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

Oct. 31

Obama Hits Political Shaming

bo summit oct 30 2019

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Privacy, Courts, Civil Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Disasters, Fire and Flood

climate change photo

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

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

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

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

Media News

catherine herridge ceci freed media matters graphic Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISIS New Leader

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

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

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

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

Oct. 30

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file


Trump Probe Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

bob livingston full portrait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nancy pelosi horizontal uncredited older Custom

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

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

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

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

2020 U.S. Elections

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

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

U. S. Courts, Crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Elections

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

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

ISIS Leader's Killing

abu bakr al baghdadi older

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

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

U.S. News Roundup

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MeToo, Epstein Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. 2020 Politics

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

Consumer Protection: Opioids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global News / Opinion

scott ritter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 29

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Draft Impeachment Proceeding Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

alexander vindman right yevgeny ken burns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Probes / Impeachment Index djt handwave file

Other News Headlines

Trump Probe Evidence

alexander vindman right yevgeny ken burns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Yoo, Laura Ingraham and Alan Dershowitz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wayne madesen report logo

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

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

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

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

Raid Against ISIS Leader

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

Inside DC: Deficits

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

Wrongly Convicted

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

World News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

Media News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Jobs / Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 28

U.S. Raid On Purported ISIS Leader

djt abu bakr al baghdadi raid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other U.S. News Headlines:

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

djt nancy pelosi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Elections

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

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

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

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

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

Media News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi Finances Post-Khashoggi

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California Wildfires

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

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

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

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

U.S. 2020 Elections

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

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

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

More On U.S. Raid On ISIS Leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transitions: Hollywood

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

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

Oct. 27

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index  djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis: What you missed this week in the impeachment inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how it went down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Young Turks via YouTube, Commentary: Crowd Chants "Lock Him Up" To Trump At World Series, Rick Strom, Oct. 27, 2019 (4:18 min. video). Trump was greeted with boos at the World Series. Rick Strom breaks it down. Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

U.S. Headline News

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washington post logoWashington Post, California’s new normal: Wildfires, ash and power outages could last a decade, Faiz Siddiqui, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). From wineries to hardware stores to mobile home communities, blackouts are redefining the prosperous state. Millions of residents across California, including in the major San Francisco metro areas, were expected to lose power this weekend in a record event as power utility company Pacific Gas & Electric cut services in what it said was an effort to prevent fires — a new normal its executives have said could continue for a decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, California Fire Updates: More Evacuations and Blackouts Ordered, Matthew Bloch and K.K. Rebecca Lai, Updated Oct. 26, 2019. Driven by dry winds, the Kincade fire north of San Francisco was still growing Sunday morning, and power was being shut off for much of the Bay Area.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration has acquired little of the private land in Texas it needs for border barrier, Nick Miroff and Arelis R. Hernández, Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Faced with pressure to meet his 500-mile campaign pledge, officials have instead prioritized the lowest-hanging fruit of the project, accelerating construction along miles of flat desert terrain currently under federal control.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Someone needs to say it: Medicare-for-all is a pipe dream, Rahm Emanuel (right, former mayor of Chicago, Democratic congressman from Illinois and White rahm emanuel wHouse chief of staff), Oct. 27, 2019 (print ed.). I am worried about the Democratic Party’s new focus on Medicare-for-all. The merits of the policy are anything but a slam dunk, but, more immediately, the politics are a minefield. When it comes to health-care reform, Democrats need to mind three basic rules.

First, experience teaches us that much as Americans hate the status quo, they’re not too excited about change, either. Second, policy is not everything — political communication counts, too. Third, success ultimately rests with uniting your allies and dividing your opponents.

Medicare-for-all is guaranteed to frighten many among the vast majority of Americans who already have health coverage. It would require a disastrously unpopular tax increase on the middle class. And it would unite a world of the special interests against us.

This dog just won’t hunt. Perhaps worse, we cannot afford to try and then fail. Losing on health care will make it more difficult for us to make progress on education, *the environment or other social justice issues. We need to chart a different path. So let’s use history and context as a guide.

Questions On Commando Raid

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump caught GOLFING during U.S. military raid against Baghdadi and ISIS, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 27, 2019. This morning Trump announced that the U.S. military had just taken out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which is weird considering the sheer number of news outlets that reported Baghdadi’s death in 2017. Continued from above.

bill palmerIt’s been widely reported that the U.S. military raid took place at 3:30 pm eastern time on Saturday. When the Trump White House released a Situation Room photo of Donald Trump and his military leaders, former Obama White House photographer Pete Souza noticed that the timestamp on it said 5:05 pm. Sure, the raid could have still been going on by that time, but why wouldn’t the photo have been taken earlier? This led to questions about what Trump was doing at 3:30 pm when the raid first began.

bill palmer report logo headerThe official White House timeline says that Donald Trump didn’t return home from his golf outing until 4:18 pm. That means Donald Trump was still golfing when the raid began. In fairness, he did return to the White House after the operation got underway. But he knew this operation was going to take place because he authorized it, and yet he went golfing anyway.

Again, there are numerous unanswered questions about how we managed to kill a guy who was already widely reported to have died in 2017. Considering Donald Trump’s consistent dishonesty, and his desperation for a perfectly-timed “win” that just happens to perfectly mirror President Obama’s raid against Bin Laden, we’re not taking anything Trump says as fact.

For now, the one thing we do know is that Trump was golfing when the raid began. That alone is impeachable.

U.S. Courts, Crime, Regulation

ny times logoNew York Times The Weekly’: Changing the Courts for a Generation (video), Episode 16: ‘Mr. McGahn,’ Producer/Director Singeli Agnew, Oct. 27, 2019 (updated). Don McGahn helped President Trump remake the federal judiciary for decades to come. Watch our TV show on FX and Hulu.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Before Deadly Crashes, Boeing Pushed for Law That Undercut Oversight, Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles, Oct. 27, 2019. The government has been handing over more responsibility to manufacturers for years. The new law makes it even harder for regulators to review Boeing’s work.

boeing logoWith a few short paragraphs tucked into 463 pages of legislation last year, Boeing scored one of its biggest lobbying wins: a law that undercuts the government’s role in approving the design of new airplanes.

For years, the government had been handing over more responsibility to manufacturers as a way to reduce bureaucracy. But those paragraphs cemented the industry’s power, allowing manufacturers to challenge regulators over safety disputes and making it difficult for the government to usurp companies’ authority.

Although the law applies broadly to the industry, Boeing, the nation’s dominant aerospace manufacturer, is the biggest beneficiary. An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 50 regulators, industry executives, congressional staff members and lobbyists, as well as drafts of the bill and federal documents, found that Boeing and its allies helped craft the legislation to their liking, shaping the language of the law and overcoming criticism from regulators.

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Roll Call, Rep. Katie Hill resigns amid allegations of improper relationships with staffers, Bridget Bowman, Oct 27, 2019. Mired in scandal over allegations she had an improper relationship with a congressional aide and revelations about another affair she and her now estranged husband had with a woman on her 2018 campaign staff, California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill announced Sunday that she is resigning.

“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress,” Hill (shown above in a file photo) said in a statement. “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community, and our country.”

democratic donkey logoA Hill campaign spokeswoman said the timing of her resignation is uncertain. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hill on Oct. 23, following a report in conservative blog RedState that alleged Hill had an affair with Graham Kelly, a campaign staffer who became her legislative director. Having a sexual relationship with a congressional aide would violate the House code of conduct.

The Ethics Committee inquiry will likely be halted when her resignation takes effect. In recent history the panel has determined that a lawmaker is beyond the jurisdiction of the committee once they leave Congress. After the RedState story, Hill denied she had a relationship with Kelly and blamed her estranged husband for the allegation.

“The fact is I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” Hill said. Hill's husband, Kenneth Heslep, filed for divorce in July, U.S. House logoaccording to Los Angeles Superior Court records.

In her statement Sunday, blamed her husband and “hateful political operatives.”

“This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation,” she said.

The RedState article included another allegation that Hill and Heslep entered into a polyamorous relationship with one of Hill’s female campaign staffers. Hill, who is openly bisexual, did admit to entering into a relationship with a female campaign staffer said the relationship occurred “during the final tumultuous years of my abusive marriage.”

“I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” Hill wrote in a letter to her constituents. “For that I apologize.”

In addition to the allegations, RedState and the Daily Mail both published illicit photos of Hill, prompting Hill to contact Capitol Police about the photos. She also reportedly issued a cease and desist letter to the Daily Mail, calling on it to take the photos down.

Hill worked for a non-profit combating homelessness before she was elected to Congress in 2018. And she has emerged as one of the leaders of her freshman class. She and Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse are co-representatives of their class to House Democratic leadership. The late House Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings picked her to serve as the panel’s vice chairwoman, a position for more junior members. Hill also served on the Armed Services Committee.

Hill’s exit upends what was already shaping up to be a competitive 2020 House race. When Hill’s resignation does take effect, it will cause a special election in the following next four or five months, under California state law. Gov. Gavin Newsom has 14 calendar days after the vacancy occurs to issue a proclamation for the special election to be held within 140 days.

California’s 25th District is one of seven in the Golden State that Democrats flipped in 2018. After winning a competitive primary, Hill went on to defeat former GOP Rep. Steve Knight by 9 points. Voters in the district, which is north of Los Angeles and includes most of Simi Valley, had traditionally backed Republicans, but supported Hillary Clinton by 7 points in 2016 — even as Knight defeated his challenger by 6 points.

Roll Call, John Conyers Jr., former dean of the House, has died, Bridget Bowman, Oct. 27, 2019. Former Judiciary chairman resigned his seat after a 2017 sexual harassment scandal.
john conyersFormer House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., who served more than five decades in Congress, died Sunday at age 90, a spokesperson confirmed.

The Democrat from Michigan had been the longest serving African American lawmaker in congressional history, but resigned in 2017 amid a sexual harassment scandal after what was seen as an illustrious career.

Conyers, who was the dean of the House, resigned after Buzzfeed News and other outlets reported that he had paid a former staffer roughly $27,000 in a sexual harassment settlement drawn from Conyers’ congressional office budget and more allegations continued to surface.

According to sworn affidavits, Conyers was accused of using congressional funds and resources to fly his mistresses into Washington; making sexual advances on women in his office; and then becoming angry when one of his female staffers brought her husband around.

democratic donkey logoConyers was born in 1929 in Detroit, a city he would later represent on Capitol Hill. He served in the Korean War as a member of the National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers. Following the war, Conyers earned his Bachelor of Arts and law degrees at Wayne State University.

In 1964, Conyers won his bid for Congress by 128 votes and once said an endorsement from Martin Luther King Jr. helped swing the votes in his favor. Rosa Parks U.S. House logohelped Conyers lobby for King’s endorsement and Parks later worked as a secretary in the congressman’s Detroit office.

Conyers was elected to the House for decades, and he continued to win despite a changing political landscape in 2012. That year, Conyers faced a restructured district that incorporated more conservative, suburban voters, but he bested his Republican opponent by 82 percent of the vote.

While in Congress, Conyers focused his efforts on advancing civil rights legislation, expanding voting rights and improving the Michigan economy. Conyers included the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983, and the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act of 1988 in his list of legislative achievements.

The Michigan Democrat was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Media #MeToo News

washington post logoronan farrowWashington Post, NBC says it won’t prevent former employees from speaking publicly about sexual harassment, Brittany Shammas, Oct. 27, 2019. In his new bestseller Catch and Kill, journalist Ronan Farrow, right, wrote that NBC News had nondisclosure agreements with at least seven women who claimed they were sexually harassed at the company, including some who alleged mistreatment by former “Today” host Matt Lauer.

nbc news logoNow, NBCUniversal says former staffers are free to speak out about their experiences. In a statement first reported on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” the company said it will release past employees from agreements that may be preventing them from sharing their stories.

“Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or nondisparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” the statement said.

n Democrat was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump Accuser Summer Zervos’ Ugly Breakup With Gloria Allred, Emily Shugerman, Oct. 27, 2019. The former “Apprentice” contestant says Allred belittled her and wouldn’t disclose they discussed her allegation against Trump five years before the election. When Summer Zervos went public with sexual harassment allegations against Donald Trump in 2016, there was a familiar face at her side: pioneering women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Months later, the two announced the filing of a defamation lawsuit against the president, who had called his accusers “liars” looking for “10 minutes of fame.”

summer zervos cnnThe suit recently got the go-ahead from a New York appeals court, giving new hope to a raft of Trump accusers. But Zervos, right, and Allred didn’t celebrate the victory together.

The former Apprentice contestant had split with her high-profile lawyer, and in recent months quietly filed a complaint against her with the state bar. Now she is going public with her grievances against Allred.

gloria allred 2012 CustomZervos told The Daily Beast that Allred, left, chastised her in phone calls and belittled her in emails. And she says the attorney refused to disclose a phone call they had in 2011 about her allegations—a conversation Zervos says proves her accusations were not politically motivated.

“I realize speaking publicly about Gloria Allred could make my case against Mr. Trump more difficult,” she said. “But I can’t sit and watch her take on more victims and not say anything.”

Allred called Zervos’ allegations “false,” but said she was unable to comment further because of her ethical obligations to her former client.

“I have been a lawyer for 43 years, and my law firm and I are proud that we have always maintained the highest ethical standards and we will continue to do so for the remainder of our careers,” she said in an email.

Oct. 26

Inside DC

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U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings is shown above at a reception before his August speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Photo by Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig.

ny times logoNew York Times, Elijah Cummings’s Funeral Draws Presidents and Thousands of Mourners, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Richard Fausset, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton spoke at the service for the longtime Maryland congressman. Two former United States presidents and a throng of powerful American leaders joined thousands of everyday people in Baltimore on Friday to bid farewell to Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a towering African-American presence in Washington who was praised for his integrity, his character and, in his final months, his unwavering challenges to President Trump.

democratic donkey logoIn one of the stirring eulogies that prompted mourners to rise with applause, Barack Obama called Mr. Cummings “a man of noble and good heart.” Bill Clinton, gesturing toward the flag-draped coffin, professed his love for Mr. Cummings and his deep, booming voice.

“We should hear him now in the quiet times at night and in the morning when we need courage, when we get discouraged and we don’t know if we can believe anymore,” Mr. Clinton said.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon awards controversial cloud computing deal to Microsoft, spurning Amazon, Aaron Gregg and Jay Greene​, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one of his longtime rivals.

amazon logo smallThe announcement comes after an intense lobbying effort and a lawsuit filed by some of America’s biggest tech companies, who accused the military of favoring Amazon in a process that has dragged on for more than a year. During that time, Trump and other administration officials also made it clear that they did not want the Department of Defense Sealcontract to go to Amazon. Federal acquisition laws forbid politicians, including the president, from influencing contract awards.

The award is so large that it could tip the lucrative cloud computing business away from Amazon, which has long been the industry leader, in Microsoft’s favor. Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due to its years of experience handling classified data for the CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era, Heather Long and Jeff Stein, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit to expand this much during relatively good economic times.

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, Judge Rules, Giving Democrats a Victory, Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane, Oct. 26, 2019 (print ed.). A federal judge handed a victory to House Democrats on Friday when she ruled that they were legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a decision that undercut President Trump’s arguments that the investigation is a sham.

beryl howellThe declaration came in a 75-page opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, right, of the Federal District Court in Washington. She ruled that the House Judiciary Committee was entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Typically, Congress has no right to view such evidence. But in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. The House is now immersed in the same process focused on Mr. Trump, Judge Howell ruled, and that easily outweighs any need to keep the information secret from lawmakers.

And in a rebuke to the Trump administration, she wrote that the White House strategy to stonewall the House had actually strengthened lawmakers’ case. She cited Mr. Trump’s vow to fight “all” congressional subpoenas and an extraordinary directive by his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, that executive branch officials should not pat cipollone file croppedprovide testimony or documents to impeachment investigators.

“The White House’s stated policy of noncooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure,” Judge Howell wrote. “Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a president is heightened when the executive branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence.”

The administration is likely to appeal the ruling; the Justice Department was reviewing it, a spokeswoman said. It came on a day when House investigators unleashed another round of subpoenas. They demanded that the acting chief of the White House budget office and two other administration officials testify next month in their inquiry into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit him politically.

Democrats praised Judge Howell’s decision.

In arguing that the impeachment inquiry is a sham, Republicans have noted that the full House has not voted for a resolution to authorize one, as it did in 1974 and 1998 at the start of impeachment proceedings targeting Nixon and President Bill Clinton. Democrats have countered that no resolution is required under the Constitution or House rules and pointed out that impeachment efforts to remove other officials, like judges, started without such a vote.

Judge Howell agreed with the Democrats, calling the Republican arguments “cherry-picked and incomplete” and lacking support from the Constitution, House rules or court precedents.

Related article: Washington Post, House Judiciary Committee can see redacted materials from Mueller grand jury, judge says, Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 25, 2019. The judge also dismissed arguments that a vote would be needed to start an impeachment inquiry.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don McGahn is back, and Donald Trump is going to hate what he has to say, Bill Palmer, Oct. 26, 2019.  Earlier this year the House tried to compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify about Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes. But the White House advised McGahn that it would have been illegal for him to testify, and so the whole thing went into legal limbo. But yesterday the courts ruled that the House impeachment process is fully legal, and that Trump has no right to stop anyone from cooperating.

bill palmer report logo headerJust a few hours later, like clockwork, word surfaced to Politico (Politico, DOJ: Negotiations with House for McGahn interview are ongoing) that the Department of Justice is planning to let Don McGahn testify after all. The DOJ is claiming that it’s been negotiating McGahn’s testimony with the House for quite some time, but let’s be real here: this is a sign of surrender by the DOJ, now that the courts have ruled that it has no legal basis for standing in the way of impeachment.

In a humorous twist, the Trump regime is now fighting for Don McGahn’s testimony to be behind closed doors, presumably for fear of just how devastating it will be to Donald Trump. This comes even as Trump is attacking House Democrats for having other witnesses testify behind closed doors. But the bottom line is that McGahn is now finally going to testify about Trump’s crimes, and Trump is left meekly fighting for scraps about the details of the testimony.

Trump Family, Cronies

ny times logoNew York Times, Symbol of ’80s Greed Stands to Profit From Trump Tax Break for Poor Areas, Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker, Oct. 26, 2019. The financier Michael Milken is an michael milken1 Customnvestor in a property that became eligible for a tax break after his friend Steven Mnuchin intervened. Treasury officials said they were troubled by Mr. Mnuchin’s actions to bend the rules.

In the 1980s, Michael Milken, right, embodied Wall Street greed. A swashbuckling financier, he was charged with playing a central role in a vast insider-trading scheme and was sent to prison for violating federal securities and tax laws. He was an inspiration for the Gordon Gekko character in the film “Wall Street.”

Mr. Milken has spent the intervening decades trying to rehabilitate his reputation through an influential nonprofit think tank, the Milken Institute, devoted to initiatives “that advance prosperity.”

These days, the Milken Institute is a leading proponent of a new federal tax break that was intended to coax wealthy investors to plow money into distressed communities known as “opportunity zones.” The institute’s leaders have helped push senior officials in the Trump administration to make the tax incentive more generous, even though it is under fire for being slanted toward the wealthy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Firm with ties to Trump’s brother gets $33 million government contract, Joshua Partlow, Oct. 26, 2019. A rival bidder filed a complaint alleging that the Reston, Va., company failed to disclose Robert S. Trump’s connection. A company in which President Trump’s brother has a financial stake received a $33 million contract from the U.S. Marshals Service earlier this year, an award that has drawn protests from two other bidders, one of which has filed a complaint alleging possible favoritism in the bidding process.

The lucrative government contract, to provide security for federal courthouses and cellblocks, went to CertiPath, a Reston, Va.-based company that since 2013 has been owned in part by a firm linked to Robert S. Trump, the president’s younger brother.

After the contract was awarded, an anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general alleging that CertiPath had failed to disclose that “one of the President’s closest living relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction,” according to a copy of the July 22 complaint letter obtained by The Washington Post.

“The circumstances of this contract award, and what appear to be CertiPath’s efforts to obscure Mr. Robert Trump’s financial interest in the company even as it trades on the Trump name, present the appearance of preferential treatment for those who are close to the President,” said the complaint, which was sent by the Washington law firm Venable on behalf of the client.

California Wildfires

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ny times logoNew York Times, California Fires: 2.7 Million Could Lose Power in Intentional Shut-Off, By Ivan Penn, Mariel Padilla and Derrick Bryson Taylor, Oct. 26, 2019. Pacific Gas and Electric expanded its blackout zone as extreme weather conditions heightened the wildfire threat. We’re tracking the latest developments here. The blackout could affect as many as 2.7 million people, and would be the largest power shut-off to prevent wildfires in California history.

“The next 72 hours are going to be challenging,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “I could sugarcoat it but I’m not.” PG&E added 90,000 customers to the intentional power shut-off as forecasts indicated that widespread dry, hot and windy weather is expected to begin moving through the region between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday and continue through midday Monday. Gusts were forecast to reach up to 75. m.p.h.

U.S. War In Syria

Department of Defense SealSouthFront, Newly-Deployed U.S. Troops Are Now In Northern Hasakah, Not Oil Fields Area: SANA, Staff report, Oct. 26, 2019. Fresh U.S. troops, which entered Syria in the morning of Oct. 26, have settled in a base in the northern al-Hasakah countryside, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

The state-run agency reported that U.S. troops are now stationed inside the Qasrak base on the Tell Tamr-Qamishli highway. “U.S. occupation forces’ convoy -consists of 13 military vehicles and dozens of soldier-, which entered Syria today, have settled in Qasrak illegal base on Tell Tamr-Qamishli road,” the SANA’s reporter in al-Hasakah said. Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the convoy headed towards key oil fields in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor. This was not apparently accurate.

Trump #MeToosummer zervos cnn

Palmer Report, Opinion: One of Donald Trump’s sexual assault victims makes her move, Robert Harrington, Oct. 26, 2019.  It turns out that Season Five Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos has launched a defamation lawsuit against Trump, who claimed he never even met her, let alone sexually assaulted her. The bad news is Trump has a pretty good case.

bill palmer report logo headerThe good news is Zervos (shown above in a screenshot via CNN and below right in an older file photo) has a better one, one so good it knocks Trump’s case into a cocked hat. Zervos’ case comes complete with contemporaneous emails, phone records, copies of the calendar entries and itineraries from the Trump organization itself supporting Ms Zervos account – an account placing Trump exactly where she says he was when he assaulted her, an account detailed “with striking accuracy,” according to her attorney, Mariann Wang.

According to court papers filed Thursday, the Trump Organization is attempting to have nine pages of documents thrown out by designating them as “confidential” because they contain Trump’s cellphone number. Zervos’ lawyers responded that it was “absurd” because Trump had already publicized his cellphone to millions of Twitter followers during the summer zervos2016 campaign, and he no longer even uses that particular number anyway.

Lawyers for Zervos also say they have evidence of even “greater granularity,” which will be revealed at the start of the trial in March of 2020, just in time for the run up to the 2020 election. “Plaintiff reported Defendant’s assaults to family members and close friends immediately after they occurred and then again over the years,” according to a memorandum. “She confronted Defendant about his inappropriate behavior, both in a phone call shortly after the assaults and in an email sent through his secretary Rhona Graff in April 2016. Plaintiff also considered taking more formal legal action with respect to Defendant many years ago and in fact reached out to multiple lawyers back in 2011, including to Gloria Allred, whose records reflect that contact.”


Oct. 25

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Elijah Cummings’s Funeral Brings Attention to Baltimore, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 25, 2019. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are expected to speak at the service for the longtime Maryland congressman. At Mr. Cummings’s funeral, Hillary Clinton offered a forceful defense of democracy and compared him to the prophet Elijah.

elijah cummings oRepresentative Elijah E. Cummings, right, was firmly rooted in Baltimore, but for decades his voice extended far from his brick rowhouse on the city’s west side. On Friday, the legacy of his tireless advocacy brought powerful leaders from Washington and elsewhere to his city.

Mr. Cummings, a Democrat who rose in prominence in recent years for his unwavering pursuit of President Trump, died at 68 last week in the city he called home, the same one in which he was born and lived all his life.

Among the prominent cast of politicians, mentees and relatives expected to speak at his funeral on Friday morning were two former presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate.

Following a psalm read by Ms. Warren and a song from one of Mr. Cummings’s favorite singers, BeBe Winans, Ms. Clinton took the stage and thanked members of Mr. Cummings’s district “for sharing him with our country and the world.”

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, A lawsuit raises doubts on whether Mr. Trump’s closest aides will be allowed to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 25, 2019. A key witness in the impeachment investigation filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, a move that raises new doubts about whether President john bolton full cropped CustomTrump’s closest aides, like the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, right, will be able to cooperate with the inquiry.

House Democrats had subpoenaed the witness, Charles M. Kupperman, who served as Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, to testify on Monday. But in an effort to stop Mr. Kupperman from doing so, the White House said on Friday that the president had invoked “constitutional immunity,” leaving Mr. Kupperman uncertain about what to do.

“Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail,” the suit said.

U.S. House logoThe implications of the suit, filed in federal court in Washington, extend beyond Mr. Kupperman. His lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents Mr. Bolton and is likely to address congressional requests for his testimony in a similar fashion. House Democrats have had discussions with Mr. Cooper in recent days about Mr. Bolton testifying but have not subpoenaed him.

Democrats believe that Mr. Kupperman and Mr. Bolton could be significant witnesses for their investigation. Unlike several of the administration officials who have already testified, they were both close advisers of Mr. Trump, dealt directly with him on Ukraine policy and could testify about what Mr. Trump said behind closed doors.

Mr. Trump and the White House have attacked many of the career State Department officials who have appeared before investigators on Capitol Hill, calling them “unelected bureaucrats.” But Mr. Kupperman and Mr. Bolton, longtime Republicans, worked directly for Mr. Trump. Mr. Bolton, in particular, is seen as potentially having greater sway with Republicans and independents because of his hawkish views, which he conveyed regularly on Fox News before joining the administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Drawing Attention to Hunter Biden’s Work in Romania, Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 25, 2019. But There’s a Problem, Hunter Biden worked to help a Romanian executive facing corruption charges. But so did the former New York mayor — and a former F.B.I. director. Hunter Biden worked to help a Romanian executive facing corruption charges. But so did the former New York mayor — and a former F.B.I. director.

rudy giulianiRudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, signaled this month that he planned to open a new front in his attacks against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — work done by Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden for a wealthy Romanian business executive facing corruption charges.

But there’s a problem with that strategy: Mr. Giuliani participated in an effort that would have helped the same executive, and was in fact recruited to do so by Louis J. Freeh, a former F.B.I. director who had been brought onto the matter by Hunter Biden.

In effect, Mr. Giuliani and Hunter Biden were on the same team, if not at the same time. And their work to help the business executive, along with that of Mr. Freeh, stood in contrast to efforts by the United States, including Vice President Biden while he was in office, to encourage anti-corruption efforts in Romania.

The dynamic in Romania underscores how Mr. Giuliani has done a brisk international business with clients who sometimes seem to be seeking to capitalize on his connections to Mr. Trump even as he has accused Hunter Biden of seeking to capitalize on his father’s name while doing business in other countries. And the disclosure of the connection between his role in Romania and Mr. Biden’s comes at a time when Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws.

Hunter Biden, who is a lawyer, was retained by the business executive, Gabriel Popoviciu, in 2015, while his father was vice president, to help try to fend off charges in Romania being pursued by anti-corruption prosecutors. In 2016, Mr. Popoviciu was convicted on charges related to a land deal in northern Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani, Overheard Talking About Need for Cash, Mistakenly Calls NBC Reporter, Michael M. Grynbaum, Oct. 25, 2019. “The problem is we need some money,’’ Mr. Giuliani says on the call. Then he adds: “We need a few hundred thousand.’’ Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, managed to inadvertently telephone an NBC News reporter at 11 p.m. one night this month and leave a lengthy voice message filled with snippets of an overheard conversation.

In the muffled recording — left on Oct. 16 with the NBC reporter Rich Schapiro — Mr. Giuliani, the chairman of a security consulting firm, can be heard discussing business in Turkey and Bahrain. At one point, speaking with a pair of unidentified men, Mr. Giuliani declares: “The problem is we need some money.”

Nearly 10 seconds of silence tick by before Mr. Giuliani clarifies: “We need a few hundred thousand.”

It was not the first time that Mr. Giuliani had left remnants of a conversation on Mr. Schapiro’s phone. In a voice mail message left in September, he can be heard railing against the family of Joseph R. Biden Jr., suggesting with no evidence that he knows of corrupt activities by the former vice president.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats see no need to hear from Ukraine whistleblower, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 25, 2019. House Democrats believe they have have enough testimony from senior administration officials to corroborate the claims. But Republicans are arguing that the whistleblower must be unmasked.

 ny times logoNew York Times, The Cost of Trump’s Aid Freeze in the Trenches of Ukraine’s War, Andrew E. Kramer, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The impeachment inquiry hinges on whether President Trump suspended nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine to pressure it into investigating his rivals. Ukraine, politically disorganized and militarily weak, has relied heavily on the United States in a bare-bones fight against Russian-backed separatists.

washington post logorepublican party upside downWashington Post, Opinion: Trump thinks he can get away with anything. It’s outlandish, Ruth Marcus, Oct. 25, 2019. “The king can do no wrong.” That is the ancient legal maxim used to explain why a sovereign should not be held to account for misdeeds. President Trump and his lawyers are now making arguments that make this legal doctrine look wimpy. Their vision boils down to: The king can do whatever wrong he damn pleases, and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The GOP holdouts on Graham’s anti-impeachment bill, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2019. Graham has now added to his list of co-sponsors, leaving just three GOP senators who haven’t signed on -- Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkwoski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). But the original list of eight holdouts and hesitant senators was a conspicuous one. And they might be worth watching when it comes to whether Trump’s firewall against removal in the Senate starts to show cracks.

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The real Three Amigos and how sexual blackmail has them at Trump's beck and call), Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsynidcated columnist, author and former Navy intelligence officer, shown at left), Oct. 25, 2019 ((subscription required, excerpted with permission).. According to testimony provided to the House impeachment inquiry by George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's European and Eurasian Bureau, the Trump White House replaced the official Ukraine policy team within the State Department and National Security Council with "three amigos" who took their directions directly from Donald Trump's business agent and alleged lawyer Rudolph Giuliani.

The three amigos consisted of Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, a Trump Inauguration Committee donor and political appointee; Kurt Volker, the then-special envoy to Ukraine; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Volker has since resigned his post and Perry has announced his resignation.

lindsey graham judiciary chairmanHowever, the "three amigos" title should be conferred upon Trump's top three congressional defenders: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). All three are subjects to significant political blackmail arising from their closeted gay sexual orientation. All three represent constituencies where anti-gay Christian fundamentalists enjoy political strength that can make or break any candidate for political office.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: The editor of this site is aware, in part via presence at several interviews of sources, of the substantial evidence regarding the revelations above, which are newsworthy because of the national security and constitutional threats involved by continued suppression elsewhere of relevant allegations and commentary.

Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton’s revenge, Bill Palmer, Oct. 25, 2019. Just how upside down are American politics in 2019? Liberals now find themselves rooting for John Bolton in a criminal scandal in which he’s somehow the good guy. Bolton is a bloodthirsty warmongering monster, but he apparently draws the line at treason, which got him fired. Now he’s apparently knee deep into getting his revenge.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the news broke that John Bolton’s former National Security Council sidekick Tim Morrison is planning to give testimony to the House impeachment inquiry that will fully validate the recent testimony from Acting U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor. This comes not long after Bolton’s other former underling, Fiona Hill, gave impeachment testimony which also fell within the same lines.

john bolton youtube guardianEven as this testimony is playing out behind closed doors, we keep seeing one media leak after another about how John Bolton, right, caught Donald Trump’s people doing guilty things in the Ukraine scandal, told people that Trump was doing guilty things in the Ukraine scandal, and tried to internally sound the alarm in every way that he could. The thing is, evidence and testimony appears to be validating Bolton’s version of events. And you just have to figure Bolton himself will end up testifying in the end, because why wouldn’t he?

John Bolton naturally wants revenge against Donald Trump, both because Trump crossed a criminal line against the United States that even Bolton couldn’t abide by, and because Bolton was fired in humiliating fashion. It looks like Bolton is in the process of getting it.

washington post logoWashington Post, House issues subpoenas to two OMB officials in inquiry, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 25, 2019. The panels want Russell Vought, the acting director of the OMB, and Michael Duffey, the agency's head of national security, to testify early next month. House investigators pressed forward with their impeachment inquiry on Friday, issuing subpoenas to two Office of Management and Budget officials, one of whom has vowed they won’t cooperate with the Democrat-led probe.

The move came as President Trump repeatedly insisted to reporters that he had done nothing wrong in pressing Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. He also praised his embattled personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani as a “great crime fighter.”

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said Democrats are “trying to make us look as bad as possible” with the ongoing inquiry.

Closed-door depositions are scheduled to resume Saturday after a two-day pause with an appearance by a Foreign Service officer stationed in Kyiv, who is expected to testify on efforts of Giuliani and others to oust the previous U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump fights inquiry with a barrage of provocations, contradictions and exhortations, Michael Scherer, Oct. 25, 2019. Following the president’s hourly utterances and tweets has become an overwhelming, but consequential task as his foreign policy decisions come under greater scrutiny.

Politico, DOJ: Negotiations with House for McGahn interview are ongoing, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 25, 2019. Negotiations to make former White House counsel Don McGahn available for a House interview have been active throughout October, the Justice Department indicated Friday, revealing that it has had discussions with the Judiciary Committee five times since Oct. 8.

Those talks — on Oct. 8, 11, 15, 21 and 24 — came despite an Oct. 8 letter from McGahn's successor, Pat Cipollone, declaring that the White House would refuse to cooperate with Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"Although the Speaker of the House has announced publicly that, in her view, the House has now commenced an impeachment inquiry ... the Administration remains open to continued discussion of a possible Committee interview, under appropriate terms and conditions, of Mr. McGahn," Justice Department attorneys wrote in a brief filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., in response to Democrats' efforts to enforce a subpoena requiring McGahn's testimony.

House attorneys have argued that they're at an impasse with the Justice Department over obtaining McGahn's testimony, which they have been seeking since special counsel Robert Mueller revealed in April that he was a central witness to potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. McGahn refused to comply with a subpoena for his testimony in May and the Judiciary Committee filed suit in July, declaring that his testimony is crucial to determine whether the House should file articles of impeachment against Trump. Since then, sporadic talks with the Justice Department have reached no conclusion.

DOJ argues that the House's impeachment inquiry is "different" than the Judiciary Committee's pursuit of McGahn, even though Pelosi has blessed the panel's pursuit of potential articles of impeachment based on Mueller's findings.

The Justice Department's suggestion that talks were ongoing in October is misleading, a source briefed on the discussions told Politico. "We have an obligation to try to reach an accommodation, even now," the source said, "but the White House has only ever discussed terms they know are unacceptable to us."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s pollster releases the worst impeachment poll ever, Aaron Blake, Oct. 25, 2019. Four months ago, President Trump responded to some poor Democratic-Republican Campaign logosinternal polling numbers by, naturally, firing some of his pollsters. As more than a few people noted at the time, the purge risked giving the remaining pollsters — Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin — incentive to juice their numbers in a more pro-Trump direction. A new poll suggests there’s certainly some juicing going on — of a rather ridiculous sort.

Trump Properties, Conflicts

Wall Street Journal, Trump Organization Exploring Sale of Marquee Washington Hotel, Craig Karmin, Oct. 25, 2019 (updated). Move is motivated partly by ethical criticisms concerning profiting on the property. The Trump Organization is exploring a sale of the rights to the company’s opulent Washington, D.C., hotel, a move it says is motivated partly by criticism that the Trumps are flouting ethics laws by profiting from the property. The asking price is $500 million. See below for related coverage:

1100 Pennsylvania, Analysis: Trump Org exploring sale of D.C. hotel, Zack Everson, Oct. 25, 2019. In his statement to the Journal, Trump Org EVP Eric Trump said, “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”

That declaration is, um, interesting given testimony from a General Services Administration official at a House committee hearing last month. (The Trump Hotel D.C. is in the Old Post Office building, which the U.S. government owns and rents out to the Trump Org.; GSA administers its lease.) In addition to its monthly rent of $250,000, the lease calls for the Trump Hotel D.C. to pay GSA a cut of its gross revenues if it reaches certain performance thresholds. GSA’s public buildings commissioner Daniel Mathews, a political appointee of Trump’s, testified that the hotel did not pay GSA any funds beyond its base rent last year.

So the Trump Hotel D.C. is making a ton of money, yet it’s not enough for the Trump Org to have to pay any additional rent.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Family Considers Selling Hotel in Washington, Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 25, 2019. The hotel is a target of criticism for President Trump because it frequently hosts foreign diplomats and corporate executives with business before his administration. The hotel is a key part of lawsuits pending against the Trump Organization that argue Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments.

“Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” Eric Trump said Friday in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposal.

The hotel opened in late 2016, just before Mr. Trump was elected president, and quickly became one of the single biggest sources of revenue for the Trump family, according to financial disclosures. It also is one of the few parts of the company that has seen major revenue growth since Mr. Trump took office.

The hotel operates out of a federal building known as the Old Post Office, and the space is leased by the Trump Organization for 60 years. Any transfer of that lease would have to be approved by the federal General Services Administration, which awarded the deal to the Trump Organization after a competition among various bidders.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.J. seeks to revoke liquor license for one of Trump’s golf clubs, triggered by a case in which a customer caused a fatal car crash, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 25, 2019. The state of New Jersey is seeking to revoke the liquor license for one of President Trump’s golf clubs — a rare and potentially damaging punishment, triggered by a 2015 case in which state officials said the Trump club overserved alcohol to a man who then caused a fatal wreck.

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People Magazine, Former Apprentice Star Says She Has Evidence to Back Up Claims Donald Trump Sexually Assaulted Her, Benjamin VanHoose, Oct. 25, 2019. Summer Zervos says she has several items to corroborate a 2007 assault in a hotel room, according to court documents. Summer Zervos, one of the many women who came forward with sexual assault accusations against President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, says she has new evidence to support her claims.

summer zervosZervos, shown in a file photo, appeared as a contestant on season 5 of The Apprentice, the popular reality competition show which Trump hosted on NBC, and claims he assaulted her in 2007 in a hotel room. (Trump is shown above in a publicity photo for the show.)

According to filed court documents obtained and published by CNN, Zervos says she has evidence in the form of emails, calendar entries and a polygraph test that illustrates her telling lawyers in 2011 about the attack, then again telling the story to Fox News in 2015.

Trump is being sued by Zervos for allegedly defaming her in his public denials of the sexual assault.

“The fact that plaintiff sought legal counsel in 2011 and spoke about this to others including a news organization — years before the events of 2016 at issue in this case — strongly supports the inferences that her core narrative is true,” Zervos’ lawyer Mariann Wang claims in the documents, which were filed on Thursday. With the subject line, “Trump Hit on Me,” the August 2015 email to Fox News, included in the submitted evidence, describes the alleged attack in Zervos’ own words.

“I was on The Apprentice. After the show was completed, Trump invited me to a hotel room under the guise of working for him. He had a different agenda. Please contact me to speak further as I have tried to make contact,” the email reads, according to CNN.

U.S. Elections Probes of Russia

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international Custom

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: We had it all backwards about Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen, Bill Palmer, Oct. 25, 2019. Even when Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were first arrested in the Ukraine scandal, observers on all sides – including us – initially presumed that they were Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen. After all, these were just two nobodies, while Rudy was, well, Rudy. This had to be his scheme, and these two stooges had to have been working for him. Except, no.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter the arrests, Rudy Giuliani admitted that he took a half million dollars from a company run by Lev Parnas. It’s separately been reported that Parnas works for Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash. There’s a reason you follow the money in these kinds of scandals: it dictates who’s working for whom. If Parnas is a henchman working for Firtash, that makes Rudy a bottom-rung henchman working for Firtash’s henchman Parnas.

Why does this matter? Rudy Giuliani is going down either way. But it’s important for everyone involved to keep in mind that this whole thing wasn’t just some braindead scheme that Rudy randomly drew up on the back of a napkin and then sold Donald Trump on. This was a scheme being run and funded by a Kremlin oligarch. Rudy was just a pawn, or a go-between for the Kremlins oligarch and Trump. This Ukraine scandal isn’t just echoing the Trump-Russia 2016 election scandal; it appears to be a continuation of the Trump-Russia scandal.

washington post logojohn durham CustomWashington Post, Investigation of Russia probe is criminal in nature, person familiar with case says, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 25, 2019. U.S. Attorney John Durham, right, has been trying to determine whether the FBI’s intelligence activities in the Russia probe were lawful.

Associated Press via AOL, Russian woman who admitted being secret agent out of prison, Eric Tucker and Bobby Calvan, Oct. 25, 2019. A Russian gun rights activist who ap logoadmitted being a secret agent for the Kremlin and trying to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups while Donald Trump rose to power was released from federal prison on Friday, officials said.

Maria Butina left a low-security facility in Tallahassee, Florida and was placed in the custody of federal immigration authorities. She is expected to be immediately deported to Russia now that she has finished her 18-month sentence.

maria butina headshotButina, left, pleaded guilty last December to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent. She admitted that she worked with a former Russian lawmaker to leverage contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue back channels to American conservatives during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

She violated U.S. law because she did not report those efforts to the Justice Department, which requires the registration of lobbyists and others in the U.S. who do the bidding of foreign governments.

Global News 

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson to Seek General Election on Dec. 12, Stephen Castle, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The British prime minister said Parliament can take more time to study his Brexit plan, but only if lawmakers agree to a new election. The move follows the decision of Parliament to block his accelerated timetable to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, boris johnson hand up unsourceddespite agreeing in principle to his latest Brexit plan.

Mr. Johnson, left, has already been forced by Parliament to request an extension to the Brexit deadline until Jan. 31. A decision on that is expected from the European Union soon, perhaps on Friday. But in a pre-emptive strike, Mr. Johnson said in a BBC interview  that, providing the extension is granted, he plans on Monday to ask for the December election, also giving Parliament more time to ratify his Brexit proposal first.

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, 39 bodies found inside truck in Britain believed to be Chinese nationals, Karla Adam and William Booth, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). ​​Police have searched three properties in Northern Ireland in the case which is believed to involve human trafficking.

U.S. 2020 Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The Trump campaign has over $1 million in outstanding bills from American cities, Philip Bump, Oct. 25, 2019. Albuquerque has joined a lengthy list of U.S. cities with a simple request: that President Trump’s campaign pay for the costs incurred during a rally. On Wednesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the city sent an invoice to Trump’s reelection campaign in an effort to recoup more than $211,000 in expenses from a September rally. That figure includes more than $71,000 in police overtime.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomThe Trump campaign’s indifference to municipal bills became a significant issue earlier this month when the city of Minneapolis attempted to get paid in advance for a rally Trump was planning to hold in the city. The president and his campaign publicly berated Minneapolis’s mayor. But even then it was easy to see why a city would want Trump’s team to pay in advance.

As the Minneapolis rally loomed, CNN went back to a number of cities that had been identified in June by the Center for Public Integrity as places with outstanding bills in to the Trump campaign. CNN found that there was at least $841,000 still outstanding. The total, though, is more than that: Dave Levinthal, who reported the initial tallies for the Center for Public Integrity, confirmed in an email to The Washington Post on Thursday that he had checked back with all the cities he had identified in July and that none had been paid as of his most recent outreach.

Politico, Gabbard says she won't run for reelection to Congress in 2020, Quint Forgey, Oct. 25, 2019. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, right, a Democratic White House contender, announced early tulsi gabbard newFriday that she will not seek reelection to Congress, declaring that she was “fully committed to my offer to serve” as president. “I'm so grateful to the people of Hawaiʻi for allowing me to serve you in Congress for the last 7 years. Throughout my life, I’ve always made my decisions based on where I felt I could do the most good,” Gabbard wrote in a series of tweets posted at midnight, which included a video message and a link to a lengthy statement.

“In light of the challenges we face, I believe I can … best serve the people of Hawaiʻi & our country as President and Commander-in-Chief,” she continued.

Gabbard, who has represented Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District since 2013, handily defeated her Republican opponent in last year’s midterm elections by a margin of more than mazie hirono o50 percent.

But her path to winning a fifth term in 2020 was complicated by a formidable primary challenge from state Sen. Kai Kahele, as well as her thorny relationships with other Aloha State politicians. A trio of former Hawaii governors have backed Kahele’s bid to unseat Gabbard, and she ignited a feud with Sen. Mazie Hirono, left, after authoring an op-ed in January accusing Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee of “religious bigotry” in their questioning of a nominee for a district judgeship.

Hirono, a member of that panel who previously held Gabbard’s House seat, criticized the congresswoman and called her assertions “totally unfounded” during an interview in March.

U.S.-Syrian War

ny times logoNew York Times, Mr. Trump’s recent actions in Syria and Ukraine are further alienating America’s already wary allies, Steven Erlanger, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Until now, Europeans have done little except complain about him. But Mr. Trump’s recent actions in Syria and Ukraine may change that. The more optimistic now argue Mr. Trump’s betrayals in those conflicts are of a different category of seriousness, and may accelerate what has been a slowly building process of European integration and peeling away from the United States. Others are not so sure.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. considers sending tanks, more troops to Syria as Trump focuses on oil, Missy Ryan, Dan Lamothe and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The plan would place heavy weaponry around the oil fields and retain a larger number of troops, potentially further diluting the practical effect of the announced withdrawal.

SouthFront, In Video: Hundreds Of Syrian Army Troops Arrive In Kobane, Staff report, Oct. 25, 2019. Late on Oct. 24, a large batch of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops arrived in the border town of Kobane in northeast Syria. According to the Hawar News Agency (ANAH), the batch consisted of at least 1,300 service members and around 160 vehicles.

syrian flag wavingThe SAA began deploying troops in northeastern Syria earlier this month following a breakthrough agreement between the Damascus government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The recent agreement between Russia and Turkey supported the SAA deployment in the region, tasking the army with the establishment 15 observation posts along the border with Turkey.

These agreements solidified the SAA status as a stabilizing factor in the northeastern part of the country, that was on the brink of a humanitarian disaster before the army deployment.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Interventionism and Isolationism, Jacob G. Hornberger (FFF president, book publisher, author and attorney, shown at right), Oct. 25, 2019. When jacob hornberger newPresident Trump decided to relocate a few troops on Syria’s northern border and announced that he would withdraw all the other U.S. troops from Syria, interventionists went ballistic. They said that Trump was leading America to “isolationism.”

That’s pretty funny, given (1) there is still no assurance that the Pentagon and the CIA are going to permit Trump to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria; (2) Trump is sending troops that he withdraws from Syria into Iraq and Saudi Arabia; (3) Trump continues to maintain troops in Afghanistan despite having had three years to have taken them out; (4) Trump continues to partner with the Saudis in their brutal war in Yemen; (5) Trump imposes sanctions and embargoes against any regime that bucks his will, including Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China, and others; (6) the Pentagon and the CIA continue to maintain foreign imperial bases and secret prison camps all over the world; (7) Trump has kept the United State in NATO and other entangling alliances; and (8) foreign aid continues flowing into foreign regimes, dictatorial ones.

If that’s “isolationism,” I’d hate to see what interventionism looks like!

When we talk about foreign policy, there are two different systems from which to choose — the system of the statists, both Republican and Democrat, and the system that we libertarians favor.

California Fires

washington post logoWashington Post, Power may be cut for millions of Calif. residents this weekend as fire risk increases, utility says, Faiz Siddiqui, Alex Horton and Michael Brice-Saddler​, Oct. 25, pacific gas election company logo Custom2019. Approximately 850,000 customers — and millions of people — could be without power in Northern California from Saturday through Monday, PG&E said. Strong winds in the forecast will pose a high risk of sparks, which would lead to rapidly spreading wildfires.

washington post logoWashington Post, Transmission line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations, Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware and Andrew Freedman​, Oct. 25, 2019. Pacific Gas and Electric said its high-voltage lines were still active before the Kincade Fire that spread over 10,000 acres in California wine country.

A fast-moving wildfire, spurred by powerful winds, continued to burn through Northern California on Friday and forced thousands of people to evacuate parts of Sonoma County — the rural wine country 75 miles north of San Francisco that is still recovering from a deadly 2017 blaze. The state’s largest utility, told state regulators that a jumper on one of its transmission towers broke close to where officials say the Kincade Fire started, near Geyserville.

More DC #MeToo

katie hill screenshot

HuffPost, Analysis: Katie Hill Is Not Accused Of Committing A Crime. But She Might Be A Victim Of One, Melissa Jeltsen, Oct. 25, 2019. Private photos of Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) have been published by news outlets without her permission. In many states, sharing the freshman representative’s nude photos would be illegal under “revenge porn” statutes.

When Democratic Rep. Katie Hill won election in 2018, she gained attention for securing a tough district held by a Republican. She also made history as the first openly bisexual congresswoman from California. Now she’s capturing headlines again, only this time for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, RedState, a conservative news website, ran a story accusing Hill of having extramarital affairs with a female campaign staffer and a male congressional aide. The article included a nude photo of Hill with her breasts obscured. On Thursday, The Daily Mail published more sexually explicit photos of Hill, along with breathless details of her romantic relationships. As a result, private photos of her are spreading like a rot online, and there’s little Hill can do to stop it. Intimate, personal snapshots of her life are currently being ogled by anyone with a Wi-Fi connection.

democratic donkey logoHill has confirmed that she was in a relationship with the campaign worker, though she denies any romantic involvement with her congressional aide. The House Committee on Ethics has begun an investigation, since it is against House rules for representatives to have sexual relationships with congressional staff. (Those rules do not appear to extend to campaign staff.)

Much of the media coverage surrounding Hill has focused on her sex life; who she did or did not sleep with. The fascination likely stems from the fact that she is LGBTQ and allegedly involved in a polyamorous relationship. But by focusing on her sexuality, an important fact is being lost in translation.

Hill is not accused of committing a crime by dating her campaign staffer, but she may be a victim of one. In most states, including California, it is illegal to share sexually explicit photos of a person without his or her consent. That’s commonly called revenge porn ― and in Hill’s home state, that could be punished by up to six months in jail.

It is unclear how the news outlets acquired the photos of Hill. In a statement released Wednesday, Hill said, “I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me. I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain.” Hill did not elaborate further or offer evidence linking her estranged husband to the leaked photos. He did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

On Thursday, Hill sent a cease and desist letter to the Daily Mail, demanding the news outlet remove the photos they had published.

“Katie Hill, like many women in marriages that end in separation, endured years of emotional abuse from a now-estranged husband,” her lawyers wrote in the letter, which HuffPost obtained. “By spreading these purported claims, and dehumanizing and shaming images across the globe, you have perpetuated the cycle of abuse Representative Hill has endured.”

HuffPost reached out to the Daily Mail for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Under California’s “revenge porn” statute, it is illegal for a person to intentionally distribute “the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person ... under circumstances in which the persons agree or understand that the image shall remain private, the person distributing the image knows or should know that distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress.”

Revenge porn may be used as a tactic in abusive relationships to control, blackmail or harm an intimate partner. But contrary to popular belief, images do not have to be shared by a vengeful ex to be considered “revenge porn.” A person who shares nonconsensual pornography for financial gain or for another reason can still be engaging in the practice.

“Anybody who released or published Ms. Hill’s image should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer specializing in sexual privacy violations and author of “Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls.”

She noted that many states’ “revenge porn laws” have exceptions when the distribution is newsworthy. “There is nothing newsworthy here,” she said. ”Ms. Hill is entitled to sexual privacy just like any other public or private figure.”

Female lawmakers are often attacked for their sexuality ― especially if they are young and attractive like Hill, said Jennifer Piscopo, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College who has studied gender and politics.

“It’s a way to undermine their authority, to call into question their ability, and to make them feel intimidated,” she said.

The more prominent women politicians are, the more likely they are to sustain and receive online abuse, Piscopo added.

“Hill was thought to be a rising star in the Democratic Party. Not just because of her gender but also the way she won that close race in California,” she said. “That makes her more vulnerable to attacks.”

Hill has apologized for having a sexual relationship with her campaign worker, saying in a statement that “even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate.” But she has pushed back on the idea that her personal life and private photos should be anyone’s business, calling the reports a “smear campaign.”

katie hill“This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed,” she said. “I, like many women who have faced attacks like this before, am stronger than those who want me to be afraid.”

Related story:  Washington Post, House panel investigating Rep. Katie Hill amid allegations of improper relationship with staffer, Colby Itkowitz and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Oct. 24, 2019. The House Ethics Committee said Wednesday it is investigating Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), right, amid allegations that she had an intimate relationship with a congressional staffer in her office.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Kellyanne Conway and Newspaper Face Off Over Warning to Reporter, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Oct. 25, 2019. Ms. Conway told the reporter for The Washington Examiner that if she was going to cover her personal life, “then we’re welcome to do the same around here,” according to an audio recording. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump and one of his fiercest defenders, found herself in a standoff on Friday with a conservative-leaning newspaper after it accused her of threatening to investigate a reporter’s personal life.

Much of the drama played out in public, with the newspaper, The Washington Examiner, publishing an article on Thursday about Ms. Conway’s pressure on its reporter that included a recording of their conversation. Ms. Conway then defended herself on Twitter and told reporters outside the White House on Friday, “If I threaten someone, you’ll know it.”

It started with a phone call.

Ms. Conway contacted the reporter, Caitlin Yilek, on Wednesday to dispute a line in an article from the previous day that mentioned the White House adviser’s husband, George Conway, who has departed sharply from his wife and become a prominent critic of Mr. Trump.

According to The Examiner, the offending line in the Tuesday story — which focused on the possibility that Ms. Conway could become the president’s chief of staff — read: “Conway has been in the middle of Trump’s barbs with her husband, George, a conservative lawyer who frequently makes headlines for his criticism of the president.”

Oct. 24

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lawyer argues he would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell​, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). ​President Trump’s private attorney said Wednesday that the president could not be investigated or prosecuted as long as he is in the White House, even for shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

william consovoyThe claim of “temporary presidential immunity” from Trump’s private attorney William S. Consovoy, right, came in court in response to a judge’s question that invoked the president’s own hypothetical scenario. As a candidate in 2016, Trump said his support was so strong he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.”

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)The president’s lawyer was asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to block a subpoena for Trump’s private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election. The judges seemed skeptical of the president’s sweeping claims of immunity not just from prosecution, but also from investigation.

Judge Denny Chin pressed Consovoy about the hypothetical shooting in the middle of Manhattan. “Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked, adding, “Nothing could be done? That is your position?”

“That is correct,” Consovoy answered emphasizing that the immunity applied only while Trump is in office.

The exchange came during an hour-long argument centered on Trump’s effort to fend off a subpoena to his longtime accounting firm from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The case, expected to reach the Supreme Court, is a test of the sweep of presidential privilege and one of several battles over Trump’s business records that began before the House opened its impeachment inquiry.

Judge Robert A. Katzmann asked Trump’s lawyer Wednesday what harm would come from turning over the president’s tax records to a grand jury when state and federal officials already retain such documents.

Consovoy said there was no guarantee the records would remain private once prosecutors and a grand jury were granted access.

Carey Dunne, general counsel from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, told the court “there is no such thing as presidential immunity for tax returns” and “they’re making this victor marreroup.”

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, right, rejected Trump’s broad claims that a sitting president is immune not only from prosecution but also from investigation. The judge said such a shield for the president would be “virtually limitless” and characterized Trump’s claim of immunity as “repugnant to the nation’s fundamental structure and constitutional values.” The appeal Wednesday is being heard by three judges — Katzmann, Chin and Christopher F. Droney — all of whom were nominated by Democratic presidents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him, Peter Baker, Lara Jakes, Julian E. Barnes, Sharon LaFraniere and Edward Wong, Oct. 24, 2019 (updated). The impeachment inquiry is in some ways the culmination of a battle between the president and the government institutions he distrusted and disparaged. Nameless, faceless and voiceless, the C.I.A. officer who first triggered the greatest threat to President Trump’s tenure in office seemed to be practically the embodiment of the “deep state” that the president has long accused of trying to take him down.

But over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present, who have defied a White House attempt to block cooperation with House impeachment investigators and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower.

william taylor o CustomThe parade of witnesses marching to Capitol Hill culminated this week with the dramatic testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., right, a military officer and diplomat who has served his country for 50 years. Undaunted by White House pressure, he came forward to accuse the same president who sent him to Ukraine a few months ago of abusing his power to advance his own political interests.

The House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Democrats is the climax of a 33-month scorched-earth struggle between a president with no record of public service and the government he inherited but never trusted. If Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, it will be in part because of some of the same career professionals he has derided as “absolute scum” or compared to Nazis.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Why Did Republicans Storm the Capitol? They’re Running Out of Options, Editorial Board, Oct. 24, 2019. As more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that President Trump’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts. Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, a gaggle of conservative House members on Capitol Hill staged a “protest,” barging into the secure room — called a SCIF — where members of three House committees were preparing to hear testimony from Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

republican party upside downShepherding the demonstrators was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of President Trump’s fiercest apologists, whose account live-tweeted the stunt: “BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside — more details to come.”

Chaos ensued. There were shouting matches. Some of the invading members brought along their cellphones, though they are prohibited inside the secure room. Ms. Cooper’s testimony was delayed, and Democrats called in the sergeant-at-arms for help restoring order.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House delayed Ukraine trade decision in August, David J. Lynch and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 24, 2019. When the State Department’s Bill Taylor testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry this week, John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned the U.S. trade representative that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Taylor bombshell, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. When the State Department’s Bill Taylor, right, testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry this william taylor o croppedweek, there were widespread reports that his testimony had elicited sighs and gasps from Democrats and Republicans, because it was just that ugly for Donald Trump. Now we’re finding out just what it was that set off all the alarms.

Bill Taylor’s written opening statement leaked to the media days ago, but up to now, we had no specifics when it came to his verbal answers to the questions he was asked by people on the committee. But NBC News has learned that at one point Taylor told the committee about the order to withhold military funding to Ukraine. Taylor said that an unnamed Office of Management and Budget official told him that “the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to OMB.”

bill palmer report logo headerWhy is this important? It makes clear that the order came from Donald Trump himself. This means Trump can’t claim that he didn’t know what Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was doing. He can’t simply scapegoat Mulvaney or others for the Ukraine quid pro quo, because it’s clear that people within OMB were well aware that the order came from the top.

This comes amid reports that House Democrats are now just about three weeks away from starting their televised House impeachment inquiry hearings. Based on this Bill Taylor bombshell, it’s more clear than ever that he’ll be one of the key witnesses during those televised hearings.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican defense of Trump grows more frantic and disjointed as Ukraine scandal escalates, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). GOP House members who stormed a closed-door meeting Wednesday made process arguments that sidestepped the substance of the central allegations underpinning the impeachment inquiry.

• Analysis: Lawmakers can be their own biggest cybersecurity vulnerability
• Trump told the GOP to fight. It took the brawl underground
• Democrats eye Bolton as key witness
• House Democrats prepare to move inquiry onto public stage
• Live Updates: Investigators pause depositions in honor of Cummings
• Sondland ‘does not recall’ threatening Ukraine over funding, attorney says
• Investigators grapple with how to present the complex Ukraine narrative to the American people
• Judge to order release of Ukraine records in 30 days
• Taylor fought corruption in Ukraine. Things changed under Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge says he will order State Dept. to begin releasing Ukraine records in 30 days, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 24, 2019. A federal judge said Wednesday that he will order the State Department to begin releasing Ukraine-related documents in 30 days, potentially making public sensitive records and communications at the heart of an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The decision, by U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper of Washington, D.C., came in a public records lawsuit filed Oct. 1 by a government watchdog group, American Oversight. The group in May asked the State Department for records related to alleged efforts by Trump and his administration to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the group sought communications, such as those between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. It also sought records and communications since March 2018 related to the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Oct. 24, 2019. Officials are said to have shifted from an administrative review of the Russia investigation to a criminal inquiry. The move is likely to raise alarms that President Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.

william barr at dojJustice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr, left, to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, right, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

john durham CustomThe opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.

Mr. Barr’s reliance on Mr. Durham, a widely respected and veteran prosecutor who has investigated C.I.A. torture and broken up Mafia rings, could help insulate the attorney general from accusations that he is doing the president’s bidding and putting politics above justice.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s how you know Donald Trump is dead in the water, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. Imagine being stuck on a sinking boat that’s rapidly taking on water, and you have a very short amount of time left. Do you 1) try to come up with a plan to save yourself, 2) do nothing and hope it all magically works out, 3) hatch a crazy plot to get revenge on your designated enemies that’ll only cause your boat to sink even faster?

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has chosen option three. That was already pretty clear when he decided that his game plan was going to consist of sending his House GOP into a secure SCIF room to eat pizza while looking stupid. Now it’s abundantly clear, thanks to the sorta kinda not-really-existent DOJ criminal inquiry that’s supposedly just been opened into the U.S. intel officials who dared to investigate Donald Trump’s Russia scandal to begin with.

To be clear, there isn’t really a probe here – at least not one that’s going to result in anything tangible.

joseph digenova victoria toensing fox

Politico, Lawyers for Ukrainian oligarch have another client: The columnist who pushed Biden corruption claims, Natasha Bertrand and Darren Samuelsohn, Oct. 24, 2019. Conservative lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing (shown above), who this year took on as a client an oligarch at the center of the Ukraine scandal, also represent the conservative columnist who has advanced Trump-friendly claims of corruption in Kyiv.

“John Solomon has been a client of our firm for a very long time,” Joe diGenova told Politico on Thursday. “He’s a journalist and he has legal needs, like many journalists.”

The arrangement demonstrates how interconnected the cast of characters at the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has become, and raises new questions about legal privileges that could help shield key players from scrutiny.

“It raises very serious questions about whether these individuals are trying to use a lawyer-client relationship to hide communications involving illicit activities,” said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University.

Solomon confirmed to Politico that Toensing and diGenova “have been my lawyers for a very long time, along with other lawyers across many different law firms.” Solomon said he used Toensing and diGenova “for libel review, to help review book and movie offers, and to do personnel contracts.”

Solomon pushed back on that, arguing that he hired the pair “years ago” and would have had to have known then that the Ukraine scandal would evolve into legal fights and impeachment proceedings if he were only using them as a shield.

maria butina alexandrr torshin facebook Custom

New York Post, Russian agent Maria Butina to be released from prison, sent back to Moscow, Lee Brown, Oct. 24, 2019. Russian agent Maria Butina (shown with Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank Alexander Torshin) is due to be released from prison Friday — and immediately escorted back to the Motherland, according to her lawyer. Butina, a pro-gun activist who infiltrated conservative political circles as a secret agent for the Kremlin, will be released from a low-security prison in Tallahassee, Fla., where she was serving 18 months for working as an undeclared agent of a foreign government without registering in the US.

The red-headed inmate will be sent packing back to Moscow accompanied by two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, told the Washington Examiner. However, he said he has been kept in the dark over her exact itinerary — knowing only that she will get to make one call before boarding her final connecting flight home.

“They tend to do these things like they’re moving a nuclear bomb, and they’re not,” Driscoll complained of US officials’ secrecy. Butina, 30, has picked an outfit from Amazon to replace her prison uniform, the lawyer said, without giving details on her get-up.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Washington Post and The New York Times will no longer be delivered to the White House, officials said, Michael M. Grynbaum, Oct. 24, 2019. President Trump has called members of the press “enemies of the people,” deemed critical coverage “fake,” accused news organizations of treason and threatened to make it easier to sue journalists for libel.

But not until this week had Mr. Trump turned to the ultimate recourse of the unhappy reader: He canceled his subscription.

Officials in the West Wing on Thursday announced that copies of The Washington Post and The New York Times would no longer be delivered to the White House. The administration is moving to force other federal agencies to end their subscriptions to the papers, as well.

“Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving — hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved,” the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Sean Hannity just found himself in the thick of Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2019. Things are moving in a fast an strange sean hannity white housedirection when it comes to Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. When Lev Parnas appeared in court yesterday, he tried to invoke executive privilege, (falsely) asserting that he was working for the Trump administration, and making his trial Trump’s problem. Hours later, Rudy Giuliani came out of hibernation to tweet that everything he did in Ukraine was for Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as Rudy, Lev, and Igor all continue to scramble to tie themselves to Trump on the legal front, new details are surfacing abou what they were up to before Lev and Igor got arrested. Not only were they conspiring with disgraced former Ukraine official Viktor Shokin, right, to try to invent phony scandals about Joe Biden, they were preparing to put Shokin on the air to do an interview – with Sean Hannity, right. In fact, according to CNN, the interview was scheduled to take place in Vienna, the day after Lev and Igor were arrested.

viktor shokinTo be clear, this does not criminally implicate Hannity. It’s not illegal to interview someone. It’s not even illegal to interview someone if you know they’re a criminal. But from a scandal standpoint, if not a legal standpoint, it does raise questions about just how much Hannity knew about what was going on. It also raises questions about how much or little Hannity might be legally required to testify about at the Parnas-Fruman trial, as Hannity may be a key witness, but he also has journalistic protections.

U.S. 2020 Elections

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Day the Trump Boom Died, Paul Krugman, Why has business confidence collapsed? Oct. 24, 2019. To be fair, the overall state of the economy is still pretty good. Unemployment is very low and job growth is continuing. And while there will eventually be a nationwide recession — the business cycle has not been abolished — it’s not at all clear that we’ll have one before next year’s election.

However, important parts of the economy are lagging. Probably even more significant, there has been a dramatic decline, almost a collapse, in business confidence.

      • tim ryan president buttonNew York Times, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio ended his presidential campaign, leaving 18 Democrats in the 2020 race.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries to rebrand Syria withdrawal as a promise kept, Anne Gearan, Oct. 24, 2019 (print ed.). The president hopes his decision to “let someone else fight” will please his most loyal political supporters, who tend to love it when he pokes a finger in the eye of naysayers.

Consortium News, Commentary, US Democrats Cultivated the Barbarism of ISIS, Jonathan Cook, Oct. 24, 2019. The Islamic State didn’t emerge out of nowhere, writes Jonathan Cook. It was entirely a creation of two decades of U.S. interference in the Middle East. There is something profoundly deceitful in the Democratic Party and corporate media’s framing of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.

One does not need to like Trump or ignore the dangers posed to the Kurds, at least in the short term, by the sudden departure of U.S. forces from northern Syria to understand that the coverage is being crafted in such a way as to entirely overlook the bigger picture.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s whistleblower office at VA has failed its most basic mission, watchdog says, Lisa Rein, Oct. 24, 2019. The office was meant to turn around a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers at Veterans Affairs. Instead, it has punished them and held almost no wrongdoers accountable, the agency's inspector general said.

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel investigating Rep. Katie Hill amid allegations of improper relationship with staffer, Colby Itkowitz and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Oct. 24, 2019. The House katie hillEthics Committee said Wednesday it is investigating Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), right, amid allegations that she had an intimate relationship with a congressional staffer in her office.

“The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Katie Hill may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on her congressional staff, in violation of” House rules, the panel said in a statement. “The committee … has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”

The allegations first surfaced in an article on the conservative website RedState.org. The article alleged that Hill and her husband were in a consensual three-person relationship with a woman on her campaign team. The article included text messages it said were between Hill and the woman as well as intimate photos of them together.

The article also alleged that Hill was involved romantically with her legislative director, Graham Kelly, which would violate House ethics rules.

“I am beyond grateful for the work the Ethics Committee does to ensure transparency in Congress. I welcome this investigation and will be cooperating fully to clear this matter up,” Hill said in a statement Wednesday.

Hill, 31, confirmed that she was in a relationship with the female campaign staffer, according to the Los Angeles Times, but has denied that she had a romantic relationship with Kelly. “Allegations that I have been involved in a relationship with Mr. Kelly are absolutely false,” Hill said in a statement she released Tuesday. “I am saddened that the deeply personal matter of my divorce has been brought into public view and the vindictive claims of my ex have now involved the lives and reputations of unrelated parties.”

Roll Call, Guam delegate under investigation for alleged sexual relationship with staffer, other offenses, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 24, 2019. Allegations also include converting michael san nicolas guamcampaign funds for personal use, accepting improper contributions. The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into Guam Democratic Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas , right, over allegations that he may have had a sexual relationship with a member of his staff, converted campaign funds for personal use and accepted improper campaign contributions.

Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch of Florida and ranking member Kenny Marchant of Texas said in a statement Wednesday that the committee will gather additional information on the allegations and that the probe “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.”

San Nicolas, a former vice president of the Bank of Guam, served five years in the territory’s Legislature before he defeated eight-term Democratic incumbent Madeleine Z. Bordallo in a primary last year.

Oct. 23

Middle East Power Shakeup

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

djt handwave file

 

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. envoy says he was told release of Ukraine aid was contingent on public declaration to investigate Bidens, 2016 election, Anne Gearan, Rachael Bade and John Wagner, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said Tuesday he was told release of military aid was contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting President Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.

William Taylor o CustomActing ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., right, testified behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe of Trump that he stands by his characterization that it was “crazy” to make the assistance contingent on investigations he found troubling.

Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called “weird,” Taylor said, according to a copy of his lengthy opening statement obtained by the Washington Post. Taylor walked lawmakers through a series of conversations he had with other U.S. diplomats who were trying to obtain what one called the “deliverable” of Ukrainian help investigating Trump’s political rivals.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators, Sharon LaFraniere, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Kiev, provided the most explicit account to date of President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine publicly announce an investigation of Mr. Trump’s political rivals in exchange for an Oval Office meeting and military assistance to fight Russian-led forces.

state dept map logo SmallMr. Taylor said he and other top officials were alarmed by a shadow foreign policy that put Ukrainian lives at risk for Mr. Trump’s political gain. The following are key parts of his opening statement.

William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo.

gordon sondland oMr. Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, right, the American ambassador to the European Union, that military aid for Ukraine and an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were contingent on the Ukrainians announcing that they were investigating a company, Burisma, that had hired Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, helped convey the demands, he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Contradicting Trump, Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze Before It Became Public, Andrew E. Kramer and Kenneth P. Vogel, Oct. 23, 2019. President Trump and his allies say there could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know U.S. assistance had been blocked. But word of the aid freeze had reached high-level Ukrainian officials in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Times.

To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze a $391 million military aid package to Ukraine was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know the assistance had been blocked.

Following testimony by William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the freezing of the aid was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand for the investigations, the president took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to approvingly quote a Republican member of Congress saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Impeachment Diary: The words that could end a presidency, Dana Milbank, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). He was straight out of Foggy Bottom central casting. Lean and bespectacled, with neatly combed gray hair and a pressed charcoal suit, William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, gave not so much as a glance toward the massed cameras as he arrived Tuesday, escorted by uniformed police, at the offices of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

But once inside, he delivered words that could end a presidency.

“In August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons,” Taylor testified, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by The Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Here’s the quid pro quo proof, Lindsey Graham, Editorial Board, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, right, one of President Trump’s most lindsey graham judiciary chairmanardent defenders in the Ukraine affair, has said he sees no evidence of wrongdoing in the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Mr. Trump pressed for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son and the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, while dangling a White House meeting that Mr. Zelensky wanted.

But Mr. Graham did say the other day that “if you could show me that, you know, Trump was actually engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

We think we can help the South Carolina Republican. Evidently he has not followed closely the depositions and documents collected by three House committees from present and former senior administration officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz and House Republicans go berserk inside secure SCIF room, police now involved, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2019. If you’re looking for a sign of just how poorly the House impeachment inquiry hearings are going for Donald Trump, just take a look at what his allies are now doing to try to derail the process. In an attempt at delaying today’s testimony, a couple dozen House Republicans have stormed into a secure SCIF room, and have gone so berserk that the police are now involved. No, really.

bill palmer report logo headerIt all started when CNN’s Manu Raju reported that a House GOP contingent led by “Malicious Captain Kangaroo” Matt Gaetz stormed into the SCIF with electronic devices in hand and refused to leave, while whining about how the impeachment hearings are being held. They’re angry that they’re not allowed to attend these hearings, but in reality it’s simply because they’re not on the committees that have been holding the hearings; the Republicans who are on those committees have been given full access to the impeachment witnesses.

U.S. House logoBut don’t tell that to this group of pro-Trump marauders, who are doing everything they can to sabotage the sanctity of the testimony process. Politico’s Kyle Cheney is reporting that the police are now being forced to sweep the SCIF due to “possible security breaches of what’s supposed to be a secure room.” Of course Politico’s Andrew Desiderio hit on the real reason for the stunt: Department of Defense official Laura Cooper’s testimony is now on hold, while the House GOP invaders try to “negotiate a settlement” with Adam Schiff.

This is all somehow really happening. House Republicans have gone berserk in a secure SCIF room, the police now involved, and everyone involved is trying to negotiate a resolution, like any other hostage standoff. Here’s a solution: the police should simply arrest these House Republicans for violating the law by improperly entering a SCIF and improperly carrying electronic devices with them.

Roll Call, Impeachment news roundup: Unauthorized Republicans storm secure room as Pentagon official Laura Cooper gives deposition about withheld military aid to Ukraine, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2019. A cadre of House Republicans led by Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Matt Gaetz stormed the secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday where the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine was giving her deposition for the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg, Trump Backed GOP Plan to Protest Inquiry: Impeachment Update, Saleha Mohsin, Jennifer Jacobs and Josh Wingrove, Oct. 23, 2019.  Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: So much for ‘due process’; Republican mob crashes secure hearing room, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 23, 2019. Republicans have been unable to construct a substantive defense to compelling evidence that President Trump used taxpayer-funded military aid to Ukraine to extort its government to interfere in our election (thereby putting our ally at risk to further Russian aggression). Instead, they’ve taken to grousing about lack of “due process” in the impeachment inquiry.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has psychotic meltdown about “human scum” Republicans who are deserting him, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2019. Amid growing backlash from some House and Senate Republicans, Donald Trump posted this tweet this afternoon: “The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!”

bill palmer report logo headerHuman scum? Well that’s a little harsh. Keep in mind that this is the President of the United States talking about members of his own party in the House and Senate. Trump hasn’t named names, but we’d imagine he’s referring to the likes of Mitt Romney, Francis Rooney, and other Republicans cans who are trying to find a way to throw Trump overboard.

Donald Trump is clearly exasperated, and worried, by this trend. This is one of his most psychotic tweets to date, and it’s notable that it’s aimed at his own party. Notably, at this point there are just enough congressional Republicans speaking up against Trump, he’s no longer able to single them out by name and attack them individually.

Middle East Power Shake-Up

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey and Russia to Jointly Control Part of Syria, a Victory for Putin, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). President Vladimir Putin played host to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks as a U.S.-brokered cease-fire with Kurdish forces came to an end.

The negotiations highlight the recent loss of American influence, and Moscow’s emergence as a powerful player in the Middle East. Details below.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Iraq gives U.S. troops from Syria four weeks in the country before they must leave, Erin Cunningham and Kareem Fahim​, Oct. 23, 2019. The Iraqi defense minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper amid an apparent disagreement over whether U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria could stay in Iraq.

Centcom logoU.S. troops leaving Syria are only “transiting” through Iraqi territory and will depart within four weeks, Iraq’s defense minister said Wednesday. Najah al-Shammari spoke with the Associated Press following a meeting with Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper in Baghdad.

mark esperEsper, right, arrived in Iraq for talks amid an apparent disagreement over whether U.S. troops withdrawing from northeastern Syria could now stay in Iraq.The Pentagon chief said earlier this week that the troops leaving Syria would reposition to western Iraq to continue fighting the Islamic State. But on Tuesday, he appeared to backtrack, saying that American forces would stay only temporarily.

Iraq’s military opposed the move, saying in a statement that the newly arrived U.S. forces would have to leave. “There is no agreement for these forces to stay in Iraq,” the statement said.

• Russia and Turkey reach deal to push Kurdish forces out of zone in northern Syria
• Trump’s D.C. hotel cancels Christian aid.

SouthFront, Turkish Military Machine Will Crush Kurdish Units If They Decline To Withdraw: Kremlin, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 23, 2019. The United States has abandoned Kurdish units in northern Syria “almost forcing them to fight against the Turks,” Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said commenting on the recent remarks by US Special Representative dmitry peskovfor Syria Engagement James Jeffrey. After Moscow and Ankara reached an agreement on settling the crsis in northeastern Syria, Jeffrey voiced doubts that the Kurds would withdraw from the designated areas.

The presidential spokesman Peskov, right, warned that it is absolutely clear that if Kurdish units fail to pull out and withdraw their weapons, “then Syrian border guards and Russian military police officers will have to pull back.” He said, "“In fact, the remaining Kurdish units will be crushed by the Turkish military machine.”

On October 23, Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to settle the ongoing conflict in northeastern Syria. Under the deal, the Turkish military operation will continue in a limited area only, and Syrian and Russian troops will deploy along the rest of the border. The deal says that YPG units have to withdraw its troops and weapons from a 30km-deep area.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says U.S. will lift sanctions on Turkey, calling cease-fire in Syria ‘permanent,’ Felicia Sonmez and David Nakamura​, Oct. 23, 2019. President Trump announced Wednesday that the United States will lift sanctions on Turkey, saying that the Turkish government has informed the White House that it will abide by what he characterized as a “permanent” cease-fire along the border with Syria.

At a hastily organized event in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Trump also used the occasion to justify his “America First” foreign policy agenda, pushing back against critics by arguing that he is removing U.S. troops from a region where they should not be involved. “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” Trump said.

• Russian military units patrol northeastern Syria in agreement with Turkey

Campaign 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Anxiety rises among Democrats worried about party’s prospects in 2020, Annie Linskey and Matt Viser, Oct. 23, 2019. As they look at a weakened Republican president, Democrats see vulnerabilities in their own field, and the unpredictable nature of the race so far has contributed to their unease.

dnc horizontal logoParty leaders and activists are citing weakness in all of the leading contenders, including former vice president Joe Biden, right, who has been forced on the joe biden odefensive about his family’s ethics, performed haltingly in debates and set off alarms with his poor fundraising.

They also fret that the two other top-ranking candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), are too liberal to win a general election. Other candidates have had moments to shine, but none yet have fully transformed that into anything approaching momentum.

washington post logoWashington Post, How a Beltway power couple and a political newcomer learned to thrive in the Trump era, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Anu Narayanswamy​, Oct. 23, 2019. Brad Parscale, President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, and longtime GOP operatives Katie Walsh and Mike Shields have helped each other flourish inside the Republican Party ecosystem.

When Brad Parscale was looking for advice about how to navigate Washington after running the digital strategy for Donald Trump’s upstart presidential campaign in 2016, the brash political newcomer turned to a Beltway power couple.

Katie Walsh and Mike Shields, both former chiefs of staff at the Republican National Committee, advised him on how to make the most of his new perch, he said.

Since then, the three have helped each other flourish inside the Republican Party ecosystem, recommending each other’s services to top GOP officials and candidates. Together, the trio have broad influence across the party — drawing millions of dollars from 23 party committees and organizations since the beginning of 2017, according to campaign finance filings and people familiar with their work.

Crime, Prisons

ny times logoNew York Times, 39 People Found Dead in Truck in Britain, Megan Specia, Oct. 23, 2019. The driver, a 25-year-old-man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The bodies of 39 people were discovered in a truck in an industrial park east of London early Wednesday, but hours after the discovery, the police said that much about the case remained a mystery, including the identities of the victims, why they were inside and where the vehicle had traveled.

united kingdom flagEven as the police warned of a long, complex investigation, it seemed certain that one line of inquiry would be whether this was a case of human trafficking, like several before it that have left a trail of victims across Europe, killed as they were smuggled in trucks.

Officials said they believed the vehicle came from Bulgaria, and entered Britain four days before Wednesday’s horrific discovery. According to the police, it appeared that all but one of the dead, a teenager, were adults, but determining the victims’ identities will be a lengthy process.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside ISIS Prison, Children Ask Their Fate, Ben Hubbard, Photographs and Video by Ivor Prickett, Oct. 23, 2019. A rare inside look by New York Times journalists exposes an enormous legal and humanitarian crisis, one that the world has largely chosen to ignore. The prisoners cover the floor like a carpet of human despair. Many are missing eyes or limbs, some are bone-thin from sickness, and most wear orange jumpsuits similar to what the Islamic State, the terrorist group they once belonged to, dressed its own captives in before it killed them.

Upstairs, jammed into two cells with little sunlight, are more than 150 children — aged roughly 9 to 14 — from a range of countries. Their parents brought them to Syria and ended up dead or detained. The children have been here for months and have no idea where their relatives are or what the future holds.

“I have a question,” said a boy from Suriname inside his cell. “What is going to happen to us? Are the kids going to come out?”

U.S. Education Scandal

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Washington Post, Trump administration let nearly $11 million in student aid go to unaccredited for-profit colleges, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Oct. 23, 2019 (print ed.). It appears the Education Department tried to shield itself from an ill-fated decision to allow millions of dollars to flow to the Illinois Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Colorado.

A trove of documents released Tuesday by the House Education and Labor Committee shows the Education Department provided $10.7 million in federal loans and grants to students at the Illinois Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Colorado even though officials knew the for-profit colleges were not accredited and ineligible to receive such aid.

betsy devos oThe documents build on prior reports from the committee describing efforts by Education Department officials to shield Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University, from the consequences of lying to students about the accreditation of its since-closed schools. Now it appears the Education Department tried to shield itself from an ill-fated decision to allow millions of dollars to flow to those schools.

Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education Committee, is threatening to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, for more documents related to the department’s role in Dream Center’s actions. Scott says the agency has obstructed the committee’s investigation and refused to answer questions, as emails and letters paint a

Oct. 22

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index 

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Other Headlines Include

Trump Probes (Noted Above)

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Slow Impeachment Timeline to Sharpen Their Public Case, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats, once democratic donkey logoeyeing an impeachment vote by Thanksgiving, now conceded they may have to slow down as they plan public hearings to make their case. House Democrats have resigned themselves to the likelihood that impeachment proceedings against President Trump will extend into the Christmas season, as they plan a series of public hearings intended to make the simplest and most devastating possible public case in favor of removing Mr. Trump.

U.S. House logoDemocratic leaders had hoped to move as soon as Thanksgiving to wrap up a narrow inquiry focused around Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, buoyed by polling data that shows that the public supports the investigation, even if voters are not yet sold on impeaching the president.

Their goal is to convince the public — and if they can, more Republicans — that the president committed an impeachable offense when he demanded that Ukraine investigate his political rivals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump swiftly condemned after he calls inquiry a ‘lynching,’ John Wagner, Oct. 22, 2019.  “Every time your back is up against the wall, you throw out karen bass headshotthese racial bombs,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), right. President Trump on Tuesday called the impeachment inquiry a “lynching” in an inflammatory tweet that donald trump twitterdrew swift condem nation from Democrats as a senior diplomat viewed as a key witness testifies.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” a “pressure campaign” and a “coverup.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin and Hungary’s Orban helped sour Trump on Ukraine, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 22, 2019. President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals came as he was being urged to adopt a view of that country as hopelessly corrupt by its regional adversaries.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s Cabinet meetings are about everything but the business of his Cabinet, Josh Dawsey, Oct. 22, 2019. They have served as a chance for the president to boast and lash out at critics. The Cabinet meeting was billed as a discussion of the administration’s “successful rollback of the abuses and the high cost of the bloated regulatory state.” It began with a prayer from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. A large cardboard poster titled “CHAMPIONS” was perched behind the president’s head.

djt official portraitThen with the cameras rolling and the administration facing criticism over its Middle East policy and presidential self-dealing at the same time as an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats was gaining momentum, President Trump made it clear he had other things on his mind than cutting regulations. He had stayed inside the White House all weekend, sending more than 80 tweets and playing no golf.

“Everybody feel comfortable over there?” he said at the opening of the 71-minute affair that was part news conference, part stream-of-consciousness bragging and all about Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The smoking gun has already been revealed, Michael Gerson (former Bush speechwriter, right), Oct. 22, 2019. The impeachment of President Trump has reached an early point of absurdity. Just about everyone in Washington believes that a quid pro quo — in which Trump used American clout to pressure Ukrainian michael gerson file photoPresident Volodymyr Zelensky into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden — would be impeachable (or at least, as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina recently put it, “very disturbing”).

And just about everyone in Washington believes that Trump used American clout to pressure Zelensky into an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. Which Republicans such as Graham deny was a quid pro quo. It is a nakedly deceitful position.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump administration misusing USAID for personal business interests, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 22, 2019. Historically a cipher and pass-through for the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been transformed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the urging of Donald Trump, into an aggressive business intelligence operation designed to financially benefit Trump's top donors in private industry.

Salon, Trump's tax case will be live-streamed: Is this a roadmap for impeachment? Sophia Tesfaye, Oct. 22, 2019. Voters still don't see Trump as a unique danger to constitutional democracy. Total transparency could change that. Former FBI director James Comey did a bit to redeem himself and lift his stature among Donald Trump’s most dug-in resisters when he testified before Congress in 2017 and responded to a Twitter threat from the president to not divulge too much about their Oval Office conversation.

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey famously said, discussing his infamous chat with the president about the FBI’s investigation into election interference in 2016.

To the great disappointment of many, however, no such tapes have ever been released. There appears to be no “pee tape” either. Almost three years into Trump's first term this much is clear: There is no secret recording that will take him down — but there may be a livestream.

After the U.S. Court of Appeals granted Trump a last-minute reprieve in his quest to block New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax records, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is set to finally appear in the Second Circuit this week. The arguments will reportedly be live-streamed on the internet.

The 40 minutes of oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday morning aren’t likely to provide fireworks, or even many gripping soundbites. But for House Democrats attempting to navigate the tangled politics and process of the impeachment inquiry, it may provide something of a roadmap.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Justin Trudeau Headed to Second Term as Canada’s Prime Minister, Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.). After an often ugly campaign, his party justin trudeau headshotis projected to lose its majority but keep enough seats to form a government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, of Canada was headed to a second term on Monday after an often ugly campaign that became a referendum on his character and on his authenticity as an earnest standard-bearer for liberalism.

Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party will not retain its majority in Canada’s House of Commons, according to projections by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but it will canadian flagkeep enough seats to allow Mr. Trudeau to form a government, with support from two left-leaning parties.

The victory was a personal vindication for Mr. Trudeau, who battled accusations that he had bullied his former attorney general, an Indigenous woman, and faced damaging revelations late in the race.

washington post logoWashington Post, Parliament denies support for fast-tracked Brexit deal, William Booth and Karla Adam​, Oct. 22, 2019. Lawmakers voted to support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal in principle, but then, more importantly, rejected his timetable — a yes/no result that creates further confusion over what happens next.

united kingdom flag“So now we face further uncertainty,” Johnson said after the vote. He warned Britons that the government would immediately step up preparations to leave the European Union with no deal at the end of October. But that could be a bluff.

He also said: “One way or another, we will leave the E.U. with this deal, to which this house has just given its assent.” The government published its 110-page bill on Monday evening — the first chance anyone had to lay eyes on it. Johnson wanted it sorted in 72 hours.

His government has withheld an economic analysis of his Brexit deal — which seeks to leave the E.U. single market, diverge from E.U. customs regimes and tariff schedules and allow Britain to make its own independent trade deals around the world. The Johnson exit is a harder Brexit than that envisioned by his predecessor, Theresa May.

ny times logoNew York Times, Erdogan and Putin Meet as Syria Cease-Fire Nears an End, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia’s leader hosted his Turkish counterpart, underscoring Moscow’s emergence as a powerful player in the Middle East. The negotiations highlight the loss of American influence in the days since Mr. Trump ordered troops to withdraw from northeast Syria, a region controlled by a Kurdish-led militia allied with the United States. The presence of American soldiers there had ensured that other nations did not challenge Kurdish control.

The American retreat created a power vacuum, allowing Turkey to invade. That prompted the area’s Kurdish leaders to turn to the government of Bashar al-Assad, and its main backers, the Russian government, for protection.

SouthFront, Russian Helicopters Arrive At Syrian Airbase Freed From US Military (Video), Staff and wire reports, Oct. 22, 2019. On Oct. 22, helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces arrived at the Tabqah Airbase in the Syrian province of Raqqah. According to Washington, the airbase was abandoned by the US military in the framework of its ‘wthdrawal from northern Syria.’

However, the base is not located in the north, or close to the area of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring. In fact this happened after the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces reached a security agreement with the Damascus government.

According to reports, Russia and Syria are planning to fully restore the damaged airstrip and once again turn Tabqah into a full-fledged airbase. The Tabqah airbase is located southwest of the city of Raqqah.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ukraine just helped spell out Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal, Shirley Kennedy, Oct. 22, 2019. Ukraine reminds us that we have a “president” who is the laughing stock of the world. The Kyiv Post published a piece called “Inside Impeachment: Kyiv Post on the Trump-Ukraine Scandal.” What’s humorous about this piece is its “shady cast of characters,” led by none other than Donald Trump. What’s sad is that the article accurately portrays these characters.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Kyiv Post identifies each player and explains his role (only one female). The major players in this saga are Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland, Mick Mulvaney, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry. Underneath them are the “dirt diggers and intermediaries,” Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, and John Solomon. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman should be familiar to everyone, as the two were recently arrested on federal charges. Reading into the links of this article, Ukraine confirms that Giuliani was, in fact, attempting to dig up dirt on Joe Biden with the help of “dubious Ukraine officials.”

ukraine flagThis piece helps to connect some of the proverbial missing dots in Marie Yovanovitch’s ouster, beginning with the outlandish claim that she helped Ukraine interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Working with former prosecutor Viktor Shokin and his successor Yurly Lutsenko, Giuliani and Trump were aware that lies and misrepresentations were being made about Yovanovitch, including the ridiculous claim that she worked for Biden. They also “contributed” (payola) to an “unspecified member of Congress” to “help remove Yovanovitch from office.” This all reads like a poor man’s James Bond movie.

Trump’s latest mess isn’t necessarily big news in Ukraine, but as CNN reports, this piece took over social media, being retweeted thousands of times. It’s a real shame that Donald Trump is little more than a punch line. How embarrassing for a president of the United States, and it’s even more embarrassing for us to have to call him “president” (not that many of us do).

Turk-Kurd War In Syria (Cont.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at right, center, with Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan at Sochi in Russia on Oct. 22, 2019 (Turkish presidential press office photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey and Russia to Jointly Control Part of Syria, a Victory for Putin, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 22, 2019. His jets patrol Syrian skies. His military is expanding operations at the main naval base in Syria. He is forging closer ties to Turkey. He and his Syrian allies are moving into territory being vacated by the United States.

And on Tuesday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia played host to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, for more than six hours of talks on how they and other regional players will divide control of Syria, a land devastated by eight years of civil war.

turkey flagThe negotiations ended with a victory for Mr. Putin: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, in a move that cements the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Syrian Kurdish forces must now retreat more than 20 miles from the border, abandoning land that they had controlled uncontested until earlier this month — when their protectors, the American military, suddenly began to withdraw from the region.

Mr. Putin has emerged as the dominant force in Syria and a major power broker in the broader Middle East — a status showcased by Mr. Erdogan’s hastily arranged trip to the president’s summer home in Sochi. And it looks increasingly clear that Russia, which rescued the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria with brutal airstrikes over the last four years, will be the arbiter of the power balance there.

As President Trump questions American alliances and troop deployments around the world, Russia, like China, has been flexing its muscles, eager to fill the power vacuum left by a syrian flag wavingmore isolationist United States. In Syria, both Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan see opportunity in Mr. Trump’s sudden withdrawal this month of American forces in the country.

Mr. Erdogan had long wanted go to war against the Kurdish-led forces that control northeast Syria, but he dared not, as long as the Kurds’ American allies were stationed there, too. He responded to Mr. Trump’s withdrawal by launching an invasion.

As the United States and Western Europe vacillated in their approach to Syria — to the frustration of Turkey and other Middle Eastern powers — Russia chose to protect its ally, Mr. al-Assad, and stuck with him despite fierce criticism from the West that the Syrian ruler was a brutal despot.

Mr. al-Assad attempted to project his own influence on Tuesday, visiting the northwestern province of Idlib for the first time since the area fell out of government control several years ago. He was pictured near the front line of a battle between rebels and his own military, in photographs (as shown below) of him on the frontlines in the Idleb province released by a state-run news agency SANA.

bashar al assad idleb frontlines oct 22 2019 sana Custom

U.S. Health Care Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Obamacare Prices to Fall and Number of Insurers to Rise Next Year, Abby Goodnough, Oct. 22, 2019. It’s a sign of the law’s resilience despite President Trump’s hhs seal Customefforts to undermine it. The 4-percent price decline is only the second time that average monthly premiums have dropped year-to-year since the marketplace opened in 2014, and it is a sign that the health law is stabilizing after several years of turmoil caused in part by Mr. Trump.

Open enrollment for Obamacare starts on Nov. 1, but looming over it is an impending court decision on the law’s constitutionality in a case supported by the Trump administration that seeks to overturn the law.

ny times logoNew York Times, Medicaid Now Covers a Million Fewer Children, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz, Oct. 22, 2019. The uninsured rate for children is climbing as families run afoul of new paperwork from states and as fear rises among immigrants.

U.S. 2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Anxious Democratic Establishment Asks, ‘Is There Anybody Else?’ Jonathan Martin, Oct. 22, 2019. Party leaders who are worried about Democrats’ chances in 2020 are musing about possible late entrants to the race.

democratic donkey logoWith doubts rising about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s ability to finance a multistate primary campaign, persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s viability in the general election and skepticism that Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Ind., can broaden his appeal beyond white voters, Democratic leaders are engaging in a familiar rite: fretting about who is in the race and longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last minute.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Can Warren Escape the Medicare Trap? Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 22, 2019 (print ed.).The candidate of plans needs a really good one right now. elizabeth warren o purpleOn Sunday, Elizabeth Warren, left, said that she would soon release a plan explaining how she intends to pay for “Medicare for all.”

Like many policy wonks, I’ll be waiting with bated breath; this could be a make or break moment for her campaign, and possibly for the 2020 election.

There are many excellent things in her overall policy agenda; but she won’t get a chance to do those things unless she can extricate herself from what looks like a health policy trap.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A simple step every state could take to safeguard elections, Editorial Board, Oct. 22, 2019. Election security is a complex challenge. One essential step, however, is so simple it can be carried out with a pen and paper. Pennsylvania officials have announced that Philadelphia and Mercer County will conduct a post-election pilot next month of what’s called a risk-limiting audit.

The procedure is new to most of the country, but 12 states are experimenting with it — because it’s that much of a no-brainer. Risk-limiting audits instead do what any mathematician would advise. They hand-count a statistically meaningful sample of all votes to determine whether the original tally was correct. The required sample increases as the margin of victory narrows.

Currently, 17 states are not required by law to verify the accuracy of their vote tallies at all. Those that are mostly do so the “traditional” way, which in this case means the wrong way. The process auditors typically use — manually recounting votes in a predetermined percentage of precincts — tells officials whether a particular machine or group of machines is working, but it doesn’t actually answer the essential question: Did the declared winner actually win?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is in freefall, Bill Palmer, Oct. 22, 2019. The major polls say that a majority of Americans want Donald Trump impeached and removed from office, which tells you how well things are going for him. Even as Trump fights to hang on to what little is left of his dying presidency, two recent elections in other nations reveal that the world has had enough of Trumpian crap in general.

bill palmer report logo headerjustin trudeau headshotLast night Justin Trudeau, right, won reelection in Canada against a far-right opponent who was essentially a Donald Trump wannabe, and who seemingly had at least indirect ties to the Kremlin. This came just hours after the glacially-moving electoral process in Israel finally delivered what should be the final blow in finishing off Trump’s corrupt ally Benjamin Netanyahu, several weeks after the Israeli people made clear during their election that they wanted to send him packing.

It’s not just that every liberal election victory around the world prevents Donald Trump from having an ally in office. It’s that people around the world are increasingly rejecting politicians who have even a Trump-like whiff about them. It’s a worldwide wake up call.

U.S. Law, Crime, Justice

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Forty-six attorneys general have joined a New York-led antitrust investigation into Facebook, Tony Romm​, Oct. 22, 2019. The probe reflects concerns among state officials that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: But Her Emails...., Editorial Board, Oct. 22, 2019. A three-year investigation finds no criminal wrongdoing in Hillary Clinton’s email practices, which many members of the Trump administration have now embraced. 

What about her emails? Donald Trump raised that question like a red flag for three years, as candidate and president, casting doubts on how Hillary Clinton (shown on her Twitter photo) used a private email server to communicate with her staff and others while she was secretary of state.

hillary clinton twitter“Hillary set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her criminal conduct from public disclosure and exposure, knowing full well that her actions put our national security at risk,” Mr. Trump said late in the campaign.

“Lock her up!” the crowds still chant at his rallies.

Now a three-year State Department investigation has found that, while about three dozen people violated protocols about classified material, they “did their best to implement them in their operations” and “there was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.”

HuffPost, 2 Proud Boys Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison Over Gang Assault In New York, Andy Campbell, Oct. 22, 2019. Two members of the extremist street gang known as the Proud Boys were sentenced Tuesday to four years in a New York prison after attacking protesters outside a GOP event in Manhattan last year.

Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 32, were two of 10 Proud Boys arrested in the assault caught on camera in October 2018. Prosecutors slapped them with charges of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and rioting, declaring them the most vicious assailants that night. Their four-year sentence will include another five years of supervised release, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office confirmed to HuffPost.

The heavier sentences are a huge blow to the Proud Boys, who have been able to host semi-regular street brawls with few to no consequences in cities outside of New York. In Portland, Oregon, for example, they continue to organize violent fascist rallies despite admitting on camera that they host these events to spur fights, waste city resources and then blame anti-fascist protesters when the dust settles.

Kinsman and Hare’s crew tried a similar tactic in this case, claiming that they acted in self-defense when they beat down protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club after an event hosted by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. But video evidence — shot by reporter Sandi Bachom (shown above) — proved otherwise, and Manhattan prosecutors never bought the line. They eventually charged the Proud Boys as what they are: a gang.

“As violent extremism rises in America, a Manhattan jury has declared in one voice that New Yorkers will not tolerate mob violence in our own backyard,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement after the convictions in August.

Justice Mark Dwyer, who presided over the case, also connected the Proud Boys and McInnes, who has repeatedly tried to distance himself from his gang as its members face charges and get involved in scandals related to the violence they commit.

washington post logoWashington Post, A police officer got 90 days after accusations he ‘brutally raped’ a drunk woman. Now he faces federal charges, Katie Shepherd, Oct. 22, 2019. The ride home in a police cruiser should have been the end of an unpleasant night for a 36-year-old woman who had checked herself into a hospital to be treated for intoxication and chronic alcohol abuse. She had been sent home in August 2017 after medical staff caught her trying to steal supplies from the emergency room, and the hospital agreed not to pursue criminal charges if the responding police officer escorted her home safely.

On the way to the woman’s house in the Denver area, then-Westminster police officer Curtis Lee Arganbright pulled over on a secluded stretch of gravel road near McKay Lake in Broomfield, Colo. According to state court records, the police officer forced the woman out of the car and told her to pull her pants down, KDVR reported. He then handcuffed his passenger and “forced the woman to engage in sex acts” on the side of the road, law enforcement officials said last year.

Daily Beast, Feds Charge Trump Donor Imaad Zuberi With Hiding Work as Foreign Agent, Erin Banco and Pilar Melendez, Oct. 22, 2019. Imaad Zuberi, who donated $900,000 to Trump’s Inaugural Committee, will plead guilty to faking records to hide his work as a foreign agent while lobbying U.S. officials. A Los Angeles financier who donated $900,000 to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee has been charged with falsifying records to hide his work as a foreign agent while he lobbied prominent U.S. government officials, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Imaad shah zuberi bo Custom 2Shah Zuberi, 49, also known as “Imaad Zuberi,” has agreed to plead guilty to three counts in a criminal information for allegedly making almost $1 million in illegal campaign contributions, engaging in various lobbying efforts, and evading taxes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

Prosecutors also allege Zuberi (shown with then President Obama) took millions of dollars meant for campaign contributions and lobbyist campaigns for his own personal use.

“Mr. Zuberi’s multi-faceted scheme allowed him to line his pockets by concealing the fact that he was representing foreign clients, obtaining access for clients by making a long series of illegal contributions, and skimming money paid by his clients,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a press release Tuesday announcing the charges.

“Mr. Zuberi circumvented laws designed to insulate U.S. policy and our election process from foreign intervention.”

The venture capitalist’s name first came into the public arena in February when federal prosecutors in New York issued a sweeping subpoena for Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Zuberi was the only individual named in the subpoena. Then, in April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Zuberi was involved in a second federal probe in Los Angeles where prosecutors were scrutinizing his relationships with foreign nations.

Prosecutors in California now allege that under the guise of his firm, Avenue Ventures, Zuberi “solicited foreign nations and representatives of foreign governments” with claims he could change U.S. foreign policy with his “influence in Washington, D.C.” His clients, according to the the criminal information, gave him money for consulting work, investments, and to fund various campaigns. Zuberi then allegedly used the money to hire lobbyists and make campaign contributions—”which gave him access to high-level U.S. officials, some of whom took action in support of his clients,” prosecutors said. Related story below:

U.S. Department of Justice, Campaign Fundraiser Agrees To Plead Guilty To Falsifying Records to Conceal Work as Foreign Agent, Evading Taxes on Income Obtained by Lobbying on Behalf of Foreign Entities, and Illegal Campaign Contributions, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2019. Federal prosecutors today filed a criminal case charging Imaad Shah Zuberi, a Southern California campaign fundraiser, with falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level U.S. government officials.

The criminal charges allege that Zuberi engaged in lobbying efforts that earned him millions of dollars, most of which was pilfered from his clients, and Zuberi has agreed to plead guilty to those charges at a later date, pursuant to a plea agreement.

Oct. 21

Global Headlines

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas and Michael Brice-Saddler​, Oct. 21, 2019. The speaker’s “fact sheet” outlines what her office characterized as a gross abuse of power by Trump, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

President Trump urged his party to “get tougher and fight” against his impeachment Monday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

A Republican effort to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for his handling of the inquiry was also expected to come to a head Monday, with Democrats poised to block a floor vote on the measure.

Democrats have planned two closed-door depositions this week, including one Tuesday from Bill Taylor, the top official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. In text messages with other U.S. diplomats, Taylor raised alarms about the White House holding back military aid to Ukraine and pressing for investigations into the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

2:15 p.m.: Democrats pounce on Trump’s emoluments clause comments

Democratic lawmakers were quick to lambaste and ridicule Trump’s Monday complaints about “this phony emoluments clause.”

“Trump thinks any part of the Constitution that forbids his corruption is illegitimate,” tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). “Remember when republicans labeled themselves ‘strict constitutionalists’?”

      • Analysis: Why Republicans are trying to censure Adam Schiff
      •         Analysis: It’s every man for himself now on Trump and Ukraine

C-SPAN, President Trump hosts members of his Cabinet for a meeting at the White House, Oct. 21, 2019 (72:18 mins.).

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: New Lev Parnas bombshell drops a house on Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Oct. 21, 2019. It turns out Lev Parnas (shown above at right with his attorney Rudy Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC) is roughly as brazen and stupid as any other Trump henchman. He didn’t just trot the globe committing crimes for the Trump regime while pouring dirty money into the campaigns of various Republicans, he flaunted much of it on Instagram. Sure, his account was private, but that hasn’t stopped the Wall Street Journal from obtaining its contents.

bill palmer report logo header Lev Parnas posted a letter from Donald Trump, thanking him for his “friendship and dedication to our cause.” Parnas posted photos of himself with various members of the Trump family, including Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana (what does she have to do with this?). Parnas even bragged on Instagram about the victory that Team Trump had scored when Bill Barr lied about what was in the Mueller report and the media initially largely swallowed. Bizarrely, Parnas was with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow at the time he made the post.

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Trump Dropped His Idea to Hold the G7 at His Own Hotel, Maggie Haberman, Eric Lipton and Katie Rogers, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s decision to host the Group of 7 summit at his Trump National Doral resort in Florida was a rare move by him that stirred Republican opposition. He knew he was inviting criticism by choosing his own luxury golf club in Miami for the site of a gathering of world leaders at the Group of 7 summit in June, President Trump told his aides opposed to the choice, and he was prepared for the inevitable attack from Democrats.

djt trump doral SmallBut what Mr. Trump was not prepared for was the reaction of fellow Republicans who said his choice of the club, the Trump National Doral, had crossed a line, and they couldn’t defend it.

So Mr. Trump did something that might not have been a surprise for a president facing impeachment but that was unusual for him: He reversed himself Saturday night, abruptly ending the uproar touched off two days earlier by the announcement of his decision by Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff.

“He had no choice,” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and longtime friend of the president’s, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t have been done in the first place. And it’s a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news.”

With many members already unhappy with the consequences of the president’s move to withdraw troops from Syria, and Democrats pressing their impeachment inquiry, Republicans on Capitol Hill were not eager to have to defend the appropriateness of the president’s decision to host the Group of 7 meeting at one of his own properties.

In the past, presidents and their top advisers have played a lead role in selecting Group of 7 sites. But the White House has typically just picked the host city, not the hotels. That has traditionally been left to the State Department, said Peter A. Selfridge, the department’s chief of protocol during the Obama administration.

The event draws as many as 7,000 people, including security personnel, news media, diplomats, heads of state and support staff, meaning an overall price tag that can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, once security is included.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump was manipulating the stock market for someone’s personal gain, Bill Palmer, Oct. 21, 2019. Back in August, Palmer Report pointed donald trump twitterout that Donald Trump kept saying and doing things that had the effect of sending the stock market plummeting on one day, only for it to bounce back the next day. He’s announced tariffs that turned out not to exist, or he’d randomly attack the Fed Chair, or other moves that were just a little bit too on the nose.

We pointed out that while Donald Trump isn’t known to be a stock market investor in his own right, his curiously timed tweets were creating a prime opportunity for others to play the stock market accordingly. We asked if perhaps someone in Trump’s inner circle was goading him into posting these kinds of tweets on certain days and times, so that person could cash in. Well, it looks like someone may have been doing precisely that.

bill palmer report logo headerVanity Fair has managed to identify several large-volume stock market transactions that just happened to be timed perfectly with Donald Trump’s economic shenanigans, meaning that either someone out there has the most uncanny sense of timing in history, or the transactions in question were made with inside knowledge of what the Trump regime was about to do.

This kind of insider trading – if that’s indeed what’s going on here – is highly illegal. This could end up being yet another instance of Donald Trump getting one of his buddies sent to prison, as this kind of scheming only works if you don’t get caught, and someone definitely just got caught.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump sold out to Turkey’s Erdogan, Isabel Stamm, Oct. 21, 2019. Last week saw a flurry of breaking news about the international activities of the Trump – Giuliani crime duo.

bill palmer report logo headerFor the sake of simplicity, let’s just focus on the emerging stories that concern Turkey. As a matter of fact, Chris Hayes argued on MSNBC’s All In that what it all seems to boil down to is really just one story: the story of “America’s Mayor“ lobbying on Turkey’s behalf and Donald Trump agreeing to give President Erdogan everything he wants.

What is it then that Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants? As we all know by now, the Turkish president wants to push the Kurds away from the Turkish border and, by the looks of it, he would like to eliminate what he has long seen as the Kurdish threat once and for all.

Secondly, Erdogan wants to see his long-time nemesis Fetullah Gülen extradited from the U.S. where the Turkish cleric has been a permanent resident since 1999.

Interestingly, it is also the former New York mayor who is involved in a third matter that is close to the Turkish president’s heart. Erdogan is hoping to get U.S. authorities to drop the case they have been pursuing against Halkbank, the state-owned Turkish bank that is under investigation for a yearslong scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions, allegedly with the consent of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The man at the center of the Halkbank scandal is Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, and Rudy Giuliani was at some point part of Zarrab’s legal team.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pelosi Has the Constitution at Her Back, Caroline Fredrickson (author of “The Democracy Fix” and president of the American Constitution Society), Oct. 21, 2019.  When the president runs amok, the House has a congressional duty to step in and provide oversight.

President Trump and Republicans have insisted that House Democrats take a vote to open a formal impeachment inquiry before engaging in thoroughgoing oversight of the administration’s activities related to Ukraine. This is a political calculation — relying on faulty analysis of the Clinton impeachment — that a formal inquiry will backfire on Democrats.

The Constitution makes no such requirement for conducting an impeachment investigation. Furthermore, it assigns to Congress the important duty of oversight.

More Trump  #MeToo

Cosmopolitan Magazine, Teen Models Remember Trump Would “Find a Reason” to Come Backstage When They Were Changing, Barry Levine, right (Michael Goldblum photo), and Monique El-Faizy, Oct. 21, barry levine cropped michael goldblum2019. In exclusive excerpts from the explosive new book All the President’s Women, modeling contestants recall President Trump’s “gropey” behavior and his interest in young girls.

In 2016, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Nobody has more respect for women than me!” Although his sordid history with women has been well-documented (to date, at least 25 women have accused the POTUS of sexual misconduct), he remains in office, seemingly immune to the forces of the #MeToo movement.

barry levine monique el faizy djt cover croppedBut a new book by journalists Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy aims to uncover parts of Trump’s past that should no longer be ignored. In the following passages excerpted from All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, we learn of Trump’s egregious and disturbing misconduct around young women trying to make it in the modeling world in the early 1990s. —Rosa Heyman

Trump’s hands, the size of which would later become the subject of significant public curiosity, were infamous for other reasons back then, according to sources. “He was gropey...he had his hands in the most inappropriate places, always,” [NaKina] Carr said.

[Editor’s note: NaKina Carr was working as a runway model for Oscar de la Renta.] “When he went in to kiss someone, the hand always went to either the hip or the butt. He was also really good when he did pictures or when he’d side-hug someone. He’d always get his hand on the boob. Every time.” Stories about Trump and his hands circulated within the modeling community. At one modeling event, Trump allegedly went down a line of women feeling their bodies to guess their dress size. Backstage at a lingerie show, he is said to have moved his hands all over a model’s breasts under the guise of inspecting the bra’s fabric.

"If you’re over twenty-one, you don’t have to worry.”

Another trademark Trump move was honed back in the early 1980s. “I saw this several times: When he met a girl, he’d immediately move in to kiss her, not shake her hand or say ‘Hello, how are you?’ He’d immediately put his mouth on her,” Carr said. “I saw him many times go straight to the mouth, to kiss them on the mouth, and they would turn their cheek. But a lot of them didn’t because they knew he was the moneyman and it was a way up.”

Among modeling insiders, Trump had a reputation at the time for preferring the younger girls. “If you’re over twenty-one you don’t have to worry,” Carr said she was told.

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

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

Headline News

U.S. 2020 Politics

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Election laws ignored as foreign cash piles into U.S. political campaigns, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 21, 2019. The authority and power of the Federal Election Commission, which would normally rule on the illegality of foreign contributions to U.S. political campaigns, has been emaciated by the Republican Party under Trump. Meanwhile, the foreign spigots of cash have been turned on for the 2020 presidential and down ballot election campaigns

$260m Ohio Opioid Deal

washington post logoWashington Post, Ohio counties, drug firms reach $260 million settlement in opioid epidemic case, Lenny Bernstein, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz​, Oct. 21, 2019. But the deal covers only two Ohio counties, leaving thousands more to fight it out in court or hammer out similar deals. Two Ohio counties settled with four drug companies on the eve of a landmark federal trial over responsibility for the opioid epidemic, in a $260 million deal that emerged just an hour before opening arguments were set to begin Monday.

The deal is with the “Big Three” distributors McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health and Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Israeli-based manufacturer of generic opioids. It does not include the fifth defendant, Walgreens, the retail drug store chain that was sued over its own distribution operation. It was not clear whether a trial would proceed with Walgreens as the only defendant. A sixth defendant, Henry Schein Medical, announced Monday morning that it had reached a deal worth $1.25 million with the two counties.

Details of the agreement were set to be announced later Monday morning.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Netanyahu fails to form new Israeli government; rival Gantz poised to take up the challenge, Steve Hendrix, Oct. 21, 2019. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, gave up on his month-long effort to negotiate a governing majority after September’s dead-heat national election, opening the way for his chief rival to try his hand at benjamin netanyahu frowncobbling together a coalition to run the country.

If Israel’s president gives former army chief of staff Benny Gantz, left, permission to proceed, he would be the first politician other than Netanyahu given the mandate to form a government in more than a decade, although his own path to power is far from certain. Israel’s complex — and gridlocked — political benny grantz cropped flickr as israel defense forces chief of staffjpg Smallsystem all but ensures that the final outcome is not likely to be clear for weeks, and that a third election in less than a year may be required.

“This is new: This broadens the political imagination to include the possibility that someone not named Netanyahu could be the prime minister of the state of Israel,” said Mordechai Kreminitzer, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. “But I think Gantz will also find it extremely difficult to shape a coalition.”

Netanyahu’s move came after power-sharing talks broke down almost immediately between his Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White party, the two biggest factions in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The parties emerged from September elections with a nearly identical number of seats, and neither close to a controlling majority.

The prime minister released a video announcing an end to his efforts, two days before the deadline and on his 70th birthday, decrying Gantz’s steady refusal to soften his resistance.

ny times logoturkey flagNew York Times, Erdogan Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). In the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military to clear Kurdish areas, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey made his ambition clear. It was not the first time he spoke about breaking free of the restrictions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and no one is sure of his intentions.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. has reduced troops in Afghanistan by 2,000, commander says, Susannah George​, Oct. 21, 2019. Drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan was a key demand of Taliban negotiators, and President Trump has repeatedly pledged to bring troops home from “endless wars” abroad.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi led unannounced congressional visit to Jordan, Afghanistan in outreach to allies, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led an unannounced congressional visit to Afghanistan and Jordan over the weekend, highlighting her sharp disagreement with President Trump over his abrupt removal of U.S. troops from northern Syria and Turkey’s subsequent attacks on Kurdish enclaves.

In Afghanistan, the delegation met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, top U.S. military commanders and diplomats, senior Afghan government officials and civil society leaders. The delegation also traveled to Camp Morehead to meet with Resolute Support Mission troops.

After meeting with King Abdullah II and senior Jordanian officials Saturday night, Pelosi said: “With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Canada picks a new prime minister today. Here’s what you need to know, Amanda Coletta, Oct. 21, 2019. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer are locked in a tight race; neither is expected to win a majority. Canadian voters head to the polls Monday to decide whether to give Prime Minister Justin canadian flagTrudeau a second mandate.

Canada has a long history of reelecting its first-term prime ministers who have led parliamentary majorities, but after recent missteps and scandals, the telegenic Liberal leader has fallen back into a tight race with Conservative Andrew Scheer. Of the six party leaders, there are two clear front-runners: Trudeau, 47, and Scheer, 40.

The vote will conclude an unusually cynical race that has been dominated by questions and attacks on the personal character and backgrounds of the party leaders as substantive discussions on policy have taken a back seat.

united kingdom flagwashington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson to seek a new vote Monday on Brexit deal, as confusion swirls over exit delay, William Booth and Michael Birnbaum, Oct. 21, 2019 (print ed.). The British prime minister sent three letters to European leaders, leaving people to puzzle over exactly which one meant what — and to wonder where Brexit heads next.

U.S. Retreat From Turk-Kurd Conflict

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Gathers Speed, Ben Hubbard and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 21, 2019. A long convoy of United States troops crossed into Iraq from Syria early Monday, accelerating a withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria that set the stage for the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-controlled land.

More than 100 American military vehicles left Syrian Kurdish territory in the early hours of the morning, according to a cameraman for the Reuters news agency who was at the border crossing.

President Trump’s withdrawal of most American troops from Syria, which cleared the way for Turkey to attack Kurdish forces, has prompted Republicans and Democrats alike to accuse him of abandoning a United States ally. A coalition of Syrian Kurdish fighters, Americans and other foreign troops had fought the Islamic State there since 2014.

Around 1,000 American troops are being withdrawn. Though Mr. Trump has characterized the move as bringing troops home, Mr. Esper said on Sunday that most forces would be redeployed to western Iraq, where they would continue operations against the Islamic State.

In an earlier phase of the withdrawal, coalition forces bombed their own base and arms cache in northern Syria to prevent enemies from using it.

Small groups of residents in northeastern Syria protested the American withdrawal, footage broadcast by Syrian television networks showed. One group stoned an American armored vehicle as it passed through Qamishli, a major city in Kurdish-held territory, while another tried to block the convoy’s progress by standing in its path and holding placards of protest.

SouthFront, In Video: Syrian Army Escorting US Troops Out Of Country, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 21, 2019.  An ordinary video  (2:35 min.) of the recent days: troops of the Syrian Army are escorting their US counterparts out of the province of Aleppo, towards the border with Iraq. Meanwhile, thankful locals are throwing stones and fruits at a US military convoy in the city of Qamishli (shown below).

SouthFront, Turkey Threatens Damascus Government With Declaration Of Full-Scale War, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 21, 2019. Turkey will see deployment of the Syrian Army to protect turkey flagKurdish militias in northern Syria as a declaration of war on Turkey, Yasin Aktay, an adviser of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said on October 19.

However, he added that if Damascus provides Turkey with guarantees that Kurdish forces will not operate in the border area, Turkey may change its attitude towards the deployment of the Syrian Army in northeastern Syria. Aktay claimed that Turkish troops will leave Syria after the establishment of peace and security across the country.

Deep State Political Analysis

McDuff Podcast, 'McDuff' Interviews JIP Editor on "Presidential Puppetry," John OLoughlin, host of the podcast McDuff: JFK's Man To Smash the CIA, interviews JIP Editor Andrew Kreig as second in a series about the latter's book on Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, which documents hidden influencers on U.S. presidents during recent decades (80:26 min. video).

Inside U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUSblog, Analysis: Is oral-argument talking time all it’s cut out to be? Adam Feldman, Oct. 21, 2019. Supreme Court oral arguments are not entirely what they seem. Although at first blush they may appear to be an opportunity for attorneys to make their arguments directly to the justices, they often become occasions for the justices to test out their theories of a given case and to gauge other justices’ positions on given topics. That is one of the reasons why the justices almost always direct the flow and tenor of each argument.

Justice Stephen Breyer, for instance, is notorious for his lengthy mid-argument orations. Although attorneys still often speak more than individual justices in each argument, they generally have little time to expound on points they feel are important to the case unless these topics are of equal interest to one or more of the justices. Perhaps for this reason, new Supreme Court Guidelines state: “The Court generally will not question lead counsel for petitioners (or appellants) and respondents (or appellees) during the first two minutes of argument.” These two uninterrupted minutes of speech should give the attorneys an opportunity to make points that otherwise would be lost in the mix of the justices’ questions.

This has potential to be a drastic change from past practice. Last term, the attorney who had the shortest amount of time for opening remarks before a justice interjected was Michael Huston in Smith v. Berryhill. Huston spoke for 11 seconds before Justice Sonia Sotomayor jumped in with her first question. (Timing was measured from oral-argument recordings on Oyez.org.) This point in the transcript is shown below.

There were 33 instances last term in which a merits party’s counsel spoke for 30 seconds or less to open an argument before a justice began with questions. The average amount of speaking time for introductory remarks across the 2018 term was just over 54 seconds. Only five attorneys crossed the two-minute threshold during the term. The longest uninterrupted opening remarks were from Thomas Goldstein in Air & Liquid Systems v. Devries and Cecillia Wang in Nielsen v. Preap (Wang had the longest time to speak to open an argument, at 280 seconds.).

Dr. Adam Feldman is the creator and author of the Empirical SCOTUS blog. He has a law degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and practiced law as a trial lawyer for three years before starting a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California.

Assange Prosecution

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Consortium News, Judge Denies Assange Extension on Extradition Hearing, Joe Lauria, right, Oct. 21, 2019. A judge at a hearing in London has denied the WikiLeaks’ publisher more time to prepare his defense, while a group of Australian politicians coalesce around a demand to return Julian Assange home. The judge in Julian Assange’s extradition process on Monday joe lauria head bookdenied his lawyer’s appeal for more time to prepare his case as the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher weakly told the court he was unable to “research anything” in the conditions under which he is being held in high-security Belmarsh Prison.

Assange (shown above in a photo by The Indicter Magazine) appeared in person at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London Monday morning for a case management hearing on the request by the United States for Assange to be sent to Virginia to face 18 charges, including allegedly violating the U.S. Espionage Act for possessing and disseminating classified information that revealed prima facie evidence of U.S. war crimes.

Mark Summers, Assange’s lawyer, told the court the charges were “a political attempt” by the U.S. “to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information.” The Espionage Act indictment against Assange by the Trump Administration is the first time a journalist has been charged under the 1917 Act for publishing classified material.

“It is legally unprecedented,” Summers told Judge Vanessa Baraitser. He argued that President Donald Trump was politically motivated by the 2020 election to pursue Assange.

Summers also argued before Baraitser that the U.S. “has been actively engaged in intruding into privileged discussions between Assange and his lawyers.” It was revealed this month that the Central Intelligence Agency was given access to surveillance video shot by a private Spanish company of all interactions Assange had with lawyers, doctors and visitors.

“This is part of an avowed war on whistleblowers to include investigative journalists and publishers,” Summers said. “The American state has been actively engaged in intruding on privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyer.”

Because of this surveillance, including “unlawful copying of their telephones and computers” as well as “hooded men breaking into offices,” Assange’s lawyers needed more time to prepare his defense, Summers argued. But Baraitser refused the request, and ordered Assange back in court for a second management hearing on Dec. 19. The full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 25 next year.

Scandals At Veterans Administration

Stars and Stripes, Shulkin warns 'subversive' culture at VA is leading department toward 'grave danger,' Nikki Wentling, Oct. 21, 2019. Toxic. Chaotic. Subversive. That’s how former david shulkinDepartment of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin describes the culture at the agency in his new memoir, It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country, which was released Tuesday.

In the tell-all book about his time as VA secretary, Shulkin blames a group of political rivals for plotting his demise and warns of “grave danger” ahead for veterans’ health care.

"If we don't figure out a way to stop them, they are fully capable of destroying the VA," Shulkin wrote of the rivals.

In the more than 350 pages of the book, Shulkin details his relationship with the “Mar-a-Lago trio,” three members of President Donald Trump’s club in West Palm Beach who david shulkin bookexerted influence over the VA. He also gives his account of a European trip that became a national scandal during his tenure, and he hits back at rivals, including a group that he refers to as “politicals” who worked to undermine him.

Trump selected Shulkin in January 2017 as his choice to lead the VA. Previously, he had worked as undersecretary of health at the agency under former President Barack Obama.

But 14 months after naming Shulkin as his nominee for secretary, Trump fired him by tweet.
Since being dismissed, Shulkin has spoken out about a power struggle inside the agency and an effort by political operatives to privatize the VA. The book expands on those tensions.

“There seems to be an unwritten rule in Washington: when your time comes, go quietly,” Shulkin wrote in the book. “That wasn’t going to work for me, mostly because this fight was not just about me but also about the veterans I served.”

Shulkin uses the book to criticize the VA Inspector General’s Office, Concerned Veterans for America, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the news media, and the political operatives who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign and later gained positions at the VA – Darin Selnick, Brooks Tucker, John Ullyot, Peter Shelby, Peter O’Rourke, Jake Leinenkugel and Camilo Sandoval.

Oct. 20

Trump Watch / Impeachment Index

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Other Headline News

Trump's G7 Resort Scandal

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says his Doral golf resort will no longer host next year’s G-7 summit, bowing to criticism, Philip Rucker and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral near Miami, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event.

Trump was buffeted by two straight days of allegations of self-dealing and exasperation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including some Republican allies who said the selection of Doral (shown above) as the venue for a gathering of world leaders was indefensible.

The decision — while it lasted — was an unprecedented one in modern American politics: The president awarded a massive contract to himself. The White House promoted Doral as the single best venue in the United States to host the G-7 summit in June, and the meeting would have brought thousands of guests in the offseason to a resort that is struggling financially.

For months, Trump had touted Doral as an ideal venue to host visiting dignitaries, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made the choice official at a news conference Thursday.

But in a rare reversal in the face of public pressure for a president who prides himself in rarely folding or admitting failure, Trump said Saturday that he and his administration would search for a new location.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has complete meltdown as he pulls the plug on his G7 Doral stunt, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. When Donald Trump had Mick Mulvaney announce on Thursday that next year’s G7 Summit was being held at Trump’s Doral resort, Palmer Report predicted that this could end up hurting Trump just as much as Mulvaney’s confession in the Ukraine scandal. It was the kind of ham fisted cash grab that even some Republicans in Congress would be afraid to defend.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the G7 Doral scheme is now already officially dead. Various Republicans in Congress have spoken up against it, even as Democrats have capitalized on it as an easy opportunity to make their case that Trump is corrupt from top to bottom.

We also pointed out that the negative publicity about Doral’s struggling finances and bed bug scandal would likely end up costing Trump more money than what he might gain from the G7 grift. Even as the whole thing rapidly falls apart for Trump, he’s going bonkers about it tonight: “I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO donald trump twitterPROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!”

Then thirty-five minutes later he posted this additional tweet, which appeared to start in mid-sentence and wasn’t part of the earlier thread, but did officially kill off the Doral G7 stunt: “Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately. Thank you!”

It’s also notable that while members of both parties in Congress are slamming Trump over this Doral corruption scheme, Trump is only blaming the Democrats, as he’s still largely unwilling to acknowledge that more Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from him by the day.

Trump Probes, Impacts

BuzzFeed News via Twitter, Mueller didn't call McGahn, Trump Jr., Zoe Tillman, Oct. 20, 2019. Per government filing unsealed on judge's order, former White House counsel Don McGahn and Donald Trump Jr. did not testify before the Mueller grand jury.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What was Robert Mueller even doing? Bill Palmer, Oct. 20, 2019. robert mueller full face fileAttorney General Bill Barr’s scheme to strategically redact the most incriminating parts of the Mueller report is finally unraveling. A federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to unredact the identities of two people named in the report who did not testify before Mueller’s grand jury. Sure enough, those names have just been revealed and they’re Don McGahn and Donald Trump Jr.

Wait, a minute, what?

bill palmer report logo headerThe publicly available portions of the Mueller report make clear that Don McGahn was the most vital cooperating witness in the obstruction of justice portion of the probe. Yet we now know that Mueller never bothered to put McGahn in front of a grand jury, which means that Mueller never made any attempt at indicting anyone for obstruction. This is alarming, considering that based on media reports and leaks alone, as many as a dozen of Trump’s current and former White House advisers could easily have been indicted for obstruction. Why did Mueller even bother investigating the obstruction case, if he was simply going to write a report about it and go home?

donald trump jr croppedThen there’s Donald Trump Jr., right, who by his own admission was knee-deep in the Trump-Russia election conspiracy plot. The only legitimate reason not to subpoena Junior to appear before the grand jury would have been if Mueller was planning to indict Junior, as you can’t ask people to testify against themselves. But the Mueller report spells out that Mueller decided not to indict Junior based on the specious argument that he was too dumb to understand he was committing a crime. So if Junior wasn’t a target, Mueller should have been easily able to compel him to serve as a witness against the Russians he tried to conspire with. Yet that clearly never happened.

Robert Mueller spent the first half of his time as Special Counsel aggressively busting people like Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort and Rick Gates only to spend the second half of his probe apparently doing nothing. If Mueller simply decided to pull his punches, that’s on him. But if someone was tying Mueller’s hands, even before Barr came along and shut him down, we need to know about it – because that person needs to go to prison for obstruction along with Barr.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state, Philip Rucker​, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s supremacy is being challenged inside his own realm. With his administration engulfed by crisis, he can no longer control the forces once solidly arrayed behind him, ·​

washington post logotony schwartz headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Why Trump can’t change, no matter what the consequences are, Tony Schwartz, right, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Personal growth is about seeing more. The president is too self-absorbed for that. In April 2016, on the verge of securing the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump announced that his “campaign is evolving and transitioning, and so am I.”

When Trump was elected, some critics held out hope that he would grow in office, as other presidents have. No one believes that’s possible anymore. After Mick donald trump cover art of the dealMulvaney took over as Trump’s third chief of staff last December, he let it be known that his approach would be to “let Trump be Trump.” Mulvaney was simply succumbing to reality. As Trump himself has said, he is essentially the same person today that he was at age 7. He has his story, and he’s sticking to it.

Growth and development are about seeing more. The wider, deeper and longer our perspective, the more variables we can consider — and the more capable we become. Likewise, the more responsibility we take for our behaviors, and the less we blame others for our shortcomings, the more power we have to influence our destiny.

None of this is possible for Trump.

I got to know Trump three decades ago when he hired me to write The Art of the Deal. Although the book became a bestseller, working with him was deeply dispiriting, given his almost complete self-absorption, the shortness of his attention span and the fact that he lied as a matter of course, without apparent guilt.

Tony Schwartz is chief executive of the Energy Project. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming “The War Between My Selves.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Does Trump understand how grossly he just insulted the president of Turkey? Can Dündar, right, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Can Dündar, the former editor Can Dündar Claude Truong Ngoc 2017in chief of the leading Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, is now living in exile. He is shown in a 2017 portrait by Claude Truong Ngoc 2017.

Earlier this week, amid burgeoning scandals in Washington and a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Syria, President Trump revealed a letter he had sent to the president of Turkey. Trump was apparently trying to show a confused American public that he’s really the man in charge.

recep erdogan with flagTrump was acting on impulse. Yet his decision is likely to haunt Turkish-U.S. relations for a long time to come.

The text of the letter rocked Turkish politics. “Don’t be a fool!” Trump admonished his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left — an astonishing insult to a man who carefully guards his public image as a strongman.

Trump threatened “to destroy the Turkish economy” and reminded Erdogan that “I have worked hard to solve some of your problems,” a reference to some personal matter whose nature we can only guess at. And he also recommended that Erdogan negotiate with Syrian Kurdish leader Gen. Mazloum Abdi — a man that Turkey considers to be a terrorist.

For anyone to address Erdogan in such language inside Turkey is inconceivable; he has sent many people to jail for far milder comments. He also has a long record of reacting harshly to criticism from abroad, and commentators waited with bated breath to see how he would respond.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Police blast mosque with water cannon as hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong, Shibani Mahtani, Ryan Kilpatrick Ho and Timothy McLaughlin, Oct. 20, 2019. The pro-democracy movement, now in its fifth month, maintains widespread support and momentum in the face of increasing violence and police threats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney continues to back away from quid pro quo, as top diplomat defends Giuliani’s role in Ukraine, Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 20, 2019. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney continued to back away Sunday from his public acknowledgment of a quid pro quo in which the Trump administration leveraged military aid to Ukraine for an investigation that could politically benefit President Trump, while the top U.S. diplomat defended Trump’s private lawyer’s role in Ukrainian affairs as “completely appropriate.”

“I never said there was a quid pro quo, ’cause there isn’t,” Mulvaney said on Fox News on Sunday, insisting that while he “didn’t speak clearly maybe on Thursday,” there couldn’t have been a quid pro quo because “the aid flowed.”

Mulvaney has struggled to explain his abrupt about-face since a Thursday news conference in which he said Trump “absolutely” raised concerns about the Democratic National Committee server that was hacked in 2016, which according to a debunked conspiracy theory could be in Ukraine and could prove Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle, Matthew Rosenberg and Kevin Roose, Oct. 20, 2019. It is hardly a revelation that campaigns are being fought largely online, yet only one party seems to have gotten the message. While the Trump campaign’s digital operation firmly anchors its re-election efforts, Democrats are struggling to adapt to the political landscape.

On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes — immigrant invaders, the corrupt media — that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts.

Even seemingly ominous developments for Mr. Trump become fodder for his campaign. When news broke last month that congressional Democrats were opening an impeachment inquiry, the campaign responded with an advertising blitz aimed at firing up the president’s base. It produced a slick video laying out the debunked conspiracy theory about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukraine that is now at the center of the impeachment battle (“Learn the truth. Watch Now!”).

The onslaught overwhelmed the limited Democratic response. Mr. Biden’s campaign put up the stiffest resistance: It demanded Facebook take down the ad, only to be rebuffed. It then proceeded with plans to slash its online advertising budget in favor of more television ads.

SouthFront, Mike Pompeo: Israel Has Fundamental Right To Bomb Any Place Across Middle East, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 20, 2019. On October 19th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave an interview with the Jerusalem Post, while he was on a visit to Israel. Pompeo made some interesting statements, such as: “Our administration’s been very clear,” he said. israel flag“Israel has the fundamental right to engage in activity that ensures the security of its people. It’s at the very core of what nation-states not only have the right to do, but an obligation to do.”

Not only did countries in the region have the right to counter the presumed Iranian threat, but they were rather even “obligated” to do so. “We know this is a corner [of the world] where Iran has attempted to move weapons systems across into Syria, into Lebanon, that threatens Israel and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we have the capacity to identify those so that we can collectively respond appropriately,” the secretary noted, pointing to alleged Iranian activities which have in the past led to Israeli drone and air strikes against targets across multiple regional countries.

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Pompeo (above left) gave the interview after speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, who is also Israel’s Defense Minister. “We shared our ideas about how we can ensure Middle East stability together, and how we would further our efforts to jointly combat all the challenges that the world confronts here in the Middle East,” Pompeo told reporters with Netanyahu by his side.

john bolton youtube guardianIsrael needed some reassurance after the US announced its pullout from Syria. This, in addition to Trump’s somewhat softer rhetoric toward Iran and firing of National Security Adviser John Bolton, right, who was the most avid hawk in the administration, expectedly is cause for concern.

Pompeo said that the US wouldn’t allow Iran to be strengthened and would still assist Israel. Netanyahu is pushing for increased funding for the military in recent weeks, and growing the Iranian threat narrative is potentially a sure way of achieving such a feat.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Visits Jordan to Discuss Syria Crisis Amid Shaky Cease-Fire, Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 20, 2019. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Jordan to meet with the Jordanian king for “vital” discussions about the Turkish incursion into Syria and other regional challenges, amid uncertainty about whether an American-brokered cease-fire with Turkey in northern Syria was holding.

The visit by senior United States officials came as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday morning along the Turkish-Syrian border, where, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry, a Turkish soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad.

Confusion and continued shelling have marred the cease-fire deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence last week, with both Turkey and Kurdish leaders accusing each other of nancy pelosi twitterviolating the truce.

Ms. Pelosi, right, a California Democrat, led a nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan that included Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California; Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York; and Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. The group met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday evening.

“Our bipartisan delegation is visiting Jordan at a critical time for the security and stability of the region,” Ms. Pelosi’s office said in a statement. “With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon Chief Makes Unannounced Visit to Afghanistan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Oct. 20, 2019. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper traveled to Afghanistan on Sunday, in his first visit to the country since being confirmed as Pentagon chief amid uncertainty about the administration’s strategy following the collapse of peace talks with the mark esperTaliban. His unannounced trip came weeks after the lead American negotiator during the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, met informally with Taliban leaders in Islamabad, Pakistan, raising the possibility that negotiations might eventually resume.

“The aim is to still get a peace agreement at some point, a political agreement. That is the best way forward,” Mr. Esper said, according to a report from Reuters.

Ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus for President Trump since he took office, and Mr. Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators finalized a deal “in principle” in September that laid out plans to make that happen.

But Mr. Trump called it off, pointing to an uptick in violence across Afghanistan and the death of an American soldier, along with 11 other people, in a Taliban-directed suicide bombing in Kabul.

The resumption of any peace negotiations would be further complicated by the Afghan presidential elections in September that were mired by violence, low turnout and an unclear victor. Initial results, which were expected on Saturday, have been delayed at least a week.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Proclaiming ‘I Am Back,’ Bernie Sanders Accepts Ocasio-Cortez Endorsement, Sydney Ember, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Ms. Ocasio-Cortez hailed Mr. Sanders alexandria ocasio cortezand his influence on Democratic Party politics at Mr. Sanders’s first rally since his heart attack two weeks ago. Senator Bernie Sanders, left, wanted a show of force bernie sandersto convince voters he was back from his heart attack, and he produced one on Saturday:

At his first rally since the episode just two and a half weeks ago, he reveled in one of the most coveted endorsements in the Democratic Party, from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, right.

Drawing loud cheers from a large, enthusiastic and diverse crowd that had packed into a park in Queens next to a public housing complex, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez offered resounding words of support, for both Mr. Sanders and his influence in shaping the Democratic primary. More detail below.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump begs his remaining supporters not to “give up,” Bill Palmer, Oct. 20, 2019. The most surefire sign that your side is losing? When you have to start begging them not to give up. In the movies, that’s sometimes a turning point where an impassioned speech suddenly turns everything around for everyone involved. But in the real world, when you’re reduced to begging your own side not to give up, you usually end up losing. One of Donald Trump’s surrogates posted this tweet:

bill palmer report logo headerLately I’ve heard a few, “Trump has done an amazing job- but I’m getting so tired of the bad press.” Are u kidding? This is EXACTLY what the media wants- to burn u out & fatigue u into wanting him out. Have an espresso & buck the hell up. This is no time for Stockholm syndrome.

This alone is a sign that Donald Trump’s remaining supporters are becoming weary and worn down by just what a corrupt and embarrassing disaster he’s turned donald trump twitterout to be. But here’s the kicker. Trump quoted this tweet and added his own, ahem, pep talk: “Never give up. We are doing GREAT! We are WINNING!”

Again, this isn’t the movies. When things are going so horribly for your own side that you end up having to beg your own people not to “give up” on you and your cause, it’s a bad sign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake, Mitch McConnell, Oct. 20 2019 (print ed.). Mitch McConnell, a Republican from mitch mcconnell2Kentucky, is majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances. Sadly, the recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I have worked with three presidential administrations to fight radical Islamist terrorism. I have distilled three principal lessons about combating this complex threat.

Lesson No. 1 is that the threat is real and cannot be wished away. These fanatics threaten American interests and American lives. If permitted to regroup and establish havens, they will bring terror to our shores.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s aggressive efforts to reform Ukraine yielded successes but also earned him enemies, Matt Viser and Paul Sonne, Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The former vice president spent three years pushing Obama administration policy on Ukraine, but that may have laid the groundwork for questions now being raised by political opponents about his and his son’s behavior.

joe biden oVice President Joe Biden, right, was losing his temper, dressing down the president of Ukraine in front of a group of high-level advisers and officials from both countries inside a regal complex at the United Nations.

“Don’t give me this bullshit,” Biden bellowed in the September 2016 encounter, according to an aide who was present, unloading on Petro Poroshenko after Biden felt he was making excuses for failing to root out corruption involving the country’s state-owned gas company.

“There’s nothing that happens in Ukraine you don’t know about,” Biden continued. “If something like this happens again, I’m done with you.”

petro poroshenko 2010The public humiliation of Poroshenko, left, illustrated the unusually aggressive approach employed by Biden, the Obama administration’s chief Ukraine envoy, to bring the small but strategically important former Soviet republic closer to the West. It was an approach that yielded successes but also earned Biden and his aides a slew of enemies and detractors in Ukraine, and it may now have boomeranged to hurt his 2020 presidential campaign.

During the last three years of the Obama administration, Biden made five trips to Ukraine. He held at least 70 phone calls with Ukrainian leaders, the bulk of them ukraine flagwith Poroshenko, and had meetings in Washington, Munich, and at the United Nations. He delivered a speech to the Ukrainian parliament, attended ceremonies and acted as an intermediary to the international community for Kyiv. He constantly urged the country to implement reforms, holding out U.S. financial assistance in return.

Biden and Poroshenko’s conversations continued even after Biden left office, through earlier this year.

Biden’s extensive involvement in the country’s fitful march toward reform has highlighted the political risks of becoming so deeply enmeshed in another country’s murky domestic affairs. The danger increased when Biden’s son Hunter took a paid position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company owned by a former government minister later accused of corruption. Though both Bidens say they did not discuss the gas company, the arrangement raised the perception that Biden’s family was benefiting from his vice-presidential role and gave ammunition to his critics, some of whom have now linked up with allies of Trump to smear the former vice president.

Transitions

washington post logoWashington Post, Thomas D’Alesandro III, Baltimore mayor who led city during 1968 riots and brother of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90, Bart Barnes, Oct. 20, 2019. The thomas dalasandro iii lloyd pearson baltimore sun Customscion of a civic dynasty, Thomas D’Alesandro III left politics after the riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. His death was confirmed in a statement by Pelosi, who called him “the finest public servant I have ever known.” The Baltimore Sun (whose photo by Lloyd Pearson is at right) reported the cause was complications of a stroke.

Known as “Young Tommy,” Mr. D’Alesandro was the oldest son of Thomas J. “Big Tommy” D’Alesandro Jr., who had been one of Maryland’s dominant civic leaders in the mid-20th century as a state delegate, congressman and, from 1947 to 1959, the mayor of Baltimore.

He cited financial concerns among the chief reasons that kept him from seeking another term in 1971. He had five children to support, he said, and couldn’t do it on the mayor’s salary. “I was clearing only $695 every two weeks,” he told the Sun in 1998. “I couldn’t make ends meet.

Oct. 19, 2019.

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing number of Republicans struggle to defend Trump on G-7 choice, Ukraine and Syria, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida, right, compared the situation to Watergate and did not rule out voting to impeach President Trump.

francis rooneyA growing number of congressional Republicans expressed exasperation Friday over what they view as President Trump’s indefensible behavior, a sign that the president’s stranglehold on his party is starting to weaken as Congress hurtles toward a historic impeachment vote.

U.S. House logoIn interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours, many said they were repulsed by Trump’s decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s admission — later withdrawn — that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president’s abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria.

One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) — whose district Trump carried by 22 percentage points — did not rule out voting to impeach the president and compared the situation to the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. See follow-up story: Washington Post, GOP congressman who won’t rule out impeaching Trump announces retirement (excerpted below). djt rudy new giuliani Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Mixes His Business With Role as Trump’s Lawyer, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.) Amid intensifying scrutiny of his own work, the former New York mayor met recently with senior Justice Department officials on behalf of a client in a foreign bribery case.

It is an extraordinary time in Washington, but it is more or less business as usual for Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above in a file photo with the president).

He is a central figure in the impeachment inquiry. He is under scrutiny by federal prosecutors. But throughout the building controversy, Mr. Giuliani has continued to represent clients, broker deals and take on consulting contracts in Washington and around the world in ways that leave him subject to criticism that he is using his role as President Trump’s personal lawyer to open doors to the government and influence policy despite the questions about his own conduct.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani secured a meeting, along with some other defense lawyers, with the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division and attorneys in the fraud section. They were there to discuss a foreign bribery case for a client that Mr. Giuliani described as “very, very sensitive.”

Mr. Giuliani declined to divulge any details about the meeting, except to say it had nothing to do with legal issues facing him or Mr. Trump. Days after the meeting, it was revealed that Mr. Giuliani was under investigation himself for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani may have just taken Bill Barr down with him, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. Attorney General Bill Barr, even amid reports that he’s been hopping the globe while trying to breathe life into Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories, has largely managed to avoid the spotlight in Trump’s Ukraine scandal – until now. It turns out Rudy william barr at dojGiuliani dragged Barr’s Department of Justice into his Ukraine crime spree, in a manner which could only possibly have been signed off on by Barr, left, and now its all coming out.

dmytro firtashOver the past few days it’s become apparent that Kremlin oligarch Dmitry Firtash, right, has been bankrolling the entire Ukraine scandal. Rudy Giuliani now admits he was on the payroll of the recently arrested Lev Parnas, amid reports that Parnas was in turn being bankrolled by Firtash. On Friday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Firtash was also paying Trump-connected lawyers Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to manufacture phony Biden scandals.

But then on Friday night, the New York Times dropped the biggest bombshell of all, and it brings us back to Bill Barr.

bill palmer report logo headerThe NY Times now says that Rudy Giuliani met with the Department of Justice to discuss his “client in a foreign bribery case” – who is not identified as Firtash but is obviously Firtash – and that the meeting was attended by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. In other words, one of the highest ranking officials at the DOJ met with the target of a DOJ investigation about letting the target of another DOJ investigation off the hook.

Benczkowski is obviously toast. Just the fact that he took this meeting means that he’s exposed himself to criminal liability. Now it comes down to whether or not Benczkowski can demonstrate that he took the meeting because a higher-up instructed him to. That higher-up is almost surely Bill Barr. At this rate Rudy’s cartoonish criminal antics might take everyone in the Trump regime down.

washington post logogeorge kent oWashington Post, Diplomat tells investigators he raised alarms in 2015 about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine work but was rebuffed, John Hudson, Rachael Bade and Matt Viser, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). George Kent, right, a deputy assistant secretary of state, was told in 2015 that then-Vice President Joe Biden didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with the matter, said people familiar with his testimony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mick Mulvaney may have just given away that there are Trump tapes, Bill Palmer, Oct. 19, 2019. Alert Palmer Report reader Joshua Vandamm messaged me with the following excerpt from the transcript of the White House presser of 17 October with Mick Mulvaney.

bill palmer report logo headerToward the end of the presser, in discussing the now infamous conversation with Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, Mulvaney says, “Let me ask you mick mulvaney djt 2 Smallthis: If we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Is Mulvaney here admitting that the conversation was taped?

Oh Lordy, I hope so.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump Will Not Be On the 2020 Ballot: Considerations for Stakeholders, Rob Kall (publisher and editor), Oct. 19, 2019. It's becoming even more clear, since I wrote my article, Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon, that Donald Trump will be out of the White House and off the 2020 ballot by the time the Iowa primary comes around.

Just last night, Mitch McConnell distanced himself from Trump by writing an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, critical of Trump's withdrawal from Syria. And Ohio governor John Kasich has come out calling for impeachment. A crescendo is building. Trump will soon be a spittle-soaked footnote in history. So, a lot of people and organizations need to start thinking about a number of things.

Global News: Brexit

washington post logoWashington Post, Parliament votes to withhold full approval of Brexit deal, postponing Boris Johnson’s moment of reckoning, William Booth and Karla Adam​, ​Oct. 20, 2019 (print ed.). British lawmakers voted Saturday to withhold support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal until all the supporting legislation is passed. The vote scuppers Johnson’s hopes to finalize Brexit on an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session.

It was a significant loss for Johnson, left, who had hoped for a Brexit finale in an extraordinary “Super Saturday” session. But it is not a boris johnson hand up unsourcedfatal blow against his deal. Minutes after the vote, Johnson pledged to the House of Commons, “no delays.” The prime minister said he would seek approval of his Brexit deal in a session in the coming week.

Based on previous legislation, passed months ago, Johnson is now required to formally seek a three-month extension from the European Union.

Johnson began his remarks on Saturday by thanking lawmakers for gathering on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, the first time in a united kingdom flaggeneration, since Britain fought in the Falklands.

Underscoring how the country remains deeply divided on Brexit, thousands of protesters spilled into London from across the county to demand a second referendum. For more than a year, polls have shown that if there were a countrywide “do over vote,” Britons would, by a narrow margin, opt to stay in the E.U.

Turk-Kurd-Syrian War

SouthFront, SDF Recaptures Positions East Of Ras Al-Ayn From Turkish Forces, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 19, 2019. Late on October 19, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, i.e. kurd flagKurds) recaptured several key positions which fell into the hands of Turkish-backed militants recently, according to the North Press Agency (NPA). Early in the morning, militants of the National Syrian Army (NSA, i.e. Turk-sponsored militants) backed by battle tanks of the Turkish Armed Forces advanced east of the border town of Ras al-Ayn, capturing the towns of al-Shakariyah, Haji Hisso and Jan Tamir.

The attack was a clear violation of the U.S. sponsored ceasefire that was accepted by Turkey two days ago. As a part of the ceasefire agreement, Kurdish fighters should withdraw from the “safe-zone” along Turkey’s border. Dozens of injured people and corpses were reportedly evacuated from the war-torn town.

State Probe Clears Clinton

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Department probe of Clinton emails finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information, Greg Miller​, Oct. 19, 2019 (print ed.). The years-long inquiry is an anticlimactic end to a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 campaign.

hillary clinton twitterA multiyear State Department probe of emails that were sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server concluded there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees, according to a report submitted to Congress this month.

The report appears to represent a final and anticlimactic chapter in a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 presidential campaign and exposed Clinton to fierce criticism that she later cited as a major factor in her loss to President Trump.

In the end, State Department investigators found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures — none involving material that had been marked classified — in a review of roughly 33,000 emails that had been sent to or from the personal computer system Clinton used.

Trump Probe of Mueller Witnesses

ny times logoNew York Times, Review of Russia Inquiry Grows as F.B.I. Witnesses Are Questioned, Adam Goldman and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 19, 2019. Federal prosecutors reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation have asked witnesses pointed questions about any anti-Trump bias among former F.B.I. officials who are frequent targets of President Trump and about the earliest steps they took in the Russia inquiry, according to former officials and other people familiar with the review.

john durham CustomThe prosecutors, led by John H. Durham, right, the United States attorney in Connecticut, have interviewed about two dozen former and current F.B.I. officials, the people said. Two former senior F.B.I. agents are assisting with the review, the people said.

The number of interviews shows that Mr. Durham’s review is further along than previously known. It has served as a political flash point since Attorney General William P. Barr revealed in the spring that he planned to scrutinize the beginnings of the Russia investigation, which Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked without evidence as a plot by law enforcement and intelligence officials to prevent him from winning the 2016 election.

Closely overseen by Mr. Barr, Mr. Durham and his investigators have sought help from governments in countries that figure into right-wing attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation, stirring criticism that they are trying to deliver Mr. Trump a political victory rather than conducting an independent review.

Mr. Durham has yet to interview all the F.B.I. officials who played key roles in opening the Russian investigation in the summer of 2016, the people familiar with the review said. He peter strzokhas not spoken with Peter Strzok, left, a former top counterintelligence official who opened the inquiry; the former director James B. Comey or his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe; or James A. Baker, then the bureau’s general counsel.

Those omissions suggest Mr. Durham may be waiting until he has gathered all the facts before he asks to question the main decision makers in the Russia inquiry. The president granted Mr. Barr sweeping powers for the review, though he did not open it as a criminal investigation. That means he gave Mr. Durham the power only to read materials the government had already gathered and to request voluntary interviews from witnesses, not to subpoena witnesses or documents. It is not clear whether the status of the review has changed.

nora dannehy doj photoMr. Durham’s team, including Nora R. Dannehy, right, a veteran prosecutor, has questioned witnesses about why Mr. Strzok both drafted and signed the paperwork opening the investigation, suggesting that was unusual for one person to take both steps. Mr. Strzok began the inquiry after consulting with F.B.I. leadership, former michael horwitz headshotofficials familiar with the episode said.

Many of the questions from Mr. Durham’s team overlapped with ones that the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, left, has posed in his own look into aspects of the Russia inquiry, according to the people.

Mr. Horowitz’s report, which is most likely to be made public in the coming weeks, is expected to criticize law enforcement officials’ actions in the Russia investigation. Mr. Horowitz’s findings could provide insights into why Mr. Barr thought that the Russia investigation needed to be examined.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Proclaiming ‘I Am Back,’ Bernie Sanders Accepts Ocasio-Cortez Endorsement, Sydney Ember, Oct. 19, 2019. Continued from above. Mr. Sanders declared himself “so delighted” that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had thrown her support behind his campaign, hailing her as “an inspiration to millions of young people not just here in New York but across this country who now understand the importance of political participation and standing up for justice.”

bernie sandersMr. Sanders, left, said the crowd exceeded the 20,000 people the campaign had secured a permit for. Campaign officials, keen to affirm Mr. Sanders’s resilience and mindful of the big crowd Senator Elizabeth Warren attracted to her rally last month in Washington Square Park, said more than 25,000 people turned out.

During his remarks, Ms. Sanders also briefly and somewhat indirectly, addressed his health. “I am happy to report to you that I am more than ready, more ready than ever, to carry on with you the epic struggle that we face today,” he said. “I am more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States.”

It was a theme that dominated the afternoon, as progressive activists and leaders paraded onto the stage to extend their own words of encouragement.

Beyond serving as a show of strength, their presence aligned with a more unifying, inclusive message his campaign is aggressively trying to project.

Last week, the Sanders campaign announced that Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who along with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent left-wing women in Congress, had also endorsed him. The pair of endorsements, jolted the primary race, signaling that Mr. Sanders was still a formidable contender just as it had increasingly seemed elizabeth warren o purplelike a contest between Ms. Warren, right, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. They also shifted the conversation away from his health issues and his age, infusing his campaign with a renewed sense of vitality.

But if the endorsements were an obvious indication that Mr. Sanders was not ready to surrender the party’s left flank to Ms. Warren, it is not clear how much they will ultimately change the race — in part because there are signs that voters are not taking their cues from endorsements.

Ms. Warren, for instance, has attracted huge crowds, posted some of the biggest fund-raising numbers, and surged to the top of national and early-state polls despite lacking endorsements from a single governor, big-city mayor or senator outside her home state.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Hillary Clinton, Tulsi Gabbard exchange insults, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 19, 2019. An unpredictable rivalry has arisen between two Democratic politicians — one who isn’t even running this cycle and another who is polling at barely one percent.

There are fresh battles lines in the 2020 presidential campaign, reflecting an unpredictable rivalry between two Democratic politicians — one who isn’t even running this cycle and another who is polling at barely 1 percent.

It began when former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested this week that current primary contender Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii (shown in a screenshot from the October debate) is being used by the Russians, who could be plotting a third party run to siphon votes from the eventual Democratic nominee. It’s a scenario that Clinton is sensitive to, since she blames Russian election interference and Green Party candidate Jill Stein for her loss to President Trump.

Gabbard, in a scathing response, called Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”

Two of the nonpoliticians in the Democratic primary, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and author Marianne Williamson, sided with Gabbard. Yang tweeted that Gabbard, a veteran, “deserves much more respect and thanks than this.” Williamson accused the Democratic establishment of “smearing women it finds inconvenient.”

While it’s unclear why Clinton initiated this fight, the bad blood between her and Gabbard goes back to 2016, when Gabbard quit her post as a Democratic National Committee vice chair so she could endorse Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP congressman who won’t rule out impeaching Trump announces retirement, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 19, 2019. A day after Rep. Francis francis rooneyRooney (Fla.) became the first House Republican to say he would consider voting to impeach President Trump, he announced his retirement.

The two-term congressman from a reliably conservative district announced on Fox News on Saturday that he has decided not to run for reelection.

Rooney told reporters Friday when asked about the political consequences of potentially impeaching Trump that he wanted “to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.”

White House Chronicle, Opinion: The Business Case for National Insurance, Llewellyn King, right, Oct. 19, 2019. The leading Democratic candidates for president want differing degrees of major surgery done on health insurance. During Tuesday’s debate, they contrived only to cut themselves.

The smell of blood from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden must have been a near-divine scent to Republican operatives who haven’t had an easy time of it lately. llewellyn king photo logoSanders and Warren have signed on to an idea favored by many on the left: Medicare-for-all. Joe Biden, seeking to carve out a position as the seasoned centrist, favors not surgery but Band-Aids all over the patient.

The problem with Medicare-for-all is money. Yet the reason for single payer — a national health insurance system — isn’t to spend more money but less. Much less.

The United States spends about double what other countries spend, but the coverage is patchy and has non-medical consequences that are severe. One of these is the effect on the mobility of labor. Workers stay in dead-end jobs because they fear the loss of their health insurance.

Global News: Israel

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: 'Poor Little Israel’ Isn’t So Poor, Financially or Diplomatically, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 19, 2019. One of the tropes Israel and its international phalanx of lobbyists has used since the state’s inception in 1948 is that “Poor Little Israel” requires Western money and diplomatic support because the small country is surrounded by hostile Arab countries. Neither of these contentions have ever been true.

On August 7, 2019, the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported that Israel has been the largest recipient of cumulative assistance since World War II. In current non-inflation-adjusted dollars, Israel has received a total of $142.3 billion in US bilateral assistance and defense funding. Most of the US government assistance has been military in nature.

israel flagIn addition to US assistance, Israel Bonds, sold through the Development Corporation for Israel (DCI), which is headquartered in New York, have seen $40 billion in sales, with $1.2 billion in annual sales being reached in 2013, a record for annual sales. The $1 billion mark was also reached in 2014 and 2015. One of the reasons behind the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) program to disinvest in Israel in retaliation for their treatment of the Palestinian people is the fact that 90 US states and municipalities, in addition to labor unions, corporations, universities, and foundations, have invested their pension and treasury funds in the DCI.

Israel has also received billions of dollars in loan guarantees from the United States. The CRS report states that these guarantees have boosted the country’s “fiscal standing among international creditors in capital markets.” The U.S. Congress is set to pass a bill that authorized $3.8 billion in US loan guarantees to Israel through Fiscal Year 2023.

Oct. 18

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, After two weeks of closed-door testimony, a clearer portrait of Trump’s role emerges, Ashley Parker, Oct. 18, 2019. Despite weeks of denials from President Trump and his defenders, a growing body of evidence details how Trump repeatedly pushed both the U.S. and Ukrainian governments to intervene in domestic political concerns. 

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Nancy Pelosi gestures at President Trump during a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. (Via President Trump's Twitter)

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A staggering accusation and the moment Pelosi and Trump’s relationship shattered, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 18, 2019. The now-famous photo captured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing up in the Cabinet Room, pointing her finger at a visibly angry President Trump, and, in her telling, questioning his loyalty to the country he leads.

Why, she asked, did he withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — a geopolitical calculation that allowed a toehold in northern Syria for Russian President Vladimir Putin?

Why, she asked with lawmakers and aides watching and a White House photographer snapping away, do “all roads lead to Putin”? With that, Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday, she left the White House meeting Wednesday.

It was a staggering accusation from one constitutional officer to another, and it marked the moment that a relationship once marked by elements of mutual esteem finally shattered, after multiple heated confrontations, into absolute mutual disdain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘Get over it’: Mulvaney puts Trump at the center of controversies about emoluments and Ukraine, Toluse Olorunnipa, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney embraced a Trumpian tactic: saying the previously unsaid — and potentially illegal — part out loud.

mick mulvaney omb SmallFirst came the lengthy infomercial touting President Trump’s private golf resort in Florida as “far and away the best” site in the country to host next year’s Group of Seven summit of world leaders. Then, an admission: Trump did, in fact, withhold aid to Ukraine because he wanted the government there to investigate Democrats.

For 39 minutes Thursday, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, turned the press briefing room into a sort of confession chamber, openly admitting to several acts that could deepen the legal predicament for the president. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry into whether he has abused his office for personal and political gain.

Mulvaney’s retort to those charges came in a three-word mantra that now forms the central theme of the White House impeachment response: “Get over it.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like two more of Rudy Giuliani’s associates are about to go down, Bill Palmer, Oct. 18, 2019. Over the past week two people who worked directly with Rudy Giuliani in his Ukraine scandal, and two other people indirectly associated with the scandal, have been indicted and arrested. This has come amid one media leak after another that points to the Feds having amassed a treasure trove of financial evidence against Rudy himself. Now two more of Rudy’s associates in the Ukraine scandal look like they’re about to go down.

dmytro firtashOver the past week it’s become clear that imprisoned Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, right, has been bankrolling Rudy Giuliani’s scheme to promote fake scandals about Joe Biden. In fact Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were en route to Vienna, where Firtash is under house arrest, at the time of their arrest – and Giuliani was also planning to travel to Vienna at the time his associates were arrested. Firtash was reportedly funding Parnas’ company, and Rudy was reportedly on its payroll.

bill palmer report logo headerThis brings us to this afternoon’s Bloomberg report that Firtash hired Trump allies Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to make up dirt about Biden last year. Firtash recently hired the pair as his attorneys, but this new information suggests that he’s been employing them for nefarious purposes all along. If they failed to register as foreign agents, they can be indicted for FARA violations accordingly.

It’s not just that two more of Rudy Giuliani’s associates are apparently about to go down. It’s that DiGenova and Toensing (shown below) are particularly close to Donald Trump. Chris Wallace reported last month that the two were working “off the books” to help Trump and Rudy in the Ukraine scandal. Before that, Trump came within inches of hiring DiGenova and Toensing as his own personal attorneys back in 2018. Now the two appear to be in very real danger of going down.

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Trump Watch

ny times logowilliam mcraven 2012New York Times, Opinion: Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President, William H. McRaven, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Admiral McRaven, right, is a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command. If Donald Trump doesn’t show the leadership that we need, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office, writes a former Special Operations commander.

If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Will Host Next G7 at His Doral Resort, Katie Rogers and Eric Lipton, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Trump’s decision to host the economic summit at his luxury resort in Miami is sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration. “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,” the acting White House chief of staff said, dismissing questions over the propriety of the president’s picking his own hotel.

g 7 logo 2019 franceBut House Democrats said the president’s choice of his own hotel was just the latest example of Mr. Trump using his office to promote his business interests.

“The administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit [the last was in France] is among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with drawing up articles of impeachment against the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says Trump resort will host G-7 at cost but doesn’t say how much that will be, David A. Fahrenthold, Michael Birnbaum and Joshua Partlow​, Oct. 18, 2019. For the president, the potential benefits of awarding himself the summit include international media exposure — putting Trump Doral on televisions around the world.

The Hill, Allegations of bed bugs at Trump's Doral resort swarm Twitter, Jessica Campisi, Oct. 18, 2019. The hashtag #BedBugSummit trended on Twitter djt trump doral SmallFriday due to allegations of past infestation at President Trump’s resort in Doral, Fla., right. The news resurfaced following the announcement that the U.S. will host next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit at the Trump property.

In the day after White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that the 2020 G-7 summit would take place at Trump National Doral, nearly 30,000 tweets had been sent using the hashtag.

Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, a songwriter and founder of the Blue Wave Crowdsource — an organization that aims to support Democratic candidates — tweeted a January 2017 Miami Herald article covering a lawsuit against Trump Doral over bedbugs.

"Bring the leaders of the free world to Doral, he said. What could go wrong, he said," she tweeted.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) tweeted that the “#BedBugSummit is a clear violation of the emoluments clause” of the Constitution.

Other tweets knocked Trump for selecting his own property for the event. The decision to hold the major international summit at a property owned by Trump’s family quickly spurred outrage from the president’s critics who argue that Trump is looking to enrich his family's brand by bringing world leaders to the resort.

Democrats and watchdog groups have continued to raise concerns about Trump's frequent use of his properties during his presidency.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: How Did Gordon Sondland Think This Was Going to End? Michelle Goldberg, right, Oct. 18, 2019. He paid $1 million for an ambassadorship and bought himself disgrace. Ever since Donald Trump began his nightmarish political ascent, some psychologists have been warning us, with increasing urgency, about what it means to have a malignant narcissist in power. In many cases, they’ve been more accurate about the trajectory of the last three years than the Washington hands who assumed Donald Trump would be gordon sondland oconstrained by our institutions.

But the people whose psychology I really want to understand are those like Gordon Sondland, right, the ambassador to the European Union who is now trying to squirm out of responsibility for his role in the Ukraine scandal.

A wealthy hotelier, he seems to want the respect and admiration of the world outside the MAGA bubble, and he knew going into the administration that Trump was trash. Though a lifelong Republican, in 2016 Sondland and a business partner withdrew their support for Trump over the candidate’s attacks on the family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, saying that Trump’s “constantly evolving positions diverge from their personal beliefs and values on so many levels.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pompeo just set himself up to be the scapegoat, Bill Palmer, Oct. 18, 2019. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is one of Donald Trump’s most personally loyal remaining cabinet members. Yet the majority of the witnesses who have sold Trump out to the House impeachment inquiry thus far have come from Pompeo’s State Department. He can’t mike pompeo portraitstop any of it from happening, and now he just opened his mouth and set himself up to be the scapegoat at a time when Trump is actively looking for one.

Mike Pompeo, right, is obviously the source for a new CNN article which asserts that he wanted to do something to stop Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani from corruptly running roughshod over U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine – but after Pompeo saw John Bolton getting fired for internally sounding the alarm, he was afraid to do the same.

bill palmer report logo headerThis isn’t going to get Pompeo any sympathy from the public, as he’s admitting that he was too much of a coward to stand up to the Trump-Rudy corruption racket. If anything this sounds more like an attempt at a legal defense, as Pompeo is arguing that he didn’t have much choice but to go along with the criminal scheme that his boss wanted carried out.

The thing is, why leak this now? By putting it out there that he (supposedly) wanted to stop Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani from doing what they were doing, he’s essentially jumping up and down and waving his arms at a time when Trump is busy looking within his own ranks for someone to scapegoat. Is Pompeo trying to get word to the House impeachment inquiry (and to federal prosecutors) that he’s open to coming in from out of the cold? In any case, Pompeo fed this narrative to CNN for a reason. We’ll all find out what it is soon enough.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: White House, Rick Perry face deadline for documents in Trump impeachment inquiry; GOP effort to censure Schiff delayed until next week, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 18, 2019. Deposition of Defense Department official pushed back.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump to nominate Energy Dept. deputy Dan Brouillette to succeed Rick Perry as secretary, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 18, 2019. Perry is embroiled in President Trump’s Ukraine controversy because he urged the president to call the new Ukrainian president over the summer. Perry said his departure has nothing to do with that.

President Trump on Friday said he intends to nominate Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s deputy, Dan Brouillette, to succeed him at the helm of the agency. Trump announced the personnel decision by Twitter Friday, touting Brouillette’s “unparalleled” experience in the energy sector.
Perry, whose been in the role since the beginning of the Trump administration, announced Thursday he’d be leaving the job by the end of the year.

Brouillette has served as deputy energy secretary since August 2017. He had worked for the agency 14 years prior as assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs in the George W. Bush administration. In between, Brouillette was a top lobbyist for the Ford Motor Company and then the head of public policy for USAA, financial institution for military families.

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Bloomberg, To Win Giuliani’s Help, Oligarch’s Allies Pursued Biden Dirt, Stephanie Baker and Irina Reznik, Oct. 18, 2019. Associates of a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani’s help in the oligarch’s legal case, according to three people familiar with the exchanges.

Dmitry Firtash, right, charged with conspiracy by the U.S. and living in Vienna, shuffled lawyers in July to add Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, vocal supporters of President Donald Trump who had worked with Giuliani. Around that time, some of Firtash’s associates began to use his broad network dmytro firtashof Ukraine contacts to get damaging information on Biden, the people said.

DiGenova and Toensing have billed Firtash about $1 million for their work, one of the people said. That includes costs for Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate, as a translator and important contact, the person said. Parnas was arrested last week along with several associates and accused of conspiring to violate campaign-finance laws.

ukraine flagPeople working on Firtash’s behalf collected a witness statement from Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian prosecutor-general. The statement, dated early September, helped Giuliani renew an assertion that he’d been advancing for months -- that Biden had tried in 2016 to sway Ukrainian politics to help his son. U.S. and Ukrainian officials have disputed Shokin’s account.

Shokin, though, had been promised his statement wouldn’t be made public, according to the people. Giuliani went on to cite it repeatedly, waving it around on cable news as evidence of Biden’s alleged corruption. The Hill and other media outlets provided links to it, with Giuliani later suggesting he had a role in making it public. “This is the affidavit I put out,” he said during a Fox News interview this month.

As a result of the publicity Giuliani generated with Shokin’s statement, two of the people said they believe the odds of the Justice Department dropping the case against Firtash have plummeted, because it would look like a quid pro quo. Others connected to the case agreed.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, The fleeting moment of decency in Washington over Elijah Cummings, Karen Tumulty, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). As a measure of the singular qualities that Elijah elijah cummings oE. Cummings, right, brought to public service was the fact that something astonishing happened when Washington got word Thursday morning that the Democratic congressman from Baltimore had died. Decency broke out.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer summed up how pretty much everyone felt when he went to the House chamber and said of his fellow Marylander: “In a time of confrontation and disagreement and anger and, yes, sometimes hate, he was a beacon of civility, of fairness, of justice.”

But some notably moving tributes also came from those with whom Cummings had fought most fiercely in his role as the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, a panel at the flash point for many of the Capitol’s most contentious and politically charged battles.

      • Opinion: Elijah Cummings was the keeper of the nation’s conscience, Colbert I. King 
      • Analysis: Elijah Cummings’s legacy: Champion for Baltimore, force of nature in Congress, Paul Kane

National Press Club, Rep. Elijah Cummings dies at 68, gave last major public speech at Press Club in August, Bob Weiner, right, Oct. 18, 2019. “Coming from robert weiner columnistsharecropper parents to speaking at a sold-out National Press Club luncheon, I’ve come a long way," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said at an Aug. 7 National Press Club Luncheon.

Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, died Thursday at 68. The House Oversight Committee is one of three committees involved in the current Trump impeachment inquiry.

“We are better than this,” Cummings said during his August appearance referring to the current vitriol in the nation.

Cummings, who had been personally attacked by President Donald Trump, particularly took offense to the president’s attacks of Baltimore in the two weeks prior to his speech. He represented a portion of Baltimore for two decades. Yet, he told us he would not attack Trump directly.

“I won’t even mention his name,” he told us the week before his speech.

Cummings informed us he would keep the dialogue at a “higher plain” of “the nation’s values.” The press wondered why he was not in the media commenting on the personal attacks, but his office had told us he’d be “holding his fire” for the Club speech – that’s how much it meant to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Failed Senate vote sets up big fight over border wall, budget, Erica Werner, Oct. 18, 2019. Amid the chaos of impeachment and President Trump's Syria withdrawal, another crisis looms: A government shutdown a month from now unless lawmakers and Trump agree on a new spending deal. The White House plans to play hardball on wall money, setting up shutdown fight in November.

The Senate on Thursday failed to block President Trump from redirecting taxpayer money to fund a border wall, laying bare the budget crisis that looms over Washington heading into November.

The vote was 53 to 36, as the Senate attempted to override Trump’s veto of legislation nullifying his national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. That fell short, as expected, of the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto. But 10 Republicans voted with Democrats on the measure, reflecting the unease many within the GOP have with Trump’s approach.

The budget fight is expected to get even messier. Trump is not interested in signing other domestic spending bills until there is agreement on the border wall, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations. Funding for many federal agencies expires Nov. 21, and an impasse would lead to a sizable government shutdown, bigger in scope than what happened less than one year ago.

Turk-Syrian War, U.S. Retreat

SouthFront, Erdogan Says He Has No Objection To Damascus’ Control Over Northeastern Syria, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 18, 2019. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that he will discuss the situation in northeast Syria with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in their upcoming meeting on October 22.

recep erdogan with flag“There will be a meeting with Putin in Sochi on Tuesday. Our aim is to identify an acceptable solution. We want the areas under the control of the Syrian government to be cleared of militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] and the Self Defense Forces [YPG],” Erdoga, left, told a news conference in Istanbul on October 18, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

The Turkish President went on to state that he has no objections against placing the “safe-zone” under the Damascus government’s control.

On October 9, the Turkish military and its Syrian proxies launched a large-scale military operation to establish the “safe-zone” in northeast Syria. However, a breakthrough deal between Damascus and Kurdish forces allowed Syrian troops to enter the region, which limited the movement of Turkish forces.

Facing this unexpected development, Turkey accepted a US-proposed ceasefire which would force Kurdish forces out of the designated “safe-zone.” Less than 24 hours after its beginning, the ceasefire appears to be collapsing, with both side not fulfilling their commitments.

SouthFront, Syrian Army Enters More Towns In Northeast Syria To Support SDF, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 18, 2019. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) syrian flag wavingcontinued its deployment in the country’s northeast region to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which were facing a Turkish-led attack.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), fresh units of the army entered several towns in al-Hasakah in the afternoon. The SAA’s deployment in northeast Syria began last week following a breakthrough agreement between the Damascus government and the political wing of the SDF. The initial agreement allow the army to enter most of the region with the aim of countering the ongoing Turkish-led offensive.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turkey’s Erdogan vows to get revenge against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 18, 2019. By now you’ve surely seen Donald Trump’s letter to Erdogan, dated October 9th and released to the public yesterday. Trump sounded like a third grader while alternately begging Erdogan to like him and making threats about “destroying” Turkey. Trump bill palmer report logo headerinfamously ended the letter by saying “Don’t be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool.” It turns out Erdogan predictably didn’t like this too much.

Erdogan just held a press conference, and according to the BBC, he complained that Donald Trump’s letter was out of line, and that he won’t forget Trump’s lack of respect. Here’s the money quote from Erdogan: “When the time comes necessary steps will be taken.” Wait a minute, what?

washington post logoWashington Post, Islamic State races to capitalize on chaos as Turkey batters Kurds, Joby Warrick and Souad Mekhennet, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.).  The Islamic State is racing to capitalize on the deteriorating security situation in northern Syria, stepping up attacks on prisons as well as on the now-weakened Kurdish militia that served as the vanguard in the kurd flagU.S.-led war against the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate, intelligence officials and terrorism experts say.

Despite Thursday’s announced cease-fire, Turkey’s week-old incursion into northeast Syria is already proving to be a propaganda windfall for the extremist group, which in recent months had been making faltering attempts at a comeback in parts of eastern Syria controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the analysts said.

Fighting continues in Syrian border town despite Turkish agreement to halt offensive.

ny times logoNew York Times, Amid Shelling in Syria, Kurds Accuse Turkey of Violating Truce, Oct. 18, 2019. A day after Vice President Mike Pence announced a pause in the battle between Turkish and Kurdish forces, gunfire continued on Friday.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Media And Pundits Misread The 'Everyone Wins' Plan For Syria, B, Oct. 18, 2019. The U.S. media get yesterday's talks between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all wrong. Those talks were just a show to soothe the criticism against President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria.

The fake negotiations did not change the larger win-win-win-win plan or the facts on the ground. The Syrian Arab Army is replacing the Kurdish PKK/YPG troops at the border with Turkey. The armed PKK/YPG forces, which had deceivingly renamed themselves (vid) "Syrian Democratic Forces" to win U.S. support, will be disbanded and integrated into the Syrian army. Those moves are sufficient to give Turkey the security guarantees it needs. They will prevent any further Turkish invasion.

The New York Times falsely headlines: "In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria."

"Military officials said they were stunned that the agreement essentially allowed Turkey to annex a portion of Syria, displace tens of thousands of Kurdish residents and wipe away years of counterterrorism gains against the Islamic State."

syrian flag wavingTurkey will not "gain territory". There will be no Turkish "security corridor". The Kurdish civilians in Kobani, Ras al Ain and Qamishli areas will not go anywhere. The Turks will not touch those Kurdish majority areas because they are, or soon will be, under control of the Syrian government and its army.

The picture, taken yesterday, shows the Syrian-Turkish border crossing north of Kobani. The Syrian army took control of it and raised the Syrian flag. There are no longer any Kurdish forces there that could threaten Turkey.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu confirmed that Turkey agrees with the Syrian government moves. Russia "promised that the PKK or YPG will not be on the other side of the border," Cavusoglu said in an interview with the BBC. "If Russia, accompanied by the Syrian army, removes YPG elements from the region, we will not oppose this."

These moves have been planned all along. The Turkish invasion in northeast Syria was designed to give Trump a reason to withdraw U.S. troops. It was designed to push the Kurdish forces to finally submit to the Syrian government. Behind the scene Russia had already organized the replacement of the Kurdish forces with Syrian government troops. It has coordinated the Syrian army moves with the U.S. military. Turkey had agreed that Syrian government control would be sufficient to alleviate its concern about a Kurdish guerilla and a Kurdish proto-state at its border. Any further Turkish invasion of Syria is thereby unnecessary.

washington post logomitt romney headshot SmallWashington Post, Romney raises a troubling theory about Trump and Turkey, Aaron Blake, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), right, suggested that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might have given President Trump an ultimatum — and that Trump caved.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Cease-Fire Deal Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria, Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 18, 2019. The agreement may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost to American influence is expected to be high. Shelling and gunfire continued in northern Syria on Friday morning, casting further doubt on the feasibility of a cease-fire announced a day before by Vice President Mike Pence between Turkish and Kurdish forces and raising questions about whether the Americans can even enforce it.

The Kurdish leadership in northern Syria accused the Turkish military and its proxies of violating the terms of the truce. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied that any fighting was continuing.

But shelling raged on in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, and gunfire could be heard by journalists just across the border in Turkey. The continuation of the deadly conflict provided further evidence of the United States’ diminished influence, showing that the American military, having evacuated its troops from northern Syria, had no practical ability to enforce the cease-fire.

Global News: Brexit

ny times logounited kingdom flagNew York Times, Analysis: E.U.’s Message to Britain: Just Leave Already, Oct. 18, 2019. The Europeans got the better of Thursday’s draft deal, most analysts agree, and remain eager to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

U.S. 2020 Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: If It’s Trump vs. Warren, Then What? David Brooks, Oct. 18, 2019 (print ed.). A hard but necessary choice to save the country. This is a memo for the politically homeless. It’s a memo to those of us who could never support Donald Trump but think the Bernie-Squad-Warren Democratic Party is sprinting too far left.

It’s a memo built around the following question: If the general election campaign turns out to be Trump vs. Warren, what the heck are we supposed to do?

washington post logoWashington Post, Hillary Clinton suggests Putin has dirt on Trump, Russia will back Tulsi Gabbard third-party bid, Aaron Blake, Oct. 18, 2019.
In a conversation on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Clinton suggested the Russians are leveraging a number of top U.S. politicians.

At Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) hit back at critics who charged she’s too close to Russia. “This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia,” she said. “Completely despicable.”

tulsi gabbard june 26 2019 dem debateGabbard, right, won’t be happy to hear Hillary Clinton’s latest interview. Nor will President Trump or another of Clinton’s 2016 opponents, whom Clinton has now lodged similar accusations about.

In a conversation on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, “Campaign HQ,” Clinton suggested the Russians are leveraging a number of top U.S. politicians. She suggested Russia had kompromat, or compromising information, on Trump. She accused 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein of being a “Russian asset.” And she suggested Russia might back Gabbard as a third-party candidate.

Clinton did not provide any evidence for her claim, though a spokesman later insisted to CNN, “This is not some outlandish claim; this is reality.” Gabbard, though, has previously ruled out an independent campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Internal Democratic poll suggests a way to bleed Trump dry, Greg Sargent, Oct. 18, 2019. One big question House Democrats face is whether they will opt for a quick, clean impeachment of President Trump, as opposed to broadening their impeachment inquiry to include other aspects of Trump’s bottomlessly corrupt conduct.

After all, glaring new examples of Trump’s misconduct tumble forth every day — most recently, Trump’s decision to host the Group of Seven at Trump National Doral, a profoundly corrupt middle finger to the very idea of governing in the public interest. Shouldn’t such things be drawn into the impeachment inquiry?

New internal polling by Democrats suggests there might not be any downside in taking the more drawn out and open-ended approach — though some Democratic leaders might be loath to do so.

Consumer Protection

ny times logojohnsons baby powderNew York Times, Johnson & Johnson Recalls Asbestos-Tainted Baby Powder, Tiffany Hsu and Roni Caryn Rabin, Oct. 18, 2019. Johnson & Johnson is recalling a shipment of baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration discovered evidence of asbestos, the company said on Friday, after months spent denying the presence of the carcinogen in its talc-based products.

National Public Radio (NPR), Boeing Pilots Detected 737 Max Flight Control Glitch 2 Years Before Deadly Crash, David Schaper, Oct. 18, 2019. New evidence indicates that Boeing pilots knew about "egregious" problems with the 737 Max airplane three years ago, but federal regulators were not told about them.

Investigators say the plane's new flight control system, called MCAS, is at least partially to blame for 737 Max crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia this year that killed 346 people. Acting on data from a single, faulty angle-of-attack sensor, MCAS repeatedly forced both planes into nosedives as the pilots struggled, but failed to regain control.

The pilots in the Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia last October did not know MCAS existed, as Boeing did not disclose any information about it in pilot manuals or in training material. Newly revealed instant messages sent between Boeing's then-chief technical pilot for the 737, Mark Forkner, and another technical pilot, Patrik Gustavsson, in November 2016 indicate that Forkner experienced similar problems with MCAS during a test session in a flight simulator.

In a transcript obtained by NPR, Forkner writes that "there are still some real fundamental issues" with the system that he says Boeing engineers and test pilots "claim that they are aware of."

U.S. Supreme Court

Howe on the Court via SCOTUSblog, Justices to review constitutionality of CFPB structure, Amy Howe, Oct. 18, 2019. The website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank Act as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, describes the CFPB as a “U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.”

Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of statutory restrictions on the president’s ability to remove the director of the CFPB from office. The dispute is not merely an academic one: If the justices agree that the restrictions violate the doctrine known as the separation of powers – the idea that the Constitution divides the different functions of government among the executive, judicial and legislative branches – their ruling could potentially unravel all the CFPB’s decisions in the nine years since its creation.

The case now before the court was filed by Seila Law, a law firm that provides, according to its briefs, “a variety of legal services to consumers, including assistance with the resolution of consumer debt.” When the CFPB began an investigation into whether Seila had violated federal telemarketing laws, it sought information and documents from the firm. Seila objected to the request. It argued that the structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional because the bureau is headed by a single director, who has significant power but can only be removed by the president “for cause” – that is, for a very good reason.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit conceded that Seila’s argument was “not without force,” but it ultimately concluded that the Supreme Court’s cases point in the other direction. Although the director can only be removed for cause, the court of appeals reasoned, that restriction does not “impede the President’s ability to perform his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”

Oct. 17

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Mulvaney confirms Ukraine aid withheld in part to force investigation of Democrats, John Hudson and Karoun Demirjian​, Oct. 17, 2019. Acting mick mulvaney omb SmallWhite House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, told reporters Thursday that President Trump blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in part to force the government in Kyiv to investigate his political rivals, a startling acknowledgment after the president’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo.

• Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney defended the maneuver as “absolutely appropriate.”

• Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, in House testimony, criticized the president’s temporary hold on nearly $400 million in military aid and the recall of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney just told House investigators everything about Trump and Ukraine, Editorial Board, Oct. 17, 2019. President Trump may be formally refusing to cooperate with a congressional impeachment inquiry, but on Thursday his acting chief of staff revealed all that House investigators need to know in order to determine whether Mr. Trump abused his oath of office.

Yes, Mick Mulvaney said, Mr. Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine, money that had been appropriated by Congress and was desperately needed to resist Russian aggression, in order to induce the government of Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a conspiracy theory about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 election. In other words, the president was using U.S. aid as leverage to advance his personal political agenda.

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mr. Mulvaney said with stunning brazenness. “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

washington post logoelijah cummings oWashington Post, Elijah Cummings: 1951–2019: Democratic leader, forceful Trump opponent dies at 68, Jenna Portnoy, Oct. 17, 2019. A congressman from Maryland, he gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House. He chaired the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee and helped lead the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell tells Senate Republicans to prepare for impeachment trial, Rachael Bade and Erica Werner, Oct. 17, 2019. In a PowerPoint mitch mcconnell2presentation, the Senate majority leader said the trial could begin as soon as Thanksgiving and may require six days of meetings a week.

An air of inevitability has taken hold in Congress, with the expectation Trump will become the third president in history to be impeached — and Republicans believe they need to prepare to defend the president. While McConnell briefed senators on what would happen during a Senate trial, House GOP leaders convened what they expect will be regular impeachment strategy sessions.

In their closed-door weekly luncheon, McConnell, left, gave a PowerPoint presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

nancy pelosi djt oct 16 2019 cropped2Nancy Pelosi gestures at President Trump during a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. (Via President Trump's Twitter)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tried to insult ‘unhinged’ Pelosi with an image. She made it her Twitter cover photo, Meagan Flynn, Oct. 17, 2019. The image was meant to be an insult — “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Trump wrote as a caption. But instead, it ended up as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Twitter cover photo.

The photo is striking: Pelosi (D-Calif.), in electric blue, the only woman visible at the table, standing across from a homogeneous row of men, pointing her finger at the president.

To Democrats, what the photo conveyed was clear: the speaker “literally standing up to the president” after the House overwhelmingly voted to condemn his decision to pull out of northern Syria. The stunning moment marked the latest episode in the long-running theatrical feud between Pelosi and the president, ending, like others, with the Democratic leader reclaiming Trump’s insult as a badge of pride.

Trump’s “unhinged meltdown” comment, which he tweeted with the photo, came after Pelosi walked out on a White House meeting regarding Trump’s decision to pull troops out of northern Syria, leaving Kurdish fighters previously allied with the U.S. vulnerable to a Turkish offensive. House lawmakers voted 354-60-4 to denounce Trump’s decision in a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, both Pelosi and Trump said they were praying for each other now, each somehow managing to transform a religious offering into an insult. “Pray for her, she is a very sick person!” Trump tweeted, just after releasing the photo of Pelosi pointing at him.

ny times logo

gordon sondland oNew York Times, Ambassador to E.U. Testifies That Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 17, 2019. Gordon Sondland, right, told investigators that he disagreed as President Trump involved Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, in diplomacy with Kiev.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Impeachment Blockade Crumbles as Witnesses Agree to Talk, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 17, 2019. After vowing not to cooperate with a “kangaroo court,” President Trump has largely failed to prevent current and former administration members from doing so.

The White House’s trenchant declaration to House impeachment investigators last week was unequivocal: No more witnesses or documents for a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”

But just a week later, it has become clear that President Trump’s attempts to stonewall the Democrat-led inquiry that has imperiled his presidency and ensnared much of his inner circle are crumbling.

One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Rick Perry finally resigned for real today, Bill Palmer, Oct. 17, 2019. First Rick Perry was going to resign. Then he wasn’t going to resign. Now rick perry ohe’s finally resigned today, and he’s made it official, complete with a pointless resignation video. Actually, the video does hint that Rick Perry understands he now has to embark on a PR campaign if he wants to pull this off without landing in prison.

Rick Perry, right, is not the mastermind behind Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, as Trump tried claiming earlier this month. Rick Perry has never been the mastermind of anything in his life. But he is knee deep in this scandal. He, Gordon Sondland, and Kurt Volker jointly carried out a big chunk of the Ukraine dirty work, according to yesterday’s testimony by the State Department’s George Kent, who referred to them as the “three amigos.” Sondland and Volker have already testified, and based on what little has leaked out thus far, they both admitted to having played a part in the scandal, but insisted that Trump told them they had to do it, and that they didn’t understand the criminal nature of the scandal at the time.

bill palmer report logo headerThis means that Rick Perry now has to go tell the same thing to the House impeachment inquiry. He’s way past the point of being able to claim he didn’t do anything wrong. He has to go in there and also admit to what he did, while blaming Trump and playing dumb. So of course Perry had to resign today once he got a look at Sondland’s written opening statement. You can’t realistically be a cabinet member who testifies against the President of the United States in an impeachment inquiry, and remain a cabinet member.

But Rick Perry faces more of an uphill battle than that. It’s been reported that even as Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were trying to extort Ukraine into promoting the fake Biden scandal, Perry was pressuring a Ukrainian oil company to put his buddies in charge of the company. That’s the stuff of lengthy prison sentences. Rick Perry will not only have to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, he’ll have to do it so convincingly, federal prosecutors decide not to indict him for the gas thing after Trump is gone. That’s a tricky tightrope to walk. But resigning today was the first step.

Trump, GOP Conflicts

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Will Host Next G7 at His Doral Resort, Katie Rogers, Oct. 17, 2019. President Trump’s decision to host the economic summit at his luxury resort in Miami is sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration. Hosting the Group of 7 meeting at a Trump property could provide a windfall for the Trump Organization and raise the resort’s profile around the world.

President Trump will host next year’s Group of 7 meeting next June at Trump Doral, his luxury resort near Miami, the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters on Thursday.

“‘It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,’” Mr. Mulvaney said during a press briefing, quoting what he said an unnamed official had told him before quickly saying that the issue was not a conflict of interest. “The president has made it clear since he’s been here that he hasn’t profited since he’s been here.”

The decision to host the summit at the Trump National Doral Miami Golf Club is almost sure to alarm ethics watchdogs and critics of the administration who would see an immediate conflict of interest. Hosting the Group of 7 meeting of world leaders at a Trump property could provide a windfall for the Trump Organization and raise the resort’s profile around the world.

“Donald Trump’s brand is strong as it is,” Mr. Mulvaney said when asked about possible criticism. “It’s the most recognized name in the English language.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell and Questions of Conflict, Editorial Board, Oct. 17, 2019. Congress wants answers from the transportation secretary, wife of the Senate majority leader. In recent months, yet another top official has drawn scrutiny over allegations of old-style conflicts of interest: Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation and the wife of the Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

elaine chao oOn Friday, Representative Peter DeFazio, the Oregon Democrat who heads the House Transportation Committee, asked the Transportation Department’s in-house watchdog to look into whether Ms. Chao, right, has been showing inappropriate favoritism to her husband’s Kentucky constituents.

Mr. DeFazio expressed particular concern about reports by Politico that Ms. Chao had tapped a top staffer to serve as a special liaison for Kentucky grant requests and other issues related to the state — the agency has denied this — and that she has held a disproportionate number of meetings with officials from the state.

According to an analysis by Politico, in her first 14 months as transportation secretary, one in four of the scheduled meetings with local officials on Ms. Chao’s calendar were with Kentuckians. (The two states next on the list, Indiana and Georgia, accounted for only 6 percent each.) Some of the meetings were set up at the request of McConnell staff members, who let his wife’s office know which officials were “friends” or “loyal supporters.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Remaining Silent About Corruption Should Not Be an Optiion, Margaret Garnett and Preet Bharara (right), Oct. 17, 2019. New York City requires its employees to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, and that approach is working.

preet bharara SmallWe know from the work we did as prosecutors and investigators that whistle-blowers are essential to exposing corruption and holding the corrupt accountable. But with few exceptions, the law imposes no general obligation on citizens to report criminal activity to authorities.

A “duty to report” is rare in American law. Mostly you may simply avert your eyes, keep your mouth shut and suffer no consequence. The rare exceptions concern particularly vulnerable populations like children, which is why teachers, doctors and other caregivers have a legal obligation to report credible evidence of child abuse.

Ms. Garnett is the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Investigation. Mr. Bharara is a former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Tech Companies Are Destroying Democracy and the Free Press, Matt Stoller (the author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy), Oct. 17, 2019. Ad revenue that used to support journalism is now captured by Google and Facebook, and some of that money supports and spreads fake news.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Defiant Zuckerberg Says Facebook Won’t Police Political Speech, Cecilia Kang and Mike Isaac, Oct. 17, 2019. In an address at Georgetown University, the Facebook chief executive called for more free speech — not less — as his company has been assailed for allowing lies and falsehoods to appear.

mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wSenator Elizabeth Warren recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” Marc Benioff, chief executive of the online software maker Salesforce, said the social network “needs to be held accountable for propaganda on its platform.” And regulators around the world are examining whether to break the company up or clip its power.

Under fire on all sides, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, went on the offense on Thursday against his critics.

facebook logoIn a winding, 35-minute speech at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall — where presidents and foreign heads of state have delivered addresses — Mr. Zuckerberg fought back against the idea that the social network needed to be an arbiter of speech. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice and bring them together, and that critics who had assailed the company for doing so were setting a dangerous example.

To make his case, Mr. Zuckerberg invoked Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War and the First Amendment. He contrasted Facebook’s position with that of China, where the authorities control and censor speech, and which he tried unsuccessfully for years to enter to turbocharge his company’s business.

Oct. 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook’s Zuckerberg tells The Post he fears ‘erosion of truth’ but defends allowing politicians to lie in ads, Tony Romm​, Oct. 17, 2019. The stance from Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has sparked an outcry during the 2020 presidential campaign. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview he worries “about an erosion of truth” online but defended the policy that allows politicians to peddle ads containing misrepresentations and lies on his social network, a stance that has sparked an outcry during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Global News: Brexit

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, Brexit deal has been reached, E.U. and U.K. leaders say, Michael Birnbaum, William Booth and Quentin Ariès, Oct. 17, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was a “great new deal,” but it still must be approved by European leaders and the British Parliament.

Turk-Syrian War, U.S. Retreat

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S., Turkey agree to 5-day cease-fire in Syria, Pence says, to let Kurds withdraw after U.S. pullout sparked violence, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Colby Itkowitz​, Oct. 17, 2019. The agreement came after hours of negotiations with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Vice President Pence said Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a cease-fire in Syria, more than a week after the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters who had previously allied with the United States.

Pence, speaking after hours of meetings at the presidential palace with Erdogan and other Turkish officials, said that Turkey had agreed to pause its offensive for five days while the United States helped facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from a large swath of territory that stretched from Turkey’s border nearly 20 miles into Syria.

Following the completion of the withdrawal, Turkey’s military operation would be “halted entirely,” Pence said. The United States had already been in contact with the Syrian Kurdish militias, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and “we have already begun to facilitate their safe withdrawal,” Pence added.

The Trump administration had also agreed not to impose any new economic sanctions on Turkey, and to withdraw sanctions that were imposed earlier this week once “a permanent cease-fire was in effect,” Pence said.

The agreement, aimed at separating hardened foes, in a volatile area of Syria, in the midst of a civil war, faced obvious obstacles. But it averted, at least temporarily, the most serious dispute between Turkey and the United States in years. And, on paper at least, it provided Erdogan with much of what he was seeking, including the removal of Syrian Kurdish militias from the border as well as the threat of crippling sanctions, a specter that had hovered over Turkey’s vulnerable economy.

Southfront, Opinion: Russian Gambit, Murat Mutlu, Oct. 17, 2019. Editor's note: This text was submitted by Murat Mutlu, SouthFront’s reader from Turkey. SouthFront does not share views of the author to a great extent. For example, SouthFront thinks that there are 3 sides that benefit from the recent developments in northeastern Syria: the United States (the Trump administration), Turkey and the Russian-Syrian bloc.

We described this in our recent video analysis “Analysis: Syrian Kurds’ Protection Deal With Assad, Explained.” The most successful side in this situation, in our point of view, is Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally. Meanwhile, we believe that the point of view provided by Mr. Mutlu is interesting and express gratitude for the provided article. 

Inside DC 

The Grey Zone via OpEdNews, Investigation: DC's Atlantic Council raked in funding from Hunter Biden's corruption-stained employer while courting his VP father, Max Blumenthal, Oct. 17, 2019. The shady arrangement between the Atlantic Council and Burisma the gas company at the center of the 'Ukrainegate' scandal is just one dubious deal out of many at a DC think tank that has become a clearinghouse for legal corruption.

With its relentless focus on corruption in Russia and Ukraine, the Atlantic Council has distinguished itself from other top-flight think tanks in Washington. Over the past several years, it has held innumerable conferences and panel discussions, issued a string of reports, and published literally hundreds of essays on Russia's "kleptocracy" and the scourge of Kremlin disinformation.

At the same time, this institution has posed as a faithful partner to Ukraine's imperiled democracy, organizing countless programs on the urgency of economic reforms to tamp down on corruption in the country.

But behind the curtain, the Atlantic Council has initiated a lucrative relationship with a corruption-tainted Ukrainian gas company, the Burisma Group, that is worth as much as $250,000 a year. The partnership has paid for lavish conferences in Monaco and helped bring Burisma's oligarchic founder out of the cold.

#MeToo Scandal

washington post logotheodore mccarrickWashington Post, At least 7 more people allegedly told the Vatican they were sexually abused as boys by Theodore McCarrick, Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 17, 2019. The former D.C. archbishop and cardinal, right, was defrocked amid claims he sexually abused two minors and sexually harassed seminarians. The new allegations span 1970 to 1990.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Defiant Zuckerberg Says Facebook Won’t Police Political Speech, Cecilia Kang and Mike Isaac, Oct. 17, 2019. In an address at Georgetown University, the Facebook chief executive called for more free speech — not less — as his company has been assailed for allowing lies and falsehoods to appear.

Senator Elizabeth Warren recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” Marc Benioff, chief executive of the online software maker Salesforce, said the social network “needs to be held accountable for propaganda on its platform.” And regulators around the world are examining whether to break the company up or clip its power.

Under fire on all sides, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, went on the offense on Thursday against his critics.

In a winding, 35-minute speech at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall — where presidents and foreign heads of state have delivered addresses — Mr. Zuckerberg fought back against the idea that the social network needed to be an arbiter of speech. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice and bring them together, and that critics who had assailed the company for doing so were setting a dangerous example.

To make his case, Mr. Zuckerberg invoked Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War and the First Amendment. He contrasted Facebook’s position with that of China, where the authorities control and censor speech, and which he tried unsuccessfully for years to enter to turbocharge his company’s business.

Oct. 16

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

washington post logoWashington Post, Mulvaney emerges as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure Ukraine, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Greg Jaffe, Oct. 16, 2019. In late May, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting that stripped control of the country’s relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise at the National Security Council and the State Department.

mick mulvaney omb SmallInstead, Mulvaney, right, put an unlikely trio in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new priority, congressional officials said Tuesday: pressuring the fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be politically valuable to President Trump.

The work of those “three amigos,” as they came to call themselves — diplomats Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, plus Energy Secretary Rick Perry — has come to light in recent days through newly disclosed text messages and the testimony of government witnesses appearing before an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani pressed Trump to eject Muslim cleric from U.S., a top priority of Turkish president, Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Rudolph W. Giuliani privately urged President Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States, a rudy giulianitop priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to multiple former administration officials familiar with the discussions.

Giuliani, right, a Trump ally who later became the president’s personal attorney, repeatedly argued to Trump that the U.S. government should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to describe private conversations.

Turkey has demanded that the United States turn over Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen has denied involvement in the plot.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: "America's Mayor" is a criminal with a long rap sheet, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 16, 2019. Former New rudy giuliani recentYork Mayor and Donald Trump’s “television lawyer” Rudolph Giuliani is being criminally investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of wayne madesen report logoNew York (SDNY) – the position Giuliani once held – for fraud and racketeering violations.

Nevertheless, the alt-right, including the “libertarian right,” have rallied to support Giuliani, right, claiming the criminal investigation of his illegal activities in Ukraine and Turkey amount to nothing more than a political “witch hunt.” 

washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo adviser to decry politicization of State Dept. in impeachment probe testimony, Carol Morello and John Hudson​, Oct. 16, 2019. Michael McKinley, the senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo until his sudden resignation last week, will tell House investigators that career diplomats were mistreated and that some had their careers derailed for political reasons, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Palmer Report, Opinion: George Kent’s impeachment testimony yesterday was apparently devastating to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2019. State Department official george kent oGeorge Kent testified behind closed doors yesterday to the House impeachment inquiry, the third current or former member of the Trump administration to testify over the past few days. We haven’t seen as many details leak out about Kent’s testimony thus far – but the few details that have surfaced appear to be devastating to Donald Trump.

Kent, right, is the State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary and thus the highest ranking member of the Trump administration to testify in the impeachment inquiry to date. He testified yesterday that after he raised concerns about the Ukraine extortion plot, a “supervisor” told him to “lie low,” according to Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly, who was in the hearing. Why is this important?

bill palmer report logo headerFor one thing, given his high ranking position, Kent doesn’t have a lot of “supervisors” at the State Department. So this means one of the highest ranking officials in the State Department ordered him to stay quiet about what he’d seen and heard. Not only does this establish a coverup and thus establish consciousness of guilt, it’s clear that the coverup went to some of the highest levels in the Trump regime. There’s no possible way that Donald Trump didn’t know about this coverup attempt.

George Kent also testified that Rudy Giuliani’s antics undermined “twenty-eight years” of U.S. foreign policy efforts in Ukraine, dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union. So not only did Kent establish that the Trump regime made a forceful attempt at a coverup, he established that Donald Trump’s henchman Giuliani did a historic level of damage by carrying out Trump’s corrupt extortion scheme.

Explosive Trump Teen Rape Claim
djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

Newsweek, Trump Teen Rape Allegation Resurfaces, Ronan Farrow Claims National Enquirer Tried to Protect Him in New Book, Tufayel Ahmed, Oct. 16, 2019. Amid behind-the-scenes details of his explosive reporting on Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct, Ronan Farrow's new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators claims ronan farrowthat American Media Inc. (AMI), the former publisher of the National Enquirer, tried to help Donald Trump bury allegations he raped a teenager in 1994.

Farrow claims in the book that AMI CEO David Pecker, left, was in close contact with Trump when the rape allegations were made public in a 2016 david pecker croppedlawsuit, and that then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard assured Trump's personal lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, "that they would track down the woman with the rape allegation and see what they could do about her." An AMI spokesperson told Newsweek Tuesday that Farrow's claims are "completely untrue."

AMI has been accused in the past of purchasing potentially damaging stories about Trump in order to keep them from becoming public—a practice known in the industry as "catch and kill." Last December, AMI admitted that in 2016 it made a $150,000 payment "in concert" with Trump's election campaign to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who allegedly had an affair with Trump a decade earlier. The publisher made the pact with McDougal "in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

At the crux of the lawsuit filed against Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election were claims that Trump raped a woman when she was 13 years old in 1994. At the time, Trump's lawyer Alan Garten responded to the lawsuit saying that the allegations are "categorically untrue."

katie johnson jane doe laThe anonymous plaintiff — identified only as "Katie Johnson" in an initial legal filing that was dismissed in California, and "Jane Doe" in two subsequent legal filings in New York —said that she was raped by Trump during a party hosted by the now-deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at his New York City apartment. In the third and final lawsuit, Doe (shown at right with her face pixilated) alleged she had numerous sexual encounters with Trump and Epstein at the latter's ronan farrow catch and kill Customparties and said she was also raped by Epstein, as BuzzFeed News reported at the time.

Among the lurid details of the lawsuit, Jane Doe alleged Trump tied her to a bed, "forcibly raped" her and threatened her and her family with physical harm, if not death, if she told anyone about the assault. "I understood that Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew that I was 13 years old," Jane Doe wrote in an affidavit.

Farrow alleges that after the suit was filed in September 2016, Enquirer editor Howard and Trump lawyer Cohen were in contact frequently. (Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last December on charges including campaign finance violations for his part in hush payments to McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.)

Editors' note: The Justice Integrity Project and Wayne Madsen Report wrote extensively about this case in a joint investigation and three-part series first published in January 2018, with the themes illustated by the graphic below.

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic maria

Scandals At Veterans Administration

Associated Press via Military Times, Trump mulled order to close parts of VA health system, Shulkin says in new book, Hope Yen, Oct. 16, 2019. Eager for changes at the Department of ap logodavid shulkinVeterans Affairs, President Donald Trump toyed early on with issuing an executive order to close parts of the VA health system without consulting Congress, according to an upcoming book by his former VA secretary.

david shulkin bookIn the book, obtained by The Associated Press, David Shulkin, right, describes a March 6, 2017, conversation in the Oval Office where Trump explored ways his administration could act quickly to shutter government-run VA medical centers that he viewed as poorly performing.

Trump was fresh off his 2016 campaign in which privatizing VA had become a political hot button after he pledged to steer more veterans to private-sector doctors outside the VA. He had said the VA was the “the most corrupt” and “probably the most incompetently run” Cabinet department. Democrats and major veterans’ groups oppose “privatization” and say VA facilities are best-suited to treat battlefield injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the meeting, Trump asked whether “we should begin to close the VAs,” according to the book. Legislation prohibited that, so Shulkin responded that the VA was working with Congress to set up a system-wide review to address underperforming facilities, whether by fixing or closing.

“But this takes time,” Shulkin said.

Turk-Syrian War, U.S. Retreat

recep erdogan with flag

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey Urges Kurdish Fighters to Lay Down Arms and Leave, Ben Hubbard, Oct. 16, 2019 (print ed.). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey requested international support for his country’s battle against Kurdish fighters. Speaking to the Turkish Parliament, Mr. Erdogan, shown above in a file photo, said Turkey would not stop fighting until it had established a planned “safe zone” in Syria roughly 20 miles deep, from the town of Manbij in the west to the Iraqi border in the east.

Even as he spoke, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were planning to travel to Turkey with plans to meet Turkish officials on Thursday and press for a cease-fire.

SouthFront, Analysis: Syrian Kurds’ Protection Deal With Assad, Explained, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 16, 2019.  he Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have reached a groundbreaking deal with the Assad government. This happened on October 13 evening after the US-led coalition expectedly abandoned their ‘local partners’ in face of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring and an ‘accident Turkish shelling’ of a US military garrison near Kobani.

Turkey is a NATO member state and a key US ally in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara considers the SDF to be a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. So, it was hard to expect that the US would really fight the Turks on behalf of the Syrian Kurds.

U.S. 2020 Politics

democratic debate promo october 2019 12 candidates

washington post logoWashington Post, Warren faces first sustained attack in debate that begins with unified condemnation of Trump, Toluse Olorunnipa, Chelsea Janes and Matt Viser. Oct. 16, 2019. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose steady stream of plans have propelled her to the top of the Democratic presidential field, came under sustained attack for the first time during a raucous primary debate here Tuesday that revealed Democrats’ ongoing public struggle to define their beliefs and choose a standard-bearer to take democratic donkey logoon President Trump.

Warren (Mass.) faced direct challenges from several of the 11 other candidates onstage, who took her on over her policies, her fitness to serve as commander in chief and her willingness to question the motives of Democrats who support less transformational ideas.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) took turns criticizing Warren over her support for Medicare-for-all and her purist approach to populism.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: It Was the Best of Warren. It Was the Worst of Warren, Frank Bruni, Oct. 16, 2019. Tuesday’s debate — the tensest yet — put the Democrats’ newly minted front-runner to the test. Pete Buttigieg went after Elizabeth Warren, wondering why she was so intent on abolishing private health insurance and suggesting that her stance would dangerously intensify political polarization in America.

Amy Klobuchar went after Warren, describing her Medicare for All plan as one big fat Republican talking point and Warren as a fantasist peddling “a pipe dream.”

Bernie Sanders went after her — well, sort of — by correctly noting her repeated refusal to admit what he already had, which is that Medicare for All would require a tax increase not just for affluent Americans but also for the middle class.

All of this was to be expected. All of it was, in fact, a great compliment to Warren. During both the opening stretch of the debate and subsequent ones, her prescriptions were the point of reference, her priorities set the terms of the discussion, and she was the candidate to whom the debate’s moderators kept returning so that she could respond to her rivals’ invocations of her.

And she stayed cool and confident under fire, sounding more grateful for the spotlight than fearful of the microscope. It was, for the most part, a fine performance.

tulsi gabbard june 26 2019 dem debate

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Tulsi Gabbard Is Doing Really, Really Right, Ericka Andersen, Oct. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Candidates are leaving potential Republican converts without options. With a few exceptions on particular policies, the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion Christians (some of whom are white evangelicals) — without options.

The exception is Representative Tulsi Gabbard (shown above in a file photo), the candidate making the most visible effort to help moderates and newbies feel included.

Media News

james fetzer

Wisconsin State Journal, Jury awards Sandy Hook father $450,000 for defamation by local conspiracy theorist, Chris Rickert, Oct. 16, 2019. A Dane County jury on Tuesday decided a village of Oregon conspiracy theorist (shown above in court) must pay the father of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings $450,000 for falsely claiming that the father circulated fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate.

It took the jury nearly four hours to decide on the amount James Fetzer must pay Leonard Pozner, whose son, Noah, 6, was the youngest victim of the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The award follows Circuit Judge Frank Remington’s ruling in June that Fetzer defamed Pozner with four false statements about the death certificate. The statements appeared in a book Fetzer co-authored and edited, and in his blog.

In his own statement after the jury delivered its decision, Pozner thanked the jury “for recognizing the pain and terror that Mr. Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting,” and emphasized that his case was not about First Amendment protections.

“Mr. Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened,” he said. “He has the right to express his ignorance. This award, however, further illustrates the difference between the right of people like Mr. Fetzer to be wrong and the right of victims like myself and my child to be free from defamation, free from harassment and free from the intentional infliction of terror.”

Fetzer called the damages amount “absurd” and said he would appeal.

Fetzer — a professor emeritus of philosophy from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and prolific conspiracy theorist on a range of events — claims the Sandy Hook massacre never happened but was instead an event staged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of an Obama administration effort to enact tighter gun restrictions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: In ‘Catch and Kill,’ Ronan Farrow Recounts Chasing Harvey Weinstein Story, Jennifer Szalai, Oct. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Farrow writes ronan farrowthat NBC tried to shut down his reporting about sexual assault and harassment allegations against the Hollywood producer. We live in polarized times, but one thing still seems to be shared across the political divide: sexual misconduct. As Ronan Farrow documents in his absorbing new book, Catch and Kill, mistreating women is a bipartisan enterprise.

This can make for some twisted alliances. Farrow describes how he put together his explosive 2017 exposé of numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser and “part of the brain trust around Hillary Clinton.” (Farrow’s article ran in The New Yorker in October 2017, five days after Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of The Times published their article detailing harassment allegations against Weinstein.)

Farrow quotes gleeful emails between Weinstein and Dylan Howard, the editor of The National Enquirer, whose parent company, American Media Inc., was run by David Pecker, a staunch supporter of Donald J. Trump’s. Howard forwarded Weinstein some “dirt” on the actor Rose McGowan, who had tweeted the month before ronan farrow catch and kill Customabout “my rapist,” whom she didn’t name. “This is the killer,” Weinstein wrote. “Especially if my fingerprints r not on this.”

Catch and Kill gets its title from a tabloid practice that A.M.I. had honed over the years: purchasing a story in order to bury it. A.M.I.’s strategy is an essential part of this book’s narrative, but what Farrow suggests is that NBC News, which employed him at the time, did something with the Weinstein story that wasn’t entirely dissimilar. Instead of hush money, Farrow says, NBC officials used the institutional levers at their disposal to shut down his work on Weinstein — from intermittent discouragement to elaborate stonewalling to a legal review that turned out to be both labyrinthine nbc news logoand absurd.

They even ordered Farrow and his steadfast producer, Rich McHugh, to take the rather extraordinary step of halting their reporting; then, when Farrow’s article ran in The New Yorker, NBC released a statement saying that the reporting NBC officials saw (and that Farrow says they tried to impede) had not been up to snuff.

Oct. 15

Turk-Syrian War, U.S. Retreat

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia says its units are patrolling between Turkish and Syrian forces following pullout of U.S. troops, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Erin Cunningham​, Oct. 15, 2019. The Russian Defense Ministry's announcement was a sign that the country was moving to fill a security vacuum after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria.

bashar al assad soldiers unsourced

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, center, with Syrian Arab Army officers (file photo via Syrian Arab News Agency)

SouthFront, Russian Military Police, Syrian Army Deployed In Manbij After US Troops Withdrawal, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 15, 2019. Commenting on the situation in the area, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Manbij and its surroundings are now in full control of the Syrian Army. The Defense Ministry said syrian flag wavingthat units of the Russian Military Police are patrolling the contact line between the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed forces northwest of Manbij.

US forces have withdrawn from the northern Syrian town of Manbij, a spokesman for the US-led coalition reported on October 15. A coalition of Turkish-backed militant groups announced an advance on Manbij. However, no large-scale clashes with the Syrian Army  took place.

Election Integrity & Operations

democratic debate promo october 2019 12 candidates

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

djt handwave file

Impeachment Inquiry Update   

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy to personally benefit Trump, ex-adviser testifies, Karoun Demirjian, Shane Harris and Rachael Bade​, Oct. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Fiona Hill, who resigned from her National Security Council post earlier this year, told lawmakers that Rudolph W. Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats.

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Tuesday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer (and shown together with the president in a file photo), ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career fiona hilldiplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according a person familiar with her testimony.

Hill, shown at left in a file photo, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of gordon sondland omilitary aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, right, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she explained, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The dam is breaking, Bill Palmer, Oct. 15, 2019. Last night Democratic Congressman Denny Heck emerged from denny heck o CustomFiona Hill’s ten hour marathon testimony to the House impeachment inquiry, and while being careful not to prematurely reveal the details of what transpired, Heck simply said “the dam is breaking.” As the night went on, it became clear what he was talking about.

bill palmer report logo headerIt turns out John Bolton of all people advised Fiona Hill to go to a National Security Council lawyer months ago and document everything that was going on in Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. The New York Times says that Bolton compared Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine extortion to a “drug deal” and also implicated Mick Mulvaney as being in on it. This sent shockwaves. After all, just how ugly does your scandal have to be for John Bolton to be the good guy in the story? But there was more to come.

As the night went on, Rudy Giuliani confessed to Reuters that he took a half million dollars from the company being run by the Ukrainian guy who just got arrested. And really, why not confess? The SDNY already has his bank records, which are going to get him arrested for numerous international financial crimes anyway.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flanked by, from left, House Committee chairs Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Jerrold Nadler (photo by Politico).

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flanked by, from left, House Committee chairs Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Jerrold Nadler (photo by Politico).

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion: The Congress Has to Draw the Line, Ralph Nader, Oct. 15, 2019. It is time for the House of Representatives to announce comprehensive articles of impeachment against the chronic outlaw and violator of the public trust President Donald J. Trump Ralph Naderwho won the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote.

Six House Committees have been investigating and assembling for months the necessary evidence. Mr. Trump himself has taunted the House to impeach him. He has openly and brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas for documents and blocked subpoenaed witnesses from testifying. This obstruction of Congress is an ongoing impeachable offense a grave one in the opinions of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the other framers of our Constitution, who knew the importance of critical separation of powers.

These Committees are documenting his massive obstruction of justice, otherwise known as blocking law enforcement and the rule of law through intimidation, firings, and other forms of political coercion. They are filling in the details of the ten categories of obstruction described in the Mueller Report. They are cataloguing all the ways Trump is using his office to enrich his businesses openly promoting his hotels before foreign governments and their agents.

Committee investigators are peeling off layer after layer of Trump's demanding from Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine to investigate a possible opponent to his re-election Joe Biden and his son, having suspended nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine to pressure Mr. Zelensky.

The "abuse of the public trust," in Alexander Hamilton's phrase, is overflowing. Over ten thousand Trump lies mean cover-ups, secrecy in government, deceiving innocent citizens about the air, food, water, and workplace danger, megalomania, about drug prices and health insurance for all. Lies matter; they tell us something about the President's mental instability, his detachment from reality, and the willingness of a large minority of the people to believe the fibs even when they are about their own crucial livelihoods, health, and safety.

What would Hamilton also think of the Commander in Chief saying that if he is impeached, there might be a civil war? Incitation to mass violence for his political survival is not a minor matter.

Then there are the lawless uses of armed force abroad anywhere Trump wants, regardless of the absence of Congressional appropriations or declarations of war.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani just confessed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 15, 2019. During his time as Donald Trump’s legal counsel, Rudy Giuliani has only consistently been good at one thing: confessing. Rudy has repeatedly gone on TV and blurted out aspects of Trump’s scandals that weren’t known to the public or to investigators. Now that Rudy himself has been cornered by federal investigators, he’s trying the old “go ahead and confess” strategy once again.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Monday evening the Wall Street Journal reported that the SDNY has already obtained and sifted through Rudy Giuliani’s bank records, and has spent months interviewing witnesses who have been testifying against Giuliani. This means they’ve had Rudy nailed to the wall since before they arrested his henchmen last week. The Feds already have documentation of Rudy’s illegal foreign payoffs, and he’ll be indicted for it. Rudy’s response tonight: yep.

rudy giuliani jail graphic CustomLate tonight, Reuters has reported that Giuliani (shown on a Palmer Report graphic) took half a million dollars from a company run by one of the Ukrainian guys who was arrested last week. So what’s their source? These three words from the article make it clear: “Giuliani told Reuters.”

That’s right, Rudy Giuliani just confessed that he took an illegal six figure payout from a company that was being indirectly run by a Ukrainian oligarch, meaning he violated federal law. Maybe Rudy figures that since he’s been nailed anyway, he might as well try to normalize his crime by confessing to it. Either that, or he’s too far gone to be able to control what’s coming out of his mouth. In any case, Rudy just confessed to the crime that’s going to put him away.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment crisis shines a spotlight on Trump’s state of mind, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Oct. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The president has bullied and projected, portrayed himself as a victim and struck an authoritarian tone as he battles the biggest threat to his presidency so far.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senior State Dept. Ukraine Expert Says White House Sidelined Him, Nicholas Fandos, Kenneth P. Vogel and Michael D. Shear Oct. 15, 2019. The official, George Kent, told impeachment investigators he was cut out of Ukraine policymaking and told to “lay low.”

A senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy told impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he was all but cut out of decisions regarding the country after a May meeting organized by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, describing his sidelining by President Trump’s inner circle as “wrong,” according to a lawmaker who heard the testimony.

The revelation from George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, emerged as he submitted to hours of closed-door testimony to the House committees investigating how President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Despite an edict by the White House not to cooperate with what it has called an illegitimate inquiry, Mr. Kent was one of a procession of top officials who have made the trip to the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, unspooling a remarkably consistent tale. They have detailed how Mr. Trump sought to manipulate American policy in Ukraine to meet his goals, circumventing career diplomats and policy experts and inserting his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani into the process, raising alarms in the West Wing and throughout the government.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Indicts Turkish Bank on Charges of Evading Iran Sanctions, Eric Lipton, Oct. 15, 2019. The charges were announced as President Trump, having allowed Turkish-backed forces to invade Syria, is looking to take a tougher stand against Turkey.

The Justice Department on Tuesday sharply escalated economic pressure on Turkey by filing fraud and money-laundering charges against the country’s second-largest state-owned bank, accusing it of helping Iran evade United States sanctions.

The charges against the institution, Halkbank, came as the administration sought ways to project that it was taking a tough line with Turkey after President Trump effectively signaled this month that the United States would not stand in the way of Turkey’s desire to send forces into northern Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House Democrats to huddle about the accelerating Trump impeachment inquiry, John Wagner​, Oct. 15, 2019. As they democratic donkey logoreturn from recess, lawmakers have summoned another key State Department official to testify behind closed doors on Tuesday about the Ukraine controversy.

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

ny times logoNew York Times, No ‘Ethical Lapse’ in Ukraine and China Work, Hunter Biden Says, Katie Glueck and Stephanie Saul, Oct. 15, 2019. In an interview with ABC News, the former vice president’s son rejected as “ridiculous” President Trump’s suggestions that he and his father had engaged in wrongdoing.

hunter bidenHunter Biden, left, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, said in an interview released on Tuesday that he probably would not have been named to the board of a foreign company if his last name weren’t Biden and acknowledged “poor judgment,” but he rejected suggestions by President Trump that he and his father had engaged in wrongdoing.

“Did I make a mistake? Well maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with ABC News. “But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.”

“I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden,” he said.

The interview comes two days after Hunter Biden pledged that he would not work for foreign-owned companies if his father became president, and just hours before the CNN/New York Times Democratic debate held here in central Ohio, an appearance that is critical to his father’s presidential hopes.

Hunter Biden’s sudden public comments signal the level of concern among Biden allies that the overseas dealings of the younger Mr. Biden had become a potentially damaging liability to his father’s campaign, and are the latest in a flurry of actions pro-Biden forces have taken to mitigate the issue this week ahead of the debate.

Trump Watch

washington post logodjt official portraitWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump hits 13,435 misleading or false claims as day 1,000 draws near, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Oct. 15, 2019. The president has significantly stepped up his pace of spouting exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasts and outright falsehoods, with the Ukraine fallout playing a big role in the uptick.

U.S. 2020 Politics

democratic debate promo october 2019 12 candidates

ny times logoNew York Times, For Tonight’s Democratic Debate, Get Ready for Biggest Stage Ever, Shane Goldmacher and Adriana Ramic, Oct. 15, 2019. A dozen candidates onstage will crowd the stage at once. Here are the key dynamics to watch for.

Tonight will be the biggest presidential primary debate in history: Twelve Democratic candidates will be stuffed on stage with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts again at the center. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be scrutinized democratic donkey logofollowing his heart attack. Senator Kamala Harris of California will try to reverse her fortunes. And second-tier candidates will seek to do something, anything to ensure a November debate spot.

But being the aggressor has yet to pay off in the primary debates. Ms. Harris’s June confrontation with Mr. Biden resulted in a temporary high. Former housing secretary Julián Castro’s September attack on Mr. Biden’s memory seemed to backfire. The question headed into the CNN/New York Times debate on Tuesday night: Can anyone make a splash without being the one who ends up soaked?

washington post logoWashington Post, A viral video landed him a job on the Sanders campaign. His resignation highlights the pitfalls of the quest for digital dominance, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Oct. 15, 2019.  The five-minute video features a parade of cable pundits, interspersing their harsh disapproval of Bernie Sanders with flattering clips of the senator from Vermont and presidential hopeful.

Released on YouTube earlier this month, the video racked up millions of views as it tore through social media, caught the eye of the senator’s top staff and landed its creator — a 34-year-old named Matt Orfalea, who got his start in reality television — a job on the campaign. That is, until his prior, and much less flattering, work came to light on social media, including a crude and intentionally falsified video from 2009 about Martin Luther King Jr., which Orfalea said was designed to prove a point about the risks of media manipulation.

U.S. Election Integrity

Roll Call, Opinion: The most important document you may ever read, Patricia Murphy, Oct 15, 2019. Senate Intelligence report on Russian interference should chill Americans who value our democracy. On the day that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on election interference came out, cable news anchors strained to race through its 448 pages and describe the findings, all in the same breath. Computer sleuths hacked the document’s setting to let users search for “Trump,” “president,” “collusion” and “Russia.” Talking-head lawyers feverishly opined that Volume I contained less incriminating information than Volume II.

But around the country, voters mostly gave an “Is that all there is?” shoulder shrug and went back to their corners. Many members of Congress admitted they didn’t even bother to read it.

Nearly six months later, and to almost no fanfare last week while Congress was in recess, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the second of two installments of its own bipartisan investigation into roughly the same topic. The slim, 85-page report (here) reads like a Russian spy novel crossed with a sequel to Orwell’s most dystopian version of the future — right down to an interview with a paid Russian troll who said his experience in 2016, pitting American voters against each other with social media platforms of their own making, was like being “a character in the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white.”  

Using techniques the KGB tried on Soviet citizens during the Cold War, the committee described the hallmarks of the Russian disinformation campaign in 2016, including messages to erode Americans’ trust in investigative and political journalists; an emphasis on speed to win the first impression of readers, which is always the most resilient; topics designed to exploit racial divisions; and a volume so enormous that overwhelmed audiences can no longer discern what’s real from what’s not. Finally, almost all of the information was deceptive, or as one committee witness called it, a “firehose of falsehood.”

Far from Over

Read that list carefully and you’ll notice it could also describe much of Trump’s daily Twitter feed, a conclusion the committee did not touch, but one that’s hard to miss. Another key feature of both the Russian efforts and the president’s is that all are unconstrained by ideology. The committee reported that a single computer in Russia pushed out hundreds of both pro- and anti-Colin Kaepernick posts virtually simultaneously.

Why rile up Americans on both sides of an emotional racial controversy? It’s “like arming both sides of a civil war” before you have to deal with it yourself, a witness told Senate investigators. Ultimately, as CQ Roll Call’s Neils Lesnewski reported last week, the goal was to suppress African American voters, who were overwhelmingly for Clinton, and keep at least a small portion from bothering to go to the polls at all.

Patricia Murphy covers national politics for The Daily Beast. Previously, she was the Capitol Hill bureau chief for Politics Daily and founder and editor of Citizen Jane Politics.

Reuters, How Amazon.com moved into the business of U.S. elections, Nandita Bose, Oct. 15, 2019. Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud computing arm is making an aggressive push into one of the most sensitive technology sectors: U.S. elections. The expansion by Amazon Web Services into state and local elections has quietly gathered pace since the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. More than 40 states now use one or more of Amazon’s election offerings, according to a presentation given by an Amazon executive this year and seen by Reuters.

amazon logo smallSo do America’s two main political parties, the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the U.S. federal body charged with administering and enforcing federal campaign finance laws.

While it does not handle voting on election day, AWS -- along with a broad network of partners - now runs state and county election websites, stores voter registration rolls and ballot data, facilitates overseas voting by military personnel and helps provide live election-night results, according to company documents and interviews.

Canadian Elections Monday

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), The "Canadian Trump" makes a power run, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 15, 2019.  onservative Party leader Andrew Scheer is hoping to oust the wayne madesen report logoLiberal Party government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the upcoming October 21 parliamentary election.

canadian flagScheer’s policies have been likened to those of Donald Trump. Scheer’s policies on the environment and immigration are definitely further to the right than those of his hard-line Conservative Party predecessor as prime minister, Stephen Harper.

Transitions

washington post logoWashington Post, Rudy Giuliani’s latest divorce is bitter, expensive and very public, Roxanne Roberts​, Oct. 15, 2019. Giuliani’s private life has been splashed across New York tabloids for decades, and the lawyer representing his estranged wife thinks Giuliani is concealing money while working pro bono for President Trump. As a central figure in the Ukraine impeachment scandal, the exact nature of Giuliani’s clients and income is of interest to more than divorce lawyers.

rudy giuliani recent“My divorce is my personal business,” Giuliani (right) texted me last week. “I feel betrayed by a man that I supported in every way for more than 20 years,” Judith Giuliani told the New York Times last month. “I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.”

There’s never a good time for a nasty split, but perhaps this is the very worst of times for Giuliani. Giuliani, 75, is leaving this marriage the same way he entered it: with blaring headlines, tabloid updates and so much drama.

“He digs it,” says Ken Frydman, spokesman for his 1993 mayoral campaign. “He loves the attention. It’s sport for him — and a lack of judgment.”

In May 2000, New York’s two-term mayor called a news conference and announced a separation from his second wife, television anchor Donna Hanover. It was also a public acknowledgment of his year-long relationship with Judith Nathan, whom he praised as a “very, very fine woman.” The separation, however, was allegedly a surprise to his wife, who said she found out her 16-year marriage was ending by watching television.

A surprise, but also not surprising: Hanover started dating Giuliani when he was married to his first wife, Regina Peruggi. An eternal mystery: When the mistress becomes the wife, why is she shocked when another mistress enters the scene? (“Job opening,” goes the old joke.) The New York papers alluded to other indiscretions, but nothing serious became public until the infamous news conference.

Judith Giuliani, 64, receives $42,000 a month in alimony, an amount she claims is peanuts compared with the $230,000 per month they spent as a couple, according to the New York Times. Her lawyer, Bernard Clair, reported that Giuliani earned millions working at the law firm Greenberg Traurig: Almost $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017. He also claims that by working pro bono for Trump, his client’s husband is deliberately concealing income and working with people who will have to “reimburse him” at a later date.

Giuliani, on the other hand, is pleading poverty. Because he is working for free and paying his own expenses, his lawyer says he can’t afford to support his wife in the lifestyle to which she became accustomed and had to borrow money to pay taxes.

Media News

Waterbury Republican-American, Forerunner for women’s newsroom roles had city roots, Tracey O’Shaughnessy, Oct. 15, 2019. Laura Joan Quinn was a Waterbury native and pioneer in women’s representation in newsrooms. In October 1974, a 27-year-old woman from Waterbury published a 24-part series on “Women’s Rights Issues” in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

The series — an exhaustive examination of women in the workplace, on TV, in marriage, in divorce, in taxes, in rape and abortion and even in the classified ads —ran over the course of seven weeks in the now-defunct Bulletin. It won a citation from the American Bar Association and shone a light on reporting done by a woman about women.

That the series even ran — in 24-parts, a far-reaching use of space, impossible by today’s standards — was stunning in itself. But that the Waterbury reporter who wrote it — working at the paper’s suburban bureau — would even have a job with the Philadelphia Bulletin was more surprising still. Only the year before, the reporter laurie quinnfiled a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because the newspaper — like most, at the time— labeled its classified job openings by sex.

Yes, dear Millennials, once upon a not-very-long-time ago, job advertisements were divided by gender — “Male” jobs were professional, technical and well-paying; and “Female” jobs were secretarial, assistant, lower-paying positions.

And Laurie Quinn, daughter of then-Superior Court Public Defender, Raymond J. Quinn, Jr., knew that was more than unfair. It was also illegal.

A frayed and yellowing notice by the Bulletin that as of Aug. 29, 1973, the paper would no longer list jobs with reference to sex, was among the many effects found in the Brussels, Belgium, apartment of Quinn, who died of natural causes Sept. 26 at 72. I was able to access it — and the series Quinn wrote — out of the generosity of her sister, Alice Quinn. Ironically, it was the same day I received my review copy of “She Said,” the Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey book about breaking the sexual harassment story that ignited the #MeToo movement.

That book — to say nothing of The New York Times reporters who wrote it — must have seemed unthinkable to Laurie Quinn 43 years ago. Unimaginable, and yet made possible by fierce, feisty reporters like Quinn.

If we think of women in journalism at all, we focus on the big names: Martha Gellhorn, the maverick war correspondent; or Katharine Graham, helming the Washington Post after her husband’s suicide; or Joan Didion, breaking open the California subculture for all to see. But the story of women elbowing their way into reporting and editing positions began with hundreds of well-educated, scrappy women, who knew that if they were held back from reporting positions, their stories would never get told.

One of them was Laurie Quinn.

Scrappy, pugnacious, witty and dogged, Quinn, a graduate of Notre Dame Academy, Rosemont College and the Annenberg School of Communications, was among the earliest wave of women to break into the male-dominated newspaper business. Newspapers, where average staffs are now 38% female, are still male-dominated, although in online news organizations, representation is closer to 50%.

“She was a good writer, a very clear writer, and she really was almost obsessed with justice,” said Laurie’s sister, Alice Quinn, former executive director of the Poetry Society of America.

But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Laurie Quinn was breaking into the field, getting a news reporting job, let alone one of any significance, was virtually impossible.

“In the 1960s, a woman’s career trajectory at Newsweek could include roles as a mail girl, clipper, researcher and reporter,” wrote Stav Ziz in the magazine recently. “But almost uniformly, that’s where it ended. Only men were hired or promoted to staff writer.” In 1969, one of those researchers, Judy Gingold, learned that such a practice violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The following March, 46 women from Newsweek filed a complaint with the federal government charging the magazine with bypassing women for top writing positions because of their sex. At the time, most of those women worked as researchers, not news reporters. Those who did work in the newsroom were ghettoized into the food, fashion and society pages.

Four years after the Newsweek complaint, six female employees of The New York Times filed a similar sex-discrimination class-action suit, subsequently joined by nearly 600 other women. In 1978, the Times settled out of court, agreeing to place more women in reporting and upper-management positions. This is the watershed case that brought people like Anna Quindlen and Pulitzer-Prize winner Nan Robertson to The New York Times.

By that time, Laurie Quinn was in Philadelphia, working for the Bulletin, but determined to slay another Goliath. This time it was the then-monopoly that was AT&T. “She was going to take on AT&T, that it was a strangulating hold,” said Alice Quinn.

In 1980, Laurie Quinn signed a contract with Knopf to write a book on the company. When federal regulators broke up AT & T in 1983-’84, the book fizzled. In 1987, she followed with a book proposal on the incipient European Union, which officially formed six years later. That book, too, failed to come to fruition. By then, Quinn was living in Brussels, eeking out a living as a freelancer for Reuters, Newsday and other publications.

She would never work full-time for another news organization, for reasons as nebulous as they were emotionally complex. “She was harboring the hope of writing a book for a long time and her hopes were dashed, twice,” her sister Alice said.

How much of what happened to Quinn — a brilliant start followed a sputtering inability to gain traction — had to do with her sex and how much with her own obsessive tendencies is unclear. We tell stories of the victors. The many women —and men — who petered out remain lost in a miasma of rue.

Yet to read Quinn’s comprehensive stories on women — sandwiched as they were between the bruising columns of Art Buchwald and Mike Royko — is to see society brazenly dismembered from a distaff place. It’s not just that Quinn and so many like her sought to dismantle what today’s feminists call a “patriarchal system.” It’s that the environment was so saturated by sexism, that many Americans – in and out of newsrooms – likely never imagined it another way.

To read a young Laurie Quinn reporting on depression among women and the pressure on women to be “sexually attractive” “for the purposes of security,” in 1974 is to see the beginning of a movement that would topple male superstars from Charlie Rose to Placido Domingo. It started with local girls, at local newspapers, looking around and saying, “Something is not right.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies, Staff report, Oct. 15, 2019. The gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group.

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, Reporting on a President Who Wants to ‘Kill Journalism,’ Joshua Hammer, Oct. 15, 2019. Rappler, one of the country’s most popular media platforms, has incurred President Duterte and his supporters’ wrath by investigating his extrajudicial killing campaign.

Since it went live in January 2012, Rappler has become one of the country’s most popular and influential media platforms, mixing reporting with calls for social activism. Today the site attracts an average of 40 million page views and 12 million unique visitors a month, figures that more than double during the Philippines’ election season. Rappler’s reporters, most of whom are in their 20s, have exposed government corruption and researched the financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest of top political figures.

Global News myanmar execution reuters photo

Execution: This photo was taken on the day the 10 Rohingya men were killed. Paramilitary police officer Aung Min, left, stands guard behind them. The picture was obtained from a Buddhist village elder, and authenticated by witnesses (distributed by Reuters).

ny times logoNew York Times, How Myanmar Covered Up Ethnic Cleansing, Hannah Beach and Adam Dean, Oct. 15, 2019. Officials insist the persecution of Rohingya Muslims never happened. Our correspondent visited Rakhine State and found a different story.

#MeToo Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Survey finds evidence of widespread sexual violence at 33 universities, Nick Anderson, Susan Svrluga and Scott Clement, Oct. 15, 2019. About one-quarter of undergraduate women say they have been victims of sexual touching or penetration without consent since starting college, according to a survey this year on sexual assault and misconduct at 33 major universities.

The survey released Tuesday was the second from the Association of American Universities in recent years to document the disturbing prevalence of sexual violence at prestigious public and private schools. A 2015 study involving many of the same universities found broadly similar patterns of sexual misconduct.

Higher Education / Privacy

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Student tracking, secret scoring: How college admissions offices rank prospects before they apply, Douglas MacMillan and Nick Anderson, Oct. 15, 2019. U.S. colleges are collecting more data about prospective students than ever before, and at many schools, this data is used to determine how much attention colleges pay a potential student in the recruiting process.

To learn more about prospective students, admissions officers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout turned to a little-known but increasingly common practice: They installed tracking software on their school website.

When one student visited the site last year, the software automatically recognized who she was based on a piece of code, called a cookie, which it had placed on her computer during a prior visit. The software sent an alert to the school’s assistant director of admissions containing the student’s name, contact information and details about her life and activities on the site, according to internal university records reviewed by The Washington Post. The email said she was a graduating high school senior in Little Chute, Wis., of Mexican descent who had applied to UW-Stout.

The admissions officer also received a link to a private profile of the student, listing all 27 pages she had viewed on the school’s website and how long she spent on each one. A map on this page showed her geographical location, and an “affinity index” estimated her level of interest in attending the school. Her score of 91 out of 100 predicted she was highly likely to accept an admission offer from the school.

Media News

Louisville Courier Journal via USAToday, ABC News mistakenly airs video from Kentucky gun show as Syria bombing footage, Ben Tobin, Oct. 15, 2019. ABC News apologized Monday usa today logoafter airing a video that it originally purported to be a depiction of a Turkish attack in northern Syria against Kurdish civilians after some raised concerns about its similarity to a 2017 video of a Kentucky military gun show.

The video first aired on "World News Tonight" on Sunday evening. As the video played, anchor Tom Llamas said it appeared "to show Turkey's military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town."

abc news logoForeign correspondent Ian Pannell also discussed the footage, saying, "this video, obtained by ABC News, appears to show the fury of the Turkish attack on the border town of Tal Abyad two nights ago."

However, some quickly questioned the authenticity of the video. Wojciech Pawelczyk, who describes himself as a video researcher and Trump supporter, pointed out on Twitter the similarity between the video that aired on ABC News and a video titled "Knob Creek night shoot 2017," which was filmed at Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky.

"Wow! ABC News is trying to pass gun range videos as combat footage from Syria," Pawelczyk wrote in a Tweet on Monday.

Oct. 14

Turks Attack Syrian Kurds (Index)




Syrians in Hasakeh celebrating news of the government's Syrian Arab Army (SAA) moving north to protect them from the Turkish forces of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (5:29 min. video distributed by Videopress via Syrian government news agency SANA)

washington post logoWashington Post, Syrian troops enter towns in northeast as Turkey warns of wider offensive, Erin Cunningham, Sarah Dadouch and Kareem Fahim​, Oct. 14, 2019. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (below left) took up positions Monday in several key towns across northeastern Syria, state media and a war monitoring group reported, following a last-minute agreement with local Kurdish fighters to ward off a Turkish assault.

syrian flag wavingSyrian troops deployed to Ain Issa and Tabqa — on the outskirts of Raqqa — and raised the Syrian flag over government buildings in cities such as Qamishli and Hasakeh, according to pro-government media. One report, in al-Watan newspaper, said government forces had reached the towns of Kobane, a garrison for Syrian Kurdish militants, and Manbij, where U.S. troops had been stationed.

bashar assad new hsIn Ain Issa, the headquarters of the Kurdish-led administration, government troops arrived atop pickup trucks waving Syrian flags, according to images published by state news agency, SANA. The return of Assad’s forces to northeastern Syria, while welcomed by some residents amid the Turkish offensive, marks a stunning reversal for Syrian Kurdish authorities, whose fighters controlled a wide swath of territory and enjoyed U.S. military and financial support in their battle against the Islamic State.

Syrian map Oct. 14, 2019 southfont Custom 2

Movement Of Syrian Army Within SDF-held Area (SouthFront.org map)

SouthFront, Map Update: Movement Of Syrian Army Within SDF-held Area, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 14, 2019.  A brief overview of the recent developments in Syria:

      • The US Defense Secretary announced that US troops will remain in the al-Tanf area and ‘elsewhere’, but not in northern Syria;
      • Syrian Arab Army (SAA) units continues entering into the SDF-controlled area;
      • Pro-Turkish forces continue developing Operation Peace Spring. They captured Iqsas, Ayn Arous, Badee’ and Jasim al-Ali, Darbasiyah and several other points;\
      • Clashes in Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn are ongoing.
      • More excerpts below, such as: New York Times, Syrian War Live Updates and SouthFront, Analysis: Turkey's Syrian National Army And Myth Of United Syrian Opposition.

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update   

washington post logoWashington Post, FEC chair warns charges against Giuliani associates ‘just the tip of the iceberg,’ Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 14, 2019. Yet the agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws has been effectively paralyzed since the departure of its Republican vice chair in August.

ellen weintraubFederal Elections Commission (FEC) Chair Ellen Weintraub, right, says the charges against two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer for scheming to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“There may well be a lot of money that is slipping into our system that we just don’t know about,” Weintraub said in a Friday interview.

And the question of whether Trump acted inappropriately by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden is at the core of the House's impeachment inquiry.

But the FEC is effectively paralyzed: The agency in charge of enforcing campaign finance laws has not been able to conduct any formal business since the departure of its Republican vice chair in August. It needs a quorum to function — and Trump has yet to appoint a fourth commissioner. Weintraub, a Democrat who has chaired the commission three times since her 2002 appointment by President George W. Bush, is very concerned — and says voters should be, too.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Fiona Hill told the Trump White House to go screw itself before her testimony today, Bill Palmer, Oct. 14, 2019. Earlier this evening we learned, courtesy of Democratic Congressman Denny Heck’s impromptu press conference, that former Trump White House official Fiona Hill delivered devastating testimony against Donald Trump today. The thing is, because the testimony of related witnesses is still pending, most of the details of what she said aren’t going to come out just yet. That said, one detail about her testimony did just surface, and it’s a game changer.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Trump White House told Fiona Hill that while she was allowed to show up and testify to the House impeachment inquiry today, she wasn’t allowed to discuss a number of topics, due to executive privilege. But according to NBC News, Hill told the Trump regime that because no such privilege applies when a suspected crime is involved, she was going to go ahead and tell the impeachment inquiry everything.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator; Bigotry, both racial and religious, is the last refuge of a scoundrel, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 14, 2019. Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation.

Alternatively, Barr could have delivered himself of some innocuous pablum, which is something government officials often do in difficult times. But no. Barr gave a fiery speech denouncing the threat to America posed by “militant secularists,” whom he accused of conspiring to destroy the “traditional moral order,” blaming them for rising mental illness, drug dependency and violence.

william barr at dojConsider for a moment how inappropriate it is for Barr, left, of all people, to have given such a speech. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion; the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has no business denouncing those who exercise that freedom by choosing not to endorse any religion.

And we’re not talking about a tiny group, either. These days, around a fifth of Americans say that they don’t consider themselves affiliated with any religion, roughly the same number who consider themselves Catholic. How would we react if the attorney general denounced Catholicism as a force undermining American society?

And he didn’t just declare that secularism is bad; he declared that the damage it does is intentional: “This is not decay. It is organized destruction.” If that kind of talk doesn’t scare you, it should; it’s the language of witch hunts and pogroms.

So what’s going on here? Pardon my cynicism, but I seriously doubt that Barr, whose boss must be the least godly man ever to occupy the White House, has suddenly realized to his horror that America is becoming more secular. No, this outburst of God-talk is surely a response to the way the walls are closing in on Trump, the high likelihood that he will be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

djt nancy pelosi

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Impeachment Inquiry Live Updates, John Wagner​, Oct. 14, 2019. ​Trump renews call to unmask whistleblower; Hunter Biden does TV interview after decision to leave Chinese firm’s board, House investigators are preparing to hear from key witnesses in the impeachment probe this week, including the White House’s former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill today.

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat suggests committee may not press whistleblower to testify in person, Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 14, 2019 (print ed.).  adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, said protecting the identity of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about President Trump’s communications with Ukraine is “our primary interest.”

Schiff made the statement in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” He had previously said late last month that he expected his panel to hear from the whistleblower “very soon” pending a security clearance from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Turk-Syrian War Coverage (Cont.)

SouthFront, Analysis: Turkey's Syrian National Army And Myth Of United Syrian Opposition, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 14, 2019. Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring once again drew wide attention not only to the so-called Kurdish question, but also to attempts of Ankara (under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, below left) to create a unified Syrian opposition as an alternative to the Assad government.

According to official Turkish statements, the goal of the operation is to secure the southern Turkish border defeating “the terrorism” and allow up to 2 million of refugees to return to their homes. Nonetheless, there are no doubts that the operation, like previous military actions in the provinces of recep erdogan with flagAleppo, Lattakia and Idlib, will be used by Turkey to expand its own influence.

The Turkish-based Syrian Interim Government headquartered and Turkish-affiliated militant groups would be used as a tool of projecting Turkish military and political influence in the area. The Syrian National Army (SNA) are a brand of militant groups participating in the northeastern Syria offensive. Turkey’s Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield demonstrated that the main goal of such groups is to serve as cannon folder on first line of the battle, while aircraft, battle tanks, artillery and special forces units of the Turkish Armed Forces do the main work. This allows Ankara to pretend that its actions in Syria are not military occupation, but a move needed to return the territory to the moderate Syrian opposition that opposes the ‘illegitimate regime’ of President Bashar al-Assad.

turkey flagIn the area of Greater Idlib, Turkish-backed factions formed the National Front for Liberation in May 2018, which was promoted as a moderate opposition coalition that would limit the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups. Despite claiming to have 70,000 fighters (sic), the coalition immediately lost a struggle for power to its al-Qaeda counterparts and became a subordinate to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In 2018 and 2019, groups from the National Front for Liberation repeatedly supposed al-Qaeda operations against the Syrian Army.

Just a few days ahead of the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey attempted to unite the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. On October 4, the groups even released a statement claiming that they had merged. A few hours after the release, fierce clashes between the groups erupted over properties seized in the Afrin area. This put an end to the unification efforts at least for now.

ny times logokurd flagNew York Times, Syrian War Live Updates, Staff reports, Oct. 14, 2019. Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey, Hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, the Syrian Army entered a key town near the Turkish border — a significant shift in the power dynamic; The European Union member states unanimously agreed to a ban on arms sales to Turkey; Russia’s expanding role in Syria is tempered by risks, analysts say.

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast, David E. Sanger, right, Oct. 14, 2019. All the warnings were there. But President Trump’s reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran david sangerand the Islamic State.

President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

American FlagDay after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

U.S. 2020 Campaigns

ny times logoNew York Times, Missing From Warren’s 2020 Surge: Democratic Endorsements, Jonathan Martin, Oct. 14, 2019. Despite Senator Elizabeth Warren’s upward momentum, she lacks the support of a single governor, big-city mayor or fellow senator outside Massachusetts.

elizabeth warren o purpleSenator Elizabeth Warren, right, has built her following in part by taking pictures with thousands of voters deep into evening after campaign events, but her dinner audience here one night last month was far smaller. And Ms. Warren’s guests were more interested in hearing, and politely challenging, her campaign pitch than eagerly capturing the moment for posterity on their iPhones.

Addressing a few dozen members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a Chinese restaurant a few blocks from the Capitol, she laid out her case for why she could unify Democrats, emphasized that she was not hostile to properly run businesses and made a soft sell to the lawmakers to support her presidential bid.

“She said, ‘Nobody could do this alone, I will need your help,’” recalled Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, who attended the gathering and said Ms. Warren “was great.”

But just under a month since the family-style meal, the Massachusetts senator has the same small number of endorsements from congressional colleagues beyond her home state as she did beforehand: three.

ny times logoNew York Times, Young, Old, in Between: Facebook Ads Show Which Voters Candidates Want, Shane Goldmacher and Quoctrung Bui, Oct. 14, 2019.  Candidates have spent more money on Facebook than TV this year. See how the 12 Democrats who qualified for Tuesday’s debate are trying to reach specific voters.

facebook logoWhen it comes to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Facebook ads, the odds are overwhelming that people seeing them were born before 1975. For Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the opposite is true: People born in 1975 or after are more than twice as likely to see his Facebook ads than those born earlier. A gender split is clear, too: About half of Mr. Sanders’s audience are men, while about two-thirds of Mr. Biden’s are women.

Collectively, the 19 current Democratic candidates for president have poured nearly $32 million into Facebook ads this year — more money than they have spent so far on television ads, a striking measure of the social network's ever-rising influence in politics. The heavy spending on Facebook comes even as leading party officials have raised alarms about the site’s role in American democracy.

Politico, Inside Mark Zuckerberg's private meetings with conservative pundits, Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman, Oct. 14, 2019. The lengthy, off-the-mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wrecord gatherings were held at one of the Facebook founder’s homes in California. They come as the social-media giant fends off accusations of liberal bias.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, right, has been hosting informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to talk about issues like free speech and discuss partnerships.

The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged “bias” against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies. "I’m under no illusions that he’s a conservative but I think he does care about some of our concerns,” said one person familiar with the gatherings, which multiple sources have confirmed.

News of the outreach is likely to further fuel suspicions on the left that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the White House and stay out of Trump’s crosshairs. The president threatened to sue Facebook and Google in June and has in the past pressured the Justice Department to take action against his perceived foes.

facebook logo“The discussion in Silicon Valley is that Zuckerberg is very concerned about the Justice Department, under Bill Barr, bringing an enforcement action to break up the company,” said one cybersecurity researcher and former government official based in Silicon Valley. “So the fear is that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the Trump administration by not cracking down on right-wing propaganda.”

Facebook has been criticized in recent days, including by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, for its ad policy, which exempts politicians from third-party fact-checking and arguably facilitates the spread of disinformation.

Consumer Protections

ny times logoNew York Times, E-Cigarettes Went Unchecked in 10 Years of F.D.A. Inaction, Katie Thomas and Sheila Kaplan, Oct. 14, 2019. A decade after Congress gave the F.D.A. the power to regulate tobacco products like e-cigarettes, the federal government has repeatedly delayed or weakened efforts that could have protected teenagers.

U.S. Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Fort Worth officer who fatally shot woman in her home has been charged with murder, police say, Derek Hawkins and Deanna Paul
Oct. 14, 2019. The white Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a 28-year-old black woman in her home over the weekend has been charged with murder, authorities said Monday.

The officer, Aaron Dean, who resigned earlier in the day, was booked into the Tarrant County Jail, according to police. Bond has been set at $200,000, jail records show.

The charge came just days after Dean shot Atatiana Jefferson through a closed window in her Fort Worth home while responding to a welfare call in the early hours of Saturday morning. In such shootings, officers seldom face criminal charges, and they are rarely charged with murder.

The officer’s resignation and the outcome of multiple investigations into his actions are likely to serve as a stress test of relations between law enforcement the black community in the region, which is still reeling from the fallout of an earlier case involving a white officer who shot a black neighbor in his apartment. Local leaders have called for a probe of the department, and Jefferson’s family and their attorney want an independent review of Jefferson’s killing, saying they worry race may have played a role.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Woman Was Playing Video Game With Her Nephew When Shot by Police, Marina Trahan Martinez, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs atatiana jefferson family photoand Dave Montgomery, Oct. 14, 2019 (updated). A police officer fired the shot that killed Atatiana Jefferson from outside her bedroom window. A neighbor had reported two doors ajar.

Minutes before she was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer, Atatiana K. Jefferson, right, was playing video games in her bedroom with her 8-year-old nephew, a lawyer for her family said Sunday.

Ms. Jefferson, 28, was proud of being the “cool auntie” to her siblings’ children, and had stayed up into the wee hours of Saturday morning with her nephew, Xbox controllers in their hands, according to S. Lee Merritt, the family’s lawyer. But the pair grew concerned around 2:30 a.m., he said, when they heard rustling outside the house and saw flashlights.

Ms. Jefferson’s nephew was still in the bedroom when she was killed, the police said.

Media News 

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Pro-Trump group shows gruesome mass murder video at Trump Doral conference, Wayne Madsen, shown at left, Oct. 14, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped2019. WMR had planned to run a story for today’s issue on the far right and neo-Nazi connections of Canadian Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who hopes to defeat incumbent Liberal Party prime minister Justin Trudeau in the October 21 parliamentary election. However, another story, more egregious in nature, broke over the weekend.

At a weekend gathering of a pro-Donald Trump group -- the American Priority Conference (APC) -- at Trump’s Doral country club resort outside of Miami, a doctored video was shown of a Trump caricature inside a crowded church shooting and stabbing to death other caricatures, including those of two former presidents of the United States and one current and three former presidential candidates, one of them John McCain, who donald trump jr croppeddied in 2018. Present at the Doral affair were Donald Trump, Jr., right, former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1CD).

The revolting political message the doctored video conveys is one of Trump exhorting his extremist and violence-prone “base” to launch lethal assaults on Trump’s opponents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Macabre Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at His Resort, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 13, 2019. A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Ms. Sanders and a person close Mr. Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference.

The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

The disclosure that the video was played shows how Mr. Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda. Mr. Trump has made attacks on the news media a mainstay of his presidency, and he tweeted a similar — but far less violent video — in 2017. In recent weeks as he has confronted impeachment proceedings, he has ramped up his attacks on the news media, repeatedly calling it the “enemy of the people.”

Mr. Trump stops in the middle of the church, pulls a gun out of his suit jacket pocket and begins a graphic rampage. As the parishioners try to flee, the president fires at them. He shoots Black Lives Matter in the head, and also shoots Vice News.

A person who attended the conference last week took a video of the clip on his phone and had an intermediary send it to a reporter for The Times. Parts of the video were posted on YouTube in 2018 by a user with a history of creating pro-Trump mash-ups.

The organizer of the event said in a statement on Sunday that the clip had been played at the conference, saying it was part of a “meme exhibit.” He denounced the video and said his organization was looking into how it was shown at the event.

Some of those in the church try to apprehend Mr. Trump. He fends them off and makes his way toward the altar, knocking over several pews. He wrestles a parishioner with a Vice News logo as a face to the ground and then shoots the person at point blank range. In the background, the former john mcCain oF.B.I. director, James B. Comey, is seen trying to get away.

From there, Mr. Trump attacks a range of his critics. He strikes the late Arizona senator John McCain, left, in the back of the neck. He hits the television personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face and then stabs her in the head. He strikes Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. He lights the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential rival, on fire.

He takes Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, hostage before throwing him to the ground. Then he strikes former President Barack Obama in the back and throws him against a wall.

Oct. 13

Turks Attack Syrian Kurds (Index)

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Excerpts below

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update  

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washington post logoWashington Post, Envoy to say his denial of quid pro quo came from Trump, Aaron C. Davis and John Hudson, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

gordon sondland oSondland, left, plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth,” said the person familiar with Sondland’s planned testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.

The Sept. 9 exchange between Sondland and the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine has become central to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his office in pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The White House and its defenders have held up Sondland’s text, which included “no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” as proof that none was ever considered.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Gordon Sondland has sold Donald Trump out, Bill Palmer, Oct. 12, 2019. It’s not surprising that current U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying to the House impeachment inquiry this upcoming week after Trump originally blocked him from testifying last week. After all, the President Trump on Time Magazine's cover Feb. 27, 2017testimony floodgates are now open. What is more newsworthy is that details are leaking out about what Sondland is planning to say to the House – and it’s not good for Trump.

Gordon Sondland is a Donald Trump ally, but he’s in way over his head. Sondland is facing potential criminal culpability for his role in Trump’s Ukraine scandal, and at this point he’s surely wishing he’d never taken the gig. If he lies to the House, he’ll be indicted for perjury after Trump is gone. If he refuses to testify, he’ll eventually be indicted for obstruction of justice. The only safe way for him to return unscathed to his old life as a hotel financier is to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry as thoroughly as possible.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening the Washington Post is reporting that Gordon Sondland plans to testify that when he told the State Department’s Bill Taylor that there was no quid pro quo, he was merely quoting what Donald Trump told him – and that he has no idea if Trump was telling the truth. This doesn’t incriminate Trump. But it wipes out Trump’s would-be defense that Sondland concurrently agreed with him that there was no quid pro quo. This is huge.

If this news gets back to Donald Trump before Gordon Sondland’s scheduled testimony this Thursday, Trump will surely want to find a way to stop Sondland from testifying. But it’s too late now. Sondland himself is clearly the source for this WaPo story. By putting it out there that he plans to sell Trump out, he’s setting things up so that there would be far too much backlash if Trump did try to pull the plug.

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washington post logoWashington Post, How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 13, 2019. Lev Parnas, above right in a mug shot, a Ukrainian-born emigre, appeared at a dark time in Donald Trump’s djt jr lev parnas ron desantis fundraiser Custompresidential campaign. Less than a month before the election, major GOP donors had been spooked by the revelation that Trump boasted about grabbing women during a recording of the television show “Access Hollywood.”

Parnas (identified in the promo at right as a "steering committee" member with Donald Trump Jr. for a fund-raiser for successful Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis) had never been a player in national Republican politics. But the onetime stockbroker chose that moment to deliver a $50,000 donation to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party, and it quickly opened doors.

The contribution helped propel Parnas and his business partner, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, above left in a mug shot, on an extraordinarily rapid rise into the upper echelon of Trump allies — before they became central figures in the presidential impeachment inquiry.

By spring 2018, the two men had dined with Trump, breakfasted with his son and attended exclusive events at Mar-a-Lago and the White House, all while jetting around the world and spending lavishly, particularly at Trump hotels in New York and Washington. That May, a pro-Trump super PAC reported receiving a $325,000 donation from an energy company the duo had recently formed.

rudy giuliani lev parnas trump international CustomAs they scaled the ranks of Trump’s Washington, Parnas and Fruman demonstrated a remarkable facility for capitalizing on their newfound connections, according to people who observed them. They also appeared to be constantly in pursuit of new business ventures — “always hustling,” in the words of one Trump ally who interacted with them.

In 2018, they hired the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to serve as a consultant as they launched a security business — and then helped Giuliani, in turn, reach Ukrainian officials in his quest to find information damaging to Democrats. (See video clip here of Parnas with Giuliani at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC,  along with still photo at right).

During a visit to Israel last summer sponsored by a pro-Israel charity, Parnas and Fruman were “mega-dropping Rudy’s name” as they snapped photos with well-known figures, according to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was also on the trip.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Defense just sold him out to the House impeachment inquiry, Bill Palmer, Oct. 13, 2019. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi first announced she was starting the impeachment process against Donald Trump, it was fairly easy to predict that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr would do everything they could to protect Trump. They’re corruptly loyal to him – and they’re so deeply involved in the criminal Ukraine plot, they’re going to prison unless they kiss his backside in the hope of a pardon.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, Barr and Pompeo are now committing obstruction of justice felonies in the hope of fending off their inevitable fate behind bars. But when impeachment started, Palmer Report asked aloud whether Secretary of Defense Mark Esper would be so quick to throw his life away in the name of trying to save Donald Trump.

Esper is from the defense contractor industry, so he has absolutely no business running the Pentagon. But he’s only been on the job for a couple months and doesn’t appear to have been involved in the original Ukraine criminal plot. So once the House impeachment inquiry subpoenaed him for documents in the scandal, what would be do?

Mark Esper appeared on Face The Nation this morning and announced that he plans to fully cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, and that he’s already had the Defense Department’s General Counsel order all employees to retain all relevant documents.

It’s theoretically possible that Esper could be playing both sides. But by announcing that he plans to cooperate, he just gave away any leverage that he and Donald Trump might have had in court for arguing that they don’t need to be turned over. Esper appears to have decided that he’s not willing to go to prison in the name of protecting Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hunter Biden will step down from board of Chinese firm, attorney says, Felicia Sonmez​, Oct. 13, 2019. Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, said Sunday that he will step down from his position on the board of a Chinese company, a move that comes amid escalating attacks from President Trump.

hunter bidenchina flag SmallIn a statement released by his attorney, Hunter Biden, right, also said he would not serve on the boards of foreign-owned companies if his father wins the 2020 presidential election.

At a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday night, Trump attacked both Bidens in his most personal terms yet, highlighting unsubstantiated claims about Hunter Biden and using profanity to describe Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president.

“Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said. “Hunter, you’re a loser.” Mocking Hunter Biden’s lack of public appearances, Trump bellowed: “Whatever happened to Hunter? Where the hell is he? . . . burisma logoI have an idea for a new T-shirt . . . Where’s Hunter?”

Hunter Biden served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, left, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors on suspicion of abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The media needs to focus on the real corruption, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 13, 2019. Hunter Biden and his father are the victims jennifer rubin new headshotof a smear campaign by the most corrupt president in history, who falsely alleges that Joe Biden intervened in Ukraine to protect his son who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

(“Trump has alleged that Vice President Biden in 2016 threatened to withhold billions of dollars in loan guarantees unless Ukraine fired the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, as a way to quash the probe and help his son. But U.S. and Ukrainian officials said the investigation at the time was dormant and that Shokin was fired for the opposite reason: failing to fight corruption.”)

Hunter Biden is taking a step that no other prospective presidential adult child in recent memory has undertaken. Moreover — and here is the most grossly underreported story of the Trump years — the Trump clan, even those working in the administration, continue to make a mint trading on their father’s name.

Bloomberg notes:

Biden’s pledge to avoid foreign work if his father wins the White House sets him apart from Trump’s children, who have continued working with foreign business partners from Dubai to Indonesia and India while his father sits in the White House. After Trump won the presidency in 2016, he handed the running of the Trump Organization to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, and said they wouldn’t do any new overseas deals.

jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookMeanwhile, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, right, work in the White House without divesting themselves of business holdings or forgoing foreign transactions, thereby raising the possibility in the minds of foreign leaders that the two can be manipulated. The Post reported in February 2018: “Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.”

President Trump unconstitutionally receives the benefits of foreign deals and refuses to release his tax returns that would reveal sources of income. And we’re supposed to be concerned that Hunter Biden, whose father is no longer in office, is serving on a Chinese company’s board? Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

ny times logoNew York Times, James Comey Would Like to Help, Matt Flegenheimer, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The former F.B.I. director wants an end to the Trump presidency. And yes, he knows you might think he caused it. James Comey slumps strategically in restaurants — all 6-foot-8 of him, drooping faux-furtively with his back to the room — and daydreams about deleting the civic-minded Twitter feed where a bipartisan coalition pronounces him a national disgrace.

He sleeps soundly — nine hours a night, he ballparks — and organizes the self-described “unemployed celebrity” chapter of his life around a series of workaday goals. “One of my goals has been to get to 10 consecutive pull-ups,” Mr. Comey (shown in a file photo) said in an interview, legs crossed on the back porch of his stately Virginia home. “I’m at nine now. So, I’ve been doing a lot of pull-ups.”

He writes and thinks and reads and worries from a tidy downstairs office surrounded by the trinkets of his past. What he is doing, exactly, is not entirely clear even to him. Rather than proceed with the standard arc of an erstwhile intelligence leader — think tanks, corporate boards, studied political silence — Mr. Comey has pledged to spend the next 13 months working to FBI logodrive Mr. Trump from power.

The former F.B.I. director, a lover of order, sees little of it in a norm-smashing president spiraling toward impeachment, riffing on “sick and deranged” Democrats at a recent rally and playacting the dialogue of F.B.I. officials like an insult comic. In this concern, Mr. Comey has ample company. In this company, he carries a kind of customized psychic baggage.

“Thanks for giving us Donald Trump,” an older woman heckled recently, adding an expletive as Mr. Comey strolled through a Yale Law School building, where he had come for a talk that focused largely on his fateful 2016 decisions and attendant personal anguish.

“Thank you for the feedback,” he told her.

California Fires, Power Shut-Off

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘This Did Not Go Well’: Inside PG&E’s Blackout Control Room, Ivan Penn, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Pacific Gas & Electric, the California utility whose equipment has been blamed for deadly wildfires, shut off power this week to prevent another blaze. But things quickly began going wrong as the company’s systems faltered and its website went down.

All told, more than 700,000 homes or businesses — from the state’s northernmost reaches to the outskirts of Silicon Valley — lost electricity beginning early Wednesday morning, and the state’s emergency center usually used for natural disasters was activated. Most residents had power restored by noon on Friday, and just over 12,000 were still without it on Saturday morning.

Things quickly began going wrong. PG&E’s communications and computer systems faltered, and its website went down as customers tried to find out whether they would be cut off or spared. As the company struggled to tell people what areas would be affected and when, chaos and confusion unspooled outside.

Turks Attack Syrian Kurds (Excerpts)

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ny times logoNew York Times, America’s Former Allies in Syria Team Up With Damascus Government, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 13, 2019. America’s former Kurdish allies in Syria on Sunday announced a new deal with the government in Damascus — a sworn enemy of Washington that is backed by Russia — after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria.

The deal is a major turning point in the war as the U.S. abruptly abandons years of policy built on collaboration with a Kurdish-led militia to fight the Islamic State and on limiting the influence of Syrian government backers Iran and Russia.

For five years, United States policy relied on collaborating with a Kurdish-led militia both to fight the Islamic State and to limit the influence of Iran and Russia, which support the Syrian government, with a goal of maintaining some leverage over any future settlement of the conflict.

On Sunday, after Mr. Trump abruptly abandoned that approach, American leverage appeared all but gone. That threatened to give President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers a free hand. It also jeopardized hard-won gains against the Islamic State — and potentially opened the door for its return.

Syria’s deal with the Kurds paves the way for Syrian government forces to return to the country’s northeast for the first time in years to try to repel a Turkish invasion launched after the Trump administration pulled American troops out of the way. The pullout has already unleashed chaos and sectarian bloodletting.

The deal with the Kurds capped a day of whipsaw developments marked by rapid advances by Turkish-backed forces and the escape of hundreds of women and children linked to the Islamic State from a detention camp. And two American officials said the United States military had failed to transfer five dozen “high value” Islamic State detainees out of the country before the American troop withdrawal.

Turkish-backed forces advanced so quickly that they seized a key road that American forces needed to withdraw, officials said.

The American troop withdrawal has allowed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to order an invasion aimed at uprooting the Kurdish-led militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a key partner in American efforts to fight the Islamic State. Turkey sees the militia as a security threat because of its links to a Kurdish separatist movement that has long fought the Turkish state.

The Turkish incursion has killed scores of people, and left Kurdish fighters accusing the United States of betrayal for leaving them at the Turks’ mercy. That is what led them to strike the deal with Damascus, which said on Sunday that its forces were heading north to take control of two towns and to fight the “Turkish aggression.”

The Kurds refused, the American officials said, to let the American military take any more detainees from their ad hoc detention sites for captive ISIS fighters, which range from former schoolhouses to a former Syrian government prison. Together, these facilities hold about 11,000 men, about 9,000 of them Syrians or Iraqis. About 2,000 come from 50 other nations whose governments have refused to repatriate them.

The deal between the Kurdish authorities and the Assad government was announced on Sunday evening, and government troops were expected to enter the city of Kobani overnight.

ny times logoNew York Times, Hundreds of ISIS Supporters Flee Detention Amid Turkish Airstrikes, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 13, 2019. The attacks caused about 700 Islamic State families to escape a Kurdish-run camp. The American defense secretary also said the U.S. would pull about 1,000 troops from the area.

kurd flagHundreds of relatives of Islamic State fighters fled a Kurdish-run detention camp on Sunday morning after Turkish airstrikes hit the surrounding area, deepening the crisis prompted by the Turkish-led invasion of northern Syria.

The escapes came hours before the United States military said it would withdraw its remaining troops from northern Syria in the coming weeks, despite a likely resurgence of the Islamic State amid chaotic efforts by Turkish-led troops to wrest the region from Kurdish control.

A Kurdish official also said that the flag of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, had been raised in the countryside between the camp in the Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa and the Turkish border, another indication of how the Kurdish authorities were losing control of a region they had freed from the extremists only months ago.

“We are facing very fierce attacks and we’re forced to decrease numbers of guards,” said the official, Ciya Kurd, of the Kurdish-led regional authority, who confirmed the break from the displacement camp after the Turkish strikes.

mark esperDefense Secretary Mark Esper, right, announced in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” broadcast on Sunday that the United States would be evacuating about 1,000 American troops from northern Syria in a “deliberate withdrawal.” About 50 United States troops were previously removed from the area in anticipation of the Turkish incursion.

The defense chief added that the United States had learned that Turkey was likely to expand its incursion “farther south than originally planned and to the west” in Syria, according to a transcript of his remarks published by CBS.

The Kurdish authorities are in negotiations with the Syrian and Russian governments to form an alliance against the Turkish force, Mr. Esper said, adding that the United States did not want to be caught in the crossfire.

President Trump has declared ISIS defeated, but his decision to pull back American troops shielding Kurdish allies in northern Syria could result in the group’s resurgence and has raised questions about the fate of thousands of Islamic State detainees that the Syrian Kurds, had been holding in makeshift wartime prisons.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump orders full withdrawal from northern Syria, a dramatic step after earlier pulling about 50 troops, Dan Lamothe and Liz Sly​, Oct. 13, 2019. ​The president made the decision to withdraw the approximately 1,000 U.S. troops left after indications that Turkey intends to expand its offensive targeting U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters.

President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of virtually all U.S. forces from northern Syria in the face of a Turkish military offensive targeting Kurdish fighters in the region, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Sunday, after days of assurances from the Pentagon that the United States was not “abandoning” its partners in the campaign against the Islamic State.

The order to remove the troops came toward the end of a chaotic day in which the viability of the U.S. mission in Syria rapidly unraveled after Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel proxies advanced deep into Syrian territory and cut U.S. supply lines.

U.S. troops were forced to abandon a base in the town of Ain Issa on Sunday morning as the Turkish-led forces approached, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The Turkish-backed fighters seized control of the nearby highway, establishing checkpoints and severing the main U.S. supply line to the western portion of territory held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led alliance that helped the United States defeat the Islamic State.

On Sunday, he tweeted before departing for his golf course in Virginia that it was “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change” and accused “those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars” of pushing the United States to stay in the fight.

SouthFront, Syrian Army Will Enter Manbij And Kobane To Rescue Mighty SDF From Turks, Wire and Staff reports, Oct. 13, 2019. The Syrian Arab Army syrian flag waving(SAA) is preparing to enter the cities of Manbij and Kobane in the eastern and northern Aleppo countryside under a historical agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), al-Mayadeen reported late on October 13, citing Syrian sources. “Syrian Army will enter Manbij in Aleppo eastern countryside and Ain al-Arab [Kobane] in Aleppo northern countryside within 48 hours,” the Lebanese news channel reported.

Prior to al-Maydeen’s report Mohammed Shaheen, an official in the SDF’s political wing, told North-Press that the SAA will enter Manbij.

The deployment of the SAA is reportedly aimed at stopping Turkish forces, which are conducting a military operation in the region. Turkish-backed Syrian militants captured dozens of villages and town along Turkey’s border in the last few days, with the SDF failing to repel their attacks.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to attack Kurdish forces in Manbij. U.S. Secretary of Defense also announced that all U.S. troops will be withdrawing from northeast Syria. These developments likely encouraged the Damascus government and the SDF to reach an agreement.

The upcoming hours will likely reveal more details about the agreement between Damascus and the SDF. Some activists are already reporting that the SAA will be deployed in the entire northeast region and not only in Manbij and Kobane.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Kurds’ Prisons and Detention Camps for ISIS Members, Explained, Charlie Savage, Oct. 13, 2019. The escalating chaos in northern Syria as Turkey presses forward with its attack on the United States’ erstwhile Kurdish allies is raising fears about the fate of thousands of Islamic State detainees that the Kurds have been holding in makeshift wartime prisons.

As the Turkish invasion leads to deteriorating security in northern Syria, the custody of about 11,000 captive ISIS fighters — and many thousands more detained ISIS.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. troops evacuate Syrian town as Turkish-led forces advance, potentially marooning other U.S. soldiers, Liz Sly and Louisa Loveluck​, Oct. 13, 2019. Hundreds of Islamic State supporters may have escaped from a camp housing displaced people in the town of Ain Issa, taking advantage of the mayhem.

U.S. troops withdrew on Sunday from another town in Syria as Turkish-backed forces pushed deeper inside Syrian territory, seizing positions along a turkey flagmajor highway that serves as the U.S. military’s main supply route into Syria — potentially cutting off U.S. troops further west, according to a U.S. official.

The withdrawal came amid reports that hundreds of Islamic State supporters may have escaped from a camp housing displaced people in the town of Ain Issa, taking advantage of the mayhem that ensued as Turkish artillery pounded the area.

The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria said in a statement that 785 people affiliated to the Islamic State were among those who got away, escaping from a camp that had housed 12,000 displaced people, mostly women and children.

Around a thousand of those who had been identified as Islamic State supporters, including foreigners, were housed in a separate section of the camp known as the Annex, which is now “completely empty,” according to an aid worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not American Flagauthorized to talk to the press.

Ain Issa, 20 miles south of the Turkish border, served as the headquarters of the Kurdish led administration in northeast Syria and owes its significance to its position beside the important M4 highway, which runs across northeastern Syria from the Iraqi border.

It is the main supply route in and out of Syria for the 1,000 U.S. troops deployed there, as well as for much of the limited aid that reaches northeastern Syria.

As the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels closed in on Sunday, the small number of U.S. troops based in the town were relocated to other bases in Syria, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the press. Turkish backed rebels have now set up checkpoints on the highway near Ain Issa, potentially cutting off the U.S. troops in bases to the west, in Manbij and Kobane, from the bulk of the U.S. force further east, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

Guardian, Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' and Isis resurgence, Martin Pengally, Oct. 13, 2019. Ex-defense secretary calls resurgence of Isis ‘a given’ as Kurds say 785 Isis affiliates escape camp after Turkish shelling.

ny times logoNew York Times, Green Berets Feel ‘Ashamed,’ and Kurds Describe ‘Betrayal,’ Eric Schmitt, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Ben Hubbard and Helene Cooper, Oct. 13, 2019. As Turkish forces cross into northern Syria, the orders from Washington to U.S. troops are simple: Stand back and let the Kurds fight for themselves.

kurd flagThe next flurry of orders from Washington, some fear, could pull American troops out of Syria altogether. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on Sunday that roughly 1,000 American troops in northeastern Syria would conduct a “deliberate withdrawal,” at least farther south — and possibly out of the country entirely in the coming days and weeks.

The defense secretary’s statement came after comments on Friday pushing back on complaints that the United States was betraying allies in Syria — “We have not abandoned the Kurds” — even as he acknowledged that his Turkish counterpart had ignored his plea to stop the offensive.

Army Special Forces soldiers — mostly members of the Third Special Forces Group — moved last week to consolidate their positions in the confines of their outposts miles away from the Syrian border, a quiet withdrawal that all but confirmed the United States’ capitulation to the Turkish military’s offensive to clear Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.

But as the Americans pulled back, the Kurds moved north to try to reinforce their comrades fighting the offensive. The American soldiers could only watch from their sandbag-lined walls. Orders from Washington were simple: Hands off. Let the Kurds fight for themselves.

The orders contradicted the American military’s strategy in Syria over the past four years, especially when it came to the Kurdish fighters, known as the Y.P.G., who were integral to routing the Islamic State from northeastern Syria. The Kurds had fought in Manbij, Raqqa and deep into the Euphrates River Valley, hunting the last Islamic State’s fighters in the group’s now defunct physical caliphate. But the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., as the Kurdish and their allied Arab fighters on the ground are called, are being left behind.

ny times logoNew York Times, Syrian Arab Fighters Backed by Turkey Kill Two Kurdish Prisoners, Ben Hubbard, Karam Shoumali, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The killings, one of them caught on video, raised the specter of wider sectarian warfare as fighting in Syria escalates. Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters killed at least two Kurdish prisoners on Saturday, one of them lying on the ground with his hands bound behind his back, in a powerful illustration of the forces unleashed by President Trump’s decision to pull back American troops shielding former Kurdish allies in northern Syria.

A video that captured one of the killings shows two of the Turkish-backed group’s fighters firing bullets at close range into the man with his hands tied while their colleagues shout “God is great!” The second prisoner who was killed appears in the video alive and wearing a military uniform, but he is missing from the group’s later social media post about its captives.

kurd flag“The guy in the military outfit was neutralized,” said Al-Harith Rabah, a media activist with the Arab fighters who was at the scene.

The killing of two Kurdish captives by Arab fighters — a possible war crime — is an indication of the ethnically tinged hatreds flaring in the wake of President Trump’s pullback of American forces in the area. The move cleared the way for a Turkish military incursion into a northern Syria border area aimed at rooting out the Kurdish-led militia that had been the key American-allied ground force helping to wrest territory from the Islamic State.

On Saturday, Turkey and its allied Syrian fighters established a foothold in a strategic Syrian border town, Ras al-Ain, and were gathering to launch an offensive against another, Tel Abyad, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry and a spokesman for the Turkish-backed fighters.

The new hostilities have displaced at least 100,000 people and ignited fears that tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and their relatives held by the Kurds could escape their camps and prisons.

The two captives were killed early Saturday after the militant group Ahrar al-Sharqiyeh, which had entered Syria from Turkey, took control of a main road through the territory and began stopping passing cars, according to Mr. Rabah, the media activist.

When military vehicles belonging to the Kurdish-led militia passed, the militants stopped them, at times getting into clashes, he said.

Also killed on a main road through the territory was Hervin Khalaf, the head of a Kurdish political party. Kurdish officials accused Turkish-allied Arab fighters of attacking her car, a charge a spokesman for the Arab fighters denied.

Mr. Rabah said his group killed nine Kurdish fighters, he said, without specifying whether the two prisoners were among them.

When asked about the video showing the Turkish-allied fighters shooting the bound prisoner, Mr. Rabah grew nervous and said he had been trying to stop them from shooting.

Global News: Japan Death Toll

washington post logoWashington Post, Typhoon death toll in Japan climbs to 35 after storm unleashes widespread flooding, Simon Denyer, Oct. 13, 2019. Japan dispatched tens of thousands of troops and rescue workers Sunday after a typhoon unleashed widespread flooding and left 35 people dead and 17 missing. Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, tore through Tokyo and large swaths of Japan’s main island of Honshu on japan flag stdSaturday, bringing record-breaking rains to many areas.

By Sunday, more than 20 rivers in central and northeastern Japan had burst their banks, flooding more than 1,000 homes in cities, towns and villages and pushing the death toll higher.

At one point, the government had advised nearly 8 million people to evacuate. Many ignored the advice and stayed home, but others headed to shelters. Public broadcaster NHK said some died making their way to shelters, including a 77-year-old woman who fell more than 100 feet to her death during an airlift.

More On Epstein Scandal

At Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2011, from left: James E. Staley, at the time a senior JPMorgan executive; former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers; Mr. Epstein; Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder; and Boris Nikolic, who was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s science adviser.

At Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2011, from left: James E. Staley, at the time a senior JPMorgan executive; former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers; Mr. Epstein; Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder; and Boris Nikolic, who was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s science adviser.

ny times logoNew York Times, Bill Gates Met With Jeffrey Epstein Many Times, Despite His Past, Emily Flitter and James B. Stewart, Oct. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Gates has minimized his ties to Mr. Epstein. But a Times investigation reveals they had a closer relationship than previously known. Jeffrey Epstein, left, the jeffrey epstein at harvard universityconvicted sex offender who committed suicide in prison, managed to lure an astonishing array of rich, powerful and famous men into his orbit.

There were billionaires (Leslie Wexner and Leon Black), politicians (Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson), Nobel laureates (Murray Gell-Mann and Frank Wilczek) and even royals (Prince Andrew).

Few, though, compared in prestige and power to the world’s second-richest person, a brilliant and intensely private luminary: Bill Gates. And unlike many others, Mr. Gates started the relationship after Mr. Epstein was convicted of sex crimes.

U.S. Supreme Court

supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, The Supreme Court could get a lot more undemocratic, Leah Litman, Oct. 13, 2019. Leah Litman is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Law School. She represents multiple DACA recipients in "Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California," a case before the Supreme Court.

Despite the significant power it wields, the Supreme Court is among the federal government’s most undemocratic institutions. Its justices are appointed for life terms, and selected and confirmed by presidents and the Senate — which themselves do not necessarily reflect the will of the public.

For this reason, academics often characterize the court as “counter-majoritarian,” meaning that it has the power to stand against the majority of the public sentiment in setting policy. But as counter-majoritarian as the Supreme Court is by design, it could get even worse. This term, the court will review cases pertaining to weighty topics ranging from LGBTQ rights to protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. By the end of next summer, we will have a glimpse into just how undemocratic the new conservative majority on the court is willing to be.

Several cases this term will test the limits of the court’s sociological legitimacy, potentially weakening the court as a legitimate institution in the process. Consider the Title VII cases, which ask the court to decide whether employers can fire their employees for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. More than 90 percent of Americans believe gays and lesbians should have equal rights in job opportunities; more than half believe that discrimination against the LGBTQ community is a major civil rights issue.

The court’s relative lack of democratic credentials does not mean it is illegitimate. Beyond its constitutional grounding, it has sociological legitimacy, referring to the court’s ability to arrive at results that are generally accepted by the public at large. The court can also claim some moral legitimacy as it meets a minimal threshold of morality and justice.

Or take the cases involving the president’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. More than 80 percent of Americans want DACA beneficiaries (known as “dreamers”) to be protected. Or consider June Medical Services v. Gee, the new court’s first abortion case. More than half of Americans describe themselves as pro-choice; many more say they support the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which recognized a constitutional right for women to end their pregnancies.

And yet, it’s unclear public sentiment will win in any of these cases, potentially sacrificing some of the court’s sociological legitimacy in the process.

Media: New JFK Assassination Film

Variety via Yahoo, AGC Television Picks up Worldwide on Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK: Destiny Betrayed,’ Variety, John Hopewell, Oct. 13, 2019. AGC Television, the TV production-distribution division of Stuart Ford’s still fast expanding independent content studio AGC Studios, has landed worldwide rights to another high-profile doc-series which it describes as “probing” and “explosive”: Oliver Stone’s “JFK: Destiny Betrayed.”

The acquisition was announced early Monday by AGC Television president Lourdes Diaz.

The acquisition continues AGC Television substantial investment in non-fiction which is in high-demand in the streaming and premium cable space, allowing operators to reach diverse audience segments with high-profile original content at relatively modest cost.

Few filmmakers are as high-profile as Oliver Stone and“JFK” has proved the most controversial of his films. In the new doc-series, Stone and writer James DiEugenio, author of “Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case,” place now declassified files related to President Kennedy’s assassination in a far larger context, aiming to shine more light on what really happened in 1963.

Coming in on the assassination from the angle of Kennedy’s far-reaching policy speeches that threatened the status-quo, Stone will “reveal that Kennedy’s foreign policy actions were revolutionary in many ways and were a conscious decision he had been contemplating for a decade before taking office,” said an AGC Television statement.

It went on: “Stone will put Kennedy’s assassination in context politically, and present interviews, documents, and forensics reports that will change forever how Kennedy’s life, political career, and assassination will be considered.”

Those interviewed in the series include John Tunheim, chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, criminologist Henry Lee, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., James Galbraith, and Salon founder David Talbot.

“It’s not an exaggeration to state that this series features the most distinguished collection of talent and knowledge on the JFK case ever assembled,” said the AGC Television press release.

Diaz added: “We have long admired Oliver Stone and his work, and the revelatory information his new documentary brings forward not only sheds a new light on JFK’s presidency and his assassination, it informs us about our contemporary world,”

“This documentary film represents an important bookend to my 1991 film. It ties up many loose threads, and hopefully repudiates much of the ignorance around the case and the movie,” Stone wrote.

“JFK: Destiny Betrayed” reunites Stone with ace cinematographer Robert Richardson (“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” “Nixon,” “The Aviator”), who won the first of his three Academy Awards for “JFK.”

Rob Wilson behind Showtime’s “The Untold History of the United States,” produces with Ingenious Media.

AGC’s Stuart Ford and Diaz, Ingenious Media’s Andrea Scarso, Amit Pandya, and Peter Touche, and Angela Ceccio and Fernando Sulichin serve as executive producers.

“JFK: Destiny Betrayed” joins an AGC non-fiction slate which already features Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” “Ask Dr. Ruth,” a big hit at Sundance, and the upcoming “Scandalous,” on the rise of the National Enquirer; “Good Trouble: John Lewis,” described as an inspiring look at the firebrand legislator, and “Lady Boss: the Jackie Collins story.”

Oct. 12

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump renews claim that he is immune from criminal investigation in effort to block Manhattan DA probe, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 12, 2019. President Trump on Friday repeated his assertion of sweeping executive immunity — arguing in court that, because he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomTrump’s personal attorneys made the argument in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. They are seeking to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a suit the president filed seeking to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) from obtaining Trump’s tax returns.

“The President is immune from criminal process while in office, and a grand-jury subpoena (a coercive order backed by the State’s threat of contempt) is certainly a form of ‘criminal process,’ ” wrote Trump’s private legal team, led by William Consovoy.

The subpoena in this case was not actually directed at Trump. Vance has subpoenaed the records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, as part of an investigation that appears targeted at possible falsification of business records related to a scheme to silence two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump.

Justice Department log circularIn his filing Friday, Trump returned to an argument that a lower-court judge had already rejected earlier this week. He argued that, as president, he is too important to be prosecuted while in office.

[Justice Department lends its firepower to defend Trump in investigations into his private finances]

And if presidents are too important to be prosecuted, Trump said, then it follows that they must also be too important to be burdened with an investigation by prosecutors.

“If the Court holds that the President is not immune from state criminal process, then Presidents must contend not just with [Vance] but with every state and local prosecutor across the country” seeking to investigate them, Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Only Congress can investigate the president through the impeachment process, Trump argued. He said the Constitution gives the federal government supremacy over the states and prohibits state-level investigations that would eat up the president’s time and sully his prestige.

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work, Michael S. Schmidt, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Prosecutors are investigating if Rudy Giuliani, right, President Trump’s lawyer, broke lobbying laws in his Ukraine dealings, people briefed on the inquiry said.

rudy giulianiMr. Giuliani’s efforts to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, are under scrutiny.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

Justice Department log circularMr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

washington post logorudy giuliani recentWashington Post, Trump defends Giuliani amid reports of federal investigation, John Hudson, Oct. 12, 2019. The president’s support comes a day after he seemed to put distance between himself and the former mayor when asked if Rudy Giuliani, right, still worked for him as a personal attorney.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Personally Pushed to Remove Ukraine Envoy, She Tells House, Sharon LaFraniere and Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine despite her boss saying she had “done nothing wrong,” she told House impeachment investigators. In scathing testimony indicting President Trump’s conduct of foreign policy, she warned that private interests have usurped diplomats’ judgment.

marie yovanovitchMarie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine in May, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

In a closed-door deposition that could further fuel calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, Ms. Yovanovitch delivered a scathing indictment of how his administration conducts foreign policy. She warned that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service. And she said that diplomats no longer have confidence that their government “will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.”

According to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Yovanovitch said she was “incredulous” that she was removed as ambassador “based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

ukraine flagMs. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service and three-time ambassador, spoke to investigators on Capitol Hill even though the State Department had directed her not to late Thursday and in defiance of the White House’s declaration that administration officials would not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. Democrats leading the inquiry said that order amounted to obstruction of their inquiry and quietly issued a subpoena Thursday morning with the understanding that Ms. Yovanovitch would then cooperate.

Her searing account, delivered at the risk of losing her job, could lend new momentum to the impeachment inquiry that imperils Mr. Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The story of Rudy Giuliani, his arrested henchmen, and a Ukrainian oligarch just took an even nastier turn, Bill Palmer, Oct. 12, 2019. When two of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine scandal co-conspirators were arrested this week, they were attempting to flee to Vienna. Then it turned out Rudy was also planning to head to Vienna. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out that they had been planning to rendezvous overseas, before it all went wrong. The question was why they were headed to that city in particular.

dmytro firtashRachel Maddow was the one who pointed out that oligarch Dmytro Firtash, right, is currently being held under house arrest in Vienna. Firtash has ties to Ukraine and ties to Donald Trump’s former henchman Paul Manafort, so it made a lot of sense that Firtash would be the one behind the entire Trump-Rudy plot in Ukraine. Now we’re getting confirmation of precisely that.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of Rudy’s arrested associates, Lev Parnas, actually worked for Dmytro Firtash, according to a new report from Reuters. This explains why Rudy, Parnas, and Igor Fruman were trying to get to Firtash in Vienna as their scheme was falling apart; they were seeking new marching orders.

This comes amid the news that Lev Parnas ran a company called Fraud Guarantee which paid Rudy Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars – meaning that Rudy worked for Parnas and not the other way around. Now we know that Parnas worked for Firtash, which means that Rudy worked for Firtash. That makes Rudy an agent of a foreign government. In other words, Giuliani is in even deeper legal trouble than we thought.

semyon kislin youtube screenshot

Al Jazeera, Investigation: Giuliani associate linked to Yanukovich's stolen cash, Will Jordan, Oct. 12, 2019. Semyon Kislin, friend of Trump's personal lawyer, tried to obtain millions of dollars stolen from the Ukrainian state. Semyon Kislin, a business associate of Donald Trump who is due to give evidence at the US president's impeachment inquiry on October 14, tried to obtain millions of dollars that Ukrainian prosecutors deemed stolen, Al Jazeera can reveal.

Kislin (shown above in a YouTube screenshot) is a long-time friend of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The Ukraine-born businessman donated to Giuliani's political campaigns in the 1990s. In January last year, Kislin lobbied the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, to help him unlock millions of dollars that had in fact been seized in a major criminal inquiry.

djt rudy giuliani CustomThis comes as the New York Times reported that federal investigators are examining Giuliani's efforts to undermine Yovanovitch as part of a broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping Trump's political prospects.

A US congressional committee is considering impeachment proceedings against Trump after evidence emerged of the president's lobbying of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden's position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

A plot to withdraw millions of dollars in frozen bank accounts was first exposed by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit in 2018 and now Al Jazeera can reveal Kislin's role in a similar scheme.

Kislin, 83, purchased a Cypriot shell company holding part of a $1.5bn hoard of cash and bonds that the Ukrainian courts identified in 2015 as having been stolen by the disgraced former president, Viktor Yanukovich, before he fled Ukraine in 2014.

michelle goldberg thumbny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America Exports Its Corruption to Ukraine, Michelle Goldberg, Oct. 12, 2019. Once upon a time, we spread ideals of democracy and rule of law. Now? We send Giuliani. In 2014, Ukraine’s wildly corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia after mass protests on the Maidan, Kiev’s central square.

During what Ukrainians call the Revolution of Dignity, police snipers killed dozens of demonstrators. In the revolution’s aftermath, a number of young idealists decided to plunge into politics, hoping to reform their troubled country from the inside. One of them was Serhiy Leshchenko, at the time perhaps the country’s most famous investigative journalist.

serhiy leshchenko wLeshchenko, left, a lanky, bearded hipster with a passion for rave culture, became part of a cadre of Western-oriented newcomers elected to Parliament, even as he continued to work as a journalist exposing corruption. This year, after Volodymyr Zelensky won the presidential election, Leshchenko advised him during the transition.

rudy giuliani recentThen Rudy Giuliani, right, began attacking Leshchenko as a conspirator against America.

In 2016, Leshchenko had helped expose the “black ledger,” an accounting book of hundreds of pages found in Yanukovych’s former party headquarters. Among its many entries, it showed $12.7 million in secret payments to Paul Manafort. At the time, Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but before that, he was one of Yanukovych’s most important advisers.

One of the reasons Manafort, below at left in a mug shot, is in federal prison is that he failed to disclose or pay taxes on millions of dollars from Ukraine. But if you believe Giuliani, the black ledger was part of a plot to damage Trump.

paul manafort mugDuring a Fox News appearance on May 10, Giuliani described the ledger as a “falsely created book” and Leshchenko as part of a group of “enemies of the president, in some cases enemies of the United States.” Last month, in an epic, ranting interview on CNN, he accused Ukraine’s leading anti-corruption organization, the Anti-Corruption Action Center, or AntAC, of developing “all of the dirty information that ended up being a false document that was created in order to incriminate Manafort.”

In Giuliani’s fevered alternative reality, Ukraine’s most stalwart foes of corruption are actually corruption’s embodiment. Deeply compromised figures with vendettas against the activists — particularly the ex-prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko — are transformed into heroes.

Turkey Attacks Syrian Kurds

syria safezone southfront oct 9 2019 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Chaos in Syria’s Kurdish Zone as Tens of Thousands Flee Turkish Attack, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Hospitals have been abandoned, displacement camps relocated and major roads blocked as residents flee an advance of Turkey’s forces.

kurd flagThe Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria raised new fears of a resurgence of the Islamic State on Friday, as five militants escaped from a Kurdish-run prison and the extremist group claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded in the regional capital.

As Turkish troops began a third night of airstrikes and ground incursions, Kurdish fighters said they had thwarted a second attempted jailbreak from a detention camp for families of Islamic State members.

The moves compounded a mounting sense of turmoil in northeast Syria. The Turkish government said its troops had advanced five miles inside part of the country, displacing more than 70,000 residents, blocking several major roads and forcing the abandonment of a major hospital.

Since Wednesday, Turkish forces have pummeled Kurdish-held territory with airstrikes and sent in ground troops, in an effort to seize land controlled by a Kurdish-led militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces. That militia fought alongside United States troops in the recent war against the Islamic State.

The campaign began after President Trump suddenly ordered American troops to withdraw from the area, giving implicit approval to Turkey’s long-anticipated attack on the Kurdish-led militia.

 washington post logoWashington Post, ‘You had your help’: At rally, Trump supporters back Syria withdrawal, Chelsea Janes, Oct. 12, 2019. Their support suggests that while the decision has been unpopular with GOP lawmakers, it has been greeted positively by the president’s most ardent supporters — the ones he is counting on in 2020.

• Turkey battles Syrian Kurds for control of key border town

Inside DC

washington post logokevin mcaleenan o Custom 2Washington Post, McAleenan steps down as acting DHS secretary, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Oct. 12, 2019 (print. ed.). Kevin McAleenan, right, was frustrated with President Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles. More hardline figures attacked him as insufficiently committed to Trump’s immigration agenda, and critics of those policies argued he gave cover to harsh measures.

Global News

      • Washington Post, Japan advises 5 million people to evacuate homes as typhoon nears Tokyo, Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwagi. Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued its highest level of emergency rainfall warnings for Tokyo and nearby regions.
      • Washington Post, Israelis see Trump’s Syria pullout as a betrayal that could help unravel the region, Steve Hendrix. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said little as politicians and military officers plead for Israel to help the Kurds.
      • Washington Post, U.S. to send 1,800 additional troops to Saudi Arabia to boost defenses against Iran, Dan Lamothe. The kingdom “has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing to help them,” Trump says.
      • Associated Press via Washington Post, Turkish forces capture center of key Syrian border town, Mehmet Guzel. Turkey says its military offensive has taken central Ras al-Ayn, a key border town in northeastern Syria, and its most significant gain since its cross-border operation began against Syrian Kurdish fighters began.

Oct. 11

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

Impeachment Inquiry Update

 

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani Custom

President Trump with, from left, Vice President Michael Pence, recently indicted businessmen Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's private attorney.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two business associates of Giuliani arrested on campaign finance charges, Devlin Barrett and John Wagner​​, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). igor fruman mugLev Parnas and Igor Fruman, right, who routed a large donation to a pro-Trump super PAC, are accused of taking part in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffThe indictment also charges that Fruman and Parnas, left, shown in a mug shot like his co-defendant, schemed to donate money to an unidentified U.S. congressman, at the same time they were asking that congressman to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her job.

The two men, who helped Giuliani investigate former vice president Joe Biden, were arrested Wednesday night in Virginia and charged with campaign finance violations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Fraud Guarantee” bombshell reveals Rudy Giuliani is even more screwed than we thought, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Late last night the internet erupted with laughter and disbelief when it was reported that one of the Rudy Giuliani associates arrested yesterday had been running a company called “Fraud Guarantee.” It seems everything involving Rudy these days is good for a laugh. But there are two key points in the Fraud Guarantee bombshell that spell out, in very serious fashion, just how screwed Giuliani is.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen the “two stooges” were arrested yesterday, the essential question was whether a money trail would emerge which tied Rudy Giuliani to their financial scheming. It turns out the answer is yes. The SDNY won’t have to go digging at random in the hope of finding that money trail, as the New York Times has already found it for them. Here’s the kicker, though. These two henchmen weren’t working for Rudy. He was apparently working for them.

djt mike pence igor fruman lev parnas rudy giuliani CustomLev Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rudy Giuliani. This helps answer longstanding questions about how Rudy’s scheming in Ukraine was being funded. It also erases any argument that Rudy might be able to make in court that he was acting on American interests, because it turns out he was literally on the payroll of one of the criminals who was carrying out the Ukraine dirty work.

This also raises questions about whether Rudy Giuliani properly reported this foreign income, whether he tried to hide the money from his wife as their divorce plays out, and whether he registered as a foreign agent. At this point it’s impossible not to imagine that Rudy will be arrested. In fact it may just be a matter of the Feds giving the two stooges the opportunity to decide whether to flip on Rudy before they arrest him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tells reporters he doesn’t know if Giuliani is still his attorney, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). But in a text message to a Post reporter shortly after President Trump made his comments, Rudolph W. Giuliani confirmed that he’s still representing him.

washington post logoWashington Post, New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, Rachael Bade, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Recent revelations about President Trump’s conduct are testing the limits of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, leading some Democrats to wonder nancy pelosi djtwhether the probe should be expanded beyond the Ukraine scandal.

• At least four officials raised alarms about Ukraine around time of Trump’s call
• Trump wanted Tillerson to help broker a deal to stop prosecution of a Giuliani client
• Ousted Ukraine envoy arrives at Capitol Hill to speak with House investigators
• Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Gordon Sondland agrees to appear next week under subpoena, John Wagner, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.).  As the impeachment inquiry moved forward on Capitol Hill, President Trump prepared to hold his second campaign rally in as many days.

gordon sondland oU.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, left, a key figure in the Ukraine controversy, bucked the State Department on Friday and announced he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.

The State Department blocked Sondland from appearing before three panels last week as the White House informed Democratic leaders they had no intention of cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

washington post logo

Palmer Report, Opinion: Even More Whistleblowers, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Earlier today Palmer Report noted that the floodgates had opened when it came to people in the Trump regime coming forward against Donald Trump. He failed to stop Marie Yovanovitch from testifying. He’s apparently going to fail to stop Fiona Hill and Gordon Sondland from testifying. So it’s not surprising that as this plays out today, even more people are coming forward.

bill palmer report logo headerAs we speak, even more whistleblowers from within the Trump administration are reaching out to the House impeachment inquiry with their stories of Donald Trump’s wrongdoing, according to a new report from the Daily Beast. What we find fascinating here is that they’re not even bothering to go through the process of filling out a whistleblower form at this point; they’re bypassing the collapsing infrastructure of what’s left of the Trump administration, and they’re going straight to the House with their stories.

This is crucial because it helps demonstrate where the real power is in this impeachment battle at this point. Donald Trump is so busy taking new blows every day, he’s not in a position of strength by any stretch of the imagination. His own people clearly aren’t afraid of him, because they’re now racing to tell their stories. The House impeachment inquiry is where the buck stops now, and everyone knows it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally, Seung Min Kim and Aaron Blake, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.).   President Trump leveled some of his most personal attacks yet against Joe Biden and his family at his first campaign rally since House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry, highlighting unsubstantiated claims about his potential 2020 rival’s son and using profanity to describe Biden’s tenure as vice president.

Donald TrumpAt the Target Center here, Trump repeated his dubious claims that Hunter Biden secured $1.5 billion for an investment fund in China while his father served as Barack Obama’s vice president, and he mocked Hunter Biden’s personal problems, including his discharge from the Navy after he tested positive for cocaine use.

“Hunter, you know nothing about energy, you know nothing about China, you know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said to a near-capacity crowd. “Hunter, you’re a loser.”

Biden “was never considered smart,” Trump said. “He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump misleads and exaggerates to make his case against impeachment, Seung Min Kim, Oct. 11, 2019. President Trump’s propensity to misconstrue and obfuscate is escalating as he confronts the threat of becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

President Trump’s propensity to mislead, misconstrue and obfuscate is escalating as he confronts the threat of becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

For days, Trump and his allies have repeatedly charged that the whistleblower — whose complaint about Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine set off the current impeachment inquiry — made up a “false story,” even though many of the claims have been shown to be accurate. The president has insisted that his top Democratic and Republican critics on Capitol Hill should be impeached for their efforts against him, despite a centuries-old precedent that prevents such an action.

washington post logo

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Donald Trump tossed John Bolton out on the street, Bill Palmer, Oct. 11, 2019. Back when Donald Trump abruptly fired his National Security Adviser John Bolton via tweet, it was evident that something wasn’t right. At the time, Trump had just invited the Taliban to Camp David, amid reports that Bolton strongly opposed the move. Trump was clearly ousting Bolton because he was getting in the way of Trump’s most deranged antics. Now it turns out it’s even uglier than we knew.

john bolton youtube guardianWhen Donald Trump first started hatching his scheme to try to extort the President of Ukraine, John Bolton, right, got word of what was going on. Bolton then began running around trying to get his hands on the transcript of the call so he could find out just how awful it was, but he couldn’t get ahold of it because it was being locked away in the secret classified server.

This is all according to a new Washington Post article, and based on the manner in which John Bolton is being portrayed as the hero of his own story, it’s not difficult to figure out that he’s the source for the article. But there appears to be some corroboration of this, as one unnamed official tells the WaPo that Bolton went “ballistic” after Gordon Sondland admitted that the Trump regime was planning to open a sham investigation into the Bidens.

When you picture a vindictive bloodthirsty monster like John Bolton running around the White House and yelling at everyone because he’d stumbled across Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, no wonder Trump threw the guy out on the street. Considering how eager Bolton clearly is to tell his side of the story, it now seems a given that he’ll testify to the House impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court rules against Trump in fight with Congress over accounting firm records, Ann E. Marimow, Spencer S. Hsu and David A. Fahrenthold​, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Congress can seek eight years of President Trump’s business records from his accounting firm, a federal appeals court ruled in one of several legal battles over access to the president’s financial data.

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld Congress’s broad investigative powers and rejected the president’s bid to block lawmakers from subpoenaing the documents.

The case is one of several clashes between the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican president over Trump’s data that is expected to reach the Supreme Court. In this case, the judges ruled that Trump’s arguments — that the subpoenas were invalid because Congress lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose” for its subpoenas — were incorrect.

“Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” Judges David S. Tatel and Patricia A. Millett wrote for the court. Both were appointed by Democratic presidents.

The president was appealing a lower court’s decision that allowed a House Oversight Committee to move forward with its request for financial statements and audits prepared for Trump and his companies by the accounting firm Mazars USA.

In her dissent, Judge Neomi Rao — appointed by Trump — said if the House wants to investigate possible wrongdoing by the president it should do so by invoking its constitutional impeachment powers not its regular oversight powers.

It is unclear what will happen next in this case, but Trump seems likely to appeal — either to the full D.C. Circuit, or to the Supreme Court.

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Audacious Move on Impeachment Tests Political Order, Peter Baker, right, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). 2019. The White House’s decision not to cooperate is aimed less at convincing a judge than convincing the public.

Breathtaking in scope, defiant in tone, the White House’s refusal to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry amounts to an unabashed challenge to America’s longstanding constitutional order.

In effect, President Trump is making the sweeping assertion that he can ignore Congress as it weighs his fate because he considers the impeachment effort unfair and the Democrats who initiated it biased against him, an argument that channeled his anger even as it failed to pass muster with many scholars on Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached, 17 Watergate special prosecutors, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). We, former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force, believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment, unless disproved by any contrary evidence that the president may choose to offer.

U.S. House logoThe ultimate judgment on whether to impeach the president is for members of the House of Representatives to make. The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly. The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.

In reaching these conclusions, we take note of 1) the public statements by Trump himself; 2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation; 3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; 4) the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and 5) other information now publicly available, including State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.

washington post logodjt maga hat speech uncredited CustomWashington Post, Trump’s Syria decision tests GOP support amid impeachment inquiry, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Instead of enjoying uncontested Republican support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, President Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his own party.

washington post logoWashington Post, George Conway and other prominent conservatives call for ‘expeditious’ impeachment probe, Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). More than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers, including George T. Conway III, offered their legal reasoning for an “expeditious” impeachment probe into President Trump, creating a document they hope will be read by Republicans who continue to stand by the president.

The 16 attorneys, many of whom worked in Republican administrations, wrote in a joint statement to be released Thursday morning that Trump’s now infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the text messages between diplomats and Trump’s public call for China to investigate a political opponent are “undisputed” events that amount to Trump violating his oath of office.

george conway twitterConway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and outspoken Trump critic shown at right on his Twitter photo, helped form a coalition of like-minded conservatives a year ago who wanted to call out what they deemed illegal and unconstitutional behavior by the president. The signatories are members of that group, Checks and Balances.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration and Allies Pummeled With New Subpoenas, Nicholas Fandos, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). House investigators demanded documents from Rick Perry and testimony from the two Giuliani associates who were arrested. House investigators pounded the Trump administration and its allies on Thursday with new subpoenas, demanding documents from Rick Perry,  the energy secretary, and testimony from two more witnesses as they aggressively challenged a White House pledge to starve their impeachment inquiry of evidence.

rick perry oThree Democratic chairmen leading the inquiry instructed Mr. Perry, right, to turn over by next Friday any records that would shed light on President Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to open corruption investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son. Investigators also want answers on whether Mr. Perry tried to influence the management of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company.

Hours earlier, they demanded that two businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, appear for depositions next Wednesday and hand over records related to their work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer. Mr. Giuliani has been the point man in the president’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, around which the inquiry is centered. The subpoenas came shortly after the two men were indicted on federal campaign finance charges that touched on their work in Ukraine.

The new subpoenas, and more in the works, sent a clear message to the White House that Democrats do not intend to back down from a growing constitutional clash over their inquiry, even after the White House defiantly said this week that it would stonewall all requests for witnesses and documents.

The Hill via MSN, White House accidentally sends Ukraine talking points to Democrats again, Mike Lillis and Juliegrace Brufke, Oct. 11, 2019. The White House accidentally sent Democrats a list of talking points related to ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch's Friday House deposition, two sources with knowledge of the email told The Hill, the second time in a month the administration has sent its Ukraine talking points to Democrats.

The email included guidance for Republicans seeking to defend the president from potentially damaging witness testimony from an ambassador who was removed from her post in May under controversial circumstances.

In copies of the guidance shared with The Hill, The White House encouraged Republicans to adopt a series of messages designed to turn the tables back on Democrats, including attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's (D-Calif.) handling of the probe.

Yovanovitch told House lawmakers that she was removed after "a concerted campaign against" her from President Trump and his allies.

The email marks the second time the White House has unintentionally sent talking points to Democrats in recent weeks, after an administration official inadvertently emailed them suggested rhetoric defending the July 25 phone call.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump Policy That Favors Wealthy Immigrants, Miriam Jordan, Oct. 11, 2019. A federal judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction on Friday blocking the start of a new federal policy that would deny legal residency to immigrants who are likely to depend on public welfare.

In one of two legal setbacks on Friday for the Trump administration’s attempts to limit immigration, Judge George B. Daniels of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York said those potentially affected by the new regulation could suffer “irreparable harm” if the rule goes into effect. “The balance of equities and the interests of justice favor issuance of a preliminary injunction,” the judge wrote.

The “public charge” rule, which had been scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, set new standards for determining who might become a burden on the public purse and barred them from obtaining permanent residence in the country.

“The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification,” Judge Daniels, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, wrote in his ruling. “It is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”

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ny times logoNew York Times, Those Foreign Business Ties? The Trump Sons Have Plenty Too, Eric Lipton, Steve Eder and Ben Protess, Oct. 11, 2019. Last month, the Trump family business received approval from a local government in Scotland for a major expansion of its golf resort near Aberdeen, marking the largest real estate development financed by the Trump Organization since the 2016 election.

In August, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., flew to Jakarta to help kick-start sales at a pair of Trump-branded luxury resorts planned for Indonesia. He appeared at a private event with wealthy prospective buyers and joined his politically connected billionaire Indonesian business partner at a news conference.

And last year, Donald Jr. visited India to sell condos at future Trump-branded towers, appearing at an event that also featured India’s prime minister.

“I’m here as a businessman,” Mr. Trump told the gathering in New Delhi. “I’m not representing anyone.”

But for the children of the politically powerful, personal business and public dealings can often be indistinguishable, especially when private projects depend on foreign governments that are looking to bolster ties with Washington.

In recent weeks, as the president has become embroiled in a scandal involving his interactions with Ukraine, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have taken to attacking Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., for his business dealings in Ukraine and China.

Republicans, led by the president, have sought to make Hunter Biden’s international business dealings an issue in the impeachment debate in Washington. But the high-profile attack roles being played by Mr. Trump’s eldest sons have now thrust their own business dealings into the spotlight too.

Both sons have operated and promoted the Trump family business overseas during their father’s presidency, even as he retains ownership. And while the Trump and Biden father-son relationships differ in many ways, the business dealings have set up a simple parallel.

“They are criticizing the vice president’s son for doing exactly what they are doing themselves,” said Martin Ford, a member of the Aberdeenshire Council in Scotland, which voted last month to approve a proposal by the Trumps to build a 500-unit housing development. “They are conducting international business here in Scotland.”

Eric Trump, in a statement to The New York Times, said there was a distinction between his father’s career in business, with his recent turn to politics, and Mr. Biden’s decades in public office.

Inside DC

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washington post logoWashington Post, Senior adviser to Pompeo resigns, Karen DeYoung, Oct. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Michael McKinley, a career diplomat and senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has resigned his position amid rising dissatisfaction and plummeting morale inside the State Department over what is mike pompeo portraitseen as Pompeo’s failure to support personnel ensnared in the Ukraine controversy.

A senior officer who has held a range of diplomatic posts, including ambassador to Afghanistan, Colombia and Peru, McKinley was serving as ambassador to Brazil last year when Pompeo recruited him as a policy adviser and a conduit between his office and the career service.

Pompeo, right, was expected to issue a statement Friday announcing his departure. McKinley declined to comment Thursday evening.

Among the many issues on which he played a role, McKinley has been closely involved in administration policy on Venezuela, Mexico, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, where last month President Trump abruptly canceled U.S. peace negotiations with the Taliban that both sides had said were near an agreement.

#MeToo, Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, In ‘Catch and Kill,’ Ronan Farrow Recounts Chasing Harvey Weinstein Story, Jennifer Szalai, Oct. 11, 2019. Farrow writes that NBC ronan farrowtried to shut down his reporting about sexual assault and harassment allegations against the Hollywood producer.

Farrow, right, describes how he put together his explosive 2017 exposé of numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser and “part of the brain trust around Hillary Clinton.” (Farrow’s article ran in The New Yorker in October 2017, five days after Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of The Times published their article detailing harassment allegations against Weinstein.)

ronan farrow catch and kill CustomFarrow quotes gleeful emails between Weinstein and Dylan Howard, the editor of The National Enquirer, whose parent company, American Media Inc., was run by David Pecker, a staunch supporter of Donald J. Trump’s. Howard forwarded Weinstein some “dirt” on the actor Rose McGowan, who had tweeted the month before about “my rapist,” whom she didn’t name. “This is the killer,” Weinstein wrote. “Especially if my fingerprints r not on this.”

“Catch and Kill” gets its title from a tabloid practice that A.M.I. had honed over the years: purchasing a story in order to bury it. A.M.I.’s strategy is an essential part of this book’s narrative, but what Farrow suggests is that NBC News, which employed him at the time, did something with the Weinstein story that wasn’t entirely dissimilar. Instead of hush money, Farrow says, NBC officials used the institutional levers at their disposal to shut down his work on Weinstein — from intermittent discouragement to elaborate stonewalling to a legal review that turned out to be both labyrinthine and absurd.

Shep Smith

washington post logoWashington Post, Shepard Smith resigns from Fox News, Paul Farhi​, Oct. 11, 2019. Smith, one of Fox News’ leading anchors and a frequent critic of President Trump, said the decision to leave was his own, but gave no further reason for doing so. He announced his resignation on the air on his Friday program, which Fox said would be his last.

fox news logo SmallSmith, Fox’s chief news anchor and anchor of its afternoon news program, “Shepard Smith Reporting,” said the decision to leave was his own, but gave no further reason for his departure. He announced his resignation on the air on his Friday program, which Fox said would be his last.

Smith has been at Fox News since its founding 23 years ago, and was one of the first people hired for its launch in 1996.

In a statement, Smith said, “Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It’s been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor.”

Smith has often incurred the wrath of loyal Fox viewers — and of Trump — by his skeptical reporting and commentary on the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Why Trump is flirting with abandoning Fox News for One America, Nicole Hemmer (author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics), Oct. 11, 2019. The newer network is using Fox’s own tactics to challenge the cable titan.

When President Trump attacks most news outlets, there is an air of glee in his tweets, a lusty relish he reserves for those he has deemed true enemies. But when he attacks Fox News, as he did Thursday, his tone becomes one of bewildered disappointment. “@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” he moaned. “It is so different than it used to be.”

U.S. Crime, Courts

Law & Crime, Man Allegedly Asked Farmers If He Could Have Sex with Their Horses, Tried to Slash Tires When Rejected, Alberto Luperon, Oct. 11, 2019.
New Jersey man Richard Decker, 31, allegedly asked to have sex with farm animals in Sussex County, then lashed out when farmers turned him down.

Decker started emailing and letter-writing farms, stables, and horse boarding facilitates, Assistant Prosecutor Magdelen Czykier said. He allegedly had a very direct request: to have a sexual relationship with the owners’ cows “and/or” horses, the state said. As a result, he faces charges including fourth-degree procuring an animal in any kind of sexual manner or initiate any sexual conduct with an animal, second-degree possession of a destructive device to use unlawfully, and four-degree knowingly manufacturing firearms, according to the New Jersey Herald.

Prosecutors said Decker wrote owners harassing messages, made negative online reviews, or laid down handmade tire-slashing devices. Incidentally, Vernon Police, who operate out of Sussex County, put out an advisory for such devices in January.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we have received reports of incidents in which someone has been placing homemade tire slashing devices at the entrances to farm roads/driveways,” they wrote, including a picture of one of the devices.

China Trade

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump announces partial trade deal with China, lifting hopes that tensions could ease, David J. Lynch and Rachel Siegel, Oct. 11, 2019. President Trump announced the progress during an Oval Office meeting with China’s vice premier, Liu He. Trade tensions between two of the world’s largest economies have escalated since last year, weighing on global growth.

Oct. 10

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

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Impeachment Inquiry Update (Cont.)

Daily Kos, Giuliani pals were attempting to flee country when arrested for bribery, funneling foreign funds, Mark Sumner, Oct. 10, 2019. Two men who assisted Rudy Giuliani in creating the Ukraine smear against Joe Biden have been arrested for campaign finance violations. While both men funneled six figure donations to Donald Trump through a PAC run by Donald Trump Jr., that does not appear to be the primary focus of the charges.

Instead it seems the men are being charged for something more direct — bringing foreign funds into a U.S. election and plain old bribery. The source of marie yovanovitchthat money was apparently Ukraine, the purpose of that bribery was getting rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (right and requested to testify by the U.S. House).

According to the indictment unsealed in New York, Parnas, Fruman and other defendants “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.” The indictment does not mention Giuliani or suggest that he was part of the alleged crimes.

Prosecutors say Fruman and Parnas schemed to donate money to an unidentified U.S. congressman, at the same time they were asking that congressman to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her job.

lev parnas mug alexandria sheriffIt’s worth noting that the description of funneling foreign money to candidates might also fit with the way that the two men sent $325,000 to a pro-Trump PAC by routing it through an LLC. In fact, additional charges from the grand jury directly address the way that the men used an LLC to disguise the source of funds.

Marie Yovanovitch was high on the list of the list for Most Important Witnesses at the impeachment inquiry. The importance of her appearance just went up another notch.

igor fruman mugAccording to a broadcast report from NBC, Giuliani associates Parnas, above left, and Fruman, right, were arrested at Dulles Airport as they attempted to flee the country.

Included in the charges are not just Parnas and Fruman, who were previously identified as assisting Rudy Giuliani in in his efforts as Trump’s personal attorney, but David Corriea who is “a businessman born in the United States” and Andrew Kukushkin, “a businessman and United States citizen who was born in Ukraine.” Corriea appears to be the owner of a holding company headquartered in Florida.

It might be a good time for someone to ask Rudy Giuliani to hand over that passport.

Roll Call, Former Rep. Pete Sessions met with indicted Guiliani associates, accepted donations, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 10, 2019. Former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, who just last week announced a new bid for the House, appears to play a role in the indictment Thursday of two Soviet-born businessmen who are also subjects of the House impeachment inquiry.

pete sessions headshotWhile the indictment does not mention Sessions, right, by name or charge him of any crime, he told a Texas radio show on Sunday that he met with them and Federal Elections Commissions documents show he accepted campaign donations from them during his tight 2018 race.

The two associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, were charged with violating campaign finance laws and arrested Wednesday, according to court documents.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are also subjects in the House’ impeachment inquiry into Trump. The Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees had requested depositions from Parnas on Thursday and Fruman on Friday, along with documents from the two men. The panels made their requests in letters on Sept. 30.

Parnas and Fruman are expected to appear in court today and won’t be testifying before Congress, as requested. Parnas is an American citizen born in Ukraine and Fruman is an American citizen born in Belarus. The indictment alleges that Parnas, Fruman and other defendants “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.”

The 21-page indictment makes references to donations and activities by an unnamed “Congressman-1,” and alleges that Parnas and Fruman asked a congressman to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine recalled and at the same time donated money to the congressman.

djt fox impeachment poll oct 9 2019 Custom

washington post logo​Washington Post, Live Updates: Trump returns to the campaign trail as another poll shows support for his ouster is growing, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Oct. 10, 2019.The president is holding a rally for the first time since House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry.

Meanwhile, a Fox News poll released Wednesday night shows 51 percent of voters would like to see Trump impeached and removed from office, an uptick since the House launched the inquiry focused on Trump’s July call in which he pressed the leader of Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Wants a Fight. Pelosi Can Hit Back, Editorial Board, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). With rules, rigor and resolution. The House of Representatives has undertaken the impeachment inquiry of a president only four times in American history. Each time, the House has set its own ground rules. The Constitution prescribes no specific process, nor does federal law. Court rulings and precedents, such as they are, tend to be narrow and particular. So when lawmakers determine that such a proceeding is warranted, they are forced to rely on their own cobbled-together rule book, with the trust of the American people in their government at stake.

djt nancy pelosiThis requires Congress to be rigorous in setting out the rules for conducting an inquiry. It also makes the impeachment process vulnerable to misrepresentation and caricature, as President Trump and his White House demonstrated on Tuesday. According to an astonishing letter from the Trump administration to House Democrats, it is right for the president of the United States to use his immense power to solicit a foreign government’s interference on his behalf in an election — even, possibly, by way of extortion. At the same time, the letter argued, it is illegitimate for Congress, a coequal branch of government, to undertake any investigation into the president or members of his administration (or diplomats, personal lawyers and hangers-on) regarding this behavior.

The letter is a formal assertion of executive power and impunity without precedent in American history. Or, as a former Republican Senate staff member wrote on Twitter: “Wow. This letter is bananas.”

Daily Beast, How The Beast Uncovered Rudy Cronies’ Political Money Scheme, Lachlan Markay, Oct. 10 2019. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested daily beast logoWednesday, vindicating more than a year of reporting on their shady political donations.

In November of last year, PAY DIRT brought you a story about a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. The donation came from a company called Global Energy Producers, and we reported on suspicions that it was acting as a “conduit” contributor, effectively concealing the identities of the actual source or sources of that money.

After publication, we got a call from a relatively prominent Trumpworld operative, who proceeded to berate us for reporting on the allegations, which the person insisted were completely trumped-up and politically motivated. Global Energy Producers, he said, was fully capitalized by investors in the energy space, and was conducting bona fide business in pursuit of contracts to export liquified natural gas to Europe.

That was 100 percent untrue, according to federal prosecutors.

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Live Updates: Biden gives his most direct call for impeachment, saying Trump has ‘indicted himself,’ Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner​, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Attorneys for the Ukraine whistleblower said the person whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry “has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden campaign slams New York Times for op-ed by conservative author behind Ukraine claims, Tim Elfrink, Oct. 10, 2019. As President Trump has lobbed unsubstantiated and false claims of international corruption at former vice president Joe Biden and his son, he’s often turned to one source for ammunition: conservative author Peter Schweizer. So when the New York Times ran an op-ed on Wednesday written by Schweizer about Biden and his son Hunter, the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign cried foul.

peter schweizerIn a letter sent to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Biden’s campaign called Schweizer, left, a “discredited right-wing polemicist” and suggested the op-ed was part of a larger pattern of “journalistic malpractice.”

“Are you truly blind to what you got wrong in 2016, or are you deliberately continuing policies that distort reality for the sake of controversy and the clicks that accompany it?” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in the Wednesday letter, which was posted by CNN’s Oliver Darcy

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s claims of executive immunity lead to criticism he is acting above the law, Toluse Olorunnipa and Ann E. Marimow​, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s latest legal machinations highlight his absolutist view of executive power and presidential impunity.

In a series of legal maneuvers that have defied Congress, drawn rebukes from federal judges and tested the country’s foundational system of checks and balances, President Trump has made an expansive declaration of presidential immunity that would essentially place him beyond the reach of the law.

Both in courts and before Congress, Trump’s legal teams are simultaneously arguing that the president can’t be investigated or indicted by prosecutors because Congress has the sole responsibility for holding presidents accountable, and that the House’s impeachment inquiry is an unconstitutional effort that the White House can ignore.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani goes off the deep end after yet another one of his criminal scandals gets exposed, Bill Palmer, Oct. 10, 2019. Last night we all learned that Donald Trump tried in 2017 to convince then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help get Turkish criminal Reza Zarrab off the hook. This scandal obviously has relevance to Trump’s recent decision to let Turkey invade Syria and murder the Kurds. But it also has major ties to the guy who pops up in every Trump scandal these days: Rudy Giuliani.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only was Rudy Giuliani acting as legal counsel for Turkish criminal Reza Zarrab at the time Trump tried to get Zarrab off the hook, Bloomberg says that Trump specifically asked Tillerson to work with Rudy to get Zarrab off the hook. That means Trump was bypassing the Department of Justice entirely, and allowing Rudy to run the federal government – just as Trump has more recently been allowing Rudy to dictate U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.

rudy giuliani recentRudy Giuliani, right,never met a scandal he couldn’t make even worse with his mouth, and so he’s responding to the Bloomberg report by foaming at the mouth. Rudy is calling it a “hit job” according to MSNBC, which means that he’s not even going to bother to try to deny the specifics of what’s been reported, which means it’s all true.

Of course this means that Rex Tillerson is about to get subpoenaed by the House impeachment inquiry, and considering that Tillerson has no personal loyalty to Donald Trump, we expect he’ll go ahead and cooperate. It’s also one more proverbial nail in the coffin of Rudy Giuliani, who can surely expect to spend the rest of his life in prison once this house of cards finishes collapsing.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: A soliloquy for the United States, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 10, 2019. America is at war with itself. In only two cases has the United States experienced a situation where wars have pitted brother against brother, husbands against wives, and parents against their children. Friendships of long-lasting duration were also destroyed.

wayne madesen report logoThe two cases in which the country experienced such fissures was the War of Independence against Great Britain and the Civil War between the Union and Confederacy.

Today, Americans have been torn apart by the excesses of the Trump administration. There is no good ending to these fundamental divisions.

U.S. Prosecution Misconduct

The Intercept, How the Secretive “Discipline” Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases, Brooke Williams, Samata Joshi, Shawn Musgrave, Oct. 10, 2019. Lashawn Jermaine Johnson spent his 30s in prison law libraries. As he put it in an interview, that was “the only place you were going to find freedom” in prison. Sitting at one of a dozen desktop computers with windows overlooking a quad, Johnson dug through past convictions of the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted him for cocaine trafficking in Billings, Montana.

What he found not only set him free but called into question the convictions of many others behind bars.

James Seykora had been prosecuting federal drug cases for decades in Billings, the largest city in the state with a population just shy of 110,000. Local defense attorneys described him as a hard worker who dutifully sought the harshest penalties for drug crimes. One called him a “trained pitbull” and said “the people to blame were his bosses.” In 2004, he won an award for his sheer number of drug convictions.

But it turned out Seykora had a history of misconduct, including hiding deals he made with key witnesses in exchange for their cooperation and testimony.

In one case, Seykora gave immunity to a key government witness in exchange for taking the stand. Then, in front of a judge and a jury, he allowed the witness to swear she didn’t recall “any promises” in exchange for testifying.

In Johnson’s case, a federal judge found Seykora engaged in similar misconduct when he allowed the judge and jury to believe a key witness against Johnson, Heather Schutz, had only “bare hope” for leniency in her Las Vegas prostitution charges in exchange for her testimony. Seykora actually had promised her “personal benefit” that was a “concrete and quantified reality.”

As Johnson, who served nearly nine years for trafficking cocaine, poured through court records in the prison library, he said he found case after case in which Seykora was caught hiding deals with witnesses. Judges found the federal prosecutor had a habit of allowing juries and judges to believe people testifying for the prosecution had nothing to gain when, in fact, he had already promised them immunity, sentence reductions, and more. Despite this, Seykora was still allowed to handle federal drug prosecutions in Billings.

Johnson quickly gave the material he gathered in the law library to his attorney, who filed a motion to reverse the conviction due to prosecutorial misconduct. The Billings U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to charge Johnson again, and a judge ordered him “released from custody” in February 2015. He now lives in Las Vegas and has young children.

Seykora retired as a prosecutor in 2012 and currently is a municipal judge in Hardin, Montana, a small town of about 3,500 people and a short drive from Billings. He did not return phone calls seeking an interview.

In 2014, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility began looking into Seykora. The OPR was established after the Watergate scandal “to ensure that Department attorneys perform their duties in accordance with the high professional standards,” according to its website.

Two years later, in 2016, while OPR was apparently still investigating Seykora’s actions, Michael Cotter, then U.S. attorney for Billings and current chief of the state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, apparently decided to take matters into his own hands. In a highly unusual move, Johnson’s attorney Colin Stephens said, Cotter sent letters to the defense attorneys of people Seykora had convicted to let them know about the prosecutor’s history of repeated misconduct.

Stephens said the letters essentially reopened any case Seykora had prosecuted. “We just opened Pandora’s box,” he said. “It’s a big deal when the government cheats.”

Cotter declined to discuss the case.

Given his experience, Johnson said, he wonders if it really is a big deal when a prosecutor breaks the rules. “He still gets to sit on the bench and practice his crooked law,” he said.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Synagogue attacker hoped to inspire further anti-Semitic attacks, German authorities say, Luisa Beck and Rick Noack​, Oct. 10, 2019. Authorities said the attacker most likely acted alone and that he was not known to authorities, but they have yet to publicly release the suspect’s name or other details. The man who attacked a synagogue in Germany and killed two people was a right-wing extremist with a clear anti-Semitic motive and hoped to encourage others to follow his lead, authorities announced Thursday.

german flagAuthorities confirmed the attack, which the perpetrator live-streamed, was a terrorist incident amid mounting questions over the safety of the Jewish community in Germany and why authorities were unable to prevent or stop it. The attacker, said Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank, “wanted to imitate others, but he also wanted to instigate others to imitate him.”

“He wanted to have a global impact,” he added. Stephen B, as the attacker has been identified, is facing two murder charges as well as charges of attempted murder, among other crimes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls death of British teen a ‘terrible accident,’ says driving on wrong side of the road ‘happens,’ Jennifer Hassan, Oct. 10, 2019. President Trump said Wednesday that a British teenager killed in a crash allegedly caused by the wife of a U.S. diplomat was the victim of a “terrible accident,” adding that driving on the wrong side of the road “happens.”

united kingdom flagHe made the remarks at a news conference to which he carried briefing notes saying that the woman, who left the country after the crash, would not return to Britain, as British authorities have requested.

British police say 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed by 42-year-old suspect Anne Sacoolas when her Volvo SUV struck his motorcycle in August. Surveillance video indicates that Sacoolas, who is American, was driving “on the wrong side of the road” on the night of the fatal crash, police said. British media reported that she had recently arrived in the country, leading to a theory that she may have been unaccustomed to driving on the left, as is the rule in Britain.

U.S. Supreme Court / Abortion

ny times logolinda greenhouse cover just a journalistNew York Times, Opinion: A Supreme Court Abortion Case That Tests the Court Itself, Linda Greenhouse, right (shown on the cover of her memoir, Just a Journalist), Oct. 10, 2019. What will access to abortion look like under the new conservative majority? Under the rules that normally govern the American judicial system, the Louisiana abortion law at the center of a case the Supreme Court added to its docket last week is flagrantly unconstitutional.

My goal in this column is to make visible not only the stakes in the case but also Louisiana’s strategy for saving its law, the first of a wave of anti-abortion measures to reach a Supreme Court transformed by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the addition of two justices appointed by President Donald Trump.

#MeToo Rape Claim

matt lauer today

ny times logoNew York Times, Matt Lauer Is Accused of Rape in Ronan Farrow’s New Book, Jim Windolf, John Koblin and Rachel Abrams, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). One of the reporters who helped bring down Harvey Weinstein secured an on-the-record interview with one of the former “Today” host’s accusers.

For more than 20 years, Matt Lauer, shown in a file photo, was a star anchor of NBC’s most profitable franchise, “Today.” His downfall came in November 2017 when the network fired him after receiving a complaint of sexual misconduct against him. The accusation was soon followed by others.

ronan farrowNow, the circumstances of that firing have resurfaced in a book by the investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, right, that contains new details from Mr. Lauer’s primary accuser, including her account of a rape. The book, Catch and Kill, is expected to be released on Tuesday.

The accuser provided an account of her interactions with Mr. Lauer to The New York Times nearly two years ago, but said she was not willing to go public with her story at the time. On Wednesday, Variety reported that Mr. Farrow had secured an on-the-record interview with the woman, Brooke Nevils, who allowed the author to name her.

Ms. Nevils gave Mr. Farrow a detailed description of an encounter with Mr. Lauer, which took place when the network was covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Mr. Lauer anally raped Ms. Nevils, she told Mr. Farrow.

nbc news logoMr. Lauer denied the allegation in a letter provided by his lawyer on Wednesday. “In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having was in fact an assault,” Mr. Lauer wrote. “It is categorically false, ignores the facts and defies common sense. I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.”

NBC News, working as a contributor to MSNBC and, for a time, as a correspondent on “Today,” with a segment called “Undercover With Ronan Farrow.” The book includes a detailed account of the pushback Mr. Farrow said he had received from the news division’s executives, and his reporting on Mr. Lauer could have reverberations at the network. Up until now, Mr. Farrow had been publicly silent on his disagreements with the network.

Turkish Attack On Kurds

 washington post logoWashington Post, Turkish forces push deeper into Syria as Kurds fight back, Erin Cunningham, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Asser Khattab, Oct. 10, 2019. The operation, including air and ground forces, targeted villages along the border with Syria and “continued successfully” during the second day of the offensive, Turkey's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Militia Fires Shells Into Turkey as Syria Offensive Enters 2nd Day, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 10, 2019. At least 16 Kurdish fighters were reported to have been killed as Turkish ground forces assaulted towns in northeastern Syria.

washington post logoWashington Post, Turkey launches offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Asser Khattab, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Turkish airstrikes and shelling targeted Syrian Kurdish fighters who have played a central role in aiding the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State militant group.

turkey flagTurkey’s government launched a long-expected offensive into northeastern Syria on Wednesday, with airstrikes and shelling targeting Syrian Kurdish fighters who have played a central role in aiding the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State militant group.

The operation — with some ground forces crossing the border later — came just days after President Trump’s startling announcement that the United States would not stand in Turkey’s way, bringing sharp rebukes from even the president’s Republican allies.

The Turkish foray threatened to further fracture a war-shattered Syria as Ankara moved to create a “safe zone” after failing to agree on its size and nature during negotiations with the United States.

Related stories (excerpts below):

 washington post logoWashington Post, Erdogan says Turkey will prevent Islamic State resurgence as his forces push into Syria, Erin Cunningham, Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Asser Khattab, Oct. 10, 2019. “After Turkey takes control of this region, everyone can be sure that [the Islamic State] will not reappear,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, adding that Turkey would either imprison or deport the Islamist militants and their families.

The Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Pull Them All Out of Syria, Now, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 10, 2019 (excerpted). Democrats, jacob hornberger newRepublicans, the mainstream press, and all the other Washington, D.C., interventionists are up in arms over President Trump’s decision to relocate a few U.S. soldiers within Syria. Based on their hysterical reaction, you would think that the United States was about to be invaded and conquered by some new or old official enemy, like communists, terrorists, Muslims, illegal immigrants, or drug dealers.

If we want to restore a free, peaceful, harmonious, and normally functioning society to our land, we have to bring an end to U.S. interventionism all over the world.

In this particular case, the official bugaboo is ISIS, the group that, ironically, was the direct consequence of U.S. interventionism in Iraq. Apparently, there were people in the Middle East who didn’t take kindly to a foreign imperialist power invading and occupying a country that had never attacked the United States and killing, injuring, and destroying hundreds of thousands of people in the process.

But let’s not go overboard. ISIS is not coming to get us, any more than the communists were coming to get us during the Cold War. For that matter, neither are the terrorists, Muslims, drug dealers, illegal immigrants, Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Vietnamese, Cubans, Iranians, or any other scary boogeymen.

Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t a threat of terrorist retaliation for U.S. interventionism in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. Of course there is. That is one of the prices that have to be paid for U.S. imperialism and interventionism. (Other prices include the destruction of our liberty here at home and out-of-control federal spending and debt that are bankrupting our nation.)

End U.S. interventionism entirely

If we want to restore a free, peaceful, harmonious, and normally functioning society to our land, we have to bring an end to U.S. interventionism all over the world. That means bringing all the troops home immediately, which would put an end to the death and destruction that U.S. interventionism wreaks abroad, which in turn would disintegrate the anger and rage that leads to the threat of terrorist retaliation against the United States.

That includes Syria. Instead of repositioning a few soldiers within Syria, Trump should be ordering an immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria. What Trump is obviously having a difficult time processing is the notion that U.S. troops have no more business in Syria than Syrian troops have here in the United States.

Unfortunately, despite his positive words about wanting to end America’s “endless wars,” Trump has continued to defer to the interventionists, especially the Pentagon, by keeping U.S. troops in Syria. Don’t forget — he has had three years to order the Pentagon to pull them out and bring them home. He has chosen not to issue that order.

The Kurds

The interventionists also say that U.S. forces must continue to be kept in Syria to serve as sacrificial tripwires to protect their Kurdish allies from a military attack by Turkey, which is their NATO ally.

Notice something important, however, about the deep concern that interventionists have for the Kurds: Not one single interventionist is traveling to Syria to join up and fight with them. Imagine that! They want U.S. soldiers to fight, kill, and die for the Kurds, but they’re not willing to do so themselves.

The interventionist chessboard

Here’s are the big questions:

Why are there any U.S. troops in Syria at all? What business do they have in Syria? What constitutional authority do they have being there? What difference does it make whether ISIS or any other tyrannical group takes over the government in some foreign country? Aren’t tyrannical groups running Egypt, Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Venezuela? Why should American troops be sacrificed to prevent one tyrannical group from replacing another tyrannical group?

Why should American troops be sacrificed to oust the Syrian dictatorship and replace it with a pro-U.S. dictatorship?

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: In Syria, Trump Distills a Foreign Policy of Impulse, Peter Baker and Lara Jakes, Oct. 10, 2019. The president is trying to reverse the consequences as Turkish forces bombard Kurdish fighters who helped overpower ISIS. Having upended Middle East policy with the flick of a Twitter finger, however, Mr. Trump now is trying to find a way to reverse the eminently foreseeable consequences as Turkish forces bombard the same Kurdish fighters who helped the United States overpower the Islamic State.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper called his Turkish counterpart on Thursday to stress that Washington opposes the incursion into Syria, and Mr. Trump talked of brokering some form of peace between Turkey and the Kurds. “I hope we can mediate,” he told reporters even as he contemplates sanctions against Turkey.

But the administration signaled that it was still giving the Turks a degree of latitude. A State Department official, who briefed reporters under ground rules that he not be identified, said the administration would impose costs if Turkey went “beyond the lines,” which he defined as ethnic cleansing or indiscriminate artillery and airstrikes directed at civilians.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria ‘a bad idea’ as Republican criticism mounts, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said Wednesday that it would be “easy” for the United States to form new alliances if Syrian Kurds leave the fight against the Islamic State to fend off a Turkish attack, noting that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us in Normandy” and were only interested in fighting for “their land.”

kurd flag“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” he said in response to questions about Turkey’s incursion into Syria.

Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks, following a White House ceremony where he signed unrelated executive orders, came as the administration continued an effort to correct what it has called the misimpression that Trump enabled the offensive Turkey launched Wednesday against the U.S.-allied Kurds. The president spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Sunday.

Calling the offensive “a bad idea,” he said in the statement that Turkey had promised to avert a humanitarian crisis and ensure its operation did not allow the Islamic State to regain strength.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. military is taking custody of two accused of involvement in beheadings of ISIS hostages, Ellen Nakashima, Souad Mekhennet, Rachel Weiner and Missy Ryan​, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). The British men are being transferred into U.S. military custody because the Turkish incursion into Syria threatened their continued detention by Kurdish forces, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. military is taking custody of several dozen high-value Islamic State detainees, including two British men accused of involvement in the militant group’s summary executions of American and other Western hostages. The action is designed to prevent their escape or release from camps in Syria, where they have been guarded by Kurdish forces now under threat from Turkey’s incursion, according to U.S. officials.

The move, a rare instance in which the United States has taken direct responsibility for Islamic State prisoners in Iraq and Syria, comes as U.S. officials scramble to ensure that Ankara’s unfolding military operation does not permit the Islamic State to regain strength.

The roughly 40 individuals being taken into U.S. custody, all considered important Islamic State figures, previously had been held in a constellation of small prisons in northeast Syria, run by Syrian Kurdish forces who have been the Pentagon’s primary partner against the Islamic State in Syria. The Kurds are now pulling guards from those facilities to confront the unfolding Turkish assault.

The British pair — part of a group of four British militants dubbed the “Beatles” by their hostages — were being detained with the goal of putting them james foley isis 2012 via abcon trial in the United States, said a senior U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. That official said the two men — Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh — had been taken to Iraq; other officials said recent administration discussions about the fate of those prisoners had examined the possibility of bringing them to Iraq.

The British men are accused of involvement in the beheading of Americans James Foley (right), Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig as well as other Western hostages. “This is like a victory for the ISIS fighters. I just think it’s appalling,” said Diane Foley, James Foley’s mother. “It’s an abdication of our responsibility to ensure safety for our own citizens and allies.”

Water, Fire, Climate Change?

washington post logoWashington Post, Gone in a Generation: ‘Things are drying up’: On the Rio Grande, rising temperatures mean less water. Can farmers cope? Zoeann Murphy and Chris Mooney, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Next-generation growers in New Mexico fear old wells and new technology may not keep pace as water dwindles.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lights Out Across Northern California Amid Wildfire Threat, Thomas Fuller, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). A deliberate power outage by PG&E, the state’s largest utility, sent residents scrambling — and debating whether it was worth it. The lights went off in stages in Northern California on Wednesday, from the forests near the Oregon border, down the spine of the Sierra Nevada and finally through the dense hillside communities across the Bay from San Francisco.

Hundreds of thousands of households lost power when California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, shut down a vast web of electrical lines as a precaution against wildfires. Not knowing how long the outage would last, residents hurried to gas stations and supermarkets, stocking up on essentials as if a hurricane were bearing down.

It was an extraordinary moment for California. In the state that brought the world the iPhone and the internet as most people know it, residents fumbled for flashlights, hauled jerrycans of gasoline and read instructions on how to manually open their automatic garage doors. In the fifth-largest economy in the world, hundreds of thousands of people were forced off the grid.

The vast scope of the power shutdown suggested a new layer of vulnerability for California. A state prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and wildfires now was faced with a power company’s decision to shut off the electricity, with relatively little notice.

By Wednesday afternoon, at least 500,000 customers — each customer can represent numerous family members or apartment dwellers — were without power. The company said electricity would be shut off for 250,000 additional customers on Wednesday evening.

Oct. 9

U.S. Impeachment Daily Index

djt fox impeachment poll oct 9 2019 Custom

 

Impeachment Inquiry Update

Fox News, Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment, Dana Blanton, Oct. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Just over half of voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll released Wednesday. A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosSince July, support for impeachment increased among voters of all stripes: up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans and 3 among independents. Support also went up among some of Trump’s key constituencies, including white evangelical Christians (+5 points), white men without a college degree (+8), and rural whites (+10).

Among voters in swing counties (where Hillary Clinton and Trump were within 10 points in 2016), support for impeachment increased to 52 percent, up from 42 percent in July.

A lot has happened since the July Fox poll on impeachment -- namely, the launch of an impeachment inquiry in the House following allegations Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens’ dealings in that country. The 9-point increase in support for impeachment since July, however, doesn’t appear to be based solely on the latest allegations. To that point, more Democrats favor impeaching Trump (85 percent) than consider his call with Ukraine’s president an impeachable offense (76 percent). The same holds true among independents: 39 percent favor impeachment, while 30 percent describe the Ukraine call as impeachable.

The 4-in-10 voters opposing impeachment give a variety of reasons, including: Trump did nothing wrong (21 percent), it is politically motivated (20 percent), and don’t believe allegations (15 percent).

Approval of Trump’s job performance is down a couple of points to 43 percent, while 55 percent disapprove. Last month, it was 45-54 percent. Currently, 86 percent of Republicans approve compared to 89 percent in September.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Signals It Won’t Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The White House declared war on the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, announcing that it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election” and setting the stage for a constitutional clash with far-reaching consequences.

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House said the inquiry had violated precedent and denied President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents.

djt nancy pelosi“Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice,” said the letter signed by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch and all future occupants of the office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

But in refusing to cooperate with what Mr. Trump on Tuesday called a “kangaroo court,” the president risked ensuring the very outcome he would rather avoid. House Democrats made clear that his failure to comply with their demands for information could form the basis for its own article of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats to subpoena Sondland, say Trump’s move to block deposition amounts to obstruction, Shane Harris and John Wagner​, european union logo rectangleOct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration on Tuesday blocked a planned deposition from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a central figure in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

gordon sondland oDemocrats called the administration’s move an act of obstruction and said they would issue a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony, as well as emails and text messages that Sondland held on a personal device and that have been turned over to the State Department, which has yet to release them.

Sondland, 61, left, appears never to have held a position in government before being named the ambassador to the E.U. in June 2018. He built his fortune acquiring and managing luxury hotels in the Pacific Northwest and gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund via shell companies that obscured his involvement.

Live updates: Trump continues to push for Adam Schiff to be 'Impeached!'

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge balks at Justice Dept. bid to deny House access to Mueller grand jury materials, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Justice Department lawyers urged a federal judge Tuesday to deny a House Judiciary Committee request for grand-jury materials from former special beryl howellcounsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, arguing that despite legal rulings during the impeachment inquiry into President Richard M. Nixon, in hindsight courts in 1974 should not have given Congress materials from the Watergate grand jury.

“Wow, okay,” Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington responded, sounding unpersuaded. “As I said, the department is taking extraordinary positions in this case.”

Howell, right,  called the stance one of several “extreme” arguments presented by Trump administration lawyers in opposing the House request for Mueller grand-jury materials, part of a widening impeachment investigation of President Trump.

washington post logo

jennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Why this latest Trump tactic is different, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Even for President Trump, “I’ll impeach you!” is an idiotic comeback to House Democrats who are pursuing an impeachment inquiry.

Mainstream outlets have collectively decided that Trump is now a threat to democratic elections, so it is time to get serious and drop the pretense that there is a legitimate “side” (e.g., Ukraine has the DNC server! Asking China to interfere in our elections is fine, just fine!) whom Trump, Fox News and the Trump cultists represent.

Bloomberg News, Trump Urged Top Aide to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ Charges, Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Stephanie Baker and Jennifer Jacobs, Oct. rex tillerson square9, 2019. President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.

Tillerson, right, refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.

john kelly o dhsTillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly,left, in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.

Zarrab was being prosecuted in federal court in New York at the time on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear rudy giulianiprogram. He had hired former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Giuliani, right, who has said he reached out repeatedly to U.S. officials to seek a diplomatic solution for his client outside the courts.

The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels. Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why this new GOP Senate report about the Trump-Russia election scandal is so crucial to what happens next, Bill Palmer, Oct. 9, 2019. Yesterday, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee decided to release its years-in-the-making report on the Trump-Russia 2016 election rigging scandal. You read whatever you want into the timing of releasing this report just two weeks after Donald Trump’s impeachment got underway, and one day after a bunch of GOP Senators spoke out against Trump’s deranged Syria pullout. But the details here are what may be most important to the Republican Senators.

bill palmer report logo headerThis publicly available Senate Intel Committee report confirms a lot of what we already knew for certain: the Russian government spent the 2016 general election spreading fake news aimed at helping Donald Trump and harming Hillary Clinton. It’s notable in its own right that a Republican controlled committee is admitting that Clinton was harmed by lies, after the GOP spent the past twenty-five years pushing its own lies about Clinton. But there’s a more key part to this report.

Over the past two and a half years we’ve seen scattered reports that the Russians didn’t just help rig the 2016 general election for Donald Trump; they helped rig the 2016 Republican primary race for Trump as well. Sure enough, this Senate report confirms that during the primary contest, the Russians were spreading fake news to help Trump, while spreading fake news aimed at specifically harming Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

In other words, the Republican Senate just announced that it’s found proof that the Russian government screwed three prominent Republicans – two of whom are currently in the Senate – out of their party’s 2016 presidential nomination. By ideological definition, the Republicans each only care about themselves. They’re making a point of announcing that the Trump-Russia scandal wasn’t just a plot against Hillary, it was also a plot against the Republican Party. You think they don’t want revenge?

washington post logoWashington Post, Clinton-email critics pull a role reversal as Trump administration draws fire for private phone use, John Hudson and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 9, 2019. The president’s latest legal machinations highlight his absolutist view of executive power and presidential impunity.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The king of projection and his concoction of lies, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 9, 2019. Donald Trump has become the king of projection in digging through every official act of Joe Biden as vice president to concoct a series of lies that, in reality, apply to Trump and his family and administration of grifters, swindlers, and gangsters.

wayne madesen report logoTrump managed to turn Biden’s official act of pressuring Ukraine to fire a corrupt prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, into a tall tale of Biden seeking the Ukrainian official’s ouster in order to protect son Hunter Biden’s financial interests as a board member of Burisma Holdings, one of many Ukrainian companies that were given a pass by Shokin.

In fact, Shokin was also derelict in prosecuting Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who is ducking a U.S. extradition warrant after his federal indictment on bribery, racketeering, and money laundering charges. Firtash was one of the many benefactors of Paul Manafort. Firtash, who is a lieutenant for the most dangerous Russian oligarch, Semion Mogilevich, also wanted by U.S. authorities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s the evidence collected and requested in the inquiry so far, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.) (Chart above by New York Times). House Democrats have begun collecting evidence for their impeachment investigation, which was launched after a whistle-blower complaint said that White House officials believed they had witnessed President Trump abuse his power for political gain.

democratic donkey logoCongressional investigators have been issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documents and witness testimony related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Evidence that has been collected.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally on Fox News calls whistleblowers ‘suicide bombers,’ accuses Democrats of ‘regicide,’ Allyson Chiu, Oct. 9, 2019. Former U.S. attorney Joseph E. diGenova turned to European history Tuesday night to describe the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump, calling their efforts “regicide,” the act of killing a king.

joseph digenova Custom“What you’re seeing is regicide,” diGenova, at right with Trump in file photos, a frequent Trump defender, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “This is regicide by another name, fake impeachment. The Democrats in the House want to destroy the president."

But diGenova, a conspiracy theorist Trump wanted on his legal team during the Russia probe, wasn’t finished. In a lengthy interview on “The Ingraham Angle,” the lawyer, who was joined by Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, blasted the two anonymous whistleblowers as “suicide bombers” and accused Democrats of “sedition.”

The fiery rhetoric marks the latest escalation in language used by Trump’s supporters, and even the president himself, to complain about the ongoing impeachment inquiry, a tactic that has prompted some to express concern about the safety of the whistleblowers and top Democrats.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Democrats just landed a key impeachment witness that Donald Trump can’t stop, Bill Palmer, Oct. 9, 2019. Donald Trump’s former National Security Council member Fiona Hill has agreed to give cooperative testimony to the House impeachment inquiry in the coming days, according to a report tonight from NBC News.

bill palmer report logo headerThe key word there is “former” which means that Trump can’t stop her, because she doesn’t work for him anymore. By all accounts, she was never personally loyal to Trump to begin with, which means she’s not going to be interested in listening to him now. So why is her testimony important?

Fiona Hill was the Russia expert for Trump’s National Security Council, which means she has knowledge of the Trump regime’s dealings with Russia. Because Russia is so obsessed with Ukraine, it stands to reason that Hill knows things about Trump’s Ukraine antics.

djt nyt impeachment investigation tracker ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s the evidence collected and requested in the inquiry so far, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.) (Chart above by New York Times). House Democrats have begun collecting evidence for their impeachment investigation, which was launched after a whistle-blower complaint said that White House officials believed they had witnessed President Trump abuse his power for political gain.

democratic donkey logoCongressional investigators have been issuing near-daily requests or subpoenas for documents and witness testimony related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, updated Oct. 3, 2019. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

      • 226 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
      • 193 No, not now, or undecided
      •   14 Awaiting response

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Aided by convict’s darkly precise memory, FBI says he is the most prolific serial killer ever, Brittany Shammas, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Samuel Little has confessed to killing 93 people. The FBI believes him.

Samuel Little, left, described his crimes in painstaking detail, sometimes smiling or laughing at the memory. Over 18 months of confession to a Texas samuel littleRanger inside the prison where he’s already serving a life sentence, the gray-haired, 79-year-old man admitted to 93 murders spanning 19 states and 35 years.

With 50 of those cases verified, the FBI announced that Little, whose gruesome crimes went undetected for decades, is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Now, investigators are seeking the public’s help in identifying the rest of the people he’s confessed to having strangled between 1970 and 2005. They believe all of his confessions to be credible.

On Sunday, the agency released a trove of information on five unmatched cases, including video clips of Little recounting meeting the victims and dumping their bodies. He described their appearances — “she was pretty … she had a beautiful body on her,” he said of a woman he killed in New Orleans — as well as the fields, canals and trash heaps where he left them. He also drew portraits of their faces.

FBI logoThe FBI says Little targeted mostly vulnerable women. Some were sex workers or drug users. Others were transgender. Their deaths may not have attracted much attention, and authorities often cited drug overdoses, accidents or natural causes as responsible. In some of the cases, the bodies were never found.

It wasn’t until 2014 that Little was convicted of murder. He had been arrested at a Kentucky homeless shelter and extradited to California on a drug charge. While he was in custody, Los Angeles police detectives obtained a DNA match to three unsolved homicides from the late 1980s, in which women had been beaten and strangled. Little received three life sentences for those crimes.

U.S. Media / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook’s Hands-Off Approach to Political Speech Gets Impeachment Test, Cecilia Kang, Oct. 9, 2019 (print ed.). The 30-second video ad released by the Trump campaign last week is grainy, and the narrator’s voice is foreboding. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., it says, offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid if the country pushed out the man investigating a company tied to Mr. Biden’s son.

Saying it made false accusations, CNN immediately refused to air the advertisement.

But Facebook did not, and on Tuesday, the social network rejected a request from Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign to take it down, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election as well as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

facebook logoIn a letter to the Biden campaign, Facebook said the ad, which has been viewed five million times on the site, did not violate company policies. Last month, the social network, which has more than two billion users, announced that politicians and their campaigns had nearly free rein over content they post there.

Even false statements and misleading content in ads, the company has said, are an important part of the political conversation.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Facebook’s head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath, wrote in the letter to the Biden campaign.

The decision by the company illustrates its executives’ hardened resolve to stay out of the moderation of political speech, despite the use of the social network to spread discord and disinformation in the 2016 presidential campaign. On Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a sobering report warning of fresh signs of interference by Russia and other foreign nations in the 2020 election.

The company’s position stands in contrast to CNN, which rejected two ads from the Trump campaign last week, including the one the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down. The cable channel said it rejected the ad because it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets.”

Facebook has been dogged by accusations of censorship by conservative politicians, including President Trump, who argue that the Silicon Valley company gives greater attention to liberal points of views on the social network.

But by removing itself as the moderator of political content — including in paid ads on the site — Facebook has left itself open another avenue of criticism. In a series of tweets Monday evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination, said Facebook allowed President Trump to spread false information widely, and called on the company to take down the attack ad against Mr. Biden, one of her top rivals.

“Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once because they were asleep at the wheel while Russia attacked our democracy — allowing fake, foreign accounts to run ad campaigns to influence our elections,” Ms. Warren wrote.

U.S. 2020 Politics

Intercept, Opinion: Joe Biden’s Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That, Ryan Grim, Oct 10, 2019.  While Democrats pursue the impeachment of President Donald Trump for pressuring foreign countries to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, they are left joe biden omaking an argument that is at once true and