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US Monthly Headline News October 2019 Page 11

By Kevin Rector
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has sued an apartment management company owned by senior White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, alleging it routinely used “unfair or deceptive” rental practices while running rodent-infested apartments in Baltimore and the surrounding region. Attorneys in the Consumer Protection Division of Frosh’s office argued in a statement of charges filed Wednesday that Westminster Management and 25 other companies whose properties it managed have “victimized consumers, many of whom are financially vulnerable, at all stages of offering and leasing” their rental units in Maryland. The companies committed “hundreds of thousands of violations” of consumer protection laws along the way, the statement said. Kushner Cos. CEO Laurent Morali said the company would fight the claims. “We refuse to be extorted by an ambitious Attorney General who clearly cares more about scoring political points than fighting real crime and improving the lives of the people of Maryland," he said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. "We look forward to defending ourselves against these bogus allegations.” Morali had announced last month that his company had rejected a settlement offer from Frosh’s office after two years of negotiating. In an interview about Wednesday’s filing, Frosh called “ridiculous" the company’s assertions that his efforts are politically driven. He said the statement of charges outlines “an extraordinary panoply of violations of the rights of tenants.” “What we are claiming in this lawsuit is that they were cheating tenants before, during and after their tenancy, and when I tell you there were hundreds of thousands of violations of the Consumer Protection Act, it just begins to convey the seriousness of the charges,” Frosh said. “They caused serious harm and suffering to the people who lived in their units." The filing is the latest volley in a politically charged, years-long legal battle between Frosh, the state’s top law enforcement official and a Democrat, and Kushner, who is married to Republican President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and heir to his family’s real estate firm, Kushner Cos. Kushner stepped down as the firm’s CEO when he became a senior adviser to his father-in-law in 2017 but did not divest from some of its properties — including Westminster Management, the company at the center of Frosh’s complaint. The firm first acknowledged it was under investigation by Frosh’s office after articles in The Sun and ProPublica in 2017 detailed complaints from tenants and other housing advocates alleging Westminster was violating consumer protection rules for renters. The treatment of Baltimore-area tenants by the Kushner company, and particularly the degree to which they have struggled with rodents in their homes, garnered renewed attention in July after Trump called Baltimore a “rat and rodent infested mess.” more...

By Katelyn Polantz, Scott Glover, and Vicky Ward, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Long before they burst onto the national scene with their high-profile arrests at Dulles International Airport earlier this month, Soviet-born businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were already turning heads in Republican fundraising circles. "They seemed like hustlers -- but not in a bad way. In a good way," one high-ranking Republican operative familiar with the pair told CNN. But a CNN review of campaign contributions and court filings, as well as interviews with nearly a dozen people with knowledge of Parnas and Fruman's interactions, tell a different story. The pair raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars and jetted around the world touting their connections to Giuliani and the Trump administration while pushing for business and favors, even claiming to arrange a Fox News interview, right up until the day they were arrested for conspiracy and campaign-finance related charges. At one point, they pushed a Ukrainian businessman to pay them to bring Trump administration officials to Ukraine. At another time, they convinced a Florida-based businessman to loan them $100,000 so they could connect him with Giuliani and other prominent conservatives. And in a third instance, they attempted to influence the management board of a Ukrainian gas company. "They presented themselves as successful businesspeople with business interests across the country and in Europe," said the GOP source, who requested anonymity, citing the ongoing criminal probe into the men. "They just said they loved the President and what he's doing." When the pair made a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump super PAC in May 2018, they were subjected to standard vetting designed to detect any problems or conflicts with major donors, the source said.
"They didn't find any reason why we shouldn't take their money," said the Republican with knowledge of the matter. "So we did." more...

By Asher Stockler
The New York City Bar Association demanded Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr recuse himself from any Justice Department review of the whistleblower complaint involving President Donald Trump, saying he appeared to view "his primary obligation as loyalty to the President individually rather than to the nation." "Regardless of whether Mr. Barr was in fact aware of or part of the President's plans, either before, at the time of, or after the July 25, 2019 telephone call, it is clear that Mr. Barr was obligated to recuse himself from any involvement in DOJ's review of either the whistleblower complaint or the substance of the President's actions once the President offered Mr. Barr's services to President Zelensky," the association said in a statement. Barr was invoked on the July 25 call which, among other communications, prompted an intelligence community whistleblower to lodge a complaint against President Donald Trump for alleged improprieties related to his dealings with Ukraine. On the phone call, the president appeared to suggest that military aid for the Eastern European country would be contingent upon an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his chief 2020 rival, or a DNC server central to a conspiracy theory. Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he should communicate with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, "a highly respected man," in addition to the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr. The Justice Department later distanced itself from the call, claiming that Barr had not spoken with Trump about his wishes regarding Ukraine. "The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine, on this or any other matter," Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in late September. "The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine, on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani." The Justice Department has been involved in some of the fallout from the phone call, advising that the whistleblower's complaint need not be referred to Congress and could instead be managed by the department through a criminal referral. Ultimately, the department ruled out criminal prosecution after assessing that no campaign finance laws were broken with Trump's offer to Zelensky. more...

by Jerry Lambe
In a jarring protest of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, House Republicans on Wednesday delayed the process by storming a secure facility during a witness deposition and refusing to leave. The reckless, pizza-fueled, rule-breaking, and potentially law-breaking maneuver was reportedly supported by President Trump. According to Bloomberg News, Trump was made aware in advance of the planned intrusion and “supported” it: Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter. Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said. CNN also reported that the president had advance knowledge of what was going to happen. The faction of approximately two dozen House GOP members, reportedly led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), barged into the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, also known as a SCIF, interrupting the deposition of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, yelling and shouting down the procedure as a “sham process.” WATCH: here's the video of when 2 dozen GOP members, led by @mattgaetz entered the secure hearing room (SCIF) to interrupt witness testimony in the #ImpeachmentInquiry as they demand access, despite not being committee members. They're complaining it's a "Soviet-style process". pic.twitter.com/8KddYz3r9D — Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) October 23, 2019. Gaetz was booted nine days ago when attempting to crash Fiona Hill’s deposition. At least some of the congressional protestors brought their personal cell phones into the SCIF, a major violation of House procedural rules which baffled experienced national security professionals, many of whom noted that the stunt could potentially compromise U.S. national security. SCIFs are secure facilities specifically designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping to enable members of Congress to freely receive and discuss highly classified information relating to national security, such as information collection methods and details in ongoing intelligence operations. Mieke Eoyang, the Vice President of the National Security Program for Washington think tank Third Way, further explained why Wednesday’s ploy potentially endangered U.S. interests. “Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the U.S. knows about them, to out U.S. high-level sources in their governments, to know what the US government knows and use it against us,” Eoyang remarked. She explained that members of Congress, many of whom do not generally utilize sophisticated security measures, are extremely high-value targets for foreign intel services. “This means they may not know they have been compromised. For example, their phones can be turned into listening devices without their knowledge,” she wrote. “But in ‘storming the SCIF’ without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al., endangered our national security [and] demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information. I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is.” more...

By Lauren Feiner
Six hours after lawmakers began grilling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his cryptocurrency plans, House members from both sides of the aisle expressed dissatisfaction with the lengthy testimony. Zuckerberg took questions from the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, three months after David Marcus, Facebook’s cryptocurrency chief, failed in his testimony to give politicians confidence that the company would wait for a regulatory structure before launching its libra project. The top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee didn’t see much advanced by Zuckerberg. “Frankly, I’m not sure that we’ve learned anything new here,” said ranking member Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., as the Facebook CEO wrapped up his testimony. That view was shared by several members of the committee, who had called on Zuckerberg to testify about the company’s plans with libra. Last week, Facebook announced the 21 founding members of the crypto project as the group met in Switzerland to sign onto the Libra Association charter, which will govern the libra cryptocurrency. In June, Facebook announced plans for libra to transform the way money moves around the world and said it would be run by a nonprofit association supported by a range of companies and organizations. more...

By Morgan Gstalter
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other Democrats knocked House Republicans on Wednesday for barging into a classified intelligence room in the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was set to testify about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. “This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “FYI to everyone who is concerned about my security clearances, I at least know to not bring my cell phones to SCIF and follow protocol.” This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security.  FYI to everyone who is concerned about my security clearances, I at least know to not bring my cell phones to SCIF and follow protocol. https://t.co/R6b93yHZL8  — Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 23, 2019. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said Republican members who stormed in “compromised the security” of the room by bringing in phones. He said some members did not give up their phones when asked. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) called the move “dangerous” and said the Republican members should face consequences for “this reckless behavior that endangers national security.” “Harassment and obstruction by Members cannot be tolerated,” wrote Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) on Twitter.  Dozens of representatives, including members of GOP leadership, stormed into the secure room, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), where the deposition of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, was set to take place privately. Republicans argued that other lawmakers, and not just members of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry into the president, should be able to witness the closed-door hearings. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) postponed the meeting and is reportedly threatening the GOP members with ethics violations. Rep. Matt Gaetz: "We're going to go and see if we can get inside." GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wrote in a tweet that he was “still inside” the SCIF and was quickly scolded by social media users for using his phone in the room designed to protect sensitive intelligence information. I’ve been in SCIFs a lot. The stupidest thing someone can do is bring an electronic device. You would lose your security clearance +may even face criminal prosecution. If these reports are accurate, those remedies should be looked at.Foreign govts want to target SCIF all the time https://t.co/y8DlS9nLSl — Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) October 23, 2019. Wait!!? Republicans tried to storm a Secure Classified Information Facility (SCIF) where TOP SECRET +++ information is stored & shared? ITS A TOP SECRET FACILITY RUN BY THE CIA/DOD & GUARDED BY TS/SCI CLEARED ARMED POLICE. This isn’t a joke anymore. Charge them with trespass. https://t.co/1rlN8CxTpT  — Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) October 23, 2019. Bringing electronic devices into a SCIF, and this SCIF in particular is *very* problematic, especially when done by members of Congress. more...

How Jim Mattis, “iced out” and blindsided by Trump, finally concluded the president was weakening the nation.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, "iced out” and blindsided by presidential decisions he disagreed with, grew increasingly wary of President Donald Trump's leadership, even losing his cool in private meetings and plotting to quit nearly half a year before he finally resigned, according to a new book by a close aide. Asked in a private meeting in June 2018 whether he thought the commander in chief was strengthening America, Mattis responded: "No, I don’t. I do not think Trump’s policies will make America stronger." The conversation occurred after the president's first summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Trump’s subsequent decision to cancel war games with South Korea.  The retired general went to great lengths to align the Pentagon's message with the president’s, Guy Snodgrass recounts in "Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis," which will be published on Oct. 29. But Mattis' public solidarity crumbled in private as his frustration grew at Trump's dismissal of allies and shoot-from-the-hip pronouncements, writes Snodgrass, a retired Navy commander and fighter pilot and Mattis' former speechwriter at the Pentagon. During the summer of 2018, Snodgrass writes, Mattis confided to then-White House chief of staff John Kelly in a secret meeting that he was quitting the Cabinet at the end of the year — making his departure far more premeditated than the supposedly abrupt resignation that Mattis would later announce in December. The book is the first account from inside the highest reaches of the Pentagon of how Trump has remade the American national security apparatus, reporting that Mattis respected the president for having highly tuned political skills but came to believe his policies were undermining the nation. And it reveals that even a Cabinet member like Mattis, a four-star general with ample experience in wartime, found himself unable to make a difference in shaping major decisions. POLITICO obtained an early copy of the book and published an excerpt from it Monday. Mattis did not immediately respond to a request for comment about this story, and the White House did not respond to inquiries. The book went through a review by the Pentagon, which released it for publication only after Snodgrass threatened legal action this summer, but Defense Department officials warned him of the consequences of violating the trust of Mattis and other senior leaders. Snodgrass' account portrays a seldom-displayed side of the famously stoic Mattis, who has been loath to criticize Trump publicly since leaving the administration. “The White House is not to be trusted right now," Mattis said in a meeting with close aides in his office in March 2018, when Trump appointees such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn — the colloquial “adults in the room,” to the president’s detractors — were departing the administration or had been fired. "It’s too undisciplined at the moment.” more...

Trump’s lawyer just told a federal appeals court that a sitting president is above the law.
By Ian Millhiser
President Trump’s lawyer argued in court on Wednesday that he should, as president, be immune from criminal prosecution — even if he murders someone in broad daylight with a gun. The argument was made as part of Trump v. Vance, a case asking whether Manhattan prosecutors can subpoena Trump’s tax records as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. In the case, as Judge Victor Marrero explained in an opinion, Trump’s lawyers argued that “the person who serves as President, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.” (Marrero rejected that argument.) On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard Trump’s appeal of Marrero’s decision. During that hearing, Trump lawyer William Consovoy confirmed just how far his argument goes. In response to a question by appellate Judge Denny Chin, Consovoy argued that Trump is immune from criminal investigation even if he were to shoot someone on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue: Here is Trump's lawyer, William Consovoy, telling Judge Denny Chin that if Trump were to shoot someone on fifth avenue, he could not be criminally investigated while in office. Very normal argument. pic.twitter.com/xlDBwmCUnR — Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) October 23, 2019. The question is a callback to Trump bragging in January 2016 that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and ... wouldn’t lose voters.” Consovoy did concede that “once a president is removed from office” then he could be subject to criminal investigation. “This is not a permanent immunity,” in Consovoy’s words. Nevertheless, when Chin asked whether “nothing could be done” while Trump remains in office, Consovoy stated, “That is correct.” To be clear, Consovoy is not correct about the law. As the Supreme Court explained in Clinton v. Jones (1997), “it is settled law that the separation-of-powers doctrine does not bar every exercise of jurisdiction over the President of the United States. Moreover, the Court added that “we have never suggested that the President, or any other official, has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity.” more...

Just because there’s smoke doesn’t mean there’s fire.
By Emily Stewart
Questions and conspiracies about potential insider trading going on around President Donald Trump’s market-moving policy decisions aren’t new, but they’ve recently gained extra momentum thanks to a Vanity Fair story. So much so that some Democratic lawmakers are calling for regulators to look into what’s going on. But the issue isn’t so clear-cut; many financial experts and Wall Street observers say there’s nothing to see there at all. Here’s what’s happening: On October 16, Vanity Fair published an article by William Cohan suggesting a mysterious group of unidentified futures traders have made billions of dollars off of some conspicuously timed trades made just ahead of some major political developments. The story quotes an unnamed trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where the fishy deals are alleged to have taken place, declaring that there is “definite hanky-panky going on.” Cohan published a similar story in July about investors wondering whether there was some inside information being passed around related to Trump. While the summertime story didn’t make many waves, this latest one has. Critics say the allegations made in Cohan’s articles don’t make sense: The trades he’s flagging aren’t particularly notable, they argue, and these are just unfounded conspiracies. The CME has denied the article’s claims as “patently false.” Meanwhile, some Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate are pushing government regulators to look into what’s going on, calling the traders’ allegations “troubling” and demanding an investigation into “whether any rules, laws, or regulations were violated” by investors with inside knowledge from the Trump administration. Cohan, the article’s author, is pushing back against the criticism. He says he was just reporting what his sources told him, and at the very least, regulators should take a peek behind the curtain to see who is behind the trades. “I’m surprised at how controversial this became, or seems to be becoming,” Cohan told me. “This is what reporters do. We should want to raise issues where there’s smoke and see if there’s fire.” The Vanity Fair article and the pushback, briefly explained: Cohen’s October article on the “fantastically profitable mystery of the Trump chaos trades” lays out observations made by some traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a derivatives market for futures and options trading, about a handful of transactions in S&P 500 e-mini futures — electronically traded futures contracts that track the S&P 500 index and sort of seek to predict where it’s headed. For example, it notes that someone bought 420,000 e-minis on June 28, before Trump announced trade talks with China were “back on track,” and potentially made $1.8 billion. Or on September 13, someone shorted 12,000 e-minis (meaning they essentially bet the market would go down), before a drone strike on two Saudi Arabian oil installations, and made $180 million off of the deal. Cohan wrote that transactions such as these had sparked speculation among CME traders that something was afoul: more...

By Kate Gibson
For years, the quality of the air Americans breathe had been steadily improving, but that trend is showing signs of unraveling thanks in part to U.S. economic gains that come with potentially deadly ramifications. After a seven-year stretch of improvement, between 2016 and 2018 the amount of pollutants in the nation's air rose, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data by two economists at Carnegie Mellon. They found that particulate matter air pollution fell 24% in the U.S. from 2009 to 2016, but it increased 5.5% the following two years. "That increase was associated with 9,700 premature deaths in 2018," wrote Karen Clay and Nicholas Muller in a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Behind the rise in air pollution: The researchers say three factors could explain the increase in air pollution: stronger economic growth in recent years, an increase in wildfires and weakened federal "clean air" rules. The pickup in economic activity over the last few years — while a plus for workers and businesses — has resulted in more trucks and other polluting-emitting vehicles on the roads, as well as boosted manufacturers' carbon emissions, Clay and Muller noted. "The chemical composition of particulates point to increased use of natural gas and to vehicle miles traveled as likely contributors to the increase" in pollution, the economists wrote. "We conclude that the effect is due to diesel vehicles as well as some industrial boilers." The findings could bolster theories advanced by experts such as Oxford University economist Kate Raworth who argue that unrestrained economic growth is contributing to climate change. Clay and Muller also linked increased airborne carbon particles partly to an increase in wildfires in the West since 2016. "Because of these large increases and the large exposed population in California, we find that nearly 43% of the increase in deaths nationally from 2016 to 2018 occurred in California," they said. more...

By Zachary Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A federal judge Wednesday gave the State Department 30 days to release Ukraine-related records, including communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. In response to an emergency motion from the watchdog group American Oversight, Judge Christopher Cooper ordered lawyers for the group and the State Department to come together to narrow the scope of the documents in the request -- eliminating those that would likely be exempt from release -- and produce documents in the next 30 days. Cooper said that he could not think of a third party exemption that would prevent the release of correspondence between Giuliani and top State Department officials regarding Ukraine. "The judge zeroed in on communications with Rudy Giuliani to be most subject to public disclosure. Why? Because he doesn't work for the government," American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers told reporters after the hearing. more...

By James Walker
A former CIA official who oversaw the agency's Russia operations has claimed Vladimir Putin benefits the most from Donald Trump's latest foreign policy moves and suggested the Russian president wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks he must be dreaming. Steven L. Hall, a retired CIA chief of Russian operations and CNN national security analyst, told network anchor Anderson Cooper that Putin likely believed Trump's decisions around Syria and Ukraine have been "absolutely fabulous." He also criticised Trump for reportedly consulting with Putin and "two-bit autocrats" like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Ukraine, and described the U.S. president's overall dealings with Ukraine as a "veritable buffet of horribleness." The Washington Post reported that President Trump's view on corruption in Ukraine was influenced by conversations about the country with Orban and Putin, according to unnamed officials. It also revealed that George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, had made similar assertions at a closed-door testimony in front of the House impeachment inquiry. Asked by Cooper whether the decision to seek advice from the two leaders had jeopardized national security, Hall said: "You've got this veritable buffet of horribleness in front of us, and it's difficult for me to say which is the most horrible thing. "That is certainly a terrible, terrible thing when you've got the president of the United States of America reaching out to a foreign leader and asking for that help, regardless of whether there's a quid pro quo." Retired CIA Chief of Russian Operations Steve Hall calls President Trump's recent foreign policy actions a “veritable buffet of horribleness." https://t.co/dOmRQN0Loa pic.twitter.com/hhtBLGWSHF — Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) October 22, 2019. The former CIA official went on to say there had been a "decimation" of Trump administration officials who understood Ukraine and Russia. After criticising Trump for reportedly consulting with Putin and Orban over Ukraine instead of State Department officials, and mockingly describing the leader and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as "brain surgeons," Hall said: "[Trump] says, yeah I believe what Vladimir Putin tells me about this, and so I'll hold the [Ukraine aid money] money they need so badly. "Why? To thwart Russian invasions and for their annexation of Crimea. How is this good for U.S. security? I do not understand." When Anderson Cooper tried to draw the former CIA official's thoughts on whether Trump was a "puppet" of Putin, Hall said "none other than Vladimir Putin" had benefitted from Trump's harsher view on Ukraine and his decision to pull U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. "Vladimir Putin is now running up and down the Syrian border with his military forces opposite Turkey with Russian flags, going into abandoned U.S. bases there and making a big propaganda deal of it," the retired CIA operative said. more...

By Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN
(CNN) - Roughly two-dozen House Republicans on Wednesday stormed a closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that threw the deposition into doubt. The conservative lawmakers, led by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, barged into the deposition and demanded they be allowed to see the closed-door proceedings where members of three committees planned to interview Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper as part of the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump. The chaotic scene, with Republicans flouting House rules to make a political point, represented a new and more confrontational phase of the Republican attack on House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and the Democratic impeachment investigation. By early afternoon, pizza and snacks were being brought into the committee area. While the lawmakers in the secure room left around 2 p.m. ET to attend House votes, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican who was one of the lawmakers taking part in the protest, said they might return later in the day. It wasn't clear whether the deositon would still happen on Wednesday. A source in the room said that as the witness, Cooper, was sitting down to testify, the Republicans stormed through the room's three different doors. Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama was yelling at Schiff, but the California Democrat did not engage, the source said. Other Democrats, including Rep. Val Demings of Florida, shouted back at both Byrne and Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who were yelling about the process. Demings, according to one source in the room, asked Republicans if they were trying to teach their children "that it's OK to lie, steal and cheat so long as you don't get caught?" "Don't you have any work to do today?" she said to one Republican member, according to the source. Cooper left the room while the Republicans refused to vacate the space. The source says the Capitol Police and sergeant at arms have been consulted as members refuse to leave the room, and lawmakers say there are ongoing negotiations about how to end the standoff. "It was closest thing I've seen around here to mass civil unrest as a member of Congress," said one source in the room. The Republicans even walked into the hearing room with their electronics, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, which is prohibited in the space, known as a SCIF -- a sensitive compartmented information facility -- because it's a secure room used for discussing and handling classified information. GOP Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who is on the House Intelligence Committee, collected the electronics. "All of us put our electronics in boxes outside," Connolly said. "That SCIF is used by Congress for lots of highly classified purposes. To compromise that to make a point, is deeply troubling." more... - Republicans cannot defend Trump on facts so there going to try to use the process to defend Trump. If Bill Barr had done his job and investigated the whistleblower’s compliant Democrats would not have to do the investigation needed before and impeachment vote. Republicans do not believe our laws and constitution applies to them. Republicans only care about our laws and the constitution when they are using it to attack democrats.

A protégé of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to President Donald Trump earlier this year, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats. Kashyap Patel, a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February, was so involved in the issue that at one point Trump thought he was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council, according to congressional testimony by Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs whose portfolio included Ukraine. Hill’s testimony was described to POLITICO by a person with direct knowledge of her recent deposition, and who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the closed-door hearing. Hill declined to comment. Several White House officials raised alarms internally about Trump undermining the U.S.’ official policy of support for Ukraine in exchange for political favors, with former national security adviser John Bolton instructing Hill to inform White House lawyers about backchannel efforts he compared to a “drug deal.” The official who replaced Hill in early September, Tim Morrison, formally held the Ukraine portfolio at the NSC. Testimony before House lawmakers has depicted Morrison, a Bolton acolyte, as similarly unnerved by Trump’s desire to withhold all assistance from Ukraine. Morrison also kept the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, abreast of developments inside the White House. But Patel’s involvement demonstrates that the president had at least some support for the scheme from within the NSC, and has given House impeachment investigators yet another name to add to their witness list—a name they are already familiar with, given Patel’s previous work in Congress to discredit the Russia investigation. Patel joined the National Security Council’s International Organizations and Alliances directorate in February and was promoted to a senior counterterrorism role around the same time as Trump’s fateful call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urged the newly elected leader to investigate Biden and “get to the bottom of” Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. The type of Ukraine work Patel was doing that Hill described would not be within his purview as a senior counterterrorism adviser, said Joshua Geltzer, who held Patel’s position early on in the Trump administration. “If true, this sort of activity seems wildly outside the scope of anything a counterterrorism senior director at NSC should be spending their time on,” Geltzer said. “What’s more, it politicizes a piece of the NSC staff that administrations of both parties have worked for decades to keep as apolitical as possible.” Patel’s name has been brought up in several recent depositions, according to another person with direct knowledge of the interviews, in connection with the shadow foreign policy campaign Trump allegedly directed in an effort to extract political favors from the newly elected Zelensky. On Tuesday, Taylor — who remains the acting ambassador in Kiev — gave lawmakers one of the most detailed timelines to date of how Trump and his allies sought to leverage American military and diplomatic might to coerce Zelensky into a coordinated campaign to damage Joe Biden, Trump’s chief political rival. Taylor testified that he was told that Trump wanted to withhold security assistance to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed to announce an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter served. more...

"I don’t recall any conversations with the president about that phone call," McConnell says.
President Donald Trump claimed earlier this month that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him that his phone call with the Ukrainian president was “the most innocent phone call that I’ve ever read.” But McConnell said Tuesday he’s never discussed the phone call with the president. “We’ve not had any conversations on that subject,” McConnell told reporters. Democrats are using the call to bolster their impeachment inquiry into Trump, claiming the president abused his power when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate political rival Joe Biden. McConnell has been one of the most outspoken opponents of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, arguing it is hindering passage of a new North American trade agreement and that the president and his team are not being afforded procedural protections. After reviewing the rough transcript of the call earlier this month, McConnell said it is “laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense” and that it’s “clear there is no quid pro quo that the Democrats were desperately praying for.” But Trump said on Oct. 3 that McConnell had gone further. “He put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he's read, and I spoke to him about it too. He read my phone call with the president of Ukraine. Mitch McConnell — he said, 'That was the most innocent phone call that I've read.' I mean, give me a break,” Trump told reporters. McConnell was asked Tuesday whether the president was lying when he made that statement. The GOP leader replied: “You’ll have to ask him. I don’t recall any conversations with the president about that phone call.” more...

Analysis by Tim Lister, CNN
(CNN) - It's no secret that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees his country as the pre-eminent Muslim power in the Middle East. He regards his vision of political Islam as competing with that of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He frequently accuses the United States of trying to belittle his country, and ruminates about a "greater Turkey." But does Erdogan believe that Turkey has the right or need to acquire nuclear weapons to cement its status? Last month the Turkish leader suggested as much, saying that "some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. But we can't have them. This, I cannot accept." He went on to single out Israel, saying: "We have Israel nearby, almost as neighbors. They scare others by possessing these. No one can touch them." more...

By Alexander Bolton
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging Republicans to focus on Democrats and their tactics in seeking to mount an effective defense of President Trump on impeachment. One GOP lawmaker, summing up McConnell’s message to Republicans at a private lunch meeting Tuesday, quoted the GOP leader as saying, “This is going to be about process.” McConnell recognizes that some members of his conference are uncomfortable defending Trump on charges his administration linked aid to Ukraine to that country’s government running politically motivated investigations meant to help the White House. As a result, he’s telling his members they have plenty of reason to offer a vigorous defense of Trump, as the president publicly urged them to do Monday, by focusing on Democratic tactics that McConnell and Trump view as unfair. Senate Republicans also privately make the point that it’s difficult to defend Trump on the substance of the charges against him because so much remains unknown. GOP lawmakers don’t know the identity of the whistleblower who filed a complaint against Trump or what exactly House Democrats have discovered in their investigation, which has been conducted largely behind closed doors. There are also outstanding questions about the nature of interactions between Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials over an investigation of Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. At the private lunch, McConnell and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) drew a contrast between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and past Speaker Carl Albert (D-Okla.), who served during the impeachment of President Nixon. Albert in 1973 and 1974 gave Republicans much more of an opportunity to participate in the process, they said. McConnell also said Democrats in the minority were treated better by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) during the impeachment of President Clinton than today’s Republicans. “What is clear and not in dispute, as Sen. Blunt has pointed out, is the process in the House to which the president is being subjected is totally unprecedented and totally unfair,” McConnell told reporters after the lunch. “Speaker Albert laid out procedural guidelines during the Nixon episode — Speaker Gingrich during the Clinton impeachment episode — all of which included the kind of basic procedural safeguards that one associates in our country with being treated fairly,” he said. more... - Republicans cannot defend Trump on facts so there going to try to use the process to defend Trump. If Bill Barr had done his job and investigated the whistleblower’s compliant Democrats would not have to do the investigation needed before and impeachment vote. Republicans do not believe our laws and constitution applies to them. Republicans only care about our laws and the constitution when they are using it to attack democrats.

ABC News - The former U.S. president was admitted to a Georgia hospital for “observation and treatment of a minor pelvic fracture,” the Carter Center tweeted. more...

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The U.S. diplomat who called President Donald Trump’s demand for Ukraine to investigate a political rival in exchange for military aid “crazy” takes center stage Tuesday, as the House impeachment inquiry enters its fifth week. Other witnesses scheduled for closed-door depositions with the three committees – Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform – include budget and defense officials. Democrats leading the inquiry have said they want to learn more about how Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid while asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. House Republicans expect to vote Monday on a resolution censuring the leader of the inquiry, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. A Republican leader also proposed to change House rules so that any lawmaker could attend the sessions. Republicans have complained about limited access to the sessions. Monday: GOP calls for Schiff censure: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday there would be a vote Monday on a resolution to censure Schiff. The resolution is unlikely to be approved because Democrats hold a majority in the 435-member chamber, but it is co-sponsored by 165 Republicans. McCarthy said Schiff has lied repeatedly during the investigation of Trump. McCarthy argued that Schiff should be held to a higher standard as chairman of the Intelligence Committee because he is privy to information that rank-and-file members don’t receive. “He has tried to hide so many of the facts, and then when he was put in position to give the facts, he lied about them,” McCarthy said. “He should be held accountable just like every other member.” Despite GOP complaints, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly supported Schiff's leadership in the inquiry. more...

DONALD TRUMP sparked outrage on Twitter after the US President was accused of swearing during an interview with two female astronauts on Friday.
By Bill McLoughlin
Speaking during a live call to the two astronauts, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch who were on the International Space Station, Trump rang to congratulate them for being the first two female astronauts to walk in space. Surrounded by officials and his daughter, Ivanka, Mr Trump said: “We’re thrilled to be speaking live with two brave American astronauts who are making history joining us during their spacewalk outside the International Space Station. “And this is the first time for a woman outside of the space station.” However, one of the astronauts corrected the President and stated they were not the first females to walk in space but rather that it was “the first time that there has been two women outside” at the same time. As Ms Meir corrected the President, Trump scratched his forehead with his middle finger, which some on Twitter labelled as him swearing. One user wrote: “He gives them the middle finger after they correct his erroneous remark. How presidential.” Another commented: “Was Trump giving her the finger as she corrected him?” Quickly, some users insisted that the President was swearing at whoever game him the incorrect information. One user wrote: “Even better, he immediately looked to his right, then scratched his head with his middle finger. “As if to say, you gave me wrong information.” more...

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump's taste for history is moving in new and awkwardly divergent directions as he faces the twin challenges of an impeachment inquiry and a 2020 re-election campaign. He's placing himself alongside the titans of US history one day and comparing himself to the victims of the country's collective sins the next. Trump has always spun his own narrative as either heroic or persecuted. Often both at the same time. Early in his presidency he pushed comparisons with his predecessor Andrew Jackson, who was an outsider in Washington and a populist. He was also a racist and anti-abolitionist. Of all the Presidents to put on a pedestal, Trump chose the one that his predecessor, the first black man to hold the job, was trying to take off the $20 bill. But now Trump has grander vision. He repeatedly put himself alongside George Washington before a Cabinet meeting Monday, and, later that day, compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, in an amazing interview with Fox News. He's eyeing his place in this history books just as he faces the Constitutional penalty of impeachment, the remedy the Founding Fathers offered to rebuke and remove a President. And in Trump's mind, that equals injustice, so hours after comparing himself to the greatest presidents, he said the effort to end his presidency is like a "lynching," an incorrect and supremely insensitive historical comparison. Mobs of racists lynched African-Americans in one of the darker periods of US history, part of an effort intimidate, dehumanize and keep power from those who didn't have it. Trump certainly has power now. The word lynching, given its history, should be repulsive to anyone. Impeachment is a disgusting word to Trump: But it's the word impeachment that repulses Trump, as he said on Fox News, when he told his friend Sean Hannity he should sue Democrats over their impeachment efforts. "The word impeachment is a dirty, disgusting word," Trump said. "It's supposed to be for high crimes and misdemeanors. I can't believe that this wouldn't be a lawsuit." His gripe is that he's being targeted without, as he puts it, "due process." But the Constitution and the courts are pretty clear that the House has leeway to impeach a President and it's the Senate's job to try him or her once they are impeached. That's the whole point of separation of powers. It was in this vein, frustrated about his press coverage, he comparing himself to Lincoln, complaining that Trump, not Lincoln, has gotten the worst press in history. "You know who was covered worse than me? They say Abraham Lincoln. I've heard the one person -- used to be five or six now it's down to one -- Honest Abe Lincoln. They say he got the worst press of anybody. I say I dispute it." He also later talked about how he's not ready to talk about the election campaign yet and he talked proudly of the day he was inaugurated in 2017 and he recalled standing where Lincoln and all the others stood in the White House. "When it's time to run, I'll run," he said, talking wistfully outside the White House about how soon his first term will end. "Can you believe we're getting down to 12 months. Can you believe it? When I first -- right in that corner of that beautiful building and I was in the first night with the first lady and I'm standing in an area where Abe Lincoln was and all of them were and that's the way it was and I'm standing there and I'm saying wow, four years, that's a long time." He doesn't see himself as one of the very few Presidents to face impeachment, but rather as one of the greats. The "phony" thing slipped into the Constitution: Comparing himself to George Washington, inaccurately, on Monday at Cabinet meeting, Trump bragged about giving his salary back to the country. "I give away my presidential salary. They say no other president has done it. I'm surprised, to be honest with you. They say George Washington may have been the only other president to do that. See whether or not Obama gave up his salary. See whether or not all of the other of your favorites, your other favorites gave up their salary. The answer is no." But while he wants to be compared to Washington, he's also frustrated with the Founding Fathers about emoluments. Before the Cabinet meeting he went after the Constitution's "phony" emoluments clause, suggesting even the Founding Fathers were against him. Emolument is Constitution-speak for a salary or benefit derived from public office. Trump is right that the Founding Fathers were against the idea of any President trading on the office of the United States presidency. But he's also, it turns out, right that they didn't really close the loop and spell out how to make sure it didn't happen -- which is how he's been able to remain in possession of his real estate holdings, and to keep his business dealings private, while in office. The Miami Herald reported Congressional Democrats plan to file plan to file a legal brief that alleges Trump's short-lived plan to hold a G7 summit with leaders of other developed democracies at his golf course in Doral, Florida, violates the emoluments clause. Democrats were already suing him for violating the foreign Emoluments Clause, arguing he must get the consent of Congress before accepting money from foreigners.  more...

By Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump on Monday exhorted fellow Republicans to get tougher and fight for his presidency, saying the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives wants to impeach him “as quick as possible” over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival. Trump made his comments during a White House Cabinet meeting as Democrats sought to build public support for their fast-moving impeachment inquiry and the administration pressed its efforts to stonewall the probe. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a video and “fact sheet” that may give hints about the articles of impeachment - formal charges - Democrats may pursue against Republican Trump, accusing him of abuse of power, a “shakedown” involving Ukraine and a cover-up. Republicans in the House of Representatives tried to censure one of the inquiry’s leaders, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, but the motion was blocked by Democrats who control the chamber. Few Republican lawmakers have shown an inclination to remove Trump from office even as Democrats focus on his pushing a vulnerable foreign ally to interfere to his benefit in the November 2020 U.S. election by providing political dirt on Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to run against Trump. Senator Mitt Romney is one of the few Republicans who have sharply criticized Trump, who has denied wrongdoing. Other Republicans have expressed misgivings about Trump policies, including criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham of his withdrawal of U.S. troops here in northeastern Syria, which exposed U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters to a Turkish cross-border offensive. Approval of articles of impeachment in the House would prompt a trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office. “The Republicans have to get tougher and fight. We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party before the election,” Trump said. more...

Democrats said Taylor drew a "direct line" between the president's demand that Ukraine investigate his political rivals and distribution of U.S. military aid.
By Rebecca Shabad, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Alex Moe and Haley Talbot
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, offered a "disturbing" portrayal of President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings in closed-door testimony Tuesday to impeachment investigators, according to House Democrats. Democrats described Taylor’s testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimony and depositions but also drew a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid. "I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "It's a direct line." Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., said "without question" it was the most powerful testimony heard to date, because Taylor has "first-hand knowledge” of all the relevant conversations. Members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees questioned Taylor about text messages between him and two other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine. His interview is expected to last throughout Tuesday. Taylor’s opening statement, which NBC News has not viewed, was 15 pages, according to Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif. Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee. After departing the closed-door deposition a few hours in, freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that it was his "most disturbing day in the Congress so far." "Very troubling," Levin added, without elaborating further. "Today's testimony was explosive," Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said Wasserman Schultz also described the testimony as "one of the most" disturbing days she’s had in Congress. Republicans said little or played down Taylor’s testimony. "Nothing new here," Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said. Taylor’s testimony, multiple Democrats say, make it clear that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland needs to return to answer questions from the committee. Sondland refused to answer many questions in his testimony last week, according to multiple lawmakers who listened to his testimony. Sondland told Taylor, who had raised concerns about withholding military aide in exchange for a political campaign, in a text message on Sept. 9 after speaking to the president that the president was clear that there is “no quid pro quo.” As part of text messages between Taylor, Sondland, and then-special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Taylor expressed concern about why U.S. military assistance for Ukraine was held up by the White House. "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor texted Sondland on Sept. 9, according to text messages provided to Congress by Volker and released by the committees involved in the inquiry. Democrats have pointed to the text exchange, a critical piece of the impeachment investigation, as part of burgeoning body of proof that there was a quid pro quo involved between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump held up the military aid in exchange for Ukraine agreeing to conduct probes that would be politically advantageous to Trump. "He was very distressed," according to a source who witnessed firsthand Taylor’s experiences dealing with the Zelenskiy and Trump administrations between May and September of this year. more...

The White House said Tuesday it will not be renewing subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post, two papers the president frequently attacks as “fake” and which he suggested canceling the previous night in a TV appearance. Monday on Fox News’ “Hannity,” President Donald Trump called the Times “a fake newspaper” and said “we don’t even want it in the White House anymore.” “We’re going to probably terminate that and The Washington Post,” Trump said. “They’re fake.” Trump’s “terminate” remarks were interpreted by journalists on Twitter as meaning canceling paper subscriptions, rather than kicking reporters out of the White House. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed to POLITICO that he was talking about subscriptions, “which we won’t be renewing.”’ more...

"All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching," Trump tweeted. "But we will WIN!"
By Allan Smith
President Donald Trump has called the House impeachment inquiry a "coup," a "witch hunt" and a "fraud," but he introduced a new phrase to describe the process on Tuesday: "a lynching." "So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights," Trump tweeted. "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!" The president's use of "lynching," which elicits a time when black Americans were murdered by extrajudicial white mobs, was the subject of immediate blowback. "You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING?" Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., tweeted. "What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet." "We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted. "But never should we use terms like 'lynching' here. The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and @realDonaldTrump should retract this immediately. May God help us to return to a better way." According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, more than 4,700 lynchings took place in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968. Of those who were lynched, more than 3,400 were black, though not all lynchings that took place were recorded, the NAACP noted. Many of the whites who were lynched, the organization adds, were killed for helping black Americans or being against lynching. Lawmakers continued to blast Trump's remarks through the morning. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. and the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted that Trump was "comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?" "Using this term draws up some of America’s darkest history — Trump is yet again a disgrace and massively offensive," wrote Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., in a Twitter post. "Nobody is above the law, including him. He has abused his power — and he’s been caught. Do not get caught up in his latest distraction tactic." "It’s beyond shameful to use the word 'lynching' to describe being held accountable for your actions," former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted. Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, echoed that sentiment Tuesday. Speaking on CNN, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said the president's early morning tweet was "another indication" of how "loose" he is "with his words." Clyburn, a top-ranking Democrat, said the president's comparison of impeachment to lynching offended his sense of history. more...

Eight years of financial records are being sought in a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women.
By Tom Winter and Dareh Gregorian
The Manhattan district attorney and attorneys for President Donald Trump have come to an agreement to pause the enforcement of a grand jury subpoena for Trump's tax returns until after an appeals court issues their opinion and perhaps until after the Supreme Court is asked to hear the case. In a letter filed Monday with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers from D.A. Cyrus Vance's office said they'll hold off on trying to enforce the subpoena against Trump's accounting firm until after the court of appeals publishes their opinion and after either one of the sides asks the Supreme Court to examine the case. The two sides are set to face off in oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit on Wednesday, following a lower court's ruling that the accounting firm, Mazars USA, had to turn the documents over to the D.A. Vance's office is seeking to review eight years of tax records as part of a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women who have alleged affairs with Trump before he became president. Trump has denied having the affairs. Trump's lawyers contend the D.A. isn't entitled to the returns and that a sitting president is not "subject to the criminal process" while in office. In a ruling earlier this month, a Manhattan federal court judge found that argument "repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values." Under the terms of the deal announced on Monday, Vance's office say they'd agree to postpone the enforcement of the subpoena until 10 days after the 2nd Circuit issues its opinion to give Trump's team time to appeal to the Supreme Court to hear the case in its current term or for Vance to appeal to the Supreme Court if the opinion isn't in their favor. more...

By Marika Malaea
Founders Brewing Co., Michigan's largest brewery, is being sued in federal court over alleged racial discrimination. A leaked deposition on Monday revealed that the general manager who fired the employee would not acknowledge the plaintiff's race or the race of other well-known African Americans, including former President Barack Obama. Tracy Evans, a fired events and promotions manager at Founders' Detroit taproom, filed the racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit in August 2018, reports Free Detroit Press. Evans, a black man and former manager who worked for Founders Brewing in Detroit and Grand Rapids, alleged "a racist internal corporate culture" at the company. Among the issues were white coworkers repeatedly using the "N word" around Evans, and management allegedly naming a printer it used the "white guy printer" while labeling the printer for lower-tier employees the "black guy printer." Evans also alleges that he was passed up for promotions because of his race and that the company fired him in retaliation for complaints to human resources. Founders has denied much of the allegations. The leaked deposition showed Evans' attorney, Jack Schulz, questioning general manager Dominic Ryan about the race of his former employee. After initial questions about how the two men met, Schulz moved on to what seemed like a yes/no inquiry. "OK, are you aware that Tracy is black?" "What do you mean by that?" Ryan asked. "Are you aware Tracy is African American?" Schulz said. "I'm not sure of his lineage so I can't answer that," said Ryan. After Ryan said he could not speculate on whether Evans was "from Africa or not," based on a lineage he repeated he did not know, Schulz asked him if former president Barack Obama was black. "I've never met Barack Obama so I don't..." Ryan responded. "So you don't know if Barack Obama is black? What about Michael Jordan? Do you know if Michael Jordan is black?" asked Schulz. Ryan's attorney objected. "I've never met him," Ryan said. Evans called Ryan's comments "completely offensive" and was surprised by the exchange—at one point, he and Ryan had been friends. Founders management's refusal to recognize an African American and how he was being treated is "the whole reason we are in this predicament," Evans told Detroit Metro Times. more...

By Naveed Jamali
Much has been made of Hillary Clinton's implication that Tulsi Gabbard is someone Russia has "their eye on." While Gabbard has responded with claims that she is the subject of a coordinated smear campaign by Clinton, she has steadfastly refused to renounce any Russian support she may be receiving. As somebody who worked against Russian intelligence, I agree with Clinton's assessment—Gabbard's campaign and messaging are at risk of being weaponized to interfere with and manipulate our election. The allegation that Gabbard may be benefiting from Russian support is disturbing for many reasons. Democracy demands inclusion and debate of all ideas, whether or not they fall within the mainstream of a political party—and this extends to Gabbard as well. Her claims of a smear or McCarthy-style campaign to silence her have a level of legitimacy. However, while we must ensure that all the presidential candidates are free to speak and present their ideas, whether or not they are considered controversial, these messages must be free from foreign amplification and manipulation. Therein lies my chief concern: that Moscow will use its skillful propaganda machine to prop up Gabbard and use her as a tool to delegitimize the democratic process. In order to understand the Russians' goal, we must understand how they think. My understanding of Russian logic comes from the three years I worked undercover for the FBI, as well as from interactions I had with both the Russians and with FBI counterintelligence in the 20-year relationship that began after a Soviet intelligence officer walked into my parents' NYC office. That cumulative experience watching and dealing with Russia for decades brings me to this conclusion: Russian ideology seeks to harm the United States, and they will support anyone who can help them achieve that goal. This is not about pushing ideas that are pro-Russia— that is too small for them. They want to see a retreat of American influence. What better way to accomplish that than to attack our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections. Russia's success in attacking our democracy is not tied to their ability to recruit Gabbard (or anyone else) to parrot Russian talking points. Rather, their success comes with their ability to influence and manipulate, through amplification, certain messages and candidates that create division. As we saw in 2016, Russia was able to aid Donald Trump by using tailored and manipulated social media campaigns, without even the knowledge or direction of the Trump campaign itself. After all, Russia's goal in 2016 was the delegitimization of our elections; they did not need to coordinate with Trump to make that happen. That's the disturbing parallel with Gabbard: Russia can seek to support her, without her knowledge. If borne out, Russian support of Gabbard does not mean that she is a Russian-directed operative, or that she has ties with or is in contact with Moscow. As I learned during my operational time working against Russian intelligence, the targeting of U.S. persons for recruitment by a foreign intelligence service does not make that person guilty of a crime. The same holds true if Russia seeks to independently aid the Gabbard campaign. Russia may choose to covertly amplify her message by building what may look like organic and grass roots online support for her. They may take some of her talking points—such as, Assad "is not the enemy of the U.S." or that the U.S. is in "a new nuclear arms race"—and work to increase their reach across social media. more...

CNN - Mother and writer Joanna Schroeder has a warning for parents of teen and tween white boys: If you don't pay attention to their online lives, white supremacists will. CNN's Sara Sidner reports. more...

By Rachel Treisman
The percentage of Americans who favor stricter gun laws is on the rise, though significant partisan divisions persist. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September found that 60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% last year and 52% in 2017. The study, released this week, indicates that while a solid majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, support remains split down party lines. Eighty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said gun laws should be stricter than they are today, compared with 31% of their Republican counterparts. more...

Wallace repeatedly threw Mulvaney’s own remarks back in his face by playing clips from last week’s press briefing and at one point declared, “you said what you said.”
By Justin Baragona - the daily beast.
Days after his disastrous White House press briefing in which he admitted President Donald Trump was seeking out a quid pro quo with Ukraine before saying never mind, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney struggled to walk back his comments under the intense and relentless grilling of Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace. Almost immediately during the Sunday morning broadcast, Wallace pressed Mulvaney on his remarks, asking why he said during the press conference that military aid to Ukraine depended on investigating the actions of Democrats during the 2016 election, prompting Mulvaney to assert that he never actually said that. “Again, that’s not what I said, that's what people said I said,” he replied before saying there were “two reasons” why the United States would have held up aid: corruption and whether other European nations were helping with aid. Wallace, meanwhile, didn’t let Mulvaney’s spin go unchecked, telling the chief of staff that anyone listening to the briefing could “come to only one conclusion” before playing clips Mulvaney confirming that Trump withheld aid unless the Ukrainians investigated the Democrats. Mulvaney continued to insist that he had been misinterpreted and that aid was only contingent on corruption and additional European assistance, causing the Fox News anchor to fire back. “I hate to go through this but you said what you said,” Wallace stated. “And the fact is, after that exchange with [ABC News correspondent] Jonathan Karl, you were asked another time why the aid was held up. What was the condition for the aid? And you didn’t mention two conditions, you mentioned three conditions.” Wallace, once again, threw Mulvaney’s own remarks back in his face, playing yet another clip from the press briefing of Mulvaney claiming military aid to Ukraine was contingent upon them cooperating with the Trump administration and investigating the Democrats. The Trump aide, however, attempted to brush off his previous remarks by saying he didn’t actually use the words “quid pro quo,” prompting Wallace to point out that when Karl pressed him on whether or not there was a quid pro quo, Mulvaney said that “happens all the time.” more...

Daniel Harper, co-host of “I Don’t Speak German,” is used to online harassment. But things have taken a more sinister turn.
By Nick R. Martin - the daily beast.
Daniel Harper is the co-host of what might be the most important podcast countering the white nationalist movement today. It’s called I Don’t Speak German, and since launching in January it has helped lead people back from the brink of radicalization, drawn plaudits from researchers of violent extremism, and attracted an audience of thousands of regular listeners. But for Harper, it’s also come at a personal cost. He routinely has been harassed online by the very subjects he discusses, and he constantly has to think about the safety of himself and his family. Those concerns became clearer last month when federal authorities rolled out criminal charges against Jarrett William Smith, a U.S. Army soldier in Kansas who was active in the online white nationalist community that refers to itself as “Terrorgram.” Some of the allegations against Smith immediately drew major headlines. The feds said he wanted to blow up the headquarters of a major news network, gave out instructions online about how to build bombs, and planned to travel to Ukraine to join up with a far-right militant group. But there was another allegation that got significantly less attention: The soldier allegedly also gave out instructions on how to burn down the house of a man described in court records only by the initials D.H. That man was Daniel Harper, who spoke to The Daily Beast about being on the receiving end of a threat by a self-proclaimed satanic neo-Nazi who also happens to be in the military. “I want to be really clear on this,” Harper said. “I don't think this guy was going to show up at my house and burn it down.” However, he added, “it’s absolutely within the realm of plausibility that some 19-year-old dipshit’s going to decide to do something” because of what Smith was posting online. Harper would know. He’s been obsessively tracking the racist right for the past three years and has proven to be something of a savant when it comes to understanding the figures and dynamics of the movement. His quest began in 2016 on something of a lark. He’d been observing the resurgence of white nationalism in America but was curious to know more about it. Along the way, Harper saw a reference online to a racist alt-right podcast, which at the time was called Fash the Nation. Already an avid podcast listener, he decided to add it to his rotation. He figured it might become a tool for him to be able to explain the movement to his friends. more...

By Bobby Allyn
President Trump's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday again tried to control the damage from his earlier acknowledgement that the White House used nearly $400 million in aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate the 2016 presidential election. Since Mulvaney made the stunning admission on Thursday, he has been walking the remarks back and assigning responsibility to the media, insisting his words have been misconstrued. Speaking on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace, Mulvaney flatly denied what he had previously said during a televised news conference: that defense funding was frozen in part over the demand that Ukraine launch an investigation that could politically benefit Trump. "That's not what I said. That's what people said that I said," Mulvaney said. "Can I see how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was a quid pro quo, because there isn't." Mulvaney told reporters Thursday that military aid to Ukraine that had already been appropriated by Congress was being used as leverage for Trump's demand that Kyiv investigate a debunked conspiracy theory. That theory places blame on Ukraine for election interference involving in 2016 the hacking of Democratic National Committee computer servers. The intelligence community has concluded that the effort was orchestrated by Russia. "Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about it. But that's it, and that's why we held up the money," Mulvaney said last week, telling reporters that "we do that all the time with foreign policy," referring to politics influencing foreign affairs. The statement reverberated across the Capitol, prompting denouncements from both sides of the aisle. more...

By Megan Trimble and Chandelis Duster, CNN
(CNN)Thomas D'Alesandro III, a former Baltimore mayor who led the city during the 1968 riots and brother of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has died. "My husband Paul and our entire family are devastated by the loss of our patriarch, my beloved brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III," Pelosi said Sunday in a statement released by her office. "Tommy was the finest public servant I have ever known." The Baltimore Sun reported D'Alesandro, who served as Baltimore's mayor from 1967 to 1971, died Sunday at his Baltimore home after complications of a stroke. He was 90. Born to an Italian-American family and known as "Young Tommy," D'Alesandro had a political upbringing. His father, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., served in the US House of Representatives from 1939 to 1947 and as the mayor of Baltimore for 12 years after that. His sister, Nancy, became the first woman to serve as speaker of the House in 2007. His mother Anunciata, who also went by Nancy, was an inventor who patented a device to apply steam to the face -- effectively an at home facial. She helped her husband in politics, supporting him as he became Baltimore's first Catholic mayor. more...

'The country wasn't based on executive orders' president told campaign rally in 2016
By Kevin Freking
It wasn’t too long ago that Donald Trump derided presidential executive orders as “power grabs” and a “basic disaster.” He’s switched sides in a big way: In each year of his presidency, he has issued more executive orders than did former President Barack Obama during the same time span. He surpassed Mr Obama’s third-year total just recently. Back in 2012, Mr Trump had tweeted: “Why Is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?” That criticism continued once he entered the presidential race. “The country wasn’t based on executive orders,” Trump said at a South Carolina campaign stop in February 2016. “Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can’t even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It’s a basic disaster. You can’t do it.” But Mr Trump appears to have learned what his predecessors discovered as well: It’s easier and often more satisfying to get things done through administrative action than to get Congress to go along, said Andrew Rudalevige, a professor at Bowdoin College who studies the history and effectiveness of presidential executive actions. “Most candidates don’t realise the utility of executive actions while campaigning,” Mr Rudalevige said. “When they become president, they quickly gain an appreciation of how difficult it is to get things done in government.” The White House declined to comment on Mr Trump’s use of executive orders. He surpassed Mr Obama’s third-year total when, in the last two weeks, he issued five executive orders relating to Medicare, government transparency, federal spending and imposing sanctions on Turkish officials. An executive order can have the same effect as a federal law — but its impact can be fleeting. Congress can pass a new law to override an executive order and future presidents can undo them. more...

By Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign started selling T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “GET OVER IT” on Friday, seeming to embrace comments made by White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney the day before. During a rare White House press briefing, Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday, "Did (Trump) also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely... That's it. That's why we held up the money," acknowledging the White House had frozen military aid as leverage over Ukraine. “It happens all the time” Mulvaney told reporters, saying, “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.” The T-shirts come as Mulvaney has attempted to walk back his remarks, which were widely interpreted to contradict the president’s consistent claims there was “no quid pro quo" in his conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mulvaney blamed the media for "misconstruing" the comments “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.” Mulvaney was criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity called the acting White House Chief of Staff "dumb." Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement Friday, “Americans should call their members of Congress and tell them: get over it and get back to work!” more...

by Mike Brest
A panel on MSNBC Live mocked Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard for not explicitly denying Hillary Clinton's accusation that she is a Russian asset. Clinton, 71, said that the Hawaii congresswoman is being groomed by Moscow to run as a third-party spoiler candidate in 2020 to help President Trump win reelection. Gabbard has since hit back at the 2016 presidential candidate. "One thing that was interesting about Tulsi Gabbard's response, I mean she went after Hillary Clinton strong, she said she wasn't going to run as a third party candidate, she never denied being a Russian asset," Kimberly Atkins of WBUR said while beginning to laugh on the show Saturday morning. "That was the one aspect that was missing from her response, which you think that would be in the first line or two. It was not there." Jonathan Allen added, "When Hillary Clinton says there's a Russian asset, doesn't say anybody's name, and Tulsi Gabbard goes, 'How dare you call me a Russian asset?'" Jonathan Capehart, who was anchoring the show, then reiterated Allen's point that Clinton did not "name names." Jonathan Allen added, "When Hillary Clinton says there's a Russian asset, doesn't say anybody's name, and Tulsi Gabbard goes, 'How dare you call me a Russian asset?'" Jonathan Capehart, who was anchoring the show, then reiterated Allen's point that Clinton did not "name names." more...

CNN - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders returned to the campaign trail in New York for a rally with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who delivered an endorsement for his 2020 bid. CNN's Ryan Nobles reports. more...

For Russia, Trump’s presidency is a gift that keeps on giving. The Kremlin’s propagandists see no acceptable alternative among any viable presidential candidates in 2020.
By Julia Davis
President Trump has boasted he’s “getting a lot of praise” for his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops out of northern Syria, abandoning the Kurds—America’s longstanding allies—to Turkey’s incursion. On the home front, the controversial move has been met with criticism on both sides of the political aisle, but the reaction in Moscow was far from mixed. As Trump uncorked chaos in the Middle East, champagne tops were likely popping at the Kremlin. “Putin won the lottery! Russia’s unexpected triumph in the Middle East,” raved Mikhail Rostovsky in his article for the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. “Those who were convinced of Trump’s uselessness for Russia ought to think again...What Washington got out of this strange move is completely unclear. To the contrary, what Moscow gained from this is self-evident...Trump’s mistake in Syria is the unexpected ‘lottery win’ that further strengthened Moscow’s position in the Middle East and undermined America’s prestige as a rational political player and a reliable partner.” Maksim Yusin, the editor of international politics at the leading Russian business daily Kommersant, was amazed by the ongoing stream of inexplicable actions by the American president that benefit the Kremlin. “All of this benefits the Russian Federation,” Yusin marveled. “You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent? He is laboring so hard to strengthen the international image of Russia in general—and Putin in particular...In this situation, Americans—to their chagrin and our enjoyment—are the only losers in this situation.” “This is such a pleasure,” grinned Olga Skabeeva, the host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes. “Russian soldiers have taken an American base under our complete control, without a fight!” Skabeeva’s co-host Evgeny Popov added: “Suddenly, we have defeated everyone.” Incredulously, Skabeeva pointed out: “This is an American base—and they just ran away! Trump ran away!” “It’s been a long time since America has been humiliated this way,” gloated political analyst Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak, “They ran away in shame! I can’t recall such a scenario since Vietnam.” He added: “For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.” Political scientist Andrey Nikulin concurred: “This is sad for America. A smaller-scale version of what happened in Vietnam.” Appearing on the nightly television show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, political analyst Evgeny Satanovsky recounted many ways in which Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and abandon the Kurds has hurt the image and standing of the United States: “America betrayed everyone...Trump also strengthened the anti-American mood in Turkey, when he promised to destroy the Turkish economy.” Satanovsky opined that now any economic problems or currency fluctuations in Turkey can be blamed directly on the United States, prompting textile, tobacco, steel and other industries to turn away from America. “Anti-Americanism in Turkey is off the charts,” Satanovsky pointed out, “American politics are tangled in their own shoelaces... America is successfully self-eliminating from the region.” “You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent?” — Maksim Yusin, the editor of international politics at the Russian business daily Kommersant, The timing also struck the Russians as incredibly fortuitous and inexplicable. “They lost their only chance to remove [Syrian President] Bashar Assad,” exclaimed Russian lawmaker Oleg Morozov, appearing on 60 Minutes, “They were only half a step away!”

By Justin Wise
2020 presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro on Saturday dismissed the significance of President Trump reversing his decision to hold next year's Group of Seven (G-7) summit at one of his properties in Florida, saying that the president will likely continue to use the White House for personal gain. "The G-7 may no longer be at Trump National Doral, but that won’t stop foreign nations from dumping money into Donald Trump's pockets by spending at his hotels," Warren, a Massachusetts senator, said on Twitter "And it won’t stop Trump from rewarding Mar-a-Lago members with ambassadorships." Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, added: "Trying to be a complete crook of a politician didn’t quite work out for him this time, but I’m sure he’s not done trying. We need integrity back in the Oval Office."     Donald Trump is corruption in the flesh—we must call it out, and I have a plan to fight back: https://t.co/k32fZwonHP  — Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 20, 2019. Trying to be a complete crook of a politician didn’t quite work out for him this time, but I’m sure he’s not done trying. We need integrity back in the Oval Office. https://t.co/u7EUX84iQr  — Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 20, 2019. Following a wave of backlash from Democrats, Republicans and ethics watchdogs, Trump said on Saturday that he would no longer host the 2020 G-7 Summit at the Trump National Doral in Florida. The decision came just two days after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced that the annual event would be held at the Miami-area resort next June. Despite arguing that Trump would not profit from the gathering, Mulvaney's announcement sparked widespread concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest for the president. Many asserted the move represented a violation of the Constitution's Emolument Clause, which bars federal officeholders from accepting payments from foreign countries, U.S. states or the federal government.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has received support from two of her opponents in the Democratic presidential primary after Hillary Clinton accused her of being a 'Russian asset.' Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang were the only two out of the Democratic field to take Gabbard's side in the growing feud, as the rest of the candidates remained silent on Clinton's accusations. 'Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad,' Yang wrote in a tweet, referring to combat veteran Gabbard's continued service as a Major in the Army reserve. Williamson, an author who did not make the party's cut for the most recent debate, chimed in: 'The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient!' 'The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire,' she continued, telling Gabbard, 'You deserve respect and you have mine.'

If U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a criminal investigation, it’s not clear what allegations of wrongdoing are being examined.
By Ken Dilanian, Julia Ainsley and Tom Winter
A review launched by Attorney General William Barr into the origins of the Russia investigation has expanded significantly amid concerns about whether the probe has any legal or factual basis, multiple current and former officials told NBC News. The prosecutor conducting the review, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, has expressed his intent to interview a number of current and former intelligence officials involved in examining Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper, Brennan told NBC News. Durham has also requested to talk to CIA analysts involved in the intelligence assessment of Russia’s activities, prompting some of them to hire lawyers, according to three former CIA officials familiar with the matter. And there is tension between the CIA and the Justice Department over what classified documents Durham can examine, two people familiar with the matter said. With Barr’s approval, Durham has expanded his staff and the timeframe under scrutiny, according to a law enforcement official directly familiar with the matter. And he is now looking into conduct past Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, a Trump administration official said. Although the probe did not begin as a criminal investigation, Justice Department officials won’t comment on whether it has morphed into one. When White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney sought Thursday to justify President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, he called the Durham review “an ongoing investigation by our Department of Justice into the 2016 election.“ Mulvaney added: "So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing?” Mulvaney said.

By Kate Sullivan, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump on Saturday night abruptly reversed course and announced next year's G7 economic summit of world powers would not be held at Trump National in Doral, Florida, in a rare departure after facing bipartisan backlash. The President tweeted the major change just over 48 hours after the initial announcement: "We will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately." The President called the rising criticism his administration was facing "Irrational Hostility," and wrote, "I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders." The White House had been defending its decision to use Trump's own property as the site for the G7 in the face of mounting outrage and disapproval. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN that the Doral site would be "significantly cheaper" than other options. The administration had argued the event would be run "at cost," or without profit, by the Trump National property because of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which largely prohibits the President from accepting gifts and money from foreign governments. But it is not clear that simply avoiding a profit would keep the administration from running afoul of the emoluments clause. The administration also had not clarified the details of how it would determine what "at cost" would be. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Friday that holding the G7 at Trump's property was "completely out of the question." The move to host the summit at Trump's property had added to deep fractures in the President's relationships with some allies in Congress already upset with his decision to pull troops out of Syria. However, several of Trump's staunchest defenders on Capitol Hill said they were not concerned about it. GOP Rep. Jim Jordan told CNN that "the American people are much more concerned about not where it happens, but what happens at the event." But some members of the President's party suggested otherwise. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said he was "not happy about it." "I read the emoluments clause again yesterday," Kinzinger said on Friday, "and it talks about titles and nobility and all this. I don't know if it's a direct violation, but I don't understand why at this moment they had to do it." Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, weighed in on the President's reversal, calling it "a bow to reality." "President Trump's decision to award the G-7 Conference to his own property was outrageous, corrupt and a constitutional violation. It was stunningly corrupt even for a stunningly corrupt administration," Bookbinder said in a statement. "His reversal of that decision is a bow to reality, but does not change how astonishing it was that a president ever thought this was appropriate, or that it was something he could get away with." At a Thursday press briefing, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defiantly addressed the concern that hosting the G7 there already creates profit by highlighting the resort, asking reporters to "consider the possibility that Donald Trump's brand is already strong enough on its own." Mulvaney told reporters it was Trump who brought up the idea of hosting the G7 at Doral, explaining: "We sat around one night. We were back in the dining room and I was going over it with a couple of our advance team. We had the list, and he goes, 'What about Doral?' And it was like, 'That's not the craziest idea. It makes perfect sense.'"

The president is unabashed, unapologetic and out of control.
By Frank Bruni
The wonder of the Trump administration — the jaw-dropping, brain-exploding phantasmagoria of it — is that it doesn’t bury its rottenness under layers of counterfeit virtue or use a honeyed voice to mask the vinegar inside. The rottenness is out in the open. The sourness is right there on the surface for all to see. It’s at the president’s rallies, where he plays a bigot for laughs, a bully for applause. It’s in the ballrooms and beds at Mar-a-Loco, where he mingles official government business with free marketing for his gilded club. It’s in the transcript of his phone call with the president of Ukraine, for whom the quid, the pro and the Biden-ravaging quo couldn’t have been clearer. It’s at the microphone in the White House briefing room, where his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, showed up on Thursday, announced that President Trump would host the next G7 meeting at one of his own golf resorts, and conceded that, yes, aid to Ukraine had been tied to that country’s indulgence of the president’s political obsessions. “Get over it,” Mulvaney told the assembled journalists. “Elections have consequences,” he also said. Allow me to translate: American voters gave Trump the presidency, so it’s his to use and abuse as he wants. If you’re looking for an apology, you might as well be looking for the yeti. What you should really be doing is looking the other way. Mere hours later, Mulvaney changed his tune, whining that the media had “decided to misconstrue” his words as some kind of confession. Um, no. Our hearing was just fine, our construing was just right and our sole arguable failure was that we didn’t instantly grasp and immediately communicate the overarching import of his remarks: He was telling us that in the minds of the president and his unscrupulous minions, he from now on possessed and planned to revel in carte blanche. And the White House has a new public relations strategy, much evolved since the days of Robert Mueller.

White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours
By Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels
The White House is slumping into the weekend after one of the most difficult 48-hour periods in President Trump’s tumultuous term of office. Wednesday and Thursday produced a slew of damaging headlines for an administration battling an impeachment push by Democrats and a revolt by Republicans over the president’s handling of foreign affairs. If all that wasn’t enough, the White House also announced long-anticipated plans to hold the next Group of Seven (G-7) summit at a Trump-branded property in Miami, dismissing criticism that doing so would raise emoluments issues. The crescendo came Thursday when the White House’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in an on-camera press conference to announce the G-7 decision, said the president had held up security aid to Ukraine partly to pressure the country to investigate a conspiracy theory undermining the conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Mulvaney walked back the remarks hours later, blaming the media for the storm. But in one swoop, the chief of staff had given Democrats fodder and undermined weeks of administration talking points that there had been no quid pro quo on Ukraine. “I didn't find it the least bit credible,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Friday when asked about Mulvaney’s walk-back. Mulvaney’s remarks came as witness after witness appeared behind closed doors with Schiff and other lawmakers to talk about the administration’s actions in Ukraine, despite a White House letter to Democrats last week that pledged an end to cooperation with the probe. Many of those testifying have served up more damaging headlines for Trump — including U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a donor to Trump whose testimony, it was thought, might be more helpful to the White House. Even as it dealt with the impeachment circus, Trump’s advisers were trying to sell skeptical Republicans on a cease-fire deal with Turkey as a win. This only churned up fresh criticism over the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which various Republicans and outside observers have criticized as an abandonment of Kurdish allies, a ceding of U.S. power and an act that have given new energy to ISIS. In a rare rebuke of Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) penned an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday afternoon labeling the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria a “grave strategic mistake.” “The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country,” McConnell wrote in the op-ed, which did not mention Trump’s name. “Even if the five-day cease-fire announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorists.”

By Zack Budryk
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Monday said he regretted the role he played in amplifying the coverage of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server after a report last week that found “no persuasive evidence” of classified information being systematically or deliberately mishandled. “Note the mostly buried news that State Dept closed @HillaryClinton email probe with this verdict: no big deal,” Toobin tweeted Monday morning. “As a journalist, I regret my role in blowing this story out of proportion.” Note the mostly buried news that State Dept closed @HillaryClinton email probe with this verdict: no big deal. As a journalist, I regret my role in blowing this story out of proportion.https://t.co/Ls7zto7uDJ — Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin) October 21, 2019. A multiyear internal State Department review cited 38 people for violations in the use of the server and warned that using the private email system for State Department business added an "increased degree of risk" but that it did not find "systemic misuse" of classified information. "While there were some instances of classified information being inappropriately introduced into an unclassified system in furtherance of expedience, by and large, the individuals interviewed were aware of security policies and did their best to implement them in their operations," the report stated. more...

The late Elijah Cummings, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, had a valid reason for seeking the president's financial records, the judges said.
By Danny Cevallos
A federal appeals court ruled last week that President Donald Trump's accounting firm must turn over financial records requested by a House committee. In April, the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed the firm, Mazars USA, for documents related to Trump's accounts going back to January 2009. His lawyers fought back with a lawsuit in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that argued Congress had no legitimate legislative purpose for getting the materials. In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the court disagreed but put a temporary hold on the legal effect of its decision to allow Trump's lawyers to appeal. A large part of the court’s opinion, which runs more than 100 pages, can be distilled into three questions: Is the Oversight Committee pursuing a legislative, as opposed to a law-enforcement, objective? Is the committee investigating a subject on which constitutional legislation could be enacted? And does the subpoena seek information relevant to the legislative inquiry? If the committee is pursuing only a crime-fighting objective, that could exceed its authority because such missions are exclusive to the executive and judicial branches. On the other hand, observers of congressional hearings have long known that the legislative purpose is not invalidated just because some criminal activity is unearthed during the process. An April memorandum from Elijah Cummings, the longtime Baltimore congressman and chairman of the oversight panel who died on Thursday, identified four objectives of the subpoena: determine “whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office”; “whether [the President] has undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions”; “whether [the President] is complying with the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution,” and “whether [the President] has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities.” To the court, this and other supporting documents provided strong evidence that the committee has a valid legislative purpose. Trump's lawyers argued that the Oversight Committee's statements were disingenuous, concealing the panel's true — and improper — law enforcement purpose. They also contended that the first objective of the subpoena, to determine “whether the President … engaged … in illegal conduct," establishes that Congress is improperly engaging in law enforcement. In response, the court pointed out that the committee has gone beyond just saying insincere but validating words. As long as the panel's stated purpose is buttressed by references to specific past or future problems, and those problems could be the subjects of appropriate legislation, then it is not for the court to say that Congress has exceeded its broad power. As for the investigation into possible “illegal conduct" on the president's part, the court held that even a mere congressional interest in past crimes can qualify as a constitutional interest in remedial legislation. So broad is Congress' power that even an investigation into the prior bad conduct of a single person can be valid when the objective is to enact legislation to fix the problem, the court said.

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
(CNN) - When President Donald Trump invites world leaders to attend an official government summit at his Florida golf course, will it violate the Constitution? As with so many of Trump's actions in office, it falls into uncharted territory -- no one really knows. The Constitution has a rule against Presidents taking gifts. It's called the emoluments clause, and it's supposed to guarantee that America's top executive and commander in chief isn't swayed by gifts from foreign or domestic government officials. Previous officeholders have tried to avoid even the perception of undue influence. When Benjamin Franklin, the first US ambassador to France, was given a diamond-encrusted snuff box by the King, he followed the rules against "emoluments" to officials by foreign states and asked Congress if he could keep it. They said sure, and he did. When President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize and got $1.4 million, he gave the money to charity. Those were official gifts given to officials. Less clear is whether the Trump's decision to hold a massive G7 summit at Trump National in Doral, Florida, in June, is accepting gifts. Certainly the Trump Organization will benefit from the President's decision. And clearly there are ethical concerns about him using his office to help his own properties. Read more about those issues here. Further complicating the issue is that Doral, according to a Washington Post report in May, has been facing financial hardship since Trump took office. Revenues at the property are down. But should he have to ask Congress every time a foreign government spends money at his hotels? An appeals court in Virginia has just this week decided to revive an emoluments lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia against Trump over his ownership of the Trump International Hotel near the White House. It's just about impossible to separate Donald Trump the man from Trump the business, which was always the point. Trump is the brand. That was going to create some conflicts of interest when he became the President. The man whose sole job had been enriching himself and his business now had the power of the US government behind him and the responsibility of representing the American people abroad. It's a unique situation in US history, where the President is actively benefiting from his name while in office. And it turns out the Constitution guards against exactly this sort of thing. An emolument is a payment or favor: "Emoluments" are mentioned three times in the nation's founding document, an archaic term that, according to Merriam-Webster, is "the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites." The most important mention of emoluments in the Constitution is extremely clear in Article 1, Section 9: "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State." That makes total sense; as President, Trump is supposed to be representing the people, not himself, when he meets with foreign leaders. And it should be very easy for Trump the man to not take any emoluments from foreign states. The man and the business share the same name, however, and it's plastered on many buildings across the world, including one that houses a federally owned building Trump leases for his hotel a few blocks from the White House, where Trump carries out the nation's business.

A new book levels 43 allegations of inappropriate behavior by President Trump—including a controversial one from the early 1980s that has never before been aired.
By Lachlan Cartwright - the daily beast
A new book detailing 43 new allegations of inappropriate behavior by President Trump—including 26 alleged instances of unwanted sexual conduct—is set to land on bookstands early next week. Many of the allegations in the book, All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, published by Hachette, have been leveled before. But at least one, from Trump’s deep past, has not been previously aired: that, in the ’80s, he frequented a Mafia-run VIP sex club in Times Square, and once demanded a threesome with a porn star and a young-looking female. The allegation centers on interviews with one self-proclaimed eyewitness, a former mobster named John Tino. But neither of the two women supposedly involved in the incident could be located by the authors—which leaves the charge in the hands of a man whose criminal record includes convictions for larceny, fraud, and forgery. Even the authors admit their account is hardly airtight, while nonetheless defending their work. “There are many people who will label Tino a liar and say his claims are false. I came away feeling his allegations are believable,” one of the authors, Barry Levine, told The Daily Beast. The White House did not respond to requests to comment for this article, but Trump in the past has strongly denied any allegations of sexual impropriety. “That book is trash, and those accusations from 20 years ago have been addressed many times,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to Business Insider about All the President’s Women. Tino swears he remembers Trump as “the real estate guy” during his years as hired muscle for the sex den, which he says was run by a notorious crime boss. In the book, to be published Tuesday, Levine and co-author Monique El-Faizy write that the secret club was allegedly frequented by rich and powerful men, including Trump. “Most of the women who worked there were porn stars, though not all. Trump preferred a woman who primarily performed live sex shows with her husband, though she acted in the occasional adult film as well,” the authors state.

Kaleb James Cole was not charged with any crime, but the guns were taken under the state's "red flag" law.
By Phil Helsel
Firearms belonging to the suspected leader of a neo-Nazi group who was thought to be preparing for a "race war" have been seized under a "red flag" law in Washington state, according to court documents. Authorities removed five rifles, three pistols and other gun components from Kaleb James Cole, 24, under a state law that allows authorities to take guns from people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others for up to a year, authorities said. Cole has not been charged with any crime. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes believes the seizure, which court documents indicate happened Sept. 26, may have prevented a massacre. "This is a hate-filled human being, but unfortunately one who possesses really alarming numbers of weapons," Holmes said. Attempts to reach Cole at phone numbers listed in public records that may be linked to him were not successful Friday evening. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney. Prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Cole invoking the state’s red flag law and seeking an "extreme risk protection order." Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. have laws allowing family members or police to remove weapons from people who may be dangerous, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The National Rifle Association has opposed some current protection order laws, arguing they deprive gun owners of due process. Cole is a self-admitted member of the "Atomwaffen Division" — which the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a terroristic national socialist organization that believes in using violence for “apocalyptic, racial cleansing” — and is thought to be the leader of the Washington state chapter, Seattle police said in its petition for the court order. Police believe Cole participated in recent firearm training and recruitment efforts at “hate camps,” which officials say he helped organize. "It appears that he has gone from espousing hate to now taking active steps or preparation for an impending 'race war,'" Seattle police said in the petition. Included with the police petition were a cellphone photo of Cole giving the Nazi salute, and another of him and another person standing in front of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

By Philip Ewing
President Trump deputized lawyer Rudy Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy for Ukraine outside the State Department, witnesses told Congress this past week — and the White House said people should "get over it." It's been a busy week. Here's what you need to know about the latest in the Ukraine affair and the impeachment investigation. Mister mayor: Giuliani has been an important figure in Trump world for years but what investigators heard was how central he was in the plan to get Ukraine's government to launch investigations that Trump wanted. Trump wanted Ukraine's new government, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate a conspiracy theory of Trump's about the 2016 cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, ostensibly over "corruption." In exchange, it appears Trump was prepared to engage with Zelenskiy and continue the flow of military assistance, appropriated by Congress, that had been flowing to Kyiv since it was invaded by Russia in 2014. Although Trump may not have told many officials about that plan in real time, Trump did ask early for many of them to work with Giuliani in their dealings with Europe and with Ukraine, the witnesses said. The "hand grenade" Top aides including then-national security adviser John Bolton and Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, may have worried about the Ukraine pressure strategy on its merits. Ukraine is a U.S. ally resisting a military incursion by an adversary, its neighbor Russia. Because the depositions are closed, it still isn't fully clear what witnesses have told Congress. But what has become clear is how unhappy the national security and foreign policy professionals were at being asked to involve someone they viewed as an interloper in Giuliani. Bolton warned he was a "hand grenade" in danger of blowing up and hurting everyone around him, Hill told members of Congress, according to people familiar with her testimony. She also was said to have flagged concerns within the National Security Council about what she considered departures from official process. Bolton and Hill resigned earlier this year. People still within the administration, however, also are said to resent what they considered the interference represented by Giuliani — along with what may have been incomplete awareness in real time about what Trump was orchestrating with U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Three top State Department officials — Michael McKinley, George Kent and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland — are understood to have told House investigators they thought foreign policy should be conducted by diplomats and professionals. McKinley said he resented the scourging — led by Giuliani — of then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, which resulted in her being discredited inside the administration and withdrawn from Kyiv prematurely. Members of Congress earlier reviewed materials submitted by a State Department whistleblower that were described as "propaganda" about Yovanovich that led to her ouster. She testified on Oct. 11. Why did Trump sideline the diplomats? Kent told members of Congress that the White House wanted a reliable cadre of "three amigos" handling the Ukraine portfolio, according to one account of his testimony given by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. If correct, this suggests the president or Giuliani did not consider Yovanovich, Hill or others trustworthy enough as the White House was shaping its pressure campaign for Ukraine. Instead, Trump or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney commissioned the "amigos:" Sondland; Kurt Volker, another State Department envoy to Ukraine; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

DONALD TRUMP was humiliated by two female astronauts after they fact-checked his lack of space knowledge during a live call.
By Joel Day
The embarrassing moment came when Trump contacted the International Space Station to congratulate Jessica Meir and Christina Koch for completing an all female spacewalk outside of the craft. Trump, however, congratulated the pair for being the “first ever female spacewalkers”. A delay in connection between Trump and the space station made for a short period of silence, before Ms Meir made it clear that she and Koch were not the first female spacewalker. The first female spacewalk, in fact, took place in 1984 and 14 more have since followed. The mistake came as Trump sat at a table in the White House with his daughter Ivanka Trump and Vice President Mike Pence sat either side of him, as well as a handful of NASA officials and a group of Girl Scouts in the background. Staring intently into the camera, Trump said: “This is the first time for a woman outside of the space station.” He added: “You are amazing people; they're conducting the first ever female spacewalk to replace an exterior part of the space station. “They're doing some work, and they're doing it in a very high altitude — an altitude that very few people will ever see.” Ms Meir can then be heard correcting the President, explaining that the event marked the first time two women had been outside the spacecraft at the same time. Ms Meir said: “We don't want to take too much credit because there have been many other female spacewalkers before. “This is the first time that there's been two women outside at the same time.” In 1984, Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya became the first woman to complete a spacewalk. In the 35 years since a total of 15 women have spacewalked. Ms Meir and Ms Koch spent seven hours outside the space station replacing a failed power control unit.

By Greg Miller
A multiyear State Department probe of emails that were sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server concluded there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees, according to a report submitted to Congress this month. The report appears to represent a final and anticlimactic chapter in a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 presidential campaign and exposed Clinton to fierce criticism that she later cited as a major factor in her loss to President Trump. In the end, State Department investigators found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures — none involving material that had been marked classified — in a review of roughly 33,000 emails that had been sent to or from the personal computer system Clinton used. Overall, investigators said, “there was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.” The report cited “instances of classified information being inappropriately” transmitted, but noted that the vast majority of those scrutinized “were aware of security policies and did their best to implement them.” The release comes as Trump continues to raise the Clinton email issue to attack Democrats, even as new evidence has emerged of apparent security lapses by senior officials in his own administration. Diplomats involved in pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that would politically benefit Trump used private phones and texting apps to trade messages about their efforts, according to records released by leaders of the House impeachment inquiry. The State Department probe focused on internal communications that were up to nine years old. Dozens of former State employees were brought back in for questioning in recent months after being notified that emails they had sent years ago had been retroactively classified. The renewed activity after a long stretch in which the investigation had seemed to go dormant sparked suspicion that the Trump administration was seeking to revive an issue that had been politically advantageous to Republicans. One former official who was questioned described it as “a way to tarnish a whole bunch of Democratic foreign policy people.” State Department officials denied any political agenda, saying the interviews were part of the final stages of an internal inquiry that the department was under pressure to complete this month. Among those applying pressure was Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who had sent letters to the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security seeking updates.

The investigation covered 33,000 emails. The department said it found 588 violations, but it could not assign fault in 497 cases.
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The State Department has completed its internal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of private email and found violations by 38 people, some of whom may face disciplinary action. The department determined that those 38 people were "culpable" in 91 cases of sending classified information in messages that ended up in Clinton's personal email. The 38 are current and former State Department officials but were not identified in the report that was sent to Congress this week.

By Jonathan Browning
U.S. prosecutors aren’t done with Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire who figured prominently in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Donald Trump’s campaign chairman. In what could be an offshoot of Mueller’s work, federal authorities are seeking records seized from a U.K. company associated with Deripaska, according to documents filed in a London court this week. As part of the previously undisclosed inquiry, U.S. authorities are seeking evidence of “money laundering, tax offenses and fraud offenses” from 18 individuals and companies including Terra Services Ltd., a real estate firm that until last year was controlled by Deripaska, the filings say. The inquiry is “live and ongoing,” according to a U.K. government filing Thursday. Terra, in another filing, said the search request appears to have been made “in connection with the special counsel investigation being conducted in the U.S.” into Russian election interference. The investigation came to light because Terra is challenging a search warrant that led to the December 2018 seizure of at least 25,000 electronic documents from a British storage unit it owned. Terra asked a London judge to prevent the documents from being handed over to the Americans. Redacted Report: The presiding U.K. judge who granted the search warrant in December 2018 said that any seized materials could be helpful “in an ongoing U.S. investigation into a number of criminal offenses committed by two U.S. subjects, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates,” according to court documents. But by that time Manafort had been convicted and was awaiting sentencing. Gates had already pleaded guilty and was cooperating with prosecutors. Mueller’s team ended its work earlier this year, referring several matters to other U.S. prosecutors. Many of those haven’t been made public. Parts of Mueller’s report dealing with Manafort and Gates are redacted to avoid interfering with unspecified ongoing investigations. According to Mueller’s report, one-time Trump campaign chairman Manafort had a business dispute with Deripaska that he was looking to resolve, and he offered Deripaska briefings and internal polling data. Manafort was convicted of multiple crimes and is serving a sentence of more than seven years; Deripaska wasn’t accused of wrongdoing.  The U.S. request named 18 entities including Terra Services and two U.K.-based lawyers. The documents available in the London case don’t include the U.S. request for a search, or the corresponding U.K. search warrant, but quote from parts of the warrant. The filings don’t say which U.S. authorities are currently handling the matter.

By Savannah Eadens, Louisville Courier Journal
Sen. Mitch McConnell published a blistering rebuke of the Trump administration's decision to pull military forces out of Syria. In a Washington Post op-ed published Friday afternoon, McConnell, R-Ky., explained the three lessons he's learned while working with three different administrations since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "Lesson No. 1.," he wrote, is that the "threat is real and cannot be wished away." "These fanatics threaten American interests and American lives. If permitted to regroup and establish havens, they will bring terror to our shores," he said. The second lesson, he said, is the importance of American leadership. "No other nation can match our capability to spearhead multinational campaigns that can defeat terrorists and help stabilize the region. Libya and Syria both testify to the bloody results of the Obama administration’s 'leading from behind,'" McConnell wrote. The third lesson, he said, is that the U.S. is not alone in the fight against the Islamic State and the Taliban — and that Syria had been a model for the "successful approach" of contributing "limited, specialized capabilities that enable our local partners to succeed." "Unfortunately, the administration’s recent steps in Syria do not reflect these crucial lessons," McConnell wrote.

By Scottie Andrew, CNN
(CNN) - The Ridgecrest earthquake in July was the strongest to strike Southern California in 20 years. And the main quake, along with more than 100,000 aftershocks, caused a major fault to move for the first time, researchers say. The movement attributed to the quake is less than an inch along the surface of the fault and would be virtually undetectable to an ordinary resident. But it has intrigued researchers for two reasons. They're not clear what it means, and they've never seen this particular fault move, said Zachary Ross, assistant professor of geophysics at Caltech and an author of a study of the fault published Friday in the journal Science. Researchers from Caltech and NASA recognize the fault shift as creeping. The phenomenon, though, usually occurs without an earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey. The findings come as scientists continue to warn that the "Big One" -- the monstrous earthquake that could potentially level populous Southern California -- is overdue. Remember the July earthquakes? There were 110,000 aftershocks: It started on July 4, when a 6.4-magnitude foreshock struck Southern California, the study said. That gave way 36 hours later to a 7.1-magnitude main shock, sending tremors as far as Arizona and Nevada. The area's low population density saved it from substantial damage, though nearby naval facilities require billions of dollars to repair. The main shock ruptured just miles from the Garlock fault, a major fault line that runs more than 180 miles from the San Andreas Fault to Death Valley. It has remained relatively dormant until now and has slipped 2 centimeters since the July quakes, researchers found. Combining advanced seismometer data with satellite imaging of fault ruptures, the team tracked more than 110,000 aftershocks in the surrounding area over 21 days. The "dominoes-like sequence of ruptures" put heavy strain on the Garlock fault, researchers said. Southern California has seen a few triggered creeps before, he said. The southern end of the San Andreas fault started creeping after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in 2010 just south of the US-Mexico border. The creeping then didn't lead to a significant earthquake.

By Holmes Lybrand and Marshall Cohen, CNN
(CNN) - In defending the recent withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, President Donald Trump has continued to cite reasons that are not only factually dubious but which also mirror talking points issued by Turkey and Russia, contradicting US officials and the facts on the ground. On Friday, Trump re-tweeted a post from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, literally echoing his comments about the need to "defeat terrorism," even though Erdogan has previously referred to America's Kurdish allies as terrorists. Here are three more stark examples of Trump repeating talking points from Turkey and Russia: Kurds releasing ISIS prisoners on purpose: On Sunday, Erdogan claimed that reports of ISIS prisoners and their families escaping from Kurdish-controlled camps were "disinformation," designed to "provoke the US and Europe" and more recently stated the Syrian Kurds "deliberately" allowed these escapes. Here are three stark examples: Kurds releasing ISIS prisoners on purpose: On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that reports of ISIS prisoners and their families escaping from Kurdish-controlled camps were "disinformation," designed to "provoke the US and Europe" and more recently stated the Syrian Kurds "deliberately" allowed these escapes. On Monday, Trump parroted this theory, tweeting that the "Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved." On Wednesday, Trump repeated this claim, suggesting that the Kurds were "probably" letting ISIS captives out of prison. "Probably the Kurds let (ISIS prisoners) go to make a little bit stronger political impact," he told reporters. Facts First: Contrary to Trump and Erdogan's allegation, US officials have told CNN there are no indications that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have intentionally released any of the 10,000-plus ISIS prisoners they guard. The Kurdish-led military force SDF, which recently joined with the Syrian government as Turkey continues its military offensive in northern Syria, controls some of the camps and prisons holding ISIS prisoners and those displaced by the war against ISIS. In light of the ceasefire announced Thursday, it's unclear whether Turkey will take control of some of these Kurdish-guarded compounds. In a statement on Friday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he had recently spoken with the Turkish minister of defense to remind him of the full terms of the agreement. "I also reminded him of Turkey's responsibility for maintaining security of the ISIS detainees located in the affected areas," Esper said. A senior US defense official told CNN that Trump "falsely claiming that the SDF Kurds are letting ISIS prisoners out of prison is wrong because they are the people that defeated ISIS, wrong because they are currently risking their lives to defend our forces and wrong because they are fighting a force that intends to eliminate their people because we green lighted their operation." Due to the attack by Turkish forces on the SDF in northern Syria, the Kurdish-led militia has had to remove troops guarding prisons and camps holding ISIS fighters and those displaced by the fight against ISIS. "We already did not have professional jails or professional prisons to keep those prisoners in," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said last week. "The Turkish invasion to our region is going to leave a huge space, because we are forced to pull out some of our troops from the prisons and from the [displaced people] camps to the border to protect our people."

The corruption is becoming more and more brazen.
By Aaron Rupar
In one of the starkest examples of how the Trump administration is normalizing the sort of self-dealing that would have been unfathomable in previous eras, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced on Thursday that next June’s G7 summit will be held at a resort that President Donald Trump still owns and profits from in Doral, Florida. During a news conference, Mulvaney portrayed the decision as one based on holding the event at the best facility possible. But there are plenty of other suitable venues that the president doesn’t profit from — such as Camp David in Maryland, which hosted the G7 the last time it was in the US in 2012 — and there’s no denying that turning one of the world’s foremost annual gatherings of leaders into a free infomercial for Trump’s resort represents a major branding opportunity. Tellingly, Mulvaney himself didn’t even try to deny that. Instead, he argued that Trump is too rich and successful to care about branding opportunities since his “brand is probably strong enough as it is.” Trump “doesn’t need any more help on that,” Mulvaney added, alluding to the free promotion the G7 will provide. “It is the most recognizable name in the English language and probably around the world.” That Trump’s name is one of the most well-known in the English language might arguably be true — but “Trump National Doral Miami” is less so. And beyond the branding opportunity, it’s also a financial one, especially seeing as how Doral’s net operating income has declined by nearly 70 percent since 2015. Mulvaney promoted Trump Doral from behind the White House briefing podium as “far and away the best physical facility for this meeting” and “perfect for our needs.” The move perhaps isn’t surprising, given Trump’s willingness to break decades of precedent by refusing to divest from his business interests when he took office. And Trump has used the guise of diplomacy to promote his businesses before. He’s hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort and has repeatedly hosted Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo there as well. Those summits served as textbook examples of corruption, but hosting the G7 at a resort that Trump has described in federal disclosures as one of his biggest moneymakers takes things up a notch. While it’s on brand, Trump’s decision to have the next G7 meeting in a place where the US government and international governments would be forced to patronize his business is perhaps the starkest illustration yet of how he’s thumbing his nose not just at tradition and ethical standards but also the Constitution’s emoluments clause, a little-used provision aimed at guarding corruption of presidents by foreign interests. Mulvaney, however, dismissed concerns that Trump’s conflicts of interest are a bad look by insisting he “got over that a long time ago.”

In one of the starkest illustrations of his corruption, the president wants to have next year’s G7 at Trump Doral.
By Aaron Rupar
President Donald Trump wants to host 2020’s G7 meeting of international leaders at Trump Doral in Florida, a private club he still owns and profits from — a move that would serve as perhaps the starkest illustration yet of how Trump is normalizing corruption. Having the G7 at Doral would be tantamount to “a free, giant international promotion” for Trump’s business, said Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in an interview with Vox. Trump first raised the idea of hosting next year’s meeting at his Doral, Florida-based golf resort during a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, the last day of this year’s G7 in France, saying of Trump Doral that “we haven’t found anything that could even come close to competing with it, especially when you look at the location right next to the airport” in Miami. Trump uses G7 to promote private Doral resort he still owns and profits from, which he says may host the G7 next year: "It's a great place. It's got tremendous acreage ... people are really liking it ... we haven't found anything that could even come close to competing with it." pic.twitter.com/MK2vY2inK1 — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 26, 2019 . Trump’s comments raised some eyebrows, and during his G7-ending press conference a few hours later, he was asked by NBC’s Hallie Jackson to respond to people who are concerned he’s profiting from the presidency. He responded by plugging Trump Doral. “With Doral we have a series of magnificent buildings — we call the bungalows — they each hold from 50 to 70 luxurious rooms, with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants. It’s, like, such a natural,” Trump said, before adding, dubiously, that “in my opinion I’m not going to make any money.” Shortly after the press conference ended, the White House Twitter account seemed to make the announcement official in a tweet featuring video of the comments Trump made promoting Doral.

By Rebecca Klar
The majority of Americans said President Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria is damaging the U.S.'s reputation as a trusted ally, according to a new poll. Just over half, 54 percent, of those surveyed in the USA Today-Ipsos poll released Friday said Trump’s decision damages the nation’s reputation as a trusted ally. Even more respondents, 61 percent, said the U.S. had an obligation to protect the Kurds, whom the U.S. was fighting alongside before Trump pulled American troops out. Broken down by party, 72 percent of Democrats surveyed said Trump’s decision damaged the nation’s reputation as an ally, as did 50 percent of independents, based on the poll. Meanwhile, a little less than half of Republicans, 44 percent, agree with that, based on the poll. The decision to pull troops from Syria was harshly criticized by Democrats as well as some Republicans, including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C).

Senior House Democrats say they won’t let up on their demands for documents and testimony from outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry in the wake of his resignation announcement — and at least one Republican agrees with them. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) called on Perry Friday to comply with a House subpoena and cooperate with the impeachment inquiry into the Trump administration's actions in Ukraine. The secretary faces a Friday deadline to comply with the subpoena but has not said what he plans to do. “Everybody that can bring any information to the table ought to testify, so that some huge mistake is not inadvertently made,” Rooney told POLITICO. “I’d like to see any evidence that needs to be adduced brought up and made available to people.” Democrats say they do not know what to make of his resignation and whether he’ll cooperate with their investigation. “We, as a Congress, need to obtain his trip records and places he traveled, individuals with whom he spoke,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding DOE. “I believe Secretary Perry to be a patriot. I have no idea what he’s caught in, if he’s caught up in anything.” Kaptur said she sent a text message this morning to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asking him to demand testimony from the secretary. She said Schiff had not responded as of midday Friday. A spokesperson for the Intelligence Committee declined comment on whether it would seek Perry's testimony.

Democrats call Trump’s Doral G-7 pick ‘outrageous’ — GOP senator says it shows ‘tremendous integrity’
By Dan Mangan
Three Democratic senators are asking the White House for a raft of information to justify what they called the “outrageous” decision to have the next G-7 summit held at President Donald Trump’s Miami golf resort. But even as they did so, a Republican senator said that the decision to have Trump National Doral Miami, which is owned by the president’s company, host the conference of world leaders shows Trump’s “integrity.” “I don’t have any concerns about it other than just politically how it appears,” Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said Friday. “It may seem careless politically, but on the other hand there’s tremendous integrity in his boldness and his transparency,” Cramer said. Cramer’s Republican colleague, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had a completely different view that she expressed in a single word. When asked if it is appropriate to have the G-7 at the Doral, Murkowski said, “No.” White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday revealed that the Doral would be the site of next June’s G-7 summit. Mulvaney said the resort was clearly the best choice among a dozen or so sites eyed by a team that evaluated the locations. He also said that the Doral would charge the foreign entourages and other guests for goods and services “at cost,” which he said would eliminate the chance that the president would reap a profit from the summit. But in a letter Thursday night, three Democratic senators called the Doral pick “another outrageous example of the President using his office funnel money from American taxpayers and foreign sources into his own pockets.” The letter, from Gary Peters of Michigan, Oregon’s Ron Wyden, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, noted that Trump has traveled as president more than 20 times to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, “costing taxpayers millions of dollars with every trip.” The letter also noted that Vice President Mike Pence stayed at Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, during an official visit last month, and that the U.S. Air Force Inspector General is investigating stays by Air Force personnel at Trump’s resort in Scotland. “President Trump’s decision to host the 2020 G-7 Summit at his Miami property appears to have been a foregone conclusion,” the letter says.

Washington Post: Career diplomat testifies he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's Ukraine work in 2015
By Caroline Kelly, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators earlier this week he had voiced concerns in early 2015 about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter working for a Ukrainian natural gas company, the Washington Post reported Friday. Citing three people familiar with the testimony, the newspaper reported that Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, recounted concerns during his testimony Tuesday that Hunter Biden's work could undercut American efforts to convey to Ukraine the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest. The people told the Post when Kent raised the risk of Ukraine viewing Biden as a direct line to his father, he told investigators, the then-vice president's office responded that Biden didn't have the "bandwidth" to address Hunter's situation while his other son, Beau, battled brain cancer. Kent did not name the Biden staffer he interacted with, the people told the Post. Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Joe Biden's presidential campaign, defended the former vice president's conduct in Ukraine. "Donald Trump's unprecedentedly corrupt administration is melting down because of the scandal he touched-off by trying to get Ukraine to lie about Joe Biden -- and as the vice president said yesterday, he should release his tax returns or shut up," Bates said in a statement. "On Joe Biden's watch, the US made eradicating corruption a centerpiece of our policies toward Ukraine, including achieving the removal of an inept prosecutor who shielded wrongdoers from accountability." The news of Kent's testimony stands out after two weeks of administration officials testifying in House lawmakers' probe into the President's dealings with Ukraine. The effort has shown so far that President Donald Trump played a key role in the US diplomatic effort to push Ukraine to open an investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden that goes well beyond the President's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that formed the basis of the whistleblower complaint. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. Kent also told investigators that Trump associates made baseless claims against then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who testified last week.

Guardian News - The ex-defence secretary is laughing off an insult hurled at him by the US president. Speaking at a New York charity event a day after Trump demeaned him as 'the world's most overrated general', Mattis joked that he took it as a compliment. 'I'm honoured to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress,' he said. 'So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals'

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