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Nov. 12

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

World News

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

Nov. 11

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump, shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore.

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

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

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

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

rick perry michael bleyzer us embassy kyiv via ap Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Supreme Court / DACA

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

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

Bolivian Coup Alleged

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

oleg sokolov

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

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

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

Trump Tax Return Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 10

Global Politics / Media

 

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt nikki haley Custom 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Politics / Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More World News

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

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

U.S. Agriculture / Food 

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

Nov. 9

Global Headlines

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

nancy pelosi djt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child Sex Trafficking

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

Migration / Climate Change

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

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 8

Legal Scandal Headlines just security logo

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

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

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

steve bannon file

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt rudy giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro & Con Trump Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

paul friedman graphic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

steven menashi screenshot Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media / Politics

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

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

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

U.S. Crime, Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Foreign Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Scandal Headlines (Cont.).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media News / Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 7

Lead-Poisoned Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections

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

bernie sanders dem debate msnbcpng

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Public Health

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

World News

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

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

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

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

U.S. Homelessness, Crime, Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MeToo Disputes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 6

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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U.S. Election Results

matt bevin andy beshear Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

andy beshear steve beshear twitter Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

Media / Politics

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

paula white cain facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 5

U.S. Election Results

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kurt,

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

Rudy.

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

Political Parody

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Media / Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MeToo & Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Trump Probes (Noted Above)

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

Nov. 4

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 3

U.S. News Headlines

Details below

 

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Health Care / 2020 Elections

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

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

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

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

Global News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Politics, Courts, Crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Trump Probe Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Force Seeks Larger Presence In Nevada

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

McDonald's CEO Forced Out

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

Nov. 2

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. 2020 Elections

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

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

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

Global News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migrant / Smuggling Security

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

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

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

Media / Political News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Mr. Trump tweeted the hashtag himself.

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/11 Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 1

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

michael flynn

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

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

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

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

U.S. Courts, Crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media News

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

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

stephanie grisham jeanne pirro fox screenshot Custom

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections, Politics

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Disasters

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

U.S. Jobs / Economy

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

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

Media / Security News

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

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

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

Magistrate refuses to postpone Assange’s extradition hearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a separate development, the National Press Club's president issued a statement on behalf of the club earlier this year as follows:

julian assange statement

War Zones

SouthFront, Syrian Democratic Forces Denounce Syrian Army’s Call To Unite Against Turkish Invasion, Staff report, Nov. 1, 2019. On Oct. 30, the Syrian Defense Ministry released an official statement calling on SDF members to join the ranks of the army to counter the Turkish offensive and restore Syrian territorial integrity.

These statements faced a fierce resistance among the SDF leadership that claimed that it will not accept any deal that would not “recognize and preserve” the group’s “privacy and structure.” This behavior is apparently linked with actions of US forces that have recently increased their activity in northern Syria. A US military column was recently spotted in the village of Sreen, south of Kobani. Most likely, these actions are aimed at rescuing the crumbling US influence in the countryside of Raqqah, additionally to the already occupied oil fields in Deir Ezzor.

 

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