November 2019 News

 

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

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

 

Nov. 30

U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, A Pennsylvania Election Nightmare Underscores Voting Machine Concerns, Nick Corasaniti, Nov. 30, 2019. How “everything went wrong” in Northampton County (PA). Vote totals in a Northampton County judge’s race showed one candidate, Abe Kassis, a Democrat, had just 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots across more than 100 precincts. Some machines reported zero votes for him. In a county with the ability to vote for a straight-party ticket, one candidate’s zero votes was a near impossibility

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe snafu in Northampton County did not just expose flaws in both the election machine testing and procurement process. It also highlighted the fears, frustrations and mistrust over election security that many voters are feeling ahead of the 2020 presidential contest, given how faith in American elections has never been more fragile. The problematic machines were also used in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs — areas of Pennsylvania that could prove decisive next year in one of the most critical presidential swing states in the country.

In an era where some candidates and incumbents try to challenge or discredit a close loss by questioning the system, either with unfounded allegations of voter fraud or claims of a “rigged” election, the proper functioning and security of election machines have never been more crucial.

ny times logoNew York Times, 2020 Democratic Candidates Wage Fight (on the Merits of Fighting), Mark Leibovich, Nov. 30, 2019. The question of “to fight or not to fight” might represent the most meaningful divide between the candidates. Pete Buttigieg, right, has a nifty politician’s knack for coming off as a soothing, healing figure who projects high-mindedness — even while pete buttigieg mayor south bend inhe’s plainly kicking his opponents in the teeth.

“There is a lot to be angry about,” he was saying, cheerfully. “But fighting is not enough and it’s a problem if fighting is all you have,” he said. “We fight when we need to fight. But we’re never going to say fighting is the point.”

elizabeth warren o purpleIn fact, these were fighting words: barely disguised and directed at certain Democratic rivals.

As Mr. Buttigieg enjoys a polling surge in Iowa and New Hampshire, he is trying to prevent a rebound by Senator Elizabeth Warren, left, who has leveled off in the polls after a strong summer, and contain Senator Bernie Sanders, whose support has proved durable. As Mr. Buttigieg spoke, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders were holding rallies in which they could scarcely utter two sentences without dropping in some formulation of the word “fight.”

Sexual Abuses

michael bransfield

washington post logoWashington Post, Sexual abuse claim dismissed by church foreshadowed years of allegations against bishop, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg, Nov. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Early in Michael J. Bransfield’s tenure as West Virginia’s bishop, a former student called an abuse hotline. His allegation was a warning about a cleric (shown above) who has since been accused of groping and sexually harassing seminarians and young priests.

The former student said he was a freshman when the unwanted touching began. It was a stark warning about a cleric who allegedly went on in the next decade to grope and sexually harass seminarians and young priests in West Virginia.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein, Blackmail and a Lucrative ‘Hot List,’ Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Emily Steel, Jacob Bernstein and David Enrich, Nov. 30, 2019. A hacker claimed to have the financier’s sex tapes. Two top lawyers wondered: What would the men in those videos pay to keep them secret?

jeffrey epstein at harvard universitySoon after the sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, right, died in August, a mysterious man met with two prominent lawyers.

He went by a pseudonym, Patrick Kessler — a necessity, he said, given the shadowy, dangerous world that he inhabited.

He told the lawyers he had something incendiary: a vast archive of Mr. Epstein’s data, stored on encrypted servers overseas. He said he had years of the financier’s communications and financial records — as well as thousands of hours of footage from hidden cameras in the bedrooms of Mr. Epstein’s properties. The videos, Kessler said, captured some of the world’s richest, most powerful men in compromising sexual situations — even in the act of rape.

Kessler was a liar, and he wouldn’t expose any sexual abuse. But he would reveal something else: The extraordinary, at times deceitful measures elite lawyers deployed in an effort to get evidence that could be used to win lucrative settlements — and keep misconduct hidden, allowing perpetrators to abuse again.

Impeachment Coverage

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces Dec. 6 deadline to say whether he’ll send lawyer to impeachment hearings, Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 30, 2019 (print ed.). It's unclear whether President Trump will participate in the House’s probe, which is looking into allegations that he abused his power in an attempt to get Ukraine to launch political investigations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani flips out as he realizes the end is near, Bill Palmer, Nov. 30, 2019. Rudy Giuliani knows the end is near for him. We’re not merely saying this because a federal grand jury has sent subpoenas to his associates, demanding all communications with him, and revealing that the list of alleged crimes is a mile long. We’re not even rudy giuliani recentsaying it because Donald Trump tried to distance himself from Rudy this week.

We’re saying it because Rudy Giuliani, right, is even more unhinged right now than usual – and he very much sounds like a guy who knows the end is near for him. Rudy is referring to the investigation into the Trump-Ukraine scandal as a “travesty,” a word that generally only gets used by people who think the damage has already been done.

bill palmer report logo headerRudy is also posting rants like this, which are ludicrously hyperbolic even by his standards: “The Schiff frame-up based on no admissible and the trampling of rights to counsel, call witnesses, confrontation, cross examination are worse than the old McCarthy Communist hearings.”

The trouble for Rudy Giuliani is that as the Feds close in on him, he simply has no easy way out. Trump’s comments make a pardon seem increasingly unlikely. Even if Rudy were pardoned on federal charges, he’d surely be indicted on parallel charges by New York State. Rudy could cut a plea deal against Trump, but considering the extent of Rudy’s years-long international crime spree, he would still do significant prison time – likely in solitary confinement due to his notoriety. Rudy’s life is over, and he knows it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely, Colbert I. King, Nov. 30, 2019. The future isn’t promised, but it is a roger stonegood bet that three felons and close allies of President Trump — Roger Stone (right, found guilty of obstruction of a congressional investigation, witness tampering and lying to Congress), Paul Manafort (serving a prison sentence for tax evasion and bank fraud) and Michael Flynn (pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI) — will be granted executive clemency. The only question is when.

It might be a tad bit premature for Manafort to start humming “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” But he will be there next year.

President Donald Trump officialTo be sure, Trump could free his friends before voters cast their ballots in 2020. But that’s politically risky, as President Gerald Ford’s 1976 defeat can attest. His approval rating dropped more than 30 points after he pardoned Richard M. Nixon.

Trump’s safest course of action would be to wait to do the dirty deed until after Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. Trump’s impulsiveness, however, is a wild card.

Impeached or not, Trump can still grant pardons without fear of a citizens’ revolt — once the polls close. Even if the voters serve him with an eviction, Trump can still cut his boys loose, provided he acts before turning off the lights in the Oval Office.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s talk of cease-fire appears to surprise Taliban, Afghan government, Karen DeYoung and Susannah George, Nov. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Now they [the Taliban] do want to do a cease-fire,” President Trump said on Thursday, but a day later neither the Taliban nor the Afghan government indicated that a cease-fire was near or even being discussed in resumed talks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Assailant in attack on London Bridge had previous terrorism conviction, police say, William Booth and Karla Adam, Nov. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Two people were fatally stabbed, and the knife-wielding assailant was shot dead by police, in a chaotic midafternoon attack Friday on the busy London Bridge.

united kingdom flagPolice late Friday said the attacker was known to authorities and had been previously convicted of terrorism charges and served six years in prison. Beyond those killed, several others were injured, said Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, at a briefing at Scotland Yard late Friday.

The attacker, identified by police as Usman Khan, 28, was released from prison last year. In 2012, Khan was jailed, along with eight others, for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange. Related story:

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Hero’ bystanders wrestled the London Bridge attacker. They’re not the first to fight back, Jennifer Hassan and Siobhán O'Grady, Nov. 30, 2019 (print ed.). From Britain to New Zealand, witnesses have time and time again faced excruciating choices in the face of imminent danger, risking — and at times losing — their lives to try to save others.

A knife-wielding attacker wearing a hoax explosive vest injured several people Friday during an assault on London Bridge that police say they are treating as a terrorist attack. Video widely shared on social media shows a group of bystanders wrestling the suspect to the ground before he is fatally shot by police.

Nov. 29

World News

djt maga hat speech uncredited Customny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says He Reopened Talks With Taliban, 3 Months After Ending Them, Michael Crowley, Nov. 29, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump (shown in a file photo) said during an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan that he had restarted peace talks. republican elephant logoThe declaration came as Mr. Trump seeks to highlight a record of achievements while he campaigns for re-election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away how desperate he is, Bill Palmer, Nov. 29, 2019. On Thanksgiving, Donald Trump took time off from taking time off at Mar-a-Lago, and secretly flew to a U.S. military base on Afghanistan for a photo op with the troops stationed there. It scored him a round of positive headlines, all of which will be forgotten by the end of the weekend, if not the end of the day. But the real story here is what prompted Trump to have to make this trip at all.

bill palmer report logo headerLet’s be clear here: Donald Trump absolutely did not want to make this trip. He almost never visits the troops, and certainly not in combat regions. You can blame it on cowardice, laziness, lack of interest, or all of the above. But the reality is that this guy doesn’t like doing these kinds of things. So why did he take this surprise last-minute trip?

richard spencer navyTrump just crapped all over the military in every way possible. He overturned the military justice system’s handling of convicted war criminal Eddie Gallagher, because Gallagher’s lawyer also happens to work for the Trump Organization. When Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, right, refused to do Trump’s corrupt bidding, Trump fired him.

Donald Trump has managed to do something that is usually near-impossible for a Republican president: he’s alienating the military. He must know it too, because his handlers managed to convince him to fly halfway around the world and pretend to care about U.S. troops while using them as a political prop.

iraq afghanistan mapwashington post logoWashington Post, Iraqi prime minister says he will submit resignation to head off further bloodshed, Mustafa Salim and Sarah Dadouch​, Nov. 29, 2019. The announcement by Adel Abdul Mahdi followed a demand from Iraq’s top Shiite cleric and weeks of protests that have left hundreds dead.

Iraq forms ‘crisis cells’ as an Iranian consulate burns and at least 22 protesters are killed

Impeachment Coverage

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ground is shifting beneath Trump’s feet, Shirley Kennedy, Nov. 29, 2019. The latest bombshell transcripts contain the testimonies of OMB official Mark Sandy and State Department official Philip Reeker. Not only do their testimonies fill in more blanks, that testimony shows just how insidious Trump’s actions were. More importantly, they show the lengths to which he went to hide his activities. That, my friends, is consciousness of guilt.

bill palmer report logo headerSandy’s testimony outlined “highly unusual” activities with respect to releasing aid to Ukraine. Extremely telling is the fact that the OMB took the first official step in withholding Ukraine aid on the evening of Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, July 25, even though the agencies were notified a week prior to the call — philip reekerJuly 18— that the “aid had been frozen.” Sandy testified that Trump had been interested in the aid as far back as June, likely seeing it as a bargaining chip. Sandy voiced his concerns, raising a little-known federal law, the Impoundment Control Act, notifying Trump that he would be in violation of that law should he continue to “unilaterally withhold” funds that had been approved by Congress. Sandy also knew that if the funds weren’t released by September 30, they would be lost.

Reeker, right, testified that the hold on Ukraine’s aid “was orchestrated at the highest levels” in the White House. Reeker believes that Mulvaney was withholding the funds but was not certain. Mulvaney answers to Trump, so it obvious that while he might have appeared to be the holdup, he could not have done such a thing without Trump’s knowledge and approval.

Just Security, Analysis: Here’s the Proof that Trump’s “No Quid Pro Quo” Call Never Happened, Susan Simpson, Nov. 29, 2019. At the heart of the impeachment inquiry, members of Congress may have been mistakenly led to believe that there were two phone calls between President Donald Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland in early September — with the second call having the possibility of helping the President’s case. That’s not what happened. There was only one call, and it was highly incriminating.

The call occurred on September 7th. In this call, Trump did say there was “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine, but he then went on to outline his preconditions for releasing the security assistance and granting a White House visit. The call was so alarming that when John Bolton learned of it, he ordered his’ deputy Tim Morrison to immediately report it to the National Security Council lawyers.

gordon sondland oSondland, right, has testified there was a call on September 9th in which Trump said there was “no quid pro quo,” but that he wanted President Zelenskyy “to do” the right thing. A close reading of the publicly available evidence shows that the latter call was actually the very one that sent Morrison to the lawyers, and that Ambassador Bill Taylor foregrounded in his written deposition to inform Congress of the quid pro quo.

As this article was in the publication process at Just Security, the Washington Post published a report raising doubts about the existence of the September 9 call. The analysis that follows is consistent with the Post’s report and, among other points, shows why Sondland’s “no quid pro quo” call is in fact the same as the September 7th call that Morrison reported to NSC lawyers on September 7th.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Broken Promises and Debt Pile Up as Loan Forgiveness Goes Astray, Erica L. Green and Stacy Cowley, Nov. 29, 2019 (print ed.). A federal program said it would education department seal Custom 2clear debts for students who stuck with vital but low-wage professions. Over 80,000 people have been denied relief. When Congress created a student loan forgiveness program in 2007, lawmakers wanted to draw people to vital but relatively low-paid careers with a promise: after a decade, if borrowers faithfully paid their debts and pursued their work, they would have the remainder of their student loans written off.

Since then, tens of thousands of graduates were led to believe by their student loan servicers that they would qualify for relief at the end of a decade, only to be shocked when their applications were rejected.

The blame can be spread broadly — to loan servicers who at best failed to inform borrowers of what was needed to qualify, to the single company in charge of the program that has been repeatedly cited for shoddy service, mismanagement and poor record keeping, to lawmakers who wrote in a baffling list of requirements, and to the Education Department, which has failed to step in and correct the problem.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top human rights post goes vacant as Trump nominee confronts links to post-9/11 torture program, Mike DeBonis, Nov. 29, 2019. President Trump’s decision to nominate an official involved in the Pentagon’s post-9/11 use of harsh interrogation techniques to the State Department’s top human rights post has sparked a standoff in the Senate that has extended a nearly three-year vacancy in a key diplomatic position.

marshall billingsleaTrump’s nomination in January of Marshall Billingslea, right, as undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights raised immediate alarms among the activists and former government officials who believe his confirmation would send a dismal message about the United States’ commitment to human rights abroad. A September confirmation hearing has intensified those concerns, with several officials accusing Billingslea of improperly minimizing his role in the interrogation debate inside of the George W. Bush administration.

From 2002 to 2003, Billingslea served as the Pentagon’s point man on military detainees housed at Guantánamo Bay under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In that position, according to a 2008 Senate report, he played a role in promoting interrogation techniques that Congress later banned as torture — including the use of hoods or blindfolds, sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, the shaving of beards, the removal of clothing and the use of military dogs to intimidate detainees.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Harris’s Campaign Unraveled, Jonathan Martin, Astead W. Herndon and Alexander Burns, Nov. 29, 2019. Ms. Harris, below at left, is the only 2020 Democrat who has fallen hard out of the top tier of candidates. She has proved to be an uneven campaigner who changes her message and tactics to little effect and has a staff torn into factions. katherine harris

In early November, a few days after Senator Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign announced widespread layoffs and an intensified focus on Iowa, her senior aides gathered for a staff meeting at their Baltimore headquarters and pelted the campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, with questions.

Mr. Rodriguez offered general, tentative answers that didn’t satisfy the room, according to two campaign officials directly familiar with the conversation. Some Harris aides sitting at the table could barely suppress their fury about what they saw as the undoing of a once-promising campaign. Their feelings were reflected days later by Kelly Mehlenbacher, the state operations director, in a blistering resignation letter obtained by The Times.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Why Trump Should Hate Thanksgiving, Paul Krugman, Nov. 29, 2019 (print ed.). After all, it celebrates the better angels of our nature. So the imaginary “war on Christmas” wasn’t enough. Donald Trump and Fox News are now accusing progressives of waging a war on Thanksgiving, too, based on, well, nothing.

But do Trump and his band of bigots even understand what Thanksgiving is about? If they did, they would hate this most American of holidays.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor, Manisha Sinha, Nov. 29, 2019. Andrew Johnson (below at left) pioneered the recalcitrant racism and andrew johnsonimpeachment-worthy subterfuge the president is fond of.

Much more than impeachment connects the presidencies of Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump. No one expected either man to enter the White House.

Both presidencies began with a whiff of illegitimacy hanging over them: Johnson’s because he became president when Lincoln was assassinated, Mr. Trump’s because he won the Electoral College despite having nearly three million fewer popular votes than his opponent, the largest losing margin of any president who actually won the election. The size of the gap did not bode well for American democracy.

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Warming Waters, Moving Fish: How Climate Change Is Reshaping Iceland, Kendra Pierre-Louis / Photographs by Nanna Heitmann, Nov. 29, 2019. As ocean temperatures rise, fish are swimming for their lives, causing financial disruption and trade conflicts.

#MeToo Issues

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland has a whole new problem, Robert Harrington, Nov. 29, 2019. It should come as no surprise that Gordon Sondland has now been accused of sexual assault by three women. Each of these women are boldly forthright in their accusations and have made them out in the open, using their full names. Sondland (through his lawyer) “vehemently denies these allegations,” of course, and suggests the women have concocted the allegations in an effort to extract revenge for his failure to help them with their careers, as if, after a humiliating backpedal on national television, Sondland suddenly needs to be taken down a peg or two.

bill palmer report logo headerSondland -- who was appointed by Trump as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union for his overwhelming qualifications for the job, namely, because he bought a “VVIP” (Very, Very Important Person) Pass to Trump’s inaugural ball for a cool million dollars, and who was a key witness in last week’s impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump -- says, “These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them.”

Nov. 28

Selected Headlines (Details Below)


Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani was in talks to work for Ukraine official amid their hunt for damaging information on Biden, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Matt Zapotosky​, rudy giulianiNov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, negotiated earlier this year to represent Ukraine’s top prosecutor for at least $200,000 during the same months that Giuliani, right, was working with the prosecutor to dig up dirt on vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The people said that Giuliani began negotiations with Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, about a possible agreement in February. In the agreement, Giuliani’s company would receive payment to represent Lutsenko as the Ukrainian sought to recover assets he believed had been stolen from the government in Kyiv, those familiar with the discussions said.

yuriy lutsenkoThe talks occurred as Giuliani met with Lutsenko, left, in New York in January and then in Warsaw in February while he was also gathering information from Lutsenko on two topics Giuliani believed could prove useful to Trump: the involvement of Biden, and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine and allegations that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump ultimately pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into the two issues during a July 25 phone call between the two leaders, a call that sparked a whistleblower complaint and the Congressional impeachment inquiry.

A person familiar with the negotiations described a series of contracts that were drafted earlier this year in which Giuliani would have worked for Lutsenko or separately, the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is shown at center in a file photo collage flanked by the presidents of the United States and Ukraine.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Bill Palmer, Nov. 28, 2019. Even as federal prosecutors continue to close in on Rudy Giuliani  for the numerous felonies he committed during the course of Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, Rudy has continued to insist that he was only doing it because Joe Biden’s (imaginary and thoroughly debunked) corruption in Ukraine simply had to be brought to light. No jury was going to buy that excuse anyway, but now it turns out even that excuse has been shattered.

At the time Rudy Giuliani was trying to pressure Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko into announcing a sham investigation into the Bidens, Rudy was also trying to pressure Lutsenko into personally paying him $200,000 in – ahem – legal fees. This startling yet not surprising revelation is coming by way of the Washington Post. It’s crucial because it’s the final nail that guarantees Rudy will never get out of prison.

bill palmer report logo headerIf Rudy was hoping to convince a jury to give him some degree of leniency under the guise that he was simply misguidedly trying to help America by exposing corruption, that just went out the window. Instead, Rudy was corruptly trying to line his own pockets while he was corruptly trying to rig the 2020 election in Donald Trump’s favor. This is going to make things almost shockingly easy for Rudy’s trial jury.

We’ll see if Donald Trump decides to stick his neck out by trying to pardon Rudy Giuliani, which would trigger a court battle over whether a president can pardon his own alleged co-conspirators – and the outcome of that court ruling could end up costing Trump his ability to pardon his kids on his way out the door. But even if Rudy is pardoned on federal charges, there are surely New York State charges waiting for him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Testimony, records raise questions about ambassador’s account of Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ call, Aaron C. Davis, Elise Viebeck and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Gordon Sondland’s recollection of a phone conversation that he said took place Sept. 9 has emerged as a centerpiece of President Trump’s defense. But the White House has not located a record of a call between Trump and Sondland that day.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyers, Skeptical of Engaging on Impeachment, Weigh Hearing Strategy, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The White House is debating whether to accept an invitation by Democrats to be part of an impeachment hearing next week, calling it a “sham partisan process.” The White House is reviewing an invitation from House Democrats for President Trump’s legal team to participate in the first Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing next week, even as his lawyers privately question whether to engage with a proceeding his administration branded “an illegitimate sham partisan process” to drive Mr. Trump from office.

jerrold nadler o SmallRepresentative Jerrold Nadler, right, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to the president on Tuesday offering him or his lawyers the opportunity to appear before lawmakers at a Dec. 4 hearing with constitutional scholars to discuss the historical precedents for impeachment, the definition of an impeachable offense and whether Mr. Trump’s actions meet the bar for removal.

In a statement on Wednesday, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, did not give any indication about whether Mr. Trump or his lawyers intended to accept the invitation. But people familiar with the president’s legal strategy have said privately that they are deeply suspicious of taking part in a process they view as unfair to Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Keeps Losing in Court. But His Legal Strategy Is Winning Anyway, Charlie Savage, right, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). As fights over the president’s stonewalling of charlie savageCongress play out slowly in courts, he is reducing the prospect that voters learn new damaging facts about him before the 2020 election.

From a realist perspective, Mr. Trump is winning despite losing. That is because it is now late November — not May, when Mr. McGahn, on Mr. Trump’s directions, first defied the subpoena, or even August, when the House asked the judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to enforce its subpoena.

The proceedings before Judge Jackson consumed nearly a third of the year as she took briefs, conducted oral arguments and then composed a 120-page opinion. And her ruling was merely the end of the first step.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I was fired as Navy secretary. Here’s what I’ve learned because of it, Richard Spencer, right, Nov. 28, 2019 (print ed.). The case of Chief Petty Officer Edward richard spencer navyGallagher, a Navy SEAL who was charged with multiple war crimes before being convicted of a single lesser charge earlier this year, was troubling enough before things became even more troubling over the past few weeks. The trail of events that led to me being fired as secretary of the Navy is marked with lessons for me and for the nation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Secretary of the Navy takes a blowtorch to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 28, 2019. Donald Trump fired his own handpicked Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer this weekend, because Spencer wasn’t corrupt, and Trump needed someone in the position who was willing to do his corrupt bidding. This is a common theme when it comes to Trump’s firings (see Marie Yovanovitch). The thing is, Trump never does seem to learn that these things tend to blow up in his face.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump insisted on intervening on behalf of convicted war criminal Eddie Gallagher, after the U.S. military had already handled the matter internally. It wasn’t that Trump thought the Gallagher matter had been mishandled; it’s that Gallagher’s lawyer happens to work for the Trump Organization. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer wasn’t willing to roll over and let Trump corruptly meddle in the military’s business, so Trump fired him.

Richard Spencer has responded to being fired by writing a scathing op-ed that’s been published in the Washington Post. He laid out the specifics of Trump’s inappropriate meddling, and then asserted that Trump “has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump makes surprise visit to Afghanistan, says he has reopened peace talks with Taliban, Missy Ryan and Philip Rucker​, Nov. 28, 2019. President Trump’s trip to deliver Thanksgiving greetings to U.S. troops in Afghanistan is his first trip to that country and his second visit to a combat zone; he visited troops in Iraq last Christmas. President Trump visited Afghanistan for the first time on Thursday, delivering Thanksgiving greetings to U.S. troops deployed here in America’s longest-running war and announcing he had resumed peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Making an unannounced trip, Trump touched down at 8:30 p.m. local time at Bagram air base — the primary hub for U.S. air operations located outside the capital of Kabul — after secretly departing Florida in the dark of night.

Trump has long wanted to draw down forces in Afghanistan; he said during a meeting here with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he had restarted peace talks with the Taliban that he had broken off almost three months ago and was hopeful of brokering an accord.

U.S. Media / Consumer News

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert F.X. Sillerman Dies at 71; Built Entertainment Empires, Ben Sisario, Nov. 28, 2019. A brash figure in the financial pages, he bought and sold lucrative radio robert sillerman ali ny timesand concert businesses and controlled the Elvis Presley estate. Robert F.X. Sillerman, an investor and media executive who built and sold radio empires, controlled the Elvis Presley estate and consolidated the American concert industry, died on Sunday. He was 71.

His brother, Michael, confirmed his death but gave no other details. Mr. Sillerman had recently been living in Hinsdale, N.H.

For decades, Mr. Sillerman (shown in a New York Times photo) was a regular in the headlines of the financial press, buying and selling numerous media and entertainment businesses, often at a huge profit, and presenting a brash public persona that sometimes rivaled those of the celebrities he dealt with.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tiffany Is More Than a Store, Vanessa Friedman, Nov. 28, 2019. The 182-year-old jeweler has played an outsize role in American culture. Now it will be owned by the French fashion giant LVMH, sold for $16.2 billion.

Once upon a time, Tiffany was the name of a person: Charles Lewis Tiffany, who, along with John B. Young, opened a “stationery and fancy goods store” on Broadway in 1837. Over the next 182 years, as the original store moved uptown to Fifth Avenue, and then expanded to over 300 locations, the name transformed into something else entirely: a symbol of striving aspiration, whether it be for love or a more lavish, gleaming life. The name Tiffany became an expression of the American promise of a better future — part of the national myth, captured in the plushy environs of a little blue box.

It has touched everything from the White House to the Super Bowl to the $1 bill, to literature, film and television. No wonder LVMH thought it would be a jewel in its crown. When the French conglomerate reached a deal to buy the company this week for $16.2 billion, in the largest deal ever in luxury, it didn’t just buy an American jeweler. It bought a part of the culture. Just consider the history.

Nov. 27

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 budget officials resigned, expressing concerns about hold on aid to Ukraine, official said, Erica Werner​, Nov. 27, 2019 (print ed.). One of the officials was in the White House Office of Management and Budget’s legal division and feared the intervention might have violated the law, Mark Sandy, an OMB deputy associate director, told House investigators.

The hold-up in nearly $400 million in security assistance aid to Ukraine is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Several State Department and national security officials have testified that President Trump was refusing to release the aid unless Ukraine launched investigations of Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and a debunked conspiracy theory involving a Democratic National Committee server.

mark sandy CustomSandy, left, said that he himself voiced concerns within the agency about whether holding up the Ukraine aid comported with the law.

“I just made a general reference to the Impoundment Control Act ... and said that we would have to assess that with the advice of counsel beofre proceeding,” Sandy said in describing a conversation he had with a political appointee at the agency who was his superior.

Ultimately that political appointee, Mike Duffey, took over the process of signing off on the documents that held up the Ukraine money, until the administration announced its release on Sept. 11 -- days after Congress had learned of a whistleblower complaint about a call between Trump and the president of Ukraine.

• Read Mark Sandy’s transcript
• Read transcript of Philip Reeker

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 3 takeaways from Mark Sandy’s and Philip Reeker’s testimony on Ukraine, Amber Phillips, Nov. 27, 2019. The latest transcripts offer more evidence that philip reekerthe hold on Ukraine assistance wasn’t because of concern over general “corruption.” Impeachment investigators released transcripts Tuesday from two depositions in their investigation: Philip Reeker, right, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Mark Sandy, the deputy associate director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget.

Here are three takeaways from their testimony: 1. More evidence that Trump’s hold on Ukraine assistance wasn’t because of concern over general ‘corruption.’

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Impeachment inquiry live updates: White House faces Sunday deadline on participating in Judiciary Committee hearing, John Wagner, Nov. 27, 2019. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says GOP defense of Trump is ‘reprehensible;’ Meadows argues that impeachment impedes legislating.

djt as stallone cropped CustomThe White House faces a Sunday deadline to decide whether to participate in a hearing next week by the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will soon weigh whether to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

10:55 AM: Trump tweets doctored photo of his head on Sylvester Stallone’s body: President Trump tweeted a doctored photo Wednesday that showed his head superimposed on the body of the actor Sylvester Stallone, who was shirtless and wearing boxing attire. The image appeared to have been taken from promotional materials for “Rocky III,” one in a series of movies focused on the boxing career of the fictional Rocky Balboa, which debuted in 1982.

It was not clear what inspired Trump’s tweet. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The picture may be a nod to remarks Trump made about his physique during a rally Tuesday night in Florida, when he critized the recent speculation surrounding an unscheduled trip he made to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Nov. 16.

supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump cases arrive, Supreme Court’s desire to be seen as neutral arbiter will be tested, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Nov. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The justices will step onto an unwelcome partisan battleground as they confront a long list of cases involving the president. The legal cases concerning President Trump, his finances john roberts oand his separation-of-powers disputes with Congress are moving like a brush fire to the Supreme Court, and together provide both potential and challenge for the Roberts court in its aspiration to be seen as nonpartisan.

The court, composed of five conservatives nominated by Republican presidents and four liberals chosen by Democrats, has little choice but to step onto a fiercely partisan battleground.

It announced Tuesday that it will consider on Dec. 13 whether to schedule a full briefing and argument on the president’s request that it overturn a lower-court ruling giving New York prosecutors access to Trump’s tax returns and other financial records in their investigation of ­hush-money payments in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump’s lawless intransigence is eviscerated in court, Editorial Board, Nov. 27, 2019. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday eviscerated the Trump administration’s lawless intransigence in a ruling that was as sharp as it should have been predictable. No, former White House counsel Donald McGahn is not ketanji brown jackson robe“absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” No, President Trump cannot prevent Mr. McGahn from responding to legal congressional subpoenas. “Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” the judge (shown at left) wrote.

Previous presidents and congressional leaders have found ways to defuse disputes. George Washington and Ronald Reagan turned over documents to congressional investigators. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Congress held then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt when he failed to respond to a congressional subpoena in the overhyped investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scheme, but the two sides eventually worked out a compromise that prevented lengthy litigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court grants 7-day stay on ruling that McGahn must comply with House subpoena, Spencer S. Hsu​, Nov. 27, 2019. The court wrote that the fight involving former White House counsel Donald McGahn poses great consequences for the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.

scott ritter

Consortium News, Opinion: The ‘Whistleblower’ and the Politicization of Intelligence, Scott Ritter (shown above), Nov. 27, 2019. The whistleblower complaint has opened a window into the politicization of the intelligence community, and the corresponding weaponization of the national security establishment.

His identity has been cloaked in a shroud of anonymity which has proven farcical, given that his name is common knowledge throughout the Washington-based national security establishment in whose ranks he continues to serve. While Trump publicly calls for the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed, the mainstream media has played along with the charade of confidentiality, and Congress continues to pretend his persona is a legitimate national security secret, even as several on-line publications have printed it, along with an extensive document trail sufficient to corroborate that the named man is, in fact, the elusive whistleblower.

rudy giulianiThere is no legitimate reason for the whistleblower’s identity to remain a secret. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, (D-CA), right, has cited statutory protections that simply do not exist while using his authority as chairman to prohibit any probe by his Republican colleagues designed to illicit information about the whistleblower’s identity.

“The whistleblower has a right, a statutory right, to anonymity,” Schiff recently opined during recent impeachment-related testimony.

Forensic News, Deutsche Bank Executive Who Signed Off On Trump Loans Kills Himself At Age 55, Scott Stedman, Nov. 27, 2019. Thomas Bowers, a former Deutsche Bank executive and head of the American wealth-management division, killed himself in Malibu, California, on Tuesday, November 19th, according to the Los Angeles county coroner’s initial report.

President Donald Trump officialFirst reports of his death were reported by the New York Times David Enrich. Bowers was the boss of Donald Trump’s banker Rosemary Vrablic, according to a New York Times article in early 2019. Vrablic approved over $300 million dollars in high risk loans for Trump starting in 2010. Vrablic’s other clients have included Jared Kushner and Stephen M. Ross.

deutsche bank logoVrablic reportedly attended the Trump inauguration in the VIP section, and expects to be called before Congress regarding Trump’s relationship with the bank. Deutsche Bank and Trump have connections going back to 1998, and over 30 years, Trump has received over $2 billion dollars in loans from the bank.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner/Coroner reported that Bowers died by suicide by hanging at his residence on the 19th.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Inquiry Review Is Expected to Undercut Trump Claim of F.B.I. Spying, Adam Goldman, Nov. 27, 2019. The Justice Dept. found no evidence of efforts to place agents or informants inside President Trump’s campaign, people familiar with the report said. The Justice Department’s inspector general found no evidence that the F.B.I. attempted to place undercover agents or informants inside Donald J. Trump’s campaign in 2016 as agents investigated whether his associates conspired with Russia's election interference operation, people familiar with a draft of the inspector general’s report said.

Justice Department log circularThe determination by the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, left, is expected to be a key finding in his highly anticipated report due out on Dec. 9 examining aspects of the Russia investigation. The finding also contradicts some of the most inflammatory accusations hurled by Mr. Trump and his supporters, who alleged not only that F.B.I. officials spied on the Trump campaign but also at one point that former President Barack Obama had ordered Mr. Trump’s phones tapped. The startling accusation generated headlines but Mr. Trump never backed it up.

michael horwitz headshotThe finding is one of several by Mr. Horowitz that undercuts conservatives’ claims that the F.B.I. acted improperly in investigating several Trump associates starting in 2016. He also found that F.B.I. leaders did not take politically motivated actions in pursuing a secret wiretap on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page — eavesdropping that Mr. Trump’s allies have long decried as politically motivated.

But Mr. Horowitz will sharply criticize F.B.I. leaders for their handling of the investigation in some ways, and he unearthed errors and omissions when F.B.I. officials applied for the wiretap, according to people familiar with a draft of the report. The draft contained a chart listing numerous mistakes in the process, one of the people said.

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. was careless and unprofessional in pursuing the Page wiretap, and he referred his findings in one instance to prosecutors for potential criminal charges over the alteration of a document in 2017 by a front-line lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, 37, in connection with the wiretap application.

Inside DC

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The many ambitions that propelled Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone, Nov. 27, 2019. Geoffrey R. Stone, right, is the Edward H. Levi geoffrey stonedistinguished professor of law at the University of Chicago and former dean. Whose “supreme ambition” is Ruth Marcus referring to in the title of her extraordinarily detailed and highly insightful new book, Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover” There are several possibilities.

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, FEMA’s Hurricane Aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Has Stalled, Mark Walker and Zolan Kanno-Youngs / Photographs by Christopher Gregory,
Nov. 27, 2019. Two years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the agency’s records show the slow pace of recovery on the islands compared with some states on the mainland.
The disparity underscores issues that include a lack of voting power for citizens on the island, as well as corruption and race.

ny times logo

New York Times, Trump Signs Hong Kong Democracy Legislation That Has Angered China, Emily Cochrane, Nov. 27, 2019. President Trump on Wednesday signed tough China Flaglegislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong, expressing support for pro-democracy activists in the territory and most likely angering China as the two countries negotiate ending their trade war.

As late as last week, Mr. Trump refused to commit to signing the legislation, which Congress had overwhelmingly approved, saying that he supported the protesters but that President Xi Jinping of China was “a friend of mine.”

The measure, which imposes sanctions on Chinese officials for cracking down on the protesters, drew bipartisan support from Congress.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: "Warren Gamaliel" Trump, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 27, 2019. Donald Trump's medical condition has been viewed by many wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallhealth care professionals as a ticking time bomb ever since the 73-year old, overweight, and cholesterol-ridden connoisseur of fast food entered the White House. Trump takes 40 mg of rosuvastatin, an anti-cholesterol drug, on a daily basis.

Trump's medical condition mirrors that of two past back-to-back presidents, Woodrow Wilson and the scandal-plagued Warren G. Harding....

Harding ensured that liquor confiscated during Prohibition was transferred to the White House, where drunken orgies were the rule of the day. At one such party, a table-dancing prostitute slipped and died from a head fracture. Harding was immediately removed from the scene and the incident was buried along with the prostitute.

Among Harding's last words were, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Harding's administration facilitated America's wealthiest tycoons amassing even greater wealth as the economy began to show signs of weakness that ultimately led to the Great Depression. Harding's death was immediately followed by White House fireplaces crackling with the sound of burning documents that pointed to the overall corruption of the Harding administration.

Warren Harding meet Donald Trump. Harding's life style caught up with him at age 57. Will Trump follow the same path at age 73?

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Jury Nullification Thwarts Immigration Tyranny, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Nov. 27, 2019. The U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Border Patrol are jacob hornberger newnot happy campers. That’s because a federal jury, in a clear case of jury nullification, has just put the quietus to federal attempts to incarcerate 37-year-old Arizonian Scott Warren for a large portion of his life.

The federal charge against Warren? Giving water, food, and medical treatment to immigrants who illegally entered the United States by crossing the Arizona desert.

Yes, that’s the crime that the feds charged Warren with committing. Oh sure, they call it “harboring” illegal immigrants, but in reality they targeted him for helping illegal immigrants.

Their aim? To send a message, not only to Warren but to everyone else who might be contemplating doing acts of kindness for illegal immigrants: Don’t even think of it because we will target you with a federal prosecution and do our best to put you into a federal hoosegow for the next several years of your life.

Enter the jury system, a system that federal officials detest, as manifested by their beloved kangaroo military tribunal system that they have established in Cuba for terrorism prosecutions. No jury trials there. Federal officials would much prefer that federal judges, many of whom are former prosecutors, or military officials decide the guilt or innocence of people they prosecute rather than regular people from the community serving as jurors.

washington post logonra logo CustomWashington Post, Pay for NRA executives surges as gun rights group cuts key program funds, Beth Reinhard, Nov. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The tax filing also showed perks for top officials that are typically associated with the corporate world, including charter and first-class travel with companions as well as dues for health or social clubs.

Assault, #MeToo, Perversion Claims

ny times logoNew York Times, A College Student Was Killed by a Man Whose Catcalls She Tried to Ignore, Prosecutors Say, Julie Bosman, Nov. 27, 2019. Ruth George’s attacker grew angry, prosecutors said, when she ignored his remarks. “She was just trying to go home,” a fellow college student said. The young college student was walking to her car. The man catcalled her. She ignored him.

donald thurman mug CustomWhat happened next could have been lifted from any woman’s most vivid nightmare: The man, Donald Thurman, right, followed the 19-year-old student, Ruth George, as she entered a parking garage, prosecutors said on Tuesday. He followed her from behind and put her in a chokehold, they said. “The defendant was angry that he was being ignored,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Ms. George’s family became worried when she did not return home on Friday night, and on Saturday morning, the police tracked the pings of her cellphone to the parking garage, where her body was discovered, face down in the back seat of her car.

Mr. Thurman, 26, was identified by the police from surveillance video at the scene, on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. They arrested him when he was spotted again in the area on Sunday; he was charged with first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault.

Mr. Thurman’s lawyer, a public defender, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Mr. Thurman had previously been convicted of armed robbery and was released on parole in 2018 after serving two years for the crime.

djt ivanka trump jared kushner unitedstatesblues com dmca Custom

Nepotism has been adopted as official Trump administration policy with regard to Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his wife and Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump holding senior White House positions (Image by theunitedstatesblues.com, DMCA)

OpEdNews, Investigative Commentary: Grand Theft Government With a Tinge of Perversion, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 27, 2019. The world is currently mired in massive malfeasance in office by senior government officials, including wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallheads of state and government, who are more interested in personal gain than in government service. Mixed in with financial and political scandals in dozens of nations is the specter of some government officials being involved in illegal sexual activities with underage individuals.

Facing a third general election in a year's time, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, right, has become the first Israeli prime minister to be criminally indicted while serving in office. Netanyahu was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterMeanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are facing charges that they received campaign donations from RKW Developers Ltd., a company linked to the Mumbai terrorist bomb blasts of 1993, attacks that killed 257 people and injured 1,400. Hypocritically, Modi attempted to blame the opposition Congress Party for not being aggressive or vigilant enough against the perpetrators of the Mumbai bombings.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is facing impeachment from office on grounds of bribery, extortion, obstruction of Congress, and witness intimidation, among other charges.

On top of Trump's troubles is the mystery over the death in a federal jail in New York City the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) of billionaire convicted child sex offender and accused underage sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, a close friend of Trump, was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges involving his fleet of aircraft and residences in the US Virgin Islands, Manhattan, France, and New Mexico.

jeffrey epstein trumps cropped ghislaine maxwell Photo by Davidoff Studios Getty Images vanity fair

Epstein with his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, right, and the Trumps (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

Two MCC guards on duty while Epstein allegedly hanged himself in his cell have been arrested by federal authorities. The Epstein scandal has not only entangled Trump but also Britain's Duke of York, Prince Andrew, shown at far left. The duke, who maintained a relationship with Epstein after the Wall Street investment banker's underage sex conviction in 2007 in Florida, has resigned from all official functions as a result of the Epstein scandal. The decision, which was reportedly promoted by Queen Elizabeth II, came after a disastrous interview Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Andrew gave to the BBC, which led to even more questions about his relationship with Epstein. Andrew denied accusations from former Epstein sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre, center in the photo, about his relationship with her when she was 17, below the age of consent in England.

Seasoned royal watchers in London consider Andrew's downfall from grace to be the biggest royal scandal since King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry the American divorcee and pro-Nazi, Wallis Simpson.

It is not only Andrew who is facing an investigation over sexual misconduct. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, weeks away from trying to salvage his battered Conservative Party in a December 12 general election, faces allegations that while he was mayor of London, he provided favorable treatment for official London city business to his American girlfriend, Jennifer Arcuri. This included Ms. Arcuri's participation in official London trade missions to Kuala Lumpur, New York, Singapore, and Tel Aviv.

Johnson, right, is also under investigation for another affair with an unpaid city advisor, Helen Macintyre, who gave birth to Johnson's child. In Britain, it would not be a sex scandal unless the Tories were involved. Adding to Johnson's political woes was the resignation of his Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns, over charges that the secretary's former aide interfered in a rape trial.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has faced increasing criticism from some of his own ministers for alleged government foot dragging in investigating Epstein's past activities at his Paris, Nice, and Biarritz residences. Calling for a full-scale probe of Epstein's activities in France are Secretary of State for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa and Secretary of State for Protecting Children Adrien Taquet. Of special interest to French investigators who want to open their own line of inquiry into Epstein are the circumstances surrounding his repeated visits to France while traveling on an Austrian passport in the 1980s.

Just as nepotism has been adopted as official Trump administration policy with regard to Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his wife and Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, holding senior White House positions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law's position in the Turkish government has resulted in charges of nepotism. Berat Albayrak, who is married to Erdogan's daughter, Esra Erdogan, previously served as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources before being named as Minister of Finance and Treasury.

Courthouse News, Child-Sex Charge Upheld Against Trump Campaign’s Nader, Brandi Buchman, Nov. 27, 2019. A onetime informal adviser to the Trump campaign who is charged with bringing a 14-year-old Czech boy to the United States for sex failed to persuade a federal judge that the crime is too old to prosecute.

george nader c spanThis 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates who is now a witness in the U.S. special counsel investigation into foreign meddling in American politics, wired $2.5 million to Donald Trump’s fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. (C-SPAN via AP, File)

In a three-count indictment unsealed in July, prosecutors alleged that George Nader brought the boy to Washington in 2000 after being introduced by way of a European pimp. “Night after night,” the indictment alleges, Nader assaulted and exploited the boy while withholding his passport to keep control over him.

Prosecutors also claim Nader threatened the boy’s mother, telling her she would be jailed if she were to report him.

Now it is 60-year-old Nader in jail as he awaits his trial on a three-count indictment unsealed in Virginia.

Nader, who emerged in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller as a key witness, sought to nix only one of the counts against him, criminal transport of a minor for sex, based on the statute of limitations.

World News

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Investigation: Death of a Banker: Did Laundered Russian Billions Play a Role? Russ Baker, Nov. 27, 2019. WhoWhatWhy investigates the unexplained death of a banker connected to the world’s largest money laundering case, and discovers even more mysteries.

Note to readers: This is a step-by-step account of a WhoWhatWhy inquiry into an evolving story with global implications — one that has received only scant media attention. In this three-part series, as we close in on the central mystery, we invite readers and potential sources to join us in this expedition toward the truth.

Nov. 26

Headline News

washington post logoWashington Post, In bleak report, U.N. says drastic action is only way to avoid worst effects of climate change, Brady Dennis, Nov. 26, 2019. The report warns that global temperatures are on pace to rise as much as 3.9 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit). The world has squandered so much time mustering the action necessary to combat climate change that rapid, unprecedented cuts in greenhouse gas emissions offer the only hope of averting an ever-intensifying cascade of consequences, according to new findings un logofrom the United Nations.

Already, the past year has brought devastating hurricanes, relentless wildfires and crippling heat waves, prompting millions of protesters to take to the streets to demand more attention to a problem that seems increasingly urgent.

• Analysis: Emissions spiked under Trump and the world is taking notice

ny times logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosNew York Times, Black Voters to Black Candidates: Representation Is Not Enough, Astead W. Herndon, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). In  interviews, voters rejected the idea that racial representation equated to change, and that they should automatically back a candidate who looked like them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Is Conan the heroic dog a boy or girl? America’s most powerful officials can’t agree, Brittany Shammas, Nov. 26, 2019. Defense officials say the dog who helped in the Baghdadi raid is female. White House officials are saying male. Others have resigned themselves to "it."

Conan the courageous dog was a Very Good Boy. On second thought, a Very Good Girl. Actually, a boy. Then a girl, after all. Or maybe not.

For a full 24 hours, federal officials have gone back and forth on the sex of the Special Operations K-9 injured in the raid that took down Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The seemingly simple question was still being debated on Tuesday, a day after President Trump showed off the celebrated Belgian Malinois during a hastily arranged news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Impeachment Daily Indexdjt handwave file

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint When He Released Aid to Ukraine, Michael S. Schmidt, Julian E. Barnes and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 26, 2019. White House lawyers briefed Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, people familiar with the matter said. President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said.

The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a “quid pro quo” with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair.

Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid. But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistle-blower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump’s re-election chances.

The complaint from the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who submitted it to the inspector general for the intelligence community in mid-August, put at the center of that pressure campaign a July 25 phone call between the presidents, which came at a time when Mr. Trump had already frozen the aid to the Ukrainian government. Mr. Trump asked that Mr. Zelensky “do us a favor,” then brought up the investigations he sought, alarming White House aides who conveyed their concerns to the whistle-blower.

washington post logoWashington Post, 2 budget officials resigned, expressing concerns about hold on aid to Ukraine, official said, Erica Werner​, Nov. 26, 2019. One of the officials was in the White House Office of Management and Budget’s legal division and feared the intervention might have violated the law, Mark Sandy, an OMB deputy associate director, told House investigators.

The hold-up in nearly $400 million in security assistance aid to Ukraine is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Several State Department and national security officials have testified that President Trump was refusing to release the aid unless Ukraine launched investigations of Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and a debunked conspiracy theory involving a Democratic National Committee server.

mark sandy CustomSandy, left, said that he himself voiced concerns within the agency about whether holding up the Ukraine aid comported with the law.

“I just made a general reference to the Impoundment Control Act ... and said that we would have to assess that with the advice of counsel beofre philip reekerproceeding,” Sandy said in describing a conversation he had with a political appointee at the agency who was his superior.

Ultimately that political appointee, Mike Duffey, took over the process of signing off on the documents that held up the Ukraine money, until the administration announced its release on Sept. 11 -- days after Congress had learned of a whistleblower complaint about a call between Trump and the president of Ukraine.

• Read Mark Sandy’s transcript
• Read transcript of Philip Reeker, right,

washington post logoWashington Post, Former White House counsel McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge rules, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The decision had been highly anticipated, with major implications for other high-value witnesses in the Democrats’ investigation, including former national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy. Former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn must comply with a House subpoena, a federal court ruled Monday, finding that “no one is above the law” and dan mcgahn djtthat top presidential advisers cannot ignore congressional demands for information. The ruling raises the possibility that McGahn could be forced to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington, below left, found no basis for a White House claim that the former counsel is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony,” likely setting the stage for a historic separation-of-powers confrontation between the government’s executive ketanji brown jackson robeand legislative branches.

The House Judiciary Committee went to court in August to enforce its subpoena for McGahn, right, whom lawmakers consider the “most important” witness in whether Trump obstructed justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

President Trump blocked McGahn’s appearance, saying McGahn had cooperated with Mueller’s probe, was a key presidential adviser and could not be forced to answer questions or turn over documents. Jackson disagreed, ruling that if McGahn wants to refuse to testify, such as by invoking executive privilege, he must do so in person and question by question.

The Justice Department’s claim to “unreviewable absolute testimonial immunity,” Jackson wrote, “is baseless, and as such, cannot be sustained.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal prosecutors scrutinize Giuliani firm, donations to Trump super PAC, Devlin Barrett, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The federal investigation into two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani is exploring a wide range of potential crimes — includingwire fraud and failure to register as a djt rudy giuliani Customforeign agent — as prosecutors dig into the pair’s interactions with the president’s personal lawyer and the main pro-Trump super PAC, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Giuliani’s dealings with the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are being investigated by federal prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York. That office has already filed campaign finance charges against Parnas and Fruman and accused them of conspiracy and FBI logomaking false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

According to people familiar with the ongoing case, investigators are scrutinizing Giuliani’s consulting business and eyeing donations made to America First Action, the main pro-Trump super PAC set up by his advisers and allies after his election, as well as its affiliated nonprofit group.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, at right in the adjoining graphic, are two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, center, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are now facing a grand jury nightmare, Bill Palmer, Nov. 26, 2019. Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have so much going wrong for them right now, individually and collectively, it can be difficult to keep track. Trump is being impeached. Rudy is under federal criminal investigation. Trump’s political scandals keep getting worse. Rudy is turning into Dracula. The list goes on. In fact these two guys have so much trouble facing them right now, it’s easy to lose track of arguably the single biggest piece of news concerning either of them.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night we confirmation by way of Reuters that a federal grand jury has been sending out subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani’s associates, demanding that they turn over their communications with him, and their records of doing business with him. This means, in no uncertain terms, that the grand jury is targeting Rudy for indictment. In other words, he’s going to be charged and arrested.

Justice Department log circularLast night we saw the latest reminder, by way of CNN, that a New York grand jury is targeting Donald Trump for criminal indictment on state charges. This grand jury has been well-documented, and in fact the escalating court battle over Trump’s tax returns was triggered partially by the grand jury’s attempt at obtaining them.

Under the law, grand juries only have one purpose: to indict people. When prosecutors ask for an indictment, grand juries return an indictment the vast majority of the time. This means that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are almost certainly going to be indicted. This is not in dispute, and it’s important that everyone involved understands that this is happening, because it’ll play a major role in what comes next.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump throws Rudy Giuliani all the way under the bus after grand jury targets Rudy for indictment, Bill Palmer, Nov. 26, 2019.  ast night we learned that a federal grand jury is targeting Rudy Giuliani for criminal indictment on a boatload of charges, thanks to a grand jury subpoena obtained by Reuters. It’s now clear that Rudy is about to become a massive liability for Donald Trump. Accordingly, Trump has suddenly decided to throw Rudy under the bus in a very public manner.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump just did an interview with disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. During the interview, Trump asserted that he did not direct Rudy Giuliani to carry out the Ukraine scandal antics. Further, Trump claimed that Rudy “has other clients” and “does a lot of work in Ukraine,” according to a clip of the interview obtained and aired by MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

We’d guess that Donald Trump is doing this because he saw the news confirming that a grand jury is moving in on Rudy Giuliani, and figured Rudy had to be sacrificed. Notably, this comes after Rudy said this weekend – for the second time – that he has “insurance” against Trump if necessary. Are these two desperate goons about to take each other down?

Roll Call, House Judiciary schedules first impeachment hearing, invites Trump, Niels Lesniewski, Nov. 26, 2019. Hearing to review constitutional grounds for drafting articles of impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee has invited President Donald Trump to participate in a hearing next week on the constitutional justification for impeachment.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced that his panel will hold its first impeachment hearing at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The New York Democrat also wrote to the president asking if he intends to participate either personally or through his attorneys, pursuant to the House resolution that set the ground rules for the impeachment process.

“If you would like to participate in the hearing, please provide the Committee with notice as soon as possible, but no later than by 6:00 pm on December 1, 2019. By that time, I ask that you also indicate who will act as your counsel for these proceedings,” Nadler wrote.

adam schiff squareThe committee is scheduled to convene in the Ways and Means Committee hearing room in the Longworth House Office Building, which has also hosted the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, right, said earlier this week the Judiciary Committee would receive a report from the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels on the evidence gathered so far in the impeachment inquiry “soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: New televised House impeachment hearings unveiled against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 26, 2019. The witnesses will be constitutional scholars, and the topic will be the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors. This might not exactly be appointment television, but it’s a crucial first step in explaining to the public why Trump’s actions are easily impeachable. It’s also notable that the House is inviting Trump’s lawyers to the hearing so that the Democrats can argue they’re being overly fair to him, and also presumably so that Trump’s lawyers can make fools of themselves for all to see.

bill palmer report logo headerWe doubt this will be the only televised impeachment hearing that the House Judiciary Committee ends up announcing, as this first hearing seems designed to lay the groundwork for subsequent hearings with higher stakes. When Nancy Pelosi formally laid out the rules for House impeachment hearings, she stated that various committees would lay out their best evidence of Donald Trump’s impeachable actions, before each submitting a report, so it’s not surprising to see that more than one committee is taking center stage.

It’s not clear if other committees will also hold their own hearings. The House Oversight Committee was involved in the impeachment process until Chairman Elijah Cummings passed away. The House Financial Services Committee is said to have some of Trump’s secret banking records. The House Ways and Means Committee is close to obtaining Trump’s tax returns. For now, the House appears to be leaking this one additional hearing just to silence the false narrative that House impeachment hearings are somehow already over.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court blocks House committee from immediately reviewing Trump’s financial records, Robert Barnes​, Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s personal attorneys had requested a stay while the justices consider whether the House Oversight Committee can see his records. The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a House committee from immediately reviewing President Trump’s financial records, after the president’s lawyers agreed to an expedited review of a lower-court ruling granting access.

The court’s action signals that, even as Congress considers impeaching Trump, the court will undertake a more complete consideration of the legal powers of Congress and state prosecutors to investigate the president while he is in office.

supreme court graphicThe court instructed Trump’s lawyers to file a petition by Dec. 5 stating why the court should accept the case for full briefing and oral argument. If the petition is eventually denied, the lower-court ruling will go into effect. If accepted, the case probably will be heard this term, with a decision before the court adjourns at the end of June.

Lower courts have also sided with a New York district attorney seeking access to much of the same financial information for a grand jury investigation. The New York decision already was on hold, and did not require immediate Supreme Court action.

“This is a significant separation-of-powers clash between the president and Congress,” Trump’s personal lawyer William S. Consovoy said in a filing with the court in the case involving the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

He said Trump is “prepared to proceed on any schedule that the court deems appropriate.”

The House on Thursday told the Supreme Court that review was not necessary. It said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision saying the House committee was entitled to the information is straightforward and based upon Supreme Court precedent.

“The committee is investigating whether senior government officials, including the president, are acting in the country’s best interest and not in their own financial interest, whether federal agencies are operating free from financial conflicts and with accurate information, and whether any legislative reforms are needed to ensure that these fundamental principles are respected,” House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter told the justices in a filing Thursday.

He added: “Each day of delay harms Congress by depriving it of important information it needs to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.”

The subpoenas issued by the congressional committee and separately by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are directed to the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA. It has said it will comply with the eventual court order, so turning over the records would not require any action on the president’s part.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Bloomberg Spent More Than $18 Million Helping Republicans, Jeremy W. Peters and Stephanie Saul, Nov. 26, 2019. A supporter of progressive priorities, Michael michael bloomberg2Bloomberg, right, has also given millions to Republicans he felt shared his goals, irritating some Democrats.

In 2016, Democrats thought they had found the perfect candidate to win a United States Senate seat in Pennsylvania and put them within striking distance of taking back the majority. But Katie McGinty, an environmental policy expert with degrees in chemistry and law, ran into an overwhelming obstacle: Michael R. Bloomberg’s fortune.

The former mayor of New York poured in $11.7 million to help re-elect the Republican incumbent, Senator Pat Toomey, who had led an effort, albeit unsuccessful, to expand background checks for gun purchasers, a top priority of Mr. Bloomberg’s.

Mr. Toomey won by less than two percentage points, handing a key victory to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell: The Republicans held on to control of the chamber by two seats. At the time, it was the most expensive Senate race the country had ever seen, and Mr. Bloomberg’s money was one of the largest influxes of outside influence.

“For many he went too far when he gave money to Pat Toomey,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic consultant and former senior aide to Harry Reid, the previous Senate leader, pointing out that Ms. McGinty also favored stricter gun regulations and that the race was so close.

fox news logo SmallFox News via Media Matters, Fox News guest Micheal Blake: “Why the hell does Tucker Carlson still have a job here?” Staff report, Nov. 26, 2019. Fox News guest tees off on host.

Michael Blake: “Why the hell does Tucker Carlson have a job here in the first place? The reality is this is someone who said white supremacy is a hoax and why does Fox allow him to still be here in the first place?”

washington post logoWashington Post, Melania Trump is booed while speaking to students in Baltimore, Jada Yuan, Nov. 26, 2019. The first lady did not acknowledge the reaction and carried on with her remarks about opioid abuse. President Trump derided the city as “rat and rodent infested” in a tweet over the summer. Despite an almost assured adverse reception, first lady Melania Trump spoke about opioid abuse at the B’More Youth Summit for Opioid Awareness in a city that President Trump derided as a “rat and rodent infested mess” in a July tweet. Some students, however, were happy to see her and said the fact that she came to Baltimore was meaningful.

Inside DC

Palmer Report, Opinion: Is the House Oversight Committee taking the first steps to impeach Bill Barr? Bill Palmer, Nov. 26, 2019.  With today’s news that the televised House impeachment hearings are shifting from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee, it’s starting to become clear what Speaker Nancy Pelosi meant when she said that several committees would get to take their best shot at exposing Donald Trump’s impeachable offenses.

bill palmer report logo headerThis has raised the question about what role, if any, the House Oversight Committee will end up playing in impeachment. Committee Chair Elijah Cummings unexpectedly passed away weeks ago. But now that Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been elected as the new Chair, she’s taking swift investigatory action. Here’s the thing: she’s not directly targeting Donald Trump. Instead she’s going after two of his most corrupt cabinet members, including Attorney General Bill Barr.

The House Oversight Committee posted this tweet today: “Chair Carolyn Maloney filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Committee against #AGBarr and #SecretaryRoss for william barr at dojrefusing to produce docs regarding the Administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.”

This leaves us to wonder just how far Carolyn Maloney plans to take this. She’s using her position as House Oversight Committee Chair to forcibly obtain evidence that Bill Barr, left, and Wilbur Ross committed crimes, so at the least she must be planning to hold public hearings on these crimes. It’s enough to make you ask if Maloney is starting the impeachment process against Barr and Ross, with the intention of eventually handing it off to the House Judiciary Committee. We’ll see where she’s taking this.

New York Post, Three Ohio papers to be cut to clear $3.1B Apollo purchase, Keith J. Kelly, Nov. 26, 2019. The 121-year old Dayton Daily News and two other Ohio newspapers will shrink to three days a week from daily publication to appease regulators who on Monday approved a $3.1 billion acquisition of Cox TV stations and newspapers by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

fcc logoThe Leon Black-led Apollo proposed cutting back the print editions of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dayton Daily, among others, to get around Federal Communications Commission rules banning the same owner from having a TV station and daily newspaper in the same market.

The so-called duopoly rules were all but dead in recent years until a federal appeals court in Philadelphia reimposed them in September — throwing an unexpected wrench into Apollo’s acquisition plans for Cox Media Group.

To sidestep the rules, Apollo in late October proposed cutting the frequency of the three Ohio papers, arguing they would no longer be producing a print paper seven days a week and therefore would not draw FCC scrutiny.

The FCC okayed the plan, which media observers say will likely result in job cuts to an already battered industry.

The duopoly regs did not have an impact on their original owner, Cox, because the company had started the Dayton-based TV station WHIO Channel 7 in 1949 and the duopoly rules to restrict media concentration went into effect in 1975.

The other two papers facing the cuts in print frequency are the Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio, and the Springfield News-Sun in Springfield, Ohio.

#MeToo Trafficking Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Charity: An Image Boost Built on Deception, Steve Eder and Matthew Goldstein, Nov. 26, 2019. Losing tax-exempt status freed his foundation from disclosure requirements, allowing Mr. Epstein to exaggerate his giving — like in a wildly overstated Wikipedia entry. The Wikipedia page for Jeffrey Epstein’s foundation was edited to say it gave out $200 million a year — more than 10 times its real giving over its entire existence.

Jeffrey Epstein’s foundation looked for all the world like a charitable powerhouse: On its websites and in its press releases, the foundation was described as a patron of hospitals, universities and film festivals, run by a global philanthropist.

The organization — known by various names, but usually called the J. Epstein Virgin Islands Foundation — wasn’t officially a charity for much of its existence, having lost its tax-exempt status in 2008.

jeffrey epstein hands handsBut it worked to his advantage, helping improve the reputation of Mr. Epstein, a convicted sex offender (shown in a photo illustrating his foundation).

A review of tax documents, government records and information provided by federal officials shows that the foundation lost its tax-exempt status for an unknown reason in the same year Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor.

In the years between that case and his suicide in August as he faced federal sex-trafficking charges, Mr. Epstein was unshackled from the rigorous financial disclosures that charities are supposed to file every year with the government — allowing him to exaggerate his philanthropy as he sought to rebuild his reputation.

The foundation’s portrayals of its giving ranged from simple embellishment to staggering overstatement. The most glaring exaggeration appeared on Wikipedia. A user name apparently connected to Mr. Epstein edited the page for the foundation and put its annual outlay at $200 million a year — just under the amount the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg contributed to charity in 2018.

In reality, the foundation was worth a small fraction of that amount, according to documents obtained by The New York Times through a public records lawsuit in the Virgin Islands.

Eighteen years of financial statements show that just under $20 million flowed into the foundation since it was founded in 2000. Roughly $16.6 million was spent on donations and grants; most of the rest paid unspecified “general and administrative” expenses and $1.5 million in interest for what appears to be an undisclosed debt.

Nov. 25

U.S. Political Headlines

Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Nunes denies allegation he met with top Ukrainian prosecutor about Bidens, Elise Viebeck and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 25, 2019. The top Republican on the House viktor shokinIntelligence Committee said reports that he met with ex-Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, right, in Vienna last year were false, but declined to elaborate in an interview on Fox News.

The allegation that Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.) met with Shokin to obtain information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son was made by the attorney devin nunes head ofor Lev Parnas. Parnas is one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani who were indicted on charges that they broke campaign finance law.

Parnas’s attorney, Joseph Bondy, told The Washington Post that Shokin informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018.

On Fox News, Nunes declined to answer further questions about the accusation, which he previously dismissed as “demonstrably false and scandalous” in an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart News. A person close to Shokin also has denied the claim.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment inquiry live updates: Schiff says report will be forwarded to Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns next week, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Brittany Shammas, Nov. 25, 2019. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Monday that House investigators will transmit a report on President Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine controversy to the Judiciary Committee shortly after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess next week.

In a letter to colleagues, Schiff underscored that stonewalling by the White House could form the basis for a separate article of impeachment.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Emails show an extensive effort to justify decision to block Ukraine aid, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.

mick mulvaney djt 2 SmallThe research by the White House Counsel’s Office, which was triggered by a congressional impeachment inquiry announced in September, includes early August email exchanges between acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for withholding the funds after the president had already ordered a hold in mid-July on the nearly $400 million in security assistance, according to the three people familiar U.S. House logowith the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

One person briefed on the records examination said White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear whether the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Can Trump Challenge His Impeachment in the Supreme Court? Adam Liptak, right, Nov. 25, 2019. The president has vowed to ask the justices to intercede, but the adam liptakConstitution and precedents are against him. “If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach,” President Trump wrote on Twitter in the spring, “I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Now that impeachment seems virtually certain, it is time to assess Mr. Trump’s vow and ask whether the Supreme Court would entertain his challenge.

The Constitution seems to exclude the court from the impeachment process. It grants the House of Representatives “the sole power of impeachment.” The Senate, similarly, has “the sole power to try all impeachments.” Those are the only provisions of the Constitution that use the pointed word “sole.”

The Supreme Court, too, has been pretty categorical. “The judiciary, and the Supreme Court in particular, were not chosen to have any role in impeachments,” Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court in a 1993 opinion that rejected an impeached judge’s objection to the procedures used at his Senate trial.

More than half of the 452 seats in Sunday’s local elections flipped from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy candidates.

Inside DC

washington post logomark esperWashington Post, Navy secretary forced out by Pentagon chief over handling of SEAL’s war crimes case, Ashley Parker and Dan Lamothe​, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper acted after learning that Richard V. Spencer privately proposed to White House officials that if they did not interfere with proceedings against Edward Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes in Iraq, then Spencer would ensure Gallagher retired with his Trident pin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In firing Richard Spencer, Trump recklessly crosses another line, David Ignatius, right, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ President Trump’s attempt to manipulate military justice had a sorry outcome Sunday with the firing of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, shown below left. For the past nine months, Spencer had tried to dissuade Trump from dictating special treatment for Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher — but in the end Spencer was sacked for his efforts to protect his service.

david ignatiusrichard spencer navy​With Spencer’s firing, Trump has recklessly crossed a line he had generally observed before, which had exempted the military from his belligerent, government-by-tweet interference. But the Gallagher case illustrates how an irascible, vengeful commander in chief is ready to override traditional limits to aid political allies in foreign policy, law enforcement and now military matters.

Spencer was fired by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper late Sunday, supposedly because Esper was “deeply troubled” that Spencer had tried to work out a private deal with the White House that would avoid a direct presidential order scuttling a scheduled SEAL peer-review process. That panel was set to determine whether Gallagher would keep his coveted Trident pin, marking him as a SEAL, after he was convicted in July for posing in a trophy photo with the corpse of a Islamic State captive.

corpse of a Islamic State captive.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for Him, Spencer Ackerman and Asawin Suebsaeng, Nov. 25, 2019. Fallout from the clemency cost the Navy secretary Richard Spencer his job, but a former Pentagon deputy chief backs the ousted official. If Donald Trump gets his wish, he’ll soon take the three convicted or accused war criminals he spared from consequence on the road as special guests in his reelection campaign, according to two sources who have heard Trump discuss their potential roles for the 2020 effort.

Despite military and international backlash to Trump’s Nov. 15 clemency – fallout from which cost Navy Secretary Richard Spencer his job on Sunday – Trump believes he has rectified major injustices. Two people tell The Daily Beast they’ve heard Trump talk about how he’d like to have the now-cleared Clint Lorance, Matthew Golsteyn, or Edward edward gallagherGallagher, right, show up at his 2020 rallies, or even have a moment on stage at his renomination convention in Charlotte next year. Right-wing media has portrayed all three as martyrs brought down by “political correctness” within the military.

“He briefly discussed making it a big deal at the convention,” said one of these sources, who requested anonymity to talk about private conversations. “The president made a reference to the 2016 [convention] and where they brought on-stage heroes” like former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who refused to execute detained civilians ahead of a devastating Taliban attack.

Former Army Lt. Lorance was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2013 for murder after ordering his soldiers in 2010 to fire on three unarmed Afghan men riding a motorcycle, killing two of them. He walked out of military prison at Fort Leavenworth on Nov. 15. Next month, former Green Beret Maj. Golsteyn was supposed to stand trial for the murder of an unarmed Afghan man whom he told the CIA he killed in the belief the man was a Taliban bombmaker. Golsteyn, who allegedly burned the man’s corpse, pleaded not guilty to the murder; the Green Berets stripped Golsteyn of his Special Forces tab. Lorance and Golsteyn were both causes célèbre in certain military circles and among their right-wing supporters, as was Navy SEAL Chief Gallagher.

A military jury this summer acquitted Gallagher for the murder of a wounded teenage fighter for the so-called Islamic State. The case, which both featured Trump’s conspicuous intervention boosting Gallagher and serious prosecutorial misconduct, began, like Lorance’s, with Gallagher’s own platoonmates reporting his conduct.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and the Military Do Not Share the Same Values, Richard J. Danzig and Sean O’Keefe (Mr. Danzig, right, and Mr. O’Keefe were Navy secretaries under, richard danzig web ptrespectively, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush), Nov. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The armed forces are not an extension of the White House. “Get back to business!” With this tweet, President Trump directed his secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, to stop the naval officers charged with oversight of the SEALs from disciplining one of their own. That order was confirmed on Monday by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and over the weekend, Mr. Spencer was fired.

There are three problems with Mr. Trump’s action. The first is that it is very much the Navy’s business — and every military’s business — to maintain, as the military so often recites and Mr. Spencer put it in his final letter to the president, “good order and discipline.” In conducting their “business,” our military services are not and must not be commanded in support of political ends, as Mr. Trump was apparently doing here.

How the president chooses to value order and discipline in his White House, and if at all, is of real concern to all Americans. But the military is not an extension of his White House. Some may argue that all actions by a president may have some political component, yet instead of constraining that component, this action by this president celebrates and encourages it. 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's "progressive" allies, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 25, 2019. There is a rather vocal sector of the so-called "progressive left" that has decided it is wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbest to tolerate Donald Trump and his administration's fascist policies. This is mainly because Trump has made a few narrowly-focused decisions that the pro-Trump "left" happens to support.

The Trump decisions that have enamored the faux left include the much-ballyhooed "withdrawal" of U.S. military forces from Syria -- actually, some of those forces remain in-country -- as well as trash talking NATO and U.S. bilateral military alliances with South Korea and Japan. These phony progressives also agree with Trump's kooky contention that it was Ukrainian government and not Russian oligarchical interests that interfered with the 2016 U.S. election. Ignored by the left-wing promoters of Trump is well-documented evidence of social media manipulation, analytical data micro-targeting of voters, and penetration of local and state election systems by an alliance of high-tech firms like Facebook; Twitter; YouTube; Cambridge Analytica; the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, Russia; Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and others.

The Trump apologists of the left generally have one thing in common: they despise Hillary Clinton more than Trump. It is very doubtful that had she been elected, Ms. Clinton would have built an East German-type barrier on the southern border; ripped children from their parents and "disappeared" them into a byzantine network of "Christian" foster care, detention centers, and holding facilities; praise white nationalism; interfere with military justice; or demonize the U.S. Foreign Service, Civil Service, the Intelligence Community, the U.S. House of Representatives, the judiciary, and federal law enforcement.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well that just blew up in Lindsey Graham’s face, Bill Palmer, Nov. 25, 2019. Now that Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot has failed and backfired on him, and the House impeachment inquiry is making things worse for Trump by the day, his least effective and most mentally deranged ally is devising a really stupid last ditch plot to save him. Lindsey Graham has announced that he’ll abuse his position as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman to launch a sham investigation into Joe Biden.

bill palmer report logo headerThis of course won’t work. No one outside of Donald Trump’s deranged supporters, who are already going to vote for him anyway, is going to believe or care about anything that comes out of the mouth of an obviously mentally incapacitated flailing idiot like Lindsey Graham. He will, however, succeed in completely destroying himself – and maybe even lose his own Senate seat in the process.

Lindsey Graham is taking particular heat for launching a phony Senate investigation into Joe Biden, a man he’s spent decades heaping praise on. So now Graham is fighting back against this by posting this tweet: “I love Joe Biden as a person but we are not going to give a pass to what is obviously a conflict of interest. I believe Hunter Biden’s association on the Burisma board doesn’t pass the smell test. If a Republican was in the same position, they’d certainly be investigated!”

It’s not too difficult to figure out why this immediately blew up in Lindsey Graham’s face. Not only is he making up an obviously false scandal about Hunter Biden, he’s insisting that if Donald Trump’s kids did this kind of thing, they’d be investigated for it. In reality, Trump’s kids are running a criminal empire and are exploiting the White House to further their criminal antics.

Palmer Report, Rick Perry goes completely off the deep end as Ukraine scandal gets even uglier for him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 25, 2019. Rick Perry, who got wildly in over his head in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, and who is now very likely to be indicted and arrested once Trump has been finished off, is doing what any conservative evangelical fraud would do in his situation: he’s going completely off the deep end.

Rick Perry prison bars (opinion graphic)Rick Perry, shown in a graphic at right, is the kind of laugh-out-loud phony who almost surely would have been a televangelist if Republican politics hadn’t worked out for him. So now that politics finally isn’t working out for him, and he’s in danger of going to prison for his antics, he’s pandering to his faux-Christian roots.

Perry appeared on Fox News this weekend and insisted that Donald Trump only became president because he was “ordained by God.” Oh come on. Trump is a bill palmer report logo headerserial sexual assaulter and career criminal who’s holding kids hostage in cages. Trump punched his ticket to Hell a long time ago, and every real Christian would agree. Perry’s words are nothing short of blasphemous. Bizarrely, Perry tried to cover his bases by asserting that Barack Obama also became president because he was ordained by God.

This is the kind of “noun-verb-God” gibberish that blasphemous phonies like Rick Perry babble about, while actual Christians roll their eyes. It’s notable that Perry is falling back on this crap at a time when he’s backed into a corner in a scandal that’s far bigger than he is.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Who but a demon could impeach God’s chosen one? Dana Milbank, Nov. 25, 2019. Some Democrats quietly express puzzlement that, after two weeks of damning testimony, public opinion on impeachment hasn’t shifted.

Why? I give you evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham. On a radio podcast last week — on the same day Gordon Sondland confirmed Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine — Graham said those who oppose Trump are “almost a demonic power.” After the host corrected him by saying those who oppose Trump actually are a demonic power, Graham concurred that “it’s a spiritual battle.”

On Fox News on Sunday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry reported that he told Trump he was God’s choice: “I said, 'Mr. President, I know there are people that say you said you were the chosen one and I said, 'You were.’” Who but a demon could vote to impeach God’s chosen one?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What unites Trump’s apologists? Minority rule, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ Two questions are asked again and again: How can white evangelical Christians continue to support a man as manifestly immoral as President Trump? And how can congressional Republicans refuse to condemn Trump’s thuggish effort to use taxpayer money to intimidate a foreign leader into helping his ej dionne w open neckreelection campaign?

The answer to both relates to power — not just the power Trump now enjoys but also to the president’s faithfulness to a deal aimed at controlling American political life for a generation or more. Both evangelicals and Republican politicians want to lock in their current policy preferences, no matter how much the country changes or how sharply public opinion swings against them. As a party, the GOP now depends on empowering a minority over the nation’s majority.

This is reflected in its eagerness to enact laws restricting access to the ballot in states it controls. Rationalized as ways to fight mythical “voter fraud,” voter-ID statutes and the purging of voter rolls are designed to make it harder for African Americans, Latinos and young people to vote. The new electorate is a lot less Republican than the old one. The GOP much prefers the old one.

Rape, #MeToo Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Argentine court finds two Catholic priests guilty of abusing deaf children, after years of inaction by pope, Anthony Faiola, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli​, Nov. 25, 2019. An Argentine court found two priests and a lay worker guilty of the sexual abuse of 10 former students of a Catholic school for the deaf Monday, the first legal victory for a pope francis 2013 Smallcommunity of victims that stretches from Italy to the Andes whose complaints against one of the clerics to church officials including Pope Francis, right, went unheeded for years.

The verdict was another stain on the church’s handling of sex abuse cases in Francis’s native Argentina. Prosecutors last week requested an arrest warrant for Catholic Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a longtime associate of the pope accused of abusing two seminarians.

A Washington Post investigation this year found years of church inaction in the case of at least one of the priests convicted Monday in the abuse of male and female students at the Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in the western Argentine city of Lujan de Cuyo between 2004 and 2016.

The three-judge panel in the northwestern Argentine province of Mendoza ruled against the three defendants in 25 instances of abuse.

The Rev. Nicola Corradi, 83, who appeared in a wheelchair, averted his gaze as the court sentenced him to 42 years in prison.Corradi appeared on a list of alleged sexual predator priests accused by former students of a Provolo Institute in Italy that was sent to Francis in 2014. Francis was handed another copy of the list a year later by one of the victims. But the church didn’t begin an investigation until 2017, after Argentine authorities had arrested Corradi and shut down the school.

The Rev. Horacio Corbacho, 59, darted his eyes Monday as he was sentenced to 45 years. Armando Gómez, a gardener at the institute, was sentenced to 18.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jens Soering, convicted of sensational 1985 double murders, released by Virginia, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 25, 2019. Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom, one-time classmates and lovers at the University of Virginia convicted decades ago in her parents’ brutal killing, have won release from prison. The surprise decision Monday by the Virginia Parole Board slapped a coda on a 1985 murder mystery that rocked the state and drew national attention, long before tabloid television turned sensational crimes into regular fare.

Both Soering and Haysom will be turned over to federal immigration authorities. Soering, a German diplomat’s son, will be deported to his native Germany. And Haysom, a Canadian citizen, will be deported there.

“She will be a free bird and that’s wonderful,” said Phyllis Workman, a third cousin to Haysom who often visited her in prison. “She has earned it. She’s been a model prisoner and so has Jens. So it’s just time. The Lord’s working. The Lord is good.”

washington post logoWashington Post, College students accused of sexual assault to win new rights under sweeping regulations Betsy DeVos is finalizing, Laura Meckler​, Nov. 25, 2019. Students accused of sexual assault will win new rights under sweeping rules being finalized by the Trump administration, giving universities clear but controversial guidance on handling these emotionally charged conflicts.

betsy devos twitterThe final regulation will maintain contentious elements of a version proposed a year ago, including a provision requiring universities to allow cross-examination of those alleging sexual harassment or assault, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the rules.

In publishing last year’s proposed regulation, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, said the new rules would restore balance in a system that, in her view, had been skewed in favor of the accusers. She said her approach would provide clarity and fairness for victims and those accused of wrongdoing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Banished after Baylor rape scandal, Art Briles is coaching again and wants to leave it at that, Kent Babb, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The high school football team he’s coaching is losing a game a dozen miles from the Arkansas border, and he’s soaked and frustrated as players slide through inch-deep puddles on the sideline. He looks underweight, and it’s not just the oversized Mount Vernon High rain gear. Sometimes he just doesn’t feel like eating. Other times he forgets. Either way, this is the thinnest he has been in five decades.

But there’s nothing sad about the sight, nothing sympathetic to be said about the rain-drenched man, isolated and wasting away. Because he is Art Briles, and his very presence is enough to divide an idyllic locale in east Texas.

baylor bears logo“It’s all I’ve ever known,” he’ll say of coaching football, and like many previously powerful men disgraced during the #MeToo era, Briles refuses to go away. In May 2016, Baylor University fired Briles after an external investigation found that 17 women had been sexually assaulted by 19 football players. A later lawsuit suggested as many as 31 football players had committed 52 rapes; another alleged victim said she was drugged and raped by as many as eight players in what was a freshman hazing ritual.

Though dozens more university and athletic department employees would lose their jobs, Briles — who had led the Bears to consecutive Big 12 championships and coached Robert Griffin III to the 2011 Heisman Trophy — had been the face of the school’s highly successful football team. Now he was the man who, according to investigating law firm Pepper Hamilton, oversaw a program that had shown striking indifference and even hostility toward sexual assault victims.

Briles said he had no knowledge of any misconduct. But a 2017 legal filing, submitted on behalf of Baylor’s interim president and three members of its Board of Regents, suggested the former coach “had developed, enabled, and encouraged a culture within the football program” that shielded players from appropriate discipline and in fact attempted to insulate Briles himself from non-football issues, in effect allowing him to plead ignorance on anything happened off the field.

Time and again, the filing said, Briles sidestepped or outright ignored players’ indiscretions and crimes. After a player was accused of rape for a fourth time, Briles took no action for 10 days, refusing to notify the university’s judicial affairs office until a reporter asked if the player had been suspended.

“Tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it,” Briles told the board when it asked for an explanation; the coach’s refusal to accept responsibility or suggest solutions led to his termination as much as the wreckage he had overseen, though the university nonetheless paid Briles $15.1 million in severance.

Media / Civil Rights

glenn greenwald CNN

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bolsonaro Wants to Silence Free Press in Brazil, Glenn Greenwald (shown in a file screenshot), Nov. 25, 2019. The president’s political movement regards journalists as obstacles and prefers intimidation and violence to civic discourse.

On Nov. 7, I was physically assaulted by a far-right, pro-Bolsonaro pundit, Augusto Nunes, at a television and radio studio in São Paulo while we were live on the air. This is the latest, and perhaps most vivid, example of journalists and news organizations in Brazil being threatened, menaced and subjected to actual violence by the Bolsonaro movement, all for doing our jobs.

The episode illustrates how press freedoms and the democratic order in Brazil are endangered — not just with words, but violence — by this authoritarian movement that now wields power in the world’s fifth-most-populous country.

julian assange screenshot arrest (Ruptly)

London police arresting the bearded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (screenshot from Ruptly video).

john pilgerConsortium News, Opinion: The Lies About Assange Must Stop Now, John Pilger, right, Nov. 25, 2019. If Julian Assange were to succumb to the cruelties heaped upon him, week after week, month after month, year upon year, as doctors warn, newspapers like The Guardian will share the responsibility.

Newspapers and other media in the United States and Britain have recently declared a passion for freedom of speech, especially their right to publish freely. They are worried by the “Assange effect.” It is as if the struggle of truth-tellers like Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning is now a warning to them: that the thugs who dragged Assange out of the Ecuadorean embassy in April may one day come for them.

A common refrain was echoed by The Guardian last week. The extradition of Assange, said the paper, “is not a question of how wise Mr. Assange is, still less how likable. It’s not about his character, nor his judgement. It’s a matter of press freedom and the public’s right to know.”

What The Guardian is trying to do is separate Assange from his landmark achievements, which have both profited The Guardian and exposed its own vulnerability, along with its propensity to suck up to rapacious power and smear those who reveal its double standards.

wikileaks logo2The poison that has fueled the persecution of Julian Assange is not as obvious in this editorial as it usually is; there is no fiction about Assange smearing faeces on embassy walls or being awful to his cat.

Instead, the weasel references to “character” and “judgement” and “likeability” perpetuate an epic smear which is now almost a decade old. Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, used a more apt description. “There has been,” he wrote, “a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing.” He explains mobbing as “an endless stream of humiliating, debasing and threatening statements in the press”. This “collection ridicule” amounts to torture and could lead to Assange’s death.

Having witnessed much of what Melzer describes, I can vouch for the truth of his words. If Julian Assange were to succumb to the cruelties heaped upon him, week after week, month after month, year upon year, as doctors warn, newspapers like The Guardian will share the responsibility.

A few days ago, The Sydney Morning Herald’s man in London, Nick Miller, wrote a lazy, specious piece headlined, “Assange has not been vindicated, he has merely out-waited justice.” He was referring to Sweden’s abandonment of the so-called Assange investigation.

Miller’s report is not untypical for its omissions and distortions while masquerading as a tribune of women’s rights. There is no original work, no real inquiry: just smear.

There is nothing on the documented behaviour of a clutch of Swedish zealots who hi jacked the “allegations” of sexual misconduct against Assange and made a mockery of Swedish law and that society’s vaunted decency.

He makes no mention that in 2013, the Swedish prosecutor tried to abandon the case and emailed the Crown Prosecution Service in London to say it would no longer pursue a European Arrest Warrant, to which she received the reply: “Don’t you dare!!!” (Thanks to Stefania Maurizi of La Repubblica)

Other emails show the CPS discouraging the Swedes from coming to London to interview Assange – which was common practice – thus blocking progress that might have set him free in 2011.

There was never an indictment. There were never charges. There was never a serious attempt to put “allegations” to Assange and question him – behaviour that the Swedish Court of Appeal ruled to be negligent and the General Secretary of the Swedish Bar Association has since condemned.  Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen

Both the women involved (right) said there was no rape. Critical written evidence of their text messages was willfully withheld from Assange’s lawyers, clearly because it undermined the “allegations”.

One of the women was so shocked that Assange was arrested, she accused the police of railroading her and changing her witness statement. The chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, dismissed the “suspicion of any crime.”

The Sydney Morning Herald man omits how an ambitious and compromised politician, Claes Borgstrom, emerged from behind the liberal facade of Swedish politics and effectively seized and revived the case.

The silence was broken in 2016 when the United Nations Working Party on Arbitrary Detention, a body that decides whether governments are meeting their human rights obligations, ruled that Julian Assange was unlawfully detained by Britain and called on the British government to set him free.

The Swedish case was a fraud from the moment the police secretly and illegally contacted a Stockholm tabloid and ignited the hysteria that was to consume Assange. WikiLeaks’ revelations of America’s war crimes had shamed the hand-maidens of power and its vested interests, who called themselves journalists; and for this, the unclubbable Assange would never be forgiven.

It was now open season. Assange’s media tormenters cut and pasted each other’s lies and vituperative abuse. “He really is the most massive turd,” wrote Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore. The received wisdom was that he had been charged, which was never true. In my career, reporting from places of extreme upheaval and suffering and criminality, I have never known anything like it.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Arrested as teens, three men are set to be exonerated after 36 years behind bars for wrongful murder conviction, Tom Jackman​, Nov. 25, 2019. The Baltimore prosecutor’s office found the men are innocent in the 1983 slaying of a 14-year-old shot in a school hallway for his Georgetown University jacket.The death of 14-year-old DeWitt Duckett was historically horrible. Walking down the hallway of his Baltimore middle school one afternoon in November 1983, he was accosted and shot for his Georgetown University jacket. He was the first student ever killed in a Baltimore school. The pressure to solve the case was intense, and early on Thanksgiving Day, Baltimore police arrested three teenagers from another school who were charged, as adults, with murder.

Several months later, all three were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. All three insisted they were innocent.

Gradually, as the decades passed, two of the men gave up hope of ever seeing the outside world again. But Alfred Chestnut, now 52, kept pushing. In May, he sent a handwritten letter to the Baltimore state’s attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, after seeing city prosecutor Marilyn Mosby discussing the unit on television, saying it was designed to check out claims of wrongful convictions.

Chestnut included new evidence he’d uncovered last year that incriminated the man authorities now say was the actual shooter. The Baltimore prosecutors dug in quickly, reviewed the case and re-interviewed witnesses, and on Monday afternoon, they will ask a Baltimore judge to grant writs of actual innocence and order Chestnut and his childhood friends Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart released from prison after 36 years — in time for the Thanksgiving they missed in 1983, and every year after that.

washington post logoWashington Post, Maryland man convicted of bribing Russian official to secure business contracts, Lynh Bui, Nov. 25, 2019. The scheme involved wiring kickbacks coded as “cake” and “lucky numbers” to a Russian official to secure contracts transporting uranium, prosecutors said.  A Maryland businessman was convicted in a $2 million bribery scheme that federal prosecutors say involved wiring kickbacks coded as “cake” and “lucky numbers” to a Russian official to secure contracts transporting uranium.

After a week of deliberation, a federal jury found Mark Lambert, the former president of Transport Logistics International, guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, wire fraud and conspiracy, federal prosecutors said. He was convicted of seven of the 11 counts on which he was indicted.

The verdict Friday in U.S. District Court in Maryland made Lambert, 56, of Mount Airy, the fourth person who has been convicted or pleaded guilty in the conspiracy.

“Rather than play by the rules, the defendant used shell companies, offshore bank accounts and fake invoices to conceal this corrupt scheme,” said Jonathan Lenzner, first assistant U.S. attorney for Maryland. “This guilty verdict should serve as a powerful deterrent to businesses who may ponder whether it is worth the risk to undermine the marketplace and rule of law by paying bribes or kickbacks to foreign officials.”

Lambert’s attorneys said they intend to request a possible appellate review. “We were very disappointed that after seven days of deliberations and a jury inquiry regarding the meaning of ‘reasonable doubt’ as well as two deadlock notes, the jury on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving week decided to render a partial and inconsistent verdict,” Lambert’s attorney William M. Sullivan Jr. said in a statement. “We plan to file the appropriate post trial motions, and request appellate review if necessary.”

The scheme centered on a Russian official and former Chevy Chase resident, Vadim Mikerin, who ultimately pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to four years in prison. Mikerin, 60, was the director of Tenex, part of a state-owned Russian nuclear energy company, and Lambert was co-president, along with Daren Condrey, of a company that transports nuclear materials around the world.

Tenex serves as the “sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide,” according to federal prosecutors.

Starting in 2009, Lambert and others at Transport Logistics International authorized fake invoices with inflated costs for services that were never provided to Tenex, essentially overbilling Tenex for services and using the difference for kickbacks, prosecutors said in court documents.

The money set aside as bribes payments was then wired to offshore companies in Switzerland, Cyprus and Latvia to eventually divert the money to Mikerin’s personal account as part of a scheme to ensure Lambert’s company could keep doing business with Tenex to secure business advantages, prosecutors said.

On internal company documents, Lambert and others used the words “remuneration” and “commission” to obscure the fraudulent invoices, prosecutors said. In external communications to Mikerin’s personal email account, Lambert and others coded the payments with phrases such as “lucky figure,” “LF” and “cake,” according to the indictment against Lambert.

In one case, Mikerin emailed Lambert and Condrey in September 2011 with inside information on how to win a Tenex contract over two other competitors, adding that the quote for transportation services “should include new Lucky Figures,” the indictment said. Days later, Lambert’s company sent more than $81,000 to a bank account in Latvia.

Lambert, who is set to be sentenced March 9, faces up to 45 years in prison for the seven counts on which he was convicted, though prosecutors said sentences for federal crimes tend to be less than the maximum penalty.

Condrey pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiring to commit wire fraud in 2015. Boris Rubizhevsky also helped in transferring the kickbacks and pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Condrey and Rubizhevsky were both sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Washington, the Cesspool of the World, Will Never Rat on Itself, Paul Craig Roberts, right, Nov. 25, 2019. Former US Attorney Joe diGenova predicts that US Justice (sic) paul craig roberts head sternDepartment Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on the Obama regime's FISA court violations and US Attorney John Durham's criminal investigation of the Russia-gate hoax perpetrated by the CIA, FBI, Democratic National Committee, and presstitute media will be "very bad for people in the Obama administration... it's going to be devastating ... it's going to ruin careers."

For the sake of accountable government, I hope that Mr. diGenova is right. But I have my doubts. Cabinet departments and government agencies are not very good at investigating themselves. Attorney General Barr's job is to protect his department. He knows, and will be often told, that to bring indictments against Justice Department officials would discredit the Justice Department in the public's mind. It would affect the attitude of juries toward DOJ prosecutions.

john durham CustomJohn Durham, left, knows the same thing. He also knows that he will create a hostile environment for himself if he indicts DOJ officials and that when he joins a law firm to capitalize on his experience as a US Attorney, he will not receive the usual favors when he represents clients against DOJ charges. Horowitz knows that his job is to cover-up or minimize any illegalities in order to protect the Department of Justice from scandals.

In Washington cover-ups are the rule, and the DOJ cover-up might already have begun. One sign of a cover-up is to announce a future release date of the report. This has now occurred with Horowitz's report on the FISA violations. The purpose of such announcements is to allow the report to be discredited in advance and to be old news by the time it appears.

Another sign of a cover-up is the use of leaks to shift the focus from high level officials to lowly underlings, and this has happened with the Horowitz report, which has leaked that a low level FBI attorney is under criminal investigation for allegedly falsifying a document related to the surveillance of former Trump campaign official Carter Page in 2016. According to the leak, the FBI attorney has acknowledged that he did alter the document. In other words, it seems we are being prepared for a false story that the plot against Trump originated in lower levels and not with CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and the rest. This is the way the cover-ups of the US torture prison, Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan was handled and the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Only the underlings take the hit as if they were in charge acting on their own, independently of their superiors.

Another sign that a cover-up is in place is Attorney General Barr's assurance that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself and that evidence to the contrary is just a series of coincidences that, misunderstood, resulted in a conspiracy theory. Caitlin Johnstone gives this short shrift.

Barr claims to have personally reviewed security footage that no one entered the area where Epstein was imprisoned. Previously we were told that the security cameras were not turned on, so what security footage did Barr review? Can the rest of us see the "evidence"?

Barr also in his pronouncement evaded the remarks of the Chief Medical Examiner, who stated clearly that the damage to Epstein's neck is not consistent with suicide but is associated with strangulation.

There was no reason whatsoever for Epstein to kill himself. He had so much dirt on the Western political elite that he could not be given his day in open court. So he was murdered. The question is, why was he picked up and murdered? Was he using the pedophile information to exact blackmail payments from those he had provided with underage sex? Is it possible for an elite society to be more corrupt than the Western elite society is? How can the West survive when its elites are corrupt beyond comprehension?

That Epstein did not kill himself is completely obvious, so when AG William Barr covers up Epstein's murder, this is an indication that he will cover up the military/security complex/DNC/presstitute coup against President Trump.

From what I know of Washington, I am certain that Washington, the cesspool of the world, will never rat on itself.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Pro-democracy parties score stunning gains in local elections in Hong Kong, Shibani Mahtani, Simon Denyer, Tiffany Liang and Anna Kam​, Nov. 25, 2019 (print ed.).​ President Trump’s attem Millions of people took to the polls in record numbers, issuing a significant endorsement of the protest movement and an indictment of the pro-Beijing political establishment.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Resumes Operations Against ISIS in Northern Syria, Eric Schmitt, Nov. 25, 2019. After a lull of several weeks, American troops and Syrian Kurdish fighters are once again conducting large-scale counterterrorism missions. The operations restarted nearly two months after President Trump’s abrupt order to withdraw U.S. troops opened the way for a bloody Turkish cross-border offensive.

U.S. Consumer Issues

washington post logoWashington Post, Charles Schwab will acquire TD Ameritrade, creating brokerage giant with $5 trillion in assets, Thomas Heath and Rachel Siegel, Nov. 25, 2019.  The $26 billion deal comes as the firms revamp a business model that has been crushed by the race to zero commissions. Charles Schwab will acquire TD Ameritrade in a $26 billion, all-stock deal, the companies announced Monday, as the brokerage giants dramatically change a business model that has been crushed by the race to zero commissions.

The tie-up of the brokerage companies, which helped revolutionize stock trading by making it affordable and easy for the masses, reflects the shift from a commission-heavy revenue stream to one more reliant on interest income and other client services.

Child Assault Pardon

matt bevin andy beshear Custom

Raw Story, Lame duck Trump-loving Kentucky governor pardons man convicted of sodomizing 6-year-old girl, Brad Reed, Nov. 25, 2019. Matt Bevin, (above left) the outgoing Trump-loving governor of Kentucky who was voted out of office earlier this month (in a defeat to Andy Beshear, right), does not have much time left in his tenure. In the time he does have left, however, he has decided to pardon a man who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of sexually abusing and sodomizing his 6-year-old stepdaughter.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Bevin has issued a full pardon to Paul Donel Hurt, who in 2001 was convicted of three counts of sodomy in the first degree and two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree.

Bevin justified the pardon by saying many observers, including the judge who oversaw Hurt’s sentencing, believe that he was wrongfully convicted.
Happy Holidays! As a special thanks for your support this year, you can get Raw ad-free for just $2 a week. Now until Dec. 31.

Although Hurt’s accuser recanted her testimony in 2015, courts have questioned the consistency of her new story and the influence of a retired judge in influencing her testimony.

“The trial court did not set aside the conviction, with the Jefferson Circuit Judge Audra Jean Eckerle ruling that her recantation was an inconsistent, ‘shifting account’ that was ‘no more likely to be true than false,'” reports the Courier-Journal. “The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in August 2018, noting that after the retirement of Jefferson Circuit Judge Stephen Mershon — the judge in the original conviction — he began corresponding with Hurt in prison and contacted the victim, after which time she recanted.

According to the Courier-Journal, Judge Eckerle “contended that Mershon ‘altered’ the victim’s memory, “and by using judicial coercion and intimidation, that he overcame her, causing her to claim falsely that she had lied (at) trial.”

Nov. 24

Impeachment Daily Index

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lordy, there are tapes – and Lev Parnas has given them to the House impeachment inquiry, Bill Palmer, Nov. 24, 2019. It turns out Lev Parnas wasn’t bluffing when he said he had hard evidence against Donald Trump, and that he was cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry into the Ukraine extortion scandal. It turns out there are tapes of Trump and Rudy Giuliani – and now it’s been confirmed that Parnas has indeed given them to the House.

bill palmer report logo headerThe House impeachment inquiry has received audio and video recordings, as well as photographs, from Lev Parnas. This is according to a bombshell new report tonight from ABC News, which says that the House subpoenaed Parnas for the hard evidence, and he complied.

It’s not yet clear precisely what is on these recordings, but ABC says that Trump and Rudy are definitely included. This strongly suggests that Lev was secretly recording his meetings and/or phone calls with Trump and Rudy all along, as a form of insurance in case he ended up finding himself in this situation.

Notably, the ABC article quotes Lev Parnas’ lawyer as saying that Parnas is willing to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. His testimony on its own wouldn’t be worth much. But if his hard evidence corroborates his testimony, that would be a very different story. In any case, if these tapes are as incriminating as they sound like they are, they’ll certainly be part of upcoming House impeachment hearings in one way or another.

Inside DC

Information Clearing House, Opinion: Why the Hell Did Democrats Just Extend the Patriot Act? Sam Adler-Bell, Nov. 24, 2019. House leadership included the measure in a government funding bill—and even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus went along with it. It may seem to many Americans that Washington is entirely consumed by the impeachment inquiry, and that no other important business is getting done on Capitol Hill. But on Tuesday, in a break from televised hearings, the House of Representatives voted to fund the government through December 20. If passed by the Senate, the continuing resolution would prevent a government shutdown and forestall a debate about border-wall funding.

That’s all well and good, except that Democratic leaders had slipped something else into the bill: a three-month extension of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 law that gave the federal government sweeping surveillance and search powers and circumvented traditional law-enforcement rules. Key provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire on December 15, including Section 215, the legal underpinning of the call detail records program exposed in the very first Edward Snowden leak.

“It’s surreal,” Representative Justin Amash told me on Tuesday, just before the vote. Amash, an independent who left the Republican Party over his opposition to President Trump, pointed to the hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle. Republicans have “decried FISA abuse” against the president and his aides, he said, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, “and Democrats have highlighted Trump’s abuse of his executive powers, yet they’re teaming up to extend the administration’s authority to warrantlessly gather data on Americans.”

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Egypt Escalates Pressure on Last Major Independent News Site, Nada Rashwan, Nov. 24, 2019. Security forces raided the publication’s office, detaining three editors, the day after arresting another editor.

Nov. 23

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Likud Rival Slams Netanyahu and Calls for Primary to ‘Save the Country,’ David M. Halbfinger, Nov. 23, 2019. The demand by Gideon Saar, a popular ex-minister, was the first crack in the party’s solidarity and signaled what could be a bitter internecine fight. A leading rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from within his own party rebuked the longtime Israeli premier on Saturday for calling his indictment on corruption charges an “attempted coup” and demanded a primary election be held to replace Mr. Netanyahu and “save the country.”

The broadside by Gideon Saar, a popular and ambitious former minister who said he would be a candidate for Mr. Netanyahu’s job, compounded the political crisis confronting the prime minister and signaled what could be a bitter internecine fight for control of Likud, the right-wing party that has led Israel for most of the past four decades.

“That isn’t an attempted coup,” Mr. Saar said of Mr. Netanyahu’s indictment by the Israeli attorney general. “Not only is it wrong to say that, it’s also irresponsible to say that. It’s completely out of touch.”

At the same time, Benny Gantz, the centrist former army chief from the Blue and White party who defeated Mr. Netanyahu in a Sept. 17 election but was unable to form a government, called upon the newly weakened prime minister to go along with an idea he has so far refused to entertain: allowing Mr. Gantz to serve as premier for two years, after which, if Mr. Netanyahu were acquitted, Mr. Gantz would allow him to resume his post.

“A real patriot wouldn’t hold the citizens of Israel hostage to his legal battles,” Mr. Gantz said. “Likud leadership,” he added, “it is time to make your voices heard!”

Charged on Thursday with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, making him the first sitting prime minister of Israel to be indicted, Mr. Netanyahu, 70, denounced the law-enforcement system as out to get him and called on his supporters to “investigate the investigators.”

Nov. 22

Impeachment Daily Index

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. watchdog finds political bias did not taint top officials running the FBI’s Russia, Ellen Nakashima, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 22, 2019.  The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is expected to find in a forthcoming report that political bias did not taint top officials running the FBI investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016, while at the same time criticizing the bureau for systemic failures in its handling of surveillance applications, according to two U.S. officials.

michael horwitz headshotThe much-anticipated report due out Dec. 9 from Inspector General Michael Horowitz, right, will allege that a low-level FBI lawyer inappropriately altered a document that was used during the process to renew a controversial warrant for electronic surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, the officials said. The Justice Department log circularinspector general referred that finding to U.S. Attorney John Durham, and the lawyer involved is being investigated criminally for possibly making a false statement, they said.

But Horowitz will conclude that the application still had a proper legal and factual basis, and, more broadly, that FBI officials did not act improperly in opening the Russia investigation, according to the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive report.

The report generally rebuts accusations of a political conspiracy among senior law enforcement officials against the Trump campaign to favor Democrat Hillary Clinton while also knocking the bureau for procedural shortcomings in the FBI, the officials said. On balance, they said, it provides a mixed assessment of the FBI and Justice Department’s undertaking of a probe that became highly politicized and divided the nation.

roger stone cnn breitbart

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I was a juror in Roger Stone’s trial. I am proud of how we came to our decision, Seth Cousins, Nov. 22, 2019. During the first half of November, I made a brief journey with 14 fellow Americans, all of them strangers to me. Together we were the 12 jurors (and two alternates) sitting in judgment of longtime political consultant Roger Stone (shown in a file photo above). We sat through five days of testimony and half a day of closing arguments. After eight hours of deliberation, we returned guilty verdicts on each of the seven counts we were charged to consider.

Since we delivered that verdict, I have been taken aback by the accounts of pundits and politicians that our decision was somehow the product of a deeply polarized, partisan divide. Let me be clear: We did not convict Stone based on his political beliefs or his expression of those beliefs. We did not convict him of being intemperate or acting boorishly. We convicted him of obstructing a congressional investigation, of lying in five specific ways during his sworn congressional testimony and of tampering with a witness in that investigation.

The evidence in this case was substantial and almost entirely uncontested. Stone’s testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in September 2017 was a matter of record; both the prosecution and defense agreed on the facts. The real dispute was whether Stone had lied under oath and whether that mattered. The defense offered by Stone’s attorney can be summed up in to two words: So what?

Our unanimous conclusion was this: The truth matters. Telling the truth under oath matters. At a time when so much of our public discourse is based on deception or just lies, it is more important than ever that we still have places where the truth can be presented, examined and discerned. Congress is one of those places. That’s what the case was about.

Palmer Report, GOP Senators start cracking under the pressure of no-win Trump impeachment vote, Bill Palmer, Nov. 22, 2019. Last night Senate Republicans launched a media campaign aimed at convincing everyone that they were simply going to acquit Donald Trump during his impeachment trial, and Trump and the Republicans would then magically be in prime position heading into 2020. They never bothered to explain how the unpopular move of acquitting Trump is somehow going to help them, but the false bravado nonetheless scared a lot of people.

bill palmer report logo headerToday we’re seeing striking evidence that it’s the Republican Senators who are scared. They’re facing the prospect of having to either alienate moderate voters by acquitting Trump, or alienate Trump’s base by convicting him. Either way, Republican Senators – even in red states – will head into their reelection bids in a weakened position. The impeachment vote is a no-win scenario for them. Accordingly, some of them are already cracking.

GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn lost her cool and posted this idiotically awful tweet: “Vindictive Vindman is the ‘whistleblower’s’ handler.” It left her flooded with tens of thousands of negative replies, and it prompted her name to trend as everyone piled on. The phrase “Purple Heart” also began trending, as everyone reminded her of what Colonel Vindman has sacrificed for his country.

No one considers GOP Senator Lindsey Graham to be anywhere close to mentally stable these days. But even he seems to be slipping further. Footage surfaced today of Graham refusing to have a conversation with a polite military veteran, and instead simply walking away from the guy:

These Republican Senators don’t know what to do with themselves. Even as they’re floating fantasies about how the Senate impeachment trial is somehow going to go swimmingly for them and Donald Trump, they know that it’ll be a no-win disaster no matter how they play it. No wonder they’re already acting out in increasingly frantic and juvenile fashion.

U.S. Politics / Media

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The death knell for local newspapers? It’s perilously close, Margaret Sullivan, right, Nov. 22, 2019. Given the tumult in the realm of government and politics, the margaret sullivan 2015 photodire state of the local newspaper industry may seem minor. But it’s of crucial importance to the future of the nation. Local watchdog journalism matters: Just check the front page of the Baltimore Sun, which on Thursday carried a huge headline about the former mayor’s indictment; the Sun — even in its diminished state — broke the story in March that set those wheels in motion.

I could give you dozens of other examples from this year alone. And consider that sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein might have gotten away with most of his misdeeds if not for local journalism, particularly at the Miami Herald.

But the recent news about the news could hardly be worse. What was terribly worrisome has tumbled into disaster.

“Will we point back to November 2019 as the day the music died for the news industry?” as University of Missouri journalism professor Tom Warhover put it.

There’s reason to think so, at least for local newspapers. Here’s some of what happened in the past few days.

gatehouse media logoGannett and GateHouse, two major newspaper chains, finished their planned merger, and the combined company intends to cut the combined budget by at least $300 million. That will come on top of unending job losses over the past decade in the affected newsrooms of more than 500 papers.

gannett logo CustomThe McClatchy newspaper group — parent of the Herald and the Charlotte Observer — is so weighed down by debt and pension obligations that analysts think it is teetering on bankruptcy.

And the storied Chicago Tribune on Tuesday fell under the influence of Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that has strip-mined the other important papers it owns, including the Denver Post and the Mercury News in San Jose.

The Trib and its readers (and those served by other papers in the newspaper group, including Baltimore) have suffered under the ownership of Michael Ferro — and now he has provided a grim ending to what former Trib editor Ann Marie Lipinski aptly called his “cynical, avaricious” stewardship. (She is the curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.)

Ferro’s move “ushers the vultures into Tribune,” said a Nieman Lab analysis by Ken Doctor. The implications of all these developments are stunning, he wrote: “The old world is over, and the new one — one of ghost newspapers, news deserts, and underinformed communities — is headed straight for us.”

Local newspapers — and, again, their readers — are already racked by what’s happened, ever since newspaper advertising revenue plummeted more than a decade ago.

Nov. 21

Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

C-SPAN, Rep. Adam Schiff Closing Statement: "Is there any accountability?" House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Nov. 20, 2019 (13:31 mins.). Congressman Adam Schiff closing statement: "The question now is not what the president meant…the question is what are we prepared to do about it. Is there any accountability?"

ny times logoNew York Times, Sondland, Defiant, Says He Followed Trump’s Orders to Pressure Ukraine, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Officials Were Told to Work With Giuliani to Pressure Kyiv. Ambassador Gordon Sondland said he worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine “at the express direction of the president.” He cited a clear “quid pro quo” linking a Trump meeting for Ukraine’s leader to investigations and said he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence.

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

gordon sondland sean patrick maloney challenge nov 20 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Sondland implicates Trump in quid pro quo, says Pence, Pompeo knew, Rachael Bade, Aaron C. Davis and Matt Zapotosky​, Nov. 21, 2019.​ A U.S. ambassador on Wednesday explicitly linked President Trump, Vice President Pence and other senior officials to what he came to believe was a campaign to pressure a foreign government to investigate Trump’s political rival in exchange for a coveted White House meeting and hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.

U.S. House logoThe potentially historic, if hotly disputed, testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is the most damaging yet for Trump in Congress’s intensifying inquiry into whether the president should be impeached.

More forcefully than he has before, Sondland declared that the Trump administration would not give Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a chance to visit the White House — unless Zelensky agreed to announce investigations that could help the president politically.

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, Sondland’s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s GOP allies scrambling, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Kayla Epstein, Nov. 21, 2019.​  The bombshell testimony alleging that the president attempted to leverage an invite for the Ukrainian president in exchange for an investigation into his political opponents forced the White House to quickly recalibrate its defense of the president’s actions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Sondland’s dramatic testimony shakes the impeachment debate and undercuts the president, Dan Balz, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed.).​  In clear and unequivocal language, the E.U. ambassador implicated President Trump and other senior officials in the effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr President Donald Trump officialZelensky.

Sondland’s testimony probably accelerates the moves by House Democrats to impeach the president and send the issue to the Senate for adjudication, though at this point the odds of conviction remain long, absent a significant shift in public opinion away from the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Did Ukraine know aid was withheld? 3 takeaways from Cooper’s and Hale’s testimony, Amber Phillips, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed). ​There’s new evidence Ukraine may have known its aid was being withheld when its president talked to Trump in July.

washington post logoWashington Post, Testimony ensnares Pompeo in Ukraine scandal as he mulls political future, John Hudson Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed).​ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became a major focus of the House impeachment inquiry Wednesday, with the recounting of emails and conversations linking him more closely to the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rivals than previously known.

The accounts — provided in sworn testimony by the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland — prompted fresh calls for Pompeo to testify on Capitol Hill and explain his actions concerning a Ukraine policy that he has at times refused to discuss but defended as “wholly appropriate.”

Sondland said several senior U.S. officials knew about a “quid pro quo” linking a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigations into Trump’s political rivals. In addition to Pompeo, he said, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-national security adviser John Bolton were aware of the effort.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In Gordon Sondland, Trump has met his match, Dana Milbank, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed).​ Given the gravity of what he was about to do, Gordon Sondland seemed oddly relaxed. The ambassador’s lawyer sat at his right elbow, picking at his cuticles and staring straight ahead. But Sondland smiled at the cameras, looked curiously around the room, gave a friendly nod to the chairman and sipped his coffee.

Why so at ease? It was the look of a man about to unburden himself. “Was there a quid pro quo?” asked the most important Trump administration figure to testify in the impeachment inquiry to date. “ . . . The answer is yes.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Yes, Congress should be talking about the president and bribery, Editorial Board, Nov. 22, 2019.​ After two weeks of testimony, evidence for the charge has piled up.

Did President Trump commit bribery? When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) leveled this accusation this month, some may have heard hyperbole — or even a public-relations stunt. Messaging concerns persuaded Democrats to abandon the term “quid pro quo” for “bribery.” But it is not phony messaging. The Democrats’ charge is grounded in the Constitution’s language — and it is credible.

The Constitution specifically lists bribery as an impeachable offense, before “high crimes and misdemeanors.” If the president is guilty of bribery, there is no need to wonder what “high crimes and misdemeanors” means.

Of course, the Constitution does not define “bribery,” either. But federal law does: It is the act of giving, offering or promising anything of value — not just money or tangible items — to a public official to influence an official act. Likewise, the law bars public officials from soliciting anything of value in return for influencing the performance of an official act. In Mr. Trump’s case, two weeks of testimony have uncovered evidence that he solicited something of value from the Ukrainian government (besmirching a political opponent) in exchange for official acts (a White House meeting, the delivery of military aid).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Fiona Hill shreds the Republicans’ false narrative about Ukraine, Editorial Board, Nov. 21, 2019.​ She said the Ukraine intervention narrative was not only “fiction” but also damaging.

fiona hillA pillar of the Republican defense of President Trump during the impeachment inquiry has been that he had good reason to believe Ukraine intervened against him during the 2016 presidential election — and he therefore was justified in demanding that the new Ukrainian government investigate.

That made the testimony Thursday of Fiona Hill, left, who served Mr. Trump as the National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia for more than two years, particularly important.

Ms. Hill, one of the nation’s top authorities on the regime of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, warned that the Ukraine intervention narrative was not only “fictional” but also potentially damaging to U.S. national security.

DEMOCRATIC DEBATE democratic november debate la times collage Custom

Los Angeles Times, Democratic debate in Atlanta. The 10 Democratic candidates in Wednesday’s debate, shown clockwise from top left: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker (Los Angeles Times wire services). Details below.

washington post logoWashington Post, At critical moment, Democrats tackle range of issues, Matt Viser, Annie Linskey and Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 21, 2019.​ With the field growing both larger and more fluid, the 10 presidential candidates opened new lines of conversation and held pointed if brief disputes, some of them focused on black voters, a key constituency.

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Democrats focus on beating Trump, rather than beating up on each other, Michael Scherer, Nov. 21, 2019.​ The debate participants turned their attention on the unabated fear of President Trump’s reelection, amid recent polling showing him with an edge in key Midwestern battleground states.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: 10 claims that caught our attention, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Nov. 21, 2019. Bernie Sanders exaggerated the U.S. homelessness crisis. Andrew Yang’s surprising statistic on paid family leave was spot on.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump health official spent millions on consultants who aimed to boost her visibility, Amy Goldstein, Nov. 21, 2019.​  Seema Verma, President Trump's top appointee overseeing health insurance for the elderly and poor, hired the high-paid consultants at a cost to taxpayers of more than $3 million.

U.S. Crime, Courtscatherine pugh screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh charged with wire fraud, tax evasion, Ann E. Marimow and Peter Hermann​, Nov. 21, 2019 (print ed.). The federal charges arise from financial dealings surrounding her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books, court filings show. The former mayor is shown above in a screenshot.

democratic donkey logoBaltimore’s former mayor Catherine E. Pugh has been indicted by a federal grand jury on wire fraud and tax evasion over lucrative book deals for her self-published Healthy Holly children’s series, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.

Pugh resigned in May after revelations about the deals she allegedly cut with companies connected to the city and state government, setting off another political crisis and setback for the city.

Pugh, 69, was the second Baltimore mayor to leave office in the past decade while facing corruption allegations. The indictment accuses her of a years-long scheme dating to 2011, when she was a state senator and before her days running Maryland’s largest city.

brett kavanaugh nbc sept 27 2018 cropped reuters jim berg

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27, 2018 (Reuters photo by Jim Berg via NBC News)

washington post logoWashington Post, The Kavanaugh vote: Two friends, one judge and a fight for the Senate and Supreme Court, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 21, 2019. Collins and Murkowski were under pressure on Kavanaugh from the start. Then Christine Blasey Ford testified.

Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, was never going to be confirmed by a wide or comfortable margin. The closely divided Senate, the still-bitter legacy of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to block the nomination of Merrick Garland and the once-in-a-generation chance to cement a conservative majority for decades to come — all of these factors augured a nominee who would not win more than a few Democratic votes.

With the Senate split 51 to 49, Republicans had little margin for error; the loss of just two GOP votes would likely doom the nomination. The last-minute emergence of allegations that the nominee had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party on a summer night in 1982 threatened to derail the nomination. Wavering senators from both parties demanded an FBI investigation into the allegations by Ford and another woman, Deborah Ramirez, who said she recalled a drunken Kavanaugh exposing himself to her during their freshman year at Yale.

susan collins oIn the last stage of the confirmation battle, as at the start, Kavanaugh’s fate was largely in the hands of just two senators, Susan Collins of Maine, right, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, right. With their pro-choice views, they had always been the Republicans most likely to defect and vote against Kavanaugh. Now that volatile issues lisa murkowski oof gender and sexual assault had entered the debate, the pressure on both was even more intense. The two are best friends in the Senate — Collins’s husband, Tom Daffron, served as Murkowski’s chief of staff early in her Senate career — and they tend to vote as a unit. The motto in presidential politics has long been “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.”

In the Kavanaugh fight, the governing assumption was that where Collins went, so would Murkowski. As a result, White House counsel Donald McGahn remained focused on Collins throughout. “The only way ever to convince Don of anything: Does Susan Collins need you to do that?” said one person who worked on the nomination.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Kennedy asked Trump to put Kavanaugh on Supreme Court list, book says, Robert Barnes, Nov. 21, 2019. It was a historic moment in April 2017 when Supreme Court justice Anthony M. Kennedy presided over the ceremonial Rose Garden swearing-in for the court’s new member, Neil M. Gorsuch: the first time a sitting justice was joined on the nation’s highest court by one of his former law clerks.

But a secret meeting moments later in the White House was just as significant, according to a new book by Ruth Marcus, a Washington Post deputy editorial page editor.

Kennedy requested a private moment with President Trump to deliver a message about the next Supreme Court opening, Marcus reports. Kennedy told Trump he should consider another of his former clerks, Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was not on the president’s first two lists of candidates.

“The justice’s message to the president was as consequential as it was straightforward, and it was a remarkable insertion by a sitting justice into the distinctly presidential act of judge picking,” Marcus writes in “Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover.”

Kennedy announced his retirement 14 months later, after Kavanaugh’s name indeed had been added to Trump’s public list of potential Supreme Court picks. But if the octogenarian Kennedy was envisioning an orderly succession, what the nation got instead was one of the most wrenching, contentious and closest Supreme Court confirmation battles in history.

Kavanaugh’s career-long ambition was nearly derailed by allegations from California professor Christine Blasey Ford that a drunken teenage Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a party in the Washington suburb where both grew up. There were additional reports about Kavanaugh drinking to excess while a student at Yale and exposing himself.

Kavanaugh vehemently denied the accusations and said they were part of a hit job orchestrated by Democrats and liberals desperate to sink his nomination and keep the court from having a conservative majority.

lee oswald mug dallas

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, JFK Assassination Anniversary: Oswald Murder Witness Speaks, Russ Baker and Brian Baccus, Nov. 21, 2019. Not long before he died this year, James Leavelle granted an exclusive interview to WhoWhatWhy. The Dallas homicide detective, who was chained to Lee Harvey Oswald when Oswald, right, was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, said some interesting and surprising things.

The detective who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963, when Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, provided several revelations in an exclusive interview he granted WhoWhatWhy. The conversation took place two months before his death on August 29 of this year.

This Friday is the 56th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, allegedly at the hands of Oswald; Sunday is the anniversary of Ruby’s slaying of Oswald in the Dallas Police Department garage.

One striking contention offered by retired Dallas Police Department (DPD) Detective James Leavelle, almost in passing, was that he took notes while interviewing Oswald.

Nov. 20

Impeachment Daily Index

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washington post logoWashington Post, Sondland: ‘Was there a quid pro quo? ... The answer is yes,’ Aaron C. Davis, Nov. 20, 2019. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is poised to testify Wednesday more bluntly than he had before that President Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, sought to condition a White House invite for Ukraine’s new president to demands that his country publicly launch investigations that could damage Trump’s political opponents.

U.S. House logo“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland, right, said in prepared testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

In his sworn statement, Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to the European Union also told the House Intelligence Committee that while he never knew for sure if the White House had frozen nearly $400 million in security assistance as part of the pressure campaign against Ukraine, he operated as if that was the case.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland just totally threw Donald Trump and Mike Pence under the bus, Bill Palmer, Nov. 20, 2019. We’ve all been wondering what U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland would do to with his public House impeachment testimony. He got caught lying in his initial closed-door testimony, and he then revised his testimony in writing, but subsequent witnesses have made clear that he still hadn’t told the full truth. But today, Sondland has decided to throw caution to the wind – and throw everyone under the bus.

bill palmer report logo headerGordon Sondland is giving his verbal opening statement right now. But he’s already submitted his written opening statement, and it’s public, and it’s damning. Sondland says this of the Trump regime when it comes to the Ukraine extortion scandal: “They knew what they were doing and why. Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” So who is “everyone”?

Sondland says that Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, and others were in on the Ukraine plot. Sondland says that Trump gave him no choice but to work with Giuliani in Ukraine. Sondland also says that he personally told Pence about it on September 1st, while it was still a secret.

Gordon Sondland is still just getting started with his verbal opening statement, but based on his written statement, it’s already clear that everyone is going under the bus today. Sondland has clearly decided to simply come clean about everything, and hope that his cooperation ends up being enough to convince the House not to go after him on perjury.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump lashes out as Sondland acknowledges there was a ‘quid pro quo,' John Wagner, Nov. 20, 2019. Trump planning to head to Texas on day trip; Sondland, Cooper, Hale slated to testify. President Trump lashed out anew at the Democrat-lead impeachment inquiry Wednesday as Gordon Sondland, the most significant witnesses to date, acknowledged there was a “quid pro quo” in the Ukraine controversy in his prepared remarks.

republican elephant logoSondland, the ambassador to the European Union, will be pressed about his knowledge of allegations that Trump sought to leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine and a White House visit by its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, among others.

Two additional witnesses are scheduled Tuesday afternoon: Laura Cooper, the special assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine, and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Gordon Sondland (Washington Post photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Gordon Sondland: He is the ambassador to the European Union, Amber Phillips, Nov. 20, 2019. At the very least, Gordon Sondland’s diplomatic inexperience and tendency to go rogue threatened to muddle U.S. policy toward Ukraine. A number of people who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have said or hinted as much about the ambassador to the European Union.

Another possibility is that Sondland (shown in a Washington Post photo by Meg Kelly above) was acting at the direction of President Trump to pressure Ukrainians to investigate his political rivals.

• Read his private deposition

EVENING TESTIMONY

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Who is Laura Cooper, and why does her public testimony matter for the impeachment inquiry? Kayla Epstein, Nov. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Longtime laura cooperDefense Department official Laura Cooper will testify publicly Wednesday about events she witnessed as part of her role coordinating U.S. assistance to Ukraine’s military. Lawmakers will probably focus on what she knew — and didn’t know — about the holdup of military aid to Ukraine, and whether that decision was an attempt to pressure the country’s president into opening investigations that stood to benefit President Trump politically.

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, told House lawmakers Wednesday evening that her staff received an inquiry from the Ukrainian embassy asking about the status of the funds on July 25. That morning, President Trump had a call with his Ukrainian counterpart in which he asked him to pursue investigations into Trump's political opponents. She is the special assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine.

• Read her opening statement

washington post logodavid hale oWashington Post, Analysis: Who is David Hale, and why does his public testimony matter in the impeachment inquiry? Kayla Epstein, Nov. 20, 2019 (print ed.).

David Hale: He is the undersecretary of state for political affairs.

•  Read his private deposition

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Why Sondland bought the ambassadorship in Brussels, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 20, 2019.  There are two major reasons why Gordon Sondland, who is at the center of the Ukraine weapons-for-contrived political dirt scandal, donated $1 million to the Trump Inaugural Committee to effectively buy the U.S. ambassadorship to the European Union in Brussels.

gordon sondland oThe first reason is that as the founder of the Provenance Hotels chain and co-founder of Aspen Capital, a merchant bank, Sondland was hoping to identify and purchase older European hotels to absorb into his Provenance chain of high-end boutique hotels. Sondland'c company currently owns hotels in Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Nashville, New Orleans, and Denver. Provenance is currently expanding to Los Angeles and Hermosa Beach, California.

Although Sondland's wife, Katherine Durant, is the current chairman of Provenance, that has not prevented Sondland from shopping in Europe for financially-distressed older hotels ripe for acquisition.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The 5 questions Sondland needs to answer, Amber Phillips, Nov. 20, 2019. At the very least, Gordon Sondland’s diplomatic inexperience and tendency to go rogue threatened to muddle U.S. policy toward Ukraine. A number of people who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have said or hinted as much about the ambassador to the European Union.

european union logo rectangleAnother possibility is that Sondland was acting at the direction of President Trump to pressure Ukrainians to investigate his political rivals.

Either way, he is one of the few witnesses in the impeachment inquiry who is in a position to confirm what Trump wanted out of Ukraine in exchange for holding up its military aid. He’s testifying publicly Wednesday. Here are the five questions we have for Sondland.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. ambassador could tie president directly to effort to persuade Ukraine to help him, Aaron C. Davis and Rachael Bade, Nov. 20, 2019. Democrats are expected to question Gordon Sondland, the millionaire Republican donor-turned- ambassador, on inconsistencies between his testimony and that of a growing number of witnesses.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Why Donald Trump could be toast this week, Shirley Kennedy, Nov. 20, 2019. Nick Akerman, former Watergate prosecutor, told Huffington Post that Donald Trump is going to be toast this week. He believes that the upcoming testimony of Gordon Sondland will be the butter on that toast. Akerman believes that Sondland will “tell the whole story,” including giving details and providing documents.

As he points out, plenty of witnesses are already corroborating the original whistleblower’s claim that Trump engaged in bribery in his dealings with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Akerman further told HuffPost that “there’s no question” that Trump was soliciting an investigation into Joe Biden “using money as appropriated by the U.S. Congress.” He calls it what Pelosi and now the rest of us are calling it: “Pure bribery.”

bill palmer report logo headerRecall that Sondland has already “corrected” his deposition testimony and revealed to the media that he did, in fact, “recall” his discussions with Trump that involved Ukraine announcing an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden if they wanted the military funding that had already been earmarked for that purpose. The problem now is can we trust Sondland to do the right thing? Slate shares that Sondland had multiple direct conversations with Trump. He is, therefore, in the unique position of giving the only direct testimony of Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate the Bidens in exchange for military aid.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: His testimony: The contradictions and discrepancies, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 20, 2019. The U.S. ambassador to the European Union will be on the hot seat today. Here's how his testimony differs from that of other witnesses.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Vindman’s Lawyer Asks Fox News to Retract Espionage Allegation, Danny Hakim, Nov. 20, 2019. A guest on a Fox show suggested that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key figure in the impeachment hearings, was guilty of spying. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman is hitting back at the smear campaign against him.

A lawyer for Colonel Vindman, the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert, sent a warning letter to Fox News on Wednesday seeking a retraction or correction of an October segment hosted by one of the network’s biggest personalities, Laura Ingraham, which baselessly suggested that the colonel, a decorated Iraq war veteran, might be guilty of espionage.

The letter sent by David Pressman, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, the law firm run by David Boies, also highlighted inflammatory statements made on the network by others, including President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., who has repeatedly attacked Colonel Vindman, and Tucker Carlson, another prominent Fox host.

“LTC Vindman and his family have been forced to examine options, including potentially moving onto a military base, in order to ensure their physical security in the face of threats rooted in the falsehood that Fox News originated,” Mr. Pressman wrote in the letter.

ny times logoNew York Times, The F.B.I. tried to interview the whistle-blower in the Ukraine case, Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes, Nov. 20, 2019. Agents asked to speak with him last month but never did, though the bureau made clear to his lawyers that he was not the target of a continuing investigation. The F.B.I. sought last month to interview the whistle-blower who helped ignite the impeachment inquiry as a witness in a continuing investigation, several people familiar with the matter said.

FBI logoThe interview never took place. It is not clear why agents wanted to talk to the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. analyst, or how interested they remain in speaking to him.

The F.B.I. contacted lawyers for the whistle-blower and did not use his name in making the request. The whistle-blower’s account of the effort by President Trump, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and administration officials to push Ukraine to pursue investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically became a road map for the House’s impeachment investigation and has been largely corroborated by subsequent testimony.

The F.B.I. made clear to his lawyers that the whistle-blower was not the target of any continuing investigations, according to people familiar with the matter.

DAY 3 TESTIMONY

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washington post logoWashington Post, Witnesses undercut Trump’s defense about Ukraine phone call, Karoun Demirjian, Mike DeBonis and Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 20, 2019. Three current and former kurt volkerTrump administration officials described how they harbored a variety of concerns surrounding the July phone call.

• Analysis: Volker, right, makes a big correction, and other takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony
• Analysis: This answer from Kurt Volker makes very little sense

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis 7 takeaways from Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, Aaron Blake, Nov. 20, 2019. After three witnesses last week painted a broad picture of a U.S. foreign policy hijacked by political interests, this week the impeachment inquiry into President Trump began with testimony Tuesday from four people who serve inside the White House and on the front lines of U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. Tuesday’s hearings featured:

jennifer williams Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the lead Ukraine expert on the National Security Council
• Jennifer Williams, right, a State Department employee who was detailed to Vice President Pence on Eurasia matters
• Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine
• Tim Morrison, a former NSC aide

All four previously testified in closed-door depositions. Here’s what we learned from their latest testimony. 1. A big correction from Volker

washington post logoWashington Post, Critic’s Notebook: Lt. Col. Vindman’s uniform spoke loud. His humanity spoke louder, Robin Givhan, Nov. 20, 2019. The uniform did what uniforms are designed to do. When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, his striking presence in his serviceable eyeglasses and his military uniform exuded authority, ferocity and patriotism.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019As one of the Democratic committee members noted admiringly, Vindman, right, was wearing a Purple Heart on his uniform. He also had a Combat Infantry Badge pinned on the left side of his chest, indicating he’d been involved in active ground combat.

For civilian viewers, it was helpful to understand the meanings of some of the insignia on his jacket. But even without the details, anyone looking at the vast collage of medals spread across his chest could understand the story they told: that Vindman is one of the many dedicated individuals who choose to stand guard so that others might sleep easily.

The Hill, Opinion: Democrats seek to redefine crimes to reframe the Trump impeachment, Jonathan Turley, Nov. 20, 2019. After weeks of hearings, Democrats are discovering a simple truth about impeachment. You do not need a crime, but you need clarity, to remove a sitting president. Faced with a country still divided right down the middle on jonathan turleyimpeaching President Trump, Democrats have reframed an alleged abuse of power as actual crimes of bribery, extortion, and obstruction. These allegations are based on the same spurious interpretations used during the Russia investigation to claim clear proven crimes.

Those “clear established crimes” are absent in this impeachment. Instead, the same experts and House members now claim three new crimes with equal certainty, but even less support under case law. If Democrats continue on this course, it will combine the narrowest impeachment in history with the most dubious claims of criminal conduct.

Bribery

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the first two witnesses in the impeachment hearing offered “devastating” evidence that “corroborated” bribery. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff repeatedly returned to the definition of bribery this week, saying that all it requires is a showing that the president withheld military aid, even briefly, for anything that would benefit him politically or personally.

It is a definition that would turn most discretionary decisions of a president into grounds for a bribery charge. All presidential acts are to some extent political, since they are taken by politicians. The same is true for members of Congress. Presidents often seek to convince other countries to take actions that would benefit them politically. The most cited provision is Title 18 Section 201 of the federal code, which defines bribery as an act by a public official who “directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.”

That definition might seem endlessly flexible, so Pelosi told the press that “to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into elections” is bribery. But it is not. The courts have narrowly construed these terms and reversed high profile cases based on the type of creative interpretations now put forward by Democrats. The Supreme Court rejected such claims in Robert McDonnell versus United States. In that case, the governor of Virginia actually received “things of value” but the court rejected the “boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.” Similar counts were rejected in other criminal cases, including counts against Senator Robert Menendez, who received gifts for allegedly using his office to benefit a donor.

Trump did not receive the requested investigations and, after a brief delay, the aid was given to Ukraine. Two different investigations were raised by Trump. First, he wanted Ukraine to investigate efforts to influence the 2016 election. While Pelosi calls that investigation fake, it is a subject being investigated by United States Attorney John Durham, who is looking at both Russian and Ukrainian sources used by Democrats and their supporters and the Obama administration to probe the Trump campaign. Moreover, recent House inquiry witnesses like Kurt Volker, the respected former United States envoy to Ukraine, said he did not think it was a problem to ask for such an investigation as part of the aid discussion since it did not demand a particular finding.

The second investigation was more problematic. The request to probe the business dealings of Hunter Biden was highly inappropriate. But it was not bribery. There is an arguable public purpose to such an investigation, since the contract was a classic example of influence peddling by a corrupt Ukrainian company seeking leverage with Vice President Joe Biden. While the request by Trump never should have been made, it is far from other acts of politicians where actual benefits were delivered. If used by Democrats, such a “boundless interpretation” rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court would be imported into an impeachment standard designed to be bounded and burdensome for Congress.

Extortion

The claim that Trump calling for a corruption investigation constitutes extortion is even further off the mark. The most obvious basis for such a charge is the Hobbs Act, which prohibits “extortion under color of official right.” Such violations occur when a politician demands a bribe for official conduct, like the claims against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who demanded $50,000 in campaign contributions to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to benefit a hospital. The problem is that military aid is subject to a large degree of executive branch discretion, which President Obama relied on to withhold aid to Egypt.

The case is even weaker when the aid was only withheld for a short period, and it is not clear the Ukrainians understood that the request for investigations might be an actual precondition. The only clear date is August 29, when an article in Politico discussed a possible quid pro quo. That, however, was just 10 days before the release of the aid without a Ukrainian commitment to investigate. If that constitutes extortion, then most presidents and members of Congress are recidivist felons. All such politicians actively negotiate for a variety of changes or actions in return for legislative or executive acts.

Obstruction

Finally, Democrats have been alluding to obstruction, based on the White House withholding documents and discouraging witnesses from testifying. Some of us have pointed out that prior claims of obstruction in the Russia investigation were fundamentally flawed, and are now debunked entirely, by the failure to include them in the current impeachment. The obstruction theory today is even weaker.

The fact is that Trump waived executive privilege to an unprecedented degree in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller, making both witnesses and evidence available. President Obama presented a far more extreme position in withholding both testimony and documents from legislative committees. Moreover, waivers have been made in the Ukraine investigation, including ordinarily privileged communications with heads of state. Witnesses have testified, including current White House staff like Alexander Vindman, without being punished.

Most importantly, Trump has gone to court to seek judicial review of these conflicts between the legislative and executive branches. He is entitled to do so, just as President Nixon and President Clinton did. Obama also sought such judicial review. What Trump cannot do is disobey a final judicial order. To impeach a president for seeking judicial review would itself be an abuse of our constitutional system.

Crimes may be revealed in upcoming testimony, but they need to be grounded in the criminal code rather than in the imagination of members of Congress. I have long criticized the poorly considered statement by President Ford that “an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be.” That often cited quote wrongly suggests impeachment is based on a purely political, not a legal, standard. Even if the House has broad license in impeachment, it does not have license to redefine crimes to fit impeachments.

Democrats doth protest too much against the Durham investigation, Jonathan Turley, Oct. 29, 2019. “She doth protest too much, methinks” is often misunderstood as a comment by Hamlet. But it is the response of his mother, Queen Gertrude, after he asks, “Madam, how like you this play?” Hamlet had arranged a performance that was strikingly similar to his suspicion that his uncle and mother murdered his father, the king, and then married. Her response to his “play within a play” only confirmed his suspicions of her guilt.

The same could be said in watching key Democrats “protest too much” to the investigation by United States Attorney John Durham into the origins of the Russia probe. Durham is asking why the Obama administration ordered secret surveillance and investigations of figures associated with the presidential campaign of the opposing political party. So much like Hamlet, this investigation within an investigation is strikingly similar to the allegations against the Trump campaign but involves Democratic figures. There are questions over the solicitation of foreign intelligence in the 2016 election, allegations of undue influence, and the use of later discredited allegations of conspiracy. According to news reports, Durham has now asked for his investigation to be elevated to a criminal investigation.

Both House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff have described the actions of Durham, a previously lionized prosecutor, as an abuse. Indeed, they declared that allowing Durham to look into potentially criminal conduct would cause “new and irreparable damage” to the rule of law. While he acknowledged that Durham is an honest and respected prosecutor, Schiff called the probe illegitimate and indicated that he would likely reject its findings.

It is a strikingly familiar strategy. Schiff himself cried foul last year when President Trump did the same thing to preempt and discredit the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Like Mueller, Durham has done high profile investigations under Democratic and Republican administrations and has a stellar reputation as a solid no nonsense professional. Some of us have long supported both investigations. The news, however, that Durham sought the added powers of a criminal prosecution, including the ability to use grand juries, triggered a concerted effort to undermine his findings before he has made them.

The response by the Democrats is particularly glaring because, over the last three years, they have insisted on total transparency and a complete investigation of whether Trump campaign officials conspired with Russia in the 2016 election. Any statements or actions by Trump opposing that investigation have been declared both criminal and impeachable by the Democrats. However, the party that has demanded full disclosure and unhampered inquiry of the Trump administration is now apoplectic about an investigation touching on actions by the Obama administration.

The reason some of us have supported a full investigation of both sides is obvious. If Trump officials conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election, the implications for our democratic system would be immense. The minute Trump fired FBI director James Comey in the middle of that investigation, many of us declared support for a special counsel. There are equally serious concerns raised by a Democratic administration launching an investigation of figures associated with a Republican challenger. There could well be valid reasons for that inquiry, however, the investigation of opposing political figures is a common practice in authoritarian nations, and it raises troubling implications for our government system.

Those concerns were magnified by the Obama administration relying on the work of former British spy Christopher Steele, paid for by the Clinton campaign, which lied repeatedly about funding his dossier that notably relied on Russian intelligence figures. While concerns were raised about the accuracy of the dossier, the FBI relied in part on it and mentioned only briefly that Steele might have had questionable motivations. Ultimately, Mueller found no evidence that any Trump associate or any other citizen knowingly colluded, conspired, or worked with Russian agents.

That seems ample reason for a full investigation by Durham to parallel the special counsel. With the nation so deeply divided over these allegations, the need for a full investigation of both sides would appear not just fairly warranted but essential to restore public faith in government actions. The protests over the Durham investigation are ironic because Democrats are doing precisely what Trump wrongly did with the Mueller investigation. At the time, I denounced Trump for his disparaging comments on the special counsel as highly inappropriate and reckless. So did the Democrats.

One of their talking points is that lawmakers already investigated the questions being looked into by Durham. Yet the Senate Intelligence Committee did not have the greater resources of a criminal investigation. Durham concluded, after more than a year of looking into the original Russian probe, that such criminal investigative powers would be necessary. He could well reach the same conclusion as the Senate investigators, but he has access to information not available to them. Not only can he review privileged material within the executive branch, but Durham enlisted Attorney General William Barr to secure unreviewed evidence held by foreign countries involving key players in the original probe. That includes tapes of an interview with professor Joseph Mifsud.

As I have previously discussed, Mifsud remains mired in controversy. The Maltese academic appeared to have ties to the Russians and seemed eager to tell former the Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had hacked the Clinton campaign emails. Mueller reported that Mifsud lied repeatedly to investigators but, curiously, did not pursue criminal charges. That has fueled speculation about the true controllers of Mifsud, and Durham could put that controversy and many others to rest.

There are legitimate questions about the Obama administration looking into Trump associates. Those questions are magnified by the shocking bias of key players in the Russian probe, which led to the dismissal of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and FBI agent Peter Strzok. The Justice Department inspector general referred prior allegations involving officials like McCabe for possible criminal charges, a referral rejected under the attorney general. It is bizarre for Democrats to argue that key officials referring to “insurance policies” against a Trump victory should not concern the public or warrant finishing the Durham investigation.

That is why this investigation within an investigation can produce the most revealing moments. One does not have to believe that there is “something rotten” in the FBI to support the completion of the Durham investigation, from which many are unlikely to emerge unscathed. But the increasing protests over his work only heightens suspicions, and that is exactly why we need more disclosure than drama from Washington.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

World Impact

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. military aid bolsters Ukraine’s front lines, but the Trump drama makes Kyiv nervous, Sergey Morgunov, Will Englund and Michael Birnbaum, Nov. 20, 2019. President Trump’s hold on aid did not seriously disrupt Ukraine’s military. The real fallout has been one of perception among Ukrainian officials and others — the worry that the White House cannot always be counted on to be in Kyiv’s corner.

Inside DC

Palmer Report, Opinion: Something big is going on with the FBI and the Trump whistleblower right now, Bill Palmer, Nov. 20, 2019. Gordon Sondland’s televised impeachment testimony today is such a bodyblow to Donald Trump’s collapsing presidency, it’s raising questions about what might come next. If Trump had any sense, he’d be seeking a resignation plea deal in FBI logoexchange for reduced prison time, while he might still be able to get one. But knowing Trump, there always antics involved.

This brings us to the surreal news flash from CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz: “The FBI has asked to interview the whistleblower who filed the complaint about the President’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that ultimately led to the current House impeachment inquiry.” Prokupecz says that he’s not entirely sure what’s going on here.

bill palmer report logo headerFrom where we’re sitting, there are only two possibilities here, and they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum. The whistleblower is a witness to serious federal crimes, so the FBI should be talking to him or her as part of a criminal investigation into Donald Trump and others involved in the Ukraine extortion plot. But the FBI has been at least partly co-opted by Donald Trump’s criminally corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr.

So it’s also possible that Trump and Barr are misusing the FBI’s resources to try to expose, intimidate, or frame the whistleblower in what would be plainly illegal fashion. Stay tuned, because whatever is going on here, it’s weird. But to be clear, Trump can’t magically save himself by sending the FBI after the whistleblower. That horse left the barn a long time ago.

2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Get ready for Wednesday’s debate, Staff report, Nov. 20, 2019. The fifth Democratic debate is Wednesday night and is be co-hosted by The Washington Post and MSNBC. Here’s what you need to know.

dnc horizontal logoWhen: Coverage starts at 8 p.m. Eastern time, and the debate will run from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Where: It’s being in Atlanta, at Tyler Perry Studios, and you can watch it on washingtonpost.com or our apps or on MSNBC.

Who: Ten candidates have qualified to be onstage, hitting at least 3 percent in four approved polls or at least 5 percent in two early-state polls, plus bringing in donations from at least 165,000 unique donors.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Danger of Elizabeth Warren, Thomas B. Edsall, Nov. 20, 2019. Even if she wins the presidency — hardly a sure bet — she may jeopardize Democrats in the House and the Senate. Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory, analyzed the pattern of Democratic victories in 2018 House races and found that “those who supported Medicare for All performed worse than those who did not, even when controlling for other factors.”

In an article he published last week, “Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections,” Abramowitz concluded:

Elizabeth Warren HS o 200These findings are not encouraging to supporters of Medicare for All. They indicate that candidates in competitive races who take positions to the left of the median voter could get punished at the polls. Democratic presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results.

The broad scope of the Warren agenda is partially reflected in proposals to provide universal health care; to increase Social Security benefits by $200 a month; to “end Washington corruption;” to achieve 100 percent clean energy; a “fair and welcoming immigration system;” free public college; the breakup of Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple; cancellation of student debt; “guaranteed high-quality child care and early education for every child in America;” a 2 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million and a higher tax on every dollar of net worth above $1 billion; and a $1 trillion program of environmental justice for poor and minority communities.

In addition, Warren, right, would decriminalize illegal border crossing — the “criminal provision is totally unnecessary for border security” — and her Medicare proposal would include coverage of undocumented immigrants.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign, spending furiously to counter impeachment inquiry, assails Facebook over potential changes to political ad rules, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm​, Nov. 20, 2019. Limiting microtargeting would strike at a major Trump ad strategy. Facebook executives said they were considering changes to rules around political ads that could affect the campaign’s ability to target supporters on the platform. The Trump campaign on Wednesday lashed out at Facebook after company executives said they were considering changes to rules around political ads that could affect the campaign’s ability to target its supporters on the platform.

The outcry came as Trump’s reelection team has undertaken a massive spending blitz on Facebook aimed at countering the House’s impeachment inquiry. Trump’s page alone promoted more than $830,000 worth of ads in the seven days ending on Nov. 17, according to Facebook’s ad archive.

Facebook’s microtargeting technologies allow advertisers to home in on specific groups of users and deliver messaging tailored to them — a strategy the Trump campaign has used prolifically. Trump’s campaign director Brad Parscale has noted that the president’s team has tested thousands of variations of political ads in an attempt to reach small groups of voters, such as “15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden plans Iowa push after concerns about his weakness in the first voting state, Matt Viser and Holly Bailey, Nov. 20, 2019. Even as the former vice president retains a national lead in polling, he is falling behind in a state that doomed his campaign the last time he sought the presidency. On Joe Biden’s sixth day as a presidential joe biden ocandidate, he stood in front of a crowd at a brewery here and proclaimed that he would be in the state so often that Iowans would grow tired of seeing him.

“I promise you: No one is going to work harder to get the support and trust of the Iowa folks than I am this campaign,” he said. “Ninety-nine counties, here I come!”

Nearly seven months later, he has visited only about a quarter of those counties. He has been in Iowa fewer times than any of the other top-tier candidates, and he is spending much less on advertising than several of his rivals. And now, even as he retains a national lead in polling, he is falling behind in a state that doomed his campaign the last time he sought the presidency.

Biden’s campaign once shrugged off the potential impact of losing the caucus vote on Feb. 3, but concerns lately have grown about just how poorly he might do. Desperate to avoid a humiliating showing that might have broader repercussions, Biden is planning a renewed focus on Iowa, with an expectation that both he and his wife, Jill, soon will make the kind of extended trips to the state that other candidates have for months. They also have launched a new digital campaign and could have additional endorsements in the works.

Iowa always loomed as problematic for Biden — the state rewards not veteran politicians but new and fresh candidates who can organically excite and organize grass-roots movements, and it lacks significant numbers of Biden’s most loyal cohort, older black voters. But he is now threatened by an additional difficulty, the role he and his son Hunter have in the impeachment hearings underway in Washington, which may stretch into the Iowa caucuses.

Biden has a long and troubled history in the state. It was where he adopted the language and life story of a British politician in 1987 — triggering a plagiarism scandal that pushed him out of the 1988 race. Two decades later, in 2008, he carried none of the 99 counties, came in a dismal fifth place with just 0.9 percent of the vote, and immediately dropped out.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This may be the last debate for some candidates. Here’s what to look for, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 20, 2019. Since the last presidential debate in jennifer rubin new headshotOctober, the House launched public impeachment proceedings; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) triggered a backlash against her Medicare-for-all and then seemingly retreated with a “transition” plan that looked a lot like some of her rivals’ plans; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg surged in early state polls; and despite a hammering, former vice president Joe Biden remains atop most national polls and keeps a huge lead in South Carolina, where his support among African American voters gives him a big advantage.

Most important, we will have “just” 10 candidates, all on the stage at the same time. Here’s what to look for in what might be the last debate for some of them (only six candidates have qualified for December’s debate so far).

First, with the exception of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) we have not seen the debates used effectively to lift a 1-to-3-percent player into contention. This might be their final shot, so look for one or more of the participants to try a Hail Mary or two to try to generate some attention.

washington post logoWashington Post, Californians could have told you Harris wasn’t the real deal, Bill Whalen (Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at the Hoover Institution, hosts Hoover’s “Area 45” podcast on the Trump presidency), Nov. 20, 2019 (print ed.). If you plan to catch Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, here’s a tip: Keep an eye on California Sen. Kamala D. Harris. Unless she manages a rhetorical miracle in front of a national audience, Harris could well be the next candidate to exit the race (stage left).

katherine harrisFor this, Harris, right, probably has her home state — and the way she has approached her job there — to blame.

Harris’s prospects don’t look good. She now finds herself a distant fifth in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. Earlier this month, her campaign folded its tent in New Hampshire. Her strategy was once premised on winning the South’s first primary; now, Harris is apparently all-in in the nation’s first caucus. The announcement of the chaotic switch added insult to injury: While Harris was appearing at a NAACP event in South Carolina, her campaign tweeted: “I don’t know if you heard, but I’m moving to Iowa!” These strategic missteps may well be symptoms of a terminal illness dooming the Harris campaign.

Harris’s pre-A.G. job, as San Francisco’s district attorney, is also proving problematic. Her tough-on-crime prosecutorial approach has been criticized in presidential debates and seems to have been thoroughly repudiated by San Francisco voters: They just elected to Harris’s former post a public defender named Chesa Boudin who ran on a social-justice platform that, among other planks, called for closing jails and requiring that prosecutors write “racial impact statements” for each case they pursue.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Collapse of Local News Is Causing a ‘National Crisis,’ Julie Bosman, Nov. 20, 2019. The loss of local news coverage in much of the United States has frayed communities and left many Americans woefully uninformed, according to a new report. School board and city council meetings are going uncovered. Overstretched reporters receive promising tips about stories but have no time to follow up. Newspapers publish fewer pages or less frequently or, in hundreds of cases across the country, are shuttered completely.

All of this has added up to a crisis in local news coverage in the United States that has frayed communities and left many Americans woefully uninformed, according to a report by PEN America released on Wednesday.

“A vibrant, responsive democracy requires enlightened citizens, and without forceful local reporting they are kept in the dark,” the report said. “At a time when political polarization is increasing and fraudulent news is spreading, a shared fact-based discourse on the issues that most directly affect us is more essential and more elusive than ever.”

The report, “Losing the News: The Decimation of Local Journalism and the Search for Solutions,” paints a grim picture of the state of local news in every region of the country. The prelude is familiar to journalists: As print advertising revenue has plummeted, thousands of newspapers have been forced to cut costs, reduce their staffs or otherwise close.

And while the disruption has hampered the ability of newsrooms to fully cover communities, it also has damaged political and civic life in the United States, the report says, leaving many people without access to crucial information about where they live.

“That first draft of history is not being written — it has completely disappeared,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of PEN America, a nonprofit organization that celebrates literature and free expression. “That’s what is so chilling about this crisis.”

stephanie grisham unsourced Custom

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, Trump press secretary faces backlash after claiming without evidence that Obama aides left ‘you will fail’ notes, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 20, 2019. Five former Trump administration officials said they did not recall any such messages, and Stephanie Grisham (shown above in a file screenshot) modified her assertions later in the day.

Nov. 22

wayne madsen cafe vaterlandWayne Madsen Report (WMR), New novella: "Café Vaterland" examines life in America under a victorious Nazi Germany, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 22, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2019. WMR is exclusively announcing to its members the impending release of the editor's first work of fiction, a novella -- Café Vaterland -- which examines life in America had the Nazis been victorious in World War II. The novella also ponders the role of the Trumps with such an outcome. There are several surprises as the protagonist, a German-American Gestapo officer, investigates a murder that leads to a larger plot by the American Resistance against the Nazis. U.S. Naval officer John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas 56 years ago today, plays a critical role in leading the Resistance forces against the Nazis.

This book was inspired by Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, an alternate history short book. Also an alternate history of the United States after a victorious Axis in World War II, Dick's book was adapted to the small screen in a highly-acclaimed four-part Amazon Prime series by famed director Ridley Scott, with whom the editor dealt regarding a proposed film idea in 2005.

Key actual events in Café Vaterland include the rise in New York City of the German-American Bund, the Hindenburg airship disaster, the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping, and the fascist plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a coup.

The book also postulates on Fred Trump, Sr.'s activities after his arrest at a Ku Klux Klan march in 1927 in Queens leading up to his military draft evasion in World War II and construction activities around U.S. Navy ports during the war.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Britain’s Prince Andrew quits public duties after Epstein controversy, Karla Adam and William Booth​, Nov. 20, 2019. The senior royal’s ties to the convicted sex offender have dominated news in Britain.

Nov. 19

Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

 

Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump’s Ukraine call was ‘a partisan play,’ Vindman says, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 19, 2019. ‘It was my duty to report my concerns,’ White House Ukraine expert says. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said a phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president prompted him to report it to White House alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019lawyers. Vindman is one of four key witnesses who is testifying today.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, a senior National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry was “improper” and prompted him to report it to an NSC lawyer.

Vindman is one of four key witnesses from the White House and State Department who are testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former Trump administration envoy to Ukraine. House investigators are seeking to prove Trump leveraged military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden, his son Hunter and other Democrats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: Analysis: Why his testimony matters, He is a top White House expert on Ukraine, a National Security Council staffer and a decorated war veteran. Read his opening statement from his public testimony  | Read The Fix’s takeaways from his private deposition.

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: Who is Jennifer Williams, and why does her public testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 19, 2019. On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams, a Russia adviser for Vice President Pence, is testifying publicly in the impeachment inquiry about her reaction to listening to the call between President Trump and Ukraine’s new president.

jennifer williamsRead her opening statement from her public testimony | Read The Post’s coverage of her private testimony.

mike pence oWho she is: Williams, left, is the top Russia adviser for Vice President Pence, although she is technically employed by the State Department. That technicality matters, because when Pence’s office was asked to react to a tweet from Trump attacking her, his spokeswoman merely noted that she is a State Department employee.

Why she matters: She is another firsthand witness who listened to the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She also can shed light on the decision for Pence, right, to pull out of attending Zelensky’s inauguration in May. She’ll be testifying alongside Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, and another person who listened in on the Trump-Zelensky call.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s attacks on Colonel Vindman reach absolutely disgusting level, Bill Palmer, Nov. 19, 2019. As we speak, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is publicly testifying before the House impeachment inquiry about Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal. In his opening statement, Vindman told his father – who brought the family to the United States decades ago – that he shouldn’t worry about him. But behind the scenes, some troubling things are happening to the Vindman family.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’ve all seen the vicious attacks that Donald Trump and his apologists have launched on Colonel Vindman. As a result of those attacks, the Washington Post now says that the Army has had to step up its efforts to protect his home from potential attack. The Army is even considering moving Vindman and his family to an Army base just to keep them safe.

Make no mistake here. The Army isn’t trying to protect Colonel Vindman from terrorists or random criminals. The Army is trying to protect him and his family from the deranged supporters of a psychotically and violently out of control President of the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Volker says he should have seen push for Ukraine probe as targeting Biden, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Nov. 19, 2019. Schiff grills ex-envoy to Ukraine over inconsistencies in earlier testimony. Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine, testified before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon that he should have realized President Trump’s true motives in demanding that Ukraine investigate Burisma, a natural gas company that employed former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

donald trump twitterVolker testified alongside Tim Morrison, a former senior National Security Council official, as Democrats press forward with their impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Their remarks came after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, another NSC official, and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, testified earlier Tuesday.

Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, said he was alarmed by Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which Vindman called “improper.” Democrats are seeking to prove that Trump leveraged military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations of the Bidens and other Democrats.

washington post logokurt volkerWashington Post, Kurt Volker, Analysis: He is a former Trump administration envoy to Ukraine, Amber Phillips.

•  Read his Oct. 3 private deposition of Volker, shown at right
•  Read his opening statement from today’s hearing

washington post logoWashington Post, Timothy Morrison Analysis: He is the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, Amber Phillips.


• Read his Oct. 31 private deposition
• Read his opening statement from today’s hearing

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, House is investigating whether Trump lied to Mueller, its general counsel told a court, Ann E. Marimow, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachael Bade, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The statement came in arguments before appeals court judges in Washington over Congress’s request to have secret grand jury evidence from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report released for its impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate staff met IRS whistleblower over concerns about audit of Trump or Pence, Jeff Stein and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Staff for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, spoke with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month.

Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President irs logoTrump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.

Staff members for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are expected to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.

It could not be learned to what extent the senators consider the whistleblower a credible source. Trump administration officials have previously played down the complaint’s significance and suggested that it is politically motivated.

Politico, House Dems, citing impeachment, request speedy ruling in McGahn subpoena fight, Darren Samuelsohn, Nov. 19, 2019. The former White House counsel showed up repeatedly in special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report. House Democrats on Tuesday implored a federal judge to rule quickly in their lawsuit seeking testimony from one of Robert Mueller’s star witnesses so that a decision lands in time for their “quickly progressing” impeachment inquiry.

dan mcgahn djtThe Democrats’ five-page letter to U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson centers on their lawsuit to enforce a subpoena against Don McGahn, left, the former White House counsel who showed up repeatedly in the special counsel’s final report detailing President Donald Trump’s potential acts of obstruction of justice.

Jackson, right, had sharp questions for Trump administration officials during oral arguments in the case on Oct. 31 and she ended the hearing telling the House and Justice Department lawyers that she’d consider an “expedited ruling” if anyone asked for one.

Tuesday’s request from House counsel Doug Letter indicates they’ll take Jackson up on her offer.

ketanji brown jackson robe“Given that the House’s impeachment inquiry is proceeding rapidly, the Committee has a finite window of time to effectively obtain and consider McGahn’s testimony,” Letter wrote.

That window is indeed shrinking, with the House Intelligence Committee stacking up witnesses over the last two weeks in a series of rapid-fire public hearings.

Letter explained that the House Judiciary Committee planned to have its own impeachment hearings after the conclusion of Intelligence Committee’s efforts “and would aim to obtain Mr. McGahn’s testimony at that time.”

“Thus, there is an urgent need for final resolution of the matter now pending before this Court,” Letter added.

The Justice Department has tried to block McGahn’s testimony, arguing that the ex-Trump aide who appeared hundreds of times in Mueller’s final report can essentially ignore a congressional subpoena related to his time in the White House. During arguments before Jackson, department lawyers said the federal courts shouldn’t weigh in on a dispute between Congress and the executive branch.

House Democrats started seeking McGahn’s testimony in early 2019, including him among the more than 80 people and organizations in the president’s orbit who got letters demanding documents from the Judiciary Committee in March. Democrats issued a subpoena for materials from McGahn covering 30 different topics after the Mueller report went public in April describing numerous instances where Trump tried to stymie or outright end the Russia investigation.

McGahn skipped a public hearing called for him in May, and Democrats followed up with a lawsuit in August.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump-friendly judges run out the clock on impeachment, Dana Milbank, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). There’s not much the Trump administration and House Democrats agree on during these impeachment proceedings, but Judge Richard J. Leon, right, brought them together — in opposition to him. The oft-overturned Leon — he has Richard Leonbeen reversed in cases involving pay protection for home health-care workers, housing discrimination, the government’s telephone surveillance program and others — isn’t the only one dragging his feet in a way that benefits Trump. Another judge on the D.C. district court, Trevor McFadden, a Trump transition volunteer and Trump DOJ official before Trump appointed him to the court, has been similarly unhurried.

At this writing, Leon has yet to dismiss the now-meaningless suit.

Why? My sources offer two explanations — neither benign. He may be keeping the case active so he’ll be assigned any other impeachment-related cases when filed. Or Leon, who led House GOP investigations of President Bill Clinton before George W. Bush appointed him to the court, recognizes the law does not support Trump’s monarchical view of absolute immunity from congressional inquiry — and therefore the best way to help Trump is to run out the clock on impeachment.

Inside DC

1100 Pennsylvania, White House advisor weds at president's hotel, Staff report, Nov. 19, 2019. White House advisor got hitched at her patron’s D.C. hotel last Sunday; Trump has profited off his political appointees’ weddings twice in seven days. An advisor in President Donald Trump’s White House was married in the presidential ballroom at the Trump Hotel D.C. on Nov 10.

Emily Newman, an attorney and policy advisor in the White House’s office of American innovation, wed in the priciest event space at the president’s D.C. hotel on Sunday. Jared Kusher, the spouse of hotel co-owner Ivanka Trump, heads up her office.

Over a seven-day stretch, the president’s D.C. hotel hosted at least two wedding receptions of people who serve at his pleasure, paying his business tens of thousands of dollars. As 1100 Pennsylvania reported yesterday, a special assistant to Vice President Mike Pence and a senior policy advisor at the Federal Housing Finance Agency held their reception at the Trump Hotel D.C. this Saturday night.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The most alarming part of Barr’s speech was its angrily partisan tone, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr’s speech to the Federalist Society on Friday had many disturbing elements: Barr set out a dangerously inflated view of presidential power. He inveighed against judges for “usurping william barr new opresidential decision-making authority” and appointing themselves “the ultimate arbiter” of disputes between the president and Congress. He dismissed the role of congressional oversight — what he termed the “constant harassment” of the executive branch.

Oblivious to his own double standards, Barr decried Democrats’ “unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process” and “pursuit of scores of parallel ‘investigations’ through an avalanche of subpoenas.”

Remember Merrick Garland? Remember Benghazi? mina chang time cover and official Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump appointee accused of inflating her résumé and faking a Time cover has resigned, Reis Thebault, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). Mina Chang (shown above  in her official photo and in a fake Time Magazine cover lauding her) defended herself and criticized the “toxic environment” at the State Department. Mina Chang, the senior State Department official whose inflated résumé and faked Time magazine cover raised further questions about the Trump administration’s vetting process, has resigned.

In a Monday letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — obtained by The Washington Post and first reported by Politico — Chang defended herself and criticized the “toxic environment” at the agency, where she had served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations since April.

Chang denied creating or commissioning the Time cover and wrote that her resignation should be seen “as a protest and not as surrender,” closing by saying that stepping down was “the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time.”

Her departure comes a week after an NBC News investigation found that the 35-year-old Trump appointee embellished her work history and made misleading claims about her professional background. In her letter, Chang challenged the report and accused her State Department superiors of refusing to defend her from “a character assassination based solely on innuendo.”

 Sex Trafficking, Assault Claims

washington post logoWashington Post, In Philippine red-light district, an uphill struggle to battle trafficking and abuses, Corinne Redfern / The Fuller Project, Nov. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The Philippine city of Angeles — home to a former U.S. military base — has long been a hub for “sex tourism”: illegal prostitution between foreign men and Filipina girls often still in their teens and trafficked into the industry, or young women pushed into the sex trade by family pressure and economic desperation.

The Philippines sex industry and potential for continued exploitation, however, remains indirectly aided by legislative loopholes and apparent indifference from authorities, according to activists.

Rodrigo DuterteProstitution is illegal in the Philippines and commercial sex with a child under the age of 18 is rape. But bar managers can circumnavigate laws. Girls and women are presented as “entertainers” rather than sex workers, and payments for sex are packaged as “fines” paid to the bars by a patron on behalf of a woman leaving her shift early.

Meanwhile, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte, right, has devoted few resources to battling the Philippines’ illicit sex industry even as it wages brutal crackdowns on the drug trade. More than 9,000 bar girls are registered as “entertainers,” but the government mandates they take sexually transmitted disease tests on a weekly basis — a move criticized by activists as a marketing trick to present the city’s sex industry as clean and tourist-friendly.

 Julian Assange in graphic by The Indicter

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is shown in a graphic by the European human rights magazine The Indicter, which has published numerous investigative commentaries documenting how and why the Swedish investigation of Assange on sexual misconduct claims was a politically motivated frame-up encouraged by judges and other officials at the highest levels and encouraged by U.S. and U.K. intelligence officials disturbed by WikiLeaks revelations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sweden drops alleged rape investigation against Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, Karla Adam, Nov. 19, 2019. Swedish prosecutors on Tuesday announced that the eva marie persson deputy public proecutoralleged rape investigation involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been dropped. Eva-Marie Persson, right, the deputy director of public prosecution, said in a statement that “my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation.”

Julian Assange August In 2010, Assange was accused of committing sexual offences in Sweden. A case involving an alleged rape was abandoned in 2017, but then reopened earlier this year after Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London.

Assange, shown at left in a 2014 file photo, is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012 and is fighting extradition to the United States, which accuses him of publishing secret documents.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now shift to “the threat Mr Assange has been warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Jail Workers Are Charged in Epstein Suicide, William K. Rashbaum, Danielle Ivory and Michael Gold, Nov. 19, 2019. Two federal workers who were on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail were charged on Tuesday in connection with their alleged failure to check on him every half-hour.

The charges are the first to arise from a criminal investigation into the death of Mr. Epstein, the disgraced financier who hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThe indictment charged the workers, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, with making false records and conspiring to defraud the United States. Specifically, the indictment said the two workers failed to make their rounds to check on detainees and instead “sat at their desk, browsed the internet and moved around the common area.” Then they signed documents saying they had looked in inmates when they had not.

“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”

Mr. Epstein, 66, had been in custody for more than a month when he was found dead on Aug. 10. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide. Lawyers for Mr. Epstein have challenged that finding, and a forensic pathologist hired by Mr. Epstein’s family has claimed that “evidence points to homicide.”

U.S. Politics

Roll Call, Opinion, The befuddling Democratic presidential race, Walter Shapiro, Nov. 19, 2019. Kamala Harris’ apparent collapse exposes the folly of the political prediction game. Declaring that America was at an “inflection point,” Kamala Harris, right, launched her presidential candidacy in January with a stunning 20,000-person outdoor rally in Oakland.

katherine harrisReflecting the conventional wisdom at that moment, Lisa Lerer wrote for The New York Times, “There’s one thing many leading Democrats seem to agree on: Kamala Harris is a formidable contender.” And Joe Scarborough gushed in an op-ed for The Washington Post, “Kamala Harris has what it takes to fill a big political stage. … The California senator looked very much like a political contender who belongs in the big leagues.”

Nearly 10 months later, Harris’ own campaign is facing an inflection point. Short on cash and abandoning the New Hampshire primary, she claims to be more invested in Iowa than the cast of “The Music Man.”

When it comes to handicapping a presidential race as baffling as the 2020 Democratic nomination fight, the proper response is to shrug your shoulders and mutter something honest, like, “Damned if I know.”

Nov. 18

Global Headlines

Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller grand-jury material needed, Congress tells court, Ann E. Marimow and Spencer S. Hsu​, Nov. 18, 2019. A federal appeals court in Washington is considering whether the Justice Department must immediately release to Congress secret grand-jury materials from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

U.S. House logoAt the Monday hearing, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is reviewing a lower-court ruling that requires disclosure of evidence the House Judiciary Committee says it needs in its “urgent efforts” to determine whether President Trump committed impeachable offenses.

beryl howellLast month, Judge Beryl A. Howell, right, chief of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, found that the House was legally engaged in a judicial process that exempts Congress from grand-jury secrecy rules.

The case is one of several separation-of-powers battles teed up for the Supreme Court. Trump’s private lawyers last week asked the high court to block a subpoena for his tax records from New York prosecutors and to stop a separate House subpoena for his personal and business records. The Justice Department’s appeal is being heard by a three-member panel made up of Judges Judith W. Rogers, Thomas B. Griffith and Neomi Rao.

Any delay, House lawyers said, will deprive the investigationof essential information. In her 75-page opinion, Howell said the Judiciary Committee and the House, in determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment, are serving like a grand jury.

pat cipollone file croppedIn opposing the release, Trump administration lawyers said a Watergate-era court ruling was wrongly decided in finding impeachment proceedings exempt from grand-jury secrecy rules. “These arguments smack of farce,” she wrote, citing a letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, to House leaders saying the administration would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

“The reality,” Howell wrote, “is that DOJ and the White House have been openly stonewalling the House’s efforts to get information by subpoena and by agreement, and the White House has flatly stated that the Administration will not cooperate with congressional requests for information.”

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Sondland Kept Trump Administration Officials Apprised of Ukraine Push, Rebecca Ballhaus, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). A U.S. ambassador set to testify this week in the House impeachment inquiry kept several Trump administration officials apprised of his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations that President Trump would later discuss in a July call with his Ukranian counterpart, emails reviewd by the Wall Street Journal show. The ambassador is Gordon Sondland.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Gordon Sondland just got a bomb dropped on him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2019. For the past couple weeks, Gordon Sondland has been taking on water from all sides and just barely hanging on by a thread. Now, based on new information about what was really going on behind the scenes in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot, it’s fair to say that Sondland is officially drowning – and this comes just days before he’s scheduled to publicly testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

gordon sondland oGordon Sondland, right, was so hellbent on forcing Ukraine to promote the fake Biden scandal, he was almost maniacally out of control about it, according to a startling new expose from the Daily Beast. Sondland apparently spent his meeting with Ukrainian government representatives yelling at them and “ferociously” demanding that they cave to Donald Trump’s extortion demands. Sondland’s behavior in the scandal was “erratic” according to those who witnessed him in action.

bill palmer report logo headerThis paints Sondland as a guy who, despite having no known motive beyond wanting to please his hero Donald Trump, went completely out of his mind in the name of furthering Trump’s international criminal scheming. Sondland recently decided to belatedly start coming clean to the House impeachment inquiry, in the apparent hope of avoiding perjury charges, but he appears to still be leaving out several key confirmed details. Meanwhile, Trump is claiming that he barely knows Sondland, meaning that no magic pardon is coming.

So what’s Gordon Sondland going to do? If he publicly testifies this week to the full extent of the crimes that he and Donald Trump committed, he could still end up with serious criminal exposure – both for perjury and for his increasingly ugly role in the criminal Ukraine plot. That said, Sondland may still have a way out of this, thanks to another new mick mulvaney omb Smallbombshell.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night that it has emails proving that Gordon Sondland was looping in Mick Mulvaney, right, and Rick Perry about his Ukraine extortion efforts dating back to before Donald Trump picked up the phone and committed the impeachable offense. If Sondland can help solidify criminal cases against more important players like Mulvaney and Perry, he could yet prove himself valuable enough as a cooperator to avoid going to prison when this is over.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Sondland: Trump Only Cares for ‘Big Stuff’ Like Biden Probe, Erin Banco, Nov. 18, 2019. David Holmes testified, “Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not give a shit about Ukraine.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump says he will ‘strongly consider’ testifying in writing in impeachment probe, John Wagner and Brittany Shammas, Nov. 18, 2019. Eight current and former officials are scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week to testify about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine for investigations that could benefit him politically.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Nancy Pelosi played Donald Trump even more than we thought, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2019. Palmer Report just got done explaining how Speaker of the djt nancy pelosiHouse Nancy Pelosi played Donald Trump by baiting him into saying he’ll provide written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry. If he went through with it he’d either incriminate or perjure himself. If he backed down, she could accuse him of not having the courage to do what he said he’d do. Now it turns out there’s even more to it.

Now that Donald Trump has publicly agreed to provide written testimony to the House impeachment inquiry, the House is arguing in court today that it needs Robert Mueller’s grand jury materials because it believes Trump lied in his written testimony to Mueller, according to CNN and other major news outlets. Why is this so important?

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Pelosi appeared on Face The Nation this weekend, she knew that House lawyers would be making this argument in court today. She just baited Donald Trump into putting his written impeachment testimony front and center in the national discussion, at a time when she’s trying to convince a judge to turn over evidence that will prove whether or not Trump lied in his precious written testimony. This could help convince the judge to go ahead and turn over the grand jury evidence.

Nancy Pelosi is playing four dimensional chess, while Donald Trump is eating his checkers. She’s baiting him in real time, and he’s falling for it without even realizing what’s happening to him.

washington post logoron johnson o CustomWashington Post, Sen. Johnson says whistleblower’s sources ‘exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed,’ Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian and Douglas MacMillan, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). “This would have been far better off if we would’ve just taken care of this behind the scenes,” the Wisconsin Republican, right, said Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Mueller, Comey and Courage,  David Leonhardt, below right, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). They failed a test. Others are passing. Regular readers of this newsletter may remember my criticisms of both Robert Mueller and James Comey. I think Mueller ducked the tough decisions he faced at the end of his investigation and issued an ineffectual report that failed to come to clear conclusions. And Comey — during the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email use — put a robert mueller full face filehigher priority david leonhardt thumbon preserving his own reputation for being above partisan politics than on doing the right thing.

The impeachment hearings of the last week got me thinking about this recent history, because the witnesses, like Marie Yovanovitch, have shown a strength that Mueller, left, and Comey did not. Those witnesses have been willing to subject themselves to unfair criticism for being partisan in order to defend the country’s ideals. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court puts temporary hold on Trump financial records ruling, Robert Barnes, Nov. 18, 2019. The court gave itself a little more time to decide whether a House committee gets to see the president’s financial records.

Palmer Report, Opinion: No, John Roberts and the Supreme Court didn’t just side with Donald Trump on his tax returns, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2019. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, below left, just announced that he’s putting a hold on the recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Donald Trump’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records and tax returns to the john roberts oHouse impeachment inquiry. This is widely being interpreted as the Supreme Court siding with Trump on the matter. But that’s not what happened today – at all.

The Appeals Court ruling generated a deadline of this Wednesday for Donald Trump’s financial records to be turned over. Trump appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. Obviously, the Supreme Court isn’t going to be able to figure out before Wednesday how it wants to respond to this appeal.

So, just as things are supposed to work, Roberts announced today that he’s placing a hold on the deadline until the Supreme Court can decide what it wants to do. The next step will be for the Justices to decide if they even want to take up the case. This could still be over within a matter of days.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are some fatalists within the Resistance who decided a long time ago that because there are five conservative Supreme Court Justices, the court will automatically side with Donald Trump on any given ruling. But that’s not how anything works. The dispute over Trump’s financial records is not an ideological matter. There’s no reason to expect that Roberts will side with Trump in this case, and last we checked, Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t get to vote twice. In any case, for now, the upshot is that the Supreme Court has not in any way sided with Trump by making the move it made today. Today’s move was always, and all but automatically, going to happen as a matter of procedure.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Envoy to Testify He Didn’t Know Ukraine Aid Was Tied to Investigations, Peter Baker, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 18, 2019. Kurt Volker will modify his testimony in the impeachment inquiry, saying he was kept out of the loop at key moments of Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign. Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, plans to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that he was out of the loop at key moments during President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to turn up damaging information about Democrats, according to an account of his prepared testimony.

kurt volkerAs the House Intelligence Committee opens its second week of public impeachment hearings, Mr. Volker, left, will say that he did not realize that others working for Mr. Trump were tying American security aid to a commitment to investigate Democrats. His testimony, summarized by a person informed about it who insisted on anonymity to describe it in advance, will seek to reconcile his previous closed-door description of events with conflicting versions offered subsequently by other witnesses.

Mr. Volker will be one of four witnesses appearing before the committee on Tuesday as it ramps up its investigation into the president’s effort to extract domestic political help from a foreign power while holding up $391 million in American security aid. The committee, which already had eight witnesses set for this week, added a ninth on Monday by calling David Holmes, a senior American Embassy official in Ukraine who overheard a conversation in which Mr. Trump asked about whether Ukraine was going to agree to carry out the investigations he wanted.

U.S. Politicsdjt read transcript photo Custom

Trump supporters display teeshirts with logos "Read the Transcript" at a recent Trump political rally supporting fellow Republicans (file photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: President Trump Bet Big This Election Year. Here’s Why He Lost, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). In Louisiana and Kentucky, Mr. Trump’s political pleas appeared to energize Democrats and political moderates as much as his own base, sending turnout in cities and suburbs soaring.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomWhen President Trump showed up in Louisiana for the third time in just over a month to try to help Republicans win the governor’s race, he veered off script and got to the heart of why he was staging such an unusual political intervention. His attempt to lift Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky to victory this month had failed, Mr. Trump explained, and it would look bad for him to lose another race in a heavily Republican state.

“You got to give me a big win, please, O.K.,” the president pleaded with a red-hatted crowd last Thursday in Bossier City, La.

But on Saturday night, Mr. Trump’s wager backfired in spectacular fashion.

Not only did Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat (shown at far left with his GOP opponent), win re-election by more than 40,000 votes, he did so with the same coalition that propelled Governor-john bel edwards eddie risponeelect Andy Beshear to victory in Kentucky and that could put the president’s re-election chances in grave jeopardy next year. Like Mr. Beshear, Mr. Edwards energized a combination of African-Americans and moderate whites in and around the urban centers of his state, building decisive margins in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

It was a striking setback for a president who proclaimed himself his party’s kingmaker in last year’s midterms, but has a decidedly mixed record when it comes to pushing his chosen candidates to victory in general elections. And it continued a November losing streak that included not only Mr. Bevin’s loss in Kentucky, but a wave of state and local Democratic victories in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Missouri that also were driven by suburban voters.

The results in Kentucky and Louisiana are particularly ominous for the president, in part because they indicate that his suburban problem extends to traditionally conservative Southern states and may prove even more perilous in the moderate Midwest next year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump backs off his flavored vape ban — for exactly the reason he said he wouldn’t, Aaron Blake, Nov. 18, 2019. It’s hardly a surprise that President donald trump twitterTrump is backing off his previously announced flavored vape ban. The whole thing seemed rather haphazard at the time, and he’s no stranger to such reversals. He was going to get tough on guns before he didn’t. He was going to do a full and immediate Syria withdrawal, until he wasn’t.

His administration is pockmarked with officials around Trump having to adjust to his whims, only to see the whims soon fade to the background, along with the policies lodged to satisfy them.

World News

washington post logobenny grantz cropped flickr as israel defense forces chief of staffjpg SmallWashington Post, Bid by Netanyahu’s rival to form a new Israeli government enters final, fraught stretch, Ruth Eglash, Nov. 18, 2019. Benny Gantz has two days left to assemble a governing coalition and unseat the prime minister.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. says Israeli settlements in West Bank do not violate international law, Karen DeYoung and Steve Hendrix​, Nov. 18, 2019. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration, as it did with recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, had simply “recognized the reality on the ground.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: In modern times, medical secrecy surrounding a leader is a sign of fascism, Wayne Madsen (columnist, author and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 18, 2019. Significant questions surround Donald Trump’s rushed visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on the afternoon of November 16th.

Trump and Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s so-called “press secretary,” claimed that Trump’s trip to the Bethesda hospital was the first part of his annual medical examination. However, Trump underwent his annual physical in February of this year. Grisham said that because Trump anticipates “a very busy 2020,” he wanted to take advantage of a “free weekend” to begin parts of his annual exam.

One thing is for certain. Intelligence agencies around the world are combing through signals intercepts and human intelligence reports trying to determine the present state of Trump’s health. This is a discipline known as “medical intelligence,” or MEDINT.

#MeToo Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Bogaletch Gebre, Foe of Female Genital Mutilation, Dies at 66, Katharine Q. Seelye, Nov. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Called “the woman who began the rebellion of bogaletch gebre CustomEthiopian women,” she helped thwart a barbaric practice that she had suffered and that had cost her sister’s life. Bogaletch Gebre, right, an Ethiopian women’s rights activist and scientist who helped lead a successful campaign in her homeland against female genital mutilation, a barbaric practice she herself had endured growing up there, died on Nov. 2 in Los Angeles. Her birth date is not known, but she was said to be 66.

Her death was announced by the website of the nonprofit organization she founded, KMG Ethiopia, which in its two decades has helped end the culturally entrenched practice of genital mutilation and has empowered women in that country.

The website did not specify the cause of Ms. Gebre’s death. The Los Angeles Times reported that she had been receiving medical treatment in Los Angeles in recent years after a car accident in 1987 left her with nerve damage.

After that accident, doctors told her she might never walk again. But she went on to run six marathons, raising money to pursue her charitable projects. That was just one sign of the determination that propelled her life. Ms. Gebre overcame extraordinary adversity in her youth, gaining an education and moving to Israel and the United States for scientific training, then returning to Ethiopia to focus on improving the lives of its women.

Through her efforts, the rate of female genital mutilation in the areas where KMG Ethiopia operated dropped to 3 percent from 100 percent over 10 years, according to a 2008 UNICEF study. In addition, some of these areas banned child marriage, bride abduction, polygamy and domestic violence.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Prince Andrew Could Be ‘Canceled’ Under King Charles, Tom Sykes, Nov. 18, 2019. While the queen is alive, Prince Andrew is untouchable—even after that BBC interview. But Prince Charles could strip his beleaguered brother of royal duties when he becomes king.

 jeffrey epstein complex dcma federal court protester

A protester against sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein holds his  photo aloft before his death in his cell

ny times logoNew York Times, Why These 5 Accusers of Jeffrey Epstein Want More Than Money, Jesse McKinley, Nov. 17, 2019. The women, who sued Mr. Epstein’s estate last week, say victims of sex crimes should get more time to bring civil claims. By now, the contours of Teresa Helm’s account have become familiar. She was 22 when she met the man that she now knows was Jeffrey Epstein.

She came to Mr. Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion for what she believed to be an interview with a wealthy client for a job as his traveling masseuse, she said. There was talk of lavish parties, exotic travel and educational opportunities.

With no one else in the room, Ms. Helm said, the man, whom she knew only as Jeffrey, asked for a foot rub. Once she began, she said, he moved his foot into her “intimate parts.” When she tried to leave, he grabbed and sexually assaulted her.

“Don't do anything I wouldn’t do,” she recalled him saying as she left.

Ms. Helm returned home to California, deeply disturbed by the experience. Embarrassed and scared, she did not call the police, and she did her best to banish the episode from her memory. It was only 17 years later, when she heard Mr. Epstein’s name while listening to a YouTube channel shortly after his arrest in July, that she began to realize who had assaulted her in 2002. Ms. Helm is one of five women who sued Mr. Epstein’s estate in Federal District Court in Manhattan last week, accusing him of rape, battery and false imprisonment and seeking unspecified damages.

But the lawsuits have another purpose: to build momentum for changing the statute of limitations in New York and elsewhere for civil claims stemming from sex crimes, which are under growing scrutiny across the United States.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Lawsuit: New Victim Claims Epstein Raped Her at 15, Tarpley Hitt, Nov. 18, 2019. In a new lawsuit filed Monday, a victim identified only as Jane Doe 15 alleges that Jeffrey Epstein assaulted her at his New Mexico ranch when she was just 15 years old. Monday morning, attorney Gloria Allred announced a new civil lawsuit, alleging that the late billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein had targeted yet another victim, identified only as Jane Doe 15, by inviting her to his New Mexico ranch, where he sexually assaulted her when jeffrey epstein hands handsshe was just 15 years old. The lawsuit, filed today in a New York district court against the two executors of Epstein’s estate, seeks compensatory and punitive damages according to proof at trial for battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Reporters gathered in a 15th-floor conference suite on Wilshire Boulevard, where Allred, wearing a bright pink blazer, sat beside Doe 15, a slim 31-year-old with cropped silver hair. Allred, perched on a yellow pages booster seat, introduced Doe 15, describing her involvement in earlier Epstein litigation. The alleged victim had delivered an impact statement at an August hearing in New York, following the billionaire’s death. Then, the attorney turned the mic to Doe 15, who began to describe how she first met one of Epstein’s assistants on a field trip to New York City in early 2004.

In Doe 15’s statement, she paid close attention to the class power dynamics that Epstein manipulated to coerce his victims. It wasn’t the billionaire’s physical force that had overpowered her, she said, so much as the symbolic weight his prestige and money had afforded him. “Epstein wielded great villainous power in his ability to make victims feel shame of their backgrounds to the point where we felt grateful for any attention or invitation into his inner billionaire playground, no matter the trauma it brought upon us,” she said. “It was the weight of Epstein’s wealth, the isolation to which he subjected me and his discussion of his social connections that crushed me into submission, far more than his physical strength.”

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Epstein’s Prison Guards Expected to be Charged by Feds, Pervaiz Shallwani and Julia Arciga, Nov. 18, 2019. A person familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast that they could be charged with falsifying prison records as early as Tuesday. The two prison guards tasked with keeping watch over accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein on the night he committed suicide inside his New York City jail cell are expected to be charged falsifying prison records, a person familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast. The criminal charges against the two unnamed guards could come as early as Tuesday, the person said.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThe U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment. The pending charges, first reported by the Washington Post, are the first by federal investigators who have been probing how mysterious financier was allowed to take his own life on the morning of Aug. 10 death inside heavily guarded jail cell inside New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

According to multiple reports, the guards allegedly did not check on Epstein every 30 minutes like they were supposed to, and are accused of falsifying prison records to make it seem like they had. The New York City medical examiner concluded that Epstein died of suicide by hanging. The guards were reportedly offered a plea deal, but declined to take it. Epstein was arrested on July 6 and was awaiting trial on charges of sex-trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex-trafficking.

U.S. Crime, Courts

paul erickson maria butina

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Paul Erickson, Maria Butina’s Boyfriend, Pleads Guilty, Betsy Swan and Erin Banco, Nov. 18, 2019. Erickson admits he conned someone called only “D.G.” into wiring him $100,000, under the pretense that the money was for a real estate investment in North Dakota. It was not.

Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of convicted Russian agent Maria Butina, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering, according to a plea agreement filed in a South Dakota federal court Monday afternoon.

In a two-page statement detailing the factual basis for the plea, Erickson said he conned someone only identified as “D.G.” into wiring him $100,000 under the pretense that the money was for a real estate investment in North Dakota. As part of the plea filed in U.S. district court in South Dakota, Erickson admits the money was not for a real estate deal. He also notes that he wired $1,000 of the money to a person called “M.B.”

An attorney for Erickson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case against Erickson, a well-known conservative operative who shuttled between Washington D.C. and South Dakota, was separate from the one lodged against Butina in Washington, D.C.

Butina, a Russian national who cultivated relationships with powerful American conservative activists including Erickson, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate laws prohibiting covert foreign agents. As part of her agreement she has promised to cooperate with American law enforcement. She was deported earlier this year after serving a short prison sentence to her native Russia where she received a hero’s welcome.

Erickson became involved in relationship with Butina in 2013. As The Daily Beast previously reported, the duo dressed up as Rasputin to Butina’s flame-haired Empress Alexandra during a 2016 birthday party. The over-the-top gathering included an ice sculpture of a bottle imprinted with the Soviet hammer and sickle from which vodka flowed.

The couple, who at one point lived together in South Dakota, had some kind of business together. The two were listed as the sole officers of Bridges LLC, a company registered in the state in February 2016, though it’s unclear what the company did or how it operated.

Erickson was indicted in February on allegations that he ran a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 in which he was accused of using a chain of assisted living homes called Compass Care.

Nov. 17

U.S. Political Headlines

Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

ap logoAssociated Press, Democrats invite Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry, Jill Colvin, Nov. 17, 2019. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President Donald Trump to testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment inquiry ahead of a week that will see several key witnesses appear publicly.

Pushing back against accusations from the president that the process has been stacked against him, Pelosi said Trump is welcome to appear or answer questions in writing, if he chooses.

djt nancy pelosi“If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it,” she said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Trump “could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants,” she said.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer echoed that suggestion.

“If Donald Trump doesn’t agree with what he’s hearing, doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he shouldn’t tweet. He should come to the committee and testify under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath,” Schumer told reporters. He said the White House’s insistence on blocking witnesses from cooperating begs the question: “What is he hiding?”

The comments come as the House Intelligence Committee prepares for a second week of public hearings as part of its inquiry, including with the man who is arguably the most important witness. Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, is among the only people interviewed to date who had direct conversations with the president about the situation because the White House has blocked others from cooperating with what they dismiss as a sham investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sondland acted at Trump’s behest, senior official says, Colby Itkowitz, Karoun Demirjian, Michael Kranish and Shane Harris, Nov. 17, 2019 (print ed.). A former White House national security official told House investigators that Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, was acting at President Trump’s behest and spoke to a top Ukrainian official about exchanging military aid for political investigations — two elements at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Tim Morrison OMB, left in OctoberTim Morrison, right, the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, testified that between July 16 and Sept. 11, he understood that Sondland had spoken to Trump about half a dozen times, according to a transcript of his sworn Oct. 31 deposition released by House committees Saturday. Trump has said he does not know Sondland well and has tried to distance himself from the E.U. ambassador, whom Trump put in charge of Ukraine policy along with two others, even though Ukraine is not part of the European Union.

“His mandate from the president was to go make deals,” Morrison said of Sondland.

gordon sondland oSondland, left, continues to emerge as possibly the key figure in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as multiple witnesses have now described him as central to answering the question at the heart of the effort to remove Trump from office: Did the president specifically withhold military aid and a White House visit desperately sought by the new Ukrainian government in the face of Russian aggression in exchange for investigations into his political rivals?

Sondland has provided sworn testimony behind closed doors, but questions have been raised about whether he was fully forthcoming with lawmakers. He has already revised his testimony once, and Sondland will testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday in what is now a highly anticipated appearance.

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washington post logoWashington Post, White House budget official says decision to delay aid to Ukraine was highly irregular, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Colby Itkowitz and Erica Werner, Nov. 17, 2019 (print ed.). Saturday's testimony from Mark Sandy, above, who is the first employee of the Office of Management and Budget to testify in the House’s probe, appeared to omb logo management and budget seal Customconfirm Democrats’ suspicions that the decision to withhold congressionally approved funds for Ukraine was a political one.

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

U.S. Politics (Cont. from Above.)john bel edwards eddie rispone

ny times logoNew York Times, In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for a Democrat and a Hard Loss for Trump, Rick Rojas and Jeremy Alford, Nov. 17, 2019 (print ed.). Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, above left, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, narrowly won re-election Saturday, overcoming the intervention of President Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to lift the Republicans and demonstrate his own clout.

The result (reported as 51.3 to 48.7% with 99% returns) was just as much a stinging rebuke for Mr. Trump, who had wagered significant political capital on the race in an effort to lift Eddie Rispone, 70, above right,the Republican nominee. The president campaigned for Mr. Rispone twice in the final two weeks of the race, warning Louisiana voters that a loss would reflect poorly on his presidency. That appeal was insufficient, just as it was in Kentucky earlier this month, where Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, was defeated despite an election eve visit from Mr. Trump. Of the three governor’s races in deep red states this year, Republicans won only one, in Mississippi.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe victory was a deeply personal one for Mr. Edwards, a conservative Democrat in a state and region where his party can often be a disqualifier in statewide races. He campaigned on his accomplishments in office, like balancing the budget, increasing education spending and expanding Medicaid. He also highlighted his conservative stances on abortion and guns and showcased his background as a West Point graduate and son of a sheriff, to appeal to right-leaning voters.

Before the election, Mr. Rispone, a construction magnate from Baton Rouge, had never before run for political office. He vaulted ahead after more prominent Republicans decided republican party upside downagainst running and became competitive against the governor after cloaking himself in Mr. Trump’s popularity.

“This is about the power of the vote and about people in this state standing up and standing together to do what’s right for this state,” said the Rev. A. J. Johnson, a pastor at First Pilgrim Calvary Baptist, a predominantly African-American congregation in Geismar, southeast of Baton Rouge. “It’s not about what a president thinks is right for this state.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Bloomberg Apologizes for Stop-and-Frisk: ‘I Was Wrong,’ Shane Goldmacher, Nov. 17, 2019. Ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York reversed his longstanding support of the aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy that he pursued for a decade and that led to the disproportionate stopping of black and Latino people across the city.

michael bloomberg2“I was wrong,” Mr. Bloomberg, right, declared. “And I am sorry.”

The speech, Mr. Bloomberg’s first since he re-emerged as a possible presidential candidate, was a remarkable concession by a 77-year-old billionaire not known for self-doubt: that a pillar of his 12-year mayoralty was a mistake that he now regrets.

Speaking before the congregation at the Christian Cultural Center, a black megachurch in Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomberg delivered his apology in the heart of one of the communities most affected by his policing policies and at a location that nodded to the fact that should he decide to run, African-American voters would be a crucial Democratic constituency that he would need to win over.

Ahead of a possible Democratic run for president, the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg reversed himself before a key constituency: black voters.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff takes a blowtorch to Mick Mulvaney, Bill Palmer, Nov. 17, 2019. On Saturday, OMB official Mark Sandy broke ranks and testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry. This was a major blow to Donald Trump, as Sandy was involved with the money trail in the Ukraine extortion scandal. It was an even bigger blow to Mick Mulvaney, who is still the OMB Director in addition to being Trump’s Acting White House Chief of Staff.

bill palmer report logo headerMick Mulvaney now has a problem, because after he publicly confessed to Donald Trump’s quid pro quo, he refused to come in and explain things to the House impeachment inquiry – and now one of his underlings has done it for him. Now that Mulvaney’s window of opportunity to come in from the cold has come and gone, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is taking a blowtorch to him.

mick mulvaney djt 2 SmallAdam Schiff released a statement calling out Mick Mulvaney, right, for refusing to testify, and for trying to block others like Mark Sandy from testifying. Schiff then added this: “This is the same Mick Mulvaney who publicly admitted from the White House podium that Trump withheld the military aid in order to pressure omb logo management and budget seal CustomUkraine to conduct investigations meant to help the President’s re-election campaign, and the same Mick Mulvaney who was a direct firsthand participant in and witness to the scheme.”

We suspect Adam Schiff is zeroing in on Mick Mulvaney right now as a way of signaling to him that he’s been fully nailed by the testimony of Mark Sandy and others. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Mulvaney doesn’t go to prison after Trump is gone, and Schiff appears to be letting Mulvaney know that his time is up to cut a plea deal.

Trump Hospital Visit / Media

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Trump undergoes tests at Walter Reed hospital as part of annual physical, White House says, Jill Colvin, Nov. 16, 2019. The appointment wasn’t on President Trump’s weekend public schedule. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump, 73, wanted to take advantage of “a free weekend.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just completely changed his story about why he was at Walter Reed hospital, Bill Palmer, Nov. 17, 2019. When Donald Trump was unexpectedly taken to Walter Reed Medical Center on Saturday, his White House inexplicably claimed that it was simply because he had decided to do part of his annual physical three months early. No one bought this absurd explanation, and it set off internet-wide speculation about whether he’d had a health emergency. Now Trump is completely changing his story.

bill palmer report logo headerShortly after midnight, Donald Trump posted this tweet: “Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center. Those are truly some of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.”

Wait, which one is it? Are we supposed to believe that Trump went to a military hospital to visit with a military family, and just decided to get part of his annual physical done three month early while he was there? Have any of you ever visited someone in the hospital, and then randomly decided to get some routine tests run for no reason while you were there? That’s not how anything works, even if you’re the president.

'Deep State' / Drugs

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The real ‘deep state’ is about corporate power, not entrenched bureaucrats, Mike Lofgren (right, former Republican congressional staff member and the author of The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government), Nov. 17, 2019. This right-wing catchphrase supposedly describes rebellious mike lofgren photo covergovernment workers. But moneyed influencers are the real “deep state.”

With impeachment hearings underway, conservatives’ favorite catchphrase, the “deep state,” has gotten a thorough airing. Stephen Miller, the White House’s hard-line immigration adviser, called the Ukraine whistleblower a “saboteur,” adding, “I know the difference between a whistleblower and a deep state operative.”

As the author who popularized this term, I’m invoking the privilege of correcting them. There is no deep state as the right imagines it — that is, a secret cabal of government insiders hellbent on undermining the White House. Rather, it is Trump himself, under the camouflage of populist rhetoric, who has overseen the open expansion of the deep state: entrenched interests gaining outsize influence and setting their own policy agenda, unchecked by the will of the people, their elected representatives or the civil servants meant to regulate them.

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JIP Editor's note: Author, poet and retired University of California at Berkeley professor Peter Dale Scott, shown above, a former Canadian diplomat, is credited elsewhere with helping popularize the terms "Deep State" and "Deep Politics" beginning decades ago as applied to United States civic affairs via his books and articles.

The books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), Deep Politics II (1994, republished and updated in 2013 as Oswald, Mexico and Deep Politics) and The American Deep State (2015). A reluctance to credit Scott for the terms may stem from a desire in more conventional political circles to normalize the political methods (including arms and narcotics trafficking, money laundering and political assassinations) that some political operatives and their leaders have found effective in American politics on occasion. 

 janis joplin via reelz

Pop star Janis Joplin shown hours before her death at age 27 (photo via YouTube excerpt from documentary clip by Reelz).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The ’60s tore my family apart. Acid made it worse, Mike Wise, Nov. 17, 2019. Forty-nine years after she died of a heroin overdose at age 27, rock’s doomed diva is on the road again. “A Night With Janis Joplin,” a musical homage to the psychedelic era and its favorite blues singer (shown in a  1969 file photo), returned to its Bay Area roots in mid-October — to Santa Rosa and then San Jose, where I first heard that scratchy, sultry crooning through our living-room stereo.

Interest in hallucinogenic drugs has rarely been stronger. The Oct. 13 episode of “60 Minutes” featured Johns Hopkins University’s ongoing psilocybin research studies. The report made a good case for magic mushrooms’ ability to cure depression and addiction; many control-group patients in the study swore the drug took them on some of the most profound “journeys” of their lives.

But what if you weren’t merely a child of the Sixties but just … a child? What if you couldn’t trust anyone to be your caregiver under 30? And what if, over time, you grew so sick and cia logotired of hearing about how great it all had been that you just wanted to tell everyone to stop the revisionist history and shut the hell up?

Lots of people who are still in thrall to The Sixties — and, for that matter, many of their children who still want to live vicariously through their parents’ imaginary pasts — remember that Janis and Jimi OD’d within three weeks of each other in 1970, they might also remember a songwriter and lyricist named Robert Hunter, best known for collaborating with Jerry Garcia.

Despite putting his body through hell over many years, he died in September at 78, outliving many of his contemporaries. Buried in his obituary was this: Hunter volunteered around 1962 to be a guinea pig in Stanford University’s CIA-sponsored psychedelic-drug research program. He was the first member of the Grateful Dead whitey bulger youngto regularly take LSD, a fact often attributed to the creative surge the band experienced in the following decade.

James “Whitey” Bulger, right, the late Boston crime boss, became one of MK-Ultra’s earliest test subjects when he was incarcerated at an Atlanta penitentiary in 1957. “Eight convicts in a panic and paranoid state,” Bulger later wrote of being forcibly injected with the drug. “Total loss of appetite. Hallucinating. The room would change shape. Hours of paranoia and feeling violent. We experienced horrible periods of living nightmares and even blood coming out of the walls. Guys turning to skeletons in front of me. I saw a camera change into the head of a dog. I felt like I was going insane.”

World News

washington post logosouth korea flag SmallWashington Post, U.S. and South Korea postpone military drills in bid to save North Korea dialogue, Simon Denyer, Nov. 17, 2019. Pyongyang said cancellation of the exercises would be seen as a positive gesture but threatened “shocking punishment” if the United States went ahead with a “hostile provocation.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Police Threaten to Use Lethal Force in Standoff at Hong Kong University, Mike Ives, Tiffany May, Edward Wong and Katherine Li, Nov. 17, 2019. A besieged Hong Kong university was gripped with tension into the early hours of Monday morning, as the police force threatened to use lethal force to arrest anyone china flag Smallwho did not surrender.

After a nearly 24-hour standoff on the fringes of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in which protesters set two bridges on fire and shot an officer using a bow and arrow, lawmakers scrambled to stop riot police officers from charging inside and arresting hundreds of antigovernment demonstrators who had occupied the campus for days in a fiery siege.

Inside DC

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 big thing: Trump said Haspel agreed with him "100%" on torture, Jonathan Swan, Nov. 17, 2019. Last May, then-White House counsel Don McGahn wanted to cia logowithdraw Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director. McGahn told colleagues that Haspel's role in the CIA's controversial "enhanced interrogation" program could kill her in her Senate confirmation.

Driving the news: President Trump disagreed. Trump actually liked this aspect of Haspel's resume, according to three sources who spoke to the president at the time. In fact, Trump told aides that Haspel's support for "torture" or "waterboarding" (Trump uses these words interchangeably in his private conversations) was an asset, not a liability.

Trump told advisers that he asked Haspel her opinion on whether waterboarding works. In Trump's telling, Haspel replied to him that she was "100%" sure it works, a source who spoke to Trump about it told me.
"He seemed impressed with how sure she was about something so controversial," the source said. "That she did not bat an eye, did not sugarcoat it, that it works. When it comes to national security, she does not hesitate."

A CIA spokesperson declined to comment for this story, but pointed Axios to a section of Haspel's confirmation testimony in which she said the CIA "learned some tough lessons from that experience" interrogating suspected terrorists after 9/11.

"Having served in that tumultuous time," Haspel told Congress, "I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, on my watch, CIA will not restart a detention and interrogation program."

Why it matters: Trump has held the same views about war crimes and torture for years — and being commander in chief has not changed him. He believes that previous presidents have been far too eager to send Americans to war, but that once they've been deployed, these soldiers should be free to treat enemies brutally.

Trump's views on this subject flared up again last week. He clashed with Pentagon brass when he cleared three soldiers who have been accused or convicted of war crimes.
Pentagon leaders had privately argued that the president's intervention in these cases would undercut the code of military justice.

Trump has told advisers that the U.S. military became too politically correct under President Obama and that he wanted to unleash them to fight with "toughness," without these burdensome rules of engagement.

Trump's immutable views on this subject have put him at odds with Pentagon leadership more than once. From the outset, Trump disagreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis over the effectiveness of waterboarding.

Other "Sneak Peek" stories include:

  • Democrats' Week 2 impeachment strategy
  • Inside Republicans' defense strategy

Media News

 daily beast logoDaily Beast, Michelle Malkin Fired Over Support for Holocaust Denier, Will Sommer, Nov. 17, 2019. Malkin’s firing from Young America’s Foundation marks the latest battle between supporters of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and more establishment conservative figures.

washington post logoWashington Post, A radio host criticized Trump on the air. He was fired mid-show, he says, Derek Hawkins, Nov. 17, 2019. A host from a conservative radio station in Denver said he was abruptly fired after criticizing President Trump during his weekly talk show Saturday morning. Craig Silverman, a former local prosecutor, was replaying parts of a 2015 interview with Trump confidant Roger Stone when managers from 710 KNUS cut him off and switched to network news, according to the Denver Post. Stone was convicted Friday of witness tampering and lying to Congress in connection with the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the clip, Silverman told Stone that he was bothered by Trump’s relationship with the late Roy Cohn, Trump’s former attorney and mentor who was widely regarded as a ruthless and unscrupulous power broker.

djt maga hatSilverman said the station’s program director came through the door without warning and told him, “You’re done,” according to the Denver Post. The host added that he intended to spend the last hour of his show discussing “how toxic Trump is in Colorado” and arguing that congressional Democrats were “making a strong case” in the impeachment inquiry.

Silverman and representatives from KNUS and its broadcaster, Salem Media Group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday morning. The station appeared to have deactivated the website for “The Craig Silverman Show,” and some of the show’s archives appeared to have been removed.

Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver, calls himself an independent with conservative and liberal views. On his show and in news interviews, he has said he has cast more ballots for Republicans than for Democrats, voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Trump in 2016.

Nov. 16

Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Coverage Noted Above

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Embassy Official Confirms Trump Asked About Ukraine Investigation, Nicholas Fandos, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). The American official in Kiev also said he was told that Mr. Trump cared more about the investigations in Ukraine than about the country. An official from the United States Embassy in Kiev confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he had overheard a call between President Trump and a top American diplomat in July in which the president asked whether Ukraine was going to move forward with an investigation he wanted.

The official, David Holmes, above right, testified privately that he was at a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when he overheard Mr. Trump on a cellphone call loudly asking Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals. Mr. Sondland, who had just come from a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and the country’s president, replied in the affirmative.

“So, he’s going to do the investigation?” Mr. Trump asked, according to a copy of Mr. Holmes’s opening statement posted by CNN and confirmed by The New York Times.

marie yovanovitch cbs

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Washington Post, Trump attacks ambassador even as she describes feeling threatened by him, Rosalind S. Helderman and Rachael Bade​, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Yovanovitch says that Trump transcript ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ her. While the former ambassador to Ukraine was testifying, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Yovanovitch told lawmakers Friday that when she read how President Trump had talked about her to his Ukrainian counterpart in a July phone call — saying ominously that “she’s going to go through some things” — the color drained from her face.

“It sounded like a threat,” she said.

marie yovanovitchEven as Yovanovitch testified, the president continued to go after her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

The president’s denigration of a widely respected Foreign Service officer — while she calmly but forcefully denounced his earlier attacks against her — drew widespread criticism, with many Democratic lawmakers calling it witness intimidation.

adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence committee chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters during a break in the hearing that the nation had seen “witness intimidation in real time” by the president.

Speaking on Fox News, former independent counsel Ken Starr, a frequent Trump defender, said the president “was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment.”

The dramatic narrative of Yovanovitch’s abrupt recall this spring from her post in Kyiv, where she had served as ambassador since 2016, formed the centerpiece of the second day of the House public impeachment hearings.

ny times logoPresident Donald Trump officialNew York Times, Editorial: Did President Trump Just Earn Himself Another Article of Impeachment? Editorial Board, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Now there’s witness intimidation and clearer evidence he had no interest in cleaning up Ukraine. Republican defenders of Donald Trump have argued that he withheld congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine and a promised White House meeting because he wanted assurances that Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was serious about fighting corruption.

Sworn testimony in the House impeachment inquiry on Friday obliterated that defense, revealing that Mr. Trump was interested in assurances of a very different kind.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Revenge of the Bureaucrats, Elizabeth Drew (Washington-based journalist who covered Watergate), Nov. 16, 2019. Honesty is the best foreign policy. The opening hearings on the Ukraine scandal demonstrated that mundane government processes and seemingly colorless bureaucrats are what keep our country going. It was these sorts of unknown public servants who maintained the executive branch functioning during Watergate — and are doing so now while our distracted president and his acolytes try to circumvent the rules.

george kent oThe witnesses in the first week of open hearings were three lifelong career diplomats — on Wednesday, William Taylor, currently the chargé d’affaires in Ukraine, and George Kent, right, the senior State Department official on Ukraine; and on Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat whom President Trump fired as ambassador to Ukraine because she got in the way of his private schemes.

While the three witnesses came across as unusually admirable, they’re not atypical of their breed. They will endure only so much abuse or see only so much scandal around them before rising up in some way. All three testified in defiance of the president.

Mr. Trump cannot fathom such people, because they’re not interested in big money or fame. The “bureaucracy” may seem sluggish, stubborn and unimaginative at times, but it also can stand as a bulwark against assaults on the laws and the Constitution by the passers-through who inhabit the administration of the moment. Mr. Trump made a big mistake by demeaning civil servants from the outset (his awkward, self-reverential speech to the C.I.A. on his first full day in office was an embarrassment and also an omen) and then setting about trying to make them irrelevant.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence aide just gave impeachment testimony that totally screws Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 16, 2019. Earlier this week, Mike Pence aide Jennifer mike pence oWilliams testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry. Based on what little leaked out at the time, it appeared that her testimony was bad for Donald Trump. Her testimony transcript has been released this evening, and it’s worse for Trump than we were expecting.

Jennifer Williams was one of several people who listened in on Donald Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. When she first agreed to give impeachment testimony, we were all left wondering what her motivations were. Would she try to protect Trump, in the hope of scoring Mike Pence some points with bill palmer report logo headerTrump? Would she try to protect Pence by selling Trump out? Was she merely testifying because she was subpoenaed and didn’t want to face legal repercussions?

Based on her testimony, it appears Williams has indeed decided to sell Donald Trump out. When she was asked how she viewed Trump’s Ukraine phone call, she characterized it as “unusual and inappropriate.” To be clear, she didn’t have to say this; she could have just said that she had no opinion. She then took things even further by saying “I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold.”

She’ll likely be called back to testify in front of the television cameras for all to see.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Ukraine Aid, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, According to Testimony, Nov. 16, 2019. John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, met privately with the president in August as part of a bid to persuade Mr. Trump to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators last month.

john bolton youtube guardianThe meeting, which has not been previously reported, came as Mr. Bolton, right, sought to marshal Mr. Trump’s cabinet secretaries and top national security advisers to convince the president that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But Mr. Bolton emerged with Mr. Trump unmoved, and instructed the aide to look for new opportunities to get those officials in front of Mr. Trump.

“The extent of my recollection is that Ambassador Bolton simply said he wasn’t ready to do it,” said the aide, Timothy Morrison, referring to Mr. Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Envoy Testifies of Intimidation by Trump, He Attacks Her Anew, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Schiff Warns Against Efforts to Deter Impeachment Witnesses. President Trump attacked Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on Twitter while she testified before investigators.
Representative Adam Schiff interrupted the hearing to read the tweet. “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously,” he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, An Ambassador Headlines a Bad Day for Trump, Mark Leibovich, Nov. 16 2019 (print ed.). Marie Yovanovitch walked to her seat with a story to tell. She exited nearly seven hours later to applause. “In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation,” Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted American ambassador to Ukraine, said on Friday. “This has been a very painful period.”

It was just after 9 a.m. and the career diplomat and self-declared “private person” found herself engulfed in a ritual camera burst. She had entered the hearing room by a side door, as if she could avoid a fuss.

washington post logocia logoWashington Post, How a lone CIA analyst triggered the inquiry that has engulfed U.S. politics, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Paul Sonne, Nov. 16, 2019. Dozens of senior officials were aware of or involved in President Trump's shadow foreign policy on Ukraine. It is not clear whether any of it would have come to light were it not for a memo from a relatively junior CIA employee, who is now the target of almost daily attacks by Trump and right-wing efforts to make his identity widely public.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House budget official with knowledge of delay in military aid to Ukraine is testifying today, Colby Itkowitz and Erica Werner​, Nov. 16, 2019. House impeachment investigators hope Mark Sandy, a longtime employee, will fill out their understanding of why nearly $400 million in assistance was held up.

• Analysis: Holmes testimony is an unwelcome Friday night surprise for Trump
• Behind the New York Times and Politico articles that Trump allies keep citing
• Stefanik emerges in hearings as key Trump defender — and GOP celebrity
• Witness says he overheard Trump demand Ukrainian.

Trump Ailng? Profiteering?

bill palmer report logo headerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has unexpectedly gone to Walter Reed hospital – and something doesn’t add up, Bill Palmer Nov. 16, 2019. The White House is claiming that it’s because Trump suddenly decided to have portions of his annual physical done. For too many obvious reasons to count, this doesn’t even come close to adding up – but what’s really going on?

Trump isn’t supposed to have his annual physical until February; it’s still November. The notion that he’s having his “annual” physical done three months early is so absurd that it pretty much disqualifies it from even being an annual physical; what if his health situation changed between now an February? Moreover, nothing of the sort was on Donald Trump’s official schedule today. That leaves a couple possibilities.

washington post logosecret service logoWashington Post, Trump’s Doral resort was a last-minute addition in search for G-7 site, email shows, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 16, 2019. The Secret Service agents vetting sites for next year's Group of Seven summit had already cut the list to four finalists when they were told to add Doral, according to an internal email released after a public-records request.

State Propaganda

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washington post logomax boot screen shotWashington Post, Opinion: Forget the best and brightest. Trump chooses the dim and disgraceful, Max Boot, right, Nov. 16, 2019. A State Department official inflated her résumé. She’s not the first Trump appointee to do so. It is one of the more minor — and yet more telling — scandals of a scandal-plagued administration: NBC News reports that Mina Chang, the deputy assistant secretary of state for conflict and stability operations, has brazenly falsified her background.

She claims to be an alumna of Harvard Business School and a graduate of the Army War College even though she did not receive any degree from either institution. (She apparently attended an unaccredited Christian college called the University of the Nations.) She says she was part of a United Nations panel, but the U.N. has no mina chang david patraeus Customrecord of her participation. She even went so far as to create a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it.

Chang, shown at left with former CIA Director David Petraeus (who left office in disgrace following a 2012 affair with a former aide), would never have been appointed by any other president, yet she fits right into an administration headed by a president who notoriously created his own phony Time magazine cover. A grifter himself, Trump has filled his administration with people who either lack professional qualifications or ethical standards — and often both.

These are people such as Monica Crowley, an assistant secretary of the Treasury with a record of plagiarism, and who is notorious for a tweet praising the Berlin Wall (“Walls work”). Or former national security adviser Michael Flynn, now a convicted felon after lying to the FBI. Or Gordon Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor who became a mastermind of U.S. policy toward Ukraine because he was willing to do Trump’s unethical bidding.

Or former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, an erstwhile U.S. attorney in Iowa and then a peddler of toilets for “well-endowed” men who came to Trump’s attention by overzealously defending him on Fox News. Or Stephen Miller, the White House point person on immigration who espoused white supremacist views in messages obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Or Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who didn’t qualify for a security clearance yet acts as a shadow secretary of state — and a leading booster of the murderous Saudi crown prince.

Media 'News'

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Versions of Impeachment for a Divided Nation, in Prime Time, Michael M. Grynbaum, Nov. 16, 2019. At a historic moment, viewers turn to fox news logo SmallMSNBC and Fox News, reflecting a sharp political divide. For a glimpse at the country’s divided political reality, look no farther than a pair of television studios on opposite sides of the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.

washington post logoWashington Post, A New York Times reporter dug into Ukraine and the Democrats. Critics are still howling, Paul Farhi, Nov. 16, 2019. New York Times reporter Kenneth P. Vogel was on the Ukraine conspiracy story early and in depth. The question is, did his articles leave the wrong impression?

Vogel was the co-author of a disputed Times story in May that suggested that Joe Biden, right, intervened in Ukraine in 2016 to help a company that employed the former vice president’s son, Hunter. As a staff writer at Politico in early 2017, he co-authored another piece that suggested that the Democratic National Committee had cooperated with Ukrainian efforts to joe biden othwart Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign.

Both articles have been cited by President Trump’s allies as support for a broader conspiracy theory: that Ukrainian sources sought to influence the 2016 election in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s favor and that Biden acted corruptly as vice president, thus justifying an investigation.

These unproven claims are a crucial part of Trump’s defense in the House impeachment inquiry. In fact, American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia’s intelligence services, not Ukraine, worked to sway the election toward Trump. There is also no credible evidence that Biden intervened with Ukrainian officials to remove the country’s top prosecutor to help his son, who sat on the board of a company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.

Vogel’s articles have been called into question — the Times story most prominently by Biden’s presidential campaign, and the Politico story by Politico’s own recent reporting.

Both Politico and the Times defended the reporter’s work, and Vogel told The Washington Post on Friday: “Not a single fact in either story has been successfully challenged. Both stories were prescient, revealing information that has come to play a central role in the impeachment saga.”

He added, “The Politico story revealed the genesis of Trump’s grudge against Ukraine, and the Times story exposed the Trump team’s pressure campaign against Ukraine.”

The GOP theory that Ukraine ‘set up’ Trump

ukraine flagVogel’s January 2017 Politico article (co-written with David L. Stern, now a freelance contributor to The Washington Post) extensively detailed Ukrainian efforts to undermine Trump in 2016, such as publicly questioning his fitness for office, disseminating documents implicating Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman at the time, in corruption and helping a Clinton ally research damaging information about him.

The lead of the story implied an equivalence with Russian efforts to undermine Clinton: “Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country,” Vogel and Stern wrote, although the story later states that there is “little evidence” of the type of hacking and disinformation campaign waged by the Russians in 2016.

devin nunes head oThe story came up repeatedly during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), left, and Republican counsel Stephen R. Castor cited it several times in questioning diplomat William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine. Both Nunes and Castor strongly suggested that the story validated Trump’s theory about Ukrainian officials during 2016.

The story “gives rise to some concern that there are elements of the Ukrainian establishment that were out to get the president,” Castor said during the hearing. “That’s a very reasonable belief of [Trump’s], correct?”

Taylor, right, said he didn’t know and was unfamiliar with the story until recently.

william taylor o CustomCastor again brought up Vogel’s articles in Friday’s hearing to suggest that “influential elements of the Ukrainian establishment” were out to get Trump.

But in testimony by Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, she dismissed these as “isolated incidents,” not a government-orchestrated initiative. She replied, “I would remind you again that our intelligence community has determined that those who interfered in the [U.S.] election” were Russians.

Top officials from Trump’s National Security Council have dismissed the notion of Ukrainian interference. In depositions given to congressional investigators earlier this month, former National Security Council staffers Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that they saw no evidence of Ukrainian meddling in 2016. Hill called such a notion “a fiction.”

The suggestion that Joe Biden had acted improperly was driven home by the Web headline on the story: “Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies.” The print headline on the front-page story raised an eyebrow, too: “For Biden, a Ukraine Matter That Won’t Go Away.”

It wasn’t until the 19th paragraph, however, that the story noted that the conflict-of-interest angle was dubious. “No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor general’s dismissal,” it said.

Royal Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Prince Andrew says he ‘let down’ the royal family by his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Karla Adam and William Booth​, Nov. 16, 2019. In a BBC interview, the prince says he has “no recollection” of the woman who accused him of having sex with her when she was 17. The woman says Epstein paid her for those encounters.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Britain’s Prince Andrew (shown at both left and more currently at right) insisted he has “no recollection” of meeting a woman who has accused him of having sexual encounters with her when she was 17 at the behest of the now deceased, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince AndrewIn an interview conducted at Buckingham Palace with the BBC Newsnight, to be aired Saturday evening, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II said he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” when asked about Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre.

Editor's Note: Virginia Roberts, at center, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, left. The California native said the photo at left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, a longtime Mossad asset who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine.

Andrew’s close relationship with Epstein, who committed suicide in a New York jail cell in August, has deeply embarrassed Britain’s royal family. united kingdom flagUntil now, Andrew — the Duke of York — and the royal family have only reluctantly addressed the charges in terse statements issued from the palace.

Short excerpts of the prince’s full one-hour interview with the BBC were released early.

Campaign 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Is Elizabeth Warren looking for safer ground in health care? Dan Balz, Nov. 16, 2019. Her latest proposal could alleviate some Democrats' concerns, weeks after her Medicare-for-all financing plan drew criticism. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been mostly sure-footed in her campaign for the Democratic presidential elizabeth warren o purplenomination.

One exception is health care. On Friday, she issued another proposal to go along with her support for Medicare-for-all, a step that appeared designed to put her into a safer place politically.

Warren’s progression on health care through the course of the campaign has taken her from a position of flexibility to one of seeming inflexibility — at least until Friday. Over a period of months, she walked herself into a place that many Democrats feared could make her chances of winning a general election more, not less, difficult. Whether Friday’s turn alleviates those worries remains to be seen.

elise stefanik hearing

Palmer Report, Opinion: The GOP’s Elise Stefanik impeachment stunt has promptly blown up in its face, Bill Palmer, Nov. 16, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee is chock full of some of the most embarrassing Republicans in the entire party. So naturally, just before televised impeachment hearings began, the GOP added jittery scumbag Jim Jordan to the committee in order to make things even worse. But now the Republicans have found yet another way to embarrass themselves.

bill palmer report logo headerElise Stefanik is no more or less dishonest and embarrassing than any other Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. But the House GOP leadership has suddenly decided to push her to the forefront of the televised House impeachment hearings, for a reason that’s as obvious as it is sexist. She’s the only tedra cobbRepublican woman on the committee, and the GOP knows that it has a woman problem, particularly when serial sexual assaulter Donald Trump is involved.

House Republicans really seemed to think that if they used Elise Stefanik, above, prominently enough, it would somehow cancel out the fact that yesterday’s star witness Marie Yovanovitch is a woman. At least we think that’s the logic, because when it comes to the Republicans and gender, it can be difficult to precisely parse the derangement that derives the party’s motivations. Stefanik simply told the same deranged pro-Trump lies that the other House Republicans have been telling, and the GOP thought that would… change minds?

In any case, the House GOP’s attempt at using Elise Stefanik to dishonestly pander to women voters was blatant enough that even the AP called it out in a headline, and Stefanik’s name began trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. In fact the stunt has created a groundswell of support for Stefanik’s 2020 Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb, right, who says she’s raised more than $500,000 since the failed Stefanik stunt began.

Law and Crime, George Conway Calls GOP Rep. Stefanik ‘Lying Trash,’ Urges Public to Donate to Her Dem Opponent, Colin Kalmbacher, Nov. 16, 2019. George Conway seems to have been listening to Marshall Mathers as of late, at least judging by his doubling-down on a war of words against an allegedly slighted and aggrieved GOP congresswoman.

george conway Custom“[Elise Stefanik] is lying trash,” Conway, right, tweeted mid-morning Saturday,” in reference to the GOP congresswoman representing New York’s 21st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Please give to her opponent, [Tedra Cobb].”

Conway’s onslaught did not stop there. He later shared a fake photo of Stefanik flipping the bird and deleted the tweet. He then quote-tweeted and responded to the Daily Caller when the website said “the internet lasts forever.”

“And so does the fact that @EliseStefanik brazenly lied to the public, which is much worse than flipping the bird. Care to tell your readers about that?” Conway asked.

washington post logoWashington Post, Buttigieg surges ahead of his Democratic primary rivals in Iowa, new poll shows, Annie Linskey and Chelsea Janes, Nov. 16, 2019. A new poll of Iowa voters released Saturday night suggests a disruption in the Democratic primary contest in the first voting state, with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg surging to the front of the crowded pack.

The survey showed Buttigieg with support from 25 percent of likely caucusgoers, followed by essentially a three-way tie for second place between Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former vice president Joe Biden, who all have about 15 percent support. None of the other candidates are in double digits.

The poll differs from other recent Iowa polls, which showed Buttigieg, Biden, Warren and Sanders knotted closely to one another. The survey, released by CNN, the Des Moines Register and MediaCom, was of 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

U.S. Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Shooting in San Diego leaves 5 dead, including 3 children, Hannah Knowles and Lateshia Beachum​, Nov. 16, 2019. Police believe the sole shooter is among the dead, according to the Associated Press. Three children were among five family members killed in a shooting Saturday morning at a San Diego home that also left an 11-year-old in the hospital, police say.

Authorities believe the shooter is among the dead, said San Diego Police Department Lt. Shawn Takeuchi.

Officers responded to the home in the city’s Paradise Hills neighborhood to find a 3-year-old boy, a 29-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man dead, Takeuchi said. A 5-year-old boy and 9-year-old boy died after being taken to a hospital. Police did not immediately give the condition of the hospitalized 11-year-old.

washington post logoWashington Post, 16-year-old shooter at California high school has died, authorities say, Hannah Knowles, Nov. 16, 2019. The 16-year-old shooter, identified by law enforcement officials as Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, killed two people and wounded three others on Thursday. He died Friday from his self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, An apparent overdose in Montae Nicholson’s home leaves a woman dead and a family with questions, Justin Jouvenal and Les Carpenter, Nov. 16, 2019.  Washington Redskins safety Montae Nicholson placed a frantic call to the family of Julia Crabbe at 1:07 a.m. Thursday and told Crabbe’s brother something had gone wrong with the 21-year-old he had been dating. The family said Nicholson told them the young woman was overdosing.

Herman Crabbe said his daughter modeled and worked at a hotel. “My daughter had the world in her hands, and she was very smart,” Herman Crabbe said. “I’m torn up right now. She got mixed up in something, and I wish I had known.”

World News

ny times logochina flag SmallNew York Times, ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims, Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, Nov. 16, 2019. More than 400 pages of Chinese government documents provide an unprecedented inside look at the repression of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. The documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown by the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Document: What Chinese Officials Told Children Whose Families Were Put in Camps, Staff report, Nov. 16, 2019. This document tells Chinese officials how to explain the disappearance of parents and families detained in camps.

Consortium News, Arbuthnot Out as Assange’s Judge, Says WikiLeaks Lawyer Jen Robinson, CN Live Updated by Joe Lauria and Elizabeth Vos, Nov. 16, 2019. WikiLeaks lawyer Jen Robinson said Lady Emma Arbuthnot, the judge presiding over Julian Assange’s extradition proceedings who is embroiled in a conflict of interest, will no longer be sitting on the case. Lady Emma Arbuthnot, the Westminster chief magistrate enmeshed in a conflict of interest, will no longer be presiding over the extradition proceedings of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, said WikiLeaks lawyer Jen Robinson, at an event in Sydney on Friday night .

jennifer robinson“Yes, there was some controversy about her sitting on the case,” Robinson said. “She won’t be sitting on the case going forward.” Robinson, shown at right in a file photo, told Australian journalist Quentin Dempster at the event that she was “not sure” who would take over from Arbuthnot.

Robinson made her remarks in response to a question from the audience about Arbuthnot’s reported conflict of interest in the case. Robinson did not provide further details. She spoke in future tense, but it is not clear if she was referring to Arbuthnot maintaining supervision of the case while turning over the courtroom duties to another judge, which she did weeks ago, retaining the right to influence rulings, or whether Arbuthnot has recused herself from the case. Consortium News has contacted Robinson to provide clarification.

SouthFront, Russian Airstrikes Eliminate More Terrorists In Southern Idlib (Videos), Staff report, Nov. 16, 2019. Three terrorists were killed on  November 16 when a series of Russian airstrikes targeted their positions in the town of Maarzita in southern Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

“The number of those who were killed may rise due the presence of many wounded, some of them are in a critical condition, in addition, there is information about other fatalities,” the UK-based monitoring group’s report reads.

Russian and Syrian warplanes also carried out heavy airstrikes on the towns of Tramla, al-Naqeer, Misherfah, Kafr Nabl and Hizareen in the southern Idlib countryside.

SouthFront, UK Is Preparing Evaucation Of Intelligence Personnel From Syria’s Idlib? Staff report, Nov. 16, 2019. The UK is reportedly preparing to evacuate its intelligence personnel and military instructors backing militants in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone. On November 15, David Quarrey, the UK Prime Minister’s International Affairs Adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser met with Russia’s Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

united kingdom flagAccording to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the sides discussed topical developments in the Middle East, including the situation in Syria and the political settment and the humantiarian situation there. Especially interetsing is that the sides discussed the situation on the ground in Syria’s northeast and the Idlib de-elscalation zone was discussed “in details.”

David Quarrey is a British diplomat, who joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1994 and previously directed its Near East and North Africa Department. He also served as a British diplomat in Harare, in Delhi and at the United Nations in New York as well as was the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Israel from 2015 to 2019. Additionally, Quarrey for two years was a private secretary of Tony Blair when he was the British Prime Minister.

During his entire carrier Quarrey has been promoting a strong pro-Israeli point of view. According to reports, his actions has often been linked to those of the British intelligence services. The only prominent organization linked to the UK in Idlib is the so-called White Helmets, the propaganda offshoot of al-Qaeda and other radicals founded and trained by james le mesurier white helmets cofounderthe UK’s MI6 officer James Le Mesurier, left.

Since the start of the war, the White Helmets have been involved in multiple provocations, including those involving chemical weapons, and served as a powerful propaganda tool to support the agression against Syria. MSM still tries to paint the White Helmets as some kind of “humanitarian organization”. syrian white helmetsHowever, the facts about the real goals and actions of this entity cannot be hidden. Accidentally, Le Mesurier recently died in his home in Turkey’s Istanbul after he fell from a balcony. Turkish media described his death as an accident (Commentary: White Helmets MI6 Co-Founder Found Dead).

The rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow apparently endranger British personnel involved in clandestine activities in the miltiant-held part of Syria. Therefore, it’s highly likely that the UK is now trying to get a kind of open corridor to withdraw its intelligence officers and military advisers involved in propaganda operations and training of militants in the Idlib zone.

U.S. 'Law Enforcement'

ny times logoNew York Times, In Fiery Speech, Barr Suggests Impeachment Inquiry Undermines Voters’ Intent, Katie Benner, Nov. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday vigorously defended President Trump’s use of executive authority and suggested that House Democrats were subverting the will of voters by exploring whether to remove the president from office for abusing his power.

william barr new oMr. Trump campaigned on a vow to upend Washington, and voters were aware of his agenda when they elected him president, Mr. Barr said.

“While the president has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook and punctilio, he was up front about what he wanted to do and the people decided they wanted him to serve as president,” Mr. Barr said in a speech at a conference hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group influential in Republican politics.

Mr. Trump’s opponents “essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government,” Mr. Barr added.

His forceful defense of the president came after some of Mr. Trump’s allies have in recent weeks accused Mr. Barr of failing to vociferously back the president. Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated that Mr. Barr urged him to release a reconstructed transcript of the July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the center of the impeachment case. The president also wanted Mr. Barr to hold a news conference to say the president had violated no laws, only to have Mr. Barr rebuff the request. Mr. Trump has denied that account.

Justice Department log circularSpeaking for an hour at the upscale Mayflower Hotel a few blocks from the White House, Mr. Barr hit back at the president’s critics on an array of fronts as he argued that Mr. Trump, in his capacity as president, has not overstepped his authority.

shelley joseph cropped judge ap photo

ny times logoNew York Times, When the Judge Became the Defendant, Ellen Barry, Nov. 16, 2019. Judge Shelley Joseph, charged with a federal crime after being accused of helping an undocumented immigrant escape detention, has signaled she will risk a trial. When she was brought before a court this spring, charged with the federal crime of obstruction of justice, Judge Shelley Joseph, shown above in an Assoicated Press photo, did not look like a rebel.

Her face was tear-streaked, and bore an expression of helpless dismay, as if she were struggling to take in the upside-down world in which she was the defendant.

In April, she and a court officer, Wesley MacGregor, were accused of allowing an immigrant to evade detention by arranging for him to sneak out the back door of a courthouse.

The federal prosecutor in Boston took the highly unusual step of charging the judge with obstruction of justice, setting off a debate over whether and how states can refrain from carrying out President Trump’s immigration policy.

Massachusetts has been at the forefront of the sanctuary city movement, passing a series of legal rulings that constrain Immigration and Customs Enforcement from detaining immigrants in courthouses.

The judge’s supporters say she is no crusader, but an inexperienced judge who stumbled into a bitterly contested area of the law. They warn that if the case goes forward, it will open the door for prosecution of other judges, undercutting their independence, as the country grapples with its deep divisions over immigration.

Judge Joseph has refused a plea deal that would have allowed her to avoid prosecution if she admitted violating federal law, signaling that she is prepared to go to trial in a case that could drag on for years.

For a federal prosecutor to indict a state judge is so rare that, in search of a Massachusetts precedent, observers have cast back to 1787, when Judge William Whiting was removed from the bench for defending a farmer’s rebellion against state tax collectors.

Some in Massachusetts’s sprawling legal and immigration rights community kept a distance from Judge Joseph, in part because the evidence against her was damning: Before allowing the man to be led out of her courtroom, Judge Joseph could be heard on an audio recording instructing the court clerk to switch off the recorder in an apparent effort to conceal what they were saying. But legal heavyweights have rallied in her defense, arguing that the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew E. Lelling, has crossed a line by indicting a state judge, inviting the use of federal power to intimidate state officials into compliance.

This summer, the state Supreme Judicial Court ordered the restoration of her $184,000 salary while the case is pending, for fear that the threat of being stripped of a paycheck would make judges hesitant to challenge prosecutors, diminishing the “over-all independence of the judiciary.”

Mounting Tension

Judge Joseph, who joined the bench five months before the incident, was not well known or particularly outspoken.

After a career as a prosecutor and defense attorney, she had been nominated by the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, as an associate justice of the Framingham District Court, hearing misdemeanors and minor felonies. The main indication of her politics was a stint working on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and a term on the Democratic State Committee in the 1990s.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration ousts top homelessness official as White House prepares broad crackdown, Jeff Stein, Nov. 16, 2019.  "They have now told me to pack my things up and go," Matthew Doherty, an Obama administration pick, said in an email. A top federal homelessness official announced Friday that he has left his post at the Trump administration’s request, an unexpected move that comes as the White House plans a sweeping crackdown aimed at homelessness in California.

The Trump administration is still actively exploring options for a crackdown on homelessness aimed at California, a process that has been ongoing for months, according to one person with knowledge of the planning who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal information.

Nov. 15

Stone Found Guiltyroger stone cnn breitbart

A federal jury in Washington, DC on Friday convicted Donald Trump's longest political advisor and friend, Roger Stone, shown above in a file photo during the 2016 presidential campaign, has been found guilty on all seven counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and related offenses. The Justice Integrity Project has been covering the trial and will report further on the case, which is summarized also in such other reports as that by the Washington Post and New York Times, excerpted below:

  • Washington Post, Trump confidant Roger Stone guilty on all counts, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky​, Nov. 15, 2019. A federal jury has convicted Stone of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness about his efforts to learn about the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks' release of hacked Democratic emails in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • New York Times, Roger Stone Lied to Protect Trump, Prosecutors Argue at Trial, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). Focusing squarely on his ties to President Trump, federal prosecutors argued Wednesday that Roger J. Stone Jr. (shown above in a 2016 screenshot) blatantly obstructed a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election because the truth “would look really bad” for Mr. Trump.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Roger Stone’s conviction, and Trump’s ugly response, further demonstrate the president’s corruption, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, Nov. 15, 2019.  Donald Trump has a remarkable talent for attracting criminals into his orbit, and a number of his associates — such as former lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — spent years skipping a step ahead of the law. But once Trump became president, prosecutors took a greater interest in them, and they’re now behind bars.

To their number we can now add Roger Stone, who has been convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in a trial relating to the 2016 Trump campaign’s connections to WikiLeaks, the vehicle used by Russia to disseminate the information it hacked from Democratic Party systems to help elect Trump president.

Though Stone departed from his official campaign role early on, he remained in constant touch with the future president. Prosecutors documented some 60 phone calls between Stone and Trump between February 2016 and November 2016.

What we learned from Stone’s trial is that the campaign of the man (Trump) who openly called on Russia to plunder his opponent’s emails (“Russia, if you’re listening”) did far more than even the special counsel documented to reap the gains of Russia’s attack on our democracy.

Stone’s convictions stem from the fact that he made extensive efforts to cover up that collusion, to protect Trump from further political damage. That is, to help Trump get away with it.

The trial revealed that Stone regularly communicated with WikiLeaks about when emails stolen by Russia would be released, and kept people inside the Trump campaign, and Trump himself, informed of the effort. And Stone was convicted of taking multiple steps to deceive Congress and investigators in ways that distanced himself and the Trump campaign from those facts.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

 wsj logoWall Street Journal, Federal Prosecutors Probe Giuliani’s Links to Ukrainian Energy Projects, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Nov. 15, 2019. Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Rudy Giuliani stood to personally profit from a Ukrainian natural-gas business pushed by two associates who also aided his efforts there to launch investigations that could benefit President Trump, people familiar with the matter said.

rudy giuliani recentMr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pitched their new company, and plans for a Poland-to-Ukraine pipeline carrying U.S. natural gas, in meetings with Ukrainian officials and energy executives this year.

Associates told others that Giuliani, right, stood to profit from natural-gas project pitched alongside campaign for investigations of Joe Biden.

Trump Taxes

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from prosecutors, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The filing by the president’s irs logoprivate lawyers represents a historical moment that tests the court’s independence and highlights the Constitution’s separation-of-powers design. It also marks a new phase in the investigations that have dogged President Trump throughout his time in office.

More On Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Who is Marie Yovanovitch and why does her public testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 15, 2019. On Friday, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, is testifying publicly in the impeachment inquiry about why she was ousted from her job right around the time President Trump officials started pushing Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

marie yovanovitchShe’s the former ambassador to Ukraine with 30 years of experience in the Foreign Service. She’s the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union. She was installed in Ukraine during the Obama administration and remained there under the Trump administration — until Trump had her removed from her job May, alleging she wasn’t loyal to him.

How she lost her job

She was the target of allegations, which are unsubstantiated and which she denies, that she tried to protect Americans in Ukraine by giving Ukrainian officials a “do-not prosecute” list. She testified that list was fake and that it was actually Ukrainians threatened by her anti-corruption efforts who wanted her out. She says they worked with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to smear her, and it seems the allegations made their way to Trump. In April, she was told by a State Department colleague to fly home on “the next plane.” She said she felt threatened at times through this process, sometimes by Trump himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, The long and murky campaign to oust a veteran U.S. ambassador, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Nov. 15, 2019. President Trump released a transcript of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as House investigators prepared to hear public testimony from The effort was one driven by an array of figures whose motives are still not fully understood.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-envoy’s testimony will be a moment of reckoning on gender for Trump, Elise Viebeck, Marie Yovanovitch, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The former ambassador to Ukraine, was targeted by male allies of President Trump. She’s about to publicly face some of his fiercest congressional defenders.

During the pivotal phone call that sparked the House impeachment inquiry, President Trump made a reference to gender as he smeared former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news,” Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

Trump then made an ominous prediction as he pressured Zelensky for investigations of his political rivals. “She’s going to go through some things,” he said of the ambassador.

As a leading female diplomat, a political target of the president’s allies and a figure at the center of the Ukraine drama, Yovanovitch has crucial knowledge to impart when she testifies at Friday’s impeachment hearing. She also enters the spotlight as the latest woman who has refused to acquiesce to Trump in the face of personal and gender-specific attacks

washington post logoWashington Post, Career White House budget official expected to break ranks, testify in impeachment inquiry, Erica Werner, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Potentially filling in important details on the holdup of military aid to Ukraine.

mark sandy CustomMark Sandy, right, would be the first OMB employee to testify in the inquiry, after OMB acting director Russell T. Vought and two other political appointees at the omb logo management and budget seal Customagency defied congressional subpoenas to appear. The White House has called the impeachment inquiry unconstitutional and ordered administration officials not to participate.

Unlike these other OMB officials, Sandy is a career employee, not one appointed by the president. He has worked at the agency off and on for over a decade, under presidents of both parties, climbing the ranks to his current role as deputy associate director for national security programs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone trial evidence reveals fresh detail about Trump campaign’s interest in WikiLeaks, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). As Roger Stone’s jury prepares for a second day of deliberations, his trial has already revealed important new details about the long-running interest within President Trump’s 2016 campaign in computer files hacked by Russia and made public by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

roger stone donald trump2Stone, shown in a file photo with his longtime friend Trump, faces a seven-count indictment for allegedly obstructing a congressional proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering over his 2017 interview with the House Intelligence Committee. According to the indictment, Stone repeatedly lied when asked about his supposed intermediary with WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 election, and claimed he did not have any email or text conversations about what purloined Democratic computer files WikiLeaks might have, and when they might be released.

A federal jury began deliberating Thursday in Washington, weighing a week’s worth of evidence introduced against Stone, the last person charged by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his two-year probe of Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The jury is set to resume early Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. watchdog tells Russia report witnesses they can’t give written feedback — then reverses course, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett​, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Late Thursday night, a department spokeswoman said the office would clarify to witnesses that they could submit written feedback “consistent with rules to protect classified information.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Yovanovitch says she does not understand Giuliani’s motives for attacking her, Staff report, Nov. 15, 2019. In public testimony at the House impeachment hearings, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said she felt threatened when she read how President Trump talked about her to his Ukrainian counterpart on a July 25 call.

Earlier, President Trump released a transcript of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as House investigators prepared to hear public testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, a former ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled earlier this year. Other Washington Post coverage.

  • Opinion: Yovanovitch can paint a picture of a U.S. policy hijacked by Trump bag men, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 15, 2019.
  • Yovanovitch opens by saying her removal will create a playbook for how to undermine U.S. policy
  • Rough transcript conflicts with White House April readout of Trump/Zelensky call
  • Diplomatic muscle turns out for Yovanovitch

Courts / #MeToo

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh addresses the conservative legal establishment that championed his nomination, Robert Barnes​, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). There were standing brett kavanaugh white house promoovations for the newest justice and for his wife at the Federalist Society’s gala Thursday night at Washington’s Union Station.

There was a crowd of protesters outside, and a few inside. Those attending the Federalist Society’s gala Thursday night at Washington’s Union Station were christine blasey ford sept 27 2018greeted by a large video screen on a truck out front, which played on a loop the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, left, accusing Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, of sexual assault when the two were teenagers.

But before a crowd of more than 2,000 supporters, there were standing ovations for the newest justice and for his wife, Ashley, and a message from Kavanaugh that he said could be summed up in one word: “gratitude.”

“I will always be grateful,” Kavanaugh said at the end of a 30-minute speech that was mostly a long thank-you note — to his fellow justices, his teachers, his family, his priests, the Washington Nationals, his friends.

“I will always be on the sunrise side of the mountain. I will always be not afraid.”

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, White House and Pentagon prepare for Trump to issue pardons in war-crimes cases, officials say, Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has raised concerns that the military justice system has treated the service members involved unfairly. Some military justice experts see the possible intervention as a subversion of the legal process.

More On Stone Conviction

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone Convicted of Impeding Investigators in a Bid to Protect Trump, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 15, 2019. Mr. Stone’s conviction is a consequence of his efforts to sabotage a congressional inquiry that threatened Mr. Trump, his longtime friend. For decades, Roger J. Stone Jr. played politics as a kind of performance art, starring himself as a professional lord of mischief, as a friend once called him. He tossed bombs and spun tales from the political periphery with no real reckoning, burnishing a reputation as a dirty trickster.

On Friday morning, a reckoning arrived, the consequence of his efforts to sabotage a congressional investigation that threatened his longtime friend President Trump.

Mr. Stone, 67, was convicted in federal court of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies. Jurors deliberated for a little over seven hours before convicting him on all counts. Together, the charges carry a maximum prison term of 50 years.

In a last-minute bid for salvation, prosecutors said, Mr. Stone appealed to Mr. Trump for a pardon on Thursday, using a right-wing conspiracy theorist who runs the website Infowars as his proxy. Mr. Trump attacked the guilty verdict against Mr. Stone in a tweet on Friday but made no mention of a pardon.

To some friends, Mr. Stone’s fatal flaw was that he did not know when the time for gamesmanship was over. “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” he liked to say. But that mantra seemed to ring hollow as Mr. Stone, forced to stand in silence, heard a courtroom deputy read the word “guilty” seven times.

The impeachment inquiry underway nearby on Capitol Hill overshadowed news of the verdict, but it was nonetheless another setback for the president. Mr. Stone is the sixth former Trump aide to be convicted in cases stemming from the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

And the trial revived the saga of Russia’s efforts to bolster Mr. Trump’s chances of winning the White House just as House impeachment investigators are scrutinizing how Mr. Trump pressured another government, Ukraine, to help with his 2020 re-election chances.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump confidant Roger Stone guilty on all counts, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky​, Nov. 15, 2019. A federal jury has convicted Stone of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness about his efforts to learn about the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks' release of hacked Democratic emails in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A federal jury has convicted longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness about his efforts to learn about the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks release of hacked Democratic emails in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The panel of nine women and three men deliberated for less than two days before finding Stone, 67, guilty on all seven counts resulting from his September 2017 testimony to a House intelligence committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Kremlin’s efforts to damage Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Stone, in a gray-blue suit, stood at the defense table with his left hand in his pants pocket, watching impassively as the verdicts were read. He sighed and frowned as he left the courtroom, offering a half-smile to reporters who had covered the proceedings while his wife hugged crying supporters.

Michael Caputo, a Stone friend, was kicked out of the courtroom for refusing to stand for the jury after the verdict and — when ordered to do so — turned his back to the panel.

amy berman jacksonStone and his attorneys departed the courthouse without comment and went with their legal team into a waiting vehicle.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, left, set Stone’s sentencing for Feb. 6 and allowed him to remain free until then. Stone faces a legal maximum penalty of 50 years in prison — 20 years for the witness tampering charge and five years for each of the other counts, although a first offender would face far less time under federal sentencing guidelines.

Stone’s indictment was the last brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, putting on trial his slippery brand of political brawling and revealing important details about the Trump campaign’s keen interest in computer files hacked by Russia and made public by WikiLeaks. He was accused of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness, an associate whom prosecutors said Stone threatened in a bid to prevent the man from cooperating with lawmakers.

• Analysis: Stone joins the remarkable universe of criminality surrounding the president

U.S. Cops, Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, A 15-year-old with no arms or legs was tackled and pinned by a sheriff’s deputy in a ‘horrific’ video, Antonia Noori Farzan, Nov. 15, 2019. The shirtless 15-year-old screams as he lies facedown on the kitchen floor of his Tucson group home. He has no arms or legs, so he can’t flee or fight back. But a sheriff’s deputy at least twice his size is crouching over him and pinning him to the ground, using his body weight to restrain the quadruple amputee.

The eight-minute cellphone video, which was first published by KOLD, has now prompted an internal affairs investigation at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. A spokesman told The Washington Post on Friday that the deputy in the video, Manuel Van Santen, has been placed on administrative leave.

But Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman told The Washington Post that the disturbing incident likely wouldn’t have come to light if it weren’t for another teenager at the group home, who recorded the confrontation and then had his head pushed into the wall by deputies.

Inside DC / Media

washington post logoWashington Post, Gannett, GateHouse approve merger, creating nation’s largest newspaper publisher, Jonathan O'Connell, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). GateHouse Media parent New gannett logo CustomMedia Investment Group will purchase Gannett.  Shareholders of Gannett and GateHouse Media approved a deal Thursday to combine the companies, after management promised to find $300 million in annual savings that some critics warned would further squeeze already shrunken newsrooms but that some investors warned may not go far enough.

In the deal, GateHouse parent New Media Investment Group will purchase Gannett for a combination of cash and stock, creating a conglomerate that will own gatehouse media logomore than 250 daily newspapers including publications such as USA Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Indianapolis Star, plus hundreds of weekly and community papers.

“This combination will create the leading U.S. print and digital news organization with deep local roots and national scale,” said Michael Reed, chairman and chief executive of New Media, in a statement following the votes. “Together, we will be stronger, with a more viable path to growth for our shareholders and employees, while sustaining journalism in hundreds of markets across the country and enhancing the services we provide to small and midsized businesses nationally.”

Related story: Washington Post, America’s two largest newspaper chains, GateHouse and Gannett, announce merger, Jonathan O'Connell and Rachel Siegel​, Aug. 5, 2019. 

washington post logoamazon logo smallWashington Post, Amazon will challenge Pentagon’s award of $10 billion JEDI contract to Microsoft, citing ‘unmistakable bias,’ Jay Greene and Aaron Gregg, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The controversial and long-delayed contract had been widely expected to go to Amazon Wvices but was instead awarded to rival Microsoft last month.

Amazon said Thursday that it will protest a Pentagon decision to award Microsoft a massive cloud-computing contract worth up to $10 billion, making clear it will fight hard against what it called “unmistakable bias” and “political influence” in the Defense Department process.

The protest, filed under seal in federal court on Nov. 8, comes after the Pentagon awarded the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft last month — a contract that had long been expected to go to Amazon because its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division has a formidable position and deep experience in cloud computing.

World News

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), OPSEC non-existent in Trump administration, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 15, 2019. Operational security or "OPSEC" is virtually non-existent in the U.S. government.

In probably the worst example of a lack of basic security, the current U.S.chargé d'affaires to Ukraine to Ukraine, William Taylor, testified to the House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry that he was aware that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, held a July 26 phone call with Trump over Sondland's personal non-secure cell phone at a restaurant in Kyiv.

Trump discussed with Sondland the extortion targeting Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky to release U.S. military assistance to Ukraine in return for Zelensky providing Trump with contrived dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and publicly announce that Ukraine was officially investigating the Bidens for wrongdoing.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘The reaction is to cry’: In flooded Venice, visitors take selfies as residents reel, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Nov. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Venetians say the toll of repeated inundation has led to a sense that life in one of the world’s most improbable and spellbinding cities is becoming unviable. The tourists stayed when flooding arrived this week. But Venetians say the toll of repeated inundation has led to a sense that life in one of the world’s most improbable and spellbinding cities is becoming unviable.

Nearly knee-high, the floodwaters spread across the city’s main piazza, turning it into a vast lake for seagulls. At the nearby millennium-old basilica, the last inches of water remained in the crypt even after a day of pumping, collecting around the tomb of a Roman Catholic cardinal. All around the busiest parts of the city, the water slicked the floors of cafes and Murano glass shops and seeped into hotel lobbies, leaving a smell of sewage in its wake.

Venice, on the surface, can rebound quickly from disastrous flooding. The tourists this week never left; one posed for pictures with soot and mud on her wedding dress. But the people who live here say the toll of repeated inundation is mounting — measured not only in the damage to businesses and precious art or architecture, but above all, in the sense that life in one of the world’s most improbable and spellbinding cities is becoming unviable.

• Seven major tourist sites damaged by Venice’s historic floods
• Visual Story: The many reasons Venice is flooding right now

Nov. 14

Impeachment Hearings: First  Witnesses george kent william taylor nov 13 2019 abc news

George Kent, left, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, he oversees European and Eurasian affairs. William B. Taylor,  the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a career diplomat and military veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations (photo via ABC News).

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

 

Trump Probes (Noted above) nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi calls Trump’s actions ‘bribery’ as Democrats sharpen case for impeachment, Mike DeBonis​, Nov. 14, 2019. Escalating her case for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown in a file photo) on Thursday accused President Trump of committing bribery by seeking to use U.S. military aid as leverage to persuade the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could politically benefit Trump.

The shift toward bribery as an impeachable offense, one of only two crimes specifically cited in the Constitution, comes after nearly two months of debate over whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a “quid pro quo” — a lawyerly Latin term describing an exchange of things of value.

Wednesday’s public testimony from two senior diplomats, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.”

washington post logoWashington Post, A second State Dept. official overheard Trump's call with E.U. envoy discussing Ukraine and 'investigations,' John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 14, 2019. A second official from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was present when U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland spoke on a July 26 phone call from Ukraine with Trump that more directly ties the president to his administration’s effort this year to pressure Ukraine’s new leadership into publicly committing to investigate Biden.

Jayanti was the embassy official tasked with accompanying Sondland throughout the day of the call.

It became clear Wednesday that at least one embassy staffer, David Holmes, overheard Sondland on the call in Ukraine. He is slated to testify behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe Friday. Jayanti’s presence near Sondland during the call in Ukraine was first reported by the Associated Press.

Trump has said he doesn’t remember the call, which William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, revealed during testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Startling Testimony About New Call Further Implicates Trump, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The House of Representatives opened historic impeachment hearings on Wednesday and took startling new testimony from a senior American diplomat that further implicated President Trump in a campaign to pressure Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

william taylor o CustomIn a nationally televised hearing from a stately committee room across from the Capitol, William B. Taylor Jr., right, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, brought to life Democrats’ allegations that Mr. Trump had abused his office by trying to enlist a foreign power to help him in an election.

U.S. House logoMr. Taylor testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he learned only recently of a July telephone call overheard by one of his aides in which the president was preoccupied with Ukraine’s willingness to say it would look into Mr. Biden and work by his son Hunter Biden for a Ukrainian energy firm. Immediately afterward, Mr. Taylor said, the aide had been informed that Mr. Trump cared more about “investigations of Biden” than he did about Ukraine.

A powerful witness for Democrats, Mr. Taylor appeared as Congress embarked on the third set of presidential impeachment hearings in modern times. Forceful, detailed and unflappable in the face of Republican taunts, the veteran diplomat delivered a remarkable rebuke of the actions taken by the president and his allies inside and outside of the government who placed Mr. Trump’s political objectives at the center of American policy toward Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment hearings begin with new evidence of phone call implicating Trump in Ukraine controversy, Karoun Demirjian, Toluse Olorunnipa and Rachael Bade, Nov. 14, 2019. The hearings have unearthed new evidence of a phone call that may implicate the president in the Ukraine controversy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact-checking the opening Day: From Republicans, a recurring theme: ‘Nothing to see here,’ Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 14, 2019. Here’s a roundup of misleading claims made during the opening day of House impeachment hearings. GOP lawmakers argued that Ukrainian officials never opened the investigations President Trump requested, yet Trump released the aid package for Ukraine anyway. But this is a selective retelling of events.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asserts that ‘normal people’ would end inquiry, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 14, 2019. President Trump asserted Thursday morning that “normal people” would close the case on his impeachment following a historic day of open testimony from two career diplomats about their concerns about his actions in Ukraine.

Trump’s assessment underscored the clash that emerged after the six-hour hearing, with Democrats saying it provided damning evidence of a president using his office to advance his political interests while Republicans argued it laid bare a desperate attempt to oust Trump from office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans’ conspiracy theories slam into sworn testimony in collision of divergent worlds, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed). A witness was left momentarily speechless when pressed on conspiracy theories apparently driving the president’s actions. The question seemed to surprise William B. Taylor Jr., a Vietnam veteran with decades of diplomatic experience.

Couldn’t he “appreciate that President Trump was very concerned,” asked the Republican counsel, that the Ukrainians were “out to get him?”

The lawyer was referring to a conspiracy theory, popular in parts of the political right, that while Democrats have focused on Russia’s efforts to help Trump win the 2016 election, it was actually Ukraine that interfered during that campaign to help Trump’s Democratic opponent.

Taylor paused, casting his eyes down as his lips curled into a grin. He declined to give credence to the claim. “I don’t know the exact nature of President Trump’s concerns,” the witness answered. Related Washington Post coverage includes:

• GOP senators discuss longer trial to scramble Democratic primaries
• The Trump Show continues to disrupt Washington
• Analysis: Why GOP doesn’t have the right to confront whistleblower
• GOP tried to make him a ‘star witness.’ Instead, Bill Taylor became a meme.
• Kent helps Democrats by debunking theories from Trump allies
• ‘Can He Do That?’: Your guide to the first public impeachment hearing

jim jordan cuomo cnn

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Republicans’ Best Defense Is a Bad Offense, Editorial Board, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). What did Americans learn from the first day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry? They learned damaging new information, about another witness who reportedly overheard a telephone conversation in which President Trump pressed to find out if the Ukrainians had committed to investigating his top political rival.

djt maga hatThey learned they are still served by people of integrity who are committed to advancing the national interest. The day’s two witnesses, George Kent and William Taylor, both deeply experienced diplomats, provided precise, scrupulously nonpartisan and damning testimony about the effort at the center of the inquiry: the secretive shakedown of Ukraine by Mr. Trump and his associates, for the president’s political gain.

jim jordan headshot CustomAnd those Americans who tuned in also learned that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have set themselves a degrading task. Rather than engage the facts about Mr. Trump’s Ukrainian escapade, they are twisting them and eliding them and inventing new ones they’d prefer. They spent most of Wednesday stuffing straw men and then ostentatiously knocking them down.

Representative Jim Jordan, above and right, of Ohio set their tone and pace, apparently betting that a sustained note of incredulity and a motor-mouth delivery could distract listeners from the fragility of his arguments.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Evidence of Wrongdoing by Trump Is Overwhelming, Noah Bookbinder (executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The witnesses’ testimony on Wednesday was clear and alarming.

Mr. Trump used the immense powers of the American presidency to pressure an ally to open investigations that would help him personally. That much is clear just from the call memo of the July 25 conversation between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Any American who has not read the call memo should do so, because it is as shocking today to realize that Mr. Trump said the jaw-dropping phrase, “I would like you to do us a favor,” as it was the day it was released. He followed that by expressing his desire for Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and the Bidens. That is sufficient in itself to prove unacceptable wrongdoing by the president.

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Dead and Several Wounded in Shooting at Santa Clarita High School, Jill Cowan, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Jacey Fortin, Nov. 14, 2019. Law enforcement officers said a suspect, 16, was in custody after a shooting at Saugus High School, north of Los Angeles. Two people were in critical condition, with one dying. The attack was at least the 11th this year on a U.S. high school or college campus. Here’s a list of the others.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The case of Bijan Ghaisar has enshrined injustice, Editorial Board, Nov. 14, 2019. Federal prosecutors close the books on the willful, unjustified police killing of Bijan Ghaisar. The disgrace of the foot-dragging, stonewalling, shoulder-shrugging two-year FBI investigation into the unwarranted killing of an unarmed man near the District by U.S. Park Police officers in November 2017 has now reached a contemptible travesty of a climax: a decision Wednesday by federal prosecutors to close the case with no charges.

bijan ghaisar headThe victim, Bijan Ghaisar, a charismatic, football-loving 25-year-old accountant beloved by his many friends and family, was shot repeatedly in the head by a pair of officers after his vehicle was rear-ended in a minor fender bender in the Northern Virginia suburbs. As is obvious from dash-cam video footage of the incident, the officers brandished their weapons for no good reason and opened fire even though Ghaisar posed no threat to them or anyone else.

The killing amounted to an execution by officers sworn to uphold the law, who appeared exasperated that Ghaisar, perhaps terrified that the officers had approached him with guns drawn, drove off twice after being stopped before the final, fatal encounter. To be clear: Exasperation does not give police a license to kill. Or at least — we would have thought until this decision that it does not.

Jessie K. Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Justice Department officials say they have concluded that evidence is lacking to prove the officers “willfully” took Ghaisar’s life. To grasp how that offends any notion of justice, one need only watch the video. To see the footage and then assert the officers did not “willfully” shoot Ghaisar is to proclaim that grass is purple.

Ms. Liu’s office, in announcing its decision, said that “evidence that an officer acted out of fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence or even poor judgment cannot establish the high level of intent required” under the law. A “willful” police shooting, the office said, must meet the Supreme Court’s standard: an act impelled by “a bad purpose to disregard the law.”

The baffling ending to the criminal case is of a piece with the unjustified duration of the investigation, in the course of which the FBI arrogantly ignored requests for meetings and substantive updates from three senators, a member of the House and the Ghaisar family and lawyer.

If repeatedly shooting an unarmed man — a man who imperiled no one — does not amount to “a bad purpose to disregard the law,” then those words are devoid of meaning. And no police officer will ever be charged, no matter how egregious the case.

ny times logoNew York Times, American-Born Woman Who Joined ISIS Is Not a Citizen, Judge Rules, Charlie Savage, Nov. 14, 2019. A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Hoda Muthana, an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State in 2014 and says she now wants to return home to her family in Alabama, is not an American citizen.

reggie b waltonIn a surprise ruling from the bench, the judge, Reggie B. Walton, right of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, abruptly dismissed a lawsuit brought by her family seeking to force the Trump administration to bring her home from a refugee camp in Syria, along with her 2-year-old son — the child of a slain ISIS fighter.

The ruling leaves the fate of Ms. Muthana and her child in doubt amid the deteriorating security environment in northern Syria since Turkey invaded territory held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, a United States ally. The refugee camp in which Ms. Muthana and her son are held is overseen by the S.D.F.

Ms. Muthana’s case has been politically charged since Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post in February that he had directed the secretary of state “not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!”

But it has turned on novel issues about when diplomatic immunity ends and an exception to the general rule that anyone born on American soil is automatically a citizen. Ms. Muthana’s father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, was a United Nations diplomat from Yemen. Children of people with diplomatic immunity are not automatically granted citizenship despite being born in the United States. But Mr. Muthana was discharged from his diplomatic post shortly before she was born in 1994.

matt gaetz o CustomPensacola News Journal, Matt Gaetz asks judge to sentence Pensacola drink-thrower to prison, Annie Blanks, Nov. 14, 2019. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, shown in his official photo, is asking the federal court to sentence Amanda Kondrat'yev — the woman who threw a drink on the congressman after a Pensacola campaign event in June — to "some time of incarceration," saying that the message needs to be sent to supporters and opponents that violence won't be tolerated.

Kondrat'yev, 35, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in August to the charge of assaulting a U.S. congressman. She admitted to throwing a cup full of red liquid at Gaetz as he was leaving the Brew Ha Ha restaurant for an "Open Gaetz" event on June 1. 

Kondrat'yev faces up to a year in prison, a $100,000 fine or five years of probation, a fate that a federal judge will decide Monday. In a victim impact statement provided to the court, a copy of which Gaetz's press secretary provided to the News Journal, Gaetz argues that not sentencing Kondrat'yev to prison will send a message to his supporters that violence will be tolerated. JIP Editor's note: Gaetz is shown below at right in a mug shot after a driving under the influence arrest before his election to Congress.

The letter, in full, reads:

mark gaetz 2008 mug“I ask the court to sentence the Defendant to some time of incarceration. Constituents deserve to be safe at events hosted by our congressional office. My staff deserves to be safe. Their families and mine shouldn’t have to worry that while federal officials are doing their jobs, we are at risk of assault.

Risk to everyone - federal officials, citizens and even law enforcement are heightened when an event transitions from a political expression to an assault. My supporters are just as passionate as my opponents. They have the capability to be violent too. My efforts to ensure ALL participants remain nonviolent are undermined greatly by the Defendant’s actions. Only incarceration allows me to reinforce to my supporters and opponents alike that Free Speech is welcomed - but assault will not be tolerated.

If the defendant is not subject to some incarceration, then word will be out that a first assault is functionally 'free.'"

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, As Talks With Putin Loom, Ukraine Looks in Vain for U.S. Help, Anton Troianovski, Nov. 14, 2019. Kiev wants Western support as it seeks to end its conflict with ukraine flagRussia. But amid the impeachment drama, Washington is increasingly out of the picture. Ukrainians are used to hearing the West call for stability in their country. This fall, the roles have reversed.

“Ukraine would very much like to see a stable political situation in the States,” Oleksandr Turchynov, the previous Ukrainian president’s national security adviser, said in an interview. The relationship between Kiev and Washington, he added, “is a question of life and death for us.”

Roger Stone Trialroger stone cnn breitbart

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone Lied to Protect Trump, Prosecutors Argue at Trial, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). A jury will now consider the charges against Mr. Stone, including lying to investigators in a congressional inquiry into Russia’s 2016 election interference. Focusing squarely on his ties to President Trump, federal prosecutors argued Wednesday that Roger J. Stone Jr. (shown above in a 2016 screenshot) blatantly obstructed a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election because the truth “would look really bad” for Mr. Trump.

In closing arguments in Mr. Stone’s obstruction of justice trial, prosecutors argued that he concealed reams of evidence, threatened a fragile witness and told “whoppers” that impeded a House committee’s investigation into how Russia used WikiLeaks to sabotage the 2016 presidential race.

“He knew that if the truth came out about what he was doing in 2016, it would look terrible,” Jonathan Kravis, an assistant United States attorney, told the jurors on the sixth day of Mr. Stone’s trial on charges of deceiving the House Intelligence Committee two years ago. “Roger Stone knew that if this information came out it would look really bad for his longtime associate Donald Trump.”

Bruce S. Rogow, Mr. Stone’s defense lawyer, countered that the entire premise of the prosecution’s case was false because Mr. Stone had no evidence that would have hurt Mr. Trump, or embarrassed his campaign. “That is a nonstarter,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

Not only was Mr. Trump by then president and concerned with weightier matters when Mr. Stone testified before lawmakers in September 2017, Mr. Rogow said, but his campaign a year earlier had merely expressed a natural interest in what WikiLeaks might have in store for Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent. “There was nothing malignant, nothing corrupt” about the conduct of Mr. Stone or the campaign, he said.

Mr. Stone’s trial in a federal courthouse in Washington has unfolded against the backdrop of the impeachment inquiry into the president underway blocks away on Capitol Hill. As Congress grapples with allegations that Mr. Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to help his 2020 re-election effort, the Stone case has revived the story of how Russian operatives stole tens of thousands of Democratic emails and funneled them to WikiLeaks, which released them at critical points in the 2016 campaign.

Jury deliberations will begin on Thursday, said Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the trial. Mr. Stone is charged with seven felonies that together carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, though a defendant with no criminal history, like Mr. Stone, would almost certainly receive a far lighter punishment if he were found guilty on any counts.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Stone hid dozens of text messages and emails that were pertinent to the House committee’s inquiry; deliberately misidentified the person he dispatched to get in touch with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in late summer 2016; covered up the fact that he tried to obtain stolen Democratic emails from WikiLeaks; and denied that he talked to Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks’ plans.

Global Health

ny times logoNew York Times, To Drive Down Insulin Prices, W.H.O. Will Certify Generic Versions, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). About 80 million people with diabetes around the world need the hormone, and half of them can’t afford it. Creating competition could help, the agency said.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, McClatchy Says So Long to Saturday (Print) Newspapers, Marc Tracy, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The fifth-largest newspaper chain in the country will try to encourage more digital subscriptions with a weekend plan affecting dailies in 14 states. Subscribers to The Miami Herald, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Charlotte Observer will no longer find a newspaper at the end of their driveway on Saturday mornings.

McClatchy, a newspaper chain with more than 30 publications in 14 states, said on Wednesday that it planned to eliminate Saturday print issues at all its daily newspapers by the end of 2020, though a new slate of articles will continue to appear digitally.

Craig Forman, the chief executive of the publicly owned publisher, announced the decision during a call with investors to discuss third-quarter earnings. He added that what he called “digital Saturdays” were already underway at four McClatchy papers: The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; The Bellingham Herald in Bellingham, Wash.; The Durham Herald Sun in Durham, N.C.; and The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.

The move is substantial for a company with the fifth-largest newspaper circulation in the United States, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina. McClatchy has been under pressure since not long after it acquired a rival newspaper chain, Knight-Ridder, for $4.5 billion in 2006. That was before the recession and the rise of digital media combined to weaken the newspaper business. The move to digital Saturdays, Mr. Forman said, may encourage digital subscriptions.

#MeToo: Epstein Estate

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Estate May Set Up a Program to Pay Accusers, Matthew Goldstein, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). A proposal for a “claims resolution program” was jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019referred to in a court filing by a lawyer for a woman who accused the late financier, right, of sexual abuse. Not all the plaintiffs’ lawyers are on board.

Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein’s estate are considering setting up a program to resolve claims filed by women who say they were abused by the financier, who killed himself in August while facing federal sex trafficking charges.

kenneth feinberg wThe plan was disclosed in a court filing on Tuesday by a lawyer for one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, who is suing the estate in federal court in Manhattan. The filing said lawyers for Mr. Epstein’s estate had informed plaintiffs that they were planning to disclose details of a “claims resolution program” to a court in the United States Virgin Islands, where the mysteriously wealthy Mr. Epstein had his will filed shortly before his death.

The estate has retained Kenneth R. Feinberg, the noted lawyer who specializes in compensating victims, to set up the program, his team confirmed late Wednesday. His associates Camille Biros and Jordana Feldman have also been tapped, and Ms. Feldman will carry out the plan once it is set up and if it meets court approval. Ms. Biros has been an architect of programs to provide restitution to victims of the Catholic Church abuse scandal. Ms. Feldman most recently played a critical role in overseeing the administration of the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund.

U.S. Politics / Racism

stephen miller jeff sessions

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: With more than 900 emails to analyze, story of white supremacy involving Stephen Miller, right above, and Jeff Sessions is likely to get worse in future reports from SPLC, Roger Shuler, Nov. 14, 2019. How riddled with corruption is Alabama's Republican Party? Consider this mind-blowing set of facts: At roughly the same time the state's House speaker (Mike Hubbard), governor (Robert Bentley), and Supreme Court chief justice (Roy Moore) were forced from office due to allegations of misconduct, one of the state's U.S. senators (Jeff Sessions) had a staffer (Stephen Miller) who, using taxpayer-funded resources, was promoting white supremacist literature and talking points to the right-wing Web site Breitbart News.

That is five Republicans -- who engaged in or allowed -- alleged activities that were criminal, dishonest, unlawful, despicable, or some combination of all those. We can put all of these acts under the broad category of "corruption," and they were committed by individuals who were elected or appointed to represent the State of Alabama.

With Hubbard, Moore, and Bentley having already hit the exits, we are left with this question: Should Miller be fired or forced to resign from his current position as a policy adviser to President Donald Trump -- and should Sessions be pressured to back out of the 2020 GOP race for his old U.S. Senate seat, currently held by Democrat Doug Jones?

The worst might be yet to come for Miller and Sessions. Wednesday's report about Miller's emails being leaked to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is just the first of an expected series of revelations based on roughly 900 emails. Upcoming installments might include much more damaging revelations than we've seen already, and they could answer this question: Did Miller act on his own or did he trade in white nationalist talking points with Sessions' knowledge and support?

Nov.  13

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

TODAY’S WITNESSES

george kent william taylor nov 13 2019 abc news

washington post logoWashington Post, William B. Taylor, (shown above at right in photo via ABC News): The acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is a career diplomat and military veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations.

Analysis: Who is William Taylor and why does his testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). 
• Read his closed-door testimony from last month

washington post logogeorge kent oWashington Post, George Kent, right: As a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, he oversees European and Eurasian affairs.

Analysis: Who is George Kent and why does his testimony matter? Amber Phillips, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). 
• Read his closed-door testimony from last month

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind a Star Witness, Democrats Take Their Case to the Public, Peter Baker, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). Their goal is to transform what the public might view as an abstract debate over foreign policy into high crimes, while Republicans argue there is no case.

ny times logoNew York Times, On Capitol Hill, Old School Washington Keeps Circus at Bay, Mark Leibovich, Nov. 13, 2019. After so much noise, a formal feeling fell upon the Capitol. The civil servants had entered the room.

In a sense, seriousness itself stood trial on Wednesday as William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a top State Department official, strode into the velvet-draped hearing room just after 10 a.m. They wore stern stares and were seemingly oblivious to the discord that brought them there.

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, MSNBC turned heads with a surprise guest: George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, Michael M. Grynbaum, Nov. 13, 2019. Even in television news, a little stunt casting can’t hurt. MSNBC turned heads on Wednesday when, minutes before the House impeachment hearings got underway, the network announced a surprise guest: George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer and husband of President Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway.

george conway twitterLittle known outside legal circles before his wife’s ascent to political stardom, Mr. Conway, shown with his Twitter photo, has become a liberal sensation by emerging as an unlikely critic of the president. His Twitter account, once a sleepy province of corgi and cat videos, is now a favorite of Trump detractors eager for msnbc logo CustomMr. Conway’s sweeping and spiky denunciations.

But while Mr. Conway has also ventured onto newspaper op-ed pages (“Trump is a racist president” was the headline of his Washington Post opinion piece in July) and other media forums, he had drawn the line at appearing on Mr. Trump’s favored medium. Until now.

ny times logoNew York Times, Critic's Notebook: What Our TV Critic Noticed During the Televised Hearing, James Poniewozik, Nov. 13, 2019. The first day featured international drama, a volley of interruptions and a Cronkite-like voice.

Trump-Related Court Cases

ny times logoNew York Times, Court Rejects Trump’s Appeal in Fight to Keep Financial Records From Congress, Charlie Savage, Nov. 13, 2019. A full federal appeals court on Wednesday let stand an earlier ruling that President Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his financial records to Congress, bringing the case to the threshold of a likely Supreme Court battle.

mazars logo croppedIn the latest of a string of court losses for Mr. Trump over his uncompromising vow to fight “all” subpoenas from Congress, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected his request that it rehear a case in which he challenged the subpoena to the firm, Mazars USA. A panel of the court had sided with lawmakers in that earlier ruling.

The president will now appeal to the Supreme Court, said a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Jay Sekulow. If the justices take the case, as seems likely, it would add another blockbuster case over separation of powers to the court’s current term, which ends in June — in the middle of the presidential election campaign.

“In light of the well-reasoned dissent, we will be seeking review at the Supreme Court,” Mr. Sekulow said in a statement.

Lawyers representing Mr. Trump had argued that Congress had no legitimate legislative authority to seek his business records because the panel seeking them, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, was primarily trying to determine whether he broke existing laws — not weighing whether to enact a new one.

Roger Stone Trial

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Predicted More Leaks Amid WikiLeaks Releases in 2016, Ex-Aide Testifies, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Nov. 12, 2019. Both sides wrapped up their cases in the trial of the longtime Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., accused of lying about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

Days after the rogue website WikiLeaks posted a trove of stolen Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump talked by phone with Roger J. Stone Jr. (shown right in a file photo), a longtime friend who claimed to have connections to WikiLeaks, then told a top aide that “more information would be coming,” the aide testified in Mr. Stone’s criminal trial on Tuesday.

roger stoneThe aide, Rick Gates, said he did not hear the substance of the July 31, 2016, call. Nor did he say that Mr. Trump mentioned WikiLeaks, the organization that had received tens of thousands of emails stolen by Russian operatives seeking to sabotage the campaign of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

But the context of the exchange suggests that Mr. Stone briefed Mr. Trump on whatever he had picked up about the website’s plans. In written answers that President Trump supplied during the special counsel’s investigation of Russian influence in the campaign, he said he did not recall the specifics of any of his 21 phone calls with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election. He also said he did not recall knowing that his campaign advisers were in touch with Mr. Stone about WikiLeaks.

Mr. Gates’s testimony revealed other new details about the Trump campaign’s intense interest in how WikiLeaks might disrupt Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Much of what he said in court was covered in the 448-page report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, but it was blacked out in the version released publicly last spring to protect grand jury secrecy or open cases, a person familiar with the report said.

Politico, Roger Stone’s defense: MAGA, God and Donald Trump, Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein, Nov. 13, 2019. For once, Roger Stone is letting others do the talking. The political provocateur has spent decades verbally sparring with almost anyone who is willing to engage. But as his trial over lying to Congress and tampering with a witness nears its end, Stone has left his defense in the hands of external factors: lawyers, God, the race card, a coterie of MAGA-world figures and, if all else fails, President Donald Trump.

Given the chance to tell his side of the story, Stone chose not to take the witness stand. Given the opportunity to call witnesses, his attorneys opted instead to simply play portions of the congressional testimony in question.

As a legal strategy, it caught many by surprise, even if Stone’s defenders have done their part in court since the trial started to poke as many holes as they can in the government’s case.

As a political play, though, it might be perfectly tailored for a very different audience — MAGA-ites and the president himself. After all, a conviction on any of the seven counts opens Stone up to prison time and raises the question of whether Trump would face pressure to issue an election-year pardon to his longtime friend, who has a passionate following in Trump land.

“If you hesitate about your conclusions in this matter then you have a reasonable doubt,” Bruce Rogow, the lead Stone defense attorney, told the jury during his closing arguments Wednesday. “My job is to create for you the reasons why you should have a reasonable doubt.”

On Thursday, Stone’s six-day trial will shift to jury deliberations and a verdict soon thereafter, the final coda to months of legal wrangling that kicked off in January with a dramatic early-morning raid to arrest Stone at his South Florida home.

As the case moved toward a trial, Stone and his family have been appealing to a higher power.

They were at Sunday morning Mass about 10 days before his trial: “please pray for us,” his wife, Nydia Stone, wrote on Instagram alongside a prayer emoji, the hashtags #trump and #maga and a tag for the president’s Twitter handle.

And before opening arguments last Tuesday, Stone’s wife and daughter sat with a leather-bound Bible in their laps open to the Book of Psalms.

They were joined in the front row by Randy Short, a Washington, D.C., activist wearing a white religious smock who has described himself as Stone’s spiritual adviser.

In fact, Short participated in a small rally outside the courthouse on the first day of the trial, leading a chant that Stone was innocent and interspersing a pro-Trump song with the chorus: “I’m on the Trump train. We did it in ’16. Gonna do it again.”

In an interview, Short said Stone wasn’t concerned about the government’s parade of witnesses, which included Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign CEO whom the government called to contradict Stone’s deposition to Congress that there had been no contact with Trump’s campaign about WikiLeaks.

“I don’t think Bannon is someone that would worry them,” Short said. “Their biggest fear from my sense is that there’s so many [jurors] who have intelligence community or government ties or ties to the former administration or lawyers. Where are the blue collar people on that? Really? I’m a Washingtonian. This city is still half black. If you look at the jury there are four blacks. There are two others and 10 white folks. It’s interesting not one black man is on there.”

U.S. Headlines

ny times logoNew York Times, New York Identifies Hospitals and Nursing Homes With Deadly Fungus, Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, Nov. 13, 2019. The policy change came as the Center for Disease Control reported that more people are dying of drug-resistant infections than it previously estimated.

Nearly 35,000 people in the United States are dying each year from drug-resistant infections, public health officials said on Wednesday, an alarming problem that New York state underscored by revealing that it had found one particularly new and virulent fungus in 64 hospitals and 103 nursing homes.

The numbers show just how widespread drug resistant infections have become, with the latest projection of deaths in America double previous estimates.

U.S. Politics

ny times logodeval patrick oNew York Times, Deval Patrick Will Enter 2020 Presidential Race on Thursday, Jonathan Martin, Nov. 13, 2019. The former two-term governor of Massachusetts’ announcement adds yet more volatility to an unusually fluid Democratic primary. Former Gov. Deval Patrick, right, of Massachusetts told senior Democrats Wednesday that he will enter the presidential race, according to two party officials, reversing his decision last year to forgo a run and adding yet more volatility to an unusually fluid Democratic primary.

Mr. Patrick will enter the race Thursday morning and head to New Hampshire’s State House to file paperwork to be a candidate on the primary ballot there, according to a Democrat familiar with his plans. Mr. Patrick was calling a list of party leaders Wednesday to inform them of his decision and is planning to begin his campaign with a video and new website.

After appearing in New Hampshire, Mr. Patrick will head to California, which is voting in early March, and then go on to three early nominating states: Nevada, Iowa and South Carolina.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort’s 2016 Gambit: A Back Channel From Trump Camp to Labor, Noam Scheiber and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 14, 2019 (print ed.). As campaign chairman, he is reported to have enlisted a go-between seeking to blunt union efforts to turn out the vote. In the summer of 2016, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, proclaimed Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin to be critical to the campaign’s strategy.

Behind the scenes, he was actively trying to execute that strategy — sometimes in highly unorthodox ways.

According to three people close to the 2016 Trump campaign, Mr. Manafort sought to open a back channel to the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s pre-eminent labor federation, which typically backs Democrats for president and had endorsed Hillary Clinton.

These people said the Trump campaign had hoped the federation would scale back get-out-the-vote activity intended to help Mrs. Clinton win Michigan and Wisconsin. To that end, they said, Mr. Manafort enlisted an intermediary friendly with officials at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to suggest a mutually beneficial relationship.

World News

djt erdogan cropped nov 13 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump welcomes Turkey’s Erdogan to White House, offers thanks for tentative cease-fire in northern Syria, David Nakamura, Karen DeYoung and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 13, 2019. Turkey's President Erdogan meets with Trump at White House (shown above). President Trump expressed optimism that the United States and Turkey are on their way to resolving the many differences between them, but provided few details at a news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a day of White House meetings.

Trump said a tentative cease-fire is holding in northeastern Syria and thanked Erdogan for “his cooperation.” He said the two leaders “made tremendous progress” toward more than quadrupling bilateral trade — to $100 billion — and “hopefully will be able to resolve” a conflict over Turkey’s purchase of a sophisticated Russian missile defense system.

Calling Turkey a “great NATO ally and a strategic partner of the United States around the world,” Trump described their talks as “wonderful and productive.”

He said he was paying no attention to House hearings in the impeachment inquiry over Ukraine that was taking place at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “I hear it’s a joke,” he said. “I haven’t watched for one minute, because I’ve been with the president, which is much more important as far as I’m concerned.”

Impeachment Hearing Previews

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP and Democrats push dueling messages on Trump’s conduct, Toluse Olorunnipa, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade​, Nov. 13, 2019. The series of open hearings that begin today will be a pivotal test of lawmakers’ ability to sway public opinion for or against President Trump’s impeachment in a polarized political environment.

washington post logoWashington Post, How the decline of public trust shaped Trump’s, Nixon’s and Clinton’s endgames, Marc Fisher, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). This is the first impeachment process to take place in an era of instant and constant spin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 5 questions we still need answered, Was President Trump definitively behind all of this? Amber Phillips, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Nearly eight weeks into the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, we know that his administration withheld bipartisan military aid from Ukraine, and we know that Trump wanted Ukraine’s president to investigate a company related to former vice president Joe Biden as well as a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election.

But going into the first week of public hearings, we don’t have some key details pinned down that could go a long way to firming up Democrats’ case against Trump. Such as: 1. Who was directing all of this?

washington post logoadam schiff squareWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: A guide to impeachment hearing spin, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, Nov. 13, 2019. Watch out for these debunked claims you may hear during the hearings. During the deposition stage of the investigation, Trump and his allies have offered false and misleading claims that we have debunked over the past few weeks.

Here’s a guide to some of the most significant claims. (We also gave Four Pinocchios to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, for misleading reporters about the committee’s prior contact with the whistleblower who first alleged Trump has been “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS, THEMES

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats’ impeachment lawyer cut his teeth prosecuting mobsters, Wall Street cheats, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The Democrats’ lead impeachment hearing lawyer made his bones as a prosecutor by sending mobsters, stock swindlers and a multimillion-dollar insider trader to prison, cases in which colleagues said he mixed brains and “swagger” to win convictions.

Daniel S. Goldman spent a decade as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, a jurisdiction known for its tough, high-profile cases. He left that job in 2017 to become a television legal analyst but now holds a weightier role questioning witnesses called to testify about President Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who is Stephen R. Castor, the GOP staff attorney in the impeachment hearings? Elise Viebeck, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Stephen R. Castor served as investigator to key House probes.The Republican staff member charged with questioning impeachment witnesses has served as an investigator in some of the biggest House probes of the last 15 years, including inquiries related to Hurricane Katrina, a gun-tracking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious and the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet the task facing Stephen R. Castor on Wednesday will be completely new, as Republicans seize the chance to bolster President Trump’s case that there was no quid pro quo involving Ukraine during the impeachment inquiry’s first public hearing.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: The case against Trump in seven words, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Now it gets real. After three years of presidential assaults on democratic norms, after a 50-day impeachment inquiry, after 100 hours of closed-door testimony from 15 witnesses and after thousands of pages of publicly released depositions, the case against President Trump comes down to seven words:

He abused presidential powers for personal advantage.

Simple as that.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump offers trade deal, sanctions workaround to Erdogan, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Kareem Fahim, Nov. 13, 2019. The offer is likely to infuriate some of Flag of Turkeythe House majority that voted to impose sanctions on Turkey over its assault into Syria, and a group of senators who introduced a similar bill.

• Analysis: An embattled Trump welcomes an embittered Erdogan

washington post logoWashington Post, Kushner proposes creating live video feed of border wall construction to rally public support, Nick Miroff, Nov. 13, 2019. The plan has been met by objections from U.S. Army Corps and border officials.

stephen miller nbc screenshot whwashington post logoWashington Post, Leaked Stephen Miller emails shows Trump’s point man on immigration promoted white nationalism, SPLC reports, Kim Bellware, Nov. 13, 2019. 
In the lead-up to the 2016 election, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, right, sought to promote white nationalism, far-right extremist ideas and anti-immigrant rhetoric through the conservative site Breitbart, according to a report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The report is the first installment in a series that draws on more than 900 emails that Miller sent to a Breitbart writer over a 15-month period between 2015 and 2016 and were given to the SPLC. The report describes Miller’s emails as overwhelmingly focused on race and immigration and characterizes him as obsessed with ideas such as “white genocide” (a conspiracy theory associated with white supremacists) and sharply curbing nonwhite immigration.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, At donor dinner, Giuliani associate said he discussed Ukraine with Trump, according to people familiar with his account, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The April 2018 dinner was designed to be an intimate affair, an opportunity for a handful of big donors to a super PAC allied with President Trump to personally interact with the president and his eldest son. One of the men, Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests.

According to Parnas (shown at center in a file photo), the president reacted strongly to the news: Trump immediately suggested that then-Ambassador Marie ­Yovanovitch, who had been in the Foreign Service for 32 years and served under Democratic and Republican presidents, should be fired, people familiar with his account said.

state dept map logo Small

washington post logoWashington Post, She inflated her resume and peddled a fake Time cover. Trump appointed her to the State Department, Reis Thebault, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Mina Chang sports a subtle smile on the cover of a Time magazine “Special Edition,” with a swaggering headline that reads, “We change the world: Modern humanitarian in the digital age.”

The cover shot was among the photographs Chang brought to a January 2017 interview about countering violent extremism. At the time, the State Department senior official was the chief executive of a small nonprofit, and she appeared on the public affairs show to discuss efforts to curb the influence of groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, University of Florida’s student president faces impeachment after bringing Donald Trump Jr. to campus for $50,000, Meagan Flynn, Nov. 13, 2019 (print ed.). After the University of Florida’s student body president helped bring Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle to campus last month to the tune of $50,000, the school’s student government has now moved to impeach him, arguing that the speaking engagement amounted to a misuse of student fees.

World News

  • Washington Post, Venice partly submerged by highest tides in half a century

Nov. 12

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff just laid down the law, Bill Palmer, Nov. 12, 2019. We’re now just half a day away from the start of televised House impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. They’ll be led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a former prosecutor with a stellar track record of exposing and putting away bad guys. Now he’s offering a hint of the strategy he’ll take against Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump keeps arguing that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine, or that there was nothing wrong with his quid pro quo with Ukraine, depending on what day of the week it is. The trouble is that most people don’t know precisely what a “quid pro quo” is, and some people can’t even pronounce the tongue twister. Adam Schiff is now making clear that he’s going to take a different approach.

adam schiff squareAdam Schiff, right, has revealed in an interview that he’s going to focus on convincing the American public that Donald Trump is guilty of bribery. It makes sense, for two reasons. First, most people implicitly understand what bribery is, and that in a political context it’s very wrong. Second, it’s going to be fairly easy to make the case that Trump is guilty of bribery.

Donald Trump cut off $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine, and then offered to give it back if Ukraine was willing to promote a phony scandal about Trump’s 2020 election rival. Numerous witnesses from Trump’s own regime are about to testify on live television that they witnessed or participated in Trump’s bribery scheme. It should lead to a rather clear-cut article of impeachment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Has Considered Firing Intelligence Community Inspector General, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 12, 2019. President Trump has discussed dismissing the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because Mr. Atkinson reported a whistle-blower’s complaint about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine to Congress after concluding it was credible, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

michael atkinson oMr. Trump first expressed his dismay about Mr. Atkinson, right, around the time the whistle-blower’s complaint became public in September. In recent weeks, he has continued to raise with aides the possibility of firing him, one of the people said.

The president has said he does not understand why Mr. Atkinson shared the complaint, which outlined how Mr. Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals at the same time he was withholding military aid from the country. He has said he believes Mr. Atkinson, whom he appointed in 2017, has been disloyal, one of the people said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Trump Is Hiding From the Impeachment Hearings, Neal K. Katyal (former acting solicitor general and a law professor), Nov. 12, 2019, The president’s efforts to prevent the House from doing its job are just as worrisome as the Ukraine scandal.

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

Media / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The Man Trump Trusts for News on Ukraine, Jeremy W. Peters and Kenneth P. Vogel, Nov. 12, 2019. John Solomon, below, right, is shaping how millions of Americans understand this moment. But officials had never known him to be an authority on Ukrainian policy. Mr. Solomon has been a surprisingly central figure in the impeachment proceedings so far. But the glare has not been so kind.

john solomonOne witness testified to Congress that an article of his was full of “non-truths and non sequiturs.” Another witness said that he could not recall a single thing that was correct in one of Mr. Solomon’s stories, then added sarcastically, “His grammar might have been right.”

So who exactly is John Solomon? A Washington-based reporter and Fox News personality who had until recently been working at the politics outlet The Hill, Mr. Solomon, 52, is not well known outside conservative media. But, according to interviews and testimony, his writing and commentary helped trigger the chain of events that are now the subject of the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

Though he worked for years at The Associated Press and briefly at The Washington Post, he moved on from mainstream outlets and now sits at the center of a network of conservative journalists, radio hosts, cable news pundits and activists whose work reaches millions of Americans every day, and shapes the way a large swath of the country sees this pivotal moment.

U.S. Supreme Court: Migrants, Guns

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Appears Ready to Let Trump End ‘Dreamers’ Program, Adam Liptak, Nov. 12, 2019. The conservative majority seemed ready to support President Trump’s push to end a program that shielded 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. Still, the justices agreed that the people who signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, had relied on it in good faith.

The court’s liberal justices probed the administration’s justifications for ending the program, expressing skepticism about its rationales for doing so. But other justices, including President Trump’s two appointees, indicated that they would not second-guess the administration’s reasoning and, in any event, considered its explanations sufficient.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court cleared the way for the families of Sandy Hook victims to sue Remington, a gun maker, Kristin Hussey and Elizabeth Williamson,
Nov. 12, 2019. Families of victims in the 2012 shooting at an elementary school are challenging a federal law protecting gun manufacturers from liability.

U.S. Politics

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

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

World News

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

james le mesurier white helmets cofounder

South Front, Commentary: White Helmets MI6 Co-Founder Found Dead, Staff report, Nov. 12, 2019. MSM Blames Russia. On Nov. 11, White Helmets “rescue organization” co-founder and former MI-6 operative, James Le Mesurier, above, was found dead near his home in Istanbul, Turkey.

The body of former MI6 officer was found in Beyoğlu district on November 11th by passersby who were going to mosque for the morning prayer, according to the statement issued by the Istanbul governor’s office. He was found with fractures to his head and legs, Turkish media say, and is believed to have fallen from his balcony.

syrian white helmetsThe White Helmets official twitter, too, confirmed his death. The White Helmets “rescue organization”, notorious for its whistleblowing of “chemical attacks” and other incidents is accused of working with terrorists, notably by Russia, Iran and the Syrian government. There’s a plethora of evidence to back up these accusations.

Regardless, a conspiracy is forming in MSM, claiming that Russia assassinated Le Mesurier.

“Russia hates Le Mesurier because he was instrumental in establishing the White Helmets civilian rescue service. The White Helmets operate in Syria, helping to save civilians suffering under attack from Syrian regime forces and their Russian and Iranian allies. The Russians despise the White Helmets because they obstruct Russia from killing civilians to force the Syrian resistance into submission. Last week, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs attacked Le Mesurier on Twitter, accusing him of being a British intelligence officer and a terrorist.”

The report completely disregards the fact that James Le Mesurier was, in fact, a British intelligence officer, who even received recognition by the Queen for his service.

Nov. 11

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted above)

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump, shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore.

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

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

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

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

rick perry michael bleyzer us embassy kyiv via ap Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Supreme Court / DACA

ICE logo

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

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

Bolivian Coup Alleged

wayne madesen report logo

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

oleg sokolov

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

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

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

Trump Tax Return Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 10

Global Politics / Media

 

Trump Probes / Impeachment Indexdjt handwave file

 

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt nikki haley Custom 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Politics / Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More World News

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

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

U.S. Agriculture / Food 

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

Nov. 9

Global Headlines

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

nancy pelosi djt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child Sex Trafficking

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

Migration / Climate Change

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

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 8

Legal Scandal Headlines just security logo

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

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

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

steve bannon file

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt rudy giuliani Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro & Con Trump Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

paul friedman graphic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

steven menashi screenshot Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media / Politics

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

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

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

U.S. Crime, Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Foreign Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Scandal Headlines (Cont.).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media News / Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 7

Lead-Poisoned Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections

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

bernie sanders dem debate msnbcpng

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Public Health

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

World News

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

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

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

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

U.S. Homelessness, Crime, Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MeToo Disputes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 6

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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U.S. Election Results

matt bevin andy beshear Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

andy beshear steve beshear twitter Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

Media / Politics

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

paula white cain facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 5

U.S. Election Results

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kurt,

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

Rudy.

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

Political Parody

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Media / Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MeToo & Media

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

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

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

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

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

The clip was leaked on Tuesday by Project Veritas, a group that seeks to expose perceived liberal bias in the mainstream media.
Presentational white space

Ms Giuffre, 35, alleges she was abused by Epstein and was ordered to have sex with powerful men including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. (Roberts is shown at center as a teen with the Prince Andrew while Epstein's friend and alleged fellow trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell looks on.)

World News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Trump Probes (Noted Above)

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

Nov. 4

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 3

U.S. News Headlines

Details below

 

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Health Care / 2020 Elections

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

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

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

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

Global News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Politics, Courts, Crime

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

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

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

charlottesville torchlight parade 8 12 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Trump Probe Commentary

djt cpac gage skidmore Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Force Seeks Larger Presence In Nevada

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

McDonald's CEO Forced Out

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

Nov. 2

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. 2020 Elections

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

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

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

Global News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migrant / Smuggling Security