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Welcome to DEM Watch keeping an eye on Democrats for you.

Story by Matt Friedman

One of America’s most deeply entrenched political machines is finally coming apart.

New Jersey political insiders struggled to come up with big enough words Monday morning morning to describe what they were hearing: The state attorney general was about to indict South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, one of the most formidable and fearsome operators in state history, on corruption charges.

“Earthquake,” one told POLITICO. “Atomic bomb,” said another.

Norcross ruled much of New Jersey for decades and, at his peak, wielded power rivaling governors — shaping elections, legislation and the political careers of Democrats across the state.

His indictment is just the latest in a series of political shockwaves that have struck New Jersey over the past year. Sen. Bob Menendez, another powerful political boss held in awe by lower-level political players, is in the middle of a corruption trial. And that comes just months after a federal judge struck down the “county line” — a tool long used by New Jersey’s political machines to suppress intra-party challengers — for the 2024 Democratic primary.

New Jersey’s notoriously boss-driven political system has never been imperiled like this before, at least not in living memory. And now, a crop of younger New Jersey Democrats are ready to dance on its grave.

DOJ charges that the Democratic congressman used his office to influence U.S. policy for Azerbaijan. He and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, are also accused of money laundering.
By Ryan Nobles, Rebecca Kaplan, Ken Dilanian and Scott Wong

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Friday released an indictment against longtime Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and his wife, Imelda, charging the pair with bribery and money laundering related to their ties with a bank in Mexico and an oil and gas company controlled by Azerbaijan.

NBC News was first to report that the charges were coming. The congressman and his wife were each released on a $100,000 bond after a first appearance in federal court in Houston, a DOJ spokesperson said Friday afternoon.

According to the indictment, from 2014 to 2021, the Cuellars allegedly accepted roughly $600,000 in bribes from the two foreign entities in exchange for the congressman performing official acts.

“The bribe payments were allegedly laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who performed little to no legitimate work under the contracts,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Story by Robert Legare

Washington — Federal prosecutors in New York have accused Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife, Nadine Menendez, of obstructing the investigation into a years-long bribery scheme in which the senator allegedly traded his political influence for money, according to a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The pair and three New Jersey businessmen were charged last year for conspiring to use Menendez's power as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the benefit of Egyptian and Qatari government officials, and to assist the businessmen overcome various business and legal issues. In exchange, prosecutors said, the senator and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands in cash, gold bars and a luxury car.

Menendez was indicted by a grand jury with about a dozen additional counts on Tuesday that accuse him of working as an unregistered foreign agent of Egypt to secure military financing for that country, accepting bribes to assist one of his co-defendant's Halal company, and trying to disrupt various criminal investigations. Many of the newly unsealed charges do not allege new conduct, but accuse the defendants of the underlying crimes as part of broader conspiracies.

Story by Washington Post Staff

The Republican-led House voted Thursday to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) for pulling a fire alarm in September that forced the evacuation of a House office building while lawmakers were laboring to avert a government shutdown. The resolution passed 214-191, in a vote that broke largely along party lines. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Lisa C. McClain (R-Mich.), secretary of the House Republican conference, who said Wednesday that Bowman had “knowingly pulled a fire alarm to cause chaos and stop the House from doing business.”

“Mr. Bowman should know the consequences of pulling a fire alarm to cause panic,” McClain said, citing Bowman’s time as a former middle school principal in the Bronx. “In New York schools, the policy is clear. When a student commits a crime on campus, police are called and that student is either suspended or expelled. One would think Representative Bowman would be able to hold himself to the same standards as he held his students to.” During debate Wednesday, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) called the resolution “profoundly stupid,” trivial and a waste of time.

Story by Candy Woodall, USA TODAY

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has been indicted and charged with corruption for the second time in 10 years. Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, were indicted "in connection with their corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen," according to a statement on X, formerly Twitter, from the U.S. attorney in New York. They are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.

Story by Alex Griffing

Robert F Kennedy Jr. recently spoke with Reason magazine for a lengthy interview about his 2024 presidential campaign and was asked directly about the myriad of widely debunked conspiracy theories he has peddled in the past in a brutal line of questioning.

Reason editor at large Nick Gillespie asked the question an hour into the interview from late last week, noting “One of the critiques of your candidacy or even your public profile is that you traffic routinely in conspiracies and that kind of conspiracist mindset where almost everything that we take for granted is bad.”

“So it’s, you know, the Covid vaccines, you know, not only don’t work, but they’re more dangerous than Covid itself,” Gillespie continued, adding:

Story by Jonathan Dienst and Courtney Copenhagen

Another round of federal grand jury subpoenas went out this week in connection with the corruption investigation into Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Two sources familiar with the matter said at least one powerful New Jersey politician — North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco — was among those who received a subpoena.

A North Bergen spokesman said, “As they always have, Mayor Sacco and the Township of North Bergen will comply with any inquiry they receive from law enforcement and will cooperate fully.”

For months, Menendez has been under criminal investigation as to whether he and his wife improperly took cash and gifts from the owners of IS EG Halal, an Edgewater, New Jersey, halal meat business.

The senator and the company’s owners have denied any wrongdoing.

Opinion by Zeeshan Aleem

The ninth hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee was a bit tedious as it covered a great deal of old ground to establish former President Donald Trump’s culpability for the 2021 insurrection. But there were about seven minutes that were absolutely riveting: never-before-seen video footage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacting in real time to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The attack, which occurred as a joint session of Congress had gathered to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election, had caused security officials to escort members of Congress to undisclosed locations.

The video, which was captured by Nancy Pelosi's daughter Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker, shows the speaker scrambling to figure out what’s unfolding at the Capitol as rioters are breaching it, and then huddling with and calling top government officials to try to help bring the chaos under control. The video footage is surreal. It is astonishing to get a firsthand and relatively raw look at how Pelosi and top lawmakers, including then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, conduct themselves while dealing with an unprecedented crisis in modern American politics. Like so much of the American public that day, the veteran lawmakers seem to alternate between incredulity, frustration and fear. And like we were then, they are, minute by minute, piecing together the serious and potentially dire consequences of what is happening.

By Matthew Chapman | Raw Story

On Monday, the Justice Department announced that former Rep. Michael "Ozzie" Myers (D-PA) has pleaded guilty to several election crimes, including "conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election." This comes after he was implicated in a criminal scheme to stuff primary ballot boxes for various Democratic candidates from 2014 to 2018 — and paid off a local elections judge to do it. "Specifically, Myers admitted in court to bribing the Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division in South Philadelphia, Domenick J. Demuro, in a fraudulent scheme over several years," said the DOJ's statement. "Demuro, who was charged separately and pleaded guilty in May 2020, was responsible for overseeing the entire election process and all voter activities of his Division in accord with federal and state election laws." "Myers admitted to bribing Demuro to illegally add votes for certain candidates of their mutual political party in primary elections," said the report. "Some of these candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired Myers, and others were candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices that Myers favored for a variety of reasons. Myers would solicit payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as 'consulting fees,' and then use portions of these funds to pay Demuro and others to tamper with election results." These "fees" ranged from $300 to $5,000 a pop.

Jeff Cohen

Three years ago, we helped write a report for RootsAction.org targeting 15 corporate Democrats in Congress who deserved to be primaried. We called the report "Bad Blues." A common reaction back then was that those establishment politicians were too strong and entrenched to be defeated. On Tuesday, yet another "Bad Blue" apparently went down to defeat — with Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, a seven-term incumbent, running way behind community activist Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the slowly tallied Democratic primary. Schrader is not the first "Bad Blue" on our list to face defeat by a progressive challenger. And he's unlikely to be the last. He heavily outspent McLeod-Skinner — thanks to lavish funding from Big Pharma and other corporate PACs — but was out-organized on the ground. McLeod-Skinner called him "the Joe Manchin of the House." The current vote count indicates that constituents in that district in the Portland suburbs and on Oregon's central coast will no longer be represented by a Democrat who obstructs progressive initiatives on Capitol Hill, such as drug pricing reform and Build Back Better. (Despite his history of blocking key Democratic priorities, Schrader was endorsed in the primary by both President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.)

Alexander Bolton

Aracially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo is putting new pressure on Democrats to consider gun-control legislation — but once again centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is emerging as a problem. Manchin says the pared-down Manchin-Toomey proposal to expand background checks, which he helped negotiate in hope of getting support from the National Rifle Association in 2013, is the only reform that has a chance of passing the 50-50 Senate, undercutting Democrats’ hopes of passing broader legislation. While more ambitious proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines never had a chance of getting 60 votes in the Senate, Democrats hoped to at least unify their caucus behind the background checks legislation passed by the House last year. But Manchin on Tuesday said his old proposal negotiated with the retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) that could expand background checks for commercial transactions is the best option.  “I support the Manchin-Toomey, I’ve always done that,” he said. “The Manchin-Toomey is the one. I think if you can’t get that one, then why try to do something just for basically voting for the sake of voting?”  

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday called Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema out by name for undercutting their own party's legislative agenda, including desperately needed action to rein in carbon emissions, reduce income and wealth inequality, and protect abortion rights. "It should not be a head-scratcher," Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, told MSNBC's Chuck Todd after the host expressed confusion as to why congressional Democrats ended up with nothing to show for months of negotiations on Build Back Better, a central component of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda that proposed billions in spending on climate action and poverty-reducing social programs. The legislative package passed the House in November but died in the Senate due largely to Manchin and Sinema's obstruction. "You've got two members of the Senate, Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema, who have sabotaged what the president has been fighting for," Sanders said Sunday.

William Bredderman - The Daily Beast

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) is one politician who prefers the company of his wife. The Daily Beast has found the Los Angeles-area congressman has pumped close to half-a-million dollars from his campaign into his spouse’s business—just one of his fundraising habits that have angered ethics advocates. Neither Cardenas nor his wife, whose background is in the “wellness” sector, responded to repeated requests from The Daily Beast for comment. Federal Election Commission records show that the Cardenas campaign routinely remits $4,400 to Essence Marketing at the start of every month, payments which the filings have described as “Consultant—Communications” since the beginning of 2017. Interspersed with these regular outlays are larger, sporadic expenditures from Cardenas’s personal political action committee marked “Communications Consulting Services,” as well as smaller emoluments designated “Reimbursement” or “Event Supplies.”

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appears to be taking sides in the bitter Republican primary in his home state of West Virginia that pits US Rep. David McKinley against Trump-backed Rep. Alex Mooney. In a 30-second video ad released Friday, Manchin says: "Alex Mooney has proven he's all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us." McKinley and Mooney are facing off in the May 10 Republican primary for West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District after the state lost a seat in redistricting following the 2020 census. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Mooney last year after he voted against a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was a key part of President Joe Biden's economic agenda. McKinley voted for the infrastructure package, which Biden later signed into law.

Ryan Cooper

After Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., killed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, journalist Luke O’Neil collected testimony from a family who recently lost their child tax credit money as a result. “The $600 we got for our two kids allowed us to pay for my oldest’s preschool, which is $450 a month, and have a little extra for other kid related incidentals,” the father said. “We didn’t have to pull him out of school, but we definitely are now paycheck to paycheck having to fit it into our budget. There have been times where we’ve had to push things to credit cards or just pay things late to be able to make the school payments.”

by Laura Clawson, Daily Kos Staff

If you pay attention to Manchin, you might know that he gets around $500,000 a year in income from his own personal coal company. Maybe you know that Manchin’s coal company has one customer to which it provides waste coal—coal that burns extra dirty—that customer being the only power plant left in West Virginia burning the waste coal at an expensive loss. But it gets worse. The Times investigation reveals that, in 1987, when Manchin was a state senator, he started helping the Grant Town power plant get up and running just outside his district. In 1988, while he was helping the power plant with the permits it needed, he set up his own business to provide that power plant with waste coal—garbage of bituminous, or gob. In 1989, the power plant got its permits and became the one customer of Manchin’s waste coal business.

Is Manchin a republican claiming to be a democrat?

By Alexander Bolton

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) poured cold water on President Biden’s attempt to revive the core elements of his Build Back Better agenda, questioning the president’s claim that passing a $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion spending package would “lower costs” for most Americans. “They just can’t help themselves,” Manchin quipped when asked by reporters after Biden’s State of the Union speech whether he was surprised by the president’s effort to try to use the moment to try to revive his stalled climate and social spending plan. “I don’t know where that came from,” he joked. “Nothing’s changed,” he said. more...

Did Joe Manchin play the democrats? First Manchin got the democrats to cut the bill in half then said he would not vote for it. Yes Joe Manchin played the democrats.

The West Virginia senator wants a new bill that goes through Senate committees and focuses on rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts.

Joe Manchin has some advice for fellow Democrats: rebuild Build Back Better and you might still get my vote. One day after sinking President Joe Biden’s signature social and climate spending legislation, Manchin (D-W.Va.) laid out a path forward that could take months and still fail. He wants the legislation to go through Senate committees and focus on rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts. He also wants Democrats to stop trying to force him into compliance. “I knew what they could and could not do. They just never realized it, because they figure surely to God we can move one person. Surely, we can badger and beat one person up,” Manchin said on West Virginia MetroNews, his first response to the blowback he’s taken from the White House and Democrats for tanking Biden’s signature legislation. more...

By Darragh Roche

Six progressive Democrats voted against the passage of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday after weeks of divisions within the party about the separate Build Back Better Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 228 to 206 with 13 Republicans joining the majority of Democrats in approving the bipartisan framework. The vote will be seen as a win for President Joe Biden, who negotiated the framework with a group of senators from both parties, and is now due to sign the bill into law as it had already passed in the Senate in August. more...


WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a key moderate, told fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives this week that she will not vote for a multitrillion-dollar package that is a top priority for President Joe Biden before Congress approves a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, according to a source briefed on the meeting. Aides for Sinema, who has the power to stop legislation from advancing in the 50-50 Senate, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. more...

By Manu Raju and Clare Foran, CNN

(CNN) Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday pushed back on several politically sensitive positions his party leaders are taking at a crucial time for President Joe Biden's domestic agenda. The West Virginia Democrat, who holds a pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate, indicated to CNN that he disagrees with the strategy top Democrats are pursuing in the standoff with Republicans over raising the national debt limit. Manchin said that Democrats "shouldn't rule out anything," including a budget process that Democratic leaders have made clear they will not employ.

Speaking to reporters, Manchin also would not commit to the new timeline set by party leaders to find a deal on the social safety net expansion by October 31. And he resisted calls from progressives and other top Democrats to raise his $1.5 trillion price tag for the package, which many in his party view as too low to achieve key policy objectives. more...

By Daniella Diaz, Manu Raju, Morgan Rimmer and Alex Rogers, CNN

(CNN) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin are at a crossroads over President Joe Biden's agenda to transform the government's role in the country. The Democratic leader said Wednesday that the White House needs to sign off on a multi-trillion-dollar bill expanding the social safety net before House liberals vote for a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Thursday. Manchin, a pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate, told CNN "that won't happen."

The back-and-forth between two high-profile Democrats highlights the dilemma facing negotiators trying to nail down an agreement ahead of a self-imposed deadline Thursday. With a split Senate and a tenuous hold on the House, liberal and moderate Democrats are leveraging their power to make sure their colleagues support their top priority. more...

Dan Mangan

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he will resign effective in two weeks because of a sexual harassment scandal that has crippled his administration. Cuomo’s shock announcement in a live stream from his Manhattan office came minutes after his lawyer during her own statement to reporters again flatly denied claims that he had sexually harassed anyone during the Democrat’s three terms in office. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo who will turn 63 this month, will replace Cuomo, and become the Empire State’s first female governor. more...

Andrew Solender Forbes Staff

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday shot down the idea of creating a carve-out to the Senate filibuster for voting rights bills after a meeting with Democratic state lawmakers from Texas who are in Washington, D.C., to protest a voting restrictions bill in their state, effectively killing a proposal that has gained steam among even some Democratic leaders in recent weeks. more...

by Abby Livingston and Carla Astudillo

WASHINGTON - West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — a key Democratic holdout over efforts to pass federal voting rights legislation — is expected to head to Texas on Friday for a fundraiser with a host committee that includes several wealthy Republican donors. The fundraiser comes just a day after Manchin met with Texas House Democrats on Capitol Hill who are desperate for his support of the congressional efforts which could preempt the statewide GOP’s push to pass bills that would restrict voting access for Texans. more...

Igor Derysh

Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat famous for his vow to maintain the Senate filibuster and thereby scuttle much of President Biden's agenda, recently published an op-ed opposing the For the People Act, Democrats' whopping voting-rights bill. That article strongly echoed talking points from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — and appeared shortly after the influential pro-business lobby resumed donations to Manchin's campaign after nearly a decade. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) In the space of just 1,000 words on Sunday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) effectively quashed any chance for major liberal legislation between now and the 2022 election. In an op-ed to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin made clear that not only will he vote against the "For the People" Act, the package of election reforms being pushed by his party but also opposed any effort to end the legislative filibuster as a way to pass several of President Joe Biden's policy proposals. Both pronouncements do considerable damage to Democrats -- not only on the policy front but also as both parties begin to prep their arguments ahead of the 2022 midterms. Let's take a look at the "For the People" Act first. more...

By Devan Cole, Aileen Graef and Daniella Diaz, CNN

Washington (CNN) Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and reiterated his opposition to gutting the filibuster, declaring in the strongest terms yet that he is not willing to change Senate rules to help his party push through much of President Joe Biden's agenda. "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster," Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, wrote in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette. Manchin's opposition to changing filibuster rules stands as a major roadblock to Biden's legislative priorities, as current rules allow Republicans to hold up many of the progressive bills the administration supports, including infrastructure spending, federal voting legislation and climate change legislation. more...

Summer Meza

President-elect Joe Biden announced some economic priorities on Friday, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) promptly poked some holes in his plans. Biden began laying out his framework for the next round of COVID-19 relief, reports The Washington Post, and said his plans include a multi-trillion-dollar package that would provide "more direct relief flowing to families, small businesses," in part via $2,000 stimulus checks.

But Manchin, who Axios notes will become an increasingly important player as a moderate in the Democrats' razor-thin Senate majority, seemed taken aback by Biden's promise. "I don't know where in the hell $2,000 came from. I swear to God I don't," he said. "That's another $400 billion dollars." Since Republicans are united in opposing larger checks, resistance from a single Democrat could throw a wrench in Biden's plans. more...

Matthew Brown USA TODAY

Former President Barack Obama told progressives that they might be hurting their own cause by using slogans like "defund the police" as rallying cries for goals such as reforming the criminal justice system. In an interview with Snapchat’s “Good Luck America,” Obama said such phrases and labels such as "socialism" can drive away moderate voters and cost elections for Democratic candidates. A transcript of portions of the interview was released Wednesday. "If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it's not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan, like 'defund the police.' " "But, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," he told Snapchat's Peter Hamby. more...

Why on earth would someone risk an extramarital affair while running for a Senate seat that could determine the country’s future?
By Christina Cauterucci

Cal Cunningham, the Democrat who tried to unseat Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina, finally conceded on Tuesday. Right after doing so, he released a statement expressing gratitude to his campaign staff, volunteers, and supporters. “I’ll always be proud of the work we did together to lift up the voices of North Carolinians who feel left behind by our politics,” he wrote.

One hopes that Cunningham is considerably less proud of the work he personally did during this campaign. A few weeks before the election, a series of leaked text messages revealed that Cunningham had been having an affair with a public relations consultant. In the aftermath of that news, Cunningham’s favorability ratings dropped and his consistent polling lead shrank. Even if he hadn’t lost—which, again, he did—his decision to jeopardize the entire Democratic project in the face of a tyrannical president and an increasingly dangerous and corrupt Republican Party should disqualify him from running for public office in the future. Lest we forget, Cunningham’s loss makes it all the more certain that Republicans will hold the Senate for the foreseeable future. So maybe, until the Democrats win the Senate, he should hide away in shame.

It’s impossible to say how much Cunningham’s affair affected the final outcome in his race. Many polls overestimated Democrats’ chances in this year’s election. In North Carolina, Cunningham underperformed his polls by a larger margin—more than 3 percentage points—than Joe Biden did. The final RealClearPolitics polling average had Cunningham up by 2.6 points and Donald Trump up by 0.2 points. With 99 percent of North Carolina’s vote counted, it looks like Tillis will beat Cunningham by 1.7 points and Trump will beat Biden by about 1.4. more...

Cal Cunningham apologized but said he did not plan to withdraw from the race.
NBC News

RALEIGH, N.C. — Cal Cunningham, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate for North Carolina, admitted to sending sexual text messages to a California strategist who is not his wife, but he said he will not drop out of the race. Cunningham apologized late Friday in a statement reported by multiple news outlets. The text messages, sent to public relations strategist Arlene Guzman Todd, were first revealed by NationalLife.com.

“I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry. The first step in repairing those relationships is taking complete responsibility, which I do,” Cunningham said in the statement. Screengrabs of the messages show Cunningham told Guzman Todd, “Would make my day to roll over and kiss you about now,” to which she replies, “You’re so sweet. I would enjoy that.” more...

Rachel E. Greenspan, INSIDER

19-year-old Aaron Coleman, the Democratic nominee for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives, has already admitted to instances of bullying and revenge porn while in middle school five years ago. He's apologized for his behavior and said that it was in the past. Now, a woman who says she is his ex-girlfriend has come forward with claims that he choked and slapped her, and encouraged her to take her own life within the last year.

The Intercept reported on Tuesday that Taylor Passow, 21, said that Coleman choked and slapped her one night in December 2019 after she joked that she would break up with him for one day to allow him to have a threesome, which she says he had expressed interest in. They were hanging out in a hot tub, and Coleman was apparently upset with the joke, Passow said.

"He sat there for a few seconds, then he jumped on top of me, put his hands around my throat and started squeezing, and slapped me three times, and said 'I don't know where the fuck you think you're going,'" Passow told The Intercept. In text conversations that Passow posted publicly on her Facebook page, a person Passow says is Coleman claimed days later that she had misremembered the story. "You dumped me and I smacked you and you smacked me and I immediately got out of the hot tub," a text purported to be from Coleman said. Passow recalled that on that night, she had to push him away from her, according to The Intercept. The Intercept has reported that the other number in conversation is one that's associated with Coleman's campaign finance registration.

Twelve years after she put together the TARP, the Speaker negotiated a major legislative response to the coronavirus.
By Sam Brodey

For the second time in her career, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was tasked with bailing out a Republican president in a moment of national crisis and, with a tanking stock market in the background, came through with a bill. Twelve years ago, Pelosi worked with President George W. Bush and his lieutenants to craft the 2008 emergency bank bailout. Late Friday night, she’d nailed down a deal with the Trump administration on legislation to respond to the spiraling coronavirus outbreak. But unlike the first time—when the speaker and the man in the White House had a relatively decent working relationship—Pelosi this time was collaborating with a president who’d spent weeks trashing her as, among other things, “incompetent.” The name-calling, ultimately, proved to be a minor hurdle, if one at all; as Trump was largely sidelined during negotiations. Over the course of Thursday and Friday, Pelosi spoke instead with Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, nearly 30 separate times as they hammered out a deal. Through it all, the speaker did not speak with the president once. Asked at a late-night Friday press conference if they had talked, Pelosi looked almost shocked that anyone might think so. “There was no need for that,” she said. Bush was a participant in TARP discussions, though he strategically kept some distance as he and his aides felt that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson would be more palatable a negotiating partner for lawmakers on the Hill. It was Paulson who famously leaned so heavily on Pelosi to help get the bank bailout through the House that he even got down on one knee to beg her to push the bill through her chamber. The parallels between then and now aren’t perfect. But they aren’t far apart either. For lawmakers who were there during the autumn of 2008 the most important difference is the most obvious: Trump. “The crisis atmosphere seems similar. The inability of the president to provide any real leadership is different,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) shortly after a midnight vote on Saturday to approve the coronavirus legislation. “I disagreed vigorously with the Bush administration, but at least the president led and worked with his team on this. We're here at this hour, in large measure, because Donald Trump's provided no leadership, just obstruction.”

Andrew Gillum apologizes after being found 'inebriated' in hotel room where police say man was treated for 'possible drug overdose'
By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Andrew Gillum, the former Democratic candidate for governor of Florida and a CNN political commentator, apologized on Friday after he was found "inebriated" by police who were responding to a "possible drug overdose" in a Miami hotel room he was in, according to a police report. In a statement, Gillum said that he was in Miami for a "wedding celebration" when officers were called to "assist one of my friends." "While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines," Gillum said. "I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement." "I'm thankful for the incredible Miami Beach EMS team for their efforts," Gillum added. "I will spend the next few weeks with my family and appreciate privacy during this time." The police report said that officers, who told CNN they are not currently pursuing criminal charges, arrived to the scene just after midnight and found Gillum and a second person, Aldo Mejias, in the hotel room. Mejias, according to the police report, said he had provided a third person, Travis Dyson, a credit card on Thursday to rent a hotel room for the night. When Mejias arrived at the hotel room later that night, he discovered Dyson and Gillum inside the room "under the influence of an unknown substance," the police report said. Mejias told police he found Gillum inside the bathroom vomiting, the report said. Dyson, Mejias told police, collapsed on the bed and was "having difficulty breathing." When Mejias woke Dyson up, he "began vomiting on the bed" and collapsed, Mejias told police. According to the police report, Mejias contacted authorities after he started conducting chest compressions on Dyson.


TALLAHASSEE — Andrew Gillum, a Florida Democrat who narrowly lost a bid for governor in 2018, was found “inebriated” and vomiting in a hotel room with another man apparently experiencing a drug overdose, according to a police report. The Miami Beach Police Department responded to an emergency call from the hotel room early Friday morning. Police impounded several clear plastic bags of what appeared to be crystal meth. First responders provided treatment to Travis Dyson, age 30, who later was hospitalized. He is conscious and in stable condition, according to the report filed Friday. Aldo Mejias, who had rented the room, told police he arrived at the hotel Thursday shortly before midnight to find Gillum and Dyson “under the influence of an unknown substance,” according to the police report. Mejias saw Gillum throwing up. Dyson was having difficulty breathing and also began vomiting, prompting Mejias to call for help. Police said Gillum was unable to speak to them because of his “inebriated state,” according to the report. Gillum eventually left the hotel and returned to his residence. Gillum said he had had too much to drink after a wedding.

By Zachary Evans, National Review

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

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

Kurt Volker’s testimony has complicated what was supposed to be an opportunity to amplify the GOP’s impeachment counter-narrative.
By Sam Brodey, Erin Banco, Spencer Ackerman

After weeks of decrying the impeachment process as a sham, Republicans finally got two of the witnesses they requested for testimony. But when one of them took the stand—the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker—he instead blew a massive hole in a central part of the GOP’s defense of President Trump.

Just moments after the top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), used his platform to parrot the very same claims President Trump has used to justify his pressure campaign in Ukraine—that the Biden family’s business involvement in a Ukrainian gas company is worth probing and that Ukraine meddled significantly in the 2016 election—Volker dismissed those items as “conspiracy theories circulated by the Ukrainians.”

“They’re not things we should be pursuing as part of our national security policy with Ukraine,” said Volker. He also said in his opening remarks that he told fellow officials at the time he did not find it “credible” that Biden “would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as Vice President.” Three hours into the hearing, Nunes had already distanced himself from the officials his side had requested, saying instead they were Democrats’ witnesses and declaring that the GOP had called relevant witnesses like Hunter Biden.

Volker’s dose of cold water on the GOP’s Ukraine fever swamp was just one part of the larger effort from the career diplomat on Tuesday afternoon to distance himself from the more problematic elements of the apparent Trumpworld push to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations by dangling $400 million in U.S. security aid.

Still, Volker’s performance did little in the way of exciting committee lawmakers on either side of the aisle. Following the morning appearances, members in the audience had thinned out and the atmosphere in the hearing room turned sleepy. Lawmakers sat back in their brown swivel chairs and seemed desperate to try and stay awake during counsel questioning. Some leaned forward on their desks, hands on cheek, staring blankly at the witnesses. Others simply closed their eyes. Full Story

By Ann E. Marimow and Peter Hermann

Baltimore’s former mayor Catherine E. Pugh has been indicted by a federal grand jury on wire fraud and tax evasion over lucrative book deals for her self-published Healthy Holly children’s series, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland. Pugh resigned in May after revelations about the deals she allegedly cut with companies connected to the city and state government, setting off another political crisis and setback for the city.

Pugh, 69, was the second Baltimore mayor to leave office in the past decade while facing corruption allegations. The indictment accuses her of a years-long scheme dating to 2007, when she was a state senator and before her days running Maryland’s largest city. Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur, along with top officials from the FBI and IRS, are scheduled to address the charges unsealed Wednesday at a morning briefing. The charges come after searches in April of Baltimore City Hall, Pugh’s homes and of a nonprofit tied to her.

Federal agents soughtfinancial documents and other information related to almost $800,000 she allegedly was paid for the books, an enormous amount in the world of children’s literature. Pugh is expected to surrender to U.S. Marshals before a court appearance Thursday, prosecutors said.

Most of the books were marketed and sold directly to non-profit groups and foundations that did business or tried to get business with the state and city of Baltimore, prosecutors allege. Book sales were intended to enrich Pugh and a partner — including purchasing and renovating Pugh’s home — and to “promote Pugh’s political career, and run her campaign for mayor,” according to prosecutors.

“The people of Maryland expect elected officials to make decisions based on the public’s best interests, not to abuse their office for personal gain,” Jennifer Boone, the special agent in charge of Baltimore’s FBI field office said in a statement. Full Story

By Chuck Johnston and Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN) Dennis Tyler, the Democratic mayor of Muncie, Indiana, was arrested at his home on Monday morning, according to the FBI.
An arrest warrant was executed at Tyler's home at 7:30 a.m., and he is currently in FBI custody, according to Chris Bavender, spokeswoman with the FBI in Indianapolis.

The US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Indiana said acting US Attorney Josh Minkler will hold a press conference Monday afternoon to announce charges related to public corruption. Sarah Beach, information coordinator with Muncie, said the city will release further information when they receive it.

Tyler's administration has been under scrutiny for several years now as investigators conducted a federal corruption probe, CNN affiliate WXIN reported. The Star Press first reported in 2016 that the FBI was investigating Muncie's former building commissioner Craig Nichols and the Muncie Sanitary District for possible wrongdoing. Full Story

By Olivia Messer
Hillary Clinton appeared to claim in a podcast interview this week that Russians will support Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as a third-party presidential candidate—and called Jill Stein “a Russian asset.” Clinton made the remark on Campaign HQ with David Plouffe. “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians,” said Clinton, apparently referring to Rep. Gabbard, who’s been accused of receiving support from Russian bots and the Russian news media. “They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.” She added: “That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset—I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate. So I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed.” Clinton spox Nick Merrill later clarified, when asked if Clinton was referencing Gabbard: “If the nesting doll fits.”

By Christina Zhao
CNN analyst Bakari Sellers—a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives—called 2020 candidate Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard "a puppet for the Russian government" during a panel appearance on Tuesday, hours before the fourth Democratic debate is set to take place in Westerville, Iowa. "There is a change that Tulsi's not just working for the United States of America, but I digress," Sellers said during a CNN panel discussion of the upcoming debate. "What does that mean?" CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked. "That's not just an allegation. I firmly believe that Tulsi Gabbard stands on that stage and is the antithesis to what the other 11 individuals stand for. Especially when it comes to issues such as foreign policy," Sellers explained. "There is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government." "Woah oh oh, that is strong," CNN political analyst April Ryan said. "How is there no question?" Camerota asked, clearly stunned by Sellers' remarks. Sellers replied by pointing to Gabbard's alleged "affection" for people like Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. "Her admiring somebody who we know to be a war criminal propping them up," he said. "I think that those are questions that will have to be answered." "That was very strong," Ryan said again.

Advisers to the former vice president wrote to executives at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News to “demand” that Mr. Giuliani not be invited on the air to discuss Ukraine and President Trump.
By Michael M. Grynbaum
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign contacted top television anchors and networks on Sunday to “demand” that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, be kept off the air because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family and Ukraine. “We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,” a pair of top Biden campaign advisers, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, wrote in the letter. “Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism,” the advisers wrote. The note, which was obtained by The New York Times, was sent to executives and top political anchors at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, including star interviewers like Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace. Mr. Giuliani could not immediately be reached on Sunday for comment. Mr. Giuliani has been a ubiquitous presence on television news in recent days, advocating on Mr. Trump’s behalf. He has repeatedly alleged that Mr. Biden, while serving as vice president, intervened in Ukraine to assist his son Hunter Biden’s business interests. No evidence has surfaced that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son in Ukraine. The Biden campaign argued that Mr. Giuliani’s television appearances had allowed him to mislead the viewing public — and suggested that network journalists had done too little to hold him to account. “While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough,” the letter said. Mr. Biden’s advisers have not been shy about offering advice to journalists. Earlier this month, the campaign sent a memo to an elite group of campaign reporters warning that any news story would be “misleading” if the Trump camp’s claims about Mr. Biden were unsubstantiated. The news networks had no comment on Sunday. As Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani remains a highly newsworthy figure, particularly amid an escalating impeachment inquiry in which Mr. Giuliani’s own actions in Ukraine could play a central role. It is likely that Mr. Giuliani will remain a coveted booking for television journalists seeking insight into the president’s mind-set and legal defense strategy. As for Mr. Biden, he has shown little eagerness to engage one-on-one with TV anchors. The former vice president has declined to appear on any of the weekend political talk shows since declaring his candidacy,  reserving his on-air appearances for late-night comedy shows, “The View” and a small number of other sit-downs. - The Biden camp is wrong on this you cannot stop free speech even if it is lies. If it is lies take him to court and let the court decide.

By Chris Nichols
During a climate town hall on CNN this week, Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris vowed to take on Big Oil and other powerful interests when they "profit off of harmful behaviors" such as burning fossil fuels. In answer to a direct question, she claimed she already did that as California’s attorney general. "So, Senator Harris, what would you do? Would you sue them? Sue Exxon Mobil?" asked moderator Erin Burnett. "I have sued Exxon Mobil," Harris replied. Did she? Environmental groups questioned her response. We decided to fact check it. Our research: We found Harris’ office investigated Exxon in 2016 over allegations it lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change. The Los Angeles Times detailed that probe in a January 2016 news article. It said Exxon rejected the allegations. But there’s no public record, and nothing that Harris’ campaign could provide, to show she filed a lawsuit against the company.

By Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
BOSTON — Jasiel Correia II, the already embattled mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, was arrested Friday on new federal extortion charges for allegedly operating a scheme to help marijuana vendors get approval to operate in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Prosecutors say Correia agreed to sign non-opposition letters in return for significant six-figure payments from four marijuana vendors looking to open businesses in the city of nearly 90,000 about an hour's drive south of Boston. The letters are required to obtain a license to operate a marijuana business in Massachusetts, where cannabis is legal. Correia, 27, appeared in Boston federal court Friday afternoon and pleaded not guilty. "I'm not guilty of these charges," he told reporters afterward, standing next to his attorney outside the courthouse. "I've done nothing but good for the great city of Fall River, me and my staff, and my team. I'm going to continue to do great things for our citizens." The Democrat mayor also is accused of extorting $3,900 in cash and a $7,500-to-$12,000 "Batman" Rolex watch from a property owner in exchange for activating the water supply to his building. In addition, federal prosecutors say Correia demanded his chief of staff give him half of her $78,700 salary in return for appointing her and allowing her to keep her city job. Four others, including the former chief of staff, Genoveva Andrade, also were charged with federal crimes.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson posted and then deleted a tweet Wednesday morning that suggested the "power of mind" could deter Hurricane Dorian from slamming into the US. "The Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas...may all be in our prayers now. Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm," her now-deleted post read.

By Faith Karimi and Amanda Watts, CNN
(CNN) - An Indiana state representative was charged with drunken driving and impersonating an officer after he tried to buy cocaine "party favors" at a local bar, court documents show. Democratic lawmaker Dan Forestal, 36, was elected in 2012. He was charged with one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resisting law enforcement and impersonating a public servant, the Marion County Sheriff's Department said Thursday. His encounter with real officers happened Saturday night, after a resident called 911 to report someone impersonating an officer in in Indianapolis. Forestal told the person he's an officer doing a drug bust in the area, a probable cause affidavit says. He allegedly asked where the "people selling drugs" lived and flashed a badge on a silver chain. When officers arrived, they found him in his car. He held onto the steering wheel and refused to step out, and was handcuffed after a brief struggle, the probable cause affidavit says.

By Julian Zelizer, CNN Political Analyst
(CNN) Congresswoman Ilhan Omar took a shot against former President Barack Obama. During an interview with Politico, the controversial congresswoman was critical of Obama for working within a broken system, pointing to his immigration and drone policies as examples of when Democrats in the past made huge errors that created the path to the problems of today. Omar was quoted as saying: "We can't be only upset with Trump. ... His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was." She also said, "And that's not what we should be looking for anymore. We don't want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile." Importantly, Omar did distinguish what President Trump has done from his predecessor. Everything is not the same. But her bigger point is a familiar argument that we have heard from the left, including from Bernie Sanders in 2016, that unless there are structural changes in public policy and the organization of government, the differences that will result from one party or the other controlling the branches of government will be limited. Having younger members criticize party elders is not new, nor is it always a bad thing. Throughout American history, generational change within Congress has produced fresh voices who are willing to say tough things about revered senior party leaders. President Franklin Roosevelt came under fire from liberals who thought he didn't go far enough to reform capitalism, while civil rights advocates often felt that President Lyndon Johnson was too timid on racial justice and too invested in a bad war in Vietnam. This kind of criticism, no matter how unpleasant, can have beneficial effects by pushing new ideas that make the party stronger and, if successful, help the nation improve. But historically, there is always a danger that the left goes too far in flattening any differences between its own party and its opponents. This was the kind of thinking that produced support for Ralph Nader's third-party campaign in 2000. "The only difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock," Nader said during a stop in the 2000 campaign. The danger of this logic is that the mavericks unintentionally dampen the enthusiasm of younger voters whose energy and ideas will be essential to victory. This "Tweedledee" and "Tweedledum" world view can cause some to miss the fundamental issues that are at stake.

By Stephanie Saul and Sheryl Gay Stolberg
A second woman came forward Friday with claims that she had been sexually assaulted by Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax of Virginia, intensifying the weeklong political crisis in the state and leading some top fellow Democrats to call for Mr. Fairfax to resign. The woman, Meredith Watson, accused Mr. Fairfax of raping her while they were students at Duke University in 2000, saying in a statement that his actions were “premeditated and aggressive” and demanding that he resign immediately. Ms. Watson spoke out two days after Vanessa C. Tyson, a political science professor from California, said she was assaulted by Mr. Fairfax in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. By Friday evening, Mr. Fairfax was facing a wave of calls for his resignation. Democrats in the Virginia House and Senate urged him to step down, saying he “could not longer fulfill his duties to the commonwealth.” Patrick Hope, a Democrat in the Virginia House, said he would introduce articles of impeachment against Mr. Fairfax on Monday if the lieutenant governor had not resigned by then. Mr. Fairfax, in a statement issued Friday evening, denied all of the allegations and called the latest one “demonstrably false.” He vowed he would not resign.

By Ed O'Keefe
First, it was Virginia's governor. Then, the lieutenant governor. Now the state attorney general. The top three leaders in the state are all facing scandal. Attorney General Mark Herring admitted Wednesday he once wore blackface at a college party. Virginia Democratic lawmakers were in no mood to discuss the latest scandal to rock Richmond. As an undergraduate in 1980, he said in a statement, he and friends went to a party as rappers. "We dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup," Herring said. "I have a glaring example from my past that I have thought about with deep regret in the many years since." When word reached the statehouse, there were audible gasps and expletives from staffers.

By Mallory Simon, Sara Sidner, Ralph Ellis
(CNN) During a free-wheeling press conference to address a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he wouldn't be surprised if other photos like that were found in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. On Sunday, CNN found more racist and objectionable images in the book. None of them appear to show Northam. Democrats from across the nation demanded Northam resign after a yearbook photo surfaced showing one person wearing blackface and another dressed in the Ku Klux Klan's signature white hood and robes. The photo appears on Northam's personal yearbook page among other photos of him from school. After first apologizing for appearing in the racist photo, Northam now says he wasn't in it and won't resign. In that same yearbook, CNN found the following images: On page 10 of the yearbook, a photo shows a man dressed up like a woman in a lowcut white dress, pearls, a black wig and blackface. Next to the photo is the caption, "'Baby Love', who ever thought Diana Ross would make it to medical school" -- an apparent reference to the lead singer of the Supremes, a Motown singing group made up of three black women. A woman behind him is wearing a hat as if she is dressed like a witch. The photo is on a page full of photos of other student outings and parties. Later in the yearbook, in a section devoted to student personal pages, a photo of three men with their faces blackened wearing white dresses, white gloves, pearls and wigs appears. That photo appears on the page before Northam's personal page. It is surrounded by other photos of this student at school and has no captions. On page 34, the pharmacology page, a photo of a white man, not in blackface, shows him holding a coffee mug bearing the words, "We can't get fired! Slaves have to be sold. On page 10, there's also a photo of a man groping a mannequin with the words "I try never to divulge my true feelings while examining my patients."

By Alan Blinder
Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia had a fragile, defiant hold on power on Sunday as he and a quickly eroding coalition of allies rebuffed demands for his resignation after the revelation of a racist photograph on his medical school yearbook page. Mr. Northam’s hopes for political survival, Democratic and Republicans officials increasingly believe, are a mounting humiliation for the state, and risk his fellow Democrats’ policy ambitions and their aspirations for crucial state elections this year, when all 140 legislative seats will be at stake. “The question now is: Can you lead? Can you help us heal?” said Representative A. Donald McEachin, Democrat of Virginia, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Given the actions that he’s demonstrated over the past 48 hours, the answer’s clearly no.” Mr. Northam has offered shifting accounts — first, a Friday night apology “for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo,” which shows one person dressed in blackface and another as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, followed on Saturday by professed certainty that neither person in the photograph was him. His stance, and refusal to step down amid a torrent of pressure from his party, has fueled a crisis in Virginia that has rippled into national politics. “I tell the truth. I’m telling the truth today,” Mr. Northam said on Saturday at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, where he denied a role in the yearbook photograph but acknowledged that he had darkened his face with shoe polish for a Michael Jackson costume at a dance contest in 1984. But elected officials and strategists in both parties said they believed Mr. Northam was too far compromised to remain in office, his authority and power undercut gravely by his whiplash-inducing efforts to contain the fallout from the picture, which appeared on his page in the 1984 yearbook at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

By Ben Kamisar
"He has lost the authority to lead. He's lost the authority to govern," Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., told "Meet the Press." Top Congressional Black Caucus members said Sunday that Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam "has to resign" in the wake of his shifting explanations for a racist photo that appeared on his medical school yearbook page. Appearing on Sunday's "Meet the Press," Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the CBC and Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin said Northam's answers have only made the situation more untenable since the photo, which shows one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe, became public on Friday. "He has lost the authority to lead, he's lost the authority to govern. He has to resign," McEachin said. "It's in the best interest of the commonwealth, it's in the best interest of the party." Bass criticized Northam as "completely dishonest and disingenuous" and dismissed the idea that by staying in office, Northam is forcing a conversation on race. "He's forcing the wrong conversation. What he should do is resign, and if he has any integrity at all, he should participate in that conversation," she said. Their calls echoed Democratic figures across the country who have called for the governor to resign since the photo surfaced. The governor initially apologized "for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo" hours after the 1984 yearbook photos surfaced. But during a stunning Saturday press conference, Northam said that upon further reflection he realized he was not in the photo at all. He did admit that he once used shoe polish to darken his face while portraying Michael Jackson in a dance contest. Bass said that Northam's performance at the press conference only reinforced her belief he should resign.

By Alana Goodman
Joe Biden, weighing a 2020 White House bid, once advocated continued school segregation in the United States, arguing that it benefited minorities and that integration would prevent black people from embracing “their own identity.” Biden was speaking in 1975, when he opposed the federally mandated busing policy designed to end segregation in schools. In the past few decades, he has claimed he wanted desegregation but believed the policy of busing would not achieve it. Last year, he stated he had voted heroically to protect busing. In 2008, after being chosen as Barack Obama's vice-presidential running mate he said: "The struggle for civil rights was the animating political element of my life." He appears poised to make his civil rights record a centerpiece of any campaign, telling an audience in Fort Lauderdale this week that "I came out of the civil rights movement. He added that he first became aware of what an "awful thing" segregation was as a third grader, when he asked his mother why a bus was taking black children to a school away from where they lived. But 44 years ago, facing a backlash against busing from white voters, the future vice president voiced concerns not just about the policy of busing, which he had supported when first seeking election in 1972, but about the impact of desegregation on American society. He argued that segregation was good for blacks and was what they wanted. “I think the concept of busing … that we are going to integrate people so that they all have the same access and they learn to grow up with one another and all the rest, is a rejection of the whole movement of black pride,” said Biden. Desegregation, he argued, was “a rejection of the entire black awareness concept, where black is beautiful, black culture should be studied; and the cultural awareness of the importance of their own identity, their own individuality.” Questioning whether he might be a racist, Biden said he had asked "the blacks on my staff" whether he harbored something "in me that’s deep-seated that I don’t know."

By Dareh Gregorian and Hallie Jackson
Ralph Northam was on Friday night resisting growing calls from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans for him to step down. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologized Friday for appearing in a racially offensive photo on his medical school yearbook page that featured men in blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes. But a growing number of fellow Democrats and Republicans called on him to resign. "Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive," Northam said in a statement. "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now." He added, "This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. "I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor." Five Democrats who have announced 2020 presidential runs or said they would form exploratory committees — Julián Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — said Northam should resign.

Former Vice President Joe Biden took criticism for supporting a Michigan Republican, but dismissed it with a joke saying "bless me father for I have sinned."  

By Alexander Burns
Joseph R. Biden Jr. swept into Benton Harbor, Mich., three weeks before the November elections, in the midst of his quest to reclaim the Midwest for Democrats. He took the stage at Lake Michigan College as Representative Fred Upton, a long-serving Republican from the area, faced the toughest race of his career. But Mr. Biden was not there to denounce Mr. Upton. Instead, he was collecting $200,000 from the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan to address a Republican-leaning audience, according to a speaking contract obtained by The New York Times and interviews with organizers. The group, a business-minded civic organization, is supported in part by an Upton family foundation. Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience. Alluding to Mr. Upton’s support for a landmark medical-research law, Mr. Biden called him a champion in the fight against cancer — and “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.” Mr. Biden’s remarks, coming amid a wide-ranging discourse on American politics, quickly appeared in Republican advertising. The local Democratic Party pleaded with Mr. Biden to repair what it saw as a damaging error, to no avail. On Nov. 6, Mr. Upton defeated his Democratic challenger by four and a half percentage points.

The former president’s activist group Organizing for Action will be folded into a fight to end gerrymandering. Former President Barack Obama has taken to heart one cause above others since leaving the White House: the fight to end gerrymandering. On Thursday he announced that the progressive Organizing for Action group, which formed out of the pieces of Obama’s re-election campaign, would be folded into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. In a Medium post, Obama called gerrymandered maps “undemocratic” and “unrepresentative,” saying they have “too often stood in the way of change.”

The Capitol Police arrested a 27-year-old former congressional staffer, who appears to have worked for a handful of Democrats on the Hill, for allegedly doxing Republican senators and editing their Wikipedia pages to include personal information, including their home addresses. Police identified Jackson Cosko as the suspect Wednesday night and accused him of posting “private, identifying information (doxing) about one or more United States Senators to the internet.

No Drama Obama worked to fix things, Drama Queen Don the Con breaks everything he touches.

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