October 2019 News

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

Oct. 31

Obama Hits Political Shaming

bo summit oct 30 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, He is right on all counts’: Obama finds rare bipartisan support by bashing ‘woke’ shaming, Allyson Chiu, Oct. 31, 2019. Former president Barack Obama offered some advice earlier this week to young people hoping to change society: Participating in cancel culture isn’t the way to do it.

“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” the 58-year-old said Tuesday while speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago (shown above, with close-up at left by Ashlee Rezin Garcia of the Chicago Sun-Times). “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. bo foundation summit ashlee rezin garcia chicago sun times via apPeople who do really good stuff have flaws.”

Obama’s pointed warning that social media enables “woke” people to be “as judgmental as possible” went viral Wednesday, drawing praise from both the left and right. By early Thursday, clips of Obama shared on Twitter had been viewed millions of times as many stressed that all social media users needed to hear his message.

“He is right on all counts,” 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted, while his opponent Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) wrote, “We all need a little more aloha spirit — being respectful & caring for one another.”

Trump Probes / Impeachment  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided House passes resolution on inquiry, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck​, ​Oct. 31, 2019. The resolution, passed on a near party-line vote, outlines the next steps in the investigation of President Trump, setting the stage for televised hearings and the release of witness testimony.

A divided House approved legislation Thursday formally authorizing and articulating guidelines for the next phase of its impeachment inquiry, a move that djt nancy pelosisignaled Democrats are on course to bring charges against President Trump later this year.

The 232-196 vote, which hewed closely to party lines, was likely to fuel the partisan fighting that has accompanied every stage of the impeachment probe U.S. House logoand much of the Trump presidency. Nearly all Democrats backed the resolution, and House Republicans, who spent weeks clamoring for such a vote, opposed it.

At issue is whether Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign leader to investigate his domestic political rivals.

In remarks before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the impeachment inquiry as a “solemn” and “prayerful” process — “not cause for any glee or comfort.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Rules of Impeachment, Editorial Board, Oct. 31, 2019. Democrats get serious about the next phase of inquiry. Since taking office in 2017, President Trump and his administration have sought to remove — and in some cases, destroy — many of the guardrails of precedent and tradition surrounding the conduct of the executive branch.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to erect a series of guardrails of its own, for the possible impeachment of the president. The resolution now before Congress avoids past missteps by allowing extended questioning of witnesses by staff lawyers before preening lawmakers take the stage, and it sets fair rules that respect precedent.

Such rules are needed because the stakes are so high and the charges against Mr. Trump so serious.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This changes everything, Bill Palmer, Oct. 31, 2019. Just two weeks and two days ago, on October 15th, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met privately with the House Democratic Caucus. She had already announced a press conference for after the meeting, which suggested that she was hoping to emerge from the meeting and announce that she was holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry. But she ended up announcing nothing.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was clear at the time that there simply weren’t enough House Democrats who were ready to put their names on an impeachment inquiry. They wanted the public opinion needle to move more in a pro-impeachment direction, so they could feel safe that when this was all said and done, such a vote wouldn’t end up being hung around their necks when they ran for reelection in 2020.

Again, that was just about two weeks ago. But now, as was pointed out during the Chris Hayes show tonight on MSNBC, the landscape has shifted so thoroughly that even the House Democrats in moderate districts are comfortable inking their names on an impeachment resolution. So what’s changed?

Our take is that it’s all about what’s been transpiring behind closed doors. Impeachment polls continue to inch upward, showing that a slight but growing majority of Americans now favor impeaching and removing Donald Trump, even before the public hearings begin. Over the past two weeks those numbers haven’t changed much.

But during that same time, a number of impeachment witnesses have testified in closed hearings. House Democrats have gotten a look at the witnesses they’ll be able to put on TV during public hearings, and they’re expecting it to drive impeachment poll numbers even higher, so now they’re ready to commit to the impeachment resolution. These past two weeks have changed everything.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House official expected to confirm diplomat’s account that Trump appeared to seek quid pro quo, Carol D. Leonnig, John Hudson and Reis Thebault, Oct. 31, 2019. Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date for how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of tim morrison Customformer vice president Joe Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.

Morrison, right, is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with the Ukrainian president until Ukraine announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions

Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court weighs Trump claim that ex-White House counsel McGahn, top aides are absolutely immune from congressional subpoena, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 31, 2019.
A federal judge Thursday will weigh the Trump administration’s claim that former White House counsel Donald McGahn and top presidential aides are absolutely immune from Congress’s subpoenas in a potential landmark lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee to force McGahn to testify .

dan mcgahn djtJudge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has fast-tracked the scheduled 2 p.m. hearing for McGahn, whom House Democrats described as one of their “most important” witnesses in an impeachment inquiry.

The case is one of several major political and legal battles between Congress and the Trump White House over the Constitution’s balance of powers, as Democrats formally probe Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign rival, and Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

“McGahn is uniquely positioned to explain those events, bring additional misconduct to light, and provide evidence regarding the president’s intent,” the complaint says, noting that Trump has disputed significant portions of these events and accused McGahn of fabricating facts. “Live testimony from McGahn is essential” to resolving any conflicting accounts, it says.

Mueller’s report ultimately concluded that it was not the special counsel’s role to determine whether the president broke the law.

charles kupperman croppedCharles Kupperman, left, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, also is due in the same courthouse Thursday for an initial hearing in a lawsuit he filed asking a federal judge to decide whether he must comply with a House subpoena in the impeachment inquiry.

The House Judiciary Committee sued Aug. 7 to enforce its April subpoena to McGahn, a key figure in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

The White House blocked McGahn’s testimony, advising the former counsel that he was “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony” and directing him not to appear.

[Democrats ask federal judge to force testimony from ex-White House counsel McGahn]

Lawyers for the committee’s Democrats call the claim “spurious” and say it has no grounding in case law. The House asked the court to expedite the case so it could be appealed by whichever side loses, saying the Trump administration was seeking to establish a dangerous precedent shielding top presidential advisers from testifying before Congress, even those who no longer work for the White House.

[Read the document: House Judiciary Committee v. Donald McGahn]

House general counsel Douglas N. Letter argued that “the Judiciary Committee cannot fulfill its constitutional investigative, oversight and legislative responsibilities — including its consideration of whether to recommend articles of impeachment — without hearing from [McGahn].”

William A. Burck, McGahn’s attorney, said in a statement that McGahn will abide by the president’s instructions absent a contrary decision from the court. McGahn “has an ethical obligation to protect client confidences,” Burck said. “Don does not believe he witnessed any violation of law. And the president instructed Don to cooperate fully with the special counsel but directed him not to testify to Congress unless the White House and the committee reached an accommodation.”

U.S. Privacy, Courts, Civil Rights

Kansas City Star, Planned Parenthood staffer testifies recent state inspections grew more contentious, Crystal Thomas, Oct. 31, 2019. An administrator at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic testified Thursday that recent Missouri inspections became much more combative after the involvement of the inspectors’ supervisor, who eventually opened an investigation into the clinic of his own volition.

“The dynamic completely changed,” Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services, said.

Shannon’s testimony, which at times became emotional, came on the fourth and final day of a state administrative commission hearing that will help decide whether the clinic can retain its license to perform abortions.

The state decided not to renew the clinic’s license in June after it could not complete an investigation of “failed” abortions of four patients because the physicians involved, who were medical residents or fellows in training, would not submit to interviews.

Under a stay from Commissioner Sreenivasa Dandamudi, the clinic can still perform abortions.

Shannon, who had worked at Planned Parenthood for more than a decade and was the state’s “point person” on licensure for three years, said inspections by the state were usually collaborative and that inspectors would offer on-the-spot suggestions that would prevent citations.

She described the former longtime inspector for Planned Parenthood, John Langston, as “very respectful.” Langston stopped inspecting Planned Parenthood after 2018.

However, Shannon noticed a difference in 2018 when William Koebel, the licensing supervisor, shadowed the team of his employees during their annual inspection, according to Shannon.

“They started asking questions as if they didn’t understand how to do an inspection,” Shannon said.Shannon said Koebel often interrupted with questions in an “accusatory demeanor.” Langston had to become a “mediator” and at one point, had to tell Koebel to “calm down,” she said.

“We had been doing the same things we had always done, the things we always do,” Shannon said.

Koebel later testified he had never personally inspected a medical facility before and had no medical training. Most of the state inspectors assigned to Planned Parenthood have nursing backgrounds.

Oct. 31

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, US judge dismisses case against legal brothels in Nevada, Ken Ritter, Oct. 31, 2019. A federal judge in Nevada has dismissed a lawsuit that invoked sex trafficking laws in a bid to close the nation’s only legal brothels. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno said in her Tuesday ruling that she empathized with three women who claim they were victims of sexual violence in Nevada and other places.

However, the judge said the women live in Texas and she wasn’t convinced the profound harm they said they suffered was due to Nevada prostitution laws. “That plaintiffs were unlawfully forced into prostitution and sex trafficked in Nevada and other states is not sufficiently traceable to Nevada laws ... as opposed to other factors, namely the illicit behaviors of private bad actors,” Du wrote.

Attorney Jason Guinasso, representing plaintiffs Rebekah Charleston, Angela Delgado-Williams and Leah Albright-Williams, said they may appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, but Guinasso said the women consented to be named in the lawsuit and news reports.

Guinasso previously served as a lawyer for a Nevada group, “No Little Girl,” that led an unsuccessful campaign last year for a ballot measure to end prostitution in Nevada’s Lyon County.

Prostitution is legal in rural Nevada, but not in the state’s two most populous counties, Clark and Washoe, or the cities of Las Vegas and Reno. State officials currently oversee 21 legal bordellos in seven counties.

Brothel owners argue that state regulation and mandatory health screenings make the women they hire safer than those involved in illegal prostitution.

Oct. 30

The Hill, Judge throws out conspiracy theorist's lawsuit against Mueller, Harper Neidig, Oct. 31, 2019. A federal judge on Thursday threw out conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi's lawsuit jerome corsi screenshot 2018 09 06against former special counsel Robert Mueller after he accused Mueller of coercing him into testifying about his alleged role coordinating the release of stolen Democratic emails. Judge Ellen Huvelle of the D.C. District Court said that Corsi, right, formerly of the far-right conspiracy theory website InfoWars, had failed to make a valid case against Mueller or any of the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies named in his complaint.

Huvelle, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Clinton, said Corsi's sweeping claims that Mueller and the government had conducted illegal surveillance of him, violated his constitutional rights and leaked grand jury information were lacking in evidence and legal grounding.

Corsi alleged that Mueller had threatened to indict him and "effectively put him in federal prison for the rest of his life" if he failed to testify to a grand jury about his alleged role as a liaison between WikiLeaks and Trump associate Roger Stone, who is facing trial next week for charges of obstruction of justice stemming from the special counsel's probe.

Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer who is representing Corsi, told The Hill in an email that he plans to appeal the ruling.

"Judge Huvelle’s ruling was largely politically influenced and sadly comes as no surprise," he said. "In today’s world, the elite establishment club in Washington, D.C., are 'protected species,' who are above the law. The American people are beginning to understand and it is a dangerous situation when the judiciary provides cover for the elite and powerful."

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Update: House Prepares to Vote on Trump Impeachment Inquiry Rules, Staff report, Oct. 31, 2019. Lawmakers will vote Thursday on a resolution to guide the impeachment process as it heads into a more public phase. It will be the first time the full House has gone on the record on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Here’s what to watch.

The House on Thursday will take its first formal vote on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Lawmakers are expected to vote largely along party lines to adopt a resolution that will set rules for the next phase of the inquiry, including public hearings and the drafting of articles of impeachment against the president.

The vote is a striking turnabout for House Democrats. For weeks, they have resisted formal floor action, fearing that a vote could hurt the re-election prospects of members in Trump-friendly swing districts where voters want them to focus more on issues like jobs and the high price of prescription drugs than on a seemingly futile effort to oust the president.

But after a series of bombshell revelations about the president’s pressure campaign to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, Democrats are convinced the public is behind the inquiry, and are ready to call the bluff of Republicans who have been demanding a floor vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled the vote for Thursday morning.

The Washington Post on Wednesday evening reported that deputy White House counsel John Eisenberg was the first official to propose moving the evidence of the call to the separate server after being told about the content of it.

According to the report, the NSC’s top Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified Tuesday that after hearing Trump pressure Zelensky to investigate a political opponent, he immediately reported the disturbing behavior to Eisenberg (the administration’s legal advisor on national security issues) and told him the president’s conduct was wrong.

Natural Disasters, Fire and Flood

climate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Winds are gusting above hurricane force in California, driving a new wildfire in the Los Angeles area, Katie Mettler and Andrew Freedman​, Oct. 31, 2019 (print ed.). The Easy Fire spread to nearly 1,000 acres in a few hours, triggering mandatory evacuation orders in the area surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of California as officials anxiously monitored the state’s whipping winds, which have been breathing dangerous life into the Kincade and Getty fires for days — and began fueling an explosive new brush fire in Southern California on Wednesday morning.

The Easy Fire, which ignited Wednesday in Ventura County, rapidly spread to nearly 1,000 acres in just a few hours, triggering mandatory evacuation orders in the area surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The fire is spreading amid dangerous weather, with humidity plunging into the single digits as winds gust above hurricane force.

washington post logoWashington Post, Scientists triple their estimates of the number of people threatened by rising seas, Chris Mooney, Oct. 31, 2019 (print ed.). Researchers project that 150 million people would live below the high tide line by 2050 and 200 million by 2100. Those exposed to an annual flood in that year would be 360 million.

Media News

catherine herridge ceci freed media matters graphic Custom

Media Matters, Commentary: Fox reporter announces departure for a place where "facts and storytelling will always matter,” Matt Gertz, Oct. 31, 2019. For decades, Fox News executives have responded to the critique that the network serves as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party by pointing to the work of its “news side” journalists. But Trump’s election and his administration’s effective merger with Fox has created a new problem for the rebuttal: Many of Fox’s longest-serving “news side” staffers have headed for the exits.

Last month, it was Shep Smith who left. Now, Catherine Herridge, Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent and a veteran of more than two decades there, is the latest to leave the cbs news logonetwork. CBS News announced that she had been hired as a senior investigative correspondent. Herridge (shown in Media Matters graphic by Ceci Freed) said that "I feel privileged to join a team where facts and storytelling will always matter.”

Herridge’s reporting at Fox often aligned with Republican talking points and fed the conspiracy theories of the network’s prime-time stars. But she had inexplicably won the respect of journalists outside Fox, and as such her departure is another blow to Fox’s embattled “news side.”

fox news logo SmallFox staffers speaking anonymously to reporters have over the last few years given quotes like Fox “feels like an extension of the Trump White House,” “We have a chance to turn the corner at Fox, and perpetuating this conspiracy theory damages our integrity,” “ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” and “People throughout the company think a new line was crossed.”

To the extent that there has been a battle of values between Fox’s “news” and “opinion” sides, it is clear who is winning. Fox News is a Trump propaganda operation, through and through.

Here's what Fox's "news side" really is: Fox "news side" anchor Shannon Bream bragged about Fox and challenged people to watch one of its news programs for a week and to find any unfairness. We watched her own show for a week and found the same propaganda that you'd find from the opinion side on Fox.

ISIS New Leader

ny times logoNew York Times, ISIS Names New Leader and Confirms al-Baghdadi’s Death, Rukmini Callimachi and Eric Schmitt, Oct. 31, 2019. Almost nothing is known about the new leader of the Islamic State, including who he really is. The group’s announcement also warned America not to be happy.

Days after the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, left, and his heir apparent were killed in back-to-back attacks by United States forces in northern Syria, the group broke its abu bakr al baghdadi oldersilence on Thursday to confirm their deaths, announce a new leader and warn America: “Do not be happy.”

In an audio recording uploaded on the Telegram app, the Islamic State mourned the loss of Mr. al-Baghdadi, who led the organization for nearly a decade, and its spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, who was killed a day after Mr. al-Baghdadi and who had widely been considered a potential successor.

The audio recording was the first word from the Islamic State confirming the death of its leader, which President Trump triumphantly announced on Sunday as a huge blow to the world’s most fearsome terrorist group.

Oct. 30

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file


Trump Probe Evidence

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 volatile White House meetings become central to investigation, Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. Witnesses’ testimony brought to light details of the July 10 gatherings, in which officials were confronted with a scheme they had previously only suspected: President Trump was seeking to use his office to pressure Ukraine to deliver dirt on the Bidens.

washington post logoWashington Post, Firsthand account of Ukraine call puts GOP in bind, emboldens Democrats, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 30, 2019 alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019(print ed.). After President Trump and his allies questioned a Purple Heart recipient’s patriotism, unnerved Republicans pushed back. Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, right.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarm, Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Greg Miller, Oct. 30, 2019. John Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, restricted access to the document after Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman expressed concerns about the president’s statements on the call with the Ukrainian president, according to people familiar with Vindman's testimony to lawmakers.

The details of how the White House clamped down on information about the controversial call comes as the House impeachment inquiry turns its focus to the role of Eisenberg, who has served as deputy White House counsel since the start of Trump’s administration. House impeachment investigators on Wednesday evening announced they have asked Eisenberg and a fellow White House lawyer, Mike Ellis, to testify Monday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Diplomats to outline Trump’s dark view of Ukraine in testimony, John Hudson and Elise Viebeck​, Oct. 30, 2019. The prepared remarks offer new insight into how a shadow foreign policy executed by people outside of government undermined the work of U.S. officials.

• Read Catherine Croft’s opening statement
• Read Christopher Anderson’s statement

bob livingston full portrait

ny times logoNew York Times, Former G.O.P. Lawmaker Pressed for Ambassador’s Ouster, Diplomat to Say, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Oct. 30, 2019. Robert Livingston, shown, above, a former Republican congressman turned lobbyist, repeatedly told a foreign service officer assigned to the White House that the American ambassador to Ukraine should be fired because of her association with Democrats, the officer told impeachment investigators on Wednesday.

The officer, Catherine M. Croft, testified that she “documented” multiple calls from Mr. Livingston about the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, while she was working at the National Security Council from mid-2017 to mid-2018. She informed two other officials — Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the council, and George P. Kent, a Ukraine expert at the State Department — about them at the time.

The testimony shifts forward by several months a timeline of known attacks on Ms. Yovanovitch by conservatives questioning, without evidence, her loyalty to President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, House committees seek testimony from John Bolton in inquiry, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Reis Thebault​, Oct. 30, 2019. Lawmakers want to question the former national security adviser on Nov. ​7 about his frustration with President Trump’s allies, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who were pressing Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

ny times logotom friedman twitterNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Zuckerberg & Pals Are Breaking America, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Oct. 30, 2019. Not in the Cold War, not during Vietnam, not during Watergate did I ever fear more for my country.

If America’s worst enemies had spent years designing a plan to erode our greatest strengths, they could not have done better than what some of our fellow citizens are doing to the country every day for short-term financial or political gain.

Prominent figures in government, politics and commerce are behaving in ways that are so destructive of the core institutions and norms that underpin our democracy, one can only assume that they take the country’s stability as a given — that they can abuse and stress it all they want and it won’t break.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well, we’re in it now, Bill Palmer, Oct. 30, 2019. When Colonel Vindman testified on Tuesday that the publicly released “transcript” of Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call was doctored, he opened up a big can of hurt on what little is left of Trump’s presidency. But the Colonel did something more than that: he just exposed that a huge number of Trump’s top people were conspiring with him in the scandal – and that a lot of them are going to prison.

bill palmer report logo headerVindman testified that he listened in on Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call, and took notes of his own. When the official phone call summary reached Vindman’s desk, he found that some of Trump’s most incriminating words had been omitted. When Vindman then tried to add those words back in, his efforts were rebuffed.

This means that people higher up the chain than Colonel Vindman were conspiring to hide the evidence of Donald Trump’s crimes. Vindman’s boss at the National Security Council was John Bolton, but Bolton has gone out of his way to document that he wasn’t in on the Ukraine scandal or coverup. So who was doctoring the transcript to begin with. Not only was a high-ranking White House official running point on this coverup, a number of other White House people had to have been in on the coverup for it to have gotten as far as it did. Those people are all going to prison when this is over. Not only does this scandal keep getting worse, the coverup keeps getting much, much worse.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why Trump insisted that the obviously incomplete rough transcript was, in fact, ‘exact,’ Philip Bump, Oct. 30, 2019. It's possible that President Trump set the trap for himself. The reporters could listen to Trump or they could read the bottom of the front page of the transcript itself, which states that it is “not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.”

But Trump insisted that the world instead listen to him. The document was “an exact transcript of my call, done by very talented people that do this,” he said later on the same day. It was “an exact transcript,” he claimed on Oct. 11.

So why did Trump make his assertion in the first place?

The most immediate and obvious explanation is that Trump operates only in absolutes. The transcript had to be perfect and compiled by the best stenographers because everything Trump does is the best and most perfect, until it isn't. Trump's default mode is that everything associated with him is flawless, up to and including transcripts that self-identify as potentially flawed.

nancy pelosi horizontal uncredited older Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: The air is getting very thin up there, Isabel Stamm, Oct. 30, 2019. The air is getting very thin up on the hill that Trump’s supporters have obviously chosen to die on. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown in a file photo) announced on Monday that the House is going to have a vote on the impeachment inquiry on Thursday that will result in the public hearings Republicans have been demanding so vehemently that they felt the need to storm the SCIF in which witnesses were being deposed behind closed doors. Pelosi’s move is effectively going to cut off the oxygen to the argument Donald Trump’s stooges have been making that the inquiry constitutes a secretive and entirely partisan effort to remove the president and thereby illegitimately annul the will of the people.

bill palmer report logo headerNevertheless, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthykevin mccarthy, right, did not shy away from stepping in front of the cameras on Tuesday morning to make yet another process argument against the investigation that has been well underway for quite some time now and that has already brought to light a mountain of truly damning evidence against Donald Trump. The spin he tried to put on the situation in his very word-salady statement was that the impending vote was an admission on Speaker Pelosi’s parts that the Democrats had been engaging in “sham” proceedings and were now trying to retroactively right this wrong.

According to McCarthy, this was not going to work: “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he judged sternly. Then he went on to talk about due process in a somewhat garbled way and – for good measure – threw in the ominous sounding term “fruit from the poisonous tree”, all which probably sounds like impressive legalese if you’re a low information Trump supporter. Finally, the Minority Leader declared the Democrats’ impeachment efforts a mistrial and essentially demanded that the process should end right then and there.

washington post logotwitter bird CustomWashington Post, Twitter to ban all political ads amid 2020 election uproar, Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker​, Oct. 30, 2019. The decision from CEO Jack Dorsey comes in response to concerns that politicians are seizing on social media’s vast reach to deceive voters ahead of 2020.

2020 U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Kamala Harris Campaign Cuts Staff in Effort to Keep Up With Top Rivals, Astead W. Herndon and Shane Goldmacher, Oct. 30, 2019. The California senator’s fund-raising struggles are prompting her to reboot her campaign with a focus on Iowa. Senator Kamala Harris of California took her most drastic action yet on Wednesday to salvage her once-promising, now-languishing presidential bid, laying off staff members at her Baltimore headquarters and elsewhere, and redeploying others to Iowa, where she is looking to rejuvenate her campaign.

The moves are the most serious reboot from any Democratic campaign that was once in the top tier, but they may not be enough to ensure a turnaround for Ms. Harris. The restructuring came on the same day that a new poll, from USA Today/Suffolk, showed Ms. Harris dropping to 3 percent, down three percentage points since August. It puts Ms. Harris well behind the leaders and in a virtual tie with Representative Tulsi Gabbard, whom Ms. Harris thought so little of two months ago that she mostly ignored her attacks in the late July debate.

U. S. Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Disputed Judicial Nominees Could Help Trump Reach Milestone, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Oct. 30, 2019. President Trump is nearing a milestone in his push to overhaul the federal judiciary with conservative judges. If the Senate confirms a batch of nominees now working their way through the approval process, a quarter of the nation’s 179 appeals court judges — those sitting just below the Supreme Court — will be appointees of Mr. Trump.

That number is far higher than the number of appointees to the appeals court that either George W. Bush or Barack Obama had made at this point in their presidencies.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on advancing a group of nominees, including several to the appeals court. But in a break from most other nominees over the past two and a half years, two of them do not have uniform support among Republicans.

Votes on Steven J. Menashi, a White House lawyer being considered for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals based in New York, and Halil Suleyman Ozerden, a federal judge in Mississippi nominated for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans, had been delayed.

ny times logoedward gallagherNew York Times, Navy Reduces Punishment for SEAL in War Crimes Case, Dave Philipps, Oct. 30, 2019 (updated). The Navy SEAL at the center of one of the highest-profile war crimes cases in years had his punishment drastically reduced Tuesday by the Navy’s top admiral, sparing the SEAL from the most serious consequence he still faced, a steep demotion that would have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement pay.

The unusual act comes in the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, right, who a year ago was facing a court-martial and the prospect of life in prison without parole. Navy prosecutors had accused him of shooting civilians in Iraq, killing a captive enemy fighter with a hunting knife, and threatening to kill fellow SEALs if they reported him, among other charges. Chief Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in July of all the charges except one minor count: bringing discredit on the armed forces, by posing for a photo with the corpse of the captive he was accused of killing.

 usa today logoUSA Today, Trump judicial nominee cries at hearing during questioning on attitude toward LGBTQ people, Jeanine Santucci, Oct. 30, 2019. President Donald Trump's pick for a federal appeals court seat broke down in an emotional exchange during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, addressing concerns that he would be unfair to LGBT people.

"It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God, and they should all be treated with dignity and respect," Lawrence VanDyke said through tears at his hearing (video).

VanDyke, a nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, was responding to a question from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, about a report from the the American Bar Association.

The ABA's Federal Judiciary Committee voted that VanDyke was "not qualified" for the position, citing concerns that he "lacks humility" and "does not have an open mind."

"Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules," an ABA letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee reads.

VanDyke works in the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division. He also served as solicitor general in Nevada and Montana.

Hawley asked VanDyke, "Did you say that you wouldn't be fair to members of the LGBT community?"

"Senator, that was the part of the letter ..." VanDyke began, trailing off as he began to cry. "I did not say that."

After a moment, VanDyke continued, "No, I did not say that. I do not believe that." He said if confirmed, he would "absolutely" commit to treating every person in his court with dignity and respect.

U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Plans to Purge 300,000 Names From Its Voter Rolls, Nicholas Casey, Oct. 30, 2019. Voting rights advocates described the removals as troubling, saying it was just the beginning of efforts to suppress the vote in battleground states. This week, Georgia state officials said they would be removing about 300,000 names from their lists of eligible voters, a number that amounts to almost 4 percent of those registered to vote. The state said the move is a normal part of updating records after voters have moved away or stopped casting ballots.

Walter Jones, the spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state’s voter education program, called the purge “a routine process that every state does,” and one that has gone on for years in Georgia under both parties.

ISIS Leader's Killing

abu bakr al baghdadi older

washington post logoWashington Post, Baghdadi given up by Islamic State insider, Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Dan Lamothe, Oct. 30, 2019. The well-placed informant facilitated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s movements around Syria and helped oversee construction work on his safehouse, according to officials knowledgeable about the operation.

• Washington Post, Dog in Baghdadi raid joins long history of canine war heroes

U.S. News Roundup

  • New York Times, Kamala Harris Campaign Cuts Staff in Effort to Keep Up With Top Rivals
  • Washington Post, Millions of Californians on ‘red’ alert as wind-whipped fires rage in Los Angeles and Sonoma County, Katie Mettler and Andrew Freedman​, Oct. 30, 2019. Much of California is under a red flag warning as firefighters continue to battle the Kincade Fire in the north and the Getty Fire down south.
  • Washington Post, Scientists triple their estimates of the number of people threatened by rising seas, Chris Mooney, Oct. 30, 2019. Researchers project that 150 million people would live below the high tide line by 2050 and 200 million by 2100. Those exposed to an annual flood in that year would be 360 million.
  • Washington Post, U.S. slowdown deepens as economic growth slips to 1.9 percent pace in third quarter, Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam​, Oct. 30, 2019. Growth and business investment are under close scrutiny this year as companies deal with trade war uncertainty and politicians prepare for the 2020 elections.

World News

ny times logosyrian flag wavingNew York Times, How the New Syria Took Shape, Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated, Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi and Jeremy White, Oct. 30, 2019. Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated. In just a few weeks, the American withdrawal from northern Syria dramatically reordered power in the country after eight years of civil war.

The Week, Chile cancels UN climate change conference and major trade summit amid ongoing protests, Brendan Morrow, Oct. 30, 2019. Two summits scheduled to take place in Chile, including one where President Trump aimed to sign phase one of a trade deal with China, have just been called off.

Chile announced Wednesday it will no longer host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the trade event that had been scheduled for mid-November and where Trump was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, The Washington Post reports. Chile also called off the United Nations Conference of the Parties climate change summit it was set to host. This latter event was set to include more than 100 international delegations, the Post notes.

These cancellations were due to the ongoing demonstrations in the country sparked by a hike in public transportation fares, with a state of emergency having previously been declared in Santiago. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said Wednesday, "This has been a very tough decision ... but it is based on the wise principle of common sense," CNBC reports.

The APEC cancellation is especially significant because after Trump announced a "phase one" trade agreement with China, he said the two countries agreed "in principle" but that a "formal signing" would take place within the next few weeks, with the goal being for it to happen at the November conference in Chile. Earlier this week, Trump said the trade deal was coming along "ahead of schedule" and that "I imagine" they'll sign it in Chile. It's unclear when or where that will happen now; CNBC's Eunice Yoon observes this "could mean some relief for both sides" but also that China can "push off" the deal "especially if [Trump] doesn't agree to lift" the tariffs scheduled to take effect in December.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: A Progressive Surge Is Brewing Across Latin America, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 30, 2019. A year ago, the corporatists and anti-socialist militarists in strategic culture logothe Donald Trump administration appeared ecstatic over the electoral successes of neo-fascism in Latin America.

Jair Bolsonaro, a self-proclaimed admirer of Adolf Hitler and who is nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics,” sat in the presidential palace in Brazil; billionaire right-winger Sebastian Pinera had, once again, become president of Chile; and Lenin Moreno, the one-time leftist and progressive ally of former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, had invited the US military back into his country and made common cause with the Lima Group, an anti-Nicolas Maduro bloc subservient to Washington.

Trump and his fellow neo-fascists in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Honduras, and Colombia were hoping for a right-wing tide to continue to sweep through the Western Hemisphere. The news from Buenos Aires, La Paz, Bogota, and Montevideo suggests that the region’s right-wingers can put away their champagne bottles.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Tests Propaganda Tactics in Africa, Raising Fears About U.S. Election, Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel, Oct. 30, 2019. Facebook said it removed three Russian-backed influence networks aimed at African countries. The networks’ activity suggested Russia’s approach was evolving. Russia has been testing new disinformation tactics in an enormous Facebook campaign in parts of Africa, as part of an evolution of its manipulation techniques ahead of the 2020 American presidential election.

facebook logoFacebook said on Wednesday that it removed three Russian-backed influence networks on its site that were aimed at African countries including Mozambique, Cameroon, Sudan and Libya. The company said the online networks were linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch who was indicted by the United States and accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Unlike past influence campaigns from Russia, the networks targeted several countries through Arabic-language posts, according to the Stanford Internet Observatory, which collaborated with Facebook to unravel the effort. Some of the posts promoted Russian policies, while others criticized French and American policies in Africa. Russians also worked with locals in the African countries to set up Facebook accounts that were disguised as authentic to avoid detection.

The effort was at times larger in volume than what the Russians deployed in the United States in 2016. While the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency posted on Facebook 2,442 times a month on average in 2016, one of the networks in northern and central Africa posted 8,900 times in October alone, according to the Stanford researchers.

New York Times, Wildfires Highlight the Divide Between California’s Rich and Poor, Oct. 30, 2019. Some people have rebuilt houses worth more than those that burned. Others have lost everything and years later still have nothing.

Associated Press via Washington Post, US filmmaker Oliver Stone praises Putin for role in Syria, Jon Gambrell, Oct. 30, 2019. American filmmaker Oliver Stone has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “stabilizing force” in the Middle East. American filmmaker Oliver Stone on Wednesday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “stabilizing force” in the Middle East, particularly in Syria as Moscow fills a void left by U.S. forces pulling out and leaving behind their Kurdish allies.

oliver stone portraitStone (shown in a file photo), the 73-year-old director of “JFK,” ‘’Platoon” and “Wall Street,” long has been known for his strident views on American foreign policy. However, his comments came during the Future Investment Initiative forum in Saudi Arabia, which has long opposed Syrian President Bashar Assad.

While Putin visited both Riyadh and the neighboring United Arab Emirates this month, their differences still remain stark over Syria’s war, though they may be slowly reconciling with Assad’s continued rule. It wasn’t clear whether Stone, who made the documentary “The Putin Interviews,” realized that before beginning his remarks.

“Mr. Putin was always concerned about the terrorists,” Stone said. “If they had gotten to Damascus and they almost did . there would be a possible caliphate throughout this whole region.”

The director added: “I think Mr. Putin is very concerned about peace.” Rebel forces did reach Damascus’ doorstep before Russia and Iran entered the war on Assad’s side, but they included a range of fighters, not just Islamic extremists.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, The Technology 202: Elizabeth Warren just made her battle against Facebook more personal, Cat Zakrzewski, Oct. 30, 2019. Sen. Elizabeth Warren singled out Facebook policy chief Joel Kaplan as she launched a plan to “slam shut the revolving door” between Washington and large corporations.

elizabeth warren o purpleThe Massachusetts Democrat and presidential candidate, left, wrote on Twitter that Kaplan, a former George W. Bush official, “is flexing his DC Rolodex to help [CEO] Mark Zuckerberg wage a closed-door charm offensive with Republican lawmakers.” Warren says Kaplan’s career move is indicative of a broader problem in Washington that hits across sectors. She wants to ban senior government officials from joining large corporations for at least four years after they leave government.

It's unclear how this would work in practice as many government officials leave for the private sector after their stint in Washington. And it’s highly unusual for a presidential candidate to take aim at an individual company executive — especially one who is not a CEO or known to much of the public. But it dovetails with the broader trend of candidates more frequently calling out individual companies as liberal Democrats such as Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) run 2020 campaigns challenging corporate size and income.

facebook logo“If you’re a Democrat in the primary running a populist campaign, playing on the notion that the system is rigged and evil and everything else, it’s a popular position to take,” said Bradley Tusk, a venture capitalist and political strategist who has worked with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D).

Kaplan is a clear foil for Warren as she tries to rally the Democratic base. He’s the Facebook executive who created controversy by sitting behind Brett Kavanaugh at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. The Wall Street Journal reported that Kaplan pushed for the company to include The Daily Caller's fact-checking division among the company’s partners to address conservatives' concerns of bias among its fact-checking partners. The same Journal article called Kaplan "Facebook’s protector" against allegations democratic donkey logoof anti-conservative bias -- a charge that companies and most politicians on the left dismiss.

Warren could have chosen to call out a long list of companies that have former Washington officials high in their ranks — including other tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft. But the focus on Kaplan highlights just how contentious Warren’s relationship with Facebook has become in recent months — as the leading presidential contender has promised to break up the company, criticized it for allowing President Trump to distort the truth in ads and questioned the tech titan’s ability to address election integrity issues ahead of 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Capital Gazette shooter’s fraudulent insanity plea, Richard E. Vatz (professor of rhetoric at Towson University, specializing in political and psychiatric rhetoric, and psychology editor of USA Today Magazine), Oct. 30, 2019. Jarrod Ramos is accused of first-degree murder for killing five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper jarrod ramosoffices in Annapolis. He originally pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to “not criminally responsible,” claiming that he did not have the “capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct,” Maryland’s equivalent of the insanity plea.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty. Some experts speculate that doing so will limit the salience of the gory details of the killings going forward to the jury’s consideration of his state of mind when he committed the slayings. It is hard to imagine a case that comprises more conscious criminal intent than the mass murder of Capital Gazette employees Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.

The accused, Ramos, right, had, as the prosecution alleges, carefully planned the attack: He had smoke grenades and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent people from escaping. Many mass murderers do not plan such attacks so cruelly and methodically. Also, after he perpetrated the killings, he hid under a desk at the Capital Gazette office, demonstrating that he knew the act was wrong and that people would be searching to catch him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Why one of the biggest scandals in American history should make us rethink journalism, Rob Wells, Oct. 30, 2019. A small trade publication broke the Keating Five scandal, offering a pathway for investigative journalism in cash-strapped times. Thirty years ago this fall, the savings and loan crisis penetrated America’s living rooms. Televised hearings of the House Banking Committee investigated the political might and corruption masterminded by Charles Keating Jr., one of the nation’s most powerful business executives.

The hearings exposed the politicians who had protected Keating as he perpetrated what then-U.S. Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) called “the biggest bank heist in history.”

charles keating headshotKeating, left, and his team engaged in “a looting” of the Southern California-based Lincoln Savings & Loan, a federal judge later wrote. Thousands of older investors saw their life savings wiped out.

Keating’s activities were just one element of the broader savings and loan debacle, which cost taxpayers at least $125 billion to clean up. The Keating Five scandal (so named for the U.S. senators reprimanded for protecting Keating) and S&L crisis are major parts of the history of the 1980s, yet one element of the story has long remained submerged.

Nearly a year and a half before the collapse of Lincoln S&L, the National Thrift News had spelled out the story of Keating’s political pressure campaign. National Thrift News editor Stan Strachan had gotten wind of the meeting between the Keating Five and regulators in the summer of 1987 and eventually obtained a transcript. The newspaper published an exclusive exposing the Keating Five in September 1987. But mainstream outlets largely ignored the story, in part because the savings and loan situation was considered too complicated. In addition, Keating had a reputation for suing regulators and critical media outlets — from 1980 through 1989, he filed two libel suits, four lawsuits involving media leaks, and eight threats of libel or legal action against the media.

But while leading media outlets hesitated, the National Thrift News had the guts to publish the Keating Five story just two months after Keating sued freelance journalist Michael Binstein for libel. For its coverage of the savings and loan crisis, the National Thrift News won a George Polk Award in 1987.

Rob Wells is a former reporter and deputy bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. He teaches journalism at the University of Arkansas and is author of "The Enforcers: How Little-Known Trade Reporters Exposed the Keating Five and Advanced Business Journalism" (University of Illinois Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Deadspin is ceasing to be Deadspin, Erik Wemple, Oct. 30, 2019. Private equity firm Great Hill Partners and Jim Spanfeller in April bought Deadspin, Kotaku, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Splinter plus the Onion from Univision Communications Inc. The core sites descended from the norm-blowing Gawker Media.

Ever since the acquisition, management of the new company — now named G/O Media — has been clashing with staffers. There have been staff cuts as well as unpleasantness over Spanfeller’s apparent lack of regard for the editorial-business divide. And as this blog reported in July, Spanfeller and editorial director Paul Maidment came face to face with Deadspin’s affection for writing about its own managers. The executives didn’t like what they saw. This month, the company shut down its politics site, Splinter, just as election season was approaching.

#MeToo, Epstein Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Autopsy ‘Points to Homicide,’ Not Suicide, Pathologist Claims, Azi Paybarah, Oct. 30, 2019. The pathologist hired by Mr. Epstein’s brother said evidence suggested strangulation. The authorities disputed the claim.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University A forensic pathologist hired by Jeffrey Epstein’s brother said on Wednesday that evidence suggested that Mr. Epstein did not die by suicide, but may have been strangled.

The New York City medical examiner’s office concluded Mr. Epstein hanged himself in his jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

But the private pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, said on the morning TV show “Fox & Friends” that Mr. Epstein, right, 66, experienced a number of injuries — among them a broken hyoid bone — that “are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation.”

michael baden headshot“I think that the evidence points to homicide rather than suicide,” said Dr. Baden, who observed the autopsy done by city officials.

Dr. Baden, left, a former New York City medical examiner and a Fox News contributor, added, “I’ve not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case.”

The findings by Dr. Baden were strongly disputed by the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, who previously ruled that Mr. Epstein’s death on Aug. 10 in the Metropolitan Correctional Center was a suicide.

“I stand firmly behind our determination of the cause and manner of death in this case,” Dr. Sampson said. She added: “In general, fractures of the hyoid bone and the cartilage can be seen in suicides and homicides.”

Dr. Sampson also dismissed Dr. Baden’s contention that the circumstances around Mr. Epstein’s death suggested other people may have been involved. She said her office had done a “complete investigation,” taking into consideration information gathered by law enforcement in making the determination.

“No one finding can be taken in isolation,” she said.

Mr. Baden served briefly as New York City’s medical examiner. He was provisionally appointed to the position in 1978 and dismissed just a year later, by Mayor Edward I. Koch. In later years, he went on to work as a consultant on a number of high-profile cases.

MEAWW (Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide), Donald Trump was recorded having threesome with a pornstar and a teenager in 1982, claims new book, Kunal Dey, Oct. 19, 2019. The donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaallegation was made to authors Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy by a former mobster in the book 'All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator.'

A Mafia thug has claimed that President Donald Trump (portrayed in a graphic) was recorded on camera at a New York City brothel allegedly having a threesome with a teenager and a pornstar back in 1982, and that the footage was later in custody of a mob boss.

The claim was made to authors Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy (whose backgrounds are decribed below) in yet another tell-all book All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, which is scheduled to release on October 22.

barry levine monique el faizy djt cover croppedSpeaking to The Daily Beast, the authors revealed they interviewed former mobster John Tino, who claimed to have witnessed the incident at a luxury brothel he ran in Times Square. According to Tino, who is suffering from terminal cancer, a hidden camera in the room recorded black and white footage of the future president engaging in the sex act. However, Tino's story is to be taken with a grain of salt as he has a criminal record including forgery, fraud, and larceny.

Furthermore, Levine and El-Faizy were not able to find the alleged teenager or the porn actress identified in the book as 'Tri'.

What's more? The high-profile brothel Tino claims he ran has since closed down. "There are many people who will label Tino a liar and say his claims are false," Levine told The Daily Beast. "I came away feeling the allegations are believable."

According to Tino, Trump was known among them as "the real estate guy" who always "wore a tie and never drank alcohol."

He also claimed the real estate mogul would always ask for Tri. "Most of the women who worked there were porn stars, though not all," the authors wrote. "Trump preferred a woman who primarily performed live sex shows with her husband, though she acted in the occasional adult film as well."

Tino allegedly recalled how his Mafia boss once told him in the fall of 1982 "the real estate guy" was coming and that he had asked for Tri and another girl "for a ménage à trois." The gangster then described how a "young-looking female" turned up at the club and when Tri asked her how old she was, she said she was a "teenager."

That said, Trump would have been 36 and married to his first wife Ivana at the time this allegedly took place.

According to Tino, the secret cameras were installed to prevent prostitutes from being "roughed up" by clients. He allegedly took the video recordings and delivered them to his boss on a regular basis.

Unsurprisingly, the whereabouts of the videotapes are unknown to the authors. Also, they claim Tino's boss was murdered in 1986. Speaking to The Daily Beast, Levine said Tino had spoken to journalists during the 2016 election but nobody was able to track down pornstar Tri.

"To this day we don't know if the porn star involved in this alleged incident is still alive or whether she is dead," he said.

In response to the unsubstantiated claims made in All The President's Women, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Business Insider the book was "trash." "That book is trash, and those accusations from 20 years ago have been addressed many times," she said.

monique el faizyBarry Levine, below left, is a veteran investigative reporter and editor in print and television. A former National Enquirer editor, he received the Huffington Post‘s “Game barry levine cropped michael goldblumChanger” award in 2010 for his “shoe leather reporting” and led a reporting team to a Pulitzer Prize nomination for investigative reporting and national news reporting. He lives in New York.

Monique El-Faizy, right, is a Paris-based journalist and the author of "God and Country: How Evangelicals Have Become America’s New Mainstream." Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Marie Claire, GQ, and Glamour.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Lengthening inquiry may interfere with Democratic primary, Michael Scherer and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 30, 2019. House leaders had hoped the Senate could hold a trial before Christmas. But with witnesses lining up to testify, a January trial is increasingly likely — and would force Democratic senators to remain in Washington while Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and others campaign in Iowa ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses.

Consumer Protection: Opioids

washington post logoWashington Post, How much money will it take to undo the damage from opioids? Joel Achenbach, Lenny Bernstein, Meryl Kornfield, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz, Oct. 30, 2019. The best-case scenario for areas grappling with this disaster could be a sweeping settlement among all the parties. But such a deal is unlikely in the near term, according to attorneys in the case and a survey of attorneys general.

washington post logoWashington Post, John Bolton’s former deputy asks judge to resolve conflicting demands for House impeachment, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 31, 2019.  Lawyers for two former high-level Trump administration officials were in court Thursday in legal battles that center on whether they will testify in the House impeachment inquiry and test the limits of the administration’s claims that presidential advisers are “absolutely immune” from congressional subpoena.

Both cases come down to whether the two former aides — White House counsel Donald McGahn and deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman — can be forced to testify on Capitol Hill.

The cases — heard simultaneously in neighboring courtrooms in the District Court in Washington — set up a separation-of-powers test between the White House and Congress that could affect other impeachment-related testimony.

At McGahn’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed incredulity at the Trump administration’s claim that the former White House counsel and top presidential aides cannot be compelled to testify by Congress, calling it a “peculiar” argument that threatens to upset the Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

Kupperman, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit last week to try to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House over his participation in the investigation into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.

Kupperman did not appear for a House deposition Monday to await a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who set a hearing in the matter for Dec. 10. Kupperman’s attorney Charles Cooper, who also represents Bolton, did not rule out the possibility that Bolton could be added to the lawsuit if he is subpoenaed.

Throughout the hearing, the judge emphasized the importance of moving quickly to resolve an important matter of public interest. He chastised a Justice Department lawyer who asked for more time to file a brief because of a holiday conflict.

washington post logoWashington Post, Missouri reviewed data about Planned Parenthood’s patients, including their periods, to identify failed abortions, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Oct. 30, 2019. The state’s health director, who is also an OB/GYN, said the aim was to detect clinic safety problems.

Missouri’s top health official said Tuesday the state monitored detailed personal information about Planned Parenthood patients, in some cases reviewing women’s menstrual cycles, with the aim of identifying those who had failed abortions.

Randall Williams, the state health director, said his goal was protecting patient safety. But critics called it an invasion of women’s privacy and demanded his resignation and an investigation by the governor.

Williams, an OB/GYN, testified as part of a week-long state hearing to determine whether the state’s lone abortion clinic can keep its license, the Kansas City Star reported. Williams said he had a state health inspector review information that included medical identification numbers, dates of procedures and the gestational ages of fetuses. The review also included the date of each patient’s last period but did not include their names, the Star reported.

Global News / Opinion

scott ritter

Truthdig, Opinion: Russia Isn't Getting the Recognition It Deserves on Syria, Scott Ritter, Oct 30, 2019. At a time when the credibility of the United States as either an unbiased actor or reliable ally lies in tatters, Russia has emerged as the one major power whose loyalty to its allies is unquestioned, and whose ability to serve as an honest broker between seemingly intractable opponents is unmatched.

If there is to be peace in Syria, it will be largely due to the patient efforts of Moscow employing deft negotiation, backed up as needed by military force, to shape conditions conducive for a political solution to a violent problem. If ever there was a primer for the art of diplomacy, the experience of Russia in Syria from 2011 to the present is it.

Like the rest of the world, Russia was caught off guard by the so-called Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-2011, forced to watch from the sidelines as the old order in Tunisia and Egypt was swept aside by popular discontent. While publicly supporting the peaceful transition of power in Tunis and Cairo, in private the Russian government watched the events unfolding in Egypt and the Maghreb with trepidation, concerned that the social and political transformations underway were a continuation of the kind of Western-backed “color revolutions” that had occurred previously in Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004).

When, in early 2011, the Arab Spring expanded into Libya, threatening the rule of longtime Russian client Moammar Gadhafi, Russia initially supported the creation of a U.N.-backed no-fly zone for humanitarian purposes, only to watch in frustration as the U.S. and NATO used it as a vehicle to launch a concerted air campaign in a successful bid to drive Gadhafi from power.

By the time Syria found itself confronting popular demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar Assad, Russia—still struggling to understand the root cause of the unrest—had become wary of the playbook being employed by the U.S. and NATO in response. While Russia was critical of the violence used by the Assad government in responding to the anti-government demonstrations in the spring of 2011, it blocked efforts by the U.S. and Europe to impose economic sanctions against the Syrian government, viewing them as little more than the initial salvo of a broader effort to achieve regime change in Damascus using the Libyan model.

Moscow’s refusal to help facilitate that Western-sponsored regime change, however, did not translate into unequivocal support for the continued rule of Assad. Russia supported the appointment of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head up a process for bringing a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis, and endorsed Annan’s six-point peace plan, put forward in March 2012, which included the possibility of a peaceful transition of power away from Assad.

Scott Ritter spent more than a dozen years in the intelligence field, beginning in 1985 as a ground intelligence officer with the US Marine Corps. Ritter was subsequently recruited by the United Nations Special Commission to help implement the provisions of Security Council resolutions requiring Iraq to be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). From 1991 to 1998, Ritter helped collect intelligence about Iraqi WMD programs, plan inspections in Iraq to find hidden WMD capability, and lead those inspections as Chief Inspector. These inspections were considered the most difficult, confrontational and controversial in UNSCOM's history, and resulted in several UN Security Council resolutions being passed as a result of Iraqi efforts to obstruct the work of the teams Ritter led.

Oct. 29

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Draft Impeachment Proceeding Rules

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Unveil Proposed Rules for Impeachment Proceedings, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 29, 2019. House Democrats proposed open hearings and a report to share the findings of their inquiry for the first time. A vote is scheduled for Thursday. The report would be shared with the Judiciary Committee, which would weigh the evidence and produce articles of impeachment to send to the full House.

U.S. House logoHouse Democrats on Tuesday unveiled new rules for going public with their impeachment inquiry, directing the Intelligence Committee to convene open hearings and produce a written report to share the findings of its investigation into President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Under the proposed rules, which the House plans to bring up for a vote on Thursday, the report, along with transcripts of witness interviews being conducted behind closed doors and additional evidence collected by the Intelligence Committee, would promptly be shared with the Judiciary Committee, which would weigh the evidence and produce articles of impeachment to send to the full House.

The draft resolution allows for new due process rights for President Trump and maps out exactly how Democrats plan to take public the confidential fact-finding process they launched late last month.

“The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election,” four House committee leaders involved in the inquiry wrote in a statement. “Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct.”

The statement was signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the acting chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, White House official feared Trump’s Ukraine demands would undermine national security, Greg Jaffe, Oct. 29, 2019. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,” Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who is testifying before House impeachment investigators, says in a draft of his opening statement.

An Army officer assigned to the White House plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he was disturbed by President Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate one of his political rivals and feared it would undermine U.S. national security.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was part of a small group of White House officials assigned to listen in on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His testimony returns repeatedly to his fears that Trump’s manipulation of Ukraine policy to discredit his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, is unethical and damaging to U.S. national security.

[Read the document: Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman]

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman intends to tell lawmakers, according to a draft of his opening statement.

  • washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Why Vindman’s testimony is big, Aaron Blake​, Oct. 29, 2019. The Army officer might be the most significant official to testify to date, given his profile and his proximity to some of the key events.

alexander vindman right yevgeny ken burns

Future Trump White House National Security Council staff members Alexander Vindman, right, and his twin brother Yegeny Vindman, at left, were interviewed by a film crew of Ken Burns for the "America" series.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The fundamentally un-American attacks on Alexander Vindman, Philip Bump​, Oct. 29, 2019. Vindman is the kind of immigrant Trump claims to like — until he puts country over president. 

A documentary crew working for Ken Burns was exploring New York in the early 1980s, working on a feature about the Statue of Liberty as part of Burns’s “America” series. Sitting on a bench near Brighton Beach, they found an elderly woman sitting with two twin boys, then about 10 years old.

American FlagThey'd come from Russia, from Kyiv, the twins told the camera, their explanations overlapping. “Our mother died, so we went to Italy,” one added, “and then we came here."

Both of those twins, Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, ended up working for the White House under President Trump. Both Vindmans served in the U.S. Army, and both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Each now works for the National Security Council.

Theirs is, in the abstract, the quintessential American story. Migrants who arrived from the former Soviet Union at age 3 who’ve since dedicated their lives to serving their new country. The Vindmans’ experience is a manifestation of the poem at the base of the statue: They are part of the impoverished, huddled masses seeking the chance to breathe free. They did so, deeply.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Army Colonel Alexander Vindman, American Hero, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When the news broke last night that U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was planning to testify today that he personally witnessed Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, Vindman was so thoroughly not a public figure, the best photo anyone could find of him was the one that the New York Times tracked down on a U.S. Embassy Twitter feed. But now Vindman is suddenly about to become a household name, and he’ll take his place in the history books. So who is he?

bill palmer report logo headerAlexander Vindman served as an infantry officer in the Iraq War, where he was wounded by a roadside bomb, earning him a Purple Heart. Donald Trump will have one heck of a time trying to smear this guy. Vindman is also a Ukrainian immigrant, meaning he couldn’t be a more fitting person to take Trump down for having tried to sabotage the government of Ukraine.

Vindman is an American hero, and not just because he got blown up by a roadside bomb while fighting in a war on behalf of the rest of us, and then stayed in the military after he recovered. Vindman is also an American hero because he’s coming forward as an active duty military officer, and he’s defying a direct (illegal) order from his Commander-in-Chief in the process.

Your grandkids will be reading about Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman someday. His testimony today is going to end up being that crucial to not only Donald Trump’s downfall, but to restoring American democracy as we know it.

Roll Call, Trump launches preemptive strike on NSC staffer’s deposition, impeachment ground rules resolution coming, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Trump responded to reports of Vindman’s leaked testimony on Tuesday by claiming he does not even know who Vindman is, a common tactic the president deploys to deflect unwanted accusations against himself.

Palmer Report, Gordon Sondland is completely screwed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced to the media over the weekend that he gordon sondland obelieved Donald Trump had indeed engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, it was clear that something was up. Suddenly he was trying to ingratiate himself to House Democrats by leaking something that helped make their case against Trump, after they had publicly accused him of committing perjury. Why was Sondland, right, so worried?

Now we have our answer. Army Colonel Alexander Vindman is going to testify on Tuesday morning that from the very start of the Ukraine scandal, Gordon Sondland told him it was a quid pro quo. Vindman is also going to testify that he witnessed the interactions that the likes of John Bolton and Fiona Hill had with Sondland regarding the quid pro quo.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only does this corroborate the testimony given by Hill, Bill Taylor, and others, it also paints Sondland as having been Trump’s quid pro quo ringleader in the White House. It means that Sondland’s ‘I don’t recall’ defense isn’t going to fly. It’s one thing to claim you don’t remember what someone told you during a conversation. It’s another thing to claim that you don’t remember having been the ringleader of the whole thing.

Numerous legal experts have pointed out on Twitter that Colonel Vindman’s testimony has exposed Gordon Sondland to significant legal liability. Whether or not Sondland was going to be charged with a crime for his role in the Ukraine scandal, he’ll now definitely be referred for felony perjury. Even if Sondland isn’t prosecuted until Trump is gone, it’ll still happen eventually. Sondland is now completely screwed. His only remaining option is to fully fess up to the House impeachment inquiry and then beg for mercy. Otherwise Sondland will go to prison right around the time Trump is going to prison.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Travels with William 'Opus Dei' Barr, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2019. On the American taxpayers' dime, Attorney General William Barr has recently been clocking more air miles than Donald Trump's largely grounded personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.

Barr is traveling the world to gather information from other nations' law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to discredit the Justice Department's past probe of the foreign connections of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. What is even more worrisome than Barr's witch hunt is his use of the right-wing network of the Roman Catholic fascist order Opus Dei to dig up dirt on his two predecessors as Attorney General -- Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions -- and several former FBI, CIA, and Justice Department officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal judge kicks the door open for House impeachment testimony, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. Over the weekend, John Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman asked the courts to rule on whether he should comply with the House impeachment inquiry subpoena to testify, or whether he should comply with the Trump White House’s order not to richard j. leon testify.

There’s no question how this ruling will go, as Trump has zero legal standing. It was just a matter of whether the fight would get dragged out so long, it wouldn’t end up mattering.

bill palmer report logo headerAs it turns out, Judge Richard Leon, right, has decided that this process is not going to take very long. He’s holding a hearing this Thursday, citing the “time-sensitive” nature of the case, according to CNN. This will be a near-automatic ruling the House’s favor. More importantly, because Kupperman is the one who took this to court and not Trump, it means Trump will essentially have no basis for getting an appeals court to listen to him.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Other News Headlines

Trump Probe Evidence

alexander vindman right yevgeny ken burns

Future Trump White House National Security Council staff members Alexander Vindman, right, and his twin brother Yegeny Vindman, at left, were interviewed by a film crew of Ken Burns for the "America" series.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Army Colonel Alexander Vindman, American Hero, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When the news broke last night that U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was planning to testify today that he personally witnessed Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, Vindman was so thoroughly not a public figure, the best photo anyone alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019could find of him was the one that the New York Times tracked down on a U.S. Embassy Twitter feed. But now Vindman is suddenly about to become a household name, and he’ll take his place in the history books. So who is he?

bill palmer report logo headerAlexander Vindman served as an infantry officer in the Iraq War, where he was wounded by a roadside bomb, earning him a Purple Heart. Donald Trump will have one heck of a time trying to smear this guy. Vindman is also a Ukrainian immigrant, meaning he couldn’t be a more fitting person to take Trump down for having tried to sabotage the government of Ukraine.

Vindman is an American hero, and not just because he got blown up by a roadside bomb while fighting in a war on behalf of the rest of us, and then stayed in the military after he recovered. Vindman is also an American hero because he’s coming forward as an active duty military officer, and he’s defying a direct (illegal) order from his Commander-in-Chief in the process.

Your grandkids will be reading about Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman someday. His testimony today is going to end up being that crucial to not only Donald Trump’s downfall, but to restoring American democracy as we know it.

Politico, NSC official's testimony appears to contradict Rick Perry Ukraine claims, Ben Lefebvre and Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 29, 2019. Testimony from a senior White House official on Tuesday appeared to contradict Energy Secretary Rick Perry's ardent denials that he ever heard former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter discussed in relation to U.S. requests that Ukraine investigate corruption.

rick perry oIn his opening statement, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official overseeing Ukraine policy, told House impeachment investigators that he objected to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's comments in a July 10 White House briefing — attended by Perry, right — requesting that Ukrainian officials investigate the 2016 U.S. election, the Bidens and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma that had employed Hunter Biden.

“I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the [National Security Council] was going to get involved in or push,” Vindman's statement said.

Vindman said in his remarks that after he raised his objections, Fiona Hill, who was a Trump adviser on Russia at the time, entered the room and told Sondland his statements were inappropriate.

According to NBC News, Hill told House investigators that she entered the room as Perry was leaving. That account was confirmed to Politico.

John Yoo, Laura Ingraham and Alan Dershowitz

Trump defenders John Yoo, Laura Ingraham and Alan Dershowitz voice their support on Ingraham's Fox News television show.

Roll Call, Trump launches preemptive strike on NSC staffer’s deposition, impeachment ground rules resolution coming, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Trump responded to reports of Vindman’s leaked testimony on Tuesday by claiming he does not even know who Vindman is, a common tactic the president deploys to deflect unwanted accusations against himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, President Trump may have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act, Gary Stein (lawyer in New York and a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York), Oct. 29, 2019. It’s a felony to order federal government workers to further a partisan political campaign.

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rachel Maddow just hit on something crucial, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. The relationship between Rudy Giuliani and his Ukraine co-conspirators Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (shown above with Donald Trump and Michael Pence) is so strange and surreal in so many ways, everyone involved is still trying to get to the bottom of it. Last week Palmer Report pointed out that everyone involved – us included – was wrong when it came to one of the initial presumptions. Tonight, Rachel Maddow just hit on the same thing.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Parnas and Fruman were arrested, we all just assumed that they were Rudy Giuliani’s underlings. After all, he’s a major political figure and the personal attorney to the President of the United States, and they were just two unknowns who appeared to be the ones doing the dirty work. They were the henchmen and Rudy was the boss, right? Except the money trail says the opposite.

Rudy Giuliani has admitted that he was paid half a million dollars by Lev Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee. Bosses are not generally on the payrolls of their underlings. This strongly suggested that Rudy was actually working for Parnas. When you throw in the fact that Parnas is in turn working for Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash, it seems to point to Vladimir Putin and his people funding the entire Trump-Ukraine plot, and Rudy just being a cog in the machine.

Rachel Maddow pointed out all of this on the air tonight, and made a point of asking who was working for whom when it came to Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen. It’s important that this question be given the proper attention, not just because the answer can

Palmer Report, Gordon Sondland is completely screwed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. When U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced to the media over the weekend that he gordon sondland obelieved Donald Trump had indeed engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, it was clear that something was up. Suddenly he was trying to ingratiate himself to House Democrats by leaking something that helped make their case against Trump, after they had publicly accused him of committing perjury. Why was Sondland, right, so worried?

Now we have our answer. Army Colonel Alexander Vindman is going to testify on Tuesday morning that from the very start of the Ukraine scandal, Gordon Sondland told him it was a quid pro quo. Vindman is also going to testify that he witnessed the interactions that the likes of John Bolton and Fiona Hill had with Sondland regarding the quid pro quo.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only does this corroborate the testimony given by Hill, Bill Taylor, and others, it also paints Sondland as having been Trump’s quid pro quo ringleader in the White House. It means that Sondland’s ‘I don’t recall’ defense isn’t going to fly. It’s one thing to claim you don’t remember what someone told you during a conversation. It’s another thing to claim that you don’t remember having been the ringleader of the whole thing.

Numerous legal experts have pointed out on Twitter that Colonel Vindman’s testimony has exposed Gordon Sondland to significant legal liability. Whether or not Sondland was going to be charged with a crime for his role in the Ukraine scandal, he’ll now definitely be referred for felony perjury. Even if Sondland isn’t prosecuted until Trump is gone, it’ll still happen eventually. Sondland is now completely screwed. His only remaining option is to fully fess up to the House impeachment inquiry and then beg for mercy. Otherwise Sondland will go to prison right around the time Trump is going to prison.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2019. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified on Capitol Hill. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, arrived Tuesday morning at the Capitol to testify to impeachment investigators about how he twice reported his concerns to a White House lawyer about how President Trump and his inner circle treated Ukraine.

He appeared in his midnight blue dress uniform, a bevy of medals pinned to his chest, for the closed-door session, where the colonel planned to deliver the latest in a series of damning accounts about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. His opening statement details his concerns about Mr. Trump’s request, during a July 25 telephone call, that Ukraine’s president launch investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

Even as Colonel Vindman arrived, Mr. Trump lashed out at the decorated Army combat veteran without naming him, accusing him on Twitter of being a longtime political opponent.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Travels with William 'Opus Dei' Barr, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2019. On the American taxpayers' dime, Attorney General William Barr has recently been clocking more air miles than Donald Trump's largely grounded personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.

Barr is traveling the world to gather information from other nations' law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to discredit the Justice Department's past probe of the foreign connections of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. What is even more worrisome than Barr's witch hunt is his use of the right-wing network of the Roman Catholic fascist order Opus Dei to dig up dirt on his two predecessors as Attorney General -- Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions -- and several former FBI, CIA, and Justice Department officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal judge kicks the door open for House impeachment testimony, Bill Palmer, Oct. 29, 2019. Over the weekend, John Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman asked the courts to rule on whether he should comply with the House impeachment inquiry subpoena to testify, or whether he should comply with the Trump White House’s order not to richard j. leon testify. There’s no question how this ruling will go, as Trump has zero legal standing. It was just a matter of whether the fight would get dragged out so long, it wouldn’t end up mattering.

bill palmer report logo headerAs it turns out, Judge Richard Leon, right, has decided that this process is not going to take very long. He’s holding a hearing this Thursday, citing the “time-sensitive” nature of the case, according to CNN. This will be a near-automatic ruling the House’s favor. More importantly, because Kupperman is the one who took this to court and not Trump, it means Trump will essentially have no basis for getting an appeals court to listen to him.

Raid Against ISIS Leader

washington post logoWashington Post, Mole inside Baghdadi’s hideaway had a key role in raid’s success, officials say, Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 29, 2019. The extraordinarily well-placed informant within the Islamic State facilitated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s movements around Syria and helped oversee construction work on his Syrian safehouse, according to U.S. and Middle East-based officials knowledgeable about the operation.

Inside DC: Deficits

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion, As Deficits Balloon, Republicans Stay Silent, Philip Klein, Oct. 29, 2019. Conservatism, a movement built around limiting the burden that government places on citizens, could be crushed by staggering debt.

Wrongly Convicted

washington post logoWashington Post, Maryland offers about $9 million to 5 wrongly convicted men, Ovetta Wiggins​, Oct. 29, 2019. The men collectively spent 120 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. The settlement offer, confirmed by two of the exonerees’ attorneys, amounts to $78,916 for each year of wrongful incarceration.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Dread descends on northern Syria as cease-fire ends, Louisa Loveluck, Oct. 29, 2019. In towns and cities, families debated whether, and where, to run as the end of the 150-hour cease-fire threatened to reignite fighting that erupted after President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops.

The temporary pause in hostilities also gave the various belligerents time to redraw the map of northern Syria and confront its residents with new realities and new risks. As the mostly Syrian Kurdish fighters pulled back from the Turkish border, the Turkish military and its militia allies advanced from the north and Syrian government forces advanced from the south, retaking territory that had changed hands during the eight-year civil war.

The Russian Defense Ministry, citing Major General Yuri Borenkov, a senior military official working in Syria, said that 68 Kurdish units numbering 34,000 fighters had pulled back 19 miles from the border by Tuesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, to Step Down, Vivian Yee, Oct. 29, 2019. Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon said on Tuesday that he and his cabinet would resign, bowing to a basic demand of the enormous antigovernment protests that have consumed the country and suspended daily life for nearly two weeks.

“I’m at a dead end,” Mr. Hariri, shown at left in a 2017 photo, said in a televised speech. “Jobs come and go, but what’s important is the country,” he added, echoing words of his father, Rafik Hariri, the prime saad hariri sochi sept 13 2017minister who was assassinated in 2005. “No one’s bigger than the nation.”

But the resignations are unlikely to fully satisfy the protesters, whose signature chant — “All of them means all of them” — encapsulates their fury at the entire political class.

Mr. Hariri’s announcement came against the backdrop of protests that have engulfed the Mediterranean country, where a mix of religious groups coexist in a particularly combustible part of the Middle East. Lebanon borders Syria to the east and Israel to the south.

Years’ worth of barely suppressed rage detonated in the country on Oct. 17, when the government announced a tax on calls made over popular, free internet-based messaging services including WhatsApp.

washington post logoWashington Post, Britain sets December date for an election in which Brexit will dominate, Karla Adam and William Booth, Oct. 29, 2019. Britain has set a December date for a united kingdom flaggeneral election in which Brexit will dominate.

The House of Commons on Tuesday voted, 438 to 20, to hold elections on Dec. 12. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was selected in a party leadership vote in July, wants a mandate to “get Brexit done.” Opposition parties want to keep close ties to the European Union or stay in the bloc. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid for a pre-Christmas election got a major boost Tuesday when the main opposition Labour Party said it would back a December ballot, almost guaranteeing an early election that will be dominated by Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit.

jeremy corbyn profile unsourcedJeremy Corbyn, left, leader of the Labour Party, said a decision by European leaders on Monday to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 met his condition that, at least for the next three months, the threat of a no-deal Brexit is off the table and Britain could not suddenly “crash” out of the trading bloc.

Labour backs a general election, because we want this country to be rid of this reckless and destructive Conservative government,” Corbyn said Tuesday in the House of Commons. “We will launch the most ambitious, radical campaign for real change.”

If elections come in December, voters will be offered some stark choices over Brexit — alongside the usual muddle, misrepresentations and foggy numbers.

The Conservative Party under Johnson will run as the 100 percent for Brexit party, under the banner, “Let’s get it done.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Mole inside Baghdadi’s hideaway had a key role in raid’s success, officials say, Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima​, Oct. 29, 2019. The extraordinarily well-placed informant within the Islamic State facilitated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s movements around Syria and helped oversee construction work on his Syrian safehouse, according to U.S. and Middle East-based officials knowledgeable about the operation.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Philanthropist David Rubenstein donates $10 million for additional Jefferson Memorial renovations, Michael E. Ruane, Oct. 29, 2019. The money will be used to upgrade lower-level exhibit space and create exhibits on the main level of the memorial, which already is undergoing an $8.2 million external overhaul.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, WhatsApp accuses Israeli firm of helping governments hack phones of journalists, human rights workers, Craig Timberg and Jay Greene, Oct. 29, 2019. WhatsApp alleged that the Israeli surveillance company NSO helped deliver malicious software through seemingly harmless video calls, even if the targets did not pick up.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Cybersecurity 202: Pentagon's choice of Microsoft for cloud contract is double-edged sword, Aaron Gregg, Oct. 29, 2019. A security breach could be catastrophic. The Defense Department shocked the information technology industry after announcing last week it would turn to Microsoft for its $10 billion cloud computing infrastructure, rejecting long-standing criticisms over whether it’s wise to depend on a single company for such an important task.

microsoft logo CustomThe award signals a sea change in how the military will protect its most closely-held national security secrets. Unless a bid protest puts a stop to it, U.S. military agencies will soon begin transferring hundreds of disparate computer systems onto a centralized system managed by Microsoft.

The Pentagon currently relies on a hodgepodge of mainframes and smaller clouds — many of which are locked down because they contain sensitive classified information. But defense officials have long said this disjointed approach has made it impossible for them to push out software updates in a timely manner, hampering their response to emerging cyberthreats.

jeffrey bezos washington postThe award of the $10 billion JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract bypassed Google, IBM, Oracle and Amazon, which President Trump has repeatedly slammed because its head, Jeffrey P. Bezos, left, also owns The Washington Post. Trump, who has slammed The Post's news coverage of his administration, had threated to intervene in the competitive bidding battle.

Pentagon officials noted in the department’s official cloud strategy, released in early February, that the existing patchwork approach has created unnecessary security risks.

Placing its computing systems in the hands of a single tech company is expected to allow the “rapid roll out of software and hardware updates” that are difficult in a government setting, according to the Pentagon.

But putting all of the military's eggs in one basket is also dangerous, say some, producing a juicy target for state-sponsored hackers like the Russians and Chinese. Recent high-profile data breaches involving Amazon’s products, for example, have heightened concerns around the security of cloud products.

U.S. Jobs / Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Murray Energy files for bankruptcy as coal’s role in U.S. power dwindles, Taylor Telford and Dino Grandoni, Oct. 29, 2019. Murray Energy Corp., the private coal giant whose founder pushed the Trump administration for an overhaul of what it called “anti-coal” environmental policy, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday.

It’s the fifth coal company to land in bankruptcy court this year, in a rapidly shrinking industry that’s being squeezed out of the U.S. power market by cheaper options such as natural gas, solar and wind power.

washington post logoWashington Post, Murray Energy files for bankruptcy as coal’s role in U.S. power dwindles, Taylor Telford and Dino Grandoni, Oct. 29, 2019. The move is another sign that President Trump’s efforts to save the sputtering industry, a central campaign promise, have largely failed.

Murray Energy Corp., the private coal giant whose founder pushed the Trump administration for an overhaul of what it called “anti-coal” environmental policy, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday.

It’s the fifth coal company to land in bankruptcy court this year, in a rapidly shrinking industry that’s being squeezed out of the U.S. power market by cheaper options such as natural gas, solar and wind power.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former University of Virginia football player convicted of fraud, Rachel Weiner, Oct. 29, 2019. A onetime linebacker for the University of Virginia used his relationships from school, church and the National Football League to perpetuate a $10 million investment scheme, a jury found late Monday.

Among Merrill Robertson Jr.’s 63 victims were coaches who helped him get a football scholarship, close friends from childhood and his Sunday school teacher, according to court records.

Robertson, 39, frittered away their retirement savings on personal luxuries and unsuccessful frozen yogurt franchises. He will be sentenced Jan. 3. for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in federal court in Richmond.

Robertson was first convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. But an appeals court granted him a new trial because the Richmond Times-Dispatch had reported on remarks the judge made out of the jury’s earshot about the “very, very overwhelming” evidence and Robertson’s lack of credibility.

washington post logoWashington Post, Can the Bennet brothers save the Establishment? Ben Terres, Oct. 29, 2019. Michael Bennet is running for president. His sibling James is a big shot at the New York Times. Both are struggling to figure out their place in an altered landscape.

The Bennets are the anti-Trump dynasty, institutionalists at a time when their very institutions — Capitol Hill, the mainstream media — have come under attack.

To their critics on the left, they are mealy-mouthed centrists, focused on giving a platform to “both sides,” for whom “civility” is just another cudgel used by elites to cling to power.

To their friends and supporters, they are what a politician and a newspaperman are supposed to look and act like, brothers in the mold of the Kennedys, idealists fighting for what’s right.

Oct. 28

U.S. Raid On Purported ISIS Leader

djt abu bakr al baghdadi raid

Donald Trump flanked by Michael Pence, left, and Michael Esper and other aides announces what Trump called the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shown below at left, and three of his children in a U.S. special forces raid in Turk-enabled rebel territory in Syria. They died "like dogs" Trump boasted.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Islamic State leader Baghdadi blew himself up as U.S. troops closed in, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe​, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.).​ The president, speaking Sunday morning at the White House, said the militant leader spent his last moments “whimpering and crying and screaming” in a dead-end tunnel. He killed himself and three of his children.

abu bakr al baghdadi olderPresident Trump on Sunday announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive Islamic State leader, died during an American military operation in Syria, a major breakthrough more than five years after the militant launched the group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

"Last night the United States brought the world’s Number One terrorist leader to justice," Trump said in a televised announcement form the White House. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.”

The president described what he called a "dangerous and daring" nighttime operation by U.S. Special Operations forces in northwest Syria, involving a series of firefights and culminating in what he said was a retreat by Baghdadi into a tunnel. There Baghdadi, who Trump said was “whimpering and crying and screaming,” detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and three young children he brought with him.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump revels in the killing of the sixth Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wayne Madsen, right, Oct. 28, 2019. After tweeting the message in the late evening of wayne madesen report logowayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallOctober 26 that "something very big has just happened," Donald Trump made an announcement at a White House press conference on the morning of October 27 and claimed that U.S. Delta Force special forces had located and killed Islamic State self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump's statement was rife with machismo comments, such as claiming al-Baghdadi being chased into a tunnel where "he died like a dog."

Other U.S. News Headlines:

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt nancy pelosi

Politico, House to vote on resolution establishing next steps in impeachment inquiry, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle, Oct. 28, 2019. The resolution will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry a month ago.

U.S. House logoThe House will vote this week on a resolution to formalize the next steps of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The resolution — which “establishes the procedure for hearings,” according to a statement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry a month ago.

"We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives," Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats obtained by Politico.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Like a horror movie’: Republicans anxious and adrift defending Trump, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Oct. 28, 2019. Republican senators are lost and adrift as the impeachment inquiry enters its second month, navigating the grave threat to President Trump largely in the dark, frustrated by the absence of a credible case to defend his conduct and anxious about the historic reckoning that likely awaits them.

republican party upside downRecent days have delivered the most damaging testimony yet about Trump and his advisers commandeering Ukraine policy for the president’s personal political goals, which his allies on Capitol Hill sought to undermine by storming the deposition room and condemning the inquiry as secretive and corrupt.

• Bolton’s former deputy fails to show for deposition as he seeks court ruling to resolve dispute over testifying
• Trump praises Giuliani for ‘looking for corruption’
• Live Updates: Sondland goes to Capitol Hill to review transcript of his Oct. 17 testimony

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Johnson, ally of Trump and Ukraine, surfaces in crucial episodes in the saga, Elise Viebeck and Dalton Bennett​, Oct. 28, 2019. Sen. Ron Johnson met in ron johnson o CustomJuly with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has circulated unproven claims that Ukrainian officials assisted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, a previously unreported contact that underscores the GOP senator’s involvement in the unfolding narrative that triggered the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

In an interview this past week, Andrii Telizhenko said he met with Johnson (Wis.), right, for at least 30 minutes on Capitol Hill and with Senate staff for five additional hours. He said discussions focused in part on “the DNC issue” — a reference to his unsubstantiated claim that the Democratic National Committee worked with the republican elephant logoUkrainian government in 2016 to gather incriminating information about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Telizhenko said he could not recall the date of the meeting, but a review of his Facebook page revealed a photo of him and Johnson posted on July 11.

“I was in Washington, and Sen. Johnson found out I was in D.C., and staff called me and wanted to do a meeting with me. So I reached out back and said, ‘Sure, I’ll come down the Hill and talk to you,’ ” Telizhenko told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats to Skip Court Fights Over Impeachment Witnesses, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 28, 2019. House Democrats will forgo using the federal courts to try to compel testimony from recalcitrant witnesses in their impeachment inquiry, a top Democratic chairman said Monday, warning that lawmakers would instead use the lack of cooperation to bolster their case that President Trump has abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.

adam schiff squareRepresentative Adam B. Schiff, right, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed the shift in strategy after Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, defied a House subpoena for testimony that had been scheduled for Monday morning.

charles kupperman croppedThe White House on Friday said that Mr. Kupperman was absolutely immune from testifying and directed him not to appear in defiance of a subpoena. That prompted the former official to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats asking a federal judge whether he could testify, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle over weighty questions about the separation of powers that could effectively stall the impeachment inquiry for months.

“We are not willing to let the White House engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead,” Mr. Schiff told reporters outside his secure hearing rooms.

dnc horizontal logoIn earlier oversight disputes, House Democrats have turned to the courts with some frequency, but those lawsuits have already eaten up valuable months of time without signs of resolution any time soon. Mr. Schiff indicated Democrats now did not have the luxury of waiting, given the gravity of the allegations that Mr. Trump abused his power to enlist a help from Ukraine in smearing his political opponents.

“If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify, Mr. Schiff said. “They plainly don’t.”

Mr. Schiff acknowledged that the White House would likely try to invoke similar privilege to try to block other high-level witnesses, including John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser said to be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Doing so would only fuel another article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with obstructing Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Democrats are right to avoid court fights in the impeachment inquiry, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 28, 2019. Since the House already has more than enough jennifer rubin new headshotevidence of impeachable conduct, these witnesses are not, strictly speaking, essential. Sure, it would be impactful to have multiple witnesses, but frankly, Trump does not even seem to be disputing the facts.

Second, at the Senate trial, the rule for evidence under one party’s control that is withheld or destroyed should be the same as the rule in any court setting: that that evidence is presumed to be unfavorable.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “Lock Him Up” moment was even worse for him than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 28, 2019. In a stunning and soaring display of patriotism last night, the World Series crowd at Nationals Park loudly booed Donald Trump when his face appeared on the jumbotron screen, and then loudly chanted “Lock Him Up,” making clear that Trump’s presence wasn’t welcome at the game. It was a perfect reception for an illegitimate president who is in the process of being impeached by Congress, and indicted by a grand jury, for his criminal scandals.

bill palmer report logo headerVarious mainstream media pundits have criticized the baseball crowd’s actions, in a cheap attempt at throwing Donald Trump a bone and thus “appearing unbiased” in the eyes of the lowest of low-information viewers. Here’s the thing, though. That crowd was speaking for the majority of Americans. Now it turns out those boos were even louder than we thought.

The various video clips posted to social media suggested that the sustained booing of Donald Trump was impressively loud. But audio-video capture can be deceptive. So was it really as loud and widespread as it seemed? As it turns out, yes. The Washington Post says that the booing reached nearly a hundred decibels.

That’s the kind of number you’d hit during a key moment in a game, where the crowd is going wild. In other words, World Series fans despise Donald Trump and his crime spree every bit as emphatically as they love their sports team. That’s real passion. Poll numbers make clear that these sports fans were speaking on behalf of most Americans. Trump has a real problem on his hands.

2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, State Court Bars Using North Carolina House Map in 2020 Elections, Michael Wines, Oct. 28, 2019. A North Carolina state court effectively threw out the state’s map of congressional districts on Monday, saying critics were poised to show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that it was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander favoring Republicans.

The ruling, by a three-judge panel in Superior Court in Raleigh, technically imposes a temporary ban on using the map in primary elections next spring. But the judges signaled that they were unlikely to change their minds by inviting plaintiffs in the case to seek a summary judgment ending the case in their favor. And the judges said they were prepared to postpone primary elections should that prove necessary to further litigate the case or draw new House districts.

The plaintiffs, North Carolina residents, were sponsored by the National Redistricting Foundation, an arm of a Democratic group led by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that is seeking to challenge Republican control of the next round of redistricting in 2021.

The House map drawn by Republican legislators in 2016 all but guaranteed the party’s control of 10 of the state’s 13 House districts, even though voters’ political preferences are split almost evenly between the two major parties. A separate challenge to the same map went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in June that it did not have the ability to regulate partisan gerrymandering, however egregious.

But the state panel said the map violated broader provisions in North Carolina’s state constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and assembly and equal protection under the law, as well as a guarantee of free elections that does not appear in the federal Constitution.

Media News

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The Grayzone, Commentary: ‘This charge is 100% false’: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence, Ben Norton, Oct. 28, 2019. max blumenthal screenshot rt americaMax Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of October 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy (shown above) in Washington, DC that took place between April and May.

A team of DC police officers appeared at Blumenthal’s door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to DC central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by DC police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

“This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” Blumenthal declared. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

The arrest warrant was five months old. According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal’s arrest was initially rejected. Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant’s knowledge.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” Blumenthal stated. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”
Background to the embassy siege

In April and May, Washington-backed Venezuelan coup leaders began taking over properties in the United States that belong to the internationally recognized government of Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, in violation of international law.

A group of activists responded by keeping a vigil inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, in order to protect it from an illegal seizure by the US-supported coup leaders. The activists formed what they called the Embassy Protection Collective. The internationally recognized Venezuelan government gave them permission to stay in its embassy, which is its own sovereign territory under international law.

In response, hordes of violent right-wing activists who support the Venezuelan opposition launched a de facto 24/7 siege of the embassy, preventing people, food, and supplies from entering the building.

The Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil and Alex Rubinstein, a contributor to The Grayzone, were embedded in the embassy with several peace activists.

Parampil and journalists including Blumenthal documented the right-wing mobs lashing out with racist and sexist invective as well as violence at Venezuelan solidarity activists who gathered outside the embassy to show support for the protectors.

Court documents indicate the false charge of simple assault stems from Blumenthal’s participation in a delivery of food and sanitary supplies to peace activists and journalists inside the Venezuelan embassy on May 8, 2019.

The charge was manufactured by a Venezuelan opposition member who was among those laying siege to the embassy in a sustained bid to starve out the activists inside.

“I was not party to any violent actions around the Venezuelan embassy,” Blumenthal reiterated. “This ginned up claim of simple assault is simply false.”

According to court documents, Ben Rubinstein, the brother of journalist Alex Rubinstein, also participated in the non-violent and legal food delivery. Rubinstein was arrested over 12 hours later after the food delivery by Secret Service police officers.

He spent 20 hours in jail, alongside Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace, who was arrested after being brutalized by Secret Service officers for attempting to toss a cucumber inside an embassy window.

“The opposition members made up these lies about Max and I know they’re lying, and they are obviously using the government and police as tools to get revenge,” Ben Rubinstein told The Grayzone.
Retaliation for The Grayzone’s reporting on the violent Venezuelan opposition

Max Blumenthal reported extensively from outside the Venezuelan embassy in May. He filed a story explaining how “the pro-coup mob outside turned violent, physically assaulting embassy protectors, and hurling racist, sexist and homophobic abuse at others.”

Blumenthal documented an opposition activist breaking into and subsequently vandalizing the embassy, in violation of international law. He also reported on opposition members destroying the embassy’s security cameras, while the authorities stood idly by.

The Venezuelan coup regime’s supposed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, who is not recognized by the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community, helped to lead this aggressive mob as it besieged the embassy.

The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil exposed Vecchio to be a former lawyer for the oil corporation Exxon. The Grayzone has documented his close links to the US government, and has reported at length on accusations of corruption. Vecchio was a regular presence outside the DC embassy, appearing with his gaggle to stage manage the situation.

The Grayzone has also published numerous exposés on Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, who was selected by the US government to be the so-called “interim president” in Caracas, detailing his extensive ties to Washington and his notorious corruption.

Blumenthal was arrested literally hours after The Grayzone published an article on USAID paying the salaries of Guaidó’s team as they lobbied the US government.

“I am firmly convinced that this case is part of a wider campaign of political persecution using the legal system to shut down our factual investigative journalism about the coup against Venezuela and the wider policy of economic warfare and regime change waged by the Trump administration,” Blumenthal stated.

If this had happened to a journalist in Venezuela, every Western human rights NGO and news wire would be howling about Maduro’s authoritarianism. It will be revealing to see how these same elements react to a clear-cut case of political repression in their own backyard.

Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Sorry, Morning Joe Scarborough and Mika, you’re dead wrong, Bill Palmer, Oct. 28, 2019. MSNBC hosts Morning Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (shown in a screenshot) have never been our cup of tea, but they’ve generally tried to speak out against Donald Trump for his scandals and crimes, which we appreciate. That said, this morning the duo reminded us of why they don’t really belong on television when they (Joe in particular) asserted that the World Series crowd was wrong last night for chanting “Lock him up” at Donald Trump when he showed up at the game.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing. This isn’t about decorum or politeness. Baseball fans weren’t chanting “Lock him up” last night because they think Donald Trump is a bad president, or because they don’t like him, or because they would have preferred someone else. They chanted it because Trump is a career criminal who has used the presidency to commit crimes.

There’s a grand jury in New York that’s in the process of criminally indicting Donald Trump on state charges. It’s the same grand jury that just won an appeals court ruling over Trump’s tax returns. That’s in addition to the eleven federal counts of obstruction of justice that Trump faces when he gets out of office, along with whatever criminal charges arise for Trump in his Ukraine scandal. Adam Schiff just pointed out this morning that Trump is committing even more acts of obstruction of justice as we speak.

Donald Trump is going to prison, and he deserves to go to prison. Not because he’s a bad president, or because he sucks at his job. He’s going to prison because that’s where criminals belong. In fact the only reason Trump isn’t already behind bars is that he’s illegally hiding behind the office to keep himself from being indicted (for now).

Saudi Finances Post-Khashoggi

washington post logoWashington Post, The prince, the billionaire and the Amazon project that got frozen in the desert, Marc Fisher and Jonathan O'Connell, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Amazon and Saudi mohammed bin salman al saudArabia looked like perfect partners. Both had ambitions to become even more prominent players in the global economy. The world’s biggest store and the world’s second-biggest oil producer moved aggressively in the past few years toward a $1 billion deal to build Amazon data centers in the desert kingdom.

amazon logo smallBut in the year since Saudi operatives killed Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident who wrote columns for The Washington Post, the partnership appears to have stalled. No data centers are under construction. Amazon officials say there has been no movement on a deal this year.

And when executives from dozens of major U.S. companies stream into Riyadh on Tuesday for an investment conference marking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s return to the world stage, neither Amazon founder Jeff Bezos nor any of his top executives will be there, according to an Amazon official familiar with the company’s plans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump's desire 'to take' Syrian oil presents a barrelful of problems, Dino Grandoni, Oct. 28, 2019. The United States has no legal claim to the oil in the first place. President Trump was persuaded to keep a number of troops in Syria partly so the United States could have some of its oil. But the idea of seizing petroleum in the war-torn country presents a big barrel of problems.

Trump explained Sunday that one of the reasons he decided to keep a contingent of about 200 U.S. troops in Syria was to prevent the oil fields in the eastern portion of the country from being retaken by the Islamic State, which had once used them as a source of income. The president made the about-face after enduring withering criticism from within his own party about pulling U.S. troops from Syria’s border with Turkey.

“We're protecting the oil, we're securing the oil,” Trump said during a news conference about the death of Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a U.S. military operation in Syria.

But Trump's rationale did not stop there. The oil, he added, “can help us because we should be able to take some, also.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Surprise Microsoft award adds to Pentagon’s ongoing cloud drama, Aaron Gregg and Jay Greene, Oct. 28, 2019. Amazon has several options it can pursue to challenge the award after Trump’s intervention.

The Pentagon’s surprise decision to turn to Microsoft for the backbone of its cloud computing infrastructure is likely to fuel an already raging dispute, as a last-minute White House intervention raises new questions about the fairness of the process, government contracting attorneys and analysts say.

Amazon, which had long been seen as a front-runner, has several options it can pursue if it wants to delay or overturn the award.

The fight over the lucrative $10 billion contract could also play out in Congress. Lawmakers will get their chance to press the Defense Department on the issue Tuesday at the confirmation hearing of Dana Deasy, the department’s chief information officer.

In its announcement, the Pentagon said all bidders had been treated “fairly and consistently,” pointing out that the procurement strategy had already gone through two bid protests and a lawsuit.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, known as JEDI, is meant to simplify the Pentagon’s computing systems under a commercially operated cloud computing infrastructure, in which agencies can rent computing services from specialized providers. Military officials say they need access to such a system to modernize the military’s disparate computing systems and take advantage of next-generation artificial-intelligence tools.

Amazon Web Services, which pioneered this approach in the business world, had long been seen as a front-runner for the JEDI contract. It already has several years of experience managing classified data for the CIA under the terms of an earlier $600 million contract. And it is also the only company that holds the highest-level Defense Department information-technology certification. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Looming over the procurement is a direct intervention by President Trump, who asked Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper to review the contract based on concerns that it would go to Amazon, people familiar with the matter told The Post in late August. Trump has spoken out against Amazon and Bezos on multiple occasions. He has attacked The Post for its coverage of him, conflating the newspaper with Amazon’s interests, accusing it of publishing “fake news” and operating as a “lobbyist newspaper” for the company.

California Wildfires

ny times logoNew York Times, Getty Fire Forces Evacuations in Los Angeles; Kincade Fire Swells, Thomas Fuller, Oct. 28, 2019. Here’s the latest: Evacuations in West Los Angeles jammed a major freeway, and a sprawling wildfire in Sonoma County now covers 54,298 acres. An evacuation order still stands for 180,000 residents of Sonoma County, while part of Napa County is under an evacuation warning.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn, Ash Ngu and Sahil Chinoy, Oct. 28, 2019. California needs to abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, it should let modest wildfires burn.

At the height of 2018’s devastating wildfires, President Trump tweeted that there was “no reason” for the fires besides “gross mismanagement” by the state. Critics took issue with the timing and simplistic logic of the statement, but the comment drew attention to the way forest management affects the frequency and intensity of wildfires. Ecologists and forest experts attribute California’s destructive wildfires to decades of aggressive fire suppression, in addition to the increased population of fire-prone areas and hotter, drier conditions due to climate change.

The solution needs to address all these things, but one critical step is shifting our understanding of fire’s role in forest ecology. Policymakers and citizens alike must abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, they should permit modest, ecologically necessary wildfires to burn.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Andrew Yang was groomed for a high-paying job at an elite law firm. He lasted five months, Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 28, 2019. Yang’s norm-busting career as an Internet business builder is the foundation for his norm-busting Democratic presidential campaign.

andrew yang twitterHe evangelizes about what he’s learned creating start-ups and nurturing businesses focused on the public good. His marquee policy — giving every U.S. adult $1,000 a month in guaranteed income — is the most un­or­tho­dox proposal of any major candidate. It’s the product of a nontraditional career, which began with his decision, in early 2000, to quit his law firm and walk away from money, prestige and comfort.

It was fall of 1999, and Yang, 24, shown in his Twitter photo, was in the job he had steered toward his whole life. Phillips Exeter Academy, Brown University, Columbia Law — the perfect elite track to land at Davis Polk & Wardwell, one of the country’s premier law firms. His Taiwanese immigrant parents were thrilled. Counting salary and bonus, he was making about $150,000 a year.

More On U.S. Raid On ISIS Leader

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Knew of Plans for the Raid When He Pulled Troops From Syria, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s abrupt troop withdrawal complicated the Pentagon’s plans, forcing it to accelerate the risky operation, military officials said. President Trump knew the Central Intelligence Agency abu bakr al baghdadi 2004 mugshotand Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader (shown in a 2004 mugshot), when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month, intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials said on Sunday.

For months, intelligence officials had kept Mr. Trump apprised of what he had set as a top priority, the hunt for Mr. al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

But Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout, the officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the operation that left Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead, Dan Lamothe and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The “dangerous and daring” raid targeting Islamic State leader Baghdadi started with a tip and ended in a tunnel. As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the Islamic State.

Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in the early Sunday morning darkness.

Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist associates, and the United States had been watching him for days.

And it was a tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant that set the operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Three big questions after Baghdadi’s death, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 28, 2019. Attention shifts to where the Islamic State goes from here and how the raid may impact President Trump's plans in Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In creating spectacle around Baghdadi’s death, Trump departs from Obama’s more measured tone on bin Laden, David Nakamura, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s 50-minute announcement was marked by a now-customary mix of bravado, misleading boasts and taunts.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump revels in the killing of the sixth Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 28, 2019. After tweeting the message in the late evening of October 26 that "something very big has just happened," Donald Trump made an announcement at a White House press conference on the morning of October 27 and claimed that U.S. Delta Force special forces had located and killed Islamic State self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump's statement was rife with machismo comments, such as claiming al-Baghdadi being chased into a tunnel where "he died like a dog."

washington post logonancy pelosi twitterWashington Post, Pelosi says Trump notified Russians of Baghdadi raid before telling congressional leaders, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 28, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called on the White House to brief lawmakers on the raid that targeted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, noting that President Trump had informed the Russians of the military operation before telling congressional leadership.

 The statement from Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, came after Trump told reporters at a lengthy news conference that he did not inform the House speaker of the raid because he “wanted to make sure this kept secret.”

U.S. presidents typically follow the protocol of contacting congressional leaders, regardless of their political party, when a high-level military operation is conducted.

“The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region,” Pelosi said. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington.”

The Gray Zone, Commentary: Trump gives $4.5 million to the White Helmets, which partnered with jihadists and joined Turkey’s ethnic cleansing, Ben Norton, Oct. 28, 2019. While touting his efforts to end US involvement in Syria, Trump approved $4.5 million more for the White Helmets, known popularly as the White Helmets. This group has been at the heart of the regime change war on the country, partnering with jihadists and joining Turkey’s brutal invasion.

syrian white helmetsWith close to $100 million in funds from the US and UK governments, as well as donations from Qatar, support from Turkey and backing from wealthy private donors, this outfit has acted as a public relations vehicle for the Syrian armed opposition.

White Helmets links to extremist Salafi-jihadist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, have been thoroughly documented. What’s more, the group has participated in recent Turkish onslaughts in northern Syria, where Kurds and other minority groups faced ethnic cleansing.

The continued US funding is a sign that Washington’s regime-change war against Syria continues, even while Trump has partially withdrawn American troops from the country. The White House announced the funding in a press release on October 22.

Transitions: Hollywood

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert Evans, a Maverick Producer of Hollywood Classics, Dies at 89, Brooks Barnes, Oct. 28, 2019. He was a force behind masterworks like “The Godfather” and “Chinatown,” and his own story — of unlikely success and drug-fueled decline — was the stuff of legend. His colorful, twisty life made him a show business legend — Dustin Hoffman parodied him in the 1997 comedic drama “Wag the Dog” — but his biggest contribution to the movie industry paradoxically involved substance over style.

When Mr. Evans took Paramount’s reins in 1966, Hollywood was in creative decline, relying heavily on established stars and safely sellable scripts. Mr. Evans helped rewrite the formula for a time by championing young writers and directors with striking cinematic voices.

Oct. 27

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Commentary: Crowd Chants "Lock Him Up" To Trump At World Series

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elijah Cummings: We are in a fight for the soul of our democracy, Elijah E. Cummings (right, a Democrat, represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District elijah cummings ountil his death Oct. 17), Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). As I pen these words, we are living through a time in our nation’s history when powerful forces are seeking to divide us one from another; when the legitimacy of our constitutional institutions is under attack; and when factually supported truth itself has come under relentless challenge.

I am among those who have not lost confidence in our ability to right the ship of American democratic life, but I also realize that we are in a fight — a fight for the soul of our democracy.

This op-ed is adapted from a foreword that Cummings wrote July 17 for the forthcoming book, “In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic,” by Cedric L. Alexander.

washington post logoWashington Post, Diplomat says efforts to back ousted envoy were rejected, Karoun Demirjian and Carol Morello​, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.).. Philip Reeker, right, was among the State philip reekerDepartment officials who were alarmed by a campaign of falsehoods that undermined Marie Yovanovitch, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Philip Reeker, the diplomat in charge of U.S. policy for Europe, told House investigators that the State Department leaders rejected his entreaties to publicly support the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was the target of a smear campaign.

He arrived at the Capitol shortly after 10:30 a.m., accompanied by his personal lawyer. According to an official working on the impeachment inquirer, Reeker gave his deposition under subpoena to get around an effort by the State Department to block him from appearing. Foreign Service officers are required to answer subpoenas issued by Congress.

Reeker, who heads the team of diplomats specializing in European affairs, is the latest Trump administration official scheduled to appear behind closed doors despite a White House edict that no government employees cooperate. Based on previously released accounts, he can be expected to provide a limited but critical piece of the backstory involving an informal endeavor to prod Ukrainian officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump frustrated amid failed efforts to stymie impeachment probe, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). After weeks of dismissing the inquiry, President Trump and his closest advisers now recognize that the snowballing probe poses a serious threat to the president — and that they have little power to block it, according to multiple aides and advisers.

Analysis: What you missed this week in the impeachment inquiry

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s brother caught in the act, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2019. This weekend Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law (shown below in a 2017 Facebook  photo) spent their anniversary at Camp David, a government property that’s supposed to be a retreat for the President of the United States, not a free hotel for his family. This kind of grifting and jared ivanka kushner may 20 2017 9 day djt trip facebooknepotism has defined the Trump regime, and now it turns out another member of Donald Trump’s family has come front and center in that corruption.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Donald Trump administration awarded a $33 million dollar government contract to a company tied to Robert Trump, who just happens to be the kid brother of Donald Trump. It’s not just passive nepotism either, as the Washington Post says that the other vendors who were competing for the government contract are alleging that the bidding process was indeed corruptly in favor of Trump’s brother.

This comes even as Donald Trump continues to promote a fake story about Joe Biden having used his position as vice president to steer financial opportunities to his son Hunter Biden. The entire scandal has been manufactured, and its fake origins are one of the things that Trump is being impeached for. At the same time Trump is promoting this fake nepotism scandal about his potential 2020 opponent, he’s continuing to carry out very real nepotism schemes of his own.

washington post logoWashington Post, John Kelly says he warned Trump he’d be impeached if he hired a ‘yes man’ as chief of staff to replace him, Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). John Kelly, former chief of staff to President Trump, said Saturday he warned the president before he left the White House not to replace him with a “yes man” because it would lead to Trump’s impeachment.

John KellyKelly, right, also said he believed he could have prevented the current impeachment inquiry against Trump if he had stayed in the job. He said the inquiry could have been avoided if the president had surrounded himself with people who could rein in his worst instincts.

His candid remarks, made during an interview at a political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner, suggests he blames acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others in the West Wing for not doing more to stop Trump’s behavior.

“Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,” Kelly told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York. “Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea, Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: They’re even worse at this than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2019. When Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed NBC News, he didn’t just humiliate himself in hilarious fashion. He also revealed that, despite being on the take from multiple foreign countries, he doesn’t have the cash to fund his next con game. With all the money this guy has been grifting, he’s still broke.

bill palmer report logo headerThis came even as the news broke yesterday that Donald Trump is looking at selling off the lease for his Washington DC hotel, which is one of the very few profitable properties he has left. Trump has been making money from emoluments scandals, international grifts, and every other way he can think of to corruptly exploit the presidency for personal financial gain – and yet his real estate “empire” is still in such shambles, he’s left having to sell one of his few sellable properties in order to service the debt he owes on the others.

Trump is the same guy, after all, who filed for corporate bankruptcy six times so he could walk away from his various failed real estate endeavors. But even his abuse of corporate bankruptcy laws didn’t save him from ultimately having to turn to foreign banks for bailouts, which ultimately left him owned and controlled by foreign governments.

As the ugly details of their financial con games continue to surface, it’s not a surprise that Donald Trump and his goons have been willing to go to any corrupt and treasonous lengths to get their hands on a buck. What is remarkable is that they’re so bad at it. No matter how much money they illegally or unethically get their hands on, it’s never enough to pay their bills. They’re not just evil grifters; they’re incompetent grifters.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Who Is Bill Barr? Emily Bazelon, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). William Barr (shown above with Donald Trump at the White House) had returned to private life after his first stint as attorney general when he sat down to write an article for The Catholic Lawyer. It was 1995, and Mr. Barr saw an urgent threat to religion generally and to Catholicism, his faith, specifically. The danger came from the rise of “moral relativism,” in Mr. Barr’s view. “There are no objective standards of right and wrong,” he wrote. “Everyone writes their own rule book.”

And so, at first, it seemed surprising that Mr. Barr, now 69, would return after 26 years to the job of attorney general, to serve Donald Trump, the moral relativist in chief, who writes and rewrites the rule book at whim.

But a close reading of his speeches and writings shows that, for decades, he has taken a maximalist, Trumpian view of presidential power that critics have called the “imperial executive.” He was a match, all along, for a president under siege. “He alone is the executive branch,” Mr. Barr wrote of whoever occupies the Oval Office, in a memo to the Justice Department in 2018, before he returned.

john solomon joseph digenova victoria toensing

Media Matters, Investigation: How conservative writer John Solomon served as the conduit for Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine conspiracy theories, Julie Millcan with research by Julie Turlbert, updated Oct. 27, 2019 from Oct. 17. Update: Frequent Fox guests Joseph diGenova, above center, and Victoria Toensing are lawyers for Fox contributor John Solomon, left.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump lies a disinformation campaign led by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani that was aided and abetted by conservative writer John Solomon. Through Solomon, Giuliani injected his disinformation campaign straight into the heart of conservative media -- Fox News -- with seemingly full fox news logo Smallknowledge of at least some at Fox. And eventually, Solomon landed a job at the network.

It is now known that Trump blessed Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine, in which he sought information that would undermine the intelligence community's findings that Russia interfered in our 2016 election to benefit Trump. Giuliani was also trying to dig up dirt to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, a front-runner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.

Much attention has focused on Giuliani’s actions and the shady cast of characters he worked with, but less has been paid to the right-wing media figures who colluded with the president’s lawyer to make his smear campaign public -- a plan that came dangerously close to succeeding.

What follows is a case study in how right-wing media work hand in hand with Trump cronies to smear his enemies, undermine democracy, and defend the president at all costs.

Here’s how it went down.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Thanks, Whistle-Blower, Your Work Is Done, Editorial Board, Oct. 27, 2019. Virtually every assertion he made has been corroborated on the record by the administration or other officials and witnesses.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP focuses on whistleblower, conspiracy claims, loyalty to Trump, Greg Miller and Rachael Bade, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The GOP line of questioning in closed-door hearings comes as President Trump continues to lash out publicly against the whistleblower in ways that seem designed to goad Republican allies into naming the person.

CIA LogoRepublican lawmakers have used the congressional impeachment inquiry to gather information on a CIA employee who filed a whistleblower complaint, press witnesses on their loyalty to President Trump and advance conspiratorial claims that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election, according to current and former officials involved in the proceedings.

GOP members and staffers have repeatedly raised the name of a person suspected of filing the whistleblower complaint that exposed Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations into his political adversaries, officials said.

republican elephant logoThe Republicans have refrained during hearings from explicitly accusing the individual of filing the explosive complaint with the U.S. intelligence community’s inspector general two months ago, officials said.

But the questions have been interpreted as an attempt “to unmask the whistleblower,” whose identity is shielded under federal law, said several officials with direct knowledge of the depositions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We represent the whistleblower. Their identity is no longer relevant, Andrew P. Bakaj and Mark S. Zaid, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The public now knows more about the call with Ukraine than what was in the complaint.

Our client’s whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s efforts to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 U.S. election was publicly released a month ago, and since then, speculation about the whistleblower’s identity has only increased. As each allegation in the complaint is substantiated by new witnesses, the president and his supporters remain fanatically devoted to bringing our client into the spotlight. But the reality is that the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.

In August, our client lawfully filed a detailed complaint that prompted the intelligence community inspector general to conduct a preliminary investigation. That inquiry, which involved multiple witnesses — all of whom are also lawfully protected as whistleblowers — led to a finding that the complaint was both “urgent” and “credible” and was legally required to be transmitted to Congress.

Over the past month, we have all learned more facts — from the White House’s summarized transcript of the July call with Ukraine’s president, from text messages provided to the House of Representatives by the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine, and from congressional testimony by people intimately involved with the circumstances the whistleblower first raised concern about. Much of what has been disclosed since the release of our client’s complaint actually exceeds the whistleblower’s knowledge of what transpired at the time the complaint was submitted. Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.

Now Republican leaders in Congress are also focusing their attention on attacking the messenger and demanding public testimony from the whistleblower. This is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. For the record, we have notified both the House and Senate intelligence committees in a bipartisan manner that the whistleblower is willing to respond to any questions in writing and under oath. 

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