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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative December 2019 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this. 

Dec. 5

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above  nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings live updates: Pelosi asks committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, ​John Wagner​, Dec. 5, 2019. Pelosi, shown in a file photo above, says House will proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”

U.S. House logoHer address, in which she invoked principles espoused by the nation’s founders, came shortly after Trump went on Twitter to urge House Democrats to impeach him quickly, if they plan to do it, and suggested he would call an expansive list of witnesses during a trial in the Republican-led Senate.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that President Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

• Analysis: Democrats officially move to a new phase — actual impeachment of the president

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi has gone and done it, Bill Palmer, Dec. 5, 2019. This means we’re going to see full House hearings on impeachment. We’ll see House committees testifying to other House committees. We’ll see the full boat now. The hearings last for however long Nancy Pelosi thinks they should last, whether that be a few weeks or several months.

bill palmer report logo headerAnd yes, there will be a Senate impeachment trial after that – but don’t expect Pelosi to hand impeachment over to the Republican Senate until she’s exhausted every avenue for exposing Trump’s guilt and for convincing the American people that he and his apologists must be removed, thus forcing GOP Senators to think about whether their own individual political careers will be better off by convicting or acquitting him.

Nancy Pelosi knows what she’s doing. She demonstrated that, by waiting to announce the impeachment inquiry until the kind of evidence began emerging that would allow for the general public to get behind impeachment. Now she’s decided that today is the day to formally move into the articles of impeachment stage. For Donald Trump, today is a day of ignominy and worry. Going forward from here, every day of his presidency will be worse for him than the last. We’ll see if Pelosi can actually oust him, or if voters will have to do that in the election. But she sure is dismantling Trump in the process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr’s chosen prosecutor says he can’t back theory that Russia case was U.S. intelligence setup, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 5, 2019 (print ed.). The john durham o portrait 2 croppedassertion from U.S. Attorney John Durham, right, to Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, could rebut conservatives’ doubts about the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation.

The prosecutor handpicked by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize how U.S. agencies investigated President Trump’s 2016 campaign said he could not offer Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)evidence to the Justice Department’s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence, people familiar with the matter said.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office contacted U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor Barr personally tapped to lead a separate review of the 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the people said. The inspector general also contacted several U.S. intelligence agencies.

Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory takes another hit — from two men he hailed, Aaron Blake, Dec. 5, 2019. President Trump has proclaimed it “perhaps the biggest scandal” in American history, and he has hailed the two men who would allegedly rip the lid off it. But more and more, it’s looking like they won’t deliver the scandalous finding he was counting on.

Trump has played up two probes into the origins of the Russia investigation — one by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and one by U.S. Attorney John Durham — and in both cases he has built up the men themselves. But Washington Post reports on both investigations now suggest the duo are not endorsing Trump’s chief conspiracy theory: that the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was an unfounded witch hunt.

The Post’s Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett reported Wednesday that Durham has told Horowitz he cannot endorse a theory espoused by Trump and other Republicans that the Russia investigation was some kind of setup — in Trump’s words, a “coup” — by U.S. intelligence to take Trump down:

Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

But the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets, the people said. And Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had not produced any evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s findings on that point.

Barrett, Zapotosky and The Post’s Ellen Nakashima also previously reported that Horowitz himself has concluded that a now-former FBI employee may have altered a document related to a warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, but that it didn’t change the fact that the probe had a proper legal and factual basis.

So right there, we have two investigators — who still might find some misconduct (Horowitz’s report is due out Monday, and Durham’s probe is an ongoing criminal one) — failing to find the kind of vast conspiracy that Trump has alleged.

And it’s worth noting just how much Trump has pushed that theory, and how much he has built up the two men who have apparently failed to substantiate it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr just suffered an ugly blow, Bill Palmer, Dec. 4, 2019. If you’ve had the misfortune to hear from the the average pro-Trump conspiracy theorist at any point over the past several months, you’ve surely heard them express confidence that a guy named John Durham was going to end up indicting and arresting every anti-Trump political figure out there. Why? Because Attorney General Bill Barr picked Durham to lead the sham investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.

bill palmer report logo headerBack in the real world, nothing in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s history suggested that he was going to be remotely willing to announce false findings or bring false criminal charges william barr new oin the name of propping up Donald Trump and Bill Barr, right. It was one thing for Durham to carry out the investigation, after Barr ordered him to. But Durham was always going to end up announcing that he didn’t find anything to support the lunatic theory that the FBI, CIA, Obama, and Hillary were all criminally conspiring to rig the 2016 election against Donald Trump.

Sure enough, the Washington Post is reporting tonight that John Durham has informed DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, left, that his investigation has found michael horwitz headshotnothing. We all saw this coming. Barr probably even saw it coming. After all, he ordered this sham investigation into Trump’s favorite phony conspiracy theories, because it’s what Trump wanted – and Barr is just trying to keep Trump happy enough to keep the door open for Barr to be pardoned on the dozens of felony obstruction of justice charges he’s facing once he’s no longer Attorney General.

Even though this was almost 100% predictable, it’s still an ugly blow for Bill Barr. He’ll now have to publicly argue that Donald Trump’s favorite lunatic conspiracy theories are true, even as his own handpicked federal prosecutor and his own Inspector General are publicly spelling out why these conspiracy theories are false. This helps to further erode whatever political muscle Barr had left. But that’s what tends to happen when an increasingly mentally unstable Trump forces his people to focus on self-defeating nonsense, instead of doing things that might actually have helped him and them.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Mocked Abroad and Assailed at Home, Peter Baker, Dec. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Trump Returns to Face Impeachment; The world stage was not so friendly this week for President Trump, who returned home to a grim couple of weeks ahead, our correspondent writes.

When times turn tough, presidents can hop on Air Force One to escape the country for a while and stride purposefully across the world stage. But the world stage was not so friendly this week for President Trump, who landed back in Washington on Wednesday night to confront a grim couple of weeks ahead.

Mocked by peers behind his back at a NATO meeting in London, Mr. Trump abruptly canceled a news conference and bolted early, only to fly home to a capital in the throes of judging whether he is fit for office. After hobnobbing with the queen, the president now faces the daunting likelihood that by Christmas he will become the third president impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The NATO meeting had seemed like an opportunity to demonstrate his global leadership like Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton sought to do with overseas trips during their own impeachment struggles. Scheduled long ago, the meeting allowed Mr. Trump and his allies to assail his domestic foes as “unpatriotic” for proceeding with an impeachment hearing while the commander in chief was overseas and gave him a chance to boast of his success in pressing the allies to invest more in defense.

But the visit was soured by a contentious meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France and a hot-mic video that captured other world leaders making fun of Mr. Trump. In response, a sullen president said one of the leaders caught talking on the video, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, was “two-faced,” and then slipped out of town without the scheduled wrap-up session with reporters, seemingly intent on not further spoiling the image of a successful visit.

 washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that,’ Pelosi tells reporter who asked her whether she hates Trump, Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 5, 2019. In an extraordinary exchange, the House speaker told the reporter that as a Catholic, she was raised not to hate anyone and prays for the president “all the time.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had just concluded her weekly news conference Thursday and was about to exit the room when a reporter shouted out a question.

“Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?” James Rosen, a reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group, called out from a seat in the front row.

Most times, Pelosi ignores questions shouted at her in the hallways and briefing rooms of the Capitol. But Rosen’s query appeared to strike a nerve with Pelosi, who stopped in her tracks, turned to face the reporter and delivered an extraordinary rebuttal.

“I don’t hate anybody,” Pelosi said sternly, pointing her finger at Rosen, a reporter she has dismissed as “Mr. Republican Talking Points.” Pelosi then referenced her Catholic upbringing and told Rosen, “Don’t accuse me.”

“I did not accuse you,” the reporter shot back. “I asked a question.”

As the impeachment fight ramps up, President Trump and Republicans have increasingly made the argument that Democrats are pursuing their inquiry simply because they “hate” the president.

“As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me,” she said. “I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love, and [I] always pray for the president, and I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So, don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s anti-impeachment spin factory, Sarah Ellison, Dec. 5, 2019. From a bunker under the Oval Office, two temporary White House hires guide the president’s communications strategy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: How Professor Pamela S. Karlan carved up Donald Trump on live national television, Robert Harrington, Dec. 5, 2019. Professor Karlan was that rare thing: a scholar on fire. Of the four Constitutional scholars who were called to testify, and each in their own way was compelling, for my money Professor Pamela S. Karlan was the most impressive.

bill palmer report logo headerRanking member Doug Collins said in his opening statement, among other things, that Karlan and her colleagues, “couldn’t have possibly actually digested the Adam Schiff report from yesterday or the Republican response in any real way.” Karlan responded with appropriate indignance, “… here Mr. Collins I would like to say to you, sir, that I read every one of the live transcripts of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts. So I am insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts. But everything I read on those occasions tells me that when president Trump invited – indeed demanded – foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this a republic to which we pledge allegiance.”

She concluded, “Put simply, a president should resist foreign influence in our elections. Not demand it and not welcome it. If we are to keep faith with our Constitution and our Republic, president Trump must be held to account.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The House Should Go Big in Framing Impeachment Articles Against Trump, Carolyn Eisenberg (professor of U.S. history and foreign policy at Hofstra University), Dec. 5, 2019. Their findings and scope will reverberate through time and set the terms of possible reforms.

For House Democrats, there is a powerful temptation to narrow the grounds for impeachment. By adhering to a simple narrative about President Trump’s criminal actions in relation to Ukraine, they hope it will be easier to mobilize public support than if they levied a more complex set of charges.

In the impeachment of Richard Nixon, the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee faced a similar choice. Despite significant dissent, the committee ended up limiting itself to three articles of impeachment, all connected to the domestic crimes of Watergate.

But as House committee chairmen begin the process of drawing up articles of impeachment, it is worth considering that its findings and their scope will reverberate through time. Long after the next election, they will condition how Americans look upon this period of our history and what correctives might be found.

For Nixon’s impeachment, there was actually a fourth article of impeachment. It encompassed more serious offenses and incited intense debate among the members. Introduced by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, it charged the president with “the submission to the Congress of false and misleading statements concerning the existence, scope and nature of American bombing operations in Cambodia in derogation of the power of Congress to declare war, to make appropriations and to raise and support armies.”

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Perspective: Is this wall-to-wall media coverage pointless? Margaret Sullivan, right, Dec. 5, 2019. How should journalists respond to the stalemate, other than to keep doing exactly what they’ve been doing?

The hint of a possible solution appears in the tracking of public opinion on impeachment at Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, under the headline, “Plenty Of People Are Persuadable On Impeachment.”

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, As France Strikes, Commuters Suffer and Protests Begin, Staff Report, Dec. 5, 2019. Workers across the country are staging walkouts in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s pension proposals. The unrest poses a new challenge for Mr. Macron, whose top-down management style has drawn criticism.

A protest against changes to France’s pension system brought parts of the country to a grinding halt on Thursday, with nationwide strikes shutting down transportation and leaving schools and hospitals unstaffed and basic government services unmet.

Huge crowds of railway workers, teachers, students, hospital workers and other protesters peacefully marched down Paris’s wide boulevard Magenta, and amid blaring loudspeakers and occasional firecrackers, commuters struggled to find ways to get to work. Subways were largely shut, children left for school early and only about one in eight suburban trains were running in many areas, if they were running at all.

The festive mood in Paris gave way to a more tense one as the day wore on, as sporadic violence broke out, especially near the Place de la République. Some violent protesters burned vehicles and threw projectiles at the police there, and officers fired tear gas and charged the group. There were also reports of isolated standoffs in other cities, including in Bordeaux, where security forces also fired tear gas.

2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Kerry endorses Biden, saying he has character, experience to beat Trump, Dan Balz, Dec. 5, 2019. The former secretary of state and 2004 Democratic nominee said Joe Biden, right, has the leadership skills to restore the nation’s standing abroad and confront urgent problems at home.

Global Cyber Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Two Russians charged in hacking schemes that officials say swiped tens of millions from unsuspecting victims, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, Dec. 5, 2019. Authorities said many of the thousands of U.S. victims were small to midsized businesses, including a dairy company in Ohio, a luggage store in New Mexico and an order of religious sisters.

Inside DC: Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump nominee rated ‘not qualified’ by American Bar Association was just confirmed as a federal judge, Reis Thebault, Dec. 5, 2019. Sarah Pitlyk's appointment Tuesday was seen as yet another mark of the influence of the Federalist Society, a conservative nonprofit organization.

The latest of President Trump’s confirmed federal judges has been assailed by fellow lawyers for her lack of trial experience and has been lambasted by reproductive rights advocates for her vigorous opposition to abortion, surrogacy and in vitro fertilization.

And in a near-party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved the nomination of Sarah Pitlyk, making the conservative lawyer the newest federal judge for the U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined the Democrats to oppose Pitlyk. Every other Republican present voted for her.

Pitlyk’s confirmation is a victory for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who have sought a dramatic and deeply consequential reshaping of the federal judiciary, installing a dizzying number of judges and energizing Republican voters.

Dec. 4

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Professors testify that Trump’s conduct is grounds for removal, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 4, 2019.  Probe moves to new phase with House Judiciary hearing. A 41-member panel with a history of partisan brawls is hearing from four constitutional experts on the historical underpinnings of impeachment in what could be a chaotic proceeding.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Trump Committed Impeachable Offenses, 3 Scholars Say, Michael D. Shear, Dec. 4, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee is debating whether to draft and approve articles of impeachment. Lawmakers are hearing from legal scholars about the constitutional basis for impeachment. Stay here for live video and updates.

U.S. House logoBut an expert invited by Republicans argued that the case so far is “slipshod” and premature, during the first formal impeachment hearing in the Judiciary Committee. The panel kicked off what is likely to be a sharply partisan brawl over whether to draft and approve articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Lawmakers made their opening statements as they prepared to hear from legal scholars about the constitutional basis for impeachment and whether Mr. Trump’s actions meet those standards.

djt rudy giuliani

Donald Trump and his counsel Rudoph Giuliani are shown in a file photo.

washington post logorudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomWashington Post, Phone call records show frequent contact between Giuliani and White House, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Greg Miller, Dec. 4, 2019. Phone-call records disclosed in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry report released Tuesday show extensive contact between President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the White House during key moments of the Ukraine saga.

The call records provide powerful circumstantial evidence that Giuliani was coordinating with the White House on his Ukraine gambit, something Giuliani has previously acknowledged. The records also show contact between a Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas (shown together in a Reuters photo this fall at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC), and one of Trump’s key defenders in Congress, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.).

Rudy Giuliani introduces then-candidate Donald Trump at an Iowa campaign rally in September 2016. (Source: Flickr/John Pemble, CC BY-ND 2.0)

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani, Facing Scrutiny, Travels to Europe to Interview Ukrainians, Kenneth P. Vogel and Benjamin Novak, Dec. 4, 2019. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has been overseas this week to talk with former prosecutors for a documentary series intended to debunk the impeachment case.

Even as Democrats intensified their scrutiny this week of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s role in the pressure campaign against the Ukrainian government that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Giuliani has been in Europe continuing his efforts to shift the focus to purported wrongdoing by President Trump’s political rivals.

Mr. Giuliani, shown above in a 2016 presidential campaign photo, the president’s personal lawyer, met in Budapest on Tuesday with a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, right, who has become a key figure in the impeachment yuriy lutsenkoinquiry. He then traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday seeking to meet with other former Ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been embraced by Republicans, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, according to people familiar with the effort.

The former prosecutors, who have faced allegations of corruption, all played some role in promoting claims about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a former United States ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in 2016.

Those claims — some baseless and others with key disputed elements — have been the foundations of the effort by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian government to commit itself to investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump heading into his re-election campaign. That effort in turn has led to the impeachment proceedings in the House against the president.

Mr. Giuliani is using the trip, which has not been previously reported, to help prepare more episodes of a documentary series for a conservative television outlet promoting his pro-Trump, anti-impeachment narrative. His latest moves to advance the theories propounded by the prosecutors amount to an audacious effort to give the president’s supporters new material to undercut the House impeachment proceedings and an eventual Senate trial.

It was Mr. Giuliani’s earlier interactions with some of the same Ukrainian characters that set the stage for the impeachment inquiry in the first place, and also led to an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether Mr. Giuliani violated federal lobbying laws.

Mr. Giuliani’s trip has generated concern in some quarters of the State Department, coming amid scrutiny of his work with American diplomats earlier this year on the pressure campaign. His trip to Budapest and Kyiv suggests that he is unbowed by the intense scrutiny that has enveloped him and his associates, including revelations from the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday of frequent calls from Mr. Giuliani to the White House and other figures in the pressure campaign at key moments this year.

The European trip was organized around the filming of a multipart television series featuring Mr. Giuliani that is being produced and aired by a conservative cable channel, One America News, or OAN.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Put His Interests Ahead of Country’s, Impeachment Report Finds, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Dec. 4, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats on Tuesday asserted that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election, releasing an impeachment report that found the president “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomThe report by the House Intelligence Committee was a sweeping indictment of the president’s behavior, concluding that he sought to undermine American democracy and endangered national security, then worked to conceal his actions from Congress. Democrats left it to another committee to decide whether to recommend Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but their report presented what are all but certain to be the grounds on which the House votes to formally charge him.

“The founding fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment,” it said.

The intelligence panel adopted it, strictly along partisan lines, hours after its release.

Though the committee indicated it would continue investigative work, the report’s release set in motion the next phase in the impeachment of Mr. Trump, accelerating a constitutional clash that has happened only three times in the nation’s history. Both parties are poised for a raucous debate in the House Judiciary Committee over whether to charge the president with high crimes and misdemeanors, the Constitution’s threshold for removal, and a likely partisan vote by the House to do so before Christmas.

The 300-page report provided some new details of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s frequent calls to the White House. But for the most part, it described the account that emerged over more than two months of sworn testimony from diplomats and other administration officials of how the president and his allies pressured Ukraine to announce investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats, while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Mysterious ‘-1’ and Other Call Records Show How Giuliani Pressured Ukraine, Sharon LaFraniere and Julian E. Barnes, Dec. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The Democrats’ rudy giulianiimpeachment report illustrates the work of Rudy Giuliani, right, the president’s personal lawyer, in an irregular foreign policy.

Phone records cited in the impeachment report released Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee illustrate the sprawling reach of Mr. Giuliani’s campaign first to remove the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, then to force Ukraine’s new government to announce criminal investigations for Mr. Trump’s political gain.

That effort accelerated through the spring and summer into a full-court press to force Ukraine’s new president to accede to Mr. Trump’s wishes or risk losing $391 million in military assistance desperately needed to hold off Russian-led forces waging a separatist war in eastern Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Noah Feldman? Scholar Specializes in Constitutional Law, Eileen Sullivan, Dec. 4, 2019. Mr. Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School who has written widely about religion and the law, has said the country faces a constitutional crisis.

Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, is part of a vanishing breed, a public intellectual equally at ease with writing law review articles, books aimed at both popular and volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotscholarly audiences and regular opinion columns, all leaning left but with a distinct contrarian streak.

In October, he declared that the country was in a constitutional crisis, caused by the events that followed the disclosure of a July 25 phone call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, of Ukraine. When Mr. Trump told Congress that he would not participate in any of the House’s impeachment proceedings, it left the country with “situation where the Constitution does not provide a clear, definitive answer to a basic problem of governance,” Mr. Feldman wrote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Pamela Karlan? Legal Leader Committed to Progressive Causes, Lola Fadulu, Dec. 4, 2019. Ms. Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor, counts a landmark gay rights case as among her litigation experience. She is the director of Stanford Law’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Pamela S. Karlan’s formidable reputation as a scholar and Supreme Court advocate, coupled with a deep commitment to progressive causes, have made her a leader of the sometimes disorganized liberal legal movement.

Ms. Karlan, 60, received bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from Yale and clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the Supreme Court. She is now a director of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Ms. Karlan made regular media appearances discussing the 2000 presidential election and recount, and was one of the authors of “When Elections Go Bad: The Law of Democracy and the Presidential Election of 2000.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Michael J. Gerhardt? Professor Made Impeachment His Specialty, Emily Cochrane, Dec. 4, 2019. Mr. Gerhardt’s research has focused on constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress.

For the second time, Michael J. Gerhardt will appear before Congress as an expert on impeachment. In 1998, when President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, he was the only expert on a panel of 19 witnesses summoned by both parties to offer insight into the process.

Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s law school, has focused on constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress.

For the second time, Michael J. Gerhardt will appear before Congress as an expert on impeachment. In 1998, when President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, he was the only expert on a panel of 19 witnesses summoned by both parties to offer insight into the process.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Is Jonathan Turley? Republicans’ Lone Expert on Impeachment, Eileen Sullivan, Dec. 4, 2019. The Republicans’ lone expert witness, the law professor Jonathan Turley, has represented whistle-blowers and terrorism suspects. A professor at George Washington University Law School, he has represented whistle-blowers, members of Congress and terrorism suspects.

Jonathan Turley is a well-known legal expert, often seen on cable news talking about a range of issues including tort law, espionage, constitutional law and, most recently, impeachment. He is a professor at George Washington University Law School and has represented clients from a variety of backgrounds and political affiliations.

“This is a daunting but not unfamiliar challenge as an academic,” Mr. Turley wrote on Tuesday on his blog about his scheduled appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.

A graduate of the University of Chicago and Northwestern’s law school, Mr. Turley joined the staff of George Washington’s law school in 1990, and according to his biography, was the youngest person named to an academic chair in the school’s history.

washington post logoWashington Post, Explosive personalities ready to battle as probe enters new phase, Elise Viebeck, Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, Dec. 4, 2019. The spotlight shifts from the more sober House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee, where the president’s loyalists and pro-impeachment Democrats are intent on causing new friction.

• Live updates: Spotlight shifts to the House Judiciary Committee

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: GOP tries to connect dots on Biden and Ukraine and comes up short, Glenn Kessler, Dec. 4, 2019. GOP tries to connect dots on Biden and Ukraine, but comes up shortSen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) suggest there is a connection between a “raid” in Ukraine and then- Vice President Joe Biden’s calls in February 2016. But there’s less to those events than meets the eye.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Melania Trump goes completely off the rails, Bill Palmer, Dec. 4, 2019. It’s generally accepted within the Resistance that a child like Barron Trump should never be invoked in political discourse except when necessary. His name did come up in passing today in House impeachment hearings, and we can debate whether that should have happened. But what’s not up for debate is that Melania Trump responded in completely absurd fashion.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the legal experts testifying before the House impeachment inquiry today tried to punctuate Donald Trump’s attempt at acting like a dictator by pointing out that he even went so far as to name his son “Barron,” as if Trump wanted to be a Baron. Was this fair game or what it gratuitous? You can decide. Here’s what Melania Trump decided to tweet about it: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”

In general, no one is going to begrudge a mother’s earnest attempt at protecting her child. But this tweet doesn’t read like it was earnest or legitimate. Instead it reads like it was written by a political adviser. In fact Melania’s tweet is trying just as hard to politicize and weaponize Barron as what she’s alleging today’s witness did. But for Melania, it’s far uglier than that.

This comes even as Melania Trump stands there and publicly says nothing about the fact that her husband has been kidnapping immigrant children and locking them in cages, and in some instances murdering these children through depraved and intentional mistreatment. Melania also said nothing when her husband recently attacked sixteen year old climate activist Greta Thunberg. Her tweet today stands out as exceedingly disingenuous.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Cutting Off Food Stamps for Nearly 755,000, Lola Fadulu, Dec. 4, 2019. The Department of Agriculture approved the first of three rules that are ultimately expected to cut 3 million from the federal food-stamp program. The Trump administration, brushing aside tens of thousands of protest letters, gave final approval on Wednesday to a rule that will remove nearly 755,000 people from the federal food-stamp program by strictly enforcing federal work requirements.

The rule, which was proposed by the Department of Agriculture in February, would make states enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults without children that governors have routinely been allowed to waive, especially for areas in economic distress. The economy has improved under the Trump administration, the department argued, and assistance to unemployed, able-bodied adults was no longer necessary in a strong job market.

“Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream,” Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, said. “We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand.”

But anti-poverty groups said the administration’s focus on the unemployment rate was misleading.

ny times logoNew York Times, New Abortion Bills Are So Tough That Some Conservatives Have Qualms, Timothy Williams, Dec. 4, 2019. Another surge of stringent abortion limits is expected in state legislatures next year, highlighting a rift among conservatives about political strategy. Months after state lawmakers around the country approved some of the most restrictive limits on abortion seen in decades, some states want to push still further.

Leading the way is Ohio, where Republicans are contemplating banning nearly all abortions from the time of conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and the highly unusual step of allowing women who have abortions to be prosecuted for murder.

Especially contentious in the Ohio proposal is a provision that would direct doctors treating women with a sometimes life-threatening condition when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus to try to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus.”

After last spring’s wave of state-led campaigns to limit abortions, a second surge is expected in early 2020 as legislators in Republican-dominated states begin new lawmaking sessions. Tennessee, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina and Idaho could all quickly approve bills next year that would in effect ban abortion. With a presidential election looming, the issue will be used by Democrats and Republicans alike to raise campaign funds and to spur election turnout.

Roll Call, Washington Democratic Rep. Denny Heck not running for reelection, Bridget Bowman, Dec. 4, 2019. Heck said investigating Russian election interference and impeachment denny heck o Custom‘have rendered my soul weary.’ Rep. Denny Heck announced Wednesday that he is not running for reelection. The Washington Democrat, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, cited the impeachment investigation as part of the reason for his retirement.

“The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary,” Heck wrote in a Medium post.

“I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth,” Heck wrote.

Heck, 67, also noted serving in Congress takes a toll since it takes him away from his wife. “At our age, however many ‘good years’ we have left together is not a growing number,” he wrote.

Heck was first elected to represent Washington’s 10th District, which includes Olympia, in 2012. Before coming to Congress, he served in the Washington state House and was a former CEO and broadcaster for TVW, the state’s version of C-SPAN.

U.S. Justice System

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Con Man’s Wild Testimony Sent Dozens to Jail, and 4 to Death Row, Pamela Colloff, Dec. 4, 2019. Paul Skalnik is a con man and criminal. Now a man may be executed because of his dubious testimony. Why did prosecutors rely on him as an informant?

When detective John Halliday paid a visit to the Pinellas County Jail on Dec. 4, 1986, his highest-profile murder case was in trouble. Halliday, who was 35 and investigated homicides for the local sheriff’s office, had spent more than a decade policing Pinellas County, a peninsula edged by white-sugar-sand beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast, west of Tampa. It is a place that outpaces virtually all other counties in the nation in the number of defendants it has sentenced to death. Prosecutors who pursued the biggest cases there in the 1980s relied on Halliday, who embodied the county’s law-and-order ethos. Powerfully built and 6-foot-4, with a mane of dirty blond hair and a tan mustache, he was skilled at marshaling the facts that prosecutors needed to win convictions.

He had worked the case for the past year and a half, ever since the body of a 14-year-old girl named Shelly Boggio was found, nude, floating in an inland waterway near the town of Indian Rocks Beach. Her murder was singular in its violence. Her body bore 31 stab wounds, many of them to her hands, as if she had tried to shield herself from the ferocity of the attack. She was most likely still alive, the medical examiner determined, when she was dragged into the water and left to drown. Her older sister identified her by the silver ring, eagle-shaped and inset with turquoise, that she wore on her left hand.

The crime scene yielded few clues. No murder weapon was left behind, and no fingerprints or other forensic evidence was recovered. If Boggio was sexually assaulted, the medical examiner found, any trace of sperm may have been washed away during her time in the water. “It was one of Pinellas County’s cruelest murders,” The St. Petersburg Times observed, “and there was little evidence.”

This article is a partnership between ProPublica, where Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter, and The New York Times Magazine, where she is a staff writer.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls Canadian prime minister ‘two-faced’ at NATO summit, Michael Birnbaum, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker​, Dec. 4, 2019. President Trump found himself the scorned child on the global playground as widely circulated video showed some of his foreign counterparts gossiping about and mocking him.

President Trump, who has demeaned his rivals for being laughed at around the world, found himself the scorned child on the global playground at a NATO summit here Wednesday, as widely circulated video showed leaders gossiping about and mocking him.

The video, captured at a Buckinham Palace reception Tuesday evening, appeared to show Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others laughing about Trump’s freewheeling news conferences earlier in the day. “I just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau told the others, dropping his hand toward the ground to dramatize his retelling.

And so it was Wednesday morning that Trump presented a sulking, brooding president, as he slapped down Trudeau as “two-faced” and engaged with other foreign counterparts at a secluded estate here outside London.

As the summit concluded, Trump abruptly canceled a planned news conference, arguing that he had already answered so many questions from reporters in other settings during his visit to Britain.

He took off for Washington as the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing was underway. Though his conduct here fit his pattern of disruption at international summits, Trump did not make the fiery threats that have punctuated previous gatherings. NATO leaders were almost giddy as they survived another encounter with Trump with their alliance intact. Trump’s canceled news conference — eliminating one last chance for him to take aim at them — was to many the departure gift.

• Analysis: A brief history of world leaders laughing at Trump
• British tabloids see a scolding in queen’s look at Princess Anne during meeting with Trumps

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Journalist’s Murder in Malta Puts Democracy on Trial, Editorial Board, Dec. 4, 2019. But the arrest of a well-connected businessman is a sign that daphne caruana galizia croppedcourageous reporting can make a difference.

Journalists are sometimes accused of giving disproportionate attention to crimes against their own. The reason they do so is not self-aggrandizement; it is that the increasingly frequent murder or repression of reporters is rarely random, and most often it is the work of people in power seeking to extinguish an unwelcome light on their corruption. To report on the fate of silenced journalists is to continue their work.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, right, was such a reporter. When she was blown up by a car bomb in October 2017 in the tiny Mediterranean country of Malta, population roughly 450,000, the prime minister, Joseph Muscat, acknowledged that the list of potential suspects — people who had been scorched by her fearless reporting — was very long. At the time she was killed, Ms. Caruana Galizia was reporting on mysterious offshore companies that she said were linked to Maltese politicians.

Three men were soon arrested. But they were accused of being the contract killers, hired to kill the 53-year-old blogger for about $165,000, and with time it came to seem that the real masterminds of the murder would never be revealed.

That changed with the chance arrest of a suspected middleman who offered information about Ms. Caruana Galizia’s murder in exchange for immunity. Last week, one of Malta’s most prominent businessmen — and a prominent subject of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s reporting — was arrested as he was trying to leave on his yacht. He in turn offered to testify against two senior government officials and others “close to the prime minister” in exchange for a pardon.

Thousands of Maltese, led by members of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s family, turned up outside Castille, the ornate seat of the prime minister in the capital, Valletta, demanding his resignation. Finally, on Sunday, Mr. Muscat said he would resign — but not until his Labour Party selected a new leader on Jan. 12. Protesters may not accept that delay, though.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp taps Kelly Loeffler to fill Senate seat, a move that could set up clash with Trump, Robert Costa and Max Blau​, Dec. 4, 2019. The president's allies pushed for Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R), a staunch defender of the president, to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), who is retiring at the end of the month.

CounterPunch, Investigative History: RIP Fred Hampton: a Black Visionary Assassinated by the FBI, Jefferson Morley, right, Dec. 4, 2019. Fifty years ago this week, a squad of Chicago police officers killed Black jefferson morley newPanther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a pre-dawn raid on the apartment where they were sleeping. In the decades since, a revealing body of evidence has emerged showing that Hampton was the victim of a political assassination, sanctioned at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

fred hampton graphicThe story matters today, but not because the FBI still engages in assassination. The Bureau targets so-called “Black Identity Extremists” on flimsy grounds, but there’s no evidence that it has killed any of them. Indeed, FBI director Christopher Wray says new agents are required to study COINTELPRO precisely to learn what not to do.

What Wray prefers not to tell his employees or the public is that one of his predecessors, J. Edgar Hoover, instigated the murder of a promising African-American political leader, and got away with it. Hampton’s murder was a textbook example of how U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies robbed the country of hope and peaceful change and were never held accountable.

FBI logoNo one was ever convicted for Hampton’s murder. To this day, many journalists and historians are unwilling to state that Hoover and other senior U.S. officials countenanced the assassination of domestic foes. Yet compelling circumstantial evidence demonstrates they did exactly that in the case of Fred Hampton.

The story of Hampton’s assassination is not as well-known as that of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcolm X. In 2018 a diverse group of citizens formed the Truth and Reconciliation Committee which calls for the re-opening of the investigations of those four famous killings. (I am a member.) The story of Fred Hampton shows why this is necessary.

Hampton’s terrible murder has much in common with the deaths of JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm. It is an unsolved political crime, rife with official malfeasance and wrapped in mealy-mouthed media coverage.

Who Was Fred Hampton?

At age 21 Hampton was an honor student from suburban Chicago and an experienced leader. He got his start as an organizer for the integrationist National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He came to prominence as leader of the Black Panther Party, which scorned the NAACP as too accommodating to white people. At a time when many black militants favored dashikis and leather jackets, Hampton wore a button-down shirt and a pullover.

A self-described “revolutionary,” Hampton envisioned the future of the civil rights movement as a “rainbow coalition” of white, black, brown, yellow, and red people. Jesse Jackson would later adopt the term as the name of his organization and the theme of his ground-breaking presidential campaigns of 1984 and 1988. In short, Hampton was a charismatic leader with a vision of marrying the social gospel of King to the militant nationalism of Malcolm X.

Not coincidentally, Malcolm X, King, and Hampton were assassinated in the span of four years.

#MeToo Clergy Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Buffalo Bishop Malone resigns following accusations that he mishandled sex abuse cases, Chico Harlan, Dec. 4, 2019. The Vatican on Wednesday announced the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone, who stoked fury in his Buffalo Diocese over the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse claims and whose tenure became emblematic of the Catholic Church’s struggle to overcome its central crisis.

Under Malone’s watch, Buffalo had become perhaps the U.S. church’s most scandal-tainted diocese. It faces an FBI probe and more than 200 lawsuits. Malone pledged to institute reforms, but he was instead battered by accusations of engaging in a coverup and by embarrassing leaks. One whistleblower said she found a 300-page dossier on accused priests hidden in a supply closet near a vacuum cleaner.

In a short statement, the Vatican said Malone would be replaced on a temporary basis by Albany’s bishop, Edward B. Scharfenberger.

Dec. 3

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Schiff: Trump’s Ukraine actions constitute bribery. ‘That’s exactly what’s gone on here,’ Karoun Demirjian​, Dec. 3, 2019. The House Intelligence chairman said it is up to the Judiciary Committee to decide whether to pursue such a charge among articles of impeachment.

adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, right, said in an interview Tuesday that President Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine meet the constitutional definition of bribery — but that it’s the Judiciary Committee that must decide whether to recommend impeaching him on those grounds.

“This is certainly, I think, what the founders had in mind when they used that word in the Constitution,” Schiff (D-Calif.) said, defining “bribery” as “the offer of or performance of official acts, in exchange for something of value; the betrayal of a public trust to get something of personal or political value.

“That’s exactly what’s gone on here.”

• Analysis: 5 takeaways from the House Intelligence Committee’s report

washington post logoWashington Post, As impeachment inquiry rages at home, Trump unsettles the world stage at NATO, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Michael Birnbaum, Dec. 3, 2019. To watch the U.S. president perform alongside other leaders was to witness his use of disequilibrium as political strategy — deployed throughout his presidency to keep everyone slightly off-kilter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Mueller witness, major Clinton and Trump donor charged with funneling millions in illegal contributions in 2016 elections, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky​, Dec. 3, 2019. Trump associate and UAE adviser George Nader and Los Angeles-based Lebanese-American businessman Ahmad "Andy" Khawaja were among eight people charged in a 53-count indictment.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge weighs ordering State Dept. to release Volker, Sondland records about Ukraine, Spencer S. Hsu, Dec. 3, 2019. A federal judge is weighing whether to order the State Department to release internal communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and two of three men designated by President Trump to steer Ukraine policy — potentially sensitive records at the heart of an ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper of Washington on Tuesday heard arguments in a public-records lawsuit seeking communications by Kurt Volker,
former State Department envoy to Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, with other State Department officials including Pompeo.

Volker, Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry called themselves the “three amigos,” and other U.S. diplomats said the trio was tasked by the administration with pushing Trump’s policies on Ukraine, bypassing and at times running counter to traditional diplomatic channels.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House panel report says Trump ‘compromised national security’ to advance his political interests, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Dec. 3, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee will vote later today on forwarding the report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider impeachment proceedings.

U.S. House logoThe House Intelligence Committee released a report Tuesday that said President Trump placed his political interests above national interests in his conduct toward Ukraine.

Democrats are seeking to build a case that Trump leveraged military assistance and an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and a debunked theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump called Democrats “very unpatriotic” for pursuing his impeachment while he is overseas meeting with NATO leaders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings live updates: Trump calls Democrats ‘unpatriotic’ for pursuing case against him while he’s overseas, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Dec. 3, 2019. President Trump called Democrats “very unpatriotic” Tuesday for pursuing his impeachment while he is overseas meeting with NATO leaders, as the House Intelligence Committee prepared to release a report detailing his conduct regarding Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court refuses to block House subpoena for Trump’s financial records, Ann E. Marimow and Renae Merle​, Dec. 3, 2019.  The New York-based appeals court upheld Congress’s broad investigative authority and ordered two banks to comply with House subpoenas for the president’s financial information.

The New York-based appeals court upheld Congress’s broad investigative authority and ordered Deutsche Bank and Capital One to comply with the House subpoenas for the president’s financial information. The court gave the president seven days to seek review by the Supreme Court in the case, which predates the public impeachment proceedings in the House.

In a 106-page ruling, the court said the House committees’ “interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions."

 washington post logoWashington Post, GOP embraces a debunked Ukraine conspiracy to defend Trump, Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian, Dec. 3, 2019.  The adoption of the Russian-fueled claims illustrates a rapid transformation for a party that once celebrated a hawkish approach to Moscow.

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Barr disputes inspector general’s finding about FBI’s Russia investigation, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian​, Dec. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr, right, has privately said he doesn’t think the inspector general can conclude yet that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching a probe of Trump campaign members.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats quietly debate expanding impeachment articles beyond Ukraine, Rachael Bade​, Dec. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Members of the House Judiciary Committee are discussing possible charges stemming from ex-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report and even allegations of self-dealing by President Trump.

• Dismissing probe, House GOP defends Trump’s actions on Ukraine
• Schiff says Republican counter-report ‘ignores voluminous evidence’

2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Kamala Harris is ending presidential bid, Chelsea Janes, Dec. 3, 2019. Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California announced that she is ending her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

katherine harrisIn a note to supporters, Harris, right, wrote that “my campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”“It is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude— that I am suspending my campaign today,” she wrote. “But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight.”

Harris had qualified for the December debate but was in single digits in both national and early-state polls. Harris, 55, entered the race a rising star. Her January announcement rally in Oakland drew more than 22,000 people. Trump, himself, praised Harris at the time for having the “best opening so far” and a “better crowd, better enthusiasm” than the other Democratic candidates.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, NAACP Takes On ‘Prison Gerrymandering,’ Gabriella Novello, Dec. 3, 2019. By counting inmates as residents of districts with prisons — rather than where they lived prior to their incarceration — rural communities often get federal funds they do not deserve. The NAACP now wants to put a stop to this practice.

Counting prisoners as residents where they are incarcerated — rather than where they lived before — often results in districts with prisons receiving more federal resources than those that need it more. This practice is known as “prison gerrymandering,” and the NAACP wants to put a stop to it.

Prisons in Connecticut, for example, are mostly located in rural, white communities — and that is where prisoners are counted as residents in the census. As a result, after redistricting in 2011, nine of the state house districts met federal minimum population requirements only by counting inmates as full-time residents.

What may seem like a small difference has sweeping consequences. States rely on census data to draw new legislative maps and allocate money. Nevertheless, a majority of states draw their maps in the state legislature, allowing elected officials to, in effect, choose their voters. So, when districts are drawn to include inmates as full-time residents, it disproportionately alters representation at the state and local level, according to the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative. In some cases, inmates are not counted at all in the census — as in Colorado and Mississippi.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says China Trade War May Last Past Election; Markets Slump, Katie Rogers, Keith Bradsher and Ana Swanson, Dec. 3, 2019. President Trump signaled on Tuesday that he was in no rush to end a long trade war with China, suggesting that he could wait until after the 2020 presidential election to strike a deal and sending stock prices tumbling.

“I have no deadline,” Mr. Trump told reporters during a wide-ranging 52-minute appearance in London with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General. “In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal.”

He added: “But they want to make a deal now, and we’ll see whether or not the deal’s going to be right, it’s got to be right.”

Mr. Trump’s comments rattled European stock markets and sent the Dow Jones industrial average down 400 points by 10 a.m. They cast more uncertainty on an agreement he said he had made weeks ago with China’s top trade envoy, Vice Premier Liu He. They announced in mid-October that they had reached a so-called Phase 1 trade agreement that would allow Chinese purchases of American agricultural goods to resume while the United States would cancel additional tariffs scheduled for Oct. 15.

  • New York Times, China Gathers Blood Data in Mass DNA Collection, Hoping to Map Faces, Beijing’s pursuit of control over a Muslim ethnic group pushes the rules of science and raises questions about consent.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, NATO braces for contentious summit as Trump and other leaders gather, Michael Birnbaum, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker​, Dec. 3, 2019. President Trump has been less vocal in his criticism of allies’ lagging defense spending, but French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have stepped up as potential disrupters at the meeting.

President Trump, who has long demeaned his rivals for being laughed at around the world, found himself the scorned child on the global playground Wednesday as widely circulated video showed some of his foreign counterparts gossiping about and mocking him.

The video captured Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appearing to laugh Tuesday evening with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others about Trump’s performance during an earlier bilateral meeting and painted White House aides as agog at the president’s behavior.

And so it was Wednesday morning that Trump presented a sulking, brooding president as he engaged on the sidelines of the NATO summit at a secluded estate here outside London. Asked by journalists about Trudeau’s mockery, Trump fired back at the Canadian prime minister and then threatened to cancel a planned news conference at the summit’s conclusion.

washington post logoWashington Post, For Johnson and Corbyn, murky allegations of Russian meddling loom over Britain’s election, Adam Taylor, Dec. 3, 2019. Both Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have faced accusations. Right now, no one is quite sure who, if anyone, is hiding what.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls French president’s criticism of NATO ‘nasty’ and ‘disrespectful,’ Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Michael Birnbaum, Dec. 3, 2019. President Trump on Tuesday slammed as “very, very nasty” and “very disrespectful” recent comments by his French counterpart about the diminished state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.

Referring to comments President Emmanuel Macron made last month in an interview with the Economist magazine — in which Macron described the “brain death” of NATO resulting from America’s failure to consult with its allies — Trump attacked Macron on the first day of the NATO 70th-anniversary summit in London, calling the comments “very insulting.”

• Trump announces Camp David for G-7 summit next year
• NATO hopes to get through 70th anniversary without explosions from Trump or Macron
• Trump says trade deal with China could wait until after 2020 election; Dow plunges 400 points

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he doesn’t know Britain’s Prince Andrew. They were both at a breakfast meeting in June, Jennifer Hassan, Dec. 3, 2019. “I don’t know him, no,” President Trump said, shaking his head — despite several photos of the two men together.

washington post logoWashington Post, North Dakota company that Trump touted gets $400 million border wall contract, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 3, 2019 (print ed.). A company that President Trump urged military officials to hire for border wall construction has been awarded a $400 million contract to build a span of new barrier across an Arizona wildlife refuge, according to a Department of Defense announcement Monday.

North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. won the contract to build in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Ariz., the Defense Department said, with a target completion date of Dec. 30, 2020.

Trump has repeatedly pushed for Fisher to get a wall-building contract, urging officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the firm — only to be told Fisher’s bids did not meet standards. Trump’s entreaties on behalf of the company have concerned some officials who are unaccustomed to the president getting personally involved in the intricacies of government contracting.

More Claims Agains Epstein

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein accused of sexually abusing 9 more women: suit, Priscilla DeGregory, Dec. 3, 2019. Nine more women have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein, with the incidents spanning from 1985 to 2007 — and involving children as young as 13, according to a new lawsuit.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThe women, who filed suit anonymously as Jane Does, say they were between the ages of 13 and 23 when they were either sexually assaulted or raped by the multimillionaire, and in some cases, his associates, the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit says.

Seven of the women say “Epstein and his associates sexually assaulted, abused, battered and raped,” them, and for two of the victims, this happened “repeatedly,” claim the court papers, which were filed Tuesday.

The earliest incident occurred in 1985 when a then-23-year-old woman says “Epstein sexually assaulted, abused, and battered her,” the court documents allege.

The most recent abuse by the hedge-funder — who authorities say committed suicide Aug. 10 while in Manhattan federal lock up on sex-trafficking charges — happened to a 21-year-old in 2007, the suit says.

The accusers’ lawyer, Jordan Merson, said the alleged abuse occurred in New York City, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands — and has left the women with mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and issues that led to attempted suicide.

Dec. 2

Impeachment Coverage

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP mounts campaign to delegitimize inquiry, Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Remarks from Republicans on Sunday reflect a conflict inside the republican elephant logoparty over the extent to which the president and his congressional defenders ought to participate in a process they have attacked as unfair and corrupt.

pat cipollone file croppedOn Sunday evening, the White House notified the House Judiciary Committee that it would not participate in its first impeachment hearing, scheduled for Wednesday.

Four constitutional scholars — three chosen by Democrats, one by Republicans — are expected to testify on the standards for impeachment.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone, left, attacked the hearing — and the entire impeachment process — as “unfair.”

  • Washington Post, Despite intelligence assessment, Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) says both Ukraine and Russia interfered in 2016 election
  • New York Times, Next Step in Impeachment Case Is Likely to Be Loud and Messy
  • New York Times, The House Judiciary Committee is poised to swiftly draft and debate articles of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Nadler calls Trump’s bluff, Jennifer Rubin, Dec. 2, 2019. When the House Intelligence Committee held depositions of key witnesses, President Trump’s lawyers cried: “Unfair! Secret hearings!” In fact, a slew of Republicans had the right to ask questions, though some chose not to attend. When the hearings moved to a public phase, the White House hollered: “Unfair! Trump’s lawyer isn’t present!” When the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), invited Trump’s lawyers to attend, the response was: “Unfair! We’re not coming!”

What is unfair is that Trump and his lawyers have given up any semblance of fidelity to facts, have smeared distinguished witnesses, attempted to intimidate the whistleblower (and put his or her safety in jeopardy), hurled baseless accusations at House Democrats investigating presidential wrongdoing and, worst of all, obstructed Congress by refusing to jennifer rubin new headshotproduce documents and blocking critical witnesses from testifying.

There is no mystery as to what is going on here. Trump has no facts to put forth and no valid constitutional argument that bribery (specifically mentioned in the Constitution) and obstruction fail to meet the standard for impeachment. (As the Lawfare blog puts it, “There is every reason to believe that the drafters of the Constitution had in mind a scope that easily encompasses Trump’s conduct.") ... The transcript [of the July 25 call] makes clear that Trump tied together the request for a personal favor with the delivery of military aid.

Instead, Trump (like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) plays the same card that every corrupt authoritarian does in these situations: He attacks the investigators as corrupt and unfair.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine leader makes headway against corruption, but fight risks angering Trump, Michael Birnbaum and David L. Stern, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). By the end of this month, volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotmore than 500 Ukrainian prosecutors will be out of their jobs as part of sweeping professional reviews under Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Among the prosecutors heading for the exit: a key Kyiv contact for Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The prosecutor purge is just one of several corruption-busting efforts set in motion by Zelensky, shown at right. But it puts into sharp relief Zelensky’s twin challenges — trying to balance his clean-government promises at home with his needs to keep President Trump from turning against him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is the Founders’ Worst Nightmare, Bob Bauer (law professor and White House counsel under President Barack Obama, Dec. 2, 2019. Once in the Oval Office, a demagogue can easily stay there. Donald Trump’s Republican congressional allies are throwing up different defenses against impeachment and hoping that something may sell. They say that he didn’t seek a corrupt political bargain with Ukraine, but that if he did, he failed, and the mere attempt is not impeachable. Or that it is not clear that he did it, because the evidence against him is unreliable “hearsay.”

It’s all been very confusing. But the larger story — the crucial constitutional story — is not the incoherence of the president’s defense. It is more that he and his party are exposing limits of impeachment as a response to the presidency of a demagogue.

The founders feared the demagogue, who figures prominently in the Federalist Papers as the politician who, possessing “perverted ambition,” pursues relentless self-aggrandizement “by the confusions of their country.” The last of the papers, Federalist No. 85, linked demagogy to its threat to the constitutional order — to the “despotism” that may be expected from the “victorious demagogue.” This “despotism” is achieved through systematic lying to the public, vilification of the opposition and, as James Fenimore Cooper wrote in an essay on demagogues, a claimed right to disregard “the Constitution and the laws” in pursuing what the demagogue judges to be the “interests of the people.”

Should the demagogue succeed in winning the presidency, impeachment in theory provides the fail-safe protection. And yet the demagogue’s political tool kit, it turns out, may be his most effective defense. It is a constitutional paradox: The very behaviors that necessitate impeachment supply the means for the demagogue to escape it.

U.S. Justice System

ny times logoNew York Times, A Divided Left Confronts Losses in the Battle on Abortion, Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.).  Miscalculations, and an unexpected victory by President Trump, have put abortion access at its most vulnerable point in decades, and the left on the defensive.In a six-month period this year, states across the South and Midwest passed 58 abortion restrictions. Alabama banned the procedure almost entirely. Lawmakers in Ohio introduced a similar bill shortly before Thanksgiving. And in March, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since President Trump added two conservative justices and shifted the court to the right; how it rules could reshape the constitutional principles governing abortion rights.

For abortion opponents, this moment of ascendancy was years in the making. Set back on their heels when President Barack Obama took office, they started methodically working from the ground up. They focused on delivering state legislatures and gerrymandered districts into Republican control. They passed abortion restrictions in red states and pushed for conservative judges to protect them.

And then unexpectedly, and serendipitously, Mr. Trump won the White House. Ending legal abortion appeared within their reach.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I’m done being quiet’: Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page slams Trump’s ‘sickening’ attacks in first interview, Allyson Chiu, Dec. 2, 2019. The lone tweet appeared Sunday night on a profile bearing the name of former FBI attorney Lisa Page. “I’m done being quiet,” the tweet read.

peter strozk lisa pageIn the roughly two years since Page made national headlines after politically charged text messages between her and then-senior FBI agent Peter Strzok (shown in file photos) were released, the lawyer has refrained from publicly addressing the events that catapulted her into the center of a political firestorm and made her a repeated target of President Trump’s ire.

Now, in a wide-ranging interview (Lisa Page Speaks: ‘There’s No Fathomable Way I Have Committed Any Crime at All’), the 39-year-old has slammed Trump for his “sickening” attacks against her and revealed how she has struggled to keep her life together. “I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” Page told the Daily Beast in her first public interview, which was published Sunday. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.

  •   Washington Post, Chicago police slammed a man’s head to a curb for allegedly spitting at an officer. He’s been charged with a felony.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, a Democrat who won two terms as governor in a red state, dropped out of the race, Reid J. Epstein and Matt Stevens,
steve bullock plaid shirt campaignDec. 2, 2019. Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, right, who argued relentlessly that his track record of winning in a deep red state made him the Democrat best positioned to beat President Trump in 2020, announced on Monday that he would end his presidential bid.

“I am suspending my campaign to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president,” Mr. Bullock said in a statement. “While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates.”

Mr. Bullock, 53, was unable to overcome a late and slow start that hobbled his campaign. Democratic voters never bought into his argument that winning election in a state carried by Mr. Trump was sufficient evidence that he should be the party’s presidential nominee.

An aide said he would not challenge Senator Steve Daines, a Montana Republican facing re-election in 2020, as has been the hope of many Democrats in Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, Georgia governor’s pick for Senate seat could set up potential conflict with Trump, Seung Min Kim, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is expected to pick Kelly Loeffler to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), according to an official — defying allies of President Trump who had publicly lobbied for Rep. Douglas A. Collins to be selected.

Georgia businesswoman Kelly Loeffler is expected to be tapped later this week to the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), according to an official briefed on the decision — defying allies of President Trump who had publicly lobbied for Rep. Douglas A. Collins to be selected.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R). The formal announcement from the Georgia governor is expected later this week, but not Tuesday because officials do not want news of the Loeffler pick to interfere with Isakson’s farewell address, which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.t, according to Amy Jeffress, a lawyer at Arnold & Porter in Washington and a former Justice Department attaché at the American Embassy in London. She said the legal standard is whether extradition would comply with Britain’s Human Rights Act, which protects the right to privacy but balances it against considerations like national security and fighting crime.

  • New York Times, How Black Voters Could Help Biden Win the Democratic Nomination, Joe Biden is betting on support from black voters in Southern states and urban areas to help him secure the 1,990 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
  • New York Times, Trump’s Other Personal Lawyer: Close to the Right, but Far From Giuliani, Jay Sekulow is a trusted, telegenic presidential adviser more experienced in religious liberty cases than impeachment battles.
  • New York Times, The Supreme Court may be ready to end its decade of silence on gun rights.
  • Washington Post, Emails show lobbyists helped craft lawmakers’ op-eds attacking Medicare-for-all, The emails reveal the active role lobbyists have taken in trying to shape public opinion against an idea that has divided Democrats during the presidential primary.

 World News

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 19 are killed as Mexican cartel gunmen battle police and army south of U.S. border, Mary Beth Sheridan, Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The bloody clash in the town of Villa Union lasted about 90 minutes, authorities said, and came just days after President Trump said he planned to designate Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Are America's Undocumented Immigrants? Miriam Jordan, Dec. 2, 2019. Recordings have emerged of private conversations that Julian Assange  President Trump has focused on blocking unauthorized crossings on the Southern border. But nearly half of those who are in the country unlawfully actually entered with permission.... to tour, study, do business or attend a conference for an authorized period of time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn trade blame over early release of London Bridge knife terrorist, William Booth, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). With a general election less than two weeks away, politicians in Britain tore into each other Sunday over the early release of a convicted Islamist terrorist who stabbed two people to death in a knife rampage at united kingdom flagLondon Bridge.

As tributes poured out for the victims of the Friday attack, leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties exchanged blows on the Sunday talk shows and speeches on the hustings over which side was responsible for the laws that allowed the homegrown, al-Qaeda-inspired Usman Khan to be released after serving less than half his 16-year sentence for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange.

Khan, who was released on parole 11 months ago with an electronic tracking device on his ankle, began his attack Friday afternoon as he was entering a conference intended to rehabilitate violent offenders and terrorists for a successful return to society. He stabbed at least five people before he was tackled by members of the public and shot dead by police. The queen honored the bystanders who intervened as heroes.

  • New York Times, Trump Says U.S. Will Impose Metal Tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, Dec. 2, 2019. President Trump accused the countries of weakening their currencies and hurting American farmers.
  • New York Times, With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Is Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years, Dec. 2, 2019. A surprise increase in gasoline prices led to angry protests that were met with a government crackdown of unbridled force, leaving at least 180 people dead.

Consumer Health Scam?

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Clinic pitches unproven treatments to desperate patients, with tips on raising the cash, William Wan and Laurie McGinley, Dec. 2, 2019 (print ed.). By the time he called the Lung Health Institute, Ed Garbutt was desperate. The Dallas computer parts salesman could barely walk the length of his house without gasping for breath. Unable to work, Garbutt, 64, was going broke paying for trips to the emergency room.

Lung Health Institute staffers were reassuring, Garbutt recalled, telling him that more than 80 percent of their patients with lung disease said they found relief through their stem cell treatments — which would cost him $5,500, thanks to a summer sale. He said they told him that if he didn’t have the money, he could get it other ways, like fundraising on GoFundMe.

So Garbutt raised $1,500 in donations, tapped the last of his savings and charged the rest on his credit card. “I spent every dime I had,” he said, “hoping it would make a difference.”

Over the past decade, hundreds of clinics have sprouted across the United States selling stem cell therapies for incurable conditions like Garbutt’s lung disease, Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration. But often, patients say, the only thing affected is their finances.

Former patients of the Tampa-based Lung Health Institute said they were encouraged to take out bank loans or borrow money from family members. Some withdrew from their retirement accounts and took up church offerings. Others borrowed against their homes.

“What they’re doing is taking a predatory approach to people with progressive, fatal diseases,” said Gregory Cosgrove, chief medical officer for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. His foundation issued a warning this year against such stem cell therapies, noting that desperate patients continue to “succumb to an onslaught of marketing and branding.”

Media / Civil Rights News

ny times logoNew York Times, Assange to Testify on Being Recorded in Embassy in London, Raphael Minder, Dec. 2, 2019. Recordings have emerged of private conversations that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, had while living in the Ecuadorean Embassy. He and a Spanish prosecutor blame the United States.

This much has become clear in recent weeks: When Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was living in Ecuador’s embassy in London, someone was spying on him, recording his private conversations. The question is: Who ordered the surveillance?

Julian Assange August Mr. Assange — in jail in Britain and facing prosecution in the United States — is scheduled to testify remotely later this month before a Spanish judge in a criminal case accusing a Spanish security company of eavesdropping on him illegally.

The Spanish court case has revealed a new set of secrets in the international saga of Mr. Assange, 48, right, showing that his claims of being spied on were not just paranoia or a publicity stunt. But as with all things related to someone who has been labeled a villain and a hero, a prophet and a crank, the revelations are subject to conflicting interpretations.

In Spain’s National Court, a public prosecutor and Mr. Assange’s lawyers have presented a raft of evidence that he was recorded while in the Ecuadorean Embassy, which they say violated his right to privacy. The material includes video recordings, reviewed by The New York Times, in which his conversations with visitors are audible.

The prosecutor and Mr. Assange’s allies argue that the C.I.A. was behind the spying. A spokesman for the agency declined to comment.

After President Trump took office in 2017, the C.I.A. began espionage aimed at Mr. Assange, WikiLeaks and their ties to Russian intelligence, and the Justice Department began building a criminal case against him. But it remains unclear whether it was the Americans who were behind bugging the embassy.

The case adds another layer of complexity to the legal travails of Mr. Assange, who has been indicted in the United States on charges of espionage and hacking that exposed classified national security secrets. The Justice Department has asked Britain to extradite him, and British courts have begun considering the request.

His lawyers plan to introduce evidence from the Spanish case into the extradition case, arguing that it should block the British government from turning him over to the Americans. They say that the surveillance includes recordings of privileged conversations Mr. Assange had with his lawyers and doctors, and proves that he cannot receive a fair trial in the United States.

Dec. 1

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Intelligence Committee to meet Tuesday to approve release of Ukraine report, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.). House adam schiff squareIntelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff ­(D-Calif.), right, set a Tuesday meeting to approve the release of a report expected to detail the panel’s findings on President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

In keeping with committee rules, panel members are expected to be able to review the report starting at 6 p.m. Monday, 24 hours before the scheduled meeting. It comes after closed-door depositions with 17 government witnesses and televised public hearings with several of those officials.

The report is expected to be forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration of articles of impeachment against Trump. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Wednesday hearing to consider the historical and constitutional standards for impeachment.

U.S. Justice System

Donald Trump announces the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, right, to join the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Times photo by Doug Mills on July 9, 2018).

Donald Trump announces the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, right, to join the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Times photo by Doug Mills on July 9, 2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The many ambitions that propelled Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.). Geoffrey R. Stone, right, is the Edward H. Levi geoffrey stonedistinguished professor of law at the University of Chicago and former dean. Whose “supreme ambition” is Ruth Marcus referring to in the title of her extraordinarily detailed and highly insightful new book, Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover” There are several possibilities.

The first and most obvious, of course, is Kavanaugh, who won a seat on the Supreme Court. Throughout his career — as a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, as an assistant to special counsel Kenneth Starr, as a lawyer for the George W. Bush campaign during the 2000 Florida recount, as White House staff secretary during the Bush administration, as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — Kavanaugh kept his eye on the ultimate goal: the highest court in the land.

Another candidate is Kennedy. When candidate Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees during the 2016 presidential campaign — a list prepared by Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society — Kavanaugh’s name was not on it. After Trump’s election, Kennedy made clear to the new president that if he were to retire, he would like to see his former law clerk Kavanaugh succeed him. This caused bitter disagreement between the White House and Leo, whose Federalist friends worried that Kavanaugh was too much of a “Bushie” and might not fulfill their hard-line right-wing ambitions. After a struggle in the White House, Trump and his advisers rejected Leo’s concerns and settled on Kavanaugh, delivering on Kennedy’s ambition.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance, Dave Philipps, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Helene Cooper, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump’s handling of the case of a commando accused of war crimes has distressed active-duty and retired officers. His intervention, some said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.

The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Mr. Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.

As a result, the president finds himself more removed than ever from a disenchanted military command, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and diplomatic corps.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Lisa Page Speaks: ‘There’s No Fathomable Way I Have Committed Any Crime at All,’ Molly Jong-Fast, Dec. 1, 2019. The former FBI lawyer and ongoing Trump target breaks two years of silence in this exclusive interview. And she has quite a lot to say.

It’s not often that you interview a subject who has no interest in being famous. But recently, I did just that when I sat down with Lisa Page the week before Thanksgiving in my hotel peter strozk lisa pageroom in Washington, D.C. Page, of course, is the former FBI lawyer whose text-message exchanges with agent Peter Strzok (shown in file photos) that belittled Donald Trump and expressed fear at his possible victory became international news. They were hijacked by Trump to fuel his “deep state” conspiracy.

For the nearly two years since her name first made the papers, she’s been publicly silent (she did have a closed-door interview with House members in July 2018). I asked her why she was willing to talk now. “Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she says. The president called out her name as he acted out an orgasm in front of thousands of people at a Minneapolis rally on Oct. 11.

That was the moment Page decided she had to speak up. “I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” she says. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”

She is also about to be back in the news cycle in a big way. On Dec. 9, the Justice Department inspector general report into Trump’s charges that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign will come out. Leaked press accounts indicate the report will exonerate Page of the allegation that she acted unprofessionally or showed bias against Trump.

How does it feel after all this time to finally have the IG apparently affirm what she’s been saying all along? She said she wouldn’t discuss the findings until they were officially public, but she did note: “While it would be nice to have the IG confirm publicly that my personal opinions had absolutely no bearing on the course of the Russia investigations, I don’t kid myself that the fact will matter very much for a lot of people. The president has a very loud megaphone.”

Page, 39, is thin and athletic. She speaks in an exceedingly confident, clear, and lawyerly way. But having been through the MAGA meat grinder has clearly worn her down, not unlike the other women I’ve met who’ve been subjected to the president’s abuse. She is just slightly crumbly around the edges the way the president’s other victims are.

washington post logoWashington Post, Explaining the Steele dossier — and how information flows in Washington, Quinta Jurecic,  Dec. 1, 2019 print ed.). Quinta Jurecic is the managing editor of Lawfare, an online publication on national security and law. Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, writes that the Steele dossier — a private intelligence united kingdom flagreport on President Trump’s supposed Russia connections — was never meant to be made public. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

What you think of the new book by Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch — better known as the men behind the Steele dossier — will depend almost entirely on what view you take of the dossier itself. Is your position that the infamous document is a sham product cobbled together by Democratic operatives out to smear the president? Simpson and Fritsch’s Crime in Progress is unlikely to convince you otherwise.

The dossier burst onto the public scene in January 2017, when BuzzFeed News published the document that much of Washington had been whispering about for months: a private christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedintelligence report, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, documenting alleged links between Trump and the Russian government. Trump, then president-elect, declared the dossier to be “fake news.” His supporters began attacking Steele and the private research firm that had hired him, Fusion GPS, zeroing in on the fact that Fusion’s work was paid for in part by a law firm representing Democratic Party institutions. Almost three years later, the dossier is still a touchstone for the president’s supporters: Republicans have grilled witnesses about it during the past two weeks of impeachment hearings.

Simpson and Fritsch are open about their desire to push back on the years of criticism they and Steele have faced. Crime in Progress provides a detailed account of how Fusion GPS began its work researching then-candidate Trump — the project, they remind readers, was originally funded by the conservative Washington Free Beacon — and then, after Steele’s reports from Moscow began to roll in, how the three men scrambled to alert both the press and the FBI to the astonishing information they’d uncovered. They had no intention that the dossier would ever become public. And contrary to suggestions by the president’s allies, they played no role in the opening of the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.

 World News

washington post logoWashington Post, An unpopular Trump casts a shadow over Britain’s general election, William Booth and Karla Adam, Dec. 1, 2019 (print ed.). In Britain, more than any other country aside from the United States, he has sought to bolster his political allies and trash his detractors. British officials have been taken aback by such overt election interference President Donald Trump officialby a close ally.

Now, with the Dec. 12 election just days away, Trump is headed here again. The president is due in London on Tuesday and Wednesday for a NATO summit — Jeremy Corbyncomplete with a reception at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election team is bracing for what comes. Rival Jeremy Corbyn’s team hopes to pounce. At his rallies, Corbyn, shown at left, asserts that Trump has formed a dark alliance with Johnson, who is shown at left — intended, among other claims, to procure the sale of Britain’s beloved National Health Service to U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

djt boris johnson palmer Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s upcoming NATO summit in London is already shaping up to be a disaster, Robert Harrington, Dec. 1, 2019. The two-day NATO summit in London begins Tuesday with another despoiling of this lovely island with the malign presence of history’s worst American president. Apart from history’s worst British prime minister, there will also be assembled an actually welcome contingent of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers protesting the Faustian deal that president and prime minister will be cooking up between them.

bill palmer report logo headerThere is little doubt that Trump and Boris Johnson (shown above) intend to sell Britain’s National Health Service down the river to big pharma and the insurance companies in exchange for making themselves and their cronies collective trillionaires. That’s what happens when evil psychopaths run the world.

But Boris is nervous, much the same way the guy who invites his hooker girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner with his parents would be nervous. He’s afraid Trump will say or do something to spoil the upcoming election for him, and he has much to be worried about.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial, Who Will Tell the Truth About the Free Press? Editorial Board, Dec. 1, 2019. Since Mr. Trump took office, more than 40 foreign governments have invoked the specter of “fake news” to discredit journalists in the United States and abroad.

“Concocting fake news to attract eyeballs is a habitual trick of America’s New York Times, and this newspaper suffered a crisis of credibility for its fakery,” the Chinese government declared after The Times broke the news this month of government documents detailing the internment of Uighurs, Kazaks and other Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Who would have guessed that history had such a perverse development in store for us? As the historian Timothy Snyder has written in The Times, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came up with the slogan “Lügenpresse” — translated as “lying press” — in order to discredit independent journalism. Now the tactic has been laundered through an American president, Donald Trump, who adopted the term “fake news” as a candidate and has used it hundreds of times in office.

That is how, barely a generation after the murder of millions of Jews in Nazi death camps, the term “fake news” has come to be deployed so brazenly by another repressive regime to act against another minority, to cover up the existence of prison camps for hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logojoseph sestakWashington Post, Former congressman Joe Sestak ends 2020 presidential bid, Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 1, 2019. Former congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), right, ended his presidential campaign Sunday, a little over five months after he launched his long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination.

The move brings the number of Democratic contenders to 17, with the Iowa caucuses roughly two months away.

 

 

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