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US Monthly Headline News September 2019 Page 8

VIP pins, Scottish shortbread and plush surroundings greet officers who choose Trump Turnberry for their layovers.
By BEN SCHRECKINGER
TURNBERRY, Scotland— Air Force officers who have earned medals for their tours of duty can pick up some more brass with a short pit stop in Southwest Scotland. As part of its relationship with the Air Force, the Trump Turnberry resort occasionally gifts high-ranking officers a version of its “Pride Pin,” a lapel pin featuring the property’s iconic lighthouse — an honor reserved for VIPs — upon their arrival, according to a resort staffer familiar with the practice. Rank-and-file members can expect a more basic welcome package in their rooms, featuring goodies like Scottish shortbread. A five-day visit to Turnberry and the surrounding region revealed that the regular visits from Air Force crews on layovers from Prestwick Airport have become a major facet of the life of the resort. It also revealed that, rather than being restricted to single-night refueling stops, some visits last multiple nights, expanding the known dimensions of the relationship between the president’s luxury resort and the U.S. military. One reason for the multinight stays, which were described by a half-dozen staffers, is inclement weather that prevents the crews from taking off from the airport 40 minutes up the road. In at least one instance earlier this year, a crew was laid up for multiple nights while its plane underwent repairs, allowing the group to hit the links on Turnberry’s world-class course and purchase mementos from the pro shop, where a child’s golf shirt runs 55 British pounds, about $68. A Trump Organization spokeswoman did not respond to an email requesting comment. The extended contact has allowed service members to bond with staff, who are tickled that the airmen sometimes address them as “sir” or “ma’am,” rather than vice versa. Occasionally friendships continue on social media. more...

Donors are snapping up tickets, even if they don’t know exactly where the events are being held.
By CARLA MARINUCCI
SAN FRANCISCO — Donald Trump remains unpopular in the state where he lost to Hillary Clinton by a landslide: His job approval ratings in California are among his worst in the country. But among state Republicans here, it’s a different story. And they’ve snapped up tickets to four sold-out, high-dollar fundraisers for the president. The events are shrouded in secrecy to a large extent, necessitated by the deep hostility many in the state feel toward the president. Still, the tickets have sold “faster than Mick Jagger,’’ laughs former state party chair Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committee member and a Trump bundler. “There’s a lot of love here for him,” says Steel, pointing to more than 1,000 Republicans, “donors at every level,” who have clamored for tickets to four events within the next 24 hours including a lunch Tuesday in Silicon Valley, two events in the Los Angeles/Beverly Hills area — a dinner Tuesday and a breakfast Wednesday — and another lunch in San Diego on Wednesday. Already, state donors have given generously to his reelection campaign and the joint fundraising committee with the RNC, ponying up $6.5 million in checks from January to June of this year alone. At the Sept. 17 luncheon stop in the Bay Area, ticket prices range from $1,000 to $100,000. This week, Trump’s California fundraisers have attracted a new set of Republican donors and bundlers eager to be in the room with him in Northern and Southern California events, which will raise upwards of $15 million, party insiders say. more...   

By ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY
President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sent Democrats into a rage Tuesday as he swatted down dozens of questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president while using the tense hearing as a launchpad for a possible U.S. Senate campaign. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Lewandowski tailored his remarks to the liking of his former boss, while Democrats tried with limited success to get the Trump loyalist to detail efforts by the president to effectively end former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But the hearing armed Democrats with what they see as key ammunition in their drive toward impeachment of the president. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) suggested that Lewandowski’s refusal to answer questions about his conversations with Trump — at the behest of the White House — bolsters Democrats’ case to impeach the president, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains opposed to the idea. “When you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our committee. You are also proving our point for the American people to see: the president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction,” Nadler told Lewandowski. “And I will remind you that Article 3 of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress,” Nadler added. more...   

By Bobby Allyn
The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Edward Snowden alleging that his newly released memoir, Permanent Record, violates nondisclosure agreements he signed with the federal government. Justice Department lawyers say the U.S. is entitled to all of Snowden's book profits. The civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Virginia names the former National Security Agency contractor and his New York-based publisher, Macmillan. The suit, submitted to the court on the same day as the release of Snowden's book, argues that Snowden's failure to receive pre-publication approval from the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency constitutes a breach of contract. Under NSA policy, current and former agency employees, including contractors, are prohibited from ever disclosing any information obtained during the course of government employment, according to copies of secrecy agreements Snowden signed that were filed to the court. Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Trent McCotter wrote that the alleged violation of nondisclosure agreements Snowden signed with the two agencies undermines public trust in the federal government and endangers national security. "Additionally, Snowden has been, and will continue in the future to be, unjustly enriched in the amount of profits, advances, royalties, and other advantages resulting from the unauthorized publication of his book," McCotter wrote. Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer who represents Snowden, said the book does not contain government secrets that were not already publicly known. "Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review. But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified," Wizner wrote in a statement. For the past six years, Snowden has lived in Russia, where he was granted asylum as he faces separate federal criminal charges in the U.S. over allegations of espionage and the theft of government property following the 2013 leak of classified material that exposed U.S. surveillance programs, sparking a national debate about privacy and national security. more...   

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Defense Department has decided not to proceed with three border wall projects in California and Arizona, citing "insufficient contract savings," according to a court filing. The move appears to be a setback for President Donald Trump, who has sparked controversy for dipping into Pentagon funds to build his signature border wall, though it's unclear what will happen to the projects listed in the filing. Last month, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper approved an additional 20 miles of 30-foot-high barriers for the southern border using $2.5 billion in funds redirected from a counter drug account, which is authorized to spend money on border barrier construction for the purpose of blocking "drug-smuggling corridors." Although then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had earlier approved some 135 miles of fencing requested by the Department of Homeland Security in the Yuma, El Paso and Tucson sectors, the cost of constructing that section of the border wall was less than originally anticipated, freeing up funds to support the additional 20 miles approved by Esper. The Pentagon notified the court of the additional miles at the time, noting the Army Corps wouldn't know the exact amount of savings to move forward with the projects until later in the fiscal year. Monday's court filing, however, reveals that there were not enough funds to cover the costs of the projects. more...   

“Saudi Arabia pays cash.”
By Matthew Yglesias
Saudi Arabia announced this weekend that attacks on two of its state-owned oil facilities — launched either by Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen or by Iran itself, depending on whom you ask — had disrupted the country’s oil production. President Donald Trump’s response was unusual, even for him. Normally, Trump takes a crass, transactional view on foreign policy, rejecting the pro-forma assumptions about maintaining good diplomatic relationships with allies. Instead, he made a glaring exception to those rules on behalf of Saudi interests. First, the president argued that “we don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas.” Then he made an apparent vow to not only come to Saudi Arabia’s assistance anyway but also to completely defer to the Saudi royal family as to “under what terms we would proceed.” Saudi Arabia does not have a formal treaty of alliance with the United States — meaning there is no piece of paper obligating the US to do anything whatsoever in response to an attack against Saudi Arabia. And while the US has been intimately involved in the Saudi oil industry going back to the 1930s, nobody has ever claimed there is a deep connection grounded in values between our two countries. But the Saudi royal family does seem to have a special relationship with Trump, who has repeatedly bucked bipartisan congressional majorities to back the Kingdom on topics ranging from its disastrous war in Yemen to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. more...   

By Molly Olmstead
A sheriff in North Carolina has been charged with aiding an unsuccessful plan to murder a former deputy who had a recording of the sheriff saying “racially insensitive” things, according to a felony indictment released Monday night. Sheriff Brindell Wilkins of Granville County was recorded in a 2014 phone call with a “well-known” third party endorsing that person’s plan to murder the former deputy, Joshua Freeman, according to prosecutors. Voicing a fear that Freeman would soon release the tape of the sheriff saying racist things, Wilkins allegedly told the person on the call that “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him.” Wilkins, who has served as sheriff since 2009, according to the News & Observer, also allegedly told the person how to get away with the murder without being caught. “You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” he said. He also advised that the “only way we find out these murder things is people talk,” and therefore “you can’t tell nobody nothing, not a thing.” The person on the phone gave Wilkins a time and place where the planned murder would be, and Wilkins did not alert the deputy or in any other way intervene. He instead promised not to reveal anything about the murder after the fact. The plan was not carried out, but it’s not clear what happened. more...   

By Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
BOSTON — A mother from Canada was arrested Monday night in Spain and indicted in the U.S. for paying $400,000 to get her son admitted into the University of California-Los Angles as a fake soccer recruit. Xiaoning Sui, 48, is the 35th parent and 52nd defendant charged with crimes in the nation's college admissions scandal. In a federal indictment unsealed in Boston federal court Tuesday, Sui was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Sui is a Chinese national who has been living in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada near Vancouver. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said she is currently detained in Spain and authorities are seeking her extradition to Boston to face the charges. Prosecutors alleged Singer, through a translator, told Sui in an August 2018 phone conversation her son would be "guaranteed" entry into UCLA with a $400,000 payment that would require Singer to write his application in a "special way." Sui provided Singer with photographs of her son playing tennis and his high school transcript. Prosecutors said Singer then sent the materials to Laura Janke, a former assistant women's soccer coach at University of Southern California and an alleged co-conspirator he used to help create falsified athletic profiles. more...   

By Kyle Jaeger
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is moving to insert language into a congressional spending report that calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clear a path for the lawful marketing of hemp-derived CBD products. FDA has said that allowing CBD to be sold as food items or dietary supplements would require it to develop alternative regulations that could take years to complete without congressional action. But McConnell, who was the chief proponent of a hemp legalization provision of the 2018 Farm Bill, isn’t interested in waiting around. In draft language shared by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable on Tuesday, the senator is asking FDA to “issue a policy of enforcement discretion with regard to certain products containing CBD” within 120 days—a move that industry stakeholders say will clarify rules so that banks are more willing to service CBD companies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is moving to insert language into a congressional spending report that calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clear a path for the lawful marketing of hemp-derived CBD products. FDA has said that allowing CBD to be sold as food items or dietary supplements would require it to develop alternative regulations that could take years to complete without congressional action. But McConnell, who was the chief proponent of a hemp legalization provision of the 2018 Farm Bill, isn’t interested in waiting around. In draft language shared by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable on Tuesday, the senator is asking FDA to “issue a policy of enforcement discretion with regard to certain products containing CBD” within 120 days—a move that industry stakeholders say will clarify rules so that banks are more willing to service CBD companies. The provision of the spending report will be marked up in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture on Tuesday. It will then go before the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Prior to issuing its enforcement discretion policy under McConnell’s report amendment, FDA would have to submit a report to the committee within 90 days detailing its “progress toward obtaining and analyzing data to help determine a policy of enforcement discretion, and the process in which CBD meeting the definition of hemp will be evaluated for use in products.” Once those provisional enforcement guidelines are established, they would remain in place until FDA finalizes the regulatory process. “FDA is encouraged to consider existing and ongoing medical research related to CBD that is being undertaken pursuant to an Investigation New Drug (IND) application in the development of a regulatory pathway for CBD in products under the jurisdiction of FDA and to ensure that any future regulatory activity does not discourage the development of new drugs,” the report states. Outside of McConnell’s proposal, the bill funding FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) already sets aside $2,000,000 to support research and regulatory activities surrounding hemp-derived CBD products. more...

The president made a rally pitch for Hispanic voters in a state he lost by 8 points in 2016: “Nobody loves the Hispanics more,” he said at a rally Monday night.
By Shannon Pettypiece and Monica Alba
RIO RANCHO, N.M. — President Donald Trump, looking to put New Mexico in play in 2020, sought to win over Hispanic voters at a rally here Monday. The president's pitch to Hispanic voters seemed to silo them off from the rest of the electorate, including the rally crowd ("We love our Hispanics"). It featured an assertion that they had a greater understanding of the source of the drug problem than other Americans. And it included a section in which Trump wondered how CNN contributor Steve Cortes could be Hispanic even though, the president said, he appeared to be of Northern European descent. “He happens to be Hispanic, but I never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do,” Trump said of Cortes, who was in the audience. From the stage, he asked Cortes: "Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?” Cortes appeared to mouth “country,” to which Trump replied: “I don’t know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics.” Trump later said Hispanics should support him and his efforts to build a border wall because they understand the roots of the drug problem better than other voters. "And at the center of America's drug crisis, this is where the Hispanics know it better than anybody, people said, 'Oh, the Hispanics won't like a wall.' I said, 'I think they are going to love it,'" Trump said. "You know why? Because you understand it better than other people, but at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in, and you understand that when other people don't understand it." more...  

By Ari Natter and Ryan Beene
The Trump administration will announce it is rescinding California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles at an event at the EPA’s Washington headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, according to people familiar with the matter. The Environmental Protection Agency intends to announce it will revoke the so-called waiver underpinning California’s power to set vehicle greenhouse gas standards separately from the Trump administration’s broader rule to ease federal vehicle-efficiency standards, which is expected in the weeks ahead, the people said. The people asked to not be identified discussing plans prior to announcement. Among those invited to the agency’s headquarters are free-market groups that have championed the Trump administration’s rollback of automobile fuel economy and emissions standards adopted during the Obama administration. Plans for the announcement are still being developed and could change, one of the people said. The procedural move would allow the California attacks to proceed while the Trump administration continues to finalize federal fuel economy and emissions regulations for new autos after the 2020 model year. The plan also leaves intact California’s power to regulate smog-forming pollutants from autos and other sources. The measures need approval from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review before they can take effect. more...

The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A short walk from police headquarters in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, a cluster of bustling shops are openly selling packaging and hardware that can be used to produce counterfeit marijuana vapes that have infected California’s cannabis market. Bootleggers eager to profit off unsuspecting consumers are mimicking popular, legal vape brands, pairing replica packaging churned out in Chinese factories with untested, possibly dangerous cannabis oil produced in the state’s vast underground market. The result: Authentic-looking vape cartridges sold by unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services, along with rogue websites. The deceptive rip-offs on the street could be linked to an emerging public health crisis. Hundreds of people across the U.S. have been sickened, mainly by vaping cannabis oil. Seven deaths have been reported, the latest on Monday in California’s Tulare County. Public health officials aren’t sure what’s causing the breathing issues, vomiting and other symptoms, but in California they say most patients reported purchasing vapes from pop-up shops or other illegal sellers that are a pipeline for counterfeit products. The problem has gotten so pervasive that a major legal brand, Kingpen, is investing millions of dollars to redesign its packaging and product security, The Associated Press has learned. The distributor for another major brand, Heavy Hitters, devotes a section of its website to report phonies and has hired a former federal prosecutor, Priya Sopori, to help the company deal with counterfeiting. “The danger presented by counterfeit products is just a natural result of not having the money, the resources or the people power to enforce licensing,” Sopori said. “Someone is buying this packaging, buying these cartridges and filling them with whatever. It’s being sold as our brand.” more...  

By Dana Hall McCain
What does it say about Liberty University that every time one hears about its president, one feels a compelling need to shower? That’s the case for many each time Jerry Falwell, Jr. is in the news. As the President of LU, which has a total enrollment of more than 100,000, Falwell burst onto the national scene in 2016 as one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump. I’ve written previously about his increasingly unbiblical worldview, urging the LU trustees to do their job and check his behavior before he does further damage to the school and the reputation of our faith. If personal opportunism is your guiding star, Falwell is right on course. He put himself in the inner circle of the President and developed an inside track to regular national media appearances. It helped him become a household name in his own right, rather than just being his daddy’s boy. Now it seems he’s also lining the pockets of his family and friends by crafting creative business arrangements all around LU’s massive cash flow which do not pass the smell test for a nonprofit. If 10% of the information in last week’s searing Politico investigative report is true, Falwell is more corrupt than we previously knew. With Liberty trustees and employees finally finding the courage to speak out (if only as unnamed source) we have a clearer picture of the man who is quick to point out that he’s not a pastor. Roger that. There is nothing pastoral about you, Junior. There is his reported creepy need to talk about his sex life and share intimate photos of his wife. And his propensity for clubbing in Miami while leading a college that punishes and forbids male-female dancing and drinking alcohol. Oh! And then trying to lie about it when caught dead-to-rights by a professional photographer. Stellar. No, he's definitely not a pastor. But here’s the thing: a Christian university doesn’t need a pastor at the helm. It just needs a principled follower of Christ. Just a decent person with a little humility and wisdom. No institution can be effectively led by someone who rejects the ethical and moral standards that it asks its staff and students to live up to. That just doesn’t work—not if the institution in question wants to be anything other than a punchline for its detractors, in this case, the secular left. David French made the point well that the advancement of Christendom (institutions and systems that bear the Christian name) and the advancement of actual Christianity are not the same thing. And here, we see a clear case of a man growing and making prosperous a Christian institution while hurting the good name of our faith at every turn along the way. And we wonder why younger people are done with religion. more...  

By Ashwin Phatak
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee continues its investigation of whether to recommend impeachment of President Donald Trump with testimony from former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Keeping with its unprecedented obstruction of House oversight efforts, the White House has sought to place extraordinary limits on Lewandowski’s testimony and separately block two former White House aides from testifying on Tuesday. This latest blockade of information comes just a few days after another extraordinary effort to block the committee’s investigation in the courts. Fortunately, however, the recent attempt by the administration to prevent the committee from accessing certain evidence underlying special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation should end in defeat—and hopefully soon. On Friday, the administration argued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that Congress has no right to access portions of Mueller’s report on Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election—and on Trump’s efforts at obstructing that investigation—that had been redacted because they concern grand jury matters. The administration’s arguments are at odds not only with the law, but also with the executive branch’s own past positions. It is true, as Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly noted, that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) generally requires that grand jury matters be kept secret. However, the rule includes several exceptions that permit the District Court to release such materials where appropriate, including “preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.” Citing that provision, in July, the House Judiciary Committee requested that the District Court overseeing the Mueller grand jury release several portions of the Mueller report that had been redacted under Rule 6(e). Because impeachment is a judicial proceeding, the District Court plainly has authority under Rule 6(e) to grant the House’s request. Although impeachment may not take place in a courtroom, Congress acts as a judicial forum when it decides impeachment. The House functions as the equivalent of a grand jury that decides whether to bring impeachment charges, and the Senate as a tribunal—over which the chief justice of the United States presides—that decides whether to remove the official from office. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution specifically uses the language of judicial proceedings when referring to impeachment, stating that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments,” that “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present,” and that “judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office.” Further, Article III, Section 2 says that “the Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment; shall be by Jury,” implying that impeachment is a type of “trial” for “crimes.” more...   

By Daniella Genovese
Federal agents executed a search at the New York home of payroll company boss Michael Mann. The move by federal authorities Monday afternoon follows the collapse and disappearance of MyPayrollHR, which left thousands of people across the country without paychecks. The FBI's office in Albany confirmed to FOX Business that agents were at Mann's property in connection to a federal investigation but declined to release further details. The New York-based company allegedly vanished with nearly $35 million in payroll funds from customer businesses, directly impacting employees who had been receiving direct deposits from the firm on a bi-weekly basis. Not only did money from payroll funds disappear, but so did money belonging to employees, according to the report from KrebsOnSecurity. more...    

by Steve Peoples and Will Weissert, Associated Press
NEW YORK – Facing thousands of cheering supporters in the nation’s largest city, Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren on Monday decried President Donald Trump as “corruption in the flesh” and outlined her plans to root out corruption in the White House, Congress and courts. “Corruption has put our planet at risk. Corruption has broken our economy. And corruption is breaking our democracy,” said Warren, a Massachusetts senator who has emerged as a leading presidential contender. While aggressive, the message was a familiar one. Warren has embraced corruption as a central campaign theme from the beginning of her 2020 presidential bid. But rarely has Warren addressed such a crowd with such a symbolic backdrop. The crowd – which exceeded 20,000 people, according to the Warren campaign – filled almost the entirety of the 10-acre Washington Square Park, wrapping around a massive fountain and clogging the pathways that connect the street chess games to the classrooms of New York University to the giant marble arch the downtown park is best known for. It was a younger audience, racially diverse and packed with women. One of the biggest applause lines of the night: “We’re not here tonight because of famous arches or famous men. In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.” The event was set close to the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, which killed more than 140 workers in 1911. She framed those deaths as the direct result of corruption. Many women died because factory owners neglected safety features to save money, with the implicit support of local elected officials who declined to intervene. Warren charged that the same thing is happening today. “Giant corporations have bought off our government,” she said. more...   

By John Wagner
President Trump lashed out Sunday night at the news media for reporting that he would meet with Iranian leaders with “no conditions” — something Trump has said on camera at least twice and that senior administration officials repeated to reporters just last week. “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!),” Trump wrote to his more than 64 million Twitter followers. In fact, Trump said as much during a June 23 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after host Chuck Todd asked if he had a message to deliver to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, about his country’s potential development of a nuclear weapon. “You can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years,” Trump said. “No preconditions?” Todd asked. “Not as far as I’m concerned. No preconditions,” Trump replied. That echoed Trump’s comments at a July 30, 2018, joint news conference at the White House during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Asked about a potential meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: “I believe in meeting. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know if they’re ready yet.” “I’m ready to meet anytime they want to,” Trump added. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, we’ll meet.” During a briefing at the White House on Tuesday, both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Trump remained open to such talks. “The president has made clear, he’s happy to take a meeting with no preconditions,” Mnuchin told reporters. “The president’s made it very clear: He is prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo said shortly afterward. more...  

National security expert Josh Geltzer on why we should be prepared for the worst.
By Dahlia Lithwick
In February, Georgetown Law professor Josh Geltzer began to ponder aloud what would happen if President Donald Trump refused to leave office were he to be defeated in 2020. It sounded far-fetched, but Geltzer isn’t a conspiracy theorist. Actually, he served as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council and, prior to that, as deputy legal adviser to the NSC and counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security. When he wrote his essay suggesting that perhaps it was time to start preparing for if Trump, who has repeatedly shown a willingness to overstep his constitutional authority, simply refused to leave the Oval Office, he was met with silence. When Michael Cohen warned in his March testimony before Congress, “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 there will never be a peaceful transition of power,” he too was met with awkward silence. But the anxieties gradually began to grow. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fretted about this possibility in a May interview in the New York Times. When Politico probed the question this summer, it noted: “Constitutional experts and top Republican lawmakers dismiss the fears as nonsense, noting there are too many forces working against a sitting president simply clinging to power—including history, law and political pressure.” But commentators now seem less confident in those forces. On Thursday, Edward Luce at the Financial Times noted how often Trump jokes about having a third term, observing that, because of Trump’s belief that he could face prosecution after he leaves office, “no other US president has faced the prospect of being re-elected or going to jail.” He added that for Trump, losing the 2020 election is an existential threat, and he has openly invited foreign interference, while Mitch McConnell refuses to even consider legislation to secure the vote. And even if Trump is truly joking when he tweets that he deserves to be credited two extra years in his existing term, years he believes were lost to the Mueller probe, or riffs on staying on the job long after he’d been term-limited out, the tweets send a dangerous message to his loyalists. more...

The FBI, the DOJ, SCOTUS—Trump controls it all.
By Dahlia Lithwick
It’s already been widely noted that the New York Times buried breaking news about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged tendency, as a college student, to touch people with his penis when intoxicated. On Sunday, when the Times ran a forthcoming book excerpt from its own reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, it not only put the news in its Opinion section, it also placed the details of the second allegation in a remote paragraph under an appallingly random headline: “Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not.” Don’t even get me started on the grotesque tweet that accompanied the excerpt (which had to be deleted and then apologized for), or the editor’s note that popped up Sunday night to clarify that the story had previously failed to mention, “reports that the female student [whom Kavanaugh allegedly touched with his penis] declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident.” The entire debacle detracts from what is, by all accounts, a deeply researched and reported book. But the real sin unearthed by the excerpt isn’t that there was a second account, that another former Yale student allegedly remembers seeing Brett Kavanaugh behave in disturbing and inappropriate ways. The real sin is that this former student, Max Stier, went to Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and then the leadership of the Senate, way back in the fall of 2018, to try to tell them what he remembered. And the real sin is that the FBI never investigated it. Indeed, the FBI didn’t talk to any of the 25 individuals given to them by Debbie Ramirez’s lawyer, or any of the multiple witnesses who came forward to the FBI of their own volition (including a former roommate who believed Ramirez and published his own account of Kavanaugh’s college behavior in Slate). But the FBI didn’t talk to these people because the FBI never even spoke to Brett Kavanaugh about the alleged events. The FBI never spoke to Christine Blasey Ford, either. The FBI did interview Ramirez last October and found her “credible,” but then just left it at that. According to the new reporting, an agent told her lawyers that “We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else.” They did not get that authorization, and they did nothing else. more...

Denying services to a gay couple is protected free speech, the court ruled.
By Mark Joseph Stern
The Arizona Supreme Court granted businesses a right to discriminate against same-sex couples on Monday. By a 4–3 vote, the court carved an exemption into Phoenix’s human rights ordinance to let businesses refuse to sell custom wedding invitations to gay customers. The decision is rooted in the Arizona Constitution and is thus effectively insulated from review by the U.S. Supreme Court. It also contains no clear principle limiting its reach to same-sex couples or to custom invitations—potentially giving Arizona wedding vendors a broad right to discriminate in the name of free speech. Monday’s ruling Brush & Nib v. Phoenix revolves around a Phoenix ordinance that bars public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. (There is no analogous state law.) In 2016, the anti-LGBTQ law firm Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against the ordinance on behalf of Brush & Nib Studio, a for-profit business that makes custom wedding invitations. No same-sex couple had requested Brush & Nib’s services. But the company’s owners, who are anti-gay Christians, were alarmed by the possibility that they might be compelled to serve a same-sex couple. So ADF asked a court to bar Phoenix from enforcing the law against any business that supported “one-man/one-woman marriage” through “custom artwork.” Its suit rested on the Arizona Constitution’s free speech clause as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act (FERA). The Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously rejected ADF’s argument and upheld the ordinance. But the Phoenix law did not fare so well at the state Supreme Court, which Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has recently packed, adding two new seats and manipulating the appointment process to fill them with Republicans. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to resolve the clash between free speech and nondiscrimination; in 2018’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court declined to decide whether businesses have a First Amendment right to refuse to sell custom goods to same-sex couples. So, on Monday, the Arizona Supreme Court barreled ahead under its own state constitution, handing same-sex couples a resounding loss in their quest for equality. more...   

By Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
A member of a wealthy Mexican family was arrested on manslaughter charges after his 11-year-old son was killed during a boating trip in the San Francisco Bay, police say. Javier A. Burillo, 57, faces charges including vehicular manslaughter with a vessel and operating a boat while under the influence after police say his two sons were thrown overboard when the boat hit a wave. Tiburon Police Chief Michael Cronin told reporters that Burillo was driving the boat near Angel Island, north of San Francisco, when his 11-year-old son and 27-year-old son fell off. "There is a fair possibility that they were swept under. Or when he turned to rescue them," Cronin told reporters, per KGO-TV. Burillo brought his two sons aboard and drove them back to Corinthian Yacht Club, police said. His older son had cuts to his leg while his younger son was pronounced dead there, Cronin said. Burillo was the one to call police around 7 p.m. Sunday, Cronin added.  more...  

By Pamela Brown, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - The White House is asserting that two former senior White House aides have immunity from testifying and is directing former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski not to answer questions about events that occurred after President Donald Trump was elected. The White House sent letters to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday about the testimony of Lewandowski and former aides Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, who were all subpoenaed to appear on Tuesday. The White House asserted immunity for the former White House aides not to testify and instructed Lewandowski not to answer questions about his conversations with the President where the White House could invoke executive privilege, beyond what's already in former special counsel Robert Mueller's report. "Mr. Lewandowski's conversations with the President and with senior advisers to the President are protected from disclosure by long-settled principles protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests," wrote White House counsel Pat Cipollone, "and, as a result, the White House has directed Mr. Lewandowski not to provide information about such communications beyond the information provided in the portions of the Report that have already been disclosed to the Committee." The House Judiciary Committee last month subpoenaed Lewandowski, Dearborn and Porter, but the two White House aides are not expected to appear, sources said, citing the White House arguments, while Lewandowski is unlikely to engage on the episodes detailed in the special counsel's obstruction of justice report where he was involved. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have rejected the Trump administration's legal arguments of immunity and the right to claim executive privilege. In a statement Monday night, House Judiciary Committe Chairman Jerry Nadler said the decision to keep the aides from testifying was "a shocking and dangerous" use of executive privilege. more...   

By Angelica LaVito
A California person has died from a vaping-associated lung disease that has now killed at least seven people and sickened hundreds, California health officials said Monday. The patient died from “complications related to the use of e-cigarettes,” according to a press release from the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency in central California. No identifying information was provided about the patient. “With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping,” Tulare County Public Health Officer Karen Haught said in a statement. The latest victim brings the death toll from the mysterious illness to seven. Doctors say it resembles lipoid pneumonia, a specific type of pneumonia that occurs when oil enters the lungs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 380 confirmed and probable cases. Kansas health officials last week reported the death of a man who was over 50 years old and had underlying health issues, but many of the cases have occurred in young people who were otherwise healthy. Of the 53 patients studied in Illinois and Wisconsin, the median age was 19 years old, officials wrote in a New England Journal of Medicine report last week. more...  

By Natalie Johnson and Christina Maxouris, CNN
(CNN) - A 2013 Phoenix law that adds "sexual orientation, gender identity or expression" to the city's nondiscrimination ordinance violated the freedom of speech and religious beliefs of two business owners, the Arizona Supreme Court said in a 4-3 ruling Monday. Wedding invitation designers Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, filed a lawsuit to challenge the city ordinance out of fear they'd be put in jail for refusing to create custom invitations that "celebrate same-sex marriage," the court decision says. The city ordinance prohibits public accommodations from discriminating against people of protected status -- which includes sexual orientation. But neither the state nor federal civil rights accommodation statutes "lists sexual orientation as a legally protected status," the decision says. Both the owners are Christians and seek to operate their business "consistent with their religious beliefs," the court says. "Duka and Koski's beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some," the court decision reads. "But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone." The two women's work is inspired by their faith, Jonathan Scruggs, their attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom said Monday. "Through their custom artwork they seek to convey messages that are consistent with their beliefs and as the court explained today, this means that while they create artwork for all people they cannot create custom artwork to celebrate and promote messages they disagree with," Scruggs said. "What matters is the message, not the person," he added. more...

By Barbara Kollmeyer
Investors are keeping a wary eye on oil after weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia crude facilities triggered the largest one-day gain for the commodity since 2008, and plenty of risk-off action all over. The cautious tone looks here to stay as attention turns to the two-day Federal Reserve meeting starting on Tuesday. Some are doubting we’ll even see that much anticipated interest-rate cut (see chart of the day). Not that it matters, says our call of the day, from Binky Chadha, Deutsche Bank’s chief global strategist and head of asset allocation, in an interview with MarketWatch. He warns a U.S. recession is on the doorstep, the Fed can’t help and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.06% is ignoring all of the warning signs. “We are cautious on stocks. We would argue you want to be defensively positioned [and] we would argue that the U.S. equity market has run way, way ahead of growth,” says Chadha. more...  

By Jen Christensen, CNN
(CNN) - More than 3.3 million American women ages 18 to 44 were raped the first time they had sexual intercourse, according to a new study, and "all demographic groups reported substantial roles of forced sexual initiation."
The study, published Monday in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, notes the World Health Organization recognizes forced sexual initiation -- "an unwanted first sexual intercourse that is physically forced or coerced" -- as a distinct form of sexual violence. "We feel it is accurate to describe these events as rape," said Dr. Laura Hawks, a primary care physician and research fellow at Harvard Medical School who co-authored the study. The study says that 6.5% of women surveyed had an unwanted first sexual intercourse that was forced or coerced and it "appears to be common." Researchers estimated that to be 1 in 16 US women. The average age of women who experienced forced sexual initiation was 15.6. The average age of the partner or assailant at the time was 6 years older. Among women whose first sexual intercourse was voluntary, the average age was 17.4.  Some 50% of women surveyed said the perpetrator was larger or older. More than 46% of the women were held down. In 56% of the instances, men used verbal pressure. Men used a physical threats more than 26% of the time and caused physical harm in more than 25% of the instances. Some 22% of the women were drugged. Survivors faced long-term consequences, such as increased rates of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and menstrual problems. More than 30% said they had an unwanted first pregnancy, while 24% said they had ever had an abortion in their lifetime -- higher percentages than among women whose first sexual intercourse was voluntary. more...

By Miranda Green
A pro-democracy group sued the Trump administration Monday to force the release of public documents they believe will shed light on politicization of science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Democracy Forward filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the administration to release requested public documents related to the removal of Tim Gallaudet from his position as acting administrator of NOAA in February. The group has raised concerns over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to remove Gallaudet from the acting post earlier this year. Gallaudet last December told a science conference that President Trump had never asked to be briefed on climate-related matters by the agency. NOAA is the nation’s leading science agency. Democracy Forward first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents in May. “The Trump administration’s attacks on scientists speaking the truth are dangerous. We’re suing to expose improper attempts to politicize NOAA because the public needs to be able to count on science agencies to do their jobs without political interference,” Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy said in a statement. more...   

By Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY
While attacks on Saudi oil facilities over the weekend have sent U.S. petroleum prices surging, America remains less dependent than ever on Saudi oil. A rise in shale oil production over the last decade catapulted the U.S. into the top spot for global oil production in 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration. America produced 18% of the world's oil last year, compared with Saudi Arabia's 12%, Russia's 11% and Canada's 5%. As a result, the United States produced more oil than it imported in 2018. Technological advancements in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have spurred the boom. Saudi oil imports decline as U.S. production soars. The U.S. now produces about 12 times more oil than it imports from Saudi Arabia, which now represents only 9% of U.S. oil imports. more...   

Investigators demanded the president’s personal and corporate tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
By William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess
State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose. The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election. Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair. It was unclear if the broad scope of the subpoena indicated that the office had expanded its investigation beyond actions taken during the 2016 campaign. A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., declined to comment. The state prosecutors are seeking a range of tax documents from the accounting firm, Mazars USA, including Mr. Trump’s personal returns and those of his business, the Trump Organization. The subpoena seeks federal and state returns for both the president and the company dating back to 2011, the people said. The investigation by Mr. Vance has been focused on $130,000 that Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, just before the election. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to breaking federal campaign finance laws and received a three-year prison sentence. While the federal prosecutors who charged Mr. Cohen stated in a court filing in July that they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry into possible crimes committed by the company or its executives, Mr. Vance’s office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated any New York state laws. In particular, the state prosecutors are examining whether the company falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. In New York, filing a false business record can be a crime. more...

By Charisse Jones, USA TODAY
46,000 GM autoworkers walk out via strike. If the General Motors strike lasts more than a few days, it could impact far more than the carmaker and the thousands of autoworkers who are walking the picket line. “It could be a surprisingly significant impact,’’ says Harley Shaiken, a professor in U.C. Berkeley’s graduate school of education who specializes in the study of labor. Striking workers may hold onto their reduced pay a little tighter, meaning that local businesses, from the dry cleaner to the movie theater, could see their profits dip. "If it turns into a more prolonged strike, which may well happen, well then you're going to have tens of thousands of workers with less ... probably being a lot more careful about what they purchase,'' says Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business who closely follows the auto industry. For every job at GM’s eleven U.S. auto assembly plants, it's estimated six or seven additional jobs are generated or connected to the facility, from people who work for outside suppliers, to employees at local restaurants where autoworkers eat, Shaiken says. “If you have 4,000 in the plant, you could have 28,000 outside of the plant’’ whose jobs are linked, he says. “That certainly has a regional impact," he adds, noting, "If the strike goes on probably past two weeks, it could be damaging.’’ more...

By Kara Scannell
(CNN) - New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office has subpoenaed eight years of President Donald Trump's tax returns from Mazars USA, the longtime accounting firm to Trump and the Trump Organization, as part of its investigation into hush money payments, according to a person familiar with the matter. The subpoena was first reported by The New York Times. It isn't clear what deadline Mazars USA has to comply with the grand jury subpoena. A Mazars representative could not immediately be reached for comment. more...

By Terry Gross
Several Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after The New York Times published an essay Sept. 14 describing alleged sexual misconduct that occurred during his college years at Yale. New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, who penned the essay, covered Kavanaugh's contentious 2018 confirmation hearings, in which Christine Blasey Ford alleged that he'd sexually assaulted her at a house party when they were both teenagers. The FBI conducted an investigation into Kavanaugh's behavior, but it was restricted in terms of time and scope. The Senate ultimately voted 50-48 in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation. In their new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, Pogrebin and Kelly detail what's already known about Kavanaugh — and extend the investigation into parts of his history and events alleged to have taken place. (Editor's Note: Pogrebin and Kelly's reporting noted below includes a graphic description of alleged sexual misconduct.) Pogrebin and Kelly research allegations by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale alumna who claims that Kavanaugh put his penis in her face during a college party when they were both freshman. They also raise allegations of a similar incident detailed by a male Yale classmate, though neither he nor the woman allegedly involved speak publicly about it. In response to the latest news, President Trump tweeted: "Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue. The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can't let that happen!" more...  

By Glenn Kessler
“President Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website. Let that sink in, America.” — Quote attributed to comedian Tim Allen in an Instagram post by Eric Trump. Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, has quite a following on social media, so his posts attract a lot of attention. This particular one achieved nearly 80,000 likes within days. But there are two big problems. First, it’s factually incorrect. Second, while Allen is a conservative, he did not say this. A query to the Trump Organization, where Trump is executive vice president, for comment did not receive a response. The Facts: First, let’s deal with Allen. There was a Tim Allen — unrelated to the actor — who on Aug. 25 posted a lengthy diatribe on Facebook that included this line. This Tim Allen describes himself as a jewelry technician who lives in Franklin, Va. But that did not stop thousands of people from distributing his post as coming from the actor. more...     

The bar for removing Justice Brett Kavanaugh by impeachment is so high as to be insurmountable. But there may be another way.
By Ian Millhiser
In 2006, years before Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were both in high school, the Yale Law Journal published a provocative paper. The paper, “How To Remove a Federal Judge” by law professors Saikrishna Prakash and Steven D. Smith, lays out a road map for, well, how to remove a federal judge without resorting to the impeachment power. It argues that a provision of the Constitution stating that federal judges and justices “shall hold their offices during good behaviour” is widely misunderstood. Contrary to the “virtually unquestioned assumption among constitutional law cognoscenti that impeachment is the only means of removing a federal judge,” Prakash and Smith argue that the term “good behavior” is a legal term of art that would have been understood by the founding generation to allow judges to be removed by “judicial process.” Prakash, a professor at the University of Virginia, is a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. Smith, a professor at the University of San Diego, is a frequent contributor to conservative and libertarian publications. So even if the paper did not precede the Kavanaugh hearings by more than a decade, it would be difficult to argue that it was published in order to lay the groundwork for a liberal victory over a conservative Supreme Court justice. The paper, which was published in one of the legal academy’s most prestigious journals but has had little impact on public policy so far, could wind up becoming important if Democrats capture Congress and the White House in the 2020 election. On Saturday, the New York Times published a report bolstering the allegations against Kavanaugh. The Times says that its reporters “found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation” and that “at least seven people” corroborated a second allegation, by Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, who says that Kavanaugh “pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at” Ramirez without her consent. He has denied both allegations. more...   

Jerry Nadler says the committee is too busy 'impeaching the president' to consider investigating the Supreme Court justice.
By KYLE CHENEY
The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with "impeaching the president" to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday. "We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that's going to take up our limited resources and time for a while," Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer. It's a significant comment that comes even as advocates for formal impeachment proceedings against Trump have argued the Judiciary Committee is capable of juggling its Trump-focused investigations with other issues in its broad jurisdiction — including immigration and criminal justice policies. Nadler’s interview comes amid calls from some Senate Democrats and presidential candidates to impeach Kavanaugh after a New York Times story over the weekend reported a new allegation of sexual misconduct against the justice from his time as a student at Yale. Nadler said his first move to investigate Kavanaugh would come next month, when FBI Director Christopher Wray appears for a previously scheduled hearing that will now feature a significant focus on the Supreme Court justice's past — and whether the FBI's background check was thorough enough. Nadler said his panel's primary focus would be determining whether Kavanaugh lied to the Senate. more...   

By Lauren Fox, Manu Raju and Ariane de Vogue, CNN
(CNN) - Days before Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, a Democratic senator urged the FBI to reach out to a witness who had key information about alleged misconduct by the nominee while at Yale, according to a letter obtained by CNN. The letter comes as The New York Times reported over the weekend that the Times had interviewed more individuals who had corroborated the allegation of Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate who alleged Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her at a dorm room party. The Times also reported that there was another previously undisclosed allegation raised by Max Stier, a Yale classmate who told the Times that he had witnessed Kavanaugh engage in another, similar incident. CNN is not reporting any details of the accusation and has not independently corroborated the account. The Times on Sunday evening published an Editor's Note to its original story saying the female victim declined to be interviewed, and her friends told the authors she does not recall the incident.
In a letter dated October 2, 2018, Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, sent a letter to the FBI requesting that the agency talk to individuals that had more information about Kavanaugh. Specifically, Coons suggested the FBI talk to Stier. It's unclear from the letter exactly what information Stier had, but Coons suggests the FBI talk to him. Stier's name in the letter is redacted in the version seen by CNN, but an aide for Coons told CNN that that the name was Stier's. Coons had copied then-Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and its top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. In the letter to the FBI, Coons wrote that his office had been contacted by numerous individuals who had information to share with the FBI as part of their investigation into Kavanaugh, and while he could not speak to "the relevancy or veracity of the information that many of these individuals seek to provide ... there is one individual whom I would like to specifically refer to you for appropriate follow up." The letter goes on to say the individual is "a Yale College classmate of Kavanaugh and Ramirez with information relevant to Ramirez's allegations." An aide familiar with the letter told CNN that the FBI acknowledged receipt of Coons' letter at the time, but the senator never heard more beyond that. more...    

By Sonam Sheth
The Russian government hacked into the FBI's communication system to stop the bureau from being able to track Russian spies working in the US, Yahoo News reported in a bombshell investigation published Monday. The US in 2012 became aware of "the full gravity" of Russia's ability to breach certain types of secure communications and track devices used by FBI surveillance teams, the report said. In addition to fearing that the Russians may have gained access to US intelligence channels, officials also believed that Russian spies could locate undercover FBI surveillance teams and the substance of FBI communications. That would have not only enabled the Russians to evade surveillance and communicate with human sources, but given them the opportunity to collect information about their pursuers, Yahoo News reported. It also prompted concerns among officials that there was a Russian asset lurking within the US intelligence community. The Russians first breached the FBI's communication systems in 2010, after the arrest and exposure of a group of Russian spies in the US, Yahoo News said. That year, the FBI began investigating Russia's efforts to recruit US assets; one of the foremost targets was Carter Page, who later served as a foreign-policy aide on President Donald Trump's campaign.  The FBI informed Page in 2013 that the Russians were trying to cultivate him, but Page ignored their warnings and even publicly boasted about his connections to high-ranking Russian government officials. The Russians are also said to have breached the backup communication channels the FBI used, something one former senior counterintelligence official told Yahoo News the US "took extremely seriously."  The investigation found that Russia's hack of the FBI's communication systems was a key reason the Obama administration kicked out 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian diplomatic facilities in December 2016. President Barack Obama said the measures were in retaliation for Russia's interference in the 2016 election, but Yahoo News reported that the US also wanted to close those two compounds because they were critical to Russia's efforts to intercept FBI communications. more...

By Chandelis Duster, CNN
Washington (CNN)Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh said Monday his campaign will go straight to Republican voters in states where Republican parties canceled 2020 presidential primaries, saying the party has become a "cult" that "is all about washing their leaders' feet every day."
Walsh, along with Republican primary challengers former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, criticized GOP leaders and President Donald Trump in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday on the heels of party leaders in Kansas, South Carolina and Nevada canceling their primaries in a show of support for Trump. When asked on CNN's "New Day" on Monday how he plans to challenge it, Walsh said he is going to take his campaign straight to voters. "We're going to take our campaign directly to Republican voters, and I'll add, in all 50 states, we're going to campaign in all 50 states," Walsh said. "We're going to campaign in South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Kansas, because I believe if we let these Republican voters know that the President of the United States just took away their right to vote, they'll march on the headquarters of their state parties to get that right to vote back." Walsh, who voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election and is now outspoken against the Trump presidency, called Trump a "would-be dictator." "I always want to pinch myself and remind myself that this isn't Russia. I do not live in Russia. I refuse to live in Russia," Walsh said. "We can't just cancel elections in this country. That's what Donald Trump is doing. He's literally canceling elections, and it's very easy to be p***** off at Trump, but we're used to this with Trump. He is a would-be dictator. He would like this to be Russia." Walsh also said on Monday he has "given up on the Republican Party," calling it "a cult." "They no longer stand for ideas. The Republican Party right now is all about washing their leaders' feet every day. That's what they do." more...   

Mayor Mohamed Khairullah of Prospect Park said he didn't get his phone back for 12 days.
Sept. 16, 2019, 8:29 AM PDT
By Elisha Fieldstadt
A longtime New Jersey mayor, who is Muslim, says he believes he was racially profiled when he and his family were held at an airport for hours after returning home from Turkey last month. Mohamed Khairullah, who has been the mayor of Prospect Park since 2005, wrote on Facebook on Aug. 2 that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents confiscated his phone after detaining him for hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport. "Arab and Muslim Americans know that story very well," he wrote. He appeared in a video posted to YouTube on Sunday saying attorney Ahmed Mohamed, the litigation director for New York's Council on American-Islamic Relations, had helped him to finally get his phone back. Khairullah said during a news conference Friday that the trip to Turkey to visit family started off rocky. He held up his 14-month-old's boarding pass. It was marked with "SSSS" — secondary security screening selection — or "the highest level of search," he said. Khairullah is married with four children. When the family arrived back in New York, they were held by CBP agents for nearly three hours and asked questions that Khairullah called "flat-out profiling." "They started asking me, 'do you know about any terrorist groups forming over there, or did you meet any terrorists?' And that’s when I felt insulted after serving my community for over 18 years as an elected official," Khairullah said in the video he posted on YouTube Sunday. "I felt that I was selected basically because of my name and identity." When Khairullah wouldn't answer the questions he considered offensive, the agents told him they would have to seize his phone. He didn't get it back for almost two weeks. "It is profiling. It happens every day to American citizens who happen to be Muslim," Mohamed said. "And the only reason they’re taken back to secondary inspection and questioned that way is because of their faith, what they happen to be wearing, and what direction they pray." Khairullah fled Syria in 1980, became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and a year later became a councilman in Prospect Park, which has a population of about 6,000. He also served as a volunteer fireman for five years, and has been on numerous overseas aid trips, according to his website. more...   

By Zach Dorfman, Jenna McLaughlin and Sean D. NaylorReporters - Yahoo News
On Dec. 29, 2016, the Obama administration announced that it was giving nearly three dozen Russian diplomats just 72 hours to leave the United States and was seizing two rural East Coast estates owned by the Russian government. As the Russians burned papers and scrambled to pack their bags, the Kremlin protested the treatment of its diplomats, and denied that those compounds — sometimes known as the “dachas” — were anything more than vacation spots for their personnel. The Obama administration’s public rationale for the expulsions and closures — the harshest U.S. diplomatic reprisals taken against Russia in several decades — was to retaliate for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But there was another critical, and secret, reason why those locations and diplomats were targeted. Both compounds, and at least some of the expelled diplomats, played key roles in a brazen Russian counterintelligence operation that stretched from the Bay Area to the heart of the nation’s capital, according to former U.S. officials. The operation, which targeted FBI communications, hampered the bureau’s ability to track Russian spies on U.S. soil at a time of increasing tension with Moscow, forced the FBI and CIA to cease contact with some of their Russian assets, and prompted tighter security procedures at key U.S. national security facilities in the Washington area and elsewhere, according to former U.S. officials. It even raised concerns among some U.S. officials about a Russian mole within the U.S. intelligence community. more...  

Obama-era national security leaders would testify on behalf of McCabe should he face trial over allegations that he misled officials about leaks to the media.
By NATASHA BERTRAND and JOSH GERSTEIN
A cavalcade of Obama-era national security leaders have committed to testify on behalf of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should he face trial over allegations that he misled officials about leaks to the media. The lineup, detailed in a memo that McCabe’s legal team submitted to the Justice Department last month, includes past heads of the DOJ, CIA and the country’s entire intelligence apparatus. McCabe’s ex-boss, however — former FBI Director James Comey — has said he could be a witness against him, based on testimony Comey gave to an internal watchdog that appeared to contradict McCabe’s version of events. McCabe was fired in 2018 after the Justice Department's inspector general concluded that the FBI’s No. 2 had exhibited a “lack of candor” during its probe into disclosures to the media about the bureau’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation. McCabe has argued that he did not intend to mislead investigators and argued in a lawsuit filed in August that his ouster was politically motivated retaliation — directed by President Donald Trump — meant to punish him for his role in the probe of the Trump campaign’s links to Russia. Still, prosecutors have recommended that McCabe face indictment over his actions during the IG probe. more...   

Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff thinks there's a major scandal brewing — and it may touch Trump personally
By Sophia Tesfaye
America's system of government has always worked on the honor system. With so few Senate-confirmed Cabinet and federal agency heads, and so many “acting” officials working in the Trump administration, people who are constantly forced to audition for permanent positions are now under tremendous pressure to protect a president hellbent on breaking every norm of good governance. Now a new possible political scandal could be brewing in the Trump administration that tests the loyalty of these “acting” officials — pitting their allegiance to the nation against their desire to impress their boss. While President Trump and his administration, namely former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, loudly complained about leaking from the early onset and pushed people to go through the proper channels with complaints, there is now a serious allegation that even whistleblowers have been silenced by the administration. According to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a whistleblower who lodged an urgent complaint about wrongdoing within the intelligence community has gone ignored and left unprotected. In a letter released on Friday, Schiff accused a “top intel official of illegally withholding” a “whistleblower” complaint described as “urgent” by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) — and one that could implicate the White House. "A month ago, a whistleblower within the intelligence community lawfully filed a complaint regarding a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law, or deficiency within the responsibility or authority of the Director of National Intelligence," Schiff said in a statement. The IC IG first notified the committee of the whistleblower complaint on Sept. 9. The next day, Schiff requested a full, unredacted copy of the complaint, the ICIG's findings related to the matter, and all records connected to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) involvement, "including any and all correspondence with other Executive Branch actors including the White House." more...   

By Kevin Breuninger
President Donald Trump on Monday tore into The New York Times after the newspaper updated its report about accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to clarify that one alleged victim says she “does not recall the incident.” The Times’ report, published Saturday evening, detailed a previously unreported accusation from Kavanaugh’s time as a student at Yale University. The newspaper reported that a student at the school “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” On Sunday, the Times updated its report with an editor’s note: “An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.” more...    

The strategy centers on wooing Hispanics in the state, which has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only once since 1992.
By GABBY ORR
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — John McCain lost New Mexico by nearly 15 percentage points in 2008. Four years later, Mitt Romney pulled two top staffers from the ground here with weeks to go before Election Day — admitting defeat even before Barack Obama trounced him by 51 points in the Santa Fe area. The Land of Enchantment has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only once since 1992. With a considerable nonwhite voter population and all-Democratic congressional delegation, it’s not exactly fertile ground for a surprise GOP victory. But then, President Donald Trump has seldom shied away from a long-shot challenge. Despite the Democratic Party’s statewide success here last November — winning two congressional seats up for grabs, defending a third and defeating Republican nominee Steve Pearce for the governor’s mansion — Trump and his aides are betting they can flip New Mexico next fall and expand his electoral playing field. Their efforts begin Monday night with a campaign rally in Rio Rancho, which sits in a county Trump lost by 1,800 votes in 2016. The Hispanic-heavy city is four hours north of El Paso, Texas, where the president held a reelection rally in August that prompted campaign manager Brad Parscale to add New Mexico to his “watch list” — a list of nontraditional battleground states, including Maine, Colorado, Minnesota and Virginia, that the Trump campaign has its sights set on. “I’ve continued to say the president’s policies are a win for Latino voters across America … and one of the first symbols of this was the El Paso rally,” Parscale told reporters on a call last week. “We saw in the data thousands of voters who did not vote for the president in 2016 show up to a rally, come listen to the president and register [to vote].” “As we started doing polling there, we saw a dramatic increase from 2016 and I went over this with the president and he said, ‘Let’s go straight into Albuquerque,’” Parscale recalled. more...     

CNN New Day - CNN's Jeffrey Toobin discusses an excerpt of a new book published by the New York Times, which details sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that he has previously denied. more...    

By Jerry Iannelli
Jerry Falwell Jr. inherited Liberty University, a Virginia Evangelical Christian college, from his dad, Jerry Sr., who founded the school to create what he hoped would become a Christian competitor to the Ivy Leagues. Instead, Falwell Jr. is reportedly running the place into the ground. According to a blockbuster report from Politico last week, numerous high-level Liberty employees say Falwell seems to be lending himself a ton of the school's money and is altogether fouling the place's already low reputation. Liberty students are banned from drinking and even dancing with members of the opposite sex — which sure makes it hypocritical for the Falwells to seemingly keep getting caught up in alcohol- and sex-related scandals. Allegedly, a number of racy photos of Falwell and/or his wife are floating around. He and his wife Becki have oddly "befriended" a number of strapping personal trainers/pool attendants/attractive young men for whatever reason. And the Falwells have even been photographed in a nightclub. Weirdly, many of these stories have played out in Miami, so here's a rundown of all of the alleged shenanigans: more...

Why one of the best-known American evangelicals is facing big-time scrutiny.
By Jane Coaston
Jerry Falwell Jr. — president of Liberty University (one of the world’s largest Christian universities) and a prominent supporter of President Trump — has made headlines many times before. Most recently, however, the headlines have focused on a slow-moving series of scandals that threaten to bring down, or at least sully the reputation of, one of evangelical Christianity’s most famous families. Earlier this week, Politico published a story connecting him and his wife Becki Falwell to a host of questionable real estate deals; possible self-dealing efforts to financially benefit members of the Falwell family; online poll manipulation; and visits to Miami nightclubs. (Liberty University forbids students from attending dances.) According to employees of the University, Falwell Jr. runs a “dictatorship” at Liberty, but said that speaking out about his conduct was necessary. Falwell’s concerning behavior reportedly also includes his communications with students. As detailed by Reuters this week, Falwell described students at Liberty as “physically retarded” and “social misfits” in emails, the latter stemming from concern from students who wanted to work out at a Liberty-owned off-campus gym (which Falwell wanted to be kept private for Liberty executive use only). But even before the revelations regarding financial mismanagement and bad behavior, there was a steady drip of half-veiled stories of other real estate deals the couple had made, including a business relationship with a former hotel pool attendant (whom Falwell and his wife took on trips) and investments in a South Beach hostel that advertised racy parties and listed its rules as being “No Soliciting, Fundraising, Politics, Salesmen, Religion.” I reached out to Liberty University’s senior vice president of university communications, Scott Lamb, but have not yet received a response. There are few names more well known both inside and outside the world of American mainline evangelical Christianity than that of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. The former, a Southern Baptist pastor by training, created a Christian media empire and a political lobbying powerhouse — the Moral Majority — while also founding a megachurch and Liberty University, which now has a multi-billion dollar endowment and more than 100,000 students (thanks in part to the school’s robust online offerings — the majority of students attend classes online). more...    

By Benjamin Fearnow
Seventy-nine percent of Americans say they trust their own observations on climate change compared to 78 percent who say they trust scientists and fewer than half who trust the U.S. government. A majority of Americans, 56 percent, say humans should address climate change through tangible actions "right now," according to a CBS News poll released Sunday. A two-thirds majority of Americans say they believe humans can do something about climate change, but nearly 1-in-5 U.S. adults surveyed say climate change "doesn't need to be addressed" at all. While 64 percent of Americans said they believe climate change is a "crisis/serious problem," people are far more split on the causes behind it and the information they receive. Fewer than one-third of Americans surveyed, 29 percent, said they believe human activity and pollution is a cause behind climate change. According to NASA, the average global temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius and 18 of the world's 19 warmest years have happened since 2001. Regarding information and statistics about climate change, 79 percent of Americans said they trust their "own observations" a lot or at least somewhat, compared to 78 percent who said the same about scientists and scientific research on climate change. About 67 percent of Americans said they trust local meteorologists for trustworthy data on the topic, while about half or fewer than half of Americans trust either mainstream news media outlets or U.S. government agencies. The poll shows 57 percent of Americans trust the United Nations to be truthful about climate change. A recent U.N. report on global warming warned that if average global temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius there could be a massive rise in sea levels and nearly all of the world's coral reefs will die off. The U.N. has cautioned that water supply stress is worsening due to the combined factors of population growth and climate change. more...  

Police in Georgia arrested Edawn Louis Coughman for allegedly staging the crime to make an insurance claim and sell off the undamaged appliances.
By Doha Madani
A former NFL player allegedly created a fake hate crime at his Georgia business in which he claimed burglars spray painted racial slurs, swastikas and "MAGA" at his bakery. Edawn Louis Coughman, 31, was arrested Thursday on charges of filing a false report of a crime, insurance fraud, and concealing a license plate after he told police a burglar was responsible for spray painting racist language and imagery on the walls of his bakery, according to Gwinett County Police. "It appears as though Edawn conjured a premeditated plan to damage his own property, attempt to make it appear as a hate crime, file a claim with his insurance company, and sell off the undamaged appliances and electronics," police said. Photos taken by police at the scene show spray painted words and images, including the n-word, a swastika and "MAGA" ⁠— an abbreviated version of President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again." Police said that they were called for a burglary report at Coughman's business, Create and Bake Restaurant and Coughman's Creamery, in the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville on Wednesday night. The 911 caller told police that someone was driving a black Chevrolet Silverado with no license plate. When officers arrived to the shopping center, they stopped a truck matching the description and saw Coughman driving the Silverado. It appeared that Coughman had several televisions in the back of the truck with mounting brackets on the back with "damaged drywall" attached, police said. more...   

By Alicia Cohn
The New York Times on Monday added a correction to a report accusing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The correction notes that friends of the woman allegedly involved in the incident with Kavanaugh during college say she does not recall it. The Times in the story published Saturday reported a former classmate of Kavanaugh's named Max Stier said he witnessed the now-judge expose himself and force another female classmate to touch his penis at a dorm party. The Times said it corroborated the story with two other officials who had heard the same report from the former classmate, Stier. However, the woman involved in the alleged incident did not speak to the Times and, according to the correction, her friends say she does not recall that it happened. Following the weekend report, multiple Democratic presidential candidates including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) demanded Kavanaugh's impeachment from the bench. more...

By Elizabeth Joseph, CNN
(CNN) - Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York Sunday as part of its framework for settling litigation with multiple states and governments. The maker of the painkiller OxyContin said in a statement that the bankruptcy was the next step in implementing the agreement to pay billions of dollars to the states and local and tribal governments that accuse the pharmaceutical giant of helping to drive the opioid crisis.
The company has denied any wrongdoing. "This court-supervised process is intended to, among other things, facilitate an orderly and equitable resolution of all claims against Purdue, while preserving the value of Purdue's assets for the benefit of those impacted by the opioid crisis," the company said in a statement, which also offered some details of the company's settlement proposal. After bankruptcy filings are complete the company estimates it will provide more than $10 billion in funding to address the opioid crisis which will include settlements with 24 state attorneys general, officials from five US territories and the multi-district litigation, the statement said. "This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis. We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalize and implement this agreement as quickly as possible," Chairman of Purdue's Board of Directors Steve Miller said in the statement. The company also plans to create another company called NewCo which will produce medicines to reverse overdoses and continue to develop an OTC naloxone product that they will provide at no or low costs to communities throughout the United States, according to the statement. The Sackler family, which owns the company, had been in talks for weeks to settle cases brought by more than 2,000 states, counties, municipalities and Native American governments against Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies. The proposed settlement has not received unanimous support, with many attorneys general opposing it and vowing to continue fighting the company. more...  


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