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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump White House Page 45
President Trump’s official merchandise is bringing in more than just big money – there is a math to the madness. Stephanie Ruhle is joined by Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer and former Congressman Steve Israel to break down how this is all part of the Trump campaign’s digital strategy and why this could be bad news for Democrats. more...

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was set to testify he was on the July phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s leader.
By Adam Edelman
WASHINGTON — Top Democrats at the deposition of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, said his testimony Tuesday was “extremely disturbing” and praised him for appearing despite attacks from the White House. Acting House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y, told NBC News she found Vindman’s remarks “extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing” as she left the deposition. Maloney refused to answer any other questions about Vindman’s testimony. Vindman, appearing voluntarily under congressional subpoena, was set to tell members of Congress conducting an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump that he was on the phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s leader in which Trump asked for an investigation into the Bidens — and that he raised concerns about it. Vindman considered Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his political rivals so damaging to American national security that he reported it to a superior, according to his opening statement obtained by NBC News. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a member of the House Oversight Committee who was present for the deposition, told NBC News that Vindman was a “very credible” witness and said his testimony "corroborated the testimony of other witnesses" that "really drew a direct line to the President, and those around him and their interest in withholding foreign aid through Ukraine that was vital, as well as insisting on investigations into Biden." Vindman’s testimony, she said, has "actually filled in more of the puzzle pieces." Wasserman Schutlz said the Republicans present for the deposition were trying to get Vindman to reveal the identity of the whistleblower. "What the Republicans are trying to do very clearly in their questioning is try to front door or back door Lt. Col. Vindman into revealing who the whistleblower is, even though in his testimony he says he doesn't he didn't know," she said. "They've been unsuccessful," she added. more...

By Elizabeth Drew, Opinion contributor
The Founders made clear that an impeachable or convictable offense need not be a crime. Hamilton said it applied to 'the misconduct of public men.' The tactics some Republicans are using to defend President Donald Trump against being impeached (or indicted) by the House and convicted (or removed from office) by the Senate include confusing the public about what these terms mean. One thrust is to suggest that for a president to be impeached, he must have committed a crime. For example, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., perhaps Trump’s most vocal defender on Capitol Hill, indicated his supposed openness to impeachment with this statement: “Sure. I mean, show me something that is a crime.” Graham, a former Air Force lawyer who is now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, surely knows better. His disingenuous statement was drastically misleading about the meaning of impeachment. Reining in a president: Graham’s definition of impeachment as necessarily involving a crime goes against the history of the Constitution's impeachment clause and undermines the very point of the exercise, which is to hold a president accountable for abuses of power between elections. A crime might be involved, but the critical point is that an abuse of power need not be a crime. Not all crimes are impeachable offenses, and not all impeachable offenses are crimes. An abuse of power occurs when a president reaches beyond the understood limits on his governing, or violates the constitutional requirement that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed." For example, when President Richard Nixon used the Internal Revenue Service to harass his perceived enemies, he was abusing his power, and this became part of one of the charges against him (Article II) in the articles of impeachment drawn up against him by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974. Significantly, Article II also held a president accountable for the acts of his aides. more...

The Telegraph
President Donald Trump was booed by baseball fans as he attended a World Series game with his wife Melania in Washington on Sunday. Mr Trump attended the tie-breaking game five of the series on the day his administration announced the death, long-sought by the Pentagon, of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. After the game's third inning, the stadium's video display showed military members in attendance - but then quickly cut to Mr Trump. The cheering crowd immediately switched to loud and sustained boos. Telegraph.co.uk and YouTube.com/TelegraphTV are websites of The Telegraph, the UK's best-selling quality daily newspaper providing news and analysis on UK and world events, business, sport, lifestyle and culture. more...

By Tom Porter
In a press briefing broadcast live on Sunday, US President Donald Trump described in granular terms the raid in which US special forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group. "When we landed with eight helicopters, a large crew of brilliant fighters ran out of those helicopters and blew holes into the side of the building, not wanting to go through the main door because that was booby-trapped," Trump said. But according to current and former military and national-security experts who spoke with the media after the raid, the gripping, public details — down to precise timings and tactics — could come back to haunt the US. Trump relished describing al-Baghdadi as "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way" before his death, having been pursued into a network of subterranean tunnels by the US forces before detonating a suicide vest. The president said that US forces had a detailed knowledge of the tunnel network and that his perspective following the raid from the White House Situation Room was "like watching a movie." Trump mapped out part of the dangerous route taken by the airborne special forces to the terrorist's hideout in northwestern Syria. He said the aircraft traveled "very low and very fast," took an hour and 10 minutes, crossed territory held by Russia, and encountered enemy fire. The team, he said, took the "identical route" back. Trump mapped out part of the dangerous route taken by the airborne special forces to the terrorist's hideout in northwestern Syria. He said the aircraft traveled "very low and very fast," took an hour and 10 minutes, crossed territory held by Russia, and encountered enemy fire. The team, he said, took the "identical route" back. more...

By Scott Horsley
President Trump is renewing his push for U.S. control of Syrian oil. But experts say there's not much oil there, and what there is belongs to the Syrian government. Still, the idea of controlling the oil fields is one that has long appealed to Trump. And it may provide a rationale for maintaining a U.S. military presence in Syria, reversing the president's promise of a full withdrawal. "We are leaving soldiers to secure the oil," Trump told reporters on Sunday, while announcing the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "And we may have to fight for the oil. It's OK. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there's massive amounts of oil." In fact, in the best of times Syria produced only about 380,000 barrels of low-quality oil per day. And production has fallen more than 90% during the country's long civil war. Last year, Syria ranked 75th among countries in the world in oil production, with a daily output comparable to that of the state of Illinois. "Syrian oil was never important to the world market because production was so small," said energy expert Daniel Yergin of IHS Markit. "But it was very important to the Assad regime before the civil war because it produced 25% of the total government revenues." Trump on Sunday floated the idea of modernizing Syria's productive capacity with help from a major oil company. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department on Monday asked a federal judge to put on hold an order requiring the disclosure of grand jury information redacted from special counsel Robert Mueller's report to the House Judiciary Committee while it files an appeal. Last week, DC District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the documents must be turned over by Wednesday, and in her opinion legally endorse the House impeachment inquiry. "Once the information is disclosed, it cannot be recalled, and the confidentiality of the grand jury information will be lost for all time," Justice Department lawyers wrote, especially if the Judiciary Committee decides to make the materials public. The Justice department says it is filing an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Justice Department added that it believes, based on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's remarks, that what Mueller investigated "is not the current focus of impeachment activity." "The speaker has announced that the House impeachment inquiry will focus narrowly on the whistleblower complaint and issues surrounding Ukraine," the filing states. more...

By Jiyar Gol BBC Persian, Northern Syria
On our way to Qamishli, the largest Kurdish city in northern Syria, we see a US military convoy escorted by fighter jets heading east towards the Iraqi border. They are leaving the Kurdish region. The first time I saw an American in Syria was in 2016. He was part of US special forces, sent to support the Kurds fighting the Islamic State (IS) group. Locals were excited to see them arriving. But it was in stark contrast this time around. Now you could see the fear and anxiety in the faces of onlookers. We were only a few kilometres from the Turkish border as one of the jets circled overhead, leaving a trail of white smoke as it passed in and out of Turkish airspace. One of our guides sighed. "Trump bi namoose," he said to me in Kurdish. "Trump has no honour." The Kurds have every reason to be worried. On one side they face neighbouring Turkey, on the other, Syrian government forces. Now the US is leaving, Kurds here are convinced they have no friends other than the mountains they inhabit. 'Trump sold us': From the moment we arrived in Qamishli, ordinary Kurds from baker to waiter asked, "why did Trump sell us out?" This is a traditional society that prides itself on a code of honour and does not understand why it has effectively been cut loose. "America stabbed us in the back... Trump sold us... we were betrayed," we heard, again and again. more...

Taking (or denying) credit for momentous collective achievements is an age-old phenomenon in the political world.
By David Mikkelson
Donald Trump declared in 2012 that people should stop congratulating President Obama for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Rating True. On May 2, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. forces had finally located and killed the elusive al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a raid on a compound in Pakistan, ten years after bin Laden had masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. On October 27, 2019, President Donald Trump announced that a U.S. operation had resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group (commonly known ISIS) during a military raid in Syria. During the press conference held to announce al-Baghdadi’s death, Trump played up the accomplishment as being an even greater achievement than the killing of bin Laden, saying: “This is the biggest one perhaps that we’ve ever captured,” and “This is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever. Osama bin Laden was big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country.” During the press event Trump also once again referred to the debunked claim that prior to 9/11 that he had issued a warning that the U.S. needed to “take out” Osama bin Laden, declaring: “I don’t get any credit for [my warning] … But that’s okay. I never do. But here we are.” more...

By HOPE YEN - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump falsely asserted that he predicted Osama bin Laden's 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in a news conference Sunday aimed at showcasing his administration's accomplishments in stemming the terrorist threat abroad. A look at the president's claims at the briefing, where he announced the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group: TRUMP: "I'm writing a book ... About a year before the World Trade Center came down, the book came out. I was talking about Osama bin Laden. I said, 'You have to kill him. You have to take him out.' Nobody listened to me." Trump added that people said to him, "'You predicted that Osama Bin Laden had to be killed, before he knocked down the World Trade Center.' It's true." THE FACTS: It's not true. His 2000 book, "The America We Deserve," makes a passing mention of bin Laden but did no more than point to the al-Qaida leader as one of many threats to U.S. security. Nor does he say in the book that bin Laden should have be killed. As part of his criticism of what he considered Bill Clinton's haphazard approach to U.S. security as president, Trump wrote: "One day we're told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy Number One, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it's on to a new enemy and new crisis." The book did not call for further U.S. action against bin Laden or al-Qaida to follow up on attacks Clinton ordered in 1998 in Afghanistan and Sudan after al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S. attacks were meant to disrupt bin Laden's network and destroy some of al-Qaida's infrastructure, such as a factory in Sudan associated with the production of a nerve gas ingredient. They "missed" in the sense that bin Laden was not killed in them, and al-Qaida was able to pull off 9/11 three years later. In passages on terrorism, Trump's book does correctly predict that the U.S. was at risk of a terrorist attack that would make the 1993 World Trade Center bombing pale by comparison. That was a widespread concern at the time, as Trump suggested in stating "no sensible analyst rejects this possibility." Still, Trump did not explicitly tie that threat to al-Qaida and thought an attack might come through a miniaturized weapon of mass destruction, like a nuclear device in a suitcase or anthrax. more...

Analysis by Daniel Dale, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump told a story in January about the farmers, ranchers and builders who stood behind him at a 2017 event where he signed an executive order to weaken an Obama-era environmental regulation. "They were strong, tough men and women. And half of them were crying," Trump told an American Farm Bureau convention. We checked the video of the signing ceremony. Nobody standing behind Trump was crying. Most of them were smiling. Trump told the story again at a shale industry conference Wednesday. This time, there were even more imaginary tears. "Many of them were tough, strong men and women. And almost all of them were crying," Trump said. Trump makes some of his false claims with remarkable consistency, repeating the same invented tales and figures almost verbatim dozens of times. In other cases, his fiction gets more dramatic with additional renditions -- because the President wants to embellish, because he can't remember the set of non-facts he has made up, or because he just doesn't care about accuracy. This is Trump's lie-flation. There have been at least four other cases in October alone. more...

By Mary Ilyushina and David McKenzie, CNN
Sochi, Russia (CNN) - For decades, the most visible link between Russia and the continent of Africa was the Kalashnikov. Rebel groups, national militaries and even police officers carried the Soviet-designed AK-47 rifle. They still do. But as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the vast majority of Africa's leaders at the Black Sea resort of Sochi this week, it seemed that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Fresh from signing a deal on the future of Syria, Putin told attendees at the inaugural Russia-Africa summit: "Russia has signed military-technical cooperation agreements with more that 30 countries, where we supply a large array of weaponry and hardware. "Part of these supplies are done on a free-of-charge basis," he added. But analysts believe Russia's renewed interest in the continent is hardly altruistic. Guests arriving in Sochi were treated to an exhibit of Russian-made military hardware: military helicopters, fighter jets, and armored vehicles. The message is clear: the Kremlin is pitching itself to African governments as a reliable supplier of military expertise and modern weaponry -- with few strings attached. On the first day of the event, Russia announced plans to supply $4 billion worth of weaponry by the end of this year alone, and $14 billion more in the coming years. Russia is already the chief supplier of arms to both North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was heavily involved in backing African liberation movements with arms and training in their fight against colonial powers. It is still not uncommon to meet senior African officials who speak Russian from their time at military academies in Moscow or Leningrad. more... - Trump has taken America off the world stage and Putin is filling the vacuum. Is this another Trump concession to Putin for Putin’s help with the 2016 election?

By James Walker
A former director of the Office for Government Ethics has questioned whether Ivanka Trump has really "shut down" her brand and revealed his interest in seeing her next financial disclosure. Walter Shaub yesterday tweeted that it was "funny" the brand owned by the president's daughter and adviser did not cease making trademark applications after it was apparently shuttered in July last year. The former government ethics boss also questioned whether the Ivanka Trump brand had stopped making money from licensing deals. Trump revealed on Tuesday 24 July that she was closing down her fashion brand IT Collection LLC to focus on her work as a White House adviser "for the foreseeable future" in a move she called "the only fair outcome" for her team. In November last year, four months after the business had supposedly shut down, The Associated Press reported that Chinese authorities had awarded 18 trademarks to companies connected to Ivanka Trump and her father President Donald Trump. Ivanka Trump Marks LLC received approval for 16 of those trademarks, which covered fashion items such as sunglasses and handbags. Fortune also reported in January this year that Ivanka Trump's brand has won preliminary approval for a further five Chinese trademarks on sunglasses, wedding dresses and other services. more...

By Caroline Kelly and Nikki Carvajal, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump is disputing that former White House chief of staff John Kelly warned the President before he left the White House last year not to hire a replacement who wouldn't tell him the truth or that he would be impeached. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, made the comments during an interview at the Sea Island Summit political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner this weekend. Kelly said if he had stayed on as chief of staff Trump wouldn't be in the midst of the current impeachment inquiry, implying that White House advisers could have prevented it. "I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don't hire a 'yes man,' someone who won't tell you the truth — don't do that," Kelly said. "Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached." Kelly's comments come after his successor, now acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, brashly confirmed and then denied earlier this month that Trump froze nearly $400 million in US security aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country into investigating Democrats. Trump weighed in Saturday on Kelly's interview with the Washington Examiner, saying in a statement to CNN, "John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that. If he would have said that I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does." White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham added, "I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President." more... - Trump must have written or dictated that because Trump is neither genius nor great.

By Zack Budryk
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the one-time chair of the House Oversight Committee, defended the use of private congressional hearings and said his issue with the House’s impeachment inquiry was instead leaks from the proceedings. CBS’ Margaret Brennan played a clip of Gowdy in 2018 describing public House hearings as a “circus” and a “freakshow” and asked Gowdy Sunday whether he still believed that amid House Republicans’ insistence that depositions in the House’s impeachment inquiry should be public, with a group of them, including several who were authorized to be present already, storming a deposition in a secure room last week. “One hundred percent,” Gowdy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” adding “I’m a rule-follower, I threw a Republican out of a hearing because he was not a member of a committee. If you’re going to have private investigations with unlimited time for question and cross-examining witnesses that’s a good thing.”     .@TGowdySC says he still believes in the role of private testimony "100%" amid GOP outrage over Democrats' closed-door hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry pic.twitter.com/BMfWZb3MEM — Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 27, 2019. more...

Trump said the ISIS leader "died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming, and crying."
By Allan Smith
President Donald Trump on Sunday confirmed the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a 10-minute speech followed by roughly 40 minutes of answering questions from reporters. In his remarks at the White House, the president recounted al-Baghdadi's gruesome last moments, praised the U.S. forces who chased the terrorist down, and provided remarkable details of the military operation from start to finish. Here are some highlights from his remarks: "Last night the United States brought the world's number-one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. He was the founder and leader of ISIS, the most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world. The United States has been searching for al-Baghdadi for many years. Capturing or killing him has been the top national security priority of my administration. U.S. special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night-time raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style. The U.S. personnel were incredible. I got to watch much of it." The ISIS leader "died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering, crying, and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared by this time with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. Eleven young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel. He had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased them down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast, the tunnel had caved in on it in addition." more...

By Daniel Dale
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump is facing intense criticism over a July phone call during which, according to a person familiar with the matter, he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate to face him in the 2020 presidential election. Under fire, Trump has revived one of his favorite defensive tactics: trying to turn the spotlight onto his opponent. Trump has made a series of allegations about Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden over the last week. The essence of Trump's argument is that Joe Biden was improperly trying to help Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, when Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire the country's prosecutor general. But there are significant holes in Trump's story. Some of his allegations have been false. Others have been missing important context. Trump's missing context: What happened with the Ukrainian prosecutor: In castigating Biden's effort to get the prosecutor general fired, Trump has declined to mention an important fact: a whole lot of other people were also trying to get him fired at the time. The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015. Shokin was widely faulted for declining to bring prosecutions of elites' corruption, and he was even accused of hindering corruption investigations. His deputy, Vitaliy Kasko, resigned in February 2016, alleging that Shokin's office was itself corrupt. more...

By Bobby Allyn
Philip Reeker, a U.S. diplomat who oversees European affairs, told House members he had plans of defending former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in the face of a smear campaign against her, but Reeker was overruled by top State Department officials, according to a person familiar with Reeker's testimony. In a rare Saturday hearing, Reeker sat for more than eight hours of questions from lawmakers running the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Reeker appeared under a subpoena issued by House lawmakers, despite being ordered not to cooperate by Trump. Reeker, a career foreign servicer officer, was named the acting assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian affairs in March, a few months before Yovanovitch became a political target and was removed from her post. Just before her ouster, however, Reeker wanted to draft a strongly-worded statement from State Department officials to strike back at the attacks she was enduring in conservative media and by allies of Trump. But that letter was scotched by David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department, according to the person familar with Reeker's testimony. Yovanovitch was seen by Trump allies as an obstacle to conducting a back-channel foreign policy with Ukraine, including the freezing of nearly $400 million in military aid until Ukraine agreed to investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden and his son. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has called the impeachment inquiry a scam. Reeker testified he was aware of a plan to freeze the military aid to Ukraine, but he did not know why it was being held up, having no direct knowledge of the alleged quid-pro-quo scheme, the person close to Reeker said. Ukrainian policy was mostly overseen by Kurt Volker, Trump's envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Reeker, who had an extensive travel schedule and is the top State Department official for more than 50 countries, was not intimately involved with Ukraine at the time of the controversial call that sparked the impeachment inquiry, the individual with knowledge of Reeker's testimony said. Reeker, who joined the State Department in 1992, is celebrated by colleagues as an apolitical professional whose reputation is admired. "He's regarded as a straight-arrow professional, not a showboat," Dan Fried, a former diplomat who retired in the beginning of the Trump administration, told NPR in an interview. "I've known him for a long time, and I have no idea what his politics are. He's completely non-partisan." more...

By Louis Jacobson
Amid the pressure of a House impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump has continued to stoke the idea that he’s the victim of a coup — shorthand for "coup d’etat," a French term that means the overthrow of the government. "As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the........People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!", Trump tweeted on Oct. 1. The following day, Trump’s campaign unveiled a new ad that said, "It’s nothing short of a coup, and it must be stopped." On several subsequent occasions he’s shared his allies’ uses of the word on Twitter. He retweeted "coup" comments by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, on Oct. 3; former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Oct. 10; conservative broadcaster Mark Levin on Oct. 14; Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch on Oct. 19; and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., on Oct. 24. Earlier in the year, Trump referred to the special counsel report headed by Robert Mueller as a coup. However, his use of the word "coup" to describe impeachment, a constitutionally defined process, is not accurate, even as a figure of speech. What is a coup?Let’s start with a more literal definition. The key element of a coup is that it is carried out beyond the bounds of legality. "We define a coup d'état as the sudden and irregular (i.e., illegal or extra-legal) removal, or displacement, of the executive authority of an independent government," wrote the Coup D’etat Project at the University of Illinois’ Cline Center for Democracy in 2013. Violence is part of many coups, but being violent is not a necessary condition. Of the 12 types of coups recognized by the Cline Center, nine do not seem to have anything to do with what Trump is talking about, including military coups, rebel coups, popular revolts, dissident actions, palace coups, foreign coups, internationally mediated transitions, forced resignations, and self-coups, in which the leader strong-arms other branches of government to entrench power. more...

By James LaPorta , Tom O'Connor AND Naveed Jamali
The United States military has conducted a special operations raid targeting one of its most high-value targets, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), Newsweek has learned. President Donald Trump approved the mission nearly a week before it took place. Amid reports Saturday of U.S. military helicopters over the Syria's northwestern Idlib province, a senior Pentagon official familiar with the operation and Army official briefed on the matter told Newsweek that Baghdadi was the target of the top-secret operation in the last bastion of the country's Islamist-dominated opposition, a faction that has clashed with ISIS in recent years. A U.S. Army official briefed on the results of the operation told Newsweek that Baghdadi was killed in the raid, and the Defense Department told the White House they have "high confidence" that the high-value target killed was Baghdadi, but further verification is pending DNA and biometric testing. The senior Pentagon official said there was a brief firefight when U.S. forces entered the compound in Idlib's Barisha village and that Baghdadi then killed himself by detonating a suicide vest. Family members were present. According to Pentagon sources, no children were harmed in the raid but two Baghdadi wives were killed after detonating their own explosive vests. Members of the Joint Special Operations Command's Delta Team carried out Saturday's high-level operation after receiving actionable intelligence, according to sources familiar with the operation. The location raided by special operations troops had been under surveillance for some time. The senior Pentagon official told Newsweek that the compound in which Baghdadi was located was then taken out with an airstrike in order to prevent the site from becoming a shrine to the leader. Turkey, a NATO ally backing local insurgents, was not notified prior to the operation, the official said. On Saturday night, after the operation had concluded, President Trump tweeted: "Something very big has just happened!" The White House announced later that the president will make a "major statement" Sunday at 9:00 a.m. more...

By Jon Levine
First daughter Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with an intimate dinner at Camp David — with President Trump picking up the check. “Had a beautiful dinner last night at Camp David in celebration of the 10th Wedding Anniversary of Ivanka and Jared,” Trump said in a tweet Saturday. “Attended by a small number of family and friends, it could not have been nicer. Camp David is a special place. Cost of the event will be totally paid for by me!” The retreat has been used as a secured setting for US presidents to unwind with foreign leaders. more...

While Hunter Biden is the subject of international scrutiny, the First Daughter and presidential confidant floats on a cloud of puff press. How does she pull it off?
By Hannah Seligson
On August 16, 2016, just a few weeks after his father-in-law, Donald J. Trump, had clinched the Republican nomination for president, Esquire magazine ran a story entitled “Jared Kushner’s Second Act.” It was written by veteran journalist Vicky Ward and exposed a number of less-than-flattering details about the then 35-year-old head of his family’s real estate firm, Kushner Companies. Ward’s profile depicted a young, entitled scion who was at turns arrogant and vindictive. In one sense, the story emasculated Kushner, portraying him as a subservient son-in-law. This was certainly not the image of her husband that Ivanka Trump wanted presented to the world in the glossy pages of a popular men’s magazine. So she did what any rich, New York City media-connected, powerful spouse would do—and then took it up a couple of notches: Ivanka, according to Ward, called Esquire’s editor-in-chief at the time, Jay Fielden, and literally started crying, pleading with him to take down the story. Firing on all cylinders, Ivanka also texted Ward and said she did not recognize her husband in the Esquire piece. Fielden, Ward told me, instantly saw through Ivanka’s “crocodile tears.” Jared and Ivanka’s side leveled against Ward for falsifying the story. But the piece remained online and was published in the October print issue; no substantive changes or retractions were made to Ward’s reporting. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Ivanka on the Esquire incident.) “Every reporter knows they will be on the phone to Rupert Murdoch. Their guiding credo is PR above everything else. Ivanka thinks she is brilliant at public relations.” — Vicky Ward. While Jared and Ivanka might not go full Harvey Weinstein on reporters—the former movie executive hired ex-Mossad agents to track journalists and intimidate sources—there is no question, Ward says, that Jared and Ivanka have no compunction going to the head of news outlets to interfere with pieces they deem unflattering. “Every reporter knows they will be on the phone to Rupert Murdoch. Their guiding credo is PR above everything else. Ivanka thinks she is brilliant at public relations,” said Ward, the author of Kushner, Inc., and a senior reporter at CNN. That might explain, in part, why Hunter Biden has gone through a media inquisition about his dealings in Ukraine and China, while Ivanka received virtually no additional press scrutiny after The New Yorker detailed her work on a real estate project in Azerbaijan with local partners who had alleged ties to the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated terrorist organization. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee subsequently called on the Justice Department and the Treasury Department to investigate the deal for possibly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Then there was Ivanka’s very close brush with a criminal indictment for inflating condo sales to potential buyers at the Trump Soho, a development project she helped oversee. And remember it was Ivanka, among others, who advocated for the hiring of Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. (A spokesperson for a prominent Washington think tank told me it was “malpractice” by congressional Democrats that Ivanka hasn’t been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee.) Somehow, though, none of these poor judgement calls have made it into the dominant media narrative about the first daughter. more...

By Chantal Da Silva
The Trump administration is being accused of wasting American taxpayers' money after a congressional hearing on Wednesday revealed that it may have spent as much as $33 million to keep a massive migrant child detention center in Florida open for 46 days—despite the fact that no kids were being housed there. The detention facility in Homestead, Florida, is run by the only private company operating migrant child detention centers in the U.S. and has been temporarily shut down since August 3, when the last of the children at the facility were abruptly relocated as part of a hurricane preparation plan. Despite sitting empty for more than a month, however, the facility has still been costing taxpayers as much as $720,000 a day, it was suggested during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. The information came to light during an exchange between Democratic Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Jonathan Hayes, the acting director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency that oversees the care of migrant children in federal custody. Grilled by Pocan on just how much the U.S. was paying to keep the center "empty," Hayes revealed that the government was spending what amounted to $600 a day for each of the 1,200 beds at the facility—just $150 less than the $750 per bed the U.S. was paying when the center was in use. Asked to clarify that all this American taxpayer money was being spent on "1,200 imaginary people," Hayes acknowledged that the cost was "expensive." However, he said he had been informed by his "planning and logistics team" that if the facility were to temporarily remove its staff, it could take "a minimum of 90 to 120 days in order to reactivate the staff back." And, he said, "given the extreme uncertainty of referrals coming across our nation's southern border, and how many kids we might have to care for, that wasn't a switch that was turned off at this point." more...

By Rosie McCall
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it plans to roll back clean water regulations initiated under the Obama administration as part of the Clean Water Act (CWA)—a move that could end up increasing the amount of toxins entering waterways used for drinking water. A study published on Thursday in Heliyon highlights the dangers increased levels of carcinogenic chemicals in the nation's drinking water supply could cause, with researchers concluding contaminated water could be responsible for more than 100,000 cases of cancer across the U.S. The EPA has announced the repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule defining "waters of the United States" (a description referring to wetlands, streams and other bodies of water that had previously been largely unregulated), and currently applies to 22 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. Their motivation for doing so—at least, in writing—was to "eliminate the ongoing patchwork of regulation" until a revision of the definition for "waters of the United States" can be made. What this means in practical terms is that farmers will not have to seek a permit to use pesticides and fertilizers that risk running into waterways that may later be used as drinking waters. That, in turn, has the potential to increase the risk of cancer and other diseases—although to what extent is hard to say. "The CWA is critical for maintaining and improving the quality of water that is used for municipal, industrial and agricultural purposes. The adage "clean water in = clean water out" is paramount," Kellogg Schwab, the Abel Wolman Professor in Water and Public Health at John Hopkins, told Newsweek. "If the CWA is weakened or eliminated and U.S. waterways become further impaired there is a distinct probability that human health will be compromised resulting in increased morbidity and mortality," he added. Dr Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists describes the decision as a continuation of a conservative campaign to limit oversight from what they believe is government overreach. "This administration has reinterpreted the requirements of the act to say that it covers fewer waterways because they think it is an unfair regulatory burden," Rosenberg told Newsweek. "This is really about big developers and the oil and gas industry," he continues, adding that the move is part of a broad attack against science instigated by the current administration "to shift the cost burden from the polluter to the public." more...

By Mike Lillis
A leading State Department official testified before Congress on Saturday and touched upon Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's role in the administration's dealings with Ukraine — the issue at the center of the Democrats' fast-evolving impeachment investigation into President Trump. Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs, broached the topic of Pompeo while being deposed in the Capitol by the three House committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs — leading the impeachment investigation, according to Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. "I can't get into the details," Perry said, "but certainly there are questions." Perry, who has been a vocal defender of Trump throughout the impeachment process, emphasized that he felt there was nothing in Reeker's testimony to indicate that the president or anyone is his orbit had acted inappropriately in their dealings with Ukrainian officials. "The accusations that are being leveled against the president aren't being corroborated in any of this witness testimony," Perry said. "And today, in my opinion, is no different." Democrats, though, emerged from the closed-door testimony with a different view; Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, suggested Reeker was providing more evidence of presidential misconduct in Ukraine. "He is corroborating previous witnesses and their testimony. So it's helpful in that respect," Lynch said. "I think it's fair to say it's a much richer reservoir of information than we originally expected." Pompeo has emerged as a central figure in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, particularly after revelations that the secretary of State was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to launch a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender. That request was confirmed in a transcript of the call released by the White House earlier this month. A government whistleblower has taken the episode a step further, alleging that Trump had threatened to withhold almost $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine if Zelensky failed to comply. more...

By Rachel Martin
A bit of Latin has been on the lips of many lately: quid pro quo. The phrase has been broadly invoked in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump and his interactions with the leader of Ukraine. Trump and many of his allies deny there was a quid pro quo — they say that Trump did not withhold military aid to Ukraine as part of an exchange for investigations that could help Trump politically in the 2020 campaign. (Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted that link in a press briefing last week but then later walked back his comments.) U.S. diplomat William Taylor's recent testimony to congressional investigators supports allegations that Trump withheld military assistance as part of a parallel — and informal — Ukraine policy. U.S. diplomat William Taylor's recent testimony to congressional investigators supports allegations that Trump withheld military assistance as part of a parallel — and informal — Ukraine policy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said that proving quid pro quo is not a requirement for impeachment, but the phrase has stuck. "In Latin it just simply means something for something," says Ben Zimmer, language columnist for The Wall Street Journal. But, he notes, "I think that the political situation can't help but inform the way that we're going to understand this particular phrase, even though it's been in the language for oh, about 500 years." An exchange — not necessarily an equal one: Zimmer says the first recorded use of the phrase quid pro quo in English meant something totally different. "In the 16th century, very often if you've got a drug from an apothecary, what you would be getting might not be exactly what you asked for," he says. more...

By Jonah Goldberg
The suggestion that 'the server' is being hidden in some Ukrainian warehouse is straight-up bonkers. The impeachment drama is already a three-ring circus, with a full complement of clowns to the left and the right. But if you’ve ever been to a three-ring circus, you know that it’s hard to take it all in at once. I want to focus on one detail that hasn’t gotten enough attention: the “missing” DNC server that the president believes might be in Ukraine. If you’ve paid any attention to the impeachment drama, you know the basics. The center-ring story is that President Trump allegedly tried to pressure Volodymyr Zelensky, the new president of Ukraine (by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting) to investigate former vice president Joe Biden. In his now-infamous phone call with Zelensky, Trump asked for a “favor” in two parts. The second part, which everyone focuses on, was the request for the Ukrainians to work with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr in an investigation of Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. The first part of the favor is far less controversial. Trump asked Zelensky to look into the status of the DNC email server that the FBI and former special prosecutor Robert Mueller say was hacked by the Russians ahead of the 2016 election. Remember, this is the same Mueller whom the president cites for his “total exoneration” from the Russian collusion allegation. According to the rough transcript released by the White House, Trump said, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike . . . I guess you have one of your wealthy people . . . The server, they say Ukraine has it.” This favor is less controversial because Trump’s defenders don’t controvert it. It’s central to their defense. They concede Trump asked for this favor, contending that by the time Trump got to the “other thing” he wanted from Zelensky — an investigation of Biden — he was no longer asking for a “favor” at all. Trump would never ask for a quid pro quo to smear a political opponent, they insist. But asking for an investigation into the server? That’s entirely appropriate. After all, there’s an official investigation into how the FBI launched its Russia/Trump probe in the first place. Asking for help with that is wholly legitimate. In White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s disastrous press conference last week, he admitted there was an attempted quid pro quo with Ukraine. (“Get over it,” he exclaimed.) But in Mulvaney’s version of events, it didn’t have anything to do with Biden. It did, however, have to do with “the corruption related to the DNC server.” But here’s the thing: This is nuts. There’s a conspiracy theory, popular in the Oval Office and the swampier corners of the Internet, that the hacking of the DNC’s email servers wasn’t orchestrated by Russia but by Ukraine — to benefit Hillary Clinton! This makes no sense for countless reasons we don’t have space for. But it’s worth noting that in the most popular version of this story, the DNC hack was an inside job, conducted by a low-level staffer named Seth Rich, who was then murdered to keep him from exposing the plot to frame the Russians. CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, was hired to analyze the server — which was actually more than 140 different servers. Rather than take possession of the server(s), CrowdStrike made digital copies of the whole shebang. This was allegedly a cover-up. As Trump tweeted in 2018, “Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t the FBI take possession of it? Deep State?” more...

By Zachary Cohen and Kevin Bohn, CNN
(CNN) - A new biography of former Defense Secretary James Mattis reports President Donald Trump personally got involved in who would win a major $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon, according to the website Task & Purpose, which writes about military issues. That hotly contested contract was awarded to Microsoft on Friday evening over Amazon in a months-long battle. Task & Purpose reports the new book, "Holding The Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis" by former Mattis speechwriter and communications director Guy Snodgrass recounts that Mattis always tried to translate Trump's demands into ethical outcomes. According to Snodgrass' book, Trump called Mattis during summer 2018 and directed him to "screw Amazon" out of the opportunity to bid on the contract. Task & Purpose obtained an advanced copy of the book. CNN has not yet seen the book. For several years Trump has voiced his displeasure with Amazon and Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. He has accused Amazon of taking advantage of the Postal Service although independent investigations have disagreed with that contention. He also has linked his unfavorable view of Washington Post reporting to Amazon although the Post makes clear it is run separately. "Relaying the story to us during Small Group, Mattis said, 'We're not going to do that. This will be done by the book, both legally and ethically,'" Snodgrass wrote according to Task & Purpose. The White House did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. more... - Jeff Bezos must have hurt the little baby’s feelings. Trump is the pettiest person in the world and as Americans; we should be ashamed to have him as our president.


By Nolan Hicks
President Donald Trump assailed his envoy to Ukraine on Friday as a “Never Trumper,” days after the diplomat’s testimony provided new fuel for the impeachment inquiry launched by congressional Democrats. “Here’s the problem, he’s a ‘Never Trumper’ and his lawyer’s a ‘Never Trumper,'” said the president, who went on to criticize Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for appointing the career diplomat, William Taylor Jr., to the post. “Hey, everybody makes mistakes — Mike Pompeo, everybody makes mistakes,” Trump told reporters gathered on the White House lawn as he departed for South Carolina. “He’s a ‘Never Trumper,’ his lawyer is the head of the ‘Never Trumpers.'” Trump then attacked the reporter asking the question. “And here’s the other problem, you’re with CNN and you’re fake news,” Trump added. The president’s remarks came after Taylor provided lawmakers with an opening statement that alleged Trump and his top aides attempted to pressure Ukrainian leaders into probing the son of a top Democratic rival, Joe Biden, by delaying defense aid that the Eastern European country desperately needs. more...

By Dan Mangan
Lawyers for former national security advisor John Bolton have been in touch with officials working on House committees about possibly testifying in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump, a person close to Bolton told NBC News on Friday. The news comes more than a week after the White House’s former top Europe expert, Fiona Hill, reportedly testified to Congress that Bolton was so disturbed by efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents that he called it a “drug deal.” Hill said that Bolton told her he did not want to be part of that push, which involved White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to reports of her testimony. Hill also reportedly testified that Bolton had called Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade.” Giuliani has been at the head of a charge to have Ukraine launch investigations that could benefit Trump politically ahead of his 2020 reelection effort. The Washington Post reported Thursday that White House trade representative Robert Lighthizer in August withdrew a recommendation to restore some of Ukraine’s trade privileges after Bolton “warned him that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv.” Bolton left the Trump administration on Sept. 10. Trump said he fired Bolton, while Bolton said he had resigned. more...


By Sarah Westwood, CNN
(CNN) - More than 200 people attended President Donald Trump's speech at Benedict College, but only about 10 actual students were invited to the event -- his first appearance at a historically black college, and an effort to reach out beyond his usual base of support. Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Stephen Benjamin told CNN that out of the more than 200 invitees to the President's speech, only about 10 were actual students from the college. The others, Benjamin said, were "brought in" from somewhere else. More than 2,100 attend the school, according to its website. Benedict College spokeswoman Kymm Hunter later told reporters that only seven students ultimately attended the speech. "This should have been an opportunity for at least scores of students to attend this event," Benjamin told CNN. He said the president of the college requested more students be able to attend, but that the White House maintained control of organizing the event. Trump's visit Friday to the HBCU came amid the fallout over his decision this week to compare the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill to a "lynching" -- words for which he declined to apologize as he prepared to leave the White House for the journey to South Carolina. The President's language created a divisive backdrop for his rare appearance at the historically black college, where he was slated to highlight his administration's work on criminal justice reform. Although Trump did speak extensively about the criminal justice reform bill he signed into law in April, he also found a way to mention impeachment twice, demonstrating that the political turmoil engulfing his administration is never far from his mind. Describing his "own experience" with unfair treatment, Trump said he is now facing "an investigation in search of a crime." "If this were a Democrat, they would never allow this to happen," he said. Dozens of protesters gathered outside the venue as Trump's motorcade pulled into the college Friday afternoon. The head of the South Carolina NAACP released a statement ahead of the visit condemning Trump's words and encouraging skepticism, underscoring the divides within the community around Benedict over inviting Trump to speak. more...

By matthew lee, michael weissenstein and gisela salomon, associated press
The Trump administration is banning U.S. flights to all Cuban cities except Havana in the latest move to roll back the Obama-era easing of relations, officials said Friday. Supporters of the ban said it would starve the Havana government of cash and limit its ability to repress Cubans and support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom the U.S. wants to overthrow. Opponents said prohibiting flights would simply make it harder for Cuban-Americans to visit their families outside the capital, without making a significant impact on the Cuban government. The State Department said JetBlue flights to Santa Clara in central Cuba and the eastern cities of Holguin, Camaguey would be banned starting in December. American Airlines flights to Camaguey, Holguin and Santa Clara, the beach resort of Varadero and the eastern city of Santiago are also being banned. Flights to Havana, which account for the great majority of U.S. flights to Cuba, will remain legal. "This action will prevent the Castro regime from profiting from U.S. air travel and using the revenues to repress the Cuban people," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter. Raul Castro stepped down as president last year but remains head of the Communist Party, the country's highest authority. Another stated reason for the move is to prevent tourism to Cuba, which is barred by U.S. law. But it is not clear how many people take the banned flights for tourism purposes. Many are used by Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in cities far from Havana by road. "Eager to punish Cuba's unbreakable defiance, imperialism is going after regular flights to various Cuban cities. It doesn't matter that they're affecting family relations, or the modest pocketbooks of most Cubans in both countries," Carlos F. de Cossío, head of Cuba's department of U.S. affairs, said on Twitter. "Our response isn't changing." more...

By Tom O'Connor AND Naveed Jamali
The United States' sudden withdrawal from northern Syria has angered Kurds not only in this war-torn country, but in neighboring Iraq, where the ethnic minority has relied on Washington's backing for decades, but may soon look elsewhere for support. Faced with a fight between NATO ally Turkey and the Kurdish-led forces that backed the Pentagon against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), President Donald Trump chose to pull U.S. troops from the northern region. While Trump argued that the move was part of his long-sought goal of avoiding another open-ended conflict in Syria, he later announced he would maintain a military presence near the country's eastern oil fields, much of which is located in regions with a traditional Arab majority. As Newsweek first reported Wednesday, such a plan—pending White House approval—included the deployment of one half of an armored brigade combat team batallion, involving about 30 Abrams tanks. The Syrian Democratic Forces, the largely Kurdish militia backed by the U.S., would be asked to join the mission. Responding to Newsweek's report about these potential military moves, a senior Kurdish intelligence official told Newsweek: "It's all about oil, it's thicker than innocent blood." Upset over the U.S.' latest moves and uncertain about Trump's long-term commitments in the Middle East, Kurdish officials emulated to Newsweek that Iraqi Kurds may look to shore up ties with a new partner—Iran, a sentiment they were not alone in sharing. "We are waiting for the USA to change its attitude," Shirwan Mirza, an Iraqi Kurdish member of parliament affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told Newsweek, adding that, if it did not, "then we are obliged to look for another friend in this area." Asked if this could include neighboring Iran, Mirza responded, "That is right." more...

The finding came in an order directing the Justice Department to hand over secret grand jury evidence from the Mueller investigation to House impeachment investigators.
By Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane
Breaking News Update: The House is legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a federal judge ruled on Friday, delivering a major victory to House Democrats and undercutting arguments by President Trump and Republicans that the investigation is a sham. The House Judiciary Committee is entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in a 75-page opinion. Attorney General William P. Barr had withheld the material from lawmakers. Typically, Congress has no right to view secret evidence gathered by a grand jury. But in 1974, the courts permitted the committee weighing whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon to see such materials — and, Judge Howell ruled, the House is now engaged in the same process focused on Mr. Trump. Judge Howell, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, wrote that law enforcement officials’ need to keep the information secret from Congress was “minimal” and easily outweighed by lawmakers’ need for it. “Tipping the scale even further toward disclosure is the public’s interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into, and in a final determination about, potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the Mueller report,” she wrote. In reaching her decision, Judge Howell rejected the contention by Mr. Trump and his allies that the investigation Democrats are pursuing, which has since expanded to encompass the Ukraine scandal, is not a legitimate impeachment inquiry. The Justice Department is reviewing the decision, a spokeswoman said. Judge Howell, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, wrote that law enforcement officials’ need to keep the information secret from Congress was “minimal” and easily outweighed by lawmakers’ need for it. “Tipping the scale even further toward disclosure is the public’s interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into, and in a final determination about, potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the Mueller report,” she wrote. In reaching her decision, Judge Howell rejected the contention by Mr. Trump and his allies that the investigation Democrats are pursuing, which has since expanded to encompass the Ukraine scandal, is not a legitimate impeachment inquiry. The Justice Department is reviewing the decision, a spokeswoman said. more...

By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - House Democratic impeachment investigators have issued subpoenas to three Trump administration officials whose testimony was previously scheduled, in a sign the Democrats are trying to compel testimony from Trump officials who are apparently reluctant to appear. The committees said subpoenas have been issued to acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, OMB's Associate Director of National Security Programs Michael Duffey and State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl. The subpoenas call for Duffey to appear on November 5 and Vought and Brechbuhl to testify on November 6. The committees leading the Democratic impeachment inquiry — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight — have issued subpoenas to current State Department and Pentagon officials the morning of their testimony, in an effort to combat the Trump administration directing officials not to participate. But these appear to be the first subpoenas that would seek testimony from officials who were unwilling to testify when they had been initially scheduled. It's not clear whether the subpoenas will prompt any of the three officials to participate. All had been scheduled for depositions earlier this month that were then removed from the deposition calendar. Both OMB and the State Department — in addition to other federal agencies and the White House — have already failed to comply with House subpoenas from the impeachment inquiry for documents. Vought tweeted on Monday that he and Duffey would not participate in their depositions that had been scheduled for this week. "As the (White House) letter made clear two weeks ago, OMB officials - myself and Mike Duffey - will not be complying with deposition requests this week," Vought tweeted. more...

The ruling is a victory for Democrats in their effort to investigate whether Trump obstructed the long-running Russia probe.
By KYLE CHENEY
A federal judge has ruled that the Justice Department must turn over former special counsel Robert Mueller's grand jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, a victory for Democrats in their effort to investigate whether President Donald Trump obstructed the long-running Russia probe. Beryl Howell, the chief federal judge in Washington ordered the DOJ to provide by Oct. 30 "[a]ll portions of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election that were redacted pursuant to" grand jury restrictions. more...

By Ewan Palmer
Rep. Ted Lieu has accused William Barr of acting more in the interests of President Donald Trump than as Attorney General by announcing a criminal investigation into the origins of Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Speaking to CNN's Don Lemon, Lieu said it is "deeply troubling" how Barr is behaving when asked for his response to the news, first reported by The New York Times, that the Justice Department is looking into the investigation on Russian interference during the 2016 election. As noted by The Times, John H. Durham, the prosecutor heading the investigation, will be able to subpoena for witness testimonies and documents, as well as convene a grand jury and file criminal charges. However, it is not clear what potential criminal charges Durham is looking into, nor when the investigation was launched. "Special counselor Mueller indicted 34 individuals and companies, at least eight have been convicted or pled guilty. He found that Russia systematically and sweepingly interfered in our U.S. elections. What Bill Barr is now trying to do is essentially tell the American people none of that should have happened," Lieu said. "It is deeply troubling what Bill Barr is doing." Barr was previously criticized for his summary of Mueller's investigation, which he said concludes that neither the Trump campaign nor any of its associates conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mueller wrote a letter to the Justice Department in May expressing his concerns that Barr's four-page summary did not fully capture the "context, nature, and substance" of his findings. Lieu added that Barr is "absolutely" acting as a partisan as the attorney for the president rather than attorney general when asked by Lemon. "His memo, before the special council's report was released, is incredibly misleading," Lieu added. "When history looks back on it, you'll know that he misled the American people. And then in different actions Barr has taken he seems like he's acting as the President's own lawyer rather than as Attorney general for the United States." The Justice Department's guidelines state that there only needs to be "reasonable indication" that a crime has been committed for authorities to launch an investigation, a lower requirement than the probable cause needed to obtain search warrants. more...

By James Walker
President Donald Trump did not attend the funeral of Elijah Cummings today after the Democrat congressman died in office last week aged 68. A copy of the president's schedule released to the press this morning shows that Trump had nothing planned until 11:40 a.m. when he was due to leave the White House for Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and take a flight to South Carolina. President Trump has also not been pictured in a livestream of Cummings' Baltimore funeral that was available on C-Span from 10 a.m. ET. Newsweek has contacted the White House asking why Trump was not in attendance at the funeral or at the previous day's lying-in-state ceremony for Cummings at the Capitol, but did not receive a response by time of publication. The news of Elijah Cummings' death as a result of complications around "longstanding health challenges" was announced by his office on Thursday, October 17. He had been away from work since September after going for a medical procedure, after which his office said he would be out of his office for a week. Rep. Cummings of Maryland had a fractious relationship with President Trump in his role as chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee—a post that put him at the center of the impeachment inquiry and other investigations into the commander-in-chief. He also took Trump to task over the treatment of migrant children near the U.S.-Mexico border, a challenge that led to Trump facing accusations of racism after he dismissed Cummings' district as "rat infested." The representative of Maryland's 7th congressional district offered to show Trump around the area in response to the president's remarks. When news broke of Cummings' death, Trump tweeted an offer of condolences to his family and friends, saying: "My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!" Although the sitting president has decided not to attend Cummings' funeral today, former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were in attendance, along with 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama. Both the Clintons and former President Obama were set to deliver eulogies at the funeral where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also due to address mourners. Newsweek asked representatives of former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter if they would be in attendance at Cummings' Baltimore funeral today, but had not received a response by time of publication. President Trump's snub of the Maryland representative's Baltimore funeral comes after he also failed to attend the Democrat's lying-in-state ceremony at the Capitol on Thursday. more...

By Thomas Franck
The U.S. Treasury on Friday said that the federal deficit for fiscal 2019 was $984 billion, a 26% increase from 2018 but still short of the $1 trillion mark previously forecast by the administration. The gap between revenues and spending was the widest it’s been in seven years as expenditures on defense, Medicare and interest payments on the national debt ballooned the shortfall. The government said corporate tax revenues totaled $230 billion, up 12%, thanks to a rebound in the second half of the year. Individual tax revenues rose 2% to $1.7 trillion. Receipts totaled $3.4 trillion, up 4% through September, while federal spending rose 8%, to $4.4 trillion. The U.S. government also collected nearly $71 billion in customs duties, or tariffs, a 70% increase compared to the year-ago period. As a percentage of U.S. economic output the deficit was 4.6%, 0.8 percentage points higher than the previous year. “President Trump’s economic agenda is working: the Nation is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years, there are more jobs to fill than there are job seekers, and Americans are experiencing sustained year-over-year wage increases,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a press release. “In order to truly put America on a sustainable financial path, we must enact proposals—like the President’s 2020 budget plan—to cut wasteful and irresponsible spending,” he added. Annual deficits have nearly doubled under President Donald Trump’s tenure notwithstanding an unemployment rate at multidecade lows and better earnings figures. Deficits usually shrink during times of economic growth as higher incomes and Wall Street profits buoy Treasury coffers, while automatic spending on items like food stamps decline. Two big bipartisan spending bills, combined with the administration’s landmark tax cuts, however, have defied the typical trends and instead aggravated deficits. The Congressional Budget Office projects the trillion-dollar deficit could come as soon as fiscal 2020. more...

by Kristine Phillips and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A coalition of government watchdogs assailed the Justice Department for temporarily blocking a whistleblower's complaint against President Donald Trump from being transmitted to Congress, saying in a letter this week that its actions could deter individuals from reporting government abuse. The six-page letter, signed by the Justice Department's own inspector general and about five dozen counterparts from other federal agencies, is a remarkable rebuke of the agency, which argued that the whistleblower's allegations of foreign election interference were not an "urgent concern." The group, headed by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, took issue with an opinion by the agency's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The opinion  overruled a determination by the intelligence community's own watchdog that the whistleblower's allegations, which have since sparked an impeachment inquiry, appeared credible and, therefore, should be brought to Congress.  The Council of the Inspector Generals on Integrity and Efficiency said the OLC's opinion, "if not withdrawn or modified, could seriously undermine the critical role whistleblowers play in coming forward to report waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct across the federal government." "Whistleblowers play an essential public service in coming forward with such information, and they should never suffer reprisal or even the threat of reprisal from doing so," the letter says, adding that inspectors general have historically relied on whistleblowers to conduct nonpartisan oversight of federal agencies. The council also warned that the Justice Department's OLC memo “undermines the independence of the (Intelligence Community’s inspector general) and wrongly interprets the respective roles and responsibilities of the inspectors general.” “Perhaps most concerning to the IG community,” the letter stated, “we believe that the (Justice) opinion creates uncertainty for federal employees and contractors across government about the scope of the whistleblower protections, thereby chilling whistleblower disclosures.” The whistleblower, an employee within the intelligence community, alleged in a complaint that White House officials had expressed concerns that Trump sought to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart to pursue an investigation against his potential presidential rival, Joe Biden. In late August, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, forwarded the complaint to the acting director of National Intelligence, concluding that such a request could be viewed as soliciting a foreign power's help, a violation of campaign finance laws. But Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, delayed providing the whistleblower's complaint to Congress, saying executive privilege protected the confidentiality of communications with Trump. "This case was unique and unprecedented," Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee in late September, weeks after the Justice Department's OLC issued its opinion. "The White House did not direct me to withhold the complaint." Contrary to Atkinson's finding, the OLC opinion concluded that the whistleblower's allegations did not meet the statutory definition of "urgent concern" because it does not involve "funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity." The letter says such a narrow interpretation of the law raises questions about whether the whistleblower is entitled to protections against retaliation. Such concerns extend to other government employees and contractors who may no longer believe it's worth the risk to expose what they believe to be government misconduct. more...

By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – At the time, the disclosure was offered almost as a footnote to the explosive contents of a phone call in which President Donald Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate political rival Joe Biden. As a summary of the call was released by the White House last month, senior Justice Department officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said prosecutors had reviewed whether the president’s solicitation of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was a potential crime. The review, done at the request of the inspector general of the intelligence community, was narrow. It was based entirely on the written summary of the call, which even the White House indicated was imperfect. Authorities conducted no interviews to learn why a whistleblower took the extraordinary step of taking his concern to the inspector general for the nation's intelligence agencies. And it took only a few weeks for prosecutors to conclude there was no violation of campaign finance law. Yet in the month since that decision was made public, a fast-moving House impeachment inquiry and a separate criminal investigation raise serious questions about the Justice Department’s assessment of the president’s conduct. "In hindsight, the decision by prosecutors was premature and ill-advised," Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the Watergate prosecutors, said. "The information provided by the whistleblower cried out for further inquiry." Justice Department officials say Attorney General William Barr, whose assistance Trump offered to Zelensky, was not the one who decided to decline an investigation. But lawmakers and former prosecutorssay his close relationship with Trump threatens the department'sindependence as the president faces his greatest threat yet. Those suspicions are likely to deepen after news broke Thursday night that the Justice Department has shifted an internal examination into the origins of the Russia investigation – which Trump often disparages as a "witch hunt" – to a criminal matter. Read the summary: President Trump's call with Ukraine president about Biden. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is leading the impeachment inquiry, said the Justice Department’s decision not to launch an investigation based on the whistleblower’s complaint effectively forced Congress to look into the matter itself. In just four weeks, House Democrats have elicited damning testimony from current and former administration officials that bolsters their central argument for removing Trump: that the White House dangled military aid and a meeting with the president in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden. more...

DONALD TRUMP is set to lose an ally in Argentina President Mauricio Macri, as he is set to lose power to Peronist Alberto Fernandez in an election result that could see Russia President Vladimir Putin and China gain yet more power in Latin America.
By Charlie Bradley
Having romped home to a 16 point lead in August’s first round of votes, Fernandez backed by former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is set to take Presidency in Buenos Aires when elections take place on October 27. Argentina was in economic ruin when Mr Macri took office in 2015, and as a result placed an austerity programme in the country to try and restore stability and attract more foreign investment. However, economic ruin has resumed and many of Mr Macri’s promises haven’t been realised, leading to Argentines to revert back to the populist left rule that preceded the embattled President. But Macri’s downfall will come as bad news to Washington, as the Argentinian President has proved to be an important ally in a continent where Russia and China are growing influence. Jorge Taiana, former foreign minister and current member of the Fernández foreign relations team met with representatives from the Latin American branch of the Russian Foreign Ministry in September. In the meeting that took place in Buenos Aires, talks covered Russian investment and even the Venezuelan political and economic crisis. One of the participants who observed the meeting told Infobae: “It was a sincere and very interesting meeting of Russia with a view to the coming political moments.” The case of Venezuela has generated friction between the governments of Mr Macri and President Putin. This is due to differences in opinion around the situation in Venezuela since Moscow has given strong military support to the regime of Nicolas Maduro and does not accept Juan Guaido as interim president. more...

Trump is canceling all government subscriptions to the New York Times and Washington Post because the papers aren’t nice enough to him. Something Donald Trump has mentioned once or twice in the past several years is his opinion of the free press, or as he likes to call it, “The enemy of the people.” Chief among the outlets the president seemingly thinks should be shut down until they start saying nicer things about him are CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Unfortunately, in the case of CNN, he can’t cancel the White House cable without losing the vital source of information that is Fox News, and, at present, it’s not legal for him to just put the Times and the Post out of business (though he’s undoubtedly leaning on someone at the Department of Justice to do just that). So, in the meantime, he’s come up with a new tactic: ban two of the most important newspapers in the world from government property. Yes, according to the Wall Street Journal, the White House is planning to tell federal agencies not to renew their subscriptions to the Washington Post and the New York Times, in what may officially be the pettiest move in history by an executive branch, aside from the time this same executive branch canceled a trip to Denmark because the president was told he couldn’t buy Greenland, which is obviously the gold standard against which all other acts of pettiness must be measured. And while the administration is not even trying to deny it, it is pretending this whole thing is simply a matter of cost cutting. “Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving—hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who has never held a press briefing and doesn’t plan to any time soon, told the Journal Thursday. more...

The announcement came one day after House Democrats subpoenaed financial records for the facility.
By Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian
The Trump Organization is considering selling off the rights to the Trump International Hotel, the Washington hotspot near the White House that's become a magnet for Republicans, lobbyists, foreign governments and legal challenges. "Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options," Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump confirmed to NBC News in a statement Friday. "People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell." The company said it's hired the real estate firm JLL to assist with the possible sale of its interest in the Trump International. The company's moves were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal, said the Trump Organization is hoping to pull in over $500 million from the sale — about $2 million per hotel room. The announcement came one day after the House Transportation Committee subpoenaed the General Services Administration for financial documents involving the hotel that the government agency has been refusing to turn over. While the Trump Organization holds the rights to operate the hotel for 60 years, the property itself is owned by the federal government. The Trumps spent $200 million transforming the Old Post Office building into a five-star hotel. "Political appointees at the GSA are trying to hide behind a pathetic excuse that Congress — a co-equal branch of the Federal government tasked with conducting oversight — can't have key documents regarding a federally-owned property currently leased by the president," Transportation Committee hair Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said Thursday. NBC News reported in June that representatives of at least 22 foreign governments have spent money at various Trump properties including the hotel during his presidency. The extent of that spending is unknown because the Trump Organization is a private company and has declined to disclose that information. more...

By Jennifer Hansler and Nicole Gaouette, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remained dismissive and evasive of questions surrounding the House Democratic impeachment probe, despite his department's increasing entrenchment in that inquiry. Pompeo sought to downplay the inquiry as Beltway "noise" in a series of interviews in Wichita, Kansas, on Thursday -- just days after the top US diplomat in Ukraine presented damning testimony related to quid pro quo related to presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine. In his closed-door deposition Tuesday, Taylor said he had been told that "everything" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wanted, including a White House meeting and military aid to the country, would be held up until he publicly announced the launch of investigations sought by President Donald Trump. Those probes have targeted former Vice President Joe Biden, the President's chief political rival, and sought to establish that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and undermine the US intelligence community's assessment that Russia is to blame. Taylor's appearance cut the legs out from under the White House defense that there had been no quid pro quo and has been "reverberating" among congressional Republicans who see it as game changer in the impeachment inquiry. In interview with KMUW Radio and The Wichita Eagle, Pompeo repeatedly insisted he would not talk about the inquiry, dodging questions about the concerns Taylor expressed in a diplomatic cable to the secretary of state, whether Giuliani's efforts aligned with the State Department's mission in Ukraine and the department's compliance in the congressional inquiry. In both interviews, Pompeo accused the reporters of being "fixated" on the probe. "Look, I came here today to talk about workforce development. I came here today to talk about the great things that are going on here in Kansas," Pompeo, who went to Kansan city for workforce development events with presidential adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump, told The Wichita Eagle. "This inquiry will proceed. Congress will perform its oversight function, the State Department will continue to do all of the things that were required to do under the law and the Constitution," he said. The State Department has repeatedly attempted to block its diplomats from testifying -- all have had to be subpoenaed. The department has also failed to turn over documents related to the Ukraine to the three House committees, despite a subpoena. Later in the interview, Pompeo suggested that the impeachment inquiry proceedings were unfair.  more...

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