump-Ukraine phone call. If this pans out, it means Eisenberg committed obstruction of justice on a level that’ll send him to prison for a very long time after Trump is out of office. This brings us to last night.

John Eisenberg just happens to be scheduled to testify on Monday. We imagine the House impeachment inquiry will have quite a number of pointed questions for him about the Ukraine scandal, and he could have quite a hard time trying to figure out how to answer them without either incriminating himself or perjuring himself. Accordingly, the House subpoenaed Eisenberg on Friday night, in order to underscore that he does not have the option of not showing up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s defenders need to stop pretending impeachment is a criminal trial, Neal Katyal, right, and Sam Koppelman, Nov. 2, 2019. Trump’s defenders need to neal katyal ostop pretending impeachment is a criminal trial.

President Trump’s defenders have a problem: His conduct with Ukraine has thus far proved to be indefensible.

Unsurprisingly, then, rather than justify the substance of what he did, his allies have fallen back on complaints about the impeachment process. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.) has said, “in a court of law, this would be declared a mistrial.” President Trump’s lawyer, Pat Cipollone, has called the impeachment inquiry “illegitimate.” And every Republican senator except for three — Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — signed a letter condemning the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her fellow chamber Democrats have been conducting the investigation.

Their argument rests on the idea that Democrats have failed to follow the rules of criminal proceedings in conducting their inquiry. But there’s an issue with that premise: Impeachment proceedings were not designed to follow the same rules as criminal ones. Claiming otherwise — as so many Republicans already have — perpetuates two fundamental misunderstandings of the Constitution.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logobeto orourke o 113th CongressWashington Post, Beto O’Rourke quits presidential race amid financial strain, lagging popularity, Matt Viser and Jenna Johnson, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The former Texas congressman, right, shined in a 2018 Senate race in Texas but was unable to translate his fundraising prowess and campaign swagger in the presidential contest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What we can learn from Beto O’Rourke, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Running for president is hard. It is especially hard if you are not disciplined and do not have a complete, consistent message. It was no surprise then that Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, joining former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Reps. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio). (New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also came and went.)

democratic donkey logoThe premise of the O’Rourke campaign — an eloquent and moderate uniter — almost worked in a Senate race. But in a crowded field, he seemed in over his head — better known for jumping on counters and casting out a gun confiscation scheme than in establishing himself as the RFK whom so many Democrats thought he might turn out to be. From the cringe-worthy cover of Vanity Fair to the awkward video announcement to the f-bombs, he simply did not seem “presidential" — that is, someone single-minded, devoted and utterly prepared to lead a country with as many grave problems as ours.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Syria’s teeming, fetid ISIS prisons: Broken men, child inmates and orders to break free, Louisa Loveluck | Photos by Alice Martins, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Prison security is deteriorating, yet there’s no answer for how to address the threat posed by the prisoners, the remains of the Islamic State. 

They are the remains of the Islamic State, a once sprawling kingdom built by foot soldiers from around the world to terrorize and enslave those they conquered. Hollow-eyed and gaunt, the men and boys look broken. Days are spent in halting conversation with cellmates who still have the energy, or staring blankly across the teeming, fetid cells. Many have lost limbs in the battles that led them here. Others have lost eyes and ears, a result, they said, of airstrikes.

As Islamist militants fought in March for their last square mile in eastern Syria, fighters and families from more than 60 countries streamed out of their stronghold to surrender into the custody of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led force.

Eight months on, more than 10,000 men and children are still crammed into at least 25 makeshift prisons, lingering in legal twilight. The Kurdish-led force that holds them does not have the capacity to investigate or try them, and their home governments are mostly unwilling to take them back to face trials there.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Freezes Military Aid to Lebanon, Against Wishes of Congress, State Dept. and Pentagon, Edward Wong, Vivian Yee and Michael Crowley, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration has frozen all military aid to the Lebanese army, including a package worth $105 million that both the State Department and Congress approved in September, congressional officials said Friday.

American FlagThe halt to American funding of the Lebanese Armed Forces, an important multisectarian group, comes at a critical time for Lebanon, as officials are grappling with the country’s largest street protests since its independence in 1943 and a change in leadership forced by the demonstrations. A freeze on the assistance could give Iran and Russia an opening to exert greater influence over the Lebanese military, analysts say, and perhaps even allow the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to gain greater footholds in the country.

The delivery of military aid, especially in cases that involve White House intervention, has become a delicate and divisive issue in Washington. Congressional committees are overseeing an impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump held up $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to coerce Ukrainian leaders to do political favors for him. Though the president has denied it, senior administration officials have testified that there was indeed a quid pro quo, and the top American diplomat in Ukraine said he sent a cable telling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it was “folly” to withhold the aid.

Migrant / Smuggling Security

washington post logoWashington Post, Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall, Nick Miroff, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Smuggling gangs in Mexico have repeatedly sawed us dhs big eagle logo4through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.

The breaches have been made using a popular cordless household tool known as a reciprocating saw that retails at hardware stores for as little as $100. When republican elephant logofitted with specialized blades, the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes, according to the agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the barrier-defeating techniques.

so tall — and are attached only to a panel at the very top — their length makes them easier to push aside once they have been cut and are left dangling, according to engineers consulted by The Washington Post.

Media / Political News

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Real Reason Facebook Won’t Fact-Check Political Ads, Siva Vaidhyanathan (professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and the author of “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy.”), Nov. 2, 2019. It’s not about free speech.

When Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, announced on Wednesday that Twitter would no longer host political advertisements, he scored points with those who lament the ways social media platforms have polluted political culture.

facebook logotwitter bird CustomAt Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg responded by reaffirming that his company would continue to distribute political ads without fact-checking them. “In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians, or the news,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Wednesday earnings conference call.

Facebook’s decision to refrain from policing the claims of political ads is not unreasonable. But the company’s officers have been incompetent at explaining and defending this decision.

If Facebook’s leaders were willing to level with us, they would stop defending themselves by appealing to lofty values like free speech. They would focus instead on more practical realities: Facebook is incapable of vetting political ads effectively and consistently at the global scale. And political ads are essential to maintaining the company’s presence in countries around the world.

Palmer Report, Newly released Mueller memos reveal bombshell about Republican National Committee and WikiLeaks, Bill Palmer, Nov. 2, 2019. The internal memos from the Robert Mueller investigation have just been obtained by BuzzFeed, thanks to a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, and the first batch of them has been published today. There are a number of shocking revelations in here, including one about the Republican National Committee and WikiLeaks.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the memos reveals that Rick Gates testified that the Republican National Committee “indicated they knew the timing of the upcoming releases” from WikiLeaks during the 2016 election cycle. This means the RNC was at least indirectly coordinating with a cyberterrorist group that had hacked and stolen the Democratic National Committee’s internal emails.

robert mueller full face fileRick Gates didn’t specify who at the RNC knew about the timing of the WikiLeaks. It’s far from clear why Mueller, right, didn’t choose to pursue this, as Gates was working under a cooperation deal and would have been required to name names if asked. This raises the question of not only who at the RNC was participating in this criminal conspiracy with WikiLeaks to alter the outcome of the election, but also how it was facilitated.

For instance, it’s been long established that the Donald Trump campaign had multiple backchannels with WikiLeaks. Were those same people also playing this role for the RNC and WikiLeaks, or was it someone else? There are a whole lot of people who conspired against the United States and need to go to prison for this. Perhaps the biggest question is why Mueller and his team never pursued these criminal investigations.

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ny times logoNew York Times, In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies, Mike McIntire, Karen Yourish and Larry Buchanan, Nov. 2, 2019. We look inside the alternate reality of President Trump’s Twitter account, where he absorbs and amplifies a noxious stream of disinformation. To assess the first Twitter presidency, The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s interactions with the social media platform since he took office.

In September, an obscure Twitter account promoting a fringe belief about an anti-Trump cabal within the government tweeted out a hashtag: #FakeWhistleblower.

twitter bird CustomIt was typical for the anonymous account, which traffics in far-right content and a conspiracy theory known as QAnon, some of whose adherents think that satanic pedophiles control the “deep state.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently labeled QAnon a potential domestic terror threat.

Still, that did not stop others, including a Republican congressional candidate, from quickly picking up the hashtag and tweeting it. Within a week, hundreds of QAnon believers and “MAGA” activists had joined in, posting memes and bogus reports to undermine the complaint by a government whistle-blower that President Trump had pressed Ukraine’s leader for dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

Then Mr. Trump tweeted the hashtag himself.

ny times logodonald trump twitterNew York Times, How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan and Keith Collins, Nov. 2, 2019. The president’s tweeting transformed how he exerted power, leaving the White House and Twitter to grapple over whether, and how, to rein it in.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whimpering Terrorist Only Trump Seems to Have Heard, Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt, Nov. 2, 2019 (updated). President Trump offered a vivid account of an ISIS leader “crying and screaming” before his death. It may be no more true than a movie script, our correspondent writes.

It was a vivid scene worthy of the ending of a Hollywood thriller, the image of a ruthless terrorist mastermind finally brought to justice “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death. But it may be no more true than a movie script.

In the days since President Trump gave the world a graphic account of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s last minutes, no evidence has emerged to confirm it.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘A Lot of Wasted Lives’: Many Veterans Back Trump on Ending Wars, Jennifer Steinhauer, Nov. 2, 2019 (updated.). A majority of veterans regret the wars fought after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. President Trump and Congress are listening.

Nearly two decades after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, polls show that a majority of all veterans have grown disenchanted with the continuing wars, even if the national security elite in both parties continue to press for an American military presence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The view is in stark contrast to widespread support for the wars across the military and veterans community — and the general population — when President George W. Bush first sent American troops to Afghanistan and then Iraq.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Did Warren Pass the Medicare Test? I Think So, Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Her plan is serious, even if it probably won’t happen. Last week I paul krugmanworried that Elizabeth Warren had painted herself into a corner by endorsing the Sanders Medicare-for-all plan. It was becoming obvious that she couldn’t stay vague about the details, especially how to pay for it; and some studies, even by center-left think tanks, suggested that any plan along these lines would require large tax elizabeth warren o purplehikes on the middle class. So what would she come up with?

Well, the Warren plan is now out. And I’d say that she passed the test. Experts will argue for months whether she’s being too optimistic — whether her cost estimates are too low and her revenue estimates too high, whether we can really do this without middle-class tax hikes. You might say that time will tell, but it probably won’t: Even if Warren becomes president, and Dems take the Senate too, it’s very unlikely that Medicare for all will happen any time soon.

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. uses aid to lean on foreign states — but not always with the same intentions or results, Miriam Berger, Nov. 2, 2019. This week, there were three very different conversations around U.S. foreign financial assistance in Cameroon, Lebanon and Israel. The one constant is that there often doesn’t seem to be a consistent carrot or stick guiding these foreign policy decisions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pal Nigel Farage tells Boris Johnson he must abandon his Brexit deal in coming election — or else, William Booth and Karla Adam, Nov. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Political rabble-rouser and talk-radio host Nigel Farage announced Friday that his potentially vote-splitting Brexit Party will field candidates for every seat in Britain in the December nigel farage twittergeneral election — unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson agrees to abandon the withdrawal deal he negotiated with European leaders and form an alliance with the most zealous Brexit backers.

Farage, shown in his Twitter photo, flung the ultimatum at Johnson at a Brexit Party campaign launch, staged just a few blocks away from the House of Commons, which party chairman and real estate tycoon Richard Tice disparaged as this “stinking, rotten borough of Westminster.”

Farage had already made some election news with a Thursday evening radio interview with a caller from the White House. In that call, President Trump disparaged Johnson’s Brexit plan, saying it could nix a free trade deal with the United States. But he also praised the British prime minister and urged Farage and Johnson to form an electoral pact, saying the duo would be an “unstoppable force.”

9/11 Research

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Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, New Paper on WTC ‘Collapses’ Adds to Literature Refuting Progressive Collapse Theory, Ted Walter, Nov. 2, 2019. Few people know that the official account of the Twin Towers’ destruction relies entirely on just four journal papers. All four papers were coauthored by Northwestern University engineering professor Zdeněk Bažant, and all four were published in the ASCE’s Journal of Engineering Mechanics between 2002 and 2011 (Bažant submitted the first paper a mere two days after 9/11).

This may come as a surprise to many people, since one would assume that the government itself fully investigated the Twin Towers’ destruction and offered a complete theory explaining these catastrophic building failures. But that assumption is wide of the mark.

As it happens, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) limited the scope of its investigation to “the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse.” Stunningly, NIST admitted that it conducted “little analysis of the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached” and that it was “unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse.” 5 6

In other words, the government did not explain how the tops of the Twin Towers were able to crush through the enormous steel structures below them “essentially in free fall.”7 The only analysis ever produced in support of this notion was by Bažant and his various coauthors.

Ansgar Schneider portraitThis past September, the most recent paper refuting Bažant’s theory was presented by German mathematician and physicist Ansgar Schneider, right, at the annual congress of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) in New York City. Schneider’s paper, “The Structural Dynamics of the World Trade Center Catastrophe,” can now be found in the conference proceedings and is also available for free on arXiv, the e-print server of the Cornell University Library.

Complementing earlier research, Schneider’s paper offers a new and unique approach to falsifying [i.e., refuting] Bažant’s theory. Previous papers showed that Bažant hugely underestimated the ability of WTC 1’s lower section to resist the fall of the upper section and pointed out that there would have been a large, observable deceleration of the upper section’s downward movement — which there was not — if it had impacted the intact lower section.

Schneider’s approach is to assume that Bažant’s mathematical model of a progressive collapse is valid. Then, by plugging into the model the actual data related to the fall of the upper section, he calculates the upward resistance provided by the lower section.

Nov. 1

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: On Impeachment Fight, Neither Side Seems Willing to Give an Inch, Carl Hulse, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). No Republicans and only two Democrats broke ranks, a sign that the inquiry is likely to remain a highly partisan affair. When the Republican-led House voted in 1998 to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Bill Clinton, 31 Democratic-Republican Campaign logosDemocrats sided with Republicans, and the White House breathed a sigh of relief that the number was not significantly larger. In today’s hyper-polarized Washington, defections of that magnitude on the question of impeachment would be considered a tsunami.

Not a single House Republican on Thursday joined Democrats in supporting a resolution outlining the parameters for the next stage of impeachment proceedings, despite having demanded such a vote for weeks. Just two Democrats broke from their party to oppose the investigation. Left on the sidelines were Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, both known as consistent, conservative thorns in their party’s side.

washington post logofrancis rooneyWashington Post, GOP continues to tout unity on resolution vote, Griff Witte, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Is Trump’s base wavering over impeachment? The tale of one congressman’s defiance suggests not. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) dared to step out of line. The president’s supporters struck back fast.

Republican Facebook pages lit up with indignation that Rooney, right, had failed to denounce the impeachment inquiry as “a witch hunt.” Party activists traded outraged texts. Some took their case directly to the congressman, protesting what they saw as an act of supreme disloyalty to a leader they say they have come to revere more than any in their lifetimes.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans convene the cult of Trump, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Republicans are defending President Trump, who believes windmills cause cancer, in impeachment proceedings literally sparked by his pursuit of a debunked conspiracy theory in Ukraine — and Democrats are the ones loyally following the conspiracy theories of their cult leader, who apparently is Rep. Adam Schiff?

Maybe this is how Republican lawmakers survive the strain of the Trump era. They represent family values but defend Trump through “Access Hollywood” and Stormy Daniels scandals. They represent military hawkishness but acquiesce to his Syria pullout and subservience to Moscow. They represent free markets and fiscal discipline but justify his trade wars and trillion-dollar deficit. They represent law and order but excuse his obstructions of justice.

michael flynn

Palmer Report, Opinion; Michael Flynn just totally blew it for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 1, 2019. Michael Flynn was this close to avoiding prison, when he and his new attorney decided to go into court and start pushing one deranged and obviously false conspiracy theory about the FBI after another. This propaganda so closely mirrors the vomit that’s coming out of the mouths of Donald Trump and his acolytes, it’s clear that Trump and Flynn are at least indirectly coordinating their efforts. The trouble is, Flynn just blew it for Trump – and for himself.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Flynn has convinced himself that the FBI somehow altered its original interview notes, and tricked Flynn into pleading guilty by making it appear that Flynn had lied. This shows you how far gone Flynn is, considering he was there, and he told the lies, and now he doesn’t think any of it happened.

Donald Trump and his goons have also been pushing this deranged notion that the FBI changed the 302 form in order to trick Flynn. In fact it appears to be one of the core tenets of the sham “criminal inquiry” that Bill Barr claims he’s running into the original Trump-Russia investigation.

Because Flynn went into court and made this ludicrous argument, federal prosecutors simply released the original notes in court today, which prove that the 302 form was not in any way altered. There goes the conspiracy theory. Also, this means Barr is chasing his tail on something that’ll go nowhere and leave egg on his face.

U.S. Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: A Louisiana DA will let you out of your community service obligation — if you donate to his nonprofit, Radley Balko, Nov. 1, 2019. John DeRosier sent fines and fees collected from defendants to his foundation.

According to documents obtained by The Post as well as interviews with several former employees of Calcasieu Parish District Attornety John DeRosier, since at least 2011, DeRosier’s office has allowed and encouraged thousands of people accused of crimes to buy their way out of community service by purchasing gift cards and money orders.

For the first several years, participants were told to donate the gift cards and money orders to the DA’s office. But in October 2015, DeRosier set up a nonprofit foundation, the District Attorney’s Community Assistance Foundation (DACAF), to collect and distribute the gift cards and money orders. The nonprofit is run out of the DA’s office, and staff members, including DeRosier’s secretary, often do foundation work while on public time. DeRosier himself confirmed these particular details in a phone call.

Because the gift cards weren’t logged or tracked at all until the nonprofit was established in late 2015, it’s impossible to say exactly how much money the office generated through the program, but according to recent tax receipts from the nonprofit and former staff members who agreed to be interviewed, the figure is at least several hundred thousand dollars.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. lawyer Charles Cooper takes over Jeffrey Epstein-related libel suit against Dershowitz, Tom Jackman, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Washington attorney Charles Cooper, who has represented two attorneys general and is enmeshed in the congressional investigation of President Trump’s contacts with Ukraine, entered the libel case against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz Thursday after another high-powered attorney, David Boies, was disqualified.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University Cooper will take over representation of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who allegedly was a sexual assault victim of Jeffrey Epstein, right, as a teenager in Florida in the early 2000s. Beginning in 2014, Giuffre began publicly accusing Dershowitz of repeatedly abusing her while Dershowitz was in Epstein’s social orbit, before Epstein was first arrested in Florida. Dershowitz has aggressively denied Giuffre’s claims, calling her a “certified, complete, total liar,” and in April, Giuffre sued Dershowitz for defamation, with Boies and partner Sigrid McCawley as her lawyers.

Dershowitz and Boies met in 2015 to discuss Giuffre’s allegations, and Dershowitz claims that Boies agreed that Dershowitz was right. Boies strongly denies that. Once Boies filed the defamation suit, Dershowitz told a federal judge in New York that he would be calling Boies as a witness, and asked for Boies to be disqualified. U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska agreed and ordered Boies and his firm out of the case earlier this month after five years of representing Giuffre on various matters, including another, successful defamation suit against Epstein’s top assistant, Ghislaine Maxwell, who also called Giuffre a liar. Maxwell paid a confidential settlement to Giuffre, and Dershowitz is seeking to have the documents in that case unsealed.

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: The Trump brothers’ claims that they no longer profit from foreign deals, Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Did the Trump Organization stop doing business internationally after Trump was elected?

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said they would avoid international business during their father's presidency. The facts are not so straightforward. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

“When my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business.”

— Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in an interview on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” Oct. 15

“We’ve been international businesspeople for decades, but we can’t even do those kinds of deals anymore. We can’t even continue, and because we chose not to, because we didn’t think it was appropriate. So that’s the double standard. The media said, ‘Oh, you’re enriching yourselves.’ We’re like, ‘We literally stopped.’ ”

— Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in an interview on “Fox and Friends,” Oct. 30

The president’s sons say the Trump business empire no longer makes money from foreign deals.

It’s a false claim whether you take Eric Trump’s version (“we got out of all international business”) or Donald Trump Jr.'s formulation (“we literally stopped”).

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Bodies flew everywhere’: A border chase shows the role that U.S. citizens play in immigration smuggling, Maria Sacchetti, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). A pursuit and horrific crash in Texas led to murder and human smuggling charges against six teenagers. It also revealed a growing trend as the Trump administration tries to crack down on illegal immigration: the deep involvement of U.S. citizens.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, SNL tackles Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-all plan in cold open, Derek Hawkins, Nov. 3, 2019. Saturday Night Live waded into wonk territory in its Nov. 2 cold nbc logoopening, tackling the debate over Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s sweeping plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Kate McKinnon reprised her role as the Democratic presidential contender from Massachusetts, pacing back and forth on the stage in black pants, a black shirt and a bright red cardigan a la Warren. The setting was a mock town hall in Iowa, which hosted a fall fundraising dinner for the Democratic candidates on Friday and where Warren has recently emerged as the candidate to beat.

stephanie grisham jeanne pirro fox screenshot Custom

Media Matters, Commentary: The White House press briefing now takes place on Fox News, Bobby Lewis, Nov. 1, 2019. Since becoming White House press secretary on July 1, Stephanie Grisham has held zero press briefings. Instead, Grisham has found the time to grant interviews to some of President Donald Trump’s favorite current and former Fox News hosts.

It is not new that Grisham appears on Fox News (as shown above at right in a screenshot from the show of Jeanne Pirro, at left) or that Grisham tells pro-Trump lies. Sarah Sanders certainly did both quite a bit while she held the office. But it is new that Grisham appears virtually only on Fox News.

Grisham's particular innovation is to move the entire office of White House press secretary into the world of Fox News and Fox-adjacent media.

After giving her first TV interview to Sinclair’s Eric Bolling (who was fired by Fox for sending unsolicited explicit photos to coworkers), Grisham has given seven interviews to Fox News -- including last night with Jeanine Pirro. Instead of actually briefing the press at the White House, Grisham treats her duties as press secretary as complaining to pro-Trump pundits about how unfair everyone else is to the president.

U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Elizabeth Warren Releases Plan to Pay for ‘Medicare for All,’ Thomas Kaplan, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz, Nov. 1, 2019. Ms. Warren would impose huge tax increases on businesses and billionaires. She said she would not raise taxes on the middle class.

Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday proposed $20.5 trillion in new spending through huge tax increases on businesses and wealthy Americans to pay for “Medicare for all,” laying out details for a landmark government expansion that will pose political risks for her presidential candidacy while also allowing her to say she is not raising taxes on the middle class to pay for her health care plan.

elizabeth warren o purpleMs. Warren, left, who has risen steadily in the polls with strong support from liberals excited about her ambitious policy plans, has been under pressure from top rivals like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to release details about paying for her biggest plan, “Medicare for all.” Her new proposal marks a turning point for her campaign, in which she will have to sell voters on a huge tax-and-spending plan that rivals the ambitions of the New Deal and the Great Society while also defending it against both Democratic and Republican criticism.

Under Ms. Warren’s plan, employer-sponsored health insurance — which more than half of Americans now receive — would be eliminated and replaced by free government health coverage for all Americans, a fundamental shift from a market-driven system that has defined health care in the United States for decades but produced vast inequities in quality, service and cost.

washington post logoWashington Post, Terry McAuliffe stepped up when Va. Democrats looked doomed. They bounced back, but he’s not quitting, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 1, 2019 (print ed.). The former governor is barnstorming the state ahead of Tuesday’s election, sparking speculation about another run.

Natural Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, California braces for another day of ‘critical fire weather’ as a new blaze rages, Alex Horton and Andrew Freedman​​, Nov. 1, 2019. The Maria Fire ignited in the dry brush in Ventura County and quickly consumed thousands of acres.

U.S. Jobs / Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Added 128,000 Jobs in October; Unemployment at 3.6%, Ben Casselman, Nov. 1, 2019. Ordinarily, a gain of 128,000 jobs would count as a weak month. But the figure looks stronger accounting for the strike at General Motors, which shaved close to 50,000 workers from the employment rolls. United Automobile Workers union members have since approved a contract and ended the strike, and the November report should get a lift from their return to work.

Even accounting for the strike, however, job growth has been slowing. Hiring has been particularly weak in manufacturing, a result of trade tensions and the cooling of the global economy.

Media / Security News

julian assange indicter image

SouthFront, British Government Keeps Journalist Julian Assange In Maximum Security Prison At Behest Of Trump Regime, Leon Tressell, Nov. 1, 2019. At his latest extradition hearing Julian Assange (shown above in a photo by The Indicter Magazine) was once again denied justice by a British court.

If extradited to the U.S. he faces 175 years imprisonment for revealing American war crimes committed during its regime change wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Magistrate refuses to dismiss the extradition case against Assange, shown in a file photo.

Julian Assange August On October 21 magistrate Vanessa Baraitser refused Assange’s defence a hearing to dismiss the extradition case on the basis of the 2003 U.S.-UK extradition treaty which prohibits extradition for political offences such as espionage. The wording of the American indictment against Assange makes it clear that 18 of the 19 charges against him regard offences that allegedly damaged the national security of the United States. These espionage charges are clearly political offences which should prevent his extradition under the 2003 extradition treaty.

Magistrate refuses to postpone Assange’s extradition hearing

The magistrate also rejected an application from Assange’s defence to postpone the full extradition hearing on 24 February 2020. This application to postpone was based on two grounds.

Firstly, that Assange is being kept in conditions at Belmarsh maximum security prison that obstruct his ability to prepare his legal defence. He is denied access to his legal papers, and a computer while his mental health has significantly declined due to his continued imprisonment.

The second ground for a postponement of the extradition hearing were that his defence team need more time to access the mass of evidence coming out of the Spanish investigation into the surveillance of Assange, his lawyers, friends and family during the time he sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy. Spanish newspaper El Pais has revealed that security firm UC Global spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy and passed the information onto the CIA.
British government blocks Spanish judge from questioning Assange over spying allegations tied to American intelligence services

united kingdom flagThe newspaper El Pais has noted how the Spanish investigation has major ramifications for Assange’s case which has led the British government to block attempts by the investigating judge to question Julian Assange by videoconference. El Pais has commented upon the unprecedented nature of the UK government’s actions:

“The British position, unprecedented in these types of requests for judicial collaboration, is being viewed by Spanish judicial bodies as a show of resistance against the consequences that the case could have on the process to extradite the Australian cyberactivist to the United States.”

Judge Jose De La Mata has expressed his surprise at the UK government turning down his request to interview Assange as it has agreed to such requests in ”previous cases”. Refusal of such requests rarely happens and in this case is an example of the British government interfering in the judicial process in an attempt to ensure that Assange is extradited to the United States.

In a separate development, the National Press Club's president issued a statement on behalf of the club earlier this year as follows:

julian assange statement

War Zones

SouthFront, Syrian Democratic Forces Denounce Syrian Army’s Call To Unite Against Turkish Invasion, Staff report, Nov. 1, 2019. On Oct. 30, the Syrian Defense Ministry released an official statement calling on SDF members to join the ranks of the army to counter the Turkish offensive and restore Syrian territorial integrity.

These statements faced a fierce resistance among the SDF leadership that claimed that it will not accept any deal that would not “recognize and preserve” the group’s “privacy and structure.” This behavior is apparently linked with actions of US forces that have recently increased their activity in northern Syria. A US military column was recently spotted in the village of Sreen, south of Kobani. Most likely, these actions are aimed at rescuing the crumbling US influence in the countryside of Raqqah, additionally to the already occupied oil fields in Deir Ezzor.

 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2019 news and views

Oct. 31

Obama Hits Political Shaming

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washington post logoWashington Post, He is right on all counts’: Obama finds rare bipartisan support by bashing ‘woke’ shaming, Allyson Chiu, Oct. 31, 2019. Former president Barack Obama offered some advice earlier this week to young people hoping to change society: Participating in cancel culture isn’t the way to do it.

“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” the 58-year-old said Tuesday while speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago (shown above, with close-up at left by Ashlee Rezin Garcia of the Chicago Sun-Times). “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. bo foundation summit ashlee rezin garcia chicago sun times via apPeople who do really good stuff have flaws.”

Obama’s pointed warning that social media enables “woke” people to be “as judgmental as possible” went viral Wednesday, drawing praise from both the left and right. By early Thursday, clips of Obama shared on Twitter had been viewed millions of times as many stressed that all social media users needed to hear his message.

“He is right on all counts,” 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted, while his opponent Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) wrote, “We all need a little more aloha spirit — being respectful & caring for one another.”

Trump Probes / Impeachment  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided House passes resolution on inquiry, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck​, ​Oct. 31, 2019. The resolution, passed on a near party-line vote, outlines the next steps in the investigation of President Trump, setting the stage for televised hearings and the release of witness testimony.

A divided House approved legislation Thursday formally authorizing and articulating guidelines for the next phase of its impeachment inquiry, a move that djt nancy pelosisignaled Democrats are on course to bring charges against President Trump later this year.

The 232-196 vote, which hewed closely to party lines, was likely to fuel the partisan fighting that has accompanied every stage of the impeachment probe U.S. House logoand much of the Trump presidency. Nearly all Democrats backed the resolution, and House Republicans, who spent weeks clamoring for such a vote, opposed it.

At issue is whether Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign leader to investigate his domestic political rivals.

In remarks before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the impeachment inquiry as a “solemn” and “prayerful” process — “not cause for any glee or comfort.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Rules of Impeachment, Editorial Board, Oct. 31, 2019. Democrats get serious about the next phase of inquiry. Since taking office in 2017, President Trump and his administration have sought to remove — and in some cases, destroy — many of the guardrails of precedent and tradition surrounding the conduct of the executive branch.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to erect a series of guardrails of its own, for the possible impeachment of the president. The resolution now before Congress avoids past missteps by allowing extended questioning of witnesses by staff lawyers before preening lawmakers take the stage, and it sets fair rules that respect precedent.

Such rules are needed because the stakes are so high and the charges against Mr. Trump so serious.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This changes everything, Bill Palmer, Oct. 31, 2019. Just two weeks and two days ago, on October 15th, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met privately with the House Democratic Caucus. She had already announced a press conference for after the meeting, which suggested that she was hoping to emerge from the meeting and announce that she was holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry. But she ended up announcing nothing.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was clear at the time that there simply weren’t enough House Democrats who were ready to put their names on an impeachment inquiry. They wanted the public opinion needle to move more in a pro-impeachment direction, so they could feel safe that when this was all said and done, such a vote wouldn’t end up being hung around their necks when they ran for reelection in 2020.

Again, that was just about two weeks ago. But now, as was pointed out during the Chris Hayes show tonight on MSNBC, the landscape has shifted so thoroughly that even the House Democrats in moderate districts are comfortable inking their names on an impeachment resolution. So what’s changed?

Our take is that it’s all about what’s been transpiring behind closed doors. Impeachment polls continue to inch upward, showing that a slight but growing majority of Americans now favor impeaching and removing Donald Trump, even before the public hearings begin. Over the past two weeks those numbers haven’t changed much.

But during that same time, a number of impeachment witnesses have testified in closed hearings. House Democrats have gotten a look at the witnesses they’ll be able to put on TV during public hearings, and they’re expecting it to drive impeachment poll numbers even higher, so now they’re ready to commit to the impeachment resolution. These past two weeks have changed everything.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House official expected to confirm diplomat’s account that Trump appeared to seek quid pro quo, Carol D. Leonnig, John Hudson and Reis Thebault, Oct. 31, 2019. Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date for how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of tim morrison Customformer vice president Joe Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.

Morrison, right, is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with the Ukrainian president until Ukraine announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions

Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court weighs Trump claim that ex-White House counsel McGahn, top aides are absolutely immune from congressional subpoena, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 31, 2019.
A federal judge Thursday will weigh the Trump administration’s claim that former White House counsel Donald McGahn and top presidential aides are absolutely immune from Congress’s subpoenas in a potential landmark lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee to force McGahn to testify .

dan mcgahn djtJudge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has fast-tracked the scheduled 2 p.m. hearing for McGahn, whom House Democrats described as one of their “most important” witnesses in an impeachment inquiry.

The case is one of several major political and legal battles between Congress and the Trump White House over the Constitution’s balance of powers, as Democrats formally probe Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign rival, and Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

“McGahn is uniquely positioned to explain those events, bring additional misconduct to light, and provide evidence regarding the president’s intent,” the complaint says, noting that Trump has disputed significant portions of these events and accused McGahn of fabricating facts. “Live testimony from McGahn is essential” to resolving any conflicting accounts, it says.

Mueller’s report ultimately concluded that it was not the special counsel’s role to determine whether the president broke the law.

charles kupperman croppedCharles Kupperman, left, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, also is due in the same courthouse Thursday for an initial hearing in a lawsuit he filed asking a federal judge to decide whether he must comply with a House subpoena in the impeachment inquiry.

The House Judiciary Committee sued Aug. 7 to enforce its April subpoena to McGahn, a key figure in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

The White House blocked McGahn’s testimony, advising the former counsel that he was “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony” and directing him not to appear.

[Democrats ask federal judge to force testimony from ex-White House counsel McGahn]

Lawyers for the committee’s Democrats call the claim “spurious” and say it has no grounding in case law. The House asked the court to expedite the case so it could be appealed by whichever side loses, saying the Trump administration was seeking to establish a dangerous precedent shielding top presidential advisers from testifying before Congress, even those who no longer work for the White House.

[Read the document: House Judiciary Committee v. Donald McGahn]

House general counsel Douglas N. Letter argued that “the Judiciary Committee cannot fulfill its constitutional investigative, oversight and legislative responsibilities — including its consideration of whether to recommend articles of impeachment — without hearing from [McGahn].”

William A. Burck, McGahn’s attorney, said in a statement that McGahn will abide by the president’s instructions absent a contrary decision from the court. McGahn “has an ethical obligation to protect client confidences,” Burck said. “Don does not believe he witnessed any violation of law. And the president instructed Don to cooperate fully with the special counsel but directed him not to testify to Congress unless the White House and the committee reached an accommodation.”

U.S. Privacy, Courts, Civil Rights

Kansas City Star, Planned Parenthood staffer testifies recent state inspections grew more contentious, Crystal Thomas, Oct. 31, 2019. An administrator at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic testified Thursday that recent Missouri inspections became much more combative after the involvement of the inspectors’ supervisor, who eventually opened an investigation into the clinic of his own volition.

“The dynamic completely changed,” Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services, said.

Shannon’s testimony, which at times became emotional, came on the fourth and final day of a state administrative commission hearing that will help decide whether the clinic can retain its license to perform abortions.

The state decided not to renew the clinic’s license in June after it could not complete an investigation of “failed” abortions of four patients because the physicians involved, who were medical residents or fellows in training, would not submit to interviews.

Under a stay from Commissioner Sreenivasa Dandamudi, the clinic can still perform abortions.

Shannon, who had worked at Planned Parenthood for more than a decade and was the state’s “point person” on licensure for three years, said inspections by the state were usually collaborative and that inspectors would offer on-the-spot suggestions that would prevent citations.

She described the former longtime inspector for Planned Parenthood, John Langston, as “very respectful.” Langston stopped inspecting Planned Parenthood after 2018.

However, Shannon noticed a difference in 2018 when William Koebel, the licensing supervisor, shadowed the team of his employees during their annual inspection, according to Shannon.

“They started asking questions as if they didn’t understand how to do an inspection,” Shannon said.Shannon said Koebel often interrupted with questions in an “accusatory demeanor.” Langston had to become a “mediator” and at one point, had to tell Koebel to “calm down,” she said.

“We had been doing the same things we had always done, the things we always do,” Shannon said.

Koebel later testified he had never personally inspected a medical facility before and had no medical training. Most of the state inspectors assigned to Planned Parenthood have nursing backgrounds.

Oct. 31

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, US judge dismisses case against legal brothels in Nevada, Ken Ritter, Oct. 31, 2019. A federal judge in Nevada has dismissed a lawsuit that invoked sex trafficking laws in a bid to close the nation’s only legal brothels. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno said in her Tuesday ruling that she empathized with three women who claim they were victims of sexual violence in Nevada and other places.

However, the judge said the women live in Texas and she wasn’t convinced the profound harm they said they suffered was due to Nevada prostitution laws. “That plaintiffs were unlawfully forced into prostitution and sex trafficked in Nevada and other states is not sufficiently traceable to Nevada laws ... as opposed to other factors, namely the illicit behaviors of private bad actors,” Du wrote.

Attorney Jason Guinasso, representing plaintiffs Rebekah Charleston, Angela Delgado-Williams and Leah Albright-Williams, said they may appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, but Guinasso said the women consented to be named in the lawsuit and news reports.

Guinasso previously served as a lawyer for a Nevada group, “No Little Girl,” that led an unsuccessful campaign last year for a ballot measure to end prostitution in Nevada’s Lyon County.

Prostitution is legal in rural Nevada, but not in the state’s two most populous counties, Clark and Washoe, or the cities of Las Vegas and Reno. State officials currently oversee 21 legal bordellos in seven counties.

Brothel owners argue that state regulation and mandatory health screenings make the women they hire safer than those involved in illegal prostitution.

Oct. 30

The Hill, Judge throws out conspiracy theorist's lawsuit against Mueller, Harper Neidig, Oct. 31, 2019. A federal judge on Thursday threw out conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi's lawsuit jerome corsi screenshot 2018 09 06against former special counsel Robert Mueller after he accused Mueller of coercing him into testifying about his alleged role coordinating the release of stolen Democratic emails. Judge Ellen Huvelle of the D.C. District Court said that Corsi, right, formerly of the far-right conspiracy theory website InfoWars, had failed to make a valid case against Mueller or any of the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies named in his complaint.

Huvelle, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Clinton, said Corsi's sweeping claims that Mueller and the government had conducted illegal surveillance of him, violated his constitutional rights and leaked grand jury information were lacking in evidence and legal grounding.

Corsi alleged that Mueller had threatened to indict him and "effectively put him in federal prison for the rest of his life" if he failed to testify to a grand jury about his alleged role as a liaison between WikiLeaks and Trump associate Roger Stone, who is facing trial next week for charges of obstruction of justice stemming from the special counsel's probe.

Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer who is representing Corsi, told The Hill in an email that he plans to appeal the ruling.

"Judge Huvelle’s ruling was largely politically influenced and sadly comes as no surprise," he said. "In today’s world, the elite establishment club in Washington, D.C., are 'protected species,' who are above the law. The American people are beginning to understand and it is a dangerous situation when the judiciary provides cover for the elite and powerful."

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Update: House Prepares to Vote on Trump Impeachment Inquiry Rules, Staff report, Oct. 31, 2019. Lawmakers will vote Thursday on a resolution to guide the impeachment process as it heads into a more public phase. It will be the first time the full House has gone on the record on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Here’s what to watch.

The House on Thursday will take its first formal vote on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Lawmakers are expected to vote largely along party lines to adopt a resolution that will set rules for the next phase of the inquiry, including public hearings and the drafting of articles of impeachment against the president.

The vote is a striking turnabout for House Democrats. For weeks, they have resisted formal floor action, fearing that a vote could hurt the re-election prospects of members in Trump-friendly swing districts where voters want them to focus more on issues like jobs and the high price of prescription drugs than on a seemingly futile effort to oust the president.

But after a series of bombshell revelations about the president’s pressure campaign to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, Democrats are convinced the public is behind the inquiry, and are ready to call the bluff of Republicans who have been demanding a floor vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled the vote for Thursday morning.

The Washington Post on Wednesday evening reported that deputy White House counsel John Eisenberg was the first official to propose moving the evidence of the call to the separate server after being told about the content of it.

According to the report, the NSC’s top Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified Tuesday that after hearing Trump pressure Zelensky to investigate a political opponent, he immediately reported the disturbing behavior to Eisenberg (the administration’s legal advisor on national security issues) and told him the president’s conduct was wrong.

Natural Disasters, Fire and Flood

climate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Winds are gusting above hurricane force in California, driving a new wildfire in the Los Angeles area, Katie Mettler and Andrew Freedman​, Oct. 31, 2019 (print ed.). The Easy Fire spread to nearly 1,000 acres in a few hours, triggering mandatory evacuation orders in the area surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of California as officials anxiously monitored the state’s whipping winds, which have been breathing dangerous life into the Kincade and Getty fires for days — and began fueling an explosive new brush fire in Southern California on Wednesday morning.

The Easy Fire, which ignited Wednesday in Ventura County, rapidly spread to nearly 1,000 acres in just a few hours, triggering mandatory evacuation orders in the area surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The fire is spreading amid dangerous weather, with humidity plunging into the single digits as winds gust above hurricane force.

washington post logoWashington Post, Scientists triple their estimates of the number of people threatened by rising seas, Chris Mooney, Oct. 31, 2019 (print ed.). Researchers project that 150 million people would live below the high tide line by 2050 and 200 million by 2100. Those exposed to an annual flood in that year would be 360 million.

Media News

catherine herridge ceci freed media matters graphic Custom

Media Matters, Commentary: Fox reporter announces departure for a place where "facts and storytelling will always matter,” Matt Gertz, Oct. 31, 2019. For decades, Fox News executives have responded to the critique that the network serves as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party by pointing to the work of its “news side” journalists. But Trump’s election and his administration’s effective merger with Fox has created a new problem for the rebuttal: Many of Fox’s longest-serving “news side” staffers have headed for the exits.

Last month, it was Shep Smith who left. Now, Catherine Herridge, Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent and a veteran of more than two decades there, is the latest to leave the cbs news logonetwork. CBS News announced that she had been hired as a senior investigative correspondent. Herridge (shown in Media Matters graphic by Ceci Freed) said that "I feel privileged to join a team where facts and storytelling will always matter.”

Herridge’s reporting at Fox often aligned with Republican talking points and fed the conspiracy theories of the network’s prime-time stars. But she had inexplicably won the respect of journalists outside Fox, and as such her departure is another blow to Fox’s embattled “news side.”

fox news logo SmallFox staffers speaking anonymously to reporters have over the last few years given quotes like Fox “feels like an extension of the Trump White House,” “We have a chance to turn the corner at Fox, and perpetuating this conspiracy theory damages our integrity,” “ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” and “People throughout the company think a new line was crossed.”

To the extent that there has been a battle of values between Fox’s “news” and “opinion” sides, it is clear who is winning. Fox News is a Trump propaganda operation, through and through.

Here's what Fox's "news side" really is: Fox "news side" anchor Shannon Bream bragged about Fox and challenged people to watch one of its news programs for a week and to find any unfairness. We watched her own show for a week and found the same propaganda that you'd find from the opinion side on Fox.

ISIS New Leader

ny times logoNew York Times, ISIS Names New Leader and Confirms al-Baghdadi’s Death, Rukmini Callimachi and Eric Schmitt, Oct. 31, 2019. Almost nothing is known about the new leader of the Islamic State, including who he really is. The group’s announcement also warned America not to be happy.

Days after the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, left, and his heir apparent were killed in back-to-back attacks by United States forces in northern Syria, the group broke its abu bakr al baghdadi oldersilence on Thursday to confirm their deaths, announce a new leader and warn America: “Do not be happy.”

In an audio recording uploaded on the Telegram app, the Islamic State mourned the loss of Mr. al-Baghdadi, who led the organization for nearly a decade, and its spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, who was killed a day after Mr. al-Baghdadi and who had widely been considered a potential successor.

The audio recording was the first word from the Islamic State confirming the death of its leader, which President Trump triumphantly announced on Sunday as a huge blow to the world’s most fearsome terrorist group.

Oct. 30

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file


Trump Probe Evidence

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 volatile White House meetings become central to investigation, Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. Witnesses’ testimony brought to light details of the July 10 gatherings, in which officials were confronted with a scheme they had previously only suspected: President Trump was seeking to use his office to pressure Ukraine to deliver dirt on the Bidens.

washington post logoWashington Post, Firsthand account of Ukraine call puts GOP in bind, emboldens Democrats, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 30, 2019 alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019(print ed.). After President Trump and his allies questioned a Purple Heart recipient’s patriotism, unnerved Republicans pushed back. Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, right.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarm, Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. John Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, restricted access to the document after Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman expressed concerns about the president’s statements on the call with the Ukrainian president, according to people familiar with Vindman's testimony to lawmakers.

The details of how the White House clamped down on information about the controversial call comes as the House impeachment inquiry turns its focus to the role of Eisenberg, who has served as deputy White House counsel since the start of Trump’s administration. House impeachment investigators on Wednesday evening announced they have asked Eisenberg and a fellow White House lawyer, Mike Ellis, to testify Monday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Diplomats to outline Trump’s dark view of Ukraine in testimony, John Hudson and Elise Viebeck​, Oct. 30, 2019. The prepared remarks offer new insight into how a shadow foreign policy executed by people outside of government undermined the work of U.S. officials.

• Read Catherine Croft’s opening statement
• Read Christopher Anderson’s statement

bob livingston full portrait

ny times logoNew York Times, Former G.O.P. Lawmaker Pressed for Ambassador’s Ouster, Diplomat to Say, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Oct. 30, 2019. Robert Livingston, shown, above, a former Republican congressman turned lobbyist, repeatedly told a foreign service officer assigned to the White House that the American ambassador to Ukraine should be fired because of her association with Democrats, the officer told impeachment investigators on Wednesday.

The officer, Catherine M. Croft, testified that she “documented” multiple calls from Mr. Livingston about the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, while she was working at the National Security Council from mid-2017 to mid-2018. She informed two other officials — Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the council, and George P. Kent, a Ukraine expert at the State Department — about them at the time.

The testimony shifts forward by several months a timeline of known attacks on Ms. Yovanovitch by conservatives questioning, without evidence, her loyalty to President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, House committees seek testimony from John Bolton in inquiry, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Reis Thebault​, Oct. 30, 2019. Lawmakers want to question the former national security adviser on Nov. ​7 about his frustration with President Trump’s allies, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who were pressing Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

ny times logotom friedman twitterNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Zuckerberg & Pals Are Breaking America, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Oct. 30, 2019. Not in the Cold War, not during Vietnam, not during Watergate did I ever fear more for my country.

If America’s worst enemies had spent years designing a plan to erode our greatest strengths, they could not have done better than what some of our fellow citizens are doing to the country every day for short-term financial or political gain.

Prominent figures in government, politics and commerce are behaving in ways that are so destructive of the core institutions and norms that underpin our democracy, one can only assume that they take the country’s stability as a given — that they can abuse and stress it all they want and it won’t break.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well, we’re in it now, Bill Palmer, Oct. 30, 2019. When Colonel Vindman testified on Tuesday that the publicly released “transcript” of Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call was doctored, he opened up a big can of hurt on what little is left of Trump’s presidency. But the Colonel did something more than that: he just exposed that a huge number of Trump’s top people were conspiring with him in the scandal – and that a lot of them are going to prison.

bill palmer report logo headerVindman testified that he listened in on Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call, and took notes of his own. When the official phone call summary reached Vindman’s desk, he found that some of Trump’s most incriminating words had been omitted. When Vindman then tried to add those words back in, his efforts were rebuffed.

This means that people higher up the chain than Colonel Vindman were conspiring to hide the evidence of Donald Trump’s crimes. Vindman’s boss at the National Security Council was John Bolton, but Bolton has gone out of his way to document that he wasn’t in on the Ukraine scandal or coverup. So who was doctoring the transcript to begin with. Not only was a high-ranking White House official running point on this coverup, a number of other White House people had to have been in on the coverup for it to have gotten as far as it did. Those people are all going to prison when this is over. Not only does this scandal keep getting worse, the coverup keeps getting much, much worse.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why Trump insisted that the obviously incomplete rough transcript was, in fact, ‘exact,’ Philip Bump, Oct. 30, 2019. It's possible that President Trump set the trap for himself. The reporters could listen to Trump or they could read the bottom of the front page of the transcript itself, which states that it is “not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.”

But Trump insisted that the world instead listen to him. The document was “an exact transcript of my call, done by very talented people that do this,” he said later on the same day. It was “an exact transcript,” he claimed on Oct. 11.

So why did Trump make his assertion in the first place?

The most immediate and obvious explanation is that Trump operates only in absolutes. The transcript had to be perfect and compiled by the best stenographers because everything Trump does is the best and most perfect, until it isn't. Trump's default mode is that everything associated with him is flawless, up to and including transcripts that self-identify as potentially flawed.

nancy pelosi horizontal uncredited older Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: The air is getting very thin up there, Isabel Stamm, Oct. 30, 2019. The air is getting very thin up on the hill that Trump’s supporters have obviously chosen to die on. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown in a file photo) announced on Monday that the House is going to have a vote on the impeachment inquiry on Thursday that will result in the public hearings Republicans have been demanding so vehemently that they felt the need to storm the SCIF in which witnesses were being deposed behind closed doors. Pelosi’s move is effectively going to cut off the oxygen to the argument Donald Trump’s stooges have been making that the inquiry constitutes a secretive and entirely partisan effort to remove the president and thereby illegitimately annul the will of the people.

bill palmer report logo headerNevertheless, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthykevin mccarthy, right, did not shy away from stepping in front of the cameras on Tuesday morning to make yet another process argument against the investigation that has been well underway for quite some time now and that has already brought to light a mountain of truly damning evidence against Donald Trump. The spin he tried to put on the situation in his very word-salady statement was that the impending vote was an admission on Speaker Pelosi’s parts that the Democrats had been engaging in “sham” proceedings and were now trying to retroactively right this wrong.

According to McCarthy, this was not going to work: “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he judged sternly. Then he went on to talk about due process in a somewhat garbled way and – for good measure – threw in the ominous sounding term “fruit from the poisonous tree”, all which probably sounds like impressive legalese if you’re a low information Trump supporter. Finally, the Minority Leader declared the Democrats’ impeachment efforts a mistrial and essentially demanded that the process should end right then and there.

washington post logotwitter bird CustomWashington Post, Twitter to ban all political ads amid 2020 election uproar, Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker​, Oct. 30, 2019. The decision from CEO Jack Dorsey comes in response to concerns that politicians are seizing on social media’s vast reach to deceive voters ahead of 2020.

2020 U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Kamala Harris Campaign Cuts Staff in Effort to Keep Up With Top Rivals, Astead W. Herndon and Shane Goldmacher, Oct. 30, 2019. The California senator’s fund-raising struggles are prompting her to reboot her campaign with a focus on Iowa. Senator Kamala Harris of California took her most drastic action yet on Wednesday to salvage her once-promising, now-languishing presidential bid, laying off staff members at her Baltimore headquarters and elsewhere, and redeploying others to Iowa, where she is looking to rejuvenate her campaign.

The moves are the most serious reboot from any Democratic campaign that was once in the top tier, but they may not be enough to ensure a turnaround for Ms. Harris. The restructuring came on the same day that a new poll, from USA Today/Suffolk, showed Ms. Harris dropping to 3 percent, down three percentage points since August. It puts Ms. Harris well behind the leaders and in a virtual tie with Representative Tulsi Gabbard, whom Ms. Harris thought so little of two months ago that she mostly ignored her attacks in the late July debate.

U. S. Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Disputed Judicial Nominees Could Help Trump Reach Milestone, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Oct. 30, 2019. President Trump is nearing a milestone in his push to overhaul the federal judiciary with conservative judges. If the Senate confirms a batch of nominees now working their way through the approval process, a quarter of the nation’s 179 appeals court judges — those sitting just below the Supreme Court — will be appointees of Mr. Trump.

That number is far higher than the number of appointees to the appeals court that either George W. Bush or Barack Obama had made at this point in their presidencies.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on advancing a group of nominees, including several to the appeals court. But in a break from most other nominees over the past two and a half years, two of them do not have uniform support among Republicans.

Votes on Steven J. Menashi, a White House lawyer being considered for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals based in New York, and Halil Suleyman Ozerden, a federal judge in Mississippi nominated for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans, had been delayed.

ny times logoedward gallagherNew York Times, Navy Reduces Punishment for SEAL in War Crimes Case, Dave Philipps, Oct. 30, 2019 (updated). The Navy SEAL at the center of one of the highest-profile war crimes cases in years had his punishment drastically reduced Tuesday by the Navy’s top admiral, sparing the SEAL from the most serious consequence he still faced, a steep demotion that would have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement pay.

The unusual act comes in the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, right, who a year ago was facing a court-martial and the prospect of life in prison without parole. Navy prosecutors had accused him of shooting civilians in Iraq, killing a captive enemy fighter with a hunting knife, and threatening to kill fellow SEALs if they reported him, among other charges. Chief Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in July of all the charges except one minor count: bringing discredit on the armed forces, by posing for a photo with the corpse of the captive he was accused of killing.

 usa today logoUSA Today, Trump judicial nominee cries at hearing during questioning on attitude toward LGBTQ people, Jeanine Santucci, Oct. 30, 2019. President Donald Trump's pick for a federal appeals court seat broke down in an emotional exchange during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, addressing concerns that he would be unfair to LGBT people.

"It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God, and they should all be treated with dignity and respect," Lawrence VanDyke said through tears at his hearing (video).

VanDyke, a nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, was responding to a question from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, about a report from the the American Bar Association.

The ABA's Federal Judiciary Committee voted that VanDyke was "not qualified" for the position, citing concerns that he "lacks humility" and "does not have an open mind."

"Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules," an ABA letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee reads.

VanDyke works in the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division. He also served as solicitor general in Nevada and Montana.

Hawley asked VanDyke, "Did you say that you wouldn't be fair to members of the LGBT community?"

"Senator, that was the part of the letter ..." VanDyke began, trailing off as he began to cry. "I did not say that."

After a moment, VanDyke continued, "No, I did not say that. I do not believe that." He said if confirmed, he would "absolutely" commit to treating every person in his court with dignity and respect.

U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Plans to Purge 300,000 Names From Its Voter Rolls, Nicholas Casey, Oct. 30, 2019. Voting rights advocates described the removals as troubling, saying it was just the beginning of efforts to suppress the vote in battleground states. This week, Georgia state officials said they would be removing about 300,000 names from their lists of eligible voters, a number that amounts to almost 4 percent of those registered to vote. The state said the move is a normal part of updating records after voters have moved away or stopped casting ballots.

Walter Jones, the spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state’s voter education program, called the purge “a routine process that every state does,” and one that has gone on for years in Georgia under both parties.

ISIS Leader's Killing

abu bakr al baghdadi older

washington post logoWashington Post, Baghdadi given up by Islamic State insider, Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Dan Lamothe, Oct. 30, 2019. The well-placed informant facilitated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s movements around Syria and helped oversee construction work on his safehouse, according to officials knowledgeable about the operation.

• Washington Post, Dog in Baghdadi raid joins long history of canine war heroes

U.S. News Roundup

  • New York Times, Kamala Harris Campaign Cuts Staff in Effort to Keep Up With Top Rivals
  • Washington Post, Millions of Californians on ‘red’ alert as wind-whipped fires rage in Los Angeles and Sonoma County, Katie Mettler and Andrew Freedman​, Oct. 30, 2019. Much of California is under a red flag warning as firefighters continue to battle the Kincade Fire in the north and the Getty Fire down south.
  • Washington Post, Scientists triple their estimates of the number of people threatened by rising seas, Chris Mooney, Oct. 30, 2019. Researchers project that 150 million people would live below the high tide line by 2050 and 200 million by 2100. Those exposed to an annual flood in that year would be 360 million.
  • Washington Post, U.S. slowdown deepens as economic growth slips to 1.9 percent pace in third quarter, Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam​, Oct. 30, 2019. Growth and business investment are under close scrutiny this year as companies deal with trade war uncertainty and politicians prepare for the 2020 elections.

World News

ny times logosyrian flag wavingNew York Times, How the New Syria Took Shape, Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated, Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi and Jeremy White, Oct. 30, 2019. Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated. In just a few weeks, the American withdrawal from northern Syria dramatically reordered power in the country after eight years of civil war.

The Week, Chile cancels UN climate change conference and major trade summit amid ongoing protests, Brendan Morrow, Oct. 30, 2019. Two summits scheduled to take place in Chile, including one where President Trump aimed to sign phase one of a trade deal with China, have just been called off.

Chile announced Wednesday it will no longer host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the trade event that had been scheduled for mid-November and where Trump was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, The Washington Post reports. Chile also called off the United Nations Conference of the Parties climate change summit it was set to host. This latter event was set to include more than 100 international delegations, the Post notes.

These cancellations were due to the ongoing demonstrations in the country sparked by a hike in public transportation fares, with a state of emergency having previously been declared in Santiago. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said Wednesday, "This has been a very tough decision ... but it is based on the wise principle of common sense," CNBC reports.

The APEC cancellation is especially significant because after Trump announced a "phase one" trade agreement with China, he said the two countries agreed "in principle" but that a "formal signing" would take place within the next few weeks, with the goal being for it to happen at the November conference in Chile. Earlier this week, Trump said the trade deal was coming along "ahead of schedule" and that "I imagine" they'll sign it in Chile. It's unclear when or where that will happen now; CNBC's Eunice Yoon observes this "could mean some relief for both sides" but also that China can "push off" the deal "especially if [Trump] doesn't agree to lift" the tariffs scheduled to take effect in December.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: A Progressive Surge Is Brewing Across Latin America, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 30, 2019. A year ago, the corporatists and anti-socialist militarists in strategic culture logothe Donald Trump administration appeared ecstatic over the electoral successes of neo-fascism in Latin America.

Jair Bolsonaro, a self-proclaimed admirer of Adolf Hitler and who is nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics,” sat in the presidential palace in Brazil; billionaire right-winger Sebastian Pinera had, once again, become president of Chile; and Lenin Moreno, the one-time leftist and progressive ally of former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, had invited the US military back into his country and made common cause with the Lima Group, an anti-Nicolas Maduro bloc subservient to Washington.

Trump and his fellow neo-fascists in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Honduras, and Colombia were hoping for a right-wing tide to continue to sweep through the Western Hemisphere. The news from Buenos Aires, La Paz, Bogota, and Montevideo suggests that the region’s right-wingers can put away their champagne bottles.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Tests Propaganda Tactics in Africa, Raising Fears About U.S. Election, Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel, Oct. 30, 2019. Facebook said it removed three Russian-backed influence networks aimed at African countries. The networks’ activity suggested Russia’s approach was evolving. Russia has been testing new disinformation tactics in an enormous Facebook campaign in parts of Africa, as part of an evolution of its manipulation techniques ahead of the 2020 American presidential election.

facebook logoFacebook said on Wednesday that it removed three Russian-backed influence networks on its site that were aimed at African countries including Mozambique, Cameroon, Sudan and Libya. The company said the online networks were linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch who was indicted by the United States and accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Unlike past influence campaigns from Russia, the networks targeted several countries through Arabic-language posts, according to the Stanford Internet Observatory, which collaborated with Facebook to unravel the effort. Some of the posts promoted Russian policies, while others criticized French and American policies in Africa. Russians also worked with locals in the African countries to set up Facebook accounts that were disguised as authentic to avoid detection.

The effort was at times larger in volume than what the Russians deployed in the United States in 2016. While the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency posted on Facebook 2,442 times a month on average in 2016, one of the networks in northern and central Africa posted 8,900 times in October alone, according to the Stanford researchers.

New York Times, Wildfires Highlight the Divide Between California’s Rich and Poor, Oct. 30, 2019. Some people have rebuilt houses worth more than those that burned. Others have lost everything and years later still have nothing.

Associated Press via Washington Post, US filmmaker Oliver Stone praises Putin for role in Syria, Jon Gambrell, Oct. 30, 2019. American filmmaker Oliver Stone has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “stabilizing force” in the Middle East. American filmmaker Oliver Stone on Wednesday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “stabilizing force” in the Middle East, particularly in Syria as Moscow fills a void left by U.S. forces pulling out and leaving behind their Kurdish allies.

oliver stone portraitStone (shown in a file photo), the 73-year-old director of “JFK,” ‘’Platoon” and “Wall Street,” long has been known for his strident views on American foreign policy. However, his comments came during the Future Investment Initiative forum in Saudi Arabia, which has long opposed Syrian President Bashar Assad.

While Putin visited both Riyadh and the neighboring United Arab Emirates this month, their differences still remain stark over Syria’s war, though they may be slowly reconciling with Assad’s continued rule. It wasn’t clear whether Stone, who made the documentary “The Putin Interviews,” realized that before beginning his remarks.

“Mr. Putin was always concerned about the terrorists,” Stone said. “If they had gotten to Damascus and they almost did . there would be a possible caliphate throughout this whole region.”

The director added: “I think Mr. Putin is very concerned about peace.” Rebel forces did reach Damascus’ doorstep before Russia and Iran entered the war on Assad’s side, but they included a range of fighters, not just Islamic extremists.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, The Technology 202: Elizabeth Warren just made her battle against Facebook more personal, Cat Zakrzewski, Oct. 30, 2019. Sen. Elizabeth Warren singled out Facebook policy chief Joel Kaplan as she launched a plan to “slam shut the revolving door” between Washington and large corporations.

elizabeth warren o purpleThe Massachusetts Democrat and presidential candidate, left, wrote on Twitter that Kaplan, a former George W. Bush official, “is flexing his DC Rolodex to help [CEO] Mark Zuckerberg wage a closed-door charm offensive with Republican lawmakers.” Warren says Kaplan’s career move is indicative of a broader problem in Washington that hits across sectors. She wants to ban senior government officials from joining large corporations for at least four years after they leave government.

It's unclear how this would work in practice as many government officials leave for the private sector after their stint in Washington. And it’s highly unusual for a presidential candidate to take aim at an individual company executive — especially one who is not a CEO or known to much of the public. But it dovetails with the broader trend of candidates more frequently calling out individual companies as liberal Democrats such as Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) run 2020 campaigns challenging corporate size and income.

facebook logo“If you’re a Democrat in the primary running a populist campaign, playing on the notion that the system is rigged and evil and everything else, it’s a popular position to take,” said Bradley Tusk, a venture capitalist and political strategist who has worked with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D).

Kaplan is a clear foil for Warren as she tries to rally the Democratic base. He’s the Facebook executive who created controversy by sitting behind Brett Kavanaugh at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. The Wall Street Journal reported that Kaplan pushed for the company to include The Daily Caller's fact-checking division among the company’s partners to address conservatives' concerns of bias among its fact-checking partners. The same Journal article called Kaplan "Facebook’s protector" against allegations democratic donkey logoof anti-conservative bias -- a charge that companies and most politicians on the left dismiss.

Warren could have chosen to call out a long list of companies that have former Washington officials high in their ranks — including other tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft. But the focus on Kaplan highlights just how contentious Warren’s relationship with Facebook has become in recent months — as the leading presidential contender has promised to break up the company, criticized it for allowing President Trump to distort the truth in ads and questioned the tech titan’s ability to address election integrity issues ahead of 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Capital Gazette shooter’s fraudulent insanity plea, Richard E. Vatz (professor of rhetoric at Towson University, specializing in political and psychiatric rhetoric, and psychology editor of USA Today Magazine), Oct. 30, 2019. Jarrod Ramos is accused of first-degree murder for killing five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper jarrod ramosoffices in Annapolis. He originally pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to “not criminally responsible,” claiming that he did not have the “capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct,” Maryland’s equivalent of the insanity plea.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty. Some experts speculate that doing so will limit the salience of the gory details of the killings going forward to the jury’s consideration of his state of mind when he committed the slayings. It is hard to imagine a case that comprises more conscious criminal intent than the mass murder of Capital Gazette employees Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.

The accused, Ramos, right, had, as the prosecution alleges, carefully planned the attack: He had smoke grenades and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent people from escaping. Many mass murderers do not plan such attacks so cruelly and methodically. Also, after he perpetrated the killings, he hid under a desk at the Capital Gazette office, demonstrating that he knew the act was wrong and that people would be searching to catch him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Why one of the biggest scandals in American history should make us rethink journalism, Rob Wells, Oct. 30, 2019. A small trade publication broke the Keating Five scandal, offering a pathway for investigative journalism in cash-strapped times. Thirty years ago this fall, the savings and loan crisis penetrated America’s living rooms. Televised hearings of the House Banking Committee investigated the political might and corruption masterminded by Charles Keating Jr., one of the nation’s most powerful business executives.

The hearings exposed the politicians who had protected Keating as he perpetrated what then-U.S. Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) called “the biggest bank heist in history.”

charles keating headshotKeating, left, and his team engaged in “a looting” of the Southern California-based Lincoln Savings & Loan, a federal judge later wrote. Thousands of older investors saw their life savings wiped out.

Keating’s activities were just one element of the broader savings and loan debacle, which cost taxpayers at least $125 billion to clean up. The Keating Five scandal (so named for the U.S. senators reprimanded for protecting Keating) and S&L crisis are major parts of the history of the 1980s, yet one element of the story has long remained submerged.

Nearly a year and a half before the collapse of Lincoln S&L, the National Thrift News had spelled out the story of Keating’s political pressure campaign. National Thrift News editor Stan Strachan had gotten wind of the meeting between the Keating Five and regulators in the summer of 1987 and eventually obtained a transcript. The newspaper published an exclusive exposing the Keating Five in September 1987. But mainstream outlets largely ignored the story, in part because the savings and loan situation was considered too complicated. In addition, Keating had a reputation for suing regulators and critical media outlets — from 1980 through 1989, he filed two libel suits, four lawsuits involving media leaks, and eight threats of libel or legal action against the media.

But while leading media outlets hesitated, the National Thrift News had the guts to publish the Keating Five story just two months after Keating sued freelance journalist Michael Binstein for libel. For its coverage of the savings and loan crisis, the National Thrift News won a George Polk Award in 1987.

Rob Wells is a former reporter and deputy bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. He teaches journalism at the University of Arkansas and is author of "The Enforcers: How Little-Known Trade Reporters Exposed the Keating Five and Advanced Business Journalism" (University of Illinois Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Deadspin is ceasing to be Deadspin, Erik Wemple, Oct. 30, 2019. Private equity firm Great Hill Partners and Jim Spanfeller in April bought Deadspin, Kotaku, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Splinter plus the Onion from Univision Communications Inc. The core sites descended from the norm-blowing Gawker Media.

Ever since the acquisition, management of the new company — now named G/O Media — has been clashing with staffers. There have been staff cuts as well as unpleasantness over Spanfeller’s apparent lack of regard for the editorial-business divide. And as this blog reported in July, Spanfeller and editorial director Paul Maidment came face to face with Deadspin’s affection for writing about its own managers. The executives didn’t like what they saw. This month, the company shut down its politics site, Splinter, just as election season was approaching.

#MeToo, Epstein Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Autopsy ‘Points to Homicide,’ Not Suicide, Pathologist Claims, Azi Paybarah, Oct. 30, 2019. The pathologist hired by Mr. Epstein’s brother said evidence suggested strangulation. The authorities disputed the claim.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University A forensic pathologist hired by Jeffrey Epstein’s brother said on Wednesday that evidence suggested that Mr. Epstein did not die by suicide, but may have been strangled.

The New York City medical examiner’s office concluded Mr. Epstein hanged himself in his jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

But the private pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, said on the morning TV show “Fox & Friends” that Mr. Epstein, right, 66, experienced a number of injuries — among them a broken hyoid bone — that “are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation.”

michael baden headshot“I think that the evidence points to homicide rather than suicide,” said Dr. Baden, who observed the autopsy done by city officials.

Dr. Baden, left, a former New York City medical examiner and a Fox News contributor, added, “I’ve not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case.”

The findings by Dr. Baden were strongly disputed by the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, who previously ruled that Mr. Epstein’s death on Aug. 10 in the Metropolitan Correctional Center was a suicide.

“I stand firmly behind our determination of the cause and manner of death in this case,” Dr. Sampson said. She added: “In general, fractures of the hyoid bone and the cartilage can be seen in suicides and homicides.”

Dr. Sampson also dismissed Dr. Baden’s contention that the circumstances around Mr. Epstein’s death suggested other people may have been involved. She said her office had done a “complete investigation,” taking into consideration information gathered by law enforcement in making the determination.

“No one finding can be taken in isolation,” she said.

Mr. Baden served briefly as New York City’s medical examiner. He was provisionally appointed to the position in 1978 and dismissed just a year later, by Mayor Edward I. Koch. In later years, he went on to work as a consultant on a number of high-profile cases.

MEAWW (Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide), Donald Trump was recorded having threesome with a pornstar and a teenager in 1982, claims new book, Kunal Dey, Oct. 19, 2019. The donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaallegation was made to authors Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy by a former mobster in the book 'All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator.'

A Mafia thug has claimed that President Donald Trump (portrayed in a graphic) was recorded on camera at a New York City brothel allegedly having a threesome with a teenager and a pornstar back in 1982, and that the footage was later in custody of a mob boss.

The claim was made to authors Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy (whose backgrounds are decribed below) in yet another tell-all book All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, which is scheduled to release on October 22.

barry levine monique el faizy djt cover croppedSpeaking to The Daily Beast, the authors revealed they interviewed former mobster John Tino, who claimed to have witnessed the incident at a luxury brothel he ran in Times Square. According to Tino, who is suffering from terminal cancer, a hidden camera in the room recorded black and white footage of the future president engaging in the sex act. However, Tino's story is to be taken with a grain of salt as he has a criminal record including forgery, fraud, and larceny.

Furthermore, Levine and El-Faizy were not able to find the alleged teenager or the porn actress identified in the book as 'Tri'.

What's more? The high-profile brothel Tino claims he ran has since closed down. "There are many people who will label Tino a liar and say his claims are false," Levine told The Daily Beast. "I came away feeling the allegations are believable."

According to Tino, Trump was known among them as "the real estate guy" who always "wore a tie and never drank alcohol."

He also claimed the real estate mogul would always ask for Tri. "Most of the women who worked there were porn stars, though not all," the authors wrote. "Trump preferred a woman who primarily performed live sex shows with her husband, though she acted in the occasional adult film as well."

Tino allegedly recalled how his Mafia boss once told him in the fall of 1982 "the real estate guy" was coming and that he had asked for Tri and another girl "for a ménage à trois." The gangster then described how a "young-looking female" turned up at the club and when Tri asked her how old she was, she said she was a "teenager."

That said, Trump would have been 36 and married to his first wife Ivana at the time this allegedly took place.

According to Tino, the secret cameras were installed to prevent prostitutes from being "roughed up" by clients. He allegedly took the video recordings and delivered them to his boss on a regular basis.

Unsurprisingly, the whereabouts of the videotapes are unknown to the authors. Also, they claim Tino's boss was murdered in 1986. Speaking to The Daily Beast, Levine said Tino had spoken to journalists during the 2016 election but nobody was able to track down pornstar Tri.

"To this day we don't know if the porn star involved in this alleged incident is still alive or whether she is dead," he said.

In response to the unsubstantiated claims made in All The President's Women, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Business Insider the book was "trash." "That book is trash, and those accusations from 20 years ago have been addressed many times," she said.

monique el faizyBarry Levine, below left, is a veteran investigative reporter and editor in print and television. A former National Enquirer editor, he received the Huffington Post‘s “Game barry levine cropped michael goldblumChanger” award in 2010 for his “shoe leather reporting” and led a reporting team to a Pulitzer Prize nomination for investigative reporting and national news reporting. He lives in New York.

Monique El-Faizy, right, is a Paris-based journalist and the author of "God and Country: How Evangelicals Have Become America’s New Mainstream." Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Marie Claire, GQ, and Glamour.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Lengthening inquiry may interfere with Democratic primary, Michael Scherer and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 30, 2019. House leaders had hoped the Senate could hold a trial before Christmas. But with witnesses lining up to testify, a January trial is increasingly likely — and would force Democratic senators to remain in Washington while Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and others campaign in Iowa ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses.

Consumer Protection: Opioids

washington post logoWashington Post, How much money will it take to undo the damage from opioids? Joel Achenbach, Lenny Bernstein, Meryl Kornfield, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz, Oct. 30, 2019. The best-case scenario for areas grappling with this disaster could be a sweeping settlement among all the parties. But such a deal is unlikely in the near term, according to attorneys in the case and a survey of attorneys general.

washington post logoWashington Post, John Bolton’s former deputy asks judge to resolve conflicting demands for House impeachment, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 31, 2019.  Lawyers for two former high-level Trump administration officials were in court Thursday in legal battles that center on whether they will testify in the House impeachment inquiry and test the limits of the administration’s claims that presidential advisers are “absolutely immune” from congressional subpoena.

Both cases come down to whether the two former aides — White House counsel Donald McGahn and deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman — can be forced to testify on Capitol Hill.

The cases — heard simultaneously in neighboring courtrooms in the District Court in Washington — set up a separation-of-powers test between the White House and Congress that could affect other impeachment-related testimony.

At McGahn’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed incredulity at the Trump administration’s claim that the former White House counsel and top presidential aides cannot be compelled to testify by Congress, calling it a “peculiar” argument that threatens to upset the Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

Kupperman, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit last week to try to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House over his participation in the investigation into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.

Kupperman did not appear for a House deposition Monday to await a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who set a hearing in the matter for Dec. 10. Kupperman’s attorney Charles Cooper, who also represents Bolton, did not rule out the possibility that Bolton could be added to the lawsuit if he is subpoenaed.

Throughout the hearing, the judge emphasized the importance of moving quickly to resolve an important matter of public interest. He chastised a Justice Department lawyer who asked for more time to file a brief because of a holiday conflict.

washington post logoWashington Post, Missouri reviewed data about Planned Parenthood’s patients, including their periods, to identify failed abortions, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Oct. 30, 2019. The state’s health director, who is also an OB/GYN, said the aim was to detect clinic safety problems.

Missouri’s top health official said Tuesday the state monitored detailed personal information about Planned Parenthood patients, in some cases reviewing women’s menstrual cycles, with the aim of identifying those who had failed abortions.

Randall Williams, the state health director, said his goal was protecting patient safety. But critics called it an invasion of women’s privacy and demanded his resignation and an investigation by the governor.

Williams, an OB/GYN, testified as part of a week-long state hearing to determine whether the state’s lone abortion clinic can keep its license, the Kansas City Star reported. Williams said he had a state health inspector review information that included medical identification numbers, dates of procedures and the gestational ages of fetuses. The review also included the date of each patient’s last period but did not include their names, the Star reported.

Global News / Opinion

scott ritter

Truthdig, Opinion: Russia Isn't Getting the Recognition It Deserves on Syria, Scott Ritter, Oct 30, 2019. At a time when the credibility of the United States as either an unbiased actor or reliable ally lies in tatters, Russia has emerged as the one major power whose loyalty to its allies is unquestioned, and whose ability to serve as an honest broker between seemingly intractable opponents is unmatched.

If there is to be peace in Syria, it will be largely due to the patient efforts of Moscow employing deft negotiation, backed up as needed by military force, to shape conditions conducive for a political solution to a violent problem. If ever there was a primer for the art of diplomacy, the experience of Russia in Syria from 2011 to the present is it.

Like the rest of the world, Russia was caught off guard by the so-called Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-2011, forced to watch from the sidelines as the old order in Tunisia and Egypt was swept aside by popular discontent. While publicly supporting the peaceful transition of power in Tunis and Cairo, in private the Russian government watched the events unfolding in Egypt and the Maghreb with trepidation, concerned that the social and political transformations underway were a continuation of the kind of Western-backed “color revolutions” that had occurred previously in Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004).

When, in early 2011, the Arab Spring expanded into Libya, threatening the rule of longtime Russian client Moammar Gadhafi, Russia initially supported the creation of a U.N.-backed no-fly zone for humanitarian purposes, only to watch in frustration as the U.S. and NATO used it as a vehicle to launch a concerted air campaign in a successful bid to drive Gadhafi from power.

By the time Syria found itself confronting popular demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar Assad, Russia—still struggling to understand the root cause of the unrest—had become wary of the playbook being employed by the U.S. and NATO in response. While Russia was critical of the violence used by the Assad government in responding to the anti-government demonstrations in the spring of 2011, it blocked efforts by the U.S. and Europe to impose economic sanctions against the Syrian government, viewing them as little more than the initial salvo of a broader effort to achieve regime change in Damascus using the Libyan model.

Moscow’s refusal to help facilitate that Western-sponsored regime change, however, did not translate into unequivocal support for the continued rule of Assad. Russia supported the appointment of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head up a process for bringing a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis, and endorsed Annan’s six-point peace plan, put forward in March 2012, which included the possibility of a peaceful transition of power away from Assad.

Scott Ritter spent more than a dozen years in the intelligence field, beginning in 1985 as a ground intelligence officer with the US Marine Corps. Ritter was subsequently recruited by the United Nations Special Commission to help implement the provisions of Security Council resolutions requiring Iraq to be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). From 1991 to 1998, Ritter helped collect intelligence about Iraqi WMD programs, plan inspections in Iraq to find hidden WMD capability, and lead those inspections as Chief Inspector. These inspections were considered the most difficult, confrontational and controversial in UNSCOM's history, and resulted in several UN Security Council resolutions being passed as a result of Iraqi efforts to obstruct the work of the teams Ritter led.

Oct. 29

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Draft Impeachment Proceeding Rules

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Unveil Proposed Rules for Impeachment Proceedings, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 29, 2019. House Democrats proposed open hearings and a report to share the findings of their inquiry for the first time. A vote is scheduled for Thursday. The report would be shared with the Judiciary Committee, which would weigh the evidence and produce articles of impeachment to send to the full House.

U.S. House logoHouse Democrats on Tuesday unveiled new rules for going public with their impeachment inquiry, directing the Intelligence Committee to convene open hearings and produce a written report to share the findings of its investigation into President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Under the proposed rules, which the House plans to bring up for a vote on Thursday, the report, along with transcripts of witness interviews being conducted behind closed doors and additional evidence collected by the Intelligence Committee, would promptly be shared with the Judiciary Committee, which would weigh the evidence and produce articles of impeachment to send to the full House.

The draft resolution allows for new due process rights for President Trump and maps out exactly how Democrats plan to take public the confidential fact-finding process they launched late last month.

“The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election,” four House committee leaders involved in the inquiry wrote in a statement. “Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct.”

The statement was signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the acting chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, White House official feared Trump’s Ukraine demands would undermine national security, Greg Jaffe, Oct. 29, 2019. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,” Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who is testifying before House impeachment investigators, says in a draft of his opening statement.

An Army officer assigned to the White House plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he was disturbed by President Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate one of his political rivals and feared it would undermine U.S. national security.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was part of a small group of White House officials assigned to listen in on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His testimony returns repeatedly to his fears that Trump’s manipulation of Ukraine policy to discredit his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, is unethical and damaging to U.S. national security.

[Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman]

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman intends to tell lawmakers, according to a draft of his opening statement.

  • washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why Vindman’s testimony is big, Aaron Blake​, Oct. 29, 2019. The Army officer might be the most significant official to testify to date, given his profile and his proximity to some of the key events.

alexander vindman right yevgeny ken burns

Future Trump White House National Security Council staff members Alexander Vindman, right, and his twin brother Yegeny Vindman, at left, were interviewed by a film crew of Ken Burns for the "America" series.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The fundamentally un-American attacks on Alexander Vindman, Philip Bump​, Oct. 29, 2019. Vindman is the kind of immigrant Trump claims to like — until he puts country over president. 

A documentary crew working for Ken Burns was exploring New York in the early 1980s, working on a feature about the Statue of Liberty as part of Burns’s “America” series. Sitting on a bench near Brighton Beach, they found an elderly woman sitting with two twin boys, then about 10 years old.

American FlagThey'd come from Russia, from Kyiv, the twins told the camera, their explanations overlapping. “Our mother died, so we went to Italy,” one added, “and then we came here."

Both of those twins, Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, ended up working for the White House under President Trump. Both Vindmans served in the U.S. Army, and both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Each now works for the National Security Council.

Theirs is, in the abstract, the quintessential American story. Migrants who arrived from the former Soviet Union at age 3 who’ve since dedicated their lives to serving their new country. The Vindmans’ experience is a manifestation of the poem at the base of the statue: They are part of the impoverished, huddled masses seeking the chance to breathe free. They did so, deeply.

state dept map logo Small

Palmer Report, Opinion: Army Colonel Alexander Vindman, American Hero, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When the news broke last night that U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was planning to testify today that he personally witnessed Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, Vindman was so thoroughly not a public figure, the best photo anyone could find of him was the one that the New York Times tracked down on a U.S. Embassy Twitter feed. But now Vindman is suddenly about to become a household name, and he’ll take his place in the history books. So who is he?

bill palmer report logo headerAlexander Vindman served as an infantry officer in the Iraq War, where he was wounded by a roadside bomb, earning him a Purple Heart. Donald Trump will have one heck of a time trying to smear this guy. Vindman is also a Ukrainian immigrant, meaning he couldn’t be a more fitting person to take Trump down for having tried to sabotage the government of Ukraine.

Vindman is an American hero, and not just because he got blown up by a roadside bomb while fighting in a war on behalf of the rest of us, and then stayed in the military after he recovered. Vindman is also an American hero because he’s coming forward as an active duty military officer, and he’s defying a direct (illegal) order from his Commander-in-Chief in the process.

Your grandkids will be reading about Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman someday. His testimony today is going to end up being that crucial to not only Donald Trump’s downfall, but to restoring American democracy as we know it.

Roll Call, Trump launches preemptive strike on NSC staffer’s deposition, impeachment ground rules resolution coming, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Trump responded to reports of Vindman’s leaked testimony on Tuesday by claiming he does not even know who Vindman is, a common tactic the president deploys to deflect unwanted accusations against himself.

Palmer Report, Gordon Sondland is completely screwed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced to the media over the weekend that he gordon sondland obelieved Donald Trump had indeed engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, it was clear that something was up. Suddenly he was trying to ingratiate himself to House Democrats by leaking something that helped make their case against Trump, after they had publicly accused him of committing perjury. Why was Sondland, right, so worried?

Now we have our answer. Army Colonel Alexander Vindman is going to testify on Tuesday morning that from the very start of the Ukraine scandal, Gordon Sondland told him it was a quid pro quo. Vindman is also going to testify that he witnessed the interactions that the likes of John Bolton and Fiona Hill had with Sondland regarding the quid pro quo.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only does this corroborate the testimony given by Hill, Bill Taylor, and others, it also paints Sondland as having been Trump’s quid pro quo ringleader in the White House. It means that Sondland’s ‘I don’t recall’ defense isn’t going to fly. It’s one thing to claim you don’t remember what someone told you during a conversation. It’s another thing to claim that you don’t remember having been the ringleader of the whole thing.

Numerous legal experts have pointed out on Twitter that Colonel Vindman’s testimony has exposed Gordon Sondland to significant legal liability. Whether or not Sondland was going to be charged with a crime for his role in the Ukraine scandal, he’ll now definitely be referred for felony perjury. Even if Sondland isn’t prosecuted until Trump is gone, it’ll still happen eventually. Sondland is now completely screwed. His only remaining option is to fully fess up to the House impeachment inquiry and then beg for mercy. Otherwise Sondland will go to prison right around the time Trump is going to prison.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Travels with William 'Opus Dei' Barr, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2019. On the American taxpayers' dime, Attorney General William Barr has recently been clocking more air miles than Donald Trump's largely grounded personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.

Barr is traveling the world to gather information from other nations' law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to discredit the Justice Department's past probe of the foreign connections of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. What is even more worrisome than Barr's witch hunt is his use of the right-wing network of the Roman Catholic fascist order Opus Dei to dig up dirt on his two predecessors as Attorney General -- Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions -- and several former FBI, CIA, and Justice Department officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal judge kicks the door open for House impeachment testimony, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. Over the weekend, John Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman asked the courts to rule on whether he should comply with the House impeachment inquiry subpoena to testify, or whether he should comply with the Trump White House’s order not to richard j. leon testify.

There’s no question how this ruling will go, as Trump has zero legal standing. It was just a matter of whether the fight would get dragged out so long, it wouldn’t end up mattering.

bill palmer report logo headerAs it turns out, Judge Richard Leon, right, has decided that this process is not going to take very long. He’s holding a hearing this Thursday, citing the “time-sensitive” nature of the case, according to CNN. This will be a near-automatic ruling the House’s favor. More importantly, because Kupperman is the one who took this to court and not Trump, it means Trump will essentially have no basis for getting an appeals court to listen to him.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Other News Headlines

Trump Probe Evidence

alexander vindman right yevgeny ken burns

Future Trump White House National Security Council staff members Alexander Vindman, right, and his twin brother Yegeny Vindman, at left, were interviewed by a film crew of Ken Burns for the "America" series.

state dept map logo Small

Palmer Report, Opinion: Army Colonel Alexander Vindman, American Hero, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When the news broke last night that U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was planning to testify today that he personally witnessed Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, Vindman was so thoroughly not a public figure, the best photo anyone alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019could find of him was the one that the New York Times tracked down on a U.S. Embassy Twitter feed. But now Vindman is suddenly about to become a household name, and he’ll take his place in the history books. So who is he?

bill palmer report logo headerAlexander Vindman served as an infantry officer in the Iraq War, where he was wounded by a roadside bomb, earning him a Purple Heart. Donald Trump will have one heck of a time trying to smear this guy. Vindman is also a Ukrainian immigrant, meaning he couldn’t be a more fitting person to take Trump down for having tried to sabotage the government of Ukraine.

Vindman is an American hero, and not just because he got blown up by a roadside bomb while fighting in a war on behalf of the rest of us, and then stayed in the military after he recovered. Vindman is also an American hero because he’s coming forward as an active duty military officer, and he’s defying a direct (illegal) order from his Commander-in-Chief in the process.

Your grandkids will be reading about Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman someday. His testimony today is going to end up being that crucial to not only Donald Trump’s downfall, but to restoring American democracy as we know it.

Politico, NSC official's testimony appears to contradict Rick Perry Ukraine claims, Ben Lefebvre and Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 29, 2019. Testimony from a senior White House official on Tuesday appeared to contradict Energy Secretary Rick Perry's ardent denials that he ever heard former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter discussed in relation to U.S. requests that Ukraine investigate corruption.

rick perry oIn his opening statement, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official overseeing Ukraine policy, told House impeachment investigators that he objected to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's comments in a July 10 White House briefing — attended by Perry, right — requesting that Ukrainian officials investigate the 2016 U.S. election, the Bidens and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma that had employed Hunter Biden.

“I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the [National Security Council] was going to get involved in or push,” Vindman's statement said.

Vindman said in his remarks that after he raised his objections, Fiona Hill, who was a Trump adviser on Russia at the time, entered the room and told Sondland his statements were inappropriate.

According to NBC News, Hill told House investigators that she entered the room as Perry was leaving. That account was confirmed to Politico.

John Yoo, Laura Ingraham and Alan Dershowitz

Trump defenders John Yoo, Laura Ingraham and Alan Dershowitz voice their support on Ingraham's Fox News television show.

Roll Call, Trump launches preemptive strike on NSC staffer’s deposition, impeachment ground rules resolution coming, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Trump responded to reports of Vindman’s leaked testimony on Tuesday by claiming he does not even know who Vindman is, a common tactic the president deploys to deflect unwanted accusations against himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, President Trump may have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, Gary Stein (lawyer in New York and a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York), Oct. 29, 2019. It’s a felony to order federal government workers to further a partisan political campaign.

Legal analysis of the Ukraine controversy has so far focused on whether President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky involved extortion, bribery or soliciting an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign source. But as the House investigation has proceeded, a more straightforward legal case has emerged: The president, and possibly other officials, may have violated the Hatch Act’s civil and criminal prohibitions on the use of executive branch powers for partisan ends. djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rachel Maddow just hit on something crucial, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. The relationship between Rudy Giuliani and his Ukraine co-conspirators Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (shown above with Donald Trump and Michael Pence) is so strange and surreal in so many ways, everyone involved is still trying to get to the bottom of it. Last week Palmer Report pointed out that everyone involved – us included – was wrong when it came to one of the initial presumptions. Tonight, Rachel Maddow just hit on the same thing.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Parnas and Fruman were arrested, we all just assumed that they were Rudy Giuliani’s underlings. After all, he’s a major political figure and the personal attorney to the President of the United States, and they were just two unknowns who appeared to be the ones doing the dirty work. They were the henchmen and Rudy was the boss, right? Except the money trail says the opposite.

Rudy Giuliani has admitted that he was paid half a million dollars by Lev Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee. Bosses are not generally on the payrolls of their underlings. This strongly suggested that Rudy was actually working for Parnas. When you throw in the fact that Parnas is in turn working for Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash, it seems to point to Vladimir Putin and his people funding the entire Trump-Ukraine plot, and Rudy just being a cog in the machine.

Rachel Maddow pointed out all of this on the air tonight, and made a point of asking who was working for whom when it came to Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen. It’s important that this question be given the proper attention, not just because the answer can

Palmer Report, Gordon Sondland is completely screwed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced to the media over the weekend that he gordon sondland obelieved Donald Trump had indeed engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, it was clear that something was up. Suddenly he was trying to ingratiate himself to House Democrats by leaking something that helped make their case against Trump, after they had publicly accused him of committing perjury. Why was Sondland, right, so worried?

Now we have our answer. Army Colonel Alexander Vindman is going to testify on Tuesday morning that from the very start of the Ukraine scandal, Gordon Sondland told him it was a quid pro quo. Vindman is also going to testify that he witnessed the interactions that the likes of John Bolton and Fiona Hill had with Sondland regarding the quid pro quo.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only does this corroborate the testimony given by Hill, Bill Taylor, and others, it also paints Sondland as having been Trump’s quid pro quo ringleader in the White House. It means that Sondland’s ‘I don’t recall’ defense isn’t going to fly. It’s one thing to claim you don’t remember what someone told you during a conversation. It’s another thing to claim that you don’t remember having been the ringleader of the whole thing.

Numerous legal experts have pointed out on Twitter that Colonel Vindman’s testimony has exposed Gordon Sondland to significant legal liability. Whether or not Sondland was going to be charged with a crime for his role in the Ukraine scandal, he’ll now definitely be referred for felony perjury. Even if Sondland isn’t prosecuted until Trump is gone, it’ll still happen eventually. Sondland is now completely screwed. His only remaining option is to fully fess up to the House impeachment inquiry and then beg for mercy. Otherwise Sondland will go to prison right around the time Trump is going to prison.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified on Capitol Hill. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, arrived Tuesday morning at the Capitol to testify to impeachment investigators about how he twice reported his concerns to a White House lawyer about how President Trump and his inner circle treated Ukraine.

He appeared in his midnight blue dress uniform, a bevy of medals pinned to his chest, for the closed-door session, where the colonel planned to deliver the latest in a series of damning accounts about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. His opening statement details his concerns about Mr. Trump’s request, during a July 25 telephone call, that Ukraine’s president launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

Even as Colonel Vindman arrived, Mr. Trump lashed out at the decorated Army combat veteran without naming him, accusing him on Twitter of being a longtime political opponent.

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Travels with William 'Opus Dei' Barr, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2019. On the American taxpayers' dime, Attorney General William Barr has recently been clocking more air miles than Donald Trump's largely grounded personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.

Barr is traveling the world to gather information from other nations' law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to discredit the Justice Department's past probe of the foreign connections of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. What is even more worrisome than Barr's witch hunt is his use of the right-wing network of the Roman Catholic fascist order Opus Dei to dig up dirt on his two predecessors as Attorney General -- Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions -- and several former FBI, CIA, and Justice Department officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal judge kicks the door open for House impeachment testimony, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. Over the weekend, John Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman asked the courts to rule on whether he should comply with the House impeachment inquiry subpoena to testify, or whether he should comply with the Trump White House’s order not to richard j. leon testify. There’s no question how this ruling will go, as Trump has zero legal standing. It was just a matter of whether the fight would get dragged out so long, it wouldn’t end up mattering.

bill palmer report logo headerAs it turns out, Judge Richard Leon, right, has decided that this process is not going to take very long. He’s holding a hearing this Thursday, citing the “time-sensitive” nature of the case, according to CNN. This will be a near-automatic ruling the House’s favor. More importantly, because Kupperman is the one who took this to court and not Trump, it means Trump will essentially have no basis for getting an appeals court to listen to him.

Raid Against ISIS Leader

washington post logoWashington Post, Mole inside Baghdadi’s hideaway had a key role in raid’s success, officials say, Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 29, 2019. The extraordinarily well-placed informant within the Islamic State facilitated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s movements around Syria and helped oversee construction work on his Syrian safehouse, according to U.S. and Middle East-based officials knowledgeable about the operation.

Inside DC: Deficits

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion, As Deficits Balloon, Republicans Stay Silent, Philip Klein, Oct. 29, 2019. Conservatism, a movement built around limiting the burden that government places on citizens, could be crushed by staggering debt.

Wrongly Convicted

washington post logoWashington Post, Maryland offers about $9 million to 5 wrongly convicted men, Ovetta Wiggins​, Oct. 29, 2019. The men collectively spent 120 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. The settlement offer, confirmed by two of the exonerees’ attorneys, amounts to $78,916 for each year of wrongful incarceration.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Dread descends on northern Syria as cease-fire ends, Louisa Loveluck, Oct. 29, 2019. In towns and cities, families debated whether, and where, to run as the end of the 150-hour cease-fire threatened to reignite fighting that erupted after President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops.

The temporary pause in hostilities also gave the various belligerents time to redraw the map of northern Syria and confront its residents with new realities and new risks. As the mostly Syrian Kurdish fighters pulled back from the Turkish border, the Turkish military and its militia allies advanced from the north and Syrian government forces advanced from the south, retaking territory that had changed hands during the eight-year civil war.

The Russian Defense Ministry, citing Major General Yuri Borenkov, a senior military official working in Syria, said that 68 Kurdish units numbering 34,000 fighters had pulled back 19 miles from the border by Tuesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, to Step Down, Vivian Yee, Oct. 29, 2019. Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon said on Tuesday that he and his cabinet would resign, bowing to a basic demand of the enormous antigovernment protests that have consumed the country and suspended daily life for nearly two weeks.

“I’m at a dead end,” Mr. Hariri, shown at left in a 2017 photo, said in a televised speech. “Jobs come and go, but what’s important is the country,” he added, echoing words of his father, Rafik Hariri, the prime saad hariri sochi sept 13 2017minister who was assassinated in 2005. “No one’s bigger than the nation.”

But the resignations are unlikely to fully satisfy the protesters, whose signature chant — “All of them means all of them” — encapsulates their fury at the entire political class.

Mr. Hariri’s announcement came against the backdrop of protests that have engulfed the Mediterranean country, where a mix of religious groups coexist in a particularly combustible part of the Middle East. Lebanon borders Syria to the east and Israel to the south.

Years’ worth of barely suppressed rage detonated in the country on Oct. 17, when the government announced a tax on calls made over popular, free internet-based messaging services including WhatsApp.

washington post logoWashington Post, Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate, Karla Adam and William Booth, Oct. 29, 2019. Britain has set a December date for a united kingdom flaggeneral election in which Brexit will dominate.

The House of Commons on Tuesday voted, 438 to 20, to hold elections on Dec. 12. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was selected in a party leadership vote in July, wants a mandate to “get Brexit done.” Opposition parties want to keep close ties to the European Union or stay in the bloc. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid for a pre-Christmas election got a major boost Tuesday when the main opposition Labour Party said it would back a December ballot, almost guaranteeing an early election that will be dominated by Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit.

jeremy corbyn profile unsourcedJeremy Corbyn, left, leader of the Labour Party, said a decision by European leaders on Monday to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 met his condition that, at least for the next three months, the threat of a no-deal Brexit is off the table and Britain could not suddenly “crash” out of the trading bloc.

Labour backs a general election, because we want this country to be rid of this reckless and destructive Conservative government,” Corbyn said Tuesday in the House of Commons. “We will launch the most ambitious, radical campaign for real change.”

If elections come in December, voters will be offered some stark choices over Brexit — alongside the usual muddle, misrepresentations and foggy numbers.

The Conservative Party under Johnson will run as the 100 percent for Brexit party, under the banner, “Let’s get it done.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Mole inside Baghdadi’s hideaway had a key role in raid’s success, officials say, Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 29, 2019. The extraordinarily well-placed informant within the Islamic State facilitated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s movements around Syria and helped oversee construction work on his Syrian safehouse, according to U.S. and Middle East-based officials knowledgeable about the operation.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Philanthropist David Rubenstein donates $10 million for additional Jefferson Memorial renovations, Michael E. Ruane, Oct. 29, 2019. The money will be used to upgrade lower-level exhibit space and create exhibits on the main level of the memorial, which already is undergoing an $8.2 million external overhaul.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, WhatsApp accuses Israeli firm of helping governments hack phones of journalists, human rights workers, Craig Timberg and Jay Greene, Oct. 29, 2019. WhatsApp alleged that the Israeli surveillance company NSO helped deliver malicious software through seemingly harmless video calls, even if the targets did not pick up.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Cybersecurity 202: Pentagon's choice of Microsoft for cloud contract is double-edged sword, Aaron Gregg, Oct. 29, 2019. A security breach could be catastrophic. The Defense Department shocked the information technology industry after announcing last week it would turn to Microsoft for its $10 billion cloud computing infrastructure, rejecting long-standing criticisms over whether it’s wise to depend on a single company for such an important task.

microsoft logo CustomThe award signals a sea change in how the military will protect its most closely-held national security secrets. Unless a bid protest puts a stop to it, U.S. military agencies will soon begin transferring hundreds of disparate computer systems onto a centralized system managed by Microsoft.

The Pentagon currently relies on a hodgepodge of mainframes and smaller clouds — many of which are locked down because they contain sensitive classified information. But defense officials have long said this disjointed approach has made it impossible for them to push out software updates in a timely manner, hampering their response to emerging cyberthreats.

jeffrey bezos washington postThe award of the $10 billion JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract bypassed Google, IBM, Oracle and Amazon, which President Trump has repeatedly slammed because its head, Jeffrey P. Bezos, left, also owns The Washington Post. Trump, who has slammed The Post's news coverage of his administration, had threated to intervene in the competitive bidding battle.

Pentagon officials noted in the department’s official cloud strategy, released in early February, that the existing patchwork approach has created unnecessary security risks.

Placing its computing systems in the hands of a single tech company is expected to allow the “rapid roll out of software and hardware updates” that are difficult in a government setting, according to the Pentagon.

But putting all of the military's eggs in one basket is also dangerous, say some, producing a juicy target for state-sponsored hackers like the Russians and Chinese. Recent high-profile data breaches involving Amazon’s products, for example, have heightened concerns around the security of cloud products.

U.S. Jobs / Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Murray Energy files for bankruptcy as coal’s role in U.S. power dwindles, Taylor Telford and Dino Grandoni, Oct. 29, 2019. Murray Energy Corp., the private coal giant whose founder pushed the Trump administration for an overhaul of what it called “anti-coal” environmental policy, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday.

It’s the fifth coal company to land in bankruptcy court this year, in a rapidly shrinking industry that’s being squeezed out of the U.S. power market by cheaper options such as natural gas, solar and wind power.

washington post logoWashington Post, Murray Energy files for bankruptcy as coal’s role in U.S. power dwindles, Taylor Telford and Dino Grandoni, Oct. 29, 2019. The move is another sign that President Trump’s efforts to save the sputtering industry, a central campaign promise, have largely failed.

Murray Energy Corp., the private coal giant whose founder pushed the Trump administration for an overhaul of what it called “anti-coal” environmental policy, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday.

It’s the fifth coal company to land in bankruptcy court this year, in a rapidly shrinking industry that’s being squeezed out of the U.S. power market by cheaper options such as natural gas, solar and wind power.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former University of Virginia football player convicted of fraud, Rachel Weiner, Oct. 29, 2019. A onetime linebacker for the University of Virginia used his relationships from school, church and the National Football League to perpetuate a $10 million investment scheme, a jury found late Monday.

Among Merrill Robertson Jr.’s 63 victims were coaches who helped him get a football scholarship, close friends from childhood and his Sunday school teacher, according to court records.

Robertson, 39, frittered away their retirement savings on personal luxuries and unsuccessful frozen yogurt franchises. He will be sentenced Jan. 3. for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in federal court in Richmond.

Robertson was first convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. But an appeals court granted him a new trial because the Richmond Times-Dispatch had reported on remarks the judge made out of the jury’s earshot about the “very, very overwhelming” evidence and Robertson’s lack of credibility.

washington post logoWashington Post, Can the Bennet brothers save the Establishment? Ben Terres, Oct. 29, 2019. Michael Bennet is running for president. His sibling James is a big shot at the New York Times. Both are struggling to figure out their place in an altered landscape.

The Bennets are the anti-Trump dynasty, institutionalists at a time when their very institutions — Capitol Hill, the mainstream media — have come under attack.

To their critics on the left, they are mealy-mouthed centrists, focused on giving a platform to “both sides,” for whom “civility” is just another cudgel used by elites to cling to power.

To their friends and supporters, they are what a politician and a newspaperman are supposed to look and act like, brothers in the mold of the Kennedys, idealists fighting for what’s right.

Oct. 28

U.S. Raid On Purported ISIS Leader

djt abu bakr al baghdadi raid

Donald Trump flanked by Michael Pence, left, and Michael Esper and other aides announces what Trump called the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shown below at left, and three of his children in a U.S. special forces raid in Turk-enabled rebel territory in Syria. They died "like dogs" Trump boasted.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Islamic State leader Baghdadi blew himself up as U.S. troops closed in, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe​, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.).​ The president, speaking Sunday morning at the White House, said the militant leader spent his last moments “whimpering and crying and screaming” in a dead-end tunnel. He killed himself and three of his children.

abu bakr al baghdadi olderPresident Trump on Sunday announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive Islamic State leader, died during an American military operation in Syria, a major breakthrough more than five years after the militant launched the group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

"Last night the United States brought the world’s Number One terrorist leader to justice," Trump said in a televised announcement form the White House. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”

The president described what he called a "dangerous and daring" nighttime operation by U.S. Special Operations forces in northwest Syria, involving a series of firefights and culminating in what he said was a retreat by Baghdadi into a tunnel. There Baghdadi, who Trump said was “whimpering and crying and screaming,” detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and three young children he brought with him.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump revels in the killing of the sixth Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wayne Madsen, right, Oct. 28, 2019. After tweeting the message in the late evening of wayne madesen report logowayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallOctober 26 that "something very big has just happened," Donald Trump made an announcement at a White House press conference on the morning of October 27 and claimed that U.S. Delta Force special forces had located and killed Islamic State self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump's statement was rife with machismo comments, such as claiming al-Baghdadi being chased into a tunnel where "he died like a dog."

Other U.S. News Headlines:

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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Politico, House to vote on resolution establishing next steps in impeachment inquiry, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle, Oct. 28, 2019. The resolution will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry a month ago.

U.S. House logoThe House will vote this week on a resolution to formalize the next steps of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The resolution — which “establishes the procedure for hearings,” according to a statement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry a month ago.

"We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives," Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats obtained by Politico.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Like a horror movie’: Republicans anxious and adrift defending Trump, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Oct. 28, 2019. Republican senators are lost and adrift as the impeachment inquiry enters its second month, navigating the grave threat to President Trump largely in the dark, frustrated by the absence of a credible case to defend his conduct and anxious about the historic reckoning that likely awaits them.

republican party upside downRecent days have delivered the most damaging testimony yet about Trump and his advisers commandeering Ukraine policy for the president’s personal political goals, which his allies on Capitol Hill sought to undermine by storming the deposition room and condemning the inquiry as secretive and corrupt.

• Bolton’s former deputy fails to show for deposition as he seeks court ruling to resolve dispute over testifying
• Trump praises Giuliani for ‘looking for corruption’
• Live Updates: Sondland goes to Capitol Hill to review transcript of his Oct. 17 testimony

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Johnson, ally of Trump and Ukraine, surfaces in crucial episodes in the saga, Elise Viebeck and Dalton Bennett​, Oct. 28, 2019. Sen. Ron Johnson met in ron johnson o CustomJuly with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has circulated unproven claims that Ukrainian officials assisted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, a previously unreported contact that underscores the GOP senator’s involvement in the unfolding narrative that triggered the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

In an interview this past week, Andrii Telizhenko said he met with Johnson (Wis.), right, for at least 30 minutes on Capitol Hill and with Senate staff for five additional hours. He said discussions focused in part on “the DNC issue” — a reference to his unsubstantiated claim that the Democratic National Committee worked with the republican elephant logoUkrainian government in 2016 to gather incriminating information about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Telizhenko said he could not recall the date of the meeting, but a review of his Facebook page revealed a photo of him and Johnson posted on July 11.

“I was in Washington, and Sen. Johnson found out I was in D.C., and staff called me and wanted to do a meeting with me. So I reached out back and said, ‘Sure, I’ll come down the Hill and talk to you,’ ” Telizhenko told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats to Skip Court Fights Over Impeachment Witnesses, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 28, 2019. House Democrats will forgo using the federal courts to try to compel testimony from recalcitrant witnesses in their impeachment inquiry, a top Democratic chairman said Monday, warning that lawmakers would instead use the lack of cooperation to bolster their case that President Trump has abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.

adam schiff squareRepresentative Adam B. Schiff, right, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed the shift in strategy after Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, defied a House subpoena for testimony that had been scheduled for Monday morning.

charles kupperman croppedThe White House on Friday said that Mr. Kupperman was absolutely immune from testifying and directed him not to appear in defiance of a subpoena. That prompted the former official to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats asking a federal judge whether he could testify, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle over weighty questions about the separation of powers that could effectively stall the impeachment inquiry for months.

“We are not willing to let the White House engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead,” Mr. Schiff told reporters outside his secure hearing rooms.

dnc horizontal logoIn earlier oversight disputes, House Democrats have turned to the courts with some frequency, but those lawsuits have already eaten up valuable months of time without signs of resolution any time soon. Mr. Schiff indicated Democrats now did not have the luxury of waiting, given the gravity of the allegations that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a help from Ukraine in smearing his political opponents.

“If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify, Mr. Schiff said. “They plainly don’t.”

Mr. Schiff acknowledged that the White House would likely try to invoke similar privilege to try to block other high-level witnesses, including John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser said to be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Doing so would only fuel another article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Democrats are right to avoid court fights in the impeachment inquiry, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 28, 2019. Since the House already has more than enough jennifer rubin new headshotevidence of impeachable conduct, these witnesses are not, strictly speaking, essential. Sure, it would be impactful to have multiple witnesses, but frankly, Trump does not even seem to be disputing the facts.

Second, at the Senate trial, the rule for evidence under one party’s control that is withheld or destroyed should be the same as the rule in any court setting: that that evidence is presumed to be unfavorable.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “Lock Him Up” moment was even worse for him than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 28, 2019. In a stunning and soaring display of patriotism last night, the World Series crowd at Nationals Park loudly booed Donald Trump when his face appeared on the jumbotron screen, and then loudly chanted “Lock Him Up,” making clear that Trump’s presence wasn’t welcome at the game. It was a perfect reception for an illegitimate president who is in the process of being impeached by Congress, and indicted by a grand jury, for his criminal scandals.

bill palmer report logo headerVarious mainstream media pundits have criticized the baseball crowd’s actions, in a cheap attempt at throwing Donald Trump a bone and thus “appearing unbiased” in the eyes of the lowest of low-information viewers. Here’s the thing, though. That crowd was speaking for the majority of Americans. Now it turns out those boos were even louder than we thought.

The various video clips posted to social media suggested that the sustained booing of Donald Trump was impressively loud. But audio-video capture can be deceptive. So was it really as loud and widespread as it seemed? As it turns out, yes. The Washington Post says that the booing reached nearly a hundred decibels.

That’s the kind of number you’d hit during a key moment in a game, where the crowd is going wild. In other words, World Series fans despise Donald Trump and his crime spree every bit as emphatically as they love their sports team. That’s real passion. Poll numbers make clear that these sports fans were speaking on behalf of most Americans. Trump has a real problem on his hands.

2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, State Court Bars Using North Carolina House Map in 2020 Elections, Michael Wines, Oct. 28, 2019. A North Carolina state court effectively threw out the state’s map of congressional districts on Monday, saying critics were poised to show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that it was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander favoring Republicans.

The ruling, by a three-judge panel in Superior Court in Raleigh, technically imposes a temporary ban on using the map in primary elections next spring. But the judges signaled that they were unlikely to change their minds by inviting plaintiffs in the case to seek a summary judgment ending the case in their favor. And the judges said they were prepared to postpone primary elections should that prove necessary to further litigate the case or draw new House districts.

The plaintiffs, North Carolina residents, were sponsored by the National Redistricting Foundation, an arm of a Democratic group led by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that is seeking to challenge Republican control of the next round of redistricting in 2021.

The House map drawn by Republican legislators in 2016 all but guaranteed the party’s control of 10 of the state’s 13 House districts, even though voters’ political preferences are split almost evenly between the two major parties. A separate challenge to the same map went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in June that it did not have the ability to regulate partisan gerrymandering, however egregious.

But the state panel said the map violated broader provisions in North Carolina’s state constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and assembly and equal protection under the law, as well as a guarantee of free elections that does not appear in the federal Constitution.

Media News

venezuelan us embassy Custom Custom

The Grayzone, Commentary: ‘This charge is 100% false’: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence, Ben Norton, Oct. 28, 2019. max blumenthal screenshot rt americaMax Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of October 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy (shown above) in Washington, DC that took place between April and May.

A team of DC police officers appeared at Blumenthal’s door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to DC central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by DC police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

“This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” Blumenthal declared. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

The arrest warrant was five months old. According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal’s arrest was initially rejected. Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant’s knowledge.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” Blumenthal stated. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”
Background to the embassy siege

In April and May, Washington-backed Venezuelan coup leaders began taking over properties in the United States that belong to the internationally recognized government of Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, in violation of international law.

A group of activists responded by keeping a vigil inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, in order to protect it from an illegal seizure by the US-supported coup leaders. The activists formed what they called the Embassy Protection Collective. The internationally recognized Venezuelan government gave them permission to stay in its embassy, which is its own sovereign territory under international law.

In response, hordes of violent right-wing activists who support the Venezuelan opposition launched a de facto 24/7 siege of the embassy, preventing people, food, and supplies from entering the building.

The Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil and Alex Rubinstein, a contributor to The Grayzone, were embedded in the embassy with several peace activists.

Parampil and journalists including Blumenthal documented the right-wing mobs lashing out with racist and sexist invective as well as violence at Venezuelan solidarity activists who gathered outside the embassy to show support for the protectors.

Court documents indicate the false charge of simple assault stems from Blumenthal’s participation in a delivery of food and sanitary supplies to peace activists and journalists inside the Venezuelan embassy on May 8, 2019.

The charge was manufactured by a Venezuelan opposition member who was among those laying siege to the embassy in a sustained bid to starve out the activists inside.

“I was not party to any violent actions around the Venezuelan embassy,” Blumenthal reiterated. “This ginned up claim of simple assault is simply false.”

According to court documents, Ben Rubinstein, the brother of journalist Alex Rubinstein, also participated in the non-violent and legal food delivery. Rubinstein was arrested over 12 hours later after the food delivery by Secret Service police officers.

He spent 20 hours in jail, alongside Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace, who was arrested after being brutalized by Secret Service officers for attempting to toss a cucumber inside an embassy window.

“The opposition members made up these lies about Max and I know they’re lying, and they are obviously using the government and police as tools to get revenge,” Ben Rubinstein told The Grayzone.
Retaliation for The Grayzone’s reporting on the violent Venezuelan opposition

Max Blumenthal reported extensively from outside the Venezuelan embassy in May. He filed a story explaining how “the pro-coup mob outside turned violent, physically assaulting embassy protectors, and hurling racist, sexist and homophobic abuse at others.”

Blumenthal documented an opposition activist breaking into and subsequently vandalizing the embassy, in violation of international law. He also reported on opposition members destroying the embassy’s security cameras, while the authorities stood idly by.

The Venezuelan coup regime’s supposed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, who is not recognized by the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community, helped to lead this aggressive mob as it besieged the embassy.

The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil exposed Vecchio to be a former lawyer for the oil corporation Exxon. The Grayzone has documented his close links to the US government, and has reported at length on accusations of corruption. Vecchio was a regular presence outside the DC embassy, appearing with his gaggle to stage manage the situation.

The Grayzone has also published numerous exposés on Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, who was selected by the US government to be the so-called “interim president” in Caracas, detailing his extensive ties to Washington and his notorious corruption.

Blumenthal was arrested literally hours after The Grayzone published an article on USAID paying the salaries of Guaidó’s team as they lobbied the US government.

“I am firmly convinced that this case is part of a wider campaign of political persecution using the legal system to shut down our factual investigative journalism about the coup against Venezuela and the wider policy of economic warfare and regime change waged by the Trump administration,” Blumenthal stated.

If this had happened to a journalist in Venezuela, every Western human rights NGO and news wire would be howling about Maduro’s authoritarianism. It will be revealing to see how these same elements react to a clear-cut case of political repression in their own backyard.

Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Sorry, Morning Joe Scarborough and Mika, you’re dead wrong, Bill Palmer, Oct. 28, 2019. MSNBC hosts Morning Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (shown in a screenshot) have never been our cup of tea, but they’ve generally tried to speak out against Donald Trump for his scandals and crimes, which we appreciate. That said, this morning the duo reminded us of why they don’t really belong on television when they (Joe in particular) asserted that the World Series crowd was wrong last night for chanting “Lock him up” at Donald Trump when he showed up at the game.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing. This isn’t about decorum or politeness. Baseball fans weren’t chanting “Lock him up” last night because they think Donald Trump is a bad president, or because they don’t like him, or because they would have preferred someone else. They chanted it because Trump is a career criminal who has used the presidency to commit crimes.

There’s a grand jury in New York that’s in the process of criminally indicting Donald Trump on state charges. It’s the same grand jury that just won an appeals court ruling over Trump’s tax returns. That’s in addition to the eleven federal counts of obstruction of justice that Trump faces when he gets out of office, along with whatever criminal charges arise for Trump in his Ukraine scandal. Adam Schiff just pointed out this morning that Trump is committing even more acts of obstruction of justice as we speak.

Donald Trump is going to prison, and he deserves to go to prison. Not because he’s a bad president, or because he sucks at his job. He’s going to prison because that’s where criminals belong. In fact the only reason Trump isn’t already behind bars is that he’s illegally hiding behind the office to keep himself from being indicted (for now).

Saudi Finances Post-Khashoggi

washington post logoWashington Post, The prince, the billionaire and the Amazon project that got frozen in the desert, Marc Fisher and Jonathan O'Connell, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Amazon and Saudi mohammed bin salman al saudArabia looked like perfect partners. Both had ambitions to become even more prominent players in the global economy. The world’s biggest store and the world’s second-biggest oil producer moved aggressively in the past few years toward a $1 billion deal to build Amazon data centers in the desert kingdom.

amazon logo smallBut in the year since Saudi operatives killed Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident who wrote columns for The Washington Post, the partnership appears to have stalled. No data centers are under construction. Amazon officials say there has been no movement on a deal this year.

And when executives from dozens of major U.S. companies stream into Riyadh on Tuesday for an investment conference marking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s return to the world stage, neither Amazon founder Jeff Bezos nor any of his top executives will be there, according to an Amazon official familiar with the company’s plans.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump's desire 'to take' Syrian oil presents a barrelful of problems, Dino Grandoni, Oct. 28, 2019. The United States has no legal claim to the oil in the first place. President Trump was persuaded to keep a number of troops in Syria partly so the United States could have some of its oil. But the idea of seizing petroleum in the war-torn country presents a big barrel of problems.

Trump explained Sunday that one of the reasons he decided to keep a contingent of about 200 U.S. troops in Syria was to prevent the oil fields in the eastern portion of the country from being retaken by the Islamic State, which had once used them as a source of income. The president made the about-face after enduring withering criticism from within his own party about pulling U.S. troops from Syria’s border with Turkey.

“We're protecting the oil, we're securing the oil,” Trump said during a news conference about the death of Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a U.S. military operation in Syria.

But Trump's rationale did not stop there. The oil, he added, “can help us because we should be able to take some, also.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Surprise Microsoft award adds to Pentagon’s ongoing cloud drama, Aaron Gregg and Jay Greene, Oct. 28, 2019. Amazon has several options it can pursue to challenge the award after Trump’s intervention.

The Pentagon’s surprise decision to turn to Microsoft for the backbone of its cloud computing infrastructure is likely to fuel an already raging dispute, as a last-minute White House intervention raises new questions about the fairness of the process, government contracting attorneys and analysts say.

Amazon, which had long been seen as a front-runner, has several options it can pursue if it wants to delay or overturn the award.

The fight over the lucrative $10 billion contract could also play out in Congress. Lawmakers will get their chance to press the Defense Department on the issue Tuesday at the confirmation hearing of Dana Deasy, the department’s chief information officer.

In its announcement, the Pentagon said all bidders had been treated “fairly and consistently,” pointing out that the procurement strategy had already gone through two bid protests and a lawsuit.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, known as JEDI, is meant to simplify the Pentagon’s computing systems under a commercially operated cloud computing infrastructure, in which agencies can rent computing services from specialized providers. Military officials say they need access to such a system to modernize the military’s disparate computing systems and take advantage of next-generation artificial-intelligence tools.

Amazon Web Services, which pioneered this approach in the business world, had long been seen as a front-runner for the JEDI contract. It already has several years of experience managing classified data for the CIA under the terms of an earlier $600 million contract. And it is also the only company that holds the highest-level Defense Department information-technology certification. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Looming over the procurement is a direct intervention by President Trump, who asked Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper to review the contract based on concerns that it would go to Amazon, people familiar with the matter told The Post in late August. Trump has spoken out against Amazon and Bezos on multiple occasions. He has attacked The Post for its coverage of him, conflating the newspaper with Amazon’s interests, accusing it of publishing “fake news” and operating as a “lobbyist newspaper” for the company.

California Wildfires

ny times logoNew York Times, Getty Fire Forces Evacuations in Los Angeles; Kincade Fire Swells, Thomas Fuller, Oct. 28, 2019. Here’s the latest: Evacuations in West Los Angeles jammed a major freeway, and a sprawling wildfire in Sonoma County now covers 54,298 acres. An evacuation order still stands for 180,000 residents of Sonoma County, while part of Napa County is under an evacuation warning.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn, Ash Ngu and Sahil Chinoy, Oct. 28, 2019. California needs to abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, it should let modest wildfires burn.

At the height of 2018’s devastating wildfires, President Trump tweeted that there was “no reason” for the fires besides “gross mismanagement” by the state. Critics took issue with the timing and simplistic logic of the statement, but the comment drew attention to the way forest management affects the frequency and intensity of wildfires. Ecologists and forest experts attribute California’s destructive wildfires to decades of aggressive fire suppression, in addition to the increased population of fire-prone areas and hotter, drier conditions due to climate change.

The solution needs to address all these things, but one critical step is shifting our understanding of fire’s role in forest ecology. Policymakers and citizens alike must abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, they should permit modest, ecologically necessary wildfires to burn.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Andrew Yang was groomed for a high-paying job at an elite law firm. He lasted five months, Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 28, 2019. Yang’s norm-busting career as an Internet business builder is the foundation for his norm-busting Democratic presidential campaign.

andrew yang twitterHe evangelizes about what he’s learned creating start-ups and nurturing businesses focused on the public good. His marquee policy — giving every U.S. adult $1,000 a month in guaranteed income — is the most un­or­tho­dox proposal of any major candidate. It’s the product of a nontraditional career, which began with his decision, in early 2000, to quit his law firm and walk away from money, prestige and comfort.

It was fall of 1999, and Yang, 24, shown in his Twitter photo, was in the job he had steered toward his whole life. Phillips Exeter Academy, Brown University, Columbia Law — the perfect elite track to land at Davis Polk & Wardwell, one of the country’s premier law firms. His Taiwanese immigrant parents were thrilled. Counting salary and bonus, he was making about $150,000 a year.

More On U.S. Raid On ISIS Leader

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Knew of Plans for the Raid When He Pulled Troops From Syria, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s abrupt troop withdrawal complicated the Pentagon’s plans, forcing it to accelerate the risky operation, military officials said. President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency abu bakr al baghdadi 2004 mugshotand Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader (shown in a 2004 mugshot), when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the operation that left Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead, Dan Lamothe and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The “dangerous and daring” raid targeting Islamic State leader Baghdadi started with a tip and ended in a tunnel. As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the Islamic State.

Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in the early Sunday morning darkness.

Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist associates, and the United States had been watching him for days.

And it was a tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant that set the operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Three big questions after Baghdadi’s death, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 28, 2019. Attention shifts to where the Islamic State goes from here and how the raid may impact President Trump's plans in Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In creating spectacle around Baghdadi’s death, Trump departs from Obama’s more measured tone on bin Laden, David Nakamura, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s 50-minute announcement was marked by a now-customary mix of bravado, misleading boasts and taunts.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump revels in the killing of the sixth Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 28, 2019. After tweeting the message in the late evening of October 26 that "something very big has just happened," Donald Trump made an announcement at a White House press conference on the morning of October 27 and claimed that U.S. Delta Force special forces had located and killed Islamic State self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump's statement was rife with machismo comments, such as claiming al-Baghdadi being chased into a tunnel where "he died like a dog."

washington post logonancy pelosi twitterWashington Post, Pelosi says Trump notified Russians of Baghdadi raid before telling congressional leaders, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called on the White House to brief lawmakers on the raid that targeted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, noting that President Trump had informed the Russians of the military operation before telling congressional leadership.

 The statement from Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, came after Trump told reporters at a lengthy news conference that he did not inform the House speaker of the raid because he “wanted to make sure this kept secret.”

U.S. presidents typically follow the protocol of contacting congressional leaders, regardless of their political party, when a high-level military operation is conducted.

“The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region,” Pelosi said. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington.”

The Gray Zone, Commentary: Trump gives $4.5 million to the White Helmets, which partnered with jihadists and joined Turkey’s ethnic cleansing, Ben Norton, Oct. 28, 2019. While touting his efforts to end US involvement in Syria, Trump approved $4.5 million more for the White Helmets, known popularly as the White Helmets. This group has been at the heart of the regime change war on the country, partnering with jihadists and joining Turkey’s brutal invasion.

syrian white helmetsWith close to $100 million in funds from the US and UK governments, as well as donations from Qatar, support from Turkey and backing from wealthy private donors, this outfit has acted as a public relations vehicle for the Syrian armed opposition.

White Helmets links to extremist Salafi-jihadist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, have been thoroughly documented. What’s more, the group has participated in recent Turkish onslaughts in northern Syria, where Kurds and other minority groups faced ethnic cleansing.

The continued US funding is a sign that Washington’s regime-change war against Syria continues, even while Trump has partially withdrawn American troops from the country. The White House announced the funding in a press release on October 22.

Transitions: Hollywood

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert Evans, a Maverick Producer of Hollywood Classics, Dies at 89, Brooks Barnes, Oct. 28, 2019. He was a force behind masterworks like “The Godfather” and “Chinatown,” and his own story — of unlikely success and drug-fueled decline — was the stuff of legend. His colorful, twisty life made him a show business legend — Dustin Hoffman parodied him in the 1997 comedic drama “Wag the Dog” — but his biggest contribution to the movie industry paradoxically involved substance over style.

When Mr. Evans took Paramount’s reins in 1966, Hollywood was in creative decline, relying heavily on established stars and safely sellable scripts. Mr. Evans helped rewrite the formula for a time by championing young writers and directors with striking cinematic voices.

Oct. 27

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elijah Cummings: We are in a fight for the soul of our democracy, Elijah E. Cummings (right, a Democrat, represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District elijah cummings ountil his death Oct. 17), Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). As I pen these words, we are living through a time in our nation’s history when powerful forces are seeking to divide us one from another; when the legitimacy of our constitutional institutions is under attack; and when factually supported truth itself has come under relentless challenge.

I am among those who have not lost confidence in our ability to right the ship of American democratic life, but I also realize that we are in a fight — a fight for the soul of our democracy.

This op-ed is adapted from a foreword that Cummings wrote July 17 for the forthcoming book, “In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic,” by Cedric L. Alexander.

washington post logoWashington Post, Diplomat says efforts to back ousted envoy were rejected, Karoun Demirjian and Carol Morello​, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.).. Philip Reeker, right, was among the State philip reekerDepartment officials who were alarmed by a campaign of falsehoods that undermined Marie Yovanovitch, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Philip Reeker, the diplomat in charge of U.S. policy for Europe, told House investigators that the State Department leaders rejected his entreaties to publicly support the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was the target of a smear campaign.

He arrived at the Capitol shortly after 10:30 a.m., accompanied by his personal lawyer. According to an official working on the impeachment inquirer, Reeker gave his deposition under subpoena to get around an effort by the State Department to block him from appearing. Foreign Service officers are required to answer subpoenas issued by Congress.

Reeker, who heads the team of diplomats specializing in European affairs, is the latest Trump administration official scheduled to appear behind closed doors despite a White House edict that no government employees cooperate. Based on previously released accounts, he can be expected to provide a limited but critical piece of the backstory involving an informal endeavor to prod Ukrainian officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump frustrated amid failed efforts to stymie impeachment probe, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). After weeks of dismissing the inquiry, President Trump and his closest advisers now recognize that the snowballing probe poses a serious threat to the president — and that they have little power to block it, according to multiple aides and advisers.

Analysis: What you missed this week in the impeachment inquiry

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s brother caught in the act, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2019. This weekend Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law (shown below in a 2017 Facebook  photo) spent their anniversary at Camp David, a government property that’s supposed to be a retreat for the President of the United States, not a free hotel for his family. This kind of grifting and jared ivanka kushner may 20 2017 9 day djt trip facebooknepotism has defined the Trump regime, and now it turns out another member of Donald Trump’s family has come front and center in that corruption.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Donald Trump administration awarded a $33 million dollar government contract to a company tied to Robert Trump, who just happens to be the kid brother of Donald Trump. It’s not just passive nepotism either, as the Washington Post says that the other vendors who were competing for the government contract are alleging that the bidding process was indeed corruptly in favor of Trump’s brother.

This comes even as Donald Trump continues to promote a fake story about Joe Biden having used his position as vice president to steer financial opportunities to his son Hunter Biden. The entire scandal has been manufactured, and its fake origins are one of the things that Trump is being impeached for. At the same time Trump is promoting this fake nepotism scandal about his potential 2020 opponent, he’s continuing to carry out very real nepotism schemes of his own.

washington post logoWashington Post, John Kelly says he warned Trump he’d be impeached if he hired a ‘yes man’ as chief of staff to replace him, Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). John Kelly, former chief of staff to President Trump, said Saturday he warned the president before he left the White House not to replace him with a “yes man” because it would lead to Trump’s impeachment.

John KellyKelly, right, also said he believed he could have prevented the current impeachment inquiry against Trump if he had stayed in the job. He said the inquiry could have been avoided if the president had surrounded himself with people who could rein in his worst instincts.

His candid remarks, made during an interview at a political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner, suggests he blames acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others in the West Wing for not doing more to stop Trump’s behavior.

“Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,” Kelly told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York. “Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea, Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: They’re even worse at this than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2019. When Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed NBC News, he didn’t just humiliate himself in hilarious fashion. He also revealed that, despite being on the take from multiple foreign countries, he doesn’t have the cash to fund his next con game. With all the money this guy has been grifting, he’s still broke.

bill palmer report logo headerThis came even as the news broke yesterday that Donald Trump is looking at selling off the lease for his Washington DC hotel, which is one of the very few profitable properties he has left. Trump has been making money from emoluments scandals, international grifts, and every other way he can think of to corruptly exploit the presidency for personal financial gain – and yet his real estate “empire” is still in such shambles, he’s left having to sell one of his few sellable properties in order to service the debt he owes on the others.

Trump is the same guy, after all, who filed for corporate bankruptcy six times so he could walk away from his various failed real estate endeavors. But even his abuse of corporate bankruptcy laws didn’t save him from ultimately having to turn to foreign banks for bailouts, which ultimately left him owned and controlled by foreign governments.

As the ugly details of their financial con games continue to surface, it’s not a surprise that Donald Trump and his goons have been willing to go to any corrupt and treasonous lengths to get their hands on a buck. What is remarkable is that they’re so bad at it. No matter how much money they illegally or unethically get their hands on, it’s never enough to pay their bills. They’re not just evil grifters; they’re incompetent grifters.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Who Is Bill Barr? Emily Bazelon, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). William Barr (shown above with Donald Trump at the White House) had returned to private life after his first stint as attorney general when he sat down to write an article for The Catholic Lawyer. It was 1995, and Mr. Barr saw an urgent threat to religion generally and to Catholicism, his faith, specifically. The danger came from the rise of “moral relativism,” in Mr. Barr’s view. “There are no objective standards of right and wrong,” he wrote. “Everyone writes their own rule book.”

And so, at first, it seemed surprising that Mr. Barr, now 69, would return after 26 years to the job of attorney general, to serve Donald Trump, the moral relativist in chief, who writes and rewrites the rule book at whim.

But a close reading of his speeches and writings shows that, for decades, he has taken a maximalist, Trumpian view of presidential power that critics have called the “imperial executive.” He was a match, all along, for a president under siege. “He alone is the executive branch,” Mr. Barr wrote of whoever occupies the Oval Office, in a memo to the Justice Department in 2018, before he returned.

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Media Matters, Investigation: How conservative writer John Solomon served as the conduit for Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine conspiracy theories, Julie Millcan with research by Julie Turlbert, updated Oct. 27, 2019 from Oct. 17. Update: Frequent Fox guests Joseph diGenova, above center, and Victoria Toensing are lawyers for Fox contributor John Solomon, left.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump lies a disinformation campaign led by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani that was aided and abetted by conservative writer John Solomon. Through Solomon, Giuliani injected his disinformation campaign straight into the heart of conservative media -- Fox News -- with seemingly full fox news logo Smallknowledge of at least some at Fox. And eventually, Solomon landed a job at the network.

It is now known that Trump blessed Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine, in which he sought information that would undermine the intelligence community's findings that Russia interfered in our 2016 election to benefit Trump. Giuliani was also trying to dig up dirt to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, a front-runner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.

Much attention has focused on Giuliani’s actions and the shady cast of characters he worked with, but less has been paid to the right-wing media figures who colluded with the president’s lawyer to make his smear campaign public -- a plan that came dangerously close to succeeding.

What follows is a case study in how right-wing media work hand in hand with Trump cronies to smear his enemies, undermine democracy, and defend the president at all costs.

Here’s how it went down.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Thanks, Whistle-Blower, Your Work Is Done, Editorial Board, Oct. 27, 2019. Virtually every assertion he made has been corroborated on the record by the administration or other officials and witnesses.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP focuses on whistleblower, conspiracy claims, loyalty to Trump, Greg Miller and Rachael Bade, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The GOP line of questioning in closed-door hearings comes as President Trump continues to lash out publicly against the whistleblower in ways that seem designed to goad Republican allies into naming the person.

CIA LogoRepublican lawmakers have used the congressional impeachment inquiry to gather information on a CIA employee who filed a whistleblower complaint, press witnesses on their loyalty to President Trump and advance conspiratorial claims that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election, according to current and former officials involved in the proceedings.

GOP members and staffers have repeatedly raised the name of a person suspected of filing the whistleblower complaint that exposed Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations into his political adversaries, officials said.

republican elephant logoThe Republicans have refrained during hearings from explicitly accusing the individual of filing the explosive complaint with the U.S. intelligence community’s inspector general two months ago, officials said.

But the questions have been interpreted as an attempt “to unmask the whistleblower,” whose identity is shielded under federal law, said several officials with direct knowledge of the depositions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We represent the whistleblower. Their identity is no longer relevant, Andrew P. Bakaj and Mark S. Zaid, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The public now knows more about the call with Ukraine than what was in the complaint.

Our client’s whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s efforts to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 U.S. election was publicly released a month ago, and since then, speculation about the whistleblower’s identity has only increased. As each allegation in the complaint is substantiated by new witnesses, the president and his supporters remain fanatically devoted to bringing our client into the spotlight. But the reality is that the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.

In August, our client lawfully filed a detailed complaint that prompted the intelligence community inspector general to conduct a preliminary investigation. That inquiry, which involved multiple witnesses — all of whom are also lawfully protected as whistleblowers — led to a finding that the complaint was both “urgent” and “credible” and was legally required to be transmitted to Congress.

Over the past month, we have all learned more facts — from the White House’s summarized transcript of the July call with Ukraine’s president, from text messages provided to the House of Representatives by the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine, and from congressional testimony by people intimately involved with the circumstances the whistleblower first raised concern about. Much of what has been disclosed since the release of our client’s complaint actually exceeds the whistleblower’s knowledge of what transpired at the time the complaint was submitted. Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.

Now Republican leaders in Congress are also focusing their attention on attacking the messenger and demanding public testimony from the whistleblower. This is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. For the record, we have notified both the House and Senate intelligence committees in a bipartisan manner that the whistleblower is willing to respond to any questions in writing and under oath. 

The Young Turks via YouTube, Commentary: Crowd Chants "Lock Him Up" To Trump At World Series, Rick Strom, Oct. 27, 2019 (4:18 min. video). Trump was greeted with boos at the World Series. Rick Strom breaks it down. Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

U.S. Headline News

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washington post logoWashington Post, California’s new normal: Wildfires, ash and power outages could last a decade, Faiz Siddiqui, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). From wineries to hardware stores to mobile home communities, blackouts are redefining the prosperous state. Millions of residents across California, including in the major San Francisco metro areas, were expected to lose power this weekend in a record event as power utility company Pacific Gas & Electric cut services in what it said was an effort to prevent fires — a new normal its executives have said could continue for a decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, California Fire Updates: More Evacuations and Blackouts Ordered, Matthew Bloch and K.K. Rebecca Lai, Updated Oct. 26, 2019. Driven by dry winds, the Kincade fire north of San Francisco was still growing Sunday morning, and power was being shut off for much of the Bay Area.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration has acquired little of the private land in Texas it needs for border barrier, Nick Miroff and Arelis R. Hernández, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Faced with pressure to meet his 500-mile campaign pledge, officials have instead prioritized the lowest-hanging fruit of the project, accelerating construction along miles of flat desert terrain currently under federal control.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Someone needs to say it: Medicare-for-all is a pipe dream, Rahm Emanuel (right, former mayor of Chicago, Democratic congressman from Illinois and White rahm emanuel wHouse chief of staff), Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). I am worried about the Democratic Party’s new focus on Medicare-for-all. The merits of the policy are anything but a slam dunk, but, more immediately, the politics are a minefield. When it comes to health-care reform, Democrats need to mind three basic rules.

First, experience teaches us that much as Americans hate the status quo, they’re not too excited about change, either. Second, policy is not everything — political communication counts, too. Third, success ultimately rests with uniting your allies and dividing your opponents.

Medicare-for-all is guaranteed to frighten many among the vast majority of Americans who already have health coverage. It would require a disastrously unpopular tax increase on the middle class. And it would unite a world of the special interests against us.

This dog just won’t hunt. Perhaps worse, we cannot afford to try and then fail. Losing on health care will make it more difficult for us to make progress on education, *the environment or other social justice issues. We need to chart a different path. So let’s use history and context as a guide.

Questions On Commando Raid

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump caught GOLFING during U.S. military raid against Baghdadi and ISIS, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 27, 2019. This morning Trump announced that the U.S. military had just taken out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which is weird considering the sheer number of news outlets that reported Baghdadi’s death in 2017. Continued from above.

bill palmerIt’s been widely reported that the U.S. military raid took place at 3:30 pm eastern time on Saturday. When the Trump White House released a Situation Room photo of Donald Trump and his military leaders, former Obama White House photographer Pete Souza noticed that the timestamp on it said 5:05 pm. Sure, the raid could have still been going on by that time, but why wouldn’t the photo have been taken earlier? This led to questions about what Trump was doing at 3:30 pm when the raid first began.

bill palmer report logo headerThe official White House timeline says that Donald Trump didn’t return home from his golf outing until 4:18 pm. That means Donald Trump was still golfing when the raid began. In fairness, he did return to the White House after the operation got underway. But he knew this operation was going to take place because he authorized it, and yet he went golfing anyway.

Again, there are numerous unanswered questions about how we managed to kill a guy who was already widely reported to have died in 2017. Considering Donald Trump’s consistent dishonesty, and his desperation for a perfectly-timed “win” that just happens to perfectly mirror President Obama’s raid against Bin Laden, we’re not taking anything Trump says as fact.

For now, the one thing we do know is that Trump was golfing when the raid began. That alone is impeachable.

U.S. Courts, Crime, Regulation

ny times logoNew York Times The Weekly’: Changing the Courts for a Generation (video), Episode 16: ‘Mr. McGahn,’ Producer/Director Singeli Agnew, Oct. 27, 2019 (updated). Don McGahn helped President Trump remake the federal judiciary for decades to come. Watch our TV show on FX and Hulu.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Before Deadly Crashes, Boeing Pushed for Law That Undercut Oversight, Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles, Oct. 27, 2019. The government has been handing over more responsibility to manufacturers for years. The new law makes it even harder for regulators to review Boeing’s work.

boeing logoWith a few short paragraphs tucked into 463 pages of legislation last year, Boeing scored one of its biggest lobbying wins: a law that undercuts the government’s role in approving the design of new airplanes.

For years, the government had been handing over more responsibility to manufacturers as a way to reduce bureaucracy. But those paragraphs cemented the industry’s power, allowing manufacturers to challenge regulators over safety disputes and making it difficult for the government to usurp companies’ authority.

Although the law applies broadly to the industry, Boeing, the nation’s dominant aerospace manufacturer, is the biggest beneficiary. An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 50 regulators, industry executives, congressional staff members and lobbyists, as well as drafts of the bill and federal documents, found that Boeing and its allies helped craft the legislation to their liking, shaping the language of the law and overcoming criticism from regulators.

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Roll Call, Rep. Katie Hill resigns amid allegations of improper relationships with staffers, Bridget Bowman, Oct 27, 2019. Mired in scandal over allegations she had an improper relationship with a congressional aide and revelations about another affair she and her now estranged husband had with a woman on her 2018 campaign staff, California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill announced Sunday that she is resigning.

“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress,” Hill (shown above in a file photo) said in a statement. “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community, and our country.”

democratic donkey logoA Hill campaign spokeswoman said the timing of her resignation is uncertain. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hill on Oct. 23, following a report in conservative blog RedState that alleged Hill had an affair with Graham Kelly, a campaign staffer who became her legislative director. Having a sexual relationship with a congressional aide would violate the House code of conduct.

The Ethics Committee inquiry will likely be halted when her resignation takes effect. In recent history the panel has determined that a lawmaker is beyond the jurisdiction of the committee once they leave Congress. After the RedState story, Hill denied she had a relationship with Kelly and blamed her estranged husband for the allegation.

“The fact is I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” Hill said. Hill's husband, Kenneth Heslep, filed for divorce in July, U.S. House logoaccording to Los Angeles Superior Court records.

In her statement Sunday, blamed her husband and “hateful political operatives.”

“This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation,” she said.

The RedState article included another allegation that Hill and Heslep entered into a polyamorous relationship with one of Hill’s female campaign staffers. Hill, who is openly bisexual, did admit to entering into a relationship with a female campaign staffer said the relationship occurred “during the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage.”

“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” Hill wrote in a letter to her constituents. “For that I apologize.”

In addition to the allegations, RedState and the Daily Mail both published illicit photos of Hill, prompting Hill to contact Capitol Police about the photos. She also reportedly issued a cease and desist letter to the Daily Mail, calling on it to take the photos down.

Hill worked for a non-profit combating homelessness before she was elected to Congress in 2018. And she has emerged as one of the leaders of her freshman class. She and Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse are co-representatives of their class to House Democratic leadership. The late House Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings picked her to serve as the panel’s vice chairwoman, a position for more junior members. Hill also served on the Armed Services Committee.

Hill’s exit upends what was already shaping up to be a competitive 2020 House race. When Hill’s resignation does take effect, it will cause a special election in the following next four or five months, under California state law. Gov. Gavin Newsom has 14 calendar days after the vacancy occurs to issue a proclamation for the special election to be held within 140 days.

California’s 25th District is one of seven in the Golden State that Democrats flipped in 2018. After winning a competitive primary, Hill went on to defeat former GOP Rep. Steve Knight by 9 points. Voters in the district, which is north of Los Angeles and includes most of Simi Valley, had traditionally backed Republicans, but supported Hillary Clinton by 7 points in 2016 — even as Knight defeated his challenger by 6 points.

Roll Call, John Conyers Jr., former dean of the House, has died, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 27, 2019. Former Judiciary chairman resigned his seat after a 2017 sexual harassment scandal.
john conyersFormer House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., who served more than five decades in Congress, died Sunday at age 90, a spokesperson confirmed.

The Democrat from Michigan had been the longest serving African American lawmaker in congressional history, but resigned in 2017 amid a sexual harassment scandal after what was seen as an illustrious career.

Conyers, who was the dean of the House, resigned after Buzzfeed News and other outlets reported that he had paid a former staffer roughly $27,000 in a sexual harassment settlement drawn from Conyers’ congressional office budget and more allegations continued to surface.

According to sworn affidavits, Conyers was accused of using congressional funds and resources to fly his mistresses into Washington; making sexual advances on women in his office; and then becoming angry when one of his female staffers brought her husband around.

democratic donkey logoConyers was born in 1929 in Detroit, a city he would later represent on Capitol Hill. He served in the Korean War as a member of the National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers. Following the war, Conyers earned his Bachelor of Arts and law degrees at Wayne State University.

In 1964, Conyers won his bid for Congress by 128 votes and once said an endorsement from Martin Luther King Jr. helped swing the votes in his favor. Rosa Parks U.S. House logohelped Conyers lobby for King’s endorsement and Parks later worked as a secretary in the congressman’s Detroit office.

Conyers was elected to the House for decades, and he continued to win despite a changing political landscape in 2012. That year, Conyers faced a restructured district that incorporated more conservative, suburban voters, but he bested his Republican opponent by 82 percent of the vote.

While in Congress, Conyers focused his efforts on advancing civil rights legislation, expanding voting rights and improving the Michigan economy. Conyers included the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983, and the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act of 1988 in his list of legislative achievements.

The Michigan Democrat was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Media #MeToo News

washington post logoronan farrowWashington Post, NBC says it won’t prevent former employees from speaking publicly about sexual harassment, Brittany Shammas, Oct. 27, 2019. In his new bestseller Catch and Kill, journalist Ronan Farrow, right, wrote that NBC News had nondisclosure agreements with at least seven women who claimed they were sexually harassed at the company, including some who alleged mistreatment by former “Today” host Matt Lauer.

nbc news logoNow, NBCUniversal says former staffers are free to speak out about their experiences. In a statement first reported on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” the company said it will release past employees from agreements that may be preventing them from sharing their stories.

“Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or nondisparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” the statement said.

n Democrat was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump Accuser Summer Zervos’ Ugly Breakup With Gloria Allred, Emily Shugerman, Oct. 27, 2019. The former “Apprentice” contestant says Allred belittled her and wouldn’t disclose they discussed her allegation against Trump five years before the election. When Summer Zervos went public with sexual harassment allegations against Donald Trump in 2016, there was a familiar face at her side: pioneering women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Months later, the two announced the filing of a defamation lawsuit against the president, who had called his accusers “liars” looking for “10 minutes of fame.”

summer zervos cnnThe suit recently got the go-ahead from a New York appeals court, giving new hope to a raft of Trump accusers. But Zervos, right, and Allred didn’t celebrate the victory together.

The former Apprentice contestant had split with her high-profile lawyer, and in recent months quietly filed a complaint against her with the state bar. Now she is going public with her grievances against Allred.

gloria allred 2012 CustomZervos told The Daily Beast that Allred, left, chastised her in phone calls and belittled her in emails. And she says the attorney refused to disclose a phone call they had in 2011 about her allegations—a conversation Zervos says proves her accusations were not politically motivated.

“I realize speaking publicly about Gloria Allred could make my case against Mr. Trump more difficult,” she said. “But I can’t sit and watch her take on more victims and not say anything.”

Allred called Zervos’ allegations “false,” but said she was unable to comment further because of her ethical obligations to her former client.

“I have been a lawyer for 43 years, and my law firm and I are proud that we have always maintained the highest ethical standards and we will continue to do so for the remainder of our careers,” she said in an email.

Oct. 26

Inside DC

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U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings is shown above at a reception before his August speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Photo by Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elijah Cummings’s Funeral Draws Presidents and Thousands of Mourners, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Richard Fausset, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton spoke at the service for the longtime Maryland congressman. Two former United States presidents and a throng of powerful American leaders joined thousands of everyday people in Baltimore on Friday to bid farewell to Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a towering African-American presence in Washington who was praised for his integrity, his character and, in his final months, his unwavering challenges to President Trump.

democratic donkey logoIn one of the stirring eulogies that prompted mourners to rise with applause, Barack Obama called Mr. Cummings “a man of noble and good heart.” Bill Clinton, gesturing toward the flag-draped coffin, professed his love for Mr. Cummings and his deep, booming voice.

“We should hear him now in the quiet times at night and in the morning when we need courage, when we get discouraged and we don’t know if we can believe anymore,” Mr. Clinton said.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon awards controversial cloud computing deal to Microsoft, spurning Amazon, Aaron Gregg and Jay Greene​, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one of his longtime rivals.

amazon logo smallThe announcement comes after an intense lobbying effort and a lawsuit filed by some of America’s biggest tech companies, who accused the military of favoring Amazon in a process that has dragged on for more than a year. During that time, Trump and other administration officials also made it clear that they did not want the Department of Defense Sealcontract to go to Amazon. Federal acquisition laws forbid politicians, including the president, from influencing contract awards.

The award is so large that it could tip the lucrative cloud computing business away from Amazon, which has long been the industry leader, in Microsoft’s favor. Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due to its years of experience handling classified data for the CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era, Heather Long and Jeff Stein, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit to expand this much during relatively good economic times.

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, Judge Rules, Giving Democrats a Victory, Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). A federal judge handed a victory to House Democrats on Friday when she ruled that they were legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a decision that undercut President Trump’s arguments that the investigation is a sham.

beryl howellThe declaration came in a 75-page opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, right, of the Federal District Court in Washington. She ruled that the House Judiciary Committee was entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Typically, Congress has no right to view such evidence. But in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. The House is now immersed in the same process focused on Mr. Trump, Judge Howell ruled, and that easily outweighs any need to keep the information secret from lawmakers.

And in a rebuke to the Trump administration, she wrote that the White House strategy to stonewall the House had actually strengthened lawmakers’ case. She cited Mr. Trump’s vow to fight “all” congressional subpoenas and an extraordinary directive by his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, that executive branch officials should not pat cipollone file croppedprovide testimony or documents to impeachment investigators.

“The White House’s stated policy of noncooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure,” Judge Howell wrote. “Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a president is heightened when the executive branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence.”

The administration is likely to appeal the ruling; the Justice Department was reviewing it, a spokeswoman said. It came on a day when House investigators unleashed another round of subpoenas. They demanded that the acting chief of the White House budget office and two other administration officials testify next month in their inquiry into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit him politically.

Democrats praised Judge Howell’s decision.

In arguing that the impeachment inquiry is a sham, Republicans have noted that the full House has not voted for a resolution to authorize one, as it did in 1974 and 1998 at the start of impeachment proceedings targeting Nixon and President Bill Clinton. Democrats have countered that no resolution is required under the Constitution or House rules and pointed out that impeachment efforts to remove other officials, like judges, started without such a vote.

Judge Howell agreed with the Democrats, calling the Republican arguments “cherry-picked and incomplete” and lacking support from the Constitution, House rules or court precedents.

Related article: Washington Post, House Judiciary Committee can see redacted materials from Mueller grand jury, judge says, Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 25, 2019. The judge also dismissed arguments that a vote would be needed to start an impeachment inquiry.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don McGahn is back, and Donald Trump is going to hate what he has to say, Bill Palmer, Oct. 26, 2019.  Earlier this year the House tried to compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify about Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes. But the White House advised McGahn that it would have been illegal for him to testify, and so the whole thing went into legal limbo. But yesterday the courts ruled that the House impeachment process is fully legal, and that Trump has no right to stop anyone from cooperating.

bill palmer report logo headerJust a few hours later, like clockwork, word surfaced to Politico (Politico, DOJ: Negotiations with House for McGahn interview are ongoing) that the Department of Justice is planning to let Don McGahn testify after all. The DOJ is claiming that it’s been negotiating McGahn’s testimony with the House for quite some time, but let’s be real here: this is a sign of surrender by the DOJ, now that the courts have ruled that it has no legal basis for standing in the way of impeachment.

In a humorous twist, the Trump regime is now fighting for Don McGahn’s testimony to be behind closed doors, presumably for fear of just how devastating it will be to Donald Trump. This comes even as Trump is attacking House Democrats for having other witnesses testify behind closed doors. But the bottom line is that McGahn is now finally going to testify about Trump’s crimes, and Trump is left meekly fighting for scraps about the details of the testimony.

Trump Family, Cronies

ny times logoNew York Times, Symbol of ’80s Greed Stands to Profit From Trump Tax Break for Poor Areas, Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker, Oct. 26, 2019. The financier Michael Milken is an michael milken1 Customnvestor in a property that became eligible for a tax break after his friend Steven Mnuchin intervened. Treasury officials said they were troubled by Mr. Mnuchin’s actions to bend the rules.

In the 1980s, Michael Milken, right, embodied Wall Street greed. A swashbuckling financier, he was charged with playing a central role in a vast insider-trading scheme and was sent to prison for violating federal securities and tax laws. He was an inspiration for the Gordon Gekko character in the film “Wall Street.”

Mr. Milken has spent the intervening decades trying to rehabilitate his reputation through an influential nonprofit think tank, the Milken Institute, devoted to initiatives “that advance prosperity.”

These days, the Milken Institute is a leading proponent of a new federal tax break that was intended to coax wealthy investors to plow money into distressed communities known as “opportunity zones.” The institute’s leaders have helped push senior officials in the Trump administration to make the tax incentive more generous, even though it is under fire for being slanted toward the wealthy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Firm with ties to Trump’s brother gets $33 million government contract, Joshua Partlow, Oct. 26, 2019. A rival bidder filed a complaint alleging that the Reston, Va., company failed to disclose Robert S. Trump’s connection. A company in which President Trump’s brother has a financial stake received a $33 million contract from the U.S. Marshals Service earlier this year, an award that has drawn protests from two other bidders, one of which has filed a complaint alleging possible favoritism in the bidding process.

The lucrative government contract, to provide security for federal courthouses and cellblocks, went to CertiPath, a Reston, Va.-based company that since 2013 has been owned in part by a firm linked to Robert S. Trump, the president’s younger brother.

After the contract was awarded, an anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general alleging that CertiPath had failed to disclose that “one of the President’s closest living relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction,” according to a copy of the July 22 complaint letter obtained by The Washington Post.

“The circumstances of this contract award, and what appear to be CertiPath’s efforts to obscure Mr. Robert Trump’s financial interest in the company even as it trades on the Trump name, present the appearance of preferential treatment for those who are close to the President,” said the complaint, which was sent by the Washington law firm Venable on behalf of the client.

California Wildfires

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ny times logoNew York Times, California Fires: 2.7 Million Could Lose Power in Intentional Shut-Off, By Ivan Penn, Mariel Padilla and Derrick Bryson Taylor, Oct. 26, 2019. Pacific Gas and Electric expanded its blackout zone as extreme weather conditions heightened the wildfire threat. We’re tracking the latest developments here. The blackout could affect as many as 2.7 million people, and would be the largest power shut-off to prevent wildfires in California history.

“The next 72 hours are going to be challenging,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “I could sugarcoat it but I’m not.” PG&E added 90,000 customers to the intentional power shut-off as forecasts indicated that widespread dry, hot and windy weather is expected to begin moving through the region between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday and continue through midday Monday. Gusts were forecast to reach up to 75. m.p.h.

U.S. War In Syria

Department of Defense SealSouthFront, Newly-Deployed U.S. Troops Are Now In Northern Hasakah, Not Oil Fields Area: SANA, Staff report, Oct. 26, 2019. Fresh U.S. troops, which entered Syria in the morning of Oct. 26, have settled in a base in the northern al-Hasakah countryside, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

The state-run agency reported that U.S. troops are now stationed inside the Qasrak base on the Tell Tamr-Qamishli highway. “U.S. occupation forces’ convoy -consists of 13 military vehicles and dozens of soldier-, which entered Syria today, have settled in Qasrak illegal base on Tell Tamr-Qamishli road,” the SANA’s reporter in al-Hasakah said. Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the convoy headed towards key oil fields in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor. This was not apparently accurate.

Trump #MeToosummer zervos cnn

Palmer Report, Opinion: One of Donald Trump’s sexual assault victims makes her move, Robert Harrington, Oct. 26, 2019.  It turns out that Season Five Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos has launched a defamation lawsuit against Trump, who claimed he never even met her, let alone sexually assaulted her. The bad news is Trump has a pretty good case.

bill palmer report logo headerThe good news is Zervos (shown above in a screenshot via CNN and below right in an older file photo) has a better one, one so good it knocks Trump’s case into a cocked hat. Zervos’ case comes complete with contemporaneous emails, phone records, copies of the calendar entries and itineraries from the Trump organization itself supporting Ms Zervos account – an account placing Trump exactly where she says he was when he assaulted her, an account detailed “with striking accuracy,” according to her attorney, Mariann Wang.

According to court papers filed Thursday, the Trump Organization is attempting to have nine pages of documents thrown out by designating them as “confidential” because they contain Trump’s cellphone number. Zervos’ lawyers responded that it was “absurd” because Trump had already publicized his cellphone to millions of Twitter followers during the summer zervos2016 campaign, and he no longer even uses that particular number anyway.

Lawyers for Zervos also say they have evidence of even “greater granularity,” which will be revealed at the start of the trial in March of 2020, just in time for the run up to the 2020 election. “Plaintiff reported Defendant’s assaults to family members and close friends immediately after they occurred and then again over the years,” according to a memorandum. “She confronted Defendant about his inappropriate behavior, both in a phone call shortly after the assaults and in an email sent through his secretary Rhona Graff in April 2016. Plaintiff also considered taking more formal legal action with respect to Defendant many years ago and in fact reached out to multiple lawyers back in 2011, including to Gloria Allred, whose records reflect that contact.”


Oct. 25

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Elijah Cummings’s Funeral Brings Attention to Baltimore, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 25, 2019. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are expected to speak at the service for the longtime Maryland congressman. At Mr. Cummings’s funeral, Hillary Clinton offered a forceful defense of democracy and compared him to the prophet Elijah.

elijah cummings oRepresentative Elijah E. Cummings, right, was firmly rooted in Baltimore, but for decades his voice extended far from his brick rowhouse on the city’s west side. On Friday, the legacy of his tireless advocacy brought powerful leaders from Washington and elsewhere to his city.

Mr. Cummings, a Democrat who rose in prominence in recent years for his unwavering pursuit of President Trump, died at 68 last week in the city he called home, the same one in which he was born and lived all his life.

Among the prominent cast of politicians, mentees and relatives expected to speak at his funeral on Friday morning were two former presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate.

Following a psalm read by Ms. Warren and a song from one of Mr. Cummings’s favorite singers, BeBe Winans, Ms. Clinton took the stage and thanked members of Mr. Cummings’s district “for sharing him with our country and the world.”

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, A lawsuit raises doubts on whether Mr. Trump’s closest aides will be allowed to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 25, 2019. A key witness in the impeachment investigation filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, a move that raises new doubts about whether President john bolton full cropped CustomTrump’s closest aides, like the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, right, will be able to cooperate with the inquiry.

House Democrats had subpoenaed the witness, Charles M. Kupperman, who served as Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, to testify on Monday. But in an effort to stop Mr. Kupperman from doing so, the White House said on Friday that the president had invoked “constitutional immunity,” leaving Mr. Kupperman uncertain about what to do.

“Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail,” the suit said.

U.S. House logoThe implications of the suit, filed in federal court in Washington, extend beyond Mr. Kupperman. His lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents Mr. Bolton and is likely to address congressional requests for his testimony in a similar fashion. House Democrats have had discussions with Mr. Cooper in recent days about Mr. Bolton testifying but have not subpoenaed him.

Democrats believe that Mr. Kupperman and Mr. Bolton could be significant witnesses for their investigation. Unlike several of the administration officials who have already testified, they were both close advisers of Mr. Trump, dealt directly with him on Ukraine policy and could testify about what Mr. Trump said behind closed doors.

Mr. Trump and the White House have attacked many of the career State Department officials who have appeared before investigators on Capitol Hill, calling them “unelected bureaucrats.” But Mr. Kupperman and Mr. Bolton, longtime Republicans, worked directly for Mr. Trump. Mr. Bolton, in particular, is seen as potentially having greater sway with Republicans and independents because of his hawkish views, which he conveyed regularly on Fox News before joining the administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Drawing Attention to Hunter Biden’s Work in Romania, Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 25, 2019. But There’s a Problem, Hunter Biden worked to help a Romanian executive facing corruption charges. But so did the former New York mayor — and a former F.B.I. director. Hunter Biden worked to help a Romanian executive facing corruption charges. But so did the former New York mayor — and a former F.B.I. director.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, signaled this month that he planned to open a new front in his attacks against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — work done by Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden for a wealthy Romanian business executive facing corruption charges.

But there’s a problem with that strategy: Mr. Giuliani participated in an effort that would have helped the same executive, and was in fact recruited to do so by Louis J. Freeh, a former F.B.I. director who had been brought onto the matter by Hunter Biden.

In effect, Mr. Giuliani and Hunter Biden were on the same team, if not at the same time. And their work to help the business executive, along with that of Mr. Freeh, stood in contrast to efforts by the United States, including Vice President Biden while he was in office, to encourage anti-corruption efforts in Romania.

The dynamic in Romania underscores how Mr. Giuliani has done a brisk international business with clients who sometimes seem to be seeking to capitalize on his connections to Mr. Trump even as he has accused Hunter Biden of seeking to capitalize on his father’s name while doing business in other countries. And the disclosure of the connection between his role in Romania and Mr. Biden’s comes at a time when Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws.

Hunter Biden, who is a lawyer, was retained by the business executive, Gabriel Popoviciu, in 2015, while his father was vice president, to help try to fend off charges in Romania being pursued by anti-corruption prosecutors. In 2016, Mr. Popoviciu was convicted on charges related to a land deal in northern Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani, Overheard Talking About Need for Cash, Mistakenly Calls NBC Reporter, Michael M. Grynbaum, Oct. 25, 2019. “The problem is we need some money,’’ Mr. Giuliani says on the call. Then he adds: “We need a few hundred thousand.’’ Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, managed to inadvertently telephone an NBC News reporter at 11 p.m. one night this month and leave a lengthy voice message filled with snippets of an overheard conversation.

In the muffled recording — left on Oct. 16 with the NBC reporter Rich Schapiro — Mr. Giuliani, the chairman of a security consulting firm, can be heard discussing business in Turkey and Bahrain. At one point, speaking with a pair of unidentified men, Mr. Giuliani declares: “The problem is we need some money.”

Nearly 10 seconds of silence tick by before Mr. Giuliani clarifies: “We need a few hundred thousand.”

It was not the first time that Mr. Giuliani had left remnants of a conversation on Mr. Schapiro’s phone. In a voice mail message left in September, he can be heard railing against the family of Joseph R. Biden Jr., suggesting with no evidence that he knows of corrupt activities by the former vice president.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats see no need to hear from Ukraine whistleblower, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 25, 2019. House Democrats believe they have have enough testimony from senior administration officials to corroborate the claims. But Republicans are arguing that the whistleblower must be unmasked.

 ny times logoNew York Times, The Cost of Trump’s Aid Freeze in the Trenches of Ukraine’s War, Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The impeachment inquiry hinges on whether President Trump suspended nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine to pressure it into investigating his rivals. Ukraine, politically disorganized and militarily weak, has relied heavily on the United States in a bare-bones fight against Russian-backed separatists.

washington post logorepublican party upside downWashington Post, Opinion: Trump thinks he can get away with anything. It’s outlandish, Ruth Marcus, Oct. 25, 2019. “The king can do no wrong.” That is the ancient legal maxim used to explain why a sovereign should not be held to account for misdeeds. President Trump and his lawyers are now making arguments that make this legal doctrine look wimpy. Their vision boils down to: The king can do whatever wrong he damn pleases, and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The GOP holdouts on Graham’s anti-impeachment bill, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2019. Graham has now added to his list of co-sponsors, leaving just three GOP senators who haven’t signed on -- Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkwoski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). But the original list of eight holdouts and hesitant senators was a conspicuous one. And they might be worth watching when it comes to whether Trump’s firewall against removal in the Senate starts to show cracks.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The real Three Amigos and how sexual blackmail has them at Trump's beck and call), Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsynidcated columnist, author and former Navy intelligence officer, shown at left), Oct. 25, 2019 ((subscription required, excerpted with permission).. According to testimony provided to the House impeachment inquiry by George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's European and Eurasian Bureau, the Trump White House replaced the official Ukraine policy team within the State Department and National Security Council with "three amigos" who took their directions directly from Donald Trump's business agent and alleged lawyer Rudolph Giuliani.

The three amigos consisted of Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, a Trump Inauguration Committee donor and political appointee; Kurt Volker, the then-special envoy to Ukraine; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Volker has since resigned his post and Perry has announced his resignation.

lindsey graham judiciary chairmanHowever, the "three amigos" title should be conferred upon Trump's top three congressional defenders: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). All three are subjects to significant political blackmail arising from their closeted gay sexual orientation. All three represent constituencies where anti-gay Christian fundamentalists enjoy political strength that can make or break any candidate for political office.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: The editor of this site is aware, in part via presence at several interviews of sources, of the substantial evidence regarding the revelations above, which are newsworthy because of the national security and constitutional threats involved by continued suppression elsewhere of relevant allegations and commentary.

Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton’s revenge, Bill Palmer, Oct. 25, 2019. Just how upside down are American politics in 2019? Liberals now find themselves rooting for John Bolton in a criminal scandal in which he’s somehow the good guy. Bolton is a bloodthirsty warmongering monster, but he apparently draws the line at treason, which got him fired. Now he’s apparently knee deep into getting his revenge.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the news broke that John Bolton’s former National Security Council sidekick Tim Morrison is planning to give testimony to the House impeachment inquiry that will fully validate the recent testimony from Acting U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor. This comes not long after Bolton’s other former underling, Fiona Hill, gave impeachment testimony which also fell within the same lines.

john bolton youtube guardianEven as this testimony is playing out behind closed doors, we keep seeing one media leak after another about how John Bolton, right, caught Donald Trump’s people doing guilty things in the Ukraine scandal, told people that Trump was doing guilty things in the Ukraine scandal, and tried to internally sound the alarm in every way that he could. The thing is, evidence and testimony appears to be validating Bolton’s version of events. And you just have to figure Bolton himself will end up testifying in the end, because why wouldn’t he?

John Bolton naturally wants revenge against Donald Trump, both because Trump crossed a criminal line against the United States that even Bolton couldn’t abide by, and because Bolton was fired in humiliating fashion. It looks like Bolton is in the process of getting it.

washington post logoWashington Post, House issues subpoenas to two OMB officials in inquiry, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 25, 2019. The panels want Russell Vought, the acting director of the OMB, and Michael Duffey, the agency's head of national security, to testify early next month. House investigators pressed forward with their impeachment inquiry on Friday, issuing subpoenas to two Office of Management and Budget officials, one of whom has vowed they won’t cooperate with the Democrat-led probe.

The move came as President Trump repeatedly insisted to reporters that he had done nothing wrong in pressing Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. He also praised his embattled personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani as a “great crime fighter.”

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said Democrats are “trying to make us look as bad as possible” with the ongoing inquiry.

Closed-door depositions are scheduled to resume Saturday after a two-day pause with an appearance by a Foreign Service officer stationed in Kyiv, who is expected to testify on efforts of Giuliani and others to oust the previous U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump fights inquiry with a barrage of provocations, contradictions and exhortations, Michael Scherer, Oct. 25, 2019. Following the president’s hourly utterances and tweets has become an overwhelming, but consequential task as his foreign policy decisions come under greater scrutiny.

Politico, DOJ: Negotiations with House for McGahn interview are ongoing, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 25, 2019. Negotiations to make former White House counsel Don McGahn available for a House interview have been active throughout October, the Justice Department indicated Friday, revealing that it has had discussions with the Judiciary Committee five times since Oct. 8.

Those talks — on Oct. 8, 11, 15, 21 and 24 — came despite an Oct. 8 letter from McGahn's successor, Pat Cipollone, declaring that the White House would refuse to cooperate with Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"Although the Speaker of the House has announced publicly that, in her view, the House has now commenced an impeachment inquiry ... the Administration remains open to continued discussion of a possible Committee interview, under appropriate terms and conditions, of Mr. McGahn," Justice Department attorneys wrote in a brief filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., in response to Democrats' efforts to enforce a subpoena requiring McGahn's testimony.

House attorneys have argued that they're at an impasse with the Justice Department over obtaining McGahn's testimony, which they have been seeking since special counsel Robert Mueller revealed in April that he was a central witness to potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. McGahn refused to comply with a subpoena for his testimony in May and the Judiciary Committee filed suit in July, declaring that his testimony is crucial to determine whether the House should file articles of impeachment against Trump. Since then, sporadic talks with the Justice Department have reached no conclusion.

DOJ argues that the House's impeachment inquiry is "different" than the Judiciary Committee's pursuit of McGahn, even though Pelosi has blessed the panel's pursuit of potential articles of impeachment based on Mueller's findings.

The Justice Department's suggestion that talks were ongoing in October is misleading, a source briefed on the discussions told Politico. "We have an obligation to try to reach an accommodation, even now," the source said, "but the White House has only ever discussed terms they know are unacceptable to us."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s pollster releases the worst impeachment poll ever, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2019. Four months ago, President Trump responded to some poor Democratic-Republican Campaign logosinternal polling numbers by, naturally, firing some of his pollsters. As more than a few people noted at the time, the purge risked giving the remaining pollsters — Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin — incentive to juice their numbers in a more pro-Trump direction. A new poll suggests there’s certainly some juicing going on — of a rather ridiculous sort.

Trump Properties, Conflicts

Wall Street Journal, Trump Organization Exploring Sale of Marquee Washington Hotel, Craig Karmin, Oct. 25, 2019 (updated). Move is motivated partly by ethical criticisms concerning profiting on the property. The Trump Organization is exploring a sale of the rights to the company’s opulent Washington, D.C., hotel, a move it says is motivated partly by criticism that the Trumps are flouting ethics laws by profiting from the property. The asking price is $500 million. See below for related coverage:

1100 Pennsylvania, Analysis: Trump Org exploring sale of D.C. hotel, Zack Everson, Oct. 25, 2019. In his statement to the Journal, Trump Org EVP Eric Trump said, “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

That declaration is, um, interesting given testimony from a General Services Administration official at a House committee hearing last month. (The Trump Hotel D.C. is in the Old Post Office building, which the U.S. government owns and rents out to the Trump Org.; GSA administers its lease.) In addition to its monthly rent of $250,000, the lease calls for the Trump Hotel D.C. to pay GSA a cut of its gross revenues if it reaches certain performance thresholds. GSA’s public buildings commissioner Daniel Mathews, a political appointee of Trump’s, testified that the hotel did not pay GSA any funds beyond its base rent last year.

So the Trump Hotel D.C. is making a ton of money, yet it’s not enough for the Trump Org to have to pay any additional rent.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Family Considers Selling Hotel in Washington, Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 25, 2019. The hotel is a target of criticism for President Trump because it frequently hosts foreign diplomats and corporate executives with business before his administration. The hotel is a key part of lawsuits pending against the Trump Organization that argue Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments.

“Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” Eric Trump said Friday in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposal.

The hotel opened in late 2016, just before Mr. Trump was elected president, and quickly became one of the single biggest sources of revenue for the Trump family, according to financial disclosures. It also is one of the few parts of the company that has seen major revenue growth since Mr. Trump took office.

The hotel operates out of a federal building known as the Old Post Office, and the space is leased by the Trump Organization for 60 years. Any transfer of that lease would have to be approved by the federal General Services Administration, which awarded the deal to the Trump Organization after a competition among various bidders.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.J. seeks to revoke liquor license for one of Trump’s golf clubs, triggered by a case in which a customer caused a fatal car crash, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 25, 2019. The state of New Jersey is seeking to revoke the liquor license for one of President Trump’s golf clubs — a rare and potentially damaging punishment, triggered by a 2015 case in which state officials said the Trump club overserved alcohol to a man who then caused a fatal wreck.

Trump #MeToo donald trump apprentice color nbc

People Magazine, Former Apprentice Star Says She Has Evidence to Back Up Claims Donald Trump Sexually Assaulted Her, Benjamin VanHoose, Oct. 25, 2019. Summer Zervos says she has several items to corroborate a 2007 assault in a hotel room, according to court documents. Summer Zervos, one of the many women who came forward with sexual assault accusations against President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, says she has new evidence to support her claims.

summer zervosZervos, shown in a file photo, appeared as a contestant on season 5 of The Apprentice, the popular reality competition show which Trump hosted on NBC, and claims he assaulted her in 2007 in a hotel room. (Trump is shown above in a publicity photo for the show.)

According to filed court documents obtained and published by CNN, Zervos says she has evidence in the form of emails, calendar entries and a polygraph test that illustrates her telling lawyers in 2011 about the attack, then again telling the story to Fox News in 2015.

Trump is being sued by Zervos for allegedly defaming her in his public denials of the sexual assault.

“The fact that plaintiff sought legal counsel in 2011 and spoke about this to others including a news organization — years before the events of 2016 at issue in this case — strongly supports the inferences that her core narrative is true,” Zervos’ lawyer Mariann Wang claims in the documents, which were filed on Thursday. With the subject line, “Trump Hit on Me,” the August 2015 email to Fox News, included in the submitted evidence, describes the alleged attack in Zervos’ own words.

“I was on The Apprentice. After the show was completed, Trump invited me to a hotel room under the guise of working for him. He had a different agenda. Please contact me to speak further as I have tried to make contact,” the email reads, according to CNN.

U.S. Elections Probes of Russia

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, left, with businessman Lev Parnas last month at the Trump International Hotel shortly before the arrest of Parnas and his colleagueg Ignor Fruman while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We had it all backwards about Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen, Bill Palmer, Oct. 25, 2019. Even when Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were first arrested in the Ukraine scandal, observers on all sides – including us – initially presumed that they were Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen. After all, these were just two nobodies, while Rudy was, well, Rudy. This had to be his scheme, and these two stooges had to have been working for him. Except, no.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter the arrests, Rudy Giuliani admitted that he took a half million dollars from a company run by Lev Parnas. It’s separately been reported that Parnas works for Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash. There’s a reason you follow the money in these kinds of scandals: it dictates who’s working for whom. If Parnas is a henchman working for Firtash, that makes Rudy a bottom-rung henchman working for Firtash’s henchman Parnas.

Why does this matter? Rudy Giuliani is going down either way. But it’s important for everyone involved to keep in mind that this whole thing wasn’t just some braindead scheme that Rudy randomly drew up on the back of a napkin and then sold Donald Trump on. This was a scheme being run and funded by a Kremlin oligarch. Rudy was just a pawn, or a go-between for the Kremlins oligarch and Trump. This Ukraine scandal isn’t just echoing the Trump-Russia 2016 election scandal; it appears to be a continuation of the Trump-Russia scandal.

washington post logojohn durham CustomWashington Post, Investigation of Russia probe is criminal in nature, person familiar with case says, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 25, 2019. U.S. Attorney John Durham, right, has been trying to determine whether the FBI’s intelligence activities in the Russia probe were lawful.

Associated Press via AOL, Russian woman who admitted being secret agent out of prison, Eric Tucker and Bobby Calvan, Oct. 25, 2019. A Russian gun rights activist who ap logoadmitted being a secret agent for the Kremlin and trying to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups while Donald Trump rose to power was released from federal prison on Friday, officials said.

Maria Butina left a low-security facility in Tallahassee, Florida and was placed in the custody of federal immigration authorities. She is expected to be immediately deported to Russia now that she has finished her 18-month sentence.

maria butina headshotButina, left, pleaded guilty last December to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent. She admitted that she worked with a former Russian lawmaker to leverage contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue back channels to American conservatives during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

She violated U.S. law because she did not report those efforts to the Justice Department, which requires the registration of lobbyists and others in the U.S. who do the bidding of foreign governments.

Global News 

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson to Seek General Election on Dec. 12, Stephen Castle, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The British prime minister said Parliament can take more time to study his Brexit plan, but only if lawmakers agree to a new election. The move follows the decision of Parliament to block his accelerated timetable to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, boris johnson hand up unsourceddespite agreeing in principle to his latest Brexit plan.

Mr. Johnson, left, has already been forced by Parliament to request an extension to the Brexit deadline until Jan. 31. A decision on that is expected from the European Union soon, perhaps on Friday. But in a pre-emptive strike, Mr. Johnson said in a BBC interview  that, providing the extension is granted, he plans on Monday to ask for the December election, also giving Parliament more time to ratify his Brexit proposal first.

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, 39 bodies found inside truck in Britain believed to be Chinese nationals, Karla Adam and William Booth, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). ​​Police have searched three properties in Northern Ireland in the case which is believed to involve human trafficking.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The Trump campaign has over $1 million in outstanding bills from American cities, Philip Bump, Oct. 25, 2019. Albuquerque has joined a lengthy list of U.S. cities with a simple request: that President Trump’s campaign pay for the costs incurred during a rally. On Wednesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the city sent an invoice to Trump’s reelection campaign in an effort to recoup more than $211,000 in expenses from a September rally. That figure includes more than $71,000 in police overtime.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomThe Trump campaign’s indifference to municipal bills became a significant issue earlier this month when the city of Minneapolis attempted to get paid in advance for a rally Trump was planning to hold in the city. The president and his campaign publicly berated Minneapolis’s mayor. But even then it was easy to see why a city would want Trump’s team to pay in advance.

As the Minneapolis rally loomed, CNN went back to a number of cities that had been identified in June by the Center for Public Integrity as places with outstanding bills in to the Trump campaign. CNN found that there was at least $841,000 still outstanding. The total, though, is more than that: Dave Levinthal, who reported the initial tallies for the Center for Public Integrity, confirmed in an email to The Washington Post on Thursday that he had checked back with all the cities he had identified in July and that none had been paid as of his most recent outreach.

Politico, Gabbard says she won't run for reelection to Congress in 2020, Quint Forgey, Oct. 25, 2019. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, right, a Democratic White House contender, announced early tulsi gabbard newFriday that she will not seek reelection to Congress, declaring that she was “fully committed to my offer to serve” as president. “I'm so grateful to the people of Hawaiʻi for allowing me to serve you in Congress for the last 7 years. Throughout my life, I’ve always made my decisions based on where I felt I could do the most good,” Gabbard wrote in a series of tweets posted at midnight, which included a video message and a link to a lengthy statement.

“In light of the challenges we face, I believe I can … best serve the people of Hawaiʻi & our country as President and Commander-in-Chief,” she continued.

Gabbard, who has represented Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District since 2013, handily defeated her Republican opponent in last year’s midterm elections by a margin of more than mazie hirono o50 percent.

But her path to winning a fifth term in 2020 was complicated by a formidable primary challenge from state Sen. Kai Kahele, as well as her thorny relationships with other Aloha State politicians. A trio of former Hawaii governors have backed Kahele’s bid to unseat Gabbard, and she ignited a feud with Sen. Mazie Hirono, left, after authoring an op-ed in January accusing Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee of “religious bigotry” in their questioning of a nominee for a district judgeship.

Hirono, a member of that panel who previously held Gabbard’s House seat, criticized the congresswoman and called her assertions “totally unfounded” during an interview in March.

U.S.-Syrian War

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump’s recent actions in Syria and Ukraine are further alienating America’s already wary allies, Steven Erlanger, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Until now, Europeans have done little except complain about him. But Mr. Trump’s recent actions in Syria and Ukraine may change that. The more optimistic now argue Mr. Trump’s betrayals in those conflicts are of a different category of seriousness, and may accelerate what has been a slowly building process of European integration and peeling away from the United States. Others are not so sure.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. considers sending tanks, more troops to Syria as Trump focuses on oil, Missy Ryan, Dan Lamothe and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The plan would place heavy weaponry around the oil fields and retain a larger number of troops, potentially further diluting the practical effect of the announced withdrawal.

SouthFront, In Video: Hundreds Of Syrian Army Troops Arrive In Kobane, Staff report, Oct. 25, 2019. Late on Oct. 24, a large batch of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops arrived in the border town of Kobane in northeast Syria. According to the Hawar News Agency (ANAH), the batch consisted of at least 1,300 service members and around 160 vehicles.

syrian flag wavingThe SAA began deploying troops in northeastern Syria earlier this month following a breakthrough agreement between the Damascus government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The recent agreement between Russia and Turkey supported the SAA deployment in the region, tasking the army with the establishment 15 observation posts along the border with Turkey.

These agreements solidified the SAA status as a stabilizing factor in the northeastern part of the country, that was on the brink of a humanitarian disaster before the army deployment.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Interventionism and Isolationism, Jacob G. Hornberger (FFF president, book publisher, author and attorney, shown at right), Oct. 25, 2019. When jacob hornberger newPresident Trump decided to relocate a few troops on Syria’s northern border and announced that he would withdraw all the other U.S. troops from Syria, interventionists went ballistic. They said that Trump was leading America to “isolationism.”

That’s pretty funny, given (1) there is still no assurance that the Pentagon and the CIA are going to permit Trump to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria; (2) Trump is sending troops that he withdraws from Syria into Iraq and Saudi Arabia; (3) Trump continues to maintain troops in Afghanistan despite having had three years to have taken them out; (4) Trump continues to partner with the Saudis in their brutal war in Yemen; (5) Trump imposes sanctions and embargoes against any regime that bucks his will, including Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China, and others; (6) the Pentagon and the CIA continue to maintain foreign imperial bases and secret prison camps all over the world; (7) Trump has kept the United State in NATO and other entangling alliances; and (8) foreign aid continues flowing into foreign regimes, dictatorial ones.

If that’s “isolationism,” I’d hate to see what interventionism looks like!

When we talk about foreign policy, there are two different systems from which to choose — the system of the statists, both Republican and Democrat, and the system that we libertarians favor.

California Fires

washington post logoWashington Post, Power may be cut for millions of Calif. residents this weekend as fire risk increases, utility says, Faiz Siddiqui, Alex Horton and Michael Brice-Saddler​, Oct. 25, pacific gas election company logo Custom2019. Approximately 850,000 customers — and millions of people — could be without power in Northern California from Saturday through Monday, PG&E said. Strong winds in the forecast will pose a high risk of sparks, which would lead to rapidly spreading wildfires.

washington post logoWashington Post, Transmission line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations, Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware and Andrew Freedman​, Oct. 25, 2019. Pacific Gas and Electric said its high-voltage lines were still active before the Kincade Fire that spread over 10,000 acres in California wine country.

A fast-moving wildfire, spurred by powerful winds, continued to burn through Northern California on Friday and forced thousands of people to evacuate parts of Sonoma County — the rural wine country 75 miles north of San Francisco that is still recovering from a deadly 2017 blaze. The state’s largest utility, told state regulators that a jumper on one of its transmission towers broke close to where officials say the Kincade Fire started, near Geyserville.

More DC #MeToo

katie hill screenshot

HuffPost, Analysis: Katie Hill Is Not Accused Of Committing A Crime. But She Might Be A Victim Of One, Melissa Jeltsen, Oct. 25, 2019. Private photos of Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) have been published by news outlets without her permission. In many states, sharing the freshman representative’s nude photos would be illegal under “revenge porn” statutes.

When Democratic Rep. Katie Hill won election in 2018, she gained attention for securing a tough district held by a Republican. She also made history as the first openly bisexual congresswoman from California. Now she’s capturing headlines again, only this time for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, RedState, a conservative news website, ran a story accusing Hill of having extramarital affairs with a female campaign staffer and a male congressional aide. The article included a nude photo of Hill with her breasts obscured. On Thursday, The Daily Mail published more sexually explicit photos of Hill, along with breathless details of her romantic relationships. As a result, private photos of her are spreading like a rot online, and there’s little Hill can do to stop it. Intimate, personal snapshots of her life are currently being ogled by anyone with a Wi-Fi connection.

democratic donkey logoHill has confirmed that she was in a relationship with the campaign worker, though she denies any romantic involvement with her congressional aide. The House Committee on Ethics has begun an investigation, since it is against House rules for representatives to have sexual relationships with congressional staff. (Those rules do not appear to extend to campaign staff.)

Much of the media coverage surrounding Hill has focused on her sex life; who she did or did not sleep with. The fascination likely stems from the fact that she is LGBTQ and allegedly involved in a polyamorous relationship. But by focusing on her sexuality, an important fact is being lost in translation.

Hill is not accused of committing a crime by dating her campaign staffer, but she may be a victim of one. In most states, including California, it is illegal to share sexually explicit photos of a person without his or her consent. That’s commonly called revenge porn ― and in Hill’s home state, that could be punished by up to six months in jail.

It is unclear how the news outlets acquired the photos of Hill. In a statement released Wednesday, Hill said, “I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me. I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain.” Hill did not elaborate further or offer evidence linking her estranged husband to the leaked photos. He did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

On Thursday, Hill sent a cease and desist letter to the Daily Mail, demanding the news outlet remove the photos they had published.

“Katie Hill, like many women in marriages that end in separation, endured years of emotional abuse from a now-estranged husband,” her lawyers wrote in the letter, which HuffPost obtained. “By spreading these purported claims, and dehumanizing and shaming images across the globe, you have perpetuated the cycle of abuse Representative Hill has endured.”

HuffPost reached out to the Daily Mail for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Under California’s “revenge porn” statute, it is illegal for a person to intentionally distribute “the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person ... under circumstances in which the persons agree or understand that the image shall remain private, the person distributing the image knows or should know that distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress.”

Revenge porn may be used as a tactic in abusive relationships to control, blackmail or harm an intimate partner. But contrary to popular belief, images do not have to be shared by a vengeful ex to be considered “revenge porn.” A person who shares nonconsensual pornography for financial gain or for another reason can still be engaging in the practice.

“Anybody who released or published Ms. Hill’s image should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer specializing in sexual privacy violations and author of “Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls.”

She noted that many states’ “revenge porn laws” have exceptions when the distribution is newsworthy. “There is nothing newsworthy here,” she said. ”Ms. Hill is entitled to sexual privacy just like any other public or private figure.”

Female lawmakers are often attacked for their sexuality ― especially if they are young and attractive like Hill, said Jennifer Piscopo, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College who has studied gender and politics.

“It’s a way to undermine their authority, to call into question their ability, and to make them feel intimidated,” she said.

The more prominent women politicians are, the more likely they are to sustain and receive online abuse, Piscopo added.

“Hill was thought to be a rising star in the Democratic Party. Not just because of her gender but also the way she won that close race in California,” she said. “That makes her more vulnerable to attacks.”

Hill has apologized for having a sexual relationship with her campaign worker, saying in a statement that “even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate.” But she has pushed back on the idea that her personal life and private photos should be anyone’s business, calling the reports a “smear campaign.”

katie hill“This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed,” she said. “I, like many women who have faced attacks like this before, am stronger than those who want me to be afraid.”

Related story:  Washington Post, House panel investigating Rep. Katie Hill amid allegations of improper relationship with staffer, Colby Itkowitz and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Oct. 24, 2019. The House Ethics Committee said Wednesday it is investigating Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), right, amid allegations that she had an intimate relationship with a congressional staffer in her office.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Kellyanne Conway and Newspaper Face Off Over Warning to Reporter, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Oct. 25, 2019. Ms. Conway told the reporter for The Washington Examiner that if she was going to cover her personal life, “then we’re welcome to do the same around here,” according to an audio recording. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump and one of his fiercest defenders, found herself in a standoff on Friday with a conservative-leaning newspaper after it accused her of threatening to investigate a reporter’s personal life.

Much of the drama played out in public, with the newspaper, The Washington Examiner, publishing an article on Thursday about Ms. Conway’s pressure on its reporter that included a recording of their conversation. Ms. Conway then defended herself on Twitter and told reporters outside the White House on Friday, “If I threaten someone, you’ll know it.”

It started with a phone call.

Ms. Conway contacted the reporter, Caitlin Yilek, on Wednesday to dispute a line in an article from the previous day that mentioned the White House adviser’s husband, George Conway, who has departed sharply from his wife and become a prominent critic of Mr. Trump.

According to The Examiner, the offending line in the Tuesday story — which focused on the possibility that Ms. Conway could become the president’s chief of staff — read: “Conway has been in the middle of Trump’s barbs with her husband, George, a conservative lawyer who frequently makes headlines for his criticism of the president.”

Oct. 24

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lawyer argues he would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell​, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). ​President Trump’s private attorney said Wednesday that the president could not be investigated or prosecuted as long as he is in the White House, even for shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

william consovoyThe claim of “temporary presidential immunity” from Trump’s private attorney William S. Consovoy, right, came in court in response to a judge’s question that invoked the president’s own hypothetical scenario. As a candidate in 2016, Trump said his support was so strong he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.”

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)The president’s lawyer was asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to block a subpoena for Trump’s private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election. The judges seemed skeptical of the president’s sweeping claims of immunity not just from prosecution, but also from investigation.

Judge Denny Chin pressed Consovoy about the hypothetical shooting in the middle of Manhattan. “Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked, adding, “Nothing could be done? That is your position?”

“That is correct,” Consovoy answered emphasizing that the immunity applied only while Trump is in office.

The exchange came during an hour-long argument centered on Trump’s effort to fend off a subpoena to his longtime accounting firm from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The case, expected to reach the Supreme Court, is a test of the sweep of presidential privilege and one of several battles over Trump’s business records that began before the House opened its impeachment inquiry.

Judge Robert A. Katzmann asked Trump’s lawyer Wednesday what harm would come from turning over the president’s tax records to a grand jury when state and federal officials already retain such documents.

Consovoy said there was no guarantee the records would remain private once prosecutors and a grand jury were granted access.

Carey Dunne, general counsel from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, told the court “there is no such thing as presidential immunity for tax returns” and “they’re making this victor marreroup.”

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, right, rejected Trump’s broad claims that a sitting president is immune not only from prosecution but also from investigation. The judge said such a shield for the president would be “virtually limitless” and characterized Trump’s claim of immunity as “repugnant to the nation’s fundamental structure and constitutional values.” The appeal Wednesday is being heard by three judges — Katzmann, Chin and Christopher F. Droney — all of whom were nominated by Democratic presidents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him, Peter Baker, Lara Jakes, Julian E. Barnes, Sharon LaFraniere and Edward Wong, Oct. 24, 2019 (updated). The impeachment inquiry is in some ways the culmination of a battle between the president and the government institutions he distrusted and disparaged. Nameless, faceless and voiceless, the C.I.A. officer who first triggered the greatest threat to President Trump’s tenure in office seemed to be practically the embodiment of the “deep state” that the president has long accused of trying to take him down.

But over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present, who have defied a White House attempt to block cooperation with House impeachment investigators and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower.

william taylor o CustomThe parade of witnesses marching to Capitol Hill culminated this week with the dramatic testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., right, a military officer and diplomat who has served his country for 50 years. Undaunted by White House pressure, he came forward to accuse the same president who sent him to Ukraine a few months ago of abusing his power to advance his own political interests.

The House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Democrats is the climax of a 33-month scorched-earth struggle between a president with no record of public service and the government he inherited but never trusted. If Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, it will be in part because of some of the same career professionals he has derided as “absolute scum” or compared to Nazis.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Why Did Republicans Storm the Capitol? They’re Running Out of Options, Editorial Board, Oct. 24, 2019. As more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that President Trump’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts. Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, a gaggle of conservative House members on Capitol Hill staged a “protest,” barging into the secure room — called a SCIF — where members of three House committees were preparing to hear testimony from Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

republican party upside downShepherding the demonstrators was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of President Trump’s fiercest apologists, whose account live-tweeted the stunt: “BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside — more details to come.”

Chaos ensued. There were shouting matches. Some of the invading members brought along their cellphones, though they are prohibited inside the secure room. Ms. Cooper’s testimony was delayed, and Democrats called in the sergeant-at-arms for help restoring order.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House delayed Ukraine trade decision in August, David J. Lynch and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 24, 2019. When the State Department’s Bill Taylor testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry this week, John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned the U.S. trade representative that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Taylor bombshell, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. When the State Department’s Bill Taylor, right, testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry this william taylor o croppedweek, there were widespread reports that his testimony had elicited sighs and gasps from Democrats and Republicans, because it was just that ugly for Donald Trump. Now we’re finding out just what it was that set off all the alarms.

Bill Taylor’s written opening statement leaked to the media days ago, but up to now, we had no specifics when it came to his verbal answers to the questions he was asked by people on the committee. But NBC News has learned that at one point Taylor told the committee about the order to withhold military funding to Ukraine. Taylor said that an unnamed Office of Management and Budget official told him that “the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to OMB.”

bill palmer report logo headerWhy is this important? It makes clear that the order came from Donald Trump himself. This means Trump can’t claim that he didn’t know what Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was doing. He can’t simply scapegoat Mulvaney or others for the Ukraine quid pro quo, because it’s clear that people within OMB were well aware that the order came from the top.

This comes amid reports that House Democrats are now just about three weeks away from starting their televised House impeachment inquiry hearings. Based on this Bill Taylor bombshell, it’s more clear than ever that he’ll be one of the key witnesses during those televised hearings.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican defense of Trump grows more frantic and disjointed as Ukraine scandal escalates, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). GOP House members who stormed a closed-door meeting Wednesday made process arguments that sidestepped the substance of the central allegations underpinning the impeachment inquiry.

• Analysis: Lawmakers can be their own biggest cybersecurity vulnerability
• Trump told the GOP to fight. It took the brawl underground
• Democrats eye Bolton as key witness
• House Democrats prepare to move inquiry onto public stage
• Live Updates: Investigators pause depositions in honor of Cummings
• Sondland ‘does not recall’ threatening Ukraine over funding, attorney says
• Investigators grapple with how to present the complex Ukraine narrative to the American people
• Judge to order release of Ukraine records in 30 days
• Taylor fought corruption in Ukraine. Things changed under Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge says he will order State Dept. to begin releasing Ukraine records in 30 days, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 24, 2019. A federal judge said Wednesday that he will order the State Department to begin releasing Ukraine-related documents in 30 days, potentially making public sensitive records and communications at the heart of an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The decision, by U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper of Washington, D.C., came in a public records lawsuit filed Oct. 1 by a government watchdog group, American Oversight. The group in May asked the State Department for records related to alleged efforts by Trump and his administration to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the group sought communications, such as those between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. It also sought records and communications since March 2018 related to the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Oct. 24, 2019. Officials are said to have shifted from an administrative review of the Russia investigation to a criminal inquiry. The move is likely to raise alarms that President Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.

william barr at dojJustice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr, left, to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, right, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

john durham CustomThe opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.

Mr. Barr’s reliance on Mr. Durham, a widely respected and veteran prosecutor who has investigated C.I.A. torture and broken up Mafia rings, could help insulate the attorney general from accusations that he is doing the president’s bidding and putting politics above justice.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s how you know Donald Trump is dead in the water, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. Imagine being stuck on a sinking boat that’s rapidly taking on water, and you have a very short amount of time left. Do you 1) try to come up with a plan to save yourself, 2) do nothing and hope it all magically works out, 3) hatch a crazy plot to get revenge on your designated enemies that’ll only cause your boat to sink even faster?

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has chosen option three. That was already pretty clear when he decided that his game plan was going to consist of sending his House GOP into a secure SCIF room to eat pizza while looking stupid. Now it’s abundantly clear, thanks to the sorta kinda not-really-existent DOJ criminal inquiry that’s supposedly just been opened into the U.S. intel officials who dared to investigate Donald Trump’s Russia scandal to begin with.

To be clear, there isn’t really a probe here – at least not one that’s going to result in anything tangible.

joseph digenova victoria toensing fox

Politico, Lawyers for Ukrainian oligarch have another client: The columnist who pushed Biden corruption claims, Natasha Bertrand and Darren Samuelsohn, Oct. 24, 2019. Conservative lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing (shown above), who this year took on as a client an oligarch at the center of the Ukraine scandal, also represent the conservative columnist who has advanced Trump-friendly claims of corruption in Kyiv.

“John Solomon has been a client of our firm for a very long time,” Joe diGenova told Politico on Thursday. “He’s a journalist and he has legal needs, like many journalists.”

The arrangement demonstrates how interconnected the cast of characters at the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has become, and raises new questions about legal privileges that could help shield key players from scrutiny.

“It raises very serious questions about whether these individuals are trying to use a lawyer-client relationship to hide communications involving illicit activities,” said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University.

Solomon confirmed to Politico that Toensing and diGenova “have been my lawyers for a very long time, along with other lawyers across many different law firms.” Solomon said he used Toensing and diGenova “for libel review, to help review book and movie offers, and to do personnel contracts.”

Solomon pushed back on that, arguing that he hired the pair “years ago” and would have had to have known then that the Ukraine scandal would evolve into legal fights and impeachment proceedings if he were only using them as a shield.

maria butina alexandrr torshin facebook Custom

New York Post, Russian agent Maria Butina to be released from prison, sent back to Moscow, Lee Brown, Oct. 24, 2019. Russian agent Maria Butina (shown with Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank Alexander Torshin) is due to be released from prison Friday — and immediately escorted back to the Motherland, according to her lawyer. Butina, a pro-gun activist who infiltrated conservative political circles as a secret agent for the Kremlin, will be released from a low-security prison in Tallahassee, Fla., where she was serving 18 months for working as an undeclared agent of a foreign government without registering in the US.

The red-headed inmate will be sent packing back to Moscow accompanied by two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, told the Washington Examiner. However, he said he has been kept in the dark over her exact itinerary — knowing only that she will get to make one call before boarding her final connecting flight home.

“They tend to do these things like they’re moving a nuclear bomb, and they’re not,” Driscoll complained of US officials’ secrecy. Butina, 30, has picked an outfit from Amazon to replace her prison uniform, the lawyer said, without giving details on her get-up.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Washington Post and The New York Times will no longer be delivered to the White House, officials said, Michael M. Grynbaum, Oct. 24, 2019. President Trump has called members of the press “enemies of the people,” deemed critical coverage “fake,” accused news organizations of treason and threatened to make it easier to sue journalists for libel.

But not until this week had Mr. Trump turned to the ultimate recourse of the unhappy reader: He canceled his subscription.

Officials in the West Wing on Thursday announced that copies of The Washington Post and The New York Times would no longer be delivered to the White House. The administration is moving to force other federal agencies to end their subscriptions to the papers, as well.

“Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving — hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved,” the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Sean Hannity just found himself in the thick of Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. Things are moving in a fast an strange sean hannity white housedirection when it comes to Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. When Lev Parnas appeared in court yesterday, he tried to invoke executive privilege, (falsely) asserting that he was working for the Trump administration, and making his trial Trump’s problem. Hours later, Rudy Giuliani came out of hibernation to tweet that everything he did in Ukraine was for Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as Rudy, Lev, and Igor all continue to scramble to tie themselves to Trump on the legal front, new details are surfacing abou what they were up to before Lev and Igor got arrested. Not only were they conspiring with disgraced former Ukraine official Viktor Shokin, right, to try to invent phony scandals about Joe Biden, they were preparing to put Shokin on the air to do an interview – with Sean Hannity, right. In fact, according to CNN, the interview was scheduled to take place in Vienna, the day after Lev and Igor were arrested.

viktor shokinTo be clear, this does not criminally implicate Hannity. It’s not illegal to interview someone. It’s not even illegal to interview someone if you know they’re a criminal. But from a scandal standpoint, if not a legal standpoint, it does raise questions about just how much Hannity knew about what was going on. It also raises questions about how much or little Hannity might be legally required to testify about at the Parnas-Fruman trial, as Hannity may be a key witness, but he also has journalistic protections.

U.S. 2020 Elections

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Day the Trump Boom Died, Paul Krugman, Why has business confidence collapsed? Oct. 24, 2019. To be fair, the overall state of the economy is still pretty good. Unemployment is very low and job growth is continuing. And while there will eventually be a nationwide recession — the business cycle has not been abolished — it’s not at all clear that we’ll have one before next year’s election.

However, important parts of the economy are lagging. Probably even more significant, there has been a dramatic decline, almost a collapse, in business confidence.

      • tim ryan president buttonNew York Times, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio ended his presidential campaign, leaving 18 Democrats in the 2020 race.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries to rebrand Syria withdrawal as a promise kept, Anne Gearan, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). The president hopes his decision to “let someone else fight” will please his most loyal political supporters, who tend to love it when he pokes a finger in the eye of naysayers.

Consortium News, Commentary, US Democrats Cultivated the Barbarism of ISIS, Jonathan Cook, Oct. 24, 2019. The Islamic State didn’t emerge out of nowhere, writes Jonathan Cook. It was entirely a creation of two decades of U.S. interference in the Middle East. There is something profoundly deceitful in the Democratic Party and corporate media’s framing of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.

One does not need to like Trump or ignore the dangers posed to the Kurds, at least in the short term, by the sudden departure of U.S. forces from northern Syria to understand that the coverage is being crafted in such a way as to entirely overlook the bigger picture.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s whistleblower office at VA has failed its most basic mission, watchdog says, Lisa Rein, Oct. 24, 2019. The office was meant to turn around a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers at Veterans Affairs. Instead, it has punished them and held almost no wrongdoers accountable, the agency's inspector general said.

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel investigating Rep. Katie Hill amid allegations of improper relationship with staffer, Colby Itkowitz and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Oct. 24, 2019. The House katie hillEthics Committee said Wednesday it is investigating Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), right, amid allegations that she had an intimate relationship with a congressional staffer in her office.

“The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Katie Hill may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff, in violation of” House rules, the panel said in a statement. “The committee … has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”

The allegations first surfaced in an article on the conservative website RedState.org. The article alleged that Hill and her husband were in a consensual three-person relationship with a woman on her campaign team. The article included text messages it said were between Hill and the woman as well as intimate photos of them together.

The article also alleged that Hill was involved romantically with her legislative director, Graham Kelly, which would violate House ethics rules.

“I am beyond grateful for the work the Ethics Committee does to ensure transparency in Congress. I welcome this investigation and will be cooperating fully to clear this matter up,” Hill said in a statement Wednesday.

Hill, 31, confirmed that she was in a relationship with the female campaign staffer, according to the Los Angeles Times, but has denied that she had a romantic relationship with Kelly. “Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false,” Hill said in a statement she released Tuesday. “I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into public view and the vindictive claims of my ex have now involved the lives and reputations of unrelated parties.”

Roll Call, Guam delegate under investigation for alleged sexual relationship with staffer, other offenses, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 24, 2019. Allegations also include converting michael san nicolas guamcampaign funds for personal use, accepting improper contributions. The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into Guam Democratic Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas , right, over allegations that he may have had a sexual relationship with a member of his staff, converted campaign funds for personal use and accepted improper campaign contributions.

Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch of Florida and ranking member Kenny Marchant of Texas said in a statement Wednesday that the committee will gather additional information on the allegations and that the probe “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.”

San Nicolas, a former vice president of the Bank of Guam, served five years in the territory’s Legislature before he defeated eight-term Democratic incumbent Madeleine Z. Bordallo in a primary last year.

Oct. 23

Middle East Power Shakeup

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. envoy says he was told release of Ukraine aid was contingent on public declaration to investigate Bidens, 2016 election, Anne Gearan, Rachael Bade and John Wagner, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said Tuesday he was told release of military aid was contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting President Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.

William Taylor o CustomActing ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., right, testified behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe of Trump that he stands by his characterization that it was “crazy” to make the assistance contingent on investigations he found troubling.

Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called “weird,” Taylor said, according to a copy of his lengthy opening statement obtained by the Washington Post. Taylor walked lawmakers through a series of conversations he had with other U.S. diplomats who were trying to obtain what one called the “deliverable” of Ukrainian help investigating Trump’s political rivals.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators, Sharon LaFraniere, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Kiev, provided the most explicit account to date of President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine publicly announce an investigation of Mr. Trump’s political rivals in exchange for an Oval Office meeting and military assistance to fight Russian-led forces.

state dept map logo SmallMr. Taylor said he and other top officials were alarmed by a shadow foreign policy that put Ukrainian lives at risk for Mr. Trump’s political gain. The following are key parts of his opening statement.

William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo.

gordon sondland oMr. Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, right, the American ambassador to the European Union, that military aid for Ukraine and an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were contingent on the Ukrainians announcing that they were investigating a company, Burisma, that had hired Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, helped convey the demands, he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Contradicting Trump, Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze Before It Became Public, Andrew E. Kramer and Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 23, 2019. President Trump and his allies say there could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know U.S. assistance had been blocked. But word of the aid freeze had reached high-level Ukrainian officials in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Times.

To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze a $391 million military aid package to Ukraine was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know the assistance had been blocked.

Following testimony by William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the freezing of the aid was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand for the investigations, the president took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to approvingly quote a Republican member of Congress saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Impeachment Diary: The words that could end a presidency, Dana Milbank, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). He was straight out of Foggy Bottom central casting. Lean and bespectacled, with neatly combed gray hair and a pressed charcoal suit, William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, gave not so much as a glance toward the massed cameras as he arrived Tuesday, escorted by uniformed police, at the offices of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

But once inside, he delivered words that could end a presidency.

“In August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons,” Taylor testified, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by The Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Here’s the quid pro quo proof, Lindsey Graham, Editorial Board, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, right, one of President Trump’s most lindsey graham judiciary chairmanardent defenders in the Ukraine affair, has said he sees no evidence of wrongdoing in the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Mr. Trump pressed for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son and the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, while dangling a White House meeting that Mr. Zelensky wanted.

But Mr. Graham did say the other day that “if you could show me that, you know, Trump was actually engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

We think we can help the South Carolina Republican. Evidently he has not followed closely the depositions and documents collected by three House committees from present and former senior administration officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz and House Republicans go berserk inside secure SCIF room, police now involved, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2019. If you’re looking for a sign of just how poorly the House impeachment inquiry hearings are going for Donald Trump, just take a look at what his allies are now doing to try to derail the process. In an attempt at delaying today’s testimony, a couple dozen House Republicans have stormed into a secure SCIF room, and have gone so berserk that the police are now involved. No, really.

bill palmer report logo headerIt all started when CNN’s Manu Raju reported that a House GOP contingent led by “Malicious Captain Kangaroo” Matt Gaetz stormed into the SCIF with electronic devices in hand and refused to leave, while whining about how the impeachment hearings are being held. They’re angry that they’re not allowed to attend these hearings, but in reality it’s simply because they’re not on the committees that have been holding the hearings; the Republicans who are on those committees have been given full access to the impeachment witnesses.

U.S. House logoBut don’t tell that to this group of pro-Trump marauders, who are doing everything they can to sabotage the sanctity of the testimony process. Politico’s Kyle Cheney is reporting that the police are now being forced to sweep the SCIF due to “possible security breaches of what’s supposed to be a secure room.” Of course Politico’s Andrew Desiderio hit on the real reason for the stunt: Department of Defense official Laura Cooper’s testimony is now on hold, while the House GOP invaders try to “negotiate a settlement” with Adam Schiff.

This is all somehow really happening. House Republicans have gone berserk in a secure SCIF room, the police now involved, and everyone involved is trying to negotiate a resolution, like any other hostage standoff. Here’s a solution: the police should simply arrest these House Republicans for violating the law by improperly entering a SCIF and improperly carrying electronic devices with them.

Roll Call, Impeachment news roundup: Unauthorized Republicans storm secure room as Pentagon official Laura Cooper gives deposition about withheld military aid to Ukraine, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2019. A cadre of House Republicans led by Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Matt Gaetz stormed the secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday where the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine was giving her deposition for the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg, Trump Backed GOP Plan to Protest Inquiry: Impeachment Update, Saleha Mohsin, Jennifer Jacobs and Josh Wingrove, Oct. 23, 2019.  Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: So much for ‘due process’; Republican mob crashes secure hearing room, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 23, 2019. Republicans have been unable to construct a substantive defense to compelling evidence that President Trump used taxpayer-funded military aid to Ukraine to extort its government to interfere in our election (thereby putting our ally at risk to further Russian aggression). Instead, they’ve taken to grousing about lack of “due process” in the impeachment inquiry.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has psychotic meltdown about “human scum” Republicans who are deserting him, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2019. Amid growing backlash from some House and Senate Republicans, Donald Trump posted this tweet this afternoon: “The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!”

bill palmer report logo headerHuman scum? Well that’s a little harsh. Keep in mind that this is the President of the United States talking about members of his own party in the House and Senate. Trump hasn’t named names, but we’d imagine he’s referring to the likes of Mitt Romney, Francis Rooney, and other Republicans cans who are trying to find a way to throw Trump overboard.

Donald Trump is clearly exasperated, and worried, by this trend. This is one of his most psychotic tweets to date, and it’s notable that it’s aimed at his own party. Notably, at this point there are just enough congressional Republicans speaking up against Trump, he’s no longer able to single them out by name and attack them individually.

Middle East Power Shake-Up

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey and Russia to Jointly Control Part of Syria, a Victory for Putin, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). President Vladimir Putin played host to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks as a U.S.-brokered cease-fire with Kurdish forces came to an end.

The negotiations highlight the recent loss of American influence, and Moscow’s emergence as a powerful player in the Middle East. Details below.

pentagon dc skyline dod photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Iraq gives U.S. troops from Syria four weeks in the country before they must leave, Erin Cunningham and Kareem Fahim​, Oct. 23, 2019. The Iraqi defense minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper amid an apparent disagreement over whether U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria could stay in Iraq.

Centcom logoU.S. troops leaving Syria are only “transiting” through Iraqi territory and will depart within four weeks, Iraq’s defense minister said Wednesday. Najah al-Shammari spoke with the Associated Press following a meeting with Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper in Baghdad.

mark esperEsper, right, arrived in Iraq for talks amid an apparent disagreement over whether U.S. troops withdrawing from northeastern Syria could now stay in Iraq.The Pentagon chief said earlier this week that the troops leaving Syria would reposition to western Iraq to continue fighting the Islamic State. But on Tuesday, he appeared to backtrack, saying that American forces would stay only temporarily.

Iraq’s military opposed the move, saying in a statement that the newly arrived U.S. forces would have to leave. “There is no agreement for these forces to stay in Iraq,” the statement said.

• Russia and Turkey reach deal to push Kurdish forces out of zone in northern Syria
• Trump’s D.C. hotel cancels Christian aid.

SouthFront, Turkish Military Machine Will Crush Kurdish Units If They Decline To Withdraw: Kremlin, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 23, 2019. The United States has abandoned Kurdish units in northern Syria “almost forcing them to fight against the Turks,” Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said commenting on the recent remarks by US Special Representative dmitry peskovfor Syria Engagement James Jeffrey. After Moscow and Ankara reached an agreement on settling the crsis in northeastern Syria, Jeffrey voiced doubts that the Kurds would withdraw from the designated areas.

The presidential spokesman Peskov, right, warned that it is absolutely clear that if Kurdish units fail to pull out and withdraw their weapons, “then Syrian border guards and Russian military police officers will have to pull back.” He said, "“In fact, the remaining Kurdish units will be crushed by the Turkish military machine.”

On October 23, Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to settle the ongoing conflict in northeastern Syria. Under the deal, the Turkish military operation will continue in a limited area only, and Syrian and Russian troops will deploy along the rest of the border. The deal says that YPG units have to withdraw its troops and weapons from a 30km-deep area.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says U.S. will lift sanctions on Turkey, calling cease-fire in Syria ‘permanent,’ Felicia Sonmez and David Nakamura​, Oct. 23, 2019. President Trump announced Wednesday that the United States will lift sanctions on Turkey, saying that the Turkish government has informed the White House that it will abide by what he characterized as a “permanent” cease-fire along the border with Syria.

At a hastily organized event in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Trump also used the occasion to justify his “America First” foreign policy agenda, pushing back against critics by arguing that he is removing U.S. troops from a region where they should not be involved. “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump said.

• Russian military units patrol northeastern Syria in agreement with Turkey

Campaign 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Anxiety rises among Democrats worried about party’s prospects in 2020, Annie Linskey and Matt Viser, Oct. 23, 2019. As they look at a weakened Republican president, Democrats see vulnerabilities in their own field, and the unpredictable nature of the race so far has contributed to their unease.

dnc horizontal logoParty leaders and activists are citing weakness in all of the leading contenders, including former vice president Joe Biden, right, who has been forced on the joe biden odefensive about his family’s ethics, performed haltingly in debates and set off alarms with his poor fundraising.

They also fret that the two other top-ranking candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), are too liberal to win a general election. Other candidates have had moments to shine, but none yet have fully transformed that into anything approaching momentum.

washington post logoWashington Post, How a Beltway power couple and a political newcomer learned to thrive in the Trump era, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Anu Narayanswamy​, Oct. 23, 2019. Brad Parscale, President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, and longtime GOP operatives Katie Walsh and Mike Shields have helped each other flourish inside the Republican Party ecosystem.

When Brad Parscale was looking for advice about how to navigate Washington after running the digital strategy for Donald Trump’s upstart presidential campaign in 2016, the brash political newcomer turned to a Beltway power couple.

Katie Walsh and Mike Shields, both former chiefs of staff at the Republican National Committee, advised him on how to make the most of his new perch, he said.

Since then, the three have helped each other flourish inside the Republican Party ecosystem, recommending each other’s services to top GOP officials and candidates. Together, the trio have broad influence across the party — drawing millions of dollars from 23 party committees and organizations since the beginning of 2017, according to campaign finance filings and people familiar with their work.

Crime, Prisons

ny times logoNew York Times, 39 People Found Dead in Truck in Britain, Megan Specia, Oct. 23, 2019. The driver, a 25-year-old-man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The bodies of 39 people were discovered in a truck in an industrial park east of London early Wednesday, but hours after the discovery, the police said that much about the case remained a mystery, including the identities of the victims, why they were inside and where the vehicle had traveled.

united kingdom flagEven as the police warned of a long, complex investigation, it seemed certain that one line of inquiry would be whether this was a case of human trafficking, like several before it that have left a trail of victims across Europe, killed as they were smuggled in trucks.

Officials said they believed the vehicle came from Bulgaria, and entered Britain four days before Wednesday’s horrific discovery. According to the police, it appeared that all but one of the dead, a teenager, were adults, but determining the victims’ identities will be a lengthy process.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside ISIS Prison, Children Ask Their Fate, Ben Hubbard, Photographs and Video by Ivor Prickett, Oct. 23, 2019. A rare inside look by New York Times journalists exposes an enormous legal and humanitarian crisis, one that the world has largely chosen to ignore. The prisoners cover the floor like a carpet of human despair. Many are missing eyes or limbs, some are bone-thin from sickness, and most wear orange jumpsuits similar to what the Islamic State, the terrorist group they once belonged to, dressed its own captives in before it killed them.

Upstairs, jammed into two cells with little sunlight, are more than 150 children — aged roughly 9 to 14 — from a range of countries. Their parents brought them to Syria and ended up dead or detained. The children have been here for months and have no idea where their relatives are or what the future holds.

“I have a question,” said a boy from Suriname inside his cell. “What is going to happen to us? Are the kids going to come out?”

U.S. Education Scandal

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Washington Post, Trump administration let nearly $11 million in student aid go to unaccredited for-profit colleges, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). It appears the Education Department tried to shield itself from an ill-fated decision to allow millions of dollars to flow to the Illinois Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Colorado.

A trove of documents released Tuesday by the House Education and Labor Committee shows the Education Department provided $10.7 million in federal loans and grants to students at the Illinois Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Colorado even though officials knew the for-profit colleges were not accredited and ineligible to receive such aid.

betsy devos oThe documents build on prior reports from the committee describing efforts by Education Department officials to shield Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University, from the consequences of lying to students about the accreditation of its since-closed schools. Now it appears the Education Department tried to shield itself from an ill-fated decision to allow millions of dollars to flow to those schools.

Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education Committee, is threatening to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, for more documents related to the department’s role in Dream Center’s actions. Scott says the agency has obstructed the committee’s investigation and refused to answer questions, as emails and letters paint a

Oct. 22

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Other Headlines Include

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Slow Impeachment Timeline to Sharpen Their Public Case, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats, once democratic donkey logoeyeing an impeachment vote by Thanksgiving, now conceded they may have to slow down as they plan public hearings to make their case. House Democrats have resigned themselves to the likelihood that impeachment proceedings against President Trump will extend into the Christmas season, as they plan a series of public hearings intended to make the simplest and most devastating possible public case in favor of removing Mr. Trump.

U.S. House logoDemocratic leaders had hoped to move as soon as Thanksgiving to wrap up a narrow inquiry focused around Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, buoyed by polling data that shows that the public supports the investigation, even if voters are not yet sold on impeaching the president.

Their goal is to convince the public — and if they can, more Republicans — that the president committed an impeachable offense when he demanded that Ukraine investigate his political rivals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump swiftly condemned after he calls inquiry a ‘lynching,’ John Wagner, Oct. 22, 2019.  “Every time your back is up against the wall, you throw out karen bass headshotthese racial bombs,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), right. President Trump on Tuesday called the impeachment inquiry a “lynching” in an inflammatory tweet that donald trump twitterdrew swift condem nation from Democrats as a senior diplomat viewed as a key witness testifies.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” a “pressure campaign” and a “coverup.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin and Hungary’s Orban helped sour Trump on Ukraine, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 22, 2019. President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals came as he was being urged to adopt a view of that country as hopelessly corrupt by its regional adversaries.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s Cabinet meetings are about everything but the business of his Cabinet, Josh Dawsey, Oct. 22, 2019. They have served as a chance for the president to boast and lash out at critics. The Cabinet meeting was billed as a discussion of the administration’s “successful rollback of the abuses and the high cost of the bloated regulatory state.” It began with a prayer from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. A large cardboard poster titled “CHAMPIONS” was perched behind the president’s head.

djt official portraitThen with the cameras rolling and the administration facing criticism over its Middle East policy and presidential self-dealing at the same time as an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats was gaining momentum, President Trump made it clear he had other things on his mind than cutting regulations. He had stayed inside the White House all weekend, sending more than 80 tweets and playing no golf.

“Everybody feel comfortable over there?” he said at the opening of the 71-minute affair that was part news conference, part stream-of-consciousness bragging and all about Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The smoking gun has already been revealed, Michael Gerson (former Bush speechwriter, right), Oct. 22, 2019. The impeachment of President Trump has reached an early point of absurdity. Just about everyone in Washington believes that a quid pro quo — in which Trump used American clout to pressure Ukrainian michael gerson file photoPresident Volodymyr Zelensky into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden — would be impeachable (or at least, as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina recently put it, “very disturbing”).

And just about everyone in Washington believes that Trump used American clout to pressure Zelensky into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. Which Republicans such as Graham deny was a quid pro quo. It is a nakedly deceitful position.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump administration misusing USAID for personal business interests, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 22, 2019. Historically a cipher and pass-through for the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been transformed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the urging of Donald Trump, into an aggressive business intelligence operation designed to financially benefit Trump's top donors in private industry.

Salon, Trump's tax case will be live-streamed: Is this a roadmap for impeachment? Sophia Tesfaye, Oct. 22, 2019. Voters still don't see Trump as a unique danger to constitutional democracy. Total transparency could change that. Former FBI director James Comey did a bit to redeem himself and lift his stature among Donald Trump’s most dug-in resisters when he testified before Congress in 2017 and responded to a Twitter threat from the president to not divulge too much about their Oval Office conversation.

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey famously said, discussing his infamous chat with the president about the FBI’s investigation into election interference in 2016.

To the great disappointment of many, however, no such tapes have ever been released. There appears to be no “pee tape” either. Almost three years into Trump's first term this much is clear: There is no secret recording that will take him down — but there may be a livestream.

After the U.S. Court of Appeals granted Trump a last-minute reprieve in his quest to block New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax records, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is set to finally appear in the Second Circuit this week. The arguments will reportedly be live-streamed on the internet.

The 40 minutes of oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday morning aren’t likely to provide fireworks, or even many gripping soundbites. But for House Democrats attempting to navigate the tangled politics and process of the impeachment inquiry, it may provide something of a roadmap.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Justin Trudeau Headed to Second Term as Canada’s Prime Minister, Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.). After an often ugly campaign, his party justin trudeau headshotis projected to lose its majority but keep enough seats to form a government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, of Canada was headed to a second term on Monday after an often ugly campaign that became a referendum on his character and on his authenticity as an earnest standard-bearer for liberalism.

Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party will not retain its majority in Canada’s House of Commons, according to projections by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but it will canadian flagkeep enough seats to allow Mr. Trudeau to form a government, with support from two left-leaning parties.

The victory was a personal vindication for Mr. Trudeau, who battled accusations that he had bullied his former attorney general, an Indigenous woman, and faced damaging revelations late in the race.

washington post logoWashington Post, Parliament denies support for fast-tracked Brexit deal, William Booth and Karla Adam​, Oct. 22, 2019. Lawmakers voted to support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal in principle, but then, more importantly, rejected his timetable — a yes/no result that creates further confusion over what happens next.

united kingdom flag“So now we face further uncertainty,” Johnson said after the vote. He warned Britons that the government would immediately step up preparations to leave the European Union with no deal at the end of October. But that could be a bluff.

He also said: “One way or another, we will leave the E.U. with this deal, to which this house has just given its assent.” The government published its 110-page bill on Monday evening — the first chance anyone had to lay eyes on it. Johnson wanted it sorted in 72 hours.

His government has withheld an economic analysis of his Brexit deal — which seeks to leave the E.U. single market, diverge from E.U. customs regimes and tariff schedules and allow Britain to make its own independent trade deals around the world. The Johnson exit is a harder Brexit than that envisioned by his predecessor, Theresa May.

ny times logoNew York Times, Erdogan and Putin Meet as Syria Cease-Fire Nears an End, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia’s leader hosted his Turkish counterpart, underscoring Moscow’s emergence as a powerful player in the Middle East. The negotiations highlight the loss of American influence in the days since Mr. Trump ordered troops to withdraw from northeast Syria, a region controlled by a Kurdish-led militia allied with the United States. The presence of American soldiers there had ensured that other nations did not challenge Kurdish control.

The American retreat created a power vacuum, allowing Turkey to invade. That prompted the area’s Kurdish leaders to turn to the government of Bashar al-Assad, and its main backers, the Russian government, for protection.

SouthFront, Russian Helicopters Arrive At Syrian Airbase Freed From US Military (Video), Staff and wire reports, Oct. 22, 2019. On Oct. 22, helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces arrived at the Tabqah Airbase in the Syrian province of Raqqah. According to Washington, the airbase was abandoned by the US military in the framework of its ‘wthdrawal from northern Syria.’

However, the base is not located in the north, or close to the area of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring. In fact this happened after the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces reached a security agreement with the Damascus government.

According to reports, Russia and Syria are planning to fully restore the damaged airstrip and once again turn Tabqah into a full-fledged airbase. The Tabqah airbase is located southwest of the city of Raqqah.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine just helped spell out Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal, Shirley Kennedy, Oct. 22, 2019. Ukraine reminds us that we have a “president” who is the laughing stock of the world. The Kyiv Post published a piece called “Inside Impeachment: Kyiv Post on the Trump-Ukraine Scandal.” What’s humorous about this piece is its “shady cast of characters,” led by none other than Donald Trump. What’s sad is that the article accurately portrays these characters.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Kyiv Post identifies each player and explains his role (only one female). The major players in this saga are Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland, Mick Mulvaney, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry. Underneath them are the “dirt diggers and intermediaries,” Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, and John Solomon. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman should be familiar to everyone, as the two were recently arrested on federal charges. Reading into the links of this article, Ukraine confirms that Giuliani was, in fact, attempting to dig up dirt on Joe Biden with the help of “dubious Ukraine officials.”

ukraine flagThis piece helps to connect some of the proverbial missing dots in Marie Yovanovitch’s ouster, beginning with the outlandish claim that she helped Ukraine interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Working with former prosecutor Viktor Shokin and his successor Yurly Lutsenko, Giuliani and Trump were aware that lies and misrepresentations were being made about Yovanovitch, including the ridiculous claim that she worked for Biden. They also “contributed” (payola) to an “unspecified member of Congress” to “help remove Yovanovitch from office.” This all reads like a poor man’s James Bond movie.

Trump’s latest mess isn’t necessarily big news in Ukraine, but as CNN reports, this piece took over social media, being retweeted thousands of times. It’s a real shame that Donald Trump is little more than a punch line. How embarrassing for a president of the United States, and it’s even more embarrassing for us to have to call him “president” (not that many of us do).

Turk-Kurd War In Syria (Cont.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey and Russia to Jointly Control Part of Syria, a Victory for Putin, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 22, 2019. His jets patrol Syrian skies. His military is expanding operations at the main naval base in Syria. He is forging closer ties to Turkey. He and his Syrian allies are moving into territory being vacated by the United States.

And on Tuesday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia played host to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, for more than six hours of talks on how they and other regional players will divide control of Syria, a land devastated by eight years of civil war.

turkey flagThe negotiations ended with a victory for Mr. Putin: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, in a move that cements the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Syrian Kurdish forces must now retreat more than 20 miles from the border, abandoning land that they had controlled uncontested until earlier this month — when their protectors, the American military, suddenly began to withdraw from the region.

Mr. Putin has emerged as the dominant force in Syria and a major power broker in the broader Middle East — a status showcased by Mr. Erdogan’s hastily arranged trip to the president’s summer home in Sochi. And it looks increasingly clear that Russia, which rescued the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria with brutal airstrikes over the last four years, will be the arbiter of the power balance there.

As President Trump questions American alliances and troop deployments around the world, Russia, like China, has been flexing its muscles, eager to fill the power vacuum left by a syrian flag wavingmore isolationist United States. In Syria, both Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan see opportunity in Mr. Trump’s sudden withdrawal this month of American forces in the country.

Mr. Erdogan had long wanted go to war against the Kurdish-led forces that control northeast Syria, but he dared not, as long as the Kurds’ American allies were stationed there, too. He responded to Mr. Trump’s withdrawal by launching an invasion.

As the United States and Western Europe vacillated in their approach to Syria — to the frustration of Turkey and other Middle Eastern powers — Russia chose to protect its ally, Mr. al-Assad, and stuck with him despite fierce criticism from the West that the Syrian ruler was a brutal despot.

Mr. al-Assad attempted to project his own influence on Tuesday, visiting the northwestern province of Idlib for the first time since the area fell out of government control several years ago. He was pictured near the front line of a battle between rebels and his own military, in photographs (as shown below) of him on the frontlines in the Idleb province released by a state-run news agency SANA.

bashar al assad idleb frontlines oct 22 2019 sana Custom

U.S. Health Care Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Obamacare Prices to Fall and Number of Insurers to Rise Next Year, Abby Goodnough, Oct. 22, 2019. It’s a sign of the law’s resilience despite President Trump’s hhs seal Customefforts to undermine it. The 4-percent price decline is only the second time that average monthly premiums have dropped year-to-year since the marketplace opened in 2014, and it is a sign that the health law is stabilizing after several years of turmoil caused in part by Mr. Trump.

Open enrollment for Obamacare starts on Nov. 1, but looming over it is an impending court decision on the law’s constitutionality in a case supported by the Trump administration that seeks to overturn the law.

ny times logoNew York Times, Medicaid Now Covers a Million Fewer Children, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz, Oct. 22, 2019. The uninsured rate for children is climbing as families run afoul of new paperwork from states and as fear rises among immigrants.

U.S. 2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Anxious Democratic Establishment Asks, ‘Is There Anybody Else?’ Jonathan Martin, Oct. 22, 2019. Party leaders who are worried about Democrats’ chances in 2020 are musing about possible late entrants to the race.

democratic donkey logoWith doubts rising about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s ability to finance a multistate primary campaign, persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s viability in the general election and skepticism that Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Ind., can broaden his appeal beyond white voters, Democratic leaders are engaging in a familiar rite: fretting about who is in the race and longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last minute.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Can Warren Escape the Medicare Trap? Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.).The candidate of plans needs a really good one right now. elizabeth warren o purpleOn Sunday, Elizabeth Warren, left, said that she would soon release a plan explaining how she intends to pay for “Medicare for all.”

Like many policy wonks, I’ll be waiting with bated breath; this could be a make or break moment for her campaign, and possibly for the 2020 election.

There are many excellent things in her overall policy agenda; but she won’t get a chance to do those things unless she can extricate herself from what looks like a health policy trap.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A simple step every state could take to safeguard elections, Editorial Board, Oct. 22, 2019. Election security is a complex challenge. One essential step, however, is so simple it can be carried out with a pen and paper. Pennsylvania officials have announced that Philadelphia and Mercer County will conduct a post-election pilot next month of what’s called a risk-limiting audit.

The procedure is new to most of the country, but 12 states are experimenting with it — because it’s that much of a no-brainer. Risk-limiting audits instead do what any mathematician would advise. They hand-count a statistically meaningful sample of all votes to determine whether the original tally was correct. The required sample increases as the margin of victory narrows.

Currently, 17 states are not required by law to verify the accuracy of their vote tallies at all. Those that are mostly do so the “traditional” way, which in this case means the wrong way. The process auditors typically use — manually recounting votes in a predetermined percentage of precincts — tells officials whether a particular machine or group of machines is working, but it doesn’t actually answer the essential question: Did the declared winner actually win?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is in freefall, Bill Palmer, Oct. 22, 2019. The major polls say that a majority of Americans want Donald Trump impeached and removed from office, which tells you how well things are going for him. Even as Trump fights to hang on to what little is left of his dying presidency, two recent elections in other nations reveal that the world has had enough of Trumpian crap in general.

bill palmer report logo headerjustin trudeau headshotLast night Justin Trudeau, right, won reelection in Canada against a far-right opponent who was essentially a Donald Trump wannabe, and who seemingly had at least indirect ties to the Kremlin. This came just hours after the glacially-moving electoral process in Israel finally delivered what should be the final blow in finishing off Trump’s corrupt ally Benjamin Netanyahu, several weeks after the Israeli people made clear during their election that they wanted to send him packing.

It’s not just that every liberal election victory around the world prevents Donald Trump from having an ally in office. It’s that people around the world are increasingly rejecting politicians who have even a Trump-like whiff about them. It’s a worldwide wake up call.

U.S. Law, Crime, Justice

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Forty-six attorneys general have joined a New York-led antitrust investigation into Facebook, Tony Romm​, Oct. 22, 2019. The probe reflects concerns among state officials that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: But Her Emails...., Editorial Board, Oct. 22, 2019. A three-year investigation finds no criminal wrongdoing in Hillary Clinton’s email practices, which many members of the Trump administration have now embraced. 

What about her emails? Donald Trump raised that question like a red flag for three years, as candidate and president, casting doubts on how Hillary Clinton (shown on her Twitter photo) used a private email server to communicate with her staff and others while she was secretary of state.

hillary clinton twitter“Hillary set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her criminal conduct from public disclosure and exposure, knowing full well that her actions put our national security at risk,” Mr. Trump said late in the campaign.

“Lock her up!” the crowds still chant at his rallies.

Now a three-year State Department investigation has found that, while about three dozen people violated protocols about classified material, they “did their best to implement them in their operations” and “there was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.”

HuffPost, 2 Proud Boys Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison Over Gang Assault In New York, Andy Campbell, Oct. 22, 2019. Two members of the extremist street gang known as the Proud Boys were sentenced Tuesday to four years in a New York prison after attacking protesters outside a GOP event in Manhattan last year.

Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 32, were two of 10 Proud Boys arrested in the assault caught on camera in October 2018. Prosecutors slapped them with charges of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and rioting, declaring them the most vicious assailants that night. Their four-year sentence will include another five years of supervised release, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office confirmed to HuffPost.

The heavier sentences are a huge blow to the Proud Boys, who have been able to host semi-regular street brawls with few to no consequences in cities outside of New York. In Portland, Oregon, for example, they continue to organize violent fascist rallies despite admitting on camera that they host these events to spur fights, waste city resources and then blame anti-fascist protesters when the dust settles.

Kinsman and Hare’s crew tried a similar tactic in this case, claiming that they acted in self-defense when they beat down protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club after an event hosted by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. But video evidence — shot by reporter Sandi Bachom (shown above) — proved otherwise, and Manhattan prosecutors never bought the line. They eventually charged the Proud Boys as what they are: a gang.

“As violent extremism rises in America, a Manhattan jury has declared in one voice that New Yorkers will not tolerate mob violence in our own backyard,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement after the convictions in August.

Justice Mark Dwyer, who presided over the case, also connected the Proud Boys and McInnes, who has repeatedly tried to distance himself from his gang as its members face charges and get involved in scandals related to the violence they commit.

washington post logoWashington Post, A police officer got 90 days after accusations he ‘brutally raped’ a drunk woman. Now he faces federal charges, Katie Shepherd, Oct. 22, 2019. The ride home in a police cruiser should have been the end of an unpleasant night for a 36-year-old woman who had checked herself into a hospital to be treated for intoxication and chronic alcohol abuse. She had been sent home in August 2017 after medical staff caught her trying to steal supplies from the emergency room, and the hospital agreed not to pursue criminal charges if the responding police officer escorted her home safely.

On the way to the woman’s house in the Denver area, then-Westminster police officer Curtis Lee Arganbright pulled over on a secluded stretch of gravel road near McKay Lake in Broomfield, Colo. According to state court records, the police officer forced the woman out of the car and told her to pull her pants down, KDVR reported. He then handcuffed his passenger and “forced the woman to engage in sex acts” on the side of the road, law enforcement officials said last year.

Daily Beast, Feds Charge Trump Donor Imaad Zuberi With Hiding Work as Foreign Agent, Erin Banco and Pilar Melendez, Oct. 22, 2019. Imaad Zuberi, who donated $900,000 to Trump’s Inaugural Committee, will plead guilty to faking records to hide his work as a foreign agent while lobbying U.S. officials. A Los Angeles financier who donated $900,000 to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee has been charged with falsifying records to hide his work as a foreign agent while he lobbied prominent U.S. government officials, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Imaad shah zuberi bo Custom 2Shah Zuberi, 49, also known as “Imaad Zuberi,” has agreed to plead guilty to three counts in a criminal information for allegedly making almost $1 million in illegal campaign contributions, engaging in various lobbying efforts, and evading taxes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

Prosecutors also allege Zuberi (shown with then President Obama) took millions of dollars meant for campaign contributions and lobbyist campaigns for his own personal use.

“Mr. Zuberi’s multi-faceted scheme allowed him to line his pockets by concealing the fact that he was representing foreign clients, obtaining access for clients by making a long series of illegal contributions, and skimming money paid by his clients,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a press release Tuesday announcing the charges.

“Mr. Zuberi circumvented laws designed to insulate U.S. policy and our election process from foreign intervention.”

The venture capitalist’s name first came into the public arena in February when federal prosecutors in New York issued a sweeping subpoena for Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Zuberi was the only individual named in the subpoena. Then, in April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Zuberi was involved in a second federal probe in Los Angeles where prosecutors were scrutinizing his relationships with foreign nations.

Prosecutors in California now allege that under the guise of his firm, Avenue Ventures, Zuberi “solicited foreign nations and representatives of foreign governments” with claims he could change U.S. foreign policy with his “influence in Washington, D.C.” His clients, according to the the criminal information, gave him money for consulting work, investments, and to fund various campaigns. Zuberi then allegedly used the money to hire lobbyists and make campaign contributions—”which gave him access to high-level U.S. officials, some of whom took action in support of his clients,” prosecutors said. Related story below:

U.S. Department of Justice, Campaign Fundraiser Agrees To Plead Guilty To Falsifying Records to Conceal Work as Foreign Agent, Evading Taxes on Income Obtained by Lobbying on Behalf of Foreign Entities, and Illegal Campaign Contributions, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2019. Federal prosecutors today filed a criminal case charging Imaad Shah Zuberi, a Southern California campaign fundraiser, with falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level U.S. government officials.

The criminal charges allege that Zuberi engaged in lobbying efforts that earned him millions of dollars, most of which was pilfered from his clients, and Zuberi has agreed to plead guilty to those charges at a later date, pursuant to a plea agreement.

Oct. 21

Global Headlines

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas and Michael Brice-Saddler​, Oct. 21, 2019. The speaker’s “fact sheet” outlines what her office characterized as a gross abuse of power by Trump, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

President Trump urged his party to “get tougher and fight” against his impeachment Monday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

A Republican effort to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for his handling of the inquiry was also expected to come to a head Monday, with Democrats poised to block a floor vote on the measure.

Democrats have planned two closed-door depositions this week, including one Tuesday from Bill Taylor, the top official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. In text messages with other U.S. diplomats, Taylor raised alarms about the White House holding back military aid to Ukraine and pressing for investigations into the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

2:15 p.m.: Democrats pounce on Trump’s emoluments clause comments

Democratic lawmakers were quick to lambaste and ridicule Trump’s Monday complaints about “this phony emoluments clause.”

“Trump thinks any part of the Constitution that forbids his corruption is illegitimate,” tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). “Remember when republicans labeled themselves ‘strict constitutionalists’?”

      • Analysis: Why Republicans are trying to censure Adam Schiff
      •         Analysis: It’s every man for himself now on Trump and Ukraine

C-SPAN, President Trump hosts members of his Cabinet for a meeting at the White House, Oct. 21, 2019 (72:18 mins.).

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: New Lev Parnas bombshell drops a house on Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Oct. 21, 2019. It turns out Lev Parnas (shown above at right with his attorney Rudy Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC) is roughly as brazen and stupid as any other Trump henchman. He didn’t just trot the globe committing crimes for the Trump regime while pouring dirty money into the campaigns of various Republicans, he flaunted much of it on Instagram. Sure, his account was private, but that hasn’t stopped the Wall Street Journal from obtaining its contents.

bill palmer report logo header Lev Parnas posted a letter from Donald Trump, thanking him for his “friendship and dedication to our cause.” Parnas posted photos of himself with various members of the Trump family, including Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana (what does she have to do with this?). Parnas even bragged on Instagram about the victory that Team Trump had scored when Bill Barr lied about what was in the Mueller report and the media initially largely swallowed. Bizarrely, Parnas was with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow at the time he made the post.

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Trump Dropped His Idea to Hold the G7 at His Own Hotel, Maggie Haberman, Eric Lipton and Katie Rogers, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s decision to host the Group of 7 summit at his Trump National Doral resort in Florida was a rare move by him that stirred Republican opposition. He knew he was inviting criticism by choosing his own luxury golf club in Miami for the site of a gathering of world leaders at the Group of 7 summit in June, President Trump told his aides opposed to the choice, and he was prepared for the inevitable attack from Democrats.

djt trump doral SmallBut what Mr. Trump was not prepared for was the reaction of fellow Republicans who said his choice of the club, the Trump National Doral, had crossed a line, and they couldn’t defend it.

So Mr. Trump did something that might not have been a surprise for a president facing impeachment but that was unusual for him: He reversed himself Saturday night, abruptly ending the uproar touched off two days earlier by the announcement of his decision by Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff.

“He had no choice,” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and longtime friend of the president’s, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t have been done in the first place. And it’s a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news.”

With many members already unhappy with the consequences of the president’s move to withdraw troops from Syria, and Democrats pressing their impeachment inquiry, Republicans on Capitol Hill were not eager to have to defend the appropriateness of the president’s decision to host the Group of 7 meeting at one of his own properties.

In the past, presidents and their top advisers have played a lead role in selecting Group of 7 sites. But the White House has typically just picked the host city, not the hotels. That has traditionally been left to the State Department, said Peter A. Selfridge, the department’s chief of protocol during the Obama administration.

The event draws as many as 7,000 people, including security personnel, news media, diplomats, heads of state and support staff, meaning an overall price tag that can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, once security is included.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump was manipulating the stock market for someone’s personal gain, Bill Palmer, Oct. 21, 2019. Back in August, Palmer Report pointed donald trump twitterout that Donald Trump kept saying and doing things that had the effect of sending the stock market plummeting on one day, only for it to bounce back the next day. He’s announced tariffs that turned out not to exist, or he’d randomly attack the Fed Chair, or other moves that were just a little bit too on the nose.

We pointed out that while Donald Trump isn’t known to be a stock market investor in his own right, his curiously timed tweets were creating a prime opportunity for others to play the stock market accordingly. We asked if perhaps someone in Trump’s inner circle was goading him into posting these kinds of tweets on certain days and times, so that person could cash in. Well, it looks like someone may have been doing precisely that.

bill palmer report logo headerVanity Fair has managed to identify several large-volume stock market transactions that just happened to be timed perfectly with Donald Trump’s economic shenanigans, meaning that either someone out there has the most uncanny sense of timing in history, or the transactions in question were made with inside knowledge of what the Trump regime was about to do.

This kind of insider trading – if that’s indeed what’s going on here – is highly illegal. This could end up being yet another instance of Donald Trump getting one of his buddies sent to prison, as this kind of scheming only works if you don’t get caught, and someone definitely just got caught.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump sold out to Turkey’s Erdogan, Isabel Stamm, Oct. 21, 2019. Last week saw a flurry of breaking news about the international activities of the Trump – Giuliani crime duo.

bill palmer report logo headerFor the sake of simplicity, let’s just focus on the emerging stories that concern Turkey. As a matter of fact, Chris Hayes argued on MSNBC’s All In that what it all seems to boil down to is really just one story: the story of “America’s Mayor“ lobbying on Turkey’s behalf and Donald Trump agreeing to give President Erdogan everything he wants.

What is it then that Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants? As we all know by now, the Turkish president wants to push the Kurds away from the Turkish border and, by the looks of it, he would like to eliminate what he has long seen as the Kurdish threat once and for all.

Secondly, Erdogan wants to see his long-time nemesis Fetullah Gülen extradited from the U.S. where the Turkish cleric has been a permanent resident since 1999.

Interestingly, it is also the former New York mayor who is involved in a third matter that is close to the Turkish president’s heart. Erdogan is hoping to get U.S. authorities to drop the case they have been pursuing against Halkbank, the state-owned Turkish bank that is under investigation for a yearslong scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions, allegedly with the consent of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The man at the center of the Halkbank scandal is Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, and Rudy Giuliani was at some point part of Zarrab’s legal team.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pelosi Has the Constitution at Her Back, Caroline Fredrickson (author of “The Democracy Fix” and president of the American Constitution Society), Oct. 21, 2019.  When the president runs amok, the House has a congressional duty to step in and provide oversight.

President Trump and Republicans have insisted that House Democrats take a vote to open a formal impeachment inquiry before engaging in thoroughgoing oversight of the administration’s activities related to Ukraine. This is a political calculation — relying on faulty analysis of the Clinton impeachment — that a formal inquiry will backfire on Democrats.

The Constitution makes no such requirement for conducting an impeachment investigation. Furthermore, it assigns to Congress the important duty of oversight.

More Trump  #MeToo

Cosmopolitan Magazine, Teen Models Remember Trump Would “Find a Reason” to Come Backstage When They Were Changing, Barry Levine, right (Michael Goldblum photo), and Monique El-Faizy, Oct. 21, barry levine cropped michael goldblum2019. In exclusive excerpts from the explosive new book All the President’s Women, modeling contestants recall President Trump’s “gropey” behavior and his interest in young girls.

In 2016, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Nobody has more respect for women than me!” Although his sordid history with women has been well-documented (to date, at least 25 women have accused the POTUS of sexual misconduct), he remains in office, seemingly immune to the forces of the #MeToo movement.

barry levine monique el faizy djt cover croppedBut a new book by journalists Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy aims to uncover parts of Trump’s past that should no longer be ignored. In the following passages excerpted from All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, we learn of Trump’s egregious and disturbing misconduct around young women trying to make it in the modeling world in the early 1990s. —Rosa Heyman

Trump’s hands, the size of which would later become the subject of significant public curiosity, were infamous for other reasons back then, according to sources. “He was gropey...he had his hands in the most inappropriate places, always,” [NaKina] Carr said.

[Editor’s note: NaKina Carr was working as a runway model for Oscar de la Renta.] “When he went in to kiss someone, the hand always went to either the hip or the butt. He was also really good when he did pictures or when he’d side-hug someone. He’d always get his hand on the boob. Every time.” Stories about Trump and his hands circulated within the modeling community. At one modeling event, Trump allegedly went down a line of women feeling their bodies to guess their dress size. Backstage at a lingerie show, he is said to have moved his hands all over a model’s breasts under the guise of inspecting the bra’s fabric.

"If you’re over twenty-one, you don’t have to worry.”

Another trademark Trump move was honed back in the early 1980s. “I saw this several times: When he met a girl, he’d immediately move in to kiss her, not shake her hand or say ‘Hello, how are you?’ He’d immediately put his mouth on her,” Carr said. “I saw him many times go straight to the mouth, to kiss them on the mouth, and they would turn their cheek. But a lot of them didn’t because they knew he was the moneyman and it was a way up.”

Among modeling insiders, Trump had a reputation at the time for preferring the younger girls. “If you’re over twenty-one you don’t have to worry,” Carr said she was told.

monique el faizyBarry Levine is a veteran investigative reporter and editor in print and television. A former National Enquirer editor, he received the Huffington Post‘s “Game Changer” award in 2010 for his “shoe leather reporting” and led a reporting team to a Pulitzer Prize nomination for investigative reporting and national news reporting. He lives in New York.

Monique El-Faizy, right, is a Paris-based journalist and the author of "God and Country: How Evangelicals Have Become America’s New Mainstream." Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Marie Claire, GQ, and Glamour.

Headline News

U.S. 2020 Politics

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Election laws ignored as foreign cash piles into U.S. political campaigns, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 21, 2019. The authority and power of the Federal Election Commission, which would normally rule on the illegality of foreign contributions to U.S. political campaigns, has been emaciated by the Republican Party under Trump. Meanwhile, the foreign spigots of cash have been turned on for the 2020 presidential and down ballot election campaigns

$260m Ohio Opioid Deal

washington post logoWashington Post, Ohio counties, drug firms reach $260 million settlement in opioid epidemic case, Lenny Bernstein, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz​, Oct. 21, 2019. But the deal covers only two Ohio counties, leaving thousands more to fight it out in court or hammer out similar deals. Two Ohio counties settled with four drug companies on the eve of a landmark federal trial over responsibility for the opioid epidemic, in a $260 million deal that emerged just an hour before opening arguments were set to begin Monday.

The deal is with the “Big Three” distributors McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health and Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Israeli-based manufacturer of generic opioids. It does not include the fifth defendant, Walgreens, the retail drug store chain that was sued over its own distribution operation. It was not clear whether a trial would proceed with Walgreens as the only defendant. A sixth defendant, Henry Schein Medical, announced Monday morning that it had reached a deal worth $1.25 million with the two counties.

Details of the agreement were set to be announced later Monday morning.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Netanyahu fails to form new Israeli government; rival Gantz poised to take up the challenge, Steve Hendrix, Oct. 21, 2019. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, gave up on his month-long effort to negotiate a governing majority after September’s dead-heat national election, opening the way for his chief rival to try his hand at benjamin netanyahu frowncobbling together a coalition to run the country.

If Israel’s president gives former army chief of staff Benny Gantz, left, permission to proceed, he would be the first politician other than Netanyahu given the mandate to form a government in more than a decade, although his own path to power is far from certain. Israel’s complex — and gridlocked — political benny grantz cropped flickr as israel defense forces chief of staffjpg Smallsystem all but ensures that the final outcome is not likely to be clear for weeks, and that a third election in less than a year may be required.

“This is new: This broadens the political imagination to include the possibility that someone not named Netanyahu could be the prime minister of the state of Israel,” said Mordechai Kreminitzer, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. “But I think Gantz will also find it extremely difficult to shape a coalition.”

Netanyahu’s move came after power-sharing talks broke down almost immediately between his Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White party, the two biggest factions in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The parties emerged from September elections with a nearly identical number of seats, and neither close to a controlling majority.

The prime minister released a video announcing an end to his efforts, two days before the deadline and on his 70th birthday, decrying Gantz’s steady refusal to soften his resistance.

ny times logoturkey flagNew York Times, Erdogan Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). In the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military to clear Kurdish areas, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey made his ambition clear. It was not the first time he spoke about breaking free of the restrictions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and no one is sure of his intentions.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. has reduced troops in Afghanistan by 2,000, commander says, Susannah George​, Oct. 21, 2019. Drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan was a key demand of Taliban negotiators, and President Trump has repeatedly pledged to bring troops home from “endless wars” abroad.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi led unannounced congressional visit to Jordan, Afghanistan in outreach to allies, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led an unannounced congressional visit to Afghanistan and Jordan over the weekend, highlighting her sharp disagreement with President Trump over his abrupt removal of U.S. troops from northern Syria and Turkey’s subsequent attacks on Kurdish enclaves.

In Afghanistan, the delegation met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, top U.S. military commanders and diplomats, senior Afghan government officials and civil society leaders. The delegation also traveled to Camp Morehead to meet with Resolute Support Mission troops.

After meeting with King Abdullah II and senior Jordanian officials Saturday night, Pelosi said: “With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Canada picks a new prime minister today. Here’s what you need to know, Amanda Coletta, Oct. 21, 2019. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer are locked in a tight race; neither is expected to win a majority. Canadian voters head to the polls Monday to decide whether to give Prime Minister Justin canadian flagTrudeau a second mandate.

Canada has a long history of reelecting its first-term prime ministers who have led parliamentary majorities, but after recent missteps and scandals, the telegenic Liberal leader has fallen back into a tight race with Conservative Andrew Scheer. Of the six party leaders, there are two clear front-runners: Trudeau, 47, and Scheer, 40.

The vote will conclude an unusually cynical race that has been dominated by questions and attacks on the personal character and backgrounds of the party leaders as substantive discussions on policy have taken a back seat.

united kingdom flagwashington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson to seek a new vote Monday on Brexit deal, as confusion swirls over exit delay, William Booth and Michael Birnbaum, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). The British prime minister sent three letters to European leaders, leaving people to puzzle over exactly which one meant what — and to wonder where Brexit heads next.

U.S. Retreat From Turk-Kurd Conflict

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Gathers Speed, Ben Hubbard and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 21, 2019. A long convoy of United States troops crossed into Iraq from Syria early Monday, accelerating a withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria that set the stage for the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-controlled land.

More than 100 American military vehicles left Syrian Kurdish territory in the early hours of the morning, according to a cameraman for the Reuters news agency who was at the border crossing.

President Trump’s withdrawal of most American troops from Syria, which cleared the way for Turkey to attack Kurdish forces, has prompted Republicans and Democrats alike to accuse him of abandoning a United States ally. A coalition of Syrian Kurdish fighters, Americans and other foreign troops had fought the Islamic State there since 2014.

Around 1,000 American troops are being withdrawn. Though Mr. Trump has characterized the move as bringing troops home, Mr. Esper said on Sunday that most forces would be redeployed to western Iraq, where they would continue operations against the Islamic State.

In an earlier phase of the withdrawal, coalition forces bombed their own base and arms cache in northern Syria to prevent enemies from using it.

Small groups of residents in northeastern Syria protested the American withdrawal, footage broadcast by Syrian television networks showed. One group stoned an American armored vehicle as it passed through Qamishli, a major city in Kurdish-held territory, while another tried to block the convoy’s progress by standing in its path and holding placards of protest.

SouthFront, In Video: Syrian Army Escorting US Troops Out Of Country, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 21, 2019.  An ordinary video  (2:35 min.) of the recent days: troops of the Syrian Army are escorting their US counterparts out of the province of Aleppo, towards the border with Iraq. Meanwhile, thankful locals are throwing stones and fruits at a US military convoy in the city of Qamishli (shown below).

SouthFront, Turkey Threatens Damascus Government With Declaration Of Full-Scale War, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 21, 2019. Turkey will see deployment of the Syrian Army to protect turkey flagKurdish militias in northern Syria as a declaration of war on Turkey, Yasin Aktay, an adviser of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said on October 19.

However, he added that if Damascus provides Turkey with guarantees that Kurdish forces will not operate in the border area, Turkey may change its attitude towards the deployment of the Syrian Army in northeastern Syria. Aktay claimed that Turkish troops will leave Syria after the establishment of peace and security across the country.

Deep State Political Analysis

McDuff Podcast, 'McDuff' Interviews JIP Editor on "Presidential Puppetry," John OLoughlin, host of the podcast McDuff: JFK's Man To Smash the CIA, interviews JIP Editor Andrew Kreig as second in a series about the latter's book on Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, which documents hidden influencers on U.S. presidents during recent decades (80:26 min. video).

Inside U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUSblog, Analysis: Is oral-argument talking time all it’s cut out to be? Adam Feldman, Oct. 21, 2019. Supreme Court oral arguments are not entirely what they seem. Although at first blush they may appear to be an opportunity for attorneys to make their arguments directly to the justices, they often become occasions for the justices to test out their theories of a given case and to gauge other justices’ positions on given topics. That is one of the reasons why the justices almost always direct the flow and tenor of each argument.

Justice Stephen Breyer, for instance, is notorious for his lengthy mid-argument orations. Although attorneys still often speak more than individual justices in each argument, they generally have little time to expound on points they feel are important to the case unless these topics are of equal interest to one or more of the justices. Perhaps for this reason, new Supreme Court Guidelines state: “The Court generally will not question lead counsel for petitioners (or appellants) and respondents (or appellees) during the first two minutes of argument.” These two uninterrupted minutes of speech should give the attorneys an opportunity to make points that otherwise would be lost in the mix of the justices’ questions.

This has potential to be a drastic change from past practice. Last term, the attorney who had the shortest amount of time for opening remarks before a justice interjected was Michael Huston in Smith v. Berryhill. Huston spoke for 11 seconds before Justice Sonia Sotomayor jumped in with her first question. (Timing was measured from oral-argument recordings on Oyez.org.) This point in the transcript is shown below.

There were 33 instances last term in which a merits party’s counsel spoke for 30 seconds or less to open an argument before a justice began with questions. The average amount of speaking time for introductory remarks across the 2018 term was just over 54 seconds. Only five attorneys crossed the two-minute threshold during the term. The longest uninterrupted opening remarks were from Thomas Goldstein in Air & Liquid Systems v. Devries and Cecillia Wang in Nielsen v. Preap (Wang had the longest time to speak to open an argument, at 280 seconds.).

Dr. Adam Feldman is the creator and author of the Empirical SCOTUS blog. He has a law degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and practiced law as a trial lawyer for three years before starting a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California.

Assange Prosecution

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Consortium News, Judge Denies Assange Extension on Extradition Hearing, Joe Lauria, right, Oct. 21, 2019. A judge at a hearing in London has denied the WikiLeaks’ publisher more time to prepare his defense, while a group of Australian politicians coalesce around a demand to return Julian Assange home. The judge in Julian Assange’s extradition process on Monday joe lauria head bookdenied his lawyer’s appeal for more time to prepare his case as the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher weakly told the court he was unable to “research anything” in the conditions under which he is being held in high-security Belmarsh Prison.

Assange (shown above in a photo by The Indicter Magazine) appeared in person at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London Monday morning for a case management hearing on the request by the United States for Assange to be sent to Virginia to face 18 charges, including allegedly violating the U.S. Espionage Act for possessing and disseminating classified information that revealed prima facie evidence of U.S. war crimes.

Mark Summers, Assange’s lawyer, told the court the charges were “a political attempt” by the U.S. “to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information.” The Espionage Act indictment against Assange by the Trump Administration is the first time a journalist has been charged under the 1917 Act for publishing classified material.

“It is legally unprecedented,” Summers told Judge Vanessa Baraitser. He argued that President Donald Trump was politically motivated by the 2020 election to pursue Assange.

Summers also argued before Baraitser that the U.S. “has been actively engaged in intruding into privileged discussions between Assange and his lawyers.” It was revealed this month that the Central Intelligence Agency was given access to surveillance video shot by a private Spanish company of all interactions Assange had with lawyers, doctors and visitors.

“This is part of an avowed war on whistleblowers to include investigative journalists and publishers,” Summers said. “The American state has been actively engaged in intruding on privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyer.”

Because of this surveillance, including “unlawful copying of their telephones and computers” as well as “hooded men breaking into offices,” Assange’s lawyers needed more time to prepare his defense, Summers argued. But Baraitser refused the request, and ordered Assange back in court for a second management hearing on Dec. 19. The full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 25 next year.

Scandals At Veterans Administration

Stars and Stripes, Shulkin warns 'subversive' culture at VA is leading department toward 'grave danger,' Nikki Wentling, Oct. 21, 2019. Toxic. Chaotic. Subversive. That’s how former david shulkinDepartment of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin describes the culture at the agency in his new memoir, It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country, which was released Tuesday.

In the tell-all book about his time as VA secretary, Shulkin blames a group of political rivals for plotting his demise and warns of “grave danger” ahead for veterans’ health care.

"If we don't figure out a way to stop them, they are fully capable of destroying the VA," Shulkin wrote of the rivals.

In the more than 350 pages of the book, Shulkin details his relationship with the “Mar-a-Lago trio,” three members of President Donald Trump’s club in West Palm Beach who david shulkin bookexerted influence over the VA. He also gives his account of a European trip that became a national scandal during his tenure, and he hits back at rivals, including a group that he refers to as “politicals” who worked to undermine him.

Trump selected Shulkin in January 2017 as his choice to lead the VA. Previously, he had worked as undersecretary of health at the agency under former President Barack Obama.

But 14 months after naming Shulkin as his nominee for secretary, Trump fired him by tweet.
Since being dismissed, Shulkin has spoken out about a power struggle inside the agency and an effort by political operatives to privatize the VA. The book expands on those tensions.

“There seems to be an unwritten rule in Washington: when your time comes, go quietly,” Shulkin wrote in the book. “That wasn’t going to work for me, mostly because this fight was not just about me but also about the veterans I served.”

Shulkin uses the book to criticize the VA Inspector General’s Office, Concerned Veterans for America, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the news media, and the political operatives who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign and later gained positions at the VA – Darin Selnick, Brooks Tucker, John Ullyot, Peter Shelby, Peter O’Rourke, Jake Leinenkugel and Camilo Sandoval.

Oct. 20

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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Other Headline News

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says his Doral golf resort will no longer host next year’s G-7 summit, bowing to criticism, Philip Rucker and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral near Miami, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event.

Trump was buffeted by two straight days of allegations of self-dealing and exasperation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including some Republican allies who said the selection of Doral (shown above) as the venue for a gathering of world leaders was indefensible.

The decision — while it lasted — was an unprecedented one in modern American politics: The president awarded a massive contract to himself. The White House promoted Doral as the single best venue in the United States to host the G-7 summit in June, and the meeting would have brought thousands of guests in the offseason to a resort that is struggling financially.

For months, Trump had touted Doral as an ideal venue to host visiting dignitaries, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made the choice official at a news conference Thursday.

But in a rare reversal in the face of public pressure for a president who prides himself in rarely folding or admitting failure, Trump said Saturday that he and his administration would search for a new location.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has complete meltdown as he pulls the plug on his G7 Doral stunt, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. When Donald Trump had Mick Mulvaney announce on Thursday that next year’s G7 Summit was being held at Trump’s Doral resort, Palmer Report predicted that this could end up hurting Trump just as much as Mulvaney’s confession in the Ukraine scandal. It was the kind of ham fisted cash grab that even some Republicans in Congress would be afraid to defend.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the G7 Doral scheme is now already officially dead. Various Republicans in Congress have spoken up against it, even as Democrats have capitalized on it as an easy opportunity to make their case that Trump is corrupt from top to bottom.

We also pointed out that the negative publicity about Doral’s struggling finances and bed bug scandal would likely end up costing Trump more money than what he might gain from the G7 grift. Even as the whole thing rapidly falls apart for Trump, he’s going bonkers about it tonight: “I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO donald trump twitterPROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!”

Then thirty-five minutes later he posted this additional tweet, which appeared to start in mid-sentence and wasn’t part of the earlier thread, but did officially kill off the Doral G7 stunt: “Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately. Thank you!”

It’s also notable that while members of both parties in Congress are slamming Trump over this Doral corruption scheme, Trump is only blaming the Democrats, as he’s still largely unwilling to acknowledge that more Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from him by the day.

Trump Probes, Impacts

BuzzFeed News via Twitter, Mueller didn't call McGahn, Trump Jr., Zoe Tillman, Oct. 20, 2019. Per government filing unsealed on judge's order, former White House counsel Don McGahn and Donald Trump Jr. did not testify before the Mueller grand jury.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What was Robert Mueller even doing? Bill Palmer, Oct. 20, 2019. robert mueller full face fileAttorney General Bill Barr’s scheme to strategically redact the most incriminating parts of the Mueller report is finally unraveling. A federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to unredact the identities of two people named in the report who did not testify before Mueller’s grand jury. Sure enough, those names have just been revealed and they’re Don McGahn and Donald Trump Jr.

Wait, a minute, what?

bill palmer report logo headerThe publicly available portions of the Mueller report make clear that Don McGahn was the most vital cooperating witness in the obstruction of justice portion of the probe. Yet we now know that Mueller never bothered to put McGahn in front of a grand jury, which means that Mueller never made any attempt at indicting anyone for obstruction. This is alarming, considering that based on media reports and leaks alone, as many as a dozen of Trump’s current and former White House advisers could easily have been indicted for obstruction. Why did Mueller even bother investigating the obstruction case, if he was simply going to write a report about it and go home?

donald trump jr croppedThen there’s Donald Trump Jr., right, who by his own admission was knee-deep in the Trump-Russia election conspiracy plot. The only legitimate reason not to subpoena Junior to appear before the grand jury would have been if Mueller was planning to indict Junior, as you can’t ask people to testify against themselves. But the Mueller report spells out that Mueller decided not to indict Junior based on the specious argument that he was too dumb to understand he was committing a crime. So if Junior wasn’t a target, Mueller should have been easily able to compel him to serve as a witness against the Russians he tried to conspire with. Yet that clearly never happened.

Robert Mueller spent the first half of his time as Special Counsel aggressively busting people like Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort and Rick Gates only to spend the second half of his probe apparently doing nothing. If Mueller simply decided to pull his punches, that’s on him. But if someone was tying Mueller’s hands, even before Barr came along and shut him down, we need to know about it – because that person needs to go to prison for obstruction along with Barr.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state, Philip Rucker​, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s supremacy is being challenged inside his own realm. With his administration engulfed by crisis, he can no longer control the forces once solidly arrayed behind him, ·​

washington post logotony schwartz headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Why Trump can’t change, no matter what the consequences are, Tony Schwartz, right, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Personal growth is about seeing more. The president is too self-absorbed for that. In April 2016, on the verge of securing the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump announced that his “campaign is evolving and transitioning, and so am I.”

When Trump was elected, some critics held out hope that he would grow in office, as other presidents have. No one believes that’s possible anymore. After Mick donald trump cover art of the dealMulvaney took over as Trump’s third chief of staff last December, he let it be known that his approach would be to “let Trump be Trump.” Mulvaney was simply succumbing to reality. As Trump himself has said, he is essentially the same person today that he was at age 7. He has his story, and he’s sticking to it.

Growth and development are about seeing more. The wider, deeper and longer our perspective, the more variables we can consider — and the more capable we become. Likewise, the more responsibility we take for our behaviors, and the less we blame others for our shortcomings, the more power we have to influence our destiny.

None of this is possible for Trump.

I got to know Trump three decades ago when he hired me to write The Art of the Deal. Although the book became a bestseller, working with him was deeply dispiriting, given his almost complete self-absorption, the shortness of his attention span and the fact that he lied as a matter of course, without apparent guilt.

Tony Schwartz is chief executive of the Energy Project. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming “The War Between My Selves.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Does Trump understand how grossly he just insulted the president of Turkey? Can Dündar, right, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Can Dündar, the former editor Can Dündar Claude Truong Ngoc 2017in chief of the leading Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, is now living in exile. He is shown in a 2017 portrait by Claude Truong Ngoc 2017.

Earlier this week, amid burgeoning scandals in Washington and a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Syria, President Trump revealed a letter he had sent to the president of Turkey. Trump was apparently trying to show a confused American public that he’s really the man in charge.

recep erdogan with flagTrump was acting on impulse. Yet his decision is likely to haunt Turkish-U.S. relations for a long time to come.

The text of the letter rocked Turkish politics. “Don’t be a fool!” Trump admonished his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left — an astonishing insult to a man who carefully guards his public image as a strongman.

Trump threatened “to destroy the Turkish economy” and reminded Erdogan that “I have worked hard to solve some of your problems,” a reference to some personal matter whose nature we can only guess at. And he also recommended that Erdogan negotiate with Syrian Kurdish leader Gen. Mazloum Abdi — a man that Turkey considers to be a terrorist.

For anyone to address Erdogan in such language inside Turkey is inconceivable; he has sent many people to jail for far milder comments. He also has a long record of reacting harshly to criticism from abroad, and commentators waited with bated breath to see how he would respond.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Police blast mosque with water cannon as hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong, Shibani Mahtani, Ryan Kilpatrick Ho and Timothy McLaughlin, Oct. 20, 2019. The pro-democracy movement, now in its fifth month, maintains widespread support and momentum in the face of increasing violence and police threats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney continues to back away from quid pro quo, as top diplomat defends Giuliani’s role in Ukraine, Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 20, 2019. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney continued to back away Sunday from his public acknowledgment of a quid pro quo in which the Trump administration leveraged military aid to Ukraine for an investigation that could politically benefit President Trump, while the top U.S. diplomat defended Trump’s private lawyer’s role in Ukrainian affairs as “completely appropriate.”

“I never said there was a quid pro quo, ’cause there isn’t,” Mulvaney said on Fox News on Sunday, insisting that while he “didn’t speak clearly maybe on Thursday,” there couldn’t have been a quid pro quo because “the aid flowed.”

Mulvaney has struggled to explain his abrupt about-face since a Thursday news conference in which he said Trump “absolutely” raised concerns about the Democratic National Committee server that was hacked in 2016, which according to a debunked conspiracy theory could be in Ukraine and could prove Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle, Matthew Rosenberg and Kevin Roose, Oct. 20, 2019. It is hardly a revelation that campaigns are being fought largely online, yet only one party seems to have gotten the message. While the Trump campaign’s digital operation firmly anchors its re-election efforts, Democrats are struggling to adapt to the political landscape.

On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes — immigrant invaders, the corrupt media — that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts.

Even seemingly ominous developments for Mr. Trump become fodder for his campaign. When news broke last month that congressional Democrats were opening an impeachment inquiry, the campaign responded with an advertising blitz aimed at firing up the president’s base. It produced a slick video laying out the debunked conspiracy theory about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukraine that is now at the center of the impeachment battle (“Learn the truth. Watch Now!”).

The onslaught overwhelmed the limited Democratic response. Mr. Biden’s campaign put up the stiffest resistance: It demanded Facebook take down the ad, only to be rebuffed. It then proceeded with plans to slash its online advertising budget in favor of more television ads.

SouthFront, Mike Pompeo: Israel Has Fundamental Right To Bomb Any Place Across Middle East, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 20, 2019. On October 19th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave an interview with the Jerusalem Post, while he was on a visit to Israel. Pompeo made some interesting statements, such as: “Our administration’s been very clear,” he said. israel flag“Israel has the fundamental right to engage in activity that ensures the security of its people. It’s at the very core of what nation-states not only have the right to do, but an obligation to do.”

Not only did countries in the region have the right to counter the presumed Iranian threat, but they were rather even “obligated” to do so. “We know this is a corner [of the world] where Iran has attempted to move weapons systems across into Syria, into Lebanon, that threatens Israel and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we have the capacity to identify those so that we can collectively respond appropriately,” the secretary noted, pointing to alleged Iranian activities which have in the past led to Israeli drone and air strikes against targets across multiple regional countries.

mike pompeo benjamin netanyahu Custom

Pompeo (above left) gave the interview after speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, who is also Israel’s Defense Minister. “We shared our ideas about how we can ensure Middle East stability together, and how we would further our efforts to jointly combat all the challenges that the world confronts here in the Middle East,” Pompeo told reporters with Netanyahu by his side.

john bolton youtube guardianIsrael needed some reassurance after the US announced its pullout from Syria. This, in addition to Trump’s somewhat softer rhetoric toward Iran and firing of National Security Adviser John Bolton, right, who was the most avid hawk in the administration, expectedly is cause for concern.

Pompeo said that the US wouldn’t allow Iran to be strengthened and would still assist Israel. Netanyahu is pushing for increased funding for the military in recent weeks, and growing the Iranian threat narrative is potentially a sure way of achieving such a feat.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Visits Jordan to Discuss Syria Crisis Amid Shaky Cease-Fire, Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 20, 2019. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Jordan to meet with the Jordanian king for “vital” discussions about the Turkish incursion into Syria and other regional challenges, amid uncertainty about whether an American-brokered cease-fire with Turkey in northern Syria was holding.

The visit by senior United States officials came as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday morning along the Turkish-Syrian border, where, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry, a Turkish soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad.

Confusion and continued shelling have marred the cease-fire deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence last week, with both Turkey and Kurdish leaders accusing each other of nancy pelosi twitterviolating the truce.

Ms. Pelosi, right, a California Democrat, led a nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan that included Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California; Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York; and Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. The group met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday evening.

“Our bipartisan delegation is visiting Jordan at a critical time for the security and stability of the region,” Ms. Pelosi’s office said in a statement. “With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon Chief Makes Unannounced Visit to Afghanistan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Oct. 20, 2019. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper traveled to Afghanistan on Sunday, in his first visit to the country since being confirmed as Pentagon chief amid uncertainty about the administration’s strategy following the collapse of peace talks with the mark esperTaliban. His unannounced trip came weeks after the lead American negotiator during the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, met informally with Taliban leaders in Islamabad, Pakistan, raising the possibility that negotiations might eventually resume.

“The aim is to still get a peace agreement at some point, a political agreement. That is the best way forward,” Mr. Esper said, according to a report from Reuters.

Ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus for President Trump since he took office, and Mr. Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators finalized a deal “in principle” in September that laid out plans to make that happen.

But Mr. Trump called it off, pointing to an uptick in violence across Afghanistan and the death of an American soldier, along with 11 other people, in a Taliban-directed suicide bombing in Kabul.

The resumption of any peace negotiations would be further complicated by the Afghan presidential elections in September that were mired by violence, low turnout and an unclear victor. Initial results, which were expected on Saturday, have been delayed at least a week.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Proclaiming ‘I Am Back,’ Bernie Sanders Accepts Ocasio-Cortez Endorsement, Sydney Ember, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Ms. Ocasio-Cortez hailed Mr. Sanders alexandria ocasio cortezand his influence on Democratic Party politics at Mr. Sanders’s first rally since his heart attack two weeks ago. Senator Bernie Sanders, left, wanted a show of force bernie sandersto convince voters he was back from his heart attack, and he produced one on Saturday:

At his first rally since the episode just two and a half weeks ago, he reveled in one of the most coveted endorsements in the Democratic Party, from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, right.

Drawing loud cheers from a large, enthusiastic and diverse crowd that had packed into a park in Queens next to a public housing complex, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez offered resounding words of support, for both Mr. Sanders and his influence in shaping the Democratic primary. More detail below.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump begs his remaining supporters not to “give up,” Bill Palmer, Oct. 20, 2019. The most surefire sign that your side is losing? When you have to start begging them not to give up. In the movies, that’s sometimes a turning point where an impassioned speech suddenly turns everything around for everyone involved. But in the real world, when you’re reduced to begging your own side not to give up, you usually end up losing. One of Donald Trump’s surrogates posted this tweet:

bill palmer report logo headerLately I’ve heard a few, “Trump has done an amazing job- but I’m getting so tired of the bad press.” Are u kidding? This is EXACTLY what the media wants- to burn u out & fatigue u into wanting him out. Have an espresso & buck the hell up. This is no time for Stockholm syndrome.

This alone is a sign that Donald Trump’s remaining supporters are becoming weary and worn down by just what a corrupt and embarrassing disaster he’s turned donald trump twitterout to be. But here’s the kicker. Trump quoted this tweet and added his own, ahem, pep talk: “Never give up. We are doing GREAT! We are WINNING!”

Again, this isn’t the movies. When things are going so horribly for your own side that you end up having to beg your own people not to “give up” on you and your cause, it’s a bad sign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake, Mitch McConnell, Oct. 20 2019 (print ed.). Mitch McConnell, a Republican from mitch mcconnell2Kentucky, is majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances. Sadly, the recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I have worked with three presidential administrations to fight radical Islamist terrorism. I have distilled three principal lessons about combating this complex threat.

Lesson No. 1 is that the threat is real and cannot be wished away. These fanatics threaten American interests and American lives. If permitted to regroup and establish havens, they will bring terror to our shores.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s aggressive efforts to reform Ukraine yielded successes but also earned him enemies, Matt Viser and Paul Sonne, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The former vice president spent three years pushing Obama administration policy on Ukraine, but that may have laid the groundwork for questions now being raised by political opponents about his and his son’s behavior.

joe biden oVice President Joe Biden, right, was losing his temper, dressing down the president of Ukraine in front of a group of high-level advisers and officials from both countries inside a regal complex at the United Nations.

“Don’t give me this bullshit,” Biden bellowed in the September 2016 encounter, according to an aide who was present, unloading on Petro Poroshenko after Biden felt he was making excuses for failing to root out corruption involving the country’s state-owned gas company.

“There’s nothing that happens in Ukraine you don’t know about,” Biden continued. “If something like this happens again, I’m done with you.”

petro poroshenko 2010The public humiliation of Poroshenko, left, illustrated the unusually aggressive approach employed by Biden, the Obama administration’s chief Ukraine envoy, to bring the small but strategically important former Soviet republic closer to the West. It was an approach that yielded successes but also earned Biden and his aides a slew of enemies and detractors in Ukraine, and it may now have boomeranged to hurt his 2020 presidential campaign.

During the last three years of the Obama administration, Biden made five trips to Ukraine. He held at least 70 phone calls with Ukrainian leaders, the bulk of them ukraine flagwith Poroshenko, and had meetings in Washington, Munich, and at the United Nations. He delivered a speech to the Ukrainian parliament, attended ceremonies and acted as an intermediary to the international community for Kyiv. He constantly urged the country to implement reforms, holding out U.S. financial assistance in return.

Biden and Poroshenko’s conversations continued even after Biden left office, through earlier this year.

Biden’s extensive involvement in the country’s fitful march toward reform has highlighted the political risks of becoming so deeply enmeshed in another country’s murky domestic affairs. The danger increased when Biden’s son Hunter took a paid position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company owned by a former government minister later accused of corruption. Though both Bidens say they did not discuss the gas company, the arrangement raised the perception that Biden’s family was benefiting from his vice-presidential role and gave ammunition to his critics, some of whom have now linked up with allies of Trump to smear the former vice president.

Transitions

washington post logoWashington Post, Thomas D’Alesandro III, Baltimore mayor who led city during 1968 riots and brother of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90, Bart Barnes, Oct. 20, 2019. The thomas dalasandro iii lloyd pearson baltimore sun Customscion of a civic dynasty, Thomas D’Alesandro III left politics after the riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. His death was confirmed in a statement by Pelosi, who called him “the finest public servant I have ever known.” The Baltimore Sun (whose photo by Lloyd Pearson is at right) reported the cause was complications of a stroke.

Known as “Young Tommy,” Mr. D’Alesandro was the oldest son of Thomas J. “Big Tommy” D’Alesandro Jr., who had been one of Maryland’s dominant civic leaders in the mid-20th century as a state delegate, congressman and, from 1947 to 1959, the mayor of Baltimore.

He cited financial concerns among the chief reasons that kept him from seeking another term in 1971. He had five children to support, he said, and couldn’t do it on the mayor’s salary. “I was clearing only $695 every two weeks,” he told the Sun in 1998. “I couldn’t make ends meet.

Oct. 19, 2019.

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing number of Republicans struggle to defend Trump on G-7 choice, Ukraine and Syria, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida, right, compared the situation to Watergate and did not rule out voting to impeach President Trump.

francis rooneyA growing number of congressional Republicans expressed exasperation Friday over what they view as President Trump’s indefensible behavior, a sign that the president’s stranglehold on his party is starting to weaken as Congress hurtles toward a historic impeachment vote.

U.S. House logoIn interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours, many said they were repulsed by Trump’s decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s admission — later withdrawn — that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president’s abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria.

One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) — whose district Trump carried by 22 percentage points — did not rule out voting to impeach the president and compared the situation to the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. See follow-up story: Washington Post, GOP congressman who won’t rule out impeaching Trump announces retirement (excerpted below). djt rudy new giuliani Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Mixes His Business With Role as Trump’s Lawyer, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.) Amid intensifying scrutiny of his own work, the former New York mayor met recently with senior Justice Department officials on behalf of a client in a foreign bribery case.

It is an extraordinary time in Washington, but it is more or less business as usual for Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above in a file photo with the president).

He is a central figure in the impeachment inquiry. He is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors. But throughout the building controversy, Mr. Giuliani has continued to represent clients, broker deals and take on consulting contracts in Washington and around the world in ways that leave him subject to criticism that he is using his role as President Trump’s personal lawyer to open doors to the government and influence policy despite the questions about his own conduct.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani secured a meeting, along with some other defense lawyers, with the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division and attorneys in the fraud section. They were there to discuss a foreign bribery case for a client that Mr. Giuliani described as “very, very sensitive.”

Mr. Giuliani declined to divulge any details about the meeting, except to say it had nothing to do with legal issues facing him or Mr. Trump. Days after the meeting, it was revealed that Mr. Giuliani was under investigation himself for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani may have just taken Bill Barr down with him, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. Attorney General Bill Barr, even amid reports that he’s been hopping the globe while trying to breathe life into Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories, has largely managed to avoid the spotlight in Trump’s Ukraine scandal – until now. It turns out Rudy william barr at dojGiuliani dragged Barr’s Department of Justice into his Ukraine crime spree, in a manner which could only possibly have been signed off on by Barr, left, and now its all coming out.

dmytro firtashOver the past few days it’s become apparent that Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash, right, has been bankrolling the entire Ukraine scandal. Rudy Giuliani now admits he was on the payroll of the recently arrested Lev Parnas, amid reports that Parnas was in turn being bankrolled by Firtash. On Friday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Firtash was also paying Trump-connected lawyers Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to manufacture phony Biden scandals.

But then on Friday night, the New York Times dropped the biggest bombshell of all, and it brings us back to Bill Barr.

bill palmer report logo headerThe NY Times now says that Rudy Giuliani met with the Department of Justice to discuss his “client in a foreign bribery case” – who is not identified as Firtash but is obviously Firtash – and that the meeting was attended by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. In other words, one of the highest ranking officials at the DOJ met with the target of a DOJ investigation about letting the target of another DOJ investigation off the hook.

Benczkowski is obviously toast. Just the fact that he took this meeting means that he’s exposed himself to criminal liability. Now it comes down to whether or not Benczkowski can demonstrate that he took the meeting because a higher-up instructed him to. That higher-up is almost surely Bill Barr. At this rate Rudy’s cartoonish criminal antics might take everyone in the Trump regime down.

washington post logogeorge kent oWashington Post, Diplomat tells investigators he raised alarms in 2015 about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine work but was rebuffed, John Hudson, Rachael Bade and Matt Viser, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). George Kent, right, a deputy assistant secretary of state, was told in 2015 that then-Vice President Joe Biden didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with the matter, said people familiar with his testimony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mick Mulvaney may have just given away that there are Trump tapes, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. Alert Palmer Report reader Joshua Vandamm messaged me with the following excerpt from the transcript of the White House presser of 17 October with Mick Mulvaney.

bill palmer report logo headerToward the end of the presser, in discussing the now infamous conversation with Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, Mulvaney says, “Let me ask you mick mulvaney djt 2 Smallthis: If we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Is Mulvaney here admitting that the conversation was taped?

Oh Lordy, I hope so.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump Will Not Be On the 2020 Ballot: Considerations for Stakeholders, Rob Kall (publisher and editor), Oct. 19, 2019. It's becoming even more clear, since I wrote my article, Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon, that Donald Trump will be out of the White House and off the 2020 ballot by the time the Iowa primary comes around.

Just last night, Mitch McConnell distanced himself from Trump by writing an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, critical of Trump's withdrawal from Syria. And Ohio governor John Kasich has come out calling for impeachment. A crescendo is building. Trump will soon be a spittle-soaked footnote in history. So, a lot of people and organizations need to start thinking about a number of things.

Global News: Brexit

washington post logoWashington Post, Parliament votes to withhold full approval of Brexit deal, postponing Boris Johnson’s moment of reckoning, William Booth and Karla Adam​, ​Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). British lawmakers voted Saturday to withhold support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal until all the supporting legislation is passed. The vote scuppers Johnson’s hopes to finalize Brexit on an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session.

It was a significant loss for Johnson, left, who had hoped for a Brexit finale in an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session. But it is not a boris johnson hand up unsourcedfatal blow against his deal. Minutes after the vote, Johnson pledged to the House of Commons, “no delays.” The prime minister said he would seek approval of his Brexit deal in a session in the coming week.

Based on previous legislation, passed months ago, Johnson is now required to formally seek a three-month extension from the European Union.

Johnson began his remarks on Saturday by thanking lawmakers for gathering on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, the first time in a united kingdom flaggeneration, since Britain fought in the Falklands.

Underscoring how the country remains deeply divided on Brexit, thousands of protesters spilled into London from across the county to demand a second referendum. For more than a year, polls have shown that if there were a countrywide “do over vote,” Britons would, by a narrow margin, opt to stay in the E.U.

Turk-Kurd-Syrian War

SouthFront, SDF Recaptures Positions East Of Ras Al-Ayn From Turkish Forces, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 19, 2019. Late on October 19, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, i.e. kurd flagKurds) recaptured several key positions which fell into the hands of Turkish-backed militants recently, according to the North Press Agency (NPA). Early in the morning, militants of the National Syrian Army (NSA, i.e. Turk-sponsored militants) backed by battle tanks of the Turkish Armed Forces advanced east of the border town of Ras al-Ayn, capturing the towns of al-Shakariyah, Haji Hisso and Jan Tamir.

The attack was a clear violation of the U.S. sponsored ceasefire that was accepted by Turkey two days ago. As a part of the ceasefire agreement, Kurdish fighters should withdraw from the “safe-zone” along Turkey’s border. Dozens of injured people and corpses were reportedly evacuated from the war-torn town.

State Probe Clears Clinton

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Department probe of Clinton emails finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information, Greg Miller​, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The years-long inquiry is an anticlimactic end to a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 campaign.

hillary clinton twitterA multiyear State Department probe of emails that were sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server concluded there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees, according to a report submitted to Congress this month.

The report appears to represent a final and anticlimactic chapter in a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 presidential campaign and exposed Clinton to fierce criticism that she later cited as a major factor in her loss to President Trump.

In the end, State Department investigators found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures — none involving material that had been marked classified — in a review of roughly 33,000 emails that had been sent to or from the personal computer system Clinton used.

Trump Probe of Mueller Witnesses

ny times logoNew York Times,