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

Sept. 30

Impeachment Daily Index

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 nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Intelligence panel has deal to hear whistleblower’s testimony, Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). adam schiff squareHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said Sunday that his panel has reached an agreement to secure testimony from the anonymous whistleblower whose detailed complaint launched an impeachment investigation into President Trump.

The announcement from Schiff, right, came on the same day that Tom Bossert, a former Trump homeland security adviser, delivered a rebuke of the president, saying in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that he was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of Trump’s recently reported actions.

Those comments come as members of Congress return to their districts for a two-week recess, during which they will either have to make the case for Trump’s impeachment or defend him to voters amid mounting questions about his conduct.

In appearances over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered a preview of the Democratic message, casting the impeachment inquiry as a somber task that she chose to endorse only as a last resort.

• Trump lashes out again at whistleblower, questions whether Schiff should be arrested for ‘treason’
• Ex-senator Flake says Trump’s actions warrant impeachment, calls on GOP not to support president’s reelection

washington post logomitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedWashington Post, McConnell says if House impeaches Trump, Senate rules would force him to start a trial, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 30, 2019. The Senate majority leader, right, provided few clues, however, on how he would proceed, the length of the trial or whether he would move to dismiss the articles of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, House panels subpoena Giuliani for documents in Ukraine probe, Karoun Demirjian and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 30, 2019. Three House committees issued a subpoena Monday to President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, demanding he turn over all records pertaining to his contacts regarding Ukraine, the Biden family, and related matters.

rudy giulianiIn a letter to Giuliani, right, accompanying the subpoena, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) cited “a growing public record” of information in accusing him of appearing “to have pressed the Ukrainian government to pursue two politically-motivated investigations.”

“The first is a prosecution of Ukrainians who provided evidence against Mr. Trump’s convicted campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The second relates to former Vice president Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who is challenging President Trump for the presidency in 2020,” the letter continued, demanding Giuliani turn over materials to their investigation by October 15.

The chairmen also said they are investigating “credible allegations” that Giuliani “acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president.”

ukraine flagIn an interview Friday night, Giuliani said he had heard he was likely to be subpoenaed but had not received anything. Giuliani said he would follow his client’s advice on whether to cooperate and saw both the pros and cons of going forward.

Giuliani recently told The Washington Post in an interview that he possessed communications with State Department officials about his effort. “I have 40 texts from the State Department asking me to do what I did.”

A senior administration official confirmed that a State Department official, Kurt Volker, was involved in setting up one meeting for Giuliani with a top Ukrainian aide. But this person said the department was unaware of many of his other meetings and activities.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Beyond repugnant’: GOP congressman slams Trump for warning of ‘civil war’ over impeachment, Katie Shepherd, Sept. 30, 2019.  republican elephant logoAs Democrats begin an impeachment inquiry, President Trump spent Sunday vigorously defending himself on Twitter and sharing cable news clips of his most ardent devotees insisting that he did nothing wrong in asking the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

donald trump twitterTrump highlighted one quote from a longtime evangelical pastor warning of particularly dire consequences if the Democrats follow through.

“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump tweeted, adding his own parenthetical to a quote from Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist preacher speaking on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.

adam kinzinger o headshotThe tweet left critics, including one sitting Republican congressman, accusing Trump of stoking violence and diminishing the reality of true civil war.

“I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), right, a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is beyond repugnant.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump may have finally screwed himself, Bill Palmer, Sept. 30, 2019. When Donald Trump tweeted a quote on Sunday night calling for a “Civil War” if he’s impeached and removed from office, he probably committed treason under the legal definition of the term. He also may have violated Twitter terms of service. There’s one thing we do know for sure: he violated the rule that says Trump can’t take things so disgustingly far, Republicans in Congress feel compelled to finally come out against him.

bill palmer report logo headerYet that’s what happened when Donald Trump’s “Civl War” tweet pushed House Republican Adam Kinzinger to slam Trump for being “beyond repugnant” in a tweet of his own. Kinzinger (shown in his Twitter photo) has no strategic reason for saying this. He adam kinzinger twitterrepresents a far-right conservative district where Trump won by nearly twenty points in 2016. There’s not much to be gained back home for Kinzinger by publicly attacking Trump – in the midst of Trump’s impeachment, no less.

And yet it seems like Kinzinger has simply had enough of this crap, and couldn’t keep his mouth shut any longer. If Trump remains silent, it’ll be seen as a greenlight for House Republicans to be able to say whatever they want about Trump without reprisal. We’ve reached a turning point now.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Embraced Sham Conspiracy Theory on Ukraine, Ex-Adviser Says, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, tom bossert oSept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). The adviser, Thomas Bossert, right, said he told President Trump there was no basis to the notion that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 election on Democrats’ behalf. He said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine to produce damaging information about Democrats.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Trump acted alone” – several of Donald Trump’s top advisers just threw him squarely under the bus in his whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 30, 2019. Here’s the thing about an unraveling coverup in which multiple participants are facing criminal exposure and/or career ruin. Some of those participants are going to try to deflect culpability away from themselves by leaking details about the culpability of the other participants.

bill palmer report logo headerCheck out this stunning sentence that Fox News reported on its website last night: “Fox News has learned that the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council were ‘unanimous’ in supporting the aid to Ukraine, and that Trump acted alone in withholding the aid over the summer.”

President Donald Trump officialAllow us to translate that for you. What this really means is that the leaders of the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council decided to jointly leak to Fox News that they were opposed to Donald Trump’s criminal plot to extort the president of Ukraine into helping him rig the 2020 election.

Not only are several of Trump’s top people throwing him squarely under the bus, they’re making a point of feeding this revelation to Fox News, where Trump’s supporters will see it. This doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth. But it means they want everyone to believe that Donald Trump was the ringleader in this treasonous plot, and that they all tried to stop him.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Democrats Are Selling Impeachment Inquiry in Swing Districts, Jonathan Martin and Catie Edmondson, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). A balancing act is underway for House Democrats: protecting political gains from 2018 while selling voters on an inquiry into the president.

Orange County was the epicenter of the 2018 House Democratic takeover, where Republicans lost four seats in what was once the heart of Ronald Democratic-Republican Campaign logosReagan conservatism in California. On Saturday night, as three of the victorious Democrats were honored at an annual political dinner, a new battle was on everyone’s minds: How to protect those gains in 2020 by selling voters on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment furor throws 2020 campaign into uncertain territory, Sean Sullivan, Sept. 30, 2019. ​Democratic candidates find themselves forced to address impeachment while still wooing voters on issues — a potentially perilous dynamic erupting four months before the first votes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Note to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone, Editorial Board, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Here’s who the House needs to hear from during its inquiry.

Rudy Giuliani introduces then-candidate Donald Trump at an Iowa campaign rally in September 2016. (Source: Flickr/John Pemble, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Rudy Giuliani introduces then-candidate Donald Trump at an Iowa campaign rally in September 2016. (Source: Flickr/John Pemble, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lawfare, Opinion: Giuliani Cannot Rely on Attorney-Client Privilege to Avoid Congressional Testimony, John E. Bies (Chief Counsel at American Oversight, a non-profit focused on government accountability), Sept. 30, 2019.

As the House of Representatives launches its impeachment inquiry with a focus on President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, the question has been raised whether the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, will testify before Congress. According to CNN, Giuliani has said that he would need to consult with Trump before testifying before Congress because of the attorney-client privilege. This reflects a fundamental misapprehension of how the attorney-client privilege might apply in these circumstances — and, indeed, whether it could provide a bulwark against compelled congressional testimony at all.

At the outset, it is unclear that much of the information of interest to Congress regarding Giuliani’s conduct would even potentially be subject to the attorney-client privilege. The privilege exists to protect the confidential communication between a client and an attorney made for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. It does not protect, for instance, communications your attorney may have had with, say, foreign government officials — or, for that matter, with U.S. government officials.

And, of course, the privilege wouldn’t reach communications where Giuliani was not acting in his capacity as a lawyer providing legal advice. Yet Giuliani himself just told The Atlantic regarding his work in Ukraine, “I’m not acting as a lawyer. I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.” And the conduct at issue — pushing arguments about potential corruption to foreign officials — does not appear to involve providing confidential legal advice. It is not even clear that Giuliani’s conduct constitutes legal work performed in his capacity as Trump’s attorney, even if it were charitably viewed as something other than political campaign work.

Nor does the course of dealing, so far as it is presently known, suggest that Trump was conveying confidences to Giuliani for the purpose of receiving legal advice from him, rather than directing him to undertake other (non-legal) activities on the president’s behalf. Directives of this sort, of course, would not be privileged. Indeed, it is not clear what legal advice the president would have needed regarding corruption in Ukraine, at least prior to recent developments. So reasonable minds might question whether any of the communications between the president and Giuliani are protected by the privilege, much less information regarding Giuliani’s other conduct and interactions with third parties.

But even positing for the sake of argument that there may be some communications on the Ukraine issues that might potentially be subject to the privilege, those residual “privileged” communications would have little protection against compelled congressional testimony.

First, it is Congress’s long-standing position that the attorney-client privilege does not afford protection against compelled congressional testimony. Although Congress may consider claims of attorney-client privilege at its discretion, it does not recognize the common law privilege as a bar to compelled disclosure. Rather, it has consistently taken the position that it can insist that privileged communications be disclosed. Consistent with this position, a committee that calls Giuliani for testimony can simply direct him to answer if he were to attempt to assert attorney-client privilege, and can hold him in contempt if he does not comply.

Second, attorney-client privilege can be waived. Under the third-party waiver doctrine, disclosure of privileged communications to a third party typically effects a waiver of the privilege. And in order to prevent the use of the privilege as both a sword and a shield at the same time, the subject-matter waiver doctrine holds that any waiver of the attorney-client privilege generally extends to the entire subject matter to which the disclosed communication related, not just the specific communication disclosed. To the extent that the efforts with Ukraine at issue here appear to involve a large number of people, and in light of the fact that both the president and Giuliani have been publicly discussing those efforts, there may be good arguments that there has been a waiver as to some, if not all, of the communications.

Third, there is a crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege. Communications seeking advice related to the current or future commission of a crime, rather than the consequences of past actions, are not protected by the privilege. In light of the substantial questions that have been raised as to whether these events contain a violation of campaign finance law, or indeed another crime, it is possible that this too might preclude an assertion of the privilege.

If the attorney-client privilege is not available to Giuliani, what about executive privilege? The administration has recently claimed that executive privilege can shield the president’s communications even with some individuals outside the executive branch. But even setting aside questions about whether such an extension of the privilege is supportable, there is a separate reason it cannot be available here: Giuliani represents Trump in the president’s personal capacity, not his official capacity.

Executive privilege, of course, exists to protect the president’s ability to perform his constitutionally assigned — that is, official — functions. Indeed, two circuit courts considering similar privilege and waiver questions during the Whitewater investigations found the divergence of interests between personal capacity and official capacity representations to be significant. It is not clear how it would be possible here to reconcile Giuliani’s obligations as a lawyer for the president in his personal capacity, on the one hand, with the limitation of executive privilege to circumstances where it is necessary to protect the president’s ability to effectively perform his constitutional functions, on the other. As these two cases make clear, representing the president in his personal capacity involves a different set of interests and concerns than the official, governmental decision-making processes executive privilege is designed to protect.

Thus, to the extent Giuliani has been relying on privilege as a way to avoid testifying before Congress, he may need to think again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 30, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 224 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   55 Awaiting response

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Fellow Republicans, there’s still time to save your souls, Jeff Flake (a Republican at right, represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate from 2013 to 2019), Sept. 30, 2019. Two years ago I stood in the Senate chamber and said: “There are times when we must risk our careers in jeff flake ofavor of our principles.”

In my case, I had not supported the president’s election. One year into his presidency, I knew that I could not support his reelection. While I had hoped that I could still run for reelection to the Senate in 2018 as someone who would help to provide a check on the president’s worst impulses, it soon became apparent that this was not what Republican primary voters in my state were looking for.

Now, two years later, it is my former Republican Senate colleagues who have a decision to make. Or, as I see it, two decisions to make. The first is difficult; the second is easy.

We have learned from a whistleblower that the president has abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to go after a political opponent.

He is the maestro of a brand of discord that benefits only him and ravages everything else. So although impeachment now seems inevitable, I fear it all the same. I understand others who might have similar reservations. The decision to impeach or not is a difficult one indeed.

republican elephant logoI am not oblivious to the consequences that might accompany that decision. In fact, I am living those consequences. I would have preferred to represent the citizens of Arizona for another term in the Senate. But not at the cost of supporting this man. A man who has, now more than ever, proved to be so manifestly undeserving of the highest office that we have.

At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us. But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct. Our embrace of it. From the ordeal of this presidency, perhaps the most horrible — and lasting — effect on our democracy will be that at some point we simply stopped being shocked. And in that, we have failed not just as stewards of the institutions to which we have been entrusted but also as citizens. We have failed each other, and we have failed ourselves.

Let us stop failing now, while there is still time. Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.

DC Transitions

joseph wilsonWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Personal Opinion Column: Whistleblowers and Joe Wilson, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 30, 2019 (subscription required). Ambassador Joe Wilson passed away on September 27. To this editor, he was just “Joe,” a friend and valued source who spent his career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer but who was not ostentatious as are many who are found among the diplomatic corps. Wilson’s notoriety was borne out of two major incidents involving issues of war and peace and Iraq.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rep. Chris Collins Resigns Before Expected Guilty Plea in Insider Trading Case, Benjamin Weiser and Vivian Wang, Sept. 30, 2019.  Representative Chris Collins, a fourth-term Republican from Western New York who narrowly won re-election last year despite fighting federal securities fraud charges, resigned on Monday in advance of an expected guilty plea.

chris collins oMr. Collins, 69, left, the first sitting member of Congress to endorse President Trump in 2016, had been accused of using private information about a drug company in which he was invested to help his son and others avoid financial losses.

Mr. Collins was to be tried in February along with his son, Cameron Collins, 26, and a third man, all of whom had pleaded not guilty. A document filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday said there would be a “change of plea” hearing on Tuesday for all three men, although the filing did not indicate what charges the men would be pleading guilty to.

The men were facing charges of conspiracy, securities and wire fraud and making false statements. There is no law that requires members of Congress to give up their seats when convicted of a felony, though House rules dictate that the member not vote after their convictions.

Related story:  Roll Call, Rep. Chris Collins has change of plea hearing on Tuesday, Chris Marquette, Sept. 30, 2019. At least half of Rep. Chris Collins’ full-time staff has left since he was indicted. Rep. Chris Collins, who has previously entered a not guilty plea in his federal criminal fraud case, has a change of plea hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, raising the possibility that the New York Republican could agree to a deal offered by federal prosecutors. republican elephant logoCollins is to appear before Judge Vernon Broderick of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York at the hearing in New York.

Collins, along with his son, Cameron, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins’ fiancee at the time, are alleged by federal prosecutors to have engaged in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company — Innate Immunotherapeutics.

Roll Call, Mac Thornberry joins Republican ‘Texodus’ from House, Bridget Bowman, Sept. 30, 2019. Top Republican on the House Armed Services mac thornberry oCommittee to retire rather than seek 14th term. Rep. Mac Thornberry, right, is the latest Texas Republican to head for the exits, announcing Monday that he is not running for reelection. The 13-term lawmaker is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

Thornberry was facing GOP term limits on the committee, having served two previous terms as chairman before the start of the current Congress, where he became the ranking member after Democrats took over the House.

republican elephant logoThornberry is the sixth House Republican from Texas to decide to retire rather than run again in 2020. The 13th District he represents, which is in the northern part of the state and includes Armarillo, is not expected to be competitive in 2020. President Donald Trump carried the district by 64 points in 2016 and Thornberry won reelection in 2018 by 65 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 13th District race Solid Republican.

Inside DC: Korea Policy

 ny times logoNew York Times, Bolton, Former National Security Adviser, Criticizes Trump’s Courtship of North Korea, Annie Karni, Sept. 30, 2019. In his first public comments since leaving the White House, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, delivered a stark warning Monday about President john bolton youtube guardianTrump’s approach to North Korea, undercutting the president’s yearslong insistence that North Korea wanted to make a denuclearization deal with him.

Without mentioning Mr. Trump by name, Mr. Bolton, right, a longtime critic of the North Korean regime, made it clear he thought the president’s courtship approach to diplomacy with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, was only increasing North Korea’s power. And while Mr. Trump has made a deal with North Korea one of his signature foreign policy goals, Mr. Bolton asserted that there had been no gains under this charm offensive approach.

Trump Revenge v. Clinton Staff

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washington post logoWashington Post, State Dept. questions more than 100 former Clinton aides about emails, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 30, 2019 (printed.). The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent hillary clinton twittermessages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said. She served from 2009 to January, 2013.

As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton (shown on her Twitter photo) as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials. (Excerpt continued below.)

Global News: Assassination

washington post logoWashington Post, In ‘60 Minutes’ interview, Saudi crown prince denies ordering Khashoggi killing, Kareem Fahim, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). Mohammad bin Salman repeated that he took “full responsibility” because Saudi government employees were involved, but he denied ordering the jamal khashoggi western suitmurder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, right, despite a CIA assessment that found that Mohammed probably authorized it.

The comments by Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day ruler, came just days before the anniversary of Khashoggi’s death and as the Saudi leadership is struggling to turn the page on a grisly episode that cast an unforgiving light on Mohammed’s human rights policies and Saudi Arabia’s complicated relationship with the United States.

Saudi king’s bodyguard shot dead in dispute, state news agency says

More Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Hong Kong’s Status as Neutral Ground at Risk as China Asserts Power, Peter S. Goodman and Austin Ramzy, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). The island’s traditional role as a gateway is under assault from President Trump’s trade war and a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Iran’s President Left Trump Hanging, and Macron in the Hall, Farnaz Fassihi and Rick Gladstone, Sept. 30, 2019. President Emmanuel Macron of France tried to broker a call in the New York hotel where Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, was staying. President Trump wanted to talk. Mr. Rouhani declined.

hassan rouhani fileThe telephone line had been secretly set up. President Trump waited on the other end. All President Hassan Rouhani, right, had to do was come out of his hotel suite and walk into a secure room where Mr. Trump’s voice would be piped in via speaker.

Mr. Rouhani and his aides were blindsided by the offer, presented to them by President Emmanuel Macron of France on an unannounced visit last Tuesday night to their quarters at the Millenium Hilton Hotel near the United Nations, where world leaders had converged for the annual General Assembly.

It was a mission lifted out of a Hollywood thriller. Mr. Macron has sought for months to broker a thaw in the standoff between the United States and Iran, which has threatened to escalate into a new Middle East war.

Accompanied by a small team of advisers, Mr. Macron awaited an answer outside the Iranian leader’s suite, according to three people with knowledge of the diplomatic gambit, which was first reported on Monday by The New Yorker. Messages were passed between them via Mr. Rouhani’s aides.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, As the Affordable Care Act’s future remains in doubt, mounting evidence suggests it’s made people healthier, Amy Goldstein​, Sept. 30, 2019. The law’s supporters have not taken political advantage of the signs that the ACA is translating into better health — at least, not yet.

hhs seal CustomPoor people in Michigan with asthma and diabetes were admitted to the hospital less often after they joined Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. More than 25,000 Ohio smokers got help through the state’s Medicaid expansion that led them to quit. And around the country, patients with advanced kidney disease who went on dialysis were more likely to be alive a year later if they lived in a Medicaid-expansion state.

Such findings are part of an emerging mosaic of evidence that, nearly a decade after it became one of the most polarizing health-care laws in U.S. history, the ACA is making some Americans healthier — and less likely to die.

washington post logopurdue pharma logoWashington Post, Some members of Sackler family profit from sale of ski resorts in regions hit hard by opioids, Christopher Rowland, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). The owners of Purdue Pharma, the firm widely blamed for fueling America’s opioid crisis, will reap about $60 million from the sale of 17 ski areas in the Northeast and Midwest, according to financial filings.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Mark Milley, a General Who Mixes Bluntness and Banter, Became Trump’s Top Military Adviser, Helene Cooper, Sept. 30, 2019 (print ed.). mark milley army chief of staffAs the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley must manage the most consequential professional relationship of his life.

Trump Revenge (Cont. from above)

washington post logoWashington Post, State Dept. questions more than 100 former Clinton aides about emails, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 29, 2019. Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post.

state dept map logo SmallIn virtually all of the cases, potentially sensitive information, now recategorized as “classified,” was sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox. State Department investigators began contacting the former officials about 18 months ago, after President Trump’s election, and then seemed to drop the effort before picking it up in August, officials said.

hillary clinton twitterSenior State Department officials said that they are following standard protocol in an investigation that began during the latter days of the Obama administration and is nearing completion.

“This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” said a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing probe. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years.”

To many of those under scrutiny, including some of the Democratic Party’s top foreign policy experts, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the Clinton email case represents a new front on which the Trump administration could be accused of employing the powers of the executive branch against perceived political adversaries. The existence of the probe follows revelations that the president used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine to pursue investigations that Trump hoped would produce damaging information about Democrats, including potential presidential rival Joe Biden.

U.S. College Sports

ny times logoNew York Times, In California, a Game Changer on Money for College Athletes, Alan Blinder, Sept. 30, 2019. Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, signed a bill to allow gavin newsom oN.C.A.A. athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements, in a big blow to the business model of college sports. The governor’s signature opened a new front of legal pressure against the amateurism model that has been foundational to college sports but has restricted generations of students from earning money while on athletic rosters.

If the law survives any court challenges, the business of sports would change within a few years for public and private universities in California, including some of the most celebrated brands in American sports. So, too, would the financial opportunities for thousands of student-athletes, who have long been forbidden from trading on their renown to promote products and companies.

Epstein Scandal

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Everything Epstein, Jonelle Jones, Jessica Kelly, Gabriella Novello, Sept. 30, 2019. A new report sheds further light on Epstein’s efforts to gain access to elite science and technology circles through his support for the Edge Foundation, to which he was the largest donor. Prince Andrew’s ties to Epstein are also getting heightened scrutiny by the FBI. And, a former police officer John Mark Dougan who claimed asylum in Russia has now released a statement to explain his connection to the Epstein case.

Here’s today’s lineup…

  • Investigating Jeffrey Epstein...
  • How Jeffrey Epstein bought his way into an exclusive intellectual boys club — BuzzFeed News
  • Bill Gates’ former advisor Boris Nikolic turns down role as executor of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate — New York Post
  • Gloria Allred no longer representing Jeffrey Epstein accuser — New York Post
  • Looking at others involved with Epstein...
  • Epstein’s butler dishes on Paris pad guests including Bill Gates, Steve Bannon — New York Post
  • FBI aggressively expanding Jeffrey Epstein investigation into Prince Andrew — Law & Crime
  • Prince Andrew ‘regularly visited Paris home where Jeffrey Epstein abused young women’ — The Sun
  • 'Dark forces are at play' Prince Andrew’s Jeffrey Epstein underage sex scandal leaves ex cop ‘whistleblower’ fearing for his life — The Sun

Global Corruption?

Wall Street On Parade, The Repo Loan Crisis, Dead Bankers, and Deutsche Bank: Timeline of Events, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Sept. 30, 2019.  Last week, as the Fed was carrying out hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency loan operations on Wall Street for the second week in a row – the first such operations since the financial crisis – Deutsche Bank’s headquarters office in Frankfurt, Germany was being raided by police for the second time in less than a year. That’s not the sort of thing that inspires confidence among depositors to keep their money in your bank.

deutsche bank logoDeutsche Bank has been a constant headache for the U.S. financial system because it is heavily intertwined via derivatives with the big banks on Wall Street, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. It has become the dark cloud on the horizon in the same way Citigroup cast a negative pall in the early days of the financial crisis of 2008. (It’s not a good omen that Citigroup’s stock eventually went to 99 cents and the bank received the largest taxpayer and Federal Reserve bailout in U.S. history. The Fed alone secretly pumped $2.5 trillion in revolving loans into Citigroup from December 2007 to the middle of 2010.)

Sept. 29

Pedophile Photos

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong? Michael H. Keller and Gabriel J.X. Dance, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Last year, tech companies reported more than 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double the previous year. This is the first part of an investigative series on child sexual abuse. It contains graphic descriptions.

The images are horrific. Children, some just 3 or 4 years old, being sexually abused and in some cases tortured. (Excerpt continued below.)

Impeachment Daily Index

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washington post logoWashington Post, Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions, Philip Rucker, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why the Trump Impeachment Inquiry Is the Only Option, Editorial Board, Sept. 29, 2019. As traumatic and divisive as the process can be, the time has arrived.

Mr. Trump campaigned as an iconoclast, but it became clear early in his administration that his disruptiveness was aimed less at bringing fresh thinking to bear on stale policymaking than at assaulting the vital institutions of governance themselves. He has attacked the legitimacy of law enforcement, of intelligence agencies, of Congress and of the courts — of anyone he judges to threaten him politically.

ny times logoNew York Times, Impeachment Battle to Turn for First Time on a President’s Ties to a Foreign Country, Peter Baker, right, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). To the peter baker twitterfounding fathers, foreign influence on an American president was an abiding fear and a basis for impeachment.For the authors of the country’s charter, there were few bigger threats than a president corruptly tied to forces from overseas. And so as the House opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine this past week, the debate quickly focused on one of the oldest issues in America’s democratic experiment.

The emerging battle over the future of Mr. Trump’s presidency will explore as never before the scope and limits of a commander in chief’s interactions with other countries. His adversaries echo the fears of the founders in accusing Mr. Trump of committing high crimes by pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic opponents while holding up American aid. Mr. Trump contends that impeaching him would infringe on the ability of future presidents to conduct foreign policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi turns to Schiff to lead House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Mike DeBonis​, Sept. 29, 2019. Democrats facing tough reelection bids privately told House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi that Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, right, needs to be the face of the probe.

adam schiff squareIt was a low point for House Democrats hoping to build a case to remove President Trump from office — a committee hearing in which former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski made his questioners look hapless with a flurry of deflections and delays.

“I heard it did not go well,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told one of her fellow leaders, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), hours after he had participated in the Sept. 17 hearing. Another top Democrat, Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (Ky.), had a more blunt assessment: “A fiasco.”

The confrontation served as a reminder of how the Democrats, through years of speeches, lawsuits and subpoenas — even after taking the House majority this year — have thus far failed to figure out how to hold a norm-busting president and his lieutenants in check.

The confluence of two otherwise coincidental events — the embarrassing Lewandowski hearing followed in quick succession by the explosion of the Ukraine story — handed Pelosi an opening to sideline Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in favor of the more widely trusted head of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), as Democrats launch the formal impeachment inquiry. And Pelosi has made clear that the investigation will focus narrowly on the Ukraine matter, a scandal she believes could be easily understood by the public.

Schiff, 59, was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles from 1987 to 1993, served in the California Senate and defeated a Republican who had pushed for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment to secure a House seat in 2000.

washington post logoWashington Post, The gas tycoon and the vice president’s son: The story of Hunter Biden’s foray into Ukraine, Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish and Matt Viser, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). When then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son joined the board of an obscure Ukrainian gas company half a decade ago, it was a stunning coup for its owner, a former Ukrainian minister working to remake the company’s image as he faced a money-laundering investigation.

hunter bidenFor Hunter Biden, right, the job came with risks: Ukraine was in the throes of political upheaval, and there was building scrutiny of former government officials profiting in the lucrative gas industry. His father was the face of the Obama administration’s effort to get Ukraine to crack down on corruption.

The region was so unsettled that one of Hunter Biden’s investment firm partners at the time — former secretary of state John F. Kerry’s stepson — believed that joining the board of Burisma Holdings was a bad idea and ended his business relationship with Biden and another partner, his spokesman told The Washington Post.

Now, more than five years later, with Joe Biden running for president, Hunter Biden’s decision to get involved with the Ukrainian firm is the backdrop of an extraordinary whistleblower complaint against President Trump that is reshaping the 2020 political landscape.

Related Bider background stories

victoria nuland geoffrey pyatt petro poroshenko warsaw 6 4 14

Left to right: Victoria Nuland, U. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Ukraine post-coup president Petro Poroshenko, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (State Department photo in June 2014.).

Alternative View On Biden Role

mykola zlochevsky w

The Saker blog via SouthFront, Opinion: Here Is The Dirt Trump Wanted From Zelensky About The Bidens; Why Zelensky Doesn’t Want To Give It To Him, volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotEric Zuesse (author and investigative historian), Sept. 29, 2019. Report: At core of controversy involving Ukraine President Voldomyr Zelensky, right, Burisma Holdings transferred majority ownership in 2011 from founder Mykola Zlochevsky, shown above and associated with Russia, to companies controlled by Ihor Kolomoisky, associated with pro-U.S. interests leading a 2014 pro-U.S. coup in Ukraine. 

In order to understand why Ukraine’s President Voldomyr Zelensky doesn’t want the dirt about Joe Biden to become public, one needs to know that Hunter Biden’s boss and benefactor at Burisma Holdings [Kolomoisky, left] was, at least partly Zelensky’s boss and benefactor until Zelensky became Ukraine’s President -- and that revealing this would open up a can of worms which could place that former boss ihor kolomoyskyi wand benefactor of both men into prison at lots of places.

First, the falsehoods in the press have to be documented here, since this article will go up against virtually all U.S.-and-allied reporting on these events. And, in order to do such a thing, the bona fides of my main sources need to be presented.

A certain historical background is essential here; and this, too, goes up against American ‘news’-reporting and will therefore be linked to articles that, in turn, link to ultimate sources that are of unquestioned reliability on each of the particulars that are in question:

There was a coup in Ukraine in February 2014, which is portrayed in the West as being a democratic revolution (but was actually a coup hidden behind anticorruption demonstrations, and that was entirely illegal), and it replaced the democratically elected President by a ruler who was selected by victoria nuland state departmentVictoria Nuland, left,whose boss was Secretary of State John Kerry, whose boss was Barack Obama. Nuland had been originally a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney, and then of Kerry’s immediate predecessor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama assigned Nuland to carry out his plan for Ukraine, which plan was to turn its government away from being friendly toward its next-door neighbor Russia to becoming instead a satellite of the United States against Ukraine’s next-door neighbor. Consequently, fascists, and even outright racist-fascists (nazis), people who came from the groups that had supported Hitler against Stalin during World War II, were installed into this new government.

On 12 May 2014,  announced, “Hunter Biden Joins the Team of Burisma Holdings,” and reported that, “Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, has expanded its Board of Directors by bringing on Mr. R Hunter Biden as a new director. R. Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations.”

Promptly, Burisma’s website started presenting Burisma as if if were a Ukrainian-American if not outright American corporation. Devon Archer, shown there, was a business-partner of Hunter Biden, right,.As the Washington Examiner reported, on 27 August 2019:

burisma logoAt the time, Hunter Biden, now 49, and Christopher Heinz, the stepson of then-Secretary of State John Kerry, co-owned Rosemont Seneca Partners, a $2.4 billion private equity firm. Heinz’s college roommate, Devon Archer, was managing partner in the firm. In the spring of 2014, Biden and Archer joined the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that was at the center of a U.K. money laundering probe. Over the next year, Burisma reportedly paid Biden and Archer’s companies over $3 million.

hunter bidenSubsequently, both Hunter Biden, right, and Devon Archer were removed from Burisma’s board and replaced by a four-person board, which mysteriously had included ever since May 2013 (which still was after Zlochevsky no longer controlled the company) Alan Apter, of Sullivan & Cromwell, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Renaissance Capital. Apter now became the “Chairman of the Board of Directors.”

Here are the other three Directors: Aleksander Kwaśniewski was the President of the Republic of Poland from 1995 to 2005 when it was being taken over by America, and when Kwaśniewski was also a member of the Atlantic Council (NATO’s PR arm), and of the Bilderberg Group. Joseph Cofer cofer blackBlack (left) was the Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (1999-2002) and Ambassador at Large for counter-terrorism (2002-2004), while President George W. Bush was lying America into invading Iraq, and Black subsequently became the Vice Chairman at Blackwater Worldwide (now Academi), which the Bush Government hired to train and arm mercenaries to help conquer Iraq. (Blackwater/Academi is owned by Erik Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos of the Amway fortune, who is the Trump Secretary of Education, and Prince also is a personal friend of Trump. Obama’s Government also hired Blackwater/Academi to kill independence fighters in the Dnieper Donets Basin, where Burisma owns the drilling rights for gas.)

joe biden oAnd the fourth Director is Karina Zlochevska, whom the site identifies hardly at all, but is actually the daughter of Mykola Zlochevsky. In other words: Zlochevsky probably does remain as a minority owner of the company and she represents his interests there. Joseph Biden is shown at right.

Virtually all of the Western press simply alleges that Mykola Zlochevsky owns Burisma Holdings and brought Biden on board and was his boss; however, I have never seen from any of those ‘news’-reports any evidence or documentation that it’s true — nothing like the sources that Richard Smith [of the blog Naked Capitalism] relied upon and linked to documenting that this was Kolomoysky’s company. Nothing, at all.

viktor yanukovychThis is important — is it Zlochevsky or Kolomoysky? — because Zlochevsky was associated with the prior Government of Ukraine and its President Viktor Yanukovych, left, whom the U.S. Government had overthrown in an operation that started in 2011 and that ended very successfully in February 2014 with the American Government’s Victoria Nuland on 27 January 2014 telling the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine to get “Yats” Yatsenyuk appointed to run the country as soon as Yanukovych becomes successfully overthrown — which happened less than a month later, during February 20-22 — and Yatsenyuk then received the appointment on February 26th to run the country, just as Obama’s agent Nuland had instructed.

Zlochevsky fled the country, because he had been politically allied with Yanukovych, who also fled the country. Obama’s Government constantly tried to get Zlochevsky prosecuted for alleged corruption, but Zlochevsky had sold the company to Kolomoysky even before Obama took over Ukraine. It’s not at all clear that Hunter Biden had ever so much as just met Zlochevsky.

Joseph Biden, right, as is well reported in the press, instructed the new Ukrainian Government to fire and replace the General viktor shokinProsecutor of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, right, who had failed to prosecute Zlochevsky, and this action by Joe is reported as indicating that the senior Biden granted his son’s employer no favor but instead the opposite — that Joe insisted upon Hunter’s boss’s prosecution.

More On U.S. Politics/Foreign Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Elections chief says a GOP colleague blocked wide release of her foreign activity memo, Alex Horton, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). In a politically apocalyptic year, with the threat of foreign interference in the 2020 election looming, one thing has been constant: You could set your watch to the Federal Election Commission’s digest showing up online.

The latest in election regulatory activity has published every Friday in 2019 and has posted in a similar frequency going back to 2009. The only recent ellen weintraubdisruption was the government shutdown that began around Christmas last year.

That was until this Friday, after what FEC Chair Ellen L. Weintraub said was a Republican commissioner’s effort to block a draft memo on prohibited foreign national electoral activity from being included in the digest, which led to the digest being withheld from the public.

But Weintraub found a way to get the information out.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like Bill Barr tried to bribe Donald Trump into not incriminating him in whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 29, 2019. This weekend Attorney General Bill Barr leaked to the AP that he was “surprised and angry” that Donald Trump released the phone call summary and whistleblower complaint because they incriminated Barr in the Ukraine scandal. But if you step back and look at the timeline, it provides some context on why Barr might be surprised that Trump isn’t protecting him.

bill palmer report logo headerThe whistleblower complaint that ultimately made its way to the public is dated August 12th. But this weekend the New York Times revealed that prior to this, the whistleblower had initially gone to the top CIA watchdog, who turned around and immediately notified the White House. So the Trump regime knew about the whistleblower almost as soon as the July 25th phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine happened. That’s when the White House would have learned that Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Bill Barr were all being fingered.

william barr new oWe all recall the odd story about Bill Barr, right, having booked a $30,000 party at a Trump resort, in a rather ham fisted way at shoveling some money into Donald Trump’s pocket. That story was first reported on August 27th, and it refers to Barr having booked the party the prior month. This all adds up to something that former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance pieced together on Twitter today.

Right after the White House learned that a whistleblower was out there trying to finger Bill Barr in the Ukraine scandal among others, Barr turned around and shoved thirty grand into Donald Trump’s wallet. It sure looks like Barr was specifically trying to bribe Trump not to throw him under the bus once the scandal inevitably came to light. Come to think of it, Mike Pence is caught up in the Ukraine scandal too, and he made a point of staying at a Trump resort within the same timeframe. Hoo boy.

 

nbc logoNBC / Saturday Night Live, Political satire: Impeachment Cold Open, Sept. 28, 2019.  With the threat of impeachment looming, Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) calls those closest to him including Rudy Giuliani (Kate McKinnon), Kanye West (Chris Redd), William Barr (Aidy Bryant), Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), Kim Jong-un (Bowen Yang), Jeanine Pirro (Cecily Strong) Eric and Don Jr. (Alex Moffat, Mikey Day), and Liev Schreiber.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has frantic thirty-tweet-long late night meltdown as his impeachment takes hold, Bill Palmer, Sept. 29, 2019. With his presidency having melted into a pile of goo, and his freedom now very much in doubt, Donald Trump is trying to save himself with the only trick he knows: frantic, deranged, incoherent tweeting. In fact he’s posted thirty tweets and retweets thus far tonight, in the apparent belief that if he hurls enough random nonsense at Twitter, it’ll somehow make his treason scandal and impeachment go away.

bill palmer report logo headerAt various points during Donald Trump’s hallucinatory meltdown tonight, he’s called for “Liddle’ Adam Schiff” to resign, he’s attacked the “so-called whistleblower,” he’s accused Schiff of imaginary crimes, and he unironically quoted Lindsey Graham referring to something as “insane.” By the time Trump had finished quoting Ted Cruz twice in a row, it was clear just how much of a stretch this was all becoming.

Considering how obscure some of these retweets were, and Trump’s obviously limited Twitter skills, we’re left to wonder if this tweet explosion may have actually been the work of one of his handlers. If so, that’s not good news for Trump either. The only thing worse than the specter of Trump having a thirty-tweet-long late night meltdown would be if Trump is passed out somewhere and his people are left trying to fight his battles for him.

In any case, Donald Trump has yet to throw a Twitter tantrum about the Saturday Night Live premiere, which featured a cold open centered around Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of a frantic and washed up Trump. So maybe Trump isn’t awake after all.

U.S. Civil Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, What if activists had to cover the costs of securing protests? It could happen, Marissa J. Lang, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Amid the rising tide of demonstrations flooding D.C. streets, federal officials have proposed requiring organizers to pay for police efforts, alarming civil rights groups on both sides of the political spectrum.

Pedophile Photos (Excerpt. cont.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong? Michael H. Keller and Gabriel J.X. Dance, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year.

More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than a million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008.

Yet the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially.

An investigation by The New York Times found an insatiable criminal underworld that had exploited the flawed and insufficient efforts to contain it. As with hate speech and terrorist propaganda, many tech companies failed to adequately police sexual abuse imagery on their platforms, or failed to cooperate sufficiently with the authorities when they found it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Preying On Children: The Emerging Psychology of Pedophiles, Benedict Carey, Sept. 29, 2019. Images of child sex abuse have reached a crisis point. Now, science is beginning to shed light on why people abuse children. Science in recent years has begun to provide some answers. One thing most pedophiles have in common: They discover, usually as teenagers, that their sexual preferences have not matured like everyone else’s. Most get stuck on the same-age boys or girls who first attracted them at the start of puberty, though some retain interest in far younger children.

Global News

Al Jazeera, Report: Houthis Neutralize Thousands Of Saudi-Led Coalition Personnel In Large-Scale Ambush Operation, Sept. 28, 2019 (2:11 min video).

SouthFront, Commentary: Houthis Release Shocking Videos Of Operation Victory From God, Wire reports, Sept. 29, 2019. On September 29, the Houthis’ media wing released shocking videos of the first phase of “Operation Victory From God,” which took place south of Saudi Arabia’s Najran earlier in September.

The videos were showcased during a press conference of the Yemen group’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, who revealed new details about the operation. According to Sari, the operation was planned for month. The Yemeni Air Defense Forces targeted the [U.S. allied-] coalition’s attack helicopters, preventing them from provide close air support to trapped Saudi troops south of Najran. Sari summarized the results as:

Houthi fighters captured 350 km2 south of Najran, including dozens of key positions.

More than 500 Saudi service members and Saudi-backed Yemen fighters were killed.

More than 2,000 personnel of the Saudi-led coalition were captured, including Saudi officers.

Hundreds of pick-up trucks, armored vehicles, armored personnel carriers (APCs) and engineering vehicles were captured. At least 15 other vehicles were destroyed.

U.S. Politics

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Book Review: The Inscrutable Mike Pence, Peter Baker, right, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Tom LoBianco’s Piety and Power tells us what there is to know about the vice president, which is far from everything, our correspondent writes.

After losing his first campaign for Congress, a penitent Mike Pence swore off the dark side of politics. In a confessional essay in 1991, he wrote that “negative campaigning is wrong” and set out rules for himself for the future. Any campaign, he said, “ought to demonstrate the basic human decency of the candidate,” must advance a goal greater than personal desire and should not be only “about winning.”

mike pence oA quarter-century later, he signed onto the presidential ticket of a candidate who seemed to be the antithesis of the ideal Pence once envisioned. While Pence himself maintains a public dignity and eschews vitriol against opponents in keeping with his long-ago atonement, he has tethered himself to a president who revels in negative campaigning, makes winning his all-consuming aspiration and has rarely been accused of an excess of human decency.

That Faustian bargain makes Pence one of the most intriguing yet least understood figures in American politics today. What mix of ambition, duty, principle and expedience led him to the vice presidency in the White House of Donald J. Trump? How does a devoted evangelical Christian serve a foulmouthed, thrice-married vulgarian who boasts of grabbing women by their private parts and paid hush money to a porn star alleging an extramarital affair? What virtues does Pence see in Trump? Does he genuinely admire him the way he seems to in those rapturous photo ops? Or does he secretly see himself as the last grown-up in the room, keeping things from being worse?

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Overstock.com, where a firebrand CEO and ‘Deep State’ intrigue took center stage, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Insurers worried the retailer could not rein in Patrick Byrne’s personality and public comments. So, he says, he had no choice but to leave.

Media News

djt mbs file

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump led Saudi crown prince back into global fold after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Shane Harris and John Hudson, Sept. 29, 2019 (print ed.). Wednesday will mark one year since Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, right, a Washington Post contributor. But President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, emphasizing the kingdom’s strategic importance, never distanced themselves.

jamal khashoggi mos square CustomAt the annual Group of 20 gathering of world leaders in Osaka, Japan, in June, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, beamed before cameras as he stood center stage between President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a carefully choreographed group photo. He grinned as he sat with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And he shook hands joyously with South Korean President Moon Jae-in after the two countries struck agreements and contracts worth $8.3 billion.

The world leaders’ embrace of Mohammed was a clear signal that the young prince, who the CIA, U.S. allies and a United Nations investigator say is responsible for the savage killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was being welcomed back, if reluctantly, into the community of nations. And it wouldn’t

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes off the deep end after another Fox News host turns against him, Bill Palmer, Sept. 29, 2019. This week we keep hearing about how Fox News is trying to figure out how to prepare itself for a post-Trump future. We’ve already seen Fox hosts Shep Smith and Chris Wallace turn against Donald Trump a long time ago. Now it appears we can add a third name to the list – and suffice it to say that Trump isn’t happy about it.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump’s sycophant Mark Levin went on Fox News this morning to defend Donald Trump from his very real whistleblower scandal, and promote the fake Joe Biden scandal. Trump was clearly watching, because he completely erupted on Twitter over it. He couldn’t seem to find his own words, so instead he began retweeting any random person who was saying anything positive about Levin or anything negative about Ed Henry.

This led to situation where the President of the United States was retweeting juvenile smack talk like “The real one mark Levin just totally curved Ed Henry and his fake news” and “Mark Levin sure put that lying shit head Ed Henry in his place didn’t he?” If this is all Trump has left, he’s got nothing.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: It’s Past Time to Move the United Nations to Switzerland, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 29, 2019. With a dangerous administration in power in Washington, one that rejects internationalism and consensus-building, it is past time for the United Nations to move its headquarters and member states’ permanent missions to a more neutral location.

Sept. 28

Impeachment Daily Index

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ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Issue First Subpoena in Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was subpoenaed to produce documents for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. House Democrats also demanded that five State Department officials be made available for depositions in the next two weeks.

mike pompeo portraitHouse Democrats, kick-starting their impeachment inquiry into President Trump, subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, on Friday, demanding he produce a tranche of documents related to the president’s dealings with Ukraine. Separately, they instructed him to make five State Department officials available for depositions in the coming two weeks.

A failure to do so, the leaders of three House committees wrote jointly, would be construed as “evidence of obstruction of the House’s inquiry.”

marie yovanovitchIt was the first official action in the rapidly escalating impeachment investigation. The officials that Democrats’ said must appear were Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, left,; Ambassador Kurt Volker; George Kent; T. Ulrich Brechbuhl; and Gordon Sondland.

“This subpoena is being issued by the Committee on Foreign Affairs after consultation with the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees,” the Democrats wrote. “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the Chairmen wrote.

djt sergey lavrov sergey kislyak wh may 10 2017 tass

President Trump meets on May 10, 2017 at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.  Trump's team banned United States reporters from the events but it was covered by Russians. The photo above and others were published by the Russian Tass news service.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in election, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Access to a memo of the meeting with Russian officials was limited to all but a few officials. The White House’s classification of such records is a focus of the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.

A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The White House’s classification of records about Trump’s communications with foreign officials is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats.

djt rudy giuliani Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani cancels paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, abruptly canceled his scheduled paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week.

Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.

The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kurt Volker, Trump’s Envoy for Ukraine, Resigns, Peter Baker, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine who got caught in the middle of the pressure campaign by President Trump and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to find damaging information about Democrats, abruptly resigned his post on Friday.

Mr. Volker, left and shown in his Twitter photo, who told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday that he was stepping down, offered no public explanation, but a person informed about his decision said he kurt volkerconcluded that it was impossible to be effective in his assignment given the developments of recent days.

His departure was the first resignation since revelations about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. The disclosures have triggered a full-blown House impeachment inquiry, and House leaders announced on Friday that they planned to interview Mr. Volker in a deposition on Thursday.

Mr. Volker, a widely respected former ambassador to NATO, served in the part-time, unpaid position of special envoy to help Ukraine resolve its armed confrontation with Russia-sponsored separatists. He was among the government officials who found themselves in an awkward position because of the search for dirt on Democrats, reluctant to cross the president or Mr. Giuliani yet wary of getting drawn into politics outside their purview.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump posts utterly bizarre midnight tweet as his whistleblower scandal gets even worse for him, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, 2019. This evening the news broke that when Donald Trump met with the Russians in the Oval Office in early 2017, he told them that he didn’t mind their interference in U.S. elections.

bill palmer report logo headerThis a devastating scandal for him, and when placed within the context of Trump’s recent attempt at getting the president of Ukraine to help him rig the next election, it should be enough to finish him off. It’s also terrible news for former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, right, who told the media back then that hr mcmaster cropped may 15 2017 ap he’d been in the room during the meeting, and that everything Trump said to the Russians was “wholly appropriate.” This brings us to Trump’s tweet tonight.

Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand tweeted a link tonight to an old CNBC story from 2017, which served as a reminder that H.R. McMaster lied to us all about what went on in the Russia meeting. But at right around midnight, Donald Trump quoted this tweet, adding “Thank you to General McMaster. Just more Fake News!”

Wait a minute, what? It’s as if Donald Trump awoke from a fever dream at midnight to find that all hell had broken loose in his Russia scandal, misunderstood that H.R. McMaster was trending because he’s been caught lying, and mistakenly thought that McMaster was just now coming to his defense. This is how Trump is trying to defend himself?

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats prepare to move quickly to build case for Trump’s impeachment, Anne Gearan, Karoun Demirjian and Ashley Parker, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats are working against an unofficial deadline of the end of the year to complete impeachment proceedings that currently focus on President Trump’s request for “a favor” during a call with the Ukrainian president.

U.S. House logoHouse Democrats said they will ramp up their impeachment effort next week against President Trump, and on Friday the chairmen of three powerful House committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to their investigation into whether the president improperly pressured Ukraine’s leader to investigate his political rivals.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee have pledged to stay in Washington to work through Congress’s scheduled recess next week as Democrats seek to build a case for removing the president from office.

“I can tell you it’s going to be a very busy couple of weeks ahead,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters. “We’re going to be trying to schedule hearings, witness interviews. We’ll be working on subpoenas and document requests. We’ll be busy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he raised Hunter Biden allegations with his intermediary on China trade talks, Michael Kranish, Sept. 28, 2019 (print ed.). Trump's comments could attract interest in light of the impeachment inquiry underway by House Democrats. President Trump, who has alleged that Hunter Biden,right, got the Chinese to put $1.5 billion hunter bideninto an investment fund, said during private remarks this week that he raised the matter with a U.S. executive who has served as his intermediary on trade talks with Beijing.

china flag SmallTrump’s comments could attract interest in light of the impeachment inquiry underway by House Democrats. That investigation focuses on the president’s effort to extract information about Hunter Biden’s job on a Ukrainian gas company’s board at a time when his father was overseeing U.S. policy in that country. Given Trump’s comments, investigators may want to learn whether the president similarly sought information about the Bidens in China.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 28, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 225 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   54 Awaiting response

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani goes completely off the deep end after learning he’s going to be hauled in to testify, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, 2019. Rudy Giuliani spent yesterday telling various news outlets that he either has, or has not, decided to testify in the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal. Rudy also appeared to claim somewhere in there that Joe Biden is trying to have him killed, so it’s not as if we can take his words seriously. But just enough buzz has leaked out of the House that it’s becoming clear Rudy will be hauled in to testify whether he wants to or not.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what’s interesting about the idea of Rudy Giuliani testifying. On the one hand he’d certainly use the hearing as an opportunity to push his increasingly deranged conspiracy theories and lies about Joe Biden, which is the last thing the House impeachment process needs. At the same time, Rudy is now doing so much damage to his own side just by running his mouth, his testimony could indeed help steer the House in the right direction when it comes to turning over the next rock in Trump’s whistleblower scandal.

To give you an idea of just how dangerous Rudy Giuliani is to his own side right now: he tweeted a screen shot of a text message exchange he’d had with the State Department’s Kurt Volker, and less than twenty-four hours later, Volker resigned. Everyone in Trump’s orbit is now one Rudy tweet away from going down. Imagine how much damage Rudy could do to Team Trump by foaming at the mouth for a few hours at a congressional hearing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump, the TV president, meets a media story he can’t control, Margaret Sullivan, margaret sullivan 2015 photoSept. 28, 2019. Donald Trump’s presidency would have been impossible without his reality-TV fame from NBC’s “The Apprentice.” And he is skilled at dominating the visual medium that still matters so much — even in our digital age — from his raucous rallies to his impromptu media gaggles outside a whirring helicopter to his symbiotic relationship with Fox News.

But not this week.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw Mick Mulvaney under the bus in his exploding whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, mick mulvaney full unsourced2019. Trump has apparently decided that because his release of the phone call summary and whistleblower report have gone poorly for him, it’s all the fault of Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, right. No, really.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump thinks that Mulvaney should have done a better job of explaining to the media and the public that these documents exonerated Trump, according to a report from CNN this evening. That’s hilarious, considering that these documents directly incriminated Trump.

The kicker is that Donald Trump isn’t just scapegoating Mick Mulvaney behind closed doors, he’s making a point of leaking it to the media. Think about how Mulvaney must feel right now. He’s being publicly blamed for everything, and he’s clearly in danger of getting fired.

NRA / Russia Scandal

Convicted Russian agent and supposed guns rights advocate Maria Butina poses with a gun over her shoulders (Associated Press photo by Pavel Ptsitsin).

Convicted Russian agent and supposed guns rights advocate Maria Butina poses with a gun over her shoulders (Associated Press photo by Pavel Ptsitsin).

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Senator: Russians Used Greed to ‘Capture’ NRA, Spencer Ackerman, Sept. 28, 2019. Ties between the National Rifle Association and influential Russians were substantial and potentially lucrative enough to render the politically potent gun lobby an “asset” of Russia, according to a Senate Democrat’s year-plus investigation.

ron wydenMore than 4,000 pages of NRA records provided to Sen. Ron Wyden, right, the top Democrat on the finance committee, documented deep connections between the beleaguered gun group and Maria Butina, who in December pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a Russian agent without registering with the Justice nra logo CustomDepartment. Wyden’s report, released Friday and undertaken without the cooperation of committee Republicans, indicates that greed motivated some NRA officials to engage in the outreach.

Butina also made clear to NRA officials long before their controversial Butina-facilitated December 2015 trip to Moscow that Alexander Torshin, her patron and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a man with mysterious pull in the Kremlin. She emailed former NRA president David Keene in January 2015 that Torshin’s appointment to the Russian central bank was “the result of a ‘big game’ in which he has a very important role. All the details we can discuss with you only in person.”

Consumer Safety

washington post logoWashington Post, Some turmeric, wellness potion of the moment, may owe its yellow color to lead contamination, a study says, Laura Reiley, Sept. 28, 2019. The United States is the leading importer of turmeric worldwide, with imports valued at more than $35 million annually, up from only $2.5 million 15 years ago. Turmeric has become a spice “it girl,” an anchor in supplements, adding a sunny yellow high note in cold-pressed juices and providing the razzle-dazzle in trendy bevs such as Starbucks’ golden turmeric latte. It’s touted as a “superfood” and promoted as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

A study out of Stanford University this week says it may also contain lead, a potent neurotoxin. Some spice processors in Bangladesh use an industrial lead chromate pigment to amp up turmeric’s bright yellow color, which makes it a prized addition to curries and other dishes.

Drones In War, Peace

llewellyn king photo logoWhite House Chronicle, Commentary: The Invasion of Cities by Drones Is Underway, Llewellyn King, right, Sept. 28, 2019. The future may be whirring above your head. There is a push to commercialize drones that equals any gold rush. Hundreds of drone makers, drone service companies and drone management firms are creating new machines, divining new uses, and planning to increase the penetration of their devices or services in a marketplace that is burgeoning.

Although dominated by DJI, the giant Chinese drone company with seven locations in the United States alone, there are hundreds of drone companies keen to get in on the action.
The drone takeover of the skies is not a thing of science fiction and Popular Mechanics anymore. It is real and it has begun. Soon the skies in cities will be getting as crowded as the highways of Washington and Los Angeles.

In the world of drones, the big struggle now is to increase the payloads. But the real value may be in their ability to collect and process huge amounts of data — an essential part of the “smart cities” of the future. Former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said data is the new oil and drones are the new oil wells.

Drones and autonomous vehicles are destined to be integral to smart cities, with different entrants pursuing different goals. Uber Eats wants dinners for families of four to be wafted aloft by drones. Amazon wants drones that can carry loads of various sizes and shapes. Google wants to own the control technology.

Everyone wants the data.

City managers, police departments, motor vehicle departments and first responders want data. Marketers and homebuilders want data about how we live and travel — and even what we do when we are not between working and getting home.

Smart cities will run on data and drones will be part of the data-acquisition infrastructure. Morgan O’Brien, co-founder of Nextel Communications and now president of Anterix, a company providing secure communications to utilities and others, tells me that data will be the foundation of smart cities.

“A smart city is ‘smart’ in the same way a smartphone is smart. Collecting and processing vast amounts of digital data in virtual real time, a smartphone collects a user to the internet for voice, texting, video and experiences of every sort,” O’Brien said, adding, “The smart city similarly will collect vast amounts of data and virtually simultaneously process that data to make the city safer, more livable, more green and more pleasant.”

This data will be collected from a myriad of sensors, including those on drones: the eyes in the sky. Carl Berndtson, managing director of Confex Partners Ltd., a Concord, Mass.-based commercial conference organizer, expects 2,500 people at a drone conference which will be held on Oct. 28

Trump Vengeance?

washington post logoWashington Post, Amateur pro-Trump ‘sleuths’ scramble to unmask whistleblower: ‘Your president has asked for your help,’ Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Sept. 28, 2019. President Trump has called the whistleblower "close to a spy." The looming battle over President Trump’s potential impeachment has sparked an online hunt in the far-right corners of the Web as self-styled Internet sleuths race to identify the anonymous person Trump has likened to a treasonous spy.

Their guesses have been scattershot, conspiratorial and often untethered from reality, spanning a wide range of such unlikely contenders as presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and Vice President Pence.

Some of the online commentators and anonymous posters said they have been spurred to action by Trump’s fury, foreshadowing the online clashes that are likely to engulf any upcoming impeachment hearings and the 2020 campaign.

“Carpet bomb the memes. Everywhere,” one anonymous poster on the message board 4chan wrote in response to one of Trump’s angry tweets about the whistleblower. “Time to rise up. Your president has asked for your help.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: There’s another article of impeachment for you, Bill Palmer, Sept. 28, 2019. In a sign of just how much of a career criminal Donald Trump is, and a sign of just how chaotic the circus surrounding Trump’s failing presidency has become over the past week, it turns out he committed a felony in plain sight yesterday – and it went barely noticed.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday morning, a Senate committee report labeled the NRA a “foreign asset” of the Russian government. The money trail running from the Kremlin, through the NRA, to the 2016 campaigns of Donald Trump and a huge number of other Republicans, has been so thoroughly exposed that the NRA’s continued existence is in doubt and its leaders are in danger of ending up criminally indicted. So you’d think that, even as Trump is being impeached for trying to criminally conspire with foreign nations, he’d want to steer clear of the Russian puppets in the NRA – particularly yesterday of all days.

nra logo CustomBut don’t tell that to Donald Trump, who never met a crime he didn’t like. Yesterday, Trump met with NRA boss Wayne LaPierre and offered not to pursue any gun legislation if the NRA was willing to finance his impeachment defense, according to the New York Times. Congressman Ted Lieu, a former prosecutor, tweeted precisely why this is a crime: “If the [New York Times] article is accurate, it appears Donald Trump seeks to trade action on legislation in exchange for financial support from the NRA. That would be illegal. A felony, to be exact.”

In other words, Donald Trump has reached the point of desperation where he’s now committing even more crimes in the name of trying to get himself off for his existing crimes. When the House starts introducing and then eventually expanding articles of impeachment, Trump’s NRA felony will surely end up being one of them. In addition, once Trump is ousted, the NRA felony will get him criminally indicted on yet another felony. Trump is never, ever getting out of prison.''

In many cases, the incidents appear to center on the sending of information attributed to foreign officials, including summaries of phone conversations with foreign diplomats — a routine occurrence among State Department employees.

Sept. 27

Impeachment Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls for Schiff’s resignation; Pelosi says Barr has ‘gone rogue,’ John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Sept. 27, 2019. The fallout continues from an explosive whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s July phone call with the leader of Ukraine. Here’s the latest. President Trump called Friday for the resignation of the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Attorney General William P. Barr of having “gone rogue” and said she’s praying for God to “illuminate” Trump.

The number of Democrats supporting the impeachment inquiry launched by Pelosi continued to grow. Meanwhile, more than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials had signed a statement supporting an impeachment inquiry based on Trump’s pressing Zelensky during their call to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential contender, and his son Hunter Biden.

djt handwave file

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why the Trump Impeachment Inquiry Is the Only Option, Editorial Board, Sept. 27, 2019. As traumatic and divisive as the process can be, the time has arrived. For nearly three years, public-spirited people have debated whether each instance of executive overreach by Mr. Trump and his lieutenants went far enough to require the traumatic recourse of an impeachment inquiry. They have wondered at what point the checks and balances of American governance might have to be restored by means of the most radical check of all.

Have other presidents conducted foreign policy with re-election in mind? Of course. But there is no known precedent for a president pressuring a foreign nation to tear down a political rival.

Related News Index

washington post logoWashington Post, Whistleblower, working in stealth, almost single-handedly set impeachment in motion, Greg Miller, Sept. 27, 2019. The whistleblower has by some measures managed to exceed what former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III accomplished in two years of investigating President Trump: producing a file so concerning and factually sound that it pushed into motion the gears of impeachment.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 300 former officials: Trump’s actions are ‘profound national security concern,’ Karen DeYoung, Sept. 27, 2019. In a signed statement, the group supports an impeachment inquiry to determine “the facts.”

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: A quick guide to Trump’s false claims about Ukraine and the Bidens, Glenn Kessler, Sept. 27, 2019. The president keeps making the same allegations over and over. Here's what he gets wrong.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 debunked talking points used to discredit whistleblower, Amber Phillips, Sept. 27, 2019. To defend President Trump against the whistleblower allegations, Republicans in Congress are having to dodge or misstate some key facts. Here are the most common talking points they are using to discredit the complaint and why those don’t hold up.

Talking point No. 1: There is no quid pro quo — in the call or the whistleblower complaint.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Seven important and awful signs for Trump, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 27, 2019. The whistleblower complaint is so damning President Trump and his minions tried to conceal it from Congress and the public. It is so damning that a long list of Senate Republicans claimed not to have read it or refused comment. As jennifer rubin new headshotdistressing as it is to see such a lack of regard for their duties, it is a sign that there are some things even Trump and Fox News cannot spin.

Indeed, it is the muted reaction of Senate Republicans that leads the list of disastrous signs for the president. The assumption that there could never be a vote to remove him or that it would never get Republican votes needs to be rethought.

fox news logo SmallA second bad sign for Trump: The polls are already moving in favor of impeachment — and moving fast. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll shows a plurality (49 to 46 percent) favors impeachment, a large bump from April, when 39 percent favored and 53 percent did not. Likewise, the Morning Consult polls shows 43 percent favor and 43 percent oppose impeachment, including a small plurality of independents. These figures are stunning insofar as the rough transcript and whistleblower complaint have been out for only a couple of days.

A third negative indicator for Trump is that the involvement of so many people — possibly including Attorney General William P. Barr and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — gives this a Watergate feel and creates many witnesses. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Did he know that two diplomats were trying to help Ukraine manage Trump’s illegal conduct? Did he recall the ambassador to Ukraine at the request of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump or others mixed up in this scheme?) was potentially involved as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump writes the GOP impeachment playbook: Scorched earth. But will it work? Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). The coming weeks will test whether Trump’s familiar blame-the-accuser-and-counterattack playbook will be successful in the face of mounting evidence that he asked Ukraine to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 opponent.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Thursday excoriated an unidentified whistleblower and the White House aides who informed their complaint as “almost a spy” and likened their work to treason — part of a scorched-earth strategy he is directing for the Republican Party at the outset of an impeachment showdown.

Trump has acted impulsively and indignantly as he wages an all-out political war to defend himself from allegations that he abused his power to solicit foreign interference in his 2020 reelection bid.

And in a testament to how completely he controls the Republican Party, many GOP officeholders and conservative media figures have followed Trump’s cues by joining his attempts either to attack the anonymous whistleblower, discredit the explosive accounts in their complaint, or malign the media for covering it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 27, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 80 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 224 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)
  • 155 No, not now, or undecided
  •   55 Awaiting response

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani cancels paid appearance next week at Kremlin-backed conference, Amie Ferris-Rotman and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 27, 2019. Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose actions as President Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, abruptly canceled his scheduled paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week.

Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.

The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

According to an agenda for the event posted online, Giuliani was set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.

Trump Defender Bill Barr

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

Donald Trump welcomes longtime GOP legal and intelligence fixer Donald Barr to his team after Barr's confirmation as U.S. Attorney General in March 2019 (White House photo).

Palmer Report, Analysis: Bill Barr is spiraling out of control, Isabel Stamm, Sept. 27, 2019. One day, when the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled, lawmakers will have to tackle the difficult task of trying to patch up the weak spots and the gaping holes that have become apparent in the fabric of the American system of government. It will be a truly herculean task, and the burden will probably fall mostly on the shoulders of Democratic members of Congress, since the Republicans apparently checked their ethics and principles at the door at some point in 2016.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the many things that lawmakers will need to address as they wade through the debris of what was assumed to be a perfect system of checks and balances will be the role of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC is a small office that rarely garners any public attention, but it holds extraordinary power. By law, the function of the Office of Legal Counsel is to help the Attorney General provide legal advice to the president and federal agencies. In its current form, the OLC operates like a black box. Important legal questions are submitted to the office for deliberation and the OLC then issues an opinion – often in the form of a memo – which is binding on the executive branch. Yet the process of decision making and the rationales underlying the final opinion can be kept secret from everyone, except high-ranking administration officials.

We have witnessed the great and lasting influence exercised by the Office of Legal Counsel in the context of the Mueller investigation when the Special Counsel declined to make a prosecutorial judgment because of an OLC memo stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller followed an old OLC directive – not a law – which was the result of deliberations on whether or not a sitting president could be criminally tried without the proceedings interfering with his official duties in a way that might be harmful to the country.

william barr new oUnder Attorney General Bill Barr, right, and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who is heading the OLC, the office – which is accountable to no one in particular – has played a pivotal role in shielding Donald Trump from congressional oversight. Among other things, the Office of Legal Counsel has declared that Congress may not obtain Trump’s tax returns and has asserted that the president’s counsel and senior advisers have immunity from congressional investigation.

In recent days, the current DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel has flexed its muscle again, inserting itself into the processing of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint by simply asserting that – contrary to ICIG Michael Atkinson’s judgment – the complaint was not urgent or credible and should therefore not be passed on to Congress. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who handled whistleblower complaints in the aftermath of Snowden, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he wasn’t aware he had had the power to withhold a whistleblower complaint from Congress, thus pointing out the unprecedented nature of what Acting-DNI Joseph Maguire did under the OLC’s directive, which is in clear opposition to the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA).

It is quite ironic that the Trump regime, which regularly and loudly denounces the devious workings of an imagined “Deep State”, has managed to create for itself such a powerful tool that it resembles the notorious Court of Star Chamber of King Charles I and operates outside the provisions made by the American Constitution.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Book Review / Investigative Commentary: Daddy Dearest: the weirdness of Donald Barr, the father of Trump's mob lawyer Attorney General, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 27, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Attorney General William Barr is in the news regarding his criminal conspiracy involving Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, and Ukraine.

It is highly relevant that the activities of Barr's father, Donald Barr, a former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer during World War II and the headmaster of the Dalton School, who was influential in hiring the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein as a teacher, be closely examined. Understanding the senior Barr may explain the actions of his scion in one of the worst constitutional crises to hit the United States since Watergate.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr? Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Trump’s attorney general is implicated in the Ukraine scandal, but refuses to recuse. The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

Then there’s Barr’s personal involvement in the Ukraine plot. In the reconstruction of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House, Trump repeatedly said that he wanted Ukraine’s government to work with Barr on investigating the Bidens. Barr’s office insists that the president hasn’t spoken to Barr about the subject, but given the attorney general’s record of flagrant dishonesty — including his attempts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report — there’s no reason to believe him. william barr at dojBesides, said Representative Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, “the effort to suppress the existence of the phone conversation itself is an obvious obstruction of justice.”

But Barr’s refusal to recuse creates a sort of legal cul-de-sac. It’s only the Justice Department, ultimately, that can prosecute potential federal crimes arising from this scandal. Barr’s ethical nihilism, his utter indifference to ordinary norms of professional behavior, means that he’s retaining the authority to stop investigations into crimes he may have participated in.

That makes the impeachment proceedings in the House, where Barr will likely be called as a witness, the last defense against complete administration lawlessness. “Just as the president is not above the law, the attorney general is not above the law,” said Raskin. “The president’s betrayal of his oath of office and the Constitution is the primary offense here, and we need to stay focused on that, but the attorney general’s prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes and he will face his own reckoning.”

GQ, How Bill Barr Turned the Justice Department Into a Cover-up Operation for Trump, Jay Willis, Sept. 27, 2019. During a now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Donald Trump paired his request that Ukraine open an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden with a very specific recommendation: that Zelensky get in touch with attorney general William Barr, too. "Whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great," Trump said, according to the White House's notes of the conversation. He wrapped up the conversation by promising to have Barr call Zelensky soon. "We will get to the bottom of it," he said. "I'm sure you will figure it out."

For the whistleblower who filed a complaint about the call — a complaint that just launched the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history — the invocation of the nation's chief law enforcement officer was an alarming development. "Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well," they wrote.

It isn't clear whether Trump actually looped Barr into this effort to coordinate with a foreign head of state on a clandestine probe of his political rival, and the Department of Justice has flatly denied Barr's knowledge or involvement. But the whistleblower's report alleged that this was not the first time White House lawyers concealed politically sensitive records of Trump's conversations, and lawyers in Barr's Justice Department stymied efforts to transmit that report to Congress. Once again, Barr finds himself involved in a presidential cover-up — or now, as Nancy Pelosi put it, the "cover-up of a cover-up," too.

Barr has also been untroubled by Trump's penchant for calling for investigations of his perceived enemies — a favorite subject of a famously paranoid president. In May, Barr evaded questions from California senator Kamala Harris about whether anyone at the White House had ever asked him to abuse his authority in this manner.

This willingness to ignore the rule of law in order to expand his president's power is the most persistent—and most consequential—theme of Barr's tenure. The Department of Justice has long prided itself on maintaining its independence from the political process, because a justice system's legitimacy depends on the willingness of those in charge to enforce the law against anyone who breaks it, regardless of the partisan fallout.

Barr, however, views the powers of his office as a political prize to be won, and uses those powers to protect the administration's friends and attack its enemies with impunity. As Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin put it, although Trump's conduct in the Ukraine scandal is the "primary offense," Barr's "prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes." Trump is a lawless person, but it is Barr's quiet willingness to work the system on Trump's behalf that allows this lawlessness to flourish.

Whistleblower Memo, DNI Testimony

joseph maguire 9 26 19 testimony Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower’s Complaint Says White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Eileen Sullivan, Sept. 27, 2019 (print ed.). Senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call between President Trump and Ukraine’s leader, the complaint said. White House lawyers allegedly told officials to move a transcript of the call into a separate system for classified information.

After hearing President Trump tried to persuade Ukraine to investigate a 2020 campaign rival, senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call, in particular the official complete transcript, a whistle-blower alleged in an explosive complaint released Thursday.

djt phone plane shealah craighead whIn an attempt to “lock down” all records of the call, White House lawyers told officials to move an electronic transcript of the call into a separate system reserved for classified information that is especially sensitive, the complaint said. During the call, Mr. Trump (shown in a White House file photo) pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

These and other details surrounding the call were “deeply disturbing” to senior White House officials, according to the complaint. A day earlier, the White House released a reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call.

The whistle-blower, an unnamed intelligence official, did not personally witness the actions, but heard accounts from multiple American officials.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Kremlin said it hoped Mr. Trump’s calls with President Vladimir Putin would not be made public, Ivan Nechepurenko, Sept. 27, 2019. Amid the uproar over President Trump’s call to the leader of Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Friday that it hoped the contents of Mr. Trump’s phone conversations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would not be made public — a disclosure that would likely generate far more attention.

Mr. Trump’s conversations with Mr. Putin have been an enduring mystery and a subject of intense interest, given the evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Mr. Trump, who has adopted a friendlier stance toward Moscow than his predecessors.

Two days after the White House released a reconstruction of Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov was asked if he worried about the confidentiality of the American president’s contacts with Mr. Putin.

“We would like to hope that we would not see such situations in our bilateral relations, which already have plenty of quite serious problems,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

Related Story Headlines from Sept. 26, with details below:

djt vlodomir zelinsky getty

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with President Trump in person on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (Photo by Doug Mills of the New York Times).

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Said Ukraine Envoy Would ‘Go Through Some Things.’ She Has Already, Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Peter Baker, Sept. 27, 2019 (print marie yovanovitched.). Marie Yovanovitch was forced out after Trump allies called her disloyal. Others said she fell victim to the president’s efforts to hurt Joe Biden.

ukraine flagPresident Trump’s words about Marie L. Yovanovitch, his former ambassador to Ukraine, were ominous. In a telephone conversation that has set off a political crisis for Mr. Trump, he told Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, that she was “bad news.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” he added. In fact, she already has gone through quite a bit. Over the past several months, Ms. Yovanovitch, a decorated 33-year veteran of the State Department, has been vilified in the right-wing news media, denounced by the president’s eldest son as a “joker,” called a Democratic stooge by the president’s personal lawyer and then abruptly recalled from Kiev this May, months ahead of schedule.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Opinion: Hunter Biden’s Perfectly Legal, Socially Acceptable Corruption, Sarah Chayes (author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens National Security and a forthcoming book about corruption in the United States, Sept. 27, 2019. Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, but prominent Americans also shouldn’t be leveraging their names for payoffs from shady clients abroad.

What Donald Trump has done — in this case, according to the summary of a single phone call, lean on a foreign president to launch two spurious investigations in order to hurt political rivals, offering the services of the U.S. Department of Justice for the purpose — is shockingly corrupt, a danger to American democracy, and worthy of impeachment.

But the egregiousness of these acts must not blind us to the culture of influence-peddling that surrounds and enables them. That culture is fundamental to the cynical state we are in, and it needs examining. All too often, the scandal isn’t that the conduct in question is forbidden by federal law, but rather, how much scandalous conduct is perfectly legal—and broadly accepted.

Let’s start with Hunter Biden.

U.S. Government

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge blocks Trump administration from detaining migrant children for indefinite periods, Maria Sacchetti​, Sept. 27, 2019. Trump administration officials had hoped new rules would take effect soon to solidify the decline in border crossings.

Former Ambassador Wilson Dies

washington post logoWashington Post, Joseph C. Wilson: Diplomat caught in dispute over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction dies at 69, Matt Schudel, Sept. 27, 2019. After he concluded that Iraq did not possess nuclear material, his wife, Valerie Plame, was unmasked as a CIA officer. Joseph C. Wilson, a onetime diplomat joseph wilsonwho incurred the wrath of the administration of George W. Bush for questioning one of the primary reasons for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, then saw his wife at the time, Valerie Plame, exposed as a clandestine CIA officer in an apparent act of retaliation, died Sept. 27 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 69.

The cause was organ failure, Plame said. She and Mr. Wilson (shown on the cover of his memoir)were divorced.

Mr. Wilson, who had negotiated face-to-face with Saddam Hussein before the first Iraq War in the early 1990s, was retired from the State Department when he was sent by the CIA on a fact-finding mission to the African country of Niger in 2002 to investigate whether Iraq had purchased “yellowcake” uranium ore from Niger. Uranium is used in making nuclear weapons.

After eight days in Niger, which had been one of his first diplomatic postings in the 1970s, Mr. Wilson concluded that there was no evidence that Iraq had obtained uranium and therefore would not be able to make weapons of mass destruction.

During the State of the Union address in January 2003, Bush said the opposite: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Under that pretext, U.S. military forces invaded Iraq two months later, resulting in a war that dragged on for years and claimed thousands of American lives.

In July 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an op-ed column for the New York Times, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

Global News: Nigeria

nigerian flag wavingReuters via New York Times, Hundreds of Chained Men and Boys Are Rescued in Nigeria, Staff report, Sept. 26, 2019. The police said they had freed more than 300 from what was purported to be an Islamic school. The Nigerian police have rescued more than 300 men and boys who were chained and starving in a building believed to be an Islamic school in the northern city of Kaduna, in what a police official on Friday described as a case involving human slavery.

Many of the captives were children who had metal chains around their ankles, a police spokesman, Yakubu Sabo, told Reuters. He said that at least seven teachers from the school had been arrested.

The police chief of Kaduna State, Ali Janga, told the BBC that the building had been raided on Thursday after a tip on what he called a “house of torture.” The detainees were not all Nigerian, Mr. Janga said, and they had been tortured, sexually abused, starved and prevented from leaving, in some cases for years.

Consumer Safety

cnn logoCNN, 'Cracking issue' discovered on some of Boeing's 737 NG planes, airline says, Rene Marsh, Sept. 27, 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered inspections of a Boeing 737 model after the company notified the agency of structural cracks. Operators of certain 737 Next Generation planes will be required to make inspections, the FAA said. "Boeing notified the agency of the matter after it discovered the cracks while conducting modifications on a heavily used aircraft.

Subsequent inspections uncovered similar cracks in a small number of additional planes. The FAA will instruct operators to conduct specific inspections, make any necessary repairs and to report their findings to the agency immediately," the agency said.

Media / Supreme Court

SCOTUSblog, House Judiciary Committee hears testimony on public access to the court, Katie Bart, Sept. 27, 2019. A subcommittee of the U. S. House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing yesterday on public access to the federal courts – the second hearing on ethics, accountability and transparency in a 21st-century federal judiciary. Chaired by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., the subcommittee took expert testimony from a variety of witnesses, including two district court judges, an attorney in private practice and several journalists.

A major concern of the committee was the transparency of the Supreme Court and what improvements might be made in public access to oral arguments. Johnson began his opening statement by showing a New York Times photograph of the lines outside the Supreme Court on an argument day. Johnson questioned the fairness of a system in which line-standers are paid $50 an hour to obtain a seat in the courtroom. Invoking Lord Chief Justice of England Gordan Hewert, Johnson said, “It’s not enough that justice is done, the public must also see justice being done.”

The committee generally agreed that more immediate access to audio recordings of Supreme Court oral arguments would be an improvement. On the subject of allowing cameras in the courtroom, many of the members predicted, based on their own institution’s relationship with C-SPAN, that advocates and the justices might “play to the cameras.” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., quoted Chief Justice John Roberts’ take: “’I think if there were cameras that the lawyers would act differently. I think, frankly, that some of my colleagues would act differently and that would affect what we think is a very important and well-functioning part of the decision process. I don’t think that are a lot of public institutions, frankly, that have been improved by how they do business by camera.’”

Judge Audrey G. Fleissig, one of the two district court judges at the hearing, chairs a committee on court administration for the Judicial Conference of the United States. Although the Judicial Conference has piloted the use of cameras in select federal courtrooms, Fleissig insisted that the reviews were mixed and that “on balance, it can be very destructive to the integrity of the court process.”

The journalists who made up the second panel in yesterday’s hearing were more favorable toward cameras in the courtroom.

Sunny Hostin, co-host of “The View,” offered a “unique perspective” as a former prosecutor and African American journalist. Hostin’s testimony focused on how the absence of cameras in federal proceedings – and in the Supreme Court, in particular – has a profound effect on African Americans as the most incarcerated people in the world. Hostin said that “there exists no better cure for the fundamental mistrust and perceived illegitimacy of system than the transparency of the courts that define it – in particular, the highest court in the land.”

Sept. 26

Trump Ukraine Scandal

Los Angeles Times, Listen: Audio of Trump discussing whistleblower at private event: ‘That’s close to a spy,’ Eli Stokols, Sept. 26, 2019. President Trump expressed disgust Thursday morning with the explosive whistleblower complaint, slamming the intelligence officer and the White House aides who helped him or her as “almost a spy” and suggested it was treason.

Speaking at a private event in New York, Trump described reporters as “scum” and raged at the Democrats’ new impeachment proceedings, which were spurred by the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine’s leader to interfere in the 2020 election.

The still-unidentified whistleblower acknowledged that he did not listen to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, but cited information from more than half a dozen U.S. officials over the past four months as part of “official interagency business.”

“Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy,” Trump said.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he continued. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Trump spoke at a private event at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, where the president thanked the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, and her staff as he wound up four days of meetings around the U.N. General Assembly.

A person attending the event provided the Los Angeles Times with a recording of the president’s remarks.

Trump spoke just as Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, was defending the whistleblower at a hearing in the House Intelligence Committee, saying the individual “did the right thing” and followed the law “every step of the way.”

The president brought up the whistleblower almost as soon as he began his remarks on a podium in front of a blue backdrop in the low-ceilinged hotel ballroom, again claiming that the phone call with Zelensky was “perfect.”

The White House released its account of the call on Wednesday, and it largely corroborates the whistleblower’s complaint. After Zelensky asked to buy U.S. anti-tank missiles to help fight Russian-backed separatists, Trump responded by asking for “a favor,” including help investigating Joe Biden, the former vice president who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

In his remarks, Trump cited his awkward meeting with Zelensky on Wednesday where both leaders were asked about the implicit quid pro quo detailed in the call summary and whistleblower complaint.

“They said, ‘Was he pressuring you?’” Trump said, describing the question to Zelensky, who responded that he hadn’t felt any “push” but also said he didn’t want to get involved in a U.S. political squabble.

“You know, these animals in the press,” Trump went on. “They’re animals, some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.”

Someone in the room shouted out “Fake news!” egging the president on.

“They’re scum,” Trump continued. “Many of them are scum, and then you have some good reporters, but not many of them, I’ll be honest with you.”

He then accused Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), who met with Zelensky in Kyiv this month, of pressuring the Ukrainian leader to accuse Trump of improper behavior.

“Democratic senators went over there and strong-armed the guy,” Trump said, affecting Murphy’s voice for a moment. “‘You better damn well do this or you’re not going to get any money from Congress.’ Oh, I see, that’s OK?”

“And then you have Sleepy Joe Biden who’s dumb as a rock,” Trump went on. “This guy was dumb on his best day and he’s not having his best day right now. He’s dumb as a rock. So you have Sleepy Joe and his kid, who’s got a lot of problems, he got thrown out of the Navy — look, I’m not going to, it’s a problem ... so we won’t get into why. He got thrown out of the Navy and now this kid goes into Ukraine, walks away with millions of dollars, he becomes a consultant for $50,000 a month and he doesn’t know anything compared to anybody at this firm. He’s a stiff. He knows nothing. He’s walking away with $50,000.”

Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine. From 2014 to 2019, he served on the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.

Related stories:

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's big mouth and freelancing landed him in hot water with the NSA and DNI, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 26, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission).

Trump’s official White House landline calls with foreign government leaders are routinely logged and transcribed by National Security Council and State Department personnel, particularly experts on the particular region and country involved, as well as interpreters. However, Trump’s personal calls are subject to being monitored by the National Security Agency and its FIVE EYES partners in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Attacks Whistle-Blower’s Sources, Alluding to Punishment for Spies, Maggie Haberman, Sept. 26, 2019. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right?” Mr. Trump asked a room of U.S. diplomats.

President Trump on Thursday morning told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations that he wants to know who provided information to a whistle-blower about his phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently.

The remark stunned people in the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of what the president said. Mr. Trump made the statement several minutes into his remarks before the group of about 50 people at the event intended to honor the United States Mission. At the outset, he condemned the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked.” He then said the whistle-blower never heard the call in question.

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

joseph maguire headshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Intelligence Chief in Political Storm Holds His Ground, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman, Sept. 26, 2019. Mr. Maguire, shown above in a file photo, became the acting director of national intelligence last month. Almost immediately, a whistle-blower complaint plunged him into crisis.

For days, the nation’s top intelligence official found himself wedged between lawmakers eager to see a potentially explosive whistle-blower complaint and other Trump administration officials who deemed it off-limits.

Senior intelligence officials described Joseph Maguire, who became acting director of national intelligence last month, as reeling from accusations that he broke the law by keeping the complaint from Congress. Mr. Maguire, a retired three-star admiral who friends and allies say did not want the job and was unprepared to wage a political battle, now finds himself trying to protect his reputation, former officials familiar with the workings of his office said.

But he is learning as he goes, friends said. And he faced his most public test yet on Thursday when he testified before lawmakers about his refusal to hand over the complaint, which is said to sound an alarm about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and has seized Washington in recent days, prompting Democrats to announce a formal impeachment inquiry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The process of impeachment is now inevitable, Michael Gerson, (right, former speechwriter for Republican President George W. Bush), michael gerson file photoSept. 26, 2019. For the first time in American history, the president has 'pleaded guilty' to an impeachable offense.

This is effectively what happened when the White House released the readout from President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. There is now no question that Trump asked the leader of a foreign country to investigate Joe Biden and his son — a request that was made in the context of a broader discussion of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

This was the use of American power and diplomacy, not to serve the interests of the country, but for personal and selfish gain. It constitutes corruption of the first order.

Impeachment Scandal

nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

NBC News, Pelosi on handling of whistleblower complaint: 'This is a cover-up,' Rebecca Shabad and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Sept. 26, 2019. “Our focus is on this allegation,” the House speaker said at her first news conference (above) since announcing a formal impeachment inquiry this week. Pelosi on impeachment inquiry: Trump is 'now in my wheelhouse.' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the allegations laid out by the intelligence community whistleblower in the complaint released to the public earlier in the day amounted to a “cover-up” by the administration.

“This is a cover-up,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference as she answered questions for the first time since announcing a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday evening.

The speaker read from the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that the White House tried to “lock down” all records of the call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart because officials there understood the gravity and potential consequences of what had transpired during the conversation.

“When you have a system of electronic storage for information that is specifically for national security purposes and you have something that is self-serving to the president politically and decide you might not want people to know, and you hide it some place else, that’s a cover-up,” Pelosi said.

In response to a question from NBC News, Pelosi confirmed that Democrats have decided to narrow the current focus of their impeachment inquiry to the allegations laid out by the whistleblower.

“Our consensus in our caucus is we will proceed under the auspices of where this is relevant and that is the Intelligence Committee,” she said. “Our focus is on this allegation.”

The House Judiciary Committee, however, would be the panel that would handle articles of impeachment. Asked about a timeline for the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi said she has not given committee chairs any deadlines and said only that the facts would determine the schedule.

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky


Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got really bad news about his impeachment, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 26, 2019. Donald Trump’s Ukraine whistleblower scandal is so horrifying, bill palmerso easy for the average American to understand, and it so thoroughly has Trump’s own fingerprints on the wrongdoing, it’s the perfect scandal to drive his impeachment. If you want confirmation, just look at the latest numbers.

bill palmer report logo headerThe new YouGov poll says that 55% of Americans “strongly” or “somewhat” support Trump’s impeachment if it’s proven he threatened to withhold military aid to push Ukraine into going after Joe Biden. The new Morning Consult poll, which simply asks if Trump should be impeached, period, only shows 43% of Americans in favor of impeachment – but that’s up six points over the past few days. In addition, seven percent of Americans have now dropped their opposition to impeachment, which suggests that this scandal is changing the minds of some people who had been standing by him.

As more evidence surfaces in the Ukraine whistleblower scandal, and as more people hear about this evidence, the pro-impeachment numbers should keep rising by the day. This will place pressure on the Republican Senators, because they’ll have to fear that the voters will punish them in 2020 if they try to protect Donald Trump in this scandal.

washington post logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower Is a C.I.A. Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Julian E. Barnes, Sept. 26, 2019. His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics. Little else is known about him.

cia logoThe whistle-blower who revealed that President Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why The Times Published Details of the Whistle-Blower’s Identity, Staff report, Sept. 26, 2019. Our executive editor, Dean Baquet, addresses readers’ concerns about the decision to publish information on a person who is central to the Trump impeachment inquiry. On Thursday, The Times published exclusive details about the identity of the whistle-blower whose claims led Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump this week. (The article reported that the whistle-blower is a C.I.A. officer who was previously detailed to work at the White House and had expertise on Ukraine.)

Many readers, including some who work in national security and intelligence, have criticized The Times’s decision to publish the details, saying it potentially put the person’s life in danger and may have a chilling effect on would-be whistle-blowers.

We took their concerns to Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor, who responded to them in a discussion with the Reader Center:

The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding. The president himself has called the whistle-blower’s account a “political hack job.”

We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible.

We welcome your thoughts in the comments. We’ll be reading them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Pelosi accuses White House of ‘coverup’ after release of whistleblower report, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 26, 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the White House on Thursday of a “coverup,” hours after the public release of a whistleblower’s report that claimed officials tried to limit access to the written record of President Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

Trump lashed out at Democrats minutes after the explosive whistleblower report was made public, and he urged Republicans to “STICK TOGETHER” as another dramatic day in Washington unfolded.

ukraine flagAs of Wednesday night, a majority of House members had voiced public support for the impeachment inquiry.

Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, spent more than three hours Thursday morning before the House Intelligence Committee, where lawmakers questioned him about the complaint, which revealed that Trump had pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son. A redacted version of the complaint was made public Thursday morning.

Trump returned to Washington early Thursday afternoon from New York, where he spent three days in meetings at the U.N. General Assembly, including one with Zelensky.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 26, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

At least 68 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  220 159 55

220 Reps support an impeachment inquiry (218 majority needed for impeachment)

159 No, not now, or undecided

  55 Awaiting response

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Sept. 26, 2019. Comments by Ukraine’s leader are the first known example of an interaction ethics experts feared — a foreign leader seeking to influence Trump by staying at his properties and telling him. Buried in the controversy over President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was an effort by the Ukrainian leader at currying favor with Trump through his business.

“Actually, last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park, and I stayed at the Trump Tower,” Zelensky told Trump, according to a rough transcript of the July 25 call released Wednesday.

Zelensky’s comments mark the first known example of an interaction Democrats and government ethics experts warned about when Trump took office: that foreign leaders would try to influence Trump by spending money at his properties and telling him about it.

  • Analysis: Timeline of dates in the complaint shows an alarming pattern by Trump
  • Former Ukraine prosecutor says Hunter Biden ‘did not violate anything’
  • Analysis: 4 government attorneys embroiled in Trump’s Ukraine mess
  • Fact Checker: 4 Pinocchios for Trump’s claims about Hunter Biden’s China dealings

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower’s Complaint Says White House Tried to ‘Lock Down’ Ukraine Call Records, Eileen Sullivan, Sept. 26, 2019. The declassified complaint, released Thursday, accuses the president of trying to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election to benefit him.

ukraine flagPresident Trump used the power of his office to try to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election to investigate a political rival, according to an explosive whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday after days of damning revelations about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Attorney General William P. Barr and the president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani were central to the effort, the complaint said

In addition, the complaint says that whistle-blower, an unidentified intelligence officer learned from multiple American officials that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced as is customary by the White House Situation Room,” the complaint said. “This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees and a group of senior lawmakers from both parties, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, were permitted to review the classified complaint on Wednesday, just hours after the White House released a reconstructed transcript of a July 25 call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. During the call, about the country’s need for more American financial aid, Mr. Trump urged Mr. Zelensky to pursue an investigation into a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Sept. 26, 2019.  Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine. Other headlines:

  • Live updates: Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, is testifying before Congress today.
  • The Whistleblower Complaint: Full Document, Here is the complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.
  • Impeachment Fight Is On; Trump Says ‘It’s a Joke,’ The reconstruction of call between the two leaders became a flash point in the evolving fight over impeachment.
  • Intelligence Chief in Political Storm Holds His Ground, Joseph Maguire assumed the post last month. Almost immediately, a whistle-blower complaint plunged him into crisis.
  • How Trump’s Obsession With Ukraine Led to Crisis for White House
  • Hours after Ukraine’s leader was elected in April, President Trump urged him to pursue corruption investigations.
  • Justice Dept.’s Dismissal of Ukraine Call Raises Questions About Barr
  • Attorney General William Barr took four weeks to dismiss the significance of a call that has, in days, created a furor.

Anti-Biden Ukraine View

The Hill, Opinion: These once-secret memos cast doubt on Joe Biden's Ukraine story, John Solomon, right, Sept. 26, 2019. Former Vice President Joe Biden, now a 2020 john solomonDemocratic presidential contender, has locked into a specific story about the controversy in Ukraine. He insists that, in spring 2016, he strong-armed Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor solely because Biden believed that official was corrupt and inept, not because the Ukrainian was investigating a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, that hired Biden's son, Hunter, into a lucrative job.

There’s just one problem. Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

And they raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor's firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails. The memos raise troubling questions:

1.) If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma's American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?"

2.) If the firing had nothing to do with the Burisma case, as Biden has adamantly claimed, why would Burisma’s American lawyers contact the replacement prosecutor within hours of the termination and urgently seek a meeting in Ukraine to discuss the case?

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Media Criticism On Ukraine

washington post logoWashington Post, How a conservative columnist helped push a flawed Ukraine narrative, Paul Farhi, Sept. 26, 2019. The Hill’s John Solomon, right, wrote pieces supportive of john solomonTrump’s agenda, but the reporting had a few holes.

Back in March, the Hill newspaper published a series of stories and interviews that seemed, at the time, to be mainly of interest to foreign-policy wonks. John Solomon, the paper’s executive vice president, interviewed Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, who alleged a startling conspiracy: that law enforcement officials within his country had leaked damaging information in 2016 against Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, to help Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Lutsenko also floated suggestions that Marie Yovanovitch, who was then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was cooperating with the scheme to help Clinton and undermine Trump’s campaign. The ambassador, Lutsenko alleged, was “interfering in his ability to prosecute corruption cases” and had even given him a list of defendants that he would not be allowed to prosecute, Solomon wrote.

Solomon’s piece urged “a serious, thorough investigation” of Lutsenko’s claims. The story touched off a brushfire within the conservative media, in which Solomon is a prominent figure, but stayed largely out of mainstream view.

On Thursday, however, Solomon’s work gained new attention — and raised new questions about its sourcing, credibility and motivation. In a complaint filed by an anonymous whistleblower, Solomon’s stories were cited as part of a narrative about the alleged effort by Trump and his allies to pressure Ukraine’s government into digging up dirt on Trump’s Democratic rivals, including Clinton and Joe Biden, to enhance his prospects for reelection next year.

What’s clear is that Solomon — a former Washington Post investigative reporter who later became editor of the conservative Washington Times — has played an important role in advancing a flawed, Trump-friendly tale of corruption in Ukraine, particularly involving Biden and his son Hunter. The younger Biden was a director of a Ukrainian energy company at the time his father, the vice president, was beseeching Ukrainian officials to crack down on corruption.

Solomon, 52, has had a long, and occasionally decorated, career as an editor and investigative reporter in Washington, though his more recent work has been trailed by claims that it is biased and lacks rigor. Solomon said last week that he was moving on again, announcing that he was leaving the Hill next week to start his own, unspecified online media venture.

 victoria nuland geoffrey pyatt petro poroshenko warsaw 6 4 14

Left to right: Victoria Nuland, U. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Ukraine post-coup president Petro Poroshenko, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (State Department photo in June 2014.).

Consortium News, Opinion: What Isn’t Mentioned About the Trump-Ukraine ‘Scandal’: The Routine Corruption of US Foreign Policy, Joe Lauria, Sept. 26, 2019. The impeachment offensive against Donald Trump is another symptom of a partisan disease that ignores an even greater malignancy.

The most crucial aspects of the Trump-Ukraine “scandal,” which has led to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, are not being told, even by Republicans. Trump was very likely motivated by politics if he indeed withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kiev launching an investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, though the transcript of the call released by the White House between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelinsky does not make certain such a quid-pro-quo.

But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream is the context of this story, which shows that, politics aside, Biden should indeed be investigated in both Ukraine and in the United States. We know from the leaked, early 2014 telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that then Vice President Biden played a role in “midwifing” the U.S.-backed overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government soon after that conversation.

ukraine flagThat’s the biggest crime in this story that isn’t being told. The illegal overthrow of a sovereign government. As booty from the coup, the sitting vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, soon got a seat on the board of Ukraine’s biggest gas producer, Burisma Holdings. This can only be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one’s own people. But Biden’s son wasn’t the only one.

A family friend of then Secretary of State John Kerry also joined Burisma’s board. U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto got a Ukrainian contract soon after the overthrow. And the first, post-coup Ukrainian finance minister was an American citizen, a former State Department official, who was given Ukrainian citizenship the day before she took up the post.

After a Ukrainian prosecutor began looking into possible corruption at Burisma, Biden openly admitted at a conference last year that as vice president he withheld a $1 billion credit line to Ukraine until the government fired the prosecutor. As Biden says himself, it took only six hours for it to happen. Exactly what Biden boasted of doing is what the Democrats are now accusing Trump of doing, and it isn’t clear if Trump got what he wanted as Biden did.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers.

U.S. 2020 Campaign

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Impeachment Might Be Trouble for Some Democratic Presidential Candidates, Reid J. Epstein and Lisa Lerer, Sept. 26, 2019. Top contenders like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren can continue to command attention. Second- and third-tier candidates, however, are at greater risk of falling off the radar screen.

Oddly, it has been business as usual on the campaign trail this week. Senator Elizabeth Warren explained her policy plans to voters in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders walked a picket line with striking auto workers in Detroit and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. courted donors in Bel Air, Calif., and went on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night TV show.

democratic donkey logoBut behind the scenes, many of the 2020 Democratic candidates have been grappling with a new reality: For the first time, a presidential primary will unfold with a sitting president seeking re-election while also facing an impeachment inquiry.

There is no political playbook for this. No pollster or strategist to speak from experience. What is clear, from interviews with advisers and allies with the various campaigns, is that the top candidates like Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren believe they are sufficiently established in the race that they can continue to command attention for their candidacies and messages.

“This is a nuclear bomb dropped in the middle of the race and it’s going to change the dynamics for everyone,” said Jared Leopold, an aide to Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who dropped out of the race several weeks ago. “You can’t go on pretending it was like it was a week ago.”

Vanity Fair, “It’s Management Bedlam”: Madness at Fox News as Trump Faces Impeachment, Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 26, 2019. A Trump identity crisis at Fox as Hannity frets; Lachlan Murdoch prepares for a post-Trump future, Paul Ryan whispers in Rupert’s ear, and Shep Smith and Tucker Carlson trade blows.

In public, Donald Trump’s allies are putting on a brave face, repeating talking points, mostly staying on message. But in private, there are few who believe that the allegations fox news logo Smallleveled by an intelligence agency whistle-blower that Trump abused American foreign policy to leverage Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden won’t result in considerable damage — if not the complete unraveling of his presidency. “I don’t see how they don’t impeach,” a former West Wing official told me today. “This could unwind very fast, and I mean in days,” a prominent Republican said.

Trump’s final bulwark is liable to be his first one:

Fox News. Fox controls the flow of information — what facts are, whether allegations are to be believed — to huge swaths of his base. And Republican senators, who will ultimately decide whether the president remains in office, are in turn exquisitely sensitive to the opinions of Trump’s base. But even before the whistle-blower’s revelations, Fox was having something of a Trump identity crisis, and that bulwark has been wavering.

In recent weeks, Trump has bashed Fox News on Twitter, taking particular issue lately with its polling, which, like other reputable polls, has shown the president under significant water. Meanwhile, Trump’s biggest booster seems to be having doubts of his own. This morning, Sean Hannity told friends the whistle-blower’s allegations are “really bad,” a person briefed on Hannity’s conversations told me. (Hannity did not respond to a request for comment). And according to four sources, Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch is already thinking about how to position the network for a post-Trump future. A person close to Lachlan told me that Fox News has been the highest-rated cable network for seventeen years, and “the success has never depended on any one administration.” (A Fox Corp spokesperson declined to comment.)

Inside Fox News, tensions over Trump are becoming harder to contain as a long-running cold war between the network’s news and opinion sides turns hot. Fox has often taken a nothing-to-see-here approach to Trump scandals, but impeachment is a different animal.

“It’s management bedlam,” a Fox staffer told me. “This massive thing happened, and no one knows how to cover it.” The schism was evident this week as a feud erupted between afternoon anchor Shepard Smith and prime-time host Tucker Carlson. It started Tuesday when Fox legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Smith on-air that Trump committed a “crime” by pressuring Ukraine’s president to get dirt on Biden. That night, Carlson brought on former Trump lawyer Joe diGenova, who called Napolitano a “fool” for claiming Trump broke the law.

Yesterday, Smith lashed back, calling Carlson “repugnant” for not defending Napolitano on air. (Trump himself is said to turn off Fox at 3 p.m., when Shep Smith airs.) Seeking to quell the internecine strife before it carried into a third day, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace communicated to Smith this morning to stop attacking Carlson, a person briefed on the conversation said. “They said if he does it again, he’s off the air,” the source said. (Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti denied that management had any direct conversation with Smith.)

More Barr Conflicts

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept.’s Dismissal of Ukraine Call Raises New Questions About Barr, Katie Benner, Sept. 26, 2019. The Justice Department’s response to President Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine has helped further the perception that Mr. Trump regards his attorney general not as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer but as a political ally.

At the end of August, when two top intelligence officials asked a Justice Department lawyer whether a whistle-blower’s complaint should be forwarded to Congress, they were told no, Attorney General William P. Barr and his department could handle the criminal referral against the president of the United States.

About four weeks later, the department rendered its judgment: President Trump had not violated campaign finance laws when he urged Ukraine’s president to work with Mr. Barr to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The very same evidence, a reconstructed transcript of a July call between Mr. Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, has whipped Washington into an impeachment crisis in a matter of days.

The sharply different responses to the call’s reconstruction, released by the White House on Wednesday, has helped further the perception that Mr. Trump regards Mr. Barr not as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer but as his political ally and legal protector.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Barr Predicted Trump Would Offer His Services to Ukraine, David R. Lurie, Sept. 26, 2019. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that the House will launch an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The move follows a sudden shift in the Democratic caucus over the past week, as allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to boost his reelection prospects swirled. Many previously reticent Democrats, chief among them Pelosi herself, have changed their mind and now support an inquiry.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Rudy’s Ukraine Henchmen Made Big Donation to Pro-Trump PAC, Lachlan Markay, Sept. 26, 2019. We set out to trace money from Giuliani’s Kyiv connections to a top Trump group, and stumbled down a rabbit hole of high-dollar Miami real estate deals.

In the summer of 2018, two Soviet-born businessmen who’ve served as middlemen between top Kyiv officials and President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani made a six-figure contribution to a leading pro-Trump political group.

Since then, the two businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been thrust into the middle of a national scandal that has congressional Democrats on the verge of attempting to impeach the president. But the sources of the money they’ve used to buoy Trump’s political operation remain largely a mystery.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani goes off the deep end after he gets thrown under the bus, Bill Palmer, Sept. 26, 2019. To give you an idea of just how badly Rudy Giuliani has been falling apart in recent days as the Ukraine whistleblower scandal comes full circle, he went on Fox News the other night and yelled “shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about, idiot” at another panelist. Now things have gotten even worse for Rudy, and he’s taking it even worse.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night the State Department threw Rudy Giuliani under the bus by refuting his assertion that it sent him to Ukraine on an official government mission. It’s clear that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to protect himself by painting Rudy has having acted as a lone wolf in this criminal scandal. This morning things got uglier for Rudy when the Trump regime released the whistleblower complaint, which painted Rudy as being at the center of Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal.

So what does Rudy think of all of this? He’s telling CNN that he has “no knowledge of any of that crap” in the whistleblower report, which is certainly one way to deny the allegations. The funny thing is, CNN says that while it was getting this comment from Rudy over the phone, today’s testimony from Acting DNI Joseph Maguire could be heard in the background. In other words, Rudy has watching intently.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is melting down in all capital letters, in a sign of how badly he’s taking all of this. And Maguire just basically admitted that he discussed the whistleblower report with Trump, which is a huge liability for Trump. This day is not going well for Team Trump at all so far.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Father of ex-Georgetown student sentenced to four months in college admissions scandal, Karen Weintraub and Nick Anderson​, Sept. 26, 2019. Stephen Semprevivo pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy after paying $400,000 to help his son get into Georgetown as a phony tennis recruit.

Other Trump News

donald trump old post office twitter with sign Small

1100 Pennsylvania, 7 takeaways from [Trump] hotel-lease hearing: Hotel’s not hitting benchmarks that’d increase revenues for taxpayers, yet GSA won’t share financial statements, Zach Everson, Sept. 26, 2019 (subscription required, small portion excerpted under fair use). Nine months after Democrats took control of the House, yesterday the Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management held a hearing titled “Landlord and tenant: The Trump administration’s oversight of the Trump International Hotel lease.”

Context: The Trump Org leases the Old Post Office building (shown above) from the General Services Administration, which this subcommittee oversees.

Here are the highlights [two of seven]:

• In addition to a 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. Yet Mathews declined to provide the subcommittee with the hotel’s financial statements. He also testified that GSA has not audited any of the Trump Org’s financial statements.

• In comments after the hearing, subcommittee Chair Dina Titus (D–NV) threatened to subpoena GSA for documents related to the hotel’s financial performance (reported Humberto Sanchez for The Nevada Independent).

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate confirms Eugene Scalia as labor secretary, succeeding Alex Acosta who resigned in July amid outcry over Epstein plea deal, Felicia Sonmez and Eli Rosenberg, Sept. 26, 2019. The Senate on Thursday confirmed Eugene Scalia to succeed Alex Acosta, the labor secretary who resigned in July amid an outcry over his role in a plea deal for the multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

eugene scalia screenshotScalia, right, is a partner at the Washington law firm Gibson Dunn, where he has represented companies such as Walmart, Ford and UPS in workers rights claims. He is also the son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia was confirmed Thursday on a 53-to-44 vote.

Democrats have argued that Scalia’s record as a corporate lawyer has shown him to be “anti-worker.” In remarks on the Senate floor Thursday morning, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) contended that Scalia fought to protect the interests of chief executives and the wealthy elite and opposed worker protections throughout his career, describing his nomination by President Trump as a “disgrace.”

Sept. 25

Trump Ukraine Scandaldjt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump offered U.S. help with Biden inquiry, readout shows, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 25, 2019. President Trump (shown above in a file photo) told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotThose statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law. In late August, intelligence officials referred the matter to the Justice Department as a possible crime, but prosecutors concluded last week that the conduct was not criminal, according to senior Justice Department officials.

Breaking: Whistleblower complaint reported declassified, according to NBC News, with minimal redactions and expected to be available Thursday.

The document released Wednesday, in keeping with White House practice, is a memorandum of a telephone conversation and is not a verbatim account. A cautionary note on the memo of the call warns that the text reflects the notes and memories of officials in the Situation Room and that a number of factors “can affect the accuracy of the record.”

The administration’s disclosures underscore how the president’s phone call has consumed the federal government in recent days, and how the White House is now scrambling to defuse the situation by offering more details of what the president said to Zelensky.

While the Justice Department has concluded the call did not violate campaign finance law, a growing number of Democrats are pushing for impeachment, saying the president’s conduct — seeking a foreign country’s aid in discrediting a political rival — betrayed his oath of office and endangered national security.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: New revelations on Trump call and Giuliani make impeachment more likely, Greg Sargent, Sept. 25, 2019. The White House just released details of President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, and it confirms some of our worst expectations. President Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (right) and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an joe biden headshotinquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.

Justice Department officials concluded this was not criminal because what Trump solicited from the Ukrainian president was not a “thing of value.”

But that doesn’t mean this doesn’t constitute partial grounds for impeachment, which doesn’t require criminality. And on that score, the new details of the call are very damning. Crucially, the call details show Trump explicitly pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to talk to Rudy Giuliani and William Barr about Trump’s desire to see Ukraine investigate Biden, his most likely general-election opponent.

“If you could speak to [Giuliani], that would be great,” Trump tells Zelensky, before saying that “a lot of people” want to find out about the situation involving Joe Biden and the Ukraine, and asking Zelensky to “look into it.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump denies that he pressured Ukraine’s Zelensky to investigate Biden, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 25, 2019. President Trump on Wednesday denied that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, after the White House released a rough transcript of the July call between the two that Democrats say confirms the need for an impeachment inquiry.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotAt the start of a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Zelensky, left, told reporters that Trump did not push him to investigate Biden.

“I think you read everything,” he said. “I think you read [the] text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections, elections of U.S.A. … Nobody pushed me.”

At that point, Trump cut in. “In other words, no pressure,” he said. The exchange followed the release of a document that showed Trump offering the help of the U.S. attorney general to investigate Biden and promising Zelensky a White House meeting after he said he would conduct such an inquiry.

ny times logoNew York Times, Complete List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump? Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Updated: Sept. 25, 2019 at 12:10 P.M. ET.  More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

More than 70 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

robert mueller full face fileStarting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.

Some Democrats called for impeachment after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, right, said that he could not clear Mr. Trump of obstruction of justice. Representative Justin Amash of Michigan was the lone House Republican to publicly conclude that Mr. Trump has “engaged in impeachable conduct.” He has since left the party, becoming the lone independent in the House.

218 Representatives support an impeachment inquiry

152 No, not now, or undecided

  64 Awaiting response

joseph maguire headshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting intelligence chief threatened to resign if he couldn’t speak freely before Congress on whistleblower, officials say, Greg Miller, Shane Harris and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 25, 2019. Joseph Maguire, shown above in a file photo, feared the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall when he provides testimony on Thursday, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. In a statement, Maguire said that “at no time have I considered resigning my position.”

Maguire denied in testimony on Thursday that he ever threatened to resign.

The current and former officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said Maguire had pushed the White House to make an explicit legal decision on whether it would assert executive privilege over the whistleblower complaint, which centers on a call that Trump made with the leader of Ukraine in late July.

volodymyr zelensky un sept 2019 with bullet unsourced

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking at the United Nations this month, holding a bullet.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House mistakenly sends Trump-Ukraine talking points to Democrats, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 25, 2019. In the hours after the release Wednesday of the rough transcript of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the White House circulated an email with proposed talking points for Trump’s defenders.

Unfortunately for the White House, the email was mistakenly sent to not only Republicans but also Democratic lawmakers and their staff.

The message, titled, “What you need to know: President Trump’s call with President Zelenskyy,” was quickly recalled — but not before Democrats took to Twitter to ridicule the White House over the error.

“I would like to thank @WhiteHouse for sending me their talking points on how best to spin the disastrous Trump/Zelensky call in Trump’s favor,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) said in a tweet. “However, I will not be using their spin and will instead stick with the truth. But thanks though.”

washington post logodevin nunes head oWashington Post, Congress to receive whistleblower complaint today, Rep. Nunes says, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz​, Sept. 25, 2019. Key developments are playing out in a controversy that has ignited a drive for Trump’s impeachment.

Washington Post, Acting director of national intelligence threatened to resign if he couldn’t speak freely before Congress on whistleblower, Greg Miller, Shane Harris and Karoun Demirjian​, Sept. 25, 2019. Joseph Maguire feared the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall when he provides testimony on Thursday.

Washington Post, Some Senate Republicans stunned, question White House’s judgment after release, Robert Costa, Sept. 25, 2019. While many Republicans continue to dismiss impeachment efforts, cracks have begun to emerge within the GOP.

Washington Post, Analysis: Annotating the rough transcript of Trump-Ukraine call, Aaron Blake, Sept. 25, 2019. Pore over the full readout, with highlights, analysis and fact-checking.

djt mike pence

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just threw Mike Pence under the bus in the Ukraine whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 25, 2019. Donald Trump held a press conference this afternoon about his own impeachment, which was historically deranged in nature. Half the time, no one could figure out what he was even talking about. He rambled incoherently about his imaginary border wall, his imaginary poll numbers, and more. But at one point he delivered a certain message very clearly: please take Mike Pence down.

bill palmer report logo headerWhile Donald Trump was reading from his prepared notes, he urged the media to demand that the transcripts be released of Mike Pence’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine. Then, for emphasis, he circled back a bit later and made the request again. Trump really, really, really wants Pence’s role in this Ukraine scandal to be exposed. The question is why.

Is Donald Trump trying to take Mike Pence down with him out of pure spite, or is there an actual strategy here? Perhaps Trump thinks that if he can drag Pence into this scandal, then it’ll take some of the heat off himself. Or maybe Trump figures that if Pence is also destroyed by this, Congress might be less inclined to oust Trump, because Pence would also have to resign, and we’d be in a constitutional crisis.

It’s difficult to say what’s going on inside the completely deranged and largely depleted mind of Donald Trump at this point. But by urgently steering the media toward the transcripts of Mike Pence’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine, and even revealing that there are multiple such calls, there’s no question that Trump is trying to drag Pence squarely into this scandal.

Roll Call, Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry, Lindsey McPherson, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Move comes as Senate passes resolution calling for whistleblower report to be turned over. Pelosi on impeachment: ‘Now that we have the facts, we’re ready."

nancy pelosi twitterSpeaker Nancy Pelosi, right, announced Tuesday that the House will move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry, but Democrats said it was not clear what form that inquiry will take or how quickly it will lead to a decision on whether to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

“I’m announcing that the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” the California Democrat said in televised remarks Tuesday after a meeting of House Democrats. “I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”

[Whistleblower may testify to House panel, as Trump pledges to release Ukraine call transcript]

U.S. House logoPelosi’s directive seemed to override the claims of Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other panel Democrats that they’ve been engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry for months. But she also offered no indication of any forthcoming changes to the Judiciary’s impeachment investigation or the oversight work of five other committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services and Ways and Means — that are all looking into Trump’s alleged misdeeds and abuses of power.

For now, the impeachment inquiry seems to more of a rhetorical reframing than a procedural one. Pelosi did not say whether the full House would vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry or whether the six committee investigations would be condensed into a single impeachment probe.

Despite the ambiguity about next steps, several Democrats said moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, as blessed by Pelosi, is a significant step because the caucus was unified behind the decision.

Just before making her statement to reporters, Pelosi briefed the Democratic Caucus on her plans for advancing the House’s investigations into Trump following allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to open an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

No one in the room objected to moving into an informal impeachment inquiry, according to members present.

djt hands up white house“It just shows there’s no question that the entire Democratic caucus is on the same page,” Judiciary member Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said, noting “there was some question about that” before. At least a few Democrats remained undecided as to whether an impeachment inquiry is something they personally would support.

For most Democrats, however, the notion that Trump sought Ukraine’s help in digging up dirt on a political foe was the push they needed. More than two dozen Democrats who’d previously declined to endorse an impeachment inquiry — including several moderate freshmen who helped Democrats pick up GOP seats to win the majority in 2018 — offered their support for such a move on Monday and Tuesday.

nancy pelosi impeachment ny post cover sept 25 2019 CustomPelosi did not provide details to the caucus on what the impeachment inquiry process would look like moving forward, several members said leaving the meeting. And she didn't take questions from reporters during her remarks.

Democrat Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told members they shouldn't get bogged down by the procedure, which prompted some pushback.

“I think a lot of people wanted to know exactly how it would work, but I don’t think they’ve figured [it] out,” Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth.

Some Democrats have called for a select committee to handle the impeachment inquiry, but others disagree with that approach.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key officials were sidelined, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne and Ellen Nakashima, Sept. 25, 2019 (print rudy giuliani recented.). The effort to control the U.S. relationship with Kiev included the removal of the U.S. ambassador, the circumvention of senior officials on the NSC, and the suspension of millions in aid, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Several officials described tense meetings on Ukraine among national security officials at the White House leading up to the president’s phone call on July 25, sessions that led some participants to fear that Trump and those close to him appeared prepared to use U.S. leverage with the new leader of Ukraine for Trump’s political gain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Hunter Biden ‘walks out of China with $1.5 billion.’ Biden’s lawyer said that’s not true, Michael Kranish, Sept. 25, 2019. President Trump alleged Wednesday that Hunter Biden got China to put $1.5 billion in a fund, an assertion that has been flatly denied by Biden’s lawyer, who said his client had not received anything from the investment.

hunter bidenTrump, who has made a similar allegation for months, is referencing information from a book by Peter Schweizer, Secret Empires, that first detailed how Hunter Biden, right, flew to China on Air Force Two with his father in 2013.

His father, former vice president Joe Biden, had traveled to China at the time to meet with that country’s leaders while he was in office. Schweizer wrote in a summary of the 2018 book that 10 days after the Bidens arrived in China, “Hunter Biden’s firm scored a $1.5 billion deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China.”

Trump on Wednesday put it this way: “When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China and he’s there with one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two. I think that’s a horrible thing. I think it’s a horrible thing.”

Trump made his comments on the day that the White House released a transcript of his conversation in which he urged the president of Ukraine to look into Hunter Biden’s work as a board member of a gas company in that country, a job that was given when Joe Biden was vice president and dealing with Ukraine policy.

House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Trump has tried to keep the focus on what he calls corrupt acts by the Bidens.

In bringing up the China episode, Trump did not provide any new evidence to back up his claims.

Hunter Biden did travel with his father on Air Force Two to China on Dec. 4, 2013.

Twelve days later, Hunter Biden joined the board of a just-formed investment advisory firm, known as BHR, whose partners included Chinese entities. Affiliates of the advisory firm said they planned to raise $1.5 billion.

Some media reports over the past five years have described Hunter Biden as an owner of a private equity company that sought to raise that amount.

However, George Mesires, lawyer for Hunter Biden, said in an interview earlier this year that his client’s role has been misconstrued. He said Hunter Biden was on the board of the advisory firm that did not directly invest, but instead advised those who did.

Moreover, Mesires said, it was not until October 2017 that Hunter Biden acquired a financial stake in BHR. Hunter Biden bought a 10 percent equity interest that was worth $430,000 in July, Mesires said. At least half of the firm’s stake is owned by Chinese entities, according to business records.

“To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors,” Meseris said in a statement Wednesday. “The characterization of Mr. Biden as owning a $1.5 billion private equity firm funded by the Chinese, or suggesting that Mr. Biden has earned millions of dollars from the firm is a gross misrepresentation of Mr. Biden’s role with BHR.”

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, Climate change will lead to extreme coastal flooding in some areas every year, new U.N. report finds, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are fueling monster storms, deadly heat waves, harm to coral reefs and record losses of Arctic sea ice, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on

UN logoClimate change is already having staggering effects on oceans and ice-filled regions that encompass 80 percent of the Earth, and future damage from rising seas and melting glaciers is now all but certain, according to a sobering new report from the United Nations.

The warming climate is already killing coral reefs, supercharging monster storms, and fueling deadly marine heat waves and record losses of sea ice. And Wednesday’s report on the world’s oceans, glaciers, polar regions and ice sheets finds that such effects foreshadow a more catastrophic future as long as greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.

Given current emissions levels, a number of serious effects are essentially unavoidable, says the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

UK Constitutional Crisis

united kingdom flagwashington post logoWashington Post, British Supreme Court rules Johnson suspended Parliament illegally, Karla Adam and William Booth​, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). Embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will not resign after suffering a brutal defeat: See details below.

Bibi Gets First PM Chance

ny times logoNew York Times, Netanyahu Is Nominated to Form Israel’s Next Government, Isabel Kershner, Sept. 25, 2019. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been chosen to try to form Israel’s next government, the Israeli president’s office announced Wednesday, offering the longtime leader a potential political lifeline even as he faces a looming indictment for corruption.

Israel Flagbenjamin netanyahu frownPresident Reuven Rivlin chose Mr. Netanyahu, left, of the conservative Likud party over his chief opponent, Benny Gantz, a former military chief and the leader of the centrist Blue and White party. The Sept. 17 election left the sides essentially tied but Mr. Rivlin said that Mr. Netanyahu’s chances of forming a government were greater than Mr. Gantz’s “at the moment.”

But Mr. Netanyahu faces a stiff challenge: He has 28 days to assemble a majority of at least 61 seats in the 120-seat Parliament and no clear path to that number. The parties that have endorsed his bid for another term won 55 seats.

Mr. Rivlin had been pushing Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz to forge a broad unity government including both their parties. Mr. Gantz won the endorsement of 54 lawmakers, one less than Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu faces possible indictments in three corruption cases, and a special hearing with the attorney general has been scheduled for next Wednesday. He could be charged in the coming weeks or months.

More On Impeachment

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Meets With Ukraine’s President and Denies Pressuring Him, Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2019. Mr. Trump received some backing from the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, as the two took questions from reporters. President Trump on Wednesday adamantly denied that he pressured Ukraine to investigate one of his leading Democratic rivals despite the newly released record of a call in which he asked the country’s president to look into Democrats as “a favor” to him.

Mr. Trump received some backing from the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who by chance met with Mr. Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly at the same time the House was gearing up for impeachment proceedings stemming from the interaction between the two leaders.

Sitting side by side with Mr. Trump in their first face-to-face meeting, Mr. Zelensky told reporters that he wanted to stay out of United States politics but provided a benign interpretation of the July 25 call in which Mr. Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and any Ukrainian ties to Democrats during the 2016 campaign.

“We had, I think, a good phone call,” Mr. Zelensky said. “It was normal, we spoke about many things. So, I think you read it that nobody pushed it, pushed me.”

“In other words, no pressure,” Mr. Trump chimed in. “And by the way,” he added, addressing a reporter, “you know there was no pressure.”

The timing of the meeting between the two men, scheduled before the revelations that prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open a formal impeachment inquiry, was just one element in a day of rapid-fire developments. After days of resistance, the administration released a memo recounting the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky and then agreed later in the day to give Congress the complaint made by an unidentified government whistle-blower that touched off the furor.

The Intercept, Investigative Commentary: I Wrote About the Bidens and Ukraine Years Ago. Then the Right-Wing Spin Machine Turned the Story UpsideDown, James Risen, Sept. 25, 2019. It’s strange to see my journalism twisted, perverted, and turned into lies and poisonous propaganda by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and their enablers. But that’s what has happened to a news story I wrote four years ago.

In 2015, I wrote a story for the New York Times about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and Ukraine. Many observers now seem to think this suddenly hot story came out of nowhere this year, but that is not true.

The truth behind that story has been lost in a swamp of right-wing opposition research, White House lies, and bizarre follow-up stories. Now it appears that the Biden-Ukraine story will play a role in a new impeachment inquiry against Trump, amid evidence that he sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by withholding U.S. aid unless Zelensky agreed to investigate the Bidens.

With so much now at stake, I thought it would be useful to revisit my original story and in the process, separate the truth from the gathering lies.

In December 2015, I was an investigative reporter in the Washington bureau of the Times. That month, I published a story reporting that Vice President Joe Biden had just traveled to Ukraine, in part to send a message to the Ukrainian government that it needed to crack down on corruption.

But I also wrote that his anti-corruption message might be undermined by the association of his son Hunter with one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. Zlochevsky had been Ukraine’s ecology minister under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader who had been forced into exile in Russia.

Hunter Biden was the family millstone around Joe Biden’s neck, the kind of chronic problem relative that plagues many political families. George H.W. Bush had his son Neil; Jimmy Carter had his brother Billy. Still, when Joe Biden went to Ukraine, he was not trying to protect his son — quite the reverse.

The then-vice president issued his demands for greater anti-corruption measures by the Ukrainian government despite the possibility that those demands would actually increase – not lessen — the chances that Hunter Biden and Burisma would face legal trouble in Ukraine.

When it first was published, my 2015 story seemed to have little impact, other than to irritate Joe Biden and his staff. It ran inside the print edition of the Times, not on the front page.

But somebody obviously read my piece, as well as others like it, because questions about the Bidens in Ukraine suddenly came roaring back this year. Giuliani, Trump, and their lackeys began spreading the false accusation that Biden had traveled to Ukraine to blackmail the government and force officials to fire the country’s chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to derail an investigation into Burisma.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Makes Clear He’s Ready for a Fight He Has Long Anticipated, Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). He lashed out at the opposition Democrats, denouncing them for “crazy” partisanship. He denounced the allegations against him as “more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage.” And he proclaimed that even if the impeachment battle to come will be bad for the country, it will be “a positive for me” by bolstering his chances to win a second term in next year’s election.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Impeachment Chess Part 2: Forget About the Senate Role in Impeachment, Rob Kall (right, OpEdNews founder and publisher and author of the author of The rob kall newBottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity), Sept. 25, 2019. Forget about the role of the Senate in impeachment. The important action will be happening in the House. Reference to the Senate is a distraction. And suggesting that this impeachment will help the Republicans, like Bill Clinton's impeachment helped the Democrats is a fantasy or fear-mongering that is just wrong. The circumstances are profoundly different.

This is a follow-up on my article, Impeachment is a Chess, Not a Checkers Game, in which I wrote:

"People who believe that impeachment is not worth doing because it will fail in the Senate are thinking checkers. But this is a chess game. It's not about removing Trump from office. It's about having access to the full power of impeachment hearings to investigate Trump. The way I think about impeachment is the way I think about life -- it's the road, not the destination. Once the impeachment process is started, the revelations about Trump's corruption and criminality will start to emerge. The idea should be to keep the impeachment going as long as possible, with new testimonies and new releases of disclosures of corruption and treason on a regular basis."

cnn logoCNN, Trump incredulous after his moves on transparency failed to stop Pelosi, Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta, Sept. 25, 2019. President Donald Trump was incredulous Tuesday as he sat in Trump Tower and watched House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announce she was launching a formal impeachment inquiry against him, sources familiar with the moment say. Sitting in the same building where he launched his long shot presidential campaign four years ago, Trump said he couldn't believe it, he later told people.

He had felt confident after phoning Pelosi earlier that morning. The drive for impeachment in her caucus had ramped up amid reports he pushed the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden, and Trump was hoping to head off a clash. He figured he could de-escalate tensions by speaking with her directly.

It was after that call that Trump made the decision to release an "unredacted" version of the transcript of his July call -- against the advice of aides such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned him it would set a risky precedent. Trump wanted to undercut the argument from Democrats that he acted inappropriately, he said, and felt he had nothing to hide.

But when the announcement he would release the transcript did little to quell the growing calls for his impeachment, Trump was in disbelief.

Democrats immediately argued that it wouldn't be enough. They also wanted to see the whistleblower's complaint, which had been found urgent and credible by the inspector general for the intelligence community and was mandated by law to be handed over to the intelligence committees. Administration officials began working out a plan to declassify and redact the complaint so it could be turned over too, all in the hope of easing escalated tensions with lawmakers.

After Pelosi's historic announcement, Trump immediately began lashing out, accusing Democrats of distracting from his successes at the United Nations General Assembly and arguing it was just "more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage."

But people close to him said he is not welcoming this impeachment fight. The President who keeps a careful watch on his approval numbers was unhappy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: House Democrats’ move can be cast as an epic battle between Pelosi and Trump, Dan Balz​, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The inquiry will help define the limits of presidential powers while shaping the 2020 election as no other issue can.

Roger Stone Case Update

Politico, Roger Stone's lawyer floats a Steve Bannon cameo for Nov. trial, Darren Samuelsohn, Sept. 25, 2019. A defense lawyer for the Republican political consultant signaled there could be a big showdown with Donald Trump's former campaign manager.Roger Stone’s November trial was already shaping up to be a true Washington spectacle, with President Donald Trump's longtime ally defending himself in federal court against charges he lied to Congress and obstructed the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe.

roger stone headshotOn Wednesday, it got even more interesting. During a pre-trial conference held exactly eight months to the day after special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed Stone’s indictment and FBI agents arrested him in Fort Lauderdale, a defense lawyer for the Republican political consultant signaled there could be a big showdown on the witness stand with former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.

Bruce Rogow, the Stone lawyer, didn’t provide details about why exactly Bannon would be called in the trial, which is scheduled to start Nov. 5 in Washington. But he dropped Bannon’s name, along with three others who were already known as potential witnesses — former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, radio host Randy Credico and conservative author Jerome Corsi — during an argument with Justice Department prosecutors over what can be said in front of the jury.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, ultimately sided against Stone on the issue of whether his attorneys would have the right during the trial to take issue when talking to the potential witnesses about the conduct of Mueller’s team, the FBI, intelligence officials and members of Congress.

“We’re not going to try the investigators or the investigation,” she said.

amy berman jacksonEven so, Jackson, left, said she would give Stone’s defense team some leeway when witnesses are on the stand to pose questions about whether the government had made any promises in exchange for their testimony.

On Corsi, for example, Rogow said he was interested in asking about a plea agreement the government dangled in front of the conservative commentator but then pulled back. Corsi, identified in the Mueller indictment as “Person 1,” exchanged multiple emails with Stone in 2016 about WikiLeaks, the online platform responsible for publishing stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Stone’s trial is expected to last at least two weeks and now appears on track to coincide with formal House impeachment investigations against Trump, the businessman-turned-president whose career he’s been a central part of promoting dating back to the early 1980s.

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Millions of dollars are missing. The sheriff is dead. A small town wants answers, Antonio Olivo, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The scandal surrounding a Warren County economic development authority deal in Front Royal, Va., has led to multiple arrests and civil lawsuits.

Before the $21 million allegedly went missing, before the sheriff put his gun in his mouth and fired, before Tuesday’s announcement that the entire top tier of the Warren County government had been indicted, there was the dream.

It was a dream of renewal for this town 70 miles from Washington, which fell on hard times after a rayon manufacturing plant closed in 1989, leaving 1,300 people jobless and 440 acres full of toxic waste.

Twenty-five years later, with the land cleaned up and Front Royal increasingly attractive to tourists and former city dwellers, officials announced plans for a data center and retail complex that would bring 600 jobs and act as a catalyst for other projects.

The deal was brokered by Jennifer McDonald, a longtime Front Royal resident who directed the Warren County economic development authority. Washington-area developer Truc “Curt” Tran pledged to finance it with $40 million from wealthy immigrant investors and a $140 million federal contract his technology company had secured. As an added bonus, Tran would fund a police training academy overseen by longtime Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron.

But those were lies, documents in Warren County Circuit Court allege.

Politico, Judge overturns guilty verdicts against Trump transition adviser on foreign-agent charges, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 25, 2019. The Justice Department’s drive to crack down on violations of foreign-agent laws suffered another blow Tuesday as a federal judge overturned guilty verdicts a jury returned against a business partner of Gen. Michael Flynn over work the pair did for Turkish interests during the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga, who presided over the weeklong trial of Bijan Rafiekian in July in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that prosecutors put forward insufficient proof to sustain the jury’s finding that Rafiekian knowingly operated as a Turkish government agent and intentionally failed to notify U.S. officials about his work.

“There is no substantial evidence that Rafiekian agreed to operate subject to the direction or control of the Turkish government,” Trenga wrote as he ordered the acquittal of the 67-year-old Iranian-American businessman and former board member for the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

“There is no evidence of any statements by Rafiekian that would allow a rational juror to find that Rafiekian had agreed to operate as an agent of the Turkish government, or that he thought he was acting as a Turkish agent,” the judge added.

The ruling, which prosecutors could appeal, is the second serious defeat this month for an effort by Justice Department officials to step up enforcement of the Foreign Agent Registration Act and other laws aimed at checking foreign influence on the U.S. political system.

On Sept. 4, a jury in Washington took less than five hours to return a not guilty verdict for former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig on a charge of lying to Justice’s FARA unit about his work for Ukraine on a legal project arranged by Paul Manafort, the longtime GOP political consultant and international campaign adviser.

The losses in both cases are also sour notes for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller’s office was deeply involved in probing both the Rafiekian and Craig cases, but eventually transferred the matters off to other prosecutors.

 9 11 ron insana quote sept 11 2019

AE 9/11 Truth, CNBC Anchor Ron Insana: Building 7 a ‘Controlled Implosion,’ Ted Walter, Sept. 25, 2019. Insana’s story suggests he was told of Building 7’s demolition. ae for 9 11 truth logoOn the 18th anniversary of 9/11, CNBC senior analyst and former anchor Ron Insana went on Bernie and Sid In the Morning on New York’s 77 WABC Radio to share his haunting experience of that horrible day.

Approximately eight minutes into the interview, Insana made a statement regarding the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 — which collapsed late in the afternoon of 9/11 — that is truly stunning, especially considering his access to the scene and his job as a prominent news anchor:

“Well, remember 7 World Trade had not yet come down. And so when I went down to the [New York Stock] Exchange that Wednesday morning [September 12], I was standing with some military and police officers, and we were looking over in that direction. And if it had come down in the way in which it was tilting, it would have wiped out everything from where it stood to Trinity Church to the Exchange to, effectively, you know, the mouth of the Hudson. And so there were still fears that if that building had fallen sideways, you were going to wipe out a good part of Lower Manhattan. So they did manage for one to take that down in a controlled implosion later on. And the Exchange was up and running the following Monday.” [Emphasis added.]

Before addressing questions about Insana’s timeline, let us establish the aspects of his story that are clear and unambiguous. First, he clearly identifies Building 7 as the building he is talking about. Second, he clearly states that Building 7 was taken down in a “controlled implosion,” which flatly contradicts the official explanation that it collapsed due to office fires.

Background: University Finds Fire Did Not Bring Down World Trade Center Building 7 on 9/11.

#MeToo: Domingo Out From  Met

ny times logoNew York Times, Plácido Domingo Leaves Met Opera Amid Harassment Inquiry, Michael Cooper, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The star singer, accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, dropped out of Verdi’s “Macbeth” and indicated he would not return to the Met. In an 11th-hour reversal, the superstar singer Plácido Domingo, below right, withdrew on Tuesday from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” and indicated he would not return to the Met, amid rising tensions over the company’s response to allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple women.

placido domingo fileMr. Domingo’s withdrawal on the eve of the performance — opening night is Wednesday — came as a growing number of people who work at the Met expressed concern about his upcoming performances. Other American cultural institutions, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera, had already canceled Mr. Domingo’s upcoming appearances, citing the need to provide a safe workplace.

The backstage unease at the Met boiled over in recent days, including at a heated, sometimes emotional meeting that Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, held with orchestra and chorus members after the “Macbeth” dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon. Some of those at the meeting questioned what Mr. Domingo’s return said about the Met’s commitment to protecting women and rooting out sexual harassment.

Three days later, Mr. Domingo said in a statement to The New York Times that he was dropping out of “Macbeth” — which was to have been his first United States performance since the sexual harassment allegations were reported last month.

Dershowitz Denies Trafficking Claim

alan dershowitz courthouse

Retired Harvard Law professor Alan Deshowitz, accompanied by his wife Carol Cohen, defends himself from a rape allegation outside Manhattan's federal court (video screengrab).

Daily Mail, Alan Dershowitz claims Leslie Wexner is being extorted for millions by Jeffrey Epstein's former sex slave Virginia Roberts, who claims she was raped by both men, Staff report, Sept. 25, 2019. Alan Dershowitz appeared in court on Tuesday for a hearing in his ongoing defamation case against Virginia Roberts, where he branded her a liar who tried to extort millions out of Victoria's Secret boss Leslie Wexner.

The embattled lawyer was trying to get the case tossed, and he and his lawyers had a lot to say both inside and outside the courtroom.

Much of what of what Dershowitz and his lawyers said however was not new, as they once again called Roberts a liar and dragged Wexner back into the legal battle, stating that he was falsely accused of raping Roberts (married last name Giuffre) just like Dershowitz. Wexner alleged it was done in an attempt to extort million from the businessman.

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot Roberts (shown in an NBC screenshot) says she was abused by Jeffrey Epstein for several years in the late 1990s, during which time she claims she was forced to have sex with several prominent men.

Dershowitz asked a federal judge Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit that accuses him of lying about his sexual history with a woman who claims she was a teenage victim of a Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking ring. Dershowitz previously said he welcomed the suit to prove he never had sex with - or even met - Roberts, who has accused the noted lawyer and a long list of other prominent men of sexually exploiting her when she was 17 and 18 years old.

But his lawyers argued Tuesday that Roberts waited too long to file her defamation lawsuit and that her case should be dismissed under the statute of limitations.

Media News

greta thunberg un climate talk sept 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, A Fox News guest called Greta Thunberg ‘mentally ill.’ The network apologized for the ‘disgraceful’ comment, Allyson Chiu, Sept. 24, 2019. Michael Knowles had just finished discussing why he believes meatless diets may be worse for the environment during a Fox News segment about climate change on Monday night when he suddenly pivoted to one of the day’s biggest stories.

“None of that matters because the climate hysteria movement is not about science,” said the conservative pundit and Daily Wire podcast host. “If it were about science, it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”

fox news logo SmallKnowles, much to the dismay of many viewers and his fellow Fox News guest, was referring to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, shown above, who just hours earlier made headlines for delivering an impassioned message to global leaders at the United Nations. The 16-year-old has been open about being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, embracing it as her “superpower.”

Amid the intense blowback over Knowles’s remarks Monday night after a clip of the show went viral, Fox News apologized to Thunberg.

“The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful — we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers,” a spokesperson for the network told The Washington Post in a statement.

Fox News also said it has “no plans” to book Knowles. Knowles did not respond to a request for comment late Monday but defended himself on Twitter, writing: “There is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders. What is shameful is exploiting a child — particularly a child with mental disorders — to advance your political agenda.”

Thunberg has called the condition a “gift” and credited it with sparking her activism. “Some people mock me for my diagnosis. But Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this,” she wrote on Facebook in February. “Because if I would have been ‘normal’ and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself. But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis and I felt like I had to do something, anything.”

[Ingraham’s brother is attacking her after she compared Thunberg to the ‘Children of the Corn’]

The network’s apology comes as conservatives have ramped up their broadsides against Thunberg, who traveled to the United States earlier this month on a solar-powered sailboat and has since been chastising powerful politicians about their inaction on climate change. In a widely reviled tweet over the weekend, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza compared Thunberg to young people featured in Nazi propaganda, sharing a photo of the Swedish teen alongside an illustration of a Caucasian girl sporting braided hair and holding a Nazi flag. On Monday, Sebastian Gorka, the former Breitbart editor and White House aide, labeled Thunberg as an “autist child.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. invokes state secrets privilege to block American journalist’s challenge to alleged spot on drone ‘kill list,’ Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). A U.S. judge Tuesday dismissed an American journalist’s lawsuit challenging his alleged placement on a “kill list” by U.S. authorities in Syria, after the Trump administration rosemary collyerinvoked the “state secrets” privilege to withhold sensitive national security information.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, right, of Washington, D.C., last year had opened the way for Bilal Abdul Kareem, a freelance journalist who grew up in New York, to seek answers in his civil case from the government and to try to clear his name after what he claims were five near-misses by U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

Collyer (a George W. Bush nominee appointed by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to supervise the FISA national security court for a seven-year term in 2013) in June 2018 ruled that Abdul Kareem, who said he was mistaken for a militant because of his frequent contact with militants linked to al-Qaeda, was exercising his constitutional right to due process in court.

But after talks between Abdul Kareem’s lawyers and U.S. authorities broke down, the government tapped the rarely invoked state secrets authority, saying Abdul Kareem sought information revealing “the existence and operational details of alleged military and intelligence activities directed at combating the terrorist threat to the United States.”

In a 14-page opinion, Collyer said she was bound to agree, saying the government’s right to withhold information in such instances is “absolute.”

“What constitutional right is more essential than the right to due process before the government may take a life? While the answer may be none, federal courts possess limited authority to resolve questions presented in a lawsuit, even when they are alleged to involve constitutional rights. This is such a case,” Collyer wrote, adding, “Despite the serious nature of Plaintiff’s allegations, this Court must dismiss the action pursuant to the government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege.”

Prosecutors said that disclosing whether Abdul Kareem is on the “kill list” could permit him to evade capture or further U.S. action, and also could risk revealing or compromising intelligence sources and methods.

Collyer at a May 2018 hearing in Abdul Kareem’s case questioned whether national security concerns trump individuals’ rights in the U.S. ­targeted-killing program, a question left open by courts since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks . On Tuesday, the judge credited the government for engaging “in months of consideration” before providing “reasoned declarations” supporting its views.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani begins screaming “shut up idiot” on live television during crazed meltdown, Bill Palmer, Sept. 25, 2019. Rudy Giuliani is not taking Donald rudy giuliani recentTrump’s impeachment well, both because it means his friend Trump is going down, and because it means Rudy is in severe danger of going to prison. Palmer Report brought you the story of how Giuliani went completely off the deep end about impeachment on Twitter on Tuesday night. It turns out Rudy had an even worse time of it on television.

On Tuesday night, Rudy Giuliani appeared on the Laura Ingraham show on Fox News – which should have been the most friendly territory possible for him. But at one point Ingraham had Rudy on with a panel of three other guests, not all of whom were on his side. Eventually, Rudy completely lost it and began screaming.

bill palmer report logo headerAt one point Rudy Giuliani began yelling at another panelist: “Shut up … shut up … shut up … you don’t know what you’re talking about … you don’t know what you’re talking about … idiot!” Watch the surreal video for yourself:

fox news logo SmallIt couldn’t be much more clear that Rudy Giuliani has completely lost what little semblance of rationality he might have had left. Not only is the Ukraine scandal devastating to Donald Trump, it’s devastating to Rudy as well. At this point we’re left to wonder – in all seriousness – if Rudy will need to be carted away before the week is over.

Health, Consumer News

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Juul to end product advertising and replace CEO, Matthew Perrone and Michelle Chapman, Sept. 25, 2019. Juul Labs will no longer promote its e-cigarettes in print, digital and TV advertisements and is replacing its CEO amid an escalating backlash against vaping nationwide.

The nation’s largest e-cigarette maker also pledged Wednesday not to lobby against a sweeping ban on vaping flavors proposed by the Trump administration earlier this month. Juul announced its CEO, Kevin Burns, will step down and be replaced by a senior executive from Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes. Altria took a 35% stake in Juul in December at a cost of $13 billion

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Supreme Court’s rebuke to Mr. Johnson remade British law, Mark Landler and Benjamin Mueller, Sept. 25, 2019 (print ed.). The unanimous united kingdom flagdecision, handed down on Tuesday, is an unalloyed defeat for Mr. Johnson and will propel Britain into a fresh round of political turmoil. But it is even more significant for what it says about the role of the country’s highest court, which has historically steered clear of politics.

By ruling that Mr. Johnson acted unlawfully — and doing so in such stark language — the court asserted its right to curb a government that obstructed Parliament’s ability to “carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive.”

ny times logoNew York Times, China Wants the World to Stay Silent on Muslim Camps. It’s Succeeding, Jane Perlez, Sept. 25, 2019. Beijing is using economic and diplomatic pressure to quash any outcry, while governments are reluctant to risk financial ties and trade deals. When Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visited Beijing this summer, he hailed a china flag Smallnew Silk Road bridging Asia and Europe. He welcomed big Chinese investments for his beleaguered economy. He gushed about China’s sovereignty.

But Mr. Erdogan, who has stridently promoted Islamic values in his overwhelmingly Muslim country, was largely silent on the incarceration of more than one million Turkic Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang, and the forced assimilation of millions more. It was an about-face from a decade ago, when he said the Uighurs there suffered from, “simply put, genocide” at the hands of the Chinese government.

Epstein Scandal

Daily Mail, Alan Dershowitz claims Leslie Wexner is being extorted for millions by Jeffrey Epstein's former sex slave Virginia Roberts, who claims she was raped by both men, Staff report, Sept. 25, 2019. Alan Dershowitz appeared in court on Tuesday for a hearing in his ongoing defamation case against Virginia Roberts, where he branded her a liar who tried to extort millions out of Victoria's Secret boss Leslie Wexner.

The embattled lawyer was trying to get the case tossed, and he and his lawyers had a lot to say both inside and outside the courtroom.

Much of what of what Dershowitz and his lawyers said however was not new, as they once again called Roberts a liar and dragged Wexner back into the legal battle, stating that he was falsely accused of raping Virginia Roberts just like Dershowitz. Wexner alleged it was done in an attempt to extort million from the businessman.

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshotVirginia Roberts (shown in an NBC screenshot) says she was abused by Jeffrey Epstein for several years in the late 1990s, during which time she claims she was forced to have sex with several prominent men

Dershowitz asked a federal judge Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit that accuses him of lying about his sexual history with a woman who claims she was a teenage victim of a Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking ring. Dershowitz previously said he welcomed the suit to prove he never had sex with - or even met - Roberts, who has accused the noted lawyer and a long list of other prominent men of sexually exploiting her when she was 17 and 18 years old.

But his lawyers argued Tuesday that Roberts waited too long to file her defamation lawsuit and that her case should be dismissed under the statute of limitations.

Transitions

robert mcclelland flickr

JFK Facts, RIP: Dr. Robert McClelland, the Most Important JFK Witness, Jeff Morley, Sept. 25, 2019. Dr. Robert McClelland (shown above giving a lecture) saw JFK’s wounds up close on November 22, 1963. Dr. Robert McClelland, the surgeon who oversaw the effort to save President Kennedy’s life in 1963, died earlier this month at age 89. In his interviews, you sense a man of considerable dignity, humility, and integrity. It comes as no surprise that he self-published an anthology of writings on surgery to which thousands of doctors subscribed. He was both a teacher and doctor, an instructor and a healer. And it is those qualities that make McClelland one of the most important witnesses to JFK’s assassination.

In 1963, McClelland was 34 years old. He had just become the chief of surgery at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. When the mortally wounded JFK was brought to Trauma Room One, McClelland stood over the dying president and directed the efforts to save him. He observed the president’s fatal head wound for about 10 minutes from a distance of less than two feet.

“My God,” he recalled saying to his colleagues. “Have you see the back of his head. There’s a wound in the back of his head that’s about five inches in diameter.”

After about ten minutes, Kennedy’s breathing and heartbeat ceased. The Secret Service came and took the body away.

McClelland concluded, on the basis of what he saw that day, and what he saw in a home movie of the assassination taken by a bystander, that Kennedy had been struck by a gunshot fired from in front, not behind.

“That bullet came from the grassy knoll, the picket fence,” McClelland said of the fatal shot, referring to the area in front of the presidential motorcade at the moment the shots rang out.

How the New York Times handled McClelland’s eye-witness testimony is a textbook case of the journalism profession’s strange approach to the JFK assassination story. McClelland was a superb witness. No trained medical professional had a close a view of Kennedy’s head wound so soon after he was shot. McClelland went on to a distinguished career. Yet the New York Times did not report what he saw and what he said about JFK’s head wound until he was dead. For some strange reason, McClelland’s testimony, contradicting the Warren Commission, was not regarded as news.

The Times obituary gingerly avoids any suggestion that McClelland might have been right or that his testimony was unique. In the headline, the Times reported that he saw the “gravity” of the President’s wounds, not that he formed a judgment about their cause. On the issue of the official story, he is described as “skeptic,” as he was someone who had merely read about the case. In fact, McClelland was a highly credible eyewitness whose well-informed account flatly contradicted the government’s official story.

McClelland didn’t believe in “wild conspiracy theories,” the Times assures us. The rather more relevant point, of course, is that he did not believe in the equally implausible anti-conspiracy theories of the Warren Commission, the CIA, the FBI, and Dallas Police Department, which holds that one man shot JFK for no reason.

McClelland’s account is consistent with the accounts of 21 police officers at the crime scene who also thought gunfire had come from in front of JFK’s limousine.

McClelland was mistaken, say defenders of the official theory. Pay him no mind. Look at the JFK autopsy photos in the National Archives, they say. But the autopsy photos cannot disprove McClelland’s account said if they if they do not depict the wounds that he saw. And there is sworn testimony that they do not.

Navy doctors conducted an autopsy on JFK about eight hours after Dr. McClelland saw him. The Secret Service transported the president’s body from Parkland to Air Force One, which then flew from Dallas to Washington where the body was taken to Bethesda Medical Center. The autopsy was conducted around 8 pm Eastern time in the evening.

Facebook, David Talbot's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 2 people, sunglasses, David Talbot, Sept. 25, 2019. Dr. Robert McClelland was one of the very first people to conclude President Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy. And it was no "theory." Dr. McClelland, a surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, saw the medical evidence with his own eyes as he struggled to save the life of the mortally wounded president. As Dr. McClelland stood directly over Kennedy's head, he saw clear evidence that JFK had been struck in the head by a bullet fired from in front of his limousine, not just from the rear, where Lee Harvey Oswald was alleged to have shot down the president.

For years, Dr. McClelland and the other members of the Parkland surgical team were strongly pressured by authorities to stick with the Warren Commission's absurd lone gunman theory. But Dr. McClelland and his colleagues finally told the truth: JFK was the victim of a conspiracy, which was then officially covered up.

In today's obituary of Dr. McClelland, who died in Dallas earlier this month, the New York Times does not mention this sensational piece of information -- the most remarkable revelation of his medical career -- until paragraph 22! In the news business, that's called burying your lead. The Times buries this explosive fact, of course, because the newspaper has long been part of the JFK assassination coverup.

The Times also fails to mention that Dr. McClelland and two other surviving members of the Parkland surgical team that worked on President Kennedy signed a powerful joint statement about the assassination and coverup last January. The statement, which I played a role in writing and organizing, reads that the "conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy was organized at high levels of the U.S. power structure, and was implemented by top elements of the U.S. national security apparatus using, among others, figures in the criminal underworld to help carry out the crime and cover-up."

Trump Watch

SouthFront, U.S. Commerce Secretary Fell Asleep During Trump’s Speech In UN Security Council, Politico, wire and staff reports, Sept. 25, 2019. On September 24th, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross fell asleep during US President Donald Trump’s speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly. Wilbur Ross does have a history of actually falling asleep during speeches.

A former Commerce Department adviser told Politico in July 2019 that Ross had a reputation for falling asleep. “Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen so they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”

U.S. 2020 Politics

Politico, Cindy McCain: Today’s GOP ‘is not the party that my husband and I belonged to,’ Zack Stanton, Sept. 25, 2019. McCain said she can see Democrats winning Arizona in 2020, and warned that the Republican Party is “excluding people.” The 2020 election will likely be decided by a handful of states. A few of them, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, are traditionally Democratic. Others, like Florida, are tossups trending Republican. And then there’s Arizona, the longtime GOP stronghold where Democratic gains are causing major heartburn for national Republicans.

And Republicans are right to be worried about Arizona, says Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCain, who represented the state in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades prior to his death in 2018.

“I can see [Arizona] going Democrat, I really can,” McCain said during an interview for POLITICO’s Women Rule podcast. “I’m not saying I want that, but I can see it happening.”

There are, said McCain, two major reasons why: one has to do with changes in the state, and the other stems from the transformation of the Republican Party during the presidency of Donald Trump.

“We have a huge Hispanic population now that have found their voice in politics, number one. And number two, we have on my side of the aisle — on the Republican side — we see a local party in Arizona that’s not functioning well, and it’s excluding people,” said McCain. “If you’re not walking the line, then you’re out. That’s just not right. That’s not the party that my husband and I belonged to.”

In the year since her husband died following a long fight against brain cancer, Cindy McCain has largely stepped away from the public eye. But she has maintained a vocal role on two issues of deep personal import: promoting civility in politics and combatting human trafficking.

washington post logoWashington Post, Tony Podesta, Vin Weber say they were told Justice Department dropped probe into whether they violated foreign lobbying rules, Tom Hamburger and Matt Zapotosky, Sept. 24, 2019. A long-running Justice Department investigation of two of Washington’s best-known lobbyists was closed this week, the latest sign of the challenges facing prosecutors attempting to more aggressively pursue possible violations of foreign lobbying rules.

Tony Podesta, a longtime Democratic power broker, and Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman, said they were notified Monday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan had closed the inquiry into work they did that benefited Ukrainian interests.

“It’s been a long two years,” Podesta said. “I’m happy that it’s over and happy that I can go on with the rest of my life without looking at this every day.”

An attorney for Weber, Robert P. Trout, said, “We are obviously pleased by this development,” adding that “at all times Mr. Weber acted in good faith and in keeping with the legal advice his company received from its outside counsel.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson Faces a New Scandal, and ‘People See Blood in the Water,’ Benjamin Mueller, Sept. 23, 2019. On Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s turbulent path to Downing Street, serial philandering and ethical sloppiness became part of his schtick, blots on a career so chaotic and beguiling that the British public always seemed to forgive the mistakes.

But Mr. Johnson is now facing a potentially more serious accusation of mixing friendship with a young woman and misspent public money, one that could test voters’ patience in a looming general election.

In an article published this weekend, The Sunday Times of London reported that, when Mr. Johnson was mayor of London, his office directed tens of thousands of pounds in government money to a fledgling entrepreneur and close friend whose apartment he often visited during working hours.

The entrepreneur, Jennifer Arcuri, an American and a former model, was 27 when she first crossed paths with Mr. Johnson in 2012. In the ensuing years, she was given coveted spots on trade missions with the mayor to Tel Aviv, New York, Singapore and Malaysia. In some instances, Mr. Johnson’s office intervened to add her to the roster even though she did not meet the criteria for trade delegates, The Sunday Times reported.

Sept. 24

djt cpac 2017 gage skidmore

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ordered hold on military aid days before calling Ukrainian president, officials say, Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 24, 2019 (print ed.). ​President Trump’s order to withhold aid to Ukraine a week before his July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky is likely to raise further questions about the exchange with Ukraine’s new leader and Trump's desire to see Joe Biden’s son investigated.

mick mulvaney omb SmallPresident Trump (shown above in a Gage Skidmore photo) told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, right, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials.

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had “concerns” and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.

The future president is shown at right with the corrupt Republican fixer Roy Cohn, Trump's one-time mentor, attorney and Manhattan nightlife companion djt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizbefore Cohn's 1986 death from AIDS.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, We’ve Reached the Breaking Point, David Frum, Sept. 24, 2019. The Ukraine scandal confirms that Trump knows he can act with impunity — and no one will stop him. In June, President Donald Trump was enjoying a rare respite from scandal. He had successfully squelched Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller had agreed to abide by Department of Justice guidance that the president could not be indicted for violating any criminal law. Since Mueller had also limited his examination of “collusion” to potential violations of criminal law, the Mueller investigation had marched itself into a dead end of predetermined futility.

Trump celebrated by granting a rare non-Fox News interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos asked him: What if another foreign government offered him dirt on an opponent in 2020? What would Trump do?

“I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” he said. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘We have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

And: “It’s not an interference. They have information — I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research. ‘Oh, let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

So don’t say you weren’t warned. Trump got away with it the first time. The lesson he learned was to try again.

David A. Graham: Trump has no shame

Back in the early days of the Trump presidency, Trump’s enablers wistfully suggested that he might grow into the job as he learned not to do corrupt things.

In June 2017, news broke that Trump had demanded FBI Director James Comey go easy on Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. “The president’s new at this,” then–House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the time. “He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”

Give him time, Ryan seemed to suggest, and Trump might stop acting like a criminal in office.

Trump drew a very different conclusion from the one to which Ryan had hoped to nudge him. He concluded: Nobody is going to stop me.

The breathtaking thing about Trump’s latest abuse is how many people knew about some, or all, of it as it happened. Vice President Mike Pence personally spoke to the Ukrainian president about the importance of “corruption”—which in Trump-speak means the importance of doing more of it, not less.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Impeachment Process, Explained, Charlie Savage, Sept. 24, 2019. Only three presidents have ever been subjected to impeachment. Here’s how it works. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that the House would launch a formal impeachment inquiry in response to the dispute over Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The rising furor has heightened interest in how the impeachment process works. Here’s what you need to know:

What is impeachment?

The Constitution permits Congress to remove presidents before their term is up if enough lawmakers vote to say that they committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Only two presidents have been impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 — and both were ultimately acquitted and completed their terms in office. Richard M. Nixon, resigned in 1974 to avoid being impeached.

What is a “high crime”?

The term “high crimes and misdemeanors” came out of the British common law tradition: it was the sort of offense that Parliament cited in removing crown officials for centuries. Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute.

What is the process?

In both the Nixon and the Clinton cases, the House Judiciary Committee first held an investigation and recommended articles of impeachment to the full House. In theory, however, the House of Representatives could instead set up a special panel to handle the proceedings — or just hold a floor vote on such articles without any committee vetting them.

When the full House votes on articles of impeachment, if at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which is essentially the equivalent of being indicted.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Seeks Deal for Whistle-Blower to Speak to Congress, Michael S. Schmidt, Julian E. Barnes and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 24, 2019. As House Democrats moved to begin a formal impeachment inquiry, the administration also prepared to release a redacted version of the whistle-blower’s complaint.

The Trump administration had originally barred the whistle-blower’s complaint from being shared with Congress.

White House and intelligence officials were working out a plan on Tuesday to release a redacted version of the whistle-blower complaint that helped ignite the impeachment drive against President Trump and to allow the whistle-blower to speak with congressional investigators, people briefed on the matter said.

The move toward disclosing more information demanded by Democrats was part of a broader effort by the administration to quell the growing calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, and became public after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry.

Ms. Pelosi told fellow Democrats that in a private call that she had with the president on Tuesday, he said he was not responsible for the whistle-blower complaint being withheld from Congress, according to Democrats.

The precise content of the whistle-blower’s complaint has not been made public. It was found to be urgent and credible by the inspector general for the intelligence community, and is said to involve Mr. Trump and Ukraine. People familiar with the situation said the administration was putting the complaint through a declassification process and planned to release a redacted version within days.

It was filed Aug. 12, several weeks after Mr. Trump spoke by phone with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistle-blower’s identity has not been publicly disclosed.

Mr. Trump has acknowledged that during the call with Mr. Zelensky, he brought up his longstanding demand for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden, who did business in Ukraine while his father was in office and playing a leading role in diplomacy with Ukraine.

The president and his aides had initially rejected congressional requests to examine the complaint, igniting intense criticism from House Democrats. But as pressure built in the House to begin impeachment proceedings, administration officials concluded that holding out would put them in a politically untenable position.

The appearance that they were stonewalling Congress, in their view, could prove more damaging than the whistle-blower’s account. Mr. Trump also believes that the allegations about him are not nearly as damning as they have been portrayed and that disclosing them will undercut the impeachment drive, people close to the president said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Will Back Impeachment if Trump Does Not Cooperate With Congress, Maggie Astor, Sept. 24, 2019. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will call on Tuesday for impeachment proceedings against President Trump if the president does not comply with congressional requests for information related to Ukraine and other investigations.

joe biden headshotIn a speech in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden (shown in a file photo) will “make the point that Trump’s latest abuses are on top of all of his prior abuses,” a campaign aide said. The aide said that Mr. Biden would call on the president to comply with “all of Congress’s outstanding, lawful requests for information — in the Ukraine matter and in other investigations — and if Trump does not comply, Congress has no choice but to impeach.”

Several other presidential candidates, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, right, of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, have already called for elizabeth warren cfpbimpeachment. Ms. Warren has been particularly forceful, accusing Congress of shirking its constitutional responsibilities.

“After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment,” Ms. Warren tweeted on Friday. “By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmonson, Sept. 24, 2019. The House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. More than two-thirds of the 235 House Democrats had already said they support such an inquiry, according to a New York Times survey and public statements.

At least 68 Democrats announced their support since Monday, as more details have emerged from Mr. Trump’s attempt this summer to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden.

Starting in May, The Times asked every representative for his or her position and has been updating this page with each response. Many House Democrats who do not currently support impeachment proceedings say investigations of Mr. Trump should continue. The White House has stonewalled these inquiries.  

  • 203 Representatives support an impeachment inquiry
  • 88 No, not now, or undecided
  • 144 Awaiting response

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Seven freshman Democrats: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect, Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan, Elaine Luria, Mikie Sherrill, Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger, Sept. 24, 2019 (print ed.). Our lives have been defined by national service. We are not career politicians. We are veterans of the military and of the nation’s defense and intelligence agencies. Our service is rooted in the defense of our country on the front lines of national security.

We have devoted our lives to the service and security of our country, and throughout our careers, we have sworn oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States many times over. Now, we join as a unified group to uphold that oath as we enter uncharted waters and face unprecedented allegations against President Trump....

abigail spanberger twitterIf these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.

Reps. Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, left, are all freshman Democrats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump denies explicitly tying U.S. aid to demand for Ukrainian probe of Biden and his family, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Sept. 24, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump insisted that he “put no pressure on them whatsoever,” as public scrutiny continued to mount on a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

tulsi gabbard debate stage gabe skidmore Custom
The Hill, Tulsi Gabbard resists calls for Trump impeachment: 'Terribly divisive,' Justine Coleman, Sept. 9, 2019. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) resisted calls for impeachment as more Democratic representatives are requesting inquiries begin.

The Democratic presidential candidate, right, told Fox News (video here) she will attend the House Speaker's scheduled meeting Wednesday to discuss next steps, but impeachment would be "terribly divisive." "I've been consistent in saying I believe that impeachment at this juncture would be terribly divisive for the country at a time when we are already extremely divided," Gabbard said.

The Hawaii representative said impeachment would intensify "hyper-partisanship" that is "driving our country apart." "I think it's important to beat Donald Trump, that's why I'm running for president," she said. "But I think the American people who need to make their voices heard making that decision."

Several Democrats have called for impeachment inquiries in the past few days after it was revealed President Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Democratic presidential former vice president Joe Biden's son in a phone call in March. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said if the Trump administration does not provide the House with the whistleblower report associated with that call, investigations into the president will reach "a whole new stage."

She has maintained that the American public would need to support impeachment in order for the House to move forward with it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has psychotic late night impeachment meltdown, Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2019. Donald Trump didn’t just have a bad day today, he had a historically bad day. At one point today he gave a terrible speech to the United Nations that had several world leaders appearing to try to stifle a laugh – and that was the least bad part of his day. Trump is being impeached for crimes that will send him to prison for the rest of his life, and boy does he ever know it.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump signaled that he knew he was screwed when he posted a tweet in which he appeared to blame his impeachment on Maxine Waters for no apparent reason. But he was just getting started. Trump then latched onto the claim that the whistleblower’s attorney once worked for Hillary Clinton. That’s right, we’re just a few hours into impeachment, and Trump is already trying to turn it into a Hillary Clinton conspiracy.

As the night went on, Trump became frustrated that the media wasn’t covering the “MASSIVE DEMOCRAT SCANDAL” that he had treasonously created out of thin air. Then he quoted one of his own obscure lackeys who claimed that Democrats have “bizarre brains.” Trump then thanked a supposed pundit for defending him, but that person turned out to be a self-identified member of the Trump 2020 Advisory Board.

By the time it was over, Donald Trump was reduced to quoting Lindsey Graham, who claimed that impeachment is only happening because Democrats don’t think they can beat Trump at the ballot box. That’s hilarious, considering Trump is trailing all of the major 2020 Democratic candidates badly in the polls. Trump would be wise to cut a resignation plea deal in exchange for reduced prison time while he still can – but he’s certainly not wise.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump turns U.N. into backdrop for attacks on Biden, Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, Sept. 24, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump used his meetings with heads of state at the United Nations to flay Joe Biden, celebrate his personal attorney’s altercations and tend to his media feuds.

djt nancy pelosi

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi quietly sounding out House Democrats about whether to impeach Trump, officials say, Sept. 24, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump insisted that he “put no pressure on them whatsoever,” as public scrutiny continued to mount on a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

Palmer Report, Opinion: BUSTED! Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2019. Very late on Monday night, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump did in fact officially cut off aid to Ukraine djt hands up white housethe week before he called the president of Ukraine and asked him to go after Biden. This means that it’s irrelevant whether Trump specifically brought up the money during the phone call, because he had already cut off the money, and Ukraine knew that it wasn’t going to get the money back unless it played along with Trump’s scheme.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat may be most important here is where this WaPo story came from. It states that Trump instructed Mick Mulvaney to cut off the money. While Mulvaney has recently been serving as Trump’s Acting White House Chief of Staff, he’s also long served as the head of Office of Management and Budget. So it’s notable that the WaPo’s sources appear to be from within the Office of Management and Budget; Mulvaney’s own loyalists appear to be trying to preemptively get it out there that Mulvaney (allegedly) had no choice but to go along with the order.

In any case, Donald Trump is flat out busted. If you take someone’s loved one hostage, and then a week later you call up and start making demands, it’s understood that this is a ransom demand, whether or not you specifically mention during the phone call that the demands must be met for the hostage to be released.

Giuliani Defense, Attacks

Fox News, Giuliani: Democrats stepped into more than they realize, Sept. 24, 2019 (13:26 min. video). President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani reacts to Democrats' impeachment inquiry on 'The Ingraham Angle.' "I did it at the request of the State Department."

"Why am doing it? Because I'm his defense lawyer....The FBI didn't do their job."

UK Constitutional Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, British Supreme Court rules Johnson suspended Parliament illegally, Karla Adam and William Booth​, Sept. 24, 2019. The ruling asserts that suspending Parliament was a political maneuver to limit debate on his plans to leave the European Union, and it strongly suggests that he might have misled the queen.

united kingdom flagIn one of the most high-profile cases to come before Britain’s Supreme Court, the 11 judges ruled unanimously that Johnson, left, had attempted to stymie Parliament at a crucial moment in British history.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedThe court ruled that Johnson’s decision to ask Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament frustrated the ability of lawmakers to do the business of democracy, including debating Johnson’s plans for leaving the E.U. The new prime minister has vowed that the departure, known as Brexit, will occur — “do or die” — by the end of October.

The court unanimously found that Johnson’s suspension was “void and of no effect,” meaning, essentially, that Parliament has not been suspended. John Bercow, the flamboyant speaker of the House of Commons, called the high court’s decision “unambiguous” and “unqualified” and said Parliament would resume its duties Wednesday morning. Johnson is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly and to meet with President Trump on Tuesday. Opposition leaders in London said Johnson should return to Britain immediately.

Child Saved After Dad's Suicide

New York Post, Chilling last words of dad who jumped in front of train with daughter in arms, Lorena Mongelli and Aaron Feis, Sept. 24, 2019. A distraught Bronx fernando balbuena ny post cover sept 24 2019 Customdad said the final words “With God, with God, with God, here comes the train” before jumping in front of a subway car while holding his 5-year-old daughter, who miraculously survived, his wife revealed Tuesday.

Fernando Balbuena, 45, spoke those chilling last words in Spanish — “Con dios, con dios, con dios que alli viene el tren” — to wife Niurka Caraballo in a phone conversation that sent her running out of the couple’s Grand Concourse home to the nearby Kingsbridge Road station Monday morning, only to find it was too late.

Mom thanks God that 5-year-old escaped death at hands of suicidal father

“They [witnesses] speculate he was fighting with someone on the phone, but the only person he was on the phone with was me,” Caraballo, 41, said Tuesday in Spanish.

Balbuena scooped the couple’s daughter, Ferni, up into his arms and leaped into the path of a southbound No. 4 train, horrifying dozens of commuters packing the platform of the elevated station at 8 a.m. Balbuena died, but his daughter escaped virtually unscathed, and was able to crawl along the trackbed to the outstretched arm of a good Samaritan who lowered himself down to rescue her.

Though she’s physically fine, Ferni has yet to process the trauma of exactly what happened, asking for her dad, and believing he might still walk through the door, said Caraballo. “Ferni was very close to him,” said Caraballo. “After what happened, she is saying, ‘Daddy is in the hospital. He hurt his stomach.’ ”

Now, both Ferni and her 2-year-old brother, ­Fernand, will be forced to grow up without their father.

Caraballo acknowledged Balbuena’s long-running battle with depression, but said he was on medication, and that Monday’s act was stunning.

Assange Father's Plea

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: They’re Murdering My Son – Julian Assange’s Father Tells of Pain and Anguish, Finian Cunningham, Sept. 24, 2019. Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, who is visiting several European states, to bring public attention to the persecution of Julian Assange by British authorities, gave an interview to Strategic Culture Foundation over the weekend.Sept. 23

Climate Change

National Public Radio, 'This Is All Wrong,' Greta Thunberg Tells World Leaders At U.N. Climate Session, Bill Chappell, Sept. 23, 2019. Greta Thunberg (shown above in a four-minute video via Reuters and The Guardian) has a message for world npr logoleaders at the United Nations this week: "We'll be watching you." Speaking at the Climate Action Summit in New York, Thunberg added, "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean."

But instead, Thunberg, 16, is trying to convince politicians to take climate change seriously, and to do something to stop a global warming trend that will affect the world's children more than it affects anyone who's currently in power.

In an impassioned speech, Thunberg told those who hold office, "you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing."

Saying that the world is now in the early stages of a mass extinction, Thunberg criticized those who still speak of the crisis in terms of money and economic growth.
"How dare you?" she asked again, growing increasingly emotional as the audience cheered at the 2019 Climate Action Summit.

Citing more than 30 years' worth of scientific studies and warnings that greenhouse gases and other factors were establishing a dangerous new environmental trend, Thunberg criticized politicians for not developing solutions and strategies to confront that threat.

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York grand jury moves forward in its indictment process against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Sept. 23, 2019. Earlier this month the news broke that a New York grand jury had issued a subpoena for eight years of Donald Trump’s tax returns. The part that most pundits missed is that, by legal definition, a grand jury only exists to bring criminal indictments. The fact that this grand jury is targeting Trump’s tax returns means that the grand jury is targeting Trump, and not merely someone near Trump, for indictment.

bill palmer report logo headerToday the Manhattan District Attorney – who is leading the criminal case that’s being presented to the New York grand jury – went into court and argued that the judge should reject Donald Trump’s attempts at stalling the tax return subpoena, according to the Associated Press. The DA will win this case eventually; it’s a matter of how quickly or slowly the judge will allow things to proceed.

More On Trump Ukraine Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘We’ve been very weak’: House Democrats decry their oversight of Trump, push Pelosi on impeachment, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.) Democrats’ frustration with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unwillingness to impeach President Trump is reaching a fever pitch following reports that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival — a step the California Democrat declined to endorse Sunday.

democratic donkey logoAn increasingly vocal group of pro-impeachment House Democrats are starting to dismiss their own oversight of Trump as feckless, even accusing their colleagues of emboldening the president by refusing to stand up to what they see as lawless behavior.

alexandria ocasio cortezAt the very least, these Democrats say, the House should be taking more aggressive action to break the unprecedented White House stonewalling, possibly even fining defiant Trump officials, an idea Pelosi dismissed this year.

“At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behavior — it is the Democratic Party’s refusal to impeach him for it,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), left, a longtime impeachment backer, tweeted late Saturday night. “It is one thing for a sitting president to break the law. It’s another to let him. . . . The GOP’s silence & refusal to act shouldn’t be a surprise. Ours is.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Admits He Spoke to Ukraine About Biden; Pressure to Impeach Builds, Nicholas Fandos, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Reactions to President Trump calling on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden suggested some Democrats might change their calculations on impeachment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi leveled a warning of her own: Turn over the secret whistle-blower complaint, or face a serious escalation from Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We’re taking baby steps toward an accurate impeachment debate, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 23, 2019. During special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s jennifer rubin new headshotinvestigation, the cry from Republicans was that there had been “no collusion.” Aside from the fact that collusion is not a crime (conspiracy is the crime), they meant there was no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump picked up the phone, called Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked him to have damaging emails against his opponent released. That sort of smoking gun did not exist, but at least they acknowledged that such conduct would be illegal and/or impeachable.

Now, there is replete evidence that President Trump called up the Ukrainian president and asked him to find damaging information, even if none existed according to every investigation already undertaken, on his opponent’s son. If the facts are as the Wall Street Journal reported, we have the smoking gun of collusion, conspiracy and a “high crime & misdemeanor.”

washington post logoWashington Post, The whistleblower complaint has Congress and Trump at an impasse. Here's what the law says, Deanna Paul, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration, Congress and the media are consumed by a whistleblower complaint lodged last month with the inspector general of the intelligence community.

adam schiff squareAlthough the whistleblower’s identity and substantive details of the complaint remain unknown, some specifics have begun taking shape. As The Washington Post reported last week, the report centered on several conversations involving President Trump and Ukraine, and a promise to a foreign leader so concerning that it drove a U.S. intelligence official to file the complaint.

In an unprecedented move, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire refused to share the complaint with congressional intelligence committees, even after receiving a subpoena, claiming that the law did not require him to do so. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, accused Maguire of violating the law.

Global News: Ukraine

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani accused me of exposing Paul Manafort’s Ukraine deals to help U.S. Democrats. That’s a lie, Serhiy Leshchenko, right, (Ukrainian journalist and political activist), below left), Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). On Aug. 19, 2016, I convened a news conference in Kiev at which I revealed previously secret records of serhiy leschenko wpayments made by the former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, right, to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Yanukovych fled the viktor yanukovychcountry in February 2014 after he was toppled by our Revolution of Dignity, a popular uprising on the streets of Kiev.)

The information came from the “black ledger of the Party of Regions,” which was obtained by an anonymous source in the burned-out ruins of the headquarters of Yanukoych’s party. Yanukovych had used the ledger to keep records of his illegal transactions.

At that time, although I was a member of parliament, I continued to combine that position with my journalistic work, which is allowed by the laws of Ukraine.

paul manafort mugNever in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Manafort revelations would become fodder for the U.S. elections in 2020. President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mouthpiece of this campaign, is not only attempting to rehabilitate Manafort (shown in a mug shot at right) but is also working to undermine U.S. relations with Ukraine, which has been confronting Russian aggression on its own for more than five years.

Global News: Iran

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Says British Tanker Is Free to Go After 2 Months of Detention, Daniel Victor, Sept. 23, 2019. Iran’s seizure of the British-flagged tanker on iran flag mapJuly 19 was widely seen as retaliation for the detention of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Urgent Search for a Cyber Silver Bullet Against Iran, David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). As the United States weighs possible cyberattacks against Iran, it is looking for options that would deter Tehran from further strikes but avoid creating more conflict in the region.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s takeover of GOP leads many House Republicans to head for exits, Rachael Bade, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Nearly 40 percent of House Republicans have left or lost since President Trump’s inauguration, and some in the GOP say in private that he is the reason.

The vast turnover is a reminder of just how much Trump has remade the GOP — and of the purge of those who dare to oppose him. Former congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) lost his June 2018 primary after challenging Trump; he’s now a Republican presidential candidate. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), the only Republican to accuse Trump of impeachable acts, quit the GOP in July citing the “partisan death spiral.”

Media News: Book Accuracy

ny times logoNew York Times, It’s a Fact: Mistakes Are Embarrassing the Publishing Industry, Alexandra Alter, Sept. 23, 2019 (print ed.). Errors and controversies involving several high-profile books are forcing writers and publishers to reconsider how they handle fact-checking.

Consumer News

ny times logoNew York Times, World’s Oldest Tour Operator Collapses, Stranding Passengers, Michael Wolgelenter, Sept. 23, 2019. An estimated 600,000 people were believed to be stranded around the world after the abrupt liquidation of Thomas Cook.

The liquidation of the world’s oldest travel company, which specialized in low-cost package holidays that included flights and accommodation in more than 60 destinations around the world, has set in motion what was being described as the biggest peacetime repatriation in British history, as the government announced plans to bring back 150,000 Britons.

The effects of the collapse will ripple out far from Britain, the headquarters of Thomas Cook. In Greece, where 50,000 vacationers are expected to be repatriated to their home countries in the coming days, there are fears about the effect of the company’s collapse on the local economy.

Global News: Egypt

washington post logoWashington Post, Egypt broadens crackdown on anti-government protests, arresting hundreds, Sudarsan Raghavan​, Sept. 23, 2019. Protesters are calling for the removal of authoritarian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

Military Comparisons

Moon of Alabama, Book Review: 'The (Real) Revolution In Military Affairs,' b, Sept. 23, 2019. Considerable amounts of ink have been been spent in writings about the Revolution in Military Affairs. It is a concept that claims that new military doctrines, strategies, tactics and technologies would lead to an abrupt and significant change in the conduct of warfare.

U.S. 'experts' tended to use the expression to market expensive new concepts and weapon systems. Network centric warfare and precision strikes were both predicted to change the way wars are fought. But the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrated that there was no such revolution. Even with all its new toys the U.S. failed to win.

Andrei Martyanov's new book is about The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs. Martyanov was a naval officer in the Soviet and Russian coast guard. He now lives in the U.S. and blogs at the Reminiscence of the Future.

The real revolution in military affairs is the development of new types of weapons by Russia. Weapons which the U.S. can not defeat and to which it has no equivalents. The consequence of the revolution is the loss of the U.S. geo-political supremacy. One cause of this loss is at the core of Martyanov's earlier book LOSING MILITARY SUPREMACY: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning.

The new book takes an expanded view of the situation.

Public pundits in the U.S. have considerable influence over political decisions about war and peace. A huge number of 'experts' in a myriad of special interest think tanks and lobbies put out a steady stream of advice. Unfortunately most of these 'experts' fail to correctly measure geo-political power. They often lack the most basic understanding of military affairs and real wars.

Sept. 22

Trump Scandal Watch

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine call points to a president convinced of his own invincibility, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Rachael Bade, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). When the July 24 congressional testimony of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III deflated the impeachment hopes of Democrats, President Trump crowed “no collusion” and claimed volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotvindication from accusations that he had conspired with Russia in the 2016 election.

Then, the very next day, Trump allegedly sought to collude with another foreign country in the coming election — pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (above right) to dig up djt rudy giuliani Customwhat he believed would be damaging information about one of his leading Democratic challengers, former vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the conversation.

The push by Trump and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above left with Trump), to influence the newly elected Ukrainian leader reveals a president convinced of his own invincibility — apparently willing and even eager to wield the vast powers of the United States to taint a political foe and confident that no one could hold him back.

• Analysis: Trump and the warping of democratic governance

ny times logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosNew York Times, Claim That Trump Asked Ukraine for Election Help Roils 2020 Race, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). The claim that President Trump pressed Ukraine’s leader to investigate Joe Biden’s son has emerged as a flashpoint in the election. The controversy centers on whether Mr. Trump manipulated foreign policy to pressure Ukraine to take action to damage Mr. Biden’s election bid.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A diplomatic disaster’: Ukrainian leaders feel trapped between warring Washington factions, Michael Birnbaum and David L. Stern, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Whether it gives in to President Trump or rejects his demand for an inquiry into Hunter Biden, right, hunter bidenUkraine could jeopardize ties with its most important security backer.

Down Goes Bibi?

ny times logoNew York Times, Arab Parties Back Benny Gantz to End Netanyahu’s Grip in Israel, David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, Sept. 22, 2019. Ayman Odeh, who leads the Arab Joint List, said his group would support a government formed by Mr. Gantz over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Ayman Odeh: We Are Ending Netanyahu’s Grip on Israel, Ayman Odeh (below at left, leads the Joint List, the third-largest bloc in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and is chairman of the Hadash Party), Sept. 22, 2019. The leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties explains why it will use its power to help make Benny Gantz prime minister of Israel.

ayman odehThe Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to reject Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, and the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade. Last summer, Mr. Netanyahu declared that Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population, were to be second-class citizens, officially. “Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” Mr. Netanyahu wrote on Instagram after passing the Nation-State law. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and only it.”

The Israeli government has done everything in its power to reject those of us who are Arab Palestinian citizens, but our influence has only grown. We will be the cornerstone of democracy. Arab Palestinian citizens cannot change the course of Israel alone, but change is impossible without us. I have argued earlier that if the center-left parties of Israel believe that Arab Palestinian citizens have a place in this country, they must accept that we have a place in its politics.

Today, those parties no longer have a choice. At least 60 percent of the Arab Palestinian citizens have voted in the recent elections, and the Joint List, our coalition representing Arab and Arab-Jewish parties, has won 13 seats and become the third-largest list in the Knesset. We will decide who will be the next prime minister of Israel.

benny grantz cropped flickr as israel defense forces chief of staffjpg SmallOn behalf of the Joint List, I am recommending that Israel’s president choose Benny Gantz (right), the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, to be the next prime minister. This will be the most significant step toward helping create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr. Netanyahu. And it should be the end of his political career.

My colleagues and I have made this decision not as an endorsement of Mr. Gantz and his policy proposals for the country. We are aware that Mr. Gantz has refused to commit to our legitimate political demands for a shared future, and because of that we will not join his government.

Our demands for a shared, more equal future are clear: We seek resources to address violent crime plaguing Arab cities and towns, housing and planning laws that afford people in Arab municipalities the same rights as their Jewish neighbors and greater access for people in Arab municipalities to hospitals. We demand raising pensions for all in Israel so that our elders can live with dignity, and creating and funding a plan to prevent violence against women.

Israel FlagWe seek the legal incorporation of unrecognized — mostly Palestinian Arab — villages and towns that don’t have access to electricity or water. And we insist on resuming direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace treaty that ends the occupation and establishes an independent Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders. We call for repealing the nation-state law that declared me, my family and one-fifth of the population to be second-class citizens. It is because over the decades candidates for prime minister have refused to support an agenda for equality that no Arab or Arab-Jewish party has recommended a prime minister since 1992.

Yet this time, we are making a different choice. We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored. Our decision to recommend Mr. Gantz as the next prime minister without joining his expected national unity coalition government is a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Arab Palestinian citizens.

JIP Editor's Note: A close follower of Israeli politics, Decameron, reports on Sept. 23 via Col. Pat Lang site Sic Semper Tyrannis that despite the compelling Opinion piece that Joint List leader Ayman Odeh had in the New York Times, three MK's [Members of Knesset] from his bloc in the Balad party clarified that they will not recommend a PM. This morning, Odeh put out this statement: "I would like to announce that the three Balad Knesset members have asked me as the faction chairman to declare that the Joint List’s recommendation of MK Benny Gantz does not include them, and therefore the recommendation is in the name of ten MKs and not 13,” MK Ahmad Tibi of Ta’al wrote in a letter, which was apparently sent to Rivlin on Sunday and published Monday morning. (Times of Israel).

Global News: UN & Climate

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Climate Crisis Is the Battle of Our Time, and We Can Win, Al Gore (the 45th vice president of the United States, shown in a file photo), Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). We al gore2 Smallhave the tools. Now we are building the political power.

Finally people are recognizing that the climate is changing, and the consequences are worsening much faster than most thought was possible. A record 72 percent of Americans polled say that the weather is growing more extreme. And yet every day we still emit more than 140 million tons of global warming pollution worldwide into the atmosphere, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This is the crisis we face. Now we need to ask ourselves: Are we really helpless and unwilling to respond to the gravest threat faced by civilization?

ny times logoNew York Times, 600 Meetings and a World of Conflict: What to Expect at the U.N. General Assembly, Edward Wong, Lara Jakes, Michael Schwirtz and Rick Gladstone, Sept. 22, 2019. Nearly 200 leaders will converge on the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage for five days of speeches, hundreds of meetings — and clashes over climate change, UN logoIran and trade.

“All of the major topics that I think people will be talking about in the corridors are related to: What is U.S. policy?” said Jeffrey D. Feltman, a veteran American diplomat and former United Nations under secretary-general for political affairs.

Some leaders are not coming, notably Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, as well as Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled prime minister of Israel. Also not expected is President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, regarded by the Trump administration and about 50 other governments as an illegitimate leader.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Climate Protesters and World Leaders: Same Planet, Different Worlds, Somini Sengupta, Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Friday’s global climate protests put the gap between activists and many of the world leaders preparing to meet in New York City next week into stark focus.

This is the world we live in: Punishing heat waves, catastrophic floods, huge fires and climate conditions so uncertain that children took to the streets en masse in global protests to demand action.

But this is also the world we live in: A pantheon of world leaders who have deep ties to the industries that are the biggest sources of planet-warming emissions, are hostile to protests, or use climate science denial to score political points.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), William Barr, "deep state" cover-up artist for at least three U.S. presidents, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 23, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Donald Trump’s paranoia about being subjected to the whims of an amorphous American “deep state” are contradicted by the meteoric rise of his mobster-like Attorney General, William Barr, within the ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency and later, the Department of Justice. Barr was heavily involved in covering up the 1980 “October Surprise,” an “arms-for-no-hostages” deal between the Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush campaign that sealed the fate of a second term for President Jimmy Carter.

OpEdNews, America: A Land Without Truth, Paul Craig Roberts, Sept. 22, 2019. It has been 17 days since a four-year study of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 by civil engineers was made available to the media. The study concluded that fire was not the cause of the collapse of the 47-story building. The study also concluded that "the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building."

In other words, the study concludes that the building was intentionally destroyed by controlled demolition. Controlled demolition means that there was a plan to destroy the building and that access to the building inhabited by a number of US security agencies was permitted in order to wire the building for demolition. This finding is consistent with what the owner of the World Trade Center, Silverstein, said on television, that the decision was made "to pull" the building.

To pull a building means to bring it down by controlled demolition. Later, Silverstein tried to retract his admission and claimed that he meant the decision was made to pull the firemen out of the building, but according to reports no firemen were in the building as the fires were not regarded as of any consequence.

After 17 days, the report of the civil engineering team remains unmentioned in the American media except for a local Alaska TV station and a local Alaska newspaper. The report went straight into the Memory Hole. The vast majority of the American people will never know that the information has been kept from them.

The pile of lies that constitutes American awareness is very high. Indeed, it is as high as the hundred-story twin towers: the lies about Gaddafi and Libya, Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," "Assad's use of chemical weapons," the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Yemen, Pakistan, China, Russian invasions, World War II, World War I, Vietnam War, overthrows of Latin American governments, Ukraine, Spanish/American war, and on, and on.

All of these lies have been exposed, but the facts have been kept from the vast majority of Americans. Historians such as Howard Zinn in his book, A People's History of the United States, and Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick in their book, The Untold History of the United States, attempted to make Americans more aware of the false reality in which they live, but the small number of voices on the side of truth are simply overwhelmed by a massive propaganda machine.

The reason for the dim future that the United States faces is that explanations are controlled by elites in the interest of their agendas. There is no independent media except on the Internet, and that media is being overwhelmed by the numerous elite-sponsored websites.

Many Americans are too mentally and emotionally weak to come to grips with the possibility that the events of September 11, 2001, were a false flag attack orchestrated in order to serve agendas hidden from the American people. They are much more comfortable not to look at the evidence and simply dismiss it as a "conspiracy theory."

The families of those killed in the twin towers made a stink about the unexplained total failure of US national security. No one was held accountable for the amazing security breaches and dysfunction of the national security state. Washington tried to buy off the families with money, but only partially succeeded. The "Jersey Girls" helped to rally impacted families. After one year of stonewalling their demands for an investigation, the White House finally agreed to a political investigation and appointed the 9/11 Commission, which avoided a forensic investigation.

In contrast to the families who lost members in the twin towers, I have never heard anything about a similar organization of families of those who died in the hijacked airliners. Perhaps they are included in the 9/11 Family Steering Committee. If so, they must have been silent members. I have not come across any sign of them demanding explanations. It is almost as if they don't exist.

Those who know that they have been lied to about Septermer 11, 2001, are still trying to get truthful answers. A report on their latest efforts can be found here.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments.

U.S. Homelessness & Law

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats hate Trump’s plan for homelessness. But it’s their plan, too., Chris Herring (Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California at Berkeley). Sept. 22, 2019 (print ed.). Liberal cities have treated homelessness like a crime for years. President Trump arrived in California on Tuesday night and declared that Los Angeles and San Francisco will “destroy themselves” if they don’t clear out homeless encampments that threaten to ruin the “prestige” of our “best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

Trump has directed aides to launch a major crackdown on homelessness in California, which could involve removing people residing on California’s streets. It all seems to echo Trump’s attempted crackdowns on undocumented immigrants in liberal “sanctuary cities,” this time applied to another marginalized group in Democratic strongholds. The president often blames Democrats for sustained poverty and crime in major cities, and he’s used typically stigmatizing language to describe homelessness: “You take a look at what’s going on with San Francisco, it’s terrible,” he told Fox News recently. “. . . We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It’s inappropriate. Now, we have to take the people and do something.”

But the residents and leaders of these liberal cities are also intolerant of the unhoused. On the West Coast, criminalizing homelessness is already policy orthodoxy — even among those who are part of the vanguard of the anti-Trump resistance.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spokesman called on Trump to put “serious solutions, with real investment, on the table,” rather than just divisive rhetoric.

But as mayor of San Francisco, Newsom pushed a successful ballot initiative to make it illegal to sit or lie on city sidewalks. State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who said this month that Trump should “back off,” co-sponsored a successful ballot initiative that bars camping in public spaces in his hometown. San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that “simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing people need is not a real solution.” Meanwhile, during her term, the city’s police department has increased the number of officers assigned to addressing homeless complaints from 24 to 58, while also raising the number of sanitation workers dedicated to sweeping encampments. Voters in these liberal cities not only continually pass these laws, they call on the police to enforce them. In 2017, San Francisco police were dispatched nearly 100,000 times for caller complaints of homeless concerns.

More On Ukraine

Palmer Report, Opinion: The 2020 election is going to come down to this one thing, Bill Palmer, Sept. 22, 2019. For all of the twists and turns and antics and shenanigans in the 2016 election, it ultimately all came down to one factor: the mainstream media uniformly pretended that the Hillary Clinton email scandal – a partisan farce cooked up by the Republicans in Congress and furthered by Republican buffoons like James Comey – was an actual Hillary Clinton scandal. Nothing else ultimately made a difference.

bill palmer report logo headerYou want proof? Despite all the Russian meddling, all the voter suppression, all the primary squabbles, and everything else that took place, Clinton was still comfortably ahead in the polls with two weeks to go. Then Comey wrote a letter which falsely implied that Clinton was under investigation over her emails, and the media treated that letter as if it were truthful even though they all knew it wasn’t, and suddenly Clinton’s lead in the polls fell to just a few points. That turned out to be a small enough lead that Trump was able to win the electoral college despite losing the popular vote by those few points.

If the media hadn’t spent the election trying to score cheap and easy ratings by pretending that a fake scandal about the 2016 frontrunner was real, Trump wouldn’t be in the White House right now. Yes, that election is in the past and can’t be changed. But it matters greatly, because here we are in 2020, and a fake scandal about the frontrunner is once again front and center. This time the frontrunner is Joe Biden, and the scandal is the Ukraine thing, but we’re seeing history rhyming with itself in haunting fashion.

So what’s this election going to come down to? Thus far the mainstream media – or at least the outlets that matter – are almost uniformly treating the Ukraine thing as a Trump criminal scandal, while giving no credence to the phony Biden scandal that Trump manufactured. Trump has gone to extraordinary (and criminal) lengths to try to give legs to the fake Biden scandal, and you can see his exasperation right now as he whines on Twitter that the media isn’t doing his bidding for him.

It ultimately doesn’t matter how Fox News covers this; those folks are going to vote a certain way no matter what. It matters how CNN, the New York Times, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and other respectable major news outlets cover it. That’s the audience who will decide the election. If these news outlets get desperate for ratings and begin pretending the fake Biden scandal is real, or start treating it as a “Trump said, Biden said” situation without bothering to include the facts about who’s lying, then voters will be misled into staying home instead of turning out for Biden – just as they were misled into staying home in 2016 instead of turning out for Clinton.

This scenario also pretty much holds true if someone other than Joe Biden ends up being the 2020 Democratic nominee. The good news is that, while the media’s truthfulness about the Trump-Ukraine scandal will largely decide the next election, the media doesn’t necessarily decide how it gets to cover the scandal. If you see a major news outlet drifting toward pretending that the real Trump-Ukraine scandal is fake, or that the fake Biden-Ukraine scandal is real, you can pressure that news outlet into coming back toward the truth by turning the channel and then letting them know on social media why you did it. The 2020 election will come down to one thing: you.

Sept. 21

Trump Scandal Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump, Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate president’s rivals, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne, Michael Kranish and David L. Stern, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). New revelations about President Trump’s efforts to influence Ukraine are fueling questions about whether he used his office to try to force a foreign country to take actions to damage his political opponents.

  • Trump pressed Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden’s son, people familiar with the matter say
  • Trump’s rhetoric will have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers, legal experts say
  • The Debrief: How Trump tries to quell controversies by saying the quiet part out loud
  • Analysis: 9 questions about the whistleblower complaint, answered

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s freeze on Ukraine aid draws fresh attention, Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats question whether President Trump withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine’s new leader to investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s son.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump threw huge money at Ukraine last week in last ditch effort to bury whistleblower scandal, Bill Palmer, Sept. 21, 2019. By now it’s become clear that Donald Trump blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for Ukraine, while asking the president of Ukraine to help promote a phony scandal about Joe Biden. This was a bill palmer report logo headertreasonous attempt at conspiring with a foreign entity to rig the 2020 election.

Here’s the kicker: last week, just it was becoming clear that Trump’s treasonous act was about to become public, he actually did provide that funding.

ray mcgovern hsConsortium News, Opinion: If the Facts Come Out, it Could Spell the End for Joe Biden, Ray McGovern, right, Sept. 21, 2019. The Establishment media is in a frenzy about what they hope will be the downfall of Trump, but if the facts come out, it could be the downfall of Joe Biden instead.

The stakes are extremely high, Biden is vulnerable, and media players are using to a faretheewell the old adage about the best defense being a good offense. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal are desperately trying to steal the ball and get ahead in the publicity game. But time is about to run out, and pre-emptive propaganda is unlikely to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. IF the facts do come out and IF they are reported, Biden’s presidential hopes may suffer a mortal blow.

Campaign 2020

washington post logojoe biden headshotWashington Post, Scrutiny over Trump’s Ukraine scandal may hurt Biden’s campaign, Matt Viser, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). The issue is inextricably linked to the Democratic front-runner’s son, pushing one of the topics that Joe Biden is least comfortable discussing into the spotlight.

More U.S. Troops To Support Royals

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. to send more troops to Saudi Arabia after attacks on oil facilities, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper emphasized that the deployments were defensive in nature and in response to requests from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help protect “critical infrastructure.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders President Trump to testify in 2015 lawsuit, Colby Itkowitz and Rosalind Helderman, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). A New York City judge ordered that President Trump give testimony in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were assaulted by Trump’s security during the 2016 campaign. In a court filing Friday, the President Donald Trump officialjudge ordered that Trump sit for a videotaped deposition and provide testimony that can be used at trial in the case.

Supreme Court Judge Doris M. Gonzalez of the Bronx wrote that Trump’s testimony is “indispensable” to the case, in which the men are arguing that the Trump Organization and Trump himself should be held liable for the actions of security guards who were working for the company.

The underlying lawsuit was brought in 2015 by a group of men who alleged that they were roughed up by security guards working for Trump while protesting the then-presidential candidate’s views on immigration on a public sidewalk outside Trump Tower in New York.

Global News: China

ny times logoNew York Times, A Crackdown on Islam Is Spreading Across China, Steven Lee Myers, Sept. 21, 2019. A secret Communist Party directive has led to restrictions on Islamic practices far from Xinjiang, the western region where Uighurs have been brutally repressed. In China’s northwest, the government is stripping the most overt expressions of the Islamic faith from a picturesque valley where most residents are devout Muslims. The authorities have destroyed domes and minarets on mosques, including one in a small village near Linxia, a city known as “Little Mecca.”

china flag SmallSimilar demolitions have been carried out in Inner Mongolia, Henan and Ningxia, the homeland of China’s largest Muslim ethnic minority, the Hui. In the southern province of Yunnan, three mosques were closed. From Beijing to Ningxia, officials have banned the public use of Arabic script.

This campaign represents the newest front in the Chinese Communist Party’s sweeping rollback of individual religious freedoms, after decades of relative openness that allowed more moderate forms of Islam to blossom. The harsh crackdown on Muslims that began with the Uighurs in Xinjiang is spreading to more regions and more groups.

It is driven by the party’s fear that adherence to the Muslim faith could turn into religious extremism and open defiance of its rule. Across China, the party is now imposing new restrictions on Islamic customs and practices, in line with a confidential party directive, parts of which have been seen by The New York Times.

U.S. Civil Rights Threats

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why the Whistle-Blowing Process Is Breaking Down, Stephen I. Vladeck (professor at the University of Texas School of Law), Sept. 21, 2019. The separation of powers has become increasingly subservient to the separation of parties.

ny times logoNew York Times, Secret F.B.I. Subpoenas Scoop Up Personal Data From Companies, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Sept. 21, 2019 (print ed.). The practice, which the bureau says is vital to counterterrorism efforts, casts a much wider net than previously disclosed, newly released documents show. The F.B.I. has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from far more companies than previously disclosed, newly released documents show.

fbi logoThe requests, which the F.B.I. says are critical to its counterterrorism efforts, have raised privacy concerns for years but have been associated mainly with tech companies. Now, records show how far beyond Silicon Valley the practice extends — encompassing scores of banks, credit agencies, cellphone carriers and even universities.

The demands can scoop up a variety of information, including usernames, locations, IP addresses and records of purchases. They don’t require a judge’s approval and usually come with a gag order, leaving them shrouded in secrecy. Fewer than 20 entities, most of them tech companies, have ever revealed that they’ve received the subpoenas, known as national security letters.

The documents, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and shared with The New York Times, shed light on the scope of the demands — more than 120 companies and other entities were included in the filing — and raise questions about the effectiveness of a 2015 law that was intended to increase transparency around them.

Global News: ISIS

New York Post, Opinion, Why isn’t the media covering Turkish President Erdogan’s ties to ISIS, Kenneth R. Timmerman, Sept. 21, 2019. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pitched his tent at New York’s glitzy Peninsula Hotel this week, where he will be dining (but not wining) American Muslim leaders on the sidelines of UN meetings.

During his 2017 New York visit, Erdogan met with then-freshman U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). This past July, state-run media chiefs called on Turks around the world to donate to her re-election campaign, which is illegal if they are not U.S. citizens or green-card holders.

But what should disturb Americans most about Erdogan is not his efforts to influence Congress, his abysmal record as a jailer of journalists, his genocidal war against the Kurds, or even the $100 million mosque he has constructed in Lanham, Maryland.

It’s Erdogan’s commitment to global jihad, and specifically, to ISIS terrorists. Since 2012, the Turkish intelligence service, MIT, under Erdogan’s direction, has been providing resources and material assistance to ISIS, while Turkish Customs officials turned a blind eye to ISIS recruits flowing across Turkey’s borders into Syria and Iraq.

Scores of ISIS fighters captured by pro-U.S. Kurdish forces in northern Syria showed Turkish exit stamps on their passports, and otherwise boasted of the direct assistance they had received from Turkish authorities.

“Turkish intelligence knows everything,” one captured ISIS fighter told his Kurdish captors recently.

Many former ISIS fighters have now joined the Turkish-backed forces that have occupied the Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin, where they have engaged in ethnic cleansing.

Two Turkish intelligence officers, captured by Kurdish guerilla fighters in northern Iraq in 2017, provided insider accounts of Turkish government assistance to ISIS and other jihadi groups operating in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey’s assistance to ISIS starts right at the top. In 2016, Wikileaks published an archive of 58,000 emails documenting the involvement of Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, in helping ISIS market oil stolen from Syria and Iraq.

Sept. 20

Trump Scandal Watch

washington post logovolodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotWashington Post, Whistleblower complaint about Trump involves Ukraine, say people familiar with the matter, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 20, 2019 (print ed.). The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that President Trump made. Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right.

• Washington Post, Giuliani admits to asking Ukraine about Joe Biden after denying it 30 seconds earlier

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Congress doesn’t have a lot of options to get this whistleblower complaint, Amber Phillips, Sept. 20, 2019. Very few people know the substance of the whistleblower complaint regarding President Trump, a “promise” to a foreign leader and Ukraine. Congress wants to know. According to protocol for these kinds of things, they should.

But that may never happen. Everything about this whistleblower complaint is so outside the procedural norms that there isn’t a recourse for Congress if the administration won’t follow the rules and hand the information over, says Molly Claflin, chief oversight counsel at American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, and a former Senate aide for Democrats.

First, the rules: When someone files a complaint with the inspector general for U.S. intelligence agencies, the inspector general determines whether it is credible and urgent. If it matches those descriptions, that person shares it with the corresponding intelligence committees in Congress.

But the inspector general in this case, Michael Atkinson, told Congress that his boss, Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, isn’t allowing him to share it with the intelligence committees.

That has Democrats in Congress concerned that people in the highest levels of government are trying to keep this secret to protect Trump.

Claflin said it’s unprecedented for the nation’s top intelligence official to prevent the intelligence community’s watchdog from alerting Congress about what he deems an “urgent” and credible complaint. It’s unprecedented for the complaint to be about the president and for the potential retaliation to come from the president or people within his orbit. There just aren’t rules for how Congress can deal with this.

“Whistleblower rules are not set up this way,” Claflin said. “The idea of whistleblower protection rules is that the agency wants to do the right thing, and there may be a middleman bad actor who is causing problems for employees down the line. But we are dealing with the pinnacle of the U.S. government, the president is the potential retaliator in question here. And that’s a real problem, and I don’t think the laws go anywhere close to being able to deal with that.”

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Washington Post, For border wall, officials consider diverting billions more in military funds, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 20, 2019 (print ed.). Internal projections show that the president’s goal of completing nearly 500 miles of new barriers by the 2020 election will require $18.4 billion, far more than the administration has publicly disclosed.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Roy Cohn Is How We Got Trump, Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 20, 2019. From McCarthyism to the mob to Trump, Cohn enabled evil. Why did elites embrace him?

djt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizNear the beginning of “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” the new documentary about the lawyer and power broker who mentored Donald Trump, an interviewee says, “Roy Cohn’s contempt for people, his contempt for the law, was so evident on his face that if you were in his presence, you knew you were in the presence of evil.” He wasn’t being hyperbolic.

The film, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, will likely be of wide interest because of how Cohn [shown at left with the future president in a photo by Sonia Moskowitz via Altimeter Films] helps explain Trump. In the attorney’s life, you can see the strange ease with which a sybaritic con man fit in with crusading social reactionaries. You see the glee Cohn derived from being an exception to the rules he enforced on weaker people.

From him, Trump learned how, when he was in trouble, to change the subject by acting outrageously, to never apologize and always stay on the offense. When the Justice Department claimed that apartment buildings owned by the Trump family were discriminating against black renters, it was Cohn’s idea to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump panicked and asked president of Ukraine eight times in a row to help Rudy Giuliani rig the 2020 election, Bill Palmer, Sept. 20, 2019. djt rudy giuliani CustomAfter it was reported last night that the whistleblower report documented Donald Trump’s failed attempt to get the president of Ukraine to help him promote a phony Joe Biden scandal, and thus alter the outcome of the 2020 election, Rudy Giuliani went on CNN and directly confessed to having been involved in the plot. Now a new layer to the bombshell reveals just how desperate Trump truly was to get Ukraine to work with Giuliani.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump asked the president of Ukraine eight times in a row to work with Rudy Giuliani on the fake Biden scandal, according to someone familiar with the phone call, as reported today by the Wall Street Journal. This person does not recall Trump having promised anything in return, but that’s neither here nor there.

The mere specter of the President of the United States attempting to conspire with a foreign leader, to sabotage a U.S. election, is a serious felony. And by attempting to conspire with a foreign leader to rig his own reelection, Trump committed the ugliest crime against the United States in the nation’s history.

This also serves to demonstrate just how desperate Donald Trump is as his 2020 poll numbers get even worse, and how recklessly sloppy he’s become now that most of his 2016 henchmen are gone and Rudy Giuliani can’t get the job done by himself. Trump made the mistake of putting his own fingerprints on this treason scandal, and the whistleblower has documented those fingerprints. This also means Rudy is screwed beyond belief, as he’s at the center of a treason plot, and he’s not covered by any sort of executive privilege. Also, because this is a criminal plot between the two of them, Trump and Rudy aren’t covered by attorney-client privilege.

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Attack on Saudis Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf, David D. Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard, updated Sept. 20, 2019. America’s hesitation to take military action may signal a weakening of its commitment and could embolden Iran. The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and mohammed bin salman al saudreinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

Climate Change / Protest

climate change photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Young People Take to Streets in Global Climate Protest, Somini Sengupta, Sept. 20, 2019. Anxious about their future on a hotter planet, angry at world leaders for failing to arrest the crisis, thousands of young people began pouring into the streets on Friday for a day of global climate protest.

“I fight for climate justice action because everyone deserves a safe future, which is something our government is not supporting yet,” said Niamh O’Connor Smith, 17, who addressed the crowd in Melbourne, Australia, at one of the first global rallies. “Together, we will change that.”

More than 100,000 protested in Melbourne, in what organizers said was the largest climate action in the country’s history. The rally shut down key public transport corridors for hours.

Rarely, if ever, has the modern world witnessed a youth movement so large and wide, spanning across societies rich and poor, tied together by a common if inchoate sense of rage.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, De Blasio Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Contest, Jeffery C. Mays, Sept. 20, 2019. Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor whose campaign was seen as a long shot and often described as quixotic, never gained traction. Bill de Blasio, left, the mayor of New York City who entered the Democratic presidential race on the premise that his brand of urban progressive leadership could appeal on a national scale, said on Friday that he was ending his candidacy.

bill de blasioMr. de Blasio’s announcement came as it became clear he was unlikely to qualify for the fourth Democratic debate next month, cementing the notion that he lacked the support and funds to sustain his bid.

“I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary campaign, and it’s clearly not my time,” he said in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’m going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City, and I’m going to keep speaking up for working people.”

democratic donkey logoMr. de Blasio focused his campaign on trying to improve the lives of those working people, proposing a “workers’ Bill of Rights” to guarantee Americans paid time off and medical leave, and vowing to “tax the hell” out of the wealthy to pay for it.

There are 19 Democrats left in the presidential race.

He tried to position himself as the most suitable Democrat to take on President Trump, given his familiarity with Mr. Trump as a real estate magnate in New York. Mr. de Blasio branded the president “Con Don,” and highlighted how he had already fought the Trump administration on everything from climate change to immigration. None of it worked.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell hits the panic button as Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal explodes, Bill Palmer, Sept. 20, 2019. Just how thoroughly has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell been playing for Team Trump and Team Putin? This summer, McConnell single handedly blocked legislation that would have provided funding to protect the 2020 election against foreign interference from Russia and other bad actors. It became such a huge scandal, McConnell picked up the name “Moscow Mitch.”

bill palmer report logo headerThen came the events of the past few days. A whistleblower report has revealed that Donald Trump has been making inappropriate promises to world leaders, in an apparent last ditch effort at tilting the 2020 election in his favor. One of those leaders is now confirmed to be the president of Ukraine, who reportedly rebuffed Trump’s offer. Another of those leaders is thought to be Vladimir Putin.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedIt’s not difficult to see how this scandal could destroy Donald Trump, and take down everyone trying to protect him, before we even get to the 2020 election. So what is Mitch McConnell doing about it? Today he announced that not only is he going to allow a vote on the 2020 election security bill, he’s now co-sponsoring it.

Mitch McConnell, right, is suddenly screaming, as loudly as he can, that he has nothing to do with whatever 2020 election rigging schemes Donald Trump has gotten caught trying to cook up with world leaders. If you’ve been paying close attention, you know that’s a lie. But there’s a reason McConnell has lasted as long as he has, despite his blatant corruption: he knows when to cut and run. McConnell is suddenly distancing himself from Trump and Putin, just as Trump’s whistleblower scandal is exploding. Looks like Mitch is now betting against Trump surviving this.

Sept. 19

Trump Scandal Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat threatens legal action if intelligence chief doesn’t share whistleblower complaint, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian​, Sept. 19, 2019. House adam schiff squareIntelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the refusal to share the complaint with Congress is “unprecedented.” The Post has reported that the complaint was prompted by President Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader. Trump has denied doing anything improper. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s interaction with foreign leader is part of whistleblower complaint, former U.S. officials say, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, Sept. 19, 2019. The president’s communications with the foreign leader included a “promise” regarded as so troubling that it prompted an intelligence official to file the formal complaint, the officials said.

• Analysis: A timeline surrounding the whistleblower complaint

Justice Integrity Project, 'All That Glitters' Author Shines At National Press Club Talks, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 20, 2019. Maier's new book All That Glitters traces the 1980s rise of Donald Trump in significant part to the magazine world of billionaire S. I. Newhouse Jr. and his editorial team.

In the 1980s, Newhouse fostered Trump's rise via their mutual friendship with Trump mentor Roy Cohn as well as the celebrity journalism practiced by Newhouse editors Anna thomas maier portrait2Wintour and Tina Brown, according to Maier, left, in the book published this month and in a lecture Sept. 19 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The tale unfolds this way in Maier's words:

Wintour and Brown were bold and talented British women who fought their way to the top of this male-dominated American industry driven by greed and betrayal,

Wintour became an icon of fashion and New York’s high society, while Brown helped define the intersection of literary culture and Hollywood celebrity, according to this account: They jockeyed for power in the hypercompetitive “off with their heads” atmosphere set up by Newhouse and his longtime creative guru Alex Liberman, two men who for years controlled the glossy Condé Nast magazines that dictated how women should look, dress, and feel.

Global News: Middle East

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Iran warns U.S. of ‘all-out war’ if attacked, Paul Schemm and Louisa Loveluck, Sept. 19, 2019. The president’s communications with the foreign leader included a “promise” regarded as so troubling that it prompted an intelligence official to file the formal complaint, the official Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in an interview with CNN denied involvement in the attacks on Saudi oil facilities and warned that retaliatory strikes risked causing significant bloodshed.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Gulf conferring with allies to decide on a response.

washington post logoIsrael FlagWashington Post, Israeli election setback has Netanyahu now seeking to share power in a unity government, Ruth Eglash and Steve Hendrix​, Sept. 19, 2019. The prime minister’s rival, Benny Gantz, rejected the offer unless he would be in charge himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, Third incident of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in racist makeup emerges, Amanda Coletta, Hannah Knowles and Reis Thebault, Sept. 19, 2019. The succession of revelations has rocked Trudeau’s campaign as he faces a tough battle for a second term.

Climate Change / Environment

washington post logoWashington Post, North America has lost 3 billion birds in 50 years, Karin Brulliard, Sept. 19, 2019. A sweeping new study says a steep decline in bird abundance, including among common species, amounts to "an overlooked biodiversity crisis." There are 29 percent fewer birds in the United States and Canada today than in 1970, the study concludes. Grassland species have been hardest hit, probably because of agricultural intensification that has engulfed habitats and spread pesticides that kill the insects many birds eat. But the victims include warblers, thrushes, swallows and other familiar birds.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel considers holding Lewandowski in contempt after combative hearing, Rachael Bade, Sept. 19, 2019. A House panel is considering holding Corey Lewandowski in contempt or taking other steps against President Trump's 2016 campaign manager.

washington post logoWashington Post, Legal scholars question White House’s sweeping claim of immunity from congressional oversight, Fred Barbash, Sept. 19, 2019. The letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee by the White House on the subject of Corey Lewandowski’s testimony makes for startling reading. It claims immunity from congressional subpoena for the following list of people and classes of information:

Aides to the President Trump, of course, such as Kellyanne Conway, who the White House claims is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.”

People who aren’t aides and have never been aides but have advised the president, such as Lewandowski.

People who may not have been aides or advised the president, but have provided information to him “in connection with the discharge of his duties.”

Communications, not just between the president and his advisers, but between his advisers and anyone else, “relating to information or advice that will inform the discharge of the President’s responsibilities.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s National Security Yes Man Is In for a Bumpy Ride, Jonathan Stevenson (served on the National Security Council staff from 2011 to 2013), robert obrien oSept. 19, 2019 (print ed.). In Robert O’Brien, chosen Wednesday as Mr. Bolton’s replacement, the president seems to have found a compliant, behind-the-scenes worker bee better suited to Mr. Trump’s domineering temperament. His appointment may signal the death knell of any hope to check the president’s worst foreign-policy impulses.

Mr. O’Brien, right, who most recently served as the government’s chief hostage negotiator, wrote a book in 2016 titled “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis.” In it, he lays out a hawkish worldview not all that dissimilar from Mr. Bolton’s. But he has also lavished praise on his boss, declaring that Mr. Trump’s muscular foreign policy had produced “unparalleled success” in freeing American hostages.

Mr. O’Brien’s appointment is likely to mean that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will continue to be the president’s chief foreign policy adviser, a role he usurped from Mr. Bolton. Unfortunately, Secretary Pompeo has succeeded precisely because he seems to have few if any principles that he won’t suppress for the sake of holding and wielding executive power. The Ed McMahon of American foreign policy, he is smart enough to be in on the Trump joke, doesn’t care that it’s not funny and laughs anyway.

washington post logomitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedWashington Post, In turnaround, McConnell backs $250 million in election security funding, Felicia Sonmez and Erica Werner​, Sept. 19, 2019. McConnell, right, had been derided by Democrats as “Moscow Mitch” for repeatedly blocking efforts to combat Russian interference in U.S. elections.

U.S. Supreme Court / Kavanaugh

National Press Club, New York Times reporters tell NPC audience Justice Kavanaugh asked them to lie in exchange for an interview, Eleanor Herman, Sept. 19, 2019. New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly revealed at a National Press Club Headliners event Wednesday that their new book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,” does not include an interview with the Supreme Court justice because he asked them to lie in exchange for the interview.

Robin Pogrebin, left, and Kate Kelly (Lorin Klaris photo).Shortly before the book went to print, Pogrebin (left) and Kelly said Kavanaugh agreed to speak with them but only on the condition that the book expressly state they had not done so. Unwilling to lie, they canceled the interview, even though they were already on their way to Washington to conduct it.

The reporters said they wrote the book to provide closure to the Supreme Court confirmation process that a year ago so roiled the nation. Ironically, the publication of their book has roiled it even more.

The goal, the reporters said, was to present a thoroughly investigated, fair and balanced exploration of the FBI investigation, which many Americans saw as rushed and incomplete, and of the man himself.

“We tried to establish how to get the two pictures of Brett Kavanaugh, and how to reconcile them,” Kelly said.

robin progrebin kate kelly kavanaugh coverThe reporters described an abbreviated FBI investigation with parameters set by the president. Agents interviewed 10 carefully selected witnesses out of dozens. Some of Kavanaugh’s classmates who called the FBI to provide information found themselves on hold all day.

The most dramatic testimony of last year’s confirmation hearings was that of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified that a drunken, teenage Kavanaugh had pinned her to a bed and tried to rip off her clothes before she broke free. Pogrebin and Kelly investigated an allegation by fellow Yale student Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a drunken party in the 1983-84 academic year. They found her allegation to be credible, as it had been discussed by at least seven classmates years before he became a federal judge.

The team also found no allegations of bad behavior after Kavanaugh graduated college. Pogrebin said, “Let’s say he did these things at 17 or 18. Are they disqualifying if he had exemplary conduct ever since? Did he make a conscious effort to improve himself?”

The reporters said they reached no conclusions themselves because they wanted the readers to do so. They added that Kavanaugh was highly respected in legal circles by Republicans and Democrats alike and, over the years, strived to hire, mentor, and promote women.

While researching the book, they uncovered yet another allegation of assault at a drunken party, as reported by a witness. The new controversy erupted last week when Pogrebin and Kelly’s op-ed in the Times did not mention a crucial piece of information: that the alleged victim said she could not remember anything about the assault.

As a result, President Trump last week called for the mass resignations of New York Times staffers for the good of the nation, while some Democrats called for Kavanaugh's impeachment. A New York Times tweet seeming to make fun of sexual assault—which was soon deleted—stirred up yet more controversy.

Kelly explained that the op-ed was a highly condensed excerpt of the book focusing on Ramirez's story, and they thought it made sense to mention the new, similar allegation. Their first draft stated that the victim claimed to have no memory of the event, but an editor, wanting to protect the identity of an alleged sexual assault victim, removed not only her name but the entire sentence.

fbi logoThe full story of the new allegation is in the book, so the reporters said they had no intention of hiding that aspect.

“It’s hard when you put such effort into being balanced and fair and get caught up in taking a line out of an op-ed or a really bad tweet," Pogrebin said. "I hope we can get past it so people will consider it with an open mind.”

More On Whistleblower Dispute

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump disputes report that his interaction with foreign leader prompted whistleblower complaint, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 19, 2019  President Trump disputed a Washington Post report Thursday that his interaction with a foreign leader had prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint, saying it was inconceivable that he would say anything inappropriate on a heavily monitored phone call.

“Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just jumped the treason shark, Bill Palmer, Sept. 19, 2019. What matters is how the average American – in the court of public opinion – views the concept of treason. And in that regard, Trump just jumped the shark.

bill palmer report logo headerThe trouble with the Mueller report is that it documented hundreds of pages of Donald Trump’s people colluding with the Russian government in ways which could not possibly have been above board – but there was no smoking gun. Moreover, no one outside of the politically dedicated crowd bothered to read it, and Mueller’s testimony didn’t have the impact some were hoping.

But now we’re looking at something entirely different.

Consumers / Health

washington post logoWashington Post, FDA reveals criminal probe of vaping products as number of people sickened hits 530, Lena H. Sun, Sept. 19, 2019. At least seven people have died from a mysterious vaping-related lung illness. The enforcement arm of the Food and Drug Administration has been conducting a probe of the supply chain since illnesses were first reported earlier this summer.

washington post logopurdue pharma logoWashington Post, Purdue Pharma, facing lawsuits and bankruptcy, wants to pay ‘certain employees’ $34 million in bonuses, Peter Whoriskey​, Sept. 19, 2019. As plaintiffs seek billions from the pharmaceutical giant, it’s attorneys told a judge that the company “is not an easy place to work right now.”

U.S. Media News

NBC News, Pence taps former DHS press aide as new press secretary, Leigh Ann Caldwell,Sept. 19, 2019. Vice President Mike Pence, right, has hired Katie Waldman to be his new press secretary, NBC News has learned. Waldman, who is currently communications director for Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., previously served as the public defender of the Trump administration’s policy of family separations as deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

mike pence oWaldman, 27, will replace Alyssa Farah who left earlier this month to be a spokeswoman at the Department of Defense. Waldman is an aggressive and sometimes polarizing communicator but has proven to be a loyal advocate for the Trump administration and its policies.

During her nearly two-year stint at DHS, she was given the agency’s immigration portfolio and empowered to be the lead spokesperson. She consistently defended the administration’s policy of “zero tolerance” that led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents after crossing the southern border. That experience has proven that she is battle-tested several allies of Waldman told NBC News.

Waldman will be reporting directly to Short. She’ll be the on-the-record spokesperson for the vice president during a critical time as the president and vice president head into an election year.

More On Middle East

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: The Crisis Over The Attack On Saudi Oil Infrastructure Is Over -- We Now Wait For the Next One, B, Sept. 19, 2019. The Saudis and the U.S. accuse Iran of being behind the "act of war" as Secretary of State Pompeo called it. The Saudis have bombed Yemen with U.S. made bombs since 2015. One wonders how Pompeo is calling that.

The Yemeni forces aligned with the Houthi Ansarallah do not deny that their drones and cruise missiles are copies of Iranian designs. But they insist that they are built in Yemen and fired from there.

President Trump will not launch a military attack against Iran. Neither will the Saudis or anyone else. Iran has deterred them by explaining that any attack on Iran will be responded to by waging all out war against the U.S. and its 'allies' around the Persian Gulf.

mike pompeo state dept photoTrump sent Pompeo, left, to Saudi Arabia to hold hands with the Saudi gangster family who call themselves royals. Pompeo of course tried to sell them more weapons. On his flight back he had an uncharacteristically dovish Q & A with reporters. Pompeo said:

"I was here in an act of diplomacy. While the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American, we’re here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution to this. That’s my mission set, what President Trump certainly wants me to work to achieve, and I hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way. There’s no evidence of that from his statement, but I hope that that’s the case."

The crisis is over and we are back to waiting for the next round. A few days or weeks from now we will see another round of attacks on oil assets on the western side of the Persian Gulf. Iran, with the help of its friends, can play this game again and again and it will do so until the U.S. gives up and lifts the sanctions against that country.

The Houthi will continue to attack the Saudis until they end their war on Yemen and pay reparations.

As long as no U.S. forces get killed the U.S. will not hit back because Trump wants to be reelected. An all-out war around the Persian Gulf would drive energy prices into the stratosphere and slump the global economy. His voters would not like that.

In our earlier pieces on the Abqaiq attack, we said that the attacked crude oil stabilization plant in Abquaq had no air defense. Some diligent researchers have since found that there was a previously unknown Patriot air-defense unit in the area which was itself protected by several short range air-defense cannons:

Satellites with synthetic-aperture radar can 'see' the radar of Patriot and other air-defense system. None was detected around Abqaiq.

The explanation for that is likely rather trivial. Colonel Pat Lang was stationed in Saudi Arabia as a military liaison officer. As he recently remarked:

Never underestimate the feckless laziness of the Saudis. In my experience they turn off all ATC and air defense systems that require manning or watch keeping when they find them inconvenient, as on the weekend. IMO if Ansarallah did this they will do something similar soon to prove they are responsible. Abqaiq was attacked on the night of Friday to Saturday. That is the weekend in Saudi Arabia.

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, The Question Posed by Trump’s Phone Call, David Frum, Sept. 19, 2019. A whistle-blower complaint raises the possibility that President Trump has betrayed the duties of his office. On the 20th of July 1787, Gouverneur Morris rose inside the stiflingly hot Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, to explain why he had changed his mind and now favored including a power of impeachment in the constitutional text. Until that point, he and others had feared that an impeachment power would leave the president too dependent on Congress. He had thought that the prospect of reelection defeat would offer a sufficient control on presidential wrongdoing.

Foreign corruption inducing treason was the core impeachable offense in the eyes of the authors of the Constitution.

djt phone plane shealah craighead whWhich is why a whistle-blower report filed with the inspector general for the intelligence community, reportedly concerning an improper “promise” by President Donald Trump to a foreign leader, has jolted Congress.

Trump has been engaged in improper contacts with foreign governments for years, and built deep business relationships with foreign nationals. Russian assistance helped elect him. Money from wealthy Russians reportedly helped keep his businesses alive from 2006 to 2016. Since 2016, more and more foreign money has flowed Trump’s way. Trump literally has a hotel open on Pennsylvania Avenue to accept payments—there’s a big carpet in front, his name on the door, nothing even remotely clandestine about the flow of corruption. That corruption seeks returns. Again and again, Trump has acted in ways that align with the interests of foreign states, raising questions about his motives.

Earlier in the constitutional debates—back when he still opposed an impeachment provision—Morris argued that a corrupt or treasonable president “can do no criminal act without Coadjutors who may be punished.” Trump is surrounded by coadjutors, yet so far all are acting with impunity, joined now by the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who is withholding from Congress the apparently explosive information.

Sept. 18

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert O’Brien Is Named National Security Adviser, Peter Baker, Sept. 18, 2019. President Trump on Wednesday selected Robert C. O’Brien, the State robert obrien oDepartment’s chief hostage negotiator, to become his national security adviser, moving to reconstitute his foreign policy staff even as he faces rising tension with Iran.

In choosing Mr. O’Brien, right, to replace John R. Bolton, who left the White House last week, the president chose a Los Angeles lawyer who had impressed him with his work to extricate Americans detained by countries like North Korea and Turkey. But it is not clear how different his advice will be from his predecessor given that Mr. O’Brien previously worked for Mr. Bolton and has cited his hawkish views in the past.

Mr. Trump announced the selection on Twitter shortly after saying he would also “substantially increase Sanctions” on Iran after weekend attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that officials in Washington and the region have blamed on the Tehran government.

Mr. Trump, who is in California for a second day of campaign fund-raising, offered no elaboration on how sanctions could be increased, but the move may have been a way of offering a tough response to the attacks in Saudi Arabia without necessarily using military force. His statement came shortly after he retweeted a message defending his decision this summer to call off an airstrike on Iran.

New York Times, Trump Orders New Sanctions on Iran After Saudi Attacks, Sept. 18, 2019. The news came as Iran’s president said he might skip a U.N. gathering, blaming U.S. obstacles. Saudi Arabia prepared to release what it said was evidence of Tehran’s responsibility for airstrikes.

Inside DC: 'Fatal' Error?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It was chaos, and then a real lawyer showed up, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 18, 2019.Corey Lewandowski sneered and dodged and raised phony jennifer rubin new headshotprivileges when questioned by members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He did, however, make a fatal error (fatal to President Trump, that is) when he repeatedly said the White House had instructed him not to answer questions.

After the hearing, Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN: “Article 3 of Nixon’s impeachment was obstruction of Congress, refusing to obey defined congressional subpoenas, pleading imaginary privileges. And obviously that’s what the president has been doing.” In short, Lewandowski’s own conduct provided djt corey lewandowskievidence of obstruction.

The real excitement came, however, after the media decided it was all chaos and Democrats had accomplished nothing. Democrats’ counsel Barry Berke got 30 minutes to question Lewandowski (shown at left in a file photo) and made the most of it. In short, Berke made perfectly clear that Lewandowski’s actions (refusing to deliver Trump’s instructions, demanding immunity, lying on TV, creating no record) demonstrated he knew he was being asked to do something wrong or illegal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Corey Lewandowski tells the truth (gasp!) about lying to the news media, Paul Farhi, Sept. 18, 2019. Caught lying to the media, Corey Lewandowski did something Tuesday that few, if any, political types have ever done: He publicly admitted he lies to the media. In effect, he was honest about being dishonest.

During an interview on MSNBC in February, Lewandowski, President Trump’s former campaign manager, said, “I don’t ever remember the president ever asking me to get involved with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way, shape or form ever.”

Which is not what Lewandowski told special counsel Robert S. Mueller III under oath in 2017. Lewandowski said then that Trump had instructed him twice to tell Sessions, then the attorney general, to curtail Mueller’s investigation of Trump, and Lewandowski failed to do so, perhaps saving Trump from an overt act of obstructing justice.

So how to square the two conflicting statements? During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Lewandowski said something that sparked an audible reaction from onlookers in the hearing room: “I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they’re just as dishonest as anyone else.”

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran warns U.S. of ‘broad’ retaliation in case of any attack, Paul Schemm, Sept. 18, 2019. Iran warned the United States that it would broadly retaliate against any attacks in the wake of crippling strikes on the Saudi oil industry over the weekend, Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday. The message, which was sent via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran that handles U.S. affairs in the country, condemned remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials linking Iran with the attacks on a Saudi oil field and processing facility.

“Iran’s response will be prompt and strong, and it may include broader areas than the source of attacks,” the Mehr News Agency reported the official note as saying. Iran’s Fars News Agency said any response would be “rapid and crushing” and target “more extensive areas than the origin of the attack.” There have long been fears that Iranian proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere might attack U.S. forces in the region.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel’s two main parties locked in dead heat as negotiations begin for a new government, James McAuley and Ruth Eglash, Sept. 18, 2019. Both main parties in Israel’s do-over election were locked in a dead heat on Wednesday, with more than 90 percent of the vote tallied. The inconclusive result was almost certain to trigger weeks of political infighting, the same uncertainty that set this unusual process in motion in the first place.

As the results continued to trickle in, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s ruling Likud party, and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, head of the centrist secular Blue and White faction, immediately began jockeying for the endorsement of smaller parties whose support could propel either one to a ruling majority of 61 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The two parties have an estimated 32 seats each in the new parliament.

At the center of the stage was the unlikely figure of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who in the coming days will offer either Netanyahu or Gantz the first chance at forming a government. Rivlin gave no indication as to which way he would go, but he had already chosen Netanyahu after a similar inconclusive vote in April.

New Claim Against Epstein

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s alleged abuse of teenage girl detailed in lawsuit against his estate executors, Devlin Barrett​, Sept. 18, 2019. The woman, identified as ‘Victim-1’ and ‘Jane Doe,’ says financier Jeffrey Epstein abused her for three years when she was poor and needed rent money.

A woman who says she is “Victim-1” in the New York indictment against deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein filed suit against the executors of his estate Wednesday, saying he abused her for three years beginning when she was a 14-year-old girl struggling to find a way to help her family pay rent.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, offers new details about Epstein’s interactions with Victim-1, including specifics of the alleged crimes, and how her personal situation made her an easier target. The lawsuit was filed by the woman’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan.

Her sister was sick, and the family had so little money that the girl was forced to move out, staying with “a rotating cast of friends and took odd jobs after school to try to help her family pay rent,” according to the suit.

Around that time, an older girl brought her to Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he would pay her hundreds of dollars for massages that gradually escalated into sex acts with Epstein and others, according to the suit.

The abuse continued until she was 17, and she was sexually assaulted “countless times” in those three years, the lawsuit charges.

Supreme Court Perjury Claim

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Congress Shares the Blame for the Kavanaugh Fiasco, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 18, 2019. When the Republican members of Congress voted in a 50-48 partisan vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, they obviously believed that a quick vote in favor of confirmation would quell the controversy over Kavanaugh’s nomination. The New York Times’s recent publication of an essay raising new evidence of sex-abuse allegations against Kavanaugh has dashed that hope. The article has ignited a firestorm of controversy, with even Democratic presidential candidates making it an issue.

The controversy originated when Christine Blasey Ford, left, a research psychologist at Stanford University, alleged that when she and Kavanaugh were in high school in 1982, he sexually assaulted her during a house party they were both attending. She alleged that he pounced on her on a bed in an upstairs bedroom, attempted to take her clothes christine blasey ford oath uncreditedoff, and held his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

For his part, Kavanaugh heatedly and indignantly denied the allegation and claimed that it was politically motivated.

Some Kavanaugh supporters claimed that it would be unfair to punish him for what they considered was a minor incident in high school. But that really wasn’t the real issue regarding confirmation. The real issue, instead, was whether Kavanaugh had committed perjury in his confirmation hearings with respect to his sworn denials of wrongdoing.

In other words, let’s assume that Kavanaugh, from the very beginning, had acknowledged that he had done what Ford was alleging, expressed genuine remorse for it, and apologized for it. I think very few people would have supported punishing him for a grave error in judgment as a high school student 25 years ago by denying him a seat on the Supreme Court.

That’s not what happened, however. Instead, once Ford made a prima facie case establishing the assault, Kavanaugh, below right, testified under oath that the allegation was false. That immediately raised the possibility that he was committing perjury, which is a grave offense, especially for a lawyer. The last thing that any ethical and competent lawyers would want is a lawyer serving on the Supreme Court who has just recently committed perjury in an official proceeding.

Corroborating evidence

brett kavanaugh flagOne of the points that Kavanaugh supporters and even some in the mainstream press made throughout the controversy — and are still making — is that there was no corroborating evidence to support Ford’s contention. But that simply is untrue. Ford did, in fact, provide corroborating evidence of her allegation to the confirmation committee.

Ford’s corroborating evidence was in the form of what the law calls “prior consistent statements.” I wrote about this type of corroborating evidence in my October 9, 2018, article, “Christine Ford’s Corroborating Evidence.” Therefore, I won’t repeat what I wrote there except to emphasize the point: under the law, prior consistent statements made by a complainant do constitute corroborating evidence of the allegation.

Ford’s prior consistent statements consisted of statements that she made to several people about the alleged Kavanaugh assault. Such statements dated back several years before her appearance before the confirmation committee. In fact, some of them dated back to before President Trump was even elected president.

Sept. 17

Inside DC

C-SPAN 3, U.S. House Judiciary Counsel Berke questions Lewandowski, Sept. 17, 2019 (43:05 min. video). White-collar criminal defense attorney Barry Berke questions former Trump 2016 Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski as a member of the House Judiciary staff.

Palmer Report, Opinion: GOP Congressman Doug Collins completely screws up and has to bail on Corey Lewandowski hearing, Bill Palmer, Sept. 17, 2019. At the end of Corey Lewandowski’s House Judiciary Committee testimony today, the House Democrats trotted out a professional outside counsel to grill Lewandowsk, shown below with Trump, on his lies and conflicting statements. This didn’t come as a surprise; the Democrats said in advance that they’d be doing this. The thing is, the House Republicans ended up being too clever by half, and got caught with their pants down.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins objected to Chairman Jerry Nadler’s use of a professional counsel, because he was technically a consultant and not a “staff” member, as the rules had specified. But Nadler and the Democrats simply overruled him, because that’s how majorities work. Once the outside counsel was done decimating Lewandowski, it was time for the House Republicans to bring out their own staff member to question him.

djt corey lewandowskiThat’s when Doug Collins announced that he was going to be the staff member who would question Lewandowski. Collins seemed almost overjoyed at having pulled off such a stunt – until a few seconds later when Jerry Nadler pointed out that Collins was not a member of his own staff. Collins seemed stunned, and said he needed a minute to discuss things. Nadler granted him a one minute break, and when Collins returned, he stated that he was simply giving up, and that the hearing would end.

How could the House Republicans not have seen this coming? The House Democrats were obviously going to bring out a professional to handle their staff questioning, not a staffer from the mail room. And the Democratic majority was never going to allow Republican Congressman Doug Collins to pretend he was a member of his own staff. The House GOP got caught with its pants down.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Federal employees could face more discipline under proposed new rules, Eric Yoder, Sept. 17, 2019. The guidance would strip away many of the practices agencies have followed in disciplining employees while urging them to move as fast as law allows

 Global News: Iran-Saudis

washington post logoWashington Post, Billions spent on U.S. weapons didn’t protect the Saudis’ most critical oil sites, Adam Taylor, Sept. 17, 2019. The Saturday attack represented an unusually well-planned operation that would have been difficult for even the most well-equipped and experienced countries to detect and neutralize, experts said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Shifts Tone on Iran and Plays Down War Talk After Saudi Strike, Richard Pérez-Peña, David D. Kirkpatrick and Michael Crowley, Sept. 17, 2016 (print ed.). Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, President Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation. Mr. Trump also said that he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran, a notable change from his previous “locked and loaded” comment. Mr. Trump’s response offered insight into his deference to the Saudi royal family.

Global News: Israeli Elections

Israel Flagwashington post logoWashington Post, Polls close in Israeli election with Netanyahu’s political fate in the balance, Steve Hendrix, James McAuley and Ruth Eglash, Sept. 17, 2019.​ Turnout was heavy, and exit polls showed the prime minister's Likud Party tied or narrowly trailing its main rival, the Blue and White Party led by former Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

Global News: Syria

SouthFront, Russia, Turkey And Iran Reinforce Coordination During High-Level Summit In Ankara, Staff and wire reports, Sept. 17, 2019. On Sept. 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met in Ankara as the guarantors of the Astana Process on the settlement in Syria. This was the leader’s fifth meeting.

Following the summit, the three leaders released a joint statement. These are the highlights:

They reviewed the developments since the last meeting in Sochi on February 14th, 2019, reiterating their determination to enhance coordination;

“Emphasized their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. They highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine them”;

Rejected the US recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory and not occupied Syrian territory; and

“Discussed the situation in the north-east of Syria, emphasized that security and stability in this region can only be achieved on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and agreed to coordinate their efforts to this end.

In the sense of the previous statement, the leaders refused any “attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries.” This is likely towards the US-backed Kurdish groups operating in northeastern Syria.

Trump Scandal Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, 8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A., William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Sept. 17, 2019 (print ed.). Investigators demanded President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

President Donald Trump officialThe subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.

The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election.

Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair.

Kavanaugh Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Inaction on Kavanaugh sex misconduct allegations reignites political rancor, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 17, 2019. Democrats are angry about a confirmation process they feel was rushed, while Republicans decry what they view as more attempts to tarnish Brett M. Kavanaugh’s reputation.

Four days before Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the narrowest of margins, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) sent a letter to the FBI, urging “appropriate follow up” on new information he believed was relevant to sexual misconduct allegations made against the nominee.

Then, apparently, not much happened.

Not at the FBI, which assured Coons it had received the letter but did not interview the person whom the senator referred to the bureau. Not in the office of then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), which was copied on the letter that contained few in the way of specifics. And not among Democrats, several of whom had been unaware of the information until a New York Times report this weekend detailed a new alleged incident involving Kavanaugh.

• High court is quiet as allegations agitate White House, Capitol
• Retropolis: Old Bacon Face, the only impeached Supreme Court justice

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The FBI probe into Kavanaugh turns out to be more of a sham than it seemed, Editorial Board, Sept. 17, 2019. This investigative shoddiness was apparently the fault not of the FBI but of Republicans looking for the cover Mr. Flake had claimed he did not want.

fbi logoAt first, they limited the FBI to questioning only four people about two separate allegations. Agents eventually got an expansion of the number of people they could contact — they interviewed 10 — but not an extension of their deadline: a mere week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted that the Senate would vote within days. Under these pressures and limitations, the FBI interviewed few and turned in its report early.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The ultimate nightmare scenario when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Sept. 17, 2019. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a nightmare in every sense of the word. In his confirmation hearings he showed himself to be a mentally unstable, screaming, crying, belligerent lunatic – and that’s before getting to the numerous bill palmer report logo headerallegations of sexual assault against him, along with the felony perjury he committed in plain sight. But there’s a nightmare scenario when it comes to Kavanaugh that could make this whole thing even worse.

Overheated calls from Democrats for Mr. Kavanaugh’s impeachment, like the chilling calls from President Trump for the Justice Department to strike back at accusers, are not productive. But the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General should investigate exactly what marching orders the FBI got and when, and how its agents responded.

More Global News: Iran

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s dual instincts on Iran: Big threats and an eagerness to deal, Anne Gearan, Sept. 17, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has said Iran is the greatest threat in the Middle East, a would-be nuclear power that he has brought low through the stiffest sanctions ever applied to a single nation. He has warned that the United States is “locked and loaded” to punish Iran if it is found to be responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities over the weekend.

But Trump has also eagerly courted a sit-down negotiation with the leader of Iran, called off a military strike earlier this year because it could have killed too many Iranians and flirted with a plan to offer Tehran a $15 billion lifeline to help it deal with the crushing U.S. sanctions.

On Monday in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters “we don’t want war with anybody” and then less than an hour later said he thinks a U.S. military strike on an Iranian oil facility would be a proportional response.

Global News: Indonesia

ny times logoNew York Times, As Amazon Smolders, Indonesia Fires Choke the Other Side of the World,  Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, Sept. 17, 2019. Thousands of fires, most of them set to clear land for plantations that make palm oil, created thick clouds of smoke that disrupted air travel and sickened people,housands of fires, most of them set to clear land for plantations that make palm oil, created thick clouds of smoke that disrupted air travel and sickened people.

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Cokie Roberts, Journalist and Commentator, Is Dead at 75, Neil Genzlinger, Sept. 17, 2019. Cokie Roberts, the pioneering broadcast journalist known to millions for her work with ABC News and NPR, died on Tuesday. She was 75.

ABC News, in a posting on its website Tuesday morning, said the cause was breast cancer. The disease was first diagnosed in 2002. The statement did not say where she died. Ms. Roberts started her career at CBS, then began working for NPR in 1978, covering Capitol Hill. She joined ABC in 1988. Her three decades at the network included anchoring, with Sam Donaldson, the Sunday morning news program “This Week” from 1996 to 2002.

Sept. 16

Global News: Iran-Saudis

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve, Peter Baker and David E. Sanger, Sept. 16, 2019. After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was “locked and loaded,” a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him “under what terms we would proceed.”

His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.

It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.

yemen saudi map 9 15 2019 southfront Custom

Map of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf with notations of recent drone attack sites on Sept. 15, 2019 (Credit: SouthFront.org).

washington post logoWashington Post, Yemen’s Houthi rebels warn of more attacks on Saudi oil facilities; Saudi military says oil site attacks carried out with Iranian weapons, Erin Cunningham, Anne Gearan, Steven Mufson and Kareem Fahim​, Sept. 16, 2019. The threat comes days after the group claimed an assault on a refinery belonging to Saudi Arabia’s national oil company. President Trump had said Sunday the United States was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond.

Reuters, Backgrounder: Saudis, Trump, Tillerson, Ross undertake 'Sword Dance in 2017,' video, May 21, 2017.

saudi arabia refinery attack sites us photos

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Damage At Saudi Oil Plant Points To Well-Targeted Swarm Attack, B, Sept. 16, 2019. Saturday's attack on the Saudi oil and gas processing station in Abqaiq hit its stabilization facility. Abqaiq lies at the heart of the Saudi oil infrastructure. It processes more than half of the Saudi oil output.

The pictures [from the U.S. government, with the more detailed of the two shown above] show some 17 points of impact. There are cars visible in the second, more detailed picture that demonstrate the gigantic size of the place. The targets were carefully selected. At least 11 of those were egg-shaped tanks with a diameter of some 30 meters (100 feet). These are likely tanks for pressurized (liquidized) gas that receive the condensate vapor from the stabilization process. They all have now quite neat holes in their upper shells.

The targeting for this attack was done with detailed knowledge of the process and its dependencies. The north arrow in those pictures points to the left. The visible shadows confirm the direction. The holes in the tanks are on the western side. They were attacked from the west.

The hits were extremely precise. The Yemeni armed forces claimed it attacked the facility with 10 drones (or cruise missiles). But the hits on these targets look like neither. A total of 17 hits with such precise targeting lets me assume that these were some kind of drones or missiles with man-in-the-loop control. There is no information yet on the damage in Khurais, the second target of the attacks.

The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planning for this operation must have taken months.

A Middle-East BBC producer remarks:

Riam Dalati @Dalatrm - 22:44 UTC · Sep 15, 2019

17 points of impact. No Drones or missiles were detected/intercepted. Saudis & Americans still at loss as to where the attack was launched from. #KSA seriously needs to shop elsewhere & replace the Patriot or reinforce it with a web of radar operated AA guns like the Oerlikon.

A source familiar with #Aramco situation told us earlier today that it was a “swarm attack”, a mix of > 20 drones and missiles, at least half of which were "suicide" drones. #USA & #KSA, he said, are 'certain' that attack was launched from #Iraq but 'smoking gun still missing'

They are also 'fairly certain' that #IRGC was behind the operation because, even though the missiles used were identical to those of the #Houthis, an inspection of the debris found in the desert revealed a 'couple of new updates' and a 'distinctly better craftsmanship'

The Wall Street Journal reports of the damage:

The strikes knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily production, and the officials said they still believe they can fully replace it in coming days. That would require tapping oil inventories and using other facilities to process crude. One of the main targets of the attack was a large crude-processing plant in Abqaiq.

“It is definitely worse than what we expected in the early hours after the attack, but we are making sure that the market won’t experience any shortages until we’re fully back online,” said a Saudi official.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said oil installations in Saudi Arabia remain among their targets after attacks against two major sites slashed the kingdom’s output by half and triggered a surge in crude prices.

The Iranian-backed rebel group, cited by the Houthi’s television station, said its weapons can reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Saturday’s attacks were carried out by “planes” using new engines, the group said, likely referring to drones.

Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose. Russia is the only country that can provide the necessary equipment. It would be extremely costly, and still insufficient, to protect all of the Saudi's vital facilities from similar swarm attacks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran denies it carried out drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, Kareem Fahim, Erin Cunningham and Steven Mufson, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.).  Iran on Sunday rejected U.S. accusations it was responsible for devastating attacks on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia that struck at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry and forced Aramco, the state oil company, to suspend its production output by half.

iran flag mapA rebel group in Yemen, known as the Houthis, had claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, saying that it had sent a fleet of attack drones toward the two oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia. Hours later, though, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a Twitter message, directly blamed Iran for what Saudi Arabian flaghe said was “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” and said there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen” — leading to speculation they had been launched directly from Iran, or on Tehran’s behalf, by allies in Iraq.

The Department of Energy said that the U.S. was prepared to tap emergency oil reserves if necessary to cover supply disruptions.

Supreme Court: Perjury / Sex Scandal?

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, 2020 candidates demand Kavanaugh impeachment after new allegation, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). Democrats called for a new investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in response to a New York Times article that revealed a new allegation of sexual assault.

Democrats called Sunday for a new investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in response to a New York Times piece that said Kavanaugh was seen sexually harassing a female student while at Yale.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro, Democratic presidential candidates, pushed for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.

Harris and Warren had voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a process during which Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while they were high school students in the 1980s.

supreme court graphicKavanaugh vehemently denied the claim during what became a bitter confirmation process, which catapulted the debate over the sexual assault allegations into daily conversation amid the #MeToo movement. It also prompted a backlash among those who felt the Supreme Court nominee was being unfairly judged for something that may or may not have happened over three decades ago.

Those debates were reignited this weekend with the Saturday evening publication of the Times piece. “He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice,” Harris said in a tweet. “He must be impeached.”

President Trump, meanwhile, accused the “LameStream Media” and Democrats of working together to scare Kavanaugh “into turning Liberal.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Senator told FBI last fall of new information about Kavanaugh, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 16, 2019. Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) wrote to the FBI director that “several individuals” wanted to share information but had had “difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information.”

NBC News, Nadler: Judiciary too busy impeaching Trump to focus on Kavanaugh claims, Alex Moe and Rebecca Shabad, Sept. 16, 2019.  Sen. Chri House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., responded to calls for an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in light of new sexual misconduct allegations by saying that the panel has "our hands full with impeaching the president."

In a radio interview with WNYC on Monday, Nadler was asked if he’d be concerned with Democrats thinking he’s not taking the Kavanaugh allegations seriously enough. He said his committee has too much on its plate.

"We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while," Nadler said.

Trump Watch

daily beast logoDaily Beast, John Bolton Already Talking With Book Agents: ‘He Has a Lot to Dish,’ Maxwell Tani and Asawin Suebsaengm, Sept. 16, 2019. He penned one after leaving the Bush administration. Now, the president’s former top national-security aide is exploring another book.

Following his acrimonious departure from the White House, former National Security Adviser John Bolton has insisted that he will have his “say in due course.”

john bolton full cropped CustomIt hasn’t yet been a full week, but it appears he’s found a vehicle for clearing the air. According to two people with knowledge of the situation, Bolton has already expressed interest in writing a book on his time in the Trump administration, and has been in contact in recent days with literary agents interested in making that happen.
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“He has a lot to dish,” one of the sources said, adding it was not clear if Bolton had settled on an agency yet.

Reached by The Daily Beast on Monday afternoon, Bolton only replied, “No comment” when asked about discussions with book agents and his potential project. But if he goes down this path, he’d be merely the latest former Trump official to try and turn their noisy exit into bestselling gold.

During the Trump presidency, there have been several occasions in which a former loyalist has published a “tell-all” book or memoir that infuriated the president and his senior staff.

Last year, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former Trump friend and Apprentice candidate who took a senior post in his administration, revealed she had surreptitiously recorded audio of the president and blasted him as a mentally unstable racist in her book UNHINGED. Trump’s attorney Charles Harder responded by sending the publisher Simon & Schuster a letter threatening them “should you proceed with publishing and selling the Book,” and that such “claims would include, among others, tortious interference with the Agreement, and inducement of Ms. Manigault-Newman to breach [her NDA].” (For all the legal bluster from Team Trump, the threat proved empty.)

Earlier this year, former Trump adviser Cliff Sims came out with a different tell-all, titled Team of Vipers, about life and tumult inside Trumpworld. The book enraged the president, and led to his presidential campaign filing an arbitration claim against Sims, claiming he violated an NDA. This led to the former White House official suing Trump, alleging the president was trying to “silence” former staffers and was trampling on his First Amendment rights.

It is unclear if Bolton has also signed an NDA, though it seems likely he has owing to the position he held and the requirements placed on other White House officials.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao faces investigation over ethics allegations, Hannah Knowles, Sept. 16, 2016. The House Oversight and Reform elaine chao oCommittee on Monday sought documents from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, right, as it investigates what it calls “troubling questions” into whether the Trump appointee misused her position for personal and family benefit.

Noting that federal employees are forbidden from using public office for friends’ or relatives’ “private gain,” the committee’s letter to Chao cites media reports that allege the secretary leveraged her position to help Foremost Group — a New York-based shipping company that carries goods between the United States and China and that is owned by her father and sisters — gain “influence and status” with the Chinese government that has given the firm millions in loans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schiff gives acting intelligence chief Tuesday deadline to turn over whistleblower complaint, Ellen Nakashima, Sept. 16, 2016. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the standoff raises concerns that the White House or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent Joseph Maguire from complying in order to cover up serious misconduct.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 16, 2019. Do Democrats understand what they’re facing? Elections are supposed to paul krugmanhave consequences, conveying power to the winners. But when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P. does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn’t spoken.

Thus, in 2016 the voters of North Carolina chose a Democrat to govern the state; the immediate G.O.P. response was to try to strip away most of the governor’s power. Last year Democrats won a majority of the votes for the state legislature, too, although Republicans retained control thanks to extreme gerrymandering. But they no longer have a veto-proof majority — hence last week’s power grab.

Similarly, last year America’s voters chose to give Democrats control of the House of Representatives. This still leaves Democrats without the ability to pass legislation, since Republicans control the Senate and the White House. But the House, by law, has important additional powers — the right to be informed of what’s going on in the executive branch, such as complaints by whistle-blowers, and the right to issue subpoenas demanding information relevant to governing.

The Trump administration, however, has evidently decided that none of that matters. So what if Democrats demand information they’re legally entitled to? So what if they issue subpoenas? After all, law enforcement has to be carried out by the Justice Department — and under William Barr, Justice has effectively become just another arm of the G.O.P.

What can Democrats do about this situation? They need to win elections, but all too often that won’t be sufficient, because they confront a Republican Party that at a basic level doesn’t accept their right to govern, never mind what the voters say. So winning isn’t enough; they also have to be prepared for that confrontation.

And surely the first step is recognizing the problem exists. Which brings me to the Democratic presidential primary race.

The big problem with Joe Biden, still the front-runner, is that he obviously doesn’t get it. He’s made it clear on many occasions that he considers Trump an aberration and believes that he could have productive, amicable relations with Republicans once Trump is gone.

U.S. Opioid Scourge

washington post logoDEA Seal CustomWashington Post, Investigation: Inside the drug industry’s plan to defeat DEA: Documents offer clues to a mystery in the opioid epidemic, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz, Steven Rich and Meryl Kornfield​, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). How did drug companies weaken the government’s most powerful enforcement weapon at the height of the crisis? Newly unsealed documents show the industry employed a number of tactics, including enlisting members of Congress to limit enforcement powers.

washington post logoWashington Post, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy, Christopher Rowland, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). The move by the purdue pharma logodrugmaker — which is accused of triggering the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction — is part of a tentative legal settlement that sets the stage for battles over the Sackler family fortune.

U.S. Jobs, Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, Nearly 50,000 GM employees go on strike after union talks break down, Deanna Paul and Alex Horton, Sept. 16, 2019 (print ed.). The United Auto Workers union and the automaker are divided on several key issues. The UAW said it is aiming to secure fair wages, affordable health care and better job security, among other things.

Daily Epstein Scandal Update

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Everything Epstein, Jonelle Jones, Jessica Kelly, Gabriella Novello, Sept. 16, 2019. A daily snapshot of the stories we find interesting, but WhoWhatWhy does jeffrey epstein hands handsnot necessarily endorse the perspectives expressed in the articles we share. Here’s today’s lineup:

Another day, another elite institution is caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. This time it’s Stanford University. The institution admitted to receiving and spending a $50,000 donation from Epstein,  right, on its physics department –– two years before his arrest for soliciting prostitution from underage girls. Epstein’s fruitful giving also reached the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). Located just a one-hour drive from his infamous New Mexico ranch, he donated a total of $275,000 to SFI throughout the years.

Meanwhile, a harrowing new tale has emerged of one victim’s attempt to escape her torture from the so-called “Pedophile Island,” which she talks about in her interview. And more was revealed about private flights Epstein took, the underage girls he travelled with, and where they were possibly headed.

Other stories:

Prosecutors must probe Jeffrey Epstein's trafficking network, says British victim Sarah Ransome in first interview — Telegraph
Before arrest, Jeffrey Epstein was seen with girls exiting his jet — New York Times (paywall)
Revealed: Jeffrey Epstein's bizarre world of guns kept next to his bed, a bedroom close to freezing and a diet of lettuce leaves at his $62m mansion –– Daily Mail
Jeffrey Epstein Might Have Taken Girls as Young as 11 to His Private Island Last Year –– Vice News

Institutions tangled in Epstein’s web...

A Harvard professor doubles down: If you take Epstein’s money, do it in secret — New York Times (paywall)
Stanford reveals it received $50,000 gift from Jeffrey Epstein — Mercury News
A minefield at universities: Whose money to take? — Boston Globe (paywall)
Jeffrey Epstein gave $275,000 to Santa Fe Institute –– Albuquerque Journal
Jeffrey Epstein told a journalist he funded Sophia the robot, who he claimed would have 'more empathy than a woman' — Business Insider
Famed computer scientist Richard Stallman described Epstein victims as 'entirely willing' –– Vice News
Yet another journalist who accepted favors from Jeffrey Epstein –– Daily Beast
Moulton gives away cash from donor linked to Epstein — Boston Globe (paywall)
A meeting with Jeffrey Epstein led to a gift — and, now, regrets — Boston Globe (paywall)

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida Judge Denies Bid by Epstein Victims to Nullify Non-Prosecution Deal, Patricia Mazzei and Mike Baker. Sept. 16, 2019. The suicide of Jeffrey E. Epstein in a New York jail last month has rendered moot the attempts by his victims to invalidate a 12-year-old agreement not to prosecute him on federal charges in connection with a wide-ranging sex trafficking investigation, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Judge Kenneth A. Marra of the Federal District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla.,right,  had ruled this year that prosecutors had violated the law when they failed to tell victims about kenneth marra open jurist croppedthe 2007 agreement not to prosecute Mr. Epstein, raising the possibility that the agreement could be nullified and that the victims could finally get their day in court. The case continued even after Mr. Epstein was arrested in July on new sex trafficking charges filed in New York.

But Mr. Epstein’s death has removed the basis for the victims’ request to rescind the non-prosecution agreement that has been the subject of so much legal and political scrutiny over the past year, Judge Marra ruled on Monday. In a blow to the victims, the judge also said he could not invalidate the agreement’s protections of any of Mr. Epstein’s potential co-conspirators, theoretically leaving the door open for those people to claim in the future that they are immune from federal prosecution.

However, in a separate filing in the case unsealed on Monday, the federal government told the court in 2011 that the agreement applied only in Florida, not to any charges that might be filed in another state.

The United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is continuing its investigation of dozens of cases in which Mr. Epstein is accused of preying on girls, including an examination of anyone who may have helped Mr. Epstein procure his victims.

Jack Scarola, one of the lawyers working with the victims, said he wished the judge would have invalidated the non-prosecution agreement because that would have set a standard for legal proceedings if anyone investigated for helping Mr. Epstein tried to claim immunity from prosecution.

But he and other lawyers for the plaintiffs said the case nonetheless succeeded in keeping attention on Mr. Epstein in a way that led to the new prosecution in New York and expanded public awareness of the generous agreement that had helped him avoid federal prosecution for several years.

“This was not by any means a wasted effort,” Mr. Scarola said. “I don’t have any regrets whatsoever about the effort that has gone into this.”

In a ruling in February in response to the victims’ lawsuit, Judge Marra held that prosecutors led by R. Alexander Acosta, then the United States attorney in Miami, violated the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act when they secretly negotiated the non-prosecution agreement with Mr. Epstein in 2007. His victims did not find out until 2008 — when they still thought a federal criminal case was possible — that Mr. Epstein would not face sex trafficking charges and would instead plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution.

Sept. 15

Global News

saudi oil fire yemen drone social media via reuters 9 14 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Yemen rebels claim drone attack on Saudi oil sites, Kareem Fahim, Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.). The Houthis, who have been fighting a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen for years, said they carried out the attacks, which sparked explosions and huge fires (shown above in a photo via social media and Reuters).

A rebel group in Yemen said on Saturday that it had carried out an early-morning attack on major oil installations in Saudi Arabia that sparked explosions and huge fires. Saudi Arabia said facilities belonging to the state oil giant Aramco had been attacked by drones but did not immediately say who was responsible.

The Iran-allied rebel group, commonly known as the Houthis, said 10 drones had targeted facilities in the provinces of Khurais, the site of a large oil field, and Abqaiq, images/gcc-nations-map-zero-hedge.jpgin eastern Saudi Arabia, where Aramco maintains its largest oil-processing facility. Khurais is more than 500 miles from rebel-held territory in Yemen, highlighting the Houthis’ ability to carry out increasingly sophisticated attacks, deep inside Saudi territory.

The attacks, and the Houthi claim of responsibility, added to the hair-trigger tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a worsening standoff between Iran, its gulf neighbors and the United States.

Supreme Court: Perjury / Sex Scandal?

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly (reporters with the Times shown at left and right, respectively, in a Loren Klaris photo and authors of the forthcoming book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation), Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.). Deborah Ramirez’s Yale experience says much Robin Pogrebin, left, and Kate Kelly (Lorin Klaris photo).about the college’s efforts to diversify its student body in the 1980s.

Deborah Ramirez (shown below at left as a Yale student) had the grades to go to Yale in 1983. But she wasn’t prepared for what she’d find there.

A top student in southwestern Connecticut, she studied hard but socialized little. She was raised Catholic and had a sheltered upbringing. In the summers, she worked at Carvel dishing ice cream, commuting in the $500 car she’d bought with babysitting earnings.

deborah ramirez yale croppedAt Yale, she encountered students from more worldly backgrounds. Many were affluent and had attended elite private high schools. They also had experience with drinking and sexual behavior that Ms. Ramirez — who had not intended to be intimate with a man until her wedding night — lacked.

During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.

To Ms. Ramirez it wasn’t funny at all. It was the nadir of her first year, when she often felt insufficiently rich, experienced or savvy to mingle with her more privileged classmates.

Mr. Kavanaugh, now a justice on the Supreme Court, has adamantly denied her claims. Those claims became a flash point during his confirmation process last year, when he was also fighting other sexual misconduct allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who had attended a Washington-area high school near his.

During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.

At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

Other recent books on Kavanaugh:

Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court, Mollie Hemingway, Carrie Severino, et al.

Search and Destroy: Inside the Campaign against Brett Kavanaugh by Ryan Lovelace

U.S. 2020 Politics

jennifer rubin new headshotwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Let’s talk about character and capability, Jennifer Rubin, Sept. 15, 2019. My favorite part of the debate Thursday came at the end (and that’s not the only reason it was my favorite part) when the candidates stopped describing policy ideas that will never see the light of day and arguing over technocratic details most voters don’t fully understand. The question for every candidate was: "What’s the most significant professional setback you’ve had to face? How did you recover from it? And what did you learn from it?"

That was the most revealing question of the evening and got much closer to the sort of question that will help voters decide whom they will select. Voters honestly don’t pick presidential candidates on the details of policy. They do, however, pick someone they trust, who understands their problems and who conveys empathy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in her weekly news conference, said the question for voters is “who among them will connect with the American people, because the election is always about the future, and what that future means to America’s working families.”

washington post logomark sanford oWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s three GOP challengers criticize party for canceling primaries, Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld, Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.). “Our next nominee must compete in the marketplace of ideas, values and leadership,” Mark Sanford, right, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld wrote in an op-ed for The Post.

Trump Scandal Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Now we know why Donald Trump ousted Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Bill Palmer, Sept. 15, 2019. About six weeks ago, Donald Trump announced out of nowhere that he was ousting his own handpicked Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats (shown at right with the president in file photos). Shortly thereafter, Coats’ Deputy, Sue Gordon, also headed for the exits. Trump made a point of trying to install one of his loyalists in the position, and when that failed, he simply left it empty. The whole thing made very little sense at the time. Suddenly it’s a very different story.

djt dan coats CustomHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, below right, has subpoenaed a whistleblower complaint, which the Department of Justice has buried, which apparently exposes how Donald Trump or someone close to him leaked key classified information. Schiff is treating this like it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to taking Trump down. What’s fascinating is that Schiff is subpoenaing the report from the Director of National Intelligence – bill palmer report logo headerand of course we con’t currently have one of those.

The subpoena has been sent to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, which means it’s not going to be voluntarily complied with, and Schiff will have to go to court and have a judge order the Acting DNI to cough it up. If a comparatively forthright person like Dan Coats or Sue Gordon were still DNI, we can imagine this subpoena might have played out differently.

adam schiff squareIt helps explain – at least in general terms – why Donald Trump went from essentially ignoring the Director of National Intelligence position for the first two and a half years of his presidency, to suddenly treating it like it was a matter of crucial importance. He and Bill Barr must have known that House Democrats would eventually get word of this whistleblower complaint, and try to get it from the DNI. So now we have no DNI. Funny how that works.

Global News: Israeli Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The liberal world order helped Israel flourish. Now, the state is pushing back, Robert Kagan, Sept. 15, 2019 (print ed.).  The rise of nationalism around the globe may be reflected in the outcome of Israeli elections on Tuesday. n the growing confrontation between the liberal world order and its anti-liberal nationalist and authoritarian opponents, which side does Israel want to be on? The question would have been absurd even a decade ago, when Israelis still regarded themselves as members in good standing in the liberal world. But in recent years, Israeli foreign policy has been trending in a decidedly anti-liberal direction.

Israel FlagSince about the middle of 2015, the Israeli government has embraced Hungary’s avowedly “illiberal” prime minister, Viktor Orban; worked to forge close ties with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, despite its limitations on civil liberties and legislation outlawing public discussion of Poland’s role in the Holocaust; warmly embraced Brazil’s right-wing nationalist leader, Jair Bolsonaro; provided a state visit for President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who once likened himself to Adolf Hitler; worked consistently to woo Russian President Vladimir Putin; offered a 25-year contract to a Chinese state-owned firm to manage the port of Haifa, which has often hosted the U.S. 6th Fleet; and provided consistently strong support for the military dictatorship in Egypt, including lobbying the U.S. Congress on its behalf, as well as supporting the authoritarian sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, notably, stood up for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Post contributing columnist.)

More On Supreme Court

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away something huge about Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 15, 2019. Earlier this year, Palmer Report pointed out bill palmerthat Donald Trump had a potentially serious Brett Kavanaugh problem, and a surprising one at that. Despite being a far-right extremist, Kavanaugh was voting with the liberals on some fairly major Supreme Court cases. It felt like he was begging the Democrats in Congress not to impeach him, or have him criminally prosecuted for perjury, once Trump is gone.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, the New York Times published a lengthy expose full of damning evidence that Brett Kavanaugh is every bit the serial sexual assaulter that his accusers have claimed. This morning, Donald Trump decided to weigh in on Twitter. At first he urged Kavanaugh to take legal action against his accusers. Then Trump illegally instructed the Department of Justice to target the accusers. But then Trump got to the part of his meltdown that truly mattered.

Here’s what Trump said that gives away the whole thing: “Can’t let Brett Kavanaugh give Radical Left Democrat (Liberal Plus) Opinions based on threats of Impeaching him.” In other words, we weren’t just imagining it. Kavanaugh really has been voting with the liberals on some cases, as a way of trying to convince the Democrats to leave him be. And Trump is not too subtly threatening Kavanaugh when it comes to his upcoming votes. It’s not difficult to parse why.

brett kavanaugh mouth open angry testimonyHouse Democrats are currently fighting numerous legal battles over the testimony and evidence involved in Donald Trump’s impeachment. Some of these cases will likely reach the Supreme Court. Donald Trump appears worried that once this happens, Brett Kavanaugh could vote against him, in the hope of saving himself.

We have no idea what Brett Kavanaugh, right, will end up doing. He could vote in Donald Trump’s favor, in the hope that Trump pardons him on perjury and any other charges, thus keeping him out of prison – but in such case Kavanaugh would surely have to resign. Or Kavanaugh could vote against Trump in the feeble hope that it’ll motivate Democrats to leave him alone – but if this backfires, Kavanaugh goes to prison. In any case, Trump is right to be worried. Kavanaugh is compromised in every way possible, and there’s no telling what he’ll do to try to mitigate his own downfall.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Kavanaugh revelations: Why the Supreme Court is broken, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Sept. 15, 2019. We focus, rightly, on the damage ej dionne w open neckPresident Trump is doing to our institutions. But the wreckage goes beyond Trump and involves the other two branches of government as well. The right wing’s determination to control the Supreme Court is undermining its legitimacy as well as confidence in the U.S. Senate’s approach to confirming nominees.

The costs of this approach were underscored this weekend by a New York Times report that offers new corroboration for charges by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when both were undergraduates at Yale. In denying the charge, Kavanaugh told the Senate that had it been true, the incident would have been “the talk of the campus.” Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly — drawing on their new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation — write tellingly: “Our reporting suggests that it was.”

robin progrebin kate kelly kavanaugh coverHere is the institutionally devastating part of their story: Ramirez’s legal team gave the FBI a list of “at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence” of her story. The bureau, the authors report, “interviewed none of them.” Nor did the FBI look into Stier’s account.

Now let’s take a step back: If Senate Republicans had declared Kavanaugh’s behavior as a high school and college student off-limits, they would have risked a firestorm, but at least they would have been honest about what they were up to.

However, they could not take this route once they agreed to hear psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford’s four hours of testimony about her charge that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s when both were in high school. Ford’s testimony was so credible — Republican after Republican praised her — that the GOP was forced to agree to a brief FBI investigation.

But it was such a sharply constrained investigation that neither Kavanaugh nor Ford was questioned, and the other allegations against Kavanaugh were ignored. “The process was a sham,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee who is seeking her party’s presidential nomination, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” She was not being hyperbolic. In the wake of the new revelations, three other Democratic contenders quickly called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedThis leaves it to journalists to keep exploring questions the Senate refused to settle. And it leaves the court and the country in a terrible place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, had already signaled that court packing took priority over due process when he refused even to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court in 2016. This opened the way for Trump to name two conservatives to the court, Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch for the seat Garland was denied.

Sept. 14

U.S. Supreme Court  / #MeToo

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Brett Kavanaugh scandal just exploded, Bill Palmer, Sept. 14, 2019. Donald Trump and the Republican Senate knew darn well that they were putting a serial sexual assaulter and unstable violent monster on the Supreme Court when they confirmed Brett Kavanaugh. They didn’t care, because it was their only opportunity to get a far-right conservative extremist on the high court and please their billionaire owners. Predictably, the Kavanaugh scandal has – finally – blown up in their faces.

bill palmer report logo headerThe New York Times published a lengthy new investigative article today which digs into Brett Kavanaugh’s history, and guess what? He’s every bit the serial sexual assaulter we all knew he was. The article helps to confirm some of the accusations against him, and even references at least one additional victim who didn’t previously come forward. You may be wondering if it’s too late for this to matter.

Here’s the thing. Senate Democrats can easily refer Brett Kavanaugh to the Department of Justice for felony perjury, which will result in him being indicted, arrested, and possibly in a position where he has to resign from the Supreme Court as part of his plea deal. But they can’t do it until Donald Trump is gone from office, and his corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr is gone along with him. Even if the Democrats were able to oust Kavanaugh right now, Trump would just replace him with another far-right monster.

The takedown of Brett Kavanaugh will – disturbingly for America and unfairly for his victims – have to wait for another day. But in the meantime, some of the Republican Senators who made a point of supporting Brett Kavanaugh are up for reelection in 2020. susan collins oFor instance, Susan Collins’ (shown at right) odds of reelection probably just dropped in half today. The Democrats will hang Kava-rapist around her proverbial neck.

Other GOP Senators running in 2020 will also take a hit for having voted for the violent whack job. You can read the full New York Times expose here (Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not).

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: ‘The Education of Brett Kavanaugh’ Takes a Hard Look at the Supreme Court Justice and His Accusers, Hanna Rosin, Sept. 14, 2019. Nearly a year after the fateful Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have become martyrs in separate and hostile galaxies — one for #believeallwomen and the other for those who believe Democrats will use any means necessary to take down good and honorable men. So there is a weird satisfaction in rewinding the story more than 30 years, back to the moment when the two lived in suburban Maryland and coexisted as part of a small social circle of teenagers who hung out at country club pools all summer and whose pressing concern was which parents were out of town for the weekend.

robin progrebin kate kelly kavanaugh coverThe Education of Brett Kavanaugh, by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, two experienced New York Times reporters who helped cover the confirmation hearings, comes with an expectation of bombshells (the galleys are stamped “EMBARGOED” on every page). And the authors do in fact turn up a few new revelations about the assault accusations against Kavanaugh. But their real work is to smooth out the main story, create a fuller picture of Kavanaugh himself, place him in relation to Blasey Ford and put the minor players in motion, so that the confirmation showdown has a kind of cinematic inevitability.

The book places Blasey Ford in the summer of 1982, when, she later said, Kavanaugh tried to rape her. A rising junior at Holton-Arms school, a tall cheerleader with feathered bangs and saddle shoes, she spent her days with friends at the Columbia Country Club pool exchanging the early ’80s equivalent of the eye-roll emoji (“mange-moi” and “Kill Dick”). Kavanaugh, as we know from his infamously meticulous calendar, spent his time mowing lawns and figuring out which of his Georgetown Prep friends was “popping,” the technical term for holding a party when your parents were out of town.

For most of the book the writers take an omniscient Woodwardian tone, staying careful and balanced and not cluttering up every sentence with newspaper-style sourcing. But I couldn’t help reading a lot into the title. On my own copy I idly scribbled “Mis” before the “Education,” since it’s clear that academic enrichment is not what the authors have in mind. In high school and college and even a little into law school, the main thing they portray Kavanaugh learning is how to expertly blend into the background hum of blasé misogyny and clubby competitive drinking.

The picture that emerges of Kavanaugh as an actual student is admirable if indistinct. He works hard, graduates near or at the top in his class. A college friend recalls him having a neat stack of books and papers he would move through like a machine. A couple of people remember him as special but just as many remember him as “straightforward and uncomplicated” — or, as some college friends put it, “ham on white.” My favorite observation about his college years is: “Along with playing and writing about sports, Kavanaugh enjoyed watching them in his downtime.” Really, that could be anyone. In fact, when he got his big break as a clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski, the law professor who recommended him described him as a “good student” and not a “great one,” but added, “I got to know his character from basketball.”

Brave JFK Physician Dies

robert mcclelland flickr

Dallas Morning News, Robert McClelland, surgeon who tried to save JFK and believed there was a second shooter, dies at 89, Marc Ramirez, Sept. 14, 2019. A skilled surgeon at UT Southwestern whose true passion was teaching, he's among the luminaries whose images grace Parkland's walls today.

Inextricably linked to the death of John F. Kennedy, surgeon Robert McClelland (shown above delivering a lecture) dutifully preserved the blood-soaked white dress shirt he wore the day he tried to save the president's life in 1963.

For the rest of his life, the retired professor emeritus of UT Southwestern's medical school also clung staunchly to a contentious opinion forged firsthand: that one of the shots that had struck Kennedy had come from the front, which would require the existence of a second gunman.

Robert Nelson McClelland, the lone dissenting voice among the operating-room doctors who tried to save the president at Parkland Memorial Hospital, died Tuesday of renal failure. He was 89.

A celebration of his life is set for 1 p.m. Monday at Highland Park United Methodist Church's Cox Chapel, 3300 Mockingbird Lane in Dallas.

A skilled surgeon whose true passion was teaching, he's among the luminaries whose images grace Parkland's walls today. In a note to campus colleagues, Dr. William Turner of the campus's department of surgery, called McClelland "the titan among those giants," saying the institution had "lost one of its heroes."

An insatiably curious reader who doted on his seven grandchildren, McClelland was a driving force in surgical education at UT Southwestern for decades and oversaw the launch of its liver surgery program.

He was modest and unassuming despite his accomplishments and role in history. But he also had an irreverent side, allowing his grandkids as young children to watch the cheeky television show South Park with him, to the occasional dismay of their parents.

"I would get angry," said daughter Alison McClelland of Dallas. "His defense was that it was philosophical."

Robert McClelland was born Nov. 20, 1929, in Gilmer, the same East Texas town that spawned musicians Don Henley and Johnny Mathis. His intellect and curiosity were evident early, his passion for discovery stoked by a chemistry set he got at age 11.

He graduated in 1947 as valedictorian of Gilmer High and, as the grandson of a physician, was further inspired to pursue medicine through the mentorship of two local physicians.

After studying at the University of Texas in Austin, he earned his doctorate at the school's medical branch in Galveston in 1954. He spent two years in Germany as a general medical officer for the U.S. Air Force, then returned to Texas to begin residency at what is now UT Southwestern.

It was there that he would meet Connie Logan, a head nurse at Parkland whom he'd noticed several times at church and finally got the nerve to ask out. They married in May 1958 and settled in Highland Park, where they raised three children.

Dr. Robert McClelland joined the faculty at UT Southwestern and Parkland in 1962 and spent his entire career there. He completed his residency in 1962 and joined the faculty at UT Southwestern and Parkland, where the following year, that momentous November day became forever tied to his life story.

He was 34 then, screening a film on hernia repair for hospital interns and residents, when a colleague burst in and asked him to help operate on the president of the United States.

jfk parade route dealey plazaAs Kennedy lay wounded on the operating table in Trauma Room One, McClelland assisted as surgeons Malcolm Perry and Charles Baxter performed a tracheotomy in an attempt to save the president. For 10 minutes, he stood above Kennedy's head and stared at "that terrible hole," as he put it, tackling his duty as instinctively as a fireman slides down a pole.

But from his vantage point, one shot seemed to have come from the front — which would mean Lee Harvey Oswald, whom McClelland would be called to operate on just two days later, wasn't the only gunman.

"The shot that killed [Kennedy] probably was from the back, but I have to honestly say what I think," McLelland told The News.

The other four attending physicians would eventually pen a joint article in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluding there were two shots, from the back and above. The journal's editor noted McClelland's differing opinion, emphasizing, however, that he wasn't an "expert in forensic pathology and ballistic wounds."

McClelland never wavered, and a scene from Oliver Stone's JFK depicts him offering his dissenting opinion in court, which McClelland said never actually happened. However, he did once act as a juror in a 2013 mock trial giving Oswald his chance in the courtroom. (The trial ended in a hung jury, with the vote 9-3 in favor of a guilty verdict.)

McClelland would go on to spend his entire career at UT Southwestern, where generations of students and residents knew him as "Dr. Mac" and called him for years afterward seeking advice about difficult cases.

Trump Scandal Watch

CNN via Real Clear Politics, Eric Holder: Putting Trump On Trial After Presidency Would Be A "Cost To The Nation," Ian Schwartz, Sept. 14, 2019.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN: Do you think Congress should proceed? That’s a different matter than whether they could, whether they have an inquiry. Is impeachment a wise thing to do at this point, and would they be shirking their responsibilities if they didn’t proceed?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I think that they should proceed with an impeachment inquiry, an impeachment investigation. That doesn’t necessarily commit you to actually impeaching the president. I think that’s what people have to understand. I think if you go through a whole proceeding and then make the determination that we’re not going to impeach him, you’re perhaps going to censure him. There’s going to be a sense in the House of Representatives, in that sense that the House of Representatives to lay out all of the things that you have found during the inquiry and not send it to the Senate where I think the Republicans are likely to acquit him – deny him that, but actually lay out to the American people – have witnesses in front of the American people. I want to see Don McGahn testify. I want to see Sessions testify.

AXELROD: Do you think he will, by the way?

I mean look, every administration has its differences with Congress over executive privilege. Your administration and the one that I served in did as well, but they’ve taken a very tough line on this issue of executive privilege.

Do you think that ultimately the courts will compel these people to testify?

HOLDER: Yes. I don’t think that the executive privilege that might have existed still is in existence. The fact that McGahn actually spoke to Bob Mueller waives the privilege that might have otherwise existed and as a result I think as a result will have to go through a court process. But I think ultimately he and others will have to testify.

AXELROD: If there is no impeachment, do you believe that he subject to prosecution after he leaves office?

HOLDER: Well I don’t think there’s any question about that. We already have an indictment in the Southern District of New York where Michael Cohen.

AXELROD: relative to the payoffs

HOLDER: Relative to the payoffs. Michael Cohen’s already in jail regards to his role there. Individual one is the president. And it would seem to me that the next attorney general, the next president is going to have to make a determination.

AXELROD: You know, that’s an interesting question. You came here at -- in the post Watergate period, President Ford, made a decision to pardon President Nixon because he thought it would be bad for the country to go through a trial of a former president. Would there be a cost to that?

HOLDER: Yes, I think there is a potential cost to the nation by putting on trial the former president, and that ought to at least be a part of the calculus that goes into the determination that has to be made by the next attorney general.

I think we all should understand what a trial [of a] former president would do the nation. I think that saved the determination that Gerald Ford made with –

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Cost him -- it may have cost him his election in 1976.

HOLDER: Yes, it might have, but you know I think looking back, I tend to think that that was probably the right thing to do.

Global News

washington post logoBenjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWashington Post, In Israeli election, a nation votes, but one man could decide it all, Ruth Eglash and James McAuley, Sept. 13, 2019. Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman and his political party are predicted to win enough parliamentary seats that he could determine whether Benjamin Netanyahu, right, will continue his historic tenure as prime minister.

The Jerusalem Post, Russia prevents Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Yasser Okbi, Sept. 14, 2019. The controversy between Israel and Russia regarding airstrikes of Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq continues, despite the meeting Between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was reported on Friday by Independent Arabia.

According to the report, Moscow has prevented three Israeli airstrikes on three Syrian outposts recently, and even threatened that any jets attempting such a thing would be shot down, either by Russian jets or by the S400 Anti-aircraft missiles. The source cited in the report claims a similar situation has happened twice, and that during August, Moscow stopped an airstrike on a Syrian outpost in Qasioun, where a S300 missile battery is placed.

Russian FlagMoreover, it was claimed that another airstrike planned for a week later on a Syrian outpost in the Qunaitra area and a third airstrike on a sensitive area in Latakia. This development is what pushed Netanyahu to have his quick visit in Russia to try and convince Putin to ignore Israel's attacks in Syria. According to the Russian source, Putin let Netanyahu know that his country will not allow any damage to be done to the Syrian regime's army, or any of the weapons being given to it, because giving such a permission would be seen as giving Israel leniency – something that contradicts Russia's goal of assisting the Syrian regime.

The British-Arabic news outlet reported that Netanyahu tried to present a positive message of the cooperation between the two countries and even tried to use it for his election campaign, but it didn't work. Israeli sources who have spoken with the newspaper called the meeting "a failure". They claimed that everything regarding the air strikes in Iraq and Syria, since the fact they were in the public eye embarrassed the Russians terribly in the eyes of their allies in the area – Syria, Iran and the militias that support them.

The Russian source said: "Putin has expressed his dissatisfaction from Israel's latest actions in Lebanon" and even emphasized to Netanyahu that he "Rejects the aggression towards Lebanon's sovereignty," something which has never been heard from him.

The British-Arabic website adds that more Israeli sources have said similar things on the subject and the visit was meant to reduce the severity of the controversy between the countries into a tactical one, rather than an ideological one.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Inspires California Lawmakers to Go on Offense, Tim Arango, Thomas Fuller and Jose A. Del Real, Sept. 14, 2019. California Democrats have been energized by a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to enact a liberal agenda that counters President Trump’s policies. When President Trump flies into San Francisco next week for his first visit to the Bay Area as president he will set down in a state that has never fully welcomed him.

Harmeet K. Dhillon, a member of the Republican National Committee and a host of a fund-raising luncheon on Tuesday where seats for a couple at the president’s table go for $100,000, likened his visit to a trip “behind enemy lines.”

Behind those lines, Mr. Trump’s detractors have been remarkably active, as Democrats have been energized by anger against the president to enact a sweeping liberal agenda that in almost every way offers a counternarrative to the deregulation, anti-immigrant stance and conservative policies of the Trump administration.

UK To Keep Assange Jailed

julian assange indicter image

The Guardian, Julian Assange to remain in jail pending extradition to US, PA Media, Sept. 14, 2019. WikiLeaks founder’s custody will be extended after current prison terms comes to end. Julian Assange (shown above in a photo by The Indicter Magazine) will stay in prison after the custody period on his current jail term ends because of his “history of absconding.”

As home secretary, Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange’s extradition to the US over hacking allegations. A 50-week jail term was imposed in the UK after he had jumped previous bail by going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The WikiLeaks founder would have been released from HMP Belmarsh on 22 September, Westminster magistrates court heard on Friday, but he was told he would be kept in jail because of “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again.

united kingdom flagAssange, 48, who is an Australian citizen, appeared by video-link wearing a loose-fitting T-shirt.

District judge Vanessa Baraitser told him: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.

“Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so, perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.

“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

Assange was asked if he understood what was happening. He replied: “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.”

Another administrative hearing will take place on 11 October and a case management hearing on 21 October, the court heard. The final extradition hearing is expected in February.

Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted in connection with sexual offence allegations.He spent nearly seven years living in the building until police dragged him out in April after Ecuador revoked his political asylum.

Culture / Lead Poisoning

notre dame paris

ny times logoNew York Times, Notre-Dame’s Toxic Fallout, When the cathedral’s roof and spire burned in April, Elian Peltier, James Glanz, Weiyi Cai and Jeremy White, Sept. 14, 2019. 460 tons of lead were engulfed in flames, scattering dangerous dust onto Paris. The authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of testing for lead contamination, while issuing statements meant to play down the risks. The April fire (shown above) that engulfed Notre-Dame contaminated the cathedral site with clouds of toxic dust and exposed nearby schools, day care centers, public parks and other parts of Paris to alarming levels of lead.

The lead came from the cathedral’s incinerated roof and spire, and it created a public health threat that stirred increasing anxiety in Paris throughout the summer.

Five months after the fire, the French authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion, while issuing reassuring statements intended to play down the risks.

Their delays and denials have opened the authorities to accusations that they put reconstruction of the cathedral — which President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to complete in five years — ahead of the health of thousands of people.

A comprehensive investigation by The New York Times has helped fill out an emerging picture of a failed official response. It found significant lapses by the French authorities in alerting the public to health risks, even as their understanding of the danger became clearer. The April 15 blaze nearly destroyed the 850-year-old cathedral and brought immediate scrutiny onto whether adequate fire protections had been in place to safeguard a gem of Gothic architecture visited by some 13 million people a year.

 Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, NOAA chief praises scientists after agency’s defense of incorrect Trump tweet, Jason Samenow, Sept. 14, 2019 (print ed.). The all-staff email marked an apparent effort to repair damage from the Sept. 6 statement.

Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Felicity Huffman gets 14 days in jail in college admission scandal, Karen Weintraub, Joelle Renstrom and Nick Anderson, Sept. 14, 2019 (print ed.). Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday to two weeks in jail for paying $15,000 in a conspiracy to inflate the SAT score of her older daughter — a punishment felicity huffman twitterthat sets a benchmark for what other accused parents could face in the college admissions bribery scandal.

Huffman, shown on a Twitter photo,who starred in the television series “Desperate Housewives,” had pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was the first to be sentenced among 15 wealthy parents who have admitted guilt in the scam known as Varsity Blues. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also sentenced Huffman to a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine.

Epstein Trafficking Scandal

washington post logoharvard logoWashington Post, Harvard, MIT acknowledge deeper ties to Epstein than previously revealed, Susan Svrluga, Sept. 14, 2019. The revelations raise questions about how schools raise money and whether their leaders are appropriately transparent.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Renowned MIT Scientist Defends Epstein: Victims Were ‘Entirely Willing,’ Blake Montgomery, Sept. 14, 2019. MIT bigwig Richard Stallman dismissed Epstein’s underage victims in emails and defended child pornography on his blog.

While MIT engages in damage control following revelations the university’s Media Lab accepted millions of dollars in funding from Jeffrey Epstein, a renowned computer scientist at the university has fanned the flames by apparently going out of his way to defend the accused sex trafficker—and child pornography in general.

Richard Stallman has been hailed as one of the most influential computer scientists around today and honored with a slew of awards and honorary doctorates, but his eminence in the academic computer science community came into question Friday afternoon when purportedly leaked email excerpts showed him suggesting one of Epstein’s alleged victims was “entirely willing.”

An MIT engineering alumna, Selam Jie Gano, published a blog post calling for Stallman’s removal from the university in light of his comments, along with excerpts from the email in which Stallman appeared to defend both Epstein and Marvin Minsky, a lauded cognitive scientist and founder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab who was accused of assaulting Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre has alleged that sex offender and financier Epstein trafficked her to powerful men for sex, including Minsky, who died in 2016. She’s alleged that Epstein and his alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her at Mar-a-Lago when she was 16 years old.

MIT logoStallman wrote that “the most plausible scenario” for Giuffre’s accusations was that she was, in actuality, “entirely willing.” Vice’s Motherboard later reprinted the emails in full. Gano did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stallman also wrote in the email exchange that “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”

A deep dive into his writings shows this isn’t the first time Stallman has expressed such questionable views, however. He has written dozens of posts on his personal website in favor of legalizing pedophilia and child pornography for more than 15 years.

“This ‘child pornography’ might be a photo of yourself or your lover that the two of you shared. It might be an image of a sexually mature teenager that any normal adult would find attractive. What’s heinous about having such a photo?” Stallman wrote in 2011 on his personal site, stallman.org, in an argument in favor of Congress limiting laptop searches at the U.S. border.

Stallman currently works as a visiting scientist at MIT, according to the website of the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), and as the president of the Free Software Foundation, which he founded in 1985. Stallman has been seen as a pioneering computer scientist for decades, especially in his creation of and advocacy for new kinds of freely available software. Much of his work underpins modern computer science. He’s worked at MIT on and off since the 1980s, and he spoke at a Microsoft computer science research center just last week. The Free Software Foundation, Microsoft, and MIT did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Stallman’s remarks.

Trafficking Solutions

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion, Thousands More Jeffrey Epsteins Are Still Out There, Nicholas Kristof, Sept. 14, 2019. They operate with impunity, continuing to sexually jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019exploit children. Jeffrey Epstein, right, got away for years with raping underage girls, and the public is properly outraged that powerful people seemed to shrug and let him off easy. But the problem isn’t one tycoon but many tens of thousands of men who pay for sex with underage girls across the country. And society as a whole reacts with the same indifference that the authorities showed in the Epstein scandal.

“We see it as this singular narrative about this one guy,” said Rachel Lloyd, who wrote a superb book, “Girls Like Us,” about her own experience being sexually trafficked as a teenager. “There’s a much larger narrative out there about girls, often girls of color, who are commercially sexually exploited, often with impunity.”

“It’s part of the same behavior, part of what we allow as a society,” Lloyd added. “He got away with it because society said he could, and that’s what other johns think as well.”

Lloyd now runs a first-rate program, GEMS, in New York for girls and young women who have been trafficked. The people she helps haven’t been whisked off to Caribbean islands on private jets, but the pattern is the same: sordid exploitation of vulnerable girls by older and more affluent men who get away with it.

Indeed, girls across America are often treated even worse than in the Epstein case: Some end up arrested for prostitution while their rapists get off scot-free.

If we want to channel our outrage at the Epstein case in a productive way, we could: A) ramp up prosecution of pimps who traffic children; B) prosecute johns who rape girls and boys; C) assist programs for survivors of trafficking; and D) support initiatives that help vulnerable youths avoid being victimized by predators.

“They’re not billionaires, but it happens all the time,” said Shelia Faye Simpkins, who ran away from home at 14 and into the arms of a pimp.

Trump Scandal Watch

Daily Sound & Fury, Opinion: Schiff Demands Copy of Withheld Whistleblower Complaint Involving Trump and Nat. Intel., Jason Miciak, Sept. 14, 2019. Adam Schiff wrote his strongest demand as judiciary committee majority leader, yesterday, in response to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) ODNI’s decision to withhold a whistleblower complaint already deemed “credible” and of “urgent concern,” according to the ODNI’s own Inspector General.

Under the current operative statute, the “acting” Director of National Intelligence, Joseph McGuire, must forward to congress all complaints affirmed by the inspector general’s office as credible and urgent.. No exceptions.

adam schiff squareNot only has the DNI not passed the complaint to Congress, it has informed Schiff, right, that it will not be forwarding the complaint, despite the clear law and clear past practices. It is difficult to appreciate the DNI’s brazen attitude without reading Schiff’s words in the follow-up subpoena issued yesterday:

“Even though the disclosure was made by an individual within the Intelligence Community through lawful channels, you have improperly withheld that disclosure on the basis that, in your view, the complaint concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community and because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications."

That high-pitched whistle you hear is the last bit of our democracy’s oxygen slipping out into the dictatorial vacuum.

Under the law, the director has no role here. Once he receives the complaint from his Inspector General, he must pass the complaint to Congress. All other concerns, privileges, third parties, are dealt with by the Inspector General and Congress itself.

Schiff knows exactly what is going on: “The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials. This raises grave concerns that your office, together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible “serious or flagrant” misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law."

Director MaGuire is subpoenaed to appear before the committee on Thursday to explain himself. That ought to be must-see TV, except we have come to expect that he will simply ignore the subpoena. That is what they do

They are attempting to run out the clock. The Republicans must somehow try to drag Trump over the finish line in 2020, and then declare that the election vitiated any concern about “law breaking” since the public just re-elected Trump.

I am not at all sure about Pelosi’s actual endgame here, whether she is simply playing dead because she knows she wants this really heating up late this year and into next, or whether she’s just terrified of her own shadow, like all too many Democrats since Reagan.

I do know this. I know that Adam Schiff knows exactly what is in that complaint. He knows it exists, after all, and that alone tells us that he “knows” what is being withheld. He has been tipped-off. And Schiff, the person who “knows” what is going on, has put pen to paper and said he must conclude it involves covering-up something that both involves Trump and relates to something the committee is already investigating. He knows he is being played and he is putting Barr and the White House on notice.

U.S. Politics / Religion

Miami Herald, In court fight over a South Beach hostel, Jerry Falwell Jr. might get a new judge, Douglas Hanks, Sept. 14, 2019. After two years of fights in a Miami-Dade court over his family’s purchase of a South Beach hostel, Jerry Falwell Jr. wants a new judge and a new legal venue.

On Friday, the evangelical leader and president of Liberty University filed papers to move his case from Florida’s Circuit Court system to federal court. The switch would mean a new judge for Falwell in the 2017 litigation filed by Gordon Bello, a Miami-Dade commission aide who claims he was cut out of a stake in the Alton Road hostel that the Falwell family bought for $4.7 million in early 2013.

Bello was a high-school friend of Giancarlo Granda, the former Fontainebleau pool attendant who, at age 21, befriended Falwell and his wife, Rebecca, while the couple was vacationing in Miami Beach.

The Falwells gave Granda a 25 percent stake in the business that owns the Miami Hostel, a low-cost, dormitory-style hotel on the 800 block of Alton Road in the heart of South Beach, with a liquor store and restaurant on the ground floor.

Framed around the technicalities of a South Beach real estate deal, the Bello litigation has helped anchor some of the more tantalizing tangents of Falwell’s real estate and political ventures. The court papers labeled Granda a “pool boy” and divulged details later confirmed in the media through social media posts: that Granda became friends with the Falwells and flew with them in private jets. One trip in 2012 took him to Liberty to meet future president Donald Trump.

Trump’s now-jailed lawyer, Michael Cohen, was surreptitiously recorded in March recalling his effort to retrieve “personal” photos for the Falwells that would have been embarrassing if made public.

Bello, 28, claims he and his father, developer Jett Bello, pitched the hostel idea to Falwell after being introduced through Granda. In an amended complaint filed in July, the younger Bello said Granda first introduced him to Rebecca Falwell and that the two formed a “personal relationship.” Later, the papers said, Granda introduced Bello to Jerry Falwell Jr.

Background

Rolling Stone, The Saga of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Bizarre Relationship With a Miami Beach Pool Boy, Explained, Ryan Bort, June 20, 2019. The Liberty University president who shepherded much of Trump’s evangelical support is at the center of a controversy involving blackmail, a hostel, and Tom Arnold.

jerry falwell jr wIn 2012, Falwell, left, and his wife Becki visited the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. While there, they befriended a 21-year-old pool attendant named Giancarlo Granda. Granda soon began traveling with the Falwells, both to their home of Virginia to hike and water ski, according to the Times, and to the Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys, according to the Herald. The latter paper published photos of the trip to the Keys, with Granda smiling next to Falwell, the two looking like father and son. Just months after the friendship commenced, the Falwells offered to help Granda, who had practically no business experience, set up a venture in Miami. After consulting with his friend Jesus Fernandez Jr. and Fernandez’s father, they agreed to open a hostel. Falwell ponied up $1.8 million.

Why did Falwell (who was nearly 50 at the time) and his wife invite a 21-year-old hotel pool boy to travel with them on multiple occasions, and then put up seven figures for him to open up a hostel in Miami Beach that Politico described as a “cesspool of vice”?

Uhhhhh…

What about the salacious photos?

The relationship between the Fernandez family and the Falwells and Granda eventually went sour, and the Fernandezes sued, claiming they were being muscled out of a deal in which they were promised a controlling stake. The lawsuit, and many of the details of the Falwells’ relationship with Granda, were not know until Buzzfeed News reported on it in May 2018. Though it was not included in the lawsuit or Buzzfeed’s report, multiple compromising photos of the Falwells became a central element of the legal battle, according to the Times, which spoke to several people involved in the case.

Falwell has denied the existence of the photos — or at least that they’re of him — but the Herald reviewed three of them, which show Falwell’s “wife in various stages of undress.” When they were taken or by whom is not known, but, according to the Herald, two of them appear to have been taken at the Falwells’ farm in Virginia, and one at the Cheeca Lodge.

Sept. 13

U.S. 2020 Politicsdemocratic debate houston sept 12 2019 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Rifts Emerge as Democrats Joust in Fiery Debate, Shane Goldmacher and Reid J. Epstein, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). Biden’s Liberal Rivals Seek to Set Themselves Apart. Rivals are clearly aiming at Biden. He is punching back. In the first nearly 100 minutes of debate, the Democratic field was cleaved between aggressors, defenders and relative wallflowers, with most of the attacks continuing to be aimed at Mr. Biden, whose durability atop the polls has taken some rivals by surprise.

The candidates sparred, yet again, over health care policy, what to do about institutional racism, guns and trade.

democratic donkey logoMr. Biden stumbled at times over some specifics but delivered a more forceful defense of his record than at the two earlier debates. Some landed some early offensive framing of his own, particularly with Ms. Warren who has close the polling gap on him.

“I know that the senator says she’s for Bernie, well, I’m for Barack,” Mr. Biden said, speaking of health care but really about much more.

For the most part, Ms. Warren was willing to fade from the center stage spot she had secured for herself, making her case against political corruption more than against any particular rival as he ongoing truce with Mr. Sanders continued to hold.

The most aggressive candidate onstage was Mr. Castro, who questioned Mr. Biden both on policy and, pointedly, his memory. 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: It Will Take More than Cheap Shots to Knock Off Biden, Timothy Egan, Sept. 13, 2019. Ageism was on display in a debate where Democrats tried their hardest to dent Joe Biden’s enduring appeal. The dirty work fell to Julián Castro, the former Obama cabinet member. He got right to it with an opening jab against “old ideas,” and then a direct slap, asking Biden: “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Um, no.

It was a big backfire, a cheap shot that fell to the floor. But it did finally bring out into the open the “ism” that dare not speak its name. You’ll hear plenty more of it, much of it coming from the infantile 73-year-old president, who, just this week, seemed to forget that he had a son with his third wife.

dnc square logoBiden is running as a normal guy. Normal is dull. It stirs no blood. Normal is not having to worry about who’s piloting the plane; it’ll land. Uncle Joe is comfort food, the “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in,” in Robert Frost’s words.

But a half-hour into this third Democratic debate, many Democrats had to be wondering: Can he go three hours? It’s our own collective ageism.

He did, closing with his most appealing side: his humanity and vulnerability. After the El Paso shootings, Trump showed he couldn’t even pass the base test of a human being, demonstrating a smidgen of empathy. He couldn’t even fake it. Not for a minute. Biden bleeds empathy. What’s appealing about him is what my colleague Jennifer Senior called “the bartender aspect” of his character, in her review of his book on the loss of his son Beau.

ny times logoNew York Times, Onstage, a New Urgency on How Best to Win,  Matt Flegenheimer and Katie Glueck, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). “This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Pete Buttigieg said. Julián Castro shot back: “That’s called an election.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. jammed his finger skyward, eyes narrowing like his polling advantage, accusing the “socialist” to his right, Senator Bernie Sanders, and the “distinguished friend” to his left, Senator Elizabeth Warren, of hawking infeasible health care proposals loaded with dubious math.

democratic donkey logoMr. Sanders, raspier than usual but no gentler on the sound system, insisted that Mr. Biden has “got to defend” a status quo that bankrupts cancer patients, drawing a steely glare from a front-runner well-versed in the disease’s ravages.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg tried to play the peacekeeping millennial, cutting in after Julián Castro — the former federal housing secretary, disinclined to leave the squabbling to the three favorites — interjected from the stage’s periphery to suggest that Mr. Biden, 76, had forgotten what he said just minutes prior.

“This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington.”

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Tulsi Gabbard's alarming links to Indian intelligence and extremist Hindu groups, Wayne Madsen (shown in a 2015 file photo), Sept. 13, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). If one were to ask India's right-wing Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi who his favorite U.S. politician wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallis, the answer would, perhaps surprisingly, not be Donald Trump. Modi's American Hindu nationalist fellow-traveler is Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), right, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate....

tulsi gabbard newTrump has set the bar for foreign involvement in U.S. elections, something that is prohibited by federal and state election laws, but not being rigorously enforced. Trump's political support by Russian and Russian-Israeli oligarchs has opened a flood gate of foreign support for U.S. presidential candidates, including that of Israel for Trump and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Taiwan (Republic of China) for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

[With election financing law] normally regulated and enforced by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Trump administration’s refusal to replace Republican vacancies on the FEC had led to it becoming a moribund and toothless regulatory arm of the government. Meanwhile, foreign owned-and-operated candidates like Gabbard, Harris, Booker, Yang, and others are representing the interests of New Delhi, Tel Aviv/Jerusalem, and Taipei over those of Dubuque, Iowa; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Beaufort, South Carolina.

WMR Editor Wayne Madsen is a syndicated columnist, author of 16 books and a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst whose Navy assignments included helping to investigate the damage to U.S. interests caused by the convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who worked for the Navy during the 1980s before being caught and sentenced to a life term, which ended in 2015 after years of Israeli requests. 

More Debate Analysis

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Was Biden’s performance ‘presidential’ or ‘disqualifying’? Depends on your media source, Margaret Sullivan​, Sept. 13, 2019. The former vice president rambled, sometimes nonsensically — or worse — but many declared a big win for him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Castro’s kamikaze mission makes Biden more sympathetic – and six other debate takeaways, James Hohmann, Sept. 13, 2019.  Castro says Biden 'forgot' what he said on health care. Let's review.

THE BIG IDEA: When you come at the former vice president, you best not miss.

julián castro hudJulián Castro finally took his shot at Joe Biden last night in Houston, but he got his facts wrong. The former housing secretary (shown in an official photo from that job) telegraphed where he was heading in his opening statement. “Our problems didn’t start with Donald Trump,” the 44-year-old said. “We won’t solve them by embracing old ideas.”

A few minutes later, Castro accused the 76-year-old Biden of having a memory lapse during an exchange over health care. “Are you forgetting already what you said two minutes ago?” Castro said, repeating his question three times.

He was accusing Biden of having just said that his public option plan would not automatically enroll people. In fact, Biden had said: “Anyone who can’t afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option we have.”

U.S. House Impeachment Plan

ny times logoNew York Times, House Judiciary Committee Inches Toward Impeachment, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The panel took its first recorded vote to press forward with a possible impeachment of President Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday took its first recorded vote to press forward with a possible impeachment of President Trump, putting aside Democrats’ internal divisions for the time being in a bid to strengthen its hand in investigating whether he committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Voting along party lines, the panel approved rules for a continuing “investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with regard to President Donald J. Trump,” which clarified new authorities for lawmakers and laid out a process, albeit limited, for the president to respond.

Speaking after the vote, the committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, also promised a series of hearings expanding the inquiry beyond the findings of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, to consider other potentially impeachable offenses. The first session is scheduled to take place next week with Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and an important witness to the special counsel’s obstruction-of-justice investigation.

But Thursday’s action was as much a symbolic display as it was a practical exercise of constitutional powers, aimed at showing federal courts and impatient Democrats that the House is, in fact, serious about building an impeachment case, even if it is not yet taking the politically loaded step of filing charges.

U.S. Asylum 'Tent' Hearings

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Hastens Asylum Hearings in Tents Far From Courtrooms, Manny Fernandez, Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). The makeshift immigration courts are part of the administration’s plan to control the surge of migrants.

ICE logoFederal officials this week began operating tent-style facilities in Laredo and a handful of other border cities to ease the strain on immigration courts, part of a sweeping set of moves intended to slow the flow of migrant families across the border. The tent courts, which are also opening in Brownsville, Tex., and Yuma, Ariz., are designed to speed up processing and end the long delays that have allowed many migrants to live and work in the United States for years before their court cases are decided.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, How Jewish Should the Jewish State Be? The Question Shadows an Israeli Vote, David M. Halbfinger, Sept. 13, 2019 (print ed.). For years, the resentment had been building. In Israel, Jewish men and women are drafted into the military, but the ultra-Orthodox are largely exempt. Unlike other Israelis, many ultra-Orthodox receive state subsidies to study the Torah and raise large families.

Israel FlagAnd in a country that calls itself home to all Jews, ultra-Orthodox rabbis have a state-sanctioned monopoly on events like marriage, divorce and religious conversions.

A series of political twists has suddenly jolted these issues to the fore, and the country’s long-simmering secular-religious divide has become a central issue in the national election on Tuesday.

This election was supposed to be a simple do-over, a quick retake to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a second chance to form a government and his opponents another shot at running him out of office.

Instead it has become what Yohanan Plesner, president of the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute, calls “a critical campaign for the trajectory of the country.”

Blame Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing secular politician who forced the new election by refusing to join Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition with the ultra-Orthodox. The hill Mr. Lieberman chose to fight on was a new law that would eliminate the wholesale exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the military.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Won’t Netanyahu Say to Get Re-elected? Editorial Board, Sept. 13, 2019. Cornered and desperate, the Israeli prime minister (shown below in a file photo) threatens to annex occupied territories and attacks the media, the judiciary and political foes.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex much of the West Bank if he remains Israel’s prime minister after next week’s election has nothing to do with “secure, permanent borders” or his purportedly special relationship with President Trump. It’s about Mr. Netanyahu’s panic that he might lose the office he has held for a benjamin netanyahu frowndecade, and it amounts to exploitation of a critical issue for political and personal gain.

On Tuesday, Israeli voters return for a second round of voting in six months, and Mr. Netanyahu’s arithmetic indicates he needs far-right votes to survive in office and stave off an impending corruption indictment. So he is doing what he did before the first round in April: portraying himself as the one man who has the connections to the Trump White House to get away with annexing occupied territories to Israel. His platform also includes the familiar assaults on the news media, the judiciary, the police, Israel’s Arab minority and political opponents.

Public Surveillance Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: In Snowden’s Memoir, the Disclosures Are Personal, Jennifer Szalai, Sept. 13, 2019. Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked U.S. secrets, gives a riveting account in “Permanent Record,” our critic writes. Revealing state secrets is hard, but revealing yourself in a memoir might be harder. As Edward Snowden puts it in the preface of “Permanent Record”: “The decision to come forward with evidence of government wrongdoing was easier for me to make than the decision, here, to give an account of my life.”

edward snowden permanent recordSnowden, of course, is the former intelligence contractor who, in 2013, leaked documents about the United States government’s surveillance programs, dispelling any notions that the National Security Agency and its allies were playing a quaint game of spy vs. spy, limiting their dragnet to specific persons of interest. Technological change and the calamity of 9/11 yielded new tools for mass surveillance and the incentive to use them.

Sweeping up phone records of Americans citizens, eavesdropping on foreign leaders, harvesting data from internet activity: For revealing these secret programs and more, Snowden was deemed a traitor by the Obama administration, which charged him with violating the Espionage Act and revoked his passport, effectively stranding Snowden in Moscow, where he has been living ever since.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court revives lawsuit saying Trump is violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments, David A. Fahrenthold, Sept. 13, 2019. A federal appeals court on Friday revived a previously-dismissed lawsuit against President Trump, which alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by engaging in business transactions with foreign governments.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that a lower-court judge had improperly thrown out the lawsuit in December 2017. Now, plaintiffs are hoping this victory will allow them to seek detailed records on Trump’s transactions with foreign officials.

But, if Trump appeals, as is expected, the case could go to the full 2nd Circuit — and after that, to the Supreme Court.

This suit was the first of three major lawsuits alleging Trump violated the emoluments clause.

In this case, the plaintiffs were Trump’s business competitors: a hotel operator and a group of restaurants and restaurant workers, who say Trump is using the presidency to give his businesses a competitive advantage. Along with hotel rooms and steaks, they say, he can sell something they cannot: access to power, and a chance to please the president.

In 2017, a District Court judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not proved Trump had actually taken any business away from them. He threw the case out. In Friday’s ruling, the two appeals court judges — both appointed by Democratic presidents — brought it back. They said it was not necessary to identify a specific customer that Trump had lured away. At least, not at this early stage of the lawsuit.

“The district court effectively required plaintiffs to prove, pre-discovery, the facts necessary to win at trial,” judges Pierre N. Leval and Christopher F. Droney wrote. They said that the businesses had plausibly sketched out how they might be affected — and that was enough to continue to the fact-gathering stage of the case.

Judge John M. Walker, an appointee of President Reagan, dissented and said the case should be thrown out.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump gives disastrous speech in Baltimore and comes off like what little was left of his brain has completely melted, Bill Palmer, Sept. 12, 2019. Yesterday Donald Trump gave a speech in Baltimore, a city where he’s widely hated for good reason, and his speech was perhaps the best argument yet for why his people might no longer want him appearing in public. Yes, Trump referred to Mike Pence as “Mike Pounce.” Okay fine, everyone gets tongue tied sometime. But Trump spent the entire speech failing to form words.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump sounded so messed up during his speech, it made his infamous “United Shesh” moment seem tame in comparison. The guy slurred his way through the speech so badly, it’s as if he needed to stop and buy a vowel. He came off as a guy whose brain is no longer properly functioning.

Yes, Donald Trump gave a rally speech in North Carolina the other night (after his handlers canceled his other North Carolina appearance of the day), and sure, he sounded pretty much like the usual Trump during that speech. So it’s not as if Trump now sounds like a his brain has melted every time he opens his mouth. But something is very wrong here. If Trump’s people are trying to hide him for good reason, they won’t be able to keep it up forever.

U.S. Justice Dept.

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew McCabe Asks Justice Dept. Whether Grand Jury Rejected Charges, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Goldman, Sept. 13, 2019. Lawyers for the former F.B.I. deputy director Andrew G. McCabe, a frequent target of President Trump’s, have asked federal prosecutors whether a secret grand jury refused to indict him, which would be a sign that the government is struggling to make a case against him.

In a letter sent late Thursday, defense lawyers asked whether a grand jury had considered charges against Mr. McCabe, who is being investigated over whether he lied to internal investigators about interactions with the news media. The letter came shortly after the Justice Department told Mr. McCabe’s lawyers that it had rejected their pitch to the deputy attorney general to drop the case.

“It is clear that no indictment has been returned,” the lawyers wrote, citing coverage of the case by The New York Times and The Washington Post. A grand jury hearing evidence that was recalled on Thursday after months of inactivity left for the day without any sign of an indictment, The Post reported. None had emerged on Friday.

The letter was the latest attempt by Mr. McCabe to stave off charges in the highly unusual and politically charged case. His lawyers have denied that he intentionally lied during an internal inquiry and have said that he is being singled out, noting that similar cases were typically handled administratively, not through criminal prosecution.
Mr. McCabe’s lawyers argued that prosecutors should set aside the investigation if the grand jury voted against an indictment. The standard for an indictment — a finding of probable cause that a crime was committed — is much lower than for a guilty verdict at a trial, and evidence that falls short of the lower bar would fail to produce a guilty verdict, they said.

The case against Mr. McCabe centers on an earlier investigation by the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, into several issues, including dealings with the news media. He found that Mr. McCabe lacked candor when asked about information provided to a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2016 about an F.B.I. inquiry into the Clinton Foundation. Mr. Horowitz referred his findings to federal prosecutors in Washington.

Media Criticisim

Moon of Alabama, How The BBC's Quentin Sommerville Created Fairytales Of Underground Hospitals In Syria, B, Sept. 13, 2019. In August 2013, the BBC produced a fake video headlined "Saving Syria’s Children" about an alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria which it claimed was caused by the Syrian government. Robert Stuart has since pressed the BBC to admit the obvious fabrication of these scenes.

bbc news logo2Today the BBC posted on its website another Syria clip under the title Idlib's secret hospitals hiding from air strikes: "Air strikes have been targeting hospitals in the rebel-held province of Idlib, Syria, despite the fact that it is a war crime. Medics have been forced underground in order to survive. Yhe UN accuses the Syrian government and allied Russian warplanes of conducting a deadly campaign that appears to target medical facilities. BBC's Middle East correspondent, Quentin Sommerville, visits one hospital in a secret location."

Sommerville starts with standing next to destroyed building claiming that it has been a hospital that was bombed. The whole claim of the BBC clip is that the hospitals are underground because they get bombed. But the part that is supposed to prove that is clearly cut from a real building scene to a walk down into a cave scene and back to a real building scene. The sequence is clearly a propaganda fake.

Trump Watch

Politico, Schiff accuses top intel official of illegally withholding 'urgent' whistleblower complaint, Kyle Cheney, Sept. 13, 2019. The nation's top intelligence official is illegally michael atkinson owithholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday.

Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community's inspector general (Michael Atkinson, shown at right) characterized the complaint as credible and of "urgent concern."

More U.S. 2020 Politics

Politico, Ocasio-Cortez endorses Markey as Joe Kennedy eyes his Senate seat, Caitlin Oprysko, Sept. 13, 2019. Sen. Ed Markey on Friday got a major boost in the not-so-invisible primary between himself and Rep. Joe Kennedy, nabbing an endorsement from liberal firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez, who shot to fame after mounting an insurgent primary run against the then-No. 4 Democrat in the House last year, endorsed Markey in a video posted to his campaign account.

While Kennedy has not yet announced a primary challenge against Markey, he's considered one of the strongest potential rivals. Earlier this summer, he launched an exploratory committee and begun making key hires for a Senate run after commissioning a poll that tested his favorability against Markey. Those close to the four-term congressman told POLITICO earlier this week that he’s seriously considering getting in the race but hasn't reached a formal decision.

In her endorsement, Ocasio-Cortez shouted out Markey’s progressive credentials, calling him “a proud and strong progressive champion for working families. Not just in Massachusetts, but across the country.”

The 29-year-old worked with Markey earlier this year to put out the Green New Deal, the landmark climate change proposal that has been the subject of mockery by Republicans and division within the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez emphasizes that in her video, saying that Markey is “one of the few people that had the courage to stand up and take a chance."

“Ed Markey, I know, is one of the strongest progressives that we have in the United States Senate,” she says in the video. “And in a time right now, when we have to have conversations not just about holding this administration accountable but changing the Democratic Party for the future, Ed Markey has a very critical role in making sure that climate change, as well as a bevy of other issues — health care and beyond — are critical core issues in how we fight for working people and working families in the United States.”

Her endorsement is somewhat of a blow to what likely would have been Kennedy’s most potent strengths — the idea that generational change is needed within the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez also addressed this dynamic in her endorsement.

“He’s not just resting on his record of the past, but he's aggressively pursuing an agenda for the future,” she said of Markey. “And that's what a progressive is, and that's what progressivism is all about.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement comes just weeks after Markey nabbed key backing from his fellow Massachusetts Senate colleague and a 2020 front-runner, Elizabeth Warren. The freshman congresswoman's endorsement, however, is significant because of her immense popularity among liberal Democrats — so much so that Markey asked her behind the scenes for her support. She is also among the most outspoken in the party when it comes to her endorsement of challengers of Democratic incumbents, which has earned her some consternation in the party, but said earlier this week that a Markey endorsement was "in the realm of possibility."

Transitions

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Divorce: It’s Ugly, It’s Operatic. What Did You Expect? Sarah Maslin Nir, Sept. 13, 2019. The marriage of Rudolph and Judith Giuliani is coming to an end, and despite a judge’s urging, the wreckage is being laid bare for all to see.

rudy giulianiOn a spring afternoon in 2000, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, shown in a file photo, used a news conference in Bryant Park to drop a personal bombshell: He was separating from his wife. That was news not just to New York City but also to Donna Hanover, the woman he was married to at the time.

There was more.

Mr. Giuliani, then a United States Senate candidate, casually mentioned that Judith Nathan, a woman whom he had just described as a “very good friend,” was someone whom he would now turn to, “more now than maybe I did before.”

It was a fitting way to introduce a relationship made for high tabloid style. He was the king of the city and soon to be “America’s mayor;” Ms. Nathan would become his muse, constant counterpart and eventual third wife, married in a pearl and diamond tiara on the lawn of Gracie Mansion.

They presided over box seats at the opera and at Yankee Stadium, as well as over a national tragedy: He comforted a shaken city after 9/11; she manned call centers for its victims.

Mr. Giuliani would become a global brand, a Republican presidential candidate, and, most recently, the president’s personal lawyer, using his worldwide speaking engagements to amass millions of dollars, six homes and 11 country-club memberships for the high-flying couple.

Were their relationship to ever end, it could do so only in operatic fashion. And so it has.

Media News

william y chang columbia university Custom

Journalist William Y. Chang (Photo via William Y. Chang Collection at Columbia University and New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, William Y. Chang, Whose Newspaper Spoke to Chinatown in English, Dies at 103, Richard Sandomir, updated Sept. 13, 2019. For 17 years, his aim was to help the children of Chinese immigrants acquire an American identity as they adapted to life in the United States. For 17 years starting in 1955, Mr. Chang’s monthly Chinese-American Times chronicled life, culture and politics in the Chinese community in New York, particularly in Chinatown, though he defined the broader East Coast as his coverage area.

“New York’s Chinese-American community was pretty small at the time and not powerful politically, and Bill spoke for them,” Charlotte Brooks, a history professor at Baruch College in Manhattan, said in a phone interview. “He was determined to give the community a voice and something they could be proud of.”

Sept. 12

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, She got 12 years for $31 of pot. Years after her parole, she was jailed for the unpaid court fees, Antonia Noori Farzan, Sept. 12, 2019. Sitting in her jail cell this week, Patricia Spottedcrow couldn’t imagine where she was going to get the money she needed for her release.

In 2010, the young Oklahoma mother, who had been caught selling $31 worth of marijuana to a police informant after financial troubles caused her to lose her home, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. It was her first-ever offense, and the lengthy sentence drew national attention, sparking a movement that led to her early release.

But once she was home free, Spottedcrow still owed thousands in court fees that she struggled to pay, since her felony conviction made it difficult to find a job. Notices about overdue payments piled up, with late fees accumulating on top of the original fines. On Monday, the 34-year-old was arrested on a bench warrant that required her to stay in jail until she could come up with $1,139.90 in overdue fees, which she didn’t have. Nearly a decade after her initial arrest, she was still ensnarled in the criminal justice system, and had no idea when she would see her kids again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s proposals to tackle California homelessness face local, legal obstacles, Scott Wilson, Sept. 12, 2019. The White House effort has taken state officials by surprise, but the state’s growing homeless problem hasn’t been contained by similar policy initiatives in the past.

President Trump’s emerging plan to address California’s homeless crisis includes ideas that have been tried unsuccessfully before, namely the mass housing of people living on the streets, and proposals that have been ruled illegal by federal courts.

The White House effort has taken state officials by surprise, as the president has shifted from criticizing California’s management of homelessness on social media to proposals that would insert the federal government directly into the crisis, including relocating homeless people living on the street and in tent camps to a federal facility.

But the state’s growing homeless problem hasn’t been contained by similar policy initiatives in the past. It is an unusual crisis stemming in part from the state’s economic success and one where the lack of political will, rather than a lack of public resources, is often the primary obstacle to resolving it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Is the Supreme Court too deferential to Trump — or worried some judges are overstepping their power? Robert Barnes, Sept. 12, 2019. Has the Supreme Court become a soft touch for the Trump administration? Or are the justices sending a message to lower courts not to become a part of the “resistance” to the president’s legitimate powers?

The questions became relevant again Wednesday as the court allowed the administration to begin implementing a dramatic change in asylum rules that would bar requests from most Central American migrants who arrive at the southern border seeking protection in the United States.

The court gave no reason in its one-paragraph unsigned order for effectively dissolving an injunction federal courts had placed on the administration’s new policy. The directive would deny in almost all cases asylum requests from those who had traveled through another country without first seeking protection there.

Wednesday marked the second time since the court adjourned in late June that it approved an emergency request from the Trump administration to overrule a lower court on a border security issue. In July, the justices allowed the administration to proceed in transferring billions of dollars in Defense Department funds to border wall construction.

sonia sotomayor in scotus robe1Justice Sonia Sotomayor, right, perhaps the court’s most liberal member, accused the administration of bypassing the normal process and racing to the Supreme Court when it receives an unfavorable ruling in a lower court.

“Historically, the government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively,” wrote Sotomayor, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They were the only two to state how they voted on the request.

andrew mccabe c span may 11 2017

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. authorized prosecutors to charge Andrew McCabe, Matt Zapotosky and Spencer S. Hsu​, Sept. 12, 2019. The FBI’s former acting director (shown above in a file photo) was told last month that prosecutors had recommended charging him with lying to investigators.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s legal team has been notified that the Justice Department authorized prosecutors to seek an indictment against him for lying to investigators, according to two people familiar with the matter, though it remains unclear whether McCabe will be charged.

McCabe’s team was notified of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s decision in a message Wednesday, which said, “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office,” one person familiar with the matter said.

McCabe’s team was told last month that line prosecutors had recommended charges, and later, that D.C. U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu had endorsed that decision, a person familiar with the matter said. Last month, McCabe’s team had appealed to Rosen in what was considered one of the final efforts to persuade officials not to move forward and seek an indictment from a grand jury. The legal team had been waiting to hear back.

The notification comes as a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus — an indication its members would likely be asked soon to consider bringing charges. But the panel was let go Thursday with no immediate signs of an indictment — a sign they might have balked, been asked to return later or filed a determination under seal.

To bring an indictment, prosecutors would have to convince 12 of the 23 grand jurors to sign onto the decision. If grand jurors turn them down, it is possible for prosecutors to call in a new group, though they would then have to start the process over.

The decision, whenever it is made clear, is likely to inflame partisan divisions and once again thrust the Justice Department to the center of a political combat zone. McCabe authorized the FBI to begin investigating President Trump and has long been a target of the commander in chief’s ire. His defenders are likely to view any charges against him as the most sinister form of Trump’s revenge. ·​

2020 U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, The Top 10 Candidates Meet: A Guide to Thursday’s Debate, Shane Goldmacher and Adriana Ramic, Sept. 12, 2019. The top Democrats will face off for the first time. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will be at the center.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s just how badly Donald Trump is screwing the GOP in 2020, Bill Palmer, Sept. 12, 2019. When an unpopular president heads into reelection, it’s generally bad news for everyone else in his party who’s running for reelection. When you’re talking about a historically unpopular president, it’s even worse news for his party. But Donald Trump is taking things further. He’s not just passively screwing the Republican Party by being unpopular. He’s now making a point of actively screwing the Republican Party’s prospects in 2020.

bill palmer report logo headerMultiple major news outlets reported yesterday that the Donald Trump 2020 campaign is planning to prevent Republican candidates running in downticket races from accessing the Trump campaign’s internal polling data by region. There’s a fairly obvious reason for this. The Trump campaign doesn’t want GOP candidates to know which districts he’s doing the most poorly in, for fear the candidates in those districts might decide to run on an anti-Trump platform.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThere’s a logical reason for Donald Trump to do this. It’s already going to be excruciatingly difficult for Trump to win in 2020. The last thing he needs is Republican candidates in House races seeing just how unpopular Trump is in their district, and then proceeding to publicly trash Trump in the name of trying to get themselves reelected. The trouble is, this logic is sinister, as Trump is making it far more difficult for GOP candidates in swing districts to figure out the most favorable strategy. Trump is all but guaranteeing that, whether he wins in 2020 or not, there will be fewer Republicans in the House than there otherwise could have been.

Republican candidates can still look at public polling, and their own internal polling, in order to try to figure out whether to run with or against Donald Trump in 2020. But none of that data is going to be nearly as detailed or accurate as the kind of sophisticated internal polling that a well-funded presidential campaign can come up with. Trump is screwing the GOP in 2020, in a last ditch effort at saving himself. It’s already gotten that ugly for him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Let Trump Destroy Trump, David Axelrod (the senior strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign), Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be, should use the president’s contortions and carrying on against him. Mr. Trump was elected to shake things up and challenge the political establishment. And to many of his core supporters, his incendiary dog whistles, bullhorn attacks and nonstop flouting of “political correctness” remain energizing symbols of authenticity.

But polling and focus groups reflect a growing unease among a small but potentially decisive group of voters who sided with Mr. Trump in 2016 but are increasingly turned off by the unremitting nastiness, the gratuitous squabbles and the endless chaos he sows.

Plenty of attention has been paid to the historic shift in suburban areas Mr. Trump narrowly carried in 2016 but that broke decisively with his party last fall. That revolt was led by college-educated white women, who overwhelmingly turned against Republican candidates.

But what should be of even greater concern to Mr. Trump is the potential erosion among the non-college-educated white women he is counting on as a core constituency. Those women gave Mr. Trump a 27-point margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Yet in a recent Fox News poll, Mr. Trump was beating former Vice President Joe Biden by just four points in that group.

Inside DC: Spying?

Politico, Israel accused of planting mysterious spy devices near the White House, Daniel Lippman, Sept. 12, 2019. The likely Israeli spying efforts were uncovered during the Trump presidency, several former top U.S. officials said. The U.S. government concluded within the past two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cellphone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

Israel FlagBut unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols. Politico reported in May 2018 that the president often used an insufficiently secured cellphone to communicate with friends and confidants. The New York Times subsequently reported in October 2018 that “Chinese spies are often listening” to Trump’s cellphone calls, prompting the president to slam the story as “so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.” (A former official said Trump has had his cellphone hardened against intrusion.)

By then, as part of tests by the federal government, officials at the Department of Homeland Security had already discovered evidence of the surveillance devices around the nation’s capital, but weren’t able to attribute the devices to specific entities. The officials shared their findings with relevant federal agencies, according to a letter a top Department of Homeland Security official, Christopher Krebs, wrote in May 2018 to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Based on a detailed forensic analysis, the FBI and other agencies working on the case felt confident that Israeli agents had placed the devices, according to the former officials, several of whom served in top intelligence and national security posts.

That analysis, one of the former officials said, is typically led by the FBI’s counterintelligence division and involves examining the devices so that they “tell you a little about their history, where the parts and pieces come from, how old are they, who had access to them, and that will help get you to what the origins are.” For these types of investigations, the bureau often leans on the National Security Agency and sometimes the CIA (DHS and the Secret Service played a supporting role in this specific investigation).

An Israeli Embassy spokesperson, Elad Strohmayer, denied that Israel placed the devices and said: “These allegations are absolute nonsense. Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period.”

A senior Trump administration official said the administration doesn’t “comment on matters related to security or intelligence.” The FBI declined to comment, while DHS and the Secret Service didn’t respond to requests for comment.

After this story was published, Trump told reporters that he would find it "hard to believe" that the Israelis had placed the devices. "I don't think the Israelis were spying on us," Trump said. "My relationship with Israel has been great...Anything is possible but I don't believe it."

Beyond trying to intercept the private conversations of top officials — prized information for any intelligence service — foreign countries often will try to surveil their close associates as well. With the president, the former senior Trump administration official noted, that could include trying to listen in on the devices of the people he regularly communicates with, such as Steve Wynn, Sean Hannity and Rudy Giuliani.

“The people in that circle are heavily targeted,” the former Trump official said.

Another circle of surveillance targets includes people who regularly talk to Trump’s friends and informal advisers. Information obtained from any of these people “would be so valuable in a town that is like three degrees of separation like Kevin Bacon,” the former official added.

That’s true even for a close U.S. ally like Israel, which often seeks an edge in its diplomatic maneuvering with the United States.

“The Israelis are pretty aggressive” in their intelligence gathering operations, said a former senior intelligence official. “They’re all about protecting the security of the Israeli state and they do whatever they feel they have to to achieve that objective.”

So even though Trump has formed a warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and made numerous policy moves favorable to the Israeli government — such as moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, ripping up the Iran nuclear deal and heavily targeting Iran with sanctions — Israel became a prime suspect in planting the devices.

While the Chinese, who have been regularly caught doing intelligence operations in the U.S., were also seen as potential suspects, they were determined as unlikely to have placed the devices based on a close analysis of the devices.

“You can often, depending upon the tradecraft of the people who put them in place, figure out who’s been accessing them to pull the data off the devices,” another former senior U.S. intelligence official explained.

Washington is awash in surveillance, and efforts of foreign entities to try to spy on administration officials and other top political figures are fairly common. But not many countries have the capability — or the budget — to plant the devices found in this most recent incident, which is another reason suspicion fell on Israel.

IMSI-catchers, which are often used by local police agencies to surveil criminals, can also be made by sophisticated hobbyists or by the Harris Corp., the manufacturer of StingRays, which cost more than $150,000 each, according to Vice News.

Crew Asleep In Disaster

santa clara fire ktla

ny times logoNew York Times, The entire crew was asleep on a boat that caught fire and sank off the coast of Southern California earlier this month, Niraj Chokshi, Sept. 12, 2019. The finding suggests that the crew had failed to uphold a commitment to have someone awake. (Photo above via KTLA-TV.)

All six crew members of the Conception were asleep when the scuba diving boat caught fire and sank off the coast of Southern California early on Sept. 2, killing 34 people, according to a federal report released on Thursday.

That finding, by the National Transportation Safety Board, suggests that the crew had failed to uphold a commitment to have someone awake.

“According to its certificate of inspection, the passenger vessel Conception was required to have a roving watch,” said Lisa Novak, a spokeswoman for the United States Coast Guard.

U.S. House Impeachment Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, Judiciary Committee Democrats map out possible impeachment articles against Trump, Rachael Bade, Sept. 12, 2019. The discussions, closely held and preliminary, include a range of allegations. But several congressional aides caution that the articles may never be drafted.

President Donald Trump officialA group of Judiciary Committee Democrats has begun privately mapping a list of possible charges against President Trump, sketching out the contours of potential articles of impeachment even as House leaders publicly resist taking such action, according to a half-dozen lawmakers and congressional aides.

The closely held, informal discussions between some committee lawmakers and aides close to the investigations say the charges include a range of allegations — some that echo charges against former president Richard M. Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defiance of subpoenas, as well as violation of campaign finance law and allegations of self-enrichment, said the individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their work.

The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five areas of potential obstruction in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, episodes Democrats will explore further during a hearing Tuesday with former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski and other ex-Trump aides.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I like Elizabeth Warren. Too bad she’s a hypocrite, Ed Rendell (a Democrat and former governor of Pennsylvania), Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). I think Warren (D-Mass.) has been a great senator, and her work in setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was terrific. The CFPB is the best protection that ordinary Americans have from financial institutions that prey on them. In fact, I like her so much that when she ran for Senate in 2018, I co-chaired a couple of fundraisers for her and donated a combined $4,500 to her campaign.

Shortly after announcing her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in February, Warren said she would shun high-dollar fundraising events.

elizabeth warren o purpleNow, Warren, left, has every right to make that pledge even if she had obtained significant contributions from donors in the past. Doing that didn’t make her a hypocrite. But there are two other reasons why the description applies. First, because she transferred $10.4 million from her Senate reelection campaign to her presidential campaign fund. More than $6 million came in contributions of $1,000 and up, as the New York Times recently noted. The senator appears to be trying to have it both ways — get the political upside from eschewing donations from higher-level donors and running a grass-roots campaign, while at the same time using money obtained from those donors in 2018.

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: North Carolina’s election results provide a thought experiment for 2020, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed). President Trump’s tweeting of a “Trump 2024” meme should concentrate the minds of his opponents. So should the results of North Carolina’s special congressional election Tuesday.

We have learned from North Carolina and the new polls that:

(1) divisions between rural and metropolitan voters are deepening; (2) Republicans will have great trouble winning any suburban-dominated district, which will make it very hard to win back the House; (3) the vast majority of incumbent House Republicans represent very pro-Trump seats and have no political interest in breaking with Democratic-Republican Campaign logoshim; (4) life will stay complicated for vulnerable Republican senators up for reelection in swing states because they need turnout from voters turned on by Trump but also suburban crossover voters turned off by Trump; (5) division, distraction and fear will always be Trump’s play; and (6) a large majority of the American electorate would like to throw Trump out of the White House, but Democrats will have to make it easy for them to do so. There will be no miraculous solution to the Trump problem.

Trump Watch

washington post logojohn bolton youtube guardianWashington Post, You’re a prop in the back’: Advisers struggle to obey Trump’s Kafkaesque rules, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Sept. 12, 2019. The rupture with John Bolton, right, is a case study in the president’s management style and his unusual expectations of those who report directly to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump’s fuzzy vision on the Sept. 11 attacks, Glenn Kessler, Sept. 12, 2019. The president has told many tall tales related to the 2001 terrorist attacks. As Trump controversies go, whether he saw the second plane or just the explosion of the second plane is relatively minor. Here’s a roundup of Trump claims regarding 9/11 that are clearly false.

Inside DC: Guns, Farming

washington post logous senate logoWashington Post, 145 CEOs implore Senate to act on gun violence, saying doing nothing is ‘simply unacceptable,’ Rachel Siegel​, Sept. 12, 2019. In the latest attempt by corporate America to pressure Congress for action on the issue, the chief executives of Levi Strauss, Twitter, Reddit and others urged for the expansion of background checks to all gun sales and for stronger “red flag” laws.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrat attempts to block Trump from paying farm bailout money, setting up battle over trade war tactics, Jeff Stein Sept. 12, 2019. House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) is proposing to block the White House request over its farm bailout program, according to a draft of legislation reviewed by the Washington Post, potentially imperiling President Trump’s ability to direct payments to thousands of farmers.

The bailout program was created last year amid complaints from agriculture groups that China had stopped purchasing their crops in retaliation for new tariffs that the White House imposed on Chinese imports. Trump has ordered that billions of dollars in taxpayer funds be paid directly to farmers as a way to offset their losses.

The bailout hadn’t needed congressional approval up to this point, but that has changed.

The Department of Agriculture is planning to spend upwards of $28 billion in payments over two years, but the Depression-era program Trump is using for the program has an annual $30 billion cap that they are expected to hit this year before the second round of payments can be completed.
A number of Democrats are sympathetic to complaints from farmers in key states, particularly in the Upper Midwest, but there are growing signs that agriculture groups are pinning blame squarely on the White House for the continued uncertainty.

U.S. Environment, Clean Water

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration to Finalize Rollback of Clean Water Protections, Coral Davenport, Sept. 12, 2019. The repeal of the Obama-era measure had been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration. he regulation had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies.

The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies.

The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it.

Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit.

More Epstein Connections

washington post logoWashington Post, Council on Foreign Relations, another beneficiary of Epstein largesse, grapples with how to handle his donations, Marc Fisher, Sept. 10, 2019. In his 15 years as a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Jeffrey Epstein attended only two events — a dinner for big donors in 1998 and a 2002 conversation with Paul O’Neill when he was U.S. treasury secretary during the George W. Bush administration.

But Epstein had given the council $350,000 over a decade of membership in the group’s top-level donor category, the Chairman’s Circle, and council leaders now acknowledge that they never discussed what to do about Epstein’s donations after he pleaded guilty to sex crimes in 2008.

“I deeply regret that his conviction did not automatically trigger a review of his membership status,” council president Richard Haass wrote in a note to council members last month.

His email, which was obtained by The Washington Post, made no mention of whether the council ever considered returning or redirecting Epstein’s donations, as some other nonprofits did after his 2008 conviction or his arrest this summer on federal charges of sexually abusing dozens of girls.

The council is the latest institution now confronting questions about how it handled contributions from Epstein, who officials say hanged himself in a New York jail cell last month while awaiting trial.

Supreme Court / Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Lets Trump Bar Asylum Seekers as Legal Fight Continues, Adam Liptak, Sept. 11, 2019. The policy requires many Central American migrants to be denied asylum in another country before applying in the United States. It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court backed a major Trump administration immigration initiative.

supreme court graphicThe Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the legal fight plays out in the courts.

The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.

The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.

It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court has allowed a major Trump administration immigration initiative to go forward. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, saying the court’s action will “upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.”

The rules reversed longstanding asylum policies that allowed people to seek haven no matter how they got to the United States. A federal appeals court had largely blocked the policy.

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the challengers in the new case, stressed that the Supreme Court’s action was provisional. “This is just a temporary step,” he said, “and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day. The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

The case will almost certainly return to the Supreme Court, but that will take many months.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid surge in youth vaping, Laurie McGinley​, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the Food and Drug Administration intends “to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pushed staff to address NOAA tweet that contradicted his inaccurate claim, Andrew Freedman, Josh Dawsey, Juliet Eilperin and Jason Samenow​, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s instruction led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who instructed NOAA officials to put out a statement buttressing Trump's contention that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama, according to officials.

washington post logopurdue pharma logoWashington Post, Purdue Pharma reaches tentative deal in federal opioids lawsuit, Aaron Davis, Lenny Bernstein, Joel Achenbach and Scott Higham​, Sept. 12, 2019 (print ed.). More than 20 state attorneys general who also sued the OxyContin maker are willing to accept the deal, but others remain opposed.

Global Affairs

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Russian spy case provides test for news outlets, David Bauderm, Sept. 12, 2019. He may be A spy. But is he THE spy? That’s the question bedeviling news organizations reporting on a story about the U.S. extracting a Russian official who provided information about Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election. CNN on Monday revealed the secret mission to remove the man and his family out of Russia for fear his life was in danger.

russian flagThe network did not identify the alleged spy. With government secrets and lives at stake, espionage is usually shrouded in secrecy.

Yet the Russian newspaper Kommersant on Tuesday named an individual it said was a missing member of Vladimir Putin’s administration and suggested that he was an agent who provided the United States with information about the election. That night, NBC News posted a story about a “former senior Russian official” who was living in the Washington area under U.S. government protection, citing current and former government officials.

U.S. Abuse of Power

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the lavish globe-trotting life of Bishop Michael Bransfield, Shawn Boburg and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Sept. 12, 2019. The Catholic cleric spent millions of dollars of his diocese’s money on sumptuous travel during his 13 years in largely impoverished West Virginia before he was barred from public ministry in July, a Post investigation found.

RFK Jr. Levels Murder Charge

Daily Mail, Robert F Kennedy was assassinated by Thane Eugene Cesar declares RFK Jr, who says it was the security guard who fatally shot his father from behind after planning the murder with Sirhan Sirhan, Chris Spargo, Sept. 12, 2019.

• Robert F Kennedy Jr is accusing Thane Eugene Cesar of murdering his father, claiming he fatally shot the presidential hopeful from behind in 1968
• He believes that Cesar was working with Sirhan Sirhan and guided Kennedy towards the Palestinian-born gunman while working security that night
• RFK Jr said Sirhan fired once in Kennedy's direction and then into the crowd, while Cesar then the fatal bullet as the senator from NY fell to the floor
• There are others who believe there were two gunmen that night, a theory that was bolstered when the coroner determined Kennedy was shot from behind
• RFK Jr made this claim just hours after Cesar passed away in the Philippines, where he moved shortly after the assassination, and called for a new probe
• 'The LAPD unit that investigated my dad’s assassination was run by active CIA operatives. They destroyed thousands of pieces of evidence,' claimed RFK Jr.

Sept. 11

Trump White House

john bolton gage skidmore via flickr

John Bolton, shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser, Disagreements on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan Come to a Head, Peter Baker, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions,” President Trump said on Twitter when announcing his decision. Mr. Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, denied he was fired, saying he gave in his resignation.

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had fired John R. Bolton, right, his third national security adviser, amid fundamental disagreements over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and most recently Afghanistan.

donald trump twitter“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service.”

Mr. Bolton offered a different version of how the end came in his own message on Twitter shortly afterward. “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” Mr. Bolton wrote, without elaborating. Responding to a question from The New York Times via text message, Mr. Bolton said it was his initiative. “Offered last night without his asking,” he wrote. “Slept on it and gave it to him this morning.”

mike pompeo portraitMr. Trump said he would appoint someone “next week,” setting off a process that should reveal where the president wants to take his foreign policy in the remaining time before next year’s election. In the meantime, a White House spokesman said Charles Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser, would be his acting adviser.

The national security adviser’s dismissal came so abruptly that it was announced barely an hour after the White House scheduled a briefing for 1:30 p.m. where Mr. Bolton was supposed to appear alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right,and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But Mr. Bolton is reported to have now left the White House.

Climate Change

climate change photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world, ming threshold, a Washington Post investigation has found, Chris Mooney and John Muyskens | Photos and video by Carolyn Van Houtem, Sept. 11, 2019. Major parts of the globe have already passed the 2 degrees Celsius of warning threshold, a Washington Post investigation has found.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Fewer Americans Live in Poverty, but More Lack Health Insurance, Ben Casselman, Margot Sanger-Katz and Jeanna Smialek, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). The rise in uninsured in 2018, despite a strong economy, was the first since 2009 and at least partly caused by efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s approval Rating falls amid recession, trade war fears, Toluse Olorunnipa and Scott Clement, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s Democratic-Republican Campaign logosapproval rating in the Washington Post-ABC News poll stands at 38 percent, down from 44 percent in June. The poll shows how one of Trump’s key arguments for reelection — a strong economy — shows signs of potential turmoil.

U.S. House Impeachment Plan

washington post logoWashington Post, Judiciary Committee Democrats map out possible impeachment articles against Trump, Rachael Bade, Sept. 12, 2019. The discussions, closely held and preliminary, include a range of allegations. But several congressional aides caution that the articles may never be drafted.

President Donald Trump officialA group of Judiciary Committee Democrats has begun privately mapping a list of possible charges against President Trump, sketching out the contours of potential articles of impeachment even as House leaders publicly resist taking such action, according to a half-dozen lawmakers and congressional aides.

The closely held, informal discussions between some committee lawmakers and aides close to the investigations say the charges include a range of allegations — some that echo charges against former president Richard M. Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defiance of subpoenas, as well as violation of campaign finance law and allegations of self-enrichment, said the individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their work.

The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five areas of potential obstruction in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, episodes Democrats will explore further during a hearing Tuesday with former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski and other ex-Trump aides.

Inside DC

washington post logoAmerican FlagWashington Post, This federal agency’s HQ is moving to Colorado. Is it bureaucratic efficiency or an efficient way to cull federal employees? Joe Davidson​, Sept. 11, 2019. The Bureau of Land Management says having more of its employees out west would improve decision-making and save money.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump escalates attacks on Fed, says it should cut interest rates to zero — or even set negative rates, Taylor Telford and David J. Lynch​, Sept. 11, 2019. The president’s tweets came days after a disappointing jobs report and a week ahead of the Fed board's next meeting.

#MeToo In Military

ny times logoNew York Times, Six Men Tell Their Stories of Sexual Assault in the Military, Staff report, Sept. 11, 2019. More than 100,000 men have been sexually assaulted in the military in recent decades. Shame and stigma kept the majority from coming forward. Sexual assaujlt in the military is a problem widely recognized but poorly understood. Elected officials and Pentagon leaders have tended to focus on the thousands of women who have been preyed upon while in uniform. But over the years, more of the victims have been men.

Department of Defense SealOn average, about 10,000 men are sexually assaulted in the American military each year, according to Pentagon statistics. Overwhelmingly, the victims are young and low-ranking. Many struggle afterward, are kicked out of the military and have trouble finding their footing in civilian life.

For decades, the fallout from the vast majority of male sexual assaults in uniform was silence: Silence of victims too humiliated to report the crime, silence of authorities unequipped to pursue it, silence of commands that believed no problem existed, and silence of families too ashamed to protest.

Women face a much higher rate of sexual assault in the military — about seven times that of men. But there are so many more men than women in the ranks that the total numbers of male and female victims in recent years have been roughly similar, according to Pentagon statistics — about 10,000 a year. And before women were fully integrated into the armed services, the bulk of the victims were men.

U.S. Law & Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Flynn sentencing set for Dec. 18 in case where he pleaded guilty to lying to FBI, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Prosecutors and Flynn’s new defense team continued to spar, with prosecutors warning they reserved the option to recommend prison not probation. A federal judge on Tuesday set sentencing for Dec. 18 for President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn as prosecutors said they reserved the option of seeking prison time for Flynn, which would reverse an earlier recommendation of probation.

michael flynn state department CustomAssistant U.S. Attorney Brandon L. Van Grack said the government will file new sentencing papers as Flynn’s defense team escalated its legal fight to have a court in Washington toss his prosecution because of alleged misconduct by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation.

Flynn, left, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to lying to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, becoming one of the first Trump associates to cooperate and the highest-ranking official charged in Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan set an Oct. 31 hearing to weigh Flynn’s allegations that prosecutors withheld classified information and other evidence they assert would help his case.

But even as he did, Sullivan pressed Flynn’s team about the relevance of its claims and said both sides would have to ponder how to proceed if the government stands by its position that no such evidence exists.

“Is that where this is headed . . .” Sullivan asked Flynn attorney Sidney Powell, “to say, what, he’s innocent of this charge?”

Powell replied: “To say this entire prosecution should be dismissed for egregious government misconduct and suppression” of evidence potentially beneficial to Flynn.

Flynn earlier this year fired the defense team that negotiated his plea, and Powell reversed course, asking Sullivan in an Aug. 30 filing to find prosecutors in contempt for allegedly withholding information to coerce the plea from the former three-star general.

U.S. Jobs, Labor

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Take That ‘Gig’ and Shove It, Editorial Board, Sept. 11, 2019. A California bill would make it harder for companies like Uber to take advantage of workers. Other states should borrow the idea. Corporate America has made a lot of money by treating millions of workers as independent contractors, denying them basic legal protections enjoyed by employees.

California is now on the verge of taking an important step to curb that sham.

The State Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that imposes strict limits on who can be classified as a contractor. The State Senate has already passed the measure, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that he will sign it into law. Beginning next year, companies like Uber, Lyft and other giants of the gig economy would be forced to treat hundreds of thousands of workers as employees

Global News

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump pronounces Taliban agreement ‘dead’ and peace talks over, Karen DeYoung, Josh Dawsey and Missy Ryan, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Dissension within the administration over the issue is “really heating up,” according to a senior administration official.

ny times logoNew York Times, Netanyahu Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank, David M. Halbfinger, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a difficult election next week, said he would annex the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, a change that would dramatically reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel FlagHis plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would give the nation “secure, permanent borders” to the east for the first time in its history, he said.

But it would also reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel. And Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a political ploy. Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements or annexations there to be illegal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s Radical Plan: Send a Million Refugees Back to Syria, Carlotta Gall, Sept. 11, 2019 (print ed.). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing to resettle refugees in a part of Syria controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies. If that does not happen, he is threatening to send a flood of Syrian migrants to Europe.

recep erdogan with flagTurkey, which for eight years has welcomed millions of Syrian refugees, has reversed course, forcing thousands to leave its major cities in recent weeks and ferrying many of them to its border with Syria in white buses and police vans.

Mr. Erdogan, left, has long demanded a buffer zone along Turkey’s border with Syria to keep out Kurdish forces, whom he considers a security threat.

But he has repackaged the idea for the zone as a refuge for Syrians fleeing the war — acting as resentment against Syrians in Turkey has increased, and a Syrian and Russian offensive in Syria has sent hundreds of thousands more refugees fleeing toward the Turkish border.

Sept. 10

Corrupt Justice Department?

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: How Democracy Dies, American-Style, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 10, 2019 (print ed.). Sharpies, auto emissions and the weaponization of policy. Authoritarianism is on the march across much of the world, but its advance tends to be relatively quiet and gradual, so that it’s hard to point to a single moment and say, this is the day democracy ended. You just wake up one morning and realize that it’s gone.

In their 2018 book How Democracies Die, the political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt documented how this process has played out in many countries, from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, to Viktor Orban’s Hungary.

Justice Department log circularAnd the events of the past week have demonstrated how this can happen right here in America [in] the Justice Department’s decision to investigate automakers for the crime of trying to act responsibly. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is considering bringing an antitrust action against those companies, as if agreeing on environmental standards were a crime comparable to, say, price-fixing.

And it’s also clear evidence that the Justice Department has been thoroughly corrupted. In less than three years it has been transformed from an agency that tries to enforce the law to an organization dedicated to punishing Trump’s opponents.

FBI logoWho’s next? In at least two cases, Trump appears to have tried to use his power to punish Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, which the president considers (like this newspaper) to be an enemy. First he pushed for an increase in the post office’s package shipping rates, amazon logo smallwhich would hurt Amazon’s delivery costs; then the Pentagon suddenly announced that it was re-examining the process for awarding a huge cloud-computing project that Amazon was widely expected to win.

In each case it’s hard to prove that these were efforts to weaponize government functions against domestic critics. But who are we kidding? Of course they were.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican pulls out narrow win in N.C. House race, Mike DeBonis and Laura Hughes, Sept. 10, 2019. Dan Bishop’s victory came a day after President Trump campaigned to help boost the state lawmaker in the surprisingly competitive race.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosRepublican Dan Bishop pulled out a narrow win in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District on Tuesday, giving the GOP a victory in a district that President Trump won easily in 2016 but which proved to be a fierce battleground in unusual back-to-back House campaigns.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Bishop led Democrat Dan McCready by more than two percentage points in a special election called after allegations of fraud against McCready’s initial GOP opponent upended a razor-thin election last November.

Global News

washington post logounited kingdom flagWashington Post, A chaotic night in Britain’s Parliament leaves Johnson with bleak choices on Brexit, Griff Witte and Karla Adam, Sept. 10, 2019. With Parliament suspended for the next five weeks, the prime minister has virtually no chance of getting a vote before Oct. 31, the deadline by which Britain is due to leave the European Union.

Trump Watchdjt rudy giuliani Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani just became a huge problem for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Sept. 10, 2019. Rudy Giuliani, ostensibly at the direction of Donald Trump, tried to get the government of Ukraine to work with him to manufacture a phony scandal about Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. This was supposed to taint Joe Biden’s 2020 candidacy, and thus magically hand the 2020 election to Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerNot only did the American media decline to run with the phony Joe Biden scandal, the media also quickly sussed out that Rudy Giuliani was behind the whole thing. Since that time it’s become clear that either Rudy committed a felony by trying to negotiate with Ukraine on his own without involving the U.S. government, or Rudy was working with the Trump regime on this plot. If it’s the latter, and it probably is, Rudy will have to throw Trump under the bus in order to avoid prison.

That’s why three different House committees are now launching investigations into just what Rudy Giuliani was trying to do with the government of Ukraine. It’s the kind of full-court press that’ll destroy Giuliani unless he cuts a deal.

UK Parliamentary Crisis

Channel 4 (London), The moment parliament was suspended for five weeks amid Brexit crisis, Sept. 10, 2019.  This is the moment parliament was suspended for five weeks, less than two months before the Brexit deadline, with fiery Speaker John Bercow presiding.

WikiLeaks, War Crimes Debated

Real Clear Politics, Meghan McCain vs. Pam Anderson: Snowden, Manning And Assange Are "Heroes," How Many Innocents Has U.S. Government Killed? Tim Hains, Sept. 10, 2019. Outspoken pro-WikiLeaks activist and former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson talked about the WikiLeaks founder on "The View" in her first TV interview since visiting him in May.

"You know who puts national security at risk? The military," Anderson said. "How many people has the American government killed innocently, and how many has WikiLeaks?"

More On U.S. Justice Dept.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former FBI analyst admits snooping on anti-Mueller conspiracy theorist, Rachel Weiner, Sept. 10, 2019. A former analyst for the FBI admitted Tuesday to copying the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist and sharing them with his superiors while his wife offered them to the press.

FBI logoMark Tolson, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to one misdemeanor count of accessing without authorization the email account of lobbyist Jack Burkman. Burkman is identified in the court documents by the initials “J.B.”

Tolson’s wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, worked for Burkman from October 2017 to early summer 2018 and had access to his email, according to a statement of facts. Tolson learned in October that Burkman, who gained prominence for conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, was planning a news conference claiming that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III committed sexual assault. The woman never appeared, and Mueller asked the FBI to examine claims that she was offered money to fabricate the accusation. Burkman has denied offering anyone money for testimony.

According to prosecutors, Tolson asked his wife to see whether she still had access to Burkman’s account, and they spent 15 or 20 minutes reviewing, photographing and printing “emails of interest.” When they tried to log in again, they were denied access.

Fox and Tolson both then contacted a reporter to share the information and offered to provide Burkman’s password. The reporter declined to accept the password.

On Nov. 1, 2018, Tolson emailed an FBI official to request a meeting on an “urgent” matter, according to the statement of facts. They met later that day, and Tolson handed over an envelope containing the emails, which he believed might be “illegal.”

Burkman’s partner in the Mueller stunt, a young conservative operative named Jacob Wohl, was recently charged with a felony in California in connection with a house-flipping scheme. Burkman was also the victim of another crime related to his conspiratorial work; last year a man he hired to investigate Rich’s death shot and nearly killed him after a falling out.

U.S. Politics

FrontPageLive, Valerie Plame: “Mr. President, I’ve got a few scores to settle” – a betrayed CIA agent is running for Congress, Staff report, Sept. 10, 2019. You’ve probably valerie plameheard her name: Valerie Plame — the ex CIA undercover operative notoriously outed by the former VP Dick Cheney’s team as petty retaliation against her husband, Joseph Wilson for a New York Times article “What I Didn’t Find in Africa” he wrote. The Plame affair (also known as the CIA leak scandal and Plamegate) was a political scandal that revolved around journalist Robert Novak’s public identification of Valerie Plame as a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer in 2003.

Valerie Plame, author of the memoir Fair Game, just posted a campaign ad for her congressional run in New Mexico as a Democratic Party candidate. Several people on Twitter think it might be the best political trailer of the year.

Valerie Plame: "I am running for Congress because we’re going backwards on national security, health care, and women’s rights … We need to turn our country around. And, yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this. And Mr. President, I’ve got a few scores to settle.”

Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative. Her assignment was preventing rogue states and terrorists from getting nuclear weapons. You name a hot spot… She lived it.

Then Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff took revenge against her husband and leaked her identity. His name? Scooter Libby. Guess who pardoned him last year? Donald J. Trump.

Montgomery Advertiser, DNC Chair: Alabama Democrats not getting party-building funds, Brian Lyman, Sept. 10, 2019 (updated). The chairman of the Democratic National Committee Monday said the DNC has been withholding some payments from the Alabama Democratic Party due to a failure to develop a strategic plan or invest in state party infrastructure.

In a letter to Jefferson County Democratic Party chair Richard Mauk, Tom Perez wrote that the party held up at least $10,000 a month in payments to the state party.

dnc square logo“Alabama has fallen far short of meeting its basic obligations to develop an effective strategic plan and build the necessary infrastructure for success,” Perez wrote in the letter. “The ADP has chronically underperformed in virtually every aspect of operation.”
The sign in front of the Alabama Democratic Party headquarters

democratic donkey logoThe sign in front of the Alabama Democratic Party headquarters in Montgomery features the donkey symbol. (Photo: Phillip Rawls/AP)

The letter is the latest sign of mounting impatience from the national party with the current leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party. The DNC last month stripped Alabama Democratic Party chair Nancy Worley and vice-chair Randy Kelley of their credentials, accusing the leaders of dragging their feet in implementing by-law changes and holding new leadership elections, as ordered by the national party in February.

djt mike pence

Palmer Report, Opinion: Full blown war breaks out between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Sept. 10, 2019. When Donald Trump announced this morning that he was forcing National Security Adviser John Bolton to resign, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In fact, if you’ve been reading Palmer Report, it didn’t come as much of a surprise, because a veritable flame war has been erupting between Trump and Mike Pence for the past several days, and Bolton has been caught right in the middle of it.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst came reports late last week that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent the past year feuding over Pence’s future political ambitions. This surfaced, incidentally, on the same day we learned that Pence had stayed at a Trump resort on the taxpayer dime, which in turn blew the lid off Trump’s larger long-running resort grift. Then Trump publicly laid the blame for the scandal at Pence’s feet. Then Trump’s Taliban Camp David meeting blew up in his face. Then came the leak to CNN yesterday that Pence and John Bolton had tried to talk Trump out of the meeting.

As Palmer Report explained yesterday, this leak could only have come from Pence and Bolton, or else it wouldn’t have been considered credible enough to have gotten printed. Donald Trump surely knew this when he saw it. He understood that Pence and Bolton were trying to protect their own reputations by hanging him out to dry on the failed Taliban stunt. Trump can’t fire Pence – at least not in the middle of the term – so he fired Bolton.

Make no mistake about what’s going on here. It’s easy to see from a mile away that Donald Trump has declared war on Mike Pence, and his ouster of John Bolton – a Pence ally – is part of it. In fact it’s fair to argue that it was Pence who declared war first, when he and Bolton leaked their Taliban dissent. This is going to get uglier going forward. Pence is the one person Trump can’t actually fire. But he can humiliate Pence from now through the election, and he can try to dump Pence from the ticket if the GOP will let him. Buckle up.

Sept. 9

Trump Probes

jerry nadler close up committee unsourced Custom

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), shown in a file photo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers plan to examine claims that the president dangled pardons to aides and that his resorts illegally profited from government business.

House Democrats return to Washington this week poised to significantly broaden their nascent impeachment inquiry into President Trump beyond the findings of the Russia investigation, but they will confront a fast-dwindling political clock.

Undeterred by lackluster public support for impeachment, Democratic lawmakers and aides have sketched out a robust four-month itinerary of hearings and court arguments that they hope will provide the evidence they need to credibly portray Mr. Trump as corrupt and abusing his power.

Beyond the president’s efforts to impede the special counsel’s investigation, Democrats also plan to scrutinize his role in hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with him and reports that he dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies. Democrats also demanded documents last week related to whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business.

Law & Crime, House Intel Committee Turns Up the Heat, ‘Commands’ Michael Flynn to Comply with Subpoena, Matt Naham, Sept. 9, 2019. A day ahead a scheduled court appearance for Michael Flynn, we’ve learned that on last Friday House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a 5-page letter commanding Flynn comply with a subpoena by appearing before the Committee on Sept. 25.

michael flynn state department CustomFlynn, left, a former Trump National Security Advisor, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his communication with the then-Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. He promised to cooperate and was even credited for providing “substantial assistance” to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But Flynn’s sentencing has been pushed back repeatedly.

In a recent filing, Flynn’s lawyers went so far as to accuse prosecutors of withholding exculpatory evidence.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, Afghanistan Braces for Violence After Talks Are Called Off, David E. Sanger and Mujib Mashal, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s decision to break off peace talks with the Taliban left the country bracing for a bloody prelude to national elections this month. The administration declined to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord.

In a round of television interviews, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed an attack by the Taliban for the cancellation of talks at Camp David this weekend that the administration had expected would lead to the signing of a peace agreement.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Boris Johnson, Another Bad Day and Another Big Defeat in Parliament, Stephen Castle, Sept. 9, 2019. British lawmakers, capping what may be one of the most abysmal starts any British leader has ever endured, on Monday rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid to hold a new national election.

For Britain’s bare-knuckled new prime minister, it was a day of defeat. Parliament’s rejection of a snap election came as a new law went into effect on Monday blocking Mr. Johnson from pursuing a “no deal” withdrawal from the European Union.

Parliament is now suspended until mid-October, the result of earlier political maneuvering by the prime minister. But by Monday’s end, it seemed clear that if Mr. Johnson had thought he could outfox Parliament by suspending it, sidelining lawmakers at a critical moment in the Brexit debate, he was the one who had been outmaneuvered.

Now, the man who promised to deliver Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union “do or die,” formal withdrawal agreement or not, is suddenly flailing for a new strategy. Mr. Johnson needed more than 430 votes for a snap election to proceed. He got 293.

djt boris johnson

ny times logoNew York Times, Boris Johnson Finds His Party Loyalists Aren’t as Loyal as Trump’s, Mark Landler, Sept. 9, 2019 (print ed.). However distasteful Republicans may find President Trump, they largely back his agenda. In Britain, rebels in the Conservative Party have staged a dramatic insurrection.

The Tory party’s revolt against Mr. Johnson (at left above), and his ruthless purging of the rebels, are reverberating through British politics, threatening his hold on power. For dispirited Republicans, though, this British revolution has become an object lesson in how a center-right party can stand up to a wayward leader.

Hurricane Fallout

djt alabama dorian chart

ny times logoNew York Times, Commerce Chief Threatened Firings at NOAA After Trump’s Dorian Tweets, Sources Say, Christopher Flavelle, Lisa Friedman and Peter Baker, Sept. 9, 2019. The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim (shown above) that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

wilbur rossThe actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., right, are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Dozens of Bahamas residents hoping to seek refuge were kicked off a ferry headed for Florida because they had no visas, Caitlin Dickerson
Sept. 9, 2019. Dozens of weary Bahamas residents hoping to seek refuge in the United States from the storm-ravaged islands were kicked off a ferry headed for Florida on Sunday night, after an announcement on board that anyone without a valid visa would “have problems” at the American port of entry.

Videos of the incident, which occurred after an apparent failure of communication between the company operating the ferry and United States authorities, spread rapidly on social media. Frustrated passengers were lamenting that their hopes of getting away from Hurricane Dorian’s devastation had been suddenly dashed.

“At the last minute like this,” said one passenger, Renard Oliver, who held onto a toddler as he spoke to a reporter with the Miami television station WSVN. “It’s hurtful because I’m watching my daughters cry, but it is what it is.”

United States authorities issued conflicting statements about the matter in a space of a few hours on Monday, adding to the confusion and frustration among hurricane survivors.

Presidential Powers

ny times logoNew York Times, Executive Power Survey, Charlie Savage, Sept. 9, 2019. We asked 2020 candidates how they would wield presidential power. Here is what they said.

UK Parliamentary Crisis

Guardian, Tearful John Bercow reveals he will step down as Speaker by 31 October – video, Sept. 9, 2019. Speaker John Bercow, right, has said he will stand down as the john bercow parliament speaker conservativeHouse of Commons Speaker, as well as an MP, before the end of next month. The colourful Speaker, famous for his bellowing cries of 'Order!' during raucous debates, will quit on 31 October, the same day Britain is due to leave the EU, unless an election is called before then.

Throughout the three years since Britain voted to leave the EU, Bercow has angered the Conservative government by repeatedly allowing lawmakers to seize control of parliament's agenda to steer the course of Brexit. He said he was simply fulfilling his role of letting parliament have its say, adding that he had always 'sought to be the backbenchers' backstop.'

Trafficking, #MeToo Scandals

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein connection to Southeast Asian pedophile ring, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 9, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow reported in a September 6 article that M.I.T. Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts continued to receive massive amounts of donations, far in excess of what the MIT logoinstitution reported, from convicted underage sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

M.I.T. Media Lab’s connections to Epstein are extremely relevant to WMR’s expose of the Media Lab’s links to a Cambodian orphanage in Phnom Penh victimized by an international pedophile ring.

ny times logoNew York Times, Previously Unknown Sources Come Forward in a New Book About Harvey Weinstein, Alexandra Alter, Sept. 9, 2019. Two years before harvey weinsteinthe allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Harvey Weinstein, right, became public, his own brother and business partner, Bob Weinstein, confronted him, pleading with him to get medical treatment for what he described as many years of “misbehavior.”

“You have brought shame to the family and your company through your misbehavior,” Bob Weinstein wrote. “Your reaction was once more to blame the victims, or to minimize the misbehavior in various ways. If you think nothing is wrong with your misbehavior so in this area then announce it to your wife and family.”

The previously unreported letter is reprinted in full in She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, a new book by jodi kantor megan twohey she said coverJodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, two reporters at The New York Times who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds, helping to spark the global #MeToo reckoning. The book, to be published on Tuesday by Penguin Press, sheds new light on the roles that several figures played in enabling Mr. Weinstein and covering up his misdeeds, and names key sources who helped reporters break the story — including company officials, Hollywood stars and other victims of the producer’s alleged abuse.

Drawing on new reporting and previously undisclosed corporate records, emails and text messages, She Said uncovers more on the extent of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged transgressions, and the labyrinth of secret settlements and restrictive nondisclosure agreements that allowed Mr. Weinstein and other men in positions of power to conceal their behavior and thrive in their careers, in some cases finding new victims.

U.S. 2020 Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Confronting Critics, Kamala Harris Releases a Criminal Justice Plan, Astead W. Herndon, Sept. 9, 2019. Ms. Harris says her prosecutorial career has prepared her to deliver a criminal justice overhaul. But her critics say she has been part of the problem.

kamala harris portraitSenator Kamala Harris of California, right, released a sweeping proposal on Monday to overhaul the criminal justice system, vowing to end mass incarceration and revamp police practices through a progressive wish list of policies, including some ideas Ms. Harris previously rejected during her years as a district attorney and state attorney general.

For months, Democratic presidential candidates have courted liberal activists with wide-ranging criminal justice plans, but Ms. Harris’s plan carries special significance. She has long cast herself as a “progressive prosecutor,” but some criminal justice experts and activists have balked at that characterization, saying she operated with the same “tough on crime” instincts that helped create the criminal justice problems she now seeks to solve.

The plan, perhaps the most ambitious effort of Ms. Harris’s campaign so far, focuses on reducing the prison population, creating national standards in policing, ensuring humane treatment for incarcerated people and prioritizing historically vulnerable communities. It also embraces ideas that have gone from the policy fringe to largely consensus positions popular among Democrats, including ending mandatory minimum sentences, eliminating private prisons, legalizing marijuana and incentivizing states to untether themselves from a cash bail system that disproportionately burdens the poor.

Previewing the plan in an interview with the New York Times, Ms. Harris painted it as a full-circle moment in her decades-long career in law enforcement. Her pitch to voters, she said, was that her years spent trying to change the criminal justice system from the inside had uniquely prepared her to lead its overhaul from the executive branch.

Other Democratic candidates have also released robust positions on criminal justice.

U.S. Torture

jacob hornberger newThe Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Pentagon’s Upcoming Kangaroo Show Trial in Cuba, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 9, 2019. After 18 years, there is a possibility that the Pentagon is finally going to permit a “trial” of five men who are accused of conspiracy to commit the 9/11 attacks. If so, the proceedings will prove what a charade the Pentagon’s entire “judicial system” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been and continues to be. In fact, the trial, if it is even permitted to take place, will serve as a mirror for how “trials” are conducted in communist China or, for matter, in communist Cuba.

Let’s review how the Pentagon’s “judicial” system got established in the first place. After the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon decided to establish a prison, torture center, and “judicial” system for accused terrorists that it would be capturing and kidnapping around the world. It decided to locate this center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Why Cuba rather than somewhere in the United States? The Pentagon wanted to make certain that it would have omnipotent power to run its center any way it wanted, without having to bother with the rights and guarantees enumerated in the Constitution, especially in the Bill of Rights. It also didn’t want any interference with its operation from the U.S. Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary. In other words, the Pentagon wanted a Constitution-free zone in which to operate its prison, torture center, and “judicial” system.

Ultimately, much to the Pentagon’s chagrin, the Supreme Court ruled that it did have ultimate jurisdiction over the Guantanamo operations. However, while the federal judiciary has accepted some petitions for writ of habeas corpus from Guantanamo inmates, overall it has followed its longtime policy of deference to the national-security establishment when it comes to matters of “national security.”

What the Supreme Court should have done from the very beginning was to order a complete shutdown of the Pentagon’s prison, torture center, and “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay. There is a simple reason for that: the Constitution, which is the higher law that controls the actions of federal officials, including the Pentagon, does not authorize the Pentagon to operate such a center.

It is critically important to keep in mind that terrorism is not an act of war. Instead, it is a federal criminal offense. That is why there are terrorism trials in federal courts in New York, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and elsewhere. Terrorism is listed among federal crimes in the U.S. Code. In fact, the Pentagon’s upcoming “trial” in Cuba is itself an acknowledgement that terrorism is, in fact, a criminal offense, one that here is being prosecuted by the Pentagon in Cuba rather than by the U.S. Justice Department in federal district court here in the United States.

Two different systems

It is also critically important to recognize that the Constitution does not provide for two separate judicial systems to try criminal cases, one run by the military and the other run by the federal courts. The Constitution provides for only one judicial system for all criminal offenses, including terrorism cases.

It is also critically important to recognize that the principles being followed in both systems — the federal court system and the military system — are as different as night and day.

In the federal court system, people who are accused of terrorism or any other crimes are presumed innocent. Judges and law-enforcement personnel are prohibited from torturing people or inflicting other “cruel and unusual” punishments on them. An accused has the right to remain silent — i.e., no forced confessions. Communications between attorney and client are confidential. The accused has the right to confront his accusers — i.e., hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Trials can be by jury, where ordinary citizens, not a judge, decide the facts of the case and the guilt or innocence of the accused. Trials must be speedy — i.e., no 18-year delay, as there has been in the Pentagon’s system.

Things are the exact opposite in the Pentagon’s system, which is precisely it established its system in Cuba rather than the United States. Remember: the Pentagon’s goal is establishing its center in Cuba was to avoid the principles of the Constitution and the interference of the Supreme Court.

Why would the military want to avoid the principles of the Constitution, especially given that military personnel take oaths to support and defend the Constitution? The answer lies in the conservative military mindset that has long held that the Bill of Rights consists of constitutional “technicalities” that permit guilty people to go free. By establishing an independent prison, torture center, and “judicial” system at Gitmo, the Pentagon was going to show the American people and the world what a “real” judicial system should look like, one where “the guilty” had what was coming to them and where there was no possibility of an acquittal by some ignorant jury.

Thus, under the Pentagon’s system, the accused are presumed guilty. They are subject to being brutally tortured, not only to secure information but also confessions. Forced confessions are admissible at trial. There is no right of trial by jury. A tribunal of military personnel, all of whom are answerable to the President, decide the facts in the case and the guilt of innocent of the accused. Communications between attorney and client are secretly monitored. Hearsay evidence is admissible. Trials can be delayed indefinitely, even forever. The outcome of the “trial” is not in doubt.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, 50 U.S. states and territories announce broad antitrust investigation of Google, Tony Romm, Sept. 9, 2019. More than 40 state attorneys general on Monday google logo customofficially announced an antitrust investigation of Google. Attorneys general for 50 U.S. states and territories on Monday officially announced an antitrust investigation of Google, embarking on a wide-ranging review of a tech giant that Democrats and Republicans said may threaten competition, consumers and the continued growth of the web.

Appearing on the steps of the Supreme Court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton charged that Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” though he cautioned that despite his criticism the states had launched an investigation for now and not a lawsuit.

Paxton said the probe’s initial focus is online advertising. Google is expected to rake in more than $48 billion in U.S. digital ad revenue this year, far rivaling its peers, while capturing 75 percent of all spending on U.S. search ads, according to eMarketer.

More On CIA's Drug Program

npr logoNational Public Radio (NPR), The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief,' Host Terry Gross interviews author Stephen Kinzer about his new book, Poisoner in Chief), Sept. 9, 2019. (37:36 min.). CIA sidney gottliebchemist Sidney Gottlieb (right, shown in a CIA photo) headed up the agency's secret MK-ULTRA program, which was charged with developing a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies.

During the early period of the Cold War, the CIA became convinced that communists had discovered a drug or technique that would allow them to control human minds. In response, the CIA began its own secret program, called MK-ULTRA, to search for a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies.

MK-ULTRA, which operated from the 1950s until the early '60s, was created and run by a chemist named Sidney Gottlieb. Journalist Stephen Kinzer, who spent several years investigating the program, calls the operation the "most sustained search in history for techniques of mind control."

stephen kinzer poisoner coverSome of Gottlieb's experiments were covertly funded at universities and research centers, Kinzer says, while others were conducted in American prisons and in detention centers in Japan, Germany and the Philippines. Many of his unwitting subjects endured psychological torture ranging from electroshock to high doses of LSD, according to Kinzer's research.

"Gottlieb wanted to create a way to seize control of people's minds, and he realized it was a two-part process," Kinzer says. "First, you had to blast away the existing mind. Second, you had to find a way to insert a new mind into that resulting void. We didn't get too far on number two, but he did a lot of work on number one."

Kinzer notes that the top-secret nature of Gottlieb's work makes it impossible to measure the human cost of his experiments. "We don't know how many people died, but a number did, and many lives were permanently destroyed," he says.

Ultimately, Gottlieb concluded that mind control was not possible. After MK-ULTRA shut down, he went on to lead a CIA program that created poisons and high-tech gadgets for spies to use.

Sept. 8

Trump Nixes Afghan Summit

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he canceled secret meeting with Afghan president, Taliban at Camp David, Seung Min Kim and Anne Gearan​, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump said Saturday that he had canceled a previously undisclosed summit at Camp David with Taliban leadership and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after the Taliban took responsibility for an attack last week that killed a U.S. soldier.

donald trump twitterTrump said the meetings had been set to take place Sunday. On Twitter, the president appeared to cancel talks with the Taliban indefinitely, a significant blow to the peace process kicked off last year, which was nearing its conclusion.

U.S. Supreme Court

washington post logoWashington Post, Everything conservatives hoped for and liberals feared’: Neil Gorsuch makes his mark at the Supreme Court, Robert Barnes and Seung Min Kim​, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). In a new book and interview, the Supreme Court justice discusses his strong views on the law and the art of judging.

neil gorsuch circuit portraitSome justices ascend to the Supreme Court quietly, deferring to their elders and biding time before venturing out too far to offer their own views of the law.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, right, on the other hand, appears to have been shot from a cannon. At his inaugural oral argument in April 2017, President Trump’s first choice for the Supreme Court asked 22 questions. In the term just completed, Gorsuch wrote more dissents than any other justice and typed out a whopping 337 pages of opinions. Again, more than anyone else.

djt maga hatAlong the way, he has established himself as one of the court’s most conservative justices and a reliable vote for Trump initiatives that have reached the Supreme Court — the travel ban on those from mostly-Muslim countries, adding a citizenship question to the census form and allowing a ban on transgender service in the military to go into effect. He has shown a willingness to overturn precedent and an impatience with more reticent colleagues.

“I’m all in, and I wanted to explain that,” Gorsuch said in a recent interview in his chambers. He was referring to A Republic, If You Can Keep It, a book he has written that goes on sale Tuesday. The title is from Benjamin Franklin’s reported comment when asked what kind of government the Founding Fathers would propose.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Sheldon Whitehouse, right, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate. Politics is a team sport. We battle, and our courts are supposed to referee our disputes.

sheldon whitehouseBut what if one team spent years and millions of dollars to capture the referees, so the refs could declare that team the winner whenever they fell short on the field? If you were on the other team, you’d cry foul. You’d ask: “Hey, when did the law become a team sport, too?’’
A few weeks ago, several Senate colleagues and I did just that when we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the Supreme Court in which the National Rifle Association had urged the court to continue its “project” (the NRA’s term) to undermine gun regulations.

We cried foul.

From 2005 through the fall term of 2018, the Roberts court issued 73 5-to-4 partisan decisions benefiting big Republican donor interests: allowing corporations to spend unlimited money in elections; hobbling pollution regulations; enabling attacks on minority voting rights; curtailing labor’s right to organize; denying workers the ability to challenge employers in court; and, of course, expanding the NRA’s gun rights “project.” It’s a pattern.

Of course, in other decisions during that period, such as the 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, a Republican appointed justice joined the liberals. But in its run of 73 partisan 5-to-4 cases, the Republican majority routinely broke traditionally conservative legal principles, such as respect for precedent or “originalist” reading of the Constitution. They even went on remarkable fact-finding expeditions, violating traditions of appellate adjudication.

Trump Faces New GOP Rival

washington post logoWashington Post, Former S.C. congressman Mark Sanford announces Republican primary challenge against Trump, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 8, 2018. Former congressman Mark Sanford announced Sunday that he will challenge President Trump in the 2020 Republican primary, becoming the third GOP contender in the race to unseat the incumbent.

“I am here to tell you now that I am going to get in,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

“I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford added. “I think that as a Republican Party, we have lost our way.”

mark sanford oThe South Carolina Republican, right, said he had been intending to announce his bid at a campaign event last week but decided to cancel it because of Hurricane Dorian. Sanford campaign spokeswoman Sarah Allred said Sunday that a formal kickoff event has yet to be planned.

Sanford, a former South Carolina governor who represented the state’s 1st Congressional District in the House until earlier this year, had been mulling a bid against the president for weeks.

He joins former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who launched a bid against Trump in April seeking to appeal to traditional Republican voters, and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, who announced last month that he will challenge the president not from the center but from the right and on moral grounds.

Hurricane Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, Corpses Strewn and People Missing a Week After Dorian Hit the Bahamas, Kirk Semple, Sept. 8, 2019. The total of those missing and dead may not be known for weeks in the Bahamas. But a walk through one of the hardest hit areas showed several bodies. The official death toll attributed to the hurricane remained at 44 but there is no estimate yet of how many people are unaccounted for.

Media News

National Press Club, The Press Club offered to help a newspaper in the Bahamas. Here's the response, Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, Sept. 8, 2019. The National Press Club asked our colleagues in the Bahamas how we can help them to continue reporting the news in the aftermath of Dorian. This was the response from Eugene Duffy, managing editor of the Tribune in Nassau: "Many thanks for your very kind offer of help, it is much appreciated. Here in Nassau we are about 150 miles south of where Dorian hit and with the exception of some torrential rain and local flood we were unaffected.

In material terms we have no issues, it's just one of those jobs which swallows the day very quickly with everyone working flat out: you get get on with it.

The only thing I would ask is if you could get the message around your members who are reporting the disaster to try and highlight the fact it was not "The Bahamas" which was devastated - just two islands at the north our 550 mile long archipelago.

We rely massively on tourism here with annual three million Americans visiting us on cruise ships or by air. On Friday I was at the airport here in New Providence and there were NO tourists coming in from the States, which will be devastating for the economy here if it continues for any significant period. If reporters can address this in copy or their on air reports it will help get the message across the vast majority of the country is still open for business.

U.S. Health Care / Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Whatever they’re offering here, I’ll grab it.’ People come for free medical and dental care in Baltimore, Peter Jamison, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). Nearly a decade after passage of the Affordable Care Act, Americans with and without insurance were lining up before dawn to obtain care they otherwise couldn’t afford.

As the sun rose Saturday, Delores Connolly stood in line outside a public school here clutching a numbered ticket. Connolly, 61, who has health insurance, was waiting to enter a clinic offering free medical and dental care.

Dental care was dropped from her Medicaid coverage this year, Connolly said, and her plan would not cover eyeglasses to replace a pair she had lost. She had queued up at 5:30 a.m. at a temporary clinic operated in Baltimore over the weekend by the nonprofit Remote Area Medical (RAM).

Trump's Weather Obsession

djt alabama dorian chart

washington post logoWashington Post, Top NOAA official warned staff against contradicting Trump, Andrew Freedman, Colby Itkowitz and Jason Samenow, Sept. 8, 2019 (print ed.). National Weather Service personnel were also told not to “provide any opinion,” according to a copy of a Sept. 1 directive. The agency’s backing of Trump has been met with a backlash from scientists and meteorologists.

A NOAA meteorologist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said the note, understood internally to be referring to Trump, came after the National Weather Service office in Birmingham contradicted Trump by tweeting Alabama would “NOT see any impacts from the hurricane."

MintPress News, Investigation/Commentary, How the CIA, Mossad and “the Epstein Network” are Exploiting Mass Shootings to Create an Orwellian Nightmare, Whitney Webb, Sept. 6, 2019. Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, Orwellian “solutions” are set to be foisted on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent in the United States.
5.2K

Following the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. Not long after Epstein’s arrest, and his relationships and finances came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein’s close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump backer Peter Thiel.

Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services in countries around the world, including the United States, where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws.

Yet, Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose “alumni” often go on to create tech companies — Carbyne among them — that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and, according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often “blur the line” between their service to Israel’s defense/intelligence apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal, Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.

Editor's Note: This series contains much more  than the powerful and well-supported excerpt above....

whitney webbWhitney Webb, right, is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets, including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism

Sept. 7

Decrees From DCDonald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Plans to Drop Presidential Primaries in 4 States to Impede Trump Challengers, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 7, 2019 (print ed.). The Republican Parties in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina intend to cancel the 2020 presidential primaries in their states, according to three people familiar with their plans, a move aimed at depriving President Trump’s long-shot challengers of chances to build support.

rnc logoThe state parties have not formalized their decisions, but Mr. Trump’s challengers denounced the move. Joe Walsh, right, a former Tea Party congressman from Illinois who announced his candidacy last month, said he planned to fight the move legally and by appealing directly to voters in those states.

joe walsh“It’s something a mob boss would do,” Mr. Walsh said in an interview. “All the times in 2016 when he said the Democrats were rigging the system to elect Hillary? He is actually eliminating elections in certain states, and that’s undemocratic.”

William F. Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who is also challenging Mr. Trump for the party’s nomination, said he found the move concerning but not surprising. “Mr. Trump has not been bashful about his desire to avoid primaries or even elections,” Mr. Weld said. “He spoke admiringly of Xi Jinping getting rid of elections and talks about a third term for himself, which he has to know is not lawful. This is something that would be appropriate in a monarchy.”

Other states could follow suit before the Oct. 1 deadline for state parties to file delegate selection plans with the Republican National Committee, campaign officials said. States that do not hold primaries still choose delegates, often by holding a convention. The plans to cancel primaries were first reported on Friday by Politico.

washington post logoJustice Department log circularWashington Post, Justice Dept. launches antitrust probe of automakers over their fuel efficiency deal with California, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson​, Sept. 7, 2019 (print ed.).​ The Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation of four leading automakers over an agreement they forged with the state of California to maintain higher fuel efficiency standards than those sought by the Trump administration, raising questions of whether the department is being politicized to impose the president’s policies.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department notified California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols that the state’s deal with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America on future mileage targets “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice brings its weight to bear against auto companies in an attempt to frighten them out of voluntarily making cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks than EPA wants,” Nichols said in a statement. “Consumers might ask, who is [EPA administrator] Andy Wheeler protecting?”
pentagon dc skyline dod photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Defense secretary urges allies to ‘pick up the tab’ on Pentagon projects defunded for Trump’s border wall, Paul Sonne, Sept. 7, 2019 (print ed.).​ Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said European nations can fill the funding gap if they’re worried about the loss of $770 million for construction projects designed to help U.S. allies mark esperdefend themselves against Russia.

Department of Defense SealMore than $770 million worth of defunded projects are for the European Deterrence Initiative and its predecessor program, which President Barack Obama launched in 2014 to shore up the defenses of European allies after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

The affected initiatives include a plan to build a facility for Special Operations forces and their training in Estonia, projects to construct ammunition and fuel storage facilities and staging areas in Poland, and planned upgrades to surveillance aircraft facilities in Italy, as well as airfield and fuel storage upgrades in Slovakia and Hungary.

House Oversight Of Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel is probing U.S. military use of Trump-owned property in Scotland, Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 7, 2019. The House Oversight Committee is investigating why a financially struggling airport near a Trump-owned golf course in Scotland has seen an uptick in expenditures by the U.S. military since President Trump took office.

elijah cummings headshotChairman Elijah E. Cummings, left, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, both Maryland Democrats, sent a letter to the Defense Department’s acting secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, in June asking for all travel information pertaining to Pentagon personnel through the Glasgow Prestwick Airport, as well as visits to the Trump Turnberry golf resort.

In the letter, Cummings and Raskin say that the airport “reportedly has provided ‘cut-price rooms for select passengers and crew’ and ‘offered free rounds at Turnberry to visiting U.S. military and civilian air crews.’ ”

Trump purchased the cash-strapped golf course on the west coast of Scotland in 2014 and has never turned a profit on his investment. In the years after his purchase, Trump advocated bringing more flights through Prestwick Airport, which would benefit his property just 30 miles away.

Politico, which first reported the Oversight investigation, described one Air National Guard trip to Kuwait in which the crew stopped at Trump’s Turnberry property on the way there and back. Typically, crews refuel in locations where there are U.S. military bases.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Donald Trump’s impeachment was coming, Bill Palmer, Sept. 7, 2019. Each time Palmer Report has pointed to the mounting evidence that Donald Trump is going to be impeached, the naysayers have insisted that it’s all just a fantasy. They’ve cited Nancy Pelosi’s statement that impeachment is off the table (even though Pelosi never said this). They’ve insisted it’ll never happen because the Republican Senate won’t remove him anyway.

bill palmer report logo headerThe thing is, none of that matters. It’s the impeachment process that matters. House Democrats can use nationally televised hearings to expose every last bit of Trump’s corruption, crimes, scandals, deranged behavior, and mental unfitness. Television has an impact on popular opinion that no other medium does, and no one knows that better than reality show clown Donald Trump. These hearings are going to happen, for reasons that are obvious. They haven’t happened yet, which has fueled the rhetoric of the naysayers who insist it’ll never happen. But there’s a reason it hasn’t happened yet, and we just saw big news on that front.

democratic donkey logoHouse Democrats have been fighting court battles over the evidence and testimony necessary to put on the kind of compelling televised impeachment hearings that’ll have a major impact. But they don’t have to win all of these battles; just some of them. Once they’ve secured enough evidence and testimony in the court of law to win in the court of public opinion, they’ll move forward. That’s why it’s such a big deal that they’re now moving forward.

Yesterday, the news broke that the House Judiciary Committee is holding a vote this week to formalize its impeachment inquiry. This vote is a formality. The Democrats will vote yes, the Republicans will vote no, and it’ll pass. What matters here is that the Democrats have gone ahead and scheduled the vote. It means they think they’re close enough to having their hands on the necessary evidence and testimony, that they’re now ready to officially settle on their opening round of impeachment hearing topics.

Hurricane Dorian

dorian twitter ap via time

washington post logoWashington Post, With time running out, crews race to rescue survivors in the Bahamas, Maria Sacchetti, Dan Lamothe and Anthony Faiola, Sept. 7, 2019. With time running out to save stranded survivors of Hurricane Dorian, Bahamian and U.S. rescue crews combed through rubble in the hardest-hit areas Friday and braced for the death toll to rise.

Five days after the storm made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, authorities said it was unclear how many people were in need of assistance and how many had died. Officials and aid organizations struggled to reach remote towns in the sprawling island nation, with logistical issues preventing the deployment of rescue boats and aircraft.

“My house is gone, everything I have is gone; this is all I’ve got left,” Eddie Peredema, a gardener in Marsh Harbour, said as he pointed to his green T-shirt. “We need food, we need shelter. We need help, right now.”

• Video: Residents of Marsh Harbour grow desperate, frustrated

ny times logoNew York Times, Wondering How Many More Hurricanes They Can Withstand, Staff report, Sept. 7, 2019. Most residents in eastern North Carolina were spared the worst from Dorian. But they haven’t all recovered from last year’s flooding.

Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran now operating advanced centrifuges in breach of nuclear pact, Erin Cunningham, Sept. 7, 2019. The move, made in defiance of a 2015 iran flag mapagreement, raises the stakes for European powers struggling to prevent the deal’s collapse.

The landmark agreement was signed by Iran and world powers in 2015 and curbed Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for major sanctions relief. President Trump abandoned the accord and reimposed a near-total embargo on Iran’s economy in the fall, frustrating European allies who helped negotiate the deal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia, Ukraine exchange prisoners in bid to ease tension between the two nations, Will Englund​, Sept. 7, 2019. Among those released were 24 sailors whose ships were seized by Russia last year in a strait off the Crimean coast.
Russia and Ukraine exchanged several dozen prisoners Saturday as they moved to dial down tensions in a swap that included captured Ukrainian sailors and a suspect in the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane.

Thirty-five from each side were involved in the handovers, which has been highly anticipated and come less than four months after Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, took office promising to open fresh channels of dialogue with Moscow.

Ukrainians, in particular, have long sought the release of those held by Russia in the five years since Moscow seized Crimea and began sponsoring a rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. Politics /Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has completely unhinged meltdown as everything goes wrong, Bill Palmer, Sept. 7, 2019. Donald Trump has been having the most bill palmer report logo headerunhinged, deranged, and mentally unstable week in the history of the United States presidency, so it’s fitting that he would end the week with a late night meltdown.

donald trump twitterTrump spent Friday evening watching Sean Hannity pretending that the economy is somehow still doing well. Then, apparently feeling emboldened by the fictional broadcast, Trump posted this surreal tweet: "China just enacted a major stimulus plan. With all the Tariffs THEY are paying to the USA, Billions and Billions of Dollars, they need it! In the meantime, our Federal Reserve sits back and does NOTHING!"

Wait, who’s paying what here? Does Donald Trump still not know that his tariffs on Chinese goods are being paid by U.S. consumers, or is he merely pretending not to know this? And if his tariffs were forcing China to have to pay billions of dollars to the United States government, why would Trump want the Fed to step in and end this imaginary victory?

The worst part for Donald Trump is that he doesn’t realize he’s discussing his own political funeral. China is so fed up with Trump’s deranged economic approach, it’s taking steps to tank the U.S. economy so that voters will throw him out next year. And to smooth out any short term damage that this might cause, China is willing to spend money on a stimulus in the meantime. Meanwhile, Trump is busy celebrating his own defeat, because he’s too stupid and/or senile to understand what’s even going on.

Sept. 7

Epstein Scandal MIT Fallout

MIT logo

CNet, MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito resigns amid Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Edward Moyer, Sept. 7, 2019. The move follows a New Yorker report that the lab had a deeper funding relationship with the convicted sex offender than previously acknowledged and that it worked to disguise contacts with Epstein.

joichi ito 2007The director of the MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito (shown in a 2007 photo at right), resigned Saturday amid a scandal over the Media Lab's ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Ito's resignation follows a Friday night report in The New Yorker that said the Media Lab had a deeper funding relationship with Epstein than it had previously acknowledged and worked to disguise its contacts with the disgraced financier.

"Because the accusations in the story are extremely serious, they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said Saturday in a letter to the MIT community. "This morning, I asked MIT's General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to design and conduct this process. I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible, and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT's governing board."

Reif said Ito had submitted his resignation as director on Saturday afternoon and that Ito had also stepped down as a professor and employee of MIT. When asked to comment on the New Yorker article and Ito's resignation, a representative of the Media Lab pointed to Reif's letter.

The New Yorker report says Epstein helped secure donations from parties including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and that the lab's cover-up effort was an open secret among staff, some of whom gave Epstein the nickname Voldemort or "he who must not be named."

The Media Lab has been under scrutiny for its ties to Epstein, who last month committed suicide in jail while facing federal sex-trafficking charges. In late August, Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, said he was moving his work out of the Media Lab due to its ties with Epstein. Visiting professor J. Nathan Matias also said he'd be leaving the lab, which is known for wide-ranging research on everything from futuristic personal robots to online social experiments.

Shortly after those departure announcements, the Media Lab said in a statement that MIT had received around $800,000 in donations from Epstein over 20 years. This week Ito acknowledged taking $525,000 from Epstein for the Media Lab, as well as $1.2 million for his personal investment funds, according to The New York Times.

The New Yorker report, which cites internal MIT records and information from present and former Media Lab faculty and staff, says Epstein secured at least $7.5 new yorker logomillion in lab donations, including $2 million from Gates and $5.5 million from investor Leon Black, founder of private-equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The report also says that "although Epstein was listed as 'disqualified' in MIT's official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university."

A spokesperson for Gates told The New Yorker that "any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false." Gates' philanthropic foundation didn't immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

Apollo Global Management didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Black has said his dealings with Epstein were for the most part limited to estate planning, philanthropic advice and tax strategy, that Apollo has never done business with Epstein and that Black was unaware of the conduct alleged in the federal charges against Epstein.

Media / 2020 U.S. Politics

bernie sanders elizabeth warren july 3 2019 dem debate intros screengrab cnn

U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and  Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greet one another before the July 30, 2019 presidential debate in Detroit (screengrab).

The Hill, Opinion: Why the media dislike Andrew, Tulsi, Bernie and Marianne, Krystal Ball, Sept. 7, 2019. Without fail, every candidate who has come from outside the Democratic establishment, or who has dared to question the Democratic establishment, has been smeared, dismissed or ignored by most media.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who resigned from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in protest of its treatment of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and dares to challenge the bipartisan pro-war foreign policy consensus, has been smeared as "unpatriotic." This despite the fact that she is an Iraq War veteran who, to this day, serves in the Hawaii Army National Guard. The Daily Beast published an absurd article titled "Tulsi Gabbard's Campaign is Being Boosted By Putin Apologists" about how three of her donors, among tens of thousands, had tangential connections to Russia. NBC News published a piece on how Russian bots were boosting Gabbard's campaign. It cited one expert, a group that reportedly faked Russian bot activity in an Alabama election.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosGabbard had the distinction of being the most-Googled candidate in both of the first two debates. The media, however, have shown little interest in understanding why her pro-peace message might hold appeal.

I've talked quite a bit about media bias against Sanders. The latest, most egregious case involved a Washington Post "fact check" that found Sanders accurately cited academic research - but managed to give him three Pinocchios anyway.

Marianne Williamson, an author and activist, is definitely off the beaten path for a candidate, but she is an incredibly accomplished woman, with seven New York Times bestsellers to her name and decades of activism under her belt. Perhaps it would be interesting to hear more of her thoughts on national healing and reconciliation rather than just casting her as a weirdo and mocking her for a tweet about the power of prayer, something to which many, if not most, Americans subscribe.

These candidates occupy much different poll positions and have wildly different approaches, styles and philosophies. Andrew Yang, the cheerful prophet of doom; Williamson, the spiritual healer; Gabbard, the teller of hard truths about American imperialism; and Sanders, well, he's just Bernie. But they have something important in common: They don't fit the mold. They aren't in the club. They defy the rules.

Asian techies are supposed to develop the latest AI, not lead the revolution to put humanity first. Democratic female veterans are supposed to burnish the party's hawkish cred, not doggedly pursue diplomacy and engagement and call out the American war machine. Spirituality is not supposed to be mixed with politics on the left, even though religion is fully weaponized by the right. And septuagenarian democratic socialists who are not fashionable in any way are not supposed to be rock stars with youths or be top-polling presidential contenders.

Rather than deal with these contradictions -- which, by the way, clearly fascinate the public, judging by Google and Twitter trends -- it's easier for many in the media to mock, smear or ignore.

Not only do these candidates not fit the mold; they also in their own ways represent threats to the current holders of power. Williamson and Yang didn't come up through politics, so they owe absolutely nothing to the Washington or Democratic Party elite.

And if you're not a "team player," then of course you're a threat. Sanders, though, is obviously the ultimate threat to the Washington neoliberal establishment. I asked him recently whether he represented an existential threat to the Democratic Party, and he acknowledged that he did. He matches his critique of their corporatism and business-as-usual approach with an unmatched grassroots army and fundraising base. He has his own base of power that requires nothing from a D.C. cocktail party.

When you are a threat to the political establishment, you are inherently a threat to the careers of journalists who rely on access to that political establishment. There may not be an edict coming down from on high to "destroy" those candidates who threaten the system, but there are natural defense mechanisms that kick in. And so, strange graphics are made that just happen to exclude you, fact checks are written that don't seem to arrive at the facts at all, coverage vacillates from total blackout to wild smears.

  • democratic debate july 30

Sept. 6

Honest Elections Needed

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need our elections protected. A weakened FEC only invites attack, Editorial Board, Sept. 6, 2019. If the Securities and Exchange Commission stopped acting, the nation would feel vulnerable to securities fraud. If the Federal Trade Commission were paralyzed, or the Federal Communications Democratic-Republican Campaign logosCommission, there would be a crisis of confidence in fields they regulate. Why, then, are the nation’s political leaders so complacent about the Federal Election Commission, the independent regulatory agency charged with being the watchdog over the political process and protecting the integrity of U.S. democracy?

As of this month, the six-member commission is down to three commissioners, although it needs four for a quorum. Without a quorum, the FEC cannot hold hearings, make rules, initiate litigation, issue advisory opinions, launch investigations or approve enforcement actions and audits, among other things. The FEC chairwoman, ellen weintraubEllen L. Weintraub, left, has put on a brave face, noting that the commission’s “most important duties will continue unimpeded,” such as shining a spotlight on campaign finance and performing the staff work when it receives complaints. She insists that the “United States’ election cop is still on the 2020 campaign beat” and that she will “remain vigilant to all threats to the integrity of our elections.”

But this is a precarious time for the commissioners to lack a quorum. The 2016 presidential election was undermined by interference from Russia, and the upcoming campaign seems equally vulnerable to mischief and meddling. Moreover, the need is greater than ever to police the torrents of cash flowing into campaign coffers, much of it in dark money from shady interest groups. The lack of a quorum at the FEC is an open invitation to those who want to skirt the law to gamble that they won’t be caught until later, if at all.

 Global News

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Boris Johnson will do anything for Brexit. Even destroy his own party, Ian Dunt (editor of Politics.co.uk, the author of "Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?" and a host on the Remainiacs podcast), Sept. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The push to leave Europe is tearing up one of democracy’s most successful institutions.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedThis past week, in the most brutal internal act in its modern history, the British Conservative Party threw out 21 of its own lawmakers.

Old, respected, moderate Conservative members of Parliament were summarily ejected from the party — by text message — after they defied Prime Minister Boris Johnson (shown in a file photo) and voted to stop Britain from leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a replacement trade deal in place to prevent economic chaos.

Johnson’s new regime isn’t concerned with niceties like preventing economic chaos, though; it views politics not as a debate over ideas and policies, but as a form of trench warfare.

washington post logoWashington Post, Robert Mugabe (1924–2019): Zimbabwean leader who helped liberate and destroy his country dies at 95, Glenn Frankel, Sept. 6, 2019.​ Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president who rose to power as a champion of anti-colonial struggle but during 37 years robert mugabe 2015of authoritarian rule presided over the impoverishment and degradation of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising countries, has died in Singapore.

He was 95 (and is shown in a 2015 file photo).

Zimbabwe’s current leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, announced the death on Twitter, but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Mugabe, who had displayed physical decline over recent years, had been receiving hospital treatment in Singapore since April, Mnangagwa said last month. Mr. Mugabe was forced to resign as Zimbabwe’s leader days after the army staged a coup in November 2017.

PBS White House Chronicle, Opinion: Robert Mugabe and the Making of a Dictator, Llewellyn King, Sept. 6, 2019.  Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe, who stood head and shoulders above other awful African heads of state, has died aged 95. He may have killed more people and caused more deaths through starvation than even that other icon of evil, Idi Amin of Uganda.

When Mugabe became the republic’s first president in 1980, he was celebrated the world over as the face of the new Africa: a leader who would usher in a time of harmony, heal the wounds of war, and who was keen to assure the white minority he had overthrown that all would be well.
Mugabe spoke of the country that he inherited from Britain and the British settlers as kind of jeweled timepiece. He boasted of its sophisticated agriculture, its functional central bank and its vibrant stock exchange.

Initially, Mugabe’s partnership with the old regime appeared to be sincere. I met two white men who ran his security detail at that time who spoke well of him and said they had detected no bitterness. Early warnings, like his takeover of the newspapers, were ignored. To miscreants, the media is always the problem.

I was born and grew up in Rhodesia, as was my father, first known as Southern Rhodesia. I, like my family, wanted to ignore Mugabe’s downside. The period from the granting of independence to Zimbabwe — with the Lancaster House agreements in London — in 1980 to the mid-1990s was promising.

zimbabwe flag mapFor a few years, Zimbabwe [shown at right on a flag map] remained what it had been before independence: a peaceful place with racial respect, a thriving commercial sector, and farms that were so productive that they represented the regional breadbasket, feeding Zambia and Malawi as well as exporting to South Africa.

Mugabe seized the primarily white-owned farms, played games with the citizenship of people he didn’t like; rigged elections; used violence against political opponents; and ordered, or condoned, the security forces, in violation court orders, to beat and intimidate anyone who opposed him.

He began to espouse a kind of paranoid racism, where everything that was wrong was because of the colonialism and the evils of the white population. It was always someone else’s fault.

In the end, Mugabe smashed his jeweled-timepiece nation. The currency failed when inflation ran into the millions of percent and today, over two years since Mugabe fell, Zimbabwe still has no currency. Under the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, it continues to be beset with poverty and famine.

This is the message of Mugabe: Failure to stop the tendencies of those who get away with small constitutional infringements will lead to their getting away with massive wrongdoing.

Trump Watch

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Analysis: The Hitler Phenomenon, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 6, 2019. At the very beginning of this article, let me first state that I am not saying that Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler. Then why am I bringing it up? Because everyone agrees that when it comes to the subject of dictatorship, Hitler provides the gold standard. He is the model dictator in everyone’s books. Therefore, we can safely use him as a measuring rod for danger signs with respect to dictatorship here in the United States, not only with respect to the Trump presidency but also to other presidencies, both Democratic and Republican.

Hitler’s extermination program and death camps didn’t get established until the midst of World War II, which began in 1939. Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933. That means that there were six years of Hitler rule before the outbreak of the war. The era I wish to explore is 1933-1939, the period before the war. Specifically, how did Hitler become a dictator? After all, we shouldn’t forget that when Hitler became chancellor, Germany was a democracy, something that has been a longtime goal of U.S. foreign policy.

adolf hitlerIn my article yesterday, entitled Opinion: The Trumpster Phenomenon, I pointed out that there is a large segment of conservatives who unconditionally support whatever Trump does. Their reason? They see him as a Great Leader, one who is just trying to make America great again. Therefore, the Trumpsters say, he should be given the widest authority to do what he thinks is best for America and for “national security.” Nothing, and certainly not Congress or the courts, should be permitted to stand in his way.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoI would be remiss if I failed to mention that conservatives are not the only ones who suffer from the Great Leader concept. So do liberals/progressives, specifically when their Great Leader is president. Consider Barack Obama, for example.

Today, liberals are shedding lots of crocodile tears over the harsh immigration enforcement measures that Trump is inflicting on illegal immigrants. Yet, when it was Barack Obama who was deporting so many illegal immigrants that he earned the moniker “Deporter in Chief,” there was a dearth of crocodile tears and not even the hint of criticism from the left. That’s because they viewed Obama as their Great Leader, one who should be given wide authority to do what he felt was best for America.

For example, watch a particular segment of the movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. The movie is the story of the White Rose, a group of German students of diverse religious beliefs at the University of Munich who were secretly distributing pamphlets containing essays critical of the Hitler regime. They were caught and put on trial before the People’s Court, the special tribunal system that Hitler put into place because he didn’t trust the German court system to deliver the “right” verdict in terrorism and treason cases.

If you haven’t seen the entire movie, I recommend it highly. But in the meantime, begin at 1:31:07. It is about 3 minutes long. It is the courtroom scene in which the presiding judge, Roland Freisler, questions Sophie Scholl. Notice the extreme rage displayed by Freisler over Scholl’s “treasonous” behavior. (Notice also how her scared attorney does nothing to defend her.) Freisler provides a perfect example of the Great Leader mindset.

Americans should reflect on all this when they see Donald Trump arbitrarily raising taxes on the American people or building walls or other public-works projects without congressional enactment. The end of that road is the destruction of liberty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Ivanka Trump is acting as if everything is normal, Monica Hesse, Sept. 6, 2019 (print ed.). The first daughter is neglecting the only ivanka trump twitter portraitdiplomatic mission that could possibly matter right now.

Ivanka Trump, right, descended upon Bogota, Colombia, this week to talk about women’s empowerment and left us talking about her sleeves. They were voluminous, bell-shaped swaths of green fabric. Ivanka abroad seems to be Ivanka’s platonic ideal of herself: doing things that are considered patriotic but not overly political, important but not controversial, and personally on-brand.

Reuters, U.S. congressional probe finds possible lapses in Deutsche Bank controls -- sources, Mark Hosenball, Matt Scuffham, John O'Donnell, Sept. 6, 2019. U.S. congressional investigators have identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.D) money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, after the lender handed over a trove of transaction records, emails and other documents, three people familiar with the matter said.

U.S. congressional investigators have identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.D) money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, after the lender handed over a trove of transaction records, emails and other documents, three people familiar with the matter said.
deutsche bank logoThe congressional inquiry found instances where Deutsche Bank staff in the United States and elsewhere flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions involving existing ones, but were ignored by managers, two of the people said.

Lawmakers are also examining whether Deutsche Bank facilitated the funneling of illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank, where it processes transactions for others, one of the sources said.

The congressional probe, whose initial findings have not been previously reported, is at an early stage, and it is not yet clear whether it will lead to any action against the bank, the three sources said.

U.S. 2020 Politics

mark kelly senate Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Arizona GOP says it will stop Democrat Mark Kelly, husband of shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords, ‘dead in his tracks,’ Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 6, 2019. Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, said in a fundraising email Friday that the GOP would stop Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly “dead in his tracks.”

gabrielle giffords oWard’s choice wording stands out not only because Kelly (shown above) is an ardent gun control advocate, but because he took up the cause after his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shown at left before she was shot, survived an assassination attempt in which a gunman killed six people and left Giffords with traumatic brain injuries.

republican elephant logo“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks,” Ward wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Post. Bloomberg News first reported the email.

“This dangerous rhetoric has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” said Jacob Peters, communications director for the Kelly campaign. “Mark Kelly is running for Senate to overcome this type of nasty divisiveness that does nothing for Arizonans.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz announces he will not run for president, Greg Jaffe and Michael Scherer, Sept. 6, 2019. Schultz, a billionaire, said in January that he was considering a nonpartisan bid, describing himself as a “centrist independent outside the two-party system.”

Inside DC

djt alabama dorian chart

washington post logoWashington Post, NOAA backs Trump on Ala. forecast, rebukes office that accurately contradicted him, Jason Samenow, Andrew Freedman and Matthew Cappucci, Sept. 6, 2019. The unsigned statement from NOAA, which sided with President Trump over its own scientists, came a day after the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser released a statement justifying Trump’s claims of the Alabama threat.

U.S. Gun Politics

washington post logonra logo CustomWashington Post, NRA board member and former president obtained low-interest loan from affiliate she leads, Beth Reinhard and Tom Hamburger, Sept. 6, 2019. Marion Hammer received funds totaling more than $250,000 from 1995 to 2016, at a rate as low as 2 percent, from the organization’s Florida affiliate, leading to more questions about economic benefits flowing to its leadership.

Epstein Donations

MIT logo

ronan farrowNew Yorker, How an Élite University Research Center Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Ronan Farrow, right, Sept, 6, 2019. New documents show that the M.I.T. Media Lab was aware of Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender, and that Epstein directed contributions to the lab far exceeding the amounts M.I.T. has publicly admitted.

jeffrey epstein hands handsThe M.I.T. Media Lab, which has been embroiled in a scandal over accepting donations from the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, had a deeper fund-raising relationship with Epstein than it has previously acknowledged, and it attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him. Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university.

Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black. According to the joichi ito 2007records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as “directed” by Epstein or made at his behest.

The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito (shown in a 2007 photo at right) referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named."

Media News

washington post logofacebook logoWashington Post, Attorneys general of 8 states and D.C. investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations, Staff report, Sept. 6, 2019. New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement announcing a bipartisan coalition investigating the social media company.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Why print newspapers still play a crucial role in American politics, Ethan Michaeli (author of The Defender: How Chicago's Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America), Sept. 6, 2019.  We can’t afford to lose these community institutions as the media business changes.

The Chicago Defender announced in July it was terminating print publication and becoming an online-only news source. The announcement ended a run that began in 1905, when it was founded as a weekly by Robert S. Abbott, a brilliant African American man who’d arrived in Chicago from Georgia.

The end of the print Defender is a sad occasion for the legions of journalists, printers, salespeople and executives who worked at the newspaper, as it is for its remaining readers. But it is also an apt moment to recognize The Defender’s accomplishments as a community institution, as well as its influence in the highest circles of power.

Sept. 5

UK Democracy Crisis

ny times logounited kingdom flagNew York Times, U.K. Parliament’s Next Brexit Brawl: When to Hold Elections, Benjamin Mueller, Sept. 5, 2019. As a law stopping a no-deal Brexit moved closer to clearing its final hurdle on Thursday, British lawmakers began drawing the battle lines for their next fight: whether, and when, to hold a general election.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedPrime Minister Boris Johnson (shown in a file photo) was expected to take his call for a snap general election to members of the public on Thursday, with a speech in northern England, as his team worked to frame the law averting a no-deal Brexit as a “surrender” to the European Union.

But Mr. Johnson was upstaged on Thursday by a member of his own family: His younger brother Jo Johnson resigned from Parliament, saying he was giving up his seat because he was “torn between family loyalty and the national interest.”

Inside DC

greg craig lawyers 9 4 19 cropped IMG 6681

Washington attorney Gregory Craig, center, holds a brief news conference surrounded by his lawyers on Sept. 4 following his acquittal on a false statement charge in the federal district court in Washington, DC (Justice Integrity Project photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Gregory Craig found not guilty of lying to investigators probing work to aid Ukraine president, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 5, 2019 (print ed.). A federal jury found Gregory B. Craig not guilty of lying to the Justice Department, acquitting the Democratic former White House counsel on Wednesday of concealing media contacts in 2012 related to his work for the Ukrainian government.

greg craig smiling cropped headshot 9 4 19 IMG 6685Jurors deliberated less than a day before vindicating Craig, 74, right (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo at a press conference after the verdict), a former top legal adviser to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Craig’s defense urged them to weigh his towering reputation in Washington and decades in government and private practice before passing judgment after a three-week trial.

The acquittal marks a high-profile setback for a Justice Department crackdown on foreign lobbying in the United States, exposing flaws in a difficult prosecution that was handed off among several offices before Craig’s April indictment. Before the trial began, a judge dismissed a count against Craig directly involving the registration requirements, saying the rules seemed vague as applied to Craig’s circumstances.

The verdict is likely to stir debate over whether to clarify or strengthen provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires Americans paid by foreign governments or politicians to influence U.S. policy or opinion to register with the Justice Department.

Craig, 74, was left facing one felony count of making false statements to investigators who were trying to determine whether he and his law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, should have registered under the law. The central issue was Craig’s outreach on Dec. 11, 2012, to the New York Times regarding coverage of the law firm’s upcoming report reviewing the jailing of Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The report was commissioned by the Ukrainian government in a project led by Paul Manafort, a political adviser to Yanukovych. A wealthy Ukrainian businessman, Viktor Pinchuk, secretly paid Skadden $4.15 million for work on the report, testimony showed.

Dorian Disaster

dorian twitter ap via time

ap logoAssociated Press via Time Magazine, The Death Toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Devastated Bahamas Climbs to 20, Marko Álvarez, Dánica Coto and Michael Weissenstein, Sept. 5, 2019 (1:42 min. video). Aerial Footage Shows the Devastating Damage Hurricane Dorian Wreaked in the Bahamas. The devastation wrought by Dorian — and the terror it inflicted during its day-and-a-half mauling of the Bahamas — came into focus Wednesday as the passing of the storm revealed a muddy, debris-strewn landscape of smashed and flooded-out homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

The official death toll from the strongest hurricane on record ever to hit the country jumped to 20, and there was little doubt it would climb higher.

With a now-distant Dorian pushing its way up the Southeastern U.S. coast, menacing Georgia and the Carolinas, many people living in the Bahamas were in shock as they slowly came out of shelters and checked on their homes.

The ground crunched under Greg Alem’s feet on Wednesday as he walked over the ruins of his home, laid waste by Hurricane Dorian. He touched a splintered beam of wood and pointed to the fallen trees, overcome by memories.

“We planted those trees ourselves. Everything has a memory, you know,” he said. “It’s so, so sad. … In the Bible there is a person called Job, and I feel like Job right now. He’s lost everything, but his faith kept him strong.”

hurricane dorian sept 2 5 preview Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Life-threatening’ storm surge, powerful wind and torrential rain slam Carolinas, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow​, Sept. 5, 2019. Residents of coastal South and North Carolina were losing power as hurricane-force winds were expected to spread over coastal South Carolina this morning.

Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are anticipated for coastal North Carolina late today. High-impact event to last through Friday, as deadly storm makes its closest pass to the U.S. mainland.

U.S. Justice System

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: An Alabama man has been on death row 21 years. He is almost certainly innocent, Radley Balko, Sept. 5, 2019. The baffling conviction and death sentence of Toforest Johnson reveal a broken system.

This is a story about a wrongful conviction. It’s about witnesses who were rewarded for lies and threatened for telling the truth. It’s about overly aggressive law enforcement, a supine judiciary and almost comically ineffective representation, and how all of these things put a man on death row who nearly everyone now agrees is innocent — even the man who prosecuted him now doubts his guilt. It’s a story about the lives ruined along the way. And it’s about the murder of a much-liked deputy that, because of all of this, remains unsolved.

CIA Mind Control Program

stephen kinzer poisoner coverThe Guardian, From mind control to murder? How a deadly fall revealed the CIA’s darkest secrets, Stephen Kinzer (author of new book Poisoner In Chief), Sept. 5, 2019. Frank Olson died in 1953, but, because of clandestine US government experiments, it took decades for his family to get closer to the truth.

Glass shattered high above Seventh Avenue in Manhattan before dawn on a cold November morning in 1953. Seconds later, a body hit the sidewalk. Jimmy, the doorman at the Statler hotel, was momentarily stunned. Then he turned and ran into the hotel lobby. “We got a jumper!” he shouted. “We got a jumper!”

The night manager peered up through the darkness at his hulking hotel. After a few moments, he picked out a curtain flapping through an open window. It turned out to be room 1018A. Two names were on the registration card: Frank Olson and Robert Lashbrook.

Police officers entered room 1018A with guns drawn. They saw no one. The window was open. They pushed open the door to the bathroom and found Lashbrook sitting on the toilet, head in hands. He had been sleeping, he said, and “I heard a noise and then I woke up.”

“The man that went out the window, what is his name?” one officer asked.

“Olson,” came the reply. “Frank Olson.”

“In all my years in the hotel business,” the night manager later reflected, “I never encountered a case where someone got up in the middle of the night, ran across a dark room in his underwear, avoiding two beds, and dove through a closed window with the shade and curtains drawn.”

Leaving the police officers, the night manager returned to the lobby and, on a hunch, asked the telephone operator if any calls had recently been made from room 1018A. “Yes,” she replied – and she had eavesdropped, not an uncommon practice in an era when hotel phone calls were routed through a switchboard. Someone in the room had called a number on Long Island, which was listed as belonging to Dr Harold Abramson, a distinguished physician, less well known as an LSD expert and one of the CIA’s medical collaborators.

“Well, he’s gone,” the caller had said. Abramson replied: “Well, that’s too bad.”

To the first police officers on the scene, this seemed like another of the human tragedies they saw too often: a distressed or distraught man had taken his own life. They could not have known that the dead man and the survivor were scientists who helped direct one of the US government’s most highly classified intelligence programmes.

Spectacular Revelations

frank olsonDecades later, however, spectacular revelations cast Olson’s death in a completely new light. First, the CIA admitted that, shortly before he died, Olson’s colleagues had lured him to a retreat and fed him LSD without his knowledge. Then it turned out that Olson, right, had talked about leaving the CIA – and told his wife that he had made “a terrible mistake.” Slowly, a counter-narrative emerged: Olson was disturbed about his work and wanted to quit, leading his comrades to consider him a security risk. All of this led him to room 1018A.

Frank Olson had been one of the first scientists assigned to the secret US biological warfare laboratories at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland during the second world war. There Olson began working with the handful of colleagues who would accompany him throughout his clandestine career. One was Harold Abramson. Others included ex-Nazi scientists who had been brought to work on secret missions in the US. For a time they worked on aerosol technologies – ways to spray germs or toxins on enemies and to defend against such attacks. Later, Olson met with American intelligence officers who had experimented with “truth drugs” in Europe.

Olson was discharged from the army in 1944, but remained at Fort Detrick on a civilian contract and continued his research into aerobiology. Several times he visited the secluded Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which was used for testing “living biological agents, munitions and aerosol cloud production”. He co-authored a 220-page study entitled Experimental Airborne Infections, which described experiments with “airborne clouds of highly infectious agents”.

In 1949, he travelled to the Caribbean for Operation Harness, which tested the vulnerability of animals to toxic clouds. The next year, he was part of Operation Sea Spray, in which dust engineered to float like anthrax was released near San Francisco. He regularly travelled to Fort Terry, a secret army base on Plum Island, off the eastern tip of Long Island, which was used to test toxins too deadly to be brought on to the US mainland.

cia logoThis was the period when senior army and CIA officers were becoming deeply alarmed at what they feared was Soviet progress toward mastering forms of warfare based on microbes. Their alarm led to the creation of the special operations division. Rumours about its work spread through offices and laboratories. Olson learned of it over an evening game of cards with a colleague, John Schwab, who unbeknown to him, had been named the division’s first chief. Schwab invited him to join. Olson accepted immediately.

In 2017, Stephen Saracco, a retired New York assistant district attorney who had investigated the Olson case and remained interested in it, made his first visit to the hotel room where Olson spent his final night. Looking around the room, Saracco said, raised the question of how Olson could have done it.

“If this would have been a suicide, it would have been very difficult to accomplish,” Saracco concluded. “There was motive to kill him. He knew the deepest, darkest stephen kinzer poisoner coversecrets of the cold war. Would the American government kill an American citizen who was a scientist, who was working for the CIA and the army, if they thought he was a security risk? There are people who say: ‘Definitely.’”

 This is an edited extract from "Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control," published by Henry Holt & Co on Sept 10 and available at guardianbookshop.co.uk

RFK Murder Cover-up

Black Op Radio, Justice Integrity Project Director Andrew Kreig interviewed on RFK murder cover-up and stabbing this month of imprisoned accused len osanic black  op logo 1assailant Sirhan Sirhan, Black Op Radio host Len Osanic, Sept. 5, 2019 (64:04 min. audio interview). 

Andrew Kreig, based in Washington DC, is a public affairs commentator, author, attorney and legal reformer
Andrew's website: www.andrewkreig.com
Andrew is also the editor of the Justice Integrity Project at www.justice-integrity.org
Article: Sirhan Stabbing Revives Questions On His Safety, Innocence, and the RFK Murder Cover Up
The reactions of various researchers have been included in the article
The "Conspiracy Theory" smear is alive and well more than 50 years after the CIA popularized it
FREE ONLINE EBOOK: The Secret Team by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty
Book: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by Col. Prouty: Hardcover, Paperback
The debate between George Orwell and Aldous Huxley
Book: Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters by Andrew Kreig: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Every US President after Jimmy Carter had been a covert asset of either the CIA or FBI before entering politics
Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth: www.ae911truth.org
University of Alaska report on the collapse of Building 7 (World Trade Center)
Journalist Whitney Webb's articles: Here
The remarkable "coincidences" in the Jeffrey Epstein case
William Barr, United States Attorney General
Barr worked for the CIA before becoming a lawyer
10 billion dollar Pentagon cloud computing contract may be awarded to Amazon
Amazon already has a 600 million dollar contract for cloud computing with the CIA
Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for 250 million dollars
Michael Morell, former Deputy Director of the CIA

"You don't fight tyrants because you think you can win. You fight them because they are tyrants" -- Chris Hedges

Safety / Retailing / Labor

ny times logoNew York Times, The Human Cost of Amazon’s Fast, Free Shipping, Patricia Callahan, Sept. 5, 2019 (This article is co-published with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative newsroom). Despite directing the deadlines and routes for its network of contract delivery drivers, the retail giant is shielded from responsibility when they crash. In its relentless push for e-commerce dominance, Amazon has built a huge logistics operation in recent years to get more goods to customers’ homes in less and less time.

amazon logo smallAs it moves to reduce its reliance on legacy carriers like United Parcel Service, the retailer has created a network of contractors across the country that allows the company to expand and shrink the delivery force as needed, while avoiding the costs of taking on permanent employees.

But Amazon’s promise of speedy delivery has come at a price, one largely hidden from public view. An investigation by ProPublica identified more than 60 accidents since June 2015 involving Amazon delivery contractors that resulted in serious injuries, including 10 deaths. That tally is most likely a fraction of the accidents that have occurred: Many people don’t sue, and those who do can’t always tell when Amazon is involved, court records, police reports and news accounts show.

Trump's Wall

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Resort Has Pool, Golf Course and Maybe a Border Wall, Mitchell Ferman, Sept. 5, 2019. At a community for older adults, the proposed wall would strand about 70 percent of residences south of the barricade but north of the Rio Grande.

Shirley Menard says she did not think all that much about Donald J. Trump’s proposed border wall when she cast a reluctant vote for him in 2016.

She is thinking about it a lot more now that plans call for part of what could be a 30-foot-tall stretch of wall to land in her backyard, dividing the River Bend Resort and Golf Club, which hugs the Rio Grande. About 70 percent of the community — some 200 properties — would be stranded south of the barricade but north of the river. Fifteen holes of the golf course could be there, too.

An unsettling lesson in unexpected consequences has left some residents rethinking their support for the wall and the president who has made it his signature project.

Epstein Donations

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s donations to universities reveal a painful truth about philanthropy, Susan Svrluga, Sept. 5, 2019. Academics confront a hard realization: The financier’s donations supported important research, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

Jeffrey Epstein forged deep ties with some of the nation’s elite universities and their scholars, showering them with millions of dollars in donations. As the extent of those gifts comes into sharper focus, academics confront a painful realization: The financier’s donations supported important research and helped scientists work toward discoveries, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

The ensuing fallout — prompting resignations and continued soul-searching and outrage — illuminates enduring questions for academia about the money that fuels research, and how institutions nurture relationships with donors in the race to excel.

Epstein gave repeatedly to MIT and Harvard University. At MIT, the president, L. Rafael Reif, apologized to Epstein’s victims in a message to campus. The school accepted about $800,000 of Epstein’s money over 20 years, Reif wrote, with gifts to the MIT Media Lab and to Harvard University.

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Trumpster Phenomenon, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Sept. 5, 2019. One of the fascinating aspects of the Donald Trump presidency has been the rise of the Trumpster phenomenon. Trumpsters are conservatives who have become steadfast and unwavering followers and supporters of Trump.

There are two distinguishing characteristics of Trumpsters: (1) their unconditional support of whatever Trump decides to do to “make America great again”; and (2) their refusal to tolerate or countenance any criticism or disagreement with Trump’s courses of action.

What drives Trumpsters is what can be called the Great Leader concept. Their mindset is that we have elected a Great Leader to be president and, therefore, to make America great again, we just have to entrust him with omnipotent powers, trust him to make the right decisions, and support him in whatever courses of action he takes.

donald trump twitterAnd woe to the person who even hints at criticism or disagreement with what the Great Leader has chosen to do. Filled with immediate rage, the Trumpster will lash out against the critic with an array of nasty attacks, for example by accusing him of hating America, being unpatriotic, being a liar, and being ungrateful for what America has done for him.

For example, consider Trump’s unilateral imposition of tariffs (taxes) on the American people and his arbitrary raising of such taxes whenever he wants. That’s classic dictatorial conduct, given that Congress didn’t enact a law imposing or raising such taxes.

djt justice liberty truth metooTrumpsters love it. In their minds, the Great Leader is doing what he believes is necessary to make America great again. So what if he has to exercise dictatorial powers to do so.

Needless to say, this is how people throughout history have lost their liberties to Great Leaders. That’s in fact what the Constitution was intended to prevent. The Framers had no use for the Great Leader concept. Their notion was to limit severely the powers of anyone who became president.

In fact, notice that the Constitution doesn’t even provide an exception for emergencies and crises. That’s because they knew that crises and emergencies were the time-honored ways that Great Leaders acquired dictatorial powers.

Global News

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. and China Agree to Resume Trade Talks, Sending Markets Higher, Alexandra Stevenson, Sept. 5, 2019 (print ed.). Beijing’s top trade negotiator will go to Washington in early October, after President’s Trump new penalties on Chinese goods are set to kick in.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Million Refugees May Soon Lose Their Line to the Outside World, Hannah Beech, Sept. 5, 2019. As Bangladesh vowed to cut off mobile phone access in Rohingya camps, refugees who fled terror in Myanmar despaired over their future. About one million Rohingya Muslims in camps in Bangladesh could soon lose a vital connection to the outside world if the government moves forward with a threat to suspend cell service to the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Citing “state security” and “public safety,” the Bangladeshi telecommunications minister ordered a halt this week to mobile phone service in camps crowded with Rohingya Muslims who fled ethnic cleansing in their native Myanmar. The blackout is scheduled to take effect by Sunday.

“Our suffering will be unlimited if mobile phone communication goes off,” said Ramjan Ali, a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh.

The directive from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, which was issued last Sunday, notes that only Bangladeshis with national identity cards are allowed to possess local SIM cards and bans the sale of cellphone services in the camps. Telecom companies that violate the order will be fined, it said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Solomon Islands Weighs Cutting Ties to Taiwan, Chris Horton, Sept. 5, 2019. The move comes as American officials accuse Beijing of destabilizing the Pacific as its influence in the region grows. The Solomon Islands is said to be considering breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to establish formal ties with China, a move that comes as American officials accuse Beijing of destabilizing the Pacific as its influence in the region grows.

Such a decision, if formally approved, would leave only 16 countries that officially recognize Taiwan’s government. The Communist government in China, which claims Taiwan as its territory despite never having ruled it, says the self-governing island has no right to official diplomatic ties.

On Wednesday, a Solomon Islands lawmaker, Peter Shanel Agovaka, informed a parliamentary committee of the plan to end the country’s relations with Taiwan. “It’s time that we should move on with our life,” Mr. Agovaka said, according to a recording of the meeting that was published by Reuters on Thursday.

The South Pacific has been a bulwark for Taiwan, with six countries in the region maintaining diplomatic relations with Taipei. The economic pull of Beijing, however, is strong. China is by far the largest buyer of Solomon Islands exports, and it has offered the island nation millions of dollars to help it move away from Taiwan.

Epstein Donationsjeffrey epstein alan dershowitz

The late sex trafficker and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein, left, chats with Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a defense counsel for Epstein.

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein’s donations to universities reveal a painful truth about philanthropy, Susan Svrluga, Sept. 5, 2019. Academics confront a hard realization: The financier’s donations supported important research, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

MIT logoJeffrey Epstein forged deep ties with some of the nation’s elite universities and their scholars, showering them with millions of dollars in donations. As the extent of those gifts comes into sharper focus, academics confront a painful realization: The financier’s donations supported important research and helped scientists work toward discoveries, but they also provided a veneer of credibility to a convicted sex offender.

The ensuing fallout — prompting resignations and continued soul-searching and outrage — illuminates enduring questions for academia about the money that fuels harvard logoresearch, and how institutions nurture relationships with donors in the race to excel.

Epstein gave repeatedly to MIT and Harvard University. At MIT, the president, L. Rafael Reif, apologized to Epstein’s victims in a message to campus. The school accepted about $800,000 of Epstein’s money over 20 years, Reif wrote, with gifts to the MIT Media Lab and to Harvard University. Espstein is shown with Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.

Inside DC

Roll Call, Ethics Committee releases more details on allegations against David Schweikert, Katherine Tully-McManus, Sept. 5, 2019. Arizona Republican is already facing inquiry by House panel.  The House Ethics Committee has released information on an expanded list of allegations against Rep. David Schweikert. The Arizona Republican is under investigation by the panel, which made public a second referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics. Under House Ethics rules, the committee is required to release OCE referrals one year after they are sent to the House.

The latest allegations in the OCE report — which the office submitted to the House Ethics Committee last September — prompted the panel to expand the scope of its inquiry. The report shows that the OCE board voted unanimously to recommend an expanded inquiry into Schweikert.

OCE is an nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct involving House staff and lawmakers and refers cases to the House Ethics panel. The office has jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of a “law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct.”

The OCE previously found “substantial reason” to believe Schweikert authorized expenditures from his Members’ Representational Allowance, or MRA, that his former chief of staff, Richard Oliver Schwab Jr., made outside the scope of permissible official expenses.

The office also recommended further review of allegations that the congressman failed to ensure his campaign committee followed the rules in accepting contributions from one of his congressional office employees that were later reimbursed from his official office account.

Sept. 4

UK Democracy Crisis

united kingdom flagwashington post logoWashington Post, House of Commons passes bill seeking to avert no-deal Brexit in blow to Johnson, Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam​, Sept. 4, 2019. The legislation — which won’t be final until the House of Lords votes later this week — would effectively delay Brexit an additional three months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's motion to call a general election is also expected to fail Wednesday.

Major 9/11 Report Released

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth via PR Newswire, University Study Finds Fire Did Not Cause 3rd Tower's Collapse on 9/11, Staff report via Ted Walter, Sept. 4, 2019. ae 911 truth logo horizontalThe fall of the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7) in New York City late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001, was not a result of fires, according to a draft report released yesterday by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) following a four-year computer modeling study funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

The UAF team's findings contradict those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which concluded in a 2008 report that WTC 7 was the first tall building ever to collapse primarily due to fire. The collapse of WTC 7 has long been the subject of controversy, with critics of the government's account arguing it was brought down in a controlled demolition.

UAF civil engineering professor Leroy Hulsey was the study's principal investigator. Feng Xiao, now an associate professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology, and Zhili Quan, now a bridge engineer for the South Carolina Department of Transportation, were research assistants and co-authors.

"Our study found that the fires in WTC 7 could not have caused the collapse recorded on video," said Professor Hulsey. "We simulated every plausible scenario, and we found that the series of failures that NIST claimed triggered a progressive collapse of the entire structure could not have occurred. The only thing that could have brought this structure down in the manner observed on 9/11 is the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building below Floor 17."

The UAF study was funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth), a nonprofit representing more than 3,000 architects and engineers who have signed the organization's petition calling upon Congress to open a new investigation into the destruction of the three World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

The release of the draft report begins a two-month period during which the public is invited to submit comments. The final report will be published later this year. The research team plans to make public by the end of September all of the data used and generated during the study, a decision that contrasts with NIST's withholding of key modeling data on the grounds that releasing it "might jeopardize public safety."

Inside DC

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well that just blew up in Bill Barr’s face, Bill Palmer, Sept. 4, 2019. Shortly after Donald Trump’s corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr brought an end greg craig smiling cropped headshot 9 4 19 IMG 6685to Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation and then tried to bury Mueller’s findings, Barr’s Department of Justice brought criminal charges against bill palmer report logo headerGregory Craig (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo).

The reason why was obvious enough.

Of all the numerous people who got caught up in Paul Manafort’s international web of criminal deceit, one of them was Greg Craig, who had previously served in the Obama administration. Bill Barr rather obviously had the DOJ target Craig for prosecution, despite the sketchy william barr new onature of the criminal case against him, so that Trump and Barr could then claim the Trump-Russia scandal was actually an Obama scandal.

Today, however, a jury rather quickly acquitted Greg Craig. To date it’s the only criminal case resulting from the Mueller probe which hasn’t resulted in a conviction and/or guilty plea, which tells you just how weak of a case this was.

So now Bill Barr, shown in an official photo, is stuck with the reality that the one and only person acquitted in the Trump-Russia scandal is the one and only Obama Democrat who had been charged in the Trump-Russia scandal. If the charges against Greg Craig were supposed to be some kind of 2020 campaign slogan for Donald Trump, it’s ended up being the opposite.

Dorian Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Massive rescue, relief effort underway in Bahamas, Anthony Faiola, Maria Sacchetti, Tim Craig and Joel Achenbach, Sept. 4, 2019. The death toll late Wednesday was 20, according to Minister of Health Duane Sands, and it is likely to rise further as emergency responders work their way through the debris and rubble and the drowned neighborhoods.

•Thousands listed as missing in the Bahamas as rescuers, relatives comb the rubble

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘There’s nothing left’: Storm reduces paradise to a miserable heap, Anthony Faiola, Sept. 4, 2019. Some in the closely knit Bahamian community of Green Turtle Cay tried to ride out the hurricane. Now fear and desperation are spreading as basic necessities grow harder and harder to obtain.

Green Turtle Cay is a tightknit community of about 500 people. Everyone here is family — either because they’re related, or because they’ve lived here together for so long. Now their island paradise has turned to hell. Islanders are struggling without power, without water, without a steady supply of food.

washington post logoWashington Post, President Trump showed a doctored hurricane chart. Was it to cover up for ‘Alabama’ Twitter flub? Matthew Cappucci and Andrew Freedman, Sept. 4, 2019.  Trump had erroneously stated that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

Assault Ban Worked

john donohue headshotny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: That Assault Weapon Ban? It Really Did Work, John Donohue, above, law professor at Stanford University) and Theodora Boulouta (senior at Stanford), Sept. 4, 2019. Since the ban was lifted in 2004, gun massacres involving military-style weapons are way up.

Recent mass shootings have revived demands for meaningful gun control. But many opponents of a renewed federal ban on assault weapons, led by the National Rifle Association, say the earlier ban, from 1994 to 2004, made no difference. Our new research shows otherwise.

We found that public mass shootings — which we defined as incidents in which a gunman killed at least six people in public — dropped during the decade of the federal ban. Yet, in the 15 years since the ban ended, the trajectory of gun massacres has been sharply upward, largely tracking the growth in ownership of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

This decline is plausible because assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms designed for rapid fire and combat use, and large-capacity magazines increase the number of rounds that can be fired without reloading. While the gun lobby prevented the ban from being as effective as it could have been and saddled the law with a 10-year sunset provision, the ban did impede the easy access to the type of lethal weaponry that those intent on mass killing have readily available in most of the country today. (Assault weapons are legal in 43 states; large-capacity magazines, commonly understood as ammunition-feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds, are legal in 41.)

The Supreme Court should heed the words of the conservative Reagan appointee Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson when the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit voted to uphold the Maryland assault weapons ban:

“To say in the wake of so many mass shootings in so many localities across this country that the people themselves are now to be rendered newly powerless, that all they can do is stand by and watch as federal courts design their destiny — this would deliver a body blow to democracy.”

The extraordinary increase in the body count from public gun massacres since the end of the federal assault weapons ban and the passage of the federal immunity statute for the gun industry has one obvious explanation: the brazen promotion and the proliferating, loosely regulated, highly profitable sales of the most desirable and effective weaponry for committing mass murder.

Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Dorian starts inching north, closer to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas after pounding the Bahamas, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Dorian brought an historic and extended onslaught to the Bahamas. 

Hurricane Dorian is beginning a much-advertised turn to the north-northwest, away from the Bahamas but toward the U.S. mainland, where it is expected to bring significant impacts. As of Tuesday morning, the storm was moving northwest at 1 mph just to the north of Grand Bahama Island and was continuing its historic onslaught in the northwestern Bahamas.

Dorian, which has weakened some to a still-formidable Category 3 storm, slammed into the northwestern Bahamas over the weekend with the historic full fury of its 185-mile-per-hour winds and 23-foot storm surge.

santa clara fire ktla

washington post logoWashington Post, 34 feared dead as bodies are recovered after boat fire off Calif. coast, Scott Wilson and Eli Rosenberg, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Five crew members escaped the 75-foot boat, but authorities fear the rest of the passengers were lost as rescuers searched the wreckage of the boat, which sank in about 65 feet of water. (Photo above via KTLA-TV.)

There was a fire burning uncontrollably in the galley of the 75-foot Conception just after 3 a.m. on Monday, a blaze that would consume the boat, which was filled with divers on a private excursion and the tanks of air they used to explore the depths. The guests, sleeping tightly packed in stacks of bunk beds below, were trapped. Five of the crew members were able to escape into the waters near the shores of Santa Cruz Island.

U.S. War Hawks

ny times logoNew York Times, The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran, Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, Sept. 4, 2019. Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for war against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Will President Trump finally deliver?

iran flag mapTrump’s abrogation of the Iran deal has revived the poker game, but this time with an American president whose tendency to bluster about American power but avoid actually using it has made the situation in recent months even more volatile.

Trump’s immediate goal appears to be to batter Iran’s economy with sanctions to the point that the country’s leaders will renegotiate the nuclear deal — and its military support for Hezbollah and other proxy groups — on terms that the administration deems more favorable to the United States. But it is also based on a gamble that Iran will break before November 2020, when the next American election could bring a new president who ends Trump’s hardball tactics.

This is all in aid of what the president’s advisers see as the larger goal, one embraced not only by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel but also by the Arab states in the Persian Gulf: a realignment of the Middle East, with Israel and select Sunni nations gaining supremacy over Iran and containing the world’s largest Shiite-majority state.

It is a wholly different vision than the one advanced by Obama, who committed to keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon but accepted the notion that Iran would become a counterweight to Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region. The two countries would have to “share the neighborhood,” as he put it, an idea that some Trump-administration officials sneer at. As one coolly explains, “We’ve decided to deal with Iran as it is, rather than as we’d like it to be.”

U.S. 2020 Politics

Roll Call, Longtime Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner not running for reelection, Bridget Bowman, Sept. 4, 2019. Congressman becomes 12th House Republican to retire this year. Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection next year.

The longtime lawmaker’s exit means the Badger State is losing its most senior member, and the second-most-senior Republican in the House. He is also the second Wisconsin Republican to announce he is leaving Congress after Rep. Sean P. Duffy said last month that he would be resigning on Sept. 23.

Sensenbrenner has represented the Milwaukee suburbs since he was first elected in 1978. President Donald Trump carried his 5th District by 20 points in 2016 and Sensenbrenner won a 21st term last year by 24 points.

  • California Democratic Rep. Susan Davis announces retirement
  • Republican Rep. Bill Flores to retire, continuing exodus from Texas ranks

Trump Watch

Palmer Report, Opinion; Arrest warrant issued for Donald Trump’s pal Jacob Wohl, Bill Palmer, Sept. 4, 2019. Jacob Wohl is best known for a few things. He’s the guy who tried to frame Robert Mueller for sexual harassment, only for the whole thing to blow up hilariously in Wohl’s face. He’s also the guy who got banned from Twitter for using fake accounts to defend himself. Wohl is also, naturally, buddies with Donald Trump. Now Wohl is about to be best known for something else: his arrest.

bill palmer report logo headerAn arrest warrant has been issued for Jacob Wohl, on charges of trying to sell “unqualified securities” to would-be investors, according to NBC News and other sources. We have no idea if he’s guilty or innocent on these charges. But it’s notable that years ago, the National Futures Association banned Wohl for life, for allegedly making fraudulent financial transactions.

Unless Wohl goes on the lam, this warrant means that he’ll be arrested today and taken to jail. We’ll then see whether or not a judge lets him out on bail. He’ll join a long list of Donald Trump associates who have been arrested and/or indicted since Trump took office, including Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and others.

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump said he granted a disaster declaration at the request of North Carolina’s Republican senator. It came from the state’s Democratic governor, John Wagner, Sept. 4, 2019. With Hurricane Dorian heading toward the Tar Heel State, the president appeared to inject politics into the federal emergency process. Sen. Thom Tillis (R) is up for reelection next year.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Days after leaving post, ex-Interior official who pushed drilling in Alaska takes oil company job, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Sept. 4, 2019. Joe Balash, who served as the Interior Department’s top official overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal land until Friday, is joining an oil firm that's expanding drilling operations on Alaska's North Slope.

Roll Call, Ex-Rep. Aaron Schock off the hook after concluding deal with feds over fund misuse, Katherine Tully-McManus, Sept. 4, 2019. Ex-Rep. Aaron Schock off the hook after concluding deal with feds over fund misuse/ Illinois Republican left with clean record, leaving open a political comeback.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon approves diversion of military construction funds for Trump’s wall, Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). Defense Secretary mark esperMark T. Esper, right, agrees to take $3.6 billion that was designated for 127 military construction projects to pay for 175 miles of border wall.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump encouraged Pence to stay at his golf resort in Ireland, Robert Costa, David A. Fahrenthold and John Wagner, Sept. 4, 2019. The vice president and Marc Short, his chief of staff, defended an arrangement on a government trip that has drawn criticism from Democrats, who contend it is helping to enrich Trump.

Trump's Wall Finance Ploy

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon takes money from Puerto Rico, European projects to fund Trump’s wall, Paul Sonne and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 4, 2019. The Pentagon is defunding Hurricane Maria recovery projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to pay for President Trump’s border barrier and is also taking money from construction projects across Europe designed to help allies deter Russia.

The details of the 127 military construction projects that stand to lose funding to free up $3.6 billion for fencing and barriers on the southern border with Mexico were made public late Wednesday by the Defense Department. The list features projects in 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries.

The decisions deal a particular blow to Puerto Rico, which stands to see more than $400 million worth of planned projects lose funding. Roughly $770 million of the money will be taken from projects in allied European nations aimed at helping them deter a possible attack from Russia.

Officially, the Pentagon is saying the affected projects are “deferred,” but in order for them to go ahead in the future, Congress must again fund them. The Republican-led Senate has agreed to do so in its annual defense policy bill, but the Democratic-led House refused in its version of the bill. The two sides will negotiate a possible compromise in conference, the period when the Senate and House make trades to meld two bills into one before seeking the president’s signature.

ny times logoNew York Times, Nearly every facet of military life will be affected by the Pentagon’s transfer of $3.6 billion to fund a border wall, Emily Cochrane and Helene Cooper, Sept. 4, 2019. The Pentagon plans to divert funds from military construction projects in nearly half the 50 states, three territories and 19 countries to the southwestern border wall as part of President Trump’s efforts to bypass Congress and redirect spending to his signature campaign promise.

Nearly every facet of military life, from a canceled dining center in Puerto Rico to a small arms firing range in Tulsa, Okla., to an elementary school in Wiesbaden, Germany, will be affected by the transfer of $3.6 billion in congressionally appropriated funds detailed by the Defense Department on Wednesday.

The cuts involve projects such as rifle ranges, aircraft simulators, hangars, port repairs and a cyberoperations center in Virginia, with the biggest impact in Puerto Rico, Guam, New York and New Mexico. In the case of Puerto Rico, the Defense Department plans to divert funds from projects targeted after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.

The $3.6 billion, taken from 127 projects across the globe, will go toward 11 projects in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, which include both new construction and some fencing replacement. The longest stretch of new pedestrian fencing — about 52 miles — is scheduled for Laredo, Tex., along the Rio Grande.

Honest Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, The Battle Over the Files of a Gerrymandering Mastermind, Michael Wines, Sept. 4, 2019. At the heart of a decisive court ruling on Tuesday striking down North Carolina’s state legislative maps was evidence culled from the computer backups of the man who drew them: Thomas B. Hofeller, the Republican strategist and master of gerrymandering, who died last year.

rnc logoDocuments from the backups, which surfaced after his death, were also central to the legal battle over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. An enormous stash of digital files, covering Mr. Hofeller’s work in almost every state, has yet to be examined.

But in a state court in Raleigh, N.C., another courtroom battle is underway. Its aim is to ensure that those files are never publicly scrutinized.

Republican political figures filed a flurry of motions on Friday in the same court that issued the gerrymandering decision, all seeking to seal or destroy the 75,000-plus files that contain more than 100,000 documents and thousands of maps. Among them were a South Carolina lawyer, Dalton L. Oldham, who was a partner with Mr. Hofeller in a consultancy, Geographic Strategies L.L.C., that advised the Republican Party and party leaders nationwide on redistricting.

Mr. Oldham argues that Mr. Hofeller’s digital archive contains confidential work for clients like the Republican National Committee and that it includes trade secrets and information covered by lawyer-client privilege that should be erased or kept secret.

“Disclosure of these documents would reveal a major political party’s internal, proprietary and highly confidential communications and strategy,” a brief submitted by his lawyers stated.

A lawyer for Mr. Oldham, Robert N. Hunter Jr., declined to comment on the dispute, citing North Carolina legal guidelines. But a senior official at Common Cause North Carolina, the public-interest organizing group that helped bring the successful suit against the state’s legislative maps, argued that the public interest demanded that Mr. Hofeller’s digital archive be open to scrutiny.

“We’ve already seen that these files have been instrumental in exposing lies around the effort to add a citizenship question to the census and around subverting a court’s order to redraw gerrymandered lines,” Kathay Feng, the national redistricting director for the group, said in an interview.

“The Hofeller files are important because they’re the only thing that will allow the American people to know the truth behind the efforts to rig redistricting and elections,” she added. “They have to be made public.”

Documents from the backups, which surfaced after his death, were also central to the legal battle over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. An enormous stash of digital files, covering Mr. Hofeller’s work in almost every state, has yet to be examined.

But in a state court in Raleigh, N.C., another courtroom battle is underway. Its aim is to ensure that those files are never publicly scrutinized.

The hard drives of a G.O.P. strategist who died last year have upended lawsuits over the 2020 census and legislative maps. The North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh has been the center of a years-long battle over the fairness of electoral maps drawn up by a Republican consultant, Thomas B. Hofeller. A court on Tuesday ruled that they were unconstitutional gerrymanders.

Whatever the merits of that argument, the decision to disclose the files or keep them private carries potentially weighty political consequences, said David Daley, whose 2016 book on gerrymandering helped shape a national debate on the practice.

The few documents released so far “have transformed the national conversation about the citizenship question and helped overturn a set of statewide maps in North Carolina,” he said, adding, “There are tens of thousands of documents left to go. Think of the impact.”

The Republican National Committee, Geographic Strategies’ principal client from the firm’s creation in 2011 to July 2018, filed a similar motion to keep the files invisible. So did Republican leaders in North Carolina’s State Legislature, who hired Mr. Hofeller in 2011 and 2017 to draw the maps that the state court on Tuesday struck down as a blatantly unconstitutional gerrymander.

At issue are four hard drives and 18 thumb drives, comprising years of backups of Mr. Hofeller’s computer, that came to public attention only by the oddest of coincidences. Stephanie Hofeller, Mr. Hofeller’s estranged daughter, found the drives while visiting her mother after the strategist’s death in August 2018. While searching for a lawyer to handle estate issues, Ms. Hofeller mentioned the backups in passing to an official at Common Cause North Carolina.

The state’s Republican leaders have excoriated Ms. Hofeller over her actions. “Dr. Hofeller, of course, would not have willingly handed all his files to his political and legal opponents,” they wrote in a brief. “Most of the documents were not Mrs. Hofeller’s to give. Dr. Hofeller created and possessed them as an agent for his clients, so even he lacked the authority to turn them over without their authorization.”

Lawyers for Common Cause subpoenaed the backups early this year and discovered political bombshells: Documents in the North Carolina gerrymandering lawsuit appeared to indicate that Republican leaders had lied to a federal court in 2017 about their reliance on racial demographics to create the legislative map that was invalidated on Tuesday. (The leaders have denied the accusations; the state court called their explanation “not credible.”)

Other documents tied Mr. Hofeller directly to the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, and offered a potential motive: reducing the population count in predominantly Democratic areas with many noncitizens, and thus increasing Republican representation. The Supreme Court rejected the citizenship question in June.

Republican figures have been fighting to keep the Hofeller backups confidential since spring, but the effort gained steam in July, when lawyers for Mr. Oldham asked the court to seal the backups to stop plaintiffs in the gerrymandering lawsuit from “continuing to publish Geographic Strategies’ confidential trade secrets to the world.” (In practice, lawyers in the gerrymandering case disclosed only a few of Hofeller documents during that trial and in the census lawsuit.)

The court rejected efforts to keep documents from the backups from being introduced in the gerrymandering trial, but it did agree to allow both Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina and Geographic Strategies to review copies of the backups. The results were arresting: 195,887 redistricting map files and 100,658 documents, including 17,533 relating to Geographic Strategies, some 1,800 involving groups affiliated with the Republican Party and nearly 20,000 containing personal Hofeller family information, according to an analysis by Geographic Strategies experts.

 Trump Impeachment Research

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrats Examining Impeachment Target Trump’s Pardon Offers to Immigration Officials, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 4, 2019. Democrats appear to be expanding the scope of their impeachment inquiry beyond Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice. The House Judiciary Committee ordered homeland security officials on Wednesday to hand over records related to reported offers by President Trump to pardon aides willing to break the law to carry out his immigration policies.

democratic donkey logoWith a subpoena addressed to the department’s acting secretary, Kevin K. McAleenan, House Democrats indicated that they were continuing to expand the scope of their investigation into whether to impeach the president beyond the special counsel’s core findings on Russian election interference and possible presidential obstruction of justice.

A president who knowingly directed government officials to break the law and dangled pardons to appease them would constitute an abuse of power, the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said on Wednesday. He promised hearings on the matter in the coming weeks, linking it to other potential abuses under investigation by Democrats.

“Such a troubling pattern of obstruction of justice would represent a continuation of the misconduct identified in the Mueller report,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “The framers did not envision the use of the presidential pardon power to encourage criminal acts at the president’s direction.”

More On Epstein's Scandals

ny times logoJeffrey Epstein Harvard University New York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s New York Hunting Ground: Dance Studios, Ali Watkins, Sept. 4, 2019 (print ed.). The financier recruited young dancers to give him erotic massages even after his 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor. Lisa was 17 when a fellow dancer approached her after a ballet class in 2002 and asked if she wanted to give private exercise classes to a wealthy man named Jeffrey Epstein.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

New York Post, British actress ‘distraught’ over being linked to Jeffrey Epstein’s inner circle, Lee Brown, Sept. 5, 2019. A British actress accused of being in Jeffrey Epstein’s inner circle is “distraught” over the “shocking” allegations against her, according to her family. Prosecutors in the US reportedly want to interview Emmy Tayler, 44, over her ties to the late pedophile as the investigation widens following his suicide at a Manhattan lockup last month.

Tayler was a personal assistant to Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former gal pal and alleged madam, and named in court filings as among his friends who flew on his “Lolita Express” jet at the time he was trafficking girls.

UK Parliamentary Snapshot

jacob reese moog Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Jacob Rees-Mogg Takes Brexit Lying Down, Benjamin Mueller, Sept. 4, 2019. Mr. Rees-Mogg, the House of Commons leader, reclined on Parliament’s front benches during Tuesday’s debates, offering a target for the prime minister’s foes and inspiring internet memes. Not long after asking the House of united kingdom flagCommons to “contemplate the current constitutional confusion and consider the chaos this concatenation of circumstances could create” on Tuesday night, the British lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg reclined on the front bench of the chamber until he was nearly horizontal.

Around him colleagues raged at the power grabs of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, in which Mr. Rees-Mogg serves as leader of the House of Commons. But there was Mr. Rees-Mogg, nicknamed “the honorable gentleman from the 18th century” for his old-world tics and antiquarian poshness, looking like a Degas model, with his willowy frame and long, angular face.

For a government in crisis over its plan to shut down Parliament and pull Britain out of the European Union, it was a devastating look, seeming to confirm critics’ worst fears about a government of smug, entitled private school types sleepwalking into a no-deal Brexit that could wreck the economy and starve Britons of food and medicine.

Israeli Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Scandals, Rivals and U.S. Tarnish Netanyahu’s Aura of Invincibility, David M. Halbfinger, Sept. 4, 2019. While Israelis have learned never to count out their wily prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his victory in the coming election faces serious hurdles.

Younger rivals in his Likud party are circling overhead. Bombshell exposés on the nightly news have returned his looming indictment on corruption charges to the forefront.

Even Benjamin Netanyahu’s undisputed advantage over every challenger, his primacy on the international stage as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has lately been a source of as much embarrassment as luster.

With two weeks until a do-over election that was forced on the country by his inability to form a government after coming out on top in the April ballot, Mr. Netanyahu’s larger-than-life persona may have lost something that made his re-elections once seem inevitable.

A series of recent setbacks has overtaken his aura of indispensability.

JFK Murder Research

ny times logoNew York Times, Marita Lorenz, Who Told Tales of Castro and Kennedy, Dies at 80, Sam Roberts, Sept. 4, 2019. She was romanced by revolutionaries. She was called “a patron saint of conspiracy buffs.” At least some of her stories appear to be true. Marita Lorenz, who became pregnant after an affair with Fidel Castro, but who balked at poisoning the Cuban dictator in an American-linked plot by counter-revolutionaries, died on Aug. 31 in Oberhausen, Germany. She was 80.

fidel castroThe cause was cardiac failure, her daughter, Monica Mercedes Pérez Jiménez, said.

The daughter of an American actress with whom she was interned as a child in a concentration camp and a father who commanded a U-boat fleet, Ms. Lorenz led a swashbuckling life so implausible that separating the morsels of reality from what may have been unprovable or illusory was, at times, virtually impossible.

Her romance with Castro, right, and another with Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the Venezuelan generalissimo who fathered their daughter, both appear to have been confirmed. But whether she and Castro produced a son named Andre, who grew up to be a pediatrician in Cuba, is arguable.

Film Review: 'Official Secrets'

washington post logoWashington Post, Movie Review: Keira Knightley plays a real-life whistleblower in the timely ‘Official Secrets,’ Ann Hornaday, Sept. 4, 2019. Keira Knightley spends a lot of time looking tense and nauseous in Official Secrets, wherein she plays real-life whistleblower Katharine Gun. In 2003, Gun was working as a translator for British intelligence when she became privy to correspondence indicating that the United States and the United Kingdom were conspiring to blackmail other countries in the U.N. Security Council into supporting an invasion of Iraq. The information made it into the press, Gun admitted that she was the leaker, and she was eventually tried under the country’s Official Secrets Act.

Directed with workmanlike efficiency by Gavin Hood from a script he co-wrote with Gregory Bernstein and Sara Bernstein, “Official Secrets” revisits Gun’s story with an emphasis on the alternately clubby and labyrinthine institutions she came up against, as well as the emotional damage she incurred when she made a decision that some viewed as heroic and others as a betrayal. Although Knightley’s Gun often seems to be a passive figure, buffeted by the machinations of those around her, the film’s honesty about the enormous personal costs of whistleblowing is a welcome relief from more romanticized heroics.

MHood has enlisted a fabulous cast of supporting actors to play the men who help and hinder Gun’s attempt at moral clarity, including Ralph Fiennes as her idealistic but also practical-minded attorney, Matt Smith and Matthew Goode as editors of the London Observer, and Rhys Ifans, who delivers a histrionic portrayal of the Observer reporter who broke Gun’s story.

“Official Secrets” succumbs to cliches of the genre — a scene staged in a parking garage is no less predictable for a character invoking Deep Throat — and it doesn’t exemplify scintillating filmmaking. But what the film lacks in style it makes up for in the kind of dogged, unselfconscious integrity that Gun comes to stand for and that, in light of the bizarre turns U.S. and British politics have taken in intervening years, feels increasingly like an artifact of the past.

Sept. 3

Major 9/11 Causation Study Released

AE 9/11 Truth, Research Investigation: University Study Finds Fire Did Not Bring Down World Trade Center Building 7 on 9/11, Staff report, Sept. 3, 2019. Release of Draft Report to Be Followed by Public ae for 9 11 truth logoComment Period. On September 11, 2001, at 5:20 PM, the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 collapsed into its footprint, falling more than 100 feet at the rate of gravity for 2.5 seconds of its seven-second destruction.

Today, we at Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth are pleased to partner with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in releasing the draft report of a four-year computer modeling study of WTC 7’s collapse conducted by researchers in the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The release of the draft report begins a two-month period during which the public is invited to submit comments. The final report will be published later this year.

We invite you to read the report and to tune in at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight for Dr. Leroy Hulsey’s presentation at the UAF campus, where he will outline his team’s findings.

Today, we at Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth are pleased to partner with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in releasing the draft report of a four-year computer modeling study of WTC 7’s collapse conducted by researchers in the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The UAF WTC 7 report concludes that the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11 was caused not by fire but rather by the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.

Download the Report | Read the Abstract

Project Information

Lead Researcher

Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey
Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Research Assistants

Dr. Feng Xiao
Associate Professor, Nanjing University of Science and Technology

Dr. Zhili Quan
Bridge Engineer, South Carolina Department of Transportation

Project Dates

May 1, 2015 – September 30, 2019

Funding

$316,153 (provided by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth)

Simulations and Videos

Figure 4.16 Failure of Columns 76 to 81
Figure 4.20 Failure of All Core Columns
Figure 4.24a Failure of All Columns Fl 6 to 13

Public Comment Period

Following the release of the UAF WTC 7 draft report on September 3, 2019, there will be a two-month public comment period ending on November 1, 2019. The final report will be released later this year.

During this period, the UAF research team and AE911Truth staff welcome any and all members of the public to submit constructive comments intended to further the analyses and presentation of findings contained in the report. Designated reviewers external to UAF and AE911Truth will also review the report during this period.

UK Democracy Crisisdjt boris johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and his political ally Donald Trump (file photos)

washington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson loses Parliamentary majority, faces Brexit showdown, Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam​, Sept. 3, 2019. The showdown in Parliament, which returned from its summer recess Tuesday, follows days of legislators accusing each other of attacking British democracy. ​ Here’s what we know:

● Johnson has lost his majority in Parliament, with the defection of Conservative Phillip Lee to the Liberal Democrats.united kingdom flag

● The opposition, including members of Johnson’s party, is seeking to pass legislation to delay Brexit.

● Johnson, who is addressing Parliament now, has said that if his foes succeed he will call early elections.

CNN, Johnson says he would in fact request a Brexit delay if Parliament passed a law ordering him to, Bianca Britton and Ivana Kottasová, Sept. 3, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (shown in a file photo below) said that if the Parliament passed legislation requiring him to go to Brussels and request another extension to Brexit, he would in fact follow the law. See also, 1:24 min. video via CNN.

boris johnson hand up unsourcedboris johnson brexit guardian sept 4 2019His comments come a day after Johnson said that "there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay" Brexit. Earlier in the debate, Johnson also said he would obey the law if Parliament passed a bill rejecting a no-deal Brexit.

The statement comes after Michael Gove, a member of Johnson's cabinet, refused on Sunday to confirm that the government would abide by any law preventing a no-deal Brexit if one is passed by Parliament. Questioned about what the government would do if attempts in Parliament by the opposition were successful to prevent the UK exiting the European Union without a deal, Gove told the BBC: "You're asking me about a pig in a poke and I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.

Trump 2016 Payoff Scandal

djt stormy daniels 2006

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats plan to launch inquiry into Trump’s alleged role in scheme to silence affair accusations, Rachael Bade and Tom Hamburger, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats plan to make President Trump’s alleged involvement in a 2016 scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him a major djt karen mcdougal blue dressinvestigative focus this fall, picking up where federal prosecutors left off in a case legal experts say could have led to additional indictments.

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush-money payments to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal (at right) and adult-film star Stormy Daniels (shown above with Trump in a 2006 photo) as soon as October, according to people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Democrats say they believe there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator in the episode that resulted in his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to two campaign finance charges.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for those counts and other crimes, testified under oath that Trump directed the payments that helped land him behind bars. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also described Trump’s alleged role in the scheme, referring to him in court papers as “Individual-1.” But they concluded their investigation this summer without bringing any additional charges.

Inside DC

 ny times logoNew York Times, To Start Afghan Withdrawal, U.S. Would Pull 5,400 Troops in 135 Days, Mujib Mashal, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). It still needs President Trump’s approval. An agreement with the Taliban was finalized “in principle”, a U.S. envoy said, 

ny times logoNew York Times, Facing criticism, the Trump administration reversed a move to abruptly end humanitarian relief for gravely ill migrants, Miriam Jordan, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would reconsider its decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries, an abrupt move last month that generated public outrage and was roundly condemned by the medical establishment.

On Aug. 7, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, without public notice, eliminated a “deferred action” program that had allowed immigrants to avoid deportation while they or their relatives were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment.

The agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, had sent letters informing those who had asked for a renewal, which the immigrants must make every two years, that it was no longer entertaining such requests. The letters said that the immigrants must leave the country within 33 days, or face deportation.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Great Tax Break Heist, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The many, many fiascos of policy by tax cut. A few days ago The Times reported on widespread abuse of a provision in the 2017 Trump tax cut that was supposed to help struggling urban workers. The provision created a tax jared kushner head shotbreak for investment in so-called “opportunity zones,” which would supposedly help create jobs in low-income areas.

In reality the tax break has been used to support high-end hotels and apartment buildings, warehouses that employ hardly any people and so on. And it has made a handful of wealthy, well-connected investors — including the family of Jared Kushner, left, Donald Trump’s son-in-law — even wealthier.

U.S. 2020 Politics

washington post logomichael gersonWashington Post, Opinion: 2016 taught us a lesson about Trump. Now we need to unlearn it, Michael Gerson (syndicated columnist and former White House speechwriter, shown right in an official photo, for George W. Bush), Sept. 3, 2019 (print ed.). The outcome of the 2016 presidential election reinforced a certain lesson: Don’t underestimate Donald Trump.

All good lessons, however, are eventually overlearned, especially by once-burned political commentators. In this case, our reticence disguises just how weak Trump really is. While it is absurd at this point to predict anything about the 2020 presidential election, no sane candidate would prefer to be playing Trump’s hand.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: It's more than obvious that we are all living with a dementia sufferer, Sept. 3, 2019. Anyone who has ever cared for a relative or a close friend suffering from dementia is well aware of the effects of this debilitating disease.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders White House to restore press pass of reporter involved in confrontation, Paul Farhi, Sept. 3, 2019. A federal judge on Tuesday reversed the White House’s decision to suspend a reporter’s press credentials, granting a motion that will restore him to his beat.

The ruling was a victory for Brian Karem, a White House correspondent for Playboy magazine and a CNN political analyst, who had been suspended by officials for 30 days in mid-August because of his role in a verbal confrontation with a former White House aide at a White House event on July 11. He was the second reporter suspended in the past nine months, a step that appears to be without recent precedent before President Trump’s administration. Trump banned more than a dozen news organizations, including The Washington Post, from his campaign events in 2015 and 2016 but said he wouldn’t do so if he became president.

Karem, who has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump, sued White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and the president last month. He argued that the suspension, which began Aug. 16, was arbitrary and violated his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.

Fair Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why is the Russian meddling in 2016 such a big secret? I’m not allowed to say, Stephanie Murphy, Sept. 3, 2019. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

In May, other members of Florida’s congressional delegation and I were briefed for 90 minutes in the U.S. Capitol by officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. I sought the briefing after then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report showed Russia had probed and even pierced election networks in Florida, among the most closely contested states in U.S. politics.

fbi logoAlthough our briefers supplied new details, much remained unknown. What I do know, I can’t talk about. Why that’s the case is itself a mystery.

The Mueller report noted that Moscow’s meddling involved three lines of effort, and Florida was a target of each. First, a Russian entity conducted a social media campaign to sow discord and help then-candidate Donald Trump, including by organizing pro-Trump rallies in Florida. Second, a Russian intelligence agency — the GRU — hacked computer accounts connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. As part of this effort, it published Florida-related data stolen from House Democrats’ campaign arm.

Finally, Mueller reported, the GRU sought to infiltrate computer networks involved in the administration of elections, which could enable Russia to alter voter registration databases or perhaps vote tabulation systems. That would be tantamount to an act of war, with malware rather than missiles as the weapon of choice. While Russian cyber actors cast a wide net, Florida’s county-based election supervisors were a focal point.

The fact that Florida’s election infrastructure was specifically — and successfully — targeted wasn’t made public until about three years after the fact, when a single sentence deep in the Mueller report revealed Russia had breached “at least one” county in the state. Along with my Republican colleague from Florida, Michael Waltz, I asked federal law enforcement officials to brief the state’s congressional delegation. Waltz and I both have national security backgrounds, and we wanted to better understand this threat to our country and state.

At the briefing, we were astonished to discover that, in fact, two Florida counties had been penetrated. Although it appears the Russians were in a position to alter voter data in these counties, there is no evidence to indicate they did so. We were told the counties’ names but were barred by our briefers from disclosing them to the public. A subsequent report by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, which refers to targeted states by number, has deepened the mystery. The heavily redacted discussion of “State 2” — which appears to be Florida — now suggests four counties might have been compromised. Waltz and I have requested another briefing to clarify. Presumably, we will again be prohibited from sharing what we learn with our constituents.

It’s self-defeating to be given incomplete information and then be required to remain silent about the few facts we do know. If we can’t form a clear picture of past election interference efforts, we won’t learn how best to fend off future attacks.

Why have the details of this foreign attack on our democracy been shrouded in secrecy? For the most part, it’s not the need to protect intelligence sources and methods. Rather, it’s that federal law enforcement agencies view local election officials whose networks were targeted as victims entitled to confidentiality. I believe the victims are the voters, who deserve to know what happened and what their leaders are doing to prevent it from happening again. The half-release of information has one clear side effect; it reduces the public’s faith in our system, which could depress voter turnout. That would please Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia will likely use similar tactics in 2020 — to influence whom Americans vote for, to make it harder for registered voters to cast ballots and even to prevent an accurate vote count. While Russia assisted a Republican in 2016, it could aid a Democrat in the future. Moscow’s loyalty is to itself, not any U.S. political party. To defend our democracy, U.S. officials must put America first, a point lost on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has declined to take up House-passed bills to secure our elections.

Sept. 2

Global Headlines (Details below)

Texas Mass Shooting Toll

washington post logoseth atorWashington Post, Texas shooting death toll rises to 7, Ben Guarino, Sept. 2, 2019 (print ed.). ​​Police said the gunman, who was killed by officers after he hijacked a mail truck and went on a highway rampage, was a white man in his 30s, identified as Seth Ator, right. Police were searching for a motive.

New York Times, The man who sprayed gunfire across West Texas on Saturday had an erratic, nomadic life, including clashes with the law.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Texas Is Facing An Epidemic of Gun Violence, Richard Parker (author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America”), Sept. 2, 2019 (print ed.). How many dead Texans does it take for Gov. Greg Abbott to respond?

Hurricane Dorian

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Dorian city-by-city forecasts, Matthew Cappucci, Sept. 2, 2019. Hurricane Dorian has been lashing the Bahamas since early Sunday, bringing destructive winds at times topping 200 mph, along with a devastating surge of up to 23 feet. The now-Category 4 hurricane has moved less than 100 miles in 24 hours, stalling just northeast of Freeport in the Bahamas, parking its tornado-like eyewall over some areas for a terrifying six to 12 hours or more.

Dorian will barely move from the northwest Bahamas on Monday into early Tuesday before meandering slowly north, passing dangerously close to Florida and the U.S. Southeast coast. It will be a nail-biter for a number of U.S. cities, but just how close a shave Dorian becomes is still somewhat uncertain.

A hurricane warning has been posted for the immediate coastline from just south of Cape Canaveral to near Jupiter, Fla. On either side, a hurricane watch is up — down to Boca Raton and up through the Florida/Georgia border. Below, we’ve included a look at the forecast for several cities.

Boat Disaster

ny times logoNew York Times, 34 Missing in Boat Fire Off Santa Cruz Island in California, Officials Say, Niraj Chokshi, Sept. 2, 2019. Coast Guard officials said they believe there were 39 aboard and that five were rescued, all of them crew members who were awake and on the ship’s bridge when the fire began.

The boat sank 20 yards offshore as fire department crews were fighting the blaze. The boat was a 75-foot scuba diving vessel named “Conception.”

Global Crises

washington post logoWashington Post, Britain’s Johnson threatens to purge rebel party members as Brexit battle heats up, Karla Adam and Kevin Sullivan, Sept. 2, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sharply raised the stakes in the Brexit fight on Monday, threatening to kick members of Parliament out of the Conservative Party if they don’t support his plans to leave the European Union next month.

united kingdom flagThe move comes as Johnson, shown below left, and his opponents position themselves for a fierce showdown over Brexit on Tuesday when Parliament returns from its summer recess.

A cross-party group of opposition legislators, led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, plan to introduce legislation to block Britain leaving the E.U. without an boris johnson hand up unsourcedagreement in place to regulate trade, border security and other critical issues — the so-called no-deal Brexit.

Most lawmakers in Parliament oppose leaving without an exit plan, something many analysts say could be economically damaging and lead to food and medicine shortages. Johnson has dismissed those predictions as fearmongering.

Conservative rebels reacted angrily to Johnson’s threat to force them out of the party, which would mean they could not run as Conservative candidates in future elections. A general election, as soon as the next few weeks, is a possibility if Johnson and his opponents fail to reach agreement over Brexit.

Nick Boles, a former Conservative legislator who quit the party over Brexit, told the BBC that Johnson’s tactics meant the party had been “taken over” by the “hard right.”

Britain’s next general election is scheduled for 2022. But under the British system, a general election can be called at virtually any time, as long as two-thirds of Parliament supports it.

Asia Times via Consortium News, Opinion: Amazon Burns Amid Brazil’s Incendiary Politics, Pepe Escobar, right, pepe escobar recentSept. 2, 2019. Fires rage in the Amazon as Brazilian President Bolsonaro becomes a target of global indignation. Brazil has always been a land of superlatives. Yet nothing beats the current, perverse configuration: a world statesman lingers in jail while a clownish thug is in power, his antics now considered a threat to the whole planet.

In a wide-ranging, two-hour, world exclusive interview out of a prison room at the Federal Police building in Curitiba, southern Brazil, former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva not only made the case to global public opinion for his innocence in the whole Car Wash corruption saga, confirmed by the bombshell leaks revealed by The Intercept, but also repositioned himself to resume his status as a global leader. Arguably sooner rather than later – depending on a fateful, upcoming decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court, for which Justice is not exactly blind.

The request for the interview was entered five months ago. Lula talked to journalists Mauro Lopes, Paulo Moreira Leite and myself, representing in all three cases the website Brasil247 and in my case Asia Times. A rough cut, with only one camera focusing on Lula, was released this past Thursday, the day of the interview. A full, edited version, with English subtitles, targeting global public opinion, should be released by the end of the week.

U.S. Afghan Policy Dispute

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Officials at Odds Over C.I.A.’s Role in Afghanistan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Julian E. Barnes, Matthew Rosenberg and John Ismay, Sept. 2, 2019. Senior White House advisers have proposed secretly expanding the C.I.A.’s presence in Afghanistan if international forces begin to withdraw from the country, according to American officials. But C.I.A. and military officials have expressed reservations, prompting a debate in the administration that could complicate negotiations with the Taliban to end the war.

cia logoSome administration officials want C.I.A.-backed militia forces in Afghanistan to serve as part of a counterterrorism force that would prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda as American military troops prepare to leave — in effect, an insurance policy.

gina haspel screenshotBut others are skeptical that the shadowy militias, many of which face accusations of brutality, can serve as a bulwark against terrorism without the support of the American military.

The C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, left, has raised logistical concerns about the plan with other administration officials, emphasizing that the agency operatives — who marshal the militias to hunt Taliban, Qaeda and Islamic State militants — largely depend on the military for airstrikes, overhead surveillance, medical support and bomb technicians.

The disagreement underscores the fault lines between those who want a final withdrawal and those who fear it would expose the U.S. to terrorist threats.

Global News: Israeli Attack

washington post logoisrael flagWashington Post, Israel strikes targets in southern Lebanon after apparent Hezbollah missile attack, Ruth Eglash and James McAuley, Sept. 2, 2019 (print ed.). An exchange of fire erupted Sunday on Israel’s northern border in a dramatic escalation of regional tensions, after Hezbolla  militants apparently fired antitank missiles from Lebanon toward an Israeli military base. Israel responded to the cross-border missile attack with heavy fire directed at targets in southern Lebanon.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Is Netanyahu ready to deceive Israelis and the US into war before the general election? Joseph Zernik, Sept. 2, 2019. IDF's "cute deceptive maneuver" failed. It could have led to escalation and war against Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, dragging the US into war as well. In short, Israel may drag the US into an undesired conflict in the Middle-east, driven by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal expediency.

benjamin netanyahu frownBasically, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesman today issued a false presser to the Israeli public informing Israelis of wounded soldiers in a Hezbollah attack on a "medical vehicle."

It is likely that the "cute deception maneuver" failed because Rambam hospital doctors refused to collude. It should also be noted that IDF deliberately exposed medical evacuation personnel to Hezbollah fire. Bbut the bait failed, Hezbollah didn't bite.

All of this is taking place a couple of weeks before the general election, while Netanyahu is facing three indictments on three different corruption affairs, which may doom him to prison.

Therefore, it is not inconceivable that the prospect target is the Israeli public at large, and the goal may be escalation and possibly a smaller or larger scale operation in Lebanon.  After all, the Israeli government has been busy escalating tension the region over the past couple of weeks, striking as far as Iraq, to open US condemnation.Netanyahu is also displeased with Trump's recent opening to negotiations with Iran, which undermines Netanyahu's election campaign, which as usual is heavily dosed with Iran scare tactics.

Al Manar TV via SouthFront, Hezbollah Reveals Video Of ATGM Strike On Israeli Armoured Personnel Carrier, Staff report, Sept. 2, 2019. Hezbollah-linked al-Manar TV channelhas released a video showing Hezbollah’s anti-tank guided missile strike on Israel’s Wolf armoured personnel carrier near Avivim in Upper Galilee. Hezbollah says that the vehicle was destroyed and several Israeli soldiers were killed or injured. Israel denies any casualties.

Hong Kong Riots: Biased Coverage?

Moon of Alabama, Analysis: Hong Kong Rioters Wage Sabotage Campaign To Press Congress Into Punishing China, B, Sept. 2, 2019. The Associated Press is doing its best to make the Hong Kong police look bad by describing an incident without its context

Late at night Saturday, video from Hong Kong broadcaster TVB showed police on the platform of Prince Edward subway station swinging batons at passengers who backed into one end of a train car behind umbrellas. The video also shows pepper spray being shot through an open door at a group seated on the floor while one man holds up his hands.

Police officers said at a briefing Monday that they rejected accusations that they “beat up” ordinary citizens without first confirming their identities. They said they specifically targeted those who they believed to be rioters, including those who had changed out of their black protester outfits, and arrested 63 people on suspicion of illegal assembly and possessing explosives and offensive weapons.

The incident described in the first paragraph above did indeed happen. But it was only the last part of a larger story which the AP fails to mention. Here is how it started:

The violence in Prince Edward Station began during a dispute between protesters and some older men who were insulting them. One of the men swung a hammer at the protesters, who threw water bottles and umbrellas and later appeared to set off fire extinguishers in the car. After the clashes, the subway system suspended service across much of Hong Kong. Three stations remained closed on Sunday.

A full 10 minutes long video of the scene can be watched here.

It was the above incident that led the MTR, the public Mass Transit Railway operator, to stop the traffic at the station and to call up the police. When the riot police entered the station it immediately faced resistance:

The whole scene was not an isolated incident. Black clad folks ripped wastebaskets off the wall and threw them on the rail tracks. They smashed customer service centers, vandalized subway entry gates and hit regular passengers who disliked their behavior. This happened not only in one subway station but was part of a systematic attempt to disrupt the whole service:

The intent was obviously not to protest but a well planned and coordinated sabotage campaign against the city's indispensable mass transport system. Sabotaging infrastructure is an old CIA tactic to "harass and demoralize enemy administrators and police." Tianamen was, as we now know, a CIA-led color revolution attempt, set up within a background of general protests, in which the U.S. regime change mastermind Gene Sharp was directly involved. The mostly falsely reported incident, during which soldiers were lynched and protesters gunned down, led to 'western' sanctions against China.

Beijing is not going to fall for the same trick twice. The Joshua Wong op-ed [by a protester in the New York Times] shows that the aim has now been lowered. The riots and the inevitable police response to them are now supposed to push Congress to give the Treasury a tool to sanction Chinese officials for interfering in a Chinese(!) city's affairs.

Model Magnate, Epstein Pal Disappears 

  • Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in jail while facing child sex trafficking charges
  • Jean-Luc Brunel, 72, is sought by French authorities who have 'urgent' questions
  • He founded New York model agency MC2, who signed Svetlana Pozhidaeva
  • Pozhidaeva has been pictured at Epstein's New York mansion back in 2016
  • A millionaire model agency boss who is thought to have key information about the Jeffrey Epstein scandal 'has disappeared like a ghost without a trace.' Jean-Luc Brunel, 72, has vanished as police seek to ask the Frenchman 'urgent' questions about the pedophile.

Daily Mail Online, Millionaire model agency boss thought to have key information into the Jeffrey Epstein scandal 'has disappeared like a ghost without a trace,' Sebastian Murphy-jean luc brunelBates, Sept. 2, 2019 (updated version). French authorities want to speak with Jean-Luc Brunel (pictured) to ask him 'urgent' questions regarding Jeffrey Epstein. Brunel - who founded New York's MC2 - denies any involvement with crimes committed by Epstein. A Paris legal source told the Daily Mirror: 'He is a ghost who has disappeared without trace.'

It comes after former model Svetlana Pozhidaeva, who was signed to MC2, was pictured at convicted paedophile Epstein's mansion in New York back in 2016.

Virginia Roberts, who was a victim of Esptein's, claims to have slept with Prince Andrew three times. Pozhidaeva, who was signed to Brunel's agency was pictured outside the New York mansion of Epstein (above). The Duke of York has vehemently denied that he slept with her and says he knew nothing about Epstein's illegal behaviour.

Roberts says she also slept with Brunel 'many times' when she was aged 16 to 19. Many of the girls believed to have been used by Epstein are alleged to have been 'sourced' in Paris. Epstein owned a £7 million apartment in the French capital, where Brunel also lived. The agency boss was searching for new talent in Brazil until the start of this summer.

This month, French prosecutors have started a preliminary inquiry into whether Epstein sexually abused minors from France. They say Brunel is 'uncontactable' because he has no address, internet accounts or social media.

Sept. 1

Mass Shootings

ny times logoNew York Times, Fifty-three people died in mass shootings in the U.S. this August alone, Neil Vigdor, Sept. 1, 2019 (print ed.). So far this year, there have been at least 38 shootings with three or more fatalities, data shows. This month’s loss of life was most acute in Texas, where four of the eight deadliest shootings occurred, including an Aug. 3 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso that killed 22 people.

Trade War Toll

ny times logoNew York Times, How Much Will the Trade War Cost You by the End of the Year? About $460 for the average family, according to a new economic analysis, NQuoctrung Bui and Karl Russell, Sept. 1, 2019. A new wave of tariffs by the Trump administration went into effect on Sunday, rendering the majority of goods imported to the United States from China subject to import taxes.

It is the latest move in a drawn-out conflict between the world’s two largest economies. This round — a 15 percent tariff on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods as varied as cereal bowls, paint brushes and pajamas — is likely to hit American households in the most direct way yet.

Hurricane Dorian

washington post logoWashington Post, Dorian, a ‘catastrophic’ Category 5, bears down on the Bahamas, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, Sept. 1, 2019. Dorian will move close enough to bring impacts to Florida and the Southeast U.S. coast.

With peak winds of 175 mph, Hurricane Dorian is about as powerful as an Atlantic hurricane can get as the core of its strongest winds and most dangerous storm surge moves over the northwestern Bahamas. These winds are the strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida on record.

Global News: Saudi Attack

SouthFront, At Least 80 Prisoners Of War Killed In Saudi Airstrikes On Dhamar, Staff and wire reports, Sept. 1, 2019. At least 80 captives were killed and 100 others were injured when Saudi warplanes pounded the prison they were being held inside the central Yemen city of Dhamar, the Houthis Health Ministry announced on September 1.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted the prison and the nearby Community College in the early hours of the morning. The coalition claimed that the Houthis were storing attack drones and anti-aircraft missiles in the target sites.

Chairman of the National Committee for Prisoners, Abdul Qader al-Mortada, revealed that all the captives were Saudi-backed fighters who were captured by the Houthis. Al-Mortada claimed that at least half of the captives were set to be freed soon as a part of an exchange deal.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that the prison was well-known and that its team in Yemen visit it on a regular basis. The Saudi-led coalition and its main backer, the U.S, are yet to comment on the Dhamar massacre.

 

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