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US Monthly Headline News October 2019 Page 4


A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the constitution. This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C. more...

By Jason Lemon
A former Reagan administration official blasted Republican lawmakers currently serving in Congress on Sunday, arguing that they were "absolutely abrogating their duty" by not holding President Donald Trump accountable. "It's like the invasion of the body snatchers," Linda Chavez, who served as former President Ronald Reagan's White House Director of Public Liaison, said during a segment of CNN's State of the Union. "I don't know who these people are, I mean they have so changed their tune. This is really serious," she asserted. Chavez then pointed out that she had previously been a Democrat prior to serving in the Republican administrations of Reagan as well as former President George H.W. Bush. She explained that she "became a conservative" because she "really believed that the Republican party was devoted to the truth, that we believed in ideals." "We were devoted to the Constitution," Chavez said. "And what I see happening now is people who are absolutely abrogating their duty. They are putting politics first and they're scared. They're scared of Donald Trump," she argued. Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump after an anonymous whistleblower revealed that the president had repeatedly pressured Ukrainian leaders to open an investigation to tarnish his political rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. The president also asked Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a probe into a conspiracy theory that Democrats worked with Ukrainians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Ahead of that conversation with Zelensky, the president ordered that $391 million in military aid to the Eastern European nation be withheld. Ukrainian officials have said that they were given the impression that the president's support for their government could depend on whether or not they opened the investigations he wanted. Text messages between U.S. diplomats and Ukrainian officials also appear to suggest that Trump did not want to release the aid, or meet with Zelensky, unless the probes moved forward. more...

By Jason Lemon
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted Republican Congressman Chris Stewart with text messages between U.S. diplomats discussing what many critics of the president see as clear evidence of a quid pro quo after the representative insisted no such expectation existed. Stewart, who represents Utah and sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told Wallace during an interview on Fox News Sunday that Trump never linked his request that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky investigated Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden to military aid. "It's never even mentioned," the representative said, referring to a controversial July 25 phone call between the two leaders. "He [Trump] doesn't ever offer a quid pro quo." But Wallace, later in the segment, pointed to text messages between American diplomats working with Ukraine that suggested Trump would only grant the $391 million in military aid and a meeting with Zelensky if the investigation into Biden was opened. "I want to pick up on what you said at the very top, which is that there is no quid pro quo, no linkage between President Trump's asking the Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and U.S. support, including [nearly] $400 million in military aid to Ukraine," Wallace said. "There are a number of documents that your committee received this week, and bear with me, I'm gonna go through just three of them and read them," he said. Wallace then read three of the text messages exchanged between the key U.S. diplomats involved in setting up direct communications between Zelensky and Trump. more...

By Jason Lemon
Congressman Brendan Boyle said on Saturday evening that "at least two dozen" of his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives are "deeply concerned" about Donald Trump's actions towards Ukraine, although most have not criticized the president publicly. "I actually have a lot of friendships on the other side of the aisle," Boyle, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania's 2nd District, said during an interview with conservative CNN host S.E. Cupp. "I've been able to produce real, meaningful legislation with Republican colleagues of mine, especially as it relates to foreign policy," he pointed out. Boyle went on to say that "a significant number of Republican friends" in Congress had "expressed their deep concerns" about the president. The representative explained that his GOP colleagues avoid criticizing Trump publicly because they know it would "put them in a really tough spot" when it comes to possibly facing a Republican primary challenger. Although Boyle said he couldn't say how many Republicans would vote for impeachment "when push comes to shove," he asserted that behind the scenes "there are a number of Republican members who are deeply concerned and alarmed about what has become public" in regards to Ukraine. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - With each passing day, the ongoing attempts of Republican elected officials to defend President Donald Trump's behavior are getting more and more ridiculous. The latest example? Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson's pained and downright bad attempt to change the subject when asked by NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd to explain a quote he gave to The Wall Street Journal. CHUCK TODD: Let me start with something you told The Wall Street Journal late last week. You had said when Mr. Sondland -- Gordon Sondland seemed to imply that -- the frozen military aid was connected to a promise by Zelensky for investigations, you said, "At that suggestion, I winced. My reaction was, 'Oh God. I don't wanna see those two things combined.'" Why did you wince and what did you mean by "those two things combined?" SEN. RON JOHNSON: Well, fir-- first of all, your setup piece was --you know, typically, very unbiased. But, you know, le -- let me first, before I started answering all the detailed questions, let me just talk about why I'm pretty sympathetic with what President Trump has gone through. You know, I'm 64 years old. I have never in my lifetime seen a president, after being elected, not having some measure of well wishes from his opponents. I've never seen a president's administration be sabotaged from the day after election. I -- I've never seen -- no-- no measure of honeymoon whatsoever. And so what President Trump's had to endure, a false accusation -- by the way, you've got John Brennan on -- you oughta ask Director Brennan what did Peter Strzok mean when he texted Lisa Page on December 15th, 2016? Uh, what? (You should read the transcript, the interview only went downhill from there.) Again, what Todd is asking here is for Johnson to further explain his own quote about "wincing" at the suggestion that military aid might be linked to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's willingness to investigate Joe Biden. This isn't some sort of "gotcha" question. Johnson said it! And recently! Johnson's response -- Strzok! Page! "deep state!" -- has nothing to do with what Todd asked him. Which, again, was to explain a quote he gave to The Wall Street Journal about 'wincing" when he heard that there might have been linkage between military aid and investigations in Ukraine. What the hell does the that quote -- and Trump's broader actions in Ukraine -- have to do with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI agent Peter Strzok? Yes, Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team when texts with Page (whom he was having an affair with) emerged that seemed to suggest anti-Trump bias. And yes, the Justice Department is investigating the roots of the counter-intelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But none of those things have anything to do with the fact that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden -- first in a transcript of a July call released by the White House and then right there in public last week outside the White House. Trump telling Ukraine -- and China! -- to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, has literally zero to do with Lisa Page or Peter Strzok. Nothing. (There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden, by the way). more...

Fox News shields President Trump. But his love for their conspiracies might bring him down.
By Nicole Hemmer
On Tuesday night, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity, on Fox News, about the role Fox News would play in protecting President Donald Trump from impeachment. “You know, if it wasn’t [for] your show, Sean, they would destroy him absolutely,” Rivera told Hannity, who, when not hosting his television and radio shows, informally advises Trump. “You are the difference between Donald J. Trump and Richard Nixon.” He’s half right. Fox News is playing a critical role in protecting Trump from Nixon’s ultimate fate. But it’s also played a critical role in luring Trump into committing Nixonian misdeeds. Let’s start with what Rivera got right. Hannity may not save Trump from impeachment, but conservative media outlets have protected Trump’s presidency throughout his first term. They have done so not by winning new allies — his approval numbers remain low with everyone but Republicans — but by ensuring that Republicans in Congress, his real firewall against being removed from office, remain on his side. Nixon needed a Fox News, and he knew it. When he won the presidency in 1968, he was not in a strong position. He’d led the popular vote by less than 1 percent, Democrats held both houses of Congress, and Nixon was convinced that the press corps was against him. He believed two things were necessary to fully exercise the powers of his new office: a strong, loyal Republican Party and a pro-Nixon media. Getting the party on his side wasn’t hard. Nixon had earned a reputation as a party man throughout the 1960s. After losing his bid for president in 1960 and California governor in 1962, he went back out on the campaign trail in 1964 and 1966, stumping for every Republican who would have him. He did the same as president — with one exception. In 1970, despite angling to support Republican candidates across the country, he turned on New York’s Republican Sen. Charles Goodell (father of NFL owner Roger Goodell). He threw his support instead behind James Buckley, who ran as a member of the Conservative Party and who ultimately unseated Goodell.  Goodell’s sin? Speaking out against the Vietnam War. Nixon wanted Republicans in office, but they had to be loyal. The other thing Nixon wanted was his own media outlet.  Believing most mainstream outlets were in the tank for the Democrats, he  was keenly interested in developing an alternative Republican news source.  His administration had explored the idea of GOP-TV with future Fox News  founder Roger Ailes, who at the time was a political media consultant.  GOP-TV would create pro-administration segments and mail them out to  local outlets across the country (a model that was more like Sinclair Broadcasting’s than Fox News’s).  At the same time, conservative activists were also developing a scheme  for a corporate takeover of CBS, hoping to transform it into a  right-wing network. Neither of those projects worked, and as the Watergate  crisis mounted, Nixon was in a precarious position. Yes, he had won  reelection in a historic landslide. But his propaganda machine never had  much power. Conservative media, such as it was, aggressively  supported Nixon throughout the crisis, but it was simply not powerful  enough to reshape the emerging consensus around administration  wrongdoing or to keep Republican officeholders in line. Outlets like  National Review stood by Nixon’s side, spinning every possible defense  against impeachment, but they made very little impact. The dam broke;  Republicans jumped ship; Nixon’s presidency ran aground. At the beginning of his impeachment inquiry, Trump is in a  very different place. He has a powerful propaganda system and a devoted  Republican Party, from the base to the leaders in Congress. more...

By Douglas Hanks
Jerry Falwell Jr. has settled the Miami court case that laid out many of the details behind the South Beach real estate venture his family launched in 2013 with a former Fontainebleau pool attendant the evangelical leader and his wife met while on vacation. In a federal court filing, Falwell and the young lawyer who sued him, Gordon Bello, said they have settled the case for an undisclosed “monetary sum” that Falwell, the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, will pay Bello, a legislative aide for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Bello sued in 2017, claiming he was promised a stake in the South Beach hostel that a Falwell family entity purchased in 2013 for $4.7 million. Bello, 28, claims he and his father, Miami builder Jett Bello, pitched Falwell on the hostel idea after being introduced by Giancarlo Granda, a high school friend of the younger Bello’s. Granda had met Jerry and Rebecca Falwell while they were vacationing at the Fontainebleau and he was working as what the Bello lawsuit later described dismissively as a “pool boy.” Granda befriended the Falwells, flew with them on corporate jets and, in 2012, traveled to Liberty to meet a famous keynote speaker there: future president Donald Trump. Granda was granted a 25 percent share in the South Beach venture about a year later, and Bello’s suit claimed he was promised a similar share. He sued to be compensated on the alleged agreement, which he never documented in court papers and which Falwell denied ever existed. Bello said in court papers that he first met Rebecca Falwell through Granda, and formed a “personal relationship” with her before he met Jerry Falwell in the lobby of the Loews Miami Beach for the alleged pitch meeting in 2012. more...

CNN State of the Union
CNN's Jake Tapper takes a look at how lawmakers' legacies live on based on their responses to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and how history will see Republicans in the era of President Donald Trump. more...

NEW YORK — A federal judge has rejected President Trump's challenge to the release of his tax returns for a New York state criminal probe. Judge Victor Marrero ruled Monday. He said he cannot endorse such a "categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process." The returns had been sought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. His office is investigating the Trump Organization's involvement in buying the silence of two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president. Mr. Trump's lawyers have said the investigation is politically motivated and that the quest for his tax records should be stopped because he is immune from any criminal probe as long as he is president. more...

By Rosalie Chan
An excerpt from a book by the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower reveals what the firm did that swayed the 2016 elections. Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, is known for leaking documents to journalists that showed how Cambridge Analytica harvest the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent, using it to inform targeted political advertising. The campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz paid over $5 million each to the firm, Wylie wrote. Wylie's newest book, "Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America," details more about the firm's operations. In an excerpt published in New York Magazine, Wylie says the firm used focus groups and qualitative observation to learn what Facebook users are interested in, including term limits, "draining the swamp," guns, and building walls to keep out immigrants. Wylie says that the firm was already exploring these ideas in 2014, before Trump's campaign. Cambridge Analytica came up with ideas for how to best sway users' opinions, testing them out by targeting different groups of people on Facebook. It also analyzed Facebook profiles for patterns to build an algorithm to predict how to best target users. more...

“The marriage is the thing that underlies all of this,” Mel Dubnick, a professor of government ethics, says
By Travis Gettys
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave preference to Kentuckians — who are represented by her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — during meetings set up in her first 14 months on the job. A quarter of all her scheduled meetings with state officials from January 2017 to March 2018 were set up with Kentuckians, who make up only 1.3 percent of the U.S. population, reported Politico. The next closest, Indiana and Georgia, scored six percent of her meetings each, according to her calendars that have been made public. At least five of Chao’s 18 meetings with Kentucky officials were requested in emails from McConnell staffers who flagged the local officials as “friends” or “loyal supporters.” Those emails sometimes noted topics the officials wanted to discuss with Chao or ask for special favors, including consideration for federal grants. Chao aide Todd Inman helped advise the Senate majority leader and local Kentucky officials on Transportation Department grants totaling $78 million for the mayor of Owensboro, a McConnell stronghold in western Kentucky. more...

Noelle Yasso, Opinion contributor
Letting Trump face his accuser would be dangerous and discourage future whistleblowers. Protect the identities and safety of those now coming forward. President Donald Trump says that "like every American," he deserves to meet his accuser ("the so-called 'Whistleblower' ") from the intelligence community. Compared with his earlier statement calling the anonymous whistleblower “almost a spy” and making a thinly veiled reference to execution, the president’s most recent request seems tame — almost reasonable. In fact, it is anything but. As an attorney who represents courageous individuals who come forward to report fraud in a range of industries, I know just how essential confidentiality is to guarding the safety of whistleblowers and the integrity of the reporting process, and just how dangerous a precedent revealing the whistleblower’s identity could set. The president is not entitled to “meet my accuser” any more than the general public is entitled to rule on the whistleblower’s credibility. Retaliation and intimidation risks: As more information emerges on Trump's attempts to get Ukraine to do political favors for him, that notion seems to be up for debate even outside Trump's Twitter account. The New York Times, ignoring the chilling effect on future whistleblowers, revealed details about this whistleblower's employment history. more...

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
A group of President Trump's associates pressed Ukraine to install new management at the top of the country's massive state gas company last spring in order to benefit some of their allies, The Associated Press reported Sunday. The businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani while trying to funnel lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, two people with knowledge of the plans told the outlet. The plan was derailed by former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's loss in the 2019 election to Volodymyr Zelensky, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry launched last month. Energy Secretary Rick Perry took up efforts to install a new management team at the helm of the gas company after Zelensky's win, according to the AP. It is unclear whether Perry’s attempt to replace board members at Naftogaz was coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, the AP reported. The Hill has reached out to the White House and Department of Energy for comment. The report could raise concerns that Trump allies may have been mixing business and politics when calling for the investigation into Hunter Biden, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. According to the AP, the associates attempting to change leadership at the state gas company might have had inside knowledge of the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine. For example, they appeared to know well in advance that Trump would recall the U.S. ambassador there. Three businessmen were at center of the Naftogaz operation, according to the AP: two Soviet-born Florida real estate entrepreneurs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and an oil magnate from Boca Raton, Florida, named Harry Sargeant III. Parnas and Fruman, two influential Republican donors, have reportedly gained access to top levels of the Republican Party, including meetings with Trump. Along with Sargeant, another major donor, they were reportedly pushing a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov. They met Favorov while the Ukrainian executive was attending an energy industry conference in Texas to support efforts to import American natural gas into Ukraine. John Dowd, a former Trump attorney who now represents Parnas and Fruman, told the AP it was actually the Naftogaz executives who approached his clients about making a deal. more...

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
President Trump privately told House Republicans that he is worried about the effect impeachment would have on his legacy, Axios reported Sunday. Trump said impeachment is a "bad thing to have on your resume" in a call with House Republicans, a source on the call told Axios.  President Trump privately told House Republicans that he is worried about the effect impeachment would have on his legacy, Axios reported Sunday. Trump said impeachment is a "bad thing to have on your resume" in a call with House Republicans, a source on the call told Axios. more...

By CONNOR O’BRIEN
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy slammed Republicans on Sunday, accusing them of being more loyal to President Donald Trump than the country amid a House impeachment inquiry centered on the commander in chief‘s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. "This entire country should be scared that at a moment when we need patriots, what we are getting is blind partisan loyalty," Murphy said in an interview on "Meet the Press." Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, followed Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who made waves last week when he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the top U.S. diplomat to the European Union told him in August that nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine was being held up in exchange for Kiev probing U.S. elections, a charge Trump later denied in a phone call with the senator. But on Sunday, Johnson defended Trump, saying he was "sympathetic with what the president has gone through" and that Democrats were actually relitigating the 2016 presidential election. Other congressional Republicans also eschewed criticism of Trump. Though he called Johnson "a good friend," Murphy said he's "scared" by Republicans' posture after Trump called on the governments of Ukraine and China to investigate Biden, one of his chief political rivals in the 2020 presidential race. more...

By Kat Tenbarge
The Sunday morning slate didn't have very many defenders of President Donald Trump. There were no appearances by any members of the Trump administration on the Sunday morning political shows, but a few GOP members did make it on the air, including Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. In a fiery back-and-forth with NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, Johnson reversed the stance he held at a constituent event in his home state on Friday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Trump blocked Johnson in August from telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that US aid was on its way, at the same time that the president was appealing to Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 contender Joe Biden. "I was surprised by the president's reaction and realized we had a sales job to do," Johnson said, indicating that the president was using the aid package as a bargaining tool for his political purposes. "I tried to convince him to give me the authority to tell President Zelensky that we were going to provide that. Now, I didn't succeed." On "Meet the Press," Johnson instead pushed a conspiracy theory that members of the FBI and CIA are conspiring to bring down Trump with investigations into his conduct and that the press was pushing a false narrative that Trump was digging up dirt on his 2020 opponent. more...

By Tara Law
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called on the Republican Party to “get a grip” and criticized American foreign policy as “a shambles” last week. Powell, a retired four-star general who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush, and national security advisor to Ronald Reagan, leaned toward Democratic candidates in recent years, expressing support for President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. When talking publicly about Donald Trump over the last few years, Powell has spoken in measured terms, saying in 2016 that he had decided to vote for Clinton because he felt that she was more qualified and later expressing concern on CNN that Trump might not be able to be a moral leader. However, he called then-candidate Trump a “national disgrace” in an email with a former aide that was hacked and leaked online. Speaking at a lecture with CNN columnist Fareed Zakaria and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright on Oct. 1, Powell criticized Republicans, calling on the Party to “get a grip on itself.” “They need to get a grip, and when they see things that aren’t right they need to say something about it. Because our foreign policy is a shambles right now, in my humble judgement. And I see things happening that are hard to understand,” Powell said. At the Oct. 1 lecture, Powell referred to an incident in September where President Trump displayed a hurricane weather map that appeared to have been crudely altered by hand to contradict the current weather forecast. “In my time, in her time, one of us would have gone to the President and said, ‘you screwed up.’ So we’ve got to fix it, and we’ll put out a correction. You know what happened this time? They ordered the Commerce Department to go out and back up whatever the President has said,” Powell said. “This is not the way the country is supposed to run, and Congress is one of the institutions that should be doing something about this. All parts of Congress. The media has a role to play. We all have a role to play. We’ve got to remember that all these pieces are part of our government: Executive Branch, Congress, Supreme Court and the fourth estate. And we have to remember the Constitution started with ‘we the people,’ not ‘me the President.’” more...

By Linette Lopez
When Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States, he promised to launch an economic experiment. Ignoring the past few decades of economic liberalization, multilateralism, and openness, Trump promised to close the economy, renegotiate our trade deals nation by nation, and refocus the US economy on a relatively small sector, manufacturing, which makes up less than 20% of the economy. To some, that experiment was a refreshing turn from the steady plod toward globalization that Americans have experienced for the past 50 years. To others — especially to economists — this was folly. Protectionism, as experts well know, is bad news. They reminded Trump that steel tariffs have only brought the US pain — but Trump slapped them on our allies anyway. He was warned about his tax policies; about disrupting the North American Free Trade Agreement, our trade deal with Canada and Mexico; about ripping up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade deal forged by the Obama administration and supported by members of both parties; and about confronting China alone. But Trump did it all anyway. And so the world found out what happens when the most powerful country in the world takes 100 years of economic knowledge and flushes it down the toilet. Experiment, on. more...

Woman who confronted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at town hall apparently linked to LaRouche fringe group
By Igor Derysh
A woman who ranted about “eating babies” to solve climate change at a town hall with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was revealed as a member of a bizarre conspiracy group, according to the group itself. During a town hall event at a public library in Queens, a woman stood up and began to yell about climate change. “We only have a few months left. … Your next campaign slogan should be this: we have to start eating babies,” the woman said, before removing her jacket to show off her T-shirt saying “Save the Planet. Eat the Children.” “We don’t have enough time,” the woman said. “Even if we would bomb Russia, we still have too many people, too much pollution, so we have to get rid of the babies. Just stopping having babies is not enough, we need to eat the babies.” Several people approached the woman to urge her to take her seat as Ocasio-Cortez attempted to reason with her. “Luckily, we have more than a few months,” she said, adding that there are many solutions to the climate crisis that are “positive.” As Ocasio-Cortez tried to move to the next question, the woman continued to try to speak to the congresswoman and was escorted from the event. The video of the incident was circulated among conservative circles and amplified by President Trump and his son, Donald Jr. more...

By CONNOR O’BRIEN
Former Rep. Joe Walsh, one of the Republicans challenging President Donald Trump for the party's nomination in the 2020 presidential race, called the incumbent president "a traitor" and said he'd vote to impeach him if he was still in Congress. "This is a strong term I'm going to use, but I'm going to say it on purpose: Donald Trump is a traitor," Walsh said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." Walsh was interviewed alongside another Republican challenger, former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Walsh, a Republican who represented Illinois in the House and has been a Trump critic, added he isn't accusing Trump of treason. But he said Trump "betrayed our country again this week" by calling on China and Ukraine to investigate one of his chief political rivals in the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden. "This president deserves to be impeached," Walsh said. House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump's efforts to push Ukraine's government to investigate Biden and his son Hunter. But the House has not held a formal vote on an impeachment inquiry, and several Democrats on Sunday brushed off calls for a vote. more...

A white person’s chances of being admitted increased 7 times if they have family who donated to Harvard
By Nicole Karlis
Although a federal judge recently sided with Harvard University in a challenge to the school’s consideration of race in admissions, a new study from the affirmative action lawsuit raises more questions about the degree to which the storied Ivy League university admits legacy students into its hallowed halls. Economists Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler and Tyler Ransom wrote the study, which was published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The data, which spans from 2009 to 2014, was made available by the aforementioned lawsuit led by Students for Fair Admission (SFFA). “Detailed data on how universities practice holistic admissions are virtually never made available to researchers,” the researchers stated in the study. “Through the SFFA lawsuit, unprecedented access was given to how Harvard rates their applicants as well as how applicant characteristics, including these ratings, translate into admissions.” According to the study, 43 percent of white Harvard students admitted were legacy students, children of staff, on the dean’s interest list—meaning their parents or relatives have donated to Harvard—or were recruited athletes. Aside from admits in the four categories, which the study’s authors refer to as ALDCs, only 57 percent of white student admits were meritocratic-based decisions. “Over 43% of white admits are ALDC, compared to less than 16% of admits for each of the other three major racial/ethnic groups,” the authors state. “Indeed, due in part to the nature of the sports that Harvard offers, recruited athletes alone make up over 16% of white admits.” The study also states that an estimated 75 percent of white students admitted from those four categories “would have been rejected” if it weren’t for falling into one of the four categories. Nearly 70 percent of all legacy applicants are white, yet the study stated that a white person’s chances of being admitted increased 7 times if they have family who donated to Harvard. Harvard’s acceptance rate for its class of 2023 was 4.5 percent. “We show that removing legacy and athlete preferences results in shifts in admissions away from white applicants with each of the other groups either increasing or staying the same,” the authors state. “At the same time, fewer high-income applicants would be admitted.” more...

By Ewan Palmer
A Florida man who was previously accused of burning a girl after putting her in an oven is now being investigated for allegedly pouring boiling water down a 3-year-old boy's back. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) said they were notified by daycare workers after they noticed a large mark on the boy. The child's mother told the daycare that the boy got the mark from being "pulled across the top of a trampoline" and asked them not to call the DCF, reported Click Orlando. She added that when the child was not in daycare, he was looked after by 47-year-old Terry May. The child protective investigator then took the boy to the hospital, as the mother could not get off work. When asked how he got the mark on his back, the child said May poured boiling water on his back after he urinated on the floor at his house, reports the Daytona Beach-News Journal. A deputy from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office attended the AdventHealth DeLand hospital and spoke with the investigator. When the deputy asked the boy how he hurt his back, the boy replied: "Terry burned me." The child reportedly appeared too scared to say more about the incident when asked by the authorities. Volusia County sheriff's spokesman Andrew Gant said the case is still being investigated and May has not been arrested or charged. This is not the first time the 47-year-old has been accused of child abuse. In January 2018, he was sought by police after a 3-year-old girl alleged he beat her and put her in an oven. According to a statement at the time, deputies and the DCF met with the girl at her home, where she claimed May frequently hit her with a belt. Police noticed the girl had several noticeable injuries, including an extensive abrasion on her ear consistent with a burn injury, bruising and swelling on her head, a 6-inch scar on her back, and lacerations on her feet, hands and leg. The child later claimed to the DCF that she burned her ear after May had put her in the oven. May denied the allegations against him and the case was later dropped. more...

By Brian Naylor
While Congress mulls whether President Trump's phone call soliciting help from the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son is an impeachable offense, Trump's action raises another question. Did the president's requests violate campaign finance law? The Department of Justice doesn't think so. DOJ officials and career prosecutors in the department's public integrity section examined the text of the July 25 phone call and concluded there was not a potential campaign finance violation, according to senior Justice Department officials. The facts did not provide a basis for a predicated investigation, they said. In part, it depends on whether the president solicited a "thing of value" and how that term is defined. Brendan Fischer, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, believes there was a violation of the law. He says that "there is a long list" of examples of the Federal Election Commission finding that "intangible items like opposition research can constitute a thing of value for purposes of campaign finance law." Fischer noted that when looking into Russia intervention in the 2016 election, special counsel Robert Mueller investigated whether Donald Trump Jr. violated campaign finance law with his apparent willingness to accept dirt about Hillary Clinton. Mueller couldn't determine whether Trump Jr. knew that what he was doing violated the law, Fischer says, and furthermore, the information being solicited "appeared to be nonexistent." For a criminal prosecution, the worth of the "thing of value" must be more than $25,000 for a felony and $2,000 for a misdemeanor. The chair of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, tweeted the day after the transcript of Trump's phone call was released last month that "the Commission has recognized the 'broad scope' of the foreign national contribution prohibition and found that even where the value of a good or service 'may be nominal or difficult to ascertain,' such contributions are nevertheless banned." Former FEC senior counsel Dan Weiner says the question of whether intangibles such as opposition research is a thing of value is "fairly well-settled." He says because the FEC is the agency charged with interpreting and administering federal campaign finance law, getting the agency involved in this question "is crucial." There's only one problem: The FEC currently lacks a quorum and cannot take up any new investigations until additional commissioners are nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Fischer at the Campaign Legal Center isn't sure that even if there were a quorum, the FEC would act. The alleged violation, he says, "arose in the course of the president carrying out his foreign policy responsibilities and the president has wide latitude to conduct diplomacy. I would be very surprised if the FEC were to issue civil penalties against the president or his campaign." more...

The biggest beneficiary of the Ukraine scandal is, sure enough, the Kremlin.
By MOLLY K. MCKEW
A year ago, I was in Kiev when a young Ukrainian soldier was killed. Olesya Baklanova, 19, enlisted in the Ukrainian Armed Forces as soon as she was eligible and fought to be assigned a combat post. Deployed to the front lines of her country’s war against Russia, she was killed during the night while manning an observation post, shot by a sniper stationed among the Russian and proxy forces dug in a few hundred meters way. She was one of four Ukrainian soldiers killed at their post that night — one of the estimated 13,000 soldiers, fighters and civilians killed in eastern Ukraine in the past five years. Her story was a concise reminder of the realities of Ukraine’s forgotten war. Russian forces seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in early 2014; weeks later, Russia formally annexed the territory. This was an important strategic goal for President Vladimir Putin. To ensure that no one had time to do anything about it — and to further destabilize Ukraine — Russia then launched a war in eastern Ukraine, in the Donbas region, using nominal separatists with Russian backing. Five years on, it’s still a hot war, with Russia constantly pushing forward the line of occupation. Some 1.5 million people have been displaced. The shifting mass of regular and irregular Russian troops in eastern Ukraine — soldiers and mercenaries; “separatist” proxies and militias; a lot of guys with pseudonyms using advanced Russian weaponry that Russia claims must have been bought at the local corner shop (note: it is supplied from Russia) — constantly test and adapt new capabilities, especially electronic warfare capabilities, on the battlefield. Ukrainian forces, with Western support, have steadily developed new measures to counter whatever is thrown at them. The Ukrainian war effort is defined both by this ingenuity and by sacrifice. The army, left gutted by former President Viktor Yanukovych, was rebuilt entirely in wartime. New units are rotated through areas of heavy fighting to increase their combat experience — a wartime readiness strategy that contributes to spikes in casualties, but which has been enormously successful. The average age of Ukrainian recruits is officially around 36, though anecdotally it’s over 40 at the front, as the generation that remembers life before independence now leads the fight to keep it. more...

By KATE FELDMAN and Shant Shahrigian - New York Daily News
“Multiple” whistleblowers have come forward about President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, said a lawyer for the original whistleblower who set off the case roiling the nation. “I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. No further comment at this time,” attorney Andrew Bakaj tweeted Sunday. One of the new whistleblowers was described as an intelligence official with “first-hand knowledge” of some of the allegations in the original complaint, which said Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr on digging up dirt about Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate.  Attorney Mark Zaid told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that the new whistleblower has spoken with the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, That could help shut down Trump’s efforts to discredit the original whistleblower. The president has tried to depict the complaint as unreliable since it was based on second-hand accounts of Trump’s conduct. House Democrats have been moving full speed ahead with impeachment proceedings, demanding documents from a combative White House since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry Sept. 24. Trump has been on an off-the-rails rampage, suggesting that leading Dems are in fact the ones guilty of treason and trying to discredit the veracity of the whistleblower’s complaint. more...

Byjay reeves, associated press
Alabama steamship owner Timothy Meaher financed the last slave vessel that brought African captives to the United States, and he came out of the Civil War a wealthy man. His descendants, with land worth millions, are still part of Mobile society's upper crust. The people whom Meaher enslaved, however, emerged from the war with freedom but little else. Census forms that documented Meaher's postwar riches list them as laborers, housewives and farmers with nothing of value. Many of their descendants today hold working-class jobs. Now, the history of Meaher and the slave ship Clotilda may offer one of the more clear-cut cases for slavery reparations, with identifiable perpetrators and victims. While no formal push for reparations has begun, the subject has been bubbling up quietly among community members since earlier this year, when experts said they found the wreckage of the Clotilda in muddy waters near Mobile. Some say too many years have passed for reparations; others say the discovery of the ship makes the timing perfect. Many Clotilda descendants say reconciliation with the Meahers would suffice, perhaps a chance to discuss an intertwined history. Others hope the family helps with ambitious plans to transform a downtrodden community into a tourist attraction. Some want cash; some want nothing. Reparations debates usually involve redress for the multitude of descendants from about 4 million black people who were enslaved in the United States. But with Congress considering whether to create a reparations study commission, what might a single instance of reparations look like in the city where this nation's Atlantic slave trade finally ended? Pat Frazier, a descendant of Meaher slave James Dennison, isn't sure. But she's unhappy about the lack of justice and what many consider the deafening silence of the Meaher family. "I've never known them to just own up to what happened," said Frazier, 68. In Mobile, like many Southern communities, descendants of slave owners and enslaved people are often neighbors, though in vastly different circumstances. Originally from Maine, Meaher moved South and got rich off steamboats and a sawmill. He purchased the schooner Clotilda for a reported $35,000 and financed a slave expedition to West Africa the year before the war began. The international slave trade was already outlawed, but Meaher wagered he could import slaves in defiance of the ban. Arrested after the ship carrying about 110 captives arrived and was scuttled in Mobile in 1860, he was cleared of charges by a judge, according to "Dreams of Africa in Alabama," a book by Sylviane A. Diouf. Historical accounts say Meaher refused to provide land after the war to the freed Africans, who then scraped together money to purchase property. They founded a community called "Africatown USA," where some of the west-African ways of the once-enslaved people were preserved. Its remnants still exist. Meaher listed assets including $20,000 in land and personal property in the 1870 Census. A newspaper article said his son Augustine was a multi-millionaire in 1905. Court records from 2012 say the Meaher family real estate company held $35 million in assets including 22,000 acres of land, timber plus rental income and cash. Tax records show Meaher relatives remain large landowners, with $20 million in property through the corporation. more...

Opinion by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky
(CNN) - On December 19, 1985, Secretary of State George Shultz rocked the Reagan administration by publicly threatening to resign. The matter was not over policy, but principle. Shultz was taking a stand against Reagan's plan to expand the use of polygraph tests to as many as 180,000 government employees — including 4,500 from the State Department — in an effort to crack down on leaks. Just one day after Shultz took a stand, Reagan backed down. Shultz represents the gold standard for a secretary of state defending his department. It's hard to see current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo taking a page from Shultz's playbook. It appears that if there's anything Pompeo learned from his predecessor Rex Tillerson, it's not to oppose President Donald Trump or make him unhappy. We have worked for a half dozen secretaries of state in both Republican and Democratic administrations and rarely if ever have we encountered one more ill-suited for the job. Pompeo, who seems to be motivated by his own political ambitions and his desire to keep his job, has produced little of real consequence to advance the nation's interest. If he continues on his current trajectory, Pompeo may end up being remembered as the worst secretary of state in modern times. To be fair, Pompeo works for a mercurial and undisciplined President who trusts and empowers no one, interferes in foreign policy when his vanity and mood swings move him, and sees everything through the lens of his own personal and political needs. It may well be that no secretary of state can navigate these turbulent waters. After John Bolton was ousted as national security adviser, Pompeo became the most influential foreign policy voice in Washington after Trump. And yet it appears Pompeo is either unwilling or incapable of using that influence to advise the President. There is no speaking truth to power here. Pompeo seems unwilling to apply any brakes on Trump's impulses and in fact seems willing to keep one foot on the accelerator — particularly when it comes to defending Trump's trade war with China and defending Saudi Arabia. Pompeo did not seem interested in getting in Trump's way as the President and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani went digging for dirt on political opponents in Ukraine. In fact, Pompeo sat in on the Trump-Zelensky phone call on July 25 and was a first-hand witness to the President asking the Ukrainian leader to initiate an investigation into Trump's leading 2020 political rival — and yet for days he made misleading statements to gloss over his participation. Pompeo failed to meet a subpoena deadline from the House and pushed back against the House Foreign Affairs Committee's request to interview five State Department officials. more...

“Why a Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here, I have no idea,” and exasperated Todd noted at one point.
By Justin Baragona
In an extremely contentious and heated interview with Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd on Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) declared that he does not trust the CIA or FBI while launching into a series of conspiratorial attacks on Democrats and intelligence officials regarding the Ukraine scandal. Johnson—who last week said he was told about a quid pro quo involving Ukrainian investigation into the 2016 election and that President Trump blocked him from telling Ukraine military aid was coming—immediately began his interview on the defensive, complaining that Todd was biased and the president was being sabotaged. The Republican senator then proceeded to accuse former members of the FBI and CIA of conspiring to set up the president after his election, claiming this has “everything to do with Ukraine.” “Why a Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here, I have no idea,” an exasperated Todd noted at one point. “It is not, that is exactly, because this is going over the line, exactly why President Trump is upset and why his supporters are upset with the news media,” Johnson shouted, to which Todd replied: “Can we please answer the question that I asked you instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you are not criticizing him?” Eventually, Johnson would tell Todd that the reason he “winced” when he heard about military aid being attached to Ukrainian investigations into the 2016 election is he didn’t want to see those two things connected, adding that Trump “adamantly denied” to him that was occurring. He would then go on to support a probe by Ukraine into the Democrats surrounding the last presidential election. “Ukrainian officials reportedly helped Clinton allies research Trump’s advisers,” he huffed. “There is potential interference in the 2016 campaign. That’s what Trump wants to get to the bottom of. But the press doesn’t want to.” more...

By Caitlin O'Kane
A high school teacher in Georgia was placed on administrative leave after allegedly posting a message in her classroom saying the Confederate flag symbolizes one's intent to "marry your sister." The controversial message offended one Hephzibah High School student, who told her mom the teacher put a photo of the Confederate flag on the board with text saying: "A sticker you put on the back of your pickup truck to announce that you intend to marry your sister. Think of it like a white trash 'Save the Date' card." Melissa Fuller told CBS affiliate WRDW that her daughter found it offensive and asked her mom what she thought. Fuller decided to post about the incident on Facebook, where fellow parents and members of the community started discussing it. "A lot of [the discussion] is that it's not morally correct. It's unethical," Fuller told the station. "It's just something you don't want to discuss today in today's world and especially inside of a classroom." Fuller said her daughter once wore a belt to school with a Confederate flag buckle. The school asked her daughter to take it off, which she did, and she received an in-house suspension. "If she can't wear that belt buckle, then why is it appropriate to make an assignment out of it?" Fuller said. more...

By The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An Alabama hospital system that quit accepting new patients after a ransomware attack says it has gotten a key to unlock its computer systems. DCH Health Systems announced Saturday it is bringing systems back online. A statement didn't say how the three-hospital system got the key to unlock its data. But The Tuscaloosa News quotes spokesman Brad Fisher as saying the hospital system paid the attackers. The company stopped accepting new patients at its hospitals in Tuscaloosa, Northport and Fayette because of a ransomware attack that hit early Tuesday. New patients were sent to hospitals in Birmingham or elsewhere. The statement says the hospitals will continue diverting all but the most critically ill patients through the weekend. The hospitals say hackers used the ransomware variant Ryuk to lock its files. more...

By Eric D. Lawrence and Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press
DETROIT – The UAW regional director charged in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe has been placed on leave. Vance Pearson, who heads a 17-state union region from Missouri to California and is charged with, among other things, embezzling union money, wire fraud and money laundering, began the leave on Friday. It comes as pressure has been building on the union to take action as high-ranking current and former officials, including President Gary Jones, have faced increasing scrutiny. The scandal, which first broke into the open in 2017, has also been a distraction as the union tries to negotiate a new contract with General Motors and more than 46,000 workers remain on strike, although officials have been reporting progress of late. The UAW, in a statement about Pearson, said his region will be overseen by officials in Detroit. "The sole focus of the International Union, UAW, is to act in the best interest of the more than 400,000 UAW members across this country. We take all allegations seriously. For that reason, as of October 4, 2019, Vance Pearson began a leave of absence from the IUAW," the statement said. Pearson could not be reached for comment. Pearson, 58, of St. Charles, Missouri, was the successor in Region 5 to Jones, whose house was among those raided by federal agents in August. A source has identified Jones as the official who had $30,000 seized from his home in Canton during the raids, which also targeted past President Dennis Williams. The ongoing scandal first came to light in 2017 with indictments of former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli and Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield. The case at that time focused on misuse of millions of dollars meant for worker training but has since spread to focus on wider corruption. more...

By Lauren Turner
Elaine Luria is one of the seven newly-elected Democrats in the US House of Representatives whose decision to back an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump tipped the scales. The day after they spoke out, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal inquiry would take place. How would constituents welcome her when she returned? Impeachment was always going to loom large as congresswoman Elaine Luria took to the New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach for a town hall event, inviting residents to ask her questions. It's on people's lips as they take their seats for the event - tickets sold out, but there are pockets of empty space as it begins. This military area voted for Luria, who served in the Navy for 20 years, in 2018, with the new congresswoman defeating incumbent Republican Scott Taylor. Being in a swing district that voted for Trump in 2016, she's aware speaking out could risk her political career. But, she says she would "rather be on the right side of history" and to be able to look herself in the mirror and know she did the "right thing". Rather than stand up and speak to Luria directly, people are invited to write questions on pieces of card as they arrive - different colours indicating the topics of impeachment, public safety and general queries. They are then drawn out and read by the moderator. There are grumblings from local Republicans on social media as this method emerges, saying it's not a true town hall event. The very first question is more of a comment - commending her "brave, patriotic decision" - and is met with applause as it is read out. Initially a few rise to their feet, and then much of the crowd is giving her a standing ovation. But Luria is keen to tamp down the cheers. "I appreciate your enthusiasm," she responds. "But I truly feel this is a sad time for our country. I didn't go to Washington to impeach the president. "I wanted to do this for our country. I didn't spend 20 years in uniform defending our country to watch something like this happen." But she gets a different reaction from one audience member when a question is asked about the phone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The president is accused of breaking the law by pressuring Ukraine's leader to investigate former US Vice-President Joe Biden - a frontrunner to take on Trump in next year's election - and Biden's son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian energy company. The phone call, she starts to explain, is a "clear instance of the president of the United States enlisting the help of a foreign leader…" more...

A request to exhume the remains of infamous US gangster John Dillinger has been approved by officials in Indiana. Dillinger's relatives have been pressing for the permit, saying an imposter is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. The FBI says its agents shot dead the gangster in Chicago in 1934, and he was then buried in Indiana's state capital. The disinterment is now planned for 31 December 2019 - but the cemetery is fighting the decision in court. Dillinger's nephew Michael Thompson and another family member say they believe that the FBI "killed the wrong man" at Chicago's Biograph Theater in 1934. They say they have evidence that the imposter in the grave has different eye colour and fingerprints. The FBI has dismissed such arguments as "a conspiracy theory". In a tweet in August, the FBI said it had "a wealth of information" proving that Dillinger was indeed shot dead in Chicago. more...

By Doug Criss and Leah Asmelash, CNN
(CNN) - It was the last thing anyone was expecting. Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger had just been sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting a black man, Botham Jean, in his own apartment. Jean's younger brother Brandt Jean was on the witness stand Wednesday, giving a victim-impact statement, when he turned to the judge and made a most unusual request. "I don't know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please?" he asked. What happened next stunned both the courtroom and the nation. Jean stepped off the witness stand and stepped over to Guyger. The two hugged for nearly a minute. "I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you," Jean told Guyger. "I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you." This isn't the first time a black victim of violence has offered public forgiveness to the perpetrator. Some relatives of the nine victims in the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting publicly forgave killer Dylann Roof just a few days after the massacre. The mother of Walter Scott, an unarmed man who was gunned down by a South Carolina police officer that same year, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that she felt "forgiveness in my heart." But many other black victims, including the mother of Michael Brown, slain in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, are not so quick to absolve. And not everyone agrees with this method of instant and public forgiveness. Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said earlier this year she has not been able to forgive George Zimmerman for killing her son in Florida in 2012. "I think black people are not forced to forgive, but they are expected to forgive, because there are so many times where we have forgiven people who have done mean, evil, and nasty things to us," she told Essence magazine. Here's a look at why some people -- black and white alike -- opt to forgive, while others refuse. It's part of their Christian faith: Forgiveness is mentioned many times in the Bible and is a pinnacle of the Christian faith. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you," reads Ephesians 4:32. Another verse, Matthew 6:14, goes further: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." These sentiments of forgiveness are reiterated again and again throughout the Bible, and Botham's family is quite acquainted with this Christian tradition. Like his brother, Brandt was raised in the Church of Christ in St. Lucia, where his family lives. His mother, Allison Jean, gave all of her three children Biblical middle names. Botham Jean's middle name was Shem, who was a son of Noah. Brandt's middle name is Samuel, after a prophet in the Old Testament. more...

By Jordain Carney
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Saturday it was "completely inappropriate" for President Trump to urge China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. "I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent. ... It’s completely inappropriate," Collins told the Bangor Daily News. Collins's comments came after Trump suggested to reporters outside the White House on Thursday that China and Ukraine should investigate the Bidens. "China should start an investigation into the Bidens," Trump said in front of cameras on the South Lawn. The president added that he had not explicitly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to open such a probe but that it’s “certainly something we can start thinking about.” Collins — who is up for reelection in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 — is one of the few Republican senators who have publicly pushed back against Trump's comments. Most have remained silent as they are dispersed across the country and in the middle of a two-week recess. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement on Thursday night that "Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth" but also knocked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for running a "partisan clown show in the House." more...

By JOSH GERSTEIN
A federal judge has ordered the White House to preserve a wide range of evidence about President Donald Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders, including his interactions related to Ukraine that have fueled an impeachment investigation in the House. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the order Thursday, directing that White House officials not destroy records of “meetings, phone calls, and other communications with foreign leaders.” The judge’s order also appears to specifically address reports that the Trump White House set up a special system to limit access to certain records of presidential conversations with foreign leaders. Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, instructed the White House to preserve “all records of efforts by White House or other executive branch officials to return, ‘claw back,’ ’lock down’ or recall White House records” about dealings with foreign officials. The order came in a lawsuit filed in May by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, as well as two history-focused organizations: the National Security Archive and the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations. The suit alleged that the White House was failing to maintain and putting at risk records of presidential actions required to be documented by the Presidential Records Act. While the suit predated the Ukraine controversy, lawyers pressing the case asked Jackson on Tuesday for a temporary restraining order, citing reports that records of Trump’s phone calls with the president of Ukraine and some other leaders had been removed from the usual database at the White House and moved to another one not typically used for those calls. Justice Department lawyers said in a court filing Wednesday that the White House had already taken steps to secure many of the records the plaintiffs expressed concern about. The filing also suggested that in response to the request for a restraining order, White House lawyers broadened an existing instruction to preserve records of Trump’s foreign interactions. more...

By james gordon meek and anne flaherty
Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower who sounded the alarm on President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and triggered an impeachment inquiry, tells ABC News that he is now representing a second whistleblower who has spoken with the inspector general. Zaid tells ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the second person -- also described as an intelligence official -- has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint and has been interviewed by the head of the intelligence community's internal watchdog office, Michael Atkinson. The existence of a second whistleblower -- particularly one who can speak directly about events involving the president related to conversations involving Ukraine -- could undercut Trump's repeated insistence that the original complaint, released on Sept. 26, was "totally inaccurate."  That original seven-page complaint alleged that Trump pushed a foreign power to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and Biden's son, Hunter, and that unnamed senior White House officials then tried to "lock down" all records of the phone call. "This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call," the first whistleblower stated, in a complaint filed Aug. 12. Zaid says both officials have full protection of the law intended to protect whistleblowers from being fired in retaliation. While this second official has spoken with the IG -- the internal watchdog office created to handle complaints -- this person has not communicated yet with the congressional committees conducting the investigation. The New York Times on Friday cited anonymous sources in reporting that a second intelligence official was weighing whether to file his own formal complaint and testify to Congress. Zaid says he does not know if the second whistleblower he represents is the person identified in the Times report. Zaid’s co-counsel, Andrew Bakaj, confirmed in a tweet Sunday that the firm is representing "multiple whistleblowers." Zaid later confirmed in a tweet that two are being represented by their legal team. According to the first whistleblower, more than a half a dozen U.S. officials have information relevant to the investigation -- suggesting the probe could widen even further. more...

By MELANIE ZANONA, BEN SCHRECKINGER, JOSH GERSTEIN and HEATHER CAYGLE
Another week, and the impeachment drama increases. The latest developments — from diplomatic text messages to presidential tweets — could leave even the most dialed-in politico’s head spinning. We asked four reporters who have been covering Trump’s presidency and the investigations to share their thoughts on where we are and where we’re going. Where are congressional Republicans and are there any signs of cracks in Trump’s firewall of support? Melanie Zanona, Congress reporter: I don’t expect to see a GOP jail break — at least not yet. Only a few Republicans have spoken out publicly against Trump, but it’s mostly the usual Trump critics or retiring members. Most Republicans are just keeping their heads down and waiting to see what else comes out and how it plays back home. I suspect we’ll have a better sense of where the GOP conference stands after the recess. Ben Schreckinger, national political correspondent: Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse have both criticized Trump for calling on China to investigate the Bidens. But they are part of the same small group of Republican senators who have been willing to take on Trump all along. Marco Rubio, a China hawk, has declined to call out Trump for it. It does not seem like his firewall is breaking in the Senate, which is all that will matter if he is impeached. Josh Gerstein, legal affairs contributor: I don’t see Trump’s wall of support collapsing, but a few bricks do seem to be jostling loose. I was struck this week by some commentators who almost always align themselves with the president, openly criticizing him over the Ukraine episode. “Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden. … There's no way to spin this as a good idea,” Fox host Tucker Carlson and Daily Caller publisher Neil Patel wrote. They went on to say Trump’s infraction didn’t merit impeachment, but any disagreement from Trump’s Amen chorus must get under his skin given his repeated insistence that the call was “perfect.” Heather Caygle, Congress reporter: Republicans left the closed-door House intelligence committee hearing Friday seeking to deflect criticism of the president onto Adam Schiff, the Democrat who heads it. Republicans are attacking Schiff more than defending Trump, accusing the Intel chairman of helping orchestrate the allegations. It’s been easier for Republicans to stay quiet, in part, due to the congressional recess — a two-week break where most members are away from the Capitol and its press corps. more...

By Marty Johnson
According to Axios, President Trump told House Republicans that he was urged by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to make his July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump told fellow party members "not a lot of people know this but, I didn't even want to make the call," a source who was on the call told the news outlet. "The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about an LNG [liquified natural gas] plant," Trump added. The president's comments put a twist on the narrative surrounding House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Text messages between White House officials and former Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak were released earlier this week. None of the messages suggest that Perry was the reason behind Trump's phone call. more...

By Kevin Breuninger
The Treasury Department’s internal watchdog is investigating how the department handled House Democrats’ requests for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, CNBC confirmed Friday. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., asked acting Inspector General Rich Delmar in a Sept. 30 letter to investigate how the Treasury handled the House panel’s request to hand over tax returns for Trump and his businesses. “I want to be assured that Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Service ... is enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner and no one is endeavoring to intimidate or impede government officials and employees carrying out their duties,” Neal wrote. Delmar told CNBC that Neal asked his office to “inquire into the process by which the Department received, evaluated, and responded to the Committee’s request for federal tax information.” “We are undertaking that inquiry,” Delmar said. more...

Sometimes, yes—which is why Donald Trump’s potential impeachment hinges on his motive in doing so.
By EDWARD B. FOLEY
Here’s the big question on which the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump could turn: Is it ever appropriate for a U.S. president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival? Democrats seem to assume the answer is no, that this kind of request could never be proper, given the implications for our electoral system. “Smoking gun” is what they say about Trump’s urging Ukraine—and now also China—to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Republicans, meanwhile, contend that it is perfectly normal, and justified, for Trump as president to ask the Ukrainians to look into potential corruption that involves Americans and could, in theory, affect U.S. relations with that country. “This is not about politics. This is about corruption,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Friday. But the real answer to this question is more complicated. History shows that a president sometimes might be justified in asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival, including a former vice president. So, the mere fact of Trump’s request for an investigation into the Bidens, without considering the circumstances of the request, is not enough to impeach him. In order prove that Trump abused his presidential powers to the point that he no longer can be trusted in exercising them—the constitutional standard for impeachment—Congress must establish Trump’s intent in making the request. Was it done in good faith, with U.S. foreign or domestic interests in mind, or in bad faith, merely for Trump’s personal and political benefit? To prove the latter, Congress can’t rely on Trump’s words alone; it must show that the charges of corruption against the Bidens are baseless and that Trump’s request to Ukraine is part of a pattern of bad faith demonstrating that the nation no longer can tolerate his incumbency. more...

By Daniel Politi
President Donald Trump issued a proclamation that requires all immigrants to the United States have health insurance. The proclamation, which is set to take effect Nov. 3, details that the government will only accept visa petitions from abroad by applicants who can prove they will be able to secure health insurance within a month of their entry into the United States. Those who can’t prove that outright, must demonstrate they have enough money to pay “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” What “reasonably foreseeable” means isn’t quite clear as it isn’t defined in the proclamation. “The entry into the United States as immigrants of aliens who will financially burden the United States health care system is hereby suspended,” reads the proclamation. The document takes pains to emphasize that the measure is about costs. “While our healthcare system grapples with the challenges caused by uncompensated care, the United States Government is making the problem worse by admitting thousands of aliens who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their healthcare costs,” notes the proclamation. “Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.” more...

By John Bowden
President Trump called for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to be impeached Saturday and argued that Republican voters in the state made a "mistake" nominating Romney for the Senate. In a pair of tweets, the president argued that the Utah Republican should be removed from office and that former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), another frequent Trump critic, was "better" than Romney. "I’m hearing that the Great People of Utah are considering their vote for their Pompous Senator, Mitt Romney, to be a big mistake. I agree! He is a fool who is playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats! #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY," Trump tweeted. "No Kevin, Jeff Flake is better!" he added, responding to Fox News reporter Kevin Corke's tweet questioning whether Romney was "the new #JeffFlake." more...

IRS acknowledges that it doesn’t have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it’s not going to.
By Paul Kiel
The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money. ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed. Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years — something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do. On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either. They are “the most efficient use of available IRS examination resources,” Rettig’s report says. On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard. It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam. What’s more, the letter says, “the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.” As a result, the budget cuts have hit this part of the IRS particularly hard. For now, the IRS says, while it agrees auditing more wealthy taxpayers would be a good idea, without adequate funding there’s nothing it can do. “Congress must fund and the IRS must hire and train appropriate numbers of [auditors] to have appropriately balanced coverage across all income levels,” the report said. Since 2011, Republicans in Congress have driven cuts to the IRS enforcement budget; it’s more than a quarter lower than its 2010 level, adjusting for inflation. Recently, bipartisan support has emerged in both the House and Senate for increasing enforcement spending, but the proposals on the table are relatively modest and would not restore the budget to pre-cut levels. However, even a proposed small increase might not come to pass, because it’s unclear whether Congress will actually pass any appropriations bills this year. more...

By Jessica Tarlov, opinion contributor
The oft-cited “Donald Trump tells it like it is” defense of the president is coming back to bite him and his ardent supporters. President Trump is now regularly saying the quiet part out loud. He has tried to use the office of the presidency to pressure foreign governments to investigate a political opponent, a clear abuse of power. On Thursday, a reporter asked the president, “What exactly did you hope the Ukrainian president would do about the Bidens?” Trump’s answer was stunning — and obvious at the same time. He replied, “I think if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation. … They should investigate the Bidens. … China likewise should start an investigation.” For those who have been paying close attention, this is, indeed, the exact thing Republicans have spent days denying that Trump asked in his July phone call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though the president has upped the ante by adding a request to China to investigate the former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. A Monmouth University poll released this week found that only 40 percent of Republicans believe Trump mentioned Biden on the call with the Ukrainian president. What will they say now? The president is his own worst enemy — and I, for one, am thankful for it. He strikes a hole in the heart of any decent defense of his behavior on a regular basis. There have been no breaches in whistleblower protocol, no matter what accusations the president hurls at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) or the whistleblower himself. According to guidance on “protected disclosures” from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), communication of urgent concern can go to congressional intelligence committees. There is bipartisan consensus on this, with spokespeople for Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) saying that it would be standard practice for the “intelligence committee to tell a potential whistleblower to hire counsel and file a complaint with an agency IG or the IC IG.” There goes that argument. And with news trickling out about congressional testimony by Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine — which included a text message from Bill Taylor, the former top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, that read, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance to help with a political campaign” — the president’s story will continue to look more and more ridiculous. (The text message exchange reveals pushback on that assertion and then a suggestion to take the conversation offline.) more...

The DOJ’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe seems to be focusing on the intelligence community’s links with foreign sources.
By NATASHA BERTRAND
For months, President Donald Trump’s allies have been raising expectations for prosecutor John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, predicting that he will uncover a deep state plot to stage a “coup” against the president. Durham “is looking at putting people in jail,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity in July. Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said Durham is about to unleash “a pile of evidence” that will “debunk” everything House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has proclaimed for “the last two years.” “Stuff is going to hit the fan” when Durham is done “investigating the investigators,” said Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera. “If indictments are warranted, U.S. Attorney John Durham will be bringing them,” wrote conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt. But in the five months since Attorney General Bill Barr tapped Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, and whether any inappropriate “spying” occurred on members of the Trump campaign, he has not requested interviews with any of the FBI or DOJ employees who were directly involved in, or knew about, the opening of the Russia investigation in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter. The omission raises questions about what, exactly, Durham—alongside Attorney General Bill Barr—has been investigating. Those not contacted include former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok; former FBI general counsel Jim Baker; former chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section David Laufman; and former head of DOJ’s National Security Division Mary McCord. Former CIA Director John Brennan, Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele, and former Trump adviser Carter Page—who was the subject of a surveillance warrant that is now under investigation by the inspector general—haven’t been contacted for interviews, either. more...

By Editorial Board
THE ROUGH transcript of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prompted a debate about whether, in pressing for politicized investigations of alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and of Joe Biden, Mr. Trump dangled rewards for Mr. Zelensky as a quid pro quo. In our view, the transcript contained at least a hint that Mr. Trump was linking the “favor” he wanted to arms sales, and clear evidence that he was tying it to a White House invitation. That conclusion is now confirmed. Text messages among U.S. diplomats and a Ukrainian official released by House committees definitively show that not only did the Trump administration seek to extract Ukrainian promises of political probes in exchange for a summit meeting, but also they spent weeks negotiating the deal both before and after the Trump-Zelensky phone call. There was no lack of clarity on either side. “Heard from the White House,” U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker texted a top aide to Mr. Zelensky on July 25, just ahead of the call. “Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/ ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.” There was no lack of clarity on either side. “Heard from the White House,” U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker texted a top aide to Mr. Zelensky on July 25, just ahead of the call. “Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/ ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.” About two weeks later, amid negotiations over what, exactly, Mr. Zelensky would say in publicly announcing the probes, the aide, Andrey Yermak, texted Mr. Volker: “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. . . . But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date.” In the end, the deal did not go through. Instead, the record shows that Mr. Trump and his retainers kept raising their demands, like a casino developer squeezing a plumbing contractor. Mr. Zelensky was supposed to get his meeting date after promising the investigations in the July 25 phone call. Instead, the Ukrainians were told Mr. Zelensky needed to make a public statement committing to the probes. Mr. Volker told Congress Thursday that when the Ukrainians then offered a general statement about fighting corruption, it was rejected by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said Mr. Zelensky had to refer specifically to allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and to the gas company that employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter. In the end, the Ukrainians — to their credit — refused. more...

The official, a member of the intelligence community, was interviewed by the inspector general to corroborate the original whistle-blower’s account.
By Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman
WASHINGTON — A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter. The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people said. The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, briefed lawmakers privately on Friday about how he substantiated the whistle-blower’s account. It was not clear whether he told lawmakers that the second official was considering filing a complaint. more...

The president made the reported request as House lawmakers intensify their impeachment probe into his communications with Ukraine.
By Amy Russo
As House lawmakers intensify their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s alleged solicitation of election interference from Ukraine, he has ordered “substantial” staff cuts within the National Security Council, Bloomberg News reported late Friday. The outlet cited five individuals familiar with the plan, some of whom described it as an effort to downsize the administration’s foreign policy arm under Robert O’Brien, who was named national security adviser last month. The request was reportedly shared this week with senior NSC officials by both O’Brien and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The White House did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment on the matter. The news comes amid mounting scandal over Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he pressed Zelensky repeatedly to assist lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr with a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, based on unsubstantiated accusations. A whistleblower complaint filed in August by a member of the intelligence community states that Trump was essentially asking Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election by investigating a political rival. There remains no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Bidens. The complaint also states that “multiple White House officials” said a transcript of the call was stored in a computer system managed by the NSC Directorate for Intelligence Programs, which is “reserved for codeword-level intelligence.” more...

The department is reeling from daily revelations in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to former senior officials.
Ben Fox, Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor
WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department has been deeply shaken by the rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry, as revelations that President Donald Trump enlisted diplomats to dig up dirt on a political rival threaten to tarnish its reputation as a nonpartisan arm of U.S. foreign policy, former senior officials said Friday. A department where morale was already low under a president who, at times, has seemed hostile to its mission is now reeling from days of disclosures that place it at the center of an escalating political scandal, say former diplomats who fear that the turmoil will damage American foreign policy objectives around the world. “This has just been a devastating three years for the Department of State,” said Heather Conley, a senior policy adviser at State under President George W. Bush. “You can just feel there is a sense of disbelief. They don’t know who will be subpoenaed next.” The first blow was the release of a rough transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the American president pressed for an investigation of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. In the call, the president also disparaged the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was removed from her post in May amid a campaign coordinated by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Thursday saw the release of text messages between Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker and two senior diplomats as they scrambled to accommodate Giuliani’s campaign to leverage American support for Ukraine in a search for potential political dirt. “This is only the latest in a large number of very damaging things that have been done to the State Department,” said Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Russia under President George H.W. Bush. “It represents a new low in basically ignoring and indeed punishing the people who have made a professional commitment to the country and Constitution.” more...

By David Welna
At a news conference in Kyiv on Friday, Ukraine's newly appointed top prosecutor announced a sweeping review of past corruption investigations that had been either shut down or split up. Fifteen of those cases, according to an official press release, involve the founder of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was appointed to Burisma's board in 2014, while his father was leading policy on Ukraine during the Obama administration. The audit of earlier corruption probes follows a promise Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made to President Trump in a July 25 phone conversation: that a new prosecutor general would look into the closing of an investigation into Burisma's practices. Ukraine might appear to be bowing to pressure from Trump, who lifted his previously unannounced two-month hold on nearly $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine on Sept. 11. Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department gave the green light for Congress to consider selling 150 Javelin anti-tank missiles worth nearly $40 million to Ukraine. Zelenskiy had mentioned his desire to acquire those weapons, which are intended to counter Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, in his phone call with Trump. more...

The former US special representative for Ukraine testified behind closed doors Thursday.
By Andrew Prokop
Kurt Volker — the former US special representative to Ukraine, who resigned last week amid the whistleblower scandal — became the first witness to testify in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Thursday. Volker’s testimony took place behind closed doors, so we don’t yet have a full transcript. But now, multiple media outlets have published his prepared opening remarks. Volker also provided text messages among State Department officials documenting the effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations that President Trump wanted, which House Democrats released Thursday. In his opening remarks, Volker asserted that he did nothing wrong, insisting he wasn’t trying to bring about an investigation of the Bidens and that former Vice President Joe Biden was not a topic of discussion in his texts. He argued that the president’s focus on corruption was “understandable,” but “rooted in the past”: “He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country, full of ‘terrible people.’ He said they ‘tried to take me down.’ In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new President, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past. He was clearly receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view.” But while it is true that the name “Biden” is never mentioned in the texts, there is repeated discussion of Trump wanting an investigation into “Burisma,” the Ukrainian gas company Hunter Biden sat on the board of. Volker also mentions elsewhere in the opening statement that Giuliani did in fact mention “accusations about Vice President Biden” to him. more...


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