January 2020 News


 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative January 2020 news and views

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

Jan. 31

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

World News Headlines

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts 

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, Live Updates: Senate rejects measure to call witnesses in final major step before vote on verdict, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Michael Brice-Saddler, Jan. 31, 2020. Vote ensures that the impeachment trial will be the first ever without witnesses; Hillary Clinton says Republicans put Trump’s interests over the American people; Hoyer says GOP senators have tainted legacy by voting for a ‘sham’ trial; Yovanovitch has submitted retirement papers; McConnell, right, says trial will conclude ‘in coming days'; Schumer calls vote for no witnesses ‘a grand tragedy.’

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Alexander says he will oppose calling witnesses in win for GOP push for acquittal, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) put the Democrats one vote closer to calling additional witnesses late Thursday night after the Senate adjourned, announcing she will vote with them on Friday.

lamar alexander oMinutes later another closely watched Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), right, made it unlikely the vote will pass, but could tie if all members of the Democratic caucus and two more Republicans vote yes.

Senators reconvened for a second day of questions to House impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers ahead of a crucial vote expected Friday on whether to call witnesses to testify about the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

Democrats are pressing to call witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leading Republicans do not want to extend the proceedings into unpredictable territory and are angling for a swift acquittal of Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Dershowitz’s view would destroy our constitutional system, Justin Amash (Independent former Republican who represents Michigan’s 3rd district in the U.S. House of Representatives), Jan. 31, 2020. Of course abuse of power is impeachable. In our constitutional republic, it must be.

Speaking from the Senate floor in the impeachment trial of President Trump this week, Alan Dershowitz presented the American people with a vision of Congress’s impeachment power that is sharply at odds with the Constitution, the deliberations of the Framers and the history of impeachments.

His claim — central to Trump’s defense — is that “purely noncriminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are outside the range of impeachable offenses.” Although he says a “technical” crime is not required, he means only that criminal conduct can still be impeachable even if it cannot be prosecuted for some jurisdictional or procedural reason.

The Constitution states that the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Dershowitz asserts that by including the word “other” before “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the Framers intended to limit impeachment to “criminal-like conduct akin to treason and bribery.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate appears ready to reject witnesses in Trump impeachment trial, Acquittal vote possible today, Mike DeBonis, Seung Min Kim and David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 31, 2020. The final outcome of President Trump’s Senate trial has never been in doubt. Instead, the main drama has been how much more Republican senators want to learn about what he did before deciding whether he should be convicted.

The impeachment trial of President Trump is headed for a critical vote Friday that will determine whether the Senate hears from witnesses over allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to launch investigations for his own political benefit.

susan collins oBut Senate Republicans are increasingly confident no new testimony will be heard and they can start on a sprint toward Trump’s acquittal.

On Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said she will break with Republican leadership and vote to hear witnesses. But Collins still needs three other Republicans to vote with her if new evidence is to be allowed and it was unclear late Thursday night who, if anyone, in the party would join her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: If Republicans give Trump his coverup, his acquittal will be worthless, Editorial Board, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.).Senators face a historic decision Friday: whether to shut down the trial of President Trump without hearing what they know would be us senate logoessential evidence. Mr. Trump has denied for months that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine’s president in an effort to force politicized investigations, including of former vice president Joe Biden.

The president’s lawyers have insisted that there is no firsthand testimony to the contrary. Yet, now, senators know that former national security adviser John Bolton can supply that testimony and that he is prepared to appear if called.

  • Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin Opinion: Republicans are pursuing acquittal in the worst possible way, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.).
  • Washington Post, Dana Milbank Opinion: The trial hurtles toward Trump’s acquittal — at a terrible cost, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.).
  • Washington Post, George Conway Opinion: Don’t let the defense fool you. This impeachment is all about corruption, Jan. 31, 2020 (print ed.). djt nancy pelosi

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi strikes back, Bill Palmer, Jan. 30, 2020. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hasn’t made a lot of noise during Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, because she hasn’t needed to. I

It’s up to Senate Republicans to decide how they want to handle the no-win situation of either giving Trump a witness-free sham trial that voters will punish them for, or letting witnesses testify against Trump and then making themselves look even more absurd by acquitting him. Then Pelosi can make whatever countermove she wants.

bill palmer report logo headerIf Republican Senators don’t do their jobs, Nancy Pelosi can simply hold a public House hearing and let John Bolton testify. Or she can launch new articles of impeachment if she wants. Or she can simply sit back while Bolton does the TV talk show circuit, thus decimating Trump and the GOP Senators who acquit him. Pelosi holds all the cards; she just has to wait for the GOP to finish playing its losing hand. Interestingly, Pelosi spoke up today, tweeting this about the trial:

You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation.

If Republican Senators choose a cover-up, the American people and history will judge it with the harshness it deserves.

What stands out here is that, unlike the fatalists in the Resistance who keep insisting that “Trump is getting away with it all,” Pelosi is flat out saying that Trump’s acquittal won’t count, and that this won’t have been a trial. It’s a tricky game to try to guess precisely what she plans to do about it if the Senate doesn’t call witnesses. But she appears to be making a point of reminding everyone that she holds all the power here.

National Security / Free Press / Impeachment

Real Clear Politics, Bolton's Security Clearance in Jeopardy in Wake of Book Leaks, Susan Crabtree, Jan. 31, 2020. In the late summer of 2018, just a few months into John Bolton’s national security adviser tenure, he strongly defended President Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, the pugnacious anti-Trump critic the president has called a “leaker,” “a liar” and ringleader of the debunked Russian collusion investigation.

john bolton surrender is not an optionAt the time, Bolton accused Brennan of “politicizing intelligence,” both during the Obama administration and afterward, which he deemed a “very dangerous thing to do.”

“If there is any kind of misconduct, I think there are lots of grounds to have your security clearance revoked for behavior that calls into question your ability to hold the material in confidence,” Bolton told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. “…For me, the issue is whether he abused information that he attained while he was director of the CIA or he may have attained erroneously or incorrectly after he left.”

Nearly a year and a half later, the shoe is on the other foot.

Bolton left the White House in September 2019 in a public eruption of vitriol on both sides over the terms of his departure. He said he resigned; Trump says he fired the longtime national security hawk over foreign policy differences. More recently, Trump accused Bolton of trying to entangle the U.S. in multiple additional wars instead of ending them as the president had promised voters in 2016 he would do.

Bolton now faces the wrath of not just Trump but his legions of loyalists for volunteering to testify against the president in the impeachment trial, thus bolstering Democrats’ arguments that the president threatened Ukraine’s president with a quid pro quo over U.S. aid to extract a commitment to investigate Joe Biden and his son’s dealings in that country.

Seeing his security clearance revoked is an almost certainty for Bolton once the impeachment trial is over, according to two government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, as well as legal experts – all of whom say Bolton could face additional fallout for his role in the impeachment drama this week.

Several media outlets have reported that the irascible veteran national security official circulated a draft manuscript of the book containing the quid pro quo arguments to close associates before delivering it to the White House Records Management Directorate for pre-publication review, as required, and could face criminal prosecution if proof he did so surfaces.

“If your manuscript includes classified information, then you’re committing a felony by passing it around,” a former White House official told RealClearPolitics.

Jan. 30

Media News

julian assange npc event jan 30 2020 Custom

@Action_4Assange, an advocacy group for the civil rights of imprisoned WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, sponosored a panel discussion on Jan. 30, 2020 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The discussion is available via YouTube

. In related news, see a news report below based on a United Nations finding.

 

Courage Foundation video YouTube,

.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Prosecution of Julian Assange and Its Impact on the Freedom of the Press, expert panel appearing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Jan. 30, 2020, published on Jan. 31 and filmed by Taylor Hudak‏ of @Action_4Assange (70:04 mins).

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of Espionage and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime for WikiLeaks' 2010 publications of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, and State Department cables leaked to WikiLeaks by US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

On Jan. 30, 2020, these legal and academic experts discussed the impact of Assange's prosecution on the freedom of the press, at the National Press Club's First Amendment Lounge in Washington DC.

Speakers:

  • Jameel Jaffer, Director, Knight First Amendment Institute
  • Amy Jeffress, Attorney, former US Department of Justice
  • Ben Wizner, Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project

Moderator: Mary-Rose Papandrea, Constitutional Law Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Courage Foundation supports whistleblowers and the public's right to know. Courage hosts Julian Assange's defense site at defend.wikileaks.org

SwissInfo.org, UN rapporteur: Assange being set up to be ‘burnt at the stake,’ Nils Melzer, Jan. 31, 2020. The detention and potential extradition to the US of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is an attack on democratic principles and the freedom of the press, says the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

In an interview with news outlet Republikexternal link, Melzer delivered a damning indictment of the legal and political systems in the United States, Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.

“It is obvious that what we are dealing with here is political persecution,” he said. “The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law.”

Assange is currently in a high-security prison in Britain fighting extradition to the US. In 2010 the whistleblowing website Wikileaks published material from former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning of alleged US war crimes in Iraq.

Melzer got involved in the case last year but was dissatisfied with answers to his enquiries to the Swedish and British authorities. He has visited Assange in jail and says that the 48-year-old is being denied legal rights and is being subject to psychological torture that could cost him his life.

Melzer, who has previously criticised the Swiss government’s stance towards Assange, tells Republik that he has documentary evidence that Swedish police made up evidence to accuse Assange with rape, an investigation that was subsequently dropped.

“Four democratic countries joined forces – the US, Ecuador, Sweden and the UK – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could later be burnt at the stake without any outcry. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press,” Melzer said.

Assange is wanted for trial in the US to face several charges, including breaches of the Espionage Act. He continues to divide public opinion, with some accusing him of being a dangerous narcissist who endangers lives and others believing him to be a defender of democratic freedoms.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Coronavirus death toll in China rises to more than 200, Staff reports, Jan. 31, 2020. Italian government sets six-month state of emergency; First coronavirus cases confirmed in Russia; Japan to tighten restricitions on Chinese nationals, Abe says.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: No, Team Trump, the Coronavirus Isn’t Good for America, Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 31, 2020. The commerce secretary just flunked microbe economics. How frightened should you be about the coronavirus? I’m no epidemiologist, but what I’ve seen looks pretty scary. It doesn’t help that the Trump administration, as part of its general war against science and expertise, has seriously reduced America’s capacity to respond if we do face a dangerous pandemic.

It also looks quite possible that the virus will inflict a lot of economic damage — even if it doesn’t kill you, it might kill your job. And one special source of concern is that top officials in the Trump administration are talking nonsense about the economic threat.

So, about that economic threat: Many people are drawing parallels between the coronavirus and the 2002-3 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which also originated in China. Like the current outbreak, SARS led to the imposition of economically disruptive quarantines, which appear to have had a significant if temporary adverse effect on China’s economy, and a modest negative impact on the world economy as a whole.

We still don’t know whether the coronavirus is more or less dangerous than SARS. What we do know is that the global economic implications of a pandemic in China are likely to be much more severe now than they were then, for the simple reason that China is a vastly bigger player than it used to be.

Al-Monitor, Behind its strong condemnations, Turkey is quietly accepting the new status quo in and around Idlib, Fehim Tastekin, Jan. 31, 2020. Ankara offered a rare and forceful rebuke to Moscow when Russia-backed Syrian regime forces recently captured a strategic town in the northwestern province of Idlib, but Turkey does not seem to have many options to change the course of events.

The Syrian regime forces captured the strategic town of Maaret al-Numan some 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Idlib city, the last stronghold of the Turkey-backed opposition groups. Three Turkish observation posts have come under siege as of the recent regime advances, putting Turkey, which had promised to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib under the 2018 Sochi deal between Ankara and Moscow, in a tight spot.

Although Ankara seems determined to keep its troops in the region, Turkey did nothing as the regime advanced, disappointing rebel forces awaiting Turkey’s support.

The opposition forces are upset for three reasons: The Turkish observation posts set up for de-escalation proved to be ineffective, Turkey’s decision to send Syrian fighters to Libya to support one of the warring parties in the country has weakened the opposition ranks and the opposition believes Turkey reconciled with Russia to give covert consent to the regime's offensive.

2020 U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, John Delaney ended his presidential campaign after two and a half years, Maggie Astor, Jan. 31, 2020. John Delaney ran one of the longest presidential campaigns in American history, but it’s over now.

Mr. Delaney dropped out of the Democratic race on Friday, just three days before the Iowa caucuses, ending a two-and-a-half-year marathon that has spanned almost the entirety of the Trump presidency.

Anthony Scaramucci was working in the White House when Mr. Delaney began his campaign. The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville had not happened yet. Robert Mueller’s investigation was less than three months old.

Mr. Delaney announced his candidacy on July 28, 2017, during his third term as a representative from Maryland, and did not pursue re-election in 2018, the better to focus on his quest for the White House. By the time other Democrats began flooding Iowa, he had already democratic donkey logovisited every county — the theory being that a little-known congressman could become a presidential nominee if he barnstormed the early primary states before anyone else was around to draw voters’ attention.

On Friday, he acknowledged that his years of campaigning hadn’t been enough. His spokeswoman said internal polling had shown that he would not meet the threshold of 15 percent support needed for viability in the caucuses, but that he could pull just enough support to keep other moderate candidates below the threshold, which he did not want to do.

Initially, his pitch was bipartisanship, and the time-honored idea that Americans could overcome their bitterest divisions if only they had a leader who encouraged them to do so. As more candidates entered and the race shifted sharply to the left, he leaned harder into his self-appointed role as a voice of moderation, nowhere more so than on health care.

Mr. Delaney proposed automatically enrolling every American in a government-run health care plan, but offering a credit to people who wanted to forfeit that benefit and buy their own insurance instead. He cast it as a sort of compromise measure: a way to guarantee universal coverage without eliminating private insurance. And as the race heated up, he pushed aggressively against “Medicare for all,” calling it unrealistic and bad politics.

New York Post, Hillary Clinton refuses to be served Tulsi Gabbard’s defamation lawsuit, Emily Saul, Jan. 29, 2020. Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary Clinton for defamation. Hillary Clinton has now twice snubbed a process server attempting to deliver the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, according to Gabbard’s attorney.

“I find it rather unbelievable that Hillary Clinton is so intimidated by Tulsi Gabbard that she won’t accept service of process,” the congresswoman’s attorney, Brian Dunne, told The Post. “But I guess here we are.”

Dunne said their process server first attempted to effect service at Clinton’s house in Chappaqua on Tuesday afternoon — but was turned away by Secret Service agents.

The agents directed the server to Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, who on Wednesday claimed at his Washington, DC, firm, Williams & Connolly, that he was unable to accept service on Clinton’s behalf, said Dunne.

Gabbard sued the former secretary of state for $50 million last week for calling her a “Russian asset.” Clinton has refused to retract the statement.

U.S. Health Care

ny times logoNew York Times, How Chaos at Chain Pharmacies Is Putting Patients at Risk, Staff report, Jan. 31, 2020. Pharmacists across the U.S. warn china flag Smallthat the push to do more with less has made medication errors more likely. The city-state said it would stop issuing visas to people with Chinese passports and deny entry to foreigners who had visited China in the past 14 days.

Russia confirmed its first cases and said it would close its border with Mongolia. Singapore and Mongolia will bar entries from China. The State Department tells Americans not to travel to China. More than 200 people have died, with about 9,800 infections confirmed.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, A man got thrown out of his wheelchair for reminding an able-bodied SUV driver not to park in the handicapped space, police say, Meagan Flynn, Jan. 31, 2020. Video shows man thrown out of wheelchair for allegedly calling out driver.

Philip Kinstler pulled into the Pleasant Hill, Calif., Target parking lot in his hand-controlled van on the night of Jan. 11. He noticed the black SUV across from him had parked illegally in a handicapped spot.

Kinstler, who has been using a wheelchair for more than 30 years, saw a woman sitting inside the SUV. He plunked his metal ramp down to get out of his van, and decided to go tap on her window.

He pointed to the handicapped sign. “I thought I would ask her kindly if they could not park there again, in a handicapped spot,” he told The Washington Post on Friday morning.

That single request, according to Pleasant Hill police, would lead the woman’s partner to track down Kinstler inside the Target and demand he apologize to her.

Then, as customers and Target employees watched in amazement, the suspect grabbed Kinstler’s wheelchair and dumped him onto the ground.

Rather than returning a shirt at Target, Kinstler ended up going to the hospital with a broken wrist.

“I was in shock,” he said. “I looked down at my wrist, and it was all askew, and then the pain hit and I thought, my life is over.”

On Tuesday, the Pleasant Hill Police Department released surveillance footage of the violent encounter. The alleged attacker, Jimmie Tiger, was charged with felony assault “by means likely to produce great bodily injury” and attempted kidnapping, for grabbing hold of Kinstler’s wheelchair and wheeling him away for a short distance. He was arrested earlier this month and had a preliminary hearing Thursday, the East Bay Times reported.

The assault has left 52-year-old Kinstler, who lives alone, struggling to maintain his independence. Paralyzed from mid-chest down, Kinstler said he relies on his arm strength to do everything. With a broken wrist, he can’t transfer himself from his wheelchair to his bed without help from a nurse. He can’t take himself to the grocery store. He can barely wheel himself around his own home.

washington post logoWashington Post, SUV breaches security checkpoints at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago before being fired upon by law enforcement, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 31, 2020. An SUV being pursued by police breached two security checkpoints outside President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort Friday before it was fired on by law enforcement officials, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

In a news release, the sheriff’s office said that Florida Highway Patrol was pursuing the SUV when it headed toward the checkpoints on the way to the main entrance of the resort. The SUV “breached both security check points,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement, and officials “discharged their firearms at the vehicle.”

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said two people had been taken into custody,

washington post logoWashington Post, Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting mass attack on politicians and journalists to be sentenced, Paul Duggan, Jan. 31, 2020. Christopher Hasson is accused of stockpiling weapons in his Maryland home as part of a plot to kill people in support of white nationalism.

He is set to be sentenced by Judge George E. Hazel in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., but the punishment he will receive is far from certain. At issue is the problematic question of whether Hasson’s alleged plotting ultimately would have led to lethal action.

The government argues he should be locked up for a quarter century. The federal public defender’s office in Maryland wants the judge to release him from jail and let him go home.

Sentencing memos filed by defense lawyers and the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland offer vastly differing depictions of Hasson, who was a Marine Corps aircraft mechanic in the first Gulf War and joined the Coast Guard in 1996 after a stint in the Virginia National Guard.

  • Washington Post, Trump’s border wall, vulnerable to flash floods, needs large storm gates left open for months, Nick Miroff, Jan. 31, 2020. The open, unmanned gates have allowed smugglers and migrants to enter easily.
  • Washington Post, It wasn’t just the National Archives. The Library of Congress also balked at a Women’s March photo, Joe Heim, Jan. 31, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signs executive order to combat human trafficking as some advocacy groups boycott summit, Jessica Contrera, Jan. 31, 2020. President Trump signed an executive order Friday creating a position within his domestic policy team dedicated solely to fighting human trafficking. The order, signed during a White House summit on the issue, also proposes an additional $42 million in funding for service programs and prosecutions.

“Human trafficking is worse than ever before because of the Internet,” Trump said. “The Internet has caused lots of good things to happen and lots of really bad things, and this is probably the worst of the bad things.”

Trump was joined by Vice President Pence and first daughter Ivanka Trump, whom he credited for championing the issue.

“I would say that this issue may be closest to her heart because of the level of evil that you would never believe is even possible in a modern age,” Trump said.

Ivanka Trump’s office organized the summit to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which established trafficking as a federal crime. While some anti-trafficking organizations were grateful for the spotlight on the issue, others boycotted the event, citing the administration’s treatment of trafficking victims who are immigrants. Among them was Polaris, the organization that runs the national human-trafficking hotline.

william barr new oHe praised Attorney General William P. Barr, right, for going after traffickers.

“My administration is fighting these monsters, persecuting and prosecuting them, locking them away for a very, very long time,” Trump said. “We have had a tremendous track record, the best track record in a long time.”

Statistics from the Justice Department show otherwise. Prosecutions of sex and labor traffickers, which fluctuated during the Obama years, are down from 531 in fiscal 2016 to 343 in fiscal 2019.

  • Washington Post, Anti-human-trafficking groups refuse to attend Ivanka Trump’s White House summit, Jessica Contrera, Jan. 30, 2020.

Media News

julian assange npc event jan 30 2020 Custom

Action 4 Assange, an advocacy group for the civil rights of imprisoned WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, sponosored a panel discussion on Jan. 30, 2020 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The discussion is available via YouTube

. In related news, see a news report below based on a United Nations finding.

SwissInfo.org, UN rapporteur: Assange being set up to be ‘burnt at the stake,’ Staff report, Jan. 31, 2020. The detention and potential extradition to the US of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is an attack on democratic principles and the freedom of the press, says the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

UN logoIn an interview with news outlet Republikexternal link, Nils Melzer delivered a damning indictment of the legal and political systems in the United States, Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.

“It is obvious that what we are dealing with here is political persecution,” he said. “The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law.”

Assange is currently in a high-security prison in Britain fighting extradition to the US. In 2010 the whistleblowing website Wikileaks published material from former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning of alleged US war crimes in Iraq.

Melzer got involved in the case last year but was dissatisfied with answers to his enquiries to the Swedish and British authorities. He has visited Assange in jail and says that the 48-year-old is being denied legal rights and is being subject to psychological torture that could cost him his life.

Melzer, who has previously criticised the Swiss government’s stance towards Assange, tells Republik that he has documentary evidence that Swedish police made up evidence to accuse Assange with rape, an investigation that was subsequently dropped.

“Four democratic countries joined forces – the US, Ecuador, Sweden and the UK – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could later be burnt at the stake without any outcry. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press,” Melzer said.

Assange is wanted for trial in the US to face several charges, including breaches of the Espionage Act. He continues to divide public opinion, with some accusing him of being a dangerous narcissist who endangers lives and others believing him to be a defender of democratic freedoms.

ap logoAssociated Press, Anne Cox Chambers, wealthy newspaper heiress, dies at 100, Jeff Martin, Jan. 31, 2020. Anne Cox Chambers, a newspaper heiress, diplomat and philanthropist who was one of the country’s richest women, has died at the age of 100.

Her nephew James Cox Kennedy announced her death to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, her company’s flagship newspaper.

Chambers, a director of Cox Enterprises Inc., promoted Jimmy Carter’s political career and served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium during his presidency. Forbes estimated her net worth several years ago at nearly $17 billion. She was well known for her charitable giving, and served on the boards of the Atlanta Arts Alliance and the High Museum of Art among other institutions.

She was the daughter of James Middleton Cox, the 1920 Democratic presidential candidate and founder of Cox Enterprises Inc. The privately held company has included The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other newspapers, radio and TV stations, cable TV systems and other businesses.

Chambers and her mother and siblings inherited the company when the senior Cox died in 1957.

While most of her wealthy friends were Republicans, she remained a staunch Democrat. At 89, she even knocked on doors for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, the newspaper reported.

“I just don’t discuss politics with my friends. No use having fights,” she once told Vanity Fair magazine.

“Both of my parents were extremely caring people, so that I think growing up, well, there was the fact of feeling responsible,” she said. “My father’s rich friends would complain about paying taxes, but he used to say it was a privilege to pay taxes. In Russia, you’d never make enough money to pay those taxes.”

Jan. 30

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

World Headlines

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts   mike purpura cspan Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s legal team advances broad defense against impeachment, Erica Werner, Karoun Demirjian and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 30, 2020. Attorneys argue that nearly any action is not impeachable if it’s in the public interest. The assertion from Alan Dershowitz, one of the attorneys representing President Trump, seemed to take GOP senators by surprise, and few were willing to embrace his argument.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senators to pose more questions ahead of crucial vote on witnesses, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. us senate logo30, 2020. Republicans angling for a swift acquittal of Trump; Schiff says White House is trying to ‘muzzle’ Bolton; Pelosi calls for chief justice to be tiebreaker on potential 50-50 vote; Schumer blasts Dershowitz argument on quid pro quos; Trump lashes out at Schiff, calls him ‘mentally deranged.’

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Trump’s lawyers refused to answer two important questions related to the president’s intent, James Hohmann​
  • Washington Post, Analysis: Trump team’s brazen new defense: So what if he did it?

Palmer Report, Opinion: The moment of truth has arrived, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 30, 2020. Over the past couple days we’ve seen Republican Senators in bill palmertotal disarray as they’ve attempted to figure out what to do about the new revelations from John Bolton’s book, along with Bolton’s desire to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. At various points Mitch McConnell has leaked that he does and does not have the votes, as he attempts to keep the situation from getting away from him.

bill palmer report logo headerThe thing is, certain vulnerable Republican Senators can’t win no matter how this goes. If they have Bolton testify, they’ll get punished in 2020 by Donald Trump’s base. If they don’t have Bolton testify, they’ll get punished in 2020 by mainstream voters. They’re just trying to figure out a way to vote that’ll cause them the least trouble when it comes to their reelection bids.

Yesterday we saw GOP Senator Cory Gardner rather loudly announce that he’s not planning to vote to call witnesses, in a rather obvious attempt at taking the public’s temperature, so he could decide whether or not to stick with that position. Mitt Romney seems intent on only voting for witnesses if there are enough votes for it to happen. Collins and Murkowski are… you know what? Who cares at this point.

It’s up to the Republican Senators to pick their poison now. If they don’t let John Bolton testify, the House can simply open hearings next week and have Bolton testify, thus making the GOP Senators look terrible for having tried to keep Bolton silent. Bolton is also signaling that if all else fails, he might simply hop on television and “testify” that way.

alan dershowitz senate hands out Custom

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Pushing to Block Witnesses, G.O.P. Drives Trial Toward Fast End, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear, Jan. 30, 2020 (print ed.). Senate Republicans worked aggressively to discount revelations from the former national security adviser John Bolton and line up votes to prevent witnesses. President Trump’s lawyers argued that anything a president did to win re-election was “in the public interest.”

jennifer rubin new headshotwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Bolton, it’s now or never, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 30, 2020.

Dear John Bolton:

Before you were national security adviser, before you represented the United States at the United Nations, you were a lawyer — a pretty good one, as I understand. As a member of the bar, you must have been pained and shaken to hear President Trump’s attorney Alan Dershowitz argue for the proposition that anything a president thinks he needs to do to get reelected — bribe or extort a foreign country, even — cannot be impeachable. This defies and defiles our constitutional system, one in which even the president is not above the law. It’s a proposition that would have boiled your blood had President Bill Clinton or President Barack Obama advanced it.

And yet here we are. The president asserts that he is king, and the spineless Republicans (who smear and insult you and mouth Russian propaganda) are too cowardly to oppose him.

We have the perfect formula for tyranny: The executive claims unlimited power; his critics are muzzled. Your attorney certainly has run through some options for you, but let’s review them.

First, you could hold a news conference Thursday or agree to an interview, perhaps with Chris Wallace so that his Fox News audience would have a front-row seat. (A disclosure: I am a contributor to MSNBC.) You can explain without revealing anything remotely classified that Trump tied aid to opening bogus investigations into the Bidens; that Trump never pursued burden-sharing or anti-corruption efforts more generally before the scandal broke; and that Trump knew that the conspiracy theories justifying such bogus investigations were being advanced by Russian-connected stooges. Let the public know; do not allow the Senate to ignore damning evidence.

Second, you could call up the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees and ask to appear immediately in an open hearing.

Third, you can do nothing, meekly accepting prior restraint on your free speech and remaining silent so that the Senate can escape confronting what it knows would be damning evidence of the president’s impeachable conduct.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senators to pose more questions ahead of crucial vote on witnesses, John Wagner, Jan. 30, 2020. Sen. Whitehouse says he doubts witnesses will be called.

Senators will reconvene Thursday for a second day of questions to House impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers ahead of a crucial vote expected Friday on whether to call witnesses to testify about the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

Democrats are pressing to call witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leading Republicans do not want to extend the proceedings into unpredictable territory and are angling for a swift acquittal of Trump.

Trump faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The crux of the case for his impeachment is the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

ny times logoNew York Times, To Senate Republicans, a Vote for Witnesses Is a Vote for Trouble, Carl Hulse, Jan. 30, 2020 (print ed.). Lawmakers fear allowing new testimony would tie up the Senate indefinitely and open the door to a cascade of new accusations.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Having Hunter Biden Testify Would Be Bad for Trump, Elizabeth Drew, Jan. 30, 2020. If it means John Bolton would also testify in the impeachment trial, it could help the Democrats.

Having Joe Biden’s son testify would illuminate the Bidens’ irrelevance to the issue of whether the president held up congressionally appropriated military assistance for Ukraine until the Ukrainian president announced — not necessarily conducted, just announced — a government investigation into the Bidens’ role.

World News

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, Live Updates: As coronavirus cases in China rise by more than 1,000 per day, countries rush to evacuate citizens, Simon Denyer, Paul Schemm and Adam Taylor, Jan. 30, 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Updates: Russia Signals Closing of 2,600-Mile China Border, Staff reports, Jan. 30, 2020. The World Health Organization will decide whether to declare an international public health emergency. The death toll rose to 170. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the coronavirus outbreak could be good for the U.S., prompting employers to move jobs to America.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Hong Kong, coronavirus brings panic — and fresh fury toward the government, Shibani Mahtani, Jan. 30, 2020.  Hong Kong, gripped by a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests that has battered the economy and led to thousands of arrests, faces a looming new crisis as the deadly coronavirus spreads from the city of Wuhan all over greater China and beyond.

The fear is existential for this densely populated city of 7 million, where about 300 died and more than 1,000 were infected in the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, epidemic of 2003. The coronavirus threat comes as public trust in authorities has collapsed amid the political turmoil, contributing to panic and a rush for supplies.

SouthFront, Hundreds Of Turkish-Backed Militants Arrive In Western Aleppo (Videos), Staff, rebel and wire reports, Jan. 30, 2020. Hundreds of Turkish-backed militants arrived on January 30 in west Aleppo to fight the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The step is reportedly a result of a breakthrough agreement with al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

The militants are members of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, that was expelled from the outskirt of Aleppo city last year by HTS.

Opposition sources released several videos showing the militants heading in large convoys from the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin to western Aleppo.

The new agreement shows how Turkish-backed militants tolerate terrorist groups and even fight on their behalf. All of this happen directly under the eyes of Ankara.

U.S. Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. economy grew 2.3 percent in 2019, the slowest of Trump’s presidency, held back by trade fears and global slowdown, Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam​, Jan. 30, 2020. The rate fell short of President Trump’s promise to deliver at least 3 percent growth.

The U.S. economy grew 2.3 percent in 2019, a solid pace that was boosted by strong consumer and government spending but fell short of President Trump’s promise to deliver at least 3 percent growth.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosLast year’s growth was the weakest since Trump took office, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday, as Trump’s escalating trade war with China triggered a major pullback in business spending and investment. For the majority of last year, business investment was actually contracting as corporate leaders preferred to sit on cash or return it to investors instead of use it to build new factories or buy equipment.

Growth was 2.1 percent in the final three months of the year, better than economists expected and a sign the economy is not falling into a recession.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, All the president’s disloyal men: Trump demands fealty but inspires very little, Ashley Parker, Jan. 30, 2020 (print ed.). The explosive disclosures in Bolton’s forthcoming memoir about his time in the White House — including his firsthand allegation that Trump directly tied the holdup of $391 million of military aid for Ukraine to investigations into a political rival — prompted cries of heresy and betrayal from Trump and his allies.

But the short gestation period — less than five months — between Bolton’s September exit from the administration to his damning book manuscript underscores an uncomfortable truth for Trump: For a president who demands absolute loyalty, he inspires strikingly little of the same, with former aides, advisers and associates turning on him with thrumming regularity.

They are, en masse, all the president’s disloyal men and women — an unofficial club that includes Rex Tillerson, Trump’s former secretary of state, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House senior adviser, and Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney and fixer now serving three years in federal prison for crimes committed while working for Trump.

The culture, of course, is set from the top, with an Oval Office occupant who requires abject fealty but rarely returns it. Trump is known for his petty cruelty, for berating aides publicly and privately and for presiding over an intentionally gladiatorial West Wing, where advisers seem to expect to be betrayed at some point — and behave accordingly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Administration Offers Plan for Medicaid Block Grants, Long a Conservative Goal, Abby Goodnough, Jan. 30, 2020. States will be able to cap a portion of spending for the safety-net program, a change likely to diminish the number of people covered by the health program.

hhs seal CustomThe Trump administration said Thursday that it would start allowing states to seek fixed amounts of money for most poor working-age adults who receive Medicaid coverage, a major shift that would limit federal contributions to a portion of a program that has always been an open-ended entitlement.

seema verma officialSeema Verma, left, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that states that sought the arrangement — an approach often referred to as block grants — would have broad flexibility to design coverage for the affected group under Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor that was created more than 50 years ago as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

The announcement by Ms. Verma, who often speaks of wanting to “transform” Medicaid, comes as her efforts to allow states to require poor adults in Medicaid to work or train for a job in order to receive benefits is mired in court battles.

U.S. 2020 Elections

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Impeached president Donald Trump, shown in a file photo at a rally.

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Donald Trump's traveling pig show, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 30, 2020. Many of those who attend Trump's so-called "Make America Great Again" rallies are Trump groupies, who travel from venue to venue to wallow in the racism and other hate mongering for which "MAGA rallies" have become infamous.

On January 28, a few thousand MAGA fans descended upon Wildwood, New Jersey to attend one of Trump's hate fests. As with other MAGA rallies, the Trumpiacs left mounds of garbage and discarded items, including an air mattress, at the Wildwoods Convention Center on the town's boardwalk.

Neither the Trump presidential campaign nor the White House feels responsible for footing the bill to clean up the garbage left by Trump's piggish fans.

Occupy Democrats, Chaos erupts in Florida village as retirees call cops, issue threats over golf cart Trump protest, Grant Stern, Jan. 30, 2020. A Florida man is protesting the impeached President Donald Trump by using large placards on his golf cart and apparently triggered some of his many pro-Trump neighbors, leading to written threats and demands for his arrest.

But Sumter County sheriffs won’t go after the anti-Trump protester at the request of his tormentors in Florida’s most pro-Trump town, an enormous retirement mecca called “The Villages.”

Ed McGinty is a “well known” political activist, according to the Village News, who “was parked in his golf cart in the grassy area by Odell Circle with signs on his golf cart that read “Trump Is A Sexual Predator,” “Trump Filthy Pig,” “Trump Compulsive Liar,” “Trump Bigot and Racist” and “Hitler And Trump Exactly Same DNA.”

Yesterday was different, however, because his political protest was met by a credible threat of violence against McGinty’s family: "McGinty said he was partially driven to protest today by a threatening note he found on his door this morning that read: “Be very careful if the well being of your family is of importance.” He said he reported the threat to the sheriff’s office, but notes like that won’t keep him from expressing his political views.

The threats only served to inspire McGuinty, who lives in a city of 122,000 people that is quite literally owned by Republicans and is one of the most heavily GOP registered places in Florida. It is also one of the party’s fastest-growing areas as retirees flock to a community better known for grandparents known for excessive binge drinking and who regularly get DUIs in golf carts.

ny times logoNew York Times, Labor’s Problem With Joe Biden: Obama, Noam Scheiber, Jan. 30, 2020. Supporters of the former vice president say he can win back union members who rejected Hillary Clinton. But he must overcome some hard feelings first.

joe biden oSince Mr. Biden began his third campaign for the presidency last April, his supporters have portrayed him as the Democrat best positioned to win back union members who deserted the party in 2016 in crucial industrial states.

There is some basis for that claim. Mr. Biden, who has longstanding ties to many labor leaders, quickly gained an endorsement from the politically powerful firefighters’ union, and just won an endorsement from the ironworkers’ union. Polls frequently show him leading other Democratic candidates in battleground-state matchups against President Trump.

But for many labor voters — even white, blue-collar union members whose votes skewed toward Mr. Trump — the reaction to the former vice president has been more mixed. They frequently cite his policy centrism, which many associate with his time in President Barack Obama’s White House.

washington post logoWashington Post, Document shows Bernie Sanders’s team preparing dozens of potential executive orders, Jeff Stein and Sean Sullivan​, Jan. 30, 2020. Rising in the polls ahead of the Iowa caucuses, the senator from Vermont considers spelling out how he would go around Congress if elected president.

bernie sandersSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is considering dozens of executive orders he could unilaterally enact on a wide range of domestic policy issues if elected president, including immigration, the environment and prescription drugs, according to two people familiar with the campaign’s planning and an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post.

Sanders has risen in national and early-state polling in the final days before Monday’s Iowa caucuses, the first contest in the Democratic presidential primary, which has fueled concerns among some party insiders that he could win the nomination.

Aides have presented Sanders with a list of possible executive actions, including more than a dozen options for reversing President Trump’s immigration policy, such as lifting the cap on the number of refugees accepted into the United States and immediately halting border wall construction. Another option is the reinstatement of an Obama-era program that granted legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to America as children.

Palmer Report, Democratic Opinion: The whole truth about Joe Biden, Robert Harrington, Jan. 30, 2020. Our willingness to admit when we are wrong is what makes us better than Republicans. This is why most Americans are not Republicans, and the fact that Republicans are in power is due, not to their popularity, but to their willingness to cheat and break the law. We stand above Republicans because we are better than they are.

This is why we need to admit that Hunter Biden’s elevation to the board of directors of Barisma was wrong, and it was wrong because of how it appeared. We need to avoid both wrongdoing and the appearance of wrongdoing. It should have never happened, and it would never have happened had he not been the son of the Vice President of the United States.

bill palmer report logo headerBut that is all that was wrong about it, nothing more. But because such lies can only be exposed by explanations that are too long for the pathetic attention spans of Trump’s low-information base, they work. The lawyers for Trump’s impeachment defense know this and, having no integrity themselves, are happy to cynically give oxygen to such lies.

What’s more, the Biden boondoggle serves a dual sinister purpose for the Trump pirate ship. Not only does it distract attention away from the real criminal, Donald Trump, it discredits the Biden candidacy and falsely plants in the mind of the voter the suspicion that maybe there really is something rotten with this whole Burisma business after all.

This is the sad state that the world of lies, corruption and intrinsic dishonesty in politics has brought us to. And it will never, ever go away until the corrupting influence of money is done away with. Only when it becomes illegal to give money of any denomination to a political campaign, and all campaigns are uniformly financed through the government, will such nonsense ever cease. Both political parties are guilty of allowing this absurd inequity to continue.

U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logolinda greenhouse thumb CustomNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s Collapsing Center on Religion, Linda Greenhouse, right, Jan. 30, 2020. A case over vouchers threatens to breach the wall separating church and state.

Jan. 29

Impeachment Headlines

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World News

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Move to Block Impeachment Witnesses, Driving Toward Acquittal, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear, Jan. 29, 2020. Efforts to bring wavering Republicans into line appeared to be working as President Trump’s lawyers argued that anything a president did to win re-election was “in the public interest.” The White House and Senate Republicans worked aggressively on Wednesday to discount damaging revelations from John R. Bolton and line up the votes to block new witnesses from testifying in President Trump’s impeachment trial, in a push to bring the proceeding to a swift close.

us senate logoAs the Senate opened a two-day, 16-hour period of questioning from senators, Mr. Trump laced into Mr. Bolton, his former national security adviser, whose unpublished manuscript contains an account that contradicts his impeachment defense. The president described Mr. Bolton on Twitter as a warmonger who had “begged” for his job, was fired, and then wrote “a nasty & untrue book.”

On Capitol Hill, Mr. Trump’s aides circulated a letter informing Mr. Bolton that the White House was moving to block publication of his forthcoming book, in which he wrote that the president refused to release military aid to Ukraine until its leaders committed to investigating his political rivals. That is a core element of the Democrats’ case, which charges Mr. Trump with seeking to enlist a foreign government to help him win re-election this year.

Before the trial convened, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and other Republicans signaled that they were regaining confidence that they would be able cobble together the 51 votes needed to block new witnesses and documents and bring the trial to an acquittal verdict as soon as Friday, after the revelations from Mr. Bolton, reported Sunday by The New York Times, had threatened to knock their plans off course.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, declared that he had “heard enough” and predicted that the Senate would vote to acquit the president by week’s end.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell says he lacks votes to block witnesses, John Wagner, Elise Viebeck, Colby Itkowitz and Seung Min Kim, Jan. 29, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans that he did not yet mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedhave enough votes to defeat an effort, expected later this week, to call additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.

Pressure has ramped up to include witnesses after reports that former national security adviser John Bolton says in a book manuscript that President Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump’s defense team argued Tuesday that Democrats are seeking to remove him from office over policy differences as they offered their third and final day of opening arguments in a Senate trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Leaders Scramble to Corral Votes to Block Witnesses, Ending Opening Arguments, Nicholas Fandos, Updated Jan. 29, 2020. President Trump’s defense team appealed to the Senate on Tuesday to disregard a new account by the former national security adviser John R. Bolton that bolsters the impeachment case against the president. But by day’s end, Republican leaders working feverishly to block testimony from Mr. Bolton or other witnesses indicated they had not yet corralled the votes to do so.

On the final day of arguments on Mr. Trump’s behalf, Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, sought to raise doubts about Mr. Bolton’s claim in an unpublished manuscript that Mr. Trump tied the release of military aid to Ukraine to investigations into his political rivals, calling it an “unsourced allegation” that was “inadmissible” in his impeachment trial.

Proponents of calling Mr. Bolton also got an unexpected bit of support late Monday from John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, who told an audience in Florida that he believed Mr. Bolton’s account and supported the Senate seeking direct witnesses.

“I think some of the conversations seem to me to be very inappropriate, but I wasn’t there,” he said, according to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “But there are people that were there that ought to be heard from.”

Republican leaders appeared to be slowing down what had been a breakneck trial schedule to allow for fuller consideration of the matter. They were hopeful that by putting distance between the emergence of Mr. Bolton’s account and the vote on witnesses, tensions would cool enough to hold a majority intact.

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ny times logoNew York Times, An ‘Upside-Down World’ for Bolton, Peter Baker, Jan. 29, 2020 (print ed.). While some of Mr. Bolton’s longtime Republican friends are throwing him to the curb, Democrats would like to call him as their star witness.

Not long ago, they called him “too extreme,” “aggressively and dangerously wrong” and “downright dangerous.” They called him “nutty,” “reckless” and “far outside the mainstream.”

Suddenly, John R. Bolton, the conservative war hawk and favorite villain of the left, is the toast of Senate Democrats, the last, best hope to prove their abuse-of-power case against President Trump. Democrats who once excoriated him are trumpeting his credibility as they seek his testimony in Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.

ny times logoNew York Times, The impeachment trial is entering a volatile phase as senators from both parties prepare to ask questions, Michael D. Shear, Jan. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Under impeachment’s arcane rules, senators will submit written queries to be read aloud by the chief justice. Leaders from both parties have strategized for days about what to ask.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Senators Prepare for Hours of Questioning, It is a moment of opportunity — and peril — for both parties, Staff reports, Jan. 29, 2020. After days of sitting quietly as both sides of the case delivered their opening arguments, senators on Wednesday will be able to start questioning the impeachment managers and President Trump’s lawyers by submitting questions to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will read them aloud. The trial will resume at 1 p.m. Eastern, and the proceedings will be streaming live on this page.

The questioning phase will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, for up to 16 hours total. A vote on whether to hear witnesses in the trial is expected on Friday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Bolton’s forthcoming book has put a new focus on Mr. Trump’s actions in two cases linked to Turkey and China, Eric Lipton and Alan Rappeport, Jan. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Interventions in Justice Department proceedings draw scrutiny after the former national security adviser, shown above in a file photo, raised concerns about the president’s embrace of authoritarian leaders.

recep erdogan with flagIt was late 2018, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, of Turkey was on the phone with an unusual request for President Trump: Could he intervene with top members of his cabinet to curb or even shut down a criminal investigation into Halkbank, one of Turkey’s largest state-owned banks?

It was not Mr. Erdogan’s only effort to persuade the Trump administration to back off the investigation into the bank, which had been accused of john bolton surrender is not an optionviolating United States sanctions against Iran.

His government had hired a lobbying firm run by a friend of and fund-raiser for Mr. Trump to press his case with the White House and State Department. And there would be more phone calls between the two leaders in which the topic came up, according to participants in the lobbying.

Mr. Erdogan’s influence campaign is now under scrutiny again in Washington, following the disclosure that Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, reported in his forthcoming book his concern that the president was effectively granting personal favors to Mr. Erdogan and President Xi Jinping of China.

Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton just called Donald Trump’s bluff, Bill Palmer, Jan. 29, 2020. Earlier today, Donald Trump essentially threatened to pull out a magic wand and use it to somehow block or delay John Bolton’s new book from being published. This kind of nonsensical threat isn’t going to get Trump anywhere, and we’ve been waiting for Bolton to call his bluff. Sure enough, this evening it’s happening.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump’s White House National Security Council made the laughable claim today that John Bolton’s new book is full of top secret information – as if Bolton would be stupid enough to fill his book with classified intel. This threat has no chance of standing up in court, and in fact the only way it could result in Bolton’s book being delayed is if the judge can’t stop laughing at Trump’s case. This kind of bluff only works if the target is naive or jittery enough to cave.

This evening John Bolton’s lawyer released a statement to the media, confirming that he’s spent the past week trying to communicate with the National Security Council about the supposed classified information, and that the NSC won’t even respond to him. The lawyer also included his own emails to NSC as proof. This is crucial because it demonstrates that no attempt is being made by the Trump regime at acting in good faith, or in earnestly attempting to resolve the supposed problem.

washington post logoWashington Post, Anatomy of a ‘smear’: How John Bolton became a target of the pro-Trump Internet, Isaac Stanley-Becker​, Jan. 29, 2020 (print ed.). The 24 hours that followed revelations about the former national security adviser’s book showed how the president’s most fervent online supporters use conspiracy theories to defend him.

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Lev Parnas, barred from impeachment trial, makes himself its star anyway, Maura Judkis and Avi Selk, Jan. 29, 2020.  Outside a macaron shop near the Capitol, the indicted associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani declared: “The president knew everything that was going on in Ukraine.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Witnesses are coming? So much for pundits’ assumptions, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 29, 2020. The Post reports: “Senate Majority jennifer rubin new headshotLeader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans that he did not yet have enough votes to defeat an effort, expected later this week, to call additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.” As news of former national security adviser John Bolton’s book disputing President Trump’s central claims surfaced, Republicans’ unified opposition to holding an actual trial crumbled.

It is worth remembering that just a couple of weeks ago, the punditocracy was pronouncing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the big loser in her battle with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over sending the articles of impeachment. It was mere days ago that the same pundits were certain that there would be no witnesses and that the Senate would barrel ahead to acquittal. It is a failure of imagination that often afflicts political journalists: the inability to appreciate that circumstances change and, yes, facts really do matter.

Nothing should be taken for granted but Bolton in all likelihood will make an appearance. Whether McConnell will force individual senators to walk the plank to vote against the president’s wishes or whether Republicans will simply agree by acclamation to protect vulnerable members of the herd remains uncertain. Equally uncertain is whether there are 51 votes for witnesses beyond Bolton. Democrats would like to hear from acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Mike Duffey from the Office of Management and Budget and White House aide Robert B. Blair. However, those witnesses may uncover the identities of further witnesses. Most important, with witnesses will come documents Trump had ordered withheld from Congress.

Republicans have no witnesses who can corroborate their thin arguments, none of which really contradict the House’s case. They keep threatening to call former vice president Joe Biden, but given how he is lapping up the admissions from Republicans that this is all about smearing him, Republicans might want to reconsider. Biden even made an ad out of one senator’s confession that Republicans were hoping the trial damaged Biden.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Trump’s lawyers are wrong. Calling witnesses won’t lead to endless litigation, Joshua A. Geltzer and Neal Katyal, Jan. 29, 2020.

World News 

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Outlines Mideast Peace Plan That Strongly Favors Israel, Michael Crowley, Peter Baker and David M. Halbfinger, Jan. 29, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump said the plan, which gives Israel most of what it wants and requires concessions Palestinians will likely reject, is a “win-win” for both sides.

President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan with a flourish on Tuesday, outlining a proposal that would give Israel most of what it has sought over decades of conflict while creating what he called a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty.

israel flagMr. Trump’s plan would guarantee that Israel would control a unified Jerusalem as its capital and not require it to uproot any of the settlements in the West Bank that have provoked Palestinian outrage and alienated much of the outside world. He promised to provide $50 billion in international investment to build the new Palestinian entity and open an embassy in its new state.

“My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security,” the president said at a White House ceremony that demonstrated the one-sided state of affairs as he was flanked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel but no counterpart from the Palestinian leadership, which is not on speaking terms with the Trump administration.

Mr. Trump insisted his plan would be good for the Palestinians and in his speech reached out to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, calling on him to join talks to advance the proposal. “President Abbas,” he said, “I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries, we will be there, we will be there to help you in so many different ways.”

The event in the East Room of the White House had a Kabuki-theater quality to it as the president ended years of suspense over a highly touted peace plan that was widely considered dead on arrival. Rather than a serious blueprint for peace, analysts called it a political document by a president in the middle of an impeachment trial working in tandem with a prime minister under criminal indictment and about to face his third election in the span of a year.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: Wuhan coronavirus triggers new and drastic protocols, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 29, 2020. WMR has learned that over 2 million people in China have been infected with the Wuhan virus, with some 150,000 deaths, including medical personnel. Medical supplies are said to be in short supply with food market shelves laid bare. Official sources are reporting a mere 132 deaths with only 110 recoveries.

In addition, the quarantine and other emergency protocols enacted to control the spread of the Wuhan virus, only the third such coronavirus known to have species-jumped from animals to humans, are much stricter than those that occurred with the previous two species-jumping coronaviruses, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus of 2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Live Updates: Americans Evacuate and Airline Suspends Flights to China, Staff reports, Jan. 29, 2020. British china flag SmallAirways became the first international carrier to suspend all flights to and from China as the death toll mounts. Chinese officials confirmed nearly 6,000 cases of the mysterious illness as foreign governments airlifted their citizens out of Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter.

The virus shows signs of spreading overseas, with people who never visited China falling ill in Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

• Americans evacuated from China land in Anchorage.
• The outbreak is spreading. Nearly 6,000 cases have been confirmed.
• Rise in number of cases outside China is “very concerning,” expert says.
• Villagers clash with the police over a proposed quarantine site.

Associated Press via Yahoo, UN council members point fingers over Syria aid crossings, Jennifer Peltz, Jan. 29, 2020. U.N. Security Council members clashed Wednesday over humanitarian needs in war-torn Syria, weeks after the group’s contentious decision to halve the number of border crossing points for aid.

UN logoWith U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warning that medical supplies unable to reach the needy and tensions may be mounting because of “the inadequate humanitarian response,” Britain and the United States accused Russia and China of cutting away at a lifeline for millions of Syrians. China, in turn, said its critics were politicizing aid.

The jabs came as hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled during a more than month-long Syrian government offensive in the northwestern province of Idlib, where al-Qaida-linked rebels have their last stronghold in the country. Syrian troops this week captured one of the largest and most strategic rebel-held towns in the area.

An estimated 20,000 people in Idlib have been displaced in just the last two days, Lowcock said, calling the violence in Syria’s northwest “deplorable.”

“Under current conditions, humanitarian responders do not have the capacity to meet the level of need we are seeing,” he said.

Inside DC

washington post logoivanka trump twitter portraitWashington Post, Anti-human-trafficking groups refuse to attend Ivanka Trump’s White House summit, Jessica Contrera, Jan. 29, 2020. Angry over the administration’s treatment of immigrant trafficking victims, leaders of major organizations are boycotting the event, which the president plans to attend.

washington post logoWashington Post, How the White House could keep John Bolton’s book buried — for now, Greg Sargent, Jan. 29, 2020.  President Trump has manipulated the machinery of government to serve his naked personal and political interests in so many different ways that it is difficult to ascribe the benefit of the doubt to any given move — even if there are ways to interpret it innocently.

We had a new example of this on Wednesday, when we learned that the White House is placing obstacles in the path of the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s new book because of classification concerns.

In a more functional and less corrupt White House, there would be scenarios in which this is perfectly justifiable and acceptable. But given what we’ve seen for years now, we can’t assume this is the case.

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.

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani, below, is shown with his two federally indicted associates, Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This new Lev and Igor tape is even uglier for Donald Trump than you think, Isabel Stamm, Jan. 29, 2020. The Bolton revelations, published via the New York Times, have already made what has become known as the Parnas tape seem like old news. But the recording – which was in fact made by Lev Parnas’ associate Igor Fruman and then released by Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy – very much deserves a closer look. It provides a breathtaking insight into how and by whom the United States is run these days. Listening to the audio of the dinner that took place at Trump’s D.C. hotel on April 30, 2018, you will hear lots of laughter, the sound of silverware being handled, drinks being stirred and probably more talk about golf than you ever wanted to hear – but most of all, you are going to witness hardcore lobbying in progress.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter some jovial banter at the beginning of the intimate dinner held for a small group of wealthy donors, the conversation turns to America’s ongoing trade war with China and tariffs become the central topic. Somewhere in this discussion, Trump starts to complain about South Korea transshipping Chinese steel and helping the U.S.’s adversary to circumvent the tariffs. Then he goes off on a rant about American involvement with South Korea which reveals his complete lack of historical and geopolitical understanding: “We’re doing a big number for them, can you believe it? […] How we ever got involved in South Korea in the first place. Tell me about it.”

Finally, he circles back to his usual focus – the trade deficit: “We’re losing $32 billion with South Korea.” Donald Trump then turns to one of the dinner guests who has been identified as Barry Zekelman and invites him directly to comment on the quotas on steel imports he has imposed: “What do you think of the quota deal we had?”

barry zekelmanAs it turns out, Mr. Zekelman, right, is not an officially appointed trade adviser to the American president. Rather, he is a Canadian citizen and the billionaire owner of Zekelman Industries which comprises several steel-tube manufacturing facilites, both in Canada and the United States. Through some of those subsidiaries, Barry Zekelman donated $1.75 million to Trump’s America First Action Super PAC in three separate installments, and these generous donations were most likely the reason for his presence at the dinner. Quite possibly, Mr. Zekelman’s generosity is also the reason why his company has become the main supplier of steel slats for the wall Mr. Trump is building on the southern border, a fact that is revealed around the 23:40 minute mark of the recording: “Yes, that’s what we make.” At any rate, the donations are definitely the reason for which Mr. Zekelman has come under scrutiny by the Federal Election Commission.

Throughout the dinner, other attendees take turns with Barry Zekelman to make their case to the president and to cue him in on how he could best benefit their business interests. If you listen to the recording, be prepared to be surprised by how attentively Donald Trump – the man who is notorious for never listening to his official advisers – lends his ear to the people who surround him here. One of the people who gets to speak for an extended period of time in this situation is Lev Parnas, who fills in Donald Trump on all matters related to Ukraine: the country’s chances in its war with Russia, the current leadership, Ukraine’s wealth in terms of untapped natural resources, business opportunities in the energy sector and the “problems” caused by the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

If you look at all the pieces that are falling in place now from various directions – the Parnas tape, Bolton’s concerns that Trump was doing favors for autocratic leaders, and a ton of other things we have learned about him – a very clear and coherent picture emerges. Donald Trump is driven by pure, unadulterated venality and self-interest. He is not a suitable person for the office of the president.

washington post logorahm emanuel wWashington Post, Opinion: How impeachment could flip the Senate, Rahm Emanuel, Jan. 29, 2020. Rahm Emanuel, right, is a former mayor of Chicago, Democratic congressman from Illinois and White House chief of staff. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initiated an impeachment inquiry into President Trump several months ago, many worried that she was repeating the mistakes Republicans made during their monomaniacal pursuit of President Bill Clinton two decades ago.

At that time, the GOP’s fever dream proved an electoral disaster for House Republicans. In November 1998, Democrats did so well that House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was compelled to resign just days after the midterm elections.

That’s not going to happen again. Last year’s Democratic victories in Kentucky and Louisiana illustrated that pursuing Trump isn’t the political kryptonite for Democrats that persecuting Clinton was for Republicans. That’s probably because even many of Trump’s supporters presume he is guilty of breaking the law. It is rare for an incumbent’s popularity to be in the low to mid-40s this close to reelection. It suggests that the country has grown numb to his Twitter tirades — and that character still matters.

mary louise kelly john bolton cnn files

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pompeo Called Me a ‘Liar.’ That’s Not What Bothers Me, Mary Louise Kelly (co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered”), Jan. 29, 2020. Journalists are supposed to ask tough questions, then share the answers — or lack thereof — with the world.

I write about all this now to refocus attention on the substance of the interviews, which has been overshadowed by Mr. Pompeo’s subsequently swearing at me, calling me a liar and challenging me to find Ukraine on an unmarked map.

For the record, I did. That’s not the point. The point is that recently the risk of miscalculation — of two old adversaries misreading each other and accidentally escalating into armed confrontation — has felt very real. It occurs to me that swapping insults through interviews with journalists such as me might, terrifyingly, be as close as the top diplomats of the United States and Iran came to communicating this month.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sanders’s surge worries some Democrats, but they fear a push to stop him would backfire, Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, Jan. 29, 2020. Democratic operatives say even the hint of an organized movement against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would risk alienating his supporters. Meanwhile, Democratic House candidates in swing districts say they are nervous about running on the same ticket as Sanders.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington Post clears reporter who tweeted link to Kobe Bryant rape allegations, Paul Farhi, Jan. 28, 2020. The kobe bryant marcin gortat keith allison via wikimedia CustomWashington Post on Tuesday reinstated a reporter who it had placed on administrative leave after she tweeted a story referencing 2003 rape allegations against Kobe Bryant only a few hours after the former basketball superstar and his daughter died in a helicopter crash.

The action was taken against Felicia Sonmez, who covers politics for The Post, on Sunday after her tweet referencing a 2016 article about the charges against Bryant, shown at right, sparked an angry backlash against her, including death threats.

But after a brief investigation into the matter, The Post’s newsroom managers decided that no further action against Sonmez was warranted and that they had been out of line in publicly announcing disciplinary action against her.

Rolling Stone, QAnon YouTubers Are Telling People to Drink Bleach to Ward Off Coronavirus, EJ Dickson, Jan. 29, 2020. Dangerous advice is spreading on YouTube and Twitter, despite efforts to stop it. 

As coronavirus spreads across the globe — with Chinese authorities confirming nearly 6,000 cases and 132 people dead as of Wednesday — the reaction on social media in particular has largely been marked by fear and panic. For some conspiracy theorists, however, it has also served as a prime opportunity to spread misinformation and baseless rumors about the disease — some of which are potentially extremely dangerous.

One terrifying example? QAnon supporters are encouraging people to drink MMS — or Miracle Mineral Solution, a bleaching agent that has been touted as a “miracle cure” by anti-vaxxers and other fringe groups — to ward off coronavirus. And despite restrictions on such content on platforms like YouTube, it is nonetheless fairly easy to find.

According to the Daily Beast, proponents of QAnon — the elaborate conspiracy theory purporting that President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a ring of Democratic child sexual abusers — have been promoting MMS as a “cure” for coronavirus on Twitter, particularly the MMS-branded “20-20-20 spray,” with one account alleging it “kills viruses instantly.” Another prominent conspiracy theorist tweeted, “#coronavirus is a depopulation program,” recommending colloidal silver (a supplement that, if taken in large amounts, can result in discoloration of the skin and nails, or kidney damage) and MMS to ward off the disease.

2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logodoug collins o CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Rep. Collins confirms he will seek Senate seat in Georgia, triggering GOP brawl, Rachael Bade and John Wagner​, Jan. 29, 2020. The four-term congressman Doug Collins,right, announced that he will challenge Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who was appointed to the post by Gov. Brian Kemp.

U.S. Prisons, Law

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jail staff mocked a sick man and denied care as he begged for help, video shows, Katie Mettler and Adriana Usero, Jan. 29, 2020. Days later, he was dead, Terral Ellis, 26, died of septic shock from pneumonia after he was denied substantive medical treatment during his 12 days in an Oklahoma jail.

From an isolation cell in the Ottawa County Jail, Terral Ellis begged for someone to help him.

He could not feel his legs and he could not breathe, the 26-year-old told jail staff and the on-site nurse at the Miami, Okla., facility. It felt, he said, like his back was broken and he was bleeding internally.

“I think I’m dying,” he said just after 10 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2015.

Staff mocked him, laughed at a joke about the “boy who cried wolf,” and ignored him as he moaned. When nurse Theresa Horn arrived later that morning, she did not help either — instead threatening to chain Ellis to the ground if he continued to complain.

“I’m sick and tired of f---ing dealing with your ass!” she yelled. “Ain’t a damn thing nothing wrong with you!”

Hours later, Ellis was dead.

Video surveillance footage of Ellis’s 12 days in jail in 2015 became public for the first time last week as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit. The 18 clips taken from 16 cameras — which were edited down from the hundreds of hours of footage given to the Ellis family’s lawyers — show how jail staff repeatedly mocked Ellis and refused him adequate medical treatment.

keith raniere nxivm

ny times logoNew York Times, Nxivm ‘Sex Cult’ Was Also a Huge Pyramid Scheme, Lawsuit Says, Nicole Hong, Jan. 29, 2020. Eighty people contended that they were bilked out of millions of dollars through a “coercive” scheme by the self-help group. The self-help group Nxivm gained a reputation as a “sex cult” last year after its leader, Keith Raniere, was convicted of coercing some of his female followers into sexual servitude, even creating a ritual in which they were branded with his initials.

But a lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday illuminated another unsavory side of Nxivm. Most participants in the group were not Mr. Raniere’s sex slaves, the lawsuit said, but rather victims of an insidious pyramid scheme who were lured by false scientific claims into paying thousands of dollars for classes.

“They get you to not trust your own decision-making process,” said one former member, Sally Brink, who said she paid $145,000 to take Nxivm classes over the years. “They tell you that you need them to make decisions. You start to doubt everything.”

Ms. Brink was among the 80 plaintiffs who sued Mr. Raniere and 14 other associates of Nxivm (pronounced NEX-ee-um).

The 200-page lawsuit details sprawling allegations of fraud and abuse, including that Nxivm’s leaders drew “from methods used in pyramid schemes” to take people’s money and make it “physically and psychologically difficult, and in some cases impossible, to leave the coercive community.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Sonny Grosso, Detective Who Severed 'French Connection, Sam Roberts, Updated Jan. 29, 2020. He and his partner broke the heroin case that inspired that 1971 film. After he retired, he became a movie and television producer and consultant.

Sonny Grosso, the true-blue New York City police detective who with his gung-ho partner made the record heroin bust that inspired the Oscar-winning film “The French Connection,” died on Jan. 22 at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his longtime companion, Christina Kraus.

A product of East Harlem and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mr. Grosso rose to the rank of detective first grade in the New York Police Department faster than any predecessor. He followed his 22 years on the force with a second career as a television producer and consultant for television shows about law enforcement, including “Kojak,” “Baretta” and “Night Heat,” and for the movie “The Godfather,” in which he played a detective named Phil.

Until he died, Mr. Grosso carried his off-duty .38-caliber Colt revolver, the very same gun that was taped to the tank of a toilet and fired (using blanks) by Al Pacino in a mob hit in “The Godfather.”

But Mr. Grosso was best known as the model for Buddy Russo, played by Roy Scheider in William Friedkin’s 1971 action thriller, “The French Connection,” which won five Academy Awards, including best picture. Gene Hackman portrayed Popeye Doyle, a doppelgänger for Mr. Grosso’s real-life partner, Edward R. Egan, who was revered for his bravery and nicknamed Bullets because he enjoyed firing his revolver for flamboyant effect. (Mr. Egan died in 1995.)

The film, a fictionalized account based on Robin Moore’s book of the same title, recounts how the case unfolded after the two detectives, out for drinks at the Copacabana nightclub, spotted known drug dealers adulating an unidentified man, whom they later discovered owned a greasy spoon luncheonette in Brooklyn.

They followed him on a hunch, and the trail led to a French smuggler who was shipping to the United States 100 pounds of heroin, some of it stolen from a police vault. Mr. Grosso determined the magnitude of the cache by weighing the Frenchman’s 1960 Buick Invicta when it arrived by ship and again when it was about to be transported back to France. (Mr. Grosso appears uncredited in the movie as a narcotics agent.)

Police said the seizure was a record amount at the time.

Jan. 28

Impeachment Headlines

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World News

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

mitch mcConnell impeachment cspan Custom

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell says he lacks votes to block witnesses,  John Wagner, Elise Viebeck, Colby Itkowitz and Seung Min Kim, Jan. 28, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans that he did not yet have enough votes to defeat an effort, expected later this week, to call additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.

Pressure has ramped up to include witnesses after reports that former national security adviser John Bolton says in a book manuscript that President Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump’s defense team argued Tuesday that Democrats are seeking to remove him from office over policy differences as they offered their third and final day of opening arguments in a Senate trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Defense Team Discounts Bolton Revelations; Push for Witnesses Is Uncertain; For Now, G.O.P. Doesn’t Have Votes to Block Witnesses, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 28, 2020. President Trump’s defense team appealed to the Senate on Tuesday to disregard a new account by the former national security adviser John R. Bolton that bolsters the impeachment case against the president. But by day’s end, Republican leaders working feverishly to block testimony from Mr. Bolton or other witnesses indicated they had not yet corralled the votes to do so.

On the final day of arguments on Mr. Trump’s behalf, Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, sought to raise doubts about Mr. Bolton’s claim in an unpublished manuscript that Mr. Trump tied the release of military aid to Ukraine to investigations into his political rivals, calling it an “unsourced allegation” that was “inadmissible” in his impeachment trial.

Proponents of calling Mr. Bolton also got an unexpected bit of support late Monday from John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, who told an audience in Florida that he believed Mr. Bolton’s account and supported the Senate seeking direct witnesses.

“I think some of the conversations seem to me to be very inappropriate, but I wasn’t there,” he said, according to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “But there are people that were there that ought to be heard from.”

Republican leaders appeared to be slowing down what had been a breakneck trial schedule to allow for fuller consideration of the matter. They were hopeful that by putting distance between the emergence of Mr. Bolton’s account and the vote on witnesses, tensions would cool enough to hold a majority intact.

john bolton youtube guardian

ny times logoNew York Times, An ‘Upside-Down World’ for Bolton, Peter Baker, Jan. 28, 2020. While some of Mr. Bolton’s longtime Republican friends are throwing him to the curb, Democrats would like to call him as their star witness.

Not long ago, they called him “too extreme,” “aggressively and dangerously wrong” and “downright dangerous.” They called him “nutty,” “reckless” and “far outside the mainstream.”

Suddenly, John R. Bolton, the conservative war hawk and favorite villain of the left, is the toast of Senate Democrats, the last, best hope to prove their abuse-of-power case against President Trump. Democrats who once excoriated him are trumpeting his credibility as they seek his testimony in Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Bolton’s forthcoming book has put a new focus on Mr. Trump’s actions in two cases linked to Turkey and China, Eric Lipton and Alan Rappeport, Jan. 28, 2020. Interventions in Justice Department proceedings draw scrutiny after the former national security adviser raised concerns about the president’s embrace of authoritarian leaders.

recep erdogan with flagIt was late 2018, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, of Turkey was on the phone with an unusual request for President Trump: Could he intervene with top members of his cabinet to curb or even shut down a criminal investigation into Halkbank, one of Turkey’s largest state-owned banks?

It was not Mr. Erdogan’s only effort to persuade the Trump administration to back off the investigation into the bank, which had been accused of violating United States sanctions against Iran.

His government had hired a lobbying firm run by a friend of and fund-raiser for Mr. Trump to press his case with the White House and State Department. And there would be more phone calls between the two leaders in which the topic came up, according to participants in the lobbying.

Mr. Erdogan’s influence campaign is now under scrutiny again in Washington, following the disclosure that Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, reported in his forthcoming book his concern that the president was effectively granting personal favors to Mr. Erdogan and President Xi Jinping of China.

washington post logoWashington Post, Anatomy of a ‘smear’: How John Bolton became a target of the pro-Trump Internet, Isaac Stanley-Becker​, Jan. 28, 2020. The 24 hours that followed revelations about the former national security adviser’s book showed how the president’s most fervent online supporters use conspiracy theories to defend him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump defense team finishes opening arguments, John Wagner, Elise Viebeck and Colby Itkowitz, Jan. 28, 2020. Sekulow says Bolton revelations ‘inadmissible;’ Defense rests, trial to resume Wednesday afternoon; Final video from Trump defense shows Democrats lambasting Clinton impeachment; Sekulow says ‘justice demands’ acquitting Trump.

President Trump’s defense team argued Tuesday that Democrats are seeking to remove him from office over policy differences as they offered their third and final day of opening arguments in a Senate trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Pressure has ramped up to include witnesses in the trial after reports that former national security adviser John Bolton says in a book manuscript that Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

The crux of the case for Trump’s impeachment is the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president. Trump’s attorneys have argued that he was justified in seeking investigations because of a history of corruption involving the company.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Republicans seize on Dershowitz argument, say Trump’s actions aren’t impeachable, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Mike DeBonis​, Jan. 28, 2020. Senate Republicans said even if President Trump strong-armed Ukraine to help him politically, it is not an impeachable offense.

Congressional Republicans who have long disputed Democratic assertions that President Trump strong-armed Ukraine to help him politically are pivoting hard to a new argument: The president’s actions are not impeachable — even if he did leverage his office for an investigation of a domestic rival.

For months, Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill have argued that Democrats are relying on secondhand information to support their allegations that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden. The House impeached Trump last month, adopting charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Many Republicans have even repeated Trump’s “no quid pro quo!” talking point.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Revelations Fuel Push for Impeachment Witnesses, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 28, 2020 (print ed.). New Account Could Derail Trump’s Hopes for Quick Acquittal. The White House and Senate Republican leaders struggled on Monday to salvage their plans to push toward a quick acquittal of President Trump this week in his impeachment trial, after a new account by his former national security adviser corroborated a central piece of the case against him.

The newly disclosed revelations by John R. Bolton, whose forthcoming book details how Mr. Trump conditioned military aid for Ukraine on the country’s willingness to furnish information on his political rivals, angered key Republicans and reinvigorated a bid to call witnesses, which would prolong the trial and pose new dangers for the president.

A handful of Republicans from across the ideological spectrum appeared to be moving closer to joining Democrats in a vote to subpoena Mr. Bolton, even as their eaders insisted that doing so would only delay his inevitable acquittal.

“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, told reporters. He later told Republican colleagues at a closed-door lunch that calling witnesses would be a wise choice politically and substantively.

  • New York Times, Trump Impeachment Trial Highlights: Defense Sidesteps Bolton Revelations, President Trump’s lawyers played down details from John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, about why the president froze aid to Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Had Concerns Trump Did Favors for Autocratic Leaders, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Book Says, Mr. Bolton shared his unease with the attorney general, who cited his own worries about the president’s conversations with the leaders of Turkey and China. John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, privately told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Barr responded by pointing to a pair of Justice Department investigations of companies in those countries and said he was worried that Mr. Trump had created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries, according to the manuscript. Backing up his point, Mr. Barr mentioned conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Xi Jinping of China.

Mr. Bolton’s account underscores the fact that the unease about Mr. Trump’s seeming embrace of authoritarian leaders, long expressed by experts and his opponents, also existed among some of the senior cabinet officers entrusted by the president to carry out his foreign policy and national security agendas.

Mr. Bolton recounted his discussion with Mr. Barr in a draft of an unpublished book manuscript that he submitted nearly a month ago to the White House for review. People familiar with the manuscript described its contents on the condition of anonymity.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s defense, lost in space, Dana Milbank, right, Jan. 28, 2020. The bizarre closing argument fits neatly with Trump’s worldview, from his apocalyptic acceptance speech to his American-carnage inaugural to his daily complaints that he is the perpetual victim maltreated by many foes. Trump reportedly found his attorneys’ legal arguments boring on Monday, so they closed with something more his speed: fear.

The president’s entire defense was like a sci-fi series. The plot wasn’t terribly complicated (lawyers used only about 14 of their allotted 24 hours). There were robots (Patrick Philbin) and aliens (Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz). There were special effects and simulated explosions. And there was an overriding tale of good against evil, in which a perfect protagonist battles powerful, dark forces.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Defense Will Make Its Final Arguments Over Witnesses, Staff report, Jan. 28, 2020. Revelations from President Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, threatened to upend the G.O.P. strategy for a fast impeachment trial. A handful of Republican senators appeared to be moving closer to Democrats, who want to vote to subpoena testimony from Mr. Bolton. Follow here for updates.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Takeaways from the Trump team’s day on defense, Amber Phillips, Jan. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Trump's lawyers started their day of arguments under the cloud of the Bolton revelations. How did they do?

More Coverage:

• Washington Post, Perspective: Trump waived executive privilege when he called Bolton a liar
• Washington Post, Newest GOP senator accuses Romney of trying to ‘appease the left’ in favoring witnesses
• Washington Post, Analysis: A ‘minor player’ and a ‘shiny object’: Trump team tries to explain away Giuliani

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump on Trial: John Bolton’s Account Upends Trump’s Denials, but Will It Upend Trump? Peter Baker, Jan. 28, 2020 (print ed.). A president who has survived one revelation after another the last three years now faces perhaps the most serious disclosure of his political career at the very moment he is on trial in the Senate. In another time, in another Washington, this might be the moment that changed the trajectory of the presidency. A former national security adviser confirms that the president, despite his denials, conditioned security aid to a war-torn ally on its cooperation against his domestic rivals, the issue at the heart of his ongoing impeachment trial.

djt john bolton CustomAt first glance, John R. Bolton’s account of President Trump’s private remarks sounded like an echo of the so-called smoking gun tape that proved President Richard M. Nixon really had orchestrated the Watergate cover-up and ultimately forced him from office. By the end of Monday, the revelation appeared to make it more likely that the Senate will agree to hear witnesses at the trial.

But this is Mr. Trump’s era and Mr. Trump’s Washington, and the old rules do not always apply anymore. The reality show star who was elected president even after he was captured on an “Access Hollywood” tape boasting about sexual assault has gone on to survive one politically charged furor after another during his three years in the White House, proving more durable than any national politician in modern American history.

So will this be a Watergate-style turning point or just one more disclosure that his critics consider validation without changing other minds? Will it be another smoking gun or another “Access Hollywood?”

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Revelations Anger Republicans, Fueling Push for Impeachment Witnesses, Jan. 28, 2020. The former national security adviser’s account threatened to derail Republican hopes of bringing President Trump’s impeachment trial to a quick close with his acquittal.

Here’s a look at how the opposing legal teams are framing the impeachment case.

Inside DC

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just tipped off how truly screwed he knows he is, Bill Palmer, Jan. 28, 2020. To say that Donald Trump had a bad day on Monday is to put it very mildly. His team put on a tinfoil hat-worthy impeachment trial defense (with one attorney shown above) that surely didn’t gain him a single 2020 vote, bill palmer report logo headereven as Senate Republicans began talking about how they now have the votes to start the process of calling people like John Bolton to testify.

By late last night, Trump was so flabbergasted about how it was all falling apart for him, he couldn’t help but give it away.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Method in John Bolton’s Madness, Jonathan Stevenson (former staff member on the National Security Council), Jan. 28, 2020. Why wait until now to release damning information about Trump? There may be a method to the madness — four of them, in fact.

The first is patriotism. Although Mr. Bolton does hold extreme views about the use of American power, there is little doubt about his basic fealty to the United States constitutional system and to established American institutions. Having come of political age during the Cold War, he is a strong supporter of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and an opponent of Russia’s revanchism under President Vladimir Putin....

If nothing else, this week’s revelations show Mr. Bolton, even after being unceremoniously fired by his president, is still one of the cagiest political fighters in town.

World News 

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Outlines Mideast Peace Plan That Strongly Favors Israel, Michael Crowley, Peter Baker and David M. Halbfinger, Jan. 28, 2020. President Trump said the plan, which gives Israel most of what it wants and requires concessions Palestinians will likely reject, is a “win-win” for both sides.

President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan with a flourish on Tuesday, outlining a proposal that would give Israel most of what it has sought over decades of conflict while creating what he called a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty.

Mr. Trump’s plan would guarantee that Israel would control a unified Jerusalem as its capital and not require it to uproot any of the settlements in the West Bank that have provoked Palestinian outrage and alienated much of the outside world. He promised to provide $50 billion in international investment to build the new Palestinian entity and open an embassy in its new state.

“My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security,” the president said at a White House ceremony that demonstrated the one-sided state of affairs as he was flanked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel but no counterpart from the Palestinian leadership, which is not on speaking terms with the Trump administration.

Mr. Trump insisted his plan would be good for the Palestinians and in his speech reached out to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, calling on him to join talks to advance the proposal. “President Abbas,” he said, “I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries, we will be there, we will be there to help you in so many different ways.”

The event in the East Room of the White House had a Kabuki-theater quality to it as the president ended years of suspense over a highly touted peace plan that was widely considered dead on arrival. Rather than a serious blueprint for peace, analysts called it a political document by a president in the middle of an impeachment trial working in tandem with a prime minister under criminal indictment and about to face his third election in the span of a year.

ny times logoNew York Times, Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his immunity bid, shifting election battleground, David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, benjamin netanyahu frownJan. 28, 2020. The Israeli prime minister will face voters on March 2 as a defendant in a criminal case, but without weeks of potentially humiliating parliamentary discussion on the subject.

The move, which was not unexpected, ensures that Mr. Netanyahu, who is running in Israel’s third election in a year after the first two ended in deadlock, will have to campaign as a defendant in a criminal case heading into the March 2 ballot.

But it also deprives his political opponents, led by Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party, of one stick with which they had hoped to beat Mr. Netanyahu. Blue and White is now the largest party in Parliament, giving it the upper hand in setting the agenda for debate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Global financial markets are down on virus fears; Russia, Hong Kong place travel limits, Gerry Shih, Simon china flag SmallDenyer and Siobhán O'Grady, Jan. 28, 2020. The number of deaths from the coronavirus has risen to 106 in China, with more than 4,565 cases of infection, and other countries in the region are also reporting more people infected — nearly all of them tourists from China. Governments are facing the stark choice of whether to cut all contact with infected regions and take a massive blow to their economies or rely on increased screenings. Here’s what we know:

Hong Kong announced dramatic measures to stem the flow of mainland Chinese into the territory, closing two railways, ferries and cross-border tour buses. Flights to mainland China will be slashed by half, and individual visas to Chinese will no longer be issued, starting Thursday.

Several countries, including France, South Korea, Canada, Britain, and the United States are putting together plans to evacuate their citizens from the outbreak epicenter in Wuhan.

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Cases Jump 60% Overnight; Hong Kong Limits Travel From Mainland, Staff report, Jan. 28, 2020. Hong Kong is suspending high-speed rail service and cutting flights by half, as infections exceed 4,500. Experts warn the number could be higher.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S.-backed Afghan forces unable to reach site of U.S. surveillance plane that crashed in Taliban territory, Sharif Hassan and
Susannah George, Jan. 28, 2020. U.S.-backed Afghan forces have been unable to reach the site of an American surveillance plane that went down in an area under Taliban control, Afghan officials said Tuesday. U.S. officials have not said how many people were on board or whether there were survivors.

Afghan officials said bad weather and heavily mined roads have prevented a special forces unit from reaching the site more than 24 hours after the crash was first reported.

The crash took place in Deh Yak district, an area considered a Taliban stronghold long under the insurgents’ control. Ghazni is one of Afghanistan’s most volatile provinces, with the Taliban contesting several districts. In 2018, the insurgents overran Ghazni’s provincial capital, and that same year a Taliban-claimed roadside bomb killed three American soldiers there.

There are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. military command in Kabul. At the war's height in 2010 and 2011, there were more than 100,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, a roadside bomb attack in Kandahar province left two U.S. service members dead and two wounded. Last year, 20 U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan, more than any other year since 2014.

Jerusalem Post, Iranian media: CIA agent behind Soleimani killing shot down in Afghanistan, Seth Frantzman, Jan. 28, 2020. The Taliban has claimed that a number of CIA agents were on board a plane it says it shot down on Monday; a claim the US denies.

Iranian media claims that “many CIA” officers were killed in a plane crash on Monday. The Taliban initially claimed large numbers of Americans were killed, while Russian media and Iranian media then asserted that a senior CIA officer responsible for killing IRGC general Qasem Soleimani was on board. The claim has been greeted with skepticism.

SouthFront, Commentary: Maarat Al-Numan Is Liberated By Syrian Army (Map Update), Staff report, Jan. 28, 2020. The Syrian Army liberated the town of Maarat al-Numan in southeastern Idlib. The town had been the key militant stronghold in this part of Idlib proivnce. The liberation of Maarat al-Numan opens a route for further operations against radicals in the sothern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Syria: Army Liberates Maarat al-Numan -- U.S. Plans New Mischief, B, Jan. 28, 2020. Today the Syrian Arab Army liberated the city Maarat al-Numan in south-east Idleb. Before the war on Syria the city had some 60,000 inhabitants. This followed after several week of steady progress during which two dozens villages were taken from the Jihadis who currently rule the Idleb area.

syrian flag wavingThis advance comes while the Turkish government is hiring Idleb Jihadis to send them to Libya as mercenaries on the side of the so called Government of National Accord in Tripoli. At least 2,000 have already been deployed there and the total number is expected to reach at least 6,000. This is a significant reduction of the forces the Syrian army will have to confront as it proceeds with its campaign to regain Idleb governorate.

Neither Ankara nor Damascus seem yet ready to make peace. But both countries have economic problems and will have to come to some solution. There are still ten thousand of Jihadis in Idleb governorate that need to be cleaned out. Neither country wants to keep these people. The export of these Jihadis to Libya which Turkey initiated points to a rather unconventional solution to that problem.

The U.S. has still not given up its efforts to overthrow the Syrian government through further economic sanctions. It also pressures Iraq to keep its troops in the country.

U.S. 2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Updates: Republican senator suggests White House defense could hurt Biden in Iowa caucuses, Catie Edmondson and Patricia Mazzei, Jan. 28, 2020. The politics of President Trump’s impeachment trial has taken center stage as the Iowa caucuses approach, and at least one Republican suggested the proceeding could hurt the chances of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic contender.

Mr. Trump’s legal defense team spent part of Monday arguing that it was entirely proper for the president to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, claiming that the pair might have been involved in corrupt activities.

jodi ernst o Custom“I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucusgoers,” Senator Joni Ernst, right, of Iowa said. “Will they be supporting former Vice President Joe Biden at this point?”

  • New York Times, Bolton Revelations Could Derail Trump’s Hopes for Quick Acquittal, Jan. 28, 2020. The former national security adviser’s account threatened to derail Republican hopes of bringing President Trump’s impeachment trial to a quick close with his acquittal.
  • New York Times, Editorial: Surprise, Mr. President. John Bolton Has the Goods, Editorial Board, Jan. 28, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Joni Ernst says the quiet part out loud, Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 28, 2020. President Trump’s entire rickety case rests on the dubious proposition that he was a corruption fighter, not a malicious president deadset on using his office to malign a political opponent. (Don’t we already know the president uses his office every day to attack critics — e.g., using antitrust powers to carry out his vendetta against CNN, and seeking to punish Amazon, whose founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Post?)

For months now, his defense has been that he has an obsession with fighting corruption (except in his own government or governments led by dictators with whom he curries favor). He was not — do you understand, not?! — out to use his power to attack the political rival he fears most, former vice president Joe Biden.

But this is claptrap, as any reasonable person knows. In fact, his lawyers spent a good deal of Monday’s impeachment trial session falsely arguing that Biden’s pushing of Ukraine to fire a prosecutor (who was corrupt and whose ouster was sought by the United States and its allies) was just the same as Trump using his office to get a foreign government to investigate Biden, who had fired a corrupt prosecutor. Or something like that.

At any rate, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who has been running away from reporters and voters who dare ask whether she objects to using U.S. aid to extort a foreign government to interfere in our election, let the cat out of the bag. During a brief media availability on Monday, she rightly declared that the Iowa caucuses are set for next Monday. She then stepped into the political quicksand, confessing that she was “really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting VP Biden at this point?” Oops.

She is not supposed to be cheering in public for Biden’s demise as a result of already debunked conspiracy theories. Her confession however, like then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) letting on that the Benghazi hearings would bring down Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers, reminds this that the Trump extortion plan and the defense his legal team is conducting are very much — make that entirely — about undermining a rival who he became convinced would be his most dangerous opponent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The latest laughable Senate GOP spin further incriminates Trump, Greg Sargent, Jan. 28, 2020. Call it Bolton’s Law: The absurdity of Senate GOP claims about John Bolton’s bombshell revelations is rising in direct proportion to the likelihood that Republicans might have to cave and allow him to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial. This is now looking like an outside possibility.

Perhaps no claim is more ridiculous — and more revealing — than this: Senate Republicans are lamenting that they were blindsided by the news that Bolton’s new book will reveal that Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to extort an announcement that would help him politically.

The real story here is that Senate Republicans knew for months that such explosive revelations from Bolton were a very likely possibility — and that this is precisely why they have resisted hearing Bolton’s testimony so aggressively.

Jan. 27

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

Lev Parnas Trump Revelations

lev parnas ivanka jared kushner

World News

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Revelations Fuel Push for Impeachment Witnesses, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 27, 2020. New Account Could Derail Trump’s Hopes for Quick Acquittal. The White House and Senate Republican leaders struggled on Monday to salvage their plans to push toward a quick acquittal of President Trump this week in his impeachment trial, after a new account by his former national security adviser corroborated a central piece of the case against him.

The newly disclosed revelations by John R. Bolton, whose forthcoming book details how Mr. Trump conditioned military aid for Ukraine on the country’s willingness to furnish information on his political rivals, angered key Republicans and reinvigorated a bid to call witnesses, which would prolong the trial and pose new dangers for the president.

A handful of Republicans from across the ideological spectrum appeared to be moving closer to joining Democrats in a vote to subpoena Mr. Bolton, even as their eaders insisted that doing so would only delay his inevitable acquittal.

“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, told reporters. He later told Republican colleagues at a closed-door lunch that calling witnesses would be a wise choice politically and substantively.

  • New York Times, Trump Impeachment Trial Highlights: Defense Sidesteps Bolton Revelations, President Trump’s lawyers played down details from John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, about why the president froze aid to Ukraine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton Had Concerns Trump Did Favors for Autocratic Leaders, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 27, 2020. Book Says, Mr. Bolton shared his unease with the attorney general, who cited his own worries about the president’s conversations with the leaders of Turkey and China. John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, privately told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Barr responded by pointing to a pair of Justice Department investigations of companies in those countries and said he was worried that Mr. Trump had created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries, according to the manuscript. Backing up his point, Mr. Barr mentioned conversations Mr. Trump had with the leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Xi Jinping of China.

Mr. Bolton’s account underscores the fact that the unease about Mr. Trump’s seeming embrace of authoritarian leaders, long expressed by experts and his opponents, also existed among some of the senior cabinet officers entrusted by the president to carry out his foreign policy and national security agendas.

Mr. Bolton recounted his discussion with Mr. Barr in a draft of an unpublished book manuscript that he submitted nearly a month ago to the White House for review. People familiar with the manuscript described its contents on the condition of anonymity.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump on Trial: John Bolton’s Account Upends Trump’s Denials, but Will It Upend Trump? Peter Baker, Jan. 27, 2020. A president who has survived one revelation after another the last three years now faces perhaps the most serious disclosure of his political career at the very moment he is on trial in the Senate. In another time, in another Washington, this might be the moment that changed the trajectory of the presidency. A former national security adviser confirms that the president, despite his denials, conditioned security aid to a war-torn ally on its cooperation against his domestic rivals, the issue at the heart of his ongoing impeachment trial.

At first glance, John R. Bolton’s account of President Trump’s private remarks sounded like an echo of the so-called smoking gun tape that proved President Richard M. Nixon really had orchestrated the Watergate cover-up and ultimately forced him from office. By the end of Monday, the revelation appeared to make it more likely that the Senate will agree to hear witnesses at the trial.

But this is Mr. Trump’s era and Mr. Trump’s Washington, and the old rules do not always apply anymore. The reality show star who was elected president even after he was captured on an “Access Hollywood” tape boasting about sexual assault has gone on to survive one politically charged furor after another during his three years in the White House, proving more durable than any national politician in modern American history.

So will this be a Watergate-style turning point or just one more disclosure that his critics consider validation without changing other minds? Will it be another smoking gun or another “Access Hollywood?”

Yahoo News, In wake of Bolton book news, White House allies say Trump lawyers bungled defense, Jon Ward and Michael Isikoff, Jan. 27, 2020. Reports that John Bolton has written a firsthand account of the president’s direct involvement in withholding aid to Ukraine have left some Republicans confused and angry over the legal strategy by the president’s defense team — which has devoted much of its arguments in the Senate impeachment trial to arguing that no such firsthand evidence existed.

One Republican operative who advises the White House said he was “flabbergasted at how stupidly they have handled this.”

mike purpuraTrump attorney Mike Purpura, right, argued Saturday that “not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

Purpura repeated that claim on Monday afternoon, saying that “anyone who spoke to the president” said there was no pressure campaign on Ukraine.

That assertion echoes what the president’s legal team argued in its legal brief filed a week ago: “House Democrats’ claims are built entirely on speculation from witnesses who had no direct knowledge about anything and who never even spoke to the President about this matter.”

The disclosure in the New York Times Sunday night directly contradicts the arguments of the president’s lawyers, who said in their brief that this is “the central fact in this case.” Bolton, Trump’s former security adviser, has written in his forthcoming memoir about having just such a conversation with the president last August.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Demands for Inquiries, Bolton Book Says, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump said he wanted to keep aid to Ukraine frozen until he got help with inquiries he sought, John Bolton (shown above in a Guardian file photo) wrote in drafts of a new book. The statement as described by Mr. Bolton, the former national security adviser, could undercut a key element of Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense.

President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

CNBC, Trump rages after reports that Bolton book claims president tied Ukraine aid to probes, Kevin Breuninger, Jan. 27, 2020. President Donald cnbc logoTrump vented rage Monday on Twitter, denying his ex-national security advisor John Bolton’s reported claim that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to secure investigation into his political opponents.

But Trump flatly denied the account from Bolton, who left the White House in September amid a public dispute with the president over whether he resigned or was fired.

mitt romney headshot SmallLater Monday morning, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, right, of Utah told reporters, “I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”

President Donald Trump vented rage on Twitter just hours before his Senate impeachment trial was set to resume Monday, denying his ex-national security advisor John Bolton’s reported claim that military aid to Ukraine was frozen in order to secure investigation into Trump’s political donald trump twitteropponents.

Trump’s pushback came amid growing pressure for the Republican-majority Senate to allow witnesses to testify in the trial.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Bolton, in his upcoming book “The Room Where It Happened,” wrote that ny times logoTrump personally tied a nearly $400 million aid package to Kyiv to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. CNBC has not seen a copy of Bolton’s manuscript.

But Trump flatly denied the account from Bolton, who left the White House in September amid a public dispute with the president over whether he resigned or was fired.

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination.”

“If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” Trump claimed.

mitch mcConnell impeachment cspan Custom

washington post logomike purpuraWashington Post, Trump team resumes defense amid fallout from new report on Bolton, Ukraine aid, Seung Min Kim, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 27, 2020. Deputy White House Counsel Michael Purpura, right, defended Trump, under the planning of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), shown above. Key GOP senators say reports on Bolton book bolster case for witnesses in trial

Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney said they expect other Republicans to back a push for new evidence as part of President Trump’s trial. A vote is expected later this week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are five revelations from Mr. Bolton’s book, Noah Weiland, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). New revelations from the former White House national security adviser could complicate President Trump’s impeachment trial. ​President Trump directly tied the withholding of almost $400 million in American security aid to investigations that he sought from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript of a book that John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote about his time in the White House.

john bolton full cropped CustomThe firsthand account of the link between the aid and investigations, which is based on meetings and conversations Mr. Bolton had with Mr. Trump, undercuts a key component of the president’s impeachment defense: that the decision to freeze the aid was independent from his requests that Ukraine announce politically motivated investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter.

In their opening arguments on Saturday in Mr. Trump’s trial, the president’s lawyers asserted that Mr. Trump had legitimate concerns about corruption in Ukraine and whether other countries were offering enough help for its war against Russian-backed separatists, which his lawyers said explained his reluctance to release the aid. They also said that Democrats had no direct evidence of the quid pro quo they allege at the heart of their impeachment case.

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account. A draft of the manuscript, which offers a glimpse into how Mr. Bolton might testify in the trial if he were called to, was sent to the White House in recent weeks for a standard review process.

Here are five takeaways.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats call for Bolton to testify in Trump trial after new report on aid to Ukraine, Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez​, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). The New York Times, citing an unpublished manuscript of the former national security adviser’s book, reported that the president told John Bolton last August he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it aided investigations into the Bidens.

john roberts djt state of union

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: John Roberts Can Call Witnesses to Trump’s Trial. Will He? Neal K. Katyal, right, Joshua A. Geltzer and Mickey Edwards, neal katyal oJan. 27, 2020. Democratic House managers should ask the chief justice (shown in a file photo greeted by Donald Trump) to issue subpoenas for John Bolton and others.

the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.

Mr. Katyal and Mr. Geltzer are law professors at Georgetown. Mr. Edwards is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment trial live updates: Trump team to resume defense amid fallout from new report on Bolton’s claim on withholding military aid from Ukraine, John Wagner, Jan. 27, 2020. President Trump’s legal team is set to resume its defense Monday in his Senate impeachment trial amid fallout from a new report that Trump told then-national security adviser John Bolton in August that he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it aided investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: John Bolton’s bombshell gives the GOP a glimpse of its nightmare scenario, Aaron Blake, Jan. 27, 2020.  We finally got a taste Sunday night of what former national security adviser John Bolton might tell President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial — if he’s called to testify, that is.

What we learned reinforced the potential peril for Republicans if they refuse to let him do so.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Now we know why Donald Trump was racing against the clock, Bill Palmer, Jan. 27, 2020. Donald Trump and his legal team used just over two hours, out of their eight allotted hours for the day [Saturday], to present their farce of an impeachment trial defense. Then they called it a day. It suggested that they weren’t actually prepared to make a presentation, and that they had originally been planning to wait until Monday, before something suddenly changed.

bill palmer report logo headerAt the time, Palmer Report pointed out that Donald Trump appeared to be increasingly worried about the evidence that kept surfacing against him, and thus increasingly worried about Republican Senators deciding to cover their backsides by voting to call witnesses. By starting his defense on Saturday instead of waiting 'til Monday, Trump was ensuring that the trial would end sooner, and thus perhaps wrap up before the whole thing got out of control.

Now, thanks to the New York Times, we know that John Bolton’s upcoming book confirms that Donald Trump was guilty of a quid pro quo in his Ukraine scandal. We also now know that Bolton sent an advance copy of his book to the Trump White House last month, in order to get djt john bolton Customconfirmation that it didn’t contain any classified information.

This means Donald Trump was aware that John Bolton was looking to publish his book right around the time of the impeachment trial, and that Bolton was therefore likely going to end up wanting to testify at the trial in order to promote the book.

Republican Senators were already feeling the pressure to call witnesses as the Lev Parnas and “take her out” bombshells were dropping. Now we know that Trump knew the Bolton bombshell was coming too. No wonder he was having his lawyers try to get the trial over with as quickly as possible, even at the expense of forfeiting large chunks of his own defense presentation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schiff ‘has not paid the price’ for impeachment, Trump says in what appears to be veiled threat, Felicia Sonmez and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump escalated his attacks on Rep. Adam B. Schiff on Sunday, issuing what appears to be a veiled threat against the California Democrat one day before Trump’s team is expected to deliver the crux of its defense in the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. “He adam schiff squarehas not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial.

Schiff, right, responded in an interview on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” saying he believes Trump’s remarks were intended as a threat.

“This is a wrathful and vindictive president; I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” Schiff said in the interview. “And if you think there is, look at the president’s tweets about me today, saying that I should ‘pay a price.’ ”

CNN,

Jeffrey Toobin, Laura Coates and Jake Tapper, Jan. 27, 2020 (6:47 min).  Following Trump defense team member Ken Starr's argument before the Senate, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin called Starr's argument against impeachment "mind boggling," considering his role as independent counsel in the impeachment proceedings against former President Clinton.

washington post logoWashington Post, Toomey proposes a ‘one-for-one’ witness deal in trial amid Bolton revelations, Robert Costa​, Jan. 27, 2020. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) has argued such an arrangement could force Democrats to accept a Republican witness against their wishes or risk having Republicans move ahead to acquit the president.

Inside DC

Roll Call, John Bolton shows that in Washington, irony never dies, John M. Donnelly, Jan. 27, 2020. No role reversal, it turns out, is too extreme. For years, Democrats almost to a person have depicted the former national security adviser and arch-conservative as practically unhinged.

Now, by contrast, Democrats consider him a solid and stable foundation upon which to rest their case for the president’s conviction in his ongoing impeachment trial. Republicans have flipped, too, on Bolton — and might flip in greater numbers in the coming days.

Palmer Report, Opinion: BLINDSIDED, Bill Palmer, Jan. 27, 2020. Last night we all learned that in John Bolton’s new book, he confirms that Donald Trump was indeed guilty of quid pro quo extortion in his Ukraine scandal. This is absolutely nothing new. Lev Parnas has confirmed this. Mick Mulvaney blurted it out at a press conference. Trump’s own quasi-transcript confirms it. But those are all things that the Republican Senators were looking to ignore. The trouble with Bolton, a far-right Republican icon, who very much wants to testify, is that they can’t ignore him – and they know it.

bill palmer report logo headerThat’s why Republican Senators are now loudly complaining that they’ve been “blindsided” by John Bolton’s accusations, and that they feel betrayed by Donald Trump’s decision to hide all of this from them, as Trump and his White House have been sitting on an advance copy of Bolton’s book throughout the trial.

Of course everyone following this scandal intuitively knew that Bolton was going to say this about Trump, and that his book was going to surface in roughly this timeframe. GOP Senators were just hoping it wouldn’t surface at this particular moment. That didn’t work out for them, so now they’re pretending to be shocked to learn that Trump really is guilty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court allows Trump administration to proceed with immigration rules, Robert Barnes, Jan. 27, 2020.  Immigrants who are in the United States legally and use or have used public benefits or are deemed likely to someday rely on public benefits may be denied permanent residency.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Shaky Future of .org Domains, Josephine Wolff (Dr. Wolff is an assistant professor at Tufts University and a contributing opinion writer), Jan. 27, 2020. The sale of the nonprofit domains to a private equity firm threatens the integrity of the open internet. ICANN should investigate.

Online commerce and for-profit activity have largely shaped the internet over the past 25 years, but a few important corners of the internet have remained staunchly nonprofit, retaining some of the internet’s early charm and resistance to commercial interests. One of those corners is the .org top-level domain, the go-to domain for nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations looking to establish an affordable and reputable online presence.

Domain names for websites, like nytimes.com or un.org or tufts.edu, are the key real estate of the internet. Without a domain, it is next to impossible to have an online presence; there are now more than 350 million domain names registered worldwide. Those domain names are sold to customers by registrars (like GoDaddy) which partner with registries (like Verisign, which manages the .com top-level domain or all the domain names ending in .com). Domain names are big business — there’s a lot of money at stake when divvying them up among all the registrars and registries.

At the top of the domain name hierarchy sits the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit that designates which registries control which top-level domains and helps resolve disputes around domain ownership. ICANN has a unique governance structure: It is run by a board of directors that incorporates feedback from different advisory committees composed of government officials, industry representatives and civil society members. It is a model that ICANN refers to as “multistakeholder” governance based on the premise “that all users of the internet deserve a say in how it is run.”

Since 2002, domains ending in .org have been purchased through an agency called the Public Interest Registry, which is owned by the Internet Society, a well-regarded nonprofit working to expand access to the internet across the world. But, in November, the Internet Society announced it was planning to sell the Public Interest Registry — along with control of all the .org domains — for $1.1 billion to a recently formed private equity company called Ethos Capital with close ties to former leaders of the internet governance community.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Post’s misguided suspension of Felicia Sonmez over Kobe Bryant tweets, Erik Wemple, Jan. 27, 2020.
The Post has suspended reporter Felicia Sonmez following her social-media activity over the death of NBA great Kobe Bryant. Here’s the explanation from Managing Editor Tracy Grant: “National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy. The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

What did Sonmez do to deserve this brushback? She tweeted out a very good story from the Daily Beast.

News of Bryant’s death on Sunday prompted an immediate and overwhelming expression of grief on Twitter, with fans and followers praising an NBA icon. The perennial all-star perished in a helicopter crash along with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Sonmez wished to remind everyone of one incident in Bryant’s life.

An immediate and overwhelming expression of anger piled on Sonmez from Twitter users. Sonmez had directed her followers to this April 2016 story in the Daily Beast by Marlow Stern. Written at the time of Bryant’s farewell tour through NBA cities, the story takes a deep look at the sexual-assault allegation against Bryant stemming from his 2003 visit to Colorado’s Lodge & Spa at Cordillera. The case never made it to trial because the 19-year-old accuser — “who had been dragged through the mud for months by the media and Bryant’s defense team,” wrote Stern — declined to testify. She did, however, file a separate civil complaint, which Bryant settled.

World News

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, U.S. to expand screening of passengers from China at 20 airports, Gerry Shih, Lena H. Sun, Simon Denyer and Joel Achenbach​, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). The U.S. government warned Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China as that country grapples with an outbreak that has claimed at least 100 lives and infected more than 4,400 people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chinese coronavirus infections, death toll soar as fifth case is confirmed in U.S., Gerry Shih, David J. Lynch, Simon Denyer and Brittany Shammas, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Chinese health authorities are struggling to deal with a skyrocketing rate of infection as the number of cases increased 50 percent in just 24 hours.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Live Updates: As Death Toll Rises, Mayor at Center of Outbreak Offers to Resign, Jan. 27, 2020. China extended the Lunar New Year holiday to help contain an outbreak of the mysterious virus with cases confirmed around the world. Of the nearly 3,000 people who have so far contracted the disease, the vast majority live in China.

Washington Times, Coronavirus may have originated in lab linked to China's biowarfare program, Bill Gertz, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). The deadly animal-borne coronavirus spreading globally may have originated in a laboratory in the city of Wuhan linked to China’s covert biological weapons program, said an Israeli biological warfare analyst.

Radio Free Asia last week rebroadcast a Wuhan television report from 2015 showing China’s most advanced virus research laboratory, known the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The laboratory is the only declared site in China capable of working with deadly viruses.

Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied Chinese biological warfare, said the institute is linked to Beijing’s covert bio-weapons program.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump should be removed for emergency response incompetence alone, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 27, 2020. The current coronavirus epidemic that is sweeping through China should have Senate jurors who are sitting in judgement over Trump's fate concerned about Trump's inability to handle public emergencies, including an increase in the virulence of viruses resulting from a rapidly changing world climate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Mideast Plan Could Give Israel Sovereignty Over Much of Jordan Valley, Michael Crowley and Isabel Kershner, Updated Jan. 28, 2020. President Trump predicted Palestinians would support the plan to be unveiled Tuesday, a claim experts dismissed.

President Trump will release a long-awaited Middle East peace plan on Tuesday that is expected to include a proposal for new Israeli borders and provide for Israeli sovereignty over much of the Jordan Valley, a strategic area on the eastern frontier of the West Bank abutting Jordan.

Mr. Trump will be joined at the White House for the announcement by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.

Palestinian leaders, who no longer speak to Trump officials, are likely to oppose each of those elements, even if they are combined with the economic rewards of $50 billion or more that the Trump administration says it can deliver.

That is why many analysts say the plan, developed under the supervision of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, is relevant mainly for its potential effect on Israel’s March 2 election, which is likely to decide the fate of the embattled Mr. Netanyahu, and as a distraction from the Senate’s impeachment trial of Mr. Trump.

SouthFront, Militants’ Defense In Southeastern Idlib Collapsed, Maarat Al-Numan Is On Brink Of Fall, Staff report, Jan. 27, 2020. The defense of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its Turkish-backed allies in southeastern Idlib collapsed.

According to pro-government soruces, militants are now placing IEDs and mines in Maarat al-Numan and preparing to withdraw from the city via the remaining corridor. The Turkish observation post near Hish is also about to be encircled by the Syrian Army.

Syrian and Russian sources also warn about provocations that are now being prepared by the White Helmets, the propaganda wing of al-Qaeda in Idlib, and other similar organizations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Three rockets crash into Baghdad’s U.S. Embassy compound, wounding one, Louisa Loveluck​, Jan. 27, 2020. The attack highlighted the growing risks to U.S. missions in Iraq amid calls for an end to America’s military presence in the country.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: New evidence emerges that Donald Trump may have assassinated Iran’s Soleimani to try to silence John Bolton, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 27, 2020. Back when Donald Trump first ordered the assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani, Palmer Report and others wondered aloud if Trump had done it in an attempt at convincing John Bolton not to testify against him in his impeachment trial. After all, there’s no bigger Iran war hawk than Bolton. Of course there was no evidence to back up this theory, only logic. But now it turns out there’s some evidence after all.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter the New York Times reported last night that John Bolton’s upcoming book confirms Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo, Bolton’s attorney released a clarifying statement to the media, confirming that Bolton had sent an advance copy of his book to the Trump White House nearly a month ago. Bolton did this because he needed to give the White House time to review his book and confirm that it didn’t contain any classified information. But here’s the kicker.

qassim soleimaniWe now know that Donald Trump and his White House came into possession of John Bolton’s book on December 30th, 2019. Trump assassinated Soleimani, right, just four days later, on January 3rd, 2020. In other words, immediately after Trump learned that Bolton was planning to confirm Trump’s Ukraine crimes, and that Bolton was therefore likely going to testify against Trump at his impeachment trial, Trump ordered a ridiculous military move that was right up Bolton’s alley. As proof of how tailor-made this assassination was to Bolton’s liking, Bolton tweeted positively about it, even as just about everyone else was calling it reckless.

John Bolton is still releasing his book, and he’s still pretty looking to promote his book by testifying at the impeachment trial. So if Donald Trump did this specifically to try to appease and silence Bolton, it clearly didn’t work. But now we have a specific timeline which confirms that Trump knew Bolton was looking to sell him out at the time Trump ordered an assassination that almost no one but Bolton ended up applauding. This isn’t proof that Trump assassinated Soleimani to try to silence Bolton, but it’s certainly evidence. We must get to the bottom of this.

Crash Kills Lakers Legend, Others

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washington post logoWashington Post, Lakers legend, daughter killed in helicopter crash, Ben Golliver and Miranda Green​, Jan. 26, 2020. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were aboard a helicopter that crashed roughly 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles with as many as nine people aboard, authorities said.

Bryant is shown in the yellow jersey scoring against seven-footer Marcin Gortat in a photo by Keith Allison via Wikimedia.

CNN, Appreciation: Kobe Bryant, NBA superstar and future Hall of Famer, is dead at 41, Jill Martin, Updated Jan. 27, 2020. It's hard to believe NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, whose prodigious talent and win-at-all-costs spirit made him one of the most famous and decorated athletes in history, is gone.

He was the rare celebrity who didn't need a last name. Oprah. LeBron. Beyonce. Kobe. Everyone knew who you were talking about.

Still youthful at 41, Bryant -- who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in California -- looked like he could suit up and drop 30 points on a rival NBA team. It doesn't seem that long ago that he was scoring 60 points in his final NBA game, soaking up the cheers of Los Angeles Lakers fans who worshiped him for two decades as one of the city's favorite sons.

After his 20-year NBA career -- all with the Lakers -- Bryant is all but assured of being a first-ballot inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year. "He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force," said fellow NBA icon Michael Jordan.

  • Washington Post, Bryant’s death reverberates beyond sports, Cindy Boren and Rick Maese​, Athletes and fans were stunned as the death of someone who was larger than life in sports and culture began to register.

Reporters Facing Threats julian assange and swedens politically appointed judges indicter graphic

WikiLeaks Editor Julian Assange (graphic by The Indicter Magazine and Swedish Doctors for Human Rights).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Reporters Face New Threats From the Governments They Cover, James Risen (right, a former reporter for The Times and james risen h ssenior national security correspondent for The Intercept), Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). The cases against Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald may be models for a crackdown.

When Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was charged last year by the Trump administration in connection with the publication of secret United States government documents nearly a decade earlier, many journalists expressed deep concern about the dangerous precedent the case could set for investigative reporting in America.

But few seemed to consider that the case might also serve as a model for other nations eager to clamp down on press freedom.

glenn greenwald hsOn Tuesday, Glenn Greenwald, left, an American journalist living and working in Brazil, was charged, in a criminal complaint brought by Brazilian prosecutors, with cybercrimes in connection with his stories on private messages among Brazilian officials that revealed corruption and abuses at the highest levels of the government. Brazilian prosecutors asserted that Mr. Greenwald was part of a criminal organization that hacked the cellphones of government officials. He has denied the charges. (Full disclosure: Mr. Greenwald is a co-founder of The Intercept, where I work as a reporter; I also run the First Look Press Freedom Defense Fund, part of the nonprofit organization that includes The Intercept.)

The case against Mr. Greenwald is eerily similar to the Trump administration’s case against Mr. Assange. Last April, the Justice Department charged Mr. Assange with aiding a source, the former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, to gain access to a United States military computer database. In May 2019, the charges against him were broadened, and he was indicted under the Espionage Act in connection with the publication of American military and diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks.

Both cases are based in part on a new prosecutorial concept — that journalism can be proved to be a crime through a focus on interactions between reporters and their sources. Prosecutors are now scrutinizing the processes by which sources obtain classified or private information and then provide it to journalists. Since those interactions today are largely electronic, prosecutors are seeking to criminalize journalism by turning to anti-hacking laws to implicate reporters in the purported criminal activity of their sources in gaining access to data on computers or cellphones without authorization.

This blunt approach gives the government enormous leverage over journalists and, in the United States, provides them with a detour around First Amendment concerns. If these cases become templates that prosecutors in the United States and other nations follow, virtually every investigative reporter will become vulnerable to criminal charges and imprisonment.

jair bolsonaro brazilBoth the Trump administration and the right-wing Brazilian government of President Jair Bolsonaro, right, seem to have decided to experiment with such draconian anti-press tactics by trying them out first on aggressive and disagreeable figures.

In fact, by the time of his indictment last year, there was still an ongoing debate within the media about whether Mr. Assange should even be considered a journalist at all.

Mr. Assange was both a publisher and an intermediary between sources and reporters, which made it difficult to define his journalistic role. His later involvement in the Trump-Russia case — in 2016, WikiLeaks obtained and released emails and other documents from the Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee from a hacker believed to be a front for Russian intelligence — transformed Mr. Assange into an even more incendiary character with little public support. (The federal charges against Mr. Assange are not related to his involvement in the 2016 campaign.)

It will be tragic if journalists shrug off the attack on the contrarian Mr. Greenwald and don’t see his case for what it truly signifies — that Trump-like attacks on the press are spreading like a virus around the globe.

mary louise kelly john bolton cnn files

washington post logoWashington Post, Emails support NPR host after Mike Pompeo calls her a liar in setting up contentious interview, Paul Farhi, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). They indicate that the secretary of state’s press aide was aware that Mary Louise Kelly intended to ask him about several topics and the aide raised no objections, contrary to Pompeo’s characterization.

Pompeo’s statement implied that Kelly (shown above with Pompeo via separate file photos via CNN) had agreed before the interview to confine her questions to developments in Iran and that he would not be asked about other subjects. He made the same claim during the interview but Kelly pushed back, telling him she’d worked out a different arrangement with his staff.

But emails between Kelly and Pompeo’s press aide, Katie Martin, a day before the interview show that there was no such agreement and that Kelly made clear her intention to question Pompeo about other topics.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump begins reelection year more competitive against Democrats than he was three months ago, Post-ABC poll finds, Scott Clement and Dan Balz, Jan. 27, 2020. The economy and easing of perceptions of financial strains boosted the president’s approval and narrowed margins in tests against possible Democratic rivals.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bloomberg Is Taunting Trump, and Trump Is Taking the Bait, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Jan. 27, 2020. Acquaintances as members of the wealthy Manhattan elite, Michael Bloomberg and President Trump have become bitter opponents in the campaign.

A few days after Election Day in 2016, Donald J. Trump received a call on his cellphone from Michael R. Bloomberg, an old acquaintance he had clashed with during the campaign.

michael bloomberg2Mr. Bloomberg, right, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, had called to offer his congratulations, but the president-elect cut him off.

“You were very mean to me!” Mr. Trump said, according to people familiar with the call. Mr. Trump was referring to Mr. Bloomberg’s slashing speech that year at the Democratic National Convention, during which he called the Republican a “con” and called on voters to elect a “sane, competent person.”

Mr. Trump settled down almost immediately, then turned the conversation toward his latest predicament: quickly hiring people to fill out his government.

Mr. Bloomberg, according to the people briefed on the call, told him that when he was first elected mayor in 2001, he, too, had never served in government. What Mr. Trump should do, Mr. Bloomberg advised, was to “hire a lot of people smarter than you.”

“Mike,” Mr. Trump replied tersely, “there is no one smarter than me.” A startled Mr. Bloomberg paused before turning the conversation to a less fraught subject: golf.

The 10-minute phone conversation was the last time the two men spoke.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army, Matt Flegenheimer, Rebecca R. Ruiz and Nellie Bowles, Jan. 27, 2020. The zeal of the Vermont senator’s online supporters is unmatched by any of his 2020 rivals. It’s also alarming to those familiar with its underside.

Since the start of Mr. Sanders’s first presidential campaign in 2016, his colossal online support base has been by turns a source of peerless strength and perpetual aggravation — envied and caricatured by rivals who covet such loyalty, feared by Democrats who have faced harassment from his followers, and alternately cherished and gently scolded by the candidate himself.

The zeal of Mr. Sanders’s fans has helped establish him as one of the 2020 front-runners a week before the Iowa caucuses. No other Democrat attracts supporters more dedicated to forcefully defending their candidate and lashing his foes, more willing to repeatedly donate their time and money to sustain his bid. Through the end of 2019, Mr. Sanders had raised nearly $100 million from over five million individual donations, without ever holding traditional fund-raisers, leading the primary field.

Yet as Mr. Sanders moves to position himself as a standard-bearer for a party he has criticized from the left for decades, the power of his internet army has also alarmed Democrats who are familiar with its underside, experienced in ways large and small.

Some progressive activists who declined to back Mr. Sanders have begun traveling with private security after incurring online harassment. Several well-known feminist writers said they had received death threats. A state party chairwoman changed her phone number. A Portland lawyer saw her business rating tumble on an online review site after tussling with Sanders supporters on Twitter.

Local 5 WOI-DT (ABC-TV affiliate serving Moines market), 5 protestors arrested at Joe Biden presidential campaign field office, Staff report, Jan. 27, 2020. Five protesters were arrested Monday night after trespassing into a Joe Biden presidential campaign field office.

Police responded to a trespassing complaint in the 2400 block of Grand Avenue just after 7:00. As they arrived, the individual with authority over the building told police that approximately 24 people had entered the building to protest. After multiple requests to leave, police were called.

According to officials, five people out of the group would not leave the building when asked and were arrested for Criminal Trespassing. Those five individuals were 22-year-old John Reardon, 68-year-old Michael McKinley, 22-year-old William Floyd, 21-year-old Denise Cheeseman and 19-year-old Kiran Loewenstein.

According to the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, they wanted to meet with Biden to “address ongoing lies about Medicare for All he is spinning on the campaign trail.”

Those arrested were released at the scene and must appear in court at a later date.

U.S. Fire Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Alabama dock fire kills multiple people and destroys about 35 vessels, Lateshia Beachum, Jan. 27, 2020. A houseboat fire in northeast Alabama has caused multiple fatalities, hospitalizations and damage to nearly three dozen vessels, authorities say.

First responders were on the scene shortly after midnight local time at Guntersville Lake, which is about 70 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tenn., WHNT reported. The entire B-Dock was destroyed, according to the station. Seven people have been hospitalized and that seven others are still missing, according to the Associated Press. At least 35 vessels were ravaged in the flames, most of which were houseboats, Necklaus said.

Royal / Epstein Scandals

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ny times logoNew York Times, Prince Andrew Offers ‘Zero Cooperation’ in Epstein Case, F.B.I. Says, Nicole Hong, Jan. 27, 2020. The United States attorney in Manhattan said the prince had not responded to their requests. Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. have sought to interview Prince Andrew about Jeffrey Epstein, but he has provided “zero cooperation,” the United States attorney in Manhattan said on Monday.

Geoffrey S. Berman, shown above in a file photo with a portrait of Epstein, the United States attorney, revealed Prince Andrew’s lack of prince andrew august 2014cooperation in response to a reporter’s question during a news conference outside Mr. Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion about victims of human and sex trafficking.

Prince Andrew, shown at right, following a disastrous TV interview over his ties to Mr. Epstein, said in a statement late last year that he was willing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in their investigations into the disgraced financier and his associates.

“Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,” his statement said.

U.S. Crime, Courts: Sandy Hook

Hartford Courant, After years of pushing Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, Florida man who worked with Alex Jones is arrested, Dave Altimari, Jan. 27, 2020. A Florida man who is the ringleader of a group that has hounded the families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting was arrested early Monday morning by sheriffs and charged with unlawful possession of personal identification of another person.

Wolfgang Halbig has spent years trying to show the shooting was a hoax and that the 20 children who died were actually actors — as recently as the last few weeks he posted photos of children that he claimed were actually current photos of the victims. Halbig was arrested at 1:39 a.m. at his Sorrento, Florida, home, according to the police report.

The 73-year-old posted a $5,000 cash bond and is due back in court on Feb. 24. A complaint against Halbig was filed by Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the children killed at Sandy Hook.

Halbig is accused of publishing and circulating Pozner’s personal information, including his social security number and home address. Pozner has moved several times since leaving Connecticut after the shooting.

alex jones headshotHalbig is also a defendant in the civil lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook victims families against Alex Jones, the host of the Infowars internet radio program. The families are suing Jones, right, for claiming the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 20 first graders and six educators was a hoax, and argue that he profited by spreading the hoax claim.

The lawsuit accuses Jones of orchestrating a sustained attack on the families that lasted for years, accusing family members of being actors, stating as fact the shooting was a hoax and inciting others to act on those claims all because it was good for his ratings, drew advertisers and made him money.

Halbig appeared on Infowars several times following the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting spewing his conspiracy theory. At one point Halbig came to Newtown with a camera crew provided by Infowars to confront Sandy Hook families. Halbig has filed dozens of Freedom of Information requests with Newtown and state officials seeking information on everything from who ordered portable toilets the day of the massacre to crime scene photos.

Jones has more recently distanced himself from Halbig, particularly since the lawsuit was filed in Connecticut. Halbig hasn’t actually appeared in court for any of the proceedings so far and is self-represented in the Connecticut case.

Adam Lanza killed 26 people on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 first graders, before he killed himself. Almost from the beginning the so-called Sandy Hook truthers denied that the shooting ever happened and said it was a false flag operation to get Congress to pass stricter gun control laws.

Jan. 26

Impeachment Headlines

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Lev Parnas Trump Revelations

lev parnas ivanka jared kushner

World News

U.S. 2020 Elections

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

pat cipollone senate screenshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Defense Begins by Accusing Democrats of Subverting Election, Peter Baker, Jan. 26, 2020 (print ed.). President’s Lawyers Give Radically Different View of Facts. President Trump’s legal team attacked his accusers as trying to remove him because they could not beat him at the ballot box. Mr. Trump’s lawyers sought to turn the charges back on Democrats while denouncing the process as illegitimate.

President Trump’s legal defense team mounted an aggressive offense on Saturday as it opened its side in the Senate impeachment trial by attacking his Democratic accusers as partisan witch-hunters trying to remove him from office because they could not beat him at the ballot box.

After three days of arguments by the House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, the president’s lawyers presented the senators a radically different view of the facts and the Constitution, seeking to turn the Democrats’ charges back on them while denouncing the whole process as illegitimate.

“They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel (shown above), said of the House managers. “They’re here,” he added moments later, “to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen.”

The president’s team spent only two of the 24 hours allotted to them so that senators could leave town for the weekend before the defense presentation resumes on Monday, but it was the first time his lawyers have formally made a case for him since the House opened its inquiry in September. The goal was to poke holes in the House managers’ arguments in order to provide enough fodder to Senate Republicans already inclined to acquit him.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump lawyers’ weak start opens the door to devastating questions, Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 26, 2020. President Trump’s lawyers’ repeated assertions Saturday that they would not take much time on their case confirmed that they know the result is in the bag and that they have embarrassingly little to say in Trump’s defense. The central problem for them remains: How do you contest the facts, or claim an absence of evidence when you won’t allow in available evidence?

As Democratic senators think ahead to question time, they might start formulating questions that perform one of five functions.

  • First are the questions that expose the lies.
  • Second are the questions that obviously require new documents and witnesses.

ny times logoNew York Times, Could Mr. Trump muzzle Mr. Bolton? We explain the limits of executive privilege, Charlie Savage, Jan. 26, 2020 (print ed.).  If senators vote to subpoena testimony for the impeachment trial, the president may not be able to block or delay a willing witness.

Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: House quickly seizes on John Bolton’s new Donald Trump bombshell, Bill Palmer, Jan. 26, 2020. John Bolton decided that today would be a good day to leak the portion of his upcoming book that spells out Donald Trump’s guilt in his Ukraine extortion scandal. This is a big deal considering how much weight Bolton carries with Republicans, and considering that the Republican-controlled Senate is set to vote this upcoming week on whether to have Bolton testify in Trump’s impeachment trial.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’ll see what the Senate Republicans do. If they have John Bolton testify, they risk alienating Donald Trump, and thus alienating Trump’s voters. If they don’t have Bolton testify, they’ll definitely alienate mainstream voters. GOP Senators know that if they make the wrong choice, they could cost themselves their current majority, and in some instances cost themselves their own seats.

House Democrats know that Senate Republicans are well aware of this, and they’re quickly seizing on this new opportunity. Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff tweeted this: “Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the President’s defense. If the trial is to be fair, Senators must insist that Mr. Bolton be called as a witness, and provide his notes and other documents. House impeachment manager Val Demings tweeted this: “There can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the President’s defense and therefore must be called as a witness at the impeachment trial of President Trump.”

If Senate Republicans still decide to acquit Donald Trump without even bothering to call an apparently eager John Bolton to testify, it’s easy to envision a scenario where the House then calls Bolton to testify in a subsequent hearing, thus making Trump and the Senate Republicans look terrible heading into the 2020 election. We don’t know precisely what House Democrats will do with this, but it looks like they’re not going to let this go. Nor should they.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Yes, Secretary Pompeo, Americans Should Care About Ukraine, William B. Taylor (right, former United States ambassador to Ukraine), Jan. 26, 2020. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv later this week, william taylor o Customhe has reportedly asked, “Do Americans care about Ukraine?”

Here’s why the answer should be yes: Ukraine is defending itself and the West against Russian attack. No matter the outcome of the debate about the propriety of a phone call between the two presidents, the relationship between the United States and Ukraine is key to our national security. Americans should care about Ukraine.

Russia is fighting a hybrid war against Ukraine, Europe and the United States. This war has many components: armed military aggression, energy supply, cyberattacks, disinformation and election interference. On each of these battlegrounds, Ukraine is the front line.

For the last seven months, I represented the United States in Ukraine and regularly visited the front line of the military conflict. After its occupation of Crimea, Russia sent its army, security forces, undercover agents, weapons, funding and political instruction into Ukraine’s southeastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, a region known as the Donbas. The 280-mile line of contact between Russian-led forces and Ukrainian forces has stabilized but has not gone quiet.

To the contrary, the front line in the Donbas region marks the only shooting war in Europe. Every week Russian-led forces kill Ukrainian soldiers — and take casualties in return. During the 12 hours of my last visit, in November, a Ukrainian soldier was killed and another wounded. Since the Russians invaded in 2014, 14,000 Ukrainians have died in this war.

Lev Parnas Trump Revelations

djt lev parnas dinner april 2018

Donald Trump and colleagues, including donor Lev Parnas at an April 2018 dinner (Parnas photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Tape Made Public of Trump Discussing Ambassador’s Firing With Donors, “Get rid of her,” Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben Protess, Jan. 26, 2020. Cellphone video captured President Trump ordering the ambassador’s ouster while dining with two key players in the Ukraine affair.

For more than an hour one evening in 2018, President Trump sat around a dinner table in a private suite in his Washington hotel with a group of donors, including two men at the center of the impeachment inquiry, talking about golf, trade, politics — and removing the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

The conversation, captured on a recording made public Saturday, contradicted Mr. Trump’s repeated statements that he does not know the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who went on to work with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to carry out a pressure campaign on Ukraine.

The recording — a video shot on Mr. Fruman’s phone during the dinner in April 2018 — largely confirmed Mr. Parnas’s account of having raised with Mr. Trump criticisms of the ambassador to Kyiv at the time, Marie L. Yovanovitch, left, and the president’s immediate order that Ms. Yovanovitch marie yovanovitchshould be removed from the post.

“Get rid of her,” Mr. Trump can be heard responding.

The recording was made public by Mr. Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, hours after the president’s lawyers began presenting their defense in the impeachment trial and as Democrats looked for leverage to persuade Republicans to support their calls to expand the inquiry by introducing additional evidence and calling new witnesses.

Mr. Bondy said it was being released in “an effort to provide clarity to the American people and the Senate as to the need to conduct a fair trial, with witnesses and evidence.”

In the recording, Mr. Parnas, who is the more talkative of the two, broached an energy deal the two were pursuing in Ukraine, and then went on to discuss several themes that later became central to the pressure campaign. He claimed that Ms. Yovanovitch, whose name he did not cite, had been disparaging Mr. Trump. He said that the Ukrainians “were supporting the Clintons all these years.” He even mentioned in passing the family of the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi just gambled and won, Bill Palmer, Jan. 26, 2020. Given the haphazard and slightly mis-timed manner in which it came to fruition, it’s highly doubtful that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats knew that a tape of Donald Trump telling Lev and Igor to “take her out” was going to leak to the media. If Pelosi had this recording up her sleeve, it would have been employed by the House managers during their impeachment trial presentation.

bill palmer report logo headerThat said, this leaked tape is the kind of development that Nancy Pelosi was betting on. She held onto the articles of impeachment for as long as she could (until the media finally started trying to use it against her), knowing that the extra time would allow for Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal to further unravel on several fronts.

In that time we’ve seen Lev Parnas release damning evidence against Trump. We’ve seen John Bolton publicly offer to testify. Now we’ve got someone, who may or may not be Igor, but who is definitely not Lev, leaking this recording of Trump. Some of these are more meaningful wins than others, and some of them may not go anywhere. But the point is that things keep surfacing, and they’re going to keep surfacing.

nancy pelosi djt 2 olderIf Pelosi hadn’t waited, the trial would be over by now, and Trump would be crowing about his sham acquittal before any of this could come out.

The kicker is that once the Senate Republicans stake themselves to acquitting Donald Trump, even more evidence will keep surfacing which proves his guilt. At that point the House can launch new investigative hearings, which may or may not center around new articles of impeachment, and new witnesses and evidence can be put on display for all to see. It’ll further harm Trump’s 2020 chances, which is the name of the game.

And it’ll harm the GOP’s chances of keeping the Senate in 2020, because the idiots will have acquitted Trump while he’s going to be increasingly seen as being guilty by the public. No one in politics has a magic wand, but Pelosi played the odds, and she’s winning.

rudolph giuliani igor fruman dmitry torner lev parnas paris cigar may joseph bondy Custom

Trump personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, in shirtsleeves, meets with, from left, Igor Fruman, business executive Dmitry Torner and Lev Parnas at a Paris cigar bar in May (Photo courtesy of Parnas attorney Joseph Bondy)

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion: Lev Parnas is afraid of Bill Barr -- and he should be, Thom Hartmann, Jan. 26, 2020. Lev Parnas recently told Rachel Maddow that he's more afraid of Attorney General Bill Barr than he is of the mobbed-up foreign oligarchs he has betrayed. Barr, after all, can weaponize our prisons to punish Parnas.

"Am I scared?" he said. "Yes, because I think I'm more scared of our own Justice Department than these criminals right now."

An attorney general willing to bend or even break the law -- and certainly willing to conceal crimes and lie to the American people -- can be a corrupt president's last line of defense.

When a whistleblower in the White House reported that Trump was bribing and extorting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, that report first went to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who thought it was evidence Trump had committed a serious crime. william barr at dojAtkinson deemed it an "urgent concern" and then gave it to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, Maguire was supposed to then hand it over to congressional intelligence committees. Instead, he made a pit-stop at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which handed it over to Bill Barr's office.

Which is where it died, until ICIG Atkinson reached out to the House Intelligence Committee to let them know about Barr's cover-up.

The whistleblower's complaint is quite specific. "The whistleblower implicates Barr directly in the opening lines of the complaint," Tessa Berenson wrote for Time magazine on September 26, 2019. She then quoted from the whistleblower.

lev parnas ivanka jared kushner

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Four significant questions raised by the recording of Trump and Lev Parnas, Philip Bump, Jan. 26, 2020. The video raises questions about the timeline of the push to oust the ambassador and the president's claims about his support for Ukraine.

At the beginning of a video released Saturday by an attorney representing Lev Parnas (shown above in a photo with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump), we see a hallway. At the end of the hallway is an arch with a dark-colored backdrop, in front of which two people appear to be posing for a photograph. Behind the person on the left is what looks like an American flag.

That shot, by itself, establishes what we’re looking at: Footage captured during an April 30, 2018 fundraising dinner for the group America First Action, held at Trump’s hotel in D.C. That shot is definitive because it’s trivial to match that distant scene with one we’ve seen from a much closer perspective, thanks to material released by the House Intelligence Committee. In one photo from the committee, for example, we see Parnas and President Trump standing in front of an archway with blue curtains, flanked by American flags.

lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020Parnas, left, would eventually become tightly integrated into Trump’s circle, though the distance at which he was kept varies depending on who you ask. Trump insists that Parnas, an eventual business associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, was only given access to the president because he’d contributed to Trump’s campaign or to America First. Parnas, the argument goes, was simply one of hundreds of such people who take photos with the president.

To hear Parnas tell it, though, his work for Giuliani in late 2018 and 2019 was well-known by Trump and was integral to the effort to get Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a possible opponent of Trump’s in the upcoming election.

The release of the video — or, really, an audio snippet of the dinner released on Friday — doesn’t entirely help settle the question. This was, after all, a fundraising dinner of the type to which Trump referred. It was one of several instances in which Parnas’s proximity to the president was predicated primarily on his having given money to do so.

But, then, at one point Parnas tells Trump that then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch had disparaged the president, prompting Trump to say that she should be removed from her position. It’s a response that seems to conflict with the idea that Trump was simply interacting with a random donor, seemingly bolstering Parnas’s insinuations that his relationship with Trump was substantial.

It comes down to a question with no good answer: Is the president lying about his relationship with Parnas or is he prone to endorsing rash personnel changes based on unfounded assertions from strangers?

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, China’s leader warns of ‘accelerating spread’ of coronavirus as death toll rises, Simon Denyer, Shibani Mahtani and Brian xi jinping with flag CustomMurphy, Jan. 26, 2020 (print ed.). China's leader Xi Jinping, right, warned Saturday of an "accelerating spread" of the coronavirus, adding to worries about the scope of a health crisis that has claimed at least 42 lives and triggered emergency health measures in cities across China.

Xi's remarks of a "grave" situation came as China kicked off its traditional New Year celebrations amid a backdrop of caution and stark measures seeking to contain the virus.

At least 48 million people were ordered on lockdown in central China with a travel ban covering 15 cities in the central Hubei province, where the virus was first encountered.

prince harry meghan markel

ny times logoNew York Times, Harry and Meghan’s Big Funding Source Is Private. Sort of, Benjamin Mueller, Jan. 26, 2020. As the couple (shown above in a file photo) eave full-time royal life, they have vowed to forgo public funding. But a pledge by Prince Charles to help support them has put a spotlight on his own sources of wealth, including a billion-pound real estate conglomerate.

As the couple leave royal life, they have vowed to forgo public funding. But a pledge by Prince Charles to help support them has put a spotlight on his own sources of wealth.

But what the royals call private contains, by any other measure, a generous mix of public giveaways: medieval landholdings passed from one male heir to the next, sweeping tax relief, indemnity from some laws and exemptions from others, ownership of long stretches of coastline and all the treasure buried in Cornwall.

Those perks have delivered Prince Charles substantial wealth. Income from the duchy has nearly tripled in two decades, to £21.6 million, about $28.3 million, last year. But the uproar over Harry and Meghan’s funding has raised uncomfortable questions for the prince and the royals about whether any of their income can truly be considered private.

Coming on the heels of Prince Charles’s brother Andrew being kicked off the royal front lines for socializing with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, such scrutiny is another dent to the royal mystique.

djt benjamin netanyahu undated Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Mideast Plan Is Seen Mainly as an Election Lift for Netanyahu, Mark Landler, Jan. 26, 2020. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel returns this week to the White House, where President Trump (shown together in a file photo) is expected to lay out the details of a plan that is three years in the making.

Less than a month after being sworn in, President Trump welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the White House with a bold promise: He would broker a peace accord between the Israelis and the Palestinians — the diplomatic unicorn that had eluded half a dozen of his predecessors.

“I think we’re going to make a deal,” he said in 2017. “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand.”

“As with any successful negotiation,” Mr. Trump continued, “both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right?” he added, turning to his guest.

Mr. Netanyahu grinned. “Both sides,” he replied.

The Israeli leader will return to the White House for meetings Monday and Tuesday, and Mr. Trump is expected at last to lay out the details of that long-awaited plan. Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday he hoped to “make history” on the visit.

But far from a bold effort to bring old enemies together — one that demands painful concessions from both sides — Middle East experts now expect the plan to be mainly a booster shot for Mr. Netanyahu’s desperate campaign to stay in power.

 jared kushner donald trump unsourced

Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump

ny times logoIran FlagNew York Times, India Restores Some Internet Access in Kashmir After Long Shutdown, Kai Schultz and Sameer Yasir, Jan. 26, 2020. The announcement applied only to 301 websites, and many Kashmiris said they were still in an information black hole.

 U.S. 2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Sanders Seizes Lead in Volatile Iowa Race, Times Poll Finds, Jonathan Martin and Sydney Ember, Jan. 26, 2020 (print ed.). Bernie Sanders appears to be peaking just as the caucuses approach. But many Iowa voters said they could still change their minds.

Senator Bernie Sanders has opened up a lead in Iowa just over a week before the Democratic caucuses, consolidating support from liberals and benefiting from divisions among more moderate presidential candidates who are clustered behind him, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely caucusgoers.

Mr. Sanders has gained six points since the last Times-Siena survey, in late October, and is now capturing 25 percent of the vote in Iowa. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have remained stagnant since the fall, with Mr. Buttigieg capturing 18 percent and Mr. Biden 17 percent.

The rise of Mr. Sanders has come at the expense of his fellow progressive, Senator Elizabeth Warren: she dropped from 22 percent in the October poll, enough to lead the field, to 15 percent in this survey. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is garnering 8 percent, is the only other candidate approaching double digits.

ny times logodavid leonhardt thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Iowa Should Never Go First Again, David Leonhardt, right, Jan. 26, 2020. The current system is a form of white privilege that warps the process. One or two smaller states could always go first, with the specific states rotating each cycle. (Many smaller states — like Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico and Rhode Island — are diverse.) They could immediately be followed by a couple of larger states that are home to major cities.

Obviously, politicians in Iowa and New Hampshire will fight any such change, as they always have. They’ll use lofty language, about how solemnly they take their responsibilities and how the current system allows the voices of ordinary citizens to be heard. Strip away the rhetoric, though, and their argument comes down to this: We’re better than the rest of you, and we deserve special treatment forever.

Boston Globe, How Bernie Sanders edged out Elizabeth Warren on the left, Liz Goodwin, Jan. 26, 2020. Sanders has secured the support of many progressive groups and activists in recent weeks, suggesting he has the upper hand in his clash with Warren to the progressive standard-bearer in the race.

washington post logoWashington Post, Financial Opinion: Our current economic boom is a mirage, and our politics are going to break it, Steven Pearlstein, Jan. 26, 2020. Even as a bitter and partisan impeachment trial plays out in Washington, the signals emanating from the economy continue to be amazingly positive. The unemployment rate is at record lows, the stock market is near record highs, corporate profits remain strong, and growth, at around 2 percent, is the highest among advanced economies.

At some level, this disconnect between economics and politics reflects the underlying strength of the U.S. economy — the innovation, the efficient use of labor and capital, the quality of management — that existed long before Donald Trump became president. Business and economic fundamentals don’t change overnight.

But Americans should understand that there will be a significant, long-term economic cost to our polarized politics and dysfunctional government, which has now reached the point of near-total breakdown of comity and cooperation between the parties, between the houses of Congress and among the various branches of government.

Human Rights / Justice

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: We need to start paying attention to the fate of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Editorial Board, Jan. 26, 2020. The details of the U.S. government’s descent into torture as an anti-terrorism tactic have been publicly rehearsed many times in the 18-plus years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Nevertheless, the mistreatment of alleged al-Qaeda detainees at CIA “black site” prisons around the world retain their power to shock. And so it was shocking to hear a retired Air Force psychologist describe it in his first public sworn statement, even though he has written a book and given many interviews.

One alleged al-Qaeda terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, was “waterboarded” so severely that he began having involuntary body spasms and began to cry, James Mitchell told a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Indeed, Mr. Mitchell, who designed the CIA “enhanced interrogation program” and personally waterboard alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, choked up at the horrific spectacle, too. And yet he defiantly told the commission that he felt a “moral obligation to protect American lives [that] outweighed the temporary discomfort of terrorists who had voluntarily taken up war against us.”

The context for Mr. Mitchell’s testimony was a pretrial hearing that has been dragging on for years as the military commission system that the George W. Bush administration established, along with “enhanced interrogation,” staggers dysfunctionally on. Defense lawyers for Mr. Mohammed and others called Mr. Mitchell to the stand to buttress their argument that statements the defendants gave FBI interrogators should not be admitted at trial because they had been tainted by torture. It’s a plausible argument — so natural, in fact, that no administration actually interested in winning convictions in a fair court would have tortured detainees in the first place. The Bush administration has said its higher priority was gathering actionable intelligence, not courtroom evidence; there is much debate about how successful torture was in that regard, too, however.

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, Amazon employees plan mass defiance of communications policy in support of colleagues, Jay Greene, Jan. 26, 2020. Despite warnings not to speak out, more than 300 Amazon staffers will publicly call out the company for its climate policy, its work with federal agencies and its attempts to stifle dissent.

Jan. 26

Impeachment Headlines  djt impeachment graphic

World News

U.S. 2020 Elections

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates, In first day of defense, Trump’s team argues he did nothing wrong, Democrats presented selective case, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Jan. 25, 2020. After three days of arguments from House prosecutors, Trump’s team gets its chance; House delivers 28,578 page trial record to Senate; Trump encourages followers to tune in, insults several Democrats; Inhofe says House managers made no headway; Sen. Cramer says he thinks trial will end ‘much sooner’ than he previously thought; Trump’s team to target Bidens.

President Trump’s defense team began its presentation Saturday in an abbreviated session of a historic impeachment trial focused on his lev parnas ivanka jared kushnerconduct toward Ukraine.

The presentation, led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, at right, and Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, below left, follows a three-day opening argument by House managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who urged Trump’s removal from office for jay sekulowalleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The crux of House Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to argue that the president was justified in seeking the investigation because of a history of corruption involving the company and that he committed no crimes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Adam Schiff delivered a detailed, hour-long summary of the Democrats’ impeachment case. Some Republicans dismissed it because of one line, Mike DeBonis, Jan. 25, 2020. Rep. Adam B. Schiff spoke for nearly an hour closing the House’s case for the removal of President Trump, advancing and rebutting scores of arguments, but many Republican senators left the chamber talking about only one line: His reference to a news report that GOP senators were warned that if they vote against the president, their “head will be on a pike.”

“Not true!” an indignant Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) bristled afterward, saying senators were “visibly upset” by the comment. “Nothing like going through three days of frustration and then cap it with an insult on everybody.”

The reference came from a CBS News report that had gone viral earlier Friday, quoting an anonymous Trump confidant claiming that senators were warned that “your head will be on a pike” if they vote against the president on impeachment. The report did not say who had delivered the threat or which senators had been so warned.

The reference came from a CBS News report that had gone viral earlier Friday, quoting an anonymous Trump confidant claiming that senators were warned that “your head will be on a pike” if they vote against the president on impeachment. The report did not say who had delivered the threat or which senators had been so warned.

adam schiff square“I don’t know if that’s true,” Schiff (D-Calif.), right, said. “I hope it’s not true. But I’m struck by the irony of the idea, when we’re talking about a president who would make himself a monarch, that whoever that was would use the terminology of a penalty that was imposed by a monarch — a head on a pike.”

Schiff sandwiched the reference between an anecdote about his father trying to get into the military with bad eyes and a flat feet during World War II, succeeding on the third attempt, and a tribute to the late representative Thomas F. Railsback (R-Ill.), who worked to build bipartisan support for President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), normally staid, smiled as Schiff told the story about his dad, which delved into lessons of courage as he urged the Republicans to break with their party leader.

When Schiff mentioned the alleged “head on a pike” threat, the GOP side of the chamber began to murmur and shift in outrage.

“That’s not true!” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who shook her head angrily, then crossed her arms over her chest in protest for the rest of his speech.

ny times logoNew York Times, Schiff Speech Goes Viral, Delighting the Left and Enraging the Right, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 25, 2020. Representative Adam Schiff made an emotional appeal on Thursday. He angered Republicans again on Friday with a “head on a pike” remark.

Senator James M. Inhofe, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma, has made clear that he intends to vote to acquit President Trump. But after Representative Adam B. Schiff’s fiery speech Thursday night calling for the president’s removal, Mr. Inhofe felt compelled to give his fellow lawmaker some grudging respect.

“I have to say this,” Mr. Inhofe told reporters Friday morning in the Capitol. “Schiff is very, very effective.”

Mr. Schiff, a California Democrat who steered the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump and is the lead prosecutor in his Senate trial, has long been a hero to the left and a villain to the right. But never has he aroused as much passion as he has during his closing arguments in the president’s impeachment trial.

First, there was Thursday’s declaration that “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country,” and then on Friday, he invoked a news report that Republican senators had been warned that their heads would be “on a pike” if they voted against Mr. Trump.

On Friday morning, the phrase #RightMatters — from the last line of Mr. Schiff’s Thursday speech — was trending as a hashtag on Twitter. The Daily Beast declared that the remarks “will go down in history.” Ryan Knight, a progressive activist, called it “a closing statement for the ages.” Video of the speech quickly went viral. Liberals lavished him with praise.

  • New York Times, 3 Days of Arguments Wrap Up With a Dire Warning, On the final day of their oral arguments on Friday, House impeachment managers called President Trump a danger to the nation.
  • New York Times, Here’s a look at the president’s impeachment defense lawyers.

washington post logojoe manchin oWashington Post, Trump wants a Senate Democrat to vote for acquittal. White House eyes Joe Manchin, Josh Dawsey, Jan. 25, 2020. The West Virginian, right, has sided with President Trump on tough votes before, but voting to acquit him would be an even more politically charged decision, one that could help him maintain his reputation as a moderate back home but that would likely make him a pariah within his own party.

• Washington Post, Analysis: In GOP calls to investigate Biden, Democrats hear echoes of Benghazi probe of Clinton

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo’s accusations against reporter draw denial from NPR, Karen DeYoung​, Jan. 25, 2020. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement Saturday accused the NPR reporter of lying but did not address her explosive account of their conversation. Pompeo has grown increasingly testy as his own conduct relating to Ukraine and Iran has been questioned.

• Washington Post, Analysis: Pompeo’s blatant gaslighting attempt

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Republicans decry impeachment as ‘boring,’ Toluse Olorunnipa and Robert Costa, Jan. 25, 2020. Their “nothing new” mantra underscores the hear-no-evil approach some are taking as they attempt to defend President Trump from charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s team to target Bidens, Rachael Bade, Robert Costa, Karoun Demirjian and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 25, 2020. The president’s allies believe that if they can argue that he had a plausible reason for requesting the Biden investigation, they can both defend him against the charges and undercut a political adversary.

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The return of Ken Starr: He investigated Clinton and now defends Trump, Michael S. Rosenwald, Jan. 25, 2020. Starr produced a steamy report that led to Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998. Back then, Trump considered him "off his rocker."

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, China’s Food Markets Are in the Eye of a Dangerous Outbreak Again, Steven Lee Myers, Jan. 25, 2020. The coronavirus has been linked to the sale of live wildlife at a market that experts describe as a perfect incubator for novel pathogens.

The typical market in China has fruits and vegetables, butchered beef, pork and lamb, whole plucked chickens — with heads and beaks attached — and live crabs and fish, spewing water out of churning tanks. Some sell more unusual fare, including live snakes, turtles and cicadas, guinea pigs, bamboo rats, badgers, hedgehogs, otters, palm civets, even wolf cubs.

The markets are fixtures in scores of Chinese cities, and now, for at least the second time in two decades, they are the source of an epidemic that has spread fear, taxed the Communist Party bureaucracy and exposed the epidemiological risks that can spawn in places where humans and wildlife converge.

The novel coronavirus that has already killed at least 56 and sickened more than 1,370 in China and around the world is believed to have spread from exactly one of these places: a wholesale market in Wuhan, a city in central China, where vendors legally sold live animals from stalls in close quarters with hundreds of others.

“This is where you get new and emerging diseases that the human population has never seen before,” said Kevin J. Olival, a biologist and vice president of research with EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit research organization, who has tracked previous outbreaks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iraqi security forces move in on protester camps, firing tear gas, bullets, Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim​, Jan. 25, 2020. The crackdown occurred after a top cleric removed his support for the months-old movement and accused the protesters of being the “paid tools” of foreign powers.

U.S. 2020 Elections

leon trotsky CustomStrategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: Beware of the Scheming Trotskyists, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 25, 2020. Trotskyists showed themselves all too strategic culture logowilling to accommodate fascist forces, particularly during the Spanish Civil War, to isolate the Soviet Union. The deception of the Trotskyists led to the motto, “Never trust a Trot,” being heard at progressive political and labor gatherings around Europe, Australia, and North America. Leon Trotsky is shown at right.

Today, the progressive and democratic forces around the world face a situation not seen since the 1930s in Europe and Asia. Global fascism is on the march and the left is found engaged in factionalized rivalry in the face of a united neo-Axis front not seen since the 1930s.

bernie sandersThe schism between so-called “Independent Socialist” 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, left, and traditional pro-labor Democratic candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden is the result of nothing more than a continuation of the Trotskyist program to divide and conquer social democratic and labor forces, even if such disruption aids the rise of fascist totalitarian regimes.

The history of such Trotskyist maneuvers -- including the back-to-back presidential bids of Sanders, a committed Socialist Worker’s Party member and Trotskyist until 1992 when he supported his first Democratic candidate for the White House --  opens the door for fascist takeovers.

Sanders’s present campaign to divide and conquer the Democratic Party, of which he is not a member, ushers into possibility a fascist government coming into existence in a second Trump administration.

Sanders’s coterie of campaign officials never miss a chance to attack other Democratic candidates, demonstrating that the Trotskyist tendency toward mounting “Fifth Columns” within well-established political parties of the left and center-left is just as endemic in the United States today as franklin d rooseveltit was in the past when the targets were Franklin Roosevelt, left, British Labor Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and the Democratic presidential candidates Sanders refused to support: Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George McGovern in 1972, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, and Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Trotskyists have always believed in the notion: “my way or the highway,” even if the highway is one to fascist rule and the collapse of democratic and constitutional governance.

democratic donkey logoTrotskyists are performing the same factionalized politics today that pervaded the 1930s and gave rise to Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and Francisco Franco in Spain. Today, the neo-fascist players are Trump, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Ivan Duque in Colombia, and dozens of petit-tyrants around the world. The world is slipping into global fascist as the Trotskyists play their fiddles of deception and plot their next moves.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sanders supporters have weaponized Facebook to spread angry memes about his Democratic rivals, Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Jan. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Users are using mass-posting technologies to flood Facebook with attacks on Elizabeth Warren and others.

A Democrat in Michigan scrolled through a surge of nasty Facebook memes about Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week before fixing on one that captured his growing dislike of the candidate. It depicted her smiling face as a mask. Behind it was Hillary Clinton.

facebook logoMatt Walters, 64, a retired factory worker and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), shared the image onward to eight Facebook groups and tens of thousands of potential eyeballs with a few taps on his smartphone — using a popular new mass-posting technique that allows ordinary Americans to operate with rapid-fire speed reminiscent of Russian bots and trolls in 2016.

In that small way, Walters contributed to a massive wave of hostile memes about Sanders’s Democratic rivals that both reflects the rising divisiveness in the party’s nominating contest and, in the view of social media experts, exacerbates it.

The volume and viciousness of the memes — portraying Warren (D-Mass.) as a snake, a backstabber and a liar — reflect how Facebook identifies and rewards emotionally charged content to generate reactions from its billions of users. That serves the company’s ad-driven business model, which equates engagement with profit. But it also, in the view of experts who study Facebook’s effect on political speech, distorts democratic debate by confirming biases, sharpening divisions and elevating the glib visual logic of memes over reasoned discussion.

Facebook’s “algorithm not only aggregates people, it activates people in a way that accentuates extremism,” said George Washington University professor Steven Livingston, director of the university’s Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics. “It inflames passions. It inflames the nature of the discourse.”

jeffrey epstein mcc cell 60 minutes

Epstein died in August at MCC Manhattan (shown above in a photo via CBS "60 Minutes") while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida. His cell is seen above after his death. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the New York City medical examiner, but his attorneys have contested that finding. His cell is seen above after his death. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the New York City medical examiner, but his attorneys have contested that finding.

Daily Mail, Warden who was in charge when Jeffrey Epstein died behind bars is quietly given a top job at 'Club Fed' prison -- despite Bill Barr ordering him assigned to a lowly desk job, Keith Griffith and Associated Press, Jan. 25, 2020. The warden in charge when Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell is getting a cushy new supervisor's job at 'Club Fed' despite Attorney General Bill Barr's demand that he be reassigned to a desk job.

Lamine N'Diaye is being reassigned to a leadership role at FCI Fort Dix, a low-security prison in Burlington County, New Jersey, two people familiar with the matter said.

The move comes months after Barr ordered N'Diaye be reassigned to a desk post at the Bureau of Prisons' regional office in Pennsylvania after Epstein´s death as the FBI and the Justice Department´s inspector general investigated.

One of the people said the agency planned to move N´Diaye into the new role on February 2. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal personnel matter.

It was unclear why the agency was planning to return N'Diaye to a position supervising inmates and staff members, even though multiple investigations into Epstein´s death remain active.

The inspector general's investigation is continuing, and the Justice Department is still probing the circumstances that led to Epstein´s death, including why he wasn´t given a cellmate.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderEpstein, right, died in August while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Epstein's death cast a spotlight on the Bureau of Prisons and highlighted a series of safety lapses inside a high-security unit of one of the most secure jails in America.

His death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the New York City medical examiner, but his attorneys have contested that finding and argued he may have been killed.

Barr said even Epstein's ability to take his own life in federal custody had raised 'serious questions that must be answered.'

He said in an interview with the AP in November that the investigation revealed a 'series' of mistakes made that gave Epstein the chance to take his own life and that his death was the result of 'a perfect storm of screw-ups.'

Epstein died in August at MCC Manhattan (above) while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida.

Two correctional officers responsible for watching Epstein have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging they lied on prison records to make it seem as though they had checked on Epstein, as required, before his death.

Instead, investigators say they appeared to sleep for two hours and had been browsing the internet - shopping for furniture and motorcycles - instead of watching Epstein, who was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.

The attorney general also removed the agency´s acting director in the wake of Epstein's death and named Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the prison agency´s director from 1992 until 2003, to replace him.

Since Epstein´s death and N'Diaye´s removal as warden, the Manhattan jail has had two interim leaders.

The newest warden, M. Licon-Vitale, used to oversee a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. Her first big order of business has been to deal with jailed lawyer Michael Avenatti's complaints about his treatment at the lockup.

The Bureau of Prisons has been plagued for years by chronic violence, extensive staffing shortages and serious misconduct.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge who tried Manafort sentences former corporate lawyer to 88 months for fraud, Rachel Weiner, Jan 24, 2020. A year ago, when he sentenced Paul Manafort to less than four years in prison for bank and tax fraud, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said the former Trump campaign chairman had lived “an otherwise blameless life.”

As he petitioned Ellis for leniency Friday, a former corporate lawyer who together with his wife embezzled $1.6 million and his defense counsel repeatedly referenced that phrase, saying in Alexandria federal court that he’d lived an “otherwise exemplary life.”

Like Manafort, defense attorney Drew Hutcheson argued, ­71-year-old David Miller was an older family man whose criminal conduct was “a complete aberration.” Miller and his wife stole from his company, a state senator and an autism nonprofit between 2011 and 2014.

Ellis disagreed, imposing a sentence of seven years and four months. He told Miller, “You still don’t live in the real world” and “need to be deterred.”

Comparisons to Manafort dominated much of the argument over Miller’s fate. Manafort was ultimately given a total sentence close to Miller’s after pleading guilty to related crimes in federal court in Washington. But his Virginia punishment inspired outrage among some who saw it as an example of bias in a criminal justice system that favors wealthy white men.

For defense attorneys, the sentence was an opportunity. Ellis’s admonition that even a day in jail is arduous has been repeatedly invoked in the past 12 months; Hutcheson called it “very wise.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, who was part of the special counsel team that prosecuted Manafort, argued he had the unique authority to say Miller did not deserve that treatment.

“I know Paul Manafort; he’s not Paul Manafort,” Asonye told Ellis. “Reasonable people can disagree about the length of Paul Manafort’s sentence, but . . . I don’t have a problem with Paul Manafort.”

Unlike Manafort, Asonye said, Miller took the stand at trial and committed perjury, and he has not admitted guilt or agreed with the government on restitution to victims. The government had asked for a sentence of at least ­17 years.

Ellis called the argument “quite persuasive,” but cited Miller’s age as a reason to deviate from a harsher sentence.

Miller did apologize to his family, friends and former employer, while saying he “continue[s] to maintain my innocence in many respects.”

“I have lost everything,” he said, “the resources I hoped to use to make my family’s life better.”

As the top lawyer at a small air logistics company called SkyLink, Miller made $225,000 a year before an annual bonus. He owned homes worth more than $1 million dollars each in Fairfax County and Bethany Beach, Del.

The Millers found other ways to supplement his income. They paid themselves $600,000 over four years from an autism nonprofit they co-founded, the Community College Consortium on Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. As general counsel of SkyLink, Miller made up fake law firms and awarded himself $368,000 in outside work.

His wife, Linda Wallis, who was serving as a volunteer treasurer for Virginia state Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), stole about $650,000 from that campaign using the same fake law firms.Wallis, who pleaded guilty in 2015, is set to be released from prison to home confinement in the coming weeks. Ellis agreed Friday that Miller would not go to prison until his wife was able to care for their children.

Jan. 24

Impeachment Headlines

World Headlines

DC & Election Headlines

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats emphasize abuse-of-power charge against Trump as GOP complains of repetition, Seung Min Kim, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). House managers also detail a defense of Biden’s actions regarding Ukraine.

democratic donkey logoOn the impeachment trial’s second day, House lawmakers charged that President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into political investigations were what the nation’s founders sought to guard against. But many Senate Republicans remained unmoved.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House managers to turn to obstruction-of-Congress charge against Trump, John Wagner, Jan. 24, 2020. Sen. Markey says not holding Trump accountable gives future presidents ‘carte blanche;’ Warren pledges to release Ukraine documents if elected us senate logopresident; Sen. Barrasso again complains of repetition;

House managers plan Friday to turn their attention to the obstruction-of-Congress charge against President Trump on their third and final day of opening arguments in the historic impeachment trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

After the managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), wrap up their presentation, lawyers for Trump will get an opportunity to present his defense. Their presentation is expected to start Saturday — which Trump referred to as “Death Valley in T.V.” in a tweet — and continue into early next week.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: A GOP senator traffics in flimsy allegations to impugn a key impeachment witness — again

ny times logojoe biden oNew York Times, Democrats Seek to Pre-empt Trump Defense as Focus Turns to Bidens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Democrats argued that President Trump was acting in his own interests, not the nation’s, when he sought to enlist Ukraine to investigate his rivals. In doing so, they took a calculated risk in talking about Mr. Trump’s targets: former Vice President Joe Biden, right, and his son, Hunter Biden.

djt impeachment head on pike graphic Custom 2

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump aide warns of "revenge;" another threat warns, "Your head will be on a pike," Wayne Madsen, below at left, Jan. 24, 2020. As House Impeachment Managers began wrapping up their Senate trial arguments for removal of Donald John Trump from the presidency, two sinister warnings were received by those involved in the trial.

One Trump confidante warned Republican senators, "Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike," while top presidential aide Eric Ueland warned that "the revenge" for the impeachment trial is "coming soon."

America elected a gangster as president. Now, it cannot get rid of him, even by impeachment and a Senate trial.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Opinion: King Trump Wants Heads on Pikes. GOP Can’t Wait to Oblige, Rick Wilson, Jan. 24, 2020. The creation of a new form of American government, where the executive branch is permanently and utterly above the law, oversight, and accountability is upon us.

“Head on a pike.” “Take her out.” A rigged Senate impeachment trial with a foregone conclusion where one party isn’t even bothering to pretend they have the least commitment to truth, the rule of law, or the good of the country. Calls for the arrests and court-martial of whistleblowers and truth-tellers. An endless assault on a free press. Taken separately, these are troubling glimpses inside the political hurricane of the moment, but as a mosaic, they portend something so much more dangerous.

The enemy is always within for Trump. The abundant testimony by Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman and others about Trump’s effort led by Rudy Giuliani and his private henchmen to wreck Joe Biden led to the abrupt removal of Yovanovitch isn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was that Trump is caught on a recording admitting it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Day 3 of Mr. Trump’s Trial: The Legal Seminar, Michelle Cottle, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). The House managers walked the Senate jury through the constitutional and historical basis for the president’s impeachment.

Thursday was constitutional analysis day in the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Trump, which means the House managers’ case got more complicated, more abstract — and that much harder to hold the audience’s attention.

djt impeached nydailynews cover dec.19 2019 CustomThis is not a dig at the prosecution. As on Wednesday, when they spent eight hours constructing a detailed blueprint of Mr. Trump’s misbehavior, the managers threw themselves — with gusto — into explaining the constitutional ins and outs of impeachment. And just as before, they came equipped with slides, photos and video clips. They even brought instructional materials for the senators.

Their preparedness is impressive. Even Representative Matt Gaetz, the devoted Trump cheerleader from Florida, observed earlier this week that, thus far, the Democrats’ presentation looked as though it was “cable news” while the president’s defense team’s looked like “an eighth-grade book report.”

That said, while Wednesday’s narrative of presidential scheming and obstruction was a nonstop pile-on of damning testimony and other hard evidence, Thursday’s argument began with a lengthy seminar by one of the House managers, Representative Jerry Nadler, on the framers’ intent regarding impeachment.

Mr. Nadler sought to “examine the law of impeachable offenses,” with a special focus on showing that — contrary to the claims of Mr. Trump’s apologists — a crime need not have been committed to justify this course of action. This required much discussion of historical precedent, multiple clips of constitutional scholars testifying before the House and, of course, many, many quotations from the founding fathers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pompeo goes berserk and begins screaming, cursing, and threatening a reporter, Bill Palmer, Jan. 24, 2020. Last night Palmer Report pointed out that Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was clearly getting nervous about the Ukraine scandal. After all, he mike pompeo portraitwas preparing to take the great risk of traveling to Ukraine during the impeachment trial, just to try to put out the worsening fires over there. Today Pompeo made abundantly clear that he’s at the very end of his rope.

Mike Pompeo, right, just did an interview with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly. She dared to ask him about his refusal to publicly defend the State Department personnel who have been viciously under attack by Donald Trump. In response, after the interview was over, Pompeo took Kelly to a private room and began screaming and cursing at her.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what Kelly says happened after the interview: “I was taken to the Secretary’s private living room where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about same amount of time as the interview itself. He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine … He used the F-word in that sentence and many others.” Pompeo then told Kelly that “People will hear about this,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

So now we’ve got the Secretary of State taking a reporter into a private room, screaming and cursing at her for an extended period, shoving a map in her face, and threatening some form of retaliation against her – all because she dared to ask him a question he didn’t like during an interview. Not only has Pompeo snapped, he now appears to be an immediate danger to himself and others. Law enforcement should take him into custody immediately. The interview:

MARY LOUISE KELLY: People who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership, saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here.”

MIKE POMPEO: I...I...I don’t know— I don’t know who these unnamed sources are you’re referring to. I can tell you this—

MARY LOUISE KELLY: These are not unnamed sources. This is your senior advisor Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer with four decades experience who testified under oath that he resigned in part due to the failure of the State Department to offer support for foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine.

MIKE POMPEO: I’m not going to comment on things that Mr. McKinley may have said. I’ll say only this. I have defended every State Department official. We’ve built a great team. The team that works here is doing amazing work around the world—

MARY LOUISE KELLY: Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?

MIKE POMPEO: I’ve defended every single person on this team. I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.

MARY LOUISE KELLY: Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?

MIKE POMPEO: I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you.

  • Daily Beast, Mike Pompeo Blows Up at NPR Reporter When Grilled on Ukraine, Allison Quinn

World News Excerpts

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, China enforces lockdown as new cases of coronavirus found in Japan, South Korea, Anna Fifield and Siobhán O'Grady, Jan. 24, 2020. With more than 830 confirmed cases of infection and at least 26 deaths attributed to the virus, extensive efforts are underway in China to stop travel and large gatherings during the Lunar New Year holiday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: First two coronavirus cases detected in Europe; U.S. confirms 2nd patient, Anna Fifield and Siobhán O'Grady, Jan. 24, 2020. France confirmed two cases of coronavirus Friday, marking the first confirmed diagnoses in Europe, as China expanded its efforts to control its outbreak. A second case of coronavirus was also confirmed Friday in the United States.

Travel bans were extended in central China to put tens of millions of people effectively on local lockdowns. In Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, workers are racing to build a 1,000-bed hospital to treat victims of the disease.

  • Washington Post, In Wuhan’s virus wards, plenty of stress but shortages of everything else

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washington post logoWashington Post, Tens of thousands of Iraqi demonstrators demand withdrawal of U.S. troops, Louisa Loveluck, Jan. 24, 202​0. Tens of thousands of Iraqis marched Friday at the urging of popular Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, decrying U.S. influence in the country and demanding that Washington withdraw its troops.

Around Baghdad’s Hurriyah Square, the streets were a sea of black, white and red, as protesters clutched Iraqi flags and wore shrouds around their shoulders to evoke the country’s dead. Iraq’s government is under growing pressure to expel foreign troops after a U.S. drone strike killed a renowned Iranian general on Iraqi soil, inflaming regional tensions and leaving Baghdad’s politicians fuming.

At the march on Friday, loudspeakers denounced American troops as occupiers. Posters depicted President Trump hanging from a noose. The anthems of Sadr’s years-long militancy against U.S. forces also blared.

• Washington Post, U.S. military to maintain expanded Mideast presence, for now at least, following Iran strikes

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Moon of Alabama, Associated Press Sees "Hundreds" Where Pictures Show Millions, b, Jan. 24, 2020. At 10:01 UTC today the Associated Press tweeted that "hundreds" gather in central Baghdad to demand that American troops leave the country.

Thirty eight minutes earlier CNN had already reported that "hundreds of thousands" are protesting in Baghdad against the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

When AP sent the misleading tweet the commander of the Iraqi Federal Police Forces Jaffar al-Batat had already announced that the number of demonstrators exceeds one million.

That number may well be correct. Reports said that the column of protesters was already eight kilometers long even while many were still arriving.

Muqtada al-Sadr, who had called for the protests but is hardly a 'radical', demanded that the U.S. follow the decision of the Iraqi parliament and end its occupation. All U.S. bases in Iraq must be closed, all security agreements with the U.S. and with U.S. security companies must be ended and a schedule for the exit of all U.S. forces must be announced.

Meanwhile the U.S. is pulling strings and tries to carve a new Sunni state out of western Iraq. Al-Sadr promised to temporarily halt the resistance against the U.S. occupation if the U.S. commits to leaving orderly.

ny times logoNew York Times, At $60 Billion, This May Be Europe’s Biggest Tax Heist Ever, David Segal, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Stock traders are accused of siphoning $60 billion from state coffers, in a scheme that one called “the devil’s machine.” Germany is the first country to try to get its money back.

european union logo rectangleThe scheme was built around “cum-ex trading” (from the Latin for “with-without”): a monetary maneuver to avoid double taxation of investment profits that plays out like high finance’s answer to a David Copperfield stage illusion. Through careful timing, and the coordination of a dozen different transactions, cum-ex trades produced two refunds for dividend tax paid on one basket of stocks.

One basket of stocks. Abracadabra. Two refunds.

The process was repeated over and over, as word of cum-ex spread like a quiet contagion. Germany was hardest hit, with an estimated $30 billion in losses, followed by France, taken for about $17 billion. Smaller sums were drained away from Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Finland, Poland and others.

Press Freedom

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Open Letter to Brazilian Authorities on the Charges Against Journalist Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 24, 2020. A coalition of around 40 human rights and free speech NGOs have signed an open letter, organized by Freedom of the Press Foundation and Reporters Without Borders, addressed to the Brazilian authorities condemning the charges that the Brazilian federal prosecutor’s office has brought against US journalist Glenn Greenwald (shown below in a file screenshot).

glenn greenwald cnnThe charges must be now be examined by a federal judge, who could dismiss them and thereby preserve press freedom in Brazil. The NGOs firmly condemn the intimidatory nature of such judicial procedures, which are designed to intimidate other journalists. The letter to Brazilian authorities:

We, the undersigned press freedom and civil liberties organizations, emphatically condemn the Brazilian authorities’ criminal charges against the award-winning investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald.

These charges represent a straightforward attempt to intimidate and retaliate against Greenwald and The Intercept for their critical reporting on messages that appeared to show a judge advising federal prosecutors how to prosecute cases he was presiding over in the “Operation Car Wash” investigation. Further, by charging Greenwald with a cybercrime the government has essentially criminalized engaging in legitimate journalistic practices, which threatens to have a chilling effect on journalists and sources alike.

brazil flag wavingThe recently disclosed charges are only the most recent development in a campaign of harassment against journalists covering the scandal. Threats against them have been documented since last June, when The Intercept began publishing a series of important public interest stories based on a cache of leaked Telegram messages between public officials.

The attacks on Greenwald and The Intercept have included specific death threats, public disinformation, and a criminal prosecution. Notably, in August 2019, in a remarkable opinion by a member of Brazil’s highest court ordered any police investigation into Greenwald halted and condemned any such efforts as “an unambiguous act of censorship” in violation of the country’s constitution.

These charges await approval from a federal judge, giving the courts the opportunity to reject them and protect freedom of the press. Even so, the chilling effect of such legal intimidation remains. If these tactics are allowed to stand, it would jeopardize all Brazilians’ freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to participate in democracy.

Inside DC

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Abusing His Tariff Power, Too, Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Trump’s scofflaw behavior with regard to auto tariffs is part of a broader pattern of abuse of power and contempt for the rule of law. On every front, Trump treats U.S. policy as a tool he can deploy as he chooses, in his own interests, without seeking congressional approval or even informing Congress about what he’s doing or why.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Threatens California Over Abortion, Pam Belluck, Jan. 24, 2020. If the state doesn’t stop requiring private insurers to cover abortions, the administration said it will cut off federal funding for certain health programs.

In an announcement on the morning of the March for Life, the high-profile annual demonstration against anti-abortion rights, the Department of Health and Human Services said it would give California 30 days to commit to lifting the requirement. If the state does not do so, the administration said it will take steps to cut off money from one or more health funding streams.

“People should not be forced to participate, or pay for, or cover other people’s abortions,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. The administration issued a notice of violation, claiming that California was not complying with the federal Weldon Amendment, which says that certain funds can be withheld if a state or local government discriminates against a “health care entity” for not providing or paying for abortions.

The announcement was intended as a warning shot to several other states besides California who have similar requirements that insurers cover abortion, including New York, Oregon and Washington. “We’re sending a message that if any state has done what California has done, they should expect to be found likewise in violation,” Mr. Severino said.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said on Friday that the state would not change its requirement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Addresses Anti-Abortion March for Life, Annie Karni, Elizabeth Dias and Sabrina Tavernise, Jan. 24, 2020. He was the first sitting president to speak in person during the annual rally. Demonstrators flooded the National Mall on Friday morning in anticipation of a historic moment for the anti-abortion movement: the first sitting president to address the annual March for Life in person.

Past Republican presidents who opposed abortion merely sent in video messages, or delegated a surrogate to speak in their place.

Mr. Trump’s relationship with the anti-abortion movement has been a transactional one since he entered politics in 2016. He has focused his efforts in particular on white evangelicals and Catholics, a critical part of his base in 2016, who could also be equally important in November.In exchange for the appointment of anti-abortion judges, his unwavering support for Israel and his attempts to protect the rights of students to pray in schools, they have generally overlooked Mr. Trump’s own complicated past with the issue and his own history of three marriages and two divorces.

ny times logoNew York Times, 34 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iranian Missile Strike, Pentagon Says, Helene Cooper, Jan. 24, 2020. The Defense Department said Friday that 34 American service members have traumatic brain injuries from Iranian airstrikes on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, contradicting President Trump’s dismissal of injuries among American troops earlier this week.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told a news conference that eight of the affected service members have returned to the United States from an American military hospital in Germany.

Mr. Trump on Wednesday dismissed concussion symptoms felt by the troops as “not very serious,” even as the Pentagon acknowledged that a number of American service members were being studied for possible traumatic brain injury caused by the attack.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that eight of the affected service members returned to the United States from an American military hospital in Germany.

Media / People / Privacy

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeff Bezos, Tabloid Man, Karen Weise, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Just a year ago, the world’s richest man seemed to have a pretty low-key life. Times sure have changed.

At the beginning of 2019, Mr. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, was widely regarded as a low-key guy — or at least about as low-key as the world’s richest man, and one of the country’s top executives, could be. He’d geek out over “Star Trek” and he publicly joked that washing dishes every night was “the sexiest thing I do.”

national enquirer jeff bezos croppedThat image exploded by the end of January, when The National Enquirer reported about his affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV personality, including contents of intimate text messages between the two. After the Enquirer reporting, Mr. Bezos said he had opened up an investigation into how the paper acquired the messages, hinting that Saudi Arabia may have been involved because of his ownership of The Washington Post.

UN logoThis week, the United Nations released a statement, based largely on a forensic report commissioned by Mr. Bezos’ investigators, that essentially accused Saudi Arabia’s crown prince of hacking Mr. Bezos’ phone to spy on him. The Saudi government called the claims “absurd.”

The report did not provide evidence that hacked material ended up in The Enquirer. But it did provide a potent reminder of how much has changed in a year. Mr. Bezos had become a tabloid fixture, with yacht appearances, evening strolls and romantic dinners captured in detail.

  • New York Times, Opinion: Jeff Bezos’s Phone Hack Should Terrify Everyone, Charlie Warzel, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.).

2020 U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump May Skip Debates, or Seek New Host, if Process Isn’t ‘Fair,’ Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Jan. 24, 2020. The nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates has sponsored every general election debate since 1988, but the Trump campaign has raised concerns about its 2020 events. President Trump’s campaign is considering only participating in general election debates if an outside firm serves as the host, and his advisers recently sat down with the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates to complain about the debates it hosted in 2016.

President Donald Trump officialThe Dec. 19 meeting between Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a prominent Republican and co-chairman of the commission, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Mr. Trump’s re-election effort, and another political adviser, Michael Glassner, came soon after Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that the 2016 debates had been “biased.”

Mr. Fahrenkopf said the meeting was cordial, but that Mr. Parscale essentially reiterated Mr. Trump’s complaints.

Mr. Parscale said “that the president wanted to debate, but they had concerns about whether or not to do it with the commission,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said, including worries about “whether or not the commission would be fair.”

Mr. Trump’s advisers asserted that the debate commission included “anti-Trumpers.” They also complained about previous moderators, Mr. Fahrenkopf said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bernie Will Have to Fight Dirty, Elizabeth Bruenig, Jan. 24, 2020. Despite his reputation for gruffness, Sanders hesitates to attack his opponents directly. He shouldn’t hold back.

The fact that the Bidens are entangled in Trump’s impeachment odyssey — uncomfortably, and with no clear exit strategy aside from keeping Bernie Sanders Officialmum — should also raise serious questions about Mr. Biden’s fortitude in the general election.

democratic donkey logoBut all this, Mr. Sanders, left, declined to say — not because it isn’t relevant and not because it doesn’t fit with Mr. Sanders’s platform — but because Mr. Sanders, for all his famed gruffness, doesn’t like going negative.

“I’ve never run a negative ad in my life,” Mr. Sanders told reporters upon announcing his 2016 primary bid, “I hate and detest these ugly, 30-second negative ads.” True to form, the single attack ad Mr. Sanders ran during his race against Hillary Clinton contained neither her name nor her visage, only a reference to Goldman Sachs’s financial hold on Washington.

Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Marshalltown, Iowa on July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Marshalltown, Iowa on July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Joe Biden Is Stronger Than You Think, David Brooks, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). It was yet another epic failure of political punditry. Go back to the early months of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and read what the consultants and commentators were saying about him: His support is just name recognition; he’ll fade! He’s too old! He’s running a zombie campaign! The party has moved left and he’s out of touch! He voted for the crime bill!

Almost everybody was bearish on Joe. But now look where we are, weeks from actual voting. If the polls are to be believed, Biden will win Iowa, he’ll come in second in New Hampshire, he will easily win Nevada, he will dominate in South Carolina. He’s now tied for the lead in California and democratic donkey logohe’s way ahead in Texas.

I don’t know if he’ll win the nomination (both he and Bernie Sanders look strong), but this is not where a lot of people six months ago thought we’d be.

  • Washington Post, Bloomberg gets under Trump’s skin as he ramps up spending on 2020 ads

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I am truly proud to stand with you’: Trump speaks at March for Life rally, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, David Nakamura, Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, Jan. 24, 2020. President Trump has endeared himself to the antiabortion movement, particularly through his appointment of Supreme Court justices.

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

mike pompeo portrait

AlterNet, Far-right white evangelicals love Trump for many reasons — including their terrifying obsession with the End Times: report, Alex Henderson, Jan. 24, 2020. The Christian Right loves President Donald Trump for a variety of reasons, from his racist rhetoric and anti-immigrant views to all the far-right judges he has added to the federal courts. But journalist Stephanie Mencimer, this week in an article for Mother Jones, focuses on one of their most disturbing reasons for being so pro-Trump: an obsession with the End Times.

In Protestant Christianity, one finds both fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists. Mainline Protestants (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, the African Methodist Episcopal or AME Church) study the Bible intensely, but they don’t have the obsession with the End Times and the New Testament’s Book of Revelation that the fundamentalist Christian Right has. And even though Trump himself is not a fundamentalist (he was raised Presbyterian), he is more than happy to pander to far-right white evangelicals — who, as Mencimer explains in her article, believe that Trump is important to the end of the world. The Christian Right welcomes the End Times because as they see it, Jesus Christ will return to Earth in the last days.

Mencimer, in her article, quotes religious historian Diane Butler Bass, who offers some insights on why the Christian Right believe Trump could play an important role in the End Times — and why the Christian Right has been applauding the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. Bass told Mother Jones, “When Iran gets into the news, especially with anything to do with war, it’s sort of a prophetic dog whistle to evangelicals. They will support anything that seems to edge the world towards this conflagration. They don’t necessarily want violence, but they’re eager for Christ to return — and they think that this war with Iran and Israel has to happen for their larger hope to pass.”

djt somber CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just offered a glimpse of how horrifying a second term would be, Virginia Masters, Jan. 24, 2020. The election season has collided with impeachment time. The startling lack of movement in Trump’s popularity suggests that it is more important than ever that we are all listening very carefully. Trump is on the way to a likely acquittal in his impeachment trial. The Republican Senate is not honoring its oath for a fair trial based on clear evidence of questionable actions.

bill palmer report logo headerOnce again, and true to form, a Republican President is speaking about supposed “waste and fraud” in Social Security. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump told the world that it would be easy to attack these programs and that doing so would allow for more significant economic growth. Poetic words for the fiscal conservatives among us. Providing voters with more cause for fear of a second Trump term, the “entitlement” of Social Security comes out of every paycheck for every American from their first job to their last. Just as the Trump lawyers cannot get him to stop talking and incriminating himself, Trump betrays himself over and over. A secret audio clip recorded at a recent trip to the “southern White House” captured Trump boasting about the size of the deficit.

Does he comprehend that this is not a good thing? We have the best deficit, an incredible deficit… the biggest deficit ever. The world could question why a man who filed for bankruptcy six times, and whose policies created such a record debt, should speak at an economic summit. The last time Trump looked at “waste and fraud,” he cut SNAP benefits for millions of Americans who rely on the supplemental food program. Waste and Fraud?

Americans could undoubtedly question Steve Mnuchin’s refusal to release the expense reports for Donald Trump’s travel spending for himself and his family. Steven Mnuchin and the whole criminal gang don’t want to release these numbers until after the 2020 election. They like their cushy jobs. They hope you aren’t listening.

  • Daily Beast, The Surreal Saga of Duncan Hunter and the Missing $250K, Tarpley Hitt
  • Daily Beast, Bernie Sanders’ Embrace of Joe Rogan’s Endorsement Sparks Backlash — and a Backlash to the Backlash, Emily Shugerman

More Impeachment Coverage

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: All the anti-Republican Senate ads Democrats could possibly want, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 24, 2020. The impeachment trial will not result in President Trump’s removal, but it could well result in Republicans’ removal from the Senate majority.

A slew of Republican incumbents were below 45 percent approval even before the trial began, including Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and John Cornyn (Tex.). In their refusal to allow new witnesses and documents, their determination to acquit even before the trial began and their conduct during the trial, they are creating a plethora of opportunities for opponents’ ad makers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just lost, Bill Palmer, Jan. 24, 2020. Republican Senators will have to decide whether they want to alienate voters by not calling witnesses in the impeachment trial, or whether they want to alienate Donald Trump by calling witnesses. It’s up to them, and they’ll have to live with whatever negative impact it has on their own reelection chances. And we already know the Republicans are all going to vote to acquit Trump in the end. All that said, Trump just lost.

bill palmer report logo headerGoing into this Senate impeachment trial, there were clear parameters for what would represent a win or loss for Donald Trump. His current approval rating, at roughly 40%, gives him no chance in the 2020 election. The only way he could “win” this trial would be if he came out of it with a significantly higher approval rating, which would put him in contention for 2020. If Trump’s approval rating remains the same or goes down as a result of this trial, he loses – even if he is acquitted.

Because Trump insisted on hiring disgraced low-rent defense attorneys who are merely going to spew conspiracy nonsense aimed at pleasing Trump’s base, there was never any chance that the defense portion of the trial would boost Trump’s approval rating. His only shot at “winning” this trial was if the House Democrats presenting the case ended up doing a poor job in the eyes of those Americans watching at home, or if the Democrats handed Trump something he could use in the court of public opinion.

But as it’s turned out, Adam Schiff and the House managers finished presenting their case tonight, and they’ve gotten rave reviews from most of the public. Trump’s base is whining, but they don’t matter, because their votes are locked in for Trump anyway, and there aren’t nearly enough of them to elect Trump on their own. It’s the people in the middle who matter, the ones who didn’t follow the Ukraine scandal or impeachment saga until it landed in their laps this week on their favorite TV channel. What they saw was an overwhelmingly compelling case for Donald Trump’s guilt.

The window for this trial to boost Donald Trump’s approval rating has now closed. It’s now a given that his approval rating won’t rise as a result of the trial. This means Trump just lost. It’s not clear if he understands this. But he definitely just lost the trial.

washington post logogeorge conway post half faceWashington Post, There’s a critical witness impeachment is missing: Trump, George T. Conway III, right, Jan. 24, 2020. There is an important missing witness in the impeachment of President Trump, and his last name, for all the fulminations of the president’s defenders, isn’t Biden.

No, that witness is Trump himself — and the best case for calling him has been established by an argument advanced by the president’s own lawyers. Trump’s testimony is actually pertinent for precisely the reason the Bidens’ testimony is not.

U.S. House logoTrump’s lawyers contend that a president should not be impeached and removed for making a bona fide policy judgment, whether or not that judgment turns out to be misguided or wrong. On that point, they’re absolutely right. If a president makes a reasoned decision about what best serves the nation’s interests, even if he turns out to be wrong, he has committed no impeachable offense. The Framers didn’t intend, through impeachment, to transform such policy disputes or mistakes into high crimes.

The claim that Trump acted for legitimate reasons ostensibly serves as the basis for his backers’ suggestions that former vice president Joe Biden or his son Hunter should be called to testify. The theory of summoning the Bidens would be to lend credence to the contention that Trump’s involvement in Ukraine was genuinely motivated by concern over corruption there.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Trump wants you to think ‘everyone does it.’ No, they don’t, Max Boot, Jan. 24, 2020.
  • Washington Post, Opinion: The impeachment evidence will catch up to Republicans and Trump — whether they ignore it or not, Editorial Board.

washington post logoWashington Post, A GOP senator trafficked in flimsy allegations to impugn Alexander Vindman. And then Trump retweeted it, Aaron Blake, Jan. 24, 2020. Republicans have repeatedly argued that the impeachment evidence against President Trump is thin. They’ve said it is based upon “hearsay” that wasn’t corroborated by people more intimately involved with the Ukraine effort (whose testimony the White House has blocked). They’ve suggested, despite numerous witnesses testifying to similar things, that the witnesses weren’t credible and that they might have axes to grind.

alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Blackburn referred to an allegation that Vindman had badmouthed the United States in a conversation with Russians while serving overseas.

“Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot,” Blackburn said. “How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

Trump then retweeted the allegation Friday morning.

The problem with this very severe allegation — made against a Purple Heart recipient who served in Iraq, no less — is that it’s anything but verified. It was made on Twitter in November by someone who said they had served with Vindman. Another person later launched a Twitter account confirming it. The New York Times reported that the originator of the claim had also trafficked in QAnon conspiracy theories but claimed they didn’t necessarily believe in the movement.

state dept map logo Smallwashington post logoWashington Post, Recording of Trump calling for Yovanovitch’s ouster appears to corroborate Parnas’s account, Colby Itkowitz and Rosalind S. Helderman, Jan. 24, 2020. President Trump is allegedly heard on an audio recording demanding the firing of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a private dinner with top donors in April 2018, according to an audio file obtained by ABC News.

marie yovanovitch“Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it,” Trump is heard saying, according to ABC News, which said it reviewed the tape.

The recording, which The Washington Post has not independently verified, corroborates an account of the evening by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani. In a recent interview, Parnas said he told Trump that evening that Yovanovitch was working against him.

“I do remember me telling the president the ambassador was bad-mouthing him and saying he was going to get impeached, something to that effect,” Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week.

 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.

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

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Rudy Pal Taped Trump Trying to Fire Ukraine Amb: Lawyer, Betsy Swan, Jan. 24, 2020. The tape may contradict Trump’s claim that he does not know the two Giuliani associates who worked to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed. A recently indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani taped President Donald Trump calling for the firing of Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, according to the lawyer for a second Giuliani associate.

Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Florida businessman Lev Parnas, told The Daily Beast that the recording was made by former partner Igor Fruman. Both men were arrested in October and charged with campaign-finance violations.

ABC News reported Friday morning that it reviewed audio of a dinner attended by Trump, Parnas, Fruman, and others. A voice that appears to be the president’s tells the group that he wanted to “get rid of” Yovanovitch, per ABC, an apparent contradiction to Trump’s claim that he does not know Parnas.

“Last year, before he was arrested, Mr. Parnas personally heard a recording of his April 30, 2018 dinner with the president and others, made by Mr. Fruman, at which the subject of Ambassador Yovanovitch was discussed,” Bondy said. “We have hoped that, to the extent this recording still existed, it would be released to Congress for use in the impeachment trial.”

A lawyer for Fruman was not at liberty to discuss the matter. ABC News review matches the description Bondy gave The Daily Beast. Unnamed sources told the network that Fruman made the recording, which The Daily Beast has not reviewed.

Parnas has previously described a dinner at Trump Hotel with supporters of the president in April 2018 that he and Fruman attended. He said that he raised concerns about Yovanovitch to Trump, and that the president then turned to an aide and told him she should be fired. At the time, Yovanovitch was the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Giuliani, Fruman, and Parnas were trying to have her fired.

  • Daily Beast, Schiff Exposes McConnell’s Upside-Down Stalinist Show Trial, Michael Tomasky

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign warns debate commission the president may not participate if process is not ‘fair,’ Josh Dawsey and Dan Balz, Jan. 24, 2020. Senior Trump campaign officials lobbied the nonpartisan presidential debate commission last month over the makeup of its board of directors and its moderator choices, pushing for a process they deemed as “fair” and warning that the president may not participate if he is not satisfied, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The December conversation between Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, campaign operating officer Michael Glassner and Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, came as the president weighed whether to participate in the trio of debates scheduled for this fall and as he attacked the commission on Twitter.

Privately, the president has discussed with allies a push to remake the board but has not yet taken specific actions, according to people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private encounter.

ny times logoNew York Times,Senators Battle a Persistent Foe: Their Own Restlessness, Staff report, Jan. 24, 2020 (print ed.). They have been required to sit in silence, but fidget spinners are allowed. Some lawmakers pass notes. Others drink milk. A couple appeared to nap.

Science Scandal?

washington post logoWashington Post, How the doctor of ‘Concussion’ fame built a career on distorted science, Will Hobson, Jan. 22, 2020. Bennet Omalu became famous after telling the world he had discovered CTE. His fellow brain doctors knew better.

In 2017, Bennet Omalu traveled the globe to accept a series of honors and promote his autobiography, “Truth Doesn’t Have A Side.”

In a visit to an Irish medical school, he told students he was a “nobody” who “discovered a disease in America’s most popular sport.”

In an appearance on a religious cable TV show, he said he named the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, because “it sounded intellectually sophisticated, with a very good acronym.”

And since his discovery, Omalu told Sports Illustrated, researchers have uncovered evidence that shows adolescents who participate in football, hockey, wrestling and mixed martial arts are more likely to drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, struggle with mental illness, commit violent crimes and kill themselves.

A Ni­ger­ian American pathologist portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 film, “Concussion,” Omalu is partly responsible for the most important sports story of the 21st century. Since 2005, when Omalu first reported finding widespread brain damage in a former NFL player, concerns about CTE have inspired a global revolution in concussion safety and fueled an ongoing existential crisis for America’s most popular sport. Omalu’s discovery — initially ignored and then attacked by NFL-allied doctors — inspired an avalanche of scientific research that forced the league to acknowledge a link between football and brain disease.

Nearly 15 years later, Omalu has withdrawn from the CTE research community and remade himself as an evangelist, traveling the world selling his frightening version of what scientists know about CTE and contact sports. In paid speaking engagements, expert witness testimony and in several books he has authored, Omalu portrays CTE as an epidemic and himself as a crusader, fighting against not just the NFL but also the medical science community, which he claims is too corrupted to acknowledge clear-cut evidence that contact sports destroy lives.

After more than a decade of intensive research by scientists from around the globe, the state of scientific knowledge of CTE remains one of uncertainty. Among CTE experts, many important aspects of the disease — from what symptoms it causes, to how prevalent or rare it is — remain the subject of research and debate.

But across the brain science community, there is wide consensus on one thing: Omalu, the man considered by many the public face of CTE research, routinely exaggerates his accomplishments and dramatically overstates the known risks of CTE and contact sports, fueling misconceptions about the disease, according to interviews with more than 50 experts in neurodegenerative disease and brain injuries, and a review of more than 100 papers from peer-reviewed medical journals.

#MeToo Scandal: Weinstein

washington post logoharvey weinsteinWashington Post, Opinion: Harvey Weinstein’s defense strategy is wretched, Monica Hesse, Jan. 24, 2020. According to his attorney, if actress Annabella Sciorra really had been raped she would have told her condo board.

More On Epstein Scandal

Cindy McCain, widow of longtime Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), admits 'we all knew' about Epstein in interview by Georgetown Professor Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, an expert on human rights, religious freedom, and international affairs. The session, "A Conversation: The Scourge of Human Trafficking" excerpted into a two-minute segment on YouTube, was part of a two-day panel "State of the World 2020" on Jan. 9 at Florida International University in Miami.

Washington Examiner, Cindy McCain admits ‘we all knew’ about Epstein, Spencer Neale, Jan. 24, 2020. Cindy McCain, the widow of late Sen. John McCain, blasted authorities who were "afraid" to arrest convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein even though everyone "knew" what he was doing.

"Epstein was hiding in plain sight," said Cindy McCain. "We all knew about him. We all knew what he was doing, but we had no one that was — no legal aspect that would go after him. They were afraid of him. For whatever reason, they were afraid of him."

McCain's comments came after she was questioned by an attendee during her appearance at the State of the World 2020 conference in Florida (on Jan. 9, sponsored by Florida International University).

McCain said a girl from her daughter's high school was one of Epstein's victims and that she hopes Epstein "is in hell."

Epstein's massive wealth and his connections to powerful politicians and celebrities allowed him to continue trafficking young women and girls long after many had exposed his devious interests.

Dr. Barbara Sampson, the New York City medical examiner, said Epstein died by suicide at a Manhattan federal detention facility last August. His death and the circumstances surrounding it have created controversy after the former medical examiner of New York, Dr. Michael Baden, told 60 Minutes that he believes Epstein was murdered.

Cameras from outside Epstein's jail cell failed to record footage on the night of his death, and guards who were supposed to monitor him every 30 minutes fell asleep when the former financier died.

Justice Department Nazi Hunt

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, How a Justice Department team exposed Nazis hiding in America, Debbie Cenziper, Jan. 24, 2020. Decades after the war, a group of prosecutors and historians discovered the truth about a mysterious SS training camp in occupied Poland.

The mass murder of Jews and an untold number of Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and Polish civilians, along with the sorting and cataloguing of their assets, would have required a highly organized operation and the participation of thousands of personnel. A small army of foot soldiers. Exactly how had Trawniki played a role? How did the SS convince a mass of largely uneducated recruits who came from different places and didn’t necessarily speak German to function as a cohesive unit, day after day, month after month? The answers, Black suspected, likely sat behind lock and key in Soviet and Eastern European archives.

He wanted to know more. Besides Demjanjuk and Reimer, three other Trawniki men had been found on U.S. soil. In two of the cases, Trawniki had been more of a supporting fact, a tool the government used to successfully link the men to deployments at the Treblinka killing center and forced-labor camp, where daily horrors had been well documented by historians. In the third case, however, OSI had set aside its inquiry when the Massachusetts man told investigators that he had worked merely as a server in the canteen at Trawniki. And then there was Reimer, who had also denied any role in SS persecution.

U.S. Crime / Airport Safety

washington post logoWashington Post, A Florida man was arrested on charges of shining a laser pointer at planes, temporarily blinding a pilot, police say, Drew Jones, Jan. 24, 2020.  The man pointed a laser at four airplanes and one helicopter at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, police say.Jan. 23

Impeachment Headlines

World News Headlines

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

djt impeachment graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats seek to poke holes in Trump’s expected defense, Michael D. Shear, Jan. 23, 2020. House managers had a very clear strategy when they walked into the Senate chambers on Thursday: Poke holes in the defenses they expect President Trump’s lawyers will try to employ when it’s their turn this week.

democratic donkey logoThe White House defense team claims that impeachment cannot be valid without a crime. So for more than an hour, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York methodically walked through the history of constitutional law to preemptively assert that such a defense is wrong.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers also argue in their legal brief that the president was interested only in combating corruption in Ukraine. So the House managers zeroed in on evidence on Thursday that shows the president was concerned about corruption claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son — not corruption generally.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Impeachment Case, Schiff Accuses Trump of Trying ‘to Cheat’ in Election, Michael D. Shear, Jan. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The House Democratic impeachment managers began formal arguments in the Senate trial on Wednesday, presenting a meticulous and scathing case for convicting President Trump and removing him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

adam schiff podium flickr CustomRepresentative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House prosecutor, took the lectern in the chamber as senators sat silently preparing to weigh Mr. Trump’s fate. Speaking in an even, measured manner, he accused the president of a corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine for help “to cheat” in the 2020 presidential election.

Invoking the nation’s founders and their fears that a self-interested leader might subvert democracy for his own personal gain, Mr. Schiff, shown in a file photo, argued that the president’s conduct was precisely what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they devised the remedy of impeachment, one he said was “as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat.”

“If not remedied by his conviction in the Senate, and removal from office, President Trump’s abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress will permanently alter the balance of power among the branches of government,” Mr. Schiff said in his opening remarks. “The president has shown that he believes that he’s above the law and scornful of constraint.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House managers to focus on alleged abuse of power, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. 23, 2020. Democrats begin their second day of opening arguments against Trump.

adam schiff squareHouse impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, plan to begin the second day of their opening arguments against President Trump by focusing on alleged abuse of power, one of the two articles of impeachment approved last month by the House.

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene Thursday afternoon for the historic trial — only the third of a sitting U.S. president — focused on Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. The Democratic-led House has also charged Trump with obstruction of Congress. us senate logoTrump’s defense is expected to begin its presentation on Saturday.

The crux of the House case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president.

● Democrats scale back their language as Trump and GOP press ahead with attacks on the Senate impeachment trial.

● Former vice president Joe Biden says he refuses to be part of an impeachment witness deal.

● Gordon Sondland plugs away in Brussels while playing a central role in Trump’s impeachment trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Schiff’s compelling rebuttal to a spurious White House claim, Aaron Blake, Jan. 23, 2020. President Trump’s campaign and the White House offered a running rebuttal Wednesday to House Democrats’ impeachment managers. As my colleague Philip Bump noted, many of their claims strained credulity.

Perhaps chief among them, though, was the idea that not only was there no quid pro quo involving meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but that meetings weren’t even withheld.

The first problem is that a United Nations meeting isn’t a White House meeting. An even bigger problem is that Zelensky himself — whose denials of pressure by Trump have been hailed by the Trump team — has said as much. At that very same U.N. meeting the White House suggests had satisfied Trump’s promise, Zelensky made it abundantly clear that it did not.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Two Sides, Two Strategies: How Impeachment Is Being Argued, Charlie Savage, Updated Jan. 23, 2020. The contrasting amount of material the two legal teams brought into the Senate chamber highlighted a broader difference in their approaches to the trial.

When President Trump’s impeachment trial opened this week, the Democratic House managers prosecuting the case piled their table high with binders and notepads. Only a few rested on the defense table.

The contrasting amount of material the two legal teams brought into the Senate chamber to support their initial arguments foreshadowed a broader difference in their approaches to the trial.

In its opening days, the House managers have focused on the facts. They are trying to build a clear and coherent story around their theme that the president abused his power — delving into the details, putting up slides to summarize major points, and playing a well-organized selection of video clips of statements by Mr. Trump and by House witnesses.

Eschewing props, the defense team has focused instead on the process. They have used their time to reinforce the House Republican theme that impeachment is a sham and unfair to Mr. Trump — urging the Senate to swiftly dispose of the case without subpoenaing any additional documents or testimony.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schiff warns Senate that the ‘truth is going to come out,’ Matt Viser​, Jan. 23, 2020 (print ed.). An emotional Schiff closes by imploring senators to learn the ‘full truth.’

adam schiff squareDianne Feinstein heads home early; GOP senator’s phone goes off inside the chamber; Schiff says GOP should want to see notes; At least one GOP senator says he’s learned new information from Democrats; Biden says he refuses to be part of impeachment witness deal; Senate Democrats and the former vice president tried to knock down reports that some were working on a deal to suggest testimony by Joe Biden and Trump administration officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Democrats unfold their case, the GOP unloads with scathing attacks from Trump, allies, Seung Min Kim, Elise Viebeck and Colby Itkowitz, Jan. 23, 2020. The Republican barrage provided a sharp contrast to the Democratic House managers, who struck a chastened tone in the Senate chamber trial after a rare scolding from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: What happened in Wednesday’s trial, in 5 minutes, Amber Phillips, Jan. 23, 2020. From Adam Schiff’s opening statements to criticism of Jerry Nadler’s performance to senators blatantly breaking the rules and getting out of their seats.

washington post logoDonald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Washington Post, With his mind on impeachment, Trump wraps up Davos visit by railing against Washington, Toluse Olorunnipa and Anne Gearan, Jan. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Before and after his meeting with global leaders on Wednesday, the president retweeted dozens of posts about the trial in the Senate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says he refuses to be part of impeachment witness deal, Matt Viser, Jan. 23, 2020. Senate Democrats and the former vice president tried to knock down reports that some were working on a deal to suggest testimony by Biden and Trump officials.

Impeachment / Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, John Roberts comes face to face with the mess he made, Dana Milbank, Jan. 23, 2020. There is justice in John Roberts being forced to preside silently over the impeachment trial of President Trump, hour after hour, day after tedious day.

The chief justice of the United States, as presiding officer, doesn’t speak often, and when he does the words are usually scripted and perfunctory.

Otherwise, he sits and watches. He rests his chin in his hand. He stares straight ahead. He sits back and interlocks his fingers. He plays with his pen. He takes his reading glasses off and puts them on again. He starts to write something, then puts his pen back down. He roots around in his john roberts obriefcase for something — anything? — to occupy him.

Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see.

Ten years to the day before Trump’s impeachment trial began, the Supreme Court released its Citizens United decision, plunging the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests. Citizens United, and the resulting rise of the super PAC, led directly to this impeachment. The two Rudy Giuliani associates engaged in key abuses — the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the attempts to force Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents — gained access to Trump by funneling money from a Ukrainian oligarch to the president’s super PAC.

The Hill, Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation, J. Edward Moreno, Jan. 23, 2020. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) wrote a note to Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday morning, moments before he admonished the House impeachment susan collins omanagers and President Trump’s defense team for a fiery exchange between Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and White House counsel Pat Cipollone around 1 a.m.

Collins, right, later revealed in an interview with the press that she wrote the note to the justice asking him to make sure that the Senate rules on what she believed were unsettling comments apply to the House Judiciary Committee chairman. The rule would strike the words of a senator, should they impute a colleague.

Nadler accused Republican senators of participating in a “cover-up” after voting against amendments that would have allowed them to bring witnesses to the trial.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — a fellow moderate Republican — told reporters she took offense to the comments. “As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended," Murkowski said.

Crime & Courts

American Bar Association (ABA) Journal, Former BigLaw office manager is accused of using firm's credit card for spending spree of over $400K, Debra Cassens Weiss, Jan. 23, 2020. Federal prosecutors allege that a former Morrison & Foerster office operations manager spent more than $400,000 on the firm’s credit card to make personal purchases and transfer money to his PayPal account.

The former employee, Andrew Robertson, faces a preliminary hearing at the end of the month in Washington, D.C., on a federal mail fraud charge, according to court documents and a story by the National Law Journal. Robertson worked in Morrison & Foerster’s Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia offices.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, In bid to halt virus, China bans large gatherings in cities and tries to quarantine 25 million people, Anna Fifield and Lena H. china flag SmallSun, Jan. 23, 2020. Some doctors warned that the controls would not stop the coronavirus, which has killed 25 people. Cases have been detected in the United States and several Asian countries.

Related story:

ny times logoNew York Times, As Virus Spreads, China Expands Travel Bans, Affecting Tens of Millions, Staff report, Jan. 23, 2020. The travel limits imposed on Wuhan were extended to at least four more cities. At least 17 people have died and more than 570 have been sickened.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Saudi Arabia’s hacking of Jeff Bezos’ phone is even uglier than we thought, Isabel Stamm, Jan. 23, 2020. As all eyes were – quite understandably – on the floor of the U.S. Senate where the impeachment of Donald Trump is being tried, the Guardian and the Financial Times Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saudbroke the news that two U.N. experts issued a report asserting that Jeff Bezos’ cellphone was hacked in 2018, using a WhatsApp account belonging to Mohammed bin Salman, right, the Saudi crown prince.

bill palmer report logo headerAccording to the U.N. special rapporteurs, the hacking appears to have been part of an effort to “influence, if not silence” the Washington Post’s critical reporting on the Kingdom, which was done in large part by the Post’s columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was subsequently murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

The new findings that were published on Tuesday are based on a careful forensic analysis of WaPo owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone which personally links MBS to the hack: “Mr. Bezos was subjected to intrusive surveillance via hacking of his phone as a result of actions attributable to the WhatsApp account used by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman” (shown with Bezos in a 2016 photo with others cropped out).

jeff bezos mbs fileAfter meeting at a dinner in Los Angeles, Bezos and the Saudi crown prince had been exchanging messages via WhatsApp for a while when in May of 2018 the Amazon CEO received a video file from MBS which appears to have been spiked with malware. Opening the video file allegedly triggered what the report describes as “a massive and unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos’ phone, [ … ] continuing and escalating for months.” On November 8, 2018, Jeff Bezos then received a somewhat cryptic meme from bin Salman’s WhatsApp account which strongly suggested that the prince was in possession of personal information that could only be obtained by accessing private texts and images stored on Bezos’ phone.

All this took place some time before Jeff Bezos made headlines by blowing the lid off an attempt by AMI – the owner of the National Enquirer – to national enquirer jeff bezos croppedblackmail him with texts and photographs that showed him engaged in an extramarital affair. Rather than letting himself be blackmailed into silence, the powerful CEO hired security consultant Gavin de Becker to explore how the tabloid magazine had gained access to the compromising material. The investigation conducted by de Becker came to the conclusion that the Saudi government had obtained access to Mr. Bezos’ cellphone. These findings were presented by Mr. de Becker in an op-ed in The Daily Beast, but for some reason the story then fizzled out without ever becoming front-page news, despite its rather explosive nature and its ominous implications.

Now, the cyber attack on a prominent U.S. citizen by the de facto leader of another nation has garnered the attention of the United Nations, and Saudi Arabia is forced to publicly address the issue.

In response, the Saudi embassy in the U.S. has already tweeted a denial of the allegations: “Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.” It is not entirely clear whom the Saudis would like to charge with the investigation they are calling for in this tweet – a team of investigators handpicked by Mohammed bin Salman perhaps?

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, Investigation: The Saudi Connection: Inside the 9/11 Case That Divided the F.B.I., Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella, Jan. 23, 2020. A small team of agents spent years investigating whether one of Washington’s closest allies was involved in the worst terror attack in U.S. history. This is their story.

On the morning of Sept. 11 last year, about two dozen family members of those killed in the terror attacks filed into the White House to visit with President Trump. It was a choreographed, somewhat stiff encounter, in which each family walked to the center of the Blue Room to share a moment of conversation with Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, before having a photograph taken with the first couple. Still, it was an opportunity the visitors were determined not to squander.

One after another, the families asked Trump to release documents from the F.B.I.’s investigation into the 9/11 plot, documents that the Justice Department has long fought to keep secret. After so many years they needed closure, they said. They needed to know the truth. Some of the relatives reminded Trump that Presidents Bush and Obama blocked them from seeing the files, as did some of the F.B.I. bureaucrats the president so reviled. The visitors didn’t mention that they hoped to use the documents in a current federal lawsuit that accuses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — an American ally that has only grown closer under Trump — of complicity in the attacks.

The president promised to help. “It’s done,” he said, reassuring several visitors. Later, the families were told that Trump ordered the attorney general, William P. Barr, to release the name of a Saudi diplomat who was linked to the 9/11 plot in an F.B.I. report years earlier. Justice Department lawyers handed over the Saudi official’s name in a protected court filing that could be read only by lawyers for the plaintiffs. But Barr dashed the families’ hopes. In a statement to the court on Sept. 12, he insisted that other documents that might be relevant to the case had to be protected as state secrets. Their disclosure, he wrote, risked “significant harm to the national security.”

This article is a partnership between ProPublica, where Tim Golden is an editor-at-large and Sebastian Rotella is a senior reporter, and The New York Times Magazine.

  • New York Times, Did the Saudis play a role in the Sept. 11 attacks? Here’s what we found.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s worst enemy, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 23, 2020. The Democrats still don’t know whether they are going to get new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, but CNN makes an interesting point about witnesses when it says, “Can’t get a new witness? Call Donald J. Trump.” Ever since stealing the presidency, Trump has arguably been his own worst enemy. He lies incessantly, takes credit for things he didn’t do, and consistently tries to pull the proverbial wool over everyone’s eyes. Unfortunately, his Republican Senate friends consistently go along with whatever he says, no matter how ridiculous it might be.

bill palmer report logo headerBecause the Republicans continue to stall on witnesses, the Democrats are using Trump as a witness by playing videos of him boasting and inviting foreign assistance to his cause. For instance, Adam Schiff played a video in which Trump said, “I have, Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” No, you don’t, you big-mouthed bully. Schiff also played Trump’s video from 2016, asking Russia to “find Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails” and one from 2019 asking China to investigate Joe Biden. Then, he hit them with the big one: Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos in which he said, “I think I’d want to hear it” when asked about “election dirt” from a foreign country. Trump would never have the balls to appear before this body, and Schiff knows that. Instead, he gave them a concise, compelling montage of Trump’s criminal and unethical behavior.

Trump said in his Davos press conference that he opposed President Clinton’s impeachment even though “Clinton was doing bad things, like lying.” He then incredibly went on to say: “Now, with me, there’s no lying.” Is he trying to convince himself? We know better. Thinking of Trump recalls Meghan Trainor’s song “Lips Are Moving.” The man lies consistently. He is a serial liar. CNN points out that Trump has been “serially dishonest” about the impeachment process and Ukraine.

Trump made at least fourteen false claims at the Davos press conference, as well as in interviews on CNBC and Fox Business. First, Trump restated his lie about Schiff misrepresenting the summary before it was released. This is patently false. Schiff paraphrased the summary after its release. Trump further claimed that “all hell broke loose” among Democrats once he released the summary. This is also false. One of the biggest whoppers he told, however, is that he didn’t hold up the Ukraine aide. Instead his story is this: “Now, here’s the other thing: They got their money long before schedule. So they got the money. In fact, they got it early.” If this were true, why was Elaine McCusker, acting Pentagon comptroller, preparing to submit Impoundment paperwork?

The man, using the term loosely, is completely scandalous, but his Republican colleagues are worse. The truth is staring them in the face, yet they continue to come up with excuses and ridiculous talking points to protect the liar-in-chief. Some believe Trump has something on some of them, but this is far more sinister. They are all getting over on us, and without Trump, they won’t be able to continue. We won’t get Trump removed, but we can take this information with us to the polls in November.

ny times logopope francis W croppedNew York Times, Pope, Seeking to Shift U.S. Church, Ousts Conservative Archbishop, Jan. 23, 2020. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, appointed in 2011, has long been known as a theological and political conservative, often at odds with Pope Francis, right.

Pope Francis, facing growing conservative opposition to his papacy from Catholics in the United States, on Thursday replaced the popular archbishop of Philadelphia, one of his most prominent critics and a prelate admired by church traditionalists.

Pope Francis announced in a statement that he had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, who had reached retirement age, and that he would elevate Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland, a Cuban-American born in Miami and relative newcomer to the national scene, to the role.

The move is a sign that the pope, who has installed key allies in Chicago and Newark, is still intent on changing the ideological direction of the American church by setting a new tone in one of its most traditionalist dioceses.

Though Archbishop Chaput will move to an emeritus role, he plans to maintain an active speaking presence around the country. That means he will almost certainly remain influential as a prominent conservative thought leader in the church.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Pompeo creates friction within the Caribbean Community, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 23, 2020. While the impeached American president, Donald John Trump, was demonstrating his ignorance and lack of intelligence before the world's political and economic leadership at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was creating friction among members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at a meeting in Kingston, Jamaica with the foreign ministers of seven Caribbean countries.

Pompeo's extreme hubris has been on display in his attempt to pry away Caribbean countries, many of them longtime allies of Venezuela dating back to the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez, from the current Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo is demanding that Caribbean nations sever all relations with Venezuela, which has provided many small island states with subsidized petroleum through PetroCaribe, and recognize the U.S.-backed puppet rival Venezuelan president, Juan Guaido.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis, Trump appears to confuse the Kurds of Syria and Iraq in a meeting with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Miriam Berger, Jan. 23, 2020. At Davos, Trump praised Iraq's Kurds for actions taken by Syrian Kurds.

ICE logo

washington post logoWashington Post, New Trump administration rule could make it more difficult for some pregnant women to get U.S. visas, Carol Morello, Abigail Hauslohner and Maria Sacchetti, Jan. 23, 2020. State Department regulations, expected to be issued soon, aim to crack down on what the Trump administration calls “birth tourism.”

Middle East Crises

SouthFront, Russia, Syria Say Dozens Of Syrian Army Troops Killed, Wounded In Greater Idlib Clashes. What’s Going On? Staff report, Jan. 23, 2020. The Russian and Syrian defense ministries released several reports about intense clashes between militants and the Syrian Army in southeastern Idlib and southwestern Aleppo.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is repelling a large-scale attack on its positions in the southeastern Idlib countryside, the Ministry of Defense of Syria claimed in an official statement released on January 23.

The ministry said that the attack, led by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is targeting the towns of al-Tah, Abu Hurif and Samka.

“Through the use of various types of weapons, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs)، and under heavy fire cover, the terrorists managed to penetrate some positons of the army on the direction of al-Tah, Abu Hurif and Samka,” the statement reads.

According to the Syrian MoD, the SAA redeployed its troops to repel the terrorists’ attack. Heavy clashes are currently taking place in the region.
Russia, Syria Say Dozens Of Syrian Army Troops Killed, Wounded In Greater Idlib Clashes. What's Going On?

Earlier on the same day, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria reported that about 600 militants attacked SAA positions on the contact line in Idlib and Aleppo provinces:

  • A group of up to 270 militants, supported by 38 armed pickups attacked Syrian Army positions near At-Tah, and Muaysirunah. A group of Wadi as-Saane in southeastern Idlib;
  • Up to 250 militants, supported by 2 BMP vehicles and 30 armed pickups attacked Syrian Army positions near Abu Dafn, Bars and Huan as-Shaf in southeastern Idlib;
  • Up to 50 militants, supported by 4 vehicles armed with weapons, attacked Syrian Army positions near Rashidin 4 and al-Jazirah near Aleppo city.
  • According to the Russian side, government forces eliminated up to 50 militants, and wounded up to 90 others. At the same time, nearly 40 Syrian troops were killed and up to 80 injured, the Center added.

SouthFront, United States Officially Threatens To Assassinate New Leader Of Iranian Quds Force, Staff report, Jan. 23, 2020. The U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, has threatened Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, Iran’s new Quds Force commander, with the fate of his predecessor Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani.

In an interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Hook advised Brig. Gen. Ghanni to not follow Soleimani’s path of “killing Americans.”

“We took the world’s most dangerous terrorists off the battlefield … And as a consequence, the region is going to be safer because Soleimani was the glue that held together the proxies, and his death will create a void that the regime will not be able to fill,” the U.S. diplomat said in the interview, which was released on January 23.

Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani was killed along with several senior Iranian and Iraqi military commanders in a U.S. drone strike on the Baghdad International Airport on January 3. In a matter of a few hours, Brig. Gen. Ghaani was appointed as the new Quds Force commander.

The U.S. took responsibility for assassinating the senior Iranian commander right away, in what was widely seen as an attempted to intimidate Tehran.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) avenged the death of Soleimani by launching a missile strike on a base hosting hundreds of U.S. troops in northern Iraq. The strike inflicted heavy damage to the base. However, no U.S. service members were killed.

Hook’s threat indicates that the U.S. will go on with its hostile actions against Iran. Tehran and its regional allies had warned that they will work to force U.S. troops to pull out of the region, especially from Iraq.

Impeachment Trial Commentary

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion by Joe Scarborough, Mitch McConnell has failed the Republican Party; All America demands is a fair trial, an impartial jury and the calling of relevant witnesses.

  • Washington Post, Opinion by Jennifer Rubin: That is what blind loyalty to a cultlike leader looks like
  • Washington Post, Opinion by Henry Olsen: Adam Schiff portrayed the impeachment trial like a criminal trial. He should know better
  • Washington Post, Opinion by E.J. Dionne Jr.: Why Democrats owe a debt to Mitch McConnell
  • Washington Post, Opinion by Max Boot: Trump’s lawyers are playing a bad hand badly
  • Washington Post, Opinion by Dana Milbank: Trump’s defenders make it up as they go
  • Washington Post, Opinion by Jonathan Turley: Where the Trump defense goes too far; Committing a criminal offense has never been a requirement for impeachment.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Prince Charles just stuck it to Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Jan. 23, 2020. Democrats seek to poke holes in Trump’s expected defense. The World Economic Forum in Davos is already off to a terrible start for the United States. Donald Trump gave such a terrible, rambling, incoherent, idiotic speech yesterday, one German political leader ended up calling it “The worst speech I’ve ever heard in my life.” Now Mike Pence is stepping to the plate at Davos, and let’s just say that he’s feeling a bit lonely.

bill palmer report logo headerVideo footage clearly shows Prince Charles walking down a row and shaking hands with multiple world leaders, but in the process taking one look at Mike Pence and then skipping over him. Pence then reaches out and pats the Prince on the back as he walks away, in an apparent effort to save face. Watch the video:

Mike Pence’s team is insisting that there’s a different context to what happened here. They’re saying that because Prince Charles and Pence had already spoken privately backstage, the Prince simply saw no need to embrace Pence again while walking down the row of people in public. But let’s give the Prince some credit. He’s been doing these kinds of diplomatic events in the public eye his entire life. He knows what it looks like when he skips over someone in a row of handshakes while the TV cameras are watching – particularly someone as controversial and unpopular as Mike Pence. Charles surely knew what he was doing.

U.S. Law & Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. concedes it had ‘insufficient’ cause to continue monitoring former Trump campaign adviser in Russia probe, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 23, 2020. The notable admission about the bureau’s surreptitious monitoring of Carter Page is likely to fuel continued criticism of how the FBI handled the high-profile case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Annabella Sciorra testifies that Harvey Weinstein raped her: ‘It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake,’ Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 23, 2020. The “Sopranos” actress delivered emotional testimony as the prosecution’s first witness.

washington post logoWashington Post, Libyan man sentenced to more than 19 years in Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. ambassador, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 23, 2020. Mustafa al-Imam, the “eyes and ears” of convicted ringleader Ahmed Abu Khattala, is the second man convicted in the 2012 attacks.

Roger Stone

Law & Crime, Witness Roger Stone Tampered with Tells Federal Judge: Stone Shouldn’t Be Incarcerated, Matt Naham, Jan. 23, 2020. The radio host and comedian witness that Roger Stone was convicted of tampering with has penned a letter to the judge asking that Stone not be sent to prison. randy credico ari melber screenshot CustomRandy Credico, left, said that he feels “so strongly about this for a number of reasons.”

In case you missed it in Nov. 2019 somehow, Stone stood trial and was found guilty of seven criminal counts, relating to obstruction, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators. That trial took just a week and a half.

Prosecutors alleged that Stone lied when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee regarding his interactions with WikiLeaks, took steps to obstruct investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and tampered with witness Credico:

amy berman jacksonMuch has been made of Stone urging Credico to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli'” and the alleged threat to kidnap Credico’s dog, but Credico is now telling Judge Amy Berman Jackson, right, that he didn’t really believe Stone would ever harm him or his dog Bianca. In reality, Stone’s defense attorneys didn’t question Credico at trial in a way that would have made that clear, according to Credico:

I am writing to respectfully yet fervently implore you not to send Roger Stone to prison when he is sentenced before your Honor. I feel so strongly about this for a number reasons.

Let me begin my saying I stand by my testimony in your courtroom on November 7-8, 2019. In fact, I stand by all of my testimony throughout the Mueller investigation and there pre-trial conversations I had with the DC prosecution team. That being said, there was more I wish I had the opportunity to express had I not been limited by the questions asked of me.

Most notably was after Mr. Stone’s defense attorney asked I had ever thought Mr. Stone was going to steal or harm my dog Bianca. My answer was an emphatic “No.” At the time I was hoping he would follow that question with another asking if I had ever personally felt threatened by Mr. Stone. The answer would have been the same. I never in any way felt that stone himself posed a direct physical threat to me or to my dog. I chalked up his bellicose tirades to “Stone being Stone.” All bark and no bite!

Credico didn’t stop there.

He said that understood Stone broke federal laws, but suggested that it would be cruel to sentence Stone to prison when the judge can sentence him to participate in “an alternative to incarceration program.”

“Roger Stone certainly rubs a lot of people the wrong way, particularly those on the receiving end of his wee hours lowbrow character attacks. Stone enjoys playing adolescent mind games and pulling off juvenile stunts, gags and pranks. He shamelessly invents and promotes outlandish and invidious conspiracy tales,” Credico continued. “But the bottom line is Mr. Stone, at his core, is an insecure person who craves and recklessly pursues attention.”

Law & Crime, Survivors Demand Manhattan DA ‘Resign Immediately’ Over Lenient Treatment of Wealthy Sexual Predators, Colin Kalmbacher, Jan. 23, 2020. Sexual assault survivors in New York City are demanding the immediate resignation of Manhattan District Cyrus Vance Jr. over his long and cyrus vance jrdocumented history of leniency toward elite and wealthy sex criminals.

According to Politico’s local desk, several such survivors made their case for Vance’s swift departure at City Hall on Thursday, highlighting a recent sweetheart deal gifted to Columbia University gynecologist Dr. Robert Hadden.

The disgraced OB/GYN is accused of sexually assaulting no less than 19 of his former patients—including Evelyn Yang, wife of 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

“Most women don’t know what you’re supposed to get when you’re pregnant,” Yang recently said in an interview—adding that she was initially unsure about what happened and that she only decided to open up about Hadden after other survivors came forward.

“I feel like I put up with some inappropriate behavior that I didn’t know at the time was straight-up sexual abuse slash sexual assault until much later,” Yang continued, saying those doubts eventually dissipated. “I knew it was wrong. I knew I was being assaulted.”

One of those additional survivors is Marissa Hoechstetter, who led Thursday’s action against Vance. Hoechstetter was the first woman to come forward about Hadden’s abuse. She claims he conducted unwarranted breast exams, made lewd comments about her looks and, as the final straw, licked her vagina during a postpartum examination several years ago. Several additional woman have since come forward to register similar accusations.

“From the start, there were inappropriate questions. There was a lot of touching. There were exams without nurses or other people in the room, and on the last occasion, when I knew that something happened, he licked me. And I knew that that happened and I never went back to the office again,” Hoechstetter previously told CBS News.

 Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Jim Lehrer, Longtime PBS News Anchor, Is Dead at 85, Robert D. McFadden, Jan. 23, 2020. For 36 years, mostly teaming with Robert MacNeil, he offered an alternative to network evening news programs with in-depth reporting, interviews and news analysis.

jim lehrer 2007Jim Lehrer, the retired PBS anchorman who for 36 years gave public television viewers a substantive alternative to network evening news programs with in-depth reporting, interviews and analysis of world and national affairs, died on Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 85.

While best known for his anchor work, which he shared for two decades with his colleague Robert MacNeil, Mr. Lehrer (shown at right in a 2007 file photo) moderated a dozen presidential debates and was the author of more than a score of novels, which often drew on his reporting experiences. He also wrote four plays and three memoirs.

A low-key, courtly Texan who worked on Dallas newspapers in the 1960s and began his PBS career in the 1970s, Mr. Lehrer saw himself as “a print/word person at heart” and his program as a kind of newspaper for television, with high regard for balanced and objective reporting. He was an oasis of civility in a news media that thrived on excited headlines, gotcha questions and noisy confrontations.

Mr. Lehrer co-anchored a single-topic, half-hour PBS news program with Mr. MacNeil from its inception in 1975 to 1983, when it was expanded into the multitopic “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” It ran until Mr. MacNeil retired in 1995. The renamed “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” continued until 2009, when he reduced his appearances to two and then to one a week until his own retirement in 2011.

Jan. 22

Impeachment Headlines

World News Headlines

 

Impeachment Trial Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate adopts ground rules for trial, delaying a decision on witnesses, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 22, 2020. Findings from House probe to be automatically entered into evidence. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to revise his proposed rules to quell a rebellion in his ranks, giving House managers and the president’s lawyers more time to present their cases.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedThe first substantive day of President Trump’s impeachment trial opened Tuesday with unexpected internal GOP dissension over its structure, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, was forced to revise his proposed rules at the last minute to accommodate a brewing rebellion in his ranks.

That abrupt reversal from Senate leadership began a deeply acrimonious day in the chamber, which dramatically escalated in its final hours when the House managers and the president’s attorneys engaged in language considered so toxic for the staid Senate that Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, admonished both sides.

In the end, the final parameters of the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president were approved on strictly partisan lines, but the measure passed only after revisions that allowed both sides more time to present their cases, and for findings from the House impeachment probe to be automatically entered into evidence as part of the trial.

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Schedule Explained: Why the Trial Could Last Weeks, Michael D. Shear, Jan. 22, 2020. The rules adopted by the Senate early Wednesday lay out a timeline for a trial that could be over in two weeks — or stretch much longer. With the adoption early Wednesday morning of the ground rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial, the Senate prepared to plunge forward over the next week with oral arguments, questions from senators and consequential votes on whether to admit new evidence.

djt impeached wapo 12 19 19 front page CustomThe trial could be over in two weeks, or it could stretch on much longer, depending on how much time is used by each side and how much additional evidence — if any — senators vote to review.

After a bruising 12-hour debate that underscored the deep acrimony between Republicans and Democrats at the outset of the trial, Republicans pushed through a set of rules that would postpone until next week at the earliest a final decision on whether to call witnesses or subpoena documents for the trial.

That brought into focus what will unfold in the Senate over the coming days. Here is what to expect:

Both sides get one more chance for motions.

The trial will reconvene at 1 p.m. Wednesday, but oral arguments might not begin immediately. Under the rules, the managers and White House lawyers are allowed to make any motion they want, except for seeking documents and witnesses, a matter that will be debated later in the proceedings.

What motions could they make? Mr. Trump has said publicly that he wants to end the trial quickly, so his lawyers could move for dismissal. That is seen as unlikely because Republican senators — including staunch allies of the president’s — have said there is little support among their colleagues to dismiss the case before the arguments have been heard.

If the House managers take all of their time, the White House lawyers — led by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer — will have the chance to deliver their oral arguments defending the president starting on Saturday, Jan. 25. Senate rules that date back more than three decades hold that during impeachment, senators must meet six days a week, taking only Sunday off.

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment trial live updates: Trump says he ‘can live either way’ on witnesses, John Wagner, Jan. 22, 2020. President Trump said at a news conference Wednesday in Switzerland that he “can live either way” with the Senate’s decision on whether to call witnesses for his historic impeachment trial.

His comments came as House managers prepared to open a three-day presentation of their case for impeachment of Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The crux of the House case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden.

marsha blackburn fox news impeachment screenshot Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: GOP Senator caught in severe breach of rules during Senate impeachment trial proceedings, Bill Palmer, Jan. 22, 2020.
The rules of an impeachment trial couldn’t be much more clear. Like any jury, the Senators of both parties must sit in silence in the Senate chamber for the entirety of the trial proceedings. They literally need permission to get up and use the bathroom, and Chief Justice John Roberts can have them arrested if they don’t ask permission first. So how does one explain a Senator doing an interview while the trial was in session?

bill palmer report logo headerSenators are allowed to speak with the media during breaks in the trial. But Justin Goodman, Communications Director for the Senate Democrats, appeared to catch Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn giving an interview on Fox News (shown above in a screenshot0 when she was supposed to be in the Senate chamber for the trial. Check out his tweet.

MSNBC’s Nick Ramsey also confirmed that Blackburn was indeed on Fox News while trial proceedings were in sessions. This is serious business. The sanctity of the Senate jury is taken so seriously, Senators aren’t even allowed to have their phones with them during the trial, and must place them in lockboxes on their way in and out of the chamber. If Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn really was on Fox News while the impeachment trial proceedings were going on, then John Roberts must take punitive action against her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chief Justice Roberts admonishes impeachment lawyers, telling them to ‘remember where they are,’ Paul Kane and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 22, 2020. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. delivered a sharp rebuke to both House managers and lawyers for President Trump for their decorum as the impeachment trial debate passed 1 a.m. Wednesday, a marathon session that turned heated between the legal teams.

After several days of serving in a largely passive role overseeing the trial, Roberts interjected after a particularly pointed exchange between House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and two lawyers for Trump, Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow.

“I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said.

jerrold nadler o SmallNadler, left, delivered an extended statement attacking the president and calling on the Senate to subpoena testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton. Cipollone responded by saying the New York congressman “should be ashamed … for the way you addressed this body.”

“It’s about time we bring this power trip in for a landing,” Cipollone said, prompting Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to chuckle. “It’s a farce … Mr. Nadler, you owe an apology to the president of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all, you owe an apology to the American people.”

Sekulow followed Cipollone and went a step further in his words and tone.

“The Senate is not on trial,” he almost shouted.

During these remarks, Nadler did not meet Sekulow’s gaze. As the White House counsel concluded, he returned to his table and threw down his papers in disgust.

The tensions rose further as Nadler responded, calling Cipollone a liar in one case. Cipollone shook his head, along with several Republican senators.

“It’s about time we bring this power trip in for a landing,” Cipollone said, prompting Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to chuckle. “It’s a farce … Mr. Nadler, you owe an apology to the president of the United States and his family, you owe an apology to the Senate, but most of all, you owe an apology to the American people.”

Sekulow followed Cipollone and went a step further in his words and tone.

“The Senate is not on trial,” he almost shouted.

The exchange occurred as the Senate dealt with another Democratic amendment to the resolution, offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to set the guidelines for the trial and whether additional witnesses or documents need to be produced.

Republicans have refused to consider the witness question until both legal teams present their cases in the coming days, but Democrats have used the impeachment rules to force votes on the issue before either side formally presents its case.

As happened with every Democratic amendment offered, including this one to subpoena Bolton, the Senate rejected the request, 53 to 47, entirely along party lines.

Roll Call, Schumer says he’s not done trying to force votes, nor making deals on witnesses over Hunter Biden, Jan. 22, 2020. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday he offered to move consideration of some of his amendments to the impeachment trial rules resolution to today so the Senate didn’t have to stay too late Tuesday but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined.

“It seems the only reason Leader McConnell refused to move votes back a day is because it would interfere with the timeline he promised the president, Schumer said at a news conference.

“The bottom line is this: The very first thing the American people saw when they tuned into the impeachment trial of President Trump was Republican senators voting against having a fair trial with relevant evidence,” Schumer said after rattling off all the amendments Republicans voted down on Tuesday.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. attorney general sues Trump inaugural committee over $1 million booking at president’s hotel, Jonathan O'Connell​, Jan. 22, 2020. karl racineD.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, right, sued President Trump’s inaugural committee and business Wednesday, alleging that the committee violated its nonprofit status by spending more than $1 million to book a ballroom at Trump’s D.C. hotel that its staff knew was overpriced and that it barely used.

During the lead-up to Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, the committee booked the hotel ballroom for $175,000 a day, plus more than $300,000 in food and beverage costs, over the objections of its own event planner.

The committee was formed to organize the events around the inauguration, but Racine alleges it instead “abandoned this purpose and violated District law when it wasted approximately $1 million of charitable funds in overpayment for the use of event space at the Trump hotel.”

“These charges were unreasonable and improperly served to enrich” Trump’s business, the complaint reads. He alleges that Trump and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, were likely aware of the charges, based on documents Racine subpoenaed from the committee and the Trump Organization.

Daily Beast, EX-CIA Lawyer Opinion: The Soleimani Hit Was a Homicide Under U.S. Criminal Law, Vicki Divoll, Jan. 22, 2020. In bragging that he daily beast logoordered a successful hit on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, President Trump has admitted to killing a senior government official of a sovereign state, Iran, while he was traveling in another sovereign state, Iraq. On its face, his conduct and intent satisfy the elements of premeditated murder under Section 1116 of Title 18 of the United States Criminal Code, "Murder or manslaughter of foreign officials, official guests, or internationally protected persons."

We can and must debate, and many are, whether the killing was an "assassination" or a violation of "international norms," but neither of those charges has been codified by Congress into the criminal code and thus they have no teeth. The assassination ban is found in an executive order and a president is not bound by it. As for international norms, including the adherence to long-standing principles of the ethics of just war, well, ignoring norms is Trump's calling card, and his supporters love him for it.

The provisions of the United States Criminal Code, however, bind all persons, including presidents. They cannot be waived, and they have very sharp teeth. By ordering the drone attack killing General Soleimani, it appears that Trump committed a homicide under federal law.

‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to America

Congress passed the relevant law against the “murder or manslaughter of foreign officials,” Section 1116 of Title 18, in response to the killing of Israeli Olympic athletes in Germany, and other acts of terrorism around the world, It provides that “[w]hoever kills or attempts to kill a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person shall be punished."

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 17 dead as Chinese coronavirus spreads, despite efforts to contain it, Anna Fifield, Jan. 22, 2020. The number of china flag Smallinfections is mounting rapidly as people travel around China for Lunar New Year, with both Hong Kong and Macao reporting cases.

washington post logoWashington Post, China imposes de facto quarantine on city at center of coronavirus outbreak, Anna Fifield and Lena H. Sun, Jan. 22, 2020. The government imposed the travel restrictions on Wuhan as the death toll increased to 17. Whether the response would halt the spread of the virus was unclear, and the decision drew mixed reactions from public health experts.

jeff bezos mbs file

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. calls for investigation of Saudi crown prince’s alleged involvement in targeting Jeff Bezos and opponents, Washington Post Staff​, Jan. 22, 2020. ​The announcement came in response to the alleged hacking of a phone belonging to Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, shown at above with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in a 2016 file photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, More U.S. troops leave Iraq for medical treatment after Iranian missile attack, Pentagon says, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 22, 2020.  President Trump and defense officials initially said there were no injuries, but concussion-like symptoms have appeared.

Impeachment Commentaries

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Trump’s Threadbare Legal Argument Will Probably Work, Jesse Wegman, Jan. 22, 2020. Thanks a lot, Mitch McConnell. Let’s dispense with one thing off the bat: President Trump’s impeachment defense is — in addition to being riddled with false factual claims and misleading characterizations — legal claptrap.

It’s also likely to work.

The essence of the argument, which appears in a 110-page brief submitted on Monday by the president’s ragtag legal team in advance of his Senate trial, is that Mr. Trump can’t be impeached for behaviors that are not actual crimes.

That’s because their argument is, in the words of one legal scholar who recently published a book on the history of impeachment, “constitutional nonsense.” “High crimes and misdemeanors” — the founders’ standard for impeachment — has always been understood to refer to a unique class of offenses, those arising from what Alexander Hamilton called “the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

The federal criminal code didn’t even exist when the Constitution was drafted, yet the framers were aware of the innumerable ways an executive could abuse or violate his trust. They were also aware that impeachment was a long-established remedy for such abuses.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Make Republicans Uncomfortable, David Leonhardt, Jan. 22, 2020. The Democrats’ only hope. There are two competing explanations for Mitch McConnell’s abrupt change in the length of the impeachment trial (to three days, from two).

One is that Republican senators facing tough elections this year didn’t like the perception that they were supporting a sham trial and forced McConnell to make the change. “The fact that McConnell had to make significant changes to rules just before the vote suggests he has less control over the trial than widely believed,” Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter, wrote.

The other is that the whole thing was a set-up. Josh Schwerin, a Democratic strategist and former congressional aide, wrote: “Mitch McConnell intentionally gave his vulnerable members a win on process. This was probably the plan from the beginning. It cost him nothing.”

Either way, the message is the same. Senate Republicans aren’t going to hold President Trump accountable for repeatedly violating his oath of office, but they are worried about a perception among swing voters that they are pushovers.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Is Trump's visa ban tied to his extortion scheme with Ukraine? Wayne Madsen, Jan. 22, 2020.  Impeached president Donald John Trump is on trial in the U.S. Senate for, among other transgressions of office, attempting to shake down the Ukrainian government for political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in exchange for Congressionally-budgeted military assistance.

Trump’s most recent threat to impose a visa ban, and not merely on Muslim-majority nations, reinforces a belief among those investigating Trump’s various crimes that the White House refused to release Trump’s entire transcript of his July 25, 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky because it would draw attention to Trump’s extortion efforts against other foreign leaders.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How to Defeat Trump and Catch a Frisbee, Thomas L. Friedman, Jan. 22, 2020. There is a winnable approach for Democrats in the impeachment trial.As the country embarks on only the third impeachment trial of a president in its history, there are many unique features about this moment, but one stands out for me: Never before have we had to confront a president who lies as he breathes and is backed by a political party and an entire cable TV-led ecosystem able and enthusiastic to create an alternative cognitive universe that propagates those lies on an unlimited scale.

It is disheartening, disorienting and debilitating.

How can the truth — that Donald Trump used taxpayer funds to try to force the president of Ukraine to sully the reputation of Joe Biden, a political rival — possibly break through this unique trifecta of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, reinforced by a network without integrity?

There is only one way: Keep it simple.

Democrats need to just keep repeating over and over one question: “Why would an innocent man, and a jury interested in the truth, not want all the evidence out and all the witnesses to testify? Wouldn’t you if you were innocent?”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is losing his impeachment trial in the only way that matters, TR Kenneth, Jan. 22, 2020. What the House Managers are doing is having the trial with evidence in the court of public opinion. The facts of this case are damning and the impending result – the making of a dictator – is terrifying. But there are still things which are good and true in this process.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat’s good and true is the evidence that is coming in by the boatload from FOIA requests. The FBI now says it has managed to unlock Lev Parnas’ phone. Make no mistake, his phone is going to be kryptonite to tons of Republicans. After all, which of them didn’t get a photo op with Parnas?

Phone calls and voting are the powerful solutions here. The Republican party will not survive a vote to acquit in the Senate. The public is overwhelmingly clamoring for documents and witnesses. Corruption will forever taint the Republican name if McConnell shuts this trial down. Yes, these are the days that try our patience. But as we found from Fiona Hill and others like her, there are still patriots at work behind the scenes. Perhaps a Republican or two will stand up for fairness. Don’t hold your breath. They are caught in a trap of their own making. Regardless, Trump will die in prison for his crimes. Count on that. Icebergs are enormous and the part that you can’t see is the part that takes you to the bottom.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: McConnell’s Impeachment Scam, Noah Bookbinder, Jan. 22, 2020. Senators have a duty to conduct a fair and full trial. The Republican leader is trying to make sure they can’t. The American people want their senators to engage in a serious quest for the truth. A recent CNN poll of voters showed that 69 percent of Americans want the Senate to hear evidence and witnesses in the coming days.

Roll Call, Schiff, Nadler impeachment tension spills out during trial, Todd Ruger, Jan. 22, 2020. The first question at Wednesday’s news conference with House impeachment managers was directed at Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat whose Senate presentation helped prompt a rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and a flood of criticism from Republican senators.

Nadler appeared to take a half step toward the podium as Rep. Adam B. Schiff cut off the CNN reporter. “I’m going to respond to the questions,” the California Democrat and lead impeachment manager said, then turned to call on another reporter for a question on a different topic. Nadler was silent.

The exchange was one of a few moments that hint at some internal discord among House managers about the best way to present their case for impeaching President Donald Trump to the Senate as well as the American people — and how to stay on that message.

The rhetorical and stylistic differences, and at times tension, between Schiff and Nadler have been on display since September. Speaker Nancy Pelosi picked Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, to lead the impeachment inquiry over Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary panel that has sole jurisdiction over drafting impeachment articles.

She later picked the former federal prosecutor to lead the impeachment team.

Now, Nadler's misstep on the Senate floor in the wee hours Wednesday morning provided Republicans with a new line of attack, and allowed them to avoid questions about votes against witnesses and new evidence during the trial.

“I can tell you there was open gasping on the Senate floor when Nadler was saying those things,” Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told the media. “If the goal was to persuade, they took a huge step back.”

The first sign of the chairmen’s different approaches to the impeachment trial emerged at the House team’s news conference Tuesday, just a few minutes before the trial started.

Judicial Conflicts

American Bar Association (ABA) Journal, May federal judges be members of the ABA or the Federalist Society? Debra Cassens Weiss, Jan. 22, 2020. Draft ethics opinion says yes and no.

A draft ethics opinion advises that federal judges should not be members of the conservative Federalist Society and the liberal American Constitution Society because the affiliation raises questions about their impartiality.

But membership in the ABA’s Judicial Division “does not raise these same concerns and is not necessarily inconsistent” with the conduct code covering federal judges, the draft advisory ethics opinion says.

The draft opinion adds that judges should “carefully monitor” ABA activities to make sure their membership remains consistent with the conduct code. Judges should also consider whether a position taken by the ABA might require recusal in particular matters, the draft opinion says.

The draft opinion was posted by the National Review and covered by Law360. The opinion was drafted by the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the U.S. Judicial Conference and circulated to federal judges for review and comment.

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez issued this statement in response to the draft opinion: “The American Bar Association values our judicial members, who bring important experience and legal knowledge to our association. Their involvement in the ABA strengthens our profession and benefits all Americans who seek justice. A draft advisory opinion from the federal judiciary’s Committee on Codes of Conduct confirms that judges’ membership in the ABA can be consistent with the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. The committee opinion recognizes the ABA’s core mission is ‘concerned with the improvement of the law in general and advocacy for the legal profession as a whole.’ ”

The draft opinion considers whether membership in the three organizations is consistent with Canon 4 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which states that a judge may engage in extrajudicial activities that are consistent with the obligations of judicial office.

Commentary to Canon 4 says judges should be encouraged to participate in organizations dedicated to the law to the extent that “impartiality is not compromised.”

The opinion notes that the American Constitution Society describes itself as a “progressive legal organization,” while the Federalist Society describes itself as “a group of conservatives and libertarians dedicated to reforming the current legal order.”

Membership in both groups “could convey to a reasonable person that the affiliated judge endorses the views and particular ideological perspectives advocated by the organization; call into question the affiliated judge’s impartiality on subjects as to which the organization has taken a position; and generally frustrate the public’s trust in the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” the opinion says.

The ABA, on the other hand, says its mission is to “serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.”

Jackie Koszczuk, a public information officer for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, responded to the ABA Journal’s questions about the draft opinion process with this statement: “The judicial branch is reviewing this matter through its internal processes and is considering all viewpoints.”

The opinion notes that the ABA has taken positions on controversial issues and sometimes advocates those positions in federal court. Those positions “could reasonably be viewed to favor liberal or progressive causes” in today’s politically divisive climate, the draft opinion says.

But those positions are ancillary to the ABA’s core objectives, the draft opinion says.

The draft also notes the bylaws of the ABA’s Judicial Division, which state that its members are not deemed to endorse ABA positions that conflict with their ethics obligations.

Though membership in the ABA’s Judicial Division is not necessarily inconsistent with the ethics code, that is not to say that membership is never problematic, the opinion says.

Jan. 21

Impeachment News

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Block Subpoenas for New Evidence as Impeachment Trial Begins, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 21, 2020. A divided Senate began the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday in utter acrimony, as Republicans blocked Democrats’ efforts to subpoena documents related to Ukraine and moderate Republicans forced last-minute changes to rules that had been tailored to the president’s wishes.

In a series of party-line votes punctuating hours of debate, Senate Republicans turned back repeated attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget that could shed light on the core charges against Mr. Trump. More votes were to come throughout the evening on Democratic efforts to subpoena current and former White House officials, although the outcome was expected to be the same.

Republicans made last-minute changes to their proposed rules to placate moderates, but they held together to turn back Democratic efforts to subpoena documents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Once Contradicted Trump’s Claim That Abuse of Power Is Not Impeachable, Charlie Savage, Jan. 21, 2020. In a memo for the Trump team during the Russia investigation, the attorney general wrote that presidents who misuse their authority are subject to impeachment.

Scholars have roundly rejected a central argument of President Trump’s lawyers that abuse of power is not by itself an impeachable offense. But it turns out that another important legal figure has contradicted that idea: Mr. Trump’s attorney general and close ally, William P. Barr.

In summer 2018, when he was still in private practice, Mr. Barr wrote a confidential memo for the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s legal team to help the president get out of a problem. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was pressuring him to answer questions about whether he had illegally impeded the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump should not talk to investigators about his actions as president, even under a subpoena, Mr. Barr wrote in his 19-page memo, which became public during his confirmation. Mr. Barr based his advice on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons.

But Mr. Barr tempered his theory with a reassurance. Even without the possibility of criminal penalties, he wrote, a check is in place on presidents who abuse their discretionary power to control the executive branch of government — impeachment.

The fact that the president “is answerable for any abuses of discretion and is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the president is not the judge in his own cause,” he wrote.

He added, “The remedy of impeachment demonstrates that the president remains accountable under law for his misdeeds in office,” quoting from a 1982 Supreme Court case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment trial live updates: Senate rejects Democratic measure to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mulvaney for testimony in Trump's impeachment trial, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. 21, 2020. Senators began debate Tuesday afternoon over the rules that will guide the impeachment trial of President Trump — just the third in history of a U.S. president — focused on his conduct toward Ukraine.

The Senate rejected three Democratic amendments to subpoena documents and other records from the White House, State Department and Office of Management and Budget related to the Ukraine probe. The White House stonewalled requests for those records by House investigators during their inquiry. Each amendment was tabled on a 53-to-47 party-line vote.

Senators are hearing from House managers and Trump’s attorneys regarding a resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that seeks a swift trial. Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), have panned the proposal, arguing that it is part of an effort to “cover up” Trump’s dealings. In public appearances Tuesday, the House impeachment managers urged the Senate to reject McConnell’s rules.

ny times logoNew York Times, News Analysis: ‘Constitutional Nonsense’: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus, Charlie Savage, Updated Jan. 21, 2020. The president’s legal case would negate any need for witnesses. But constitutional scholars say that it’s wrong.

As President Trump’s impeachment trial opens, his lawyers have increasingly emphasized a striking argument: Even if he did abuse his powers in an attempt to bully Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election on his behalf, it would not matter because the House never accused him of committing an ordinary crime.

Their argument is widely disputed. It cuts against the consensus among scholars that impeachment exists to remove officials who abuse power. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” means a serious violation of public trust that need not also be an ordinary crime, said Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and the author of a recent book on the topic.

“This argument is constitutional nonsense,” Mr. Bowman said. “The almost universal consensus — in Great Britain, in the colonies, in the American states between 1776 and 1787, at the Constitutional Convention and since — has been that criminal conduct is not required for impeachment.”

But the argument is politically convenient for Mr. Trump. For any moderate Republican senator who may not like what the facts already show about his campaign of pressure on Ukraine, the theory provides an alternative rationale to acquit the president.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: And the White House defense is ... well, there isn’t one, Dana Milbank

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Special Investigation: Trump attorney Pam Bondi -- mobbed up to her eyeballs, Wayne Madsen (right, WMR editor, author of 17 books, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), Jan. 21, 2020.  Pam Bondi: From Florida cover-up artist to the White House Senate trial defense team.

Donald John Trump, impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on two articles – obstruction of Congress and abuse of office – has opted in choosing former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as one of his defense attorneys for his Senate trial to showcase Bondi, whose law enforcement record in Florida and Hillsborough County is rife with connections to organized crime.

washington post logoigor fruman mugWashington Post, Lev Parnas is talking. So where is Igor Fruman, his onetime sidekick and fellow Giuliani associate? Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Natalie Gryvnyak, Jan. 21, 2020. Holed up under house arrest, Frumanl, shown in a mug shot, has split with Parnas, retained counsel from President Trump’s world and stayed true to his reputation as the quiet partner in the Soviet-born duo who stumbled into an impeachment scandal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senators gird for spirited debate over rules governing Trump’s trial, John Wagner, Jan. 21, 2020. Senators are girding for a spirited debate Tuesday over the rules that will guide the impeachment trial of President Trump — just the third in history of a U.S. president — focused on his conduct toward Ukraine.

When it reconvenes, the chamber will take up a resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that seeks a swift trial. Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), have panned the proposal, arguing it is part of an effort to “cover up” Trump’s dealings. On Tuesday, the House impeachment managers urged the Senate to reject McConnell’s rules.

The impeachment charges center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Hillary Clinton savages Bernie Sanders: ‘Nobody likes him,’ Aaron Blake, Jan. 21, 2020. Senators are girding for a spirited debate Tuesday over the rules that will guide the impeachment trial of President Trump — just the third in history of a U.S. president — focused on his conduct toward Ukraine.

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton says in a new interview that she will “do anything I can to defeat” President Trump in 2020. But in the same interview, she savages Sen. Bernie Sanders, declines to say she would endorse or campaign for him if he is the Democratic nominee, and suggests that there is an underlying sexism to his campaign.

The interview coincides with a new documentary called “Hillary,” which is debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. In the documentary, Clinton (shown in a 2016 file photo) has some of her strongest words to date for Sanders.

bernie sandersClinton also pointed to sexism in Sanders’s campaign and suggests he’s complicit.

“He was in Congress for years; he had one senator support him,” Clinton said. “Nobody likes him; nobody wants to work with him; he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

Asked by the Hollywood Reporter whether that assessment holds, Clinton was direct.

“Yes, it does,” she said.

In perhaps her most telling response, Clinton was then asked whether she would endorse or campaign with Sanders if he wins the nomination. She demurred and then took the opportunity to go after him and his supporters again.

• Washington Post, Sanders apologizes to Biden for supporter’s op-ed alleging corruption

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why Hillary Clinton just made her big 2020 move, Bill Palmer, Jan. 21, 2020. First the Bernie Sanders campaign issued dishonest talking points aimed at harming Elizabeth Warren. Then the Bernie campaign released a video which purported to show Joe Biden talking about cutting Medicare and Social Security, when in fact Biden was mocking Paul Ryan’s desire to cut those programs. Then a key longtime Bernie surrogate published an op-ed accusing Biden of “corruption” – coming dangerously close to aligning with Donald Trump’s lies about Biden.

bill palmer report logo headerThe toxic divisiveness coming from the Bernie Sanders campaign has gotten so dangerously out of control, Sanders ended up publicly apologizing to Biden last night over the op-ed. But there’s still little reason to expect that Bernie will rein in his campaign’s antics any time soon. He populates his campaigns with these kinds of henchmen for a reason. Since 2015, Bernie has been consistently looking the other way while his henchmen carry out dishonest attacks on competing Democratic candidates, and while his support base spreads lies about other Democrats across social media.

But if anyone calls Bernie out for it, Bernie’s supporters label that person as the one who’s supposedly being “divisive.” Throw in the media’s fear of being harassed by Bernie’s base for daring to suggest that he’s anything less than a perfect candidate, and it’s created an asymmetrical scenario in which the other Democratic candidates have a very tricky time of pushing back against Bernie’s divisive antics.

And yet, with the Bernie Sanders campaign now loudly spreading damaging lies about Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren – the two candidates who are by far the most likely to end up being the Democratic nominee – something must be done. Biden and Warren have one hand tied behind their backs when it comes to asking Bernie’s campaign and supporters to knock off this nonsense, because they face the prospect of having to come back and ask Bernie’s supporters for their votes in the general election. Enter Hillary Clinton, who just made her big 2020 move.

Hillary Clinton is, rather obviously, not running in 2020. Accordingly, she doesn’t have to care whether voters like her. She can offend Bernie Sanders’ base and not have to worry about whether she gets their votes later. So she said this about Bernie in a new documentary: “He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done … He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

Bernie’s supporters are now (understandably) enraged at Hillary Clinton. What she’s saying is mean spirited, factually accurate as it may be. But she’s the one person in Democratic politics who can get away with saying what everyone else in Democratic politics knows to be true: Bernie spent decades in the House and then Senate stomping his feet, getting along with no one, getting nothing done, being a cross between a mascot and a well-meaning punchline. Then the media decided to build this bizarre fictional heroic narrative about him in the 2016 election, which sucked in a whole lot of people who weren’t all that familiar with politics, and didn’t know that most liberals have always known Bernie was kind of a joke.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Former Journalist Who Is Bernie Sanders’s Media Critic, Marc Tracy, Jan. 21, 2020. David Sirota’s job is to remind the candidate’s supporters why he dislikes the news media.

When the first in-house newsletter of Bernie Sanders’s campaign landed in inboxes last August, its chief antagonist was neither President Trump nor a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, but rather The Washington Post and, as the email said, “the Washington pundits who are david sirota twitterpaid by the corporations and billionaires who own the media.”

Bern Notice has been churned out at a rate of approximately four emails per week by David Sirota, right, who joined the Sanders campaign last March as a speechwriter and senior adviser. It is one of several ways — another is a podcast, “Hear the Bern”— through which the campaign has tried to bypass traditional news outlets and reach voters directly.

Bern Notice received attention Monday for having promoted a Guardian column by Zephyr Teachout, a Sanders surrogate, that accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of having “a big corruption problem” hours before Mr. Sanders disavowed the column. (That newsletter edition was erased from the internet as of Tuesday morning.)

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Biden, Sanders, Social Security and Smears, Paul Krugman, right,Jan. 20, 2020. Lying about a rival is bad, even if you don’t like his past positions.

While the news media has been focused on the “spat” between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, something much more serious has been taking place between the Sanders campaign and Joe Biden. Not to sugarcoat it: The Sanders campaign has flat-out lied about things Biden said in 2018 about Social Security, and it has refused to admit the falsehood.

This is bad; it is, indeed, almost Trumpian. The last thing we need is another president who demonizes and lies about anyone who disagrees with him, and can’t admit ever being wrong. Biden deserves an apology, now, and Sanders probably needs to find better aides.

That said — and this is no excuse for the Sanders camp — it would be good to have Biden explain why, in the more distant past, he went along with the Beltway consensus that Social Security needed to be pared back.

First, about that Biden smear: In 2018 Biden gave a speech attacking Paul Ryan, the then-speaker of the House, for wanting to cut taxes on the rich and pay for those tax cuts by cutting Social Security and Medicare. There was nothing in his remarks that should bother progressives.

However, a Sanders adviser recently circulated a snippet from the video of the event that made it appear that Biden was actually supporting Ryan’s position and calling for Social Security cuts. A few days later a newsletter from the Sanders campaign quoted Biden out of context and made the same claim.

democratic donkey logoBiden did make a misstep in his counterattack, mislabeling the misrepresented video clip as “doctored,” but that doesn’t mean he’s not still due an abject apology. Instead, however, the Sanders campaign has doubled down. Rather than admitting that it smeared a rival, the campaign is going around claiming that Biden has a long record of trying to cut Social Security. There is, unfortunately, some truth in that claim — but it doesn’t excuse either the original lie or the refusal to admit error.

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, Opinion: Today’s progressives have a real chance to reshape American politics. But they’re in danger of repeating our mistakes, John B. Judis, Jan 21, 2020. For nearly a decade now, arguably dating to the Occupy movement of 2011, a new generation of left-wing activism has been stirring.

A host of organizations (Indivisible, the Sunrise Movement, 350.org, People’s Action, the Working Families Party, Black Lives Matter, the Justice Democrats, a revived Democratic Socialists of America) and new publications (Jacobin, the Intercept, Current Affairs) are doing what groups like SDS did in the ’60s: elevating left-wing causes and promising dramatic societal change.

These activists and their worldviews have made significant inroads in mainstream politics in a relatively short time. In 2016, Bernie Sanders — a socialist whose platform was well to the left of George McGovern’s then-regarded-as-radical platform in 1972 — almost won the Democratic nomination. This year, Sanders, advocating a “political revolution,” is once again in the top tier of candidates. So is Elizabeth Warren, who’s running on a platform of “big, structural change.”

But at this moment of left-wing optimism, it bears remembering that the ’60s left never fulfilled the vision of Tom Hayden and others. Indeed, even as our cause appeared ascendant, a powerful right-wing movement was also percolating: Young Americans for Freedom, presidential candidates George Wallace and Barry Goldwater, California Gov. Ronald Reagan. By the time I saw Hayden speak in 1969, Nixon had been elected, in part because of a backlash to the new left. In 1972, he would rout McGovern at the polls. Less than a decade later, Reagan was in the White House. If revolutionary change was on the agenda, it was of an entirely different nature from what we had envisaged in 1969.

Will today’s new left stumble down the path of my generation’s left, growing largely irrelevant and then, eventually, disappearing from sight? Or could it come to dominate American politics over the next few decades? Because of key structural differences between then and now, I actually think their odds of success are better than ours were. But to capitalize on those odds, they will have to learn from the failures of my generation — we activists who succeeded in captivating a noisy subgroup of Americans but never came close to commanding a political majority. And there are already, in my view, worrisome signals that they are repeating some of our biggest mistakes.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S.-bound migrants clash with Mexican forces at Guatemala border, Kevin Sieff, Jan. 21, 2020. The caravan presented a new test for the Mexican government, which promised the Trump administration last year that it would step up enforcement.

washington post logoWashington Post, North Korea selects ex-soldier as new top diplomat, a pick that may bode ill for diplomacy, Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim​, Jan. 21, 2020. While experts cautioned into over-interpreting the change, but Ri Son Gwan, the new foreign minister, has a reputation for being a hard-line, testy negotiator.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatens Europe with fresh tariffs in Davos, deepening a rift with longtime U.S. allies, Heather Long, Jan. 21, 2020. Just days after he scored big wins with China, Mexico and Canada, the move highlights how President Trump is quickly pivoting to make Europe the next front in his protectionist trade war.

  • Washington Post, Saudi crown prince implicated in hack of Jeff Bezos’s phone, U.N. report will say

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, China urges travel restrictions in bid to limit outbreak as number of confirmed cases jumps, Anna Fifield​, Jan. 21, 2020. Health authorities sought to impose a quasi-quarantine around Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have originated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Davos, as Trump lashes out at ‘prophets of doom,’ Rick Noack, Jan. 21, 2020. The world, Thunberg said Tuesday, needs to “treat this crisis with the importance it deserves.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Prince Harry joins Meghan in Canada, without the half-in, half-out royal deal they wanted, Karla Adam, Jan. 21, 2020 In Britain, questions are being asked about their plans to use the Sussex Royal brand.

Press Freedom: Brazil

glenn greenwald cnn

Axios, Brazil charges American journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes, Rashaan Ayesh, Jan. 21, 2020. Brazilian prosecutors charged American journalist Glenn Greenwald (shown above in a file screenshot) with cybercrimes on Tuesday for allegedly spreading cellphone messages "that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anti-corruption task force," the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Greenwald, who is best known for publishing leaked documents from Edward Snowden about U.S. domestic surveillance, is a co-founder of The Intercept Brazil. The publication has faced attacks from far-right President Jair Bolsonaro after publishing leaked messages about a task force that prosecuted high-profile political figures, including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Prosecutors allege that Greenwald did more than just receive the leaked messages and played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime," per the Times.

brazil flag wavingGreenwald lives in Brazil and is married to Brazilian politician David Miranda, who lost a bid for a Brazilian congressional seat and has labeled himself as the "antithesis of Bolsonaro."

What he's saying: In a statement to The Daily Beast, Greenwald said: "The Bolsonaro government and the movement that supports it has made repeatedly clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms—from Bolsonaro's threats against Folha to his attacks on journalists that have incited violence to Sergio Moro’s threats from the start to classify us as ‘allies of the hackers’ for revealing his corruption."

“Less than two months ago, the Federal Police, examining all the same evidence cited by the Public Ministry, stated explicitly that not only have I never committed any crime but that I exercised extreme caution as a journalist never even to get close to any participation,” he continued. “Even the Federal Police under Minister Moro's command said what is clear to any rational person: I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist—ethically and within the law.”

“This denunciation — brought by the same prosecutor who just tried and failed to criminally prosecute the head of the Brazilian Bar Association for criticizing Minister Moro — is an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government."

Press Freedom: Canada

Consortium News, Commentary: Consortium News has sent libel notices to a Canadian spy agency and major broadcaster after their reports said CN is part of a Russian-directed propaganda campaign targeting Canadian leaders, Joe Lauria, Jan. 21, 2020. Consortium News has sent libel notices to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s version of the U.S. National Security Agency, and to a major Canadian television network, Global News, for a report that said Consortium News was “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.”

canadian flagBased on a CSE leak of a secret document, Global News’ website said in a Dec. 10, 2019 article entitled, “‘Canadian eyes only’ intelligence reports say Canadian leaders attacked in cyber campaigns,” that Consortium News led this campaign. “The first attack was a February 2017 report in the ‘online Consortium News’ followed ‘in quick succession’ by pro-Russian English language and Russian-language online media, the CSE report says,” according to Global News.

A caption on the Global News site under a screenshot of the Feb. 27, 2017 Consortium News article reads: “A CSE report says Consortium News was part of an attack from Russia on Chrystia Freeland’s reputation.” Freeland was the then Canadian foreign minister and is now deputy prime minister.

The libel notices were sent by a Toronto law firm on behalf of Consortium News, which seeks a retraction of all mention of Consortium News and an apology. CN is making a formal Access to Information Act request (Canada’s Freedom of Information Act) to obtain a copy of the CSE report. Part of the CSE report, classified “SECRET CEO,” CEO meaning Canadian Eyes Only, was broadcast by Global News.

The Feb. 27, 2017 Consortium News article, written by journalist Arina Tuskanova exclusively for CN, was titled “A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet.” It reveals that Freeland had lied about her grandfather’s past as an editor of a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland during the war.

 U.S. Supreme Court

 washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court refuses to fast-track a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Robert Barnes, Jan. 21, 2020. A practical effect is that the health-care law will probably remain in place through the fall elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Religious-schools case heads to a high court skeptical of stark lines between church and state, Robert Barnes, Jan. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Schools such as Stillwater Christian in Montana are watching what could be a landmark case testing the constitutionality of state laws supreme court graphicthat exclude religious organizations from government funding.

Parents who believe religious schools such as Stillwater absolutely are the places for their children are at the center of what could be a landmark Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of state laws that exclude religious organizations from government funding available to others.

In this case, the issue rests on whether a scholarship fund supported by tax-deductible donations can help children attending the state’s private schools, most of which are religious.

More On U.S. Courts

  • michael avenatti twitterWashington Post, Michael Avenatti jailed in isolated unit that held El Chapo. It’s ‘for his own safety,’ warden says, Shayna Jacobs​. Jan. 21, 2020. Avenatti’s lawyers said the restrictive detention prevents their client, right, from preparing for his trial on extortion charges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Harvey Weinstein defense team can cite ‘loving emails’ from accusers in opening statements, judge rules, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 21, 2020. The contents of the emails are expected to be key to Weinstein's defense that encounters with women who say he forced them into sexual acts were actually consensual.

Jan. 20

Impeachment Headlines

 

Impeachment Excerpts

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Legal Team Asks Senate for Speedy Acquittal in Impeachment Trial, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 20, 2020. President Trump’s lawyers outlined his defense before the Senate trial, calling on lawmakers to “swiftly reject” the articles of impeachment. The formal brief dismissed the largely party-line vote by the House as a “brazenly political act” after a “rigged process.”

In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before his trial begins in earnest, the president’s lawyers advanced their first sustained legal argument since the House opened its inquiry last fall, contending that the two articles of impeachment approved largely along party lines were constitutionally flawed and set a dangerous precedent.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers insisted that neither of the two charges lodged against Mr. Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — is valid, because they do not state any specific violation of the law. They maintained that the accusations in effect seek to punish the president for foreign policy decisions and efforts to preserve executive prerogatives.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell lays out rules for Trump’s trial, schedule to consider charges, Seung Min Kim and Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 20, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), below left, said the opening arguments would begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, with each side given 24 mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedhours to present its case over two days.

Senate aides and GOP lawyers were also weighing contingency plans in case Democrats are successful in forcing witnesses to testify in the trial.

After the House managers and Trump’s lawyers make their case, senators will be allowed 16 hours to question the opposing sides.

After that, the sides will debate for a maximum of four hours on whether to consider subpoenaing witnesses or documents at all, followed by a vote on whether to do so. If a majority of senators agree, then there will likely be motions from both sides to call various witnesses, with subsequent votes on issuing subpoenas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: George Conway: The worst thing about Trump’s answer to the impeachment articles, George T. Conway III (Washington Post photo), Jan. 20, George Conway (Washington Post photo)2020. President Trump has filed his answer to the articles of impeachment against him. In legal parlance, an “answer” is a document filed at the beginning of a proceeding, typically a civil case, in which the defending side gives its response to factual allegations and lists the basic grounds for its defense.

Trump’s answer did neither, not in any serious way. His arguments are wrong on the facts and wrong on the law, but that’s not the worst part. At its core, his submission represents an attack on the impeachment process — and on the Constitution itself.

The answer doesn’t bother to present any coherent factual response to the impeachment charges. Instead, it declares that Trump “categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation.” Is Trump denying, say, that he demanded that Ukraine announce it was investigating the Bidens? Or that he ordered documents to be withheld and witnesses not to testify before Congress? The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.

Beyond that, on the facts, Trump’s answer presents only a few bare conclusions, pointless irrelevances — and outright misstatements. It tells us, once again, that Trump’s July 25, 2019, call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was “perfectly legal” and “completely appropriate.” Trump “raised the important issue of Ukrainian corruption,” the answer asserts. Read the transcript, as the president might say. He did not.

djt lev parnas dinner april 2018 Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got bad news at the worst possible time, Bill Palmer, Jan. 20, 2020. Right now Mitch McConnell is doing an almost comical job of pretending he has the votes to run the Senate impeachment trial in whatever way he pleases. Based on public statements from certain Republican Senators, and the fact that McConnell’s motion to dismiss the charges has already failed, it’s clear that McConnell is not in charge of what’s going to happen in this trial, the Senate GOP holdouts are.

bill palmer report logo headerThat handful of Republican Senators – the ones who are afraid that a sham impeachment trial will prompt voters to punish them when they’re up for reelection – are the ones who will decide everything about the trial. They’ll decide which witnesses, if any, are called.

cnn logoThat’s why today’s new CNN polling represents particularly bad news for Donald Trump, and bad timing for him. It shows that 51% of Americans want Trump to be removed from office by the Senate. It also shows that 69% of Americans want witnesses to be called during the impeachment trial. This poll is in line with numerous other polls conducted during the House impeachment hearings. It shows that Americans are just as in favor of Trump’s removal, and just as opposed to a sham trial, as they were a month or two ago.

These new numbers are rather loudly telling the holdout Senate Republicans that their best chance at retaining their own seats is to call witnesses during the impeachment trial, and to think strongly about removing Trump altogether. Even if they don’t have the stomach to remove him, they know they can split the difference by calling witnesses like John Bolton and Lev Parnas and letting the chips fall where they may.

Lev Parnas, with his wife Sventlana (file photo via Facebook).

Lev Parnas, with his wife Sventlana and protesters (file photo via Facebook).

washington post logoWashington Post, Lev Parnas’s feverish text messages show wide reach among Ukraine’s oligarchs, Robyn Dixon, David L. Stern and Natalie Gryvnyak, Jan. 20, 20120. The Florida businessman, whose family moved to the United States from the Soviet Union when he was a child, has said he was part of a multi-pronged effort to help President Trump’s reelection campaign.

Lev Parnas, the Ukrainian American businessman at the heart of the Trump impeachment, adopted a tone of hearty bonhomie when exchanging messages with Ukraine’s political elite, calling them “my brother” or “my friend,” or telling them “I missed you” or “I embrace you.”

The Florida businessman whose family moved to the United States from the Soviet Union when he was a child, has said he was part of a multipronged effort led by former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R), to help President Trump’s reelection campaign and damage a political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, What happens next in the impeachment process? Amber Phillips, Jan. 20, 20120. Inside the Senate chamber, impeachment managers from the House will prosecute the case against the president, and White House and private lawyers will defend him.

 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.

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 Igor Fruman while the later two were boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Something still doesn’t add up about Donald Trump and Lev Parnas, Bill Palmer, Jan. 20, 2020. When the Feds first arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, my gut told me that the Trump regime was behind the arrests, as a way of trying to insulate Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal by scapegoating Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen. But I like my gut feelings to be supported by evidence, and when no evidence emerged to support to notion that Trump was behind the arrests, I set that notion aside. However, this past week has seen a huge shift in the Trump-Parnas narrative.

bill palmer report logo headerLev Parnas went on cable news last week and revealed that after Lev was arrested, Donald Trump initially sent his own lawyers to represent Lev. Then at some point Lev concluded that these lawyers were trying to keep him quiet by making sure he didn’t get out on bail, and he fired them. Then over the weekend Lev’s current attorney tweeted an email in which Trump’s lawyers discussed what to do about Lev and Igor in relation to the impeachment process. This email was dated the day before Lev and Igor were arrested.

It’s long been widely reported that the Feds at the SDNY notified Attorney General Bill Barr about the arrest of Lev and Igor shortly before it happened. Now there’s evidence suggesting that the day before they were arrested, Trump’s lawyers expected to imminently have Lev and Igor under its thumb. Then after the arrest happened, Trump sent those same lawyers to apparently try to make sure Lev and Igor remained silent.

This all takes me back to the original question I posed on the day of the arrests: were Bill Barr and the Trump regime behind the arrests of Lev lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020and Igor, as a way of trying to scapegoat Lev and Igor and Rudy Giuliani?

If this was part of some scheme, it’s turned out to be a dumb one, as Rudy managed to fend off Trump by publicly bragging about having “insurance” against him, Trump still got impeached, and now Lev is giving evidence and interviews to anyone who will listen. So did Trump and Barr simply make a stupid gamble by having Lev and Igor arrested? Or were their arrests legitimate in nature, and beyond the Trump regime’s control? It’ll all come out in the end.

Missing, Trafficked Native Women

ny times logoNew York Times, An Outcry Grows as Native Women Keep Vanishing, Jack Healy, Photographs by Cristina Baussan, Jan. 20, 2020. Stories of how Native American women have gone missing or been found murdered are gaining traction, forcing politicians and the police to take notice.

Jackie Big Hair slept in her car again, waking every few hours to fire up the engine and gaze at the frozen highway rest stop where her 16-year-old daughter had been reported missing.

“I just have to be here,” Ms. Big Hair, 50, said, watching semis lumber across the plains. “I don’t know where else to go.”

This was her vigil now, along with searches in Billings about 30 miles away, three weeks after her youngest child, Selena Not Afraid, was reported missing from a barren stretch of Interstate 90 in a southern Montana county where 65 percent of the population is Native American. Law enforcement officials said a van carrying Selena home the day after a New Year’s party in Billings had pulled into the rest stop after breaking down, and then reportedly started up again and driven away without her. Nobody had heard from her since.

A national outcry over the killings and disappearances of Indigenous women has reached a boiling point here in Big Horn County, a rural stretch of rolling mountains and ranch lands that contains the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations and has the highest rate of missing and murdered Native Americans in Montana, and among the highest nationwide.

Local activists had an incomplete count of 27 Native women who had gone missing in recent memory in Big Horn County alone. Now, there are 28. The difference here and in many parts of the West is that for decades the disappearance of mothers and children, cousins and friends almost invariably played out in utter obscurity, with modest law enforcement investigations that almost invariably languished unsolved.

Activists and researchers say the crisis burned unheeded for generations until a few years ago, when families’ stories of how their loved ones were sex trafficked, murdered with impunity or dismissed as chronic runaways gained traction through grass-roots organizing and social media, forcing politicians and law enforcement to take notice.

Last year, 5,590 Indigenous women were reported missing to the F.B.I.’s National Crime Information Center, but advocates say the staggeringly high rates of violence suffered by Indigenous people is still not fully reflected in official accounting. Some of the victims are misclassified as Asian or Hispanic, or are overlooked if they live in urban areas instead of reservations, or their cases are lost in a jurisdictional maze over which state, federal or tribal law enforcement agency bears responsibility for investigating.

Campaign 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, With Iowa caucuses looming, Democratic candidates ramp up their attacks, Matt Viser, Sean Sullivan and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Jan. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The pent-up feuds are unspooling at an unpredictable moment, with a quartet of candidates essentially tied in the state.

The race for the Democratic nomination burst into a multifront flurry of attacks and counterattacks on Sunday, as the largely issue-driven contest veered personal just two weeks before the first vote.

bernie sandersThe aggression came from multiple candidates on multiple fronts, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), right, and former vice president Joe Biden sparring about Social Security while Sanders aides excoriated Biden for his record on race.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized Mike Bloomberg for postponing the release of his financial disclosure statements, saying that the billionaire and former New York mayor is “trying to skip the democracy part of the election” and that voters won’t know of potential financial entanglements until after Super Tuesday.

It is all unfolding in the midst of a confrontation between Sanders and Warren over gender and electability, which continued to play out Sunday, when Sanders said he believed gender is an obstacle for any female presidential candidate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: President Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Jan. 20, 2020. The president said more false or misleading claims in 2019 as he did in 2017 and 2018 combined. Three years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims — a milestone that would have been unthinkable when we first created the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered.

We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. We recorded 492 claims — an average of just under five a day — and readers demanded that we keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency.

Little did we know what that would mean.

Civil Rights / Religion 

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: ‘To India I come as a pilgrim’: Martin Luther King Jr.’s remarkable trip to honor his hero, mlk head shot 1Gillian Brockell, Jan. 20, 2020. The civil rights icon , right, wanted to follow in Mohandas Gandhi's footsteps. In 1959, he did, literally, on a life-changing trip to India.

After six full days of travel, Martin Luther King Jr. had finally arrived. He was met with wreaths of flowers and driven to a luxury hotel near the India Gate. He undoubtedly had jet lag, but before he could sleep it off, a news conference was set up in the lobby.

“To other countries I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim,” he told the two dozen reporters gathered there on Feb. 10, 1959.

They peppered him with questions. Was it true interracial marriage was illegal in the American South? Could nonviolent protest work in colonized Africa? Was he a vegetarian?

The Montgomery bus boycott three years earlier had been closely watched in Indian newspapers, particularly since King, as the young leader of the boycott, espoused the teachings of Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi. Now, he would be spending a month in India to learn more and pay homage to his hero.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Will The Chicago Tribune Be the Next Newspaper Picked to the Bone? David Jackson and Gary Marx (investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune), Jan. 20, 2020 (print ed.). Journalists worry that a New York hedge fund with a big stake in the paper will impose draconian cuts, as it has elsewhere.

We are investigative reporters in a great American city infamous for its corruption and murders.

chicago tribune hqIn recent years, we and our colleagues have exposed rapes and assaults inside nursing homes, deadly hazards in children’s toys, the staggering prevalence of sexual violence in Chicago’s public schools, grievous failure in America’s extradition system, mercury in store-bought tuna fish, prostitution schemes in residential treatment centers for foster children and rampant corruption at the highest levels of Illinois government.

Spurred by this reporting, federal, state and local legislators have changed laws in ways that have made people safer and our notoriously crooked government a little cleaner.

alden global capital logoBut now that type of journalism faces an urgent threat.

The hedge fund Alden Global Capital in November acquired 32 percent of Tribune Publishing Company shares, becoming the largest shareholder, and it is angling for control of the company. Tribune Publishing includes not only The Chicago Tribune — the largest daily newspaper in Illinois — but also The Daily News of New York, The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant, The Orlando Sentinel, The Sun-Sentinel of South Florida, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., and The Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md.

Alden’s strategy of acquiring struggling local newsrooms and stripping them of assets has built the personal wealth of the hedge fund’s investors. But Alden has imposed draconian staff cuts that decimated The Denver Post and other once-proud newspapers that have been vital to their communities and to American democracy. Those newsrooms, which put a spotlight on local political corruption, have served as forums for community voices and have driven the coverage of regional television, radio and online outlets.

In a signal of what may happen in Chicago, on Jan. 13, we and other newsroom staff members were offered buyouts. Now, we are bracing for the sight of colleagues with decades of experience walking out with cardboard boxes in their arms and tears streaming down their faces.

The Chicago Tribune was founded in 1847, and ever since it has played an outsize role in the national conversation. It supported the presidential candidacy of Abraham Lincoln, a subscriber. Even its pratfalls, like the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline of 1948, are the stuff of legend.

The Tribune has won 27 Pulitzer Prizes, and the other newspapers in our chain have claimed 37 more.

Among those awards was a special citation last year to The Capital Gazette, where a gunman in 2018 killed four journalists and another employee — the most deadly attack on journalists in United States history. The Pulitzer Prize Board cited the newspaper staff “for demonstrating unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.”

The courage displayed by the Capital Gazette symbolizes the importance of regional and local newsrooms as part of a vital free press.

Editor's note: The Justice Integrity Project's editor earned his first money in journalism as a stringer for the Chicago Tribune and worked 14 years as a reporter and editor for the chain's Hartford Courant, later authoring the book Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper, which served as a case study for how news outlets were being gutted by extreme profit-seeking by conglomerates acquiring media properties.

Jan. 19

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: ‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals, Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Jan. 19, 2020 (print ed.). The new book A Very Stable Genius documents how President Trump lashed out at attempts by military leaders and diplomats to teach him about U.S. alliances and obligations around the globe.

philip rucker carol leonnig stable genius Custom 2There is no more sacred room for military officers than 2E924 of the Pentagon, a windowless and secure vault where the Joint Chiefs of Staff meet regularly to wrestle with classified matters. Its more common name is “the Tank.” The Tank resembles a small corporate boardroom, with a gleaming golden oak table, leather swivel armchairs and other mid-century stylings. Inside its walls, flag officers observe a reverence and decorum for the wrenching decisions that have been made there.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump’s knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.

So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day crystallized the commander in chief’s berating, derisive and dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran.

The Tank meeting was a turning point in Trump’s presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate America’s traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses.

Impeachment Headlines

 

Impeachment News Excerpts

nancy pelosi djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate must ‘eliminate the threat that the president poses to America’s national security,’ House managers argue in brief, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 19, 2020 (print ed.). In response, President Trump’s legal team dismissed the case as a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”

 djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Michael Pence and operatives Igor Fruman (second from the left) and Lev Parnas (between Fruman and Trump) pose in better times for them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Once this is over, we’ll be kings’: How Lev Parnas worked his way into Trump’s world — and now is rattling it, Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Sonne​, Jan. 19, 2020 (print ed.). ​A cascade of revelations by the former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown together at right in a file photo at the Trump International Hotel) overshadowed the opening of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

It was the week when the pomp and circumstance of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history was supposed to take center stage in Washington. The House of Representatives formally voted to send the Senate charges that Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Customhelp his reelection bid. John G. Roberts Jr., the chief justice of the United States, arrived in the Senate chambers to preside over the president’s trial and the swearing in of 100 senators.

But overshadowing that weighty moment was a cascade of revelations by a fast-talking, Ukraine-born businessman sporting an ankle bracelet who — speaking for the first time since his October arrest on campaign finance charges — directly implicated the president in the Ukraine scheme.

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that earned the cable news show the highest ratings of its 11-year history.

 • Washington Post, Dutch Trump fan says texts about U.S. ambassador’s movements were sent in jest

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Formally Responds to Impeachment as Democrats Outline Case, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 19, 2020 (print ed.). In a six-page letter, President Trump’s lawyers called the case against him illegitimate and the effort to remove him dangerous. The response came shortly after the House impeachment managers formally outlined their case and called his conduct “the framers’ worst nightmare.”

In the first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial that opens in earnest on Tuesday, the dueling arguments from the White House and the House impeachment managers previewed a politically charged fight over Mr. Trump’s fate, unfolding against the backdrop of the presidential election campaign.

They presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ during the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. They also vividly illustrated how the proceeding is almost certain to rekindle feuding over the 2016 election that has barely subsided during Mr. Trump’s tenure, and reverberate — whether he is convicted or acquitted — in an even more brutal electoral fight in November.

In a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to enlist a foreign government to help him win the 2020 election. He did so, the Democrats argued, by pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage vital military aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.

The president then sought to conceal those actions from Congress, they said, posing “a serious danger to our constitutional checks and balances” by ordering administration officials not to testify or turn over documents requested by a House impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump’s conduct is the framers’ worst nightmare,” wrote the seven Democratic managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California.

In a six-page filing formally responding to the House impeachment charges submitted shortly after and filled with partisan barbs against House Democrats, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denounced the case as constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven purely by a desire to hurt Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dershowitz distances himself from White House response to Democrats’ impeachment charges, Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 19, 2020. Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law emeritus professor who recently joined President Trump’s legal team, on Sunday distanced himself from a response by two White House lawyers to House Democrats’ impeachment case against the president, noting that he did not sign on to the document.

“I didn’t sign that brief,” Dershowitz said in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week.” “I didn’t even see the brief until after it was filed. That’s not part of my mandate. My mandate is to determine what is a constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment.”

Dershowitz is one of four lawyers who were selected personally by Trump and announced Friday as new members of the president’s legal team. The others are former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and former independent counsels Robert Ray and Kenneth W. Starr.

Dershowitz’s comments come as both sides preview their arguments for Trump’s impeachment trial, which begins in earnest this week and is only the third such trial in U.S. history.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, said Sunday that Democrats will be “fighting for a fair trial” and pushed back against critics who have argued that the House should have done more to enforce its subpoenas before voting to impeach Trump.

“The reality is, because what the president is threatening to do is cheat in the next election, you cannot wait months and years to be able to remove that threat from office,” Schiff said on “This Week

Trump has urged the Senate to dismiss the charges against him. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a key Trump ally, said Sunday that such a motion is “dead for practical purposes,” but he noted that the president is eager for the trial to be over as soon as possible — ideally before his State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 4.

ny times logomaureen dowd thumbLargeNew York Times, Opinion: Starr Chamber -- The Sequel, Maureen Dowd, right, Jan. 19, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump reaches deep into the perv barrel for his defense team. Trump is once more doing his part to energize women voters. On Friday, we learned that the president will get help from Starr and Dershowitz for the impeachment trial in the Senate.

The Starr chamber was a shameful period of American history, with the prissy Puritan independent counsel hounding and virtually jailing Monica Lewinsky and producing hundreds of pages of panting, bodice-ripping prose that read more like bad erotica than a federal report, rife with lurid passages about breasts, stains and genitalia.

Even Trump was appalled. “Starr’s a freak,” the bloviating builder told me back in 1999. “I bet he’s got something in his closet.” In other interviews, he called Starr “a lunatic,” “a disaster” and “off his rocker,” and expressed sympathy for Hillary having to stand by her man when he was “being lambasted by this crazy Ken Starr, who is a total wacko.”

Starr, who once clutched his pearls over Bill Clinton’s sexual high jinks, is now going to bat for President “Access Hollywood.” After playing an avenging Javert about foreplay in the Oval, Starr will now do his utmost to prove that a real abuse of power undermining Congress and American foreign policy is piffle.

In 2007, he defended Jeffrey Epstein. By 2016, Starr was being ousted as president of Baptist Baylor University for failing to protect women and looking the other way when football players were accused and sometimes convicted of sexual assaults. In other words, he’s a complete partisan hack who doesn’t give a damn about sexual assault.

And then there’s Dershowitz, whose past clients have included such sterling fellows as Epstein, Claus von Bülow, O.J. Simpson and Harvey Weinstein. How did he miss Ted Bundy? Still, Dershowitz has put himself on the side of an impressive pantheon of villainy in the realm of violence against girls and women.

Virginia Giuffre, Prince Andrew’s accuser, has also claimed that she was offered as a teenager to Dershowitz for sex — a contention that Dershowitz has denied in a countersuit.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The real reason for Trump’s curious last-minute tweaks to his legal team, George T. Conway III, Jan. 19, 2020. This is what happens when you don’t pay your legal bills.

President Trump, whose businesses and now campaign have left a long trail of unpaid bills behind them, has never discriminated when it comes to stiffing people who work for him. That includes lawyers — which is part of the reason he found the need to make some curious last-minute tweaks to his team, announcing the addition of the legal odd couple of Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth W. Starr.

​The president has consistently encountered difficulty in hiring good lawyers to defend him. In 2017, after Robert S. Mueller III became special counsel, Trump couldn’t find a high-end law firm that would take him as a client. His reputation for nonpayment preceded him: One major Manhattan firm I know had once been forced to eat bills for millions in bond work it once did for Trump. No doubt other members of the legal community knew of other examples.

That left Trump to be personally defended in the Mueller investigation by a random patchwork of counsel, including Jay Sekulow, a lawyer specializing in religious liberty cases, and John Dowd, a Washington solo practitioner who, according to Bob Woodward, viewed Trump as a “f---ing liar.” (Dowd denies that.) Last but not least, Trump had the assistance of Rudolph W. Giuliani — who has done more than anyone other than Trump himself to get Trump impeached.

Contrast that unimpressive crew with the team assembled by President Bill Clinton, who had not one, but two, top-notch law firms defending him: global powerhouse Skadden Arps, with heavy-hitter Bob Bennett, to handle the Paula Jones case; and the elite Washington defense firm, Williams & Connolly, led by the brilliant David Kendall, to handle the Whitewater investigation, its Monica Lewinsky spinoff and impeachment.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump detailed Soleimani airstrike to donors at private Mar-a-Lago dinner, Colby Itkowitz and David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 19 (print ed.), 2020. The president said nothing at the fundraiser about an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests or threats to four U.S. embassies as he previously has to justify the unilateral military strike.

volodymyr zelensky un sept 2019 with bullet unsourced

For Volodymyr Zelensky (shown above in a file photo), taking on oligarchs and organized crime is a domestic test with geopolitical consequences.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine’s President Said He’d Fight Corruption. Resistance Is Fierce, Anton Troianovski, Jan. 19, 2020. President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian, sitcom star and political neophyte, catapulted to the presidency of Ukraine last spring on a promise of sweeping away the country’s shadowy web of money and influence.

Now, as Mr. Zelensky faces pressure to deliver on his promises, he is finding that actually bringing the corrupt officials and oligarchs to heel is a lot harder than satirizing them on his former TV show, “Servant of the People.”

Previous Ukrainian presidents came to power pledging to tackle corruption, but usually with the intent of using that pose as cover for their own corrupt deals, activists say. Whether Mr. Zelensky can show that he is different from past leaders will be a decisive litmus test for his presidency — and for Ukraine’s viability as a country moving closer to the West.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Senate put limits on impeachment trial coverage. Even C-SPAN is annoyed, Michael M. Grynbaum, Jan. 19, 2020. The Senate will control the cameras during the impeachment trial, limiting what viewers see, and reporters will be confined to roped-off areas.

Journalists are up in arms about new restrictions on their movement inside the Capitol, which they say will prevent them from easily interviewing lawmakers about the proceedings. The rules, negotiated by Republican Senate leadership, have yet to be written down, causing confusion among reporters and the Capitol Police expected to enforce them.

Even sedate C-SPAN is aggrieved, calling on the Senate to allow its television crews to document the trial, instead of the government-controlled cameras that — as was the case during Bill Clinton’s trial 21 years ago — will limit what viewers see and hear inside the Senate chamber.

Hurling insults at journalists is standard fare for officials at the White House. But Congress, with its protocols and rituals, was considered a relatively safe space for reporters, where cordiality was prized.

The pretrial tensions suggest that the bash-the-press mentality that led the White House to kill off the daily briefing and strip reporters of their credentials has now crept into what senators like to call “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Jan. 18

Impeachment Headlines

 

Impeachment News

washington post logoWashington Post, Nunes aide, Parnas communicated about Ukraine campaign, messages show, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Greg Miller, Jan. 18, 2020. Lev Parnas, who functioned as Rudolph W. Giuliani's emissary to Ukrainian officials, had extensive contact with Derek devin nunes grimacingHarvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, right, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

House Democrats released new documents Friday evening showing extensive contact between an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney and an aide to the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee regarding the effort to obtain material from Ukrainian prosecutors that would be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden.

The text messages between Lev Parnas, who functioned as Rudolph W. Giuliani’s emissary to Ukrainian officials, and Derek Harvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, indicate Nunes’s office was aware of the operation at the heart of impeachment proceedings against the president — and sought to use the information Parnas was gathering.

The newly released texts show that Parnas was working last spring to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were feeding Giuliani information about Biden.

  • Washington Post, ‘Shove it,’ Rep. Ted Lieu tells Nunes in response to lawsuit threat, Jan. 18, 2020.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: New text messages put Devin Nunes on the hot seat, Aaron Blake,  Jan. 18, 2020. A month ago, when phone records showed contact between Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Lev Parnas, Nunes said he didn’t recall Parnas’s name and couldn’t confirm the call. On Wednesday, with Parnas about to appear on TV for the first time, Nunes (shown above in a file photo) suddenly offered a (very conveniently timed) confirmation, but he downplayed the call as being about “random things.”

republican elephant logoNow, Nunes’s claims about his ties to Parnas are even more questionable.

Newly released documents Friday night showed Parnas in repeated contact with a Nunes aide, Derek Harvey. He appeared to be looping Harvey into the Ukraine effort led by Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the messages show the three of them met at the Trump hotel in Washington. Parnas also set up calls for Harvey with the same Ukrainian prosecutors who were working with Giuliani.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Senate must not ignore the new evidence on Ukraine, Editorial Board, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). New evidence in djt impeached wapo 12 19 19 front page Customthe Ukraine affair has revealed several important new facts. One is that President Trump’s firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch last spring was part of an explicit trade-off with a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who promised dirt on Joe Biden. Another is that Mr. Trump’s demand that Ukraine’s president announce an investigation of Mr. Biden, along with the threat of retaliation if he did not, was communicated to the Ukrainians months earlier than previously known.

The new evidence significantly bolsters the case that Mr. Trump abused his office. It also underlines how much more there is still to learn about the dealings he and his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, undertook in Kyiv, even as the president’s trial on impeachment charges is set to begin in the Senate on Tuesday.

lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020Much of the new evidence comes from Lev Parnas, left, a former collaborator with Mr. Giuliani and donor to Mr. Trump who turned against them after his indictment on federal campaign finance charges. The White House dismisses Mr. Parnas as a man with a motive to lie, and it’s true that some of his allegations need verification. But the Soviet emigre businessman also gave House investigators texts, emails, calendars and other documents that appear to substantiate key charges.

Texts between Mr. Parnas and Yuri Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor, make clear that Mr. Lutsenko made allegations about Mr. Biden in the expectation that he would be rewarded with the firing of Ms. Yovanovitch, who had accused him of blocking corruption investigations. “If you don’t make a decision about Madam

— you are bringing into question all my allegations. Including about B,” one Lutsenko text to Mr. Parnas read. He got his wish: “He fired her again,” read a text from Mr. Giuliani to Mr. Parnas in April, shortly before Ms. Yovanovitch was recalled on Mr. Trump’s orders.

msnbc logo CustomMr. Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he also played a key role in conveying Mr. Trump’s demand for an investigation of Mr. Biden to Volodymyr Zelensky, who became Ukraine’s president last May. Mr. Giuliani had sent Mr. Zelensky a letter asking for a meeting but called off the trip after it was publicized. Mr. Parnas said he was then dispatched by Mr. Giuliani in early May to deliver a tough message to an aide to Mr. Zelensky: Unless he announced a Biden investigation, relations would sour, starting with the cancellation of Vice President Pence’s attendance at Mr. Zelensky’s inauguration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Starr Returns to the Impeachment Fray, This Time for the Defense, Peter Baker, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). Ken Starr, whose investigation led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, is one of the best known and most polarizing lawyers in the U.S.

The last time a president was on trial, few were more responsible for putting him in the dock than Ken Starr. Now the former independent counsel whose investigation led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment two decades ago will come to the defense of another president charged with high crimes and misdemeanors.

ken starr baylorIn adding Mr. Starr, right,to his legal team, President Trump enlisted one of the best known and most polarizing lawyers in the country, someone who in recent months has become a regular defender of the president on Fox News. Mr. Starr will argue that while Mr. Clinton’s impeachment was legitimate, Mr. Trump’s was out of bounds.

But Mr. Starr’s return to the public stage 21 years after Mr. Clinton’s trial was just the latest head-spinning turn in a saga that at times has echoed the dramatic battle of the late 1990s in oddly distorted ways. Many players from that impeachment are leading figures in this one, though on the other side. Democrats now make arguments often heard last time from Republicans and vice versa.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Hyde associate Anthony De Caluwe fires back in Trump-Yovanovitch surveillance scandal, Bill Palmer, Jan. 18, 2020. Earlier this week, text messages provided by Lev Parnas appeared to show that a Trump associate named Robert F. Hyde (shown above with Trump) was surveilling U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in Ukraine, and offering to hire local goons to target her for unknown purposes.

bill palmer report logo headerHyde has since acknowledged on Twitter that he did send the messages, but that he was just joking around. Yesterday Hyde asserted that he had simply relayed the messages from another guy named Anthony De Caluwe, whom he accused of being an Adam Schiff plant.

The media has since tracked down Anthony De Caluwe’s social media presence, and various Facebook photos confirm that De Caluwe has associated with Robert Hyde and with Donald Trump. Now De Caluwe is firing back in the media, making clear that he has no association with Schiff. De Caluwe is telling Kenneth Vogel of the New York Times that he did in fact send the messages to Hyde, but that it was mere “ridiculous banter” that wasn’t meant in a serious way.

Media / Propaganda

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washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives exhibit blurs signs in Women’s March image critical of Trump, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). The large color photograph that greets visitors to a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage shows a massive crowd filling Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts national archivesto show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement.

But a closer look reveals a different story.

The Archives, right, acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred.

Inside DC

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Attorney General William Barr, center, flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan of the National Security Division are all Republicans and stand united for their version of justice. (Justice Department news conference on April 18, 2019 on release of the Mueller Report.)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Rod Rosenstein was sabotaging Robert Mueller all along, Bill Palmer, Jan. 18, 2020. Up to now, the best that anyone understood the story of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was that he spent a long time trying to do the right thing when it came to Donald Trump, but eventually caved to Trump’s bullying in the end. Now, however, new court filings reveal that Rosenstein was without question a villain all along – and that he was going out of his way to sabotage his own appointee Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI all along.

bill palmer report logo headerWe all saw Rod Rosenstein very publicly and cartoonishly transform into a Donald Trump cheerleader near the end of his DOJ tenure, in what was perceived as an attempt at convincing Trump not to take his pension away. This made sense, as Trump had already retaliated against other DOJ figures like former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe by taking his pension away. But now it turns out Rosenstein was playing games on Trump’s behalf, behind the scenes, dating back to 2017.

peter strozk lisa pageThe new court filings reveal that it was Rod Rosenstein who leaked text messages from FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page (right) to the media in late 2017. Donald Trump seized on this opportunity by making up conspiracy theories about Strzok and Page, and by extension conspiracy theories about their boss at the time, Robert Mueller. Trump was eventually able to force Strzok and Page out of the FBI (though they’re both pursuing legal action over it). Trump was also able, via Bill Barr, to force a premature and stunted end to Mueller’s probe.

Rod Rosenstein’s decision to leak the Page-Strzok text messages can be seen as having played at least some role in the ultimate demise of the Mueller probe, which had initially been shot out of the gate like a cannon, but ultimately ended with a whimper. If Rosenstein was pulling stunts to sabotage Mueller dating back to 2017, it means that Rosenstein was trying to sabotage Mueller’s probe all along. At this point you have to wonder if Rosenstein will face obstruction of justice charges once Trump is gone.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at HHS secretary after briefing shows Democrats leading on health care, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). The president complained Democrats would “kill us” on health care if the administration did not do more to lower drug prices and enact other reforms.

alex azar hhs oPresident Trump lashed out at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, right, for not doing enough on health care and drug pricing during a campaign meeting this week after he was briefed on polling that showed the public trusted Democrats more than Republicans on the issue, according to four people present at or briefed about the meeting.

Campaign advisers were updating Trump at the White House on Thursday on polling from battleground states, including Florida, that showed which party voters trusted more on various issues. One of those issues was health care, which often polls as the top voter concern, and the data showed the public trusted Democrats more than Republicans.

Trump reacted furiously and said the Democrats would “kill us” on health care, according to the four people, who requested anonymity to candidly describe the private meeting. The president then picked up the phone, called Azar and put him on speakerphone in the middle of the meeting, the people said.

“You’re not getting it done,” Trump told Azar, referring to lowering drug prices, according to one of the people in the meeting and another briefed on the discussion. He told Azar he needed to “hurry up” on lowering drug prices and more quickly allow for the importation of drugs from Canada. “Why aren’t we getting these drugs from Canada?”

Azar reminded Trump he had rolled out a final rule allowing states, distributors and wholesalers to import select drugs from Canada during a December event in Florida with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has pushed for the policy for months. Azar emphasized to the president that he also wanted the rule done as fast as possible and noted the rule was in the middle of a 75-day comment period and that other states had expressed interest in it.

Environment / Native Americans

washington post logoWashington Post, A radioactive legacy haunts a Navajo village, which fears a fractured future, Will Ford, Jan. 18, 2020.  The Red Water Pond Road community in New Mexico sits amid a Superfund site. Residents, who fear losing their way of life if they are uprooted during the cleanup, are pressuring federal officials to reexamine an idea to construct a new off-grid, solar-powered community.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump detailed Soleimani airstrike to donors at private Mar-a-Lago dinner, Colby Itkowitz and David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 18, 2020. The president said nothing at the fundraiser about an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests or threats to four U.S. embassies as he previously has to justify the unilateral military strike.

• Washington Post, Dutch Trump fan says texts about U.S. ambassador’s movements were sent in jest

washington post logoWashington Post, Maduro says he’s firmly in control of Venezuela, ready for talks with U.S., Anthony Faiola​, Jan. 18, 2020.  In an interview with nicolas maduro customThe Post, President Nicolás Maduro cast himself as the wily survivor of a year-long effort by opponents at home and in Washington to force him out. U.S. officials have resisted talks unless or until Maduro, right, is willing to discuss his exit.

In an exclusive, extensive interview with The Washington Post — his first with a major U.S. media outlet since the day last February he abruptly pulled the plug on a Univision taping and ejected its journalists from the country — an exuberant Maduro said he had outfoxed his opponents in Caracas and Washington, is comfortably in charge and ready to talk.

He suggested a bonanza could be waiting for U.S. oil companies in this OPEC-member state should President Trump lift sanctions and press the reset button on U.S.-Venezuelan relations.

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, Britain’s Harry and Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles, repay some housing expenses, William Booth and Karla Adam​, Jan. 18, 2020.  ​A cascade of revelations by the former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani overshadowed the opening of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. A statement from the palace says the couple will "no longer formally represent The Queen."

U.S. Law, Courts

Law and Crime, DOJ Defies Court Order to Produce Memos and Notes From Jared Kushner’s Mueller Interview, Jerry Lambe, Jan. 18th, 2020. 
The Department of Justice on Friday evening released 176 pages of notes from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interviews with key witnesses during his office’s investigation into Russian election interference. But the records, produced under a federal court order resulting from dual Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) lawsuits filed by CNN and BuzzFeed, conspicuously withheld all memos concerning the testimony Mueller’s team elicited from the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

emmet sullivan 2012Senior United States District Judge for the District of Columbia Reggie Walton, right, an appointee of George W. Bush, had ordered the DOJ to turn over the same slew of documents provided to House congressional investigators, which included the 302 interview memos from the FBI’s interview with Kushner. While the Justice Department is entitled to redact documents in accordance with FOIA guidelines, no explanation was given for the missing documents, according to CNN.

“But still, on January 2 and on Friday night, the Justice Department was to have handed over as much of the documents the House had read as it could under the public records access law. Kushner wasn’t in either January batch,” the report stated. “It’s still not clear why. CNN and BuzzFeed continue to fight for access to more documents from the Mueller investigation in court.”

Judge Walton has already been critical of the Trump administration for what he perceived as its failure to properly staff the Executive branch divisions charged with complying with FOIA requests, and ordered the DOJ to provide a plan of action detailing its efforts to keep up with transparency and accountability mandates.

“Otherwise, they’re just totally thumbing their nose at the objective of FOIA,” he said. “The American public is going to become totally disillusioned.”

Thus far, the FOIA lawsuits have forced the DOJ to provide CNN and BuzzFeed with more than 800 pages of documents, some of which are heavily redacted “citing exemptions under FOIA to protect national security, attorney-client privilege, and ongoing investigations.” However, both news organizations have pledged to challenge those exemptions.

The Department of Justice on Friday evening released 176 pages of notes from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interviews with key witnesses during his office’s investigation into Russian election interference. But the records, produced under a federal court order resulting from dual Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) lawsuits filed by CNN and BuzzFeed, conspicuously withheld all memos concerning the testimony Mueller’s team elicited from the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“Despite a court order, the Justice Department is holding back Special Counsel Mueller memos regarding the interviews conducted with the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner,” CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz said Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Guantanamo chief convicted of covering up fight over alleged affair days before man’s death, Marisa Iati, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). A former commander of the Navy’s outpost in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was convicted Friday of covering up that he fought with a civilian over an alleged extramarital affair two days before the man was found dead.

john nettleton navy photoA federal jury in Jacksonville, Fla., found John Nettleton, 54, left, guilty of obstructing justice, concealing information, falsifying records and making false statements in connection with the death of Christopher Tur, who worked at Guantanamo’s Navy-operated general store.

“Capt. Nettleton dishonored his oath and impeded the investigation into a civilian’s tragic death, preventing much needed closure for the family and friends of the deceased,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement.

The Navy removed Nettleton from his post a few days after Tur’s death in 2015 “due to loss of confidence in Nettleton’s ability to command.” Nettleton, who had served as the base’s commanding officer since 2012, was reassigned to Jacksonville.

ny times logoNew York Times, Sex, Power and Fury: The Mystery of a Death at Guantánamo Bay, Patrick and Declan Walsh, Jan. 18, 2020. The federal trial of a former commander of the naval base put a spotlight on life at the outpost best known for its terrorist court and prison.

washington post logoWashington Post, A professor used $185K in research grants on strip clubs, iTunes and more, officials say, Lateshia Beachum, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). A former Drexel University professor allegedly spent research money on adult entertainment venues instead of approved studies, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

chikaodinaka nwankpaanChikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, 57, right, was arrested Monday and charged with theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception for stealing $185,000 in research grants, according to state prosecutors. It was unclear which subjects the grants were supposed to cover.

The former chair of the Drexel University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering spent more than $96,000 on area strip clubs and sports bars, in addition to $89,000 on food and iTunes purchases, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

A university audit showed the longtime professor, who spent nearly three decades at the school, made numerous, unapproved purchases between 2010 and 2017 that he tried to be reimbursed for through research grants, according to state prosecutors.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logodjt maga hatWashington Post, Oklahoma state senators want MAGA license plates — which might violate federal campaign finance rules, Katie Mettler​, Jan. 18, 2020. The Trump-themed license plates, if approved by the state legislature, would be added to a list of 98 other specialty designs that Oklahoma drivers can buy for $35.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Warren, with CNN help, plays wronged-woman card against Sanders: Is This the End of Identity Politics? Laurie Dobson, Jan. 18, 2020. With the blow-up this week between Warren and Sanders, ignited by a cheap-shot hit-job of a story on CNN published and aired a day before the CNN-produced Democratic candidates debate in Iowa, it has become clear that there is really only one true progressive in the Democratic cnn logoprimary race: Sanders.

The CNN article, which was based upon unsubstantiated claims leaked to the network by several unidentified Warren campaign staffers, asserted that in a one-on-one private meeting with Warren (no other witnesses present) held in her home over a year bernie sandersearlier, Sanders, right, had claimed that "a woman cannot win the Presidency."

Sanders, contacted by the CNN reporter on that story, firmly denied that it happened, noting that while he and Warren had met, it was "inconceivable" he would have said such a thing. His explanation: Hillary had just clearly "won" the 2016 election by garnering three million more popular votes than Donald Trump. Also since he noted that he had, in 2015, encouraged Warren to accept the call of a draft-Warren movement and run against Clinton, only entering the race himself after she had declined to take her on.

elizabeth warren o purpleThe issue has now come to a head: Warren can't have it both ways anymore, posing both as a progressive candidate and as a woman wronged and victimized in a campaign fight that she brought on.

Warren, left, is being naive, and dangerously deluded, by allowing herself to be used due to her self-perception as a female champion of vulnerable women. She, viewing things through her lens of single-issue identity politics, sees herself as being accosted as a woman. She may have been told by Sanders that her politics couldn't win. That would be a fair accusation, and one she may have taken personally, not looking at it from a larger, more objective perspective.

Privacy, Civil Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It, Kashmir Hill, Jan. 18, 2020. A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images. Its facial recognition tool “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says.

Hoan Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.

His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.

Federal and state law enforcement officers said that while they had only limited knowledge of how Clearview works and who is behind it, they had used its app to help solve shoplifting, identity theft, credit card fraud, murder and child sexual exploitation cases.

U.S. 2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Electing a Female President Is Secondary for Some Women, Lisa Lerer, Jan. 18, 2020 (print ed.). In the Trump era, some women say the power of a symbolic first is overshadowed by anxiety about defeating the president.

In the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the two leading female candidates remaining in the Democratic primary are embracing their gender as an asset, decisively pushing back against concerns that a woman can’t be elected president. Those sensitive conversations burst into public view this past week at the Democratic debate, in a nationally televised discussion about sexism and experience between Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Yet, the sisterhood may stop before the White House. In interviews with nearly two dozen female voters in Iowa this week, the symbolism of breaking what Hillary Clinton called “that highest, hardest glass ceiling” in politics seemed to be less resonant than ever before, particularly for older voters, who were subsumed by anxiety about defeating Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Can Qualify for the Next Debate by Winning a Single Delegate in Iowa, Maggie Astor, Jan. 18, 2020. Candidates like Andrew Yang and Michael R. Bloomberg, who were excluded from the last debate, can take a new path to the stage for the next one, to be held Feb. 7 in New Hampshire.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Trump Is Spreading a Conspiracy Theory About Pelosi, Biden and Sanders, Annie Karni and Jeremy W. Peters, Jan. 18, 2020. President Trump claims Nancy Pelosi has intentionally undermined Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign by delaying the impeachment trial. Mr. Sanders denounced that theory on Friday.

Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court to Consider Limits on Contraception Coverage, Adam Liptak, Jan. 18, 2020. The justices will weigh Trump administration regulations allowing employers to refuse to provide access to birth control on religious or moral grounds.

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the Trump administration may allow employers to limit women’s access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

The case returns the court to a key battleground in the culture wars, but one in which successive administrations have switched sides.

In the Obama years, the court heard two cases on whether religious groups could refuse to comply with regulations requiring contraceptive coverage. The new case presents the opposite question: Can the Trump administration allow all sorts of employers with religious or moral objections to contraception to opt out of the coverage requirement?

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, As Libya Descends Into Chaos, Foreign Powers Look for a Way Out, David D. Kirkpatrick and Declan Walsh, Jan. 18, 2020. A meeting in Berlin on Sunday will seek an exit to one of the Middle East’s most intractable proxy wars.

Russia has sent hundreds of mercenaries to back militias laying siege to Libya’s capital. The United Arab Emirates has sent jets and drones, while Egypt has provided logistical support.

To stop them, Turkey has sent dozens of military advisers and is now shipping in hundreds of Syrian militiamen.

Walid Khashib, a 35-year-old Libyan bank clerk, just wishes they would all leave.

“We Libyans don’t want Turkish or Syrian or Russian or any other foreign troops,” said Mr. Khashib, who had taken advantage of a temporary cease-fire to visit the rubble of his bombed-out home in eastern Tripoli. “We just want the issue to be resolved.”

The conflict in oil-rich Libya has become one of the Middle East’s most intractable proxy wars. Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are backing the former Libyan army general Khalifa Hifter, who is laying siege to the capital, Tripoli. Turkey is defending the United Nations-backed government there.

Most of the international powers with an interest in Libya will gather in Berlin on Sunday in the latest effort to find a way out of what has become a multinational free-for-all.

  • New York Times, Analysis: Europe is finally paying attention to the conflict in Libya

Jan. 17

Impeachment News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Kenneth Starr, Alan Dershowitz to join Trump’s legal team, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey​, Jan. 17, 2020. The ken starr baylorexpansion of President Trump’s team will also include Robert Ray, according to someone familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak. Ray and Starr, right, investigated President Bill Clinton.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump rolls out his “dream team” of garbage, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2020. Donald Trump rolled out his “dream team” of impeachment trial defense attorneys today, and it’s a hit parade of the most awful people he could find.

There’s Alan Dershowitz, who represented child rapist Jeffrey Epstein, and who has been accused of underage rape himself. There’s Ken Starr, the punchline who led the charge in Bill Clinton’s sham impeachment, who recently lost his job after trying to cover up a college rape scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump has also added former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a key figure in the Trump University criminal scandal, who is currently a registered foreign agent of Qatar. That’s right, after Trump previously hired illegal foreign agents like Paul Manafort (mug shot below right), Rick Gates and Michael Flynn to run his campaign and White House, he’s now hiring an official foreign agent to run his impeachment defense.

paul manafort mugThere are two ways to look at this. One is that Donald Trump probably couldn’t find anyone better than this collection of disgraced pieces of excrement. After all, who would want to destroy their reputation by defending an illegitimate president who got caught criminally conspiring against the United States? The other is that Trump generally likes hiring corrupt people, because he knows they’re more willing to do corrupt things on his behalf. Either way, this collection of trash heap losers isn’t going to help Trump’s cause any.

  • Washington Post, Leahy says Starr’s addition to Trump’s legal team is a ‘weird choice
  • Washington Post, Congress shows the ability to legislate through impeachment
  • Washington Post, Analysis: How one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats approaches impeachment
  • Washington Post, Perspective: Trump can’t stop John Bolton from testifying
  • Washington Post, Parnas ties Pence’s snub of Ukraine to pressure campaign

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC "Must Watch," Staff reports, Jan. 17, 2020.

  • MSNBC The Beat with Ari: 'He got caught': Pelosi played McConnell on Trump impeachment, (1:52 min. video).
  • MSNBC Day That Was: After sworn oath, historic impeachment trial begins (4:36 min.).
  • MSNBC: Trump responds to Lev Parnas interviews: ‘Don’t know who this man is’ (1:51).
  • MSNBC: Chief Justice John Roberts swears in senators for the impeachment trial of President Trump (0:40).
  • MSNBC: White House violated law by withholding Ukraine aid, government watchdog says (1:49).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Lev Parnas effectively put Bolton, Pompeo, and others on witness list (4:39).
  • MSNBC The Last Word: ‘The question of not listening to witnesses is off the table’ (1:56).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: What Trump knows and doesn't know: A primer (2:07).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: Trump may attend Davos as impeachment gets underway (4:13).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: Ukraine to investigate Burisma hacking (10:20).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: Why Parnas interview was a 'political earthquake' (8:40).
  • MSNBC Morning Joe: 'Rudy Giuliani is responsible for the impeachment' of Trump (7:36).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Parnas describes how Trump struggled to fire Amb. Yovanovitch (5:46).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Parnas: Perry fell short in his part in Trump's Ukraine scheme (2:17).
  • MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Parnas: 'I don't think Vice President Biden did anything wrong' (1:16).

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Roll Call, GAO: Trump’s Ukraine aid pause violated budget law, Paul M. Krawzak, Jan 17, 2020 (print ed.). 1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending. Ukraine aid legal ruling could shake up impeachment trial..

gao seal CustomPresident Donald Trump’s hold on military assistance for Ukraine last summer ran afoul of a 1974 budget law that limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday.

The finding by the GAO (whose headquarters is shown above) comes as the Senate prepares to begin its impeachment trial next week. House Democrats on Wednesday transmitted to the Senate articles of impeachment leveled at Trump for alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, after charging Trump with using the Ukraine aid as a bargaining chip for personal political gain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The GOP said Trump committed no crime. The GAO says he broke the law, Aaron Blake, Jan. 17, 2020 (print ed.). The ruling from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office severely undermined a core Trump impeachment defense.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas has set off a chain reaction that Donald Trump can’t stop, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 17, 2020. Parnas sat down with Rachel Maddow to discuss the Ukraine debacle. According to Parnas, “president” Trump “knew exactly what was going on” in Ukraine. Parnas, left, who lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020was joined by his counsel, said that he was their “on the ground person” in manufacturing dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

In addition to exposing Trump’s involvement in this criminal scheme, Parnas said that AG Bill Barr “was basically on the team” and that John Bolton was also aware. According to the Guardian, which reported on Parnas’ appearance, there are additional documents that have not yet been released that House prosecutors plan to present during the impeachment trial.

Parnas got very specific in his interview. He said that he was instructed by Giuliani to inform Ukraine officials that unless an investigation into the Bidens was announced, Mike Pence would not attend Zelensky’s inauguration. Parnas further alleges that the next day, Trump called Ukraine himself to advise that Pence would be canceling his trip. This means Pence was in on the extortion scheme, though we already expected that to be the case. Parnas claims that Trump’s decision to withhold military aid and cut off all relations came up after Ukrainian officials declined to investigate the Bidens.

bill palmer report logo headerSpeaking of withholding military aid, the Guardian also reported that the Government Accountability Office investigated and concluded that Trump violated the law by freezing those funds. The GOA report specifically stated: “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.”

Not surprisingly, the Office of Budget Management “disagrees” with the report. Rachel Semmel, OMB spokesperson, claims that “OMB uses its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the President’s priorities and with the law.” The problem is that with this “president,” those two things rarely, if ever, coincide.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: All the President’s Thugs, Michelle Goldberg, right, Jan. 17, 2020. Of course Lev Parnas is unreliable. He worked for Trump. One good thing about surrounding yourself with tawdry gangsters and grifters is that if they flip on you, you can claim they have no credibility because they’re criminals.

Now that Lev Parnas, a key conspirator in Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s plot to shake down Ukraine, is singing, Trump’s defenders are pointing out that he is a disreputable person who can’t be trusted. “This is a man who is under indictment and who’s actually out on bail. This is a man who owns a company called Fraud Inc.,” the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said on Fox News, the only network on which she regularly appears. (Parnas’s company was actually called Fraud Guarantee, though that’s not any better.)

Grisham is obviously correct that he’s a shady character. He’s certainly not someone you’d want, say, threatening foreign officials on behalf of the president of the United States, as Parnas claimed he did during an extraordinary interview with Rachel Maddow that aired on Wednesday and Thursday on MSNBC.

None of that, however, means that his dramatic interview on the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s because much of what he says has been corroborated, and because the very fact that a person like Parnas was carrying out high-level international missions for the president shows how mob-like this administration is.

U.S. Law, Courts

Associated Press via Yahoo, Prosecutor: Revoke bail for impeachment figure Robert Hyde, Staff report, Jan. 17, 2020. A Massachusetts judge is considering whether to revoke bail in a protective order case against a Connecticut man who has emerged as a figure in the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

A prosecutor made the request to revoke Robert F. Hyde's bail during a hearing in Malden District Court on Thursday, with police accusing Hyde of repeatedly violating a civil protective order obtained by a political consultant, The Hartford Courant reported.

The consultant obtained the restraining order last summer, accusing Hyde of harassing and stalking her. She lives in Massachusetts and works frequently in Washington, D.C. The Courant reported it was not naming the woman because she fears for her safety.

The judge did not immediately rule and scheduled the next court date for March 6.

Hyde, of Simsbury, Connecticut, made headlines Tuesday when House Democrats' released text messages between Hyde and Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. In the messages, Hyde disparages U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and purportedly gives Parnas updates on her location and cellphone use. While it remains unclear how Hyde first connected with Parnas, a review of court records and police reports depict a man who struggled with extensive financial and legal problems, including police concerns about his mental health and debt racked up at the Trump National Doral Resort in Florida.

Before Tuesday, Hyde was known in Connecticut as an obscure Republican candidate for Congress in the state's 5th District who was censured by his own party's leaders for offensive and misogynistic tweets.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll finds black Americans determined to limit Trump to one term, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Vanessa Williams, Dan Balz and Scott Clement, Jan. 17, 2020. The Washington Post-Ipsos poll of African Americans reveals fears about whether their children will have a fair shot and a belief that whites don’t fully appreciate the discrimination they face.

Common Dreams, Trump's Racist Demagoguery Only Works, Says Sanders, Because Too Many Americans Feel Establishment Has 'Failed Them,' Julia Conley, Jan. 17, 2020. Bernie Sanders teaches Demagoguery and Fascism 101 to a very skeptical New York Times editorial board." In an interview with the New York Times for the newspaper's 2020 Democratic presidential candidate endorsement, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about how President Donald Trump has weaponized racism to appeal to many Americans who sense that the political and media establishments have abandoned them in 2016 to win support.

After Sanders spoke at length about Trump's efforts to "divide the American people up" and "demonize" undocumented immigrants, Times editorial board member Brent Staples asked Sanders why he thinks the president has the support of more than 40% of the public and questioned the senator's assertion that political and economic inequality—not just Trump—must be defeated.

"What about [divisiveness] is that Trump is a symptom of a widespread problem?" asked Staples. "I mean, how do you address that? The problem exists whether Trump is president or not is what I'm saying."

"How did Trump become president?" Sanders said. "I think it speaks to something that I talk about a lot and that is the fact that...tens and tens of millions of Americans feel that the political establishment, Republican and Democrat, have failed them. Maybe the New York Times has failed them, too."

In a video the Times released containing an abridged version of the exchange, Sanders describes how Trump exploited the state of despair many Americans have fallen into over recent decades to convince voters that undocumented immigrants were to blame for unemployment, drug addiction, and economic struggles in many U.S. communities.

"When that condition arises, whether it was the 1930s in Germany, then people are susceptible to the blame game," said Sanders. "To say that it is the undocumented people in this country who are the cause of all of our problems, and if we just throw 10 million people out of the country, you're going to have a good job, and you're going to have good health care, and you have good education, that's all we got to do... Trump didn't invent demagoguery. It's an age-old weapon used by demagogues... And you take the despair and the anger and the frustration that people are feeling and you say, 'That's the cause of your problem.'"

As Common Dreams has reported, life expectancy in the U.S. is shorter for people who are not wealthy. Young adults today are less likely than their parents' generation to afford home ownership, and nearly 80% percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck without the ability to save up for an emergency.

On social media, some observers noted, despite those statistics, the Times editorial board appeared incredulous at Sanders's explanation.

"Bernie Sanders teaches Demagoguery and Fascism 101 to a very skeptical New York Times editorial board," wrote Columbia University neuroscience professor Ken Miller. "The looks of disdain as Bernie simply and lucidly explains are priceless."

Others praised Sanders's answer as "thoughtful" and "courageous," and implored voters to consider Sanders's message of solidarity to counter Trump's divisiveness.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, These Mormon twins worked together on an IRS whistleblower complaint over the church’s billions — and it tore them apart, Michelle Boorstein and Jon Swaine, Jan. 17, 2020 (print ed.). After a lifetime of shared aims, the decision by one Nielsen twin to go public with their confidential complaint has opened a rift so deep that they stopped speaking.

• Washington Post, Evangelical groups try new IRS strategy that keeps salaries hidden

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump starts cursing and goes completely off the rails about impeachment during ceremony with college sports team, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2020. Yesterday Donald Trump finally figured out he’s been impeached, when he had an all caps meltdown on Twitter that started with “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED.” Nevermind that he got impeached a month ago, of course. But now that he’s awoken from his stupor, he’s quickly become obsessed with his impeachment. In fact, when he held a ceremony with a college football national championship team today, he completely lost it.

bill palmer report logo headerWhile Donald Trump was standing in front of the LSU football team, he said “It’s been a long time, a lot of presidents, some good, some not so good. But you got a good one now, even though they’re trying to impeach the son of a bitch. Can you believe that?” He then began dishonestly bragging about his phony accomplishments in office. Watch the video here:

So let’s see here. Trump is more obsessed with his impeachment than ever, though he’s now apparently back to not understanding that he’s already been impeached. They’re not trying to impeach him right now; they’re trying to decide whether to remove him because he’s been impeached. Trump is also bizarrely calling himself a “son of a bitch” while standing in front of a bunch of teenagers. And he couldn’t make it through the celebration of these kids without trying to make the moment all about himself. What a loser.

Media News 

mitch mcconnell capitol Photo saul Loeb AFP Custom 2

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at the U.S. Capitol (Photo by Saul Loeb / AFP)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Advocacy: RSF USA calls on the Senate to reverse unprecedented restrictions on the press, Jan. 17, 2020. RSF strongly condemns the restrictions the Senate sergeant at arms and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration are imposing on Capitol Hill reporters during the impeachment trial for President Donald Trump. RSF calls on the Senate Majority Leader to reverse these rules immediately.

Members of the press covering the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, which began January 16, are facing new “security measures” in the form of restrictions that are not typically imposed on Capitol Hill reporters. The full extent of these measures is unclear as the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration have not provided a formal document outlining them. However, one rule prohibits reporters from walking through the halls of Congress to ask senators questions. Others prevent reporters from bringing electronic devices into the Senate Chamber, require journalists to pass through a second security screening inside the Senate, and force them into pens and roped-off lines so they cannot access senators as they normally would.

“Until he reverses these arbitrary new rules, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is violating Americans’ First Amendment rights during a monumental moment in US history: the trial for the impeachment of the President of the United States,” said Dokhi Fassihian, Executive Director of RSF USA. “By preventing the press from asking questions on behalf of the American people during this trial, the Senate is escaping public scrutiny and effectively undermining the very foundation of our democracy.”

The Standing Committee of Correspondents, an organization that represents and accredits daily reporters on Capitol Hill, sent a letter to Senate leaders on January 14 protesting the rules. And on January 16, RSF joined 57 other media outlets and journalism organizations in sending a letter to Senate leadership opposing the restrictions.

The United States is ranked 48th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

TeleSUR, Abby Martin Banned From Speaking at US University For Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Pledge, Jan. 17, 2020. Since 2014, 28 states, among those Georgia, have adopted anti-boycott laws, including five executive orders issued by governors.

Former teleSUR presenter and creator of The Empire Files Abby Martin was blocked from delivering a keynote speech at Georgia Southern University for refusing to "sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel" to comply with the anti-Boycott, Divest and Sanctions state law.

"After I was scheduled to give a keynote speech at an upcoming Georgia Southern conference, organizers said I must comply with Georgia's anti-BDS law," Martin tweeted on Friday.

Since 2014, 28 states, among those Georgia, have adopted anti-boycott laws, including five executive orders issued by governors.

"I refused and my talk was canceled. The event fell apart after colleagues supported me." Martin is an outspoken critic of Israel’s apartheid government and anti-Palestinian policies.

As the nationwide crackdown on BDS continues, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Dec. 11 that will effectively allow the government to interpret Judaism as both a race or nationality and religion under federal law so that the Education Department can take direct action against what he views as “anti-Semitism on college campuses.”

Trump stated clearly that the decision targets the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) calling it an “anti-Semitic campaign against Israel.”

The order will trigger Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that requires educational institutions receiving federal funding to not discriminate based on national origin; meaning the government can now withhold federal funding from any college or educational program that is deemed to allow or endorse “anti-Semitism.”

BDS has gained notoriety in college campuses across the U.S. with more people understanding and backing the Palestinian struggle.

The non-violent BDS movement, however, was founded in 2005 by 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, and women organizations, among others, has gained such renown that it was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Inspired by South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, BDS calls for non-violent pressure on Israel through boycotting any organization linked to the state of Israel, withdrawing investment from Israeli companies, and sanctioning the county until Israel recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees to return, ends the illegal military occupation of Palestine, and ends the apartheid regime by recognizing Palestinian's equal rights and stops human rights abuses.

U.S. Law, Courts

Palmer Report, Opinion: Wait, what’s going on with Michael Flynn? Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2020. The saga of Michael Flynn [[Trump's first National Security Advisor]] just keeps getting stranger – michael flynn prison palmer graphicand worse for him. He had a cooperating plea deal that was going to give him no prison time. Then he went off the deep end and screwed that up, and found himself looking at six months in prison.

Now he’s seeking to withdraw his guilty plea entirely, which would likely result in him doing years in prison. Now the judge has thrown a new curveball into the mix.

Yesterday, Michael Flynn [shown in a Palmer Report graphic] formally asked Judge Emmet Sullivan for approval to withdraw his guilty plea. In response, the judge delayed sentencing until late February, giving Flynn’s attorneys time to make their case. So what’s really going on here?

bill palmer report logo headerThe judge [shown below at right] has known this request from Flynn was coming for some time. We suspect that if the judge were going to grant Flynn’s request, he’d have done so today. We further suspect that the judge is only giving Flynn this window of time so that he can look reasonable when he eventually denies Flynn’s request. That said, we could be entirely wrong, and Flynn could end up successfully withdrawing his plea and ending up on trial.

If that happens, Michael Flynn’s worst nightmare is going to come true. During his trial, prosecutors will bring out all the evidence against Flynn emmet sullivan 2012that didn’t see the light of day due to his plea deal. They’ll also likely bring a superseding indictment against Flynn, adding the criminal charges that he avoided when he cut the deal. Keep in mind that he only had to plead guilty to his least serious crime, which is why he was only going to get zero to six months.

Michael Flynn could now end up going to prison for a very long time. If he’s doing this because he thinks he’s magically going to get pardoned by Donald Trump, he should consider that Trump has pardoned precisely zero of his co-conspirators, and has let them all rot behind bars. That’s probably because Trump isn’t willing to run the risk of triggering a court battle and screwing up his ability to pardon himself on his way out the door. Flynn is trying to throw his life away based on a false promise. Flynn will be very lucky if the judge rejects his request and sentences him to just the six months in prison.

Buffalo News, 'I cannot face my constituents': Anguished Chris Collins faces 26 months in prison, Jerry Zremski, Jan. 17, 2020. Chris Collins cried so hard that many of his words got lost in his anguish.

But that act of contrition only meant so much to U.S. District Court Judge Vernon S. Broderick, who on Friday sentenced Collins to 26 months in prison for launching an insider trading scheme with a call to his son from a White House picnic in June 2017.

chris collins cropped oWhen Collins, 69, walked out of the courtroom, it signaled the stunning end of a public life that saw him become a wealthy entrepreneur, the Erie County executive and a member of Congress who was an early and close ally of Donald Trump.

On Friday, his power stripped and his career ended, Collins awaited his fate. And as emotionless as Collins was passionate, Broderick explained his sentence with boilerplate language like that used by judges in every court, for every offense.

"I do believe there is a need to both show respect for the law and to inflict just punishment," the judge said. "And I do agree there is a need for general deterrence."

With those thoughts in mind, Broderick also fined Collins $200,000. And once he leaves prison, the former four-term Republican lawmaker from Clarence will have to go through one year of supervised release.

That sentence came at the end of an unusually long three-hour sentencing hearing. Focused mostly on legal minutiae, the hearing's tone changed abruptly just before Broderick issued his sentence, when he asked Collins if he had anything to say.

Never known as an especially sensitive politician, Collins – looking tanned but visibly older than he did before his August 2018 arrest – stood and started sobbing.

"I violated my core values," Collins said, his voice cracking. "I am standing here, probably the last time I will do anything in public. I left Buffalo. I cannot face my constituents. People feel sorry for me. They shouldn't. I did what I did."

republican elephant logoCollins then went on an extended description of what and whom he betrayed when he called his son Cameron with that stock tip.

An Eagle Scout and longtime scout leader, the elder Collins noted that he violated the first three words of the Boy Scout oath: "On my honor."

And as a result, "I will never be involved in scouting again, which is my life," he said. "That has rocked me to the core."

That's just the start. Not only did Collins share secret bad news with his son about Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech where the elder Collins sat on the board, he and his son also agreed that Cameron Collins should dump his Innate stock based on that information.

On top of that, Cameron Collins shared that inside information with his girlfriend, Lauren Zarsky, and her parents, Stephen Zarsky and Dorothy Zarsky.

And as a result, Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky also got arrested and, like the then-congressman, pleaded guilty in October. Lauren Zarsky and Dorothy Zarsky faced a civil action from the Securities and Exchange Commission and had to forgo their ill-gotten gains and pay penalties.

The elder Collins blamed himself for all of that and more.

"I've destroyed the reputation of my son," he said. "He's 27. He can't be involved in scouting. He'll probably never have a job."

Because of the scandal, Collins' wife, Mary, had her credit card canceled, and his daughter Caitlin's brokerage account got canceled, too, he said.

As for Collins, he had to resign from Congress when he pleaded guilty.

Noting that several of his former colleagues had texted him Friday morning, Collins said: "I let them down – and the president of the United States."

Collins was the first House member to endorse Trump for president, and one of the new Republican president's most televised defenders in 2017 and early 2018. Some in the White House thought he might be a Cabinet secretary someday, or even White House chief of staff.

But after Collins' August 2018 arrest, he fell into what he called "a dark place." He pulled out of it, he said, because of his daughter Caitlin.

"When I was in that dark hole, she said to me, 'Don't leave us, I want you in our kids' life,' " Collins said. "I climbed out of it because of her."

More On Epstein Death

jeffrey epstein mehmet oz david shankbone flickr palm beach sheriff dept Custom

Jeffrey Epstein (left). Dr Mehmet Oz. (Right). Photo credit: David Shankbone / Flickr (CC BY 2.0) and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department / Wikimedia

WhoWhatWhy, More Reasons to Question the Jeffrey Epstein ‘Suicide,’ Staff report, Jan. 17, 2020. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden has expanded on the evidence he provided to 60 Minutes. What he finds is more consistent with murder than with suicide.

On the heels of his analysis in a 60 Minutes interview pointing to reasons to believe Jeffrey Epstein may have been murdered, forensic pathologist Michael Baden is now back with more claims.

Baden, who was hired by Epstein’s family, presented his evidence on a Dr. Oz special, aired on January 16. In case you missed it, here are the main highlights with respect to the medical evidence. (He presented other evidence as well, on both shows.)

Previously, we posted our own observations that suggested Epstein may not have died from hanging: They concerned the strangeness of the marks across his throat — not only their location (too low, as pointed out by 60 Minutes), but the nature of the marks themselves.

Civil Rights

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: Did the Civil Rights Movement Go Wrong? Jonathan Rauch, Jan. 17, 2020. In The Age of Entitlement, Christopher Caldwell argues that the source of today’s political divisions can be found in the reforms of the 1960s.

In September 2016, a scholar named Angelo M. Codevilla published an article in the conservative Claremont Review of Books ominously titled “After the Republic.” The election, he said, would not change the fact that “the Republic established by America’s founders is probably gone” — kicked aside by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “the little law that ate the Constitution.” With or without Donald Trump, “we have stepped over the threshold of a revolution,” he warned. “Regardless of who wins in 2016, this revolution’s sentiments will grow in volume and intensity, and are sure to empower politicians likely to make Americans nostalgic for Donald Trump’s moderation.”

I overlooked Codevilla’s article in 2016, but I am paying attention now. As he predicted, American conservatism is moving in an ever angrier, more radical direction, unassuaged by its control of the presidency, the Senate and a majority on the Supreme Court. The sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan’s City on a Hill is banished; Steve Bannon, Sarah Palin, Patrick Buchanan and the ghost of George Wallace lead conservatism now. And, of course, Trump. If Christopher Caldwell’s new book is any indicator, the movement is only headed deeper into gloom, resentment and white identity politics.

Caldwell warrants attention. He is one of the right’s most gifted and astute journalists, noted especially for his thoughtful writings on Europe. “Western Europe became a multiethnic society in a fit of absence of mind,” he wrote in his 2009 book on Islam and immigration in Europe, a provocative and pessimistic take that won critical plaudits. His new book, The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties, is even more provocative and pessimistic.

Jan. 16

Blockbuster Impeachment News 

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

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

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC / Rachel Maddow Show, Lev Parnas: 'President Trump knew exactly what was going on,' Rachel Maddow, Jan. 15, 2020 (3:06 min.). Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, talks with Rachel Maddow in an exclusive interview about the extent of Donald Trump's knowledge of the work he was doing to manipulate the president of Ukraine to help Trump smear political rival Joe Biden.

  • lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020MSNBC, Lev Parnas (right): 'Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,' 2:19 min.

  • MSNBC, Lev Parnas remarks on role of Devin Nunes in Trump Ukraine Scheme, 2:27 min.

  • MSNBC, Shocking new evidence rocks Trump impeachment before Senate trial, 5:11 min.

  • MSNBC, Ukraine prosecutor offered dirt on Biden in exchange for firing of U.S. Ambassador, Jan. 15, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani have demolished Trump’s claims of innocence, Neal Katyal, right, and Joshua A. Geltzer neal katyal o(professors at Georgetown Law Center), Jan. 16, 2020 (print ed.). New documents show why the president has been trying to hide evidence from Congress. Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment inquiry need wonder no longer.

The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption U.S. House logowhen he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.

The most basic principles of constitutional law require relevant information, including documents and executive branch witnesses, to be turned over to Congress in an impeachment proceeding. Particularly because sitting presidents cannot be indicted, impeachment is the only immediate remedy we the people have against a lawless president. For that remedy to have any teeth, relevant information has to be provided. That’s why President James Polk said that, during impeachment, Congress could “penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments … command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial.” No president, not even Richard Nixon, thought he could just say “no” to impeachment. That’s why the House added Article II to Trump’s impeachment: “Obstruction of Congress.” It was a response to an unprecedented attempt by a president to hide the truth.

nancy pelosi impeachment ny post cover sept 25 2019 CustomThe documents released Tuesday show what Trump has been so afraid of. For starters, they prove that his already-eyebrow-raising claim to have been fighting corruption in Ukraine was bogus. Notes taken by Lev Parnas — who is an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and is now facing federal criminal charges — show what his and Giuliani’s mission was when they got in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” Look hard at the real goal here: not to prompt an investigation of Hunter Biden, but to score an announcement of a Biden investigation. Pursuing an announcement, rather than an investigation, makes sense only if Trump’s objective was to dirty the reputation of Joe Biden, a leading political rival.

Both of us served in high-ranking Justice Department positions; we’ve never heard of an investigation that is kept from the Justice Department, given to a private lawyer and then publicly announced — investigations work best when done in secret. If Trump, as he has long claimed, was truly interested in pursuing anti-corruption efforts in the bizarrely specific form of a single investigation of a single American citizen, then he would have wanted an actual investigation. Instead, he was fixated on the public announcement of one — which, if anything, would have harmed the investigation by tipping off its subject. The public announcement would have helped only one thing: Trump’s personal political prospects.

Palmer Report, Opinion: How Lev Parnas took a blowtorch to Donald Trump and saved his own neck in the process, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2020.  When Lev Parnas appeared on the Rachel Maddow show last night, he didn’t just take a blowtorch to everyone involved in Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. He transformed himself from a shadowy criminal punchline into a relatable human figure. Yes, he’s still one of the bad guys. But now he’s a real live person on your television. He’s a guy you’re glad came forward. He’s a guy whose story you believe, or mostly believe.

bill palmer report logo headerEven before the interview, it was easy to put together why Lev Parnas was bypassing Department of Justice in favor of cooperating with the House and the media: he doesn’t trust the DOJ as long as Trump and Bill Barr are running it, and he thinks his chances of getting eventual leniency from the post-Trump DOJ are better if he helps to take Trump down. It wasn’t until the end of the interview that the other part of the equation became clear, but we should have seen it sooner.

When Maddow was doing an extended handoff with Lawrence O’Donnell, he asked why Lev Parnas, left, was willing to give such a self-incriminating interview. Maddow said that Lev thinks going public represents his best shot at survival.

lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020That’s when it became clear just how precarious of a position Parnas is in. His own text messages reveal that he participated in a conversation (which he now says wasn’t serious) about hiring local goons in Ukraine to target U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. If you’re part of a criminal conspiracy involving discussions of physically harming a U.S. Ambassador, you know that the conspiracy in question is out of control – and maybe you’re the one who ends up getting physically harmed.

There are still a lot of questions about whether Donald Trump and Bill Barr were involved in the “suicide” of Trump’s pal Jeffrey Epstein (shown on a gurney being transported dead from his federally supervised cell).

jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency roomThere is no question that Vladimir Putin has murdered several people who have gotten in his way, and let’s not forget that Lev Parnas pissed off a Kremlin oligarch during this crime spree. Would Putin really risk bumping off a U.S. citizen like Parnas just to help out Trump? It’s enough that the question has to be asked at all.

But if Lev Parnas was in physical danger from one side or another, that probably goes out the window now. He was just on live national television. He’s everybody’s favorite reformed former Trump henchman now. It would cause way too much of a stink if someone “disappeared” Parnas now. It’s not just that Lev may have saved his own neck in terms of doing less prison time; he may have just saved his own neck literally.

  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just buried Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Barr and more, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just pretty much forced John Bolton’s testimony to happen, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff reveals the House has more up its sleeve against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Confirmed: Lev Parnas is throwing EVERYONE under the bus tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s what you can expect from Rachel Maddow’s interview tonight with Lev Parnas, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Pelosi to Trump: "Do you paint houses too?" The answer is he hires people to do that, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 16, 2020. In comments made on January 15 prior to her signing two Articles of Impeachment on Donald John Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quoted from the recent movie, The Irishman, implying that Trump has links to organized crime.

nancy pelosi impeachmentPelosi, shown right in a file photo, speaking on the House floor, rhetorically asked Trump, "Do you paint houses too? What is this? Do me a favor?” Pelosi was paraphrasing an excerpt from the summary of Trump's July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In the film, Al Pacino, who plays Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, says to Robert De Niro, who plays Frank Sheeran, a Philadelphia mobster and member of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Bufalino crime family, “I heard you paint houses." The phrase is mafia code language for conducting hits on mob targets. Sheeran's story was told in the non-fiction book by Charles Brandt, I Heard You Paint HousesThe Irishman is based on the book.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Impeachment descends into darkness, Dana Milbank
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Lev Parnas just accused Giuliani of a criminal conspiracy with Trump, Greg Sargent

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: New revelations as Senate trial is set to begin, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. 16, 2020. John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate on Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the john roberts ohistoric impeachment trial of President Trump, focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine.

Roberts’s arrival is part of a day of ritual and formalities, which will also include the swearing in of senators as jurors. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week. Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically.

Daily Beast, Lev Parnas: ‘I Felt Like My Family Left Me,’ Betsy Swan, Jan. 16, 2020. The Soviet-born businessman at the center of daily beast logoRudy Giuliani’s dirt-digging crusade in Ukraine tells The Daily Beast he’s determined to speak out despite backlash.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Lev Parnas – an ex-associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who’s at the heart of the impeachment scandal–said he’s determined to keep speaking out about his work in Trump World regarding Ukraine despite backlash.

Parnas sat with Rachel Maddow for an MSNBC interview that aired Wednesday, and then with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for another interview set to run Thursday night. In his conversation with Maddow, he said President Donald Trump knew all about his efforts to pressure Kyiv to give him political favors. And he said that Giuliani told Ukrainian leaders that Parnas specifically spoke on the president’s behalf. The comments drew attention from Capitol Hill, and Democratic Congressional investigators have pointed to them as good reason for the Senate to call witnesses in its impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

john solomon joseph digenova victoria toensing

Parnas told The Daily Beast that his former friends’ reaction to his arrest has strengthened his resolve about speaking out. Parnas said that after he and his associate Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport on Oct. 9 and charged with campaign finance violations, he was disappointed with silence from Rudy Giuliani. He said that Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing – a Trump-friendly husband-wife legal team (shown above with journalist / Trump advocate John Soloman at left) with deep and longstanding ties in Washington’s conservative legal world – also kept mum about their relationship with him. The silence, he said, left him feeling betrayed.

“I felt like my family left me,” he said.

He noted that the trio rarely shy away from defending controversial clients and allies on TV. But in his case, Parnas said, they were silent.

“Knowing everything about me, knowing that this was probably a hit job, they all just clammed up,” he said.

He noted that the president also disavowed knowing him, despite numerous pictures of them together at multiple events. And he said that he’d hoped to cooperate with Congressional investigators as soon as they asked for his help.

Toensing, diGenova, and Giuliani did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump said on Thursday afternoon that he does not know Parnas. Earlier this week, Giuliani–who was shown to be in close contact with Parnas in text messages released by House Democrats this week–dismissed Parnas as a “proven liar,” claiming his decision to provide documents to congressional Democrats was a bid for “attention.

World News

washington post logoukraine flagWashington Post, Ukraine opens probe into possible surveillance of U.S. ambassador, David L. Stern and Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 16, 2020. The move follows the disclosure of new documents showing former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussing possible efforts to monitor the movements of Marie Yovanovitch.

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, How Megxit put Queen Elizabeth II in the role of crisis manager once again, William Booth, Jan. 16, 2020. At 93, an age when many matriarchs would be among the dearly or nearly departed, or elbowed aside to allow an ambitious younger generation to run the show, the queen remains firmly in charge — of both a sprawling, often problematic family and the monarchy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin’s plans post-presidency could see him wielding influence for life, Robyn Dixon and Isabelle Khurshudyan​, Jan. 16, 2020. By trying to curb presidential powers before he steps down, Vladimir Putin is laying the groundwork to keep his grip on Russia’s autocracy.

In 1999, Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin appointed a competent, little-known security official named Vladimir Putin as acting prime minister, before steering him into the presidency. Here, Yeltsin thought, was a loyalist who would protect him and his family from prosecution but also safeguard Yeltsin’s legacy — a Russia that could never return to communism.

On Wednesday, Putin nominated a competent, little-known tax official named Mikhail Mishustin as prime minister. But unlike Yeltsin, Putin will not relinquish control when his term expires in 2024 or risk what he sees as his legacy — a strong authoritarian state carving out a growing role on the global stage.

Mishustin, rubber-stamped as prime minister by Russian lawmakers on Thursday, is seen by analysts as an obedient technocrat who will do what Putin tells him — and, if not, he will be blamed and probably replaced.

washington post logoWashington Post, Transportation secretary’s expert panel defends FAA system that approved deadly 737 Max jets, Ian Duncan and Michael Laris, Jan. 16, 2020. The group warned against “radical” changes to the system the FAA uses to review new aircraft.

A panel of aviation safety experts assembled by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao after two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes concluded that the FAA followed its own rules in approving the aircraft as safe to fly, dismissing criticisms that the agency gives manufacturers too boeing logomuch authority to oversee their own work.

Instead, the panel warned against overhauling the system the FAA uses to review new aircraft.

The group, led by Lee Moak, the former head of a major pilots union, found that the current system of allowing Boeing and other manufacturers to oversee much of their own work both “promotes safety” and allows “industry and innovation to thrive.”

“Any radical changes to this system could undermine the collaboration and expertise that undergird the current certification system, jeopardizing the remarkable level of safety that has been attained in recent decades,” the group wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to overturn Trump rule that makes loan forgiveness harder; Senate fight looms, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel​, Jan. betsy devos o16, 2020. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, spent two years trying to delay and then scuttle an Obama-era update of a 1995 law that gave the Education Department authority to cancel the federal debt of students whose colleges misled them about graduation or job placement rates.

The House voted Thursday to overturn a Trump administration policy that makes it more difficult for students who say they were defrauded by colleges to have their federal education loans canceled, setting the stage for a fight in the Senate.

The 231-to-180 vote fell largely along party lines, with six Republicans endorsing a resolution to scrap the administration’s overhaul of a 1995 law known as “borrower defense to repayment.” The law gives the Education Department authority to cancel the federal debt of students whose colleges misled them about graduation or job placement rates to get them to enroll.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent two years trying to delay and then scuttle an Obama-era update of the law that lowered hurdles for students and shifted more of the cost of forgiveness onto schools.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Why Does America Hate Its Children? Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 16, 2020. Reasons child care should be a key election issue. The other day a correspondent asked me a good question: What important issue aren’t we talking about? My answer, after some reflection, is the state of America’s children.

A few numbers may be in order here.

Every advanced country mandates some form of paid leave for new mothers, typically three or four months — every country, that is, except America, which offers no maternity leave at all.

Most advanced countries devote substantial sums to benefits for families with children; in Europe these benefits average between 2 and 3 percent of G.D.P. The corresponding number for the United States is 0.6 percent of G.D.P.

Media News

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Impeachment descends into darkness, Dana Milbank, right, Jan. 16, 2020 (print ed.).  Under the glare of 61 floodlights, the House voted Wednesday to appoint managers to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Projectors beamed each lawmaker’s name and vote onto a wall for all to see.

And now comes the darkness.

As the long-delayed transfer of the impeachment articles finally got underway, President Trump’s allies in the Senate announced extraordinary new restrictions on press coverage of the upcoming trial, shielding senators in unprecedented ways from the prying eyes of the American public.

When House managers arrived with the impeachment articles in a ceremonial procession Tuesday evening, Senate Republican leadership had already decreed that their arrival would be filmed only by a single, shared TV camera (partially obstructed, it turned out) at the doors of the chamber in which the mostly empty desks of Republican senators also could not be seen.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his team — the Senate sergeant-at-arms and Rules Committee make the decisions, but McConnell (R-Ky.), shown in a file photo when he was entering a senators-only elevator, is the driving force behind the restrictions, people involved tell me — further decreed that journalists would be confined during the entire trial to roped-off pens, forbidden from approaching senators in Capitol corridors.

The GOP leadership likewise rejected a request from the Standing Committee of Correspondents to allow journalists to bring laptops or silenced phones into the chamber so they could write (the House allows this) or to allow cameras in to capture the history of the moment (the House allowed this during the impeachment process).

It’s obvious what the restrictions are about, because they mirror McConnell’s general approach to the trial. He had signed on to a proposal to dismiss the House impeachment articles without a trial. He has resisted allowing documentary or testimonial evidence to surface during the trial. And now he’s doing everything in his power to shield senators from reporters — and from the public.

Because still and TV cameras aren’t allowed in the chamber, the only images will be C-SPAN-style footage from fixed TV cameras operated by government employees. The public won’t be able to see which senators are sleeping, talking or missing entirely.

McConnell’s team also decided to claw back seats typically reserved for the general public, to “augment” seating for their own friends and family; they’ll have at least 134 such seats. They offered no such augmentation for the media, which has 107 seats, only about 20 of which provide a full view of the Senate floor.

Nor can the senators be observed outside the chamber. At a private luncheon of Republican senators this week, Blunt showed where the media would be penned in and reportedly “joked” that the senators could now avoid reporters.

It’s a curious attempt at fortress-building after House Republicans noisily objected to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) taking depositions in his “basement bunker.” They can’t quash the trial itself, but McConnell’s restrictions will go a long way toward restricting what the American public sees of this historic moment.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Passes Revised NAFTA, Sending Pact to Trump’s Desk, Emily Cochrane, Jan. 16, 2020. The Senate gave bipartisan approval to the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement as House lawmakers prepared to read aloud charges of high crimes and misdemeanors. Congress on Thursday gave final approval to President Trump’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement handing the president his second trade victory of the week as House lawmakers prepared to read aloud charges of high crimes and misdemeanors on the Senate floor.

The 89 to 10 vote in the Senate on implementing legislation for the revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will send the measure to Mr. Trump, who is expected to sign it next week.

The bipartisan vote in support of the trade deal offered a striking contrast to the other big congressional initiative underway: Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.

Within an hour of senators approving the measure, the seven impeachment managers were set to begin the ceremonial process of presenting the impeachment articles on the Senate floor.

The unusual show of bipartisan agreement came just one day after Mr. Trump signed a long-awaited trade deal with China, giving the president two trade wins in a single week. Yet the lasting legacy of his presidency may be the competing narrative of a president who has achieved big economic wins while facing accusations of misdeeds while in office. Voters will now have to choose between a president who has lived up to his populist campaign promises to rip up and replace old trade deals with one who is accused of pressuring Ukraine by withholding financial aid to boost his re-election campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Will Be Left Standing in the Supreme Court? Linda Greenhouse, Jan. 16, 2020. The Trump administration is doing its best linda greenhouse thumb Customto kick plaintiffs out of lawsuits it opposes. According to the Trump administration, doctors who perform abortion are not entitled to sue on behalf of their patients, even though the Supreme Court has upheld doctors’ “third-party standing” in abortion cases since 1976 on the theory that it is impractical for a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy to have to bring a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state-created obstacle.

This is a column about standing to sue. It may seem an oddly dry choice of topic with a presidential impeachment about to get underway and the world flying apart at an even faster pace than usual. But as I hope these current examples show, standing is a crucially important component of the power of the federal courts. Judges must dismiss a lawsuit that lacks a plaintiff with standing. In the cases I’ve listed, contested questions of standing are playing out in the shadows. I want to hold them up to the light. The picture is not a pretty one. It could go far to defining the current Supreme Court term.

It’s easy to lull people into assuming that the question of standing embodies some kind of neutral principle, divorced from ideology. Courts have developed a three-part inquiry for deciding whether a plaintiff has standing, designed to ensure that a lawsuit presents the “case or controversy” that Article III of the Constitution requires for the exercise of federal court jurisdiction. Did the plaintiff suffer a real injury? Was the injury caused by the defendant? And can a victory in court actually bring relief? These questions appear to invite simple yes-or-no answers. But a few minutes’ reflection shows that they are far from value-free, and finding the answers requires the exercise of judgment.

More on Impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Eyeing swift impeachment trial, Trump’s legal team aims to block witnesses and cast doubt on charges, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 16, 2020 (print ed.). White House lawyers are trying to engineer the fastest impeachment trial in American history, aiming to have President Trump acquitted by the Senate without witnesses and after just a few days of proceedings, according to senior administration officials.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Trump’s desire for a short trial has solidified over the past few weeks, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delayed transmitting two articles of impeachment to the Senate because of concerns about how the trial would be structured. The White House, which previously supported a more expansive trial in the GOP-led Senate, has now accepted the idea that senators should make quick work of acquitting Trump.

“I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that we’d be going beyond two weeks,” said a senior administration official, who briefed reporters Wednesday on the condition of anonymity. “We think that this case is overwhelming for the president, and the Senate’s not going to be having any need to be taking that amount of time on this.”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘He knows who I am’: Lev Parnas says Devin Nunes was ‘involved in getting all this stuff on Biden,’ Timothy Bella, Jan. 16, devin nunes grimacing2020. Lev Parnas’s first TV interview on Ukraine, annotated. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif., shown in a file photo at right) acknowledged Wednesday night that he had in fact spoken with Lev Parnas over the phone as part of a conversation he previously said he could not recall. Parnas, a former associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been indicted on charges of violating campaign finance laws.

Nunes talked about the call shortly before Parnas claimed that the California congressman was “involved” in obtaining damaging information on former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival of Trump, and his son Hunter Biden as part of a shadow Ukraine campaign headed by Giuliani. Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he was stunned to see Nunes, whom he claims to have met “several times,” participating in the recent impeachment hearings.

lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020“I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there,” said Parnas, left, who has pleaded not guilty to the campaign finance charges. He added that he was curious as to why Derek Harvey, a Nunes aide he said he worked with on the shadow campaign, was present for the hearings. “I texted my attorney. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ ” he said.

When Maddow asked why that was, Parnas replied: “ … Because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.”

“It’s hard to see them lie like that when you know it’s, like, that scary because you know, he was sitting there and making all statements and all that when he knew very well that he knew what was going on,” Parnas said. “He knew what’s happening. He knows who I am.”

Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders during the House’s impeachment hearings, as he sought to discredit the inquiry of the president.

Parnas’s claim came hours after House Democrats released hundreds of pages of photos, messages and calendar entries to help construct a picture of the high level of access Parnas received in his efforts to make the Ukrainian president announce investigations related to the Bidens.

Parnas used access to Trump’s world to help push shadow Ukraine effort, new documents show

A couple of hours before the Parnas interview aired on MSNBC, Nunes was asked by Fox News host Martha MacCallum about the phone records that show that he spoke with the former Giuliani associate. Last month, Nunes told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that although it was “possible” that he spoke with Parnas, he did not “recall” his name. “I will go back and check my records, but it seems very unlikely I will be taking calls from random people,” he said at the time.

On Wednesday, however, Nunes said that after having time to go through his records, he was reminded that he did talk to Parnas — a chat he described as “random.”

“I just didn’t know the name — this name ‘Par-nas,’” Nunes said. “You know now that he had called my cellphone and I didn’t know his name, I didn’t remember the name, but I did remember going back where I was at the time — you can do that now, you actually know where you physically are — checked it with my records.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute, Advocacy: National Press Club, Journalism Institute denounce press limits on Senate trial, Staff report, national  press club logoJan. 16, 2020. The National Press Club and its Journalism Institute strongly object to restrictions on press coverage during the Senate trial of President Donald Trump. The proposed limitations are onerous, unnecessary and serve only to limit the news media’s ability to properly report on this historic event to the American public.

We fully support the position taken by the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which tried to negotiate rules of coverage only to see its suggestions ignored.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted that the Senate follow the same rules the Senate set for itself during the trial of President Bill Clinton 20 years ago. But when it comes to press coverage, the restrictions on news coverage planned by the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police far exceed the access limits imposed during the Clinton trial. Indeed, the constraints are more restrictive than they are for State of the Union messages or Inauguration ceremonies.

“These constraints and security obstacles only impede the press from doing its job,” said National Press Club President Michael Freedman. “When the conduct of our elected officials is under the highest scrutiny, the government should not be restricting the ability of journalists to be eyes and ears for the American public.”

As spelled out by the Standing Committee of Correspondents, the proposed restrictions on the press for the upcoming trial include:

  • Security sweeps with magnetometer inside the Senate press gallery
  • Penning in reporters outside the Senate chamber to prohibit them from freely getting access to Senators as they enter or leave the chamber.
  • A single pool camera to record the transmission of Articles of Impeachment from the House to the Senate.
  • Restrictions on reporters’ ability to walk and interview Senators from the Senate subway to the Capitol elevators.

“These restrictions set a horrible precedent and reinforce the lie that the news media is dangerous and the ‘enemy of the people,’” said Angela Greiling Keane, the president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute. “Congress should be the most accessible institution in government. As the branch closest to the people, it is ironic that these limits only isolate those who are elected to serve.”

While penning reporters has become commonplace over the years to improve traffic flow outside the Senate chamber, reporters have had free access to approach senators to question them about issues of the day. Sweeping reporters with a magnetometer as they enter the Senate gallery is simply unnecessary overkill as they would have already gone through security entering the Capitol.

We especially fear that these restrictions will become the new standard for congressional coverage, a slippery slope that will reduce accountability and further erode an essential tenet of our democracy — the need for an informed electorate.

The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide. The Club’s nonprofit affiliate, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement. JIP Editor's Note: JIP's editor is a member of the club's Press Freedom Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: GOP senator’s vicious outburst shows the corruption of Trump’s defenders, Greg Sargent, Jan. 16, 2020. If you were martha mcsally oa United States senator who just snapped angrily at a reporter for politely asking whether compelling new information about a matter of great import to the nation was weighing on your understanding of that consequential matter, you probably wouldn’t see this as something to advertise.

But then again, you’re not Martha McSally of Arizona. McSally, right, just did exactly this — yet she is now treating it as a badge of honor; as something to boast about.

cnn logoIn a perverse way, it’s fitting that this episode is going viral at exactly the moment when President Trump’s impeachment trial is getting underway — that is, when Trump’s defenders in the Senate are set to put on a great show of pretending to give serious consideration to the case against Trump, before voting to acquit him.

McSally’s vile little performance puts the lie to that notion as effectively as anything possibly could.

DavidSwanson.org, Opinion: #CNNisTrash, David Swanson, Jan. 16, 2020. Why has the hash tag #CNNisTrash been popular since this week’s presidential primary debate? There was nothing new about the corporate, militarist, anti-progressive slant of the debate “moderation.”

What was new was the level of blatant bias so extreme that even viewers who knew nothing about the issues couldn’t miss it, plus the amount of time CNN focused on expressing its hostility toward a single candidate, Bernie Sanders.

cnn logoRemarkably, CNN began Tuesday’s debate with a focus on endless U.S. wars in the Middle East, and with questions aimed at criticizing those who had supported the launching of some of those wars many years ago — support that various politicians and even media outlets like the New York Times (but not CNN) have long since been compelled to apologize for.

Yet the CNN moderator began by noting how close the United States had just come to war with Iran and then asking Bernie Sanders why he would be the best commander in chief, not why he would be the best president for making peace.

Next, CNN falsely claimed that Sanders had only recently admitted that his vote for war on Afghanistan was wrong, and equated that vote with Joe Biden’s vote for and promotion of war on Iraq, as well as Biden’s blatant lying about his record.

With each new topic, the bias grew in Tuesday’s debate. What can be read in the debate transcript was compounded by the titles CNN displayed on the lower part of the television screen during each segment. For example: “Sanders’ proposals would double federal spending over a decade; how will he avoid bankrupting the country?”

CNN, which added right-wing journalists to its panels of questioners at all four of its Republican primary debates in 2016, has adamantly refused to add progressive journalists to its panels at Democratic debates.

Then CNN turned to a story that it had reported on just prior to the debate, alleging that Sanders had told Senator Elizabeth Warren that he did not believe a woman could be elected U.S. president. The CNN moderator ignored Sanders’ assertions that he had a public record going back decades of stating that a woman could be elected president, that he had stayed out of the race in 2015 until Warren decided not to run, and that in fact he had told Warren no such thing. Then came this exchange:

CNN: So Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you’re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?

SANDERS: That is correct.

CNN: Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?

Many viewers recognized the slant. Many even began to notice the strange double standard in never mentioning the cost of any of the wars, but pounding away on the misleading assertions that healthcare and other human needs cost too much.

U.S. Law, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Investigating Years-Old Leaks and Appears Focused on Comey, Adam Goldman, Jan. 16, 2020. Prosecutors seem to be scrutinizing whether the former F.B.I. director James Comey illegally shared classified secrets, part of a highly unusual inquiry. Federal prosecutors in Washington are investigating a years-old leak of classified information about a Russian intelligence document, and they appear to be focusing on whether the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey illegally provided details to reporters, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

The case is the second time the Justice Department has investigated leaks potentially involving Mr. Comey, a frequent target of President Trump, who has repeatedly called him a “leaker.” Mr. Trump recently suggested without evidence that Mr. Comey should be prosecuted for “unlawful conduct” and spend years in prison.

The timing of the investigation could raise questions about whether it was motivated at least in part by politics. Prosecutors and F.B.I. agents typically investigate leaks of classified information around the time they appear in the news media, not years later. And the inquiry is the latest politically sensitive matter undertaken by the United States attorney’s office in Washington, which is also conducting an investigation of Mr. Comey’s former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, that has been plagued by problems.

Law enforcement officials are scrutinizing at least two news articles about the F.B.I. and Mr. Comey, published in The New York Times and The Washington Post in 2017, that mentioned the Russian government document, according to the people familiar with the investigation. Hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials obtained the document and provided it to the F.B.I., and both its existence and the collection of it were highly classified secrets, the people said.

The document played a key role in Mr. Comey’s decision to sideline the Justice Department and announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. would not recommend that Hillary Clinton face charges in her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state.

The investigation into the leaks began in recent months, the people said, but it is not clear whether prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury or how many witnesses they have interviewed. What prompted the inquiry is also unclear, but the Russian document was mentioned in a book published last fall, Deep State: Trump, the F.B.I., and the Rule of Law by James B. Stewart, a Times reporter.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr goes off the rails after Lev Parnas incriminates him, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2020. Last night, Lev Parnas went on the Rachel Maddow show and directly incriminated Attorney General Bill Barr in a criminal plot to get Kremlin oligarch Dmitry william barr at dojFirtash to smear Robert Mueller. It’s not clear the extent to which Lev can substantiate this, but it is clear from Barr’s reaction that he’s afraid of where this is heading.

Bill Barr’s Department of Justice just leaked to the New York Times this afternoon that it’s running some kind of investigation into supposed leaks on the part of former FBI Director James Comey. We could write a book about all the objectionable things that Comey has done. But the Trump regime has been “investigating” his supposed anti-Trump leaks for years and has found nothing, which means Comey didn’t leak anything.

Given the timing, this can’t possibly be a coincidence. Lev Parnas has incriminated Bill Barr in the kind of crime that – if substantiated – guarantees Barr will be indicted and arrested the minute Trump is gone, meaning Barr desperately needs Trump to pardon him bill palmer report logo headeron his way out the door. Now half a day later, Barr is leaking something to the NY Times that makes it look like he’s going to magically take down Trump’s nemesis James Comey. It’s pretty clear that Barr is openly pandering for that pardon.

Of course by announcing another phony criminal investigation into an innocent person, Bill Barr is committing yet another felony. But at this point Barr’s life is over unless he gets that magic pardon from Trump, so perhaps Barr feels that he has nothing left to lose by escalating his crime spree. To be clear, nothing is going to happen to Comey. We’ve seen Barr leak these kinds of fake criminal probes into Trump’s enemies before, and they never go anywhere.

john dowd fox cropped

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas accuses Donald Trump’s lawyers of conspiring to harm him, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2020. This evening Rachel Maddow aired the second part of her pre-recorded interview with Ukraine scandal figure Lev Parnas. This time around Lev went into detail about how Donald Trump’s own attorneys agreed to represent him, but then turned against him while he was in jail.

bill palmer report logo headerJohn Dowd (shown above in a file photo) and Kevin Downing are longtime Trump lawyers who also represented Lev Parnas. Parnas is alleging that Dowd and Downing made no effort to try to get him out on bail, and that when they came to visit him in jail, they began barking orders at him about how he needed to protect Trump. At this point Lev fired them on the spot and told them to get out of the room, prompting them to call the guards.

Let’s be clear here. Lev Parnas is accusing his own former attorneys of having conspired to prevent him from getting out on bail. Considering that Lev would have rotted in jail for perhaps a year until his trial was complete, he’s accusing these two attorneys of having conspired to severely harm him. This raises the question of why. At best, they’d be trying to keep Lev behind bars so he couldn’t talk to the media, as he’s doing now. At worst, were they trying to keep Lev behind bars so that physical harm could come to him?

These are serious accusations of criminal impropriety. Remarkably, Lev Parnas has produced a document in which Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow confirmed that Donald Trump gave permission for Trump lawyer John Dowd to represent Parnas. This comes even as Sekulow is set to serve as one of Trump’s defense attorneys in his Senate impeachment trial, whose proceedings formally got underway today. This is all exploding in real time.

robert hyde djt Custom

The Hill, FBI visits congressional candidate Robert Hyde's home, business, Justine Coleman, Jan. 16, 2020. The FBI visited the home and business of Connecticut congressional candidate Robert Hyde (shown above) early Thursday just days after he became the latest figure embroiled in the Ukraine scandal, news reports said.

A senior law enforcement official confirmed to NBC News and CNN that investigators visited Hyde’s home in Weatogue and his landscaping business in Avon, which also serves as headquarters for his House campaign, in the wake of the released texts that suggested Hyde was monitoring former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Authorities reportedly did not answer CNN’s questions about the candidate’s location and reasons they wanted to talk to him. Hyde’s messages were revealed in a chunk of evidence provided by Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas to the House for the impeachment investigation. The congressional candidate aiming to unseat Rep. Jahana Hayes (D) had written “they will let me know when she is on the move” and detailed the ambassador’s locations and security levels.

The congressional candidate has told NBC News that he was drunk when he sent the message. Parnas, who was indicted on campaign law violations in October, described Hyde in his Wednesday interview with Rachel Maddow as a “weird” character and said he doubted that he was actually tracking the ambassador.

"Well, I don't believe it's true," Parnas said. "I think he was either drunk or he was trying to make himself bigger than he was, so I didn't take it seriously."

washington post logoFBI logoWashington Post, FBI arrests 3 alleged members of white-supremacist group ‘the Base’ ahead of Virginia gun rally, Shane Harris and Devlin Barrett​, Jan. 16, 2020. Federal law enforcement officials moved on the trio partly out of concern they might engage in violence at Monday’s gun rights rally in Richmond, according to people familiar with the matter.

Daily Mail via MSN, 'You watched me be abused': Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Roberts takes aim at Naomi Campbell and Ghislaine Maxwell as she tweets 'you saw me at your parties, you saw me in Epstein's homes,' Chris Dyer, Jan. 26, 2020. Jeffrey Epstein's former 'sex slave' has shared photos of what seem to be her standing next to Naomi Campbell and Ghislaine Maxwell in a tweet that claims: 'You watched me be abused'.

Virginia Roberts alleges she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times at the homes of his late friend Epstein, who she says trafficked her while she was underage over the course of years of abuse.

The 36-year-old tweeted a message today alleging guests saw her at parties and did not intervene to help. Roberts appeared to be pictured beside supermodel Naomi Campbell at her 31st birthday party in St Tropez, France, in 2001.

Roberts, who now goes by her married name of Giuffre, named Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, Naomi Campbell and Prince Andrew in the tweet - though it is not clear who precisely she is accusing of what.

She wrote: 'You saw me at your parties, you saw me in Epstein's homes, you saw me on the plane, you saw me get my haircut, you saw me on the streets, you watched me be abused. You saw me! #Awareness #Justice #GhislaineMaxwell #JeffreyEpstein #NaomiCampbell #PrinceAndrew.'

There is no evidence Campbell or her guests knew of Epstein's crimes or who Roberts was when she allegedly attended the event.

More On 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, It’s not just older voters who are giving Joe Biden his lead with black Americans, Eugene Scott​, Jan. 16, 2020.  Far more younger black voters back Joe Biden than the popular narrative suggests. the latest data from a Washington Post-Ipsos poll shows that it is not just older black voters backing Biden over his competitors, but a sizable percentage of younger voters, too.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading the field with the youngest group of black voters. More than 4 in 10, 42 percent, of black 18-to-34-year-olds are backing the lawmaker. But Biden earns about the same level of support among older millennials and voters from Generation X — ages 35 to 49 — at about 41 percent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Liz Cheney says she won’t seek open Senate seat, will seek reelection in House, Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 16, 2020. Cheney, a daughter of former vice president Richard B. Cheney, has risen swiftly through the party ranks since winning election in 2016 and is now the third-ranking Republican in the House.

Jan. 15

Impeachment News

Democratic Debate Headlines

New Trump Scandal Headlines

Other Major Stories

 

Impeachment Excerpts

 msnbc logo CustomMSNBC / Rachel Maddow Show, Lev Parnas: 'President Trump knew exactly what was going on,' Rachel Maddow, Jan. 15, 2020 (3:06 min.). Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, talks with Rachel Maddow in an exclusive interview about the extent of Donald Trump's knowledge of the work he was doing to manipulate the president of Ukraine to help Trump smear political rival Joe Biden.

  • MSNBC, Lev Parnas untangles Dmytro Firtash role in Trump Ukraine scheme, Rachel Maddow, Jan. 15, 2020 (3:37 mins.). Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, talks with Rachel Maddow in an exclusive interview about the offer being made by indicted Kremlin-connected oligarch Dmytro Firtash to help Donald Trump in exchange for DOJ help with his criminal case in the U.S.
  • lev parnas rachel maddow interview jan 15 2020MSNBC, Lev Parnas (right): 'Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,' 2:19 min.

  • MSNBC, Lev Parnas remarks on role of Devin Nunes in Trump Ukraine Scheme, 2:27 min.

  • MSNBC, Shocking new evidence rocks Trump impeachment before Senate trial, 5:11 min.

  • MSNBC, Ukraine prosecutor offered dirt on Biden in exchange for firing of U.S. Ambassador, Jan. 15, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani have demolished Trump’s claims of innocence, Neal Katyal, right, and Joshua A. Geltzer neal katyal o(professors at Georgetown Law Center), Jan. 15, 2020. New documents show why the president has been trying to hide evidence from Congress. Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment inquiry need wonder no longer.

The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption U.S. House logowhen he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.

The most basic principles of constitutional law require relevant information, including documents and executive branch witnesses, to be turned over to Congress in an impeachment proceeding. Particularly because sitting presidents cannot be indicted, impeachment is the only immediate remedy we the people have against a lawless president. For that remedy to have any teeth, relevant information has to be provided. That’s why President James Polk said that, during impeachment, Congress could “penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments … command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial.” No president, not even Richard Nixon, thought he could just say “no” to impeachment. That’s why the House added Article II to Trump’s impeachment: “Obstruction of Congress.” It was a response to an unprecedented attempt by a president to hide the truth.

nancy pelosi impeachment ny post cover sept 25 2019 CustomThe documents released Tuesday show what Trump has been so afraid of. For starters, they prove that his already-eyebrow-raising claim to have been fighting corruption in Ukraine was bogus. Notes taken by Lev Parnas — who is an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and is now facing federal criminal charges — show what his and Giuliani’s mission was when they got in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: “get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” Look hard at the real goal here: not to prompt an investigation of Hunter Biden, but to score an announcement of a Biden investigation. Pursuing an announcement, rather than an investigation, makes sense only if Trump’s objective was to dirty the reputation of Joe Biden, a leading political rival.

Both of us served in high-ranking Justice Department positions; we’ve never heard of an investigation that is kept from the Justice Department, given to a private lawyer and then publicly announced — investigations work best when done in secret. If Trump, as he has long claimed, was truly interested in pursuing anti-corruption efforts in the bizarrely specific form of a single investigation of a single American citizen, then he would have wanted an actual investigation. Instead, he was fixated on the public announcement of one — which, if anything, would have harmed the investigation by tipping off its subject. The public announcement would have helped only one thing: Trump’s personal political prospects.

  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just buried Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Barr and more, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just pretty much forced John Bolton’s testimony to happen, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Adam Schiff reveals the House has more up its sleeve against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Confirmed: Lev Parnas is throwing EVERYONE under the bus tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s what you can expect from Rachel Maddow’s interview tonight with Lev Parnas, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2020.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC / The Beat with Ari, Lev Parnas tells Maddow ‘Trump knew exactly what was going on,’ Ari Melber, Jan. 15, 2020. Lev Parnas is breaking his silence in an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. He says, “President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials.”

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Trump personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, in shirtsleeves, meets with, from left, Igor Fruman, business executive Dmitry Torner and Lev Parnas at a Paris cigar bar in May (Photo courtesy of Parnas attorney Joseph Bondy)

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani’s outreach to Ukrainian wanted in U.S. shows lengths he took in hunt for material to bolster Trump, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Paul Sonne and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 15, 2020. The president’s personal lawyer and his associates met in a number of European capitals with associates of gas tycoon Dmytro Firtash, according to people familiar with the encounters.

The four men are gathered around a table cluttered with glasses inside an exclusive Parisian cigar bar, beaming as they each offer an ebullient thumbs-up for the camera.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, right, President Trump’s personal attorney, is flanked by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born emigres who were helping him hunt for damaging information about Democrats in Ukraine and who now face federal campaign finance charges. At the center of the photo is a new character in the Trump-Ukraine drama: an executive at a company owned by Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian gas tycoon who has been allied with pro-Russia interests and is currently fighting extradition to the United States to face bribery charges.

Photos of the May cigar bar huddle provided to The Washington Post capture a new moment in Giuliani’s operation to procure information from Ukrainian sources to bolster his presidential client. That effort, which played out in various European cities last spring and summer, led Giuliani to seek information from Firtash’s network and other controversial figures with much to gain from helping Trump’s private lawyer.

• Washington Post, Analysis: How Ukraine’s top prosecutor went after Marie Yovanovitch, step by step

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ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate, Approving Managers, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 15, 2020.  The House’s long-anticipated vote fell largely along party lines, setting the stage for what promises to be a fiercely partisan impeachment trial of President Trump.

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to send the Senate two articles of impeachment against President Trump, appointing seven Democrats to prosecute the case and initiating only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

The 228-to-193 vote came almost a month after the House impeached Mr. Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, formally accusing him of seeking foreign election assistance from Ukraine and then trying to conceal his actions from a House inquiry. Like that earlier vote, Wednesday’s fell largely along party lines.

Only one Democrat, Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, joined every Republican in voting “no.”

It set the stage for what promises to be a partisan impeachment trial, which has already opened divisions in the normally staid Senate, and has the potential to shape Mr. Trump’s legacy, to stoke the country’s political polarization and to inject new uncertainty into the 2020 elections.

adam schiff squareThe process could damage the president, exposing conduct that some voters find unacceptable, but Mr. Trump is almost certain to use his likely acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate as a complete exoneration and turn the considerable apparatus of his campaign to stoking public outrage over the process. Democrats believe the proceeding will put pressure on Republicans — particularly those facing tough re-election challenges — to condemn Mr. Trump or risk being cast as an apologist for his misdeeds.

Ms. Pelosi announced a House prosecution team that will be led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, above left, the chairman of the jerrold nadler o SmallIntelligence Committee who led the Ukraine inquiry.

He will be joined by Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York, right, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Val B. Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia R. Garcia of Texas. Mr. Crow and Ms. Garcia are both first-term members.

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Documents Provide New Details of Trump’s Pressure Campaign on Ukraine, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 15, 2020. The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani and an associate on behalf of the president.

  • nancy pelosi twitterWashington Post, Analysis: Why Pelosi picked each impeachment manager, Amber Phillips, Jan. 15, 2020. Here’s what each of the seven House members brings to the table.
  • Washington Post, Analysis: How a Senate impeachment trial works, Amber Phillips, Jan. 15, 2020. Here’s how we believe each day will work based on a reading of the Senate rules.

Miami Herald, Pelosi impeachment manager is calling for McConnell’s recusal from Trump Senate trial, Emma Dumain and Alex Daugherty, Jan. 15, 2020. A Florida congresswoman who on Wednesday became an impeachment manager in President Donald Trump’s upcoming Senate trial wants to remove the lead juror: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left.

mitch mcconnell2Rep. Val Demings’ position, shared publicly by a just a few other Democrats, could undercut House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to frame impeachment as an exercise of constitutional duty. Republicans have argued for months that Democrats are on a partisan mission to remove Trump from office.

Yet in selecting Demings on Wednesday as one of the seven impeachment managers, Pelosi is giving a national spotlight to a Democrat who has often gone against House leaders on impeachment issues — she first called for Trump’s removal from office a year before party leadership and is now agitating for McConnell’s recusal.

Her opposition to McConnell’s participation in the Senate trial that is set to start next week stems from the Kentucky Republican boasting that he won’t be impartial in deciding whether Trump should be acquitted or convicted.

Other Major Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghan war plagued by ‘mendacity’ and lies, inspector general tells Congress, Craig Whitlock​, Jan. 15, 2020. John F. Sopko said U.S. officials have routinely lied to the public by exaggerating progress reports and inflating statistics to create a false appearance of success.

john sopko sigarThe special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction told Congress Wednesday that U.S. officials have routinely lied to the public during the 18-year war by exaggerating progress reports and inflating statistics to create a false appearance of success.

“There’s an odor of mendacity throughout the Afghanistan issue . . . mendacity and hubris,” John F. Sopko, right, said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The problem is there is a disincentive, really, to tell the truth. We have created an incentive to almost require people to lie.”

As an example, Sopko said U.S. officials have lied in the past about the number of Afghan children enrolled in schools — a key marker of progress touted by the Obama administration — even though they “knew the data was bad.” He also said U.S. officials falsely claimed major gains in Afghan life expectancy that were statistically impossible to achieve.

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washington post logoWashington Post, New book portrays Trump as erratic, ‘at times dangerously uninformed,’ Ashley Parker, Jan. 15, 2020. A Very Stable Genius, by two Washington Post reporters, shows “how decision-making in President Trump’s administration has been driven by one man’s self-centered and unthinking logic — but a logic nonetheless.”

President Trump reveals himself as woefully uninformed about the basics of geography, incorrectly telling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “It’s not like you’ve got China on your border.” He toys with awarding himself the Medal of Freedom.

And, according to a new book by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, Trump does not seem to grasp the fundamental history surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Hey, John, what’s this all about? What’s this a tour of?” Trump asks his then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, as the men prepare to take a private tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the December 1941 Japanese surprise attack in the Pacific that pulled the United States into World War II.

“Trump had heard the phrase ‘Pearl Harbor’ and appeared to understand that he was visiting the scene of a historic battle, but he did not seem to know much else,” write the authors, later quoting a former senior White House adviser who concludes: “He was at times dangerously uninformed.”

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Democratic Debate Excerpts

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ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Debate War and a Woman’s Chance at the White House, Shane Goldmacher and Jonathan Martin, Jan. 15, 2020. The leading Democratic presidential candidates clashed over America’s role in the Middle East and their credentials to be commander in chief. And the rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over the electability of a woman surfaced and de-escalated quickly.

The Democratic presidential candidates clashed in starkly personal terms Tuesday over who had the best chance to defeat President Trump, as Senator Elizabeth Warren sought to jump-start her campaign in the last debate before the Iowa caucuses by highlighting her electoral success and that of other female candidates in the Trump era.

Prompted by the moderators, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders continued a debate over the fraught subject of whether a woman could be elected president, an issue that in recent days had caused the first serious breach in their relationship. One day after she confirmed a report that Mr. Sanders had told her in a private meeting that he did not think a woman could defeat Mr. Trump, Ms. Warren trumpeted her Senate victory over an incumbent Republican and then gestured down the debate stage toward the four male candidates.

“Collectively they have lost 10 elections,” she said, before acknowledging the only other female candidate present, Senator Amy Klobuchar. “The only people on this stage who have won every single election they have been in are the women: Amy and me. And the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican in the past 30 years is me.”

Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren’s top rival for progressive support, flatly denied that he had made the comment when the two lawmakers met without aides in 2018. He said it was “incomprehensible that I would think that a woman couldn’t be president of the United States,” noting Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote in the 2016 general election.

Meeting less than three weeks before Iowans vote, the Democrats disagreed over international affairs and keeping troops in the Middle East, whether to support Mr. Trump’s trade deal for North America, how aggressively to tackle climate change, and, yet again, sparred on health care. But the issue animating much of the evening was the same question that has shaped the primary race for the past year: which of them would be the most formidable contender against Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Winners and Losers of the Democratic Debate, Staff report, Jan. 15, 2020. In this special feature, Times Opinion writers rank the candidates on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 means the candidate probably didn’t belong on the stage and should probably drop out; 10 means it’s on, President Trump. Here’s what our columnists and contributors thought about the debate.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden shine at the Democratic debate. The rest, not so much, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 15, 2020. Former vice president Joe Biden, below left, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) appeared Tuesday in Des Moines for the seventh presidential debate — the final debate before the Iowa caucuses and before those three senators will need to devote the lion’s share of their time to the impeachment trial of President Trump.

joe biden oIn all likelihood, this debate did not significantly shift the contest, leaving many caucus-goers still undecided.

Right off the bat, Biden was challenged on his Iraq War vote. He did what he needed to do: admit error in believing President George W. Bush, but then quickly pivot to his tenure with President Barack Obama and his work on withdrawing troops.

He also got a chance to tout his work on the Iran nuclear deal; show expertise (e.g., special forces need to remain in the Middle East); talk about coalition-building; sound sensible on North Korea (meeting Kim Jong Un without preconditions is silly); and explain that we need to make trade deals with the rest of the world.

 

Los Angeles Times, ‘You called me a liar on national TV,’ Melissa Gomez, Jan. 15, 2020. Elizabeth Warren confronts Bernie Sanders after debate. Elizabeth Warren confronts Bernie Sanders after the debate Tuesday. “I think you called me a liar on national TV,” she said in audio released by CNN. Sanders shot back, “You called me a liar.”

Elizabeth Warren accused Bernie Sanders of calling her a liar, audio of the senators’ confrontation after the Democratic debate revealed. On Wednesday, CNN released audio of the post-debate moment in Des Moines. The news organization reported the conversation wasn’t captured on the primary audio feed and was found the day after the Democratic gathering.

During the primary debate Tuesday night, Sanders denied allegations that he told Warren during a 2018 meeting he didn’t believe a woman could win the presidency. Warren stood by the account, a sign of the fraying relationship between the senators from neighboring states, Sanders of Vermont and Warren of Massachusetts.

“I think you called me a liar on national TV,” Warren told Sanders as she strode toward him and turned down Sanders’ offer of a handshake, the CNN audio reveals.

“What?” he asked.

“I think you called me a liar on national TV,” she repeated.

“Let’s not do it right now,” Sanders said, putting a hand up. “You want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.”

“Any time,” Warren interjected.

“You called me a liar, you told me —” Sanders began, before stopping himself. “All right, let’s not do it now.”

“I don’t want to get in the middle of — I just want to say hi, Bernie,” Steyer said quickly, shaking Sanders’ hand.

“Yeah, good, OK,” Sanders replied.

Soon after the audio became public, Steyer decided to chime in.

“Just want to say hi, America,” he tweeted.

New Trump Scandal Excerpts

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump pedophile foreign policy adviser was transporting child bestiality porn to Mar-a-Lago, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 15, 2020  Amid all of the developments involving the impeachment and forthcoming U.S. Senate trial of the aspiring dictator-president Donald Trump was the guilty plea entered by George Nader, a former Trump foreign policy adviser, in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia.

Nader was a close confidante of Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Blackwater founder and Abu Dhabi-based Reflex Responses (R2) mercenary firm owner Erik Prince, former Republican Party National Finance Committee co-chair Elliott Broidy, Trump former campaign manager Steve Bannon, Trump aide Stephen Miller, and disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine prosecutor offered information related to Biden in exchange for ambassador’s ouster, newly released materials show, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 15, 2020 (print ed.). New materials released by House Democrats appear to show Ukraine’s rudy giulianitop prosecutor offering an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, right, damaging information related to former vice president Joe Biden if the Trump administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

The text messages and documents provided to Congress by former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas also show that before the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. A lawyer for Yovanovitch said Tuesday that the episode should be investigated.

The cache of materials released by House investigators late Tuesday exposed a number of previously unknown details about efforts by Giuliani and his associates to obtain material in Ukraine that would undermine Trump’s Democratic opponents.

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Robert Hyde, left, a GOP congressional candidate in Connecticut who owed more than $2,000 in child support while he was spending tens of thousands to support Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, was exposed Monday as allegedly working to threaten the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine using thugs in that country to advance Trump goals.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Meet the Trump Donor Who Allegedly Stalked America’s Ambassador in Ukraine, Will Sommer and Betsy Swan, Jan. 14, 2020. He was a longshot candidate with a penchant for the obscene. Now he’s at the center of the impeachment drama.

Before Tuesday, he was best known as a little-known, scandal-scarred Republican congressional candidate who tweeted an obscene joke at Kamala Harris. But new documents from the House Intelligence Committee have put a completely different kind of spotlight on Robert F. Hyde (shown above), the Trump donor who appears to have tracked U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s movements in Ukraine. She is shown at left.

marie yovanovitch“They know she’s a political puppet,” Hyde wrote to Parnas. “They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”

“Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told,” Hyde wrote in another message. Parnas responded: “LOL.” Details below.

Asked about his previously undisclosed involvement in Ukraine, Hyde texted The Daily Beast an insult about House Intel chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), writing “Bull Schiff is a giant b*tch.”

“Did Pelosi get drunk and lose the impeachment articles?” he added. “Looks like Schiff wants to whistle blow me.”

Related stories:

Hartford Courant, Conn. candidate who deleted sexist tweet about Kamala Harris owes child support but gives big to Trump and GOP, Daniela Altimari, Dec. 19, 2019. Robert F. Hyde (above left), the Republican candidate for Congress whose sexually suggestive tweet about Kamala Harris drew widespread condemnation from leaders of both political parties, owes the mother of his 13-year-old son more than $2,000 in child support, according to court records, even as he has continued to make donations to President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee.

Jennyfer Morin of Torrington said she was compelled to come forward because Hyde is seeking public support for his campaign to represent Connecticut’s 5th District. “I’m shocked that people are planning to vote for this man,” she said in an interview.

rnc logoCourt filings shared by Morin and reviewed by the Hartford Courant state that Hyde has donated more than $56,000 to political campaigns since October 2016. Most of those contributions went to the Republican National Committee, according to electronic filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Hyde also donated at least $2,000 to President Donald Trump’s reelection fund and at least $750 to the Connecticut Republican Party, according to the FEC. On Wednesday, the state party announced it was returning Hyde’s contributions, citing his “vile comments on Twitter.”

On Dec. 3, Hyde posted a crude and sexist tweet about Harris’ decision to drop out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race. The tweet [saying in part that a candidate was "going down" before unprintable language] was removed earlier this week after several prominent Republicans and Democrats criticized Hyde and urged him to drop his bid.

Hartford Courant, Editorial: Robert F. Hyde, get out of the race. The Republican party deserves better, Editorial Board, Dec. 18, 2019. Robert F. Hyde, a Simsbury resident and currently a Republican candidate for the 5th U.S. House District, is confused. He apparently thinks it is OK, perfectly fine, to tweet gross and misogynistic insults. Here’s a clarifying thought: He needs to step out of the race.

But he is not, and the Trumpian approach of being as crass as possible doesn’t work here in Connecticut.

Who is the Robert Hyde (shown above left) who surfaced in House Intelligence Committee documents?

In early December, Mr. Hyde tweeted a few hardly subtle phrases about Kamala Harris’ departure from the race for the Democratic nomination for president. They are too crude to be published here. Mr. Hyde should be embarrassed — but, to judge from his subsequent tweets, he is not.

“I wasn’t thinking on my earlier statement,'' Hyde tweeted on Tuesday, in a post that has been removed. “I felt Kampala Harris is a tremendous and one of the stronger candidates and I felt she shouldn’t have dropped out of the race so soon. The Democrats haven’t even started talking about issues.”

Kampala?

On Wednesday, a defiant tweet remained: “Kamala literally destroyed a great man (Kavanaugh) on National TV and I’m the bad guy over a tweet that was poor in taste that I posted a month ago? It’s ok for dems right? Quick question, do you think I’ll ever quit?”

Maybe he thought he was running for president.

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ny times logoNew York Times, New Evidence Emerges as House Prepares to Send Impeachment Charges, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 15, 2020. House Democrats shared new records of President Trump’s efforts in Ukraine, adding pressure on Republicans to include witnesses in the Senate trial.

New details emerged on Tuesday of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, intensifying demands on Senate Republicans on the eve of a historic impeachment trial to include witness testimony and additional documents in the proceeding.

The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani (at far right above), Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associate Lev Parnas (at center) on behalf of the president. They include handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

FBI logoHouse Democrats released the records even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate to begin the trial. The material undergirds the accusations against Mr. Trump, and highlights how much is still to be learned about the scope of a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election.

The documents, provided by Mr. Parnas, contain a series of exchanges between him and a Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens.

In March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko messaged Mr. Parnas on the WhatsApp messaging service to complain that the Trump administration had not yet ousted the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch. Mr. Lutsenko, who had clashed with Ms. Yovanovitch and wanted her gone, appeared to link her removal to his assistance in attacking the Bidens. Related story:

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment spotlight turns to key question: whether to call witnesses, Seung Min Kim, Elise Viebeck and Robert Costa​, Jan. 15, 2020 (print ed.). A group of influential swing GOP senators is pushing to hold a vote on whether to call witnesses later in the proceedings. At the same time, the Senate’s right flank is increasingly making the case for a more aggressive posture in defense of President Trump.

The impeachment trial of President Trump, expected to open in the Senate on Thursday, is shining an intense spotlight on a handful of Senate Republicans who hold the power to decide a key question: whether to call witnesses.

djt nancy pelosiOn one end, a group of influential swing GOP senators — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — are pushing to hold a vote on whether to call witnesses later in the proceedings. Democrats have vowed to exert pressure on the group to break with their party on witnesses and other issues, such as obtaining documents.

At the same time, the Senate’s right flank is increasingly making the case to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other GOP leaders for a more aggressive posture in defense of Trump. In a private meeting with McConnell on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) argued that if Democrats press the case for potentially damaging witnesses — such as former national security adviser John Bolton — the GOP should insist on incendiary witnesses of their own, such as Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, according to two GOP officials familiar with the discussion.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatened tariffs if Europeans didn’t warn Iran on nuclear deal violations, John Hudson and Souad Mekhennet, Jan. 15, 2020. Europeans called the threat of a 25 percent tariff on autos “extortion.” A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching Iran Flagthe 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries.

If they refused to call out Tehran and initiate an arcane dispute mechanism in the deal, the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles, the Trump officials warned, according to European officials familiar with the conversations.

Within days, the three countries would formally accuse Iran of violating the deal, triggering a recourse provision that could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran and unravel the last remaining vestiges of the Obama-era agreement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Signs China Trade Deal, Putting Economic Conflict on Pause, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport, Jan. 15, 2020. An initial pact, cooling tensions in an election year, follows months of escalating tariffs and a trade war that seemed as if it would never end.

china flag SmallPresident Trump signed an initial trade deal with China on Wednesday, bringing the first chapter of a protracted and economically damaging fight with one of the world’s largest economies to a close.

The pact is intended to open Chinese markets to more American companies, increase farm and energy exports and provide greater protection for American technology and trade secrets. China has committed to purchasing an additional $200 billion worth of American goods and services by 2021 and is expected to ease some of the tariffs it has placed on American products.

But the agreement preserves the bulk of tariffs that Mr. Trump has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and it maintains the threat of additional punishment if Beijing does not live up to the terms of the deal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Premier Abruptly Quits Amid Swirl of Speculation on Putin, Andrew Higgins, Jan. 15, 2020. Russia’s political order, unchanged at its core since the early 1990s, was thrown into feverish uncertainty on Wednesday after President Vladimir V. Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes that could extend his hold on power indefinitely while his loyal protégé abruptly resigned as prime minister along with the rest of the government.

VladimirPutinMr. Putin described his proposals, announced in his annual state of the nation address, as an effort to enhance democracy. But his political rivals and many independent analysts interpreted them more as a strategy for keeping power after the end of what is supposed to be his final term in 2024.

Mikhail M. Kasyanov, a former prime minister under Mr. Putin who is now a fierce critic, said the president had given a “clear answer” to questions about his future: “I will remain president forever.”

But few others found that degree of clarity, especially after the surprise announcement by the prime minister, Dmitri A. Medvedev, that he was resigning. Mr. Medvedev then took a new job as deputy head of the Security Council, an important body but one that will leave him little space, since it is headed by Mr. Putin, 67.

Posing a question asked by many shocked observers, Dmitri Smirnov, a Kremlin reporter for the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, said on Twitter: “Why has this all happened in a single day?” His answer: “It just means that those in Kremlin know history well: revolution has to be made swiftly, even if it’s a revolution from above.”

Global Research, Opinion: Iran to Sue the US and Trump for Killing General Soleimani, Stephen Lendman, Jan. 15, 2020. According to Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esmayeeli, the country’s ruling authorities will sue the US in international courts for Soleimani’s assassination.

“This brutal act was a violation of human rights and all international rules,” Esmayeeli stressed, adding: “Martyr Soleimani was the official guest of the Iraqi government officials as a high-ranking (Iranian) official, and a foreign state has committed this crime in Iraq.”

“The criminal US government’s measure to martyr General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their entourage is a terrorist act from the legal view of point and a clear instance of state terrorism.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC), not the ICJ, is the proper tribunal for prosecuting individuals for crimes of war, against humanity, genocide, and aggression.

Since established by the Rome Statute in 2002, the ICC has never held the US, other Western nations, or Israel accountable for indisputable high crimes — just their victims. Time and again, the court breached its mandate to “end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern.”

Iran will likely seek redress against the US in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), mandated to settle international legal disputes, along with issuing advisory opinions on international legal issues referred to the court by the UN.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dangling disaster relief funds, White House to require Puerto Rico to implement reforms, Arelis R. Hernández and Jeff Stein, Jan. 15, 2020. The Trump administration will tell Puerto Rico to stop paying contractors on disaster projects $15 an hour, even after it was hit by recurring earthquakes this month, officials said.

The Trump administration plans to impose several new requirements on billions of dollars in aid for Puerto Rico, including a new restriction on the wages paid by the island’s government to contractors working on disaster relief, according to two officials with knowledge of the plan.

The White House has for months worked to enact new restrictions on about $8 billion in disaster mitigation aid Congress approved for the island, which was hit this month with recurring earthquakes just two years after Hurricane Maria devastated much of the U.S. territory.

Under the parameters the Trump administration is proposing, Puerto Rico’s government will have to agree to give new oversight authority to the island’s federally mandated Fiscal Control Board — an appointed, independent government body — to receive funding for certain federal projects, officials said. Puerto Rico also will have to agree to pay federal contractors working on disaster relief less than $15 an hour, despite a recent executive order mandating the rate.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has been working with White House officials, is expected to tell the Puerto Rico government about the proposed restrictions this week, the officials said.

Miami Herald, Virgin Islands allege Jeffrey Epstein trafficked girls as young as 11 as recently as 2018, Daniel Chang and Kevin G. Hall, Jan. 15, 2020. A miami herald logolawsuit filed Wednesday by the top law enforcement officer in the U.S. Virgin Islands alleges that multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually trafficked hundreds of young women and girls on his private island as recently as 2018 by using a web of shell companies to carry out and conceal his crimes.

The Miami Herald is partnering with the Miami Foundation to launch the Investigative Journalism Fund. With your donations, we can do more projects like Perversion of Justice, our series on Jeffrey Epstein. By Emily Michot

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe allegations, if validated, broaden the scope of Epstein’s sexual trafficking, and shed new light on the tactics Epstein used to hide jeffrey epstein at harvard universityhis illicit activities.

Epstein, right, who was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell last year, allegedly brought girls as young as 11 to his private island, known as Little St. James, and maintained a database to track their availability and movements, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, first reported by The New York Times, was filed by Denise George, attorney general of the Virgin Islands. George alleged in the lawsuit that Epstein used a network of shell companies to hold properties, including Little St. James and Great St. James, at which the former financier engaged in human trafficking, forced labor, sexual servitude and other criminal behavior.cision.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 100 billion pain pills were shipped nationwide over nine years, Steven Rich, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz, Jan. 15, 2020. Newly disclosed data reveals 24 billion additional pills were distributed during the epidemic.
Newly disclosed federal drug data shows that more than 100 billion doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone were shipped nationwide from 2006 through 2014 — 24 billion more doses of the highly addictive pain pills than previously known to the public.

The data, which traces the path of every pain pill shipped in the United States, shows the extent to which opioids flooded the country as deaths from the epidemic continued to climb over nine years.

The Washington Post and the company that owns the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia first obtained the data, collected by the Drug Enforcement Administration, from 2006 through 2012 after waging a year-long legal fight. In July, The Post reported that the data revealed that the nation’s drug companies had manufactured and distributed more than 76 billion pain pills.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Flynn Moves to Withdraw Guilty Plea in Russia Inquiry, Adam Goldman, Jan. 15, 2020 (print ed.). Once cited by the special counsel team as an exemplary cooperating witness, President Trump’s former national security adviser (above left) had grown combative.

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn moved late on Tuesday to withdraw his guilty plea on charges of lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry, accusing prosecutors of “bad faith” and vindictiveness after they asked a judge to sentence him to prison for backing out of a deal to cooperate with them.

The last-ditch request means that more than two years after first pleading guilty and after spending dozens of hours answering the questions of investigators for the special counsel, Mr. Flynn would take his chances at trial if a judge agrees to grant his motion. That would set up a collision course with prosecutors who could decide to bring additional charges against him.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency whose case marked a striking downfall, has already pleaded guilty twice to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition in late 2016. As part of his agreement with the government, Mr. Flynn also admitted that he violated foreign lobbying laws when he failed to disclose work he had done for Turkey.

After he cooperated extensively with prosecutors in the Russia investigation, they recommended leniency in late 2018. Mr. Flynn even agreed to delay his sentencing at the time to offer further cooperation by testifying against a former business associate in a case in Northern Virginia. But Mr. Flynn grew increasingly antagonistic in recent months and hired combative new lawyers in mid-2019.

Those lawyers had tried to convince a federal judge that the F.B.I. had ambushed him as part of a plot by biased investigators, hoping that the case would be thrown out. But the judge rejected those accusations this month as baseless, and prosecutors reversed their stance, saying Mr. Flynn should be imprisoned.

emmet sullivan 2012Because Mr. Flynn has already pleaded guilty twice, he cannot unilaterally withdraw from the plea deal. The federal judge in the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, right, of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, has to sign off on Mr. Flynn’s request and will most likely give prosecutors a chance to respond and schedule a hearing on the matter.

Mr. Flynn’s gamble raises questions about whether he and his lawyers were making a play for a presidential pardon. Days into his presidency, Mr. Trump dismissed Mr. Flynn after learning he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other senior administration officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, but he has also said Mr. Flynn was treated badly by investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge temporarily halts administration policy allowing local governments to block refugees, Ann E. Marimow and Maria Sacchetti, Jan. 15, 2020. The ruling found the Trump administration’s new policy on refugee resettlement is likely “unlawful.”

State and local officials cannot block refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the Trump peter messeti american universityadministration’s new refu­gee policy is likely to be “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest.”

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte of Maryland temporarily halted President Trump’s executive order requiring governors and local officials nationwide to agree in writing to welcome refugees before resettlements take place in their jurisdictions.

“Giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midst — flies in the face of clear Congressional intent,” Messitte wrote in a 31-page decision.

CNN via Yahoo News, Opinion: Bernie Sanders isn't facing enough scrutiny, Joe Lockhart ( White House press secretary from 1998-2000 in President Bill Clinton's administration. He co-hosts the podcast "Words Matter"), Jan. 15, 2020. As a party loyalist, as opposed to someone supporting an individual candidate, the most important thing to me is nominating a candidate who can win in the general election. And a key component of that goal is making sure your party's nominee is fully vetted and scrutinized before they win the nomination, not after.

There are several reasons for this. First, you want to make sure the nominee can take a punch, because once the opposing party gets involved, you can be sure these will be delivered aggressively. Second, and as important, you want to fully air all controversial statements, votes and other activities before the general election, so that your nominee can legitimately claim these issues are old news and have been addressed. There is nothing more dangerous than having a new issue raised by your general election opponent at a key moment in the race.

Thus, while it may seem counter-intuitive, I want all the primary candidates to scrutinize their opponents, attack their records and have full coverage of it in the media. These scrutiny stories need three elements -- good opposition research, an enterprising reporter and another candidate willing to make the case in public for the relevance of the information.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, the process has worked fairly well. Opposition researchers, reporters and other candidates have made strong cases raising questions about the records of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. With differing degrees of success, each of these candidates has been forced to deal with their own political vulnerabilities. At a minimum, most of what President Donald Trump will attack them on has already been litigated in the primary run.

The exception to this rule, and a worry to many Democrats, has been the relatively lax scrutiny of Senator Bernie Sanders.

To be sure, Sanders' signature idea -- Medicare for All -- has been dissected and debated. And the staggering total cost and severe political liabilities of Sanders' full agenda is now beginning to be examined, as my CNN colleague Ronald Brownstein wrote recently.

However, there has been far too little discussion of Sanders' 50-year record, nor have we seen a real view of how he would defend that record against a Republican onslaught.

He's been lucky to avoid such an inquiry, because, for whatever reason, the media has discounted his ability to win the nomination. Press scrutiny moves on a sliding scale -- the closer you get to the nomination, the more intense the spotlight becomes. And opponents of Sanders have been reluctant to take him on given the intensity of support from his voters and their knowledge of how important those voters will be in the fall.

The result is that one of the leading candidates for the nomination has largely escaped the kind of scrutiny his opponents have been put through and that should worry every Democrat. His vulnerabilities, like the rest of the candidates, should be tested before Democrats gather in Milwaukee later this summer.

So, what might that look like? Though Trump would have an army of researchers digging into his past in courthouses and video archives, a few Google searches reveal a vast trove of controversial information that I'm confident is unknown to most Democratic primary voters. Even if none of these are themselves politically fatal, the totality would seem to offer the Trump campaign an enormous set of targets.

Let's start with what he calls himself (and the label Trump tries to stick to every Democrat): a socialist. There's no ducking this one -- Bernie has said a lot over the years, and a lot of it on camera. The Associated Press reports that in a 1983 reelection debate he said, "I am a socialist, of course, I am a socialist." The Washington Examiner reported last year that in 1980 and 1984, Sanders campaigned for the Socialist Workers Party. The report said that Sanders "proudly endorsed and supported" the Marxist group's presidential candidate, Andrew Pulley, in 1980. According to the report, in a press release, Sanders said, "I fully support the SWP's continued defense of the Cuban revolution."

Sanders' support for Fidel Castro came up during a 2016 presidential debate when Hillary Clinton questioned him about remarks he made in a 1984 video in which he said, "Everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world...They forgot that he educated ...kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society." Although Sanders agreed that Cuba was undemocratic and authoritarian, he seemed to refuse to take back his comments. The 1984 video and his refusal to disavow his comments could be a vulnerability for Sanders in 2020.

In the 1970's, Sanders called for the abolition of the CIA, reducing the military, and returning to local militias, and the Coast Guard, to defend the homeland. Once in Congress, he called for spending cuts of 50% in the Pentagon's budget.

Sanders has also made statements that will cause problems with key Democratic constituencies. The allegations of sexual harassment by members of his 2016 campaign team were covered (Sanders said he didn't know about the allegations during his campaign but apologized), but little attention was paid to an article he wrote in 1969, exploring studies on stress and wondering if there could be a link between what parents taught their daughters about sexual mores and their child's likelihood of developing breast cancer.

In 2011, he suggested several times that there would be value in a primary campaign against Barack Obama, one of the most revered figures in the Democratic Party. And in 2018, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Sanders went to Jackson, Mississippi, and trashed the party and its first African American president. Speaking to a mostly black crowd, Sanders said, "The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure ... People sometimes don't see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy."

U.S. Crime, Fraud

U.S. Justice Department, Virginia Man Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison on Federal Fraud Conspiracy Charge for Stealing Over $1.3 Million, Staff report, Jan. 15, 2020. Fraud Scheme Defrauded Companies and Individuals From Around the World. 

Issam Abu-Ghosh, 61, of Leesburg, Virginia, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for his role in a fraud conspiracy targeting companies and individuals from across the United States and around the world. Abu-Ghosh pled guilty in September 2018 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Richard J. Leon. In addition to his prison term, Abu-Ghosh must pay restitution in the amount of $1,358,980, as well as a forfeiture money judgement in the amount of $952,000. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release.

Beginning in or about 2009, and continuing through at least 2012, Ghosh and his co-conspirator conducted a scheme to defraud individuals, companies, and other types of entities, to obtain money.

The scheme was conducted in a similar manner for many of the victims. In nearly each instance, Ghosh represented to the victim that Ghosh, through his solely owned company, could obtain a loan for the victim through various connections that he maintained. The loans needed by the victims were often for millions of dollars and to fund large projects. Prior to soliciting potential lenders, Ghosh required that each victim provide a good faith deposit to be held in escrow to show the victim’s good intentions toward obtaining the loan.

The good faith deposits ranged from $15,000 to $250,000. Ghosh’s co-conspirator, an attorney, acted as the escrow agent for the good faith deposits. Once an agreement was reached between the victim and Ghosh, the terms and conditions were memorialized in a Loan Commitment contract. The Loan Commitment included an Escrow Agreement, which identified Ghosh’s co-conspirator as the escrow agent and provided conditions under which the Escrow Agreement would operate, including the transfer of the good faith deposit to a bank account held by the co-conspirator.

In most cases, the Escrow Agreement required that the co-conspirator hold the money with the understanding that the funds would be returned to the victim if Ghosh failed to identify and provide a lender.

Jan. 14

Trump Impeachment Headlines

 

U.S. 2020 Election Headlines

Trump's Threatening Supporter

ny times logoNew York Times, New Evidence Emerges as House Prepares to Send Impeachment Charges, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 15, 2020. House Democrats shared new records of President Trump’s efforts in Ukraine, adding pressure on Republicans to include witnesses in the Senate trial.

New details emerged on Tuesday of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, intensifying demands on Senate Republicans on the eve of a historic impeachment trial to include witness testimony and additional documents in the proceeding.

The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani (at far right above), Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associate Lev Parnas (at center) on behalf of the president. They include handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son.

House Democrats released the records even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate to begin the trial. The material undergirds the accusations against Mr. Trump, and highlights how much is still to be learned about the scope of a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election.

The documents, provided by Mr. Parnas, contain a series of exchanges between him and a Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens.

In March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko messaged Mr. Parnas on the WhatsApp messaging service to complain that the Trump administration had not yet ousted the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch. Mr. Lutsenko, who had clashed with Ms. Yovanovitch and wanted her gone, appeared to link her removal to his assistance in attacking the Bidens.

Democratic Debate

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Debate War and a Woman’s Chance at the White House, Shane Goldmacher and Jonathan Martin, Jan. 15, 2020. The leading Democratic presidential candidates clashed over America’s role in the Middle East and their credentials to be commander in chief. And the rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over the electability of a woman surfaced and de-escalated quickly.

The Democratic presidential candidates clashed in starkly personal terms Tuesday over who had the best chance to defeat President Trump, as Senator Elizabeth Warren sought to jump-start her campaign in the last debate before the Iowa caucuses by highlighting her electoral success and that of other female candidates in the Trump era.

democratic debate jan 14 2020 CustomPrompted by the moderators, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders continued a debate over the fraught subject of whether a woman could be elected president, an issue that in recent days had caused the first serious breach in their relationship. One day after she confirmed a report that Mr. Sanders had told her in a private meeting that he did not think a woman could defeat Mr. Trump, Ms. Warren trumpeted her Senate victory over an incumbent Republican and then gestured down the debate stage toward the four male candidates.

“Collectively they have lost 10 elections,” she said, before acknowledging the only other female candidate present, Senator Amy Klobuchar. “The only people on this stage who have won every single election they have been in are the women: Amy and me. And the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican in the past 30 years is me.”

Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren’s top rival for progressive support, flatly denied that he had made the comment when the two lawmakers met without aides in 2018. He said it was “incomprehensible that I would think that a woman couldn’t be president of the United States,” noting Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote in the 2016 general election.

Meeting less than three weeks before Iowans vote, the Democrats disagreed over international affairs and keeping troops in the Middle East, whether to support Mr. Trump’s trade deal for North America, how aggressively to tackle climate change, and, yet again, sparred on health care. But the issue animating much of the evening was the same question that has shaped the primary race for the past year: which of them would be the most formidable contender against Mr. Trump.

Trump Impeachment Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Senate Republicans reject Trump’s renewed call for immediate dismissal of charges, Seung Min Kim, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). Senior Republicans said such a dismissal could not win approval in the chamber, where the GOP holds a 53-seat majority. And even some staunch Trump allies argued the president’s legacy would benefit from a robust trial.

roy blunt official Small“I don’t think there’s any interest on our side of dismissing,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the fourth-ranking GOP senator. “Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss.”

us senate logoSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he wants the trial — only the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history — to follow the format used 21 years ago in the trial of President Bill Clinton. In that case, the Senate approved a resolution that would have allowed the Senate to vote to dismiss the charges.

But senior Republicans signaled Monday that they are not inclined to include such a provision in the resolution that will kick off Trump’s trial, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

washington post logoWashington Post, House to vote Wednesday to send impeachment articles against Trump to the Senate, John Wagner, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 14, 2020. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that the House will vote on a resolution appointing impeachment managers and nancy pelosi impeachmenttransmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, allowing the trial of President Trump to begin this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, has announced that the House will vote Wednesday on a resolution appointing House impeachment managers and transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, allowing the trial of President Trump to begin this week.

In anticipation of the historic event, senators in the chamber controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have been maneuvering behind the scenes about whether the trial should include witnesses and who might be summoned to testify.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment, Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., right, and his son Hunter Biden, Russian joe biden omilitary hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the affair, according to security experts.

The hacking attempts against Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served, began in early November, as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States.

It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for. But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.

The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.

Then, as now, the Russian hackers from a military intelligence unit known formerly as the G.R.U., and to private researchers by the alias “Fancy Bear,” used so-called phishing emails that appear designed to steal usernames and passwords, according to Area 1, the Silicon Valley security firm that detected the hacking. In this instance, the hackers set up fake websites that mimicked sign-in pages of Burisma subsidiaries, and have been blasting Burisma employees with emails meant to look like they are coming from inside the burisma logocompany.

The hackers fooled some of them into handing over their login credentials, and managed to get inside one of Burisma’s servers, Area 1 said.

“The attacks were successful,” said Oren Falkowitz, a co-founder of Area 1, who previously served at the National Security Agency. Mr. Falkowitz’s firm maintains a network of sensors on web servers around the globe — many known to be used by state-sponsored hackers — which gives the firm a front-row seat to phishing attacks, and allows them to block attacks on their customers.

“The timing of the Russian campaign mirrors the G.R.U. hacks we saw in 2016 against the D.N.C. and John Podesta,” the Clinton campaign chairman, Mr. Falkowitz said. “Once again, they are stealing email credentials, in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election.”

The Justice Department indicted seven officers from the same military intelligence unit in 2018.

The Russian attacks on Burisma appear to be running parallel to an effort by Russian spies in Ukraine to dig up information in the analog world that could embarrass the Bidens, according to an American security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The spies, the official said, are trying to penetrate Burisma and working sources in the Ukrainian government in search of emails, financial records and legal documents.

washington post logodjt impeached wapo 12 19 19 front page CustomWashington Post, Trump amplifies incendiary tweets about Nancy Pelosi after her comments on Iran protests, Brittany Shammas, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump on Monday retweeted a volley of incendiary posts accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of downplaying protests in Iran and supporting the regime.

donald trump twitterOne of them, a fake photo of Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) wearing photoshopped Islamic head coverings and standing in front of the Iranian flag, drew swift condemnation. “DEMOCRATS 2020” read the text below the image, which was originally tweeted by an anonymous user with the caption, “The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue.”

Among those denouncing the tweet was Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.

“It’s outrageous that @realDonaldTrump elevated such repulsive anti-Muslim bigotry,” he tweeted. “#Islamophobia is offensive & unbecoming of any leader, let alone @POTUS. When #hate & division are on the rise, this is the opposite of what we need from the President. An apology is in order ASAP.”

Asked about the criticism during a Fox News appearance, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham backed Trump’s decision to amplify the tweet. She said he did so to make a point.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Suddenly Trump has lost enthusiasm for his trial, Dana Milbank
  • Washington Post, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi may yet have the last laugh, Jennifer Rubin

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Has Votes to Pass Limits on Trump’s Iran War Power, Catie Edmondson, Jan. 14, 2020. At least four Republicans would break ranks to pass the bill, a key Democrat said. It would be unlikely to overcome a veto from President Trump.

  • New York Times, Take Impeachment Seriously, Senators, Editorial Board, Jan. 14, 2020. Can they handle the truth?

World Newsdjt rally file Custom

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: They Like to Get the Landmarks, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 14, 2020. In the 2016 science fiction sequel, Independence strategic culture logoDay: Resurgence, actor Jeff Goldblum, describing the targeting priorities of aliens invading the Earth, says, “They like to get the landmarks.” In both Independence Day and its sequel, movie viewers were treated to scenes of macabre-looking extraterrestrials destroying the Empire State Building, the White House, Los Angeles’s Tower Records building, and London’s Tower Bridge and “the Eye” wheel.

Destroying famous landmarks is not merely in the purview of motion picture aliens but also the president of the United States. In a series of tweets sent after Trump (shown at a rally) ordered the assassination at Baghdad International Airport of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Al Quds commander, Major General Qaseem Soleimani, he vowed to destroy Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated for the U.S. assassination of Iran’s most revered military leader.

Trump tweeted: “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have… targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

iran wants war graphic Custom 3Destroying cultural and religious sites during armed conflict is a war crime and a violation of international law. Not since 1944, when the German commander of Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, defied Adolf Hitler’s order to destroy the major cultural sites in Nazi-occupied Paris – the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Sacré-Cœur basilica, and others – had a military official so publicly defied a political leader.

Trump did not state what 52 Iranian cultural sites and antiquities were on his “hit list,” but informed observers believe they included the ruins of the capital of the Achaemenid Empire at Persepolis; the Kingdom of Elam’s holy city, Tchogha Zanbil; and Imam Square in Isfahan, all protected World Heritage sites protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), from which Trump withdrew the United States in 2019.

The world has in recent years witnessed a number of barbarian acts of destruction of world heritage cultural sites. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed several historical sites and objects of antiquity in Mosul, Iraq and Palmyra, Syria. In 2001, the Taliban blew up the UNESCO-protected Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, rendering them into a pile of rubble.

It is a sad commentary on the present state of the world that an American president would desire to put himself in the same barbarian category as Adolf Hitler, ISIL, and the Taliban. However, Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran appears to have very few boundaries.

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, Trump’s trade deal with China won’t give many U.S. companies relief, as most tariffs will remain, David J. Lynch, Jan. 14, 2020. Nearly two-thirds of everything Americans buy from China will face tariffs, compared with less than 1 percent before the president began his anti-China campaign, according to an analysis.

washington post logoWashington Post, France, Britain, Germany launch dispute process in Iran nuclear deal, a step toward sanctions, Loveday Morris, Jan. 14, 2020. By activating the 2015 deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, the European nations indicated they reject Iran’s withdrawal from the restrictions.

Tehran had been gradually reducing its commitments under the deal since the United States withdrew and reimposed sanctions in 2018.

With Washington threatening secondary sanctions against European businesses dealing with Iran, Tehran argued it could no longer reap the financial benefits laid out in the pact in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion:The Pentagon’s and CIA’s Power to Assassinate Americans, Jacob G. Hornberger (right, foundation president, book publisher, law school graduate and author), Jan. 14, 2020. Pentagon officials Jacob Hornbergerare assuring Americans that the Pentagon’s recent assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani (below at left) will make Americans safer. There is at least one big problem with that formulation, one that, unfortunately, many Americans still don’t recognize. That problem is this: the power of assassination wielded by the Pentagon and the CIA extends to American citizens.

Why is that a problem?

Because there is no way to reconcile a government’s power to assassinate its own citizens with the principles of a free society. A free society necessarily is one in which the government lacks the power to assassinate its own citizens.

Our American ancestors clearly understood this aspect of a free society. That’s why they demanded the enactment of the Fifth Amendment as a condition for accepting the new limited-government republic that was being proposed by the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment reads in part: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” That phrase — due process of law, which stretches back to Magna qasem soleimani with zolfaghar orderCarta — has come to mean notice and trial, including trial by jury.

Americans had been operating under the Articles of Confederation for some 13 years when the delegates at the Constitutional Convention proposed a limited-government republic type of governmental system. Under the Articles, the federal government hadn’t even been given the power to tax, much less the power to assassinate American citizens. Americans were leery about the proposal for a limited-government republic because they feared that it might evolve into a government with totalitarian-like powers, such as the power to assassinate its own citizens.

Americans finally were persuaded to accept the deal but they demanded the enactment of the Bill of Rights to make sure that federal officials got the point. The Bill of Rights essentially says: “You don’t have the power to destroy our fundamental, God-given rights, and you also lack the power to kill us without following the principles of due process of law.”

george washington gilbert stuart portraitThe Framers did not bring into existence a government in which federal officials would be entrusted with the power of assassination. Instead, they made certain that the federal government was denied the power of assassination. They understood that freedom isn’t a government in which officials are exercising a power of assassination prudently, rarely, and wisely. They understood that freedom is a government in which officials don’t have the power to assassinate at all.

It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the change that took place after World War II, when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state form of governmental structure. A national-security state is a totalitarian form of governmental structure, one that wields totalitarian-like powers. North Korea is a national security state. So are China, Russia, Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. And post-World War II United States.

The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state automatically brought into existence the power of the federal government to assassinate American citizens. At the moment of the conversion, the freedom of the American people was destroyed because, again, it is impossible to reconcile the totalitarian power of assassination with the principles of a free society.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. citizen dies in Egyptian prison, despite warnings over poor medical condition and an appeal to Trump, Sudarsan Raghavan​, Jan. 14, 2020. The death of Mustafa Kassem raises questions about U.S. influence and the fate of other Americans jailed in Egypt.

Media / Spy Agencies

washington post logoWashington Post, News networks use retired military brass as war analysts without disclosing their defense-industry ties, Paul Farhi, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). During eight appearances on Fox News and Fox Business Network in early January, Jack Keane was introduced several ways: as “a retired four-star general,” as the former “vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army,” and as Fox News’s “senior strategic analyst.”

jack keaneAll of those are accurate descriptions. Keane (shown when he was on active duty) is a distinguished veteran, having commanded American troops in such places as Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia. Fox employs him to provide analysis of national security and military operations, such as the unfolding hostilities between the United States and Iran.

fox news logo SmallBut another part of Keane’s résumé wasn’t mentioned: the former general is also executive chairman of AM General, a leading defense contractor, best known as the manufacturer of the Humvee and other tactical military vehicles. He is also a partner at a venture-capital firm that specializes in the defense industry. In other words, viewers never learned that Keane has a direct financial interest in the war policies he was assessing on the air.

cnn logoFox News’s nondisclosure of Keane’s role in the military-industrial complex is standard operating procedure for network news shows. Many of the retired military leaders employed by the networks as paid contributors have secondary affiliations that are rarely, if ever, mentioned, leaving viewers in the dark about whose interests they’re promoting.

Like Fox News, none of the leading networks — ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC — makes a regular practice of announcing its military analysts’ financial ties to the Pentagon, connections that could color their on-air comments.

washington post logoWashington Post, NSA found a dangerous Windows 10 flaw and alerted Microsoft — rather than weaponize it, Ellen Nakashima​, Jan. 14, 2020. The disclosure represents a major shift in the agency’s approach, choosing to put computer security ahead of building up its arsenal of hacking tools.

nsa logo 2The National Security Agency recently discovered a major flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system — one that could potentially expose computer users to significant breaches or surveillance — and alerted the firm of the problem rather than turn it into a hacking weapon, according to people familiar with the matter.

microsoft logo CustomThe disclosure represents a major shift in the NSA’s approach, choosing to put computer security ahead of building up its arsenal of hacking tools that allow the agency to spy on adversaries’ networks, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Microsoft plans to issue a patch for the flaw on Tuesday, the individuals said. “Big kudos to NSA for voluntarily disclosing to Microsoft,” said computer security expert Dmitri Alperovitch in a tweet Tuesday morning. “This is the type of [vulnerability] I am sure the [NSA hackers] would have loved to use for years to come.”

 U.S. 2020 Election Excerpts

ny times logoNew York Times, Here Are the Key Matchups in Tonight’s Debate, Shane Goldmacher and Adriana Ramic, Jan. 14, 2020. Six Democrats will debate in Des Moines tonight — the smallest stage yet — as the 2020 presidential race remains fluid, with Iowa, in particular, up for grabs less than three weeks before the caucuses. Here are the dynamics to watch in the final debate before voting begins (CNN at 9 p.m. (ET) and DesMoinesRegister.com.)

  • New York Times, ‘Mom and Dad Are Fighting’: Left-Wing Democrats Lament Sanders-Warren Rift. The sudden breach between the two leading Democratic candidates has disheartened those who fear it could benefit the party’s moderate candidates.

bernie sandersPolitico, Tonight’s debate could be a doozy, David Siders, Jan. 14, 2020. The reluctance to attack is now a vestige of the past. In its place is a spray of bullets in every direction. It’s Bernie Sanders, right, versus Joe Biden. Or Biden versus Elizabeth Warren. Or Sanders versus Warren, when she isn’t busy brutalizing Pete Buttigieg.

Nearing the end of a presidential primary marked by its lack of acrimony, the four-candidate pileup in Iowa is forcing campaigns to alter their terms of engagement in pursuit of even incremental advantages.

The reluctance to brawl is now a vestige of the past. In its place is a spray of bullets in every direction.

In a traditional campaign, said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, “You get to be the frontrunner, then everybody else makes sure you get taken down.”

The difference this year, he said, is that “everybody’s the frontrunner.”

The rancor has resulted in a new round of hand-wringing by Democrats fearful of weakening the party ahead of the general election — and by progressives fearful of weakening their standing against more moderate Democrats in the primary.

Citing their alarm over the recent sniping between the Sanders and Warren presidential campaigns, the liberal grassroots group Democracy for America implored the two to work together and stop attacking each other — unlikely, as a new rift opened over a CNN report that Sanders had told Warren privately in 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the presidency in 2020.

abiy ahmed nobel Custom

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump slams Nobel Peace Prize for African leader, Wayne Madsen (former Navy intelliegence officer and author of 17 books, including Cafe Vaterland, a novel portraying the Trump family's fascist tendencies), Jan. 14, 2020. Aspirant dictator and white nationalist Donald wayne madsen cafe vaterlandTrump, whose opinion of Africa was summed up in his reference to African nations as "shithole countries," is convinced that "he saved Ethiopia" but was passed over for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

Trump, in speaking to a recent white nationalist rally in Toledo, referenced the awarding of the 2019 Nobel prize to Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, ahown above, that nation's first Muslim head of government.

Ahmed was awarded the peace prize for his efforts in concluding a 2018 peace treaty with neighboring Eritrea, which with it remained technically at war since a 1998-2000 armed conflict over their border. In awarding Ahmed, the Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Ahmed for his "decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea."

In Toledo, Trump said, "I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: 'What, did I have something to do with it?' Yeah, but you know, that's the way it is."

In fact, Trump had nothing to do with the 2018 Ethiopian-Eritrean peace accord.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren greet each other at the Democratic presidential debate on July 3, 2019 (screengrab).n

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren greet each other at the Democratic presidential debate on July 3, 2019 (screengrab).

ny times logoNew York Times, Warren Says Sanders Told Her a Woman Could Not Win the Presidency, Astead W. Herndon and Jonathan Martin, Jan. 14, 2020 (print ed.). Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said on Monday night that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told her in 2018 he did not think a woman could win the presidency. Ms. Warren’s description of the comment, from a private one-on-one meeting, represents a remarkable salvo at her leading liberal rival in the 2020 race just three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Mr. Sanders vehemently denied making the remark earlier on Monday and accused the Warren campaign staff of “lying” about it, in a statement intended to refute a news report by CNN that relied on anonymous sources. The New York Times and other outlets confirmed the CNN report on Monday afternoon, while the Warren campaign initially declined to comment.

democratic donkey logoWith the two Democrats set to face off Tuesday night in their next televised debate, they now find themselves in the most tense standoff of the Democratic nomination fight: Mr. Sanders insisting he did not make the explosive remark, which risks alienating many Democrats, and Ms. Warren saying on the record that he did make the comment.

Ms. Warren, in a statement on Monday night, said that Mr. Sanders made the remark at a two-hour meeting in December 2018 where they discussed the 2020 election and “our past work together and our shared goals,” in particular defeating President Trump.

“Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” she said. “I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry.” She added that she and Mr. Sanders were “friends and allies” and said she believed they would continue to work together to beat Mr. Trump.

Internally, the Sanders campaign was roiled by Ms. Warren’s statement, which seemed to catch several staff members off guard.

Former Trump Advisor Pleads

george nader c span

ny times logoNew York Times, A Mueller Report Witness Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Possession Charges, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Jan. 14, 2020. George Nader, shown above, a Lebanese-American businessman, also pleaded guilty to a child sex trafficking charge on Monday in federal court.

robert mueller full face fileA businessman who was a witness named in the Mueller report pleaded guilty on Monday to child pornography possession and sex trafficking charges, according to court documents. The businessman, George Nader, who has also acted as an informal adviser to the United Arab Emirates' crown prince, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of sex trafficking a minor in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

On the possession of child pornography charge, Mr. Nader faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and at least five years of supervised release, court documents said. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the sex trafficking charge. Mr. Nader must register as a sex offender, the documents said.

His sentencing hearing is set for April 10, according to Jonathan Jeffress, one of Mr. Nader's four lawyers. He declined to comment further.

A prosecutor for the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment on Tuesday.

The case against Mr. Nader outlined his constant communication, since 2010, with someone about a mutual interest in child pornography, which was referred to as "wine," according to court documents. The records also detailed numerous times that Mr. Nader received or tried to acquire child pornography.

The documents also show that Mr. Nader admitted to transporting a minor boy from the Czech Republic to Washington, D.C., in 2000 to engage in sexual activity with him.

In June, Mr. Nader, who is Lebanese-American, was arrested at Kennedy International Airport in New York. He had been found the previous year with iPhones containing sexually explicit images of young boys, according to court documents. The phones were discovered after he was stopped by federal agents and questioned about his work to arrange meetings between liaisons of foreign governments and Trump transition officials after the November 2016 presidential election.

More U.S. Politics

AlterNet via Raw Story, GOP lawmaker accuses Rep. Matt Gaetz of creating ‘a game’ where politicians get ‘points’ for sleeping with interns and married colleagues, Alex Henderson, Jan. 14, 2020. In Florida politics, Rep. Matt Gaetz is not only known for getting into bitter arguments with Democrats — he is also known for his feuds with fellow Republicans. And this week, things turned ugly after Gaetz attacked Republican State Rep. Chris Latvala for tweeting a photo of him meeting with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

matt gaetz o CustomMonday on Twitter, Latvala wrote, “It was an honor to meet @TheRevAl today.” And when Gaetz (who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives via Florida’s 1st Congressional District) saw the tweet and the photo of Latvala with Sharpton — who hosts “Politics Nation” on MSNBC — the 37-year-old far-right Republican responded, “Sharpton has called Cops ‘pigs;’ Whites ‘interlopers;’ Greeks ‘homos’ and Jews ‘diamond merchants. So that is pretty disgusting.”

Latvala (the 38-year-old son of former Florida State Sen. Jack Latvala, now 68) responded by accusing Gaetz, right, of inventing a sleazy game for Florida legislators that included a sexual scoring system. In 2013, Politico’s Marc Caputo reported that according to the rules of the alleged game, legislators received one point for sleeping with a lobbyist, two points for sleeping with legislative staff, three points for sleeping with another legislator and six points for sleeping with a married legislator.

Gaetz responded by telling the Tampa Bay Times that he “had no idea what Chris was talking about” and attacking Jack Latvala. Gaetz told the Tampa Bay Times, “I know Jack Latvala (had) to resign in disgrace over demanding sexual favors from lobbyists in exchange for appropriations. So, it was likely Chris projecting. I don’t start conversations with people on Twitter about their sex lives, especially Latvalas.”

Jack Latvala resigned from the Florida State Senate in December 2017.

On Twitter, Gaetz told Chris Latvala, “Just because I own you on Twitter, don’t confuse me for your daddy when it comes to abusing power for sex. Also, I missed the defense of Sharpton in your reply.”

Chris Latvala then brought up Gaetz’ arrest in 2008 in Okaloosa County, Florida for allegedly driving under the influence; that case was later dropped. The Florida representative tweeted, “Have you been drinking tonight? I hope you don’t get behind the wheel. I know you have had a rough few days up there.”

Before entering the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2017, Gaetz served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2010-2016.

Jan. 13

U.S. 2020 Election Headlines

Impeachment Headlines

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Headlines

 

U.S. 2020 Election Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Sanders’s campaign goes on the offensive as he seeks a victory in Iowa caucuses, Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan​, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Over the weekend, surrogates and aides for the senator from Vermont went after Sen. Elizabeth Warren and intensified their attacks on former vice president Joe Biden.

ny times logoNew York Times, Sanders Is Said to Have Told Warren That a Woman Could Not Win the Presidency, Staff report, Jan. 13, 2020. Bernie Sanders denied making any such remark in a private 2018 meeting with Elizabeth Warren, accusing her campaign staff of “lying about what happened.”

elizabeth warren o purpleIn a private meeting in 2018 between Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, left, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Sanders said that he did not think a woman could win the presidency, according to two people familiar with the discussion. Ms. Warren subsequently told associates about Mr. Sanders’s comment, according to people with knowledge of her remarks.

Mr. Sanders on Monday vehemently denied making the remark, which was first reported by CNN.

“It’s sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement, adding that it was “ludicrous” to think he would have made such a comment. “Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by three million votes in 2016.”

Mr. Sanders added that he had told Ms. Warren “that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could.”

The Warren campaign declined to comment on Monday. The people familiar with the 2018 meeting, who were briefed on it shortly after it took place but were not authorized to speak publicly, said Mr. Sanders offered the comment while giving his assessment on the coming race. In relaying to Ms. Warren the challenges he thought her campaign would face, he said not only that President Trump would weaponize sexism, but also that such attacks would preclude a woman from being elected, according to the private accounts.

Asked last March whether Mr. Sanders had urged her not to run, Ms. Warren said, “Bernie and I had a private dinner, and my view is that dinner stays private.”

  • New York Times, A new Iowa poll shows a tight race, with Joe Biden regaining strength and moving ahead

ny times logoNew York Times, Elizabeth Warren Says Bernie Sanders Sent Volunteers ‘Out to Trash Me,’ Shane Goldmacher and Sydney Ember, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Ms. Warren said she was “disappointed” the Sanders campaign had used a script for volunteers that suggested she appealed mainly to highly educated voters.

A nearly yearlong run of good will between two of the leading progressives in the 2020 presidential race, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, appears to be evaporating in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.

Elizabeth Warren HS o 200Ms. Warren, left, said on Sunday she was “disappointed” that Mr. Sanders’s campaign had been using a script for volunteers that suggested she was appealing mainly to highly educated voters and would not be able to expand the Democratic Party coalition.

“I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me,” Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, said. “I hope Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction.”

democratic donkey logoAfter months of studiously avoiding any negative words about Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren went on to cite the divisiveness of the 2016 primary race between Mr. Sanders and Hillary Clinton, implying it had helped President Trump. “We all saw the impact of the factionalism in 2016, and we can’t have a repeat of that,” she warned. “Democrats need to unite our party and that means pulling in all parts of the Democratic coalition.”

In a rare question-and-answer session with reporters after his final event of a weekend Iowa swing, Mr. Sanders — in response to a question on whether he approved of his campaign’s criticism of Ms. Warren — denied responsibility for the script, saying he himself had never attacked Ms. Warren. And he blamed the news media for overstating the tension between the two campaigns. “I got to tell you, I think this is a little bit of a media blowup, that kind of wants conflict,” he said.

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Iran Strategy May Cost Him in 2020 Election, Jeremy W. Peters, Jan. 13, 2020. President Trump’s criticism of American interventionism was part of his appeal to voters. But as tensions with Iran remain high, Mr. Trump risks becoming the wartime president he said he never wanted to be.

Almost exactly four years ago, Donald J. Trump touched down at an airport hangar here (in Dubuque, Iowa), delivered a donation to a group that provides service dogs to veterans and, before inviting a few kids to run around on his Boeing 757, criticized the wars in the Middle East that many local families had sent their sons and daughters to fight in.

“I’m the guy that didn’t want to go to war,” he told a crowd of several hundred. “It’s just unjust, it’s a mess,” Mr. Trump went on, promising that if he ever did deploy the military anywhere, it would be “so strong, so powerful that nobody is going to mess with us anymore.”

That November, Dubuque County voted Republican in the presidential election for the first time since 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower was on the ballot.

Mr. Trump’s success in places like Dubuque — heavily white, working class, union-friendly and Catholic — remade the Republican electorate. And his path to a second term depends heavily on whether those voters turn their backs on the Democratic Party again.

republican elephant logoBut the specter of a new conflict in the Middle East — this time with Iran — threatens the political coalition that Mr. Trump built in 2016 by running against a national Republican Party that many voters came to see as indifferent and unresponsive, particularly when it came to the human cost of war.

As tensions with Iran remain high, Mr. Trump risks becoming the wartime president he claimed he never wanted to be. And he has struggled to reconcile the inconsistencies in his foreign policy, leaving some voters wondering what he really is as a commander in chief: the president who crushed the Islamic State and will stop “endless wars,” as he claims, or a volatile decision maker who in the span of three months orders troops to pull out of Syria and then deploys thousands more to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran after taking out one of its top generals in a drone strike.

washington post logomichael bloombergWashington Post, Bloomberg’s goal is to be president. His fallback plan: Trump’s defeat, Michael Scherer, Jan. 13, 2020. The billionaire is building out a general election machine that aims to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.

The thing that makes Bloomberg different is he can knock on all doors at once. Bloomberg is running aggressively to win the Democratic nomination but he is simultaneously building out a general election machine to defeat President Trump, with a new structure — data, field organizing, advertising and policy — that aims to elect Democrats up and down the ballot even if the party’s voters reject the former New York mayor this spring.

Roll Call, New Jersey’s Cory Booker ends his presidential campaign, Simone Pathé, Jan. 13, 2020. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker ended his presidential campaign on Monday, saying he was out of money. “Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington,” Booker said in a statement.

cory booker official profileThe former Newark mayor, left, who made a name for himself over the years as a social-media savvy politician, campaigned on love and unity but failed to qualify for recent debates and languished at the bottom of polls.

Booker was one of two African-American senators who ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. California Sen. Kamala Harris ended her bid in December. With Booker’s departure, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is the only black candidate left in the race.

democratic donkey logoBooker made his political experience in Newark, his adopted hometown, a central theme throughout his campaign.

He announced his candidacy in there in February 2019 and featured it in his paid advertising. Despite mixed reviews of his tenure as the city’s mayor, Booker had quickly earned the backing of every Democrat from New Jersey in the House last year, including his previous opponents.

On the debate stage, Booker frequently talked about being the only candidate who chose to live in a low-income inner-city community. His policy proposals — criminal justice reform, as well as a national gun licensing and a “baby bonds” program — reflected his experience in that community.

Impeachment Excerpts

washington post logous senate logoWashington Post, Preparations accelerate for historic Senate trial of Trump, John Wagner​, Jan. 13, 2020. The House is expected to appoint impeachment managers and transmit the articles of impeachment in coming days.

  •  Washington Post, Live Updates: In floor speech, Harris says no president can disregard congressional oversight

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Frightening Vision of the Presidency Is on Trial, Too, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes (authors of the forthcoming “Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office”), Jan. 13, 2020. The president believes that what is good for him and what is good for the country are indistinguishable.

When the trial of President Trump begins, perhaps as soon as this week, the Senate will formally confront only the two questions posed by the articles of impeachment passed in the House of Representatives. Did Mr. Trump abuse the powers of his office in his interactions with Ukraine? And did he obstruct Congress’s investigation of that matter?

But the real question before the Senate is far broader than the specific scandal recounted in the articles. What is on trial, at the most basic level, is Mr. Trump’s vision of the American presidency.

William Barr is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. His wife, Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts look on

William Barr is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. His wife, Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts look on (White House photo).

The New Yorker, William Barr, Trump’s Sword and Shield:  The Attorney General’s mission to maximize executive power and protect the Presidency, David Rohde (an executive editor of newyorker.com and the author of In Deep: The F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the Truth about America’s ‘Deep State’, forthcoming in April, 2020), Jan. 13, 2020 (January 20, 2020 Issue). For decades, Barr has argued that Congress is a menace to the Presidency.  As Attorney General, he’s poised to fight back.

Last October, Attorney General William Barr appeared at Notre Dame Law School to make a case for ideological warfare. Before an assembly of students and faculty, Barr claimed that the “organized destruction” of religion was under way in the United States. “Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values,” he said. Barr, a conservative Catholic, blamed the spread of “secularism and moral relativism” for a rise in “virtually every measure of social pathology”—from the “wreckage of the family” to “record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.”

The speech was less a staid legal lecture than a catalogue of grievances accumulated since the Reagan era, when Barr first enlisted in the culture wars. It included a series of contentious claims. He argued, for example, that the Founders of the United States saw religion as essential to democracy. “In the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people—a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order,” he said. Barr ended his address by urging his listeners to resist the “constant seductions of our contemporary society” and launch a “moral renaissance.”

Donald Trump does not share Barr’s long-standing concern about the role of religion in civic life.

(Though he often says that the Bible is his favorite book, when he was asked which Testament he preferred, he answered, “The whole Bible is incredible.”)

What the two men have in common is a sense of being surrounded by a hostile insurgency.

washington post logoWashington Post, A deal with the president on impeachment? McConnell’s supporters at home demand it, Griff Witte​, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is up for reelection this year and needs to keep conservatives on his side in what could be a tight campaign.

mitch mcconnell2The Senate majority leader’s insistence that he will coordinate Trump’s impeachment trial with the White House — and that he has no intention of being impartial — has provoked howls of protest from Democrats. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused McConnell, left, of orchestrating a “coverup” of Trump’s actions.

It has also prompted speculation that he could jeopardize his slender majority by exposing Republicans in swing or Democratic-leaning states to accusations that they went along with a rigged process running counter to the Constitution.

But here in Kentucky, it just looks like savvy politics.

The 77-year-old is expected to face a vigorous challenge in November from a decorated Marine fighter pilot with a record of big-dollar fundraising. Yet McConnell has shown an unerring instinct for self-preservation across six Senate terms and a record stint as Republican leader.

• Washington Post, Pelosi says Trump is ‘impeached for life’ despite McConnell’s ‘coverup.

djt lev parnas Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lev Parnas just took his big swing at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 13, 2020. It’s a storyline that may or may not add up to anything, but it just won’t go away. Lev Parnas, who is currently awaiting criminal trial in relation to his role in Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, has become hellbent on the idea of playing a major role in Trump’s impeachment. Just as the House appears ready to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Parnas, shown above at left, just took his big swing.

bill palmer report logo headerLev Parnas’ attorney Joseph Bondy tweeted this last night: “We brought the contents of Lev Parnas’ iPhone 11 to HPSCI today, despite every stumbling block placed in our path since DOJ SDNY arrested him on 10/9/19.”

So what’s on this iPhone? We don’t know. But we do know that when it came time for the Feds to share the seized evidence with Lev ahead of trial, Lev and his legal team fought in court for permission to share the contents of this phone with the House Intelligence Committee. Lev appears to be trying to convince the House that he’s a credible witness against Donald Trump, and that he should be called to testify. The evidence on the phone ostensibly backs up Lev’s version of events.

Of course the House has already closed out its impeachment process, having impeached Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment. But if the House finds Lev Parnas’ evidence and testimony credible, it can always announce new hearings and consider additional articles of impeachment – even as the Senate is holding a trial on the two existing articles. We’ll see where this does or doesn’t go, but Parnas seems to believe that whatever is on his phone can help reduce his potential prison sentence.

Media / Privacy / Elections

Julian Assange at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

Julian Assange, center, at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

The Hill, Opinion: Will Alleged CIA Misbehavior Set Julian Assange Free? James C. Goodale, Jan. 10, 2020. A few days before Christmas, Julian Assange testified to a Spanish court that a Spanish security company, UC Global S.L., acting in coordination with the CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers, and streamed them back in real time to the CIA. He will, at the end of February, make a similar complaint to a British extradition court about the CIA’s alleged misbehavior.

Will such misbehavior, if proven, set Assange free?

The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. You may recall that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the “Pentagon Papers” case, Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for leaking Pentagon documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomAfter the trial commenced in San Francisco, it was brought to the judge’s attention that the “White House plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Based on that information and other complaints of government misbehavior, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official, Judge William Matthew Byrne decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the government acted outrageously.

For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed, if it reaches the U.S. courts.

The “plumbers” were a covert group formed by the Nixon White House to stop leaks of information from the government, such as the Pentagon Papers. They are notorious for their burglary at the Watergate complex, which led to former President Nixon’s downfall. Approximately nine months before the Watergate break-in, the plumbers, led by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, burglarized a psychiatrist’s office to find information that could discredit Ellsberg.

The CIA also was involved with the break-in. It prepared a psychiatric profile of Ellsberg as well as an ID kit for the plumbers, including drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, and disguises consisting of red wigs, glasses and speech alteration devices.

Additionally, the CIA allowed Hunt and his sidekick, G. Gordon Liddy, to use two CIA safe houses in the D.C. area for meetings and storage purposes. Clearly, the CIA knew the plumbers were up to no good. It is unclear whether the CIA knew Ellsberg was the target, but it would not have taken much to figure it out.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais broke the story that UC Global invaded Assange’s privacy at the Ecuadorian embassy and shared its surveillance with the CIA. It demonstrated step-by-step, document-by-document, UC Global’s actions and its contacts with the CIA. UC Global reportedly installed cameras throughout Assange’s space in the embassy — including his bathroom — and captured Assange’s every word and apparently livestreamed it, giving the CIA a free TV show of Assange’s daily life.

After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorian embassy, including trips to the bathroom.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in their embassy for seven years, after he jumped bail in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegedly raping two Swedish women. (Those charges are now dismissed.) If you can believe it, Ecuador had hired UC Global to protect the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange. Not surprisingly, the CIA later made UC Global its spy to surveil Assange.

When there was a change of administration in Ecuador, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn, and he was immediately arrested by British police at the request of U.S. officials. The United States subsequently indicted him for violating the Espionage Act, for publishing the very same information published roughly contemporaneously by The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. (Assange already was subject to a sealed indictment in the United States for computer hacking.)

The behavior of UC Global and the CIA seems indistinguishable from the government’s behavior in the Ellsberg case, which a federal judge found to have “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution” of the case. Accordingly, he concluded that the only remedy to ensure due process and the fair administration of justice was to dismiss Ellsberg’s case “with prejudice,” meaning that Ellsberg could not be retried.

Can anything be more offensive to a “sense of justice” than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case? The alleged streaming unmasked the strategy of Assange’s lawyers, giving the government an advantage that is impossible to remove. Short of dismissing Assange’s indictment with prejudice, the government will always have an advantage that can never be matched by the defense.

The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but, rather, intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make.

When Assange begins his extradition hearing, this will be part of his argument — that the CIA’s misbehavior violates his human rights by depriving him of his right to a fair trial.

The CIA will no doubt attempt to trump this argument by defending the surveillance on grounds of national security. This may be easier said than done, however: It is one thing to say the CIA can engage in surveillance abroad for its own intelligence-gathering purposes, and another to say it can listen to the private lawyer-client communications of a person against whom the U.S. government has an open criminal investigation.

More to the point, it does not seem immediately clear why eavesdropping on conversations of legal strategy protects U.S. national security. In my experience in national security cases (I led The New York Times lawyers in the “Pentagon Papers” case), every time the government is backed into a corner in such cases, it will simply serve up a defense of “national security” because it is difficult to defend against such an assertion and the government, consequently, has the ability to trump every competing argument.

James C. Goodale was the vice chairman and general counsel of The New York Times and is the author of “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and other battles.”

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, In saying Iran aimed to attack ‘four embassies,’ Trump puts U.S. in a credibility crisis, Philip Rucker, John Hudson, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 13, 2020. At a perilous moment for the nation’s security, with the United States at the brink of war with Iran, President Trump is unable to rely on trustworthiness to justify his decision to take out a top Iranian general.

Based on what is known so far, Trump’s statement was at best an unfounded theory and at worst a falsehood. At each turn in the commander in chief’s rapidly-evolving narrative of why he authorized the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Iranian Major Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the machinery of government scrambled to adapt and respond.

The result is a credibility crisis for an administration that has long struggled to communicate factual information to the public. At a perilous moment for the nation’s security, with the United States at the brink of war with Iran, Trump is unable to rely on trustworthiness to justify his decision to take out Soleimani, both because of his lengthy record of exaggerations and lies and because of his ever-shifting rationales.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. commanders at al-Asad base believe Iranian missile barrage was designed to kill, Louisa Loveluck, Jan. 13, 2020. The attack lasted more than an hour and a half, troops said. The lack of casualties appears to be partly a function of luck at the sprawling base in Iraq.

• Washington Post, Trump says ‘it doesn’t really matter’ if Iranian general posed an imminent threat
• Washington Post, Trump amplifies incendiary tweets about Pelosi after her comments on Iran protests

washington post logoCentcom logoWashington Post, U.S. troops on Iraqi base had minutes’ notice before barrage of Iranian rockets, Louisa Loveluck, Jan. 13, 2020. The attack lasted more than an hour and a half, troops said. The lack of casualties appears to be partly a function of luck.

In the hours that followed, Iran described the attacks as a shot of “harsh revenge” that had killed dozens. Within a day, that rhetoric had shifted and U.S. and Iraqi officials were insisting that nobody had been killed or wounded.

Accounts from inside the Trump administration have suggested that the lack of casualties was a crucial factor in the president’s decision not to escalate further. “All is well!” he posted in a tweet hours after the attack.

• Washington Post, Pompeo has declined to discuss Iran with House Foreign Affairs panel, its chairman says
• Washington Post, Analysis: Trump’s compulsion to take credit deepens his credibility gap amid questions about Iran
• Washington Post, Iranians protest over downed airliner amid reports of gunfire by security forces

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials struggle to explain intelligence behind killing of Soleimani, Karen DeYoung​, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Senior members of the administration including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper declined to confirm the president’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran.​

Department of Defense SealSenior administration officials declined Sunday to confirm President Trump’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran, while saying that Trump’s “interpretation” of the threat was consistent with overall intelligence that justified the killing of a senior Iranian general.

“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said of intelligence reports. “What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies,” Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Washington Post, Strike against general reflects an aggressive national security team not inclined to curb Trump.

Trump Border Issue Dictates

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump planning to divert additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall, Nick Miroff​, Jan. 13, 2020. ​The move would give his administration five times more money than Congress authorized in the 2020 budget for barrier construction — and add hundreds of miles of new barriers — according to figures obtained by The Post.

President Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year, five times what Congress authorized him to spend on the project in the 2020 budget, according to internal planning figures obtained by The Washington Post.

The Pentagon funds would be extracted, for the second year in a row, from military construction projects and counternarcotics funding. According to the plans, the funding would give the government enough money to complete approximately 885 miles of new fencing by Spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration has slated for the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump took $2.5 billion from military counterdrug programs for border barrier construction in 2019, but this year his administration is planning to take significantly more — $3.5 billion. Trump administration officials also are planning to take $3.7 billion in military construction funding, slightly more than the $3.6 billion diverted in 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. is putting asylum seekers on planes to Guatemala — often without telling them where they’re going, Kevin Sieff, Jan. 13, 2020. For the first time ever, the United States is shipping asylum seekers who arrive at its border to a “safe third country” to seek refuge there. The Trump administration hopes the program will serve as a model for others in the region.

But during its first weeks, asylum seekers and human rights advocates say, migrants have been put on planes without being told where they were headed, and left here without being given basic instruction about what to do next.

When the migrants land in Guatemala City, they receive little information about what it means to apply for asylum in one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries. Those who don’t immediately apply are told to leave the country in 72 hours. The form is labeled “Voluntary Return.”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, As remote work rises at U.S. companies, Trump is calling federal employees back to the office, Lisa Rein, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The war on telework represents a milestone in how the Trump administration is changing the federal culture as it seeks more accountability from employees.

About a quarter of workers at U.S. companies now dial into meetings, consult with clients and do a multitude of other tasks from their laptops at home, as employers seek to cut real estate costs and keep their staffs content in a red-hot job market.

The federal government, though, is calling its employees back to the office. After a big push toward telework in the Obama administration, President Trump’s government is scaling it back at multiple agencies on the theory that a fanny in the seat prevents the kind of slacking off that can happen when no one’s watching.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Nobody needs another pink hat’: Why the Women’s March is struggling for relevance, Marissa J. Lang, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The organization overhauled its leadership, but on the eve of its fourth march, experts say the group might be a victim of its own success — or failures.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Decimation of Local News Has Lawmakers Crossing the Aisle, Cecilia Kang, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Lawmakers from both parties blame companies like Facebook and Google for the struggles of local newspapers.

facebook logoWhen a sport utility vehicle swerved out of its lane several weeks ago, slamming into a pickup truck and killing a teenager, a reporter from The Northeast Georgian raced to the scene. Within hours, the paper had posted the news on Facebook and updated it twice. It was shared by hundreds of people on the social network.

The fatal wreck consumed the town of Cornelia, Ga., nestled near the Chattahoochee National Forest about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta. The Northeast Georgian was the first to report the news, but unless the people who shared its story on Facebook follow a link to its website, either to see an ad or to subscribe to its twice-weekly print edition, the paper won’t get paid.

As with many small papers across the country, that business strategy is not working for The Northeast Georgian. The paper’s five employees do not just report and write. They also edit the articles, take photographs and lay out the newspaper.

But the tough economics facing small newspapers like Mr. NeSmith’s has generated rare bipartisan agreement in Washington.

google logo customAnger toward big technology companies has led to multiple antitrust investigations, calls for a new federal data privacy law and criticism of the companies’ political ad policies. Perhaps no issue about the tech companies, though, has united lawmakers in the Capitol like the decimation of local news.

Lawmakers from both parties blame companies like Facebook and Google, which dominate the online ad industry. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, gave a big boost last week to a bill that may provide some papers a lifeboat. The proposal would give news organizations an exemption from antitrust laws, allowing them to band together to negotiate with Google and Facebook over how their articles and photos are used online, and what payments the newspapers get from the tech companies. (The bill is backed by the News Media Alliance, a trade group that represents news organizations including The New York Times Company.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Setting Up Clash, Barr Asks Apple to Unlock Pensacola Killer’s Phones, Katie Benner, Jan. 13, 2020. William Barr asked the company to provide access to two phones used by the gunman in last month’s shooting at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla. The unusually high-profile request set up a confrontation between law enforcement and technology companies in the latest battle over privacy.

Attorney General William P. Barr declared on Monday that a deadly shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., was an act of terrorism, and he asked Apple in an unusually high-profile request to provide access to two phones used by the gunman.

Mr. Barr’s appeal was an escalation of an ongoing fight between the Justice Department and Apple pitting personal privacy against public safety.

apple logo rainbow“This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence,” Mr. Barr said, calling on technology companies to find a solution and complaining that Apple had provided no “substantive assistance.”

Detailing the results of the investigation into the Dec. 6 shooting that killed three sailors and wounded eight others, Mr. Barr said the gunman, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani — a Saudi air force cadet training with the American military — had displayed extremist leanings.

The government has also removed from the country some 21 Saudi students who trained with the American military, Mr. Barr said. He stressed that investigators found no connection to the shooting among the cadets but that some had ties to extremist movements or possessed child pornography. Mr. Barr said the cases were too weak to prosecute but that Saudi Arabia kicked the trainees out of the program.

Epstein Scandal

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Surveillance video of Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell has been "accidentally" destroyed, and that along with analysis of autopsy evidence, points to homicide, not suicide, Roger Shuler, Jan. 13, 2020. Federal prosecutors revealed late last week that surveillance video from Jeffrey Epstein's first "suicide attempt" at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) no longer exists -- and that adds to troubling questions about Trump attorney general William Barr's possible involvement in a murder coverup, according to a D.C.-based investigative journalist.

The latest turn in the Epstein story came when attorneys for Epstein's [previous] cellmate -- former cop and quadruple drug-ring murderer Nicholas Tartaglione, below right -- requested the video in an nicholas tartaglione facebook Customapparent effort to clear their client of involvement in Epstein's death. The response from federal prosecutors? Any such video has been lost or destroyed. A new story (subscription required) at Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) says that only adds to the stench surrounding Epstein's death.

Writes Madsen:

Federal prosecutors in New York have revealed that the MCC's video of the Special Housing Unit (SHU) cell where Epstein was placed with former cop Nicholas Tartaglione, charged with a quadruple homicide involving a drug ring, was "accidentally" destroyed. Epstein is said to have tried to commit suicide by hanging himself on July 23, 2019, while Tartaglione was in his cell. Under suspicion for strangling Epstein in the alleged first suicide attempt, Tartaglione's attorney requested a copy of the July 23 videotape to demonstrate that he "acted appropriately" in his sentencing. Federal prosecutors are asking for the death penalty for Tartaglione.

It is not known what Tartaglione meant by stating that he "acted appropriately" while Epstein tried to hang himself. Epstein's attorney claimed that marks on Epstein's neck (shown above) were more indicative of a strangling attempt, not an attempted suicide by hanging. Epstein had apparently passed information to his relatives that his first injuries were sustained as the result of a physical attack, and that it was Tartaglione who assaulted him.

How could an exceptionally dangerous bad actor, such as Tartaglione, be placed anywhere near the alleged sex trafficker Epstein, who because of his ties to Trump, was perhaps the nation's most high-profile inmate at the time? That is one of many head-scratchers in this case. Writes Madsen:

It is clear that Tartaglione is trying to bargain his way out of a death sentence. What is not clear is what the July 23 videotape, had it not been destroyed, would have shown. In a January 9 letter a federal judge, prosecutors stated that the MCC "inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier," adding that the video from Epstein's and Tartaglione's cell "no longer exists." Earlier, prosecutors told the judge that the tape had been "lost." They then changed their story to state that the video they discovered was trained on the wrong cell.

It defies logic that one of the government's most secure correctional facilities, the one that held Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel chieftain "El Chapo" and Gambino family kingpin John Gotti during their trials, could have destroyed a videotape on its most high-profile inmate.

How ugly could Tartaglione's possible ties to Epstein's death get? The answer is "off-the-charts" ugly, as Madsen explains:

Just prior to Epstein's arrival at the MCC following his arrest at a New Jersey airport, Tartaglione had been found with a contraband cell phone. There is a distinct possibility that Tartaglione received orders over the cell phone to kill Epstein at the first practical opportunity. Tartaglione is now claiming that he "acted appropriately" in the cell with Epstein. In Targtaglione's world of gangland-style murders, "acting appropriately" might mean that he tried to carry out his orders to off Epstein, but, for some reason, Epstein managed to survive the attempted strangulation.

Once Epstein survived the first "suicide" event, did someone in authority takes steps to make sure he was safe? Nope. After Epstein was found semi-conscious in his cell on July 23, he was moved to a special cell where he was placed under a suicide watch.

An MCC psychologist later approved Epstein's removal from the suicide watch and back to the SHU. On August 10 [when Epstein had no assigned cellmate], Epstein was found strangled to death from what was reported to have been a noose crafted from a torn orange bed sheet (shown above at left). There are reports that “shrieking” and “shouting” were heard from Epstein’s cell shortly before his body was discovered by guards.

Editor's note: The column above has been clarified [by insertions such as this] to reflect statements by authorities that Epstein had no cellmate on the night of his death.

U.S. Justice System

washington post logoWashington Post, Jussie Smollett case looms over reelection campaign for Chicago’s chief prosecutor, Mark Guarino, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). In the middle of a video announcing her reelection campaign, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx did something few Chicago politicians do: She admitted fault.

jussie smollett mugshotFoxx had been criticized by President Trump, the Fraternal Order of Police and many Chicagoans for her office’s decision in March to drop all 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against actor Jussie Smollett, right, who police say staged a racist and homophobic attack involving two men with a noose. Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) called Foxx’s decision “a whitewash of justice.” Trump characterized it as “a real big scam.”

“Truth is, I didn’t handle it well. I own that,” Foxx (D) said in her two-minute video.

The criticism has not subsided as Foxx fights to keep her position ahead of the March 17 primary, in which she faces three challengers. She took control of the nation’s second-largest prosecutor’s office in 2016 as the first black woman to hold the title and a key figure in the wave of “progressive prosecutors” who won elections on pledges to fix what they view as a broken criminal justice system that unfairly punishes poor people and racial minorities. Since then, she has been a model of the reform movement, seeking out wrongful convictions, clearing low-level drug offenses and reducing prosecution of shoplifting in favor of targeting gun violence.

But the Smollett controversy threatens to define her term as chief prosecutor. Amid accusations that the dropped charges were a political favor, a judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the decision and explore whether there are new grounds to prosecute the former “Empire” actor. Foxx had also requested the Cook County inspector general review her handling of the case.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Democrats Run From Their Own Shadows, Mara Gay, Jan. 13, 2020. Don’t buy into a campaign of fear on criminal justice reforms. For years, thousands of people who hadn’t been convicted of a crime languished in New York jails because they could not afford bail. New Yorkers were locked away for months, even years, not because they were dangerous, but because they were poor.

Lives were ruined. Young people, overwhelmingly black and Hispanic teenagers, were thrown away like trash. Families were splintered, and communities torn apart.

Finally last year, the state legislature banned bail for defendants charged with most misdemeanor and nonviolent offenses. New York’s top Democrats preened and crowed, congratulating themselves as progressive champions.

Now, those same Democrats are buckling, crumpling in the face of an ugly campaign to undermine the bail law by forces long opposed to reform.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Texas militia leader went into hiding. Months later, he turned up dead, Derek Hawkins and Marisa Iati, Jan. 13, 2020. More than six months after he went into hiding, the leader of a Texas anti-immigrant militia who was wanted by federal authorities was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, law enforcement officials said.

Police found the body of Kevin Lyndel “KC” Massey, 53, last month in a wooded part of Van Zandt County, Tex., the Dallas Morning News reported Friday, citing a statement from Sheriff Dale Corbett.

Vatican Dispute On Celibacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Benedict defends priestly celibacy as Pope Francis considers changes, Chico Harlan, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The pope emeritus’s remarks were revealed in a book excerpt published by the French newspaper Le Figaro.

pope benedict XVI 2010 10 17 4Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, right, has issued an ardent defense of clerical celibacy, breaking his pledged silence on major church affairs just as Pope Francis is considering an exception that would allow some married men to serve as priests.

Benedict’s remarks, revealed in a new book excerpt published Sunday by the French newspaper Le Figaro, cast light on a once-unthinkable dynamic inside the Roman Catholic Church: A former pope trying to influence his successor in whether the church heeds or breaks with its traditions.

“The ability to renounce marriage in order to place oneself fully at the disposal of the Lord has become a criterion for priestly ministry,” Benedict XVI writes in the book he has co-authored.

In the excerpts, Benedict invokes his own ordination and calls celibacy a sometimes “painful” but necessary step. Though Francis has also defended celibacy — calling it a “gift” to the church and saying it should not be optional — some of the Argentine pontiff’s allies have pushed for exceptions, saying the priesthood needs to modernize and find ways to make up for a severe shortage of vocations.

Poll: Right Choice On Abortion

washington post logoWashington Post, Five years after an abortion, most women say they made the right decision, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Jan. 13, 2020 (print ed.). There’s been quite a lot of research about women’s emotions immediately following an abortion. Some experience sadness, guilt and anger; others feel relief. For many, it’s a mix of all of these and more. But what about in the long term?

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco delved into this question in an analysis of 667 women recruited from 30 sites across the country as part of the Turnaway Study — a landmark body of research about how abortion affects women physically, socially, emotionally and economically.

World News harry meghan news collage january 2020 slate Custom

Collage of Daily Mail and The Sun, photo illustration by Slate

washington post logoWashington Post, Queen agrees to ‘period of transition’ for Harry and Meghan, Karla Adam and William Booth​​, Jan. 13, 2020. Queen Elizabeth II announced Monday that she and her royal family were “entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life” and that she had agreed to a “period of transition” during which her grandson and his wife would split their time between Canada and Britain.

In a statement, the queen wrote, “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”

The queen acknowledged that Harry and Meghan — she omitted their titles, Duke and Duchess of Sussex — “made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives,” but she did not describe their new duties or ventures.

• Read Queen Elizabeth II's statement
• Canada greets possible move of Harry and Meghan with a shrug

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran’s Only Female Olympic Medalist Defects Over ‘Lies’ and ‘Injustice,’ Megan Specia, Jan. 13, 2020. The only female athlete to win an Olympic medal for Iran announced this weekend that she had defected from the nation because of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery” and said she had been used as a “tool.”

The Olympian, Kimia Alizadeh, 21, announced her decision in an Instagram post accompanied by a photo from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she won a bronze medal in taekwondo.

Jan. 12

Inside DC

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un poses with his admirer Donald Trump at their meeting on June 12, 2018.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un poses with his admirer Donald Trump at their meeting on June 12, 2018.

Axios Sneak Peek, Exclusive: Trump tells Kim Jong-un he wants to resume talks, Jonathan Swan, Jan. 12, 2020. White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien tells Axios that the Trump administration has "reached out to the North Koreans" to ask them to resume diplomacy that has been all but dead since October.

O'Brien also indicated he was cautiously optimistic about the fact that Kim Jong-un hasn't yet delivered his promised "Christmas gift" — which many analysts expected would be a nuclear weapons test. O'Brien sat down with Margaret Talev, Alayna Treene and me at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday to talk about a range of national security challenges at the start of a new year.

North Korean flagOn the tense and dangerous situation with North Korea, O'Brien told us: "We've reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October.

"We've been letting them know, through various channels, that we would like to get those [negotiations] back on track and to implement Chairman Kim's commitment" to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Between the lines: It appears President Trump is again trying to lean on what he has described as his warm personal relationship with the brutal North Korean dictator.

Trump recently sent a birthday message to Kim. But the North Koreans have already said Trump's courtship will not change their policy. So far, Trump's diplomacy has yielded little besides giving Kim more time to expand his nuclear arsenal, according to analysts tracking North Korea's supply of nuclear warheads.

  • Trump may reduce troops in Afghanistan without Taliban deal. O'Brien tells Axios "it is possible" Trump will cut a deal with the Taliban this year but that even if a deal can't be struck, the president is still poised to reduce troops in Afghanistan.

#MeToo Scandals

charlotte remenyik with fencing student ohio state archives CustomOSU fencing coach Charlotte Remenyik gives a coaching tip to a fencing student in 1981 (Ohio State Archives photo).

nbc news logoNBC News, Former Ohio State fencing coach sounded alarm on abusive doctor decades ago, Corky Siemaszko, Jan. 12, 2020. Former Ohio State fencing coach sounded alarm on abusive doctor decades ago. Hungarian refugee Charlotte Remenyik 'was a hero' who dueled with Dr. Richard Strauss, who is accused of molesting hundreds of male athletes.

She watched out for her guys. Former Ohio State University fencing coach Charlotte Remenyik was one of the very few school officials to formally richard strauss osu lantern screenshotsound the alarm about Dr. Richard Strauss during the nearly two decades that he molested hundreds of young male athletes and students, often under the guise of a medical examination. Her warnings can be found in records uncovered by investigators with a law firm hired to conduct an independent investigation into Strauss.

In fact, Remenyik regularly warned her athletes about Strauss, right, and was so persistent that the doctor personally complained about her to the top brass at OSU.

“The reason for the persistence of the rumors in the fencing team became clear: a personal and continuous vendetta against me by Coach Remenyik,” Strauss wrote in a letter dated June 3, 1996, to OSU’s then vice-president for student affairs. “Approximately once a year, Coach Remenyik took various members of the team aside and told them to ‘watch out’ for me, citing ‘rumors’.”

ohio state buckeyes logoStrauss’ redacted letter was included in a damning report released last year by the Perkins Coie law firm, hired by OSU to conduct an independent investigation, which concluded that coaches and administrators knew that Strauss was sexually abusing athletes and students but failed to stop him.

“She was a hero,” said Stephen Snyder-Hill, a Strauss victim and one of the leaders of the drive to hold OSU accountable. “She was the only one who formally stood up.”

Remenyik is also the only former OSU coach named in the report. She appears on page 92 as a person who raised “concerns” about Strauss in 1994 to Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Krebs.

In a letter dated Nov. 7, 1994, OSU’s then-Director of Sports Medicine John A. Lombardo dismissed Remenyik’s concerns. “I have spoken with her and her concerns are based on rumors which has been generated for 10 years with no foundation,” Lombardo wrote in the letter, which was included in the Perkins Coie report. “However, due to the pervasive nature of these rumors, the male athletes do not feel comfortable with Dr. Strauss as their physicians.”

NBC News was unable to reach Krebs for comment. But Remenyik’s report was not based on rumors, her daughter, Csilla Smith, said. Among the fencers who told Remenyik directly that Strauss had crossed the line was her future son-in-law, Kevin Smith, she said. “He went in to be treated for a torn earlobe and the first thing he said was to drop trou,” Smith said of her husband. “Kevin refused and told my mother what happened.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Short on Legal Options, #MeToo Accusers Turn to Defamation Suits, Julia Jacobs, Jan. 12, 2020. The Weinstein trial is rare because most sexual misconduct claims are too old to litigate. But women, and men, are finding another way to get to court.

ashley judd headshotAshley Judd, right,  was one of the first women to attach her name to accusations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, below at left, but like many of the claims that followed, her account of intimidating sexual advances was too old to bring Mr. Weinstein to court over.

Then a legal window opened to her. After reading about a director’s claim that Mr. Weinstein’s studio, Miramax, had described Ms. Judd as a “nightmare to work harvey weinsteinwith,” she sued the producer for defamation in 2018.

Mr. Weinstein’s rape trial in Manhattan, which began with jury selection last week, is a spectacle not only because he is the avatar of the #MeToo era, but also because it is one of the few sexual assault cases to surface with allegations recent enough to result in criminal charges.

So, unable to pursue justice directly, women and men on both sides of #MeToo are embracing the centuries-old tool of defamation lawsuits, opening an alternative legal battleground for accusations of sexual misconduct.

While the facts of the cases vary, the plaintiffs are generally using defamation law not just for its usual purpose — to dissuade damaging speech about them — but also as a tool to enlist the courts to endorse their version of disputed events.

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials struggle to explain intelligence behind killing of Soleimani, Karen DeYoung​, Jan. 12, 2020. Senior members of the administration including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper declined to confirm the president’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran.​

Department of Defense SealSenior administration officials declined Sunday to confirm President Trump’s assertion that four U.S. embassies had been targeted for attack by Iran, while saying that Trump’s “interpretation” of the threat was consistent with overall intelligence that justified the killing of a senior Iranian general.

“I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said of intelligence reports. “What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies,” Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Washington Post, Strike against general reflects an aggressive national security team not inclined to curb Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper just completely blew it, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2020. Now that Donald Trump’s assassination of Iranian leader Soleimani has blown up in his face and caused most Americans to conclude that the move has made us all less safe, Trump is desperate to convince us that he had a good reason for doing it. He and his surrogates keep insisting that there was intel that Soleimani was about to launch an “imminent” attack on one or more U.S. embassies. The trouble: none of them can even get their stories straight.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Trump regime’s premise this week has been that if enough voices repeated the lie enough times about an imminent attack, it won’t matter that no evidence can be provided that any such attack was about to happen. Donald Trump keeps screwing that up by changing his story each time he addresses it. First there was supposedly an imminent attack coming against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Then there was supposedly an imminent attack coming against four U.S. embassies.

mark esperEven as Trump has been botching this with his ever-worsening hyperbole, his handpicked Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, right, went on television today to try to clean up Trump’s mess. Instead, when Esper appeared on CNN and CBS News this morning, he admitted that no specific intel existed about an imminent attack, and that he and Trump simply “believed that it probably and could’ve been attacks against additional embassies.” Nevermind that those words don’t even really go together; Esper just screwed up and admitted that there was no intel.

In other words, Donald Trump decided on a whim to take out Soleimani, and it didn’t play out well, so he and his White House made up a fake story about an imminent attack, which Trump’s Secretary of Defense is now admitting was a lie. Esper’s job was to fix this mess for Trump. Instead he’s made it even worse for Trump, and ensured that this will become an uglier scandal for Trump in the coming week.

washington post logoWashington Post, Leaders in Tehran face new challenges after Iran admits to downing plane, Erin Cunningham and Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). Protests flared Iran Flagin Tehran, where student-led rallies decried the missile mistake and called on military chiefs to resign.

• Washington Post, What's at stake for Iran
• Washington Post, Iran tensions could fulfill prophecies about the end of the world, some religious teachers say

OpEdNews, Commentary: Trump Tells Iraq Order US Troops Out and I'll Freeze Your Central Bank's Account at the Fed, Dave Lindorff, Jan. 12, 2020. President Trump's actions in the Middle East are becoming increasingly unhinged. A week ago, he nearly triggered a catastrophic war between Iran and the US when, acting seemingly on a whim or in response to the advice of two of his nuttier advisors, fundamentalist Christian "Rapture" believers Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, he ordered the assassination by drone of the commander of Iran's military, Qassem Suleimani.

Fortunately for American troops, sailors and pilots, and for all of us and the people of Iran, saner heads in the administration seem to have gotten to Trump, and also fortunately,Iran's military responded in measured fashion. As a result, the threat of a major war between the two countries seems to have receded a bit, at least for now.

abdul mahdi Custom 2Then today, Trump, in response for a call by Iraq's parliament and its Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, right, for the US to withdraw all of its 5100 troops currently stationed in Iraq, declared he would not remove them. He added that if forced to pull them out of the country by Iraq, would freeze a deposit account of Iraq's Central Bank at the US Federal Reserve, preventing Iraq from accessing what the Wall Street Journal reports amounted to a deposited balance of some $3 billion at the end of 2018.

The Wall Street Journal article reports that some 250 foreign central banks and other state entities have such accounts with the US Federal Reserve containing untold billions of dollars. There was no discussion in the Journal article of what impact the US's arbitrary freezing of Iraq's Central Bank account simply over a dispute about America's troops in Iraq might have on the willingness of all those other foreign countries' banks and agencies willingness to continue letting the Fed hold their money.

It has not been unusual for the US to freeze foreign countries' assets, in both the Federal Reserve Bank, and in the electronic vaults of US commercial banks, but typically this has been done when a country has engaged in illegal activity, or when a revolution has occurred. This was the case after the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979, and was the reason that the Obama administration, as part of the nuclear deal it and five other nations negotiated with Iran, unfroze some $150 billion in Iranian assets that the US had been blocking Iran from accessing. (That's the nuclear agreement that Trump tore up earlier this year.)

More World News

naval air station pensacola patrick nichols us navy via zuma wire Custom

Naval Air Station Pensacola was on lockdown Friday, December 6, 2019 after a Saudi Arabian military pilot training in the US opened fire leaving three people dead and several others wounded. Photo credit: © Patrick Nichols/US Navy via ZUMA Wire.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. to expel Saudi military students after colleague killed 3 at Pensacola base, Devlin Barrett and John Hudson, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). At least a dozen military trainees could be sent back to their home country after an FBI investigation found connections to extremist rhetoric and possession of child pornography.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, How Bernie Sanders could upend America’s global role, Sean Sullivan, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). The presidential hopeful’s foreign policy worldview — anchored by a passionate opposition to U.S. military interventions — has been overshadowed by his famously liberal domestic policy agenda.

Bernie Sanders Officialdemocratic donkey logoWith the Iran crisis thrusting foreign affairs to the forefront of the campaign, just as Sanders rises in early state polls, Democrats who previously waved off the senator’s views as fringe ideas now must contemplate the possibility of a democratic socialist becoming commander in chief of the United States.

Trump has already upended the world order with an “America First” approach that tests Western alliances, and Sanders, right, would deliver another jolt — echoing some of Trump’s criticisms of military actions and free trade but realigning the country’s priorities even more thoroughly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden holds wide lead among black voters in Democratic presidential race, poll finds, Scott Clement, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Dan Balz and Emily Guskin, Jan. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Former vice president Joe Biden is far and away the favored candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination among black Americans, boosted by his personal popularity, his service in the Obama administration and perceptions that he is best equipped to defeat President Trump, joe biden oaccording to a national Washington Post-Ipsos poll.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) occupies second place in the Democratic field among African American voters, easily outdistancing the remaining candidates in the race. Sanders is leading among black voters under age 35, replicating his success with younger white voters in other national polls. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) runs democratic donkey logothird.

The survey finds meager support for former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is among the leaders in polls in the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire but stands at 2 percent among Democratic black voters nationally. A lack of familiarity with him and concerns about his experience and sexual orientation appear to be contributing to his current standing.

• Washington Post, Analysis: Two polls frame the Democratic race and the power of African American voters

 Impeachment Update

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion from George Conway and Neal Katyal: How Pelosi should play her impeachment cards, George T. Conway III, right, and Neal K. Katyal, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but george conway twitterthat does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial.

McConnell, below left, has said “there’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office” and “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position.” In response, Pelosi still has cards in her hand — if she plays them — because the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

mitch mcconnell2The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both — along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.

Separating the two articles — our preferred approach — would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump’s obstruction is a matter of public record. There’s nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump’s guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.

neal katyal oHow can one conduct a “trial” without knowing this evidence? As lawyers, we have never heard of a trial without witnesses. Both past impeachment trials of presidents featured witnesses — including 41 in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. And the lack of witnesses is particularly striking given the shell game Trump and his Republican colleagues have played. In the House, Trump prevented executive branch employees from testifying, but said some of them would be able to testify in the Senate. Now that we are in the Senate, Republicans say these folks should have testified in the House. Lewis Carroll would be pleased.

George T. Conway III is a lawyer in New York and an adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC. Neal Katyal, right, a law professor at Georgetown University, is the author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump” and previously served as the acting solicitor general of the United States.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani has completely berserk meltdown on live national television, Daniel Cotter, Jan. 12, 2020. Just when you think that Rudy Giuliani cannot find a way rudy giuliani recentto even further demonstrate the insanity of himself and his client, Rudy finds a new way. Giuliani, right, who went on a mission to Ukraine to manufacture fake dirt on the Bidens and promised explosive information, was dismissed by Lindsey Graham as needing to have his information vetted. For Graham to be so dismissive tells us all we need to know.

Now Giuliani is spreading more manure, this time on “Judge” Jeanine’s show. Giuliani claimed on Saturday night that Joe Biden made money in Iraq, in Iran, and in China. He spoke of a RICO crime chart with Biden at the center. No evidence, no information, nothing, but the Cult 45 fools will eat this up.

bill palmer report logo headerRudy also went on to say that the Supreme Court should declare impeachment unconstitutional. One minor problem for the G-Man, who used to be respected for his legal analysis: impeachment is specifically set forth in the Constitution, and assigns the responsibility of each chamber of Congress and the process that is to take place. Impeachment requires no actual criminal conduct, and is instead a political process.

In addition, Rudy stated to Jeanine, “The Chief Justice has the power to dismiss the impeachment case.” Yeah, that is not how this works. The Chief Justice has no power to do any such thing and, in the 1990s, the Supreme Court expressly stated that when it comes to the process, the Court would not get involved, as impeachment is indeed a political matter. We appear to be living in a world of Batman’s Gotham, with Rudy appearing as a delusional Joker. Notice though that “Judge Jeanine” might be the only willing participant at the moment in Rudy’s delusional act – just not the kind of judge who can help him.

Natural Disasters: Puerto Rico

washington post logoWashington Post, Puerto Rico earthquake aftershocks again rattle coastline as residents deal with disaster after disaster, Arelis R. Hernández and Cristina Corujo, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). Puerto Rico has not stopped shaking since a 6.4-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday forced thousands of families to sleep outside, jeopardized the territory's weak power infrastructure and frayed the nerves of residents who have endured more than two years of catastrophe after catastrophe.

Unceasing seismic activity on a fault just off the southern coast has pushed damage estimates to $110 million, and municipal authorities are weighing evacuation orders for residents in pueblos such as Guánica, where another 6-magnitude aftershock Saturday rocked the region and threatened to topple anything that hasn’t already collapsed.

UK Royal Family Shakeup

 harry meghan news collage january 2020 slate Custom

Collage of Daily Mail and The Sun, photo illustration by Slate

washington post logoWashington Post, Queen to convene face-to-face showdown with princes Harry, William and Charles. Meghan could phone in, Jan. 12, 2020 (print ed.). Karla Adam and William Booth​, The meeting on Monday, dubbed the “Sandringham Summit,” is the first time the four royals have met in person since the bombshell news.

Queen Elizabeth II will convene a portentous family meeting on Monday to thrash out the options ahead for Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — and possibly shape the face of the royal house for years.

united kingdom flagThe meeting, already dubbed the “Sandringham Showdown,” will take place at the queen’s royal-owned country estate of Sandringham in the east of England.

An official at Buckingham Palace, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed reports in the British media that the meeting will go ahead. The official said that the top royals will review “a range of possibilities” and “what the Sussexes said earlier in the week” — they said they wanted to live part-time in North America — will be “taken into account.”

What kind of family holds such a meeting? The House of Windsor does, a dynasty whose monarch serves as the — albeit mostly ceremonial — head of state in Britain, as well as the Commonwealth nations, whose vast inherited wealth and extensive land holdings make them one of the richest families in Britain.

Jan. 11

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Headlines

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

ny times logoWashington Post, Trump administration refuses to heed Iraq’s call for troop withdrawal, Karen DeYoung, Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim,Jan. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, right, said he asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to start a procedure for withdrawing U.S. forces from the country.

abdul mahdi Custom 2The Trump administration refused again Friday to recognize Iraq's call to withdraw all U.S. troops, saying that any discussion with Baghdad would center on whatever force size the United States determines is sufficient to achieve its goals there.

"At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how best to recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal," the State Department said.

The statement came after Iraq's caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, said he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a Thursday telephone call to begin talks about a "mechanism" to implement last week's Iraqi parliamentary vote demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops.

"He didn't quite characterize the conversation correctly," Pompeo, speaking at a news ­conference, said of Abdul Mahdi's description of the call.

The public disagreement between the United States and its Iraqi ally, imperiling the mission of more than 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to fight the Islamic State, reflects tensions that have characterized the relationship for years, as well as the deep schisms in Iraqi politics.

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Says It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian Airliner, Farnaz Fassihi, Jan. 11, 2020 (updated). “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said, as Iran reversed its claims that mechanical failure was to blame.

Iran’s military announced early Saturday that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error because of what it called the plane’s sharp, unexpected hassan rouhani fileturn toward a sensitive military base.

After days of tension since the jet crashed near Tehran on Wednesday, the same day that Iranian missiles struck American bases in Iraq, the admission was a stunning reversal. Iran initially maintained that mechanical issues had brought the Boeing airliner down, killing all 176 people aboard.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter soon after the military released its statement. He offered condolences to the victims’ families and said investigations were underway. The military said the person responsible would face legal consequences.

washington post logoWashington Post, On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they launched another operation targeting Iranian official in Yemen, John Hudson, Missy Ryan and Josh Dawsey​, Jan. 11, 2020 (print ed.). On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials.

The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

qassim soleimaniThe unsuccessful operation may indicate that the Trump administration’s killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, right, last week was part of a broader operation than previously explained, raising questions about whether the mission was designed to cripple the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or solely to prevent an imminent attack on Americans as originally stated.

U.S. military operations in Yemen, where a civil war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, are shrouded in secrecy. U.S. officials said the operation against Shahlai remains highly classified, and many declined to offer details other than to say it was not successful.

Health News

ny times logoNew York Times, Will Blocking Gene End Pain of Disease Inherited for Generations? Gina Kolata, Jan. 11, 2020. Helen is the youngest person to get a gene therapy that scientists hope will cure sickle cell disease, which affects millions of people globally.

Helen Obando, a shy slip of a girl, lay curled in a hospital bed in June waiting for a bag of stem cells from her bone marrow, modified by gene therapy, to start dripping into her chest.

hhs seal CustomThe hope was that the treatment would cure her of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that can cause excruciating pain, organ damage and early death.

For more than a half century, scientists have known the cause of sickle cell disease: A single mutation in a gene turns red blood cells into rigid crescent or sickle shapes instead of soft discs. These misshapen cells get stuck in veins and arteries, blocking the flow of blood that carries life-giving oxygen to the body and causing the disease’s horrifying hallmark: episodes of agony that begin in babyhood.

Millions of people globally, a vast majority of them Africans, suffer from sickle cell disease. Researchers have worked for decades on improving treatment and finding a cure, but experts say the effort has been hindered by chronic underfunding, in part because most of the estimated 100,000 people in the United States who have the disease are African-American, often poor or of modest means.

The disease also affects people with southern European, Middle Eastern or Asian backgrounds, or those who are Hispanic, like Helen.

This is the story of two quests for a sickle cell cure — one by the Obando family, and one by a determined scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Stuart Orkin, 73, who has labored against the disease since he was a medical resident in the 1970s.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial, The F.D.A. Is in Trouble. Here’s How to Fix It, Editorial Board, Jan. 11, 2020. Some New Year’s resolutions for the incoming boss. The Food and Drug Administration is in distress. The agency is still the world’s leading regulator of food and medical products, responsible for ensuring the safety of some $2.6 trillion in consumer goods each year. That represents 20 cents of every dollar that Americans spend. But critics both inside and outside the sprawling agency say that the F.D.A.’s standards have been slipping for some time.

fda logoThe effects of that slippage are starting to show. Too many prescription drugs and medical devices are being approved with too little data on how safe or effective they are. And too many other products — like those containing CBD or THC, ingredients found in the marijuana plant — are being sold with no apparent oversight at all.

Part of the problem is that the agency has too few resources and too little power to fulfill its key responsibilities. But it has also become profoundly vulnerable to political interference and other special interests. And a revolving door — F.D.A. staffers frequently go on to lucrative jobs at the very companies they were tasked with policing — has hurt the agency’s credibility.

Impeachment

washington post logonancy pelosi impeachmentWashington Post, Pelosi signals House will send articles of impeachment to Senate as soon as next week, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis​, Jan. 11, 2020 (print ed.). “I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” the House speaker said in a letter to colleagues Friday.

Trump Scandals

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ny times logoWashington Post, Michael Cohen, feeling cheated, accuses federal prosecutors of ‘character assassination’ and ignoring his help with prison filings, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 11, 2019.  President Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen is lawyering on his own behalf from an Upstate New York federal prison, filing motions that accuse prosecutors of failing to do right by him in his continued bid to shorten his sentence.

A recent set of arguments filed Friday even accuse federal prosecutors of “character assassination” after they made it clear that Cohen (shown above in a file photo) was of little use to them in his bid to buy himself a reduction in his sentence after the fact.

Prosecutors have said in court filings that he lied in meetings with their office and failed to answer questions that could help them.

Justice Department log circularCohen is serving a three-year total prison sentence — covering two separate cases — on charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, campaign finance violations and making false statements to Congress in relation to a Moscow real estate deal on behalf of Trump in 2016.

Still, he has been seeking the help of the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to fight for an early release since his December 2018 sentencing.

Cohen admitted to failing to report $4 million in income, cheating the federal government of $1.3 million in taxes he should have paid, and conceded that he lied to a bank to get a $500,000 home equity loan in addition to orchestrating “hush money” payments to two women — adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen MacDougal — who claimed to have had sexual relations with Trump.

Cohen, a lawyer who cut deals for Trump and lobbied on his behalf, insisted that his 170 hours of testimony to Congress as well as state and federal investigators should have earned him the support of the U.S. attorney’s office when he sought to have his sentence reduced.

U.S. Politics

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

New York Post, Florida man gets 90 days in jail for spitting on Trump supporter in MAGA hat, Adam Schrader, Jan. 11, 2020. A Florida man who was caught on a restaurant security camera spitting on a 67-year-old Trump supporter wearing a MAGA hat was sentenced to 90 days in Indian River County Jail, a report said.

democratic donkey logoDemocrat Matthias Ajple, 43, was convicted of battering Robert Youngblood in an attack at Hurricane Grill & Wings in Vero Beach, documents obtained by The Smoking Gun show. On Oct. 25, Ajple walked around the restaurant’s bar and told Youngblood, “You should go back to Russia, you f–king communist.” The liberal smacked Youngblood’s head and spit on him. He got into his car and drove away.

Police later tracked Ajple down and arrested him, charging him with battery. Ajple, who pled no-contest, will also serve 12 months of probation, pay about $700 in fines and court costs and another $155 in restitution to Youngblood. However, the spitter may need to cough up more cash for his victim. Youngblood has filed a civil suit against Ajple seeking damages in excess of $15,000, The Smoking Gun reported.

Jan. 10

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Headlines

Trump's Clinton Probe A Bust?

washington post logojohn huberWashington Post, Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related probe sought by Trump after finding nothing of consequence, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 10, 2020, print ed.). A Justice Department inquiry launched more than two years ago to mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton has effectively ended with no tangible results, and current and former law enforcement officials said they never expected the effort to produce much of anything.

John Huber, right, the U.S. attorney in Utah, was tapped in November 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into concerns raised by President Trump and his allies in Congress that the FBI had not fully pursued cases of possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation and during Clinton’s time as secretary of state, when the U.S. government decided not to Hillary Clinton Buttonblock the sale of a company called Uranium One.

As a part of his review, Huber examined documents and conferred with federal law enforcement officials in Little Rock who were handling a meandering probe into the Clinton Foundation, people familiar with the matter said. Current and former officials said that Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing — though the assignment has not formally ended and no official notice has been sent to the Justice Justice Department log circularDepartment or to lawmakers, these people said.

The effective conclusion of his investigation, with no criminal charges or other known impacts, is likely to roil some in the GOP who had hoped the prosecutor would vindicate their long-held suspicions about a political rival. Trump, though, has largely shifted his focus to a different federal prosecutor tapped to do a separate, special investigation: U.S. attorney in Connecticut John Durham, who Attorney General William P. Barr assigned last year to explore the origins of the FBI’s 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Media Matters, Opinion: The final, inevitable collapse of the right-wing media’s Uranium One conspiracy theory, Matt Gertz, Jan. 10, 2020. In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed U.S. attorney John Huber to review the sale of the company known as Uranium One. Fox News and conservative media had spent years fixated on the case, portraying it as a scandal aimed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Some mainstream outlets even played along.

Huber reportedly is now closing the two-year review without bringing any charges.

media matters logoThe Uranium One pseudoscandal has its roots in the work of the Government Accountability Institute, a nonprofit conservative investigative research organization founded by Steve Bannon and helmed by Peter Schweizer, a conservative author with a record of major factual errors and questionable sourcing. During the 2016 election, The New York Times and The Washington Post made “exclusive agreements” with Schweizer “for early access to his opposition research on Hillary Clinton.”
That's how this false, right-wing lie ended up on the front page of The New York Times:

From there, the story became a major part of the 2016 campaign, with it often mentioned by Trump. And rather than fade away after the election, it became a major Fox News talking point after special counsel Robert Mueller began reviewing ties between Trump’s associates and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

john solomonFox hosts like Hannity flogged the story repeatedly in 2017 thanks to a misleading report from John Solomon, right. (Solomon's "report" featured someone he called a whistleblower who was represented by Victoria Toensing; we know now that Toensing is also Solomon's own attorney. When the whistleblower was questioned by House investigators, he had no information.) The story was so prominent in right-wing media at this point that then-Fox host Shep Smith ran a segment reiterating that it was a false conspiracy theory.

Sessions appointed Huber at this point, after Fox host Jeanine Pirro reportedly criticized the Attorney General to Trump in the Oval Office. Now that investigation is ending with nothing having been turned up.

Not that this will break through to the Fox News audience. Shep has left the network, and Hannity furiously said on Friday that he still believes there is wrongdoing. Maybe in 2020, though, outlets like The New York Times will think a bit before teaming up with Steve Bannon.

U.S.-Iran-Iraq Crisis Excerpts

washington post logoWashington Post, Iraq asks U.S. to set up mechanism for troop withdrawal, Sarah Dadouch, Jan. 10, 2020. In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, left, asked the United States send a delegation to Iraq to set up a mechanism for U.S. troop withdrawal from the country, a statement from the abdul mahdi Custom 2prime minister's office said Friday.

mike pompeo o sec stateThe request followed a vote by the Iraqi parliament to expel thousands of U.S. troops, a direct consequence of a U.S. drone attackthat killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and nine companionsin Baghdad a week ago.

The killing set off a string of events in the region. On Tuesday, Iran retaliated for the death of its revered Quds Force commander by launching more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases that house U.S. troops in Iraq. President Trump said the strike caused no American or Iraqi deaths and that new sanctions on Iran will be imposed.

The Iraqi prime minister has repeatedly insisted that U.S. troop withdrawal was the only path toward de-escalation. In the phone call on Thursday, he asked Pompeo, above right, “to send representatives to Iraq to put in place a mechanism for implementing the parliament’s decision for the safe withdrawal of forces from Iraq.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. hits Iran with fresh sanctions, Carol Morello, Jan. 10, 2020. The action was the first concrete response to Tehran’s missile attack on bases in Iraq. The Trump administration hit Iran with more sanctions Friday in the first concrete response to the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq this week, which were in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed the most powerful Iranian military commander.

The sanctions targeted Iran’s metal industries, and eight senior military and national security officials who U.S. officials said were involved in the ballistic missile attacks on two bases in Iraq that house U.S. military personnel.

Among those sanctioned were the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, the deputy chief of staff of the armed forces and the commander of the Basij militia that has been responsible for a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

• Washington Post, Analysis: Questions pile up about Trump’s claim that Soleimani was going to ‘blow up’ a U.S. embassy
• Washington Post, Professor who jokingly said Iran should list 52 U.S. cultural sites to bomb has been fired

Impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s unhinged rally rant underscores case for reining him in, Greg Sargent, Jan. 10, 2020. At a rally in Ohio on Thursday night, President Trump drew deafening cheers by boasting about his order to assassinate Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, deriding Democrats with petty schoolyard taunts and mocking the very idea that Congress should act to constrain his warmaking powers.

In so doing, Trump demonstrated powerfully why Congress absolutely must act to rein in Trump’s unilateral authority to wage war. Not just in a superficial sense — as in, no one this unhinged should be declaring war unilaterally — but in a much deeper sense as well.

At his rally, Trump belittled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “not operating with a full deck.” He derided House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as “you little pencil neck.” The crowd roared, demonstrating how heavily Trump’s petty abusiveness figures as a factor in his appeal.

But what Trump really displayed here is that his deranged attacks on the opposition aren’t mere insults. Taken along with Trump’s mockery of congressional demands for input into decisions of war, they demonstrate a profound contempt for the very notion that his most consequential decisions should be subject to oversight and accountability at all.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Trumpiest Congressman’ cites principles for bucking president on war powers, Fred Barbash, Jan. 10, 2020. Matt Gaetz, the ‘Trumpiest Congressman,’ cites principles for bucking president on war powers. Kevin McCarthy is ‘very shocked.’

matt gaetz o CustomRep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has been called “the Trumpiest Congressman in Trump’s Washington,” a judgment that he features proudly and prominently on his campaign homepage, along with quotes depicting him as “Trump’s Best Buddy,” “Trump’s Ultimate Defender” and “Rising star of the Trumpian right.”

Gaetz wants so much to impress President Trump that he sometimes wakes up around 5 a.m. so he can be on “Fox & Friends” as early as possible. That’s when “the republican elephant logopresident is watching,” he told The Washington Post’s Dan Zak. He strives to please Trump in every way, every day.

Every day except Thursday, that is.

Gaetz was one of three Republicans who voted in favor of a House resolution to prevent Trump from taking additional military action against Iran unless Congress declares war or in the event of “an imminent armed attack upon the United States.” The president and the Republican leadership vigorously opposed the measure.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the Republicans are hedging their bets against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 10, 2020. On Wednesday, Republican Senator Mike Lee, right, publicly and loudly lambasted the Donald Trump regime for its handling of the Soleimani fallout, before retracting it the next day. On Thursday, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz voted to take mike leeaway Trump’s war powers against Iran. If the pattern holds, he’ll soon fall back in line as well. So what’s really going on here?

We’re seeing a lot of discussion of these incidents as if they were about courage, and/or a lack thereof. I don’t buy it. When you’re dealing with anyone who’s willing to be a member of the current Republican Party, concepts like courage and character don’t apply. These folks have sold their souls to try to hang onto their seats in Congress in the Trump era. Now what we’re seeing is a series of bets being hedged.

Donald Trump has dissolved into a guy who gives orders so erratic and incoherent, even his handlers can’t explain it away after the fact. Trump has also dissolved into a guy who can’t get through a speech without sounding like he’s either severely drugged, or needs to be drugged. November is a long way away, and whatever is bill palmer report logo headergoing wrong with this guy, it’s accelerating. There’s a small, but greater than zero, and certainly growing, chance that Trump will be too far gone to even be on the ballot in 2020.

Imagine you’re a Republican in Congress and you’ve staked your own political viability to Donald Trump, and now you’re watching him fall apart so quickly, you’re Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoworried that – in all seriousness – he could end up in some kind of assisted living facility or padded room before election day. If that happens, the Republican Party will need a new horse to back going into 2020, and the public will be asking why no one in the GOP did anything about Trump when it first became clear that he was dissolving into a puddle of Jello.

That’s the point at which a Republican politician will want to be able to point back to something, even if just one isolated moment, in which he or she called out Donald Trump for falling to pieces.

Trump Fan Jailed

djt karyn turk facebook Custom

Karyn Turk, a socialiate sentenced to jail for stealing her mother's checks, is a conservative commentator who is often pictured with Republican figures in Palm Beach, such as this 2018 Facebook photo with President Donald Trump. She is shown below in Facebook photos with the president's son, Donald Jr., at right, and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who also serves as what he and the president describe as a special anti-corruption investigator.

Daily MailOnline US,