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US Monthly Headline News December 2019 Page 1

Mitch McConnell plans to rush through a fake trial to a quick acquittal. So why did Democrats rush impeachment?
By Amanda Marcotte

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows Donald Trump is guilty. He just doesn't care — McConnell plans to cover it up and doesn't even really care how obvious that is All that was made clear from an article published late Wednesday in the Washington Post, in which Senate Republicans admitted that the plan is to rubber-stamp their acquittal of Trump, and their lack of desire to even try to dignify this travesty of justice by pretending to hold a real impeachment trial, as the Constitution demands. Senate Republicans want to hold "a short impeachment trial early next year that would include no witnesses," the article explains, because they believe "it would be better to limit the trial and quickly vote to acquit Trump."

The reason they believe this is no mystery, of course. As the impeachment hearings in front of the House have showed, Trump looks guiltier with every minute of discussion on his scheme to blackmail Ukrainian leadership into falsely branding his presumed 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, as a crook. Even when Republicans called witnesses during the impeachment hearings, those witnesses ended up giving testimony that made Trump look worse. When the GOP called a legal "expert" to critique the impeachment process his testimony was a confusing mishmash that only made the pro-impeachment witnesses look stronger.

Trump radiates guilt at every moment and with every public statement. So the only way for McConnell to conceal his guilt is to throw a blanket over the whole thing. Continuing to argue about it, even through the Republican methods of throwing tantrums and creating distractions, isn't really working — Trump's behavior pierces through all the noise like a laser stream of pure, red hot guilt. Looking away and refusing to discuss it as much as humanly possible is the best available option for Republicans. Trump was reportedly interested in staging a big spectacle in the Senate trial, and calling Hunter Biden, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the original Ukraine whistleblower and who knows who else. For once, Republicans may defy him, but only to safeguard his presidency.

"This is unacceptable and there should be consequences," one Democratic lawmaker said.
By KYLE CHENEY and JOHN BRESNAHAN

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on Wednesday night publicly named a person that some Republicans and allies of President Donald Trump claim is the alleged whistleblower who first brought the Trump-Ukraine scandal to light.

Gohmert identified the person, who POLITICO is not naming, during remarks at a Judiciary Committee meeting on articles of impeachment against Trump. Gohmert named the person as he ticked through a list of witnesses he said the committee should hear from before voting on impeachment.

Gohmert did not identify the person as the potential whistleblower, but Republicans have demanded that the whistleblower be subpoenaed to testify, a call that Democrats have swatted away as irresponsible and even dangerous.

Democrats say any effort to identify the whistleblower could endanger the person's life and chill future whistleblowers from revealing alleged wrongdoing in government.

American conservatives who find themselves identifying with Putin’s regime refuse to see the country for what it actually is.
By Anne Applebaum

Sherwood Eddy was a prominent American missionary as well as that now rare thing, a Christian socialist. In the 1920s and ’30s, he made more than a dozen trips to the Soviet Union. He was not blind to the problems of the U.S.S.R., but he also found much to like. In place of squabbling, corrupt democratic politicians, he wrote in one of his books on the country, “Stalin rules … by his sagacity, his honesty, his rugged courage, his indomitable will and titanic energy.” Instead of the greed he found so pervasive in America, Russians seemed to him to be working for the joy of working.

Above all, though, he thought he had found in Russia something that his own individualistic society lacked: a “unified philosophy of life.” In Russia, he wrote, “all life is focused in a central purpose. It is directed to a single high end and energized by such powerful and glowing motivation that life seems to have supreme significance.”

Eddy was wrong about much of what he saw. Joseph Stalin was a liar and a mass murderer; Russians worked because they were hungry and afraid. The “unified philosophy of life” was a chimera, and the reality was a totalitarian state that used terror and propaganda to maintain that unity. But Eddy, like others in his era, was predisposed to admire the Soviet Union precisely because he was so critical of the economics and politics of his own country, Depression-era America. In this, he was not alone.

The segment prompted numerous rebuttals condemning the "maliciousness of the attack" on the legacy of the children's TV host.
By David Mikkelson

Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the long-running children’s television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” died in 2003. In July 2007, the hosts of Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” morning program — Alisyn Camerota, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade — aired a segment (using titles such as “Blame Mr. Rogers,” “Was Mr. Rogers Wrong?” and “Is Mr. Rogers Ruining Kids?”) in which they took Rogers to task as an “evil, evil man” for supposedly encouraging generations of children to grow up with a sense of self-entitlement:

By David Shortell, Evan Perez and Josh Campbell, CNN

Washington (CNN) Some federal law enforcement officials are warning of a chilling effect inside the FBI amid attacks by President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr over the bureau's handling of the Russia investigation.

Current and former FBI officials tell CNN they're concerned that the harsh rhetoric coming from Trump and Barr has only worsened the bureau's already tenuous standing with the President, leaving them wondering whether federal agents could be less aggressive the next time they have to pursue a sensitive investigation.

"We're constantly told to be agile and use all the legal tools available to us," said one FBI employee who works on counterintelligence matters. "But who is going to risk sticking their neck out now only to have DOJ chop it off?"

Barr this week seized on findings in a blockbuster inspector general report to scold the FBI for using "intrusive" tools with only "flimsy" evidence, and he questioned whether they'd been motivated by bias. Those attacks were particularly noteworthy given that the report found no evidence of bias or improper motivation in the FBI's decisions to use counterintelligence techniques. The report did however point out serious mistakes and mishandling of evidence by the FBI.

By Christian Berthelsen

Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas got $1 million from an account in Russia in September, a month before he was charged with conspiring to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, according to U.S. prosecutors who asked a judge to jail him for understating his income and assets.

“The majority of that money appears to have been used on personal expenses and to purchase a home,” prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday. Parnas failed to disclose the payment to the government, prosecutors said.

The payment raises provocative new questions about the nature of the work Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman were doing and who they were doing it for. Much about what they did remains unclear.

The pair was charged, in part, with working on behalf of one or more Ukrainian government officials to seek the removal of then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

By Erik Wemple, Media critic

Fox News host Sean Hannity hung his credibility on the report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into the origins and integrity of the Russia investigation. For months and months, he has hyped the report and its focus — whether federal law enforcement adhered to rules and procedures — in promising big revelations. Back in July, he said, "My message to the DOJ is very simple: We deserve to see the full report. After all, Mueller’s findings, they were released with extremely limited redactions. And we are expecting the same treatment for the Horowitz report, because the American people deserve the full truth, equal justice must be served. The sanctity of our republic is at stake.”

Last month, as the host licked his chops over the coming feast, he cited sources indicating that the revelations would “shock the conscience.” Such mentions helped Fox News far outrank its competitors in citing the name “Horowitz” on air, as these figures from the GDELT Project and the Internet Archive demonstrate:

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) The Justice Department inspector general continues to investigate potential leaks by FBI officials in New York to President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani before the 2016 election. Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing, and is broader than just Giuliani, but suggested his team was struggling to prove that there were illegal leaks.

Shortly before the election, Giuliani claimed that he heard about big problems coming soon for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. That was shortly before then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was reopening the criminal probe into Clinton's email server, which didn't lead to any criminal charges. The polls shifted after Comey's comments, and Clinton has said it was a main reason for her defeat. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont noted on Wednesday that Comey previously confirmed to him that the matter was under investigation, and asked Horowitz for an update about FBI "leaks to Rudolph Giuliani and others."

Horowitz replied, "we were very concerned about that," and he noted that he mentioned some of those potentially improper contacts in the report he put out last year reviewing the Clinton email probe.

By Sonam Sheth

The nonpartisan career officials who blew the whistle on President Donald Trump and testified against him are Time magazine's 2019 "Guardians of the Year." For more than two months, the magazine said, the president "attacked the public servants as 'traitors' and 'human scum.'" And in September, at the US Mission to the United Nations, he "suggested the proper response to the whistle-blower's complaint was the punishment historically reserved for 'spies' and for 'treason': the death penalty."

   —Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) December 11, 2019

Among the people named were:

   The whistleblower who first sounded the alarm on Trump's efforts to strongarm Ukraine into delivering political dirt on a rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for vital military aid and a White House meeting.

   Marie Yovanovitch, the US's ambassador to Ukraine who was forced out of her position for refusing to go along with Trump's and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani's scheme.

Bill Taylor, the career diplomat who replaced Yovanovitch and testified about the extent of the quid pro quo Trump and Giuliani were engaged in.

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs, who witnessed and reported what she described as the "domestic political errand" that had hijacked US foreign policy.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the NSC's top Ukraine expert, who witnessed the July 25 phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry and reported his concerns up the chain of command.

It’s not the high court’s job to give the GOP the laws they couldn’t pass in the legislature.
By Leah Litman, assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School

It’s not the Supreme Court’s job to give Republicans the laws they couldn’t pass in the legislature. But in the case before the court Tuesday, the Trump administration implies that it is, as the administration is asking the court to peel back some of the most significant provisions of the Affordable Care Act after Congress failed to dismantle the law. The case, and another, potentially more far-reaching one at the appellate level, will reveal whether the Republican-controlled court is nonetheless willing to perform that role.

It is a deeply ironic turn, since Republicans have for years maintained that it is the courts’ job to interpret legislation, not make it. In the ACA cases, however, they are insisting that the court make laws that Republicans lacked the votes to pass, rather than interpret laws that Republicans actually did pass.

By Jason Murdock

A Florida family has shared footage of the moment their Ring security system was accessed without permission and used to spew racial slurs last weekend. The incident occurred on Sunday in Cape Coral, with the culprit forcing a loud alarm to blare throughout the home before verbally taunting two parents, NBC-2 reported. The hacker, who sounds young, makes references to their son despite him not appearing in the frame.

"Is your kid a baboon, like the monkey?" the person can be heard saying, introducing himself as if it was part of a streamed video prank or podcast. The clip shows the hacker asking the parents to search for a website, which they refuse. He says "I will leave you and your family alone, or I could do this" before turning on the alarm.

As the batteries are pulled from the device, he can be heard trying—and failing—to read a URL. One of the victims, Josefine Brown, told NBC-2 the person responsible was potentially looking into the home for longer than just Sunday. "They had been watching us because that's the only way you know I have a son and the only way you know what he looks like," she said.

New Day
Fox News hosts are offering their own interpretation of the FBI report recently released by the Department of Justice Inspector General.

"We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate [teams]," said DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
By Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department should require high-level approval before the FBI opens an investigation into a major political campaign, the department's inspector general testified Wednesday as he briefed senators on his report into the probe of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that he found no evidence the FBI sought to insert informants into the Trump campaign. But according to the report he released Monday, the FBI did use "confidential human sources" (CHSs) to speak to and record members of the Trump campaign, including George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and an unnamed senior official.

"There is no applicable Department or FBI policy requiring the FBI to notify Department officials of a decision to task CHSs to consensually monitor conversations with members of a presidential campaign," Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Before the inspector general testified, the committee chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., painted the IG's report in apocalyptic terms as he railed against what he views as an illegitimate investigation into his political ally, President Donald Trump. He said Horowitz uncovered "a massive conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, illegally surveil an American citizen," and keep an investigation going into a sitting president.

New Day
CNN's John Avlon takes a look at Attorney General Bill Barr and if he acts more as a personal attorney for the President or the Attorney General.

By Jeff Cox

Three months before he died, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker issued a scathing critique against President Donald Trump and the “movement to undermine Americans’ faith in our government and its policies and institutions.”

In an afterword to a paperback release of his autobiography, the legendary former central bank chief called out the president for his attacks on the Fed and said there is a general movement to undermine confidence in essential U.S. institutions.

“Nihilistic forces are dismantling policies to protect our air, water, and climate,” Volcker wrote at the end of “Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government.” “And they seek to discredit the pillars of our democracy: voting rights and fair elections, the rule of law, the free press, the separation of powers, the belief in science, and the concept of truth itself.”

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — Want another example of how Attorney General William Barr has provided fodder for those who say he’s acted more like the president’s personal attorney than the nation’s chief law-enforcement official?

Here’s Barr’s interview with NBC’s Pete Williams, in which Barr calls the Trump campaign’s links to Russia in 2016 a “completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press.”

So what was happening in the final months of the 2016 election?

   June 9: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meet with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after Donald Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton:"If it's what you say, I love it," Trump Jr. writes about the promise of dirt on Clinton.

   July 27: Candidate Trump himself asks Russia for assistance in the 2016 election: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." (On that same day, Russian intelligence – for the first time -- tries to gain access to Hillary Clinton's emails/server, per Robert Mueller's indictments on July 13, 2018.)

   Aug. 15: A Trump campaign associate – Roger Stone – communicates with Russian intelligence: "On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, 'thank u for writing back … do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs I posted,’” per Mueller’s indictments on July 13, 2018.

By Cristina Alesci and Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN)Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will donate $10 million to support Democratic House lawmakers who are facing Republican attacks for supporting President Donald Trump's impeachment, his spokesman Jason Schechter told CNN on Wednesday.

The donation from Bloomberg follows his November announcement to spend $100 million on an anti-Trump ad blitz in key 2020 battleground states.
Bloomberg, a billionaire whose wealth was amassed from a media empire, has also placed millions of dollars worth of television ads across the country to jump start his late entry into the 2020 campaign.

CBS This Morning - The mayor of Jersey City in New Jersey says a shootout that killed a police detective and three other people was likely the result of a "targeted" attack on a Kosher grocery store. Bystanders recorded the standoff that lasted several hours in a busy neighborhood, which includes a synagogue and a school. The two suspected gunmen were also killed. Don Dahler reports.

By Amy Sherman

In a House Judiciary Committee hearing, a southwest Florida Republican congressman said the impeachment process had reached a new level of unfairness: Not only was President Donald Trump receiving less due process than average Americans, but Iraqi terrorism suspects are treated more fairly.

"Even terrorists in Iraq were afforded more due process than you and the Democratic majority have afforded the president," said U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, directing his comment to Democratic committee leaders Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff. "I know, because I served in Iraq, and I've prosecuted terrorists in Iraq, and we provided terrorists in Iraq more rights and due process in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq then you and Chairman Schiff have afforded the president of the United States."

We decided to check out his comparison. Steube’s spokeswoman did not respond to our requests for evidence. Like similar claims before his, we found Steube ignores that the stage where Trump would receive due process to defend himself is in the Senate — and also that Trump’s team was invited to participate in the House Judiciary hearing.

CBS News - The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Michael Horowitz, the inspector general for the Justice Department, in a hearing on Wednesday. Horowitz will testify about his 434-page report on the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties to the Trump campaign.

By Kerry Flynn, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)Time magazine has chosen Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate crisis activist, as person of the year. Thunberg, 16, is the youngest individual to be recognized. She gained international attention for excoriating world leaders for their inaction in the climate crisis in a viral speech she made at the UN Climate Action Summit in September. She criticized world leaders again at the COP25 conference last week. "Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote.

Each year, the magazine features the most influential person, group, movement or idea of the previous 12 months. Last year, it was "The Guardians," a group of journalists who have been targeted or assaulted for their work. In 2017, it was "The Silence Breakers," the group of people who came forward to report sexual misconduct. This marks the third year in a row in which Time has named a person who was not a world leader. President Donald Trump was Person of the Year in 2016 and Germany chancellor Angela Merkel was recognized the year before that. Past Persons of the Year include Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini and Joseph Stalin.

By Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. — It was important for Sandra Diaz to be invisible. Before entering the Trump family villa, she would tie back her hair, pull on latex gloves and step into delicate paper shoe coverings. She knew not to wear makeup or perfume that might leave the faintest trace of her presence.

As Donald Trump’s personal housekeeper, Diaz was dealing with a fussy celebrity owner who presided like a monarch over the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster long before he was elevated to president. She was an immigrant from Costa Rica working illegally for Trump with a fake Social Security card she had bought for $50. Being invisible was her life’s work.

Moving quickly through the two-story house in the mornings, Diaz carried out Trump’s fastidious instructions. In his closet, she would hang six sets of identical golf outfits: six white polo shirts, six pairs of beige pants, six neatly ironed pairs of boxer shorts. She would smear a dollop of Trump’s liquid face makeup on the back of her hand to make sure it hadn’t dried out.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump is looking to survive impeachment the same way he built his powerful presidency -- by assaulting facts and seeking to expand the limitations of the office he is accused of abusing. On the day that Democrats proposed two articles of impeachment against him, the President and his courtiers laid down a fresh fog to obscure the evidence that incriminates him. The President also issued a mocking defense of his conduct at a rally Hershey, Pennsylvania, Tuesday night -- arguing that the charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress are "not even a crime."

"Everyone said this is impeachment-lite. This is the lightest impeachment in the history of our country, by far. It's not even like an impeachment," Trump said. Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, reprised his role spinning his boss out of trouble, dismissing his own department's watchdog report that debunked Trump's repeated claim that a "Deep State" coup tried to bring him down. Barr also breathed fresh life into another of Trump's conspiracy theories -- that the FBI's Russia investigation was unjustified and rooted in political bias by Obama administration officials.

"I think our nation was turned on its head for three years, I think, based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press," Barr said Tuesday in an interview with NBC News. The comments reflected the tendency of the Trump administration to deflect damning facts and to create new narratives that the President and his fans find more appealing. Trump's never-ending stream of misinformation, half-truths and conspiracy theories seems designed to confuse voters and to create ambiguity and uncertainty about the outcome of investigations in a way that leaves even the closest observer unsure about the facts.

One expert in the work of such propagandists is former World Chess Champion and Russian political dissident Garry Kasparov. "They know that, you know, they can get people exhausted, they exhaust critical thinking," Kasparov told CNN's Anderson Cooper last week. "I always call Putin (a) merchant of doubt. But now seeing what's happening in America, it's when just Republicans managed to turn the whole political process in this alternative reality. It's like a post-truth world."

By Richard Gonzales, Mark Katkov

A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from using $3.6 billion in funds allocated by Congress for military construction projects to help pay for a wall on the southern border. U.S. District Judge David Briones of El Paso ruled that the administration's use of an emergency proclamation last February to divert those funds to the border wall is unlawful.

The ruling found that the administration was within the law in using an additional $2.5 billion intended for drug interdiction efforts for border wall construction. "The President's emergency proclamation was a blatant attempt to grab power from Congress," said Kristy Parker, counsel for the nonpartisan organization Protect Democracy, which represented the plaintiffs, in a statement. "Today's order affirms that the President is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds."

The suit was brought by El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights. It argued that the administration overstepped its authority by "declaring a national emergency and violating laws of Congress limiting funds for barriers at the United States-Mexico border." The county also argued that it would suffer reputational and economic harm from the border wall project because the president's emergency declaration created the impression that the border city was dangerous. In October, Briones, a Clinton appointee, ruled that such claims had merit.

The inquiry will also look at the costs of the mission.
By WESLEY MORGAN

The Pentagon’s inspector general is launching an “evaluation” of the Trump administration’s military deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border, the watchdog office announced Tuesday.

"Based on several requests, we have decided to conduct an evaluation, in accord with our standard processes, to examine the use of military personnel along the southern border,” said Glenn Fine, who performs the duties of the inspector general, in a statement. “In this evaluation, we will examine, among other issues, what they are doing at the border, what training they received, and whether their use complied with applicable law, DoD policy, and operating guidance. We intend to conduct this important evaluation as expeditiously as possible." The inquiry will also look at the costs of the mission, according to the announcement from Fine’s office.

The Pentagon started sending active-duty Army and Marine units to the border in the fall of 2018 on orders from President Donald Trump, prompting accusations that he was using the military as a political prop ahead of midterm elections. Each of Trump’s four Pentagon chiefs has signed off on the mission, starting with Jim Mattis’s original authorization of a temporary deployment last October. Mattis’s successor, Pat Shanahan, as acting defense secretary, extended the mission through September 2019, and this fall, Defense Secretary Mark Esper extended it again into fiscal 2020.

By Michael Collins USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump relentlessly ridiculed the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada as the “worst trade deal ever” when he was running for office and promised to rip it up if he was elected. But instead of tearing the agreement to shreds, Trump mostly patched it up.

The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the USMCA, that is supposed to replace NAFTA – and which appears headed for congressional approval following a deal this week between Trump and House Democrats – is in many ways similar to its quarter-century-old predecessor.

More than half of the new trade agreement simply modernizes provisions already contained in NAFTA. “The president didn’t rip up NAFTA, nor is this just a rebranding of NAFTA with the Trump and House Democrats’ names on it,” said Daniel Ujczo, an international trade attorney in Ohio.

Instead of demolishing NAFTA and starting over, “it’s a renovation of North American trade,” Ujczo said. “We put a fresh coat of paint on about 60 percent of the deal, so we kept what worked in the original NAFTA. But we have upgraded some applications and fixtures in terms of the technology chapters and customs chapters. And then we knocked down some walls.”

By Ryan Browne, CNN

Washington (CNN)The US military on Monday paused the operational training of hundreds of Saudi Arabian students at several training locations following a deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola which was carried out by a Saudi Air Force officer. The pause comes as the US military does a review of how the Pentagon screens foreign military students. While the review will look at screening processes for all international military students only Saudi students will see their operational training suspended.

A "safety stand-down and operational pause commenced Monday for Saudi Arabian aviation students at NAS Pensacola and NAS Whiting Field and NAS Mayport, Florida. Classroom training is expected to resume this week for those students," Lt. Andriana Genualdi, a spokeswoman for the US Navy told CNN in a statement Tuesday. Genualdi said there are approximately 140 Saudi Arabian students training at Naval Air Station Pensacola and 35 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. There are approximately 128 Saudi Arabian students training at Naval Air Station Mayport.

The pause will impact the approximately 850 Saudi personnel currently in the US for military training. The Saudi students will be restricted to receiving classroom instruction.

Heard on Morning Edition
By Cory Turner

Documents obtained by NPR shed new light on a bitter fight between defrauded student borrowers and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. These borrowers — more than 200,000 of them — say some for-profit colleges lied to them about their job prospects and the transferability of credits. They argue they were defrauded and that the Education Department should erase their federal student loan debt under a rule called "borrower defense."

DeVos disagrees: She says most student borrowers still got value from these schools and deserve only partial relief from their federal loans. Now, internal Education Department memos obtained by NPR show that career staff in the department's Borrower Defense Unit came down firmly on the side of defrauded borrowers.

The memos show this unit reviewed thousands of borrower complaints against now-defunct, for-profit colleges, including Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute. Just weeks before DeVos was sworn in as secretary, the unit recommended to the department's political leadership that these borrowers deserve no less than full relief from their student debts.

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a new, wide-ranging subpoena in the probe, a person familiar with the document told NBC News.
By Allan Smith

The New York attorney general's office is intensifying its investigation into the National Rifle Association, recently issuing a new, wide-ranging subpoena to the gun rights organization that offers hints at where the high-profile probe is moving, a person familiar with the document told NBC News.

The deepening of the investigation was first reported by The New York Times.

The subpoena, which the Times reported was issued last week, covers areas such as campaign finance, payments made to board members and tax compliance. It seeks documents related to money transfers between NRA-controlled entities, internal communications about the organization's Federal Election Commission filings and its work with consulting firms Starboard Strategic and OnMessage, as well as records

William A. Brewer III, an attorney representing the NRA, said in a statement that the organization will comply with subpoenas "as necessary."

Advisers weigh the merits of a one-term pledge by the 77-year-old former vice president.
By RYAN LIZZA

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s top advisers and prominent Democrats outside the Biden campaign have recently revived a long-running debate whether Biden should publicly pledge to serve only one term, with Biden himself signaling to aides that he will serve only a single term. While the option of making a public pledge remains available, Biden has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicate that he will almost certainly not run for a second term while declining to make a promise that he and his advisers fear could turn him into a lame duck and sap him of his political capital.

According to four people who regularly talk to Biden, all of whom asked for anonymity to discuss internal campaign matters, it is virtually inconceivable that he will run for re-election in 2024, when he would be the first octogenarian president. “If Biden is elected,” a prominent adviser to the campaign said, “he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for reelection.”

The adviser argued that public acknowledgment of that reality could help Biden assuage younger voters, especially on the left, who are unexcited by his candidacy and fear that his nomination would serve as an eight-year roadblock to the next generation of Democrats. By signaling that he will serve just one term and choosing a running mate and Cabinet that is young and diverse, Biden could offer himself to the Democratic primary electorate as the candidate best suited to defeat Trump as well as the candidate who can usher into power the party’s fresh faces.

By Amy Goldstein and Jeff Stein

The Trump administration is proposing a sharp slowdown in Medicaid spending as part of a broad reduction in the government’s investment in health care, calling for the public insurance for the poor to morph from an entitlement program to state block grants even after a Republican Congress rejected the idea.

The budget released by the White House on Monday also calls for a sizable reduction for Medicare, the federal insurance for older Americans that President Trump has consistently promised to protect. Most of the trims relate to changing payments to doctors and hospitals and renewing efforts to ferret out fraud and wasteful billing — oft-cited targets by presidents of both parties.

In keeping with Trump’s promise in last month’s State of the Union address to halt the spread of HIV over the next decade, the budget includes an initial installment of $291 million next year targeted to communities where the virus is continuing to infect people not getting proper treatment — the rural parts of seven states, including Mississippi; the District of Columbia; Puerto Rico and 48 hot-spot counties scattered throughout the country.

The big difference between this impeachment inquiry and Watergate isn’t the president—it’s Congress.
By Fred Kaplan

“Where is Howard Baker?” Rep. Adam Schiff asked during his stirring statement at the end of Thursday’s impeachment hearing, and it stands as the key question of our time.

Baker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, gained fame by asking one witness after the other, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” We later learned that, when Baker asked the question, he was assuming that Richard Nixon didn’t know much—that, contrary to charges, he hadn’t directed or covered up the Watergate break-in and related crimes.

The thing is, when Baker realized that Nixon did know everything, that he was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, he—like many other Republicans—changed his views and urged the president to resign rather than put the country through an impeachment trial that would inevitably oust him from office.

Rick Gates was a fountain of information for Robert Mueller’s investigators, testifying against both Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN

Rick Gates should be rewarded with probation after serving as a critical high-profile government witness whose testimony helped net convictions against two of President Donald Trump’s campaign aides, the Justice Department and an attorney for the former Trump deputy campaign chairman said in a pair of new court filings. Gates — who pleaded guilty in February 2018 to financial fraud and lying to investigators — quickly became a fountain of information for Robert Mueller’s investigators, eventually testifying against both former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, Trump’s long-time political whisperer.

The 47-year-old GOP operative spent more than 500 hours with federal and state prosecutors, both before and after he officially flipped on Trump and his allies. He also responded to three congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony. Gates’ voice dominates final Mueller report, as he recounts details about how Trump and his 2016 campaign coordinated and planned for the release of stolen Democratic emails at critical moments of the White House race.

In a filing Monday, Gates’ attorney pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to give his client probation and impose no fines when she sentences him Dec. 17.

The main culprit? Corruption.
By Fred Kaplan

The war in Afghanistan—18 years old and still raging, at a cost of nearly $1 trillion, 2,300 U.S. troops killed, and more than 20,000 injured—has been a muddle from the beginning, steered by vague and wavering strategies, fueled by falsely rosy reports of progress from the battlefield, and almost certainly doomed to failure all along.

This is the inescapable conclusion of a secret U.S. government history of the war—consisting of 2,000 pages, based on interviews with more than 400 participants—obtained and published by the Washington Post on Monday after years of legal battles to declassify the documents.

Written by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, an agency created by Congress in 2008 to investigate waste and fraud, the report, titled “Lessons Learned,” is the most thorough official critique of an ongoing American war since the Vietnam War review commissioned in 1967 by then–Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. (Daniel Ellsberg leaked what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971; though widely disseminated, they were officially declassified only in 2011.)

By Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju and Lauren Fox, CNN

(CNN) Democratic leaders announced Tuesday they will bring two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress to set in motion the third impeachment of a US president in history. The announcement marks the culmination of an intense, fast-moving investigation into the President's dealings with Ukraine and represents a historic choice for lawmakers with less than a year before the next election.

The six House Democratic chairs who have led the investigations against the President this year formally unveiled the impeachment articles on Tuesday morning with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution and to our country, the House Committee on the Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment, charging the President of the United States Donald J. Trump with committing high crimes and misdemeanors," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said.

Democrats charge that Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals ahead of the 2020 election while withholding a White House meeting and $400 million in US security aid from Kiev. And they say that Trump then obstructed the investigation into his misconduct with a blanket blockade of subpoenas and refusing to allow key senior officials to testify before Congress.

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

Washington (CNN) Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican lawmakers for not reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and taking action against gun violence, asking them in emotional remarks to choose between the nation's foremost gun lobby and "the children that are getting gunned down in this country every single day."

Acevedo made his remarks to reporters Monday as the Houston Police Department prepared to escort the body of Sgt. Chris Brewster, an officer who died in the line of duty, to a funeral home. The 32-year-old was shot and killed while responding to a call with a team on Saturday. "I don't want to hear about how much they support law enforcement," Acevedo said.

"I don't want to hear about how much they care about lives and the sanctity of lives yet, we all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell and (Texas Sens.) John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and others are not getting into a room and having a conference committee with the House and getting the Violence Against Women's Act (passed) is because the NRA doesn't like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends. And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend. So you're either here for women and children and our daughters and our sisters and our aunts, or you're here for the (National Rifle Association)."

CBS Evening News - New documents raise questions about whether the American people were lied to about the progress of the war in Afghanistan. The documents were based on interviews with more than 400 senior officials. David Martin reports.

Amazon says it lost to Microsoft because of 'improper pressure' from the President.
By Christine Fisher

Last month, Amazon said it would formally challenge the US Department of Defense's decision to award the $10 billion JEDI contract to Microsoft, instead of Amazon Web Service (AWS). The lawsuit, unsealed today, reveals the details behind Amazon's argument. The company claims that "AWS was the consensus frontrunner" and that not only was the Pentagon's decision based on "egregious errors on nearly every evaluation factor," it was "the result of improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump."

According to Amazon, Trump "launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy-Jeffrey P. Bezos."

   "Throughout the final year of the multi-year award process, the President of the United States and Commander in Chief of our military used his power to "screw Amazon" out of the JEDI Contract as part of his highly public personal vendetta against Mr. Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post," the lawsuit states.

In a statement provided to The Guardian, Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith said the decision to select Microsoft "was made by an expert team of career public servants and military officers" without external influence.

By Sonam Sheth

The Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, uncovered a series of text messages between two FBI agents expressing support for President Donald Trump right after the 2016 US election. In his report, published Monday, on the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation, Horowitz detailed texts between a handling agent and a co-handling agent on November 9, 2016, rejoicing over Trump's victory the previous day.

"Trump!" the handling agent said.

"Hahaha. S--- just got real," the co-handling agent replied.

"Yes it did," the handling agent said.

The co-handling agent responded: "I saw a lot of scared MFers on ... [my way to work] this morning. Start looking for new jobs fellas. Haha."

Horowitz's report, which was highly anticipated by both Democrats and Republicans, debunked many of Trump's conspiracy theories about anti-Trump bias among top brass at the FBI and the Justice Department.

By Justine Coleman

Former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg said it is “deeply disturbing” that Attorney General William Barr “is more concerned with protecting the president than protecting our country from Russia."

It's deeply disturbing that the Attorney General is more concerned with protecting the president than protecting our country from Russia.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) December 9, 2019

Bloomberg called out the attorney general after Barr said Monday’s inspector general report showed the FBI started an “intrusive” examination into President Trump’s 2016 campaign based “on the thinnest of suspicions.”

Barr’s comments followed the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, which found the FBI was justified in launching an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

In his remarks Monday, Barr countered Horowitz’s conclusions that the bureau had an “authorized purpose” to start the investigation, saying the FBI had an “insufficient” basis for the probe.

By Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent

The Justice Department’s inspector general has released his long-awaited report on the FBI investigation of Russia’s 2016 effort to help elect Donald Trump president. Though it identifies serious errors and omissions in the FBI’s work — many related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to surveil Carter Page, an informal Trump campaign adviser — the report torpedoes the endless claim by Trump and his propagandists that the entire Russia investigation was a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

It’s important to reiterate right up front the actual argument that Trump World made for literally years. Not just that mistakes were made in the launching of the investigation. Not just that applications for this or that wiretapping warrant were mishandled. No, the Trump argument has been that the entire investigation was built on top of deeply nefarious motives — that is, that the “deep state" was corruptly conspiring to prevent Trump from being elected president — and that it all was illegitimate. This was the argument of the president of the United States: that a law enforcement investigation into a foreign attack on our democracy was a “hoax" and a “witch hunt.”

Implicit in this position is the idea that when law enforcement officials learned that Russia was trying to sabotage a free and fair U.S. election, they shouldn’t have done anything. But it’s worse than that: Trump World’s story has been that law enforcement was riddled with corruption from top to bottom, and that they were the ones trying to corrupt and rig the election — that is, the real crime wasn’t Russian sabotage of our election, but the effort to investigate it. The I.G. report just wrecked numerous claims that Trump and his propagandists have made to justify that narrative.

The attorney general said the investigation was launched on the "thinnest of suspicions."
By Adam Edelman

Attorney General William Barr on Monday rejected a key conclusion of an investigation conducted by his own agency's watchdog that a probe into Russian interference into the 2016 election was justified. Barr, in a lengthy statement, called the FBI's investigation into Moscow's interference "intrusive" and said it had been launched "on the thinnest of suspicions" — even though the Justice Department's inspector general report released Monday concluded that the overall probe was justified and not motivated by politics.

"The Inspector General's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," Barr said. He added that "the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory."

The report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI and the Justice Department launched their investigation into the 2016 campaign not for political reasons, but because of evidence the Russian government was using cutouts to reach out to the Trump campaign as part of its efforts to influence the election.

The report found the FBI mishandled parts of its application to monitor a Trump campaign aide as it was probing possible Russian interference in the 2016 race, but that the overall probe was justified. That last conclusion rebuts President Donald Trump's claims that the probe was launched as part of a politically biased plot against him. - Despite the evidence, Barr will protect Trump until the end. Barr’s job is to the constitution not to Donald J. Trump.

By Annie Palmer

Amazon says President Donald Trump launched “behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company, which led to it losing out on a major contract for cloud services. In a heavily redacted, 103-page document made public on Monday, Amazon Web Services lays out why it’s protesting the Department of Defense’s decision to award Microsoft the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract. AWS claims it didn’t win the JEDI contract, which could be worth as much as $10 billion, as a result of President Donald Trump’s repeated public and private attacks against Amazon and, specifically, its CEO Jeff Bezos.

“The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the filing states. “DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon.’ Basic justice requires re-evaluation of proposals and a new award decision.” AWS is now calling for the Defense Department to terminate the award and conduct another review of the submitted proposals.

By Laurel Wamsley

The FBI is investigating the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday as an act of terror. Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville Field Office, said in a news briefing Sunday that investigators are working with "the presumption that this was an act of terrorism."

Doing so, she said, "allows us to take advantage of investigative techniques that can help us more quickly identify and then eliminate any additional threats to the rest of our community." There is currently no evidence of such a threat, she added.

On Saturday, the FBI identified the shooter as Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force. He was a student naval flight officer of Naval Aviation Schools Command.

Donald Trump likes to call his opponents traitors — but if he’s looking for treasonous behavior, he should look within his own party
By Rick Wilson

America once used the words “treason” and “traitors” only in cases of actual betrayal of our nation’s most vital secrets or interests. They were profound words, deep with meaning, grim in import, carrying with them the knowledge that the penalty for treason was death. Be honest: The words “traitor” and “treason” don’t have the sting they once had; they’ve been devalued from mis- and over-use by this president. For Donald Trump, any opposition, either personal, ideological, or political is treason. Anyone who stands in his path betrays the Great Leader. Anyone who fails to take the knee is a traitor.

Like hearing an insult too many times drains it of its potency, Trump has diluted the power of that approbation. He has labeled loyal, dedicated Americans who served this country in the military and law enforcement as traitors, so much so that we could almost give in to the temptation to excuse it as “Trump being Trump” and let it slide like any of the other insults he vomits forth on the daily. Which is a shame, because America is in the midst of a treason boom right now, and more than a few people in Trump’s immediate orbit — and Trump himself — richly and actually deserve the title of traitor, and the treason inherent in their acts and words is apparent.

Traitors from Benedict Arnold to Klaus Fuchs to Aldrich Ames to Robert Hanssen sold out this country for a host of reasons, all explicable and unforgivable. The intelligence community even has a handy acronym for the motivations of traitors, and one that applies readily to known cases. The acronym is MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. Pick a traitor and one of those reasons will underpin their betrayal. Add a new one to the acronym. Call it, MICE-T, with the “T” naturally standing for Trump. Their treason isn’t executed in the old ways of secret meetings, furtive brush passes, or encrypted messages. No, the traitors of today show us their cards on cable TV, laughing and giggling over their betrayal of the oath they swore, and the security of this country, all for the political service of Donald Trump.

By Em Steck, Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott, CNN

(CNN) A senior adviser at the State Department once said he thought then-President Barack Obama was a Kenyan and called House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi a Nazi whose Botox had worn off. Frank Wuco, a former conservative speaker and radio host who is now a senior adviser at the State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, also said it would be tough for a "solid, practicing" Muslim to be a good American and made unfounded claims that some Muslims in America were practicing Sharia law to create "Muslim land."

Wuco's comments, which span from 2009 to 2016, were unearthed by CNN's KFile during a review of his media appearances and public writings. Wuco has a history of peddling conspiracy theories, pushing for extreme American action in warfare and spreading anti-Muslim rhetoric. CNN's KFile previously reported that Wuco interviewed authors promoting birtherism and pushed other conspiracy theories on prominent Obama administration officials.

Wuco had a career as a radio host and pundit before joining the Trump administration in 2017. During that time, Wuco frequently cited his past experience in the Navy to promote himself as an expert on jihad and military matters, such as when he expressed his personal belief that nuclear weapons should have been used in Afghanistan the day after 9/11.

Wuco was previously a White House adviser at the Department of Homeland Security. His new role at the State Department was first reported by the Washington Post last month. The State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance mission statement says it is responsible for "deterring conflict" and working to build "cooperation among allies and partners in order to control the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction."

Analysis by John Blake, CNN

(CNN) It's the horror movie villain that won't die, the pop song you can't get out of your head, the out-of-town guest that just won't leave. It's a belief that's stuck like a tick in the collective memory of some white conservatives. It's the notion that black people despise Clarence Thomas because he's a conservative.
It's not only a myth but a con. Here's why it matters now. We are about to hear a lot about, and from, the only black member of the US Supreme Court. A new Thomas biography, "The Enigma of Clarence Thomas," is generating buzz. A new PBS documentary, "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words," comes out next year. And a Washington Post writer recently dedicated an entire column to Thomas, calling him "an American hero."

It's all adding up to another public reappraisal of arguably the most conservative member of the Supreme Court. He's someone more people would revere if they only knew him better, says columnist Kathleen Parker.  Here's my question to people who say or imply black people revile Thomas because he's a conservative: If black people are so opposed to conservatives, why have so many accepted black conservatives such as Booker T. Washington, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice? If there is going to be a reevaluation of one of the most powerful black figures in the US, it's time we ground it in facts, not myths.

Thomas isn't despised in the black community because he's a conservative. Many dislike him because they see him as a hypocrite and a traitor. Yet many white conservatives keep recycling the same selective stories about Thomas. These stories don't just distort black culture -- they carry an undercurrent of racism.

He's not the only black leader who talks about self-reliance

Start with the way conservatives celebrate Thomas' upbringing. They love to tell tales about his rugged self-reliance: growing up in a Georgia shack without plumbing; the stern grandfather who worked him from sunrise to sunset and once told him that "Old Man Can't is dead. I helped bury him." These are stories worth telling. Thomas deserves credit. Not enough people, frankly, give him credit for something else, his intellect. Some liberal critics flirt with racism in the way they describe Thomas as an intellectual lightweight.

But the way some white conservatives tell the story of Thomas' rise from poverty also perpetuates racist stereotypes. They imply that Thomas and his hard working, no excuses grandfather are unusual characters in the black community. They depict Thomas as this lonely apostle of self-reliance, as if most black people prefer sitting on the couch drinking Kool-Aid while waiting for the government to send them a check.

A judge has said the US-Mexico barrier, partially funded by an anti-migrant group, could damage a sanctuary and ecosystem
By Nina Lakhani in Mission, Texas

The construction of a private border wall partially funded by rightwing allies of Donald Trump continued with vigor in south Texas this week, seemingly in blatant violation of a court injunction ordering work to be suspended.

On Thursday and Friday, within three days of a temporary restraining order being issued, the Guardian found construction crews with at least 10 heavy machinery vehicles moving soil, digging trenches and positioning tall metal posts along the US bank of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo county, which forms the border with Mexico. A 3.5-mile, privately-funded concrete barrier is planned on the site, near Mission, Texas.

The state court order was served to We Build the Wall (WBTW), an anti-migrant group founded by military veteran Brian Kolfage, and the landowners, Neuhaus and Sons LLC, whose land is situated between Trump’s proposed wall and the Mexican border.

WBTW is a not-for-profit group that has crowd-funded millions of dollars by tapping into anti-migrant fervor and is led by former White House advisor Steve Bannon as chairman of its advisory board. Kolfage has described migrants as terrorists and drug traffickers, and accuses border wall critics as being cartel collaborators.

By Mark Travers Contributor

There are many reasons why people share articles online. Sometimes it is to demonstrate an expertise or interest in a certain area. Sometimes it’s an attempt to change people’s minds. Other times, it is simply to share with the world something that brought them a moment of joy or inspiration.

But what about fake news? What empowers people to feel ethically licensed to share information they know to be blatantly untrue?

A new study forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science examined people’s motivations for sharing fake news articles.

“When a fake news article goes viral, people may encounter it multiple times,” state Daniel Effron and Medha Raj, the lead authors of the study. “Prior research raises the concern that people are more likely to believe a fake news headline if they have seen it before. We propose, however, that regardless of whether one believes a piece of fake news, prior encounters with it can reduce how unethical one thinks it is to spread.”

Posting from somewhere in Ukraine, Trump’s lawyer tweets the quid pro quo.
By Aaron Rupar

President Donald Trump and his Republican defenders in the House continue to argue there was no “quid pro quo” with Ukraine (despite a White House call summary and testimony from numerous Trump officials indicating otherwise).

It took Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, all of two tweets to blast that talking point to smithereens.

On Thursday, Giuliani — apparently posting from somewhere in Kiev, where he’s currently traveling as part of his ongoing international effort to dig up dirt on the Bidens — posted tweets explicitly acknowledging a link between ongoing US assistance to Ukraine and investigations into the Biden family.

“The conversation about corruption in Ukraine was based on compelling evidence of criminal conduct by then VP Biden, in 2016, that has not been resolved and until it is will be a major obstacle ... to the US assisting Ukraine with its anti-corruption reforms,” Giuliani claimed, despite the fact that no such evidence has emerged.

In short, Giuliani tweeted the quid pro quo.

By Nate Chute, Annie Blanks, Joel Shannon USA TODAY

A Saudi national has been identified by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the suspect in a Friday morning shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, that left four dead, including the suspect, and eight people wounded. The gunman was training in aviation at the base, which hosts military from around the globe, DeSantis said. The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation.

The shooter was identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi military, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. A motive for the attack is unknown. The gunman has been decried as "barbaric" by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, according to President Donald Trump.

"Obviously, the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims," DeSantis said in a press conference. "They’re going to owe a debt here." Here's what we know about the Saudi national and why he was at the base.

By Steve Benen

The House Intelligence Committee this week released a new report on Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, which included phone records that pointed to a familiar concern: the president continues to use unsecured telephones. That includes frequent communications with Rudy Giuliani – while the former mayor was abroad – that the Washington Post reported were “vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services.”

The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said. […]

The disclosures provide fresh evidence suggesting that the president continues to defy the security guidance urged by his aides and followed by previous incumbents – a stance that is particularly remarkable given Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state. The problem, of course, extends beyond breathtaking hypocrisy. By willfully ignoring security guidance, Trump has created a vulnerability that Russia could exploit to advance its interests over ours.

The Post spoke to John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, who said the Republican president and his lawyer have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion or in the twisting of information.” He added that it’s so likely that Russia tracked these calls that the Kremlin probably knows more now about those conversations than impeachment investigators. The same article noted that Trump has “absolutely” created a security issue by using lines vulnerable to interception and blowing off aides who’ve tried to steer the president in more responsible directions.

And in case that weren’t quite enough, the Post reported that after White House officials made “a concerted attempt” in 2017 to have Trump use secure White House lines, the president came to realize this meant officials such as then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would know to whom Trump was speaking. The president considered this unacceptable and “reverted to using his cellphone.”

By Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller

President Trump has routinely communicated with his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and other individuals speaking on cellphones vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services, current and former U.S. officials said.

Phone records released this week by the House Intelligence Committee revealed extensive communications between Giuliani, unidentified people at the White House and others involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine, with no indication that those calls were encrypted or otherwise shielded from foreign surveillance.

The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said.

Trump is not identified by name in the House phone records, but investigators said they suspect he may be a person with a blocked number listed as “-1” in the files. And administration officials said separately that Trump has communicated regularly with Giuliani on unsecured lines.



By Brian De Los Santos Palm Springs Desert Sun

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A video taken by a Mexican citizen shows the newly replaced border fence in Mexicali being scaled by two men with a rope ladder, one of whom makes it over to the United States. The 38-second video shows a pair of men climbing the ladder while another holds it on the Mexico side of the border. After one man successfully slides down the railing to the U.S. side and starts running toward a second structure, another begins yelling in Spanish, "Hurry, hurry, jump the fence."

A vehicle that appears to belong to U.S. Border Patrol then pulls up and officials emerge, prompting the other men to gather the ladder and slide back down the fence into Mexico. The 16-year-old Mexican citizen who ran into the U.S. was apprehended by Border Patrol, Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Joshua Devack said in a video statement posted to Twitter.

By Kate Fazzini

The U.S. Justice and Treasury departments took action Wednesday against a Russian hacking group known as “Evil Corp.,” which stole “at least” $100 million from banks using malicious software that swiped banking credentials, according to a joint press release.

“Evil Corp.,” a name reminiscent of the nickname for the key malevolent corporation in the popular television drama “Mr. Robot,” is “run by a group of individuals based in Moscow, Russia, who have years of experience and well-developed, trusted relationships with each other,” according to a Treasury Department press release.

The criminal group used a type of malware known as “Dridex,” which worked to evade common antivirus software and spread through emailed phishing campaigns. Once infected, the malware was able to steal login credentials and empty the accounts of bank employees and bank customers, forwarding the proceeds to offshore accounts held by Evil Corp, according to the press release. The group also stole an estimated $70 million using a similar malware known as “Zeus.”

The federal agencies say Evil Corp.’s criminal proceeds likely are “significantly higher” than the estimated $100 million stolen, making the enterprise one of the biggest hacking groups ever, according to the release.

By Christina Zhao

Conservative attorney George Conway, who's also the husband of Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, on Wednesday afternoon accused Melania Trump of "amplifying" an insignificant reference after the first lady lashed out at an impeachment witness for invoking the name of her teenage son.

Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, a witness for House Democrats, earlier today mentioned President Donald Trump's youngest son, Barron Trump, during her impeachment testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

"The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron," Karlan said.

In response, Melania Trump quickly condemned the witness for making a joke involving her 13-year-old son. "A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics," the first lady tweeted. "Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it."

Although Karlan later apologized following further backlash from the White House and supporters of the president, Conway took to Twitter to criticize the first lady for focussing on an allegedly insignificant reference. "So therefore you're amplifying what was a nothingburger reference a hundred-thousand-fold. Got it," he tweeted.


Two different scams have become very prevalent in the last two weeks, with scammers escalating their tactics, and both of the scams seemingly involve Apple or AppleCare Tech Support. Both are bogus and both use social engineering to trick and scare you into doing some thing they want you to do.
The so-called AppleCare Tech Support phone scam

Just this week I got a call from a client who fell prey to this exact scam, to the tune of several hundred dollars. These calls are heavily targeted towards seniors and are very cleverly designed to sound real and to trick you. If you receive a call that appears as AppleCare on your caller ID, hang up & block the call.

By Elliot Hannon

Attorney General Bill Barr suggested in a speech Tuesday night that continued police protection for certain “communities” in the United States could ultimately depend on those communities showing more “respect and support” for law enforcement. Barr’s comments were made as part of speech at a DOJ award ceremony for “distinguished service in policing.” The meaning of the potentially incendiary remarks isn’t totally clear, so let’s start with what the attorney general actually said.

“I think today, American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers,” Barr told the crowd. “And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves―and if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”

One way to read Barr’s comments is as a not-so-thinly-veiled threat to communities, particularly communities of color, that have serious and legitimate issues with how they are treated by law enforcement. The “respect and support” portion of the comment is pretty straightforward and a common refrain among law enforcement that bristles at criticism. Barr is America’s top cop, after all, and has said similar things in the past. “There is another development that is demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety,” Barr said in a speech earlier this year. “That is the emergence in some of our large cities of district attorneys that style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook and refusing to enforce the law.”

By Allyson Chiu

On Wednesday, President Trump slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “two-faced” and abruptly canceled a scheduled news conference at the NATO summit in London after a video surfaced appearing to show several world leaders, including Trudeau, laughing and gossiping about him. Now, one of Trump’s domestic political opponents has capitalized on the hot-mic moment to create his own viral video.

Former vice president Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, released a new campaign ad late Wednesday highlighting the NATO video in a blistering critique of Trump’s ability to lead on the global stage. Biden’s campaign also mocked Trump’s repeated insistence that the United States requires a president who isn’t a “laughing stock,” ending the ad with a graphic that read, “We need a leader the world respects.” By early Thursday, the roughly minute-long video had been watched more than 4 million times.

“The world is laughing at President Trump,” Biden tweeted. “They see him for what he really is: dangerously incompetent and incapable of world leadership.” The pointed ad marks the continued fallout after Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other dignitaries were caught on camera Tuesday engaging in a brief exchange apparently about Trump that quickly spiraled into an international incident. On Wednesday, Trudeau, Macron and Johnson were forced to field questions about the candid conversation and Trump was described as “the scorned child on the global playground” and “a sulking, brooding president,” The Washington Post reported.

The president has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct. Mr Trump has denied those allegations
By Clark Mindock

Years after women first came forward to accuse then-presidential candidate Donald Trump of sexual assault or harassment, the issue is once again at the forefront of political discourse after another 26 incidents of "unwanted sexual contact" and 43 instances of inappropriate behaviour were detailed in a new book. The book, All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, draws on over 100 interviews — many exclusive — and adds to a list of nearly two dozen women who had previously accused him of sexual assault or misconduct.

The allegations were noted in an excerpt of the book published in Esquire, including a new interview with Karen Johnson, who said she was touched in an unwanted manner by mr Trump at a New Year's Eve part in the early 2000s. "When he says that thing, 'Grab them by the pussy,' that hits me hard because when he grabbed me and pulled me into the tapestry, that's where he grabbed me — he grabbed me there in my front and pulled me in," Ms Johnson said.

The accusations comes more than two years after the MeToo movement prompted women to come forward to accuse powerful men in entertainment and media of sexual assault or harassment. As those accusations surfaced, reports indicated that the president had sought to backtrack from his apology over the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he made vulgar comments about women. He also reportedly told aides that it wasn’t him in that video. He has also previously denied assaulting anyone or kissing anyone without consent.

But, the man on the bus who laughed along with Mr Trump in that tape, Billy Bush, pushed back on Mr Trump’s denials. Bush said that it most certainly was the man who would later become president speaking in the video.

By Zachary Evans, National Review

Eight people, including major Hillary Clinton donors and a witness in the Mueller investigation, have been charged in a massive campaign-finance scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

The individuals conspired to “make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions” valued around $3.5 million in the 2016 election campaign and beyond, according to the announcement. Although the indictment does not specifically name the recipient of the donations, it is clear that the contributions went to groups allied with Clinton’s presidential campaign.


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