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US Monthly Headline News December 2019 Page 1

NBC News
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., blamed Republicans for choosing party over country to defend President Trump in the impeachment inquiry.

By Brian Schwartz

A super PAC led by a group of “Never Trump” conservatives has raised over $400,000 since it launched Tuesday. The committee, known as the Lincoln Project, raised the sum from over 5,000 individual donors, with an average contribution of of $77, according to the group’s treasurer, Reed Galen. The top donation was for $10,000.

“We are truly honored by the outpouring of grassroots financial support that The Lincoln Project has received in just its first two days. It is a testament to the untapped reservoir of Americans – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – who believe our country deserves better than the leadership we have today,” Galen said. “We will work as hard as we can to ensure that next November, Donald Trump is a one-term president.”

Galen noted that the organization had a strong day of fundraising Wednesday while President Donald Trump was being impeached in the House of Representatives.

By Dakin Andone, CNN

(CNN) A Denver radio show has been canceled after one of the hosts wished for "a nice school shooting" to break up the coverage of President Donald Trump's impeachment. The host, Chuck Bonniwell, was opening a segment of the "Chuck and Julie" show Tuesday afternoon when he said they would be discussing the "never-ending impeachment of Donald Trump," according to audio obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder. His wife, co-host Julie Hayden laughed before Bonniwell added, "You know, you wish for a nice school shooting to interrupt the (monotony)."

"No, no, don't even say that, no, don't even say that," Hayden said. "Don't call us. Chuck didn't say that." Bonniwell immediately said "which, no one would be hurt." The radio station, 710 KNUS, called Bonniwell's comment "inappropriate" in a statement posted to its website Wednesday. The show would be canceled immediately, the statement said. "Given the history of school violence that has plagued our community, 710 KNUS confirms that an inappropriate comment was made on the 'Chuck & Julie' show by co-host Chuck Bonniwell," the statement said. "A programming decision was made to end the program immediately."

By Danielle Sills and Chris Boyette, CNN

(CNN) Two Wyoming high school students were disciplined Wednesday after coming to school in white robes that officials say were "designed to represent KKK apparel." The students came into Riverton High School Wednesday wearing white robes and one with a white hood, which they pulled up as they came in, according to Terry Snyder, the superintendent of Fremont County School District No. 25. "It seems to be a very poor decision," Snyder said. "They did not have an understanding of the impact that would create but they do now." Snyder said the students never spoke of any ideologies or made any offensive remarks, but their actions could not go unaddressed.

Echoing Republican talking points, the Russian president mocked the moves against his U.S. counterpart as a baseless bid by Democrats to reverse their 2016 defeat.
By Andrew Higgins

MOSCOW — Besieged in Washington, President Trump found an eager friend in Moscow on Thursday. At his annual end-of-year news conference, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia parroted Mr. Trump’s talking points, mocking Wednesday’s impeachment vote as a partisan effort by Democrats to reverse their defeat in the 2016 presidential election.

He also took up Mr. Trump’s argument that there was no solid evidence to justify his removal from office. Offering an analysis of American political dynamics, Mr. Putin said that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be removed for “highly speculative reasons” by the Republican-controlled Senate.

“This is nothing but a continuation of an internal political struggle, with the party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, trying to reach its goal by different means,” Mr. Putin said during the 15th edition of a news conference that has often tended to be more a carnival of flattery.

By Ben Winck

Goldman Sachs is set to pay a fine of just under $2 billion and admit guilt to the US government to resolve an investigation into its so-called 1MDB scandal, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The bank and the Department of Justice are nearing an agreement on the settlement, which would involve Goldman admitting it ignored warning signs as billions of dollars were stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, according to The Journal.

US authorities and the bank have discussed a settlement in which a Goldman business in Asia would plead guilty to violating US bribery laws and Goldman would hire an independent party to oversee and recommend compliance-policy changes, The Journal reported. The discussions are ongoing, and a deal could be reached in early 2020, The Journal said.

Goldman raised $6.5 billion for the government fund and netted roughly $600 million in fees through the deal. US authorities said that much of the money raised was stolen by a Malaysian government adviser, Jho Low, and two Goldman bankers, and that the firm did little to curb the actions.

By Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is responsible for his colleagues’ apparent lack of enthusiasm about his bipartisan bill to lower drug prices. When asked by reporters during a briefing why more Senate Republicans haven’t supported the legislation, the Senate Finance Committee chairman said because McConnell “asked them not to.”

“The president wants it!” Grassley said, according to a recording of the briefing. Grassley and McConnell have reportedly been at odds over the bipartisan measure, which has support from President Donald Trump and many Senate Democrats.

By Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Elise Viebeck

The House voted after nearly 12 hours of debate Wednesday night to impeach President Trump for his conduct toward Ukraine and his refusal to cooperate with the inquiry, making him only the third president in U.S. history to receive that sanction. Democrats had more than enough votes to approve the two articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, even with two Democratic defections on the first, three on the second and presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) voting “present” on both. Wednesday’s action will lead to a trial in the Republican-led Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove the president from office.

'Romans 1:25'
By Clark Mindock

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has mocked Republican Barry Loudermilk, drawing attention to a bible verse on sacrilege after the congressman compared Donald Trump's impeachment to the persecution of Jesus Christ.

The New York congresswoman responded to Mr Loudermilk's remarks with a simple tweet, after he claimed during the impeachment debate that even the Romans trying Jesus Christ gave him a chance to defend himself.

Evoking the holiday season, Mr Loudermilk delivered the following remark ahead of the impeachment vote on Thursday: "Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, I want you to keep this in mind: When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this President in this process."

While House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler corrected Mr Loudermilk on the floor — noting Mr Trump was invited to testify, but declined — Ms Ocasio-Cortez emphasised the dangers of treating the president — who has referred to himself as the "chosen one" — like a demigod.

"Romans 1:25," Ms Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

On Tuesday, President Trump claimed he was tougher on Russia than his predecessor. At the same time, his subordinates strongly opposed a bill imposing new sanctions on Moscow.
By Betsy Swan

The Trump administration is quietly fighting a new package of sanctions on Russia, The Daily Beast has learned. A Trump State Department official sent a 22-page letter to a top Senate chairman on Tuesday making a wide-ranging case against a new sanctions bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham—usually a staunch ally of the White House—introduced the legislation earlier this year. It’s designed to punish Russian individuals and companies over the Kremlin’s targeting of Ukraine, as well as its 2016 election interference in the U.S., its activities in Syria, and its attacks on dissidents.

Graham said the legislation’s aggressiveness means it is “the sanctions bill from hell,” per Yahoo Finance. Trump World, meanwhile, says it is a mess. The administration’s letter says it “strongly opposes” the bill unless it goes through a ton of changes. It argues the legislation is unnecessary and that it would harm America’s European allies–potentially fracturing transatlantic support for current U.S. sanctions on Russia. The bill “risks crippling the global energy, commodities, financial, and other markets,” the letter says, and would target “almost the entire range of foreign commercial activities with Russia.”

By Dan Berman, Joan Biskupic, Tami Luhby and Ariane de Vogue, CNN

(CNN) A federal appeals court has found the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate unconstitutional, but did not invalidate the entire law, which remains in effect. The 2-1 decision by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals likely pushes any Supreme Court action on Obamacare until after the 2020 election but again thrusts the issue of health care into the forefront of the campaign. The case was brought by Texas and joined by the Trump administration -- which argued the entire law should be thrown out.

The panel told a lower court that it must consider whether the individual mandate can be separated from the rest of the law. Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod -- appointed by President George W. Bush -- and Kurt Engelhardt -- appointed by President Donald Trump -- were in the majority. Judge Carolyn Dineen King, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, dissented.

By Ariane de Vogue, Ted Barrett and Dan Berman, CNN

Washington (CNN) While the rest of Washington focused on impeachment proceedings Wednesday, Mitch McConnell successfully pressed forward on a subject that has been the one knockout success for the Republican Senate and President Donald Trump: judges. Wednesday afternoon, the Senate majority leader forced a deal with Democrats to expedite 11 federal district judge nominations. McConnell's thrust is emblematic of what he sees as his crowning achievement. So far, he has led the charge changing the landscape of the federal courts across the country with a record number of appellate court judges -- currently at 50 -- and Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. "My motto for the remainder of this Congress is 'leave no vacancy behind,'" McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday.

McConnell had scheduled procedural votes on nominees coming roughly every two hours. Two votes were held Wednesday before the agreement was reached to speed things along with 11 consecutive votes in the late afternoon. Final votes to confirm the nominees have not yet been scheduled. The threat of keeping senators in extra days or through the weekend is a tactic as old as time, but nevertheless usually yields results. Previous deals cutting short debate and allowing nominees to be approved so senators can go home for recess have been met with liberal unhappiness, however. Two deals reached last year allowed senators to return home to their states during the middle of the re-election campaign, but in the end it was Democratic incumbents who lost, giving the Republicans the stronger 53-47 majority they enjoy today. - McConnell stole Obama supreme court pick and now is stacking the courts with rightwing judges who are not qualified for the job.

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that his team did not find any evidence that Trump Tower was under government surveillance, after conducting an exhaustive review of FBI surveillance during the Russia investigation. Horowitz debunked a conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump invented weeks after taking office in 2017. Horowitz made the comment at a Senate Homeland Security hearing about his report into the early stages of the Russia investigation. "Did the report find that the FBI engaged in surveillance of Trump Tower?" Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, asked Horowitz. Horowitz replied, "We did not find evidence of surveillance on Trump Tower."

After Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) accused Ukraine of interfering in the 2016 US election, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reprimanded Gohmert for spreading Russian propaganda, prompting an angry exchange on the House floor during the impeachment debate.

By Blake Dodge

U.S. Senators are sharing photographs of the growing pile of bills passed by the House only to stymie on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's desk. The stack, a symbolic replication of legislation McConnell refuses to bring to a vote, was reportedly the brain child of Senator Debbie Stabenow. According to her office, it includes more than 300 bills about voter registration, background checks for firearm sales, domestic violence, climate change, minimum wage increases and other issues.

The do-nothing strategy spearheaded by McConnell's office seems intentional, Democrats claim. Back in September, McConnell promised to be a "grim reaper" to any and all progressive legislation. But, as multiple Senators pointed out Wednesday, more than 275 of these "dead" bills cleared the House with bipartisan support.

In a press conference meant to highlight the "legislative graveyard" Tuesday morning, Stabenow said that the American people expect Congress to pass legislation "that will improve their lives and improve the lives of their families." "Unfortunately, though, that is not what's happening because the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard," she added.

By Erica Orden, CNN

New York (CNN) A New York state judge on Wednesday dismissed a 16-count indictment against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on double jeopardy grounds. "The law of double jeopardy in New York state ... provides very narrow exceptions for prosecution," Justice Maxwell Wiley said in court, citing the principle that an individual can't be tried twice for the same conduct. "The indictment is dismissed."

Manafort is currently serving a seven-and-a-half-year federal sentence for financial crimes that stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He was admitted to the hospital last week while in prison after suffering a heart ailment, and he didn't appear in court Wednesday. His lawyer said Manafort was in stable condition. "This indictment should never have been brought, and today's decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically motivated actions," said Todd Blanche, Manafort's attorney.

He had pleaded not guilty to the New York charges, which included residential mortgage fraud and falsifying business records. The state charges came in March, after Manafort had been charged twice on the federal level as part of the Mueller investigation. He went to trial in one federal case, where the jury convicted him on some counts and was deadlocked on others. He then pleaded guilty to some charges in the second case, after which a judge dismissed the remaining counts against him in the first case. New York state prosecutors had argued that the counts on which the jury was hung counted as charges on which Manafort hadn't been previously prosecuted and therefore weren't barred by double jeopardy.

By Madeline Holcombe, CNN

(CNN) Hours before the House votes on whether to impeach President Donald Trump, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Times Square Tuesday night chanting "Tell me who's above the law? Nobody is above the law!" They weren't alone. Rallies sprang up from Oregon to Florida on the eve of the vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Democrats say Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for security aid and that he obstructed a congressional investigation by refusing to allow key officials to testify. Trump has asserted that Democrats' attempt to impeach him is part of a larger effort to avenge the results of the 2016 election. Protesters in favor of his removal from office took to the streets by the thousands on Tuesday.

Thousands rally across US as House of Representatives prepares for Wednesday votes on Trump impeachment.

Thousands rallied across the United States on the eve of the House of Representatives' landmark votes on whether to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Rallies were held from Washington, DC, to New York City and St Paul, Minnesota to Phoenix, Arizona, with protesters demanding Trump be impeached over his dealings with Ukraine.

"No one is above the law," read one sign in Salt Lake City, Utah. "We already went over this, America does not want a king," read another in Chicago, Illinois. The rallies came as the House prepares to vote on Wednesday on two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - against Trump. The votes are expected to largely play out along party lines in the Democratic-controlled House.

Source: Reuters

Demonstrators gather in New York, Colorado and California to call for US president Donald Trump's removal from office on the eve of the House of Representatives' expected vote to impeach him. Demonstrators who were gathered in Times Square chanted slogans like 'impeach Trump' and held signs that read: 'Impeach & Remove' and 'Traitor Criminal Lock Him Up!' The House will vote on Wednesday on two articles of impeachment against the president, which if approved, will send the matter to the Senate to hold a trial on whether to remove him from office. The Republican-led Senate is unlikely to vote to convict the president

Guardian News

Demonstrators gather in New York, Colorado and California to call for US president Donald Trump's removal from office on the eve of the House of Representatives' expected vote to impeach him. Demonstrators who were gathered in Times Square chanted slogans like 'impeach Trump' and held signs that read: 'Impeach & Remove' and 'Traitor Criminal Lock Him Up!' The House will vote on Wednesday on two articles of impeachment against the president, which if approved, will send the matter to the Senate to hold a trial on whether to remove him from office. The Republican-led Senate is unlikely to vote to convict the president.

By Griff Witte, Annie Gowen, Scott Wilson and Lori Rozsa

DETROIT — Demonstrators in big cities and small towns from coast to coast rallied Tuesday for President Trump's impeachment, celebrating the historic step the House is expected to take Wednesday while bemoaning that the push to oust him is almost certain to die in the Senate.

Protesters in the dark of a snowy New England evening chanted “Dump Trump,” while those marching in the warmth of southern Florida brandished signs reading “Impeach Putin’s Puppet.” In Republican-dominated Kansas, they repeated a mantra: “Country over party.” In Texas, they fretted that despite the House’s vote, Trump will get away with it all.

Organizers said that there were more than 600 protests nationwide — from Hawaii to Maine — with the goal of demonstrating “to our lawmakers that their constituents are behind them to defend the Constitution.”

By Matthew Knott

Washington: Hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states are believed to have participated in protests demanding US President Donald Trump be impeached and removed from office. The "Nobody Is Above the Law" protests, held simultaneously in cities and towns across the country, came on the eve of a historic House of Representatives vote in which Trump is expected to be impeached. Rally organisers said that more than 200,000 people had registered to attend the protests. On Twitter they gathered around the hashtag #ImpeachmentEve.

By Kristine Phillips, Kevin Johnson - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — A secretive court that approves sensitive surveillance issued a rare public rebuke of the FBI on Tuesday, saying the bureau misled the Justice Department and the court when it sought permission to wiretap a former Trump campaign aide.

The FBI's handling of the applications to wiretap Carter Page "was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor" expected of the bureau, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote in a public opinion released Tuesday.

"The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable," Collyer wrote.

The judge ordered the FBI to outline by Jan. 10, 2020, any changes it has made or plans to make to improve surveillance allowed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. The law, enacted in 1978, outlines procedures investigators must follow when they ask judges for permission to conduct electronic surveillance of people suspected of acting as foreign agents.

By Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Washington (CNN) It was on White House letterhead. It read like a string of President Donald Trump's tweets. And it was just as dishonest. On Tuesday afternoon, Trump released a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which -- employing his distinctive vocabulary and punctuation -- he blasted Democrats' push to impeach him, defended his dealings with Ukraine and touted his accomplishments in office. Like much of his previous rhetoric about Ukraine and impeachment, much of the letter was false or misleading.

Trump repeated multiple false claims that have been debunked on numerous occasions. He also delivered some new claims that were false, misleading or lacking in context. We're not finished going through all of Trump's claims in his letter, but here are some early fact checks.

Dealings with Ukraine
Trump decried "the so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made."

Facts First: The whistleblower's account of Trump's July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been proven highly accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower's three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct. Trump claimed the whistleblower "disappeared" because "they got caught, their report was a fraud."

Facts First: There is no evidence the whistleblower has disappeared, let alone that they have vanished because they were shown to be inaccurate. Whistleblowers do not have an obligation to speak publicly after filing their anonymous complaints.

The criticism comes after a report by the DOJ inspector general that found "so many basic and fundamental errors."
By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The secret federal court that approves orders for conducting surveillance on suspected foreign terrorists or spies issued a strong and highly unusual public rebuke to the FBI on Tuesday, ordering the agency to say how it intends to correct the errors revealed last week by a Justice Department report on one aspect of the FBI's investigation of Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the FBI made serious and repeated mistakes in seeking under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to conduct surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

The FBI's submission to the court made assertions that were "inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation," the report said.

Rosemary Collyer, presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, said in the unusual public order that the report "calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable." She ordered the FBI to explain in writing by Jan. 10 how it intends to remedy those problems.

Collyer said the FBI's handling of the Page case "was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor" required by the law that established the surveillance court. Judges on the court rely entirely on the government's submissions. Because they are the only documents the court sees, the government has a heightened duty of candor, she said.

Manafort is slated to be released from prison Christmas Day 2024.
By Katherine Faulders and Luke Barr

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been hospitalized for a cardiac event while serving his over seven-year sentence for charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two sources familiar with his situation. Manafort has been serving out his sentence as of late in a federal correction institution in central Pennsylvania.

Manafort has been recovering since last Thursday at a local Pennsylvania hospital under the watch of correctional officers. Sources tell ABC News the 70-year-old longtime Republican strategist is stable and could be released soon.

by Kelsey Snell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dismissed the impeachment process against President Trump as a political proceeding rather than a judicial one.

"I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There's not anything judicial about it," McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. "The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I'm not impartial about this at all."

The House could vote as early as Wednesday to impeach Trump on charges that he obstructed Congress and abused power. Whether Trump conditioned aid to Ukraine to a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens is at the heart of the impeachment proceedings against the president. Trump has denied any such link was made, and in a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump compared his impending impeachment to "subverting American's democracy."

By Jason Lemon

Richard W. Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush's administration, warned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acted in a "corrupt" manner and has "rigged" a potential Senate trial for President Donald Trump.

McConnell last Thursday told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would be working closely with White House counsel in the increasingly likely event of a Senate trial following a vote of impeachment in the House of Representatives. "I'm going to take my cues from the president's lawyers," the Republican from Kentucky asserted.

As a result, many Democrats – and some conservatives – have criticized McConnell for openly announcing his intent to violate the oath he, along with other senators, will be required to take ahead of the trial. That oath explicitly states that the lawmakers "will do impartial justice according to the Constitution."

This is not about partisan politics. I have taken on corrupt Democrats including Minnesota’s DFL Party bosses. But the conduct of @senatemajldr in this impeachment trial is corrupt and partisan beyond the pale. The GOP will not survive if this continues.
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 16, 2019

This is about the rule of law, not partisanship. I am an independent and am a critic of corrupt Democrats as well as Republicans here in Minnesota and elsewhere. For me the facts are clear: ⁦@senatemajldr⁩ has this impeachment trial rigged. https://t.co/Vf6eLfq0GW
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 16, 2019

By Jenni Fink

George Conway—husband of senior presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway—and several other Republicans launched a political action committee Tuesday to oust President Donald Trump and lawmakers that support him from office in 2020, even if it means a Democrat majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet," founders of the campaign wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times.

George Conway, along with political strategists Steve Schmidt and John Weaver and media consultant Rick Wilson, announced the formation of the Lincoln Project in an op-ed for The New York Times Tuesday. Seeing Trump as both unfit for office and harmful to the Constitution, the project's goal is to defeat the president and "Trumpism" at the ballot box in November.

Using former President Abraham Lincoln as their guide, the co-authors of the op-ed wrote that America is at a point in its history reminiscent of Lincoln's time when its leader had to save the union and weave the nation back together.

"But those wounds can be bound up only once the threat has been defeated. So, too, will our country have to knit itself back together after the scourge of Trumpism has been overcome," the op-ed said.

Scientists in Oklahoma are one step closer to finding possible evidence of mass graves linked to the deadly race massacre of 1921. Researchers in Tulsa used ground penetrating radar to survey two sites and found irregularities that could be consistent with large-scale burials. The neighborhood of Greenwood was known as black Wall Street. Restaurants, grocery stores and tailors were all black-owned businesses. In 1921 a white mob burned much of the Tulsa neighborhood to the ground, and some say as many as 300 black residents were killed. Almost forgotten by history, the city is trying to uncover the past and heal the wounds.

Photojournalist Kavin Ross said he's grateful that a tragic, little known part of Tulsa history is now coming to light. "For decades it was hush-hush," Ross told CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca. "Even some of the survivors that I interviewed, they were quiet and telling me, 'Oh and the white people—' They were whispering in their own homes because they were brought up not talking about what happened.'" The white mob clashed with several armed black men who had gathered to protect a black shoe shiner who was unjustly accused of assaulting a white woman. After a shot was fired, violence broke out and hundreds of black people were massacred.

Ross' great-grandfather was forced to flee the city after his business was destroyed. "You had explosions. You had people running for their lives. It was just hell on earth," Ross said. The horror was brought to life in the premiere episode of HBO's new series "Watchmen." Witnesses reported seeing bodies put in mass graves, but local officials hid evidence of any crimes.

The web analysis firm Graphika has linked posts to a 'known Russian operation’
By Isaac Stanley-Becker

The story that appeared on The Hill website on March 20 was startling. Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, had given a “list of people whom we should not prosecute” to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, according to a write-up of an interview Lutsenko gave to the conservative columnist John Solomon.

Five days later, an image of that purported list appeared in a post on the website Medium and on a number of other self-publishing platforms in locations as disparate as Germany, South Africa and San Francisco. In less than a week, the Medium essay had been translated into Spanish and German and posted to other websites.

Now, a social media analysis firm, Graphika, has traced those posts to a Russian disinformation campaign — in the first evidence that a network of accounts involved in spreading disinformation before the 2016 election also participated in circulating the false claims about Yovanovitch that led earlier this year to her recall from the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.

By Colin Dwyer

The family that owns Purdue Pharma pulled billions of dollars from the company after introducing its signature opioid medication, OxyContin, growing personally wealthy as the heavily marketed drug took on a significant role in a nationwide addiction crisis. An audit commissioned by Purdue, and introduced Monday during the company's bankruptcy proceedings, found that the Sackler family withdrew more than $12.2 billion from the company since federal regulators approved the sale of OxyContin in the mid-1990s. Roughly $10.7 billion of that sum was pulled since the start of 2008, after several Purdue executives had already pleaded guilty to misleading regulators and consumers about the drug's risks.

The findings are sure to be of interest to prosecutors and the drugmaker's creditors, who are trying to determine just how much the Sacklers and their company are capable of paying to help mitigate an addiction crisis that has caused more than 200,000 overdose deaths and cost an estimated tens of billions. Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, as part of a controversial settlement with about two dozen state attorneys general. Included in the settlement is an offer of $3 billion from the Sackler family's personal fortune.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Washington (CNN) Rick Gates, one of the most significant former Trump campaign advisers who flipped on President Donald Trump in the Mueller investigation, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years probation by a federal judge Tuesday morning. Gates, a longtime deputy to 2016 Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort who shared searing details about Trump's efforts in 2016 with special counsel Robert Mueller, admitted to helping Manafort conceal $75 million in foreign bank accounts from their years of Ukraine lobbying work.

He agreed to plead guilty to related charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators in February 2018. He also signed up to cooperate, giving Mueller's team key insights into Manafort and Trump's actions in 2016 during the height of the Russia investigations. "I accept complete responsibility for my actions," Gates told Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday.

Rudolph Giuliani said in an interview that he briefed the president “a couple of times” about Marie Yovanovitch, the envoy to Ukraine, setting her recall in motion.
By Kenneth P. Vogel

WASHINGTON — Rudolph W. Giuliani said on Monday that he provided President Trump with detailed information this year about how the United States ambassador to Ukraine was, in Mr. Giuliani’s view, impeding investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump, setting in motion the ambassador’s recall from her post.

In an interview, Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, described how he passed along to Mr. Trump “a couple of times” accounts about how the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, had frustrated efforts that could be politically helpful to Mr. Trump. They included investigations involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukrainians who disseminated documents that damaged Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The president in turn connected Mr. Giuliani with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who asked for more information, Mr. Giuliani said. Within weeks, Ms. Yovanovitch was recalled as ambassador at the end of April and was told that Mr. Trump had lost trust in her.

by Sonam Sheth

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who's now President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, confirmed in detail to The New Yorker his role in engineering the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch as the US's ambassador to Ukraine. Giuliani told The New Yorker's Adam Entous that he viewed Yovanovitch as an obstacle as he attempted to obtain politically damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election.

"I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way," Giuliani said. "She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody." To that end, Giuliani compiled a dossier of conspiracy theories about the Bidens and Yovanovitch that he sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this year and was later shared with the FBI and The New Yorker.

Giuliani also began speaking out against Yovanovitch on news outlets like Fox News, while directing John Solomon, a self-described investigative journalist who traffics in conspiracy theories, to publish op-ed articles smearing Yovanovitch in The Hill.

Russian commentators note, rightly, that “sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power," and they’re already joking about offering Trump asylum.
By Julia Davis

Sometimes a picture doesn’t have to be worth a thousand words. Just a few will do. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returned home from his visit with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week, Russian state media was gloating over the spectacle. TV channel Rossiya 1 aired a segment entitled “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.”

Vesti Nedeli, a Sunday news show on the same network, pointed out that it was Trump, personally, who asked Lavrov to pose standing near as Trump sat at his desk. It’s almost the literal image of a power behind the throne. And in the meantime, much to Russia’s satisfaction, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is still waiting for that critical White House meeting with the American president: the famous “quid pro quo” for Zelensky announcing an investigation that would smear Democratic challenger Joe Biden. As yet, Zelensky hasn’t done that, and as yet, no meeting has been set.

Russian state television still views the impending impeachment as a bump in the road that won’t lead to Trump’s removal from office. But President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda brigades enjoy watching the heightened divisions in the United States, and how it hurts relations between the U.S. and Ukraine. They’ve also added a cynical new a narrative filled with half-joking ironies as they look at the American president’s bleak prospects when he does leave office.

Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Mikhail Gusman, first deputy director general of ITAR-TASS, Russia’s oldest and largest news agency, predicted: “Sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power. The next term or the term after that, it doesn’t matter... I have an even more unpleasant forecast for Trump. After the White House, he will face a very unhappy period.”

by Jesse Pound

Nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies effectively paid no federal taxes in 2018, according to a new report. The study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank, covers the first year following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by President Donald Trump, which was signed into law in December 2017.

The report covers 379 companies from the Fortune list that were profitable in 2018 and finds that 91 paid an effective federal tax rate of 0% or less. Those companies come from a wide range of industries and include the likes of Amazon, Starbucks and Chevron. The new tax law lowered the statutory corporate tax rate to 21%, but the companies in the report paid an average rate of 11.3%. Fifty-seven companies paid effective rates above 21%. The report was first covered by The Washington Post.

The lower average rate means that the federal government brought in about $74 billion less in corporate taxes than if all the companies had paid the statutory rate, according to the report.

IVANKA TRUMP and husband Jared Kushner’s secret meetings were exposed by Robert Mueller and almost used against them by Steve Bannon as “leverage”.
By Naomi Adedokun

President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, took a vacation in Croatia “with a Russian oligarch” and Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, Wendi Deng. This is according the documents released from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump administration’s corruption. The information was discovered by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who planned to use it as “leverage” against the couple.

Ivanka and Jared took the Croatia vacation with a mystery 'Russian billionaire' and Ms Deng during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to Mueller’s documents, Mr Bannon raised questions about the vacation and wanted to use the knowledge to his advantage. A summary of an investigative interview with him read: “Bannon knew Kushner was on vacation off the coast of Croatia with a Russian Billionaire when Bannon took over the campaign.” Mr Bannon told friends in the intelligence community that he thought Kushner's choice of vacation company was 'questionable,' according to the interview summary.

CNN's Becky Anderson asks Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about his views on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

"Rudy, if you want to come and tell us what you found, I'll be glad to talk to you,” Lindsey Graham says.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is inviting Rudy Giuliani to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his recent trip to Ukraine.

In an interview airing on “Face the Nation“ Sunday, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said that Giuliani, who is serving as the president’s personal attorney, could appear before his committee separately from the impending Senate impeachment trial.

The former FBI director admits that he was “overconfident” in his former agency’s FISA process.

After previously saying the FBI was vindicated by the Justice Department inspector general’s findings on the origins of the Russia investigation, former FBI Director James Comey said Sunday that he was “overconfident” in defending the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the investigation.

Just last week, Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz released a report on the 2016 Russia investigation and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, detailing 17 significant errors and omissions in the FISA process as the FBI was filing its application for the surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.“ “I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It’s incredibly hard to get a FISA.”

By Veronica Stracqualursi, Manu Raju and Lauren Fox, CNN

(CNN) A freshman Democrat, who strongly opposes House Democrats' impeachment of President Donald Trump, is expected to switch to the Republican Party and is telling colleagues his intentions, according to two sources. Rep. Jeff Van Drew is considering the switch as he struggles in New Jersey politics. Internal polling has shown he was losing major support from Democrats in the district, Democratic sources told CNN on Saturday. Switching parties would allow Van Drew to avoid a Democratic primary challenge for his seat.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday blasted the change, saying Van Drew is "willing to enable Donald Trump just to try to salvage his own election."
"Betraying our values by siding with Donald Trump is the final straw and made it impossible for him to continue being supported by our party, as grassroots activists, local party leaders in his district, and I have made clear in recent weeks," Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This party switch is cynical and desperate, and I am confident that a Democrat who shares the values and priorities of our Democratic Party will hold this seat."

Think about it. He won’t produce any information demanded by Congress. He won’t let anyone working for him talk to Congress.

More importantly, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is in a position where he could have the president acquitted almost immediately. Atty. Gen. William Barr won’t allow investigations aside from the ones that Trump wants. The judiciary is being stacked with judges who favor the president.

Our government is being turned into a rubber stamp for Trump.

Allan Gerson, Encino

By Hannah Knowles

The headline the New York Times editorial board settled on was simple: “Impeach.” The same could be said of the “damning” case laid out against President Trump, the Times said Saturday, as it joined a growing roster of more than a dozen national and regional newspapers that argue that the Senate should take up convincing accusations of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The opinions of major publications are divided as the House prepares for a historic vote Wednesday, and a host of traditionally more-conservative editorial boards have yet to weigh in — including several that snubbed Trump in 2016 by conspicuously breaking from long histories of Republican endorsements.

Many papers backing impeachment have described a slow-building choice amid hearings into whether Trump abused his position to pressure a foreign power for personal political gain.

By David Smith

As the GOP counter-offensive runs on fake news and conspiracy theories, critics say truth itself is under attack “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four,” George Orwell wrote in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. “If that is granted, all else follows.” The pro-Donald Trump industrial complex has not yet denied basic arithmetic. But as impeachment looms, his allies appear to be waging an increasingly frantic political and media counter-offensive that puts truth itself in the dock.

A bewildering array of fake news, warped facts and conspiracy theories have been propagated in the past week by conservative media, Republican politicians, White House officials and the president in his own defence. It is, commentators say, a concerted disinformation war, intended to crowd out damaging revelations as the House of Representatives prepares its ultimate sanction.

“The more facts come out, the more desperate they get,” said Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman and senior adviser on the House oversight committee. “They know in a debate centred on facts, truth and reality, they lose. Their only mechanism to survive is to muddy the waters, distort, distract and hope if they repeat lies often enough, they become real.”

But Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, said: “I’m not surprised at Ted Cruz being sycophantic to Trump. Trump broke Ted Cruz a long time ago. The Republicans have the worst political Stockholm syndrome we’ve ever seen. “These guys are all in an abusive relationship with Trump. I don’t mean that in a flippant way. They behave the way you see victims of domestic violence behave. But they’ve got culpability in this thing: they’re not just victims, they’re enablers.”

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN)Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Donald Trump, said he will do everything in his power to quickly end an expected impeachment trial in the Republican-led Senate. "This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly," the South Carolina Republican said Saturday during an interview with CNN International's Becky Anderson at the Doha Forum in Qatar.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved two articles of impeachment against the President, paving the way for a final vote on the House floor expected next week. That will set up the Senate trial, for which lawmakers are now gearing up. Asked if it was appropriate for him to be voicing his opinion before impeachment reaches the Senate, Graham replied, "Well, I must think so because I'm doing it."

"I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here," Graham said, adding, "What I see coming, happening today is just a partisan nonsense." In his opening remarks at the forum, Graham predicted the impeachment process would be over around mid-January.

‘We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.’
by Ankita Rao, voting rights editor in New York, Pat Dillon in Madison, Wisconsin, Kim Kelly in Philadelphia, and Zak Bennett in Miami Beach, Florida

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Martin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls. Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time. Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

By Victoria Bekiempis

A Wisconsin judge’s order to boot more than 200,000 people from voter rolls in the battleground state spurred condemnation from Democrats, amid claims of voter suppression. If the decision stands, it could have an impact on the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes. Subsequent contests have also returned tight margins.

“I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes,” tweeted Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat who beat the former Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker last year. “This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and we should be making it easier for folks to vote, not harder. It’s time for Republicans to move on from the election we had more than a year ago and start working on the pressing issues facing our state.” According to the Journal Sentinel, the cities of Milwaukee and Madison – Democratic strongholds – are home to 14% of the state’s registered voters but received 23% of letters sent out. Fifty-five percent of the mailings, meanwhile, went to areas where Hillary Clinton beat Trump.

‘They are kids voting liberal,’ a New Hampshire Republican said in 2011 as legal battle over student voting in the state continues

Maggie Flaherty grew up in a small town in California, but after she moved to New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth College, she registered to vote in the state where she would be spending at least four years. Now she is embroiled in a fight against Republicans in the state that is being watched across the country. Flaherty and a fellow student are challenging a Republican-backed law that is making it harder for many out-of-state students and other temporary residents to cast a ballot in a state with outsized national influence.

The lawsuit has been endorsed by the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential hopefuls. But last week, Flaherty and her colleague Caroline Casey hit another obstacle when the US district judge Joseph LaPlante denied a request to block the law just months before the primary elections.

New Hampshire is a small swing state where both local and state-wide races can be decided by razor-thin margins. Donald Trump lost the state to Hillary Clinton by just 2,736 votes in 2016. The same year, Maggie Hassan, also a Democrat, defeated Kelly Ayotte for a Senate seat by just 1,017 votes. The Democratic primary in February and general election in November are expected to be closely fought.

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President's phone calls with foreign leaders since his July 25 call with Ukraine's President was revealed and became the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, according to multiple White House sources in a new CNN report.

The latest

On to the House -- The House Judiciary Committee voted on party lines Friday morning to refer two articles of impeachment to the full House of Representatives, which is expected to vote to impeach Trump next week. The House Rules Committee will consider them Tuesday and Trump could be impeached Wednesday. Read Maeve Reston's analysis.

Long time coming -- Trump said, during an appearance next to the President of Paraguay in the Oval Office, impeachment will give him a political boost. He said the impeachment effort might have been underway even before he announced his presidential campaign in 2015.
"Impeachment is a hoax. It's a sham," he said.

By Alex Marquardt, Zachary Cohen and Pamela Brown, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump's senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President's phone calls with foreign leaders since his July 25 call with Ukraine's President was revealed and became the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, according to multiple White House sources.

Transcripts of Trump's calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a far smaller group of people inside the White House, those administration sources say, continuing an effort to limit the number of people with insight and information about the conversations. It amounts to a concerted effort to prevent Trump's conversations -- which officials have said sometimes veer off into unguarded or undiplomatic territory -- from becoming known to even those inside the administration.

"Nobody is allowed on the calls," a White House official said, describing the new effort to limit those with access to the calls to only the President's senior-most aides, barring some senior and mid-level career staff from listening in. "The barn door officially closed after the horse escaped."  Earlier in the administration, and during past presidencies, a larger number of officials would be allowed to listen to phone calls with foreign leaders. That includes aides with specific expertise in the countries being phoned or officials focused on an issue set being discussed on the call.

Now, when the President speaks on the phone with world leaders, he's joined on the call by just a handful of others appointed by Trump to the highest level of the administration, multiple White House officials say. The list is signed off on by national security adviser Robert O'Brien, who will often join the call himself along with a rotating roster of officials including his deputy Matt Pottinger, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and his deputy Rob Blair.

By Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav, CNN

Washington (CNN) Some Democrats are raising concerns about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's statement that he will coordinate closely with the White House on the looming Senate impeachment trial, with one House Democrat saying the Kentucky Republican should recuse himself entirely. "He's working hand in hand with the White House, with the President's attorney, and yet we're supposed to expect him to manage a fair and impartial trial?" said Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings when asked about McConnell's remarks. "I think he should recuse himself."

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington called the coordination "ridiculous." "I think it is outrageous for the chief juror who is organizing the trial to be coordinating with the defendant," Jayapal told reporters. Under the Constitution, it's up to the House to charge the President with impeachment, and the Senate to convict or acquit -- making senators, including McConnell, the de facto jury.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved articles of impeachment against the President, paving the way for the final floor vote expected next week. That will set up the Senate trial, for which senators are now gearing up.  Democrats wield majority control in the House, but Republicans hold a majority in the Senate. Some Senate Republicans have been careful not to tip their hands ahead of the expected trial, but many have been vocal in saying that they do not believe the Ukraine scandal rises to the level of impeachment. McConnell himself said on Fox News on Thursday, "We all know how it's going to end. There is no chance the President is going to be removed from office."

Choosing to treat Trump-related cases as normal, even when there are signs of a national emergency, is a choice.
By David A. Graham

At its simplest level, the impeachment of President Donald Trump looks like a collision between the legislative and executive branches of government. In that fight, each side is trying to defend its prerogatives as it sees them: For Congress (or at least the Democratic-led House), this includes the power to appropriate foreign aid, and the power to conduct oversight; for the executive branch, this means the power to make foreign policy as it sees fit, and to protect its internal deliberations.

What is missing from this portrait is the crucial role of the third branch of government, the judiciary, which has powerfully shaped the impeachment process by declining to exercise its prerogatives, rather than defending them. By choosing to treat the current moment as business as usual, federal courts have effectively removed themselves from the process. In effect, that has dictated what arguments can be mounted in the impeachment fight and what witnesses Congress, and the public, can hear—narrowing and obscuring the case against Trump.

None of this absolves Democrats of the decisions they’ve made. The House majority could have chosen to fight in court to compel testimony from current and former administration officials, especially former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Those fights would not have been resolved in time to hold an impeachment vote before Christmas, but that deadline is self-imposed and politically motivated. Democrats could have waited, or they could have pursued the court battle while also charging ahead.

By Greg Sargent Opinion writer

It has often been observed that one of President Trump’s biggest allies in the impeachment battle is Fox News — that if Richard Nixon had enjoyed the benefit of such a powerful purveyor of propaganda, he wouldn’t have been driven from office. You could not ask for a clearer indication of this than the interview that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just gave to Sean Hannity about Trump’s coming trial.

The interview showcases how Trump’s propagandists have succeeded in creating a universe that is as hermetically sealed off from this scandal’s widely and firmly established set of facts as one half of a divided cell is from the other. In this universe, it’s simultaneously the case that everything Trump said on his corrupt call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was absolutely fine and that the key elements of Trump’s pressure on Zelensky simply never happened.

And in this universe, it’s not just fully understood that Trump’s acquittal is assured in advance and that the trial will be gamed to Trump’s maximum benefit. It’s also understood that this is how it should be. Indeed, the interview appears designed to reassure audiences of all this.

That was plainly evident in McConnell’s quotes about how this process will unfold. As McConnell said:

   Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.

McConnell also said:

   We’ll be working through this process ... in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people representing the president in the well of the Senate.

Many have sharply criticized McConnell for telegraphing that the trial will be gamed in advance to assure Trump’s acquittal and to make it as politically painless as possible. - Mitch McConnell is violating his oath of office it is to the constitution not to Trump.

In an interview on Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said there was "no chance" President Trump would be removed from office after an impeachment trial in the Senate. - Mitch McConnell and Republican do not give a shit about our laws or the constitution only power. Americans need to vote out the corrupt republicans before they do any more damage to our country.

“My hope is there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment,” the Senate majority leader said.
By Nick Visser

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he didn’t believe any Republicans in the Senate planned to vote to remove President Donald Trump from office should the House impeach him next week, saying he even expected some Democrats to side with GOP lawmakers.

“There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office,” McConnell told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday evening. “My hope is there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment. And Sean, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats.” - Mitch McConnell and Republican do not give a shit about our laws or the constitution only power. Americans need to vote out the corrupt republicans before they do any more damage to our country.

By Greg Sargent

If Mitch McConnell goes through with his reported plan to hold a sham impeachment trial that acquits President Trump without calling witnesses, it will provide the perfect coda for the corrupt and farcical way Trump’s defenders have handled this saga all throughout.

In so doing, the Senate majority leader and other assorted Trump propagandists will be unabashedly enshrining their position as follows: We’ve already decided in advance that the full facts will not persuade us to turn on Trump, no matter how damning they are, so why should we listen to them at all?

This is how Trump’s defenders actually view the situation — and the awful implications of this should not be sugar-coated.

Yet the scheme may not prove as easy to get away with as they think. Handled properly, Democrats can use it to demonstrate that Republicans themselves know Trump’s substantive defenses are weak and his corruption is indefensible — and vividly show how Republicans are functioning as Trump’s full-blown accomplices.

Donald Trump’s allies are making an alarming argument in his impeachment defense.
By Jonathan Bernstein

Members of the House judiciary committee spent Wednesday night making opening statements in a hearing about two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstructing Congress — against President Donald Trump. Was there breaking news? Nope. But it was quite interesting anyway.

The Democrats were mostly matter-of-fact. Again and again, they pounded away at the basic facts of the case — that Trump had used public policy for private gain by pressuring Ukraine to announce corruption investigations that would help him win re-election in 2020. There was very little general Trump-bashing. That served as a rejoinder to Republican claims that the whole process is all about a party that hates the president; the Democrats didn’t sound like a bunch of haters Tuesday night.

A few tried framing impeachment within their own life stories, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Pramila Jayapal, Hakeem Jeffries and Hank Johnson all gave strong efforts, although no one threatened the gold standard for impeachment oratory. The biggest disappointment for Democrats must’ve been that they failed to capture the media’s attention: None of the broadcast networks aired the prime-time session live.

As for the Republicans? They had one sort-of reasonable argument: that Democrats are rushing to finish the impeachment proceedings on an arbitrary schedule. On the charge of obstructing Congress, they also reasonably contended that Trump is within his rights to assert privileges and fight for them in the courts. But it went rapidly downhill after that. Republicans claimed that Democrats so loathe the president that they’d impeach him regardless of the facts, which is an easy way to avoid the record in front of them but suffers from the logical flaw that if Democrats actually didn’t care about the facts, they would’ve impeached Trump long ago over the Russia scandal or emoluments or how he wears his ties.

Then there was a series of attacks on Representative Adam Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee. Republicans are still complaining that his committee took depositions in private, even though transcripts were later released and most of the witnesses subsequently gave public testimony. And yes, they’re still complaining that Schiff paraphrased the president one time, and (a new one) that he gave a lot of documents to them before the last hearing. All this was meant to demonstrate that Schiff is the one actually obstructing Congress. I’m paraphrasing — horrors! — but it didn’t make much sense in the original either.

By Nick Miroff

The Defense Department’s inspector general’s office will audit a $400 million border wall contract that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded to a North Dakota construction company run by a GOP donor whom President Trump repeatedly urged military officials to hire.

Glenn A. Fine, the top official at the Pentagon office, authorized a review of the contract in response to a Dec. 4 letter from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, asking inspectors to take a closer look. Fine informed Thompson of the audit in a letter Thursday.

“You raised concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision, and questioned whether the bid submitted by Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. met solicitation standards,” Fine wrote in his letter to Thompson. “You also questioned whether USACE made the award in accordance with federal procurement law and regulations.

“In response to your request, we have decided to initiate an audit of the solicitation and award of this contract. We are assessing the methodology of that audit and will formally announce the audit soon.”

GOP lawmakers have treated the hearings like Fox New segments, delivering loud, rambling monologues in a deliberate attempt to wear down participants and viewers.
By Kurt Bardella, NBC News THINK contributor

If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.

The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump have been drafted and the process is now moving steadily towards a vote in the House. But GOP lawmakers, especially GOP men, aren't going down quietly. Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was "yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”

Why is Doug Collins ALWAYS yelling? 😫pic.twitter.com/p8s0Ti5Kix
— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) December 9, 2019

Indeed, in observing my former House GOP comrades over the many days of contentious House hearings, I am reminded of a scene from the classic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where the famed (and fictional) Channel 4 News team angrily confronts its news director over the hiring of a female reporter. In the scene, several of the male journalists take turns yelling their opposition to the addition. Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, isn’t really smart enough to have a critique but wishing to be included, he screams, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”

By Jonathan Chait

President Trump is facing impeachment primarily for abusing his power for political gain, extorting a foreign country to discredit his political rivals. The secondary aspect of the plot is that the target of his extortion is hardly random. Ukraine is the victim of Russian aggression, and Russia’s continuing incursions into Ukrainian territory is the muscle that gave Trump’s threats leverage. Trump’s domestic interests are one intended beneficiary of his scheme. The other is Vladimir Putin.

Trump and his allies insist he has actually pursued a hawkish line in Ukraine. “Mr. Trump didn’t withhold military aid to Ukraine, and even if he had he would have merely been returning to Barack Obama’s policy of denying lethal aid,” argues a Wall Street Journal editorial. “No one has done more to limit Russia’s ability to engage in mischief than President Trump,” insists Representative Matt Gaetz in a Fox News segment retweeted by the president.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors charged yesterday evening that Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump who represented him in Ukraine, was wired $1 million from a Russian bank account weeks before his arrest. Which is to say, Trump’s Ukraine plot appears to have been financed by Russia.

Parnas met repeatedly with Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas claims Trump pulled him aside at last year’s White House Hanukkah party and personally directed his activities in Ukraine. That allegation remains unproven. What is proven, though, is that Parnas met with Trump numerous times (there are photographs), was Giuliani’s official business partner, and represented himself to Ukrainians as an agent of both Trump and Giuliani.

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