Trump Administration, Week 144, Friday, 18 October – Thursday, 24 October 2019 (Days 1,002-1,008)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

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Friday, 18 October 2019, Day 1,002:


On Day 1,001, Trump Made It Clear: Being ‘Presidential’ Is Boring. If he acted ‘presidential,’ Mr. Trump said Thursday night in Dallas, ‘everybody would be out of here so fast.’ The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 18 October 2019: “After 1,000 days of the Trump Show, the capacity for surprise has long since diminished and comments or actions that would have set off days of front-page coverage and howls from Capitol Hill now barely register. The shocker that consumed Twitter three hours ago is so quickly overwhelmed by the next one that it seems impossible to digest any single moment to assess its meaning or consequences…. After 1,000 days in office, Mr. Trump has redefined what it means to be presidential. On the 1,001st day of his tenure, which was Thursday, all pretense of normalcy went out the window. It was a day when he boasted of saving ‘millions of lives’ by temporarily stopping a Middle East war that he effectively allowed to start in the first place, then compared the combatants to children who had to be allowed to slug each other to get it out of their system. It was a day when he announced without any evident embarrassment that officials of the federal government that answers to him had scoured the country for a site for next year’s Group of 7 summit meeting and determined that the perfect location, the very best site in all the United States, just happened to be a property he owned in Florida.”

Clashes and Confusion Mar Attempt at Cease-Fire in Syria, The New York Times, Patrick Kingsley and Carlotta Gall, Friday, 18 October 2019: “Sporadic fighting continued in northern Syria on Friday, casting uncertainty over an American-brokered truce, as conflicting reports emerged about whether Kurdish forces were retreating or hunkering down and whether Turkish troops were advancing or holding fire.”

In admitting then denying quid pro quo, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney turns harsh impeachment spotlight on himself, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The hastily announced White House news conference was supposed to be a full-throated defense of President Trump’s controversial decision to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his private golf club in Florida. By the time it was over, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had made much more explosive news — adding to Trump’s impeachment troubles and calling into question his ability to lead the White House staff in a time of crisis. Mulvaney’s performance the day before continued to reverberate Friday as Republican lawmakers, the Justice Department, Trump’s personal attorney, conservative media figures and several White House officials panned the news conference or distanced themselves from its contents.”

Continue reading Week 144, Friday, 18 October – Thursday, 24 October 2019 (Days 1,002-1,008)

State Department investigation of Clinton emails finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Friday, 18 October 2019: “A multiyear State Department probe of emails that were sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server concluded there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees, according to a report submitted to Congress this month. The report appears to represent a final and anticlimactic chapter in a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 presidential campaign and exposed Clinton to fierce criticism that she later cited as a major factor in her loss to President Trump.” See also, State Department Inquiry Into Clinton Emails Finds No Deliberate Mishandling of Classified Information, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 18 October 2019: “A yearslong State Department investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server found that while the use of the system for official business increased the risk of compromising classified information, there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information. The inquiry, started more than three years ago, found that 38 current or former State Department officials were ‘culpable’ of violating security procedures in a review of about 33,000 individual emails sent to or from the server that Mrs. Clinton turned over to investigators.”

Trump’s Choice to Bring G7 to His Own Resort Would Violate Conflict-Of-Interest Law, if He Weren’t President, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The rules are clear for nearly everyone who works in the executive branch: Officials are prohibited from playing even a minor role in a decision that directly creates a financial benefit for the employee or the employee’s immediate family. But those rules do not apply to the president and vice president, the only executive branch officials who are exempt from a criminal statute and a separate ethics regulation that govern conflicts of interest. That exemption is the reason President Trump could legally play a role in the selection of the Trump National Doral resort near Miami as the site of next year’s summit meeting of the Group of 7. If anyone in the executive branch other than Mr. Trump or Vice President Mike Pence tried the same thing, they would likely have been blocked by government lawyers, faced an ethics investigation and perhaps become the subject of a criminal inquiry, federal ethics lawyers from both parties said Friday. Violating the law, which dates to 1962, is a felony punishable with a prison sentence of up to five years…. Every president over the past four decades — with the exception of Mr. Trump — has placed his personal investments and assets in a blind trust while in the White House, or has sold everything and held cash equivalents, to avoid any potential conflicts, even though there has been no requirement to do this under the law.”

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis Mocks Trump’s Bone Spurs and Love of Fast Food, The New York Times, Christine Hauser, Friday, 18 October 2019: “Jim Mattis, the former defense secretary, departed from his usual reticence about President Trump and mocked his former boss in a speech on Thursday night that made fun of his bone spur diagnosis during the Vietnam War and his love for fast food. The president had recently referred to Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, as ‘the world’s most overrated general.’ Mr. Mattis picked up the reference and ran with it for several minutes after being introduced as the keynote speaker at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, an annual charity event in New York where politicians and other leaders typically roast one another. ‘I’m not just an overrated general,’ Mr. Mattis said. ‘I’m the greatest, the world’s most overrated,’ he said, to laughter and applause…. Mr. Mattis went on, saying that people had asked him during the reception before the dinner whether the ‘overrated’ description had bothered him. ‘Of course not,’ he said in his speech. ‘I have earned my spurs on the battlefield.’ He added: ‘Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor.’ See also, Jim Mattis, Bill McRaven, and the revenge of the four-stars, The Washington Post, James Hohmann, Friday, 18 October 2019.

To Win Rudy Giuliani’s Help, Allies of Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian Oligarch Fighting Extradition to the U.S., Were Digging Up Dirt on Joe Biden, Bloomberg, Stephanie Baker and Irina Reznik, Friday, 18 October 2019: “Associates of a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani’s help in the oligarch’s legal case, according to three people familiar with the exchanges. Dmitry Firtash, charged with conspiracy by the U.S. and living in Vienna, shuffled lawyers in July to add Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, vocal supporters of President Donald Trump who had worked with Giuliani. Around that time, some of Firtash’s associates began to use his broad network of Ukraine contacts to get damaging information on Biden, the people said.”

The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: What Happened Today, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Friday, 18 October 2019: “Republicans in Congress have been militant in backing President Trump during the impeachment investigation. But after Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, appeared to admit to a quid pro quo with the president of Ukraine on Thursday, that support showed signs of cracking. ‘You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative. Period,’ Senator Lisa Murkowski said. Representative Adam Kinzinger told CNN that it was ‘quite concerning.'”

Republican Representative Francis Rooney hints he is open to impeachment: ‘I didn’t take this job to keep it,’ The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 18 October 2019: “Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) said Friday that he has been increasingly concerned by revelations that have emerged regarding the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine and did not rule out the possibility of voting to impeach the president. The two-term congressman from a heavily Republican district told reporters he was ‘shocked’ by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s on-camera admission Thursday that Trump withheld military aid to secure a personal political priority, an investigation into possible Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.”

Stymied by a polarized agency, Federal Elections Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub finds her voice as a Trump critic, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission wields her Twitter handle like a Swiss Army knife. In the past four months, she’s deployed the presidential subtweet, the precisely timed retweet and the 57-part tweetstorm, racking up tens of thousands of followers, winning praise from the left and attracting derision from the right. With her agency effectively hamstrung, lacking enough commissioners to do its job, Ellen L. Weintraub has gone to work online.”

Trump Taps Dan Brouillette to Succeed Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, The New York Times, Lisa K. Friedman and Mariel Padilla, Friday, 18 October 2019: “President Trump said on Friday that he would nominate Dan Brouillette, the deputy secretary of energy, to succeed Rick Perry as energy secretary after the former Texas governor said he would resign amid scrutiny over his role in the Ukraine scandal. As Mr. Perry’s deputy, Mr. Brouillette has been in charge of leading day-to-day operations at the Department of Energy. When he joined the Trump administration in 2017, it was Mr. Brouillette’s second stint at the agency. He served as an assistant secretary of congressional affairs at the department in the George W. Bush administration. Before that he was a vice president of Ford Motor Company and the head of public policy for the United Services Automobile Association, a military-focused financial institution.” See also, New Energy Secretary Fits Trend: Cabinet Dominated by Lobbyists, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 18 October 2019. See also, Trump to nominate Energy Department deputy Dan Brouillette to succeed Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Tom Hamburger, Friday, 18 October 2019.

Facebook Reaches Deal With The Wall Street Journal Publisher and Others to Supply Headlines in News Section, The Wall Street Journal, Lukas I. Alpert, Friday, 18 October 2019: “News Corp has reached a deal to let Facebook Inc. feature headlines from The Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones media properties, as well as the New York Post, in the social-media giant’s coming news section, the companies said. Other publications that have agreed to participate include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed News and Business Insider, people familiar with the matter said. The New York Times has been in talks with Facebook, but a spokeswoman for the paper declined to comment on whether it had reached a deal.”

Supreme Court to Rule on Trump’s Power to Fire the Head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear a challenge to the leadership structure of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, agreeing to decide whether the president is free to fire its director without cause. The bureau, the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, then a law professor at Harvard and now a senator and presidential candidate, was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed in 2010 after the financial crisis. In an effort to protect the bureau’s independence, the statute said the president could remove its director only for cause, defined as ‘inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance.’ That limit on presidential power has been repeatedly challenged in court by businesses that say it violates the separation of powers. The Trump administration agrees with the challengers. The bureau once took the opposite position, but it changed its stance in September, agreeing that its director could be fired at will.” See also, Supreme Court will decide constitutionality of the structure of the watchdog Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider whether the structure of the watchdog Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by Congress in 2010 is unconstitutional, something the Trump administration and even the bureau’s director say they now believe. Conservatives have long contended that the protection given to the bureau’s director, who cannot be fired by the president without cause, violates the separation of powers. The CFPB, created in part by consumer advocates such as Elizabeth Warren — now a Democratic member of the Senate representing Massachusetts — and Congress have defended its independence.”

Supreme Court will rule on expedited removal of those denied asylum requests, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The Supreme Court said Friday it will review a lower court decision that hinders the Trump administration’s desire to more quickly deport undocumented immigrants after their requests for asylum have been denied. The case concerns ‘expedited removal,’ a procedure approved by Congress in 1996. Currently, it provides quick removal of thousands of people who are arrested within 100 miles of the border, less than two weeks after arrival, when U.S. officials do not find they make a credible case that they would be persecuted if returned to their home countries.” See also, U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Trump Appeal Over Rapid Deportation Dispute, The New York Times, Reuters, Friday, 18 October 2019: “The U.S. Supreme Court stepped into a new immigration dispute on Friday, agreeing to hear an appeal by President Donald Trump’s administration of a lower court ruling that could frustrate a top priority of his: quickly deporting illegal immigrants. The justices agreed to review a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that favored a Sri Lankan asylum seeker. The 9th Circuit found that a federal law that largely stripped the power of courts to review quick deportations – known as expedited removal – violated in his case a provision of the U.S. Constitution called the suspension clause.”


Saturday, 19 October 2019, Day 1,003:


Federal Judge rules Florida must allow felons to vote if they can’t afford to pay back their court-ordered fees, fines, and restitution, Tampa Bay Times, Lawrence Mower, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “Florida must allow felons to vote if they can’t afford to pay back their court-ordered fees, fines and restitution, a federal judge ruled late Friday in a case challenging the Legislature’s crackdown on Amendment 4. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle wrote in his decision that the historic amendment voters passed in 2018 allowing felons to vote does require that they pay back their financial obligations to have their voting rights restored. But if they’re too poor to pay those costs, the judge ruled, that should not keep them from voting.” See also, Judge rules Florida can’t block felons from voting, even if they have unpaid fines, The Washington Post, Lori Rozsa, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “The right to vote for 1.4 million felons in Florida got a boost Friday when a federal judge ruled that the state can’t prevent felons from voting, even if they can’t afford to pay court-ordered fines and fees. This latest chapter in the ongoing battle between voting rights activists and the Republican-led state legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis is a win for those who want their voting rights restored.”

Proclaiming ‘I Am Back,’ Bernie Sanders Accepts Endorsement of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The New York Times, Sydney Ember, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “Senator Bernie Sanders wanted a show of force to convince voters he was back from his heart attack, and he produced one on Saturday: At his first rally since the episode just two and a half weeks ago, he reveled in one of the most coveted endorsements in the Democratic Party, from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Drawing loud cheers from a large, enthusiastic and diverse crowd that had packed into a park in Queens next to a public housing complex, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez offered resounding words of support, for both Mr. Sanders and his influence in shaping the Democratic primary. ‘No one wanted to question the system, and in 2016, he fundamentally changed politics in America,’ she said, minutes before Mr. Sanders joined her on the stage. ‘We right now have one of the best Democratic presidential primary fields in a generation and much of that is thanks to the work that Bernie Sanders has done in his entire life.'” See also, Bernie Sanders returns to the campaign trail with an endorsement from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan and Chelsea Janes, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “Sen. Bernie Sanders returned to the campaign trail Saturday with an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, making a comeback nearly three weeks after suffering a heart attack with a speech that sought to allay concerns about his health and placed a greater emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Speaking under a sunny sky to a crowd of more than 25,000 — the largest any Democratic candidate has attracted this year — the speech showcased for the first time a striking new political alliance between a 78-year-old senator from Vermont fresh off a health scare and a 30-year-old Latina congresswoman from New York who represents a younger and more diverse generation of Democrats.”

After Criticism, Trump Decides He Will No Longer Hold Next Year’s Group of 7 Meeting at His Luxury Golf Club Near Miami, The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Eric Lipton, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “President Trump said on Saturday that he would no longer hold next year’s Group of 7 meeting at his luxury golf club near Miami, a swift reversal after two days of intense criticism over awarding his family company a major diplomatic event. ‘I thought I was doing something very good for our country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 leaders,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, before again promoting the resort’s amenities. ‘But, as usual, the hostile media & Democrat partners went CRAZY!’ Mr. Trump added: ‘Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020.'” See also, Why Trump Dropped His Idea to Hold the G7 at His Own Hotel in Miami. He knew Democrats would criticize him. When Republicans started doing so, he changed his mind. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Eric Lipton, and Katie Rogers, published on Sunday, 20 October 2019: “He knew he was inviting criticism by choosing his own luxury golf club in Miami for the site of a gathering of world leaders at the Group of 7 summit in June, President Trump told his aides opposed to the choice, and he was prepared for the inevitable attack from Democrats. But what Mr. Trump was not prepared for was the reaction of fellow Republicans who said his choice of the club, the Trump National Doral, had crossed a line, and they couldn’t defend it. So Mr. Trump did something that might not have been a surprise for a president facing impeachment but that was unusual for him: He reversed himself Saturday night, abruptly ending the uproar touched off two days earlier by the announcement of his decision by Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff.” See also, Bowing to criticism, Trump says his Doral golf resort in Miami will no longer host next year’s G-7 summit, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and David A. Fahrenthold, published on Sunday, 20 October 2019: “President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event. Trump was buffeted by two straight days of allegations of self-dealing and exasperation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including some Republican allies who said the selection of Doral as the venue for a gathering of world leaders was indefensible. The decision — while it lasted — was an unprecedented one in modern American politics: The president awarded a huge contract to himself.” See also, Trump reversed course on hosting G-7 at his club after learning that impeachment-weary Republicans were tired of defending him, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and David A. Fahrenthold, published on Sunday, 20 October 2019: “President Trump was forced to abandon his decision to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his private golf club after it became clear the move had alienated Republicans and swiftly become part of the impeachment inquiry that threatens his presidency.” See also, After backlash, Trump says his Doral resort won’t host G-7 summit, Politico, Anita Kumar and Evan Semones, Saturday, 19 October 2019.

Review of Russia Inquiry Grows as F.B.I. Witnesses Are Questioned. The review, led by the prosecutor John Durham, has focused on former investigators who are frequent targets of Trump. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and William K. Rashbaum, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “Federal prosecutors reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation have asked witnesses pointed questions about any anti-Trump bias among former F.B.I. officials who are frequent targets of President Trump and about the earliest steps they took in the Russia inquiry, according to former officials and other people familiar with the review. The prosecutors, led by John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, have interviewed about two dozen former and current F.B.I. officials, the people said. Two former senior F.B.I. agents are assisting with the review, the people said. The number of interviews shows that Mr. Durham’s review is further along than previously known. It has served as a political flash point since Attorney General William P. Barr revealed in the spring that he planned to scrutinize the beginnings of the Russia investigation, which Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked without evidence as a plot by law enforcement and intelligence officials to prevent him from winning the 2016 election.”

Representative Francis Rooney, Republican congressman who won’t rule out impeaching Trump, announces his retirement, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis, Saturday, 19 October 2019: “A day after Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) became the first House Republican to say he would consider voting to impeach President Trump, he announced his retirement.” See also, Francis Rooney, Republican Congressman Who Won’t Rule Out Impeachment, Is to Retire, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Saturday, 19 October 2019. See also, Francis Rooney, the Republican congressman who was open to impeachment, calls it quits, Politico, Melanie Zanona, Matt Dixon, and Christian Vasquez, Saturday, 19 October 2019.


Sunday, 20 October 2019, Day 1,004:


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional delegation make an unannounced trip to Afghanistan and Jordan in outreach to allies after Trump’s decision to abruptly remove U.S. troops from northern Syria, The Washington Post, Steve Hendrix, Sunday, 20 October 2019: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led an unannounced congressional visit to Afghanistan and Jordan over the weekend, highlighting her sharp disagreement with President Trump over his abrupt removal of U.S. troops from northern Syria and Turkey’s subsequent attacks on Kurdish enclaves.”

As U.S. Leaves Allies in Syria, Kurdish Commander Mazlum Kobani Struggles With Fallout, The New York Times, Ben Hubbard, Sunday, 20 October 2019: “As United States troops continued their withdrawal from Syria on Sunday, a line of cars carried their routed former allies, terrified civilians and dead bodies out of a pulverized border town that had been besieged by Turkish forces for more than a week. Away from the front lines where the Turks might assassinate him, the Kurdish leader of the Syrian force that once helped America battle the Islamic State, and that has now been abandoned by the Trump administration, looked drained from 10 days of battle and geopolitical struggle over his people’s fate. The commander, Mazlum Kobani, had visibly lost weight, and his eyes drooped from exhaustion. His fighters had shed considerable blood to wrest territory from the Islamic State and establish self-rule on its former lands. Now, he worried that a complete American withdrawal would not only jeopardize those gains but also subject his people to displacement and slaughter.” See also, General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, America’s Ally in Syria, Warns of Ethnic Cleansing by Turkey, The New Yorker, Robin Wright, Sunday, 20 October 2019.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper Says U.S. Troops Leaving Syria Will Be Assigned to Iraq, The Wall Street Journal, Nancy A. Youssef, Sunday, 20 October 2019: “All of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops ordered to leave northeastern Syria will move to western Iraq and will conduct U.S. operations against the Islamic State extremist group from there, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. Mr. Esper spoke to reporters en route to Afghanistan, where he landed Sunday at the start of a trip to the Middle East and Europe that comes in the midst of an international furor over President Trump’s order withdrawing U.S. military forces from northeastern Syria.”

The Ambitions of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons. The New York Times, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Sunday, 20 October 2019: “Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants more than control over a wide swath of Syria along his country’s border. He says he wants the Bomb. In the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military across the border to clear Kurdish areas, Mr. Erdogan made no secret of his larger ambition. ‘Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads,’ he told a meeting of his governing party in September. But the West insists ‘we can’t have them,’ he said. ‘This, I cannot accept.'”

Justice Department Distances Itself From Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Sunday, 20 October 2019: “[In an unusual statement] the Justice Department distanced itself on Sunday from Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, declaring that department officials would not have met with Mr. Giuliani to discuss one of his clients had they known that federal prosecutors in New York were investigating two of his associates.”

After weeks of criticism, Elizabeth Warren says she will release a plan to pay for Medicare-for-all, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey and David Weigel, Sunday, 20 October 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday her campaign will release a plan to pay for the Medicare-for-all health proposal she’s backed ‘in the next few weeks,’ but she continued to deflect questions about whether middle-class taxes would go up. That promise comes after weeks of attacks from other Democratic candidates in the presidential race, who say Warren is not being honest with voters about how she would fund the massive health-care plan. The lag in unveiling a payment plan speaks to the difficult position Warren is in: She can either offer some kind of large tax above her wealth tax on the very rich or be pegged as evasive about a major element of her platform. Both carry political risks.” See also, Elizabeth Warren Says She Will Release a Plan to Finance ‘Medicare for All,’ The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Sunday, 20 October 2019.


Monday, 21 October 2019, Day 1,005:


Democrats Slow Impeachment Timeline to Sharpen Their Public Case, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 21 October 2019: “House Democrats have resigned themselves to the likelihood that impeachment proceedings against President Trump will extend into the Christmas season, as they plan a series of public hearings intended to make the simplest and most devastating possible public case in favor of removing Mr. Trump. Democratic leaders had hoped to move as soon as Thanksgiving to wrap up a narrow inquiry focused around Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, buoyed by polling data that shows that the public supports the investigation, even if voters are not yet sold on impeaching the president. But after a complicated web of damaging revelations about the president has emerged from private depositions unfolding behind closed doors, Democratic leaders have now begun plotting a full-scale — and probably more time-consuming — effort to lay out their case in a set of high-profile public hearings on Capitol Hill. Their goal is to convince the public — and if they can, more Republicans — that the president committed an impeachable offense when he demanded that Ukraine investigate his political rivals.” See also, ‘Get Over It’? Political Influence in Foreign Policy Matters. The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Monday, 21 October 2019: “Readers have asked The New York Times to explain why, exactly, another nation’s interference in the democratic process is such a serious issue. [This article outlines why it is such a serious issue.]

ISIS Reaps Gains of U.S. Pullout From Syria, The New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick and Eric Schmitt, Monday, 21 October 2019: “When President Trump announced this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington’s onetime allies, many warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Now, analysts say that Mr. Trump’s pullout has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects. With American forces rushing for the exits, in fact, American officials said last week that they were already losing their ability to collect critical intelligence about the group’s operations on the ground.” See also, Trump Has Gotten Very Little in Return From His Troop Pullouts, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Monday, 21 October 2019: “The Taliban have wanted the United States to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Turkey has wanted the Americans out of northern Syria and North Korea has wanted them to at least stop military exercises with South Korea. President Trump has now to some extent at least obliged all three — but without getting much of anything in return. The self-styled dealmaker has given up the leverage of the United States’ military presence in multiple places around the world without negotiating concessions from those cheering for American forces to leave.”

Trump warns U.S. ‘may have to get in wars,’ Politico, Quint Forgey, Monday, 21 October 2019: “President Donald Trump on Monday offered a confusing description of his foreign policy priorities as commander in chief — insisting that he was working to bring home American soldiers while warning the U.S. may soon enter into new military conflicts. ‘I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too. OK? We may have to get in wars,’ Trump told reporters at the White House.” See also, Despite Trump’s Vow to End ‘Endless Wars,’ Here’s Where About 200,000 Troops Remain, The New York Times, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Monday, 21 October 2019: “President Trump has repeatedly promised to end what he calls America’s ‘endless wars,’ fulfilling a promise he made during the campaign. No wars have ended, though, and more troops have deployed to the Middle East in recent months than have come home. Mr. Trump is not so much ending wars, as he is moving troops from one conflict to another.”

In His Latest Defense of Attempting to Host the Group of 7 Summit at His Resort in Miami, Trump Disparaged the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution That Prohibits a President From Illegally Profiting From His Business While in Office,  The New York Times, Annie Karni, Monday, 21 October 2019: “President Trump may have reversed his decision to host world leaders at one of his own properties during next year’s Group of 7 summit at the urging of his fellow Republicans, but he hasn’t finished defending his right to do it in the first place. Mr. Trump on Monday dismissed what he called the ‘phony emoluments clause’ of the Constitution that prohibits a president from illegally profiting from his business while in office and was cited by critics of his choice of Trump National Doral Miami for the summit. He also accused President Barack Obama of trying to profit off the presidency.”

‘Get tougher’: Trump slams Democrats and chides Republicans as allies criticize his erratic impeachment response, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Robert Costa, Monday, 21 October 2019: “President Trump lashed out against the impeachment process during a raucous Cabinet meeting Monday, turning the White House gathering into a Trump-run war room as he continues to unnerve many of his Republican allies by insisting on a personal and largely uncoordinated response to his mounting challenges.  In extemporaneous remarks that lasted more than an hour, Trump railed against what he called a ‘phony investigation’ of his dealings with Ukraine and blasted the ‘phony emoluments clause’ of the Constitution, which played a role in forcing him to scrap plans to host a global summit at his private golf club in Florida. And as Cabinet secretaries looked on, Trump called on Republicans to ‘get tougher’ before making a stream of false allegations about several of his predecessors, from George Washington to Barack Obama.”

Trump’s Cabinet meetings have become about everything but the business of his Cabinet, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Monday, 21 October 2019: “The Cabinet meeting was billed as a discussion of the administration’s ‘successful rollback of the abuses and the high cost of the bloated regulatory state.’ It began with a prayer from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson…. Then with the cameras rolling and the administration facing criticism over its Middle East policy and presidential self-dealing at the same time as an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats was gaining momentum, President Trump made it clear he had other things on his mind than cutting regulations. He had stayed inside the White House all weekend, sending more than 80 tweets and playing no golf.” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s wild Cabinet session, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, published on Tuesday, 22 October 2019.

White House Personnel Director Tells Trump His Top Two Choices to Lead the Department of Homeland Security Are Ineligible for the Job, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman and Andrew Restuccia, Monday, 21 October 2019: “The White House personnel office chief has told President Trump that his top two picks to fill the Homeland Security secretary job aren’t eligible under a federal law dictating who can fill the role without Senate confirmation, said people familiar with the matter. During a meeting Friday at the White House, Sean Doocey, head of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, informed the president that neither Ken Cuccinelli nor Mark Morgan, who head two prominent immigration agencies at the Department of Homeland Security, were legally eligible to lead the agency on an acting basis.”

House of Representatives asks judge to toss Trump lawsuit to shield his N.Y. state tax returns from lawmakers, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 21 October 2019: “The House of Representatives asked a U.S. judge Monday to dismiss a lawsuit by President Trump that seeks to prevent lawmakers from requesting his New York state tax returns, arguing that no U.S. court has ever barred Congress from even considering an action before it has decided to act. The filing came in Washington after Trump sued as a private citizen to stop the House Ways and Means Committee from using a recently enacted New York law to obtain his state tax records.”

Facebook Finds Four New State-Backed Disinformation Campaigns, Three Originating In Iran and One in Russia, and Braces for 2020 Torrent, The New York Times, Mike Isaac, Monday, 21 October 2019: “Facebook said on Monday that it had recently found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens that it has identified and removed this year and a sign of how foreign interference online is increasing ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Three of the disinformation campaigns originated in Iran and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. The campaigns were aimed at people in North Africa, Latin America and the United States, the company said.” See also, Facebook takedowns show new Russian activity targeted Joe Biden and praised Trump, The Washington Post, Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Monday, 21 October 2019: “Facebook on Monday said it removed a network of Russian-backed accounts that posed as locals weighing in on political issues in swing states, praising President Trump and attacking former vice president Joe Biden — illustrating that the familiar threat of Russian interference looms over the next U.S. presidential race. Facebook said the network bears the hallmark of the same Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election by sowing social discord, seeking to boost Trump and attacking Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign appears to follow the same playbook…. The Russian network was the subject of one of four takedowns Facebook announced Monday; it also disabled three misleading campaigns originating in Iran.” See also, Facebook: Russian trolls are back. And they’re here to meddle with 2020. CNN Business, Donie O’Sullivan, Monday, 21 October 2019.

A network of conservative lawyers is working to roll back wildlife protection one species at a time, The Guardian, Jimmy Tobias, Monday, 21 October 2019: “As political officials at the US Department of the Interior were settling into their new jobs in April 2017, a conservative lawyer named Jonathan Wood started a campaign of emails and calls over a pair of petitions he had filed on behalf of cattle ranchers and business interests. The petitions asked the department to roll back a key regulation under the Endangered Species Act. The regulation, known as the blanket 4(d) rule, provides threatened species with strong protections, but is also reviled by ranchers, mining interests and developers. Like his clients, Wood, a senior lawyer at the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), wanted to get rid of it…. Wood’s efforts are part of a bigger picture. Across the US today, a quiet war is taking place. On the one hand, environmental activists, lawyers and citizens are struggling to continue the work begun over a century ago by conservationists: protecting wildlife and the environment, and keeping water clean, species intact and wilderness open. On the other, a network of conservative lawyers, activists and business interests are determined to pursue what they see as equally important American values: the protection of individual rights and the rolling back of government regulations – especially those relating to commercial enterprise.”

Weather Channel to host its own climate forum for 2020 Democrats–and some Republicans, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Monday, 21 October 2019: “First it was CNN. Then MSNBC. Now even the Weather Channel wants to ask presidential candidates about climate change. The weather news network — better known for tracking hurricanes than following political campaigns — is set to air an hour-long prime-time special of interviews with nine 2020 White House hopefuls focused on how to tackle the causes and effects of global warming. The special, planned for Nov. 7, is yet another sign that the issue of global warming is getting more media attention than in past presidential election cycles. And it’s a win for climate activists — though they say it is still not getting coverage commensurate with the threat it poses to the world.”

Elizabeth Warren’s Education Plan Promises Billions for Desegregation and for Low-Income Schools, The New York Times, Dana Goldstein and Thomas Kaplan, Monday, 21 October 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had released dozens of policy plans before tackling K-12 education, making her the last leading Democratic primary contender to do so. But on Monday, the candidate who speaks frequently about her time as a public-school teacher offered her long-awaited proposal: a characteristically dense white paper that promises to quadruple federal funding for schools that serve low-income students, and to pump tens of billions of new dollars per year into desegregation, special education, bilingual programs and mental health support, while increasing federal oversight of racial and gender discrimination in schools. The plan would be paid for by Ms. Warren’s signature wealth tax on net worth over $50 million.” See also, Elizabeth Warren calls for billions of new dollars to reform pre-K-12 schools and fight privatization. Here’s how she plans to pay for it. The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, Monday, 21 October 2019.


Tuesday, 22 October 2019, Day 1,006:


William B. Taylor Jr., the Top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine, Testifies Trump Linked Military Aid to Ukraine to Investigations of Trump’s Political Rivals, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, told impeachment investigators privately on Tuesday that President Trump held up vital security aid for the country and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine’s leader until he agreed to make a public pledge to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. In testimony built around careful notes he took during his tenure and delivered in defiance of State Department orders, Mr. Taylor sketched out in remarkable detail a quid-pro-quo pressure campaign on Ukraine that Mr. Trump and his allies have long denied, one in which the president conditioned the entire United States relationship with Ukraine on a promise that the country would investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family, along with other Democrats. His account implicated Mr. Trump personally in the effort, citing multiple sources inside the government, including a budget official who said during a secure National Security Council conference call in July that she had been instructed not to approve a $391 million security assistance package for Ukraine, and that, Mr. Taylor said, ‘the directive had come from the president.'” See also, Read Ukraine Envoy William B. Taylor Jr’s. Statement to Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, 6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Kiev, provided the most explicit account to date of President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine publicly announce an investigation of Mr. Trump’s political rivals in exchange for an Oval Office meeting and military assistance to fight Russian-led forces.” See also, William Taylor, ‘Model’ Diplomat, Is at the Center of the Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, An Envoy’s Damning Account of Trump’s Ukraine Pressure and Its Consequences, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: What Happened Today, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, U.S. envoy William B. Taylor Jr. says he was told Trump made aid to Ukraine contingent on a public pledge by president Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 presidential election, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Anne Gearan, Karoun Demirjian, and Mike DeBonis, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “America’s top diplomat in Ukraine delivered a forceful blow to President Trump’s account of his ‘perfect’ dealings with that nation, telling lawmakers Tuesday that the White House had threatened to withdraw much-needed military aid unless Kyiv announced investigations for Trump’s political benefit. The explosive, closed-door testimony from acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. undermined Trump’s insistence that he never pressured Ukrainian officials in a potentially improper ‘quid pro quo.’ It also offered House investigators an expansive road map to what Taylor called a ‘highly irregular’ channel of shadow diplomacy toward Ukraine that lies at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. In a 15-page opening statement, obtained by The Washington Post, Taylor repeatedly expressed his shock and bewilderment as he watched U.S. policy toward Ukraine get overtaken by Trump’s demand that newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky ‘go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of [Democratic presidential candidate Joe] Biden and 2016 election interference.'” See also, 5 takeaways from William Taylor’s huge opening statement, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, ‘Alarming circumstances’: A distressed diplomat tells a tale of venal intrigue, The Washington Post, Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller, published on Wednesday, 23 October 2019. See also, Timeline: How the acting ambassador to Ukraine says he learned of quid pro quo by Trump, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, Top U.S. envoy William Taylor ties Trump directly to Ukraine quid pro quo, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “The top U.S. envoy to Ukraine told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that President Donald Trump sought to withhold critical military aid to Ukraine and refuse a White House meeting with the country’s president unless he pursued politically motivated investigations into Trump’s rivals. The diplomat, William Taylor, painted a damaging portrait of events that directly tied Trump to a quid pro quo with Ukraine, according to his prepared remarks obtained by POLITICO and his responses to questions as described by sources in the room for the closed-door testimony.” See also, U.S. Diplomat William Taylor Says Trump Tied U.S. Aid to Ukraine to Ukrainian Investigations Into Biden and Alleged Election Interference in 2016, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Natalie Andrews, and Siobhan Hughes, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “A top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv said President Trump made nearly $400 million in aid contingent on the Ukrainian president investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, in prepared testimony that shed new light on the central question facing the impeachment inquiry. Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said Tuesday he grew concerned about dual channels through which the Trump administration was conducting foreign policy toward Kyiv—one through the State Department and the other involving Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer—and became even more alarmed when the president in July directed aid to Ukraine be put on hold.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied telling Trump his July phone call with the Ukrainian president was ‘innocent,’ CBS News, Nancy Cordes, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied telling President Trump his July phone call with the Ukrainian president was ‘innocent,’ as the president had indicated earlier this month. Asked on Tuesday whether he believes the president has handled the U.S. relationship with Ukraine ‘perfectly,’ McConnell told CBS News he had not spoken to the president about the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that’s now at the center of the impeachment inquiry.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denies he told Trump his call with the Ukrainian President was perfect, CNN Politics, Ted Barrett, Phil Mattingly, Ali Zaslav, and Caroline Kelly, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he never had — or at least doesn’t recall having — a conversation with President Donald Trump in which he described Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as perfect. McConnell’s statement comes after Trump asserted earlier this month that McConnell deemed the White House transcript of the conversation, which is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry into the President, completely innocent. Trump has also said multiple times that the call was perfect, including during his Cabinet meeting on Monday. McConnell, asked at his weekly news conference in the Capitol if he believed the President handled the Ukrainian situation perfectly, said, ‘We’ve not had any conversations on that subject.’ When pushed on whether Trump was lying about an exchange between the pair, the Kentucky Republican responded, ‘You have to ask him. I don’t recall any conversations with the President about that phone call.'”

Trump compares impeachment inquiry to ‘lynching,’ again prompting a political firestorm around race, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Toluse Olorunnipa, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “President Trump reached back to some of the darkest annals of U.S. history Tuesday, comparing his legal predicament to the violent deaths of Americans brutalized by vigilantes. In describing his impeachment as a ‘lynching,’ Trump managed to again prompt a political firestorm around race while frustrating members of his party and drawing condemnation from lawmakers who hold his political fate in their hands.” See also, Trump Calls Impeachment Inquiry a ‘Lynching,’ The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday called the impeachment inquiry into him a ‘lynching,”’using a term associated with the murders of black people to describe a process enshrined in the Constitution. The term lynching invokes the decades-long racist history of white mob murders of black people beginning in the late 1800s and through the late 1960s.” See also, Trump’s ‘lynching’ comparison shows there’s no bottom to his sense of victimhood, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Tuesday, 22 October 2019. See also, Fury as Trump compares impeachment inquiry to ‘lynching,’ The Guardian, Tom McCarthy and Martin Pengelly, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “Donald Trump referred to impeachment proceedings against him as a ‘lynching’ in a Tuesday morning tweet, sparking condemnation for using such a racially charged word to describe his political predicament…. The tweet fit with Trump’s history of racist remarks and his strategic use of cruelty, and some saw in it a political strategy. The tweet drew a chorus of outrage…. The California representative Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told CNN Trump’s ‘lynching’ tweet was consistent with his pattern of throwing out ‘racial bombs’ to give ‘red meat’ to his base when his back is against the wall.”

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “House Democrats have issued dozens of requests or subpoenas for documents and witness testimony as a part of their impeachment investigation into President Trump. The White House announced that it would not cooperate with the inquiry or allow its staff to do so, but despite the administration’s orders, some current employees have decided to comply with the House’s requests.”

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban Gave Trump a Harsh Analysis of Ukraine Before Key Meeting in May, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “Just 10 days before a key meeting on Ukraine, President Trump met, over the objections of his national security adviser, with one of the former Soviet republic’s most virulent critics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, and heard a sharp assessment that bolstered his hostility toward the country, according to several people informed about the situation. Mr. Trump’s conversation with Mr. Orban on May 13 exposed him to a harsh indictment of Ukraine at a time when his personal lawyer was pressing the new government in Kiev to provide damaging information about Democrats. Mr. Trump’s suspicious view of Ukraine set the stage for events that led to the impeachment inquiry against him.” See also, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban helped sour Trump on Ukraine, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson, and Ellen Nakashima, published on Monday, 21 October 2019: “President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals came as he was being urged to adopt a hostile view of that country by its regional adversaries, including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, current and former U.S. officials said.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Announce Plan for Northeast Syria, Bolstering Russian Influence, The New York Times, Anton Troianovski and Patrick Kingsley, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “[O]n Tuesday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia played host to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey for more than six hours of talks on how they and other regional players will divide control of Syria, devastated by eight years of civil war. The negotiations cemented Mr. Putin’s strategic advantage: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria. The change strengthens the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies.” See also, Russia and Turkey reach deal to push Kurdish forces out of zone in northern Syria, The Washington Post, Kareem Fahim, Karen DeYoung, and Missy Ryan, Tuesday, 22 October 2019.

ExxonMobil goes on trial over accusations it misled investors about climate change costs, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “ExxonMobil is facing one of its biggest legal threats ever as the state of New York takes the oil and gas giant to court over accusations it misled investors about the costs of dealing with climate change. The case, which is set to start Tuesday in state court in Manhattan, is the culmination of years of investigation by the New York attorney general’s office, which alleges the company’s public estimates of the costs to reduce global warming impact were drastically inflated compared to those used in private discussions among executives.” See also, Fossil Fuels on Trial: New York’s Lawsuit Against Exxon Begins, The New York Times, John Schwartz, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “After four years of legal sparring and finger-pointing, oil-industry giant Exxon Mobil went to court on Tuesday to face charges that the company lied to shareholders and to the public about the costs and consequences of climate change. The case turns on the claim that Exxon kept a secret set of financial books that seriously underestimated the costs of potential climate change regulation while claiming publicly that it was taking such factors into account. It follows a sprawling investigation that included millions of pages of documents and allegations of a chief executive’s secret email account.”

Trump Administration Moves to Lift Protections for Fish and Divert Water to Farms, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “The Trump administration on Tuesday moved to weaken protections for a threatened California fish, a change that would allow large amounts of water to be diverted from the San Francisco Bay Delta to irrigate arid farmland and could harm the region’s fragile ecosystem. The plan, which administration officials expect to be finalized in January, is a major victory for a wealthy group of California farmers that had lobbied to weaken protections on the fish, the delta smelt. It also might intensify ethics questions about Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who was the lobbyist for those farmers until just months before he joined the Trump administration. Federal investigators are looking into whether Mr. Bernhardt’s efforts at the Interior Department to weaken protections for the fish violated ‘revolving-door’ rules designed to prevent former lobbyists from helping past clients from within the government. Investigators also are looking into whether he improperly continued lobbying for those farmers even after he de-registered as a lobbyist just before joining the Trump administration.”

Bernie Sanders Pledges to End Practice of Prosecuting Whistleblowers Under the Espionage Act, The Intercept, Ryan Grim, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “As President, Bernie Sanders would end the practice of using the controversial Espionage Act to prosecute government whistleblowers, the Vermont senator told The Intercept in an interview on Saturday ahead of a major rally in New York. The century-old law had largely gone out of fashion until it was deployed heavily by the Obama administration, which prosecuted eight people accused of leaking to the media under the Espionage Act, more than all previous presidents combined. President Donald Trump is on pace to break Barack Obama’s record if he gets a second term: He has prosecuted eight such whistleblowers, five of them using the Espionage Act, according to the Press Freedom Tracker.”

Obamacare Premiums to Fall and the Number of Insurers to Rise Next Year, The New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “Nearly three years into President Trump’s aggressive efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, prices for the most popular type of health insurance plan offered through the health law’s federal marketplace will actually drop next year, and the number of insurers offering plans will go up…. The 4-percent price decline is only the second time that average monthly premiums have dropped year-to-year since the marketplace opened in 2014, and it is a sign that the health law is stabilizing after several years of turmoil caused in part by Mr. Trump. Open enrollment for Obamacare starts on Nov. 1, but looming over it is an impending court decision on the law’s constitutionality in a case supported by the Trump administration that seeks to overturn the law.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Will Participate in a Saudi Investment Conference a Year After the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Kate Kelly, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “The top echelon of Washington and Wall Street will return to an opulent investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, a year after American officials and prominent business leaders shunned the gathering amid backlash surrounding the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist. The Treasury Department confirmed on Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would participate in the Future Investment Initiative gathering in Riyadh. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will also attend the conference, alongside Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special envoy overseeing Iran policy, and Avi Berkowitz, an aide to Mr. Kushner, according to people familiar with the matter.”

White House to cancel subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post after Trump’s ‘Hannity’ comments, Politico, Michael Calderone, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “The White House said Tuesday it will not be renewing subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post, two papers the president frequently attacks as ‘fake’ and which he suggested canceling the previous night in a TV appearance.” See also, Trump suggests White House will cancel New York Times and Washington Post subscriptions, The Washington Post, Brittany Shammas, Tuesday, 22 October 2019.

Anonymous Trump Official Behind September 2018 Times Op-Ed Is Writing a Book, The New York Times, Alexandra Alter, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “An anonymous Trump administration official who published a September 2018 essay in The New York Times, about the active resistance to the president’s agenda and behavior from within his own administration, will publish a book next month. The author, who has not been publicly identified, created an uproar when he or she wrote in an Op-Ed last year that many of President Trump’s senior officials ‘are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,’ adding, ‘I would know. I am one of them.'” See also, Anonymous author of Trump ‘resistance’ op-ed to publish a tell-all book, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Tuesday, 22 October 2019.

U.S. Agency for International Development retirees sign letter of support for State Department officials testifying in Trump impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post, Carol Morello, Tuesday, 22 October 2019: “More than 200 former development officials with the U.S. Agency for International Development signed a letter released Tuesday in support of their State Department colleagues who have been called to testify before House investigators handling the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. ‘Together, we spent our careers working to represent the policies and values of the United States,’ the letter said. ‘We are angered at the treatment of dedicated, experienced, and wise public servants like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; and we are distraught at the dangers inherent in the President’s cavalier (and quite possibly corrupt) approach to making foreign policy on impulse and personal interest rather than in response to national security concerns.'”


Wednesday, 23 October 2019, Day 1,007:


Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by Early August, Undermining Trump’s Defense, The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer and Kenneth P. Vogel, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze $391 million in military aid was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There was no quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know assistance had been blocked. But then on Tuesday, William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Kiev, told House impeachment investigators that the freeze was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand. That did not deter the president, who on Wednesday approvingly tweeted a quote by a congressional Republican saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had ‘provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.’ In fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.”

If Trump Shoots Someone on 5th Avenue, Does He Have Immunity? His Lawyer Says Yes. The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and Azi Paybarah, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “A federal appeals panel on Wednesday expressed skepticism that President Trump had a right to block state prosecutors in Manhattan from enforcing a subpoena that sought his personal and corporate tax returns for the last eight years. The judges on a three-member panel in Manhattan peppered a lawyer for Mr. Trump with questions, expressing skepticism about the president’s argument that he was immune from criminal investigation. A lower court judge earlier this month rejected Mr. Trump’s claim, which has not previously been tested in the courts. Carey R. Dunne, the Manhattan district attorney’s general counsel, cited the president’s famous claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing political support. Mr. Dunne asked what would happen in that extreme scenario? ‘Would we have to wait for an impeachment proceeding to be  initiated?’ he said. Later, Judge Denny Chin posed the Fifth Avenue hypothetical to William S. Consovoy, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, and asked for his view. ‘Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?’ Judge Chin asked, adding: ‘Nothing could be done? That’s your position?’ ‘That is correct. That is correct,’ Mr. Consovoy said.” See also, In court hearing, Trump lawyer argues a sitting president would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O’Connell, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “President Trump’s private attorney said Wednesday that the president could not be investigated or prosecuted as long as he is in the White House, even for shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. The claim of ‘temporary presidential immunity’ from Trump’s private attorney William S. Consovoy came in court in response to a judge’s question that invoked the president’s own hypothetical scenario. As a candidate in 2016, Trump said his political support was so strong he could ‘stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody’ and not ‘lose any voters.’ The president’s lawyer was asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to block a subpoena for Trump’s private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election.” See also, Trump’s lawyer says Trump can’t be prosecuted for shooting someone, Politico, Erin Durkin and Darren Samuelsohn, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “Even if President Donald Trump shot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, New York authorities could not punish him while he is in office, the president’s lawyers argued Wednesday.”

Justice Department Sues California to Stop Climate Initiative From Extending to Canada, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Katie Benner, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “The Trump administration took another legal shot at California on Wednesday, suing to block part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program and limit its ability to take international leadership in curbing planet warming emissions.”

Trump Administration to Begin Official Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “The Trump administration is preparing the formal withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to three people briefed on the matter, a long expected move that nevertheless remains a powerful signal to the world. The official action sets in motion a withdrawal that still would take a year to complete under the rules of the accord. Abandoning the landmark 2015 agreement in which nearly 200 nations vowed to reduce planet warming emissions would fulfill one of President Trump’s key campaign promises while placing the world’s largest economy at odds with the rest of the globe on a top international policy priority.”

Republicans Grind Impeachment Inquiry to a Halt as Evidence Mounts Against Trump, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “House Republicans ground the impeachment inquiry to a halt for hours on Wednesday, staging a protest at the Capitol that sowed chaos and delayed a crucial deposition as they sought to deflect the spotlight from the revelations the investigation has unearthed about President Trump.” See also, Republicans storm closed-door impeachment hearing as escalating Ukraine scandal threatens Trump, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “Republicans’ defense of President Trump grew more frantic and disjointed Wednesday, with House members storming a closed-door meeting, delaying the testimony of an impeachment witness as the GOP grappled with a growing abuse-of-power scandal centered on the president.” See also, Republican Lawmakers Storm Hearing on Impeachment, The Wall Street Journal, Jesse Naranjo, Lindsay Wise, and Siobhan Hughes, Wednesday, 23 October 2019. See also, Impeachment deposition delayed after Republicans storm proceedings, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Melanie Zanona, Wednesday, 23 October 2019. See also, After Republicans storm hearing room, Defense official Laura Cooper testifies in impeachment inquiry, CNN Politics, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, Wednesday, 23 October 2019.

House Democrats look to take impeachment probe public as soon as mid-November, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “House Democrats are preparing to move their largely private impeachment inquiry onto a more public stage as soon as mid-November and are already grappling with how best to present the complex Ukraine saga to the American people. Over the past three weeks, a parade of current and former Trump administration officials have testified behind closed doors, providing House investigators with a compelling narrative of President Trump’s campaign to extract political favors from Ukrainian officials. But on Wednesday, after conservative lawmakers stormed the hearing room and delayed the proceedings for five hours, some Democrats were feeling pressure to advance public hearings in hopes of avoiding further disruptions.”

Turkey Halts Syrian Incursion Hours After Deal With Russia, The New York Times, Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “The Turkish Army halted its incursion into a Kurdish-run area of northern Syria on Wednesday morning, after a deal between the Turkish and Russian governments promised that Kurdish fighters would retreat from the Turkish-Syrian border.” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s spin about the outcome in Syria, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, published on Thursday, 24 October 2019. See also, ‘This Is Ethnic Cleansing’: A Dispatch from Kurdish Syria, New York Review of Books, Khabat Abbas, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “In Kurdish culture, guests are so important that they take priority over everything. We will not eat in order to feed them. This is how we treated our American allies, and now they were turning their backs on us. There is a proverb in Kurdish that says, ‘Don’t spit in the dish you ate from.’ The Americans spat in their dish. The consequences of this shortsighted policy will be catastrophic, not just for us, but for the whole region. It will have an impact on the national security of many other countries around the world. The so-called Islamic State will regroup. This war will not just continue here, but, with many terrorists on the run, it will strike in the heart of Europe…. In the past seven years, the Kurds have achieved so much—and not just for the Kurds alone. We built a political system, a grassroots democracy, in which everyone was welcome and no distinction made between a Kurd, an Arab, or a Syriac. We built a revolution in women’s rights that has inspired millions in movements around the world. All that could now be lost.”

House Unanimously Approves Bill to Make Animal Cruelty a Federal Offense, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “Animal cruelty would become a federal offense with a penalty of up to seven years in prison under a proposed expansion of an animal welfare law that won unanimous approval this week in the House of Representatives. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act advanced through the House on Tuesday after a voice vote, which the law’s backers said they hoped would get the Senate to act soon on a companion bill. Most of the animal cruelty laws on the books are at the state level, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The legislation would expand a 2010 law signed by President Barack Obama banning so-called crush videos that show animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of torture. In some of the videos, women with their faces hidden could be seen stamping on rabbits with spiked high heels.”

White House Aides Feared That Trump Had Another Ukraine Back Channel, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman, and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “When Kashyap Patel was an aide to the House Intelligence Committee in the first years of the Trump administration, he played a key role in helping Republicans try to undermine the Russia investigation, writing a memo that accused law enforcement officials of abusing their power. The memo, which consumed Washington for weeks, was widely dismissed as a biased argument of cherry-picked facts. But it galvanized President Trump’s allies and made Mr. Patel a hero among them. After Republicans ceded control of Congress this year, he landed on Mr. Trump’s National Security Council staff. Colleagues there initially questioned the role of Mr. Patel, who took few notes in meetings and had little expertise for his initial portfolio, which covered the United Nations. Within months, senior White House officials began to suspect he had won Mr. Trump’s ear and had effectively created a back channel to the president that could warp American policy, according to congressional testimony and interviews.” See also, Republican Representative Devin Nunes’ protégé Kashyap Patel fed information about Ukraine to Trump, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “A protégé of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes was among those passing negative information about Ukraine to President Donald Trump earlier this year, fueling the president’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats. Kashyap Patel, a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February, was so involved in the issue that at one point Trump thought he was in charge of Ukraine policy for the National Security Council, according to congressional testimony by Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs whose portfolio included Ukraine.”

Indicted Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas Ties His Case to Trump, The New York Times, Nicole Hong and William K. Rashbaum, Wednesday, 23 October 2019: “One of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege…. Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a lawyer for Mr. Parnas, told the judge in the case that the potential for the White House to invoke executive privilege stemmed from the fact that Mr. Parnas had used Mr. Giuliani as his own lawyer at the same time Mr. Giuliani was working as Mr. Trump’s lawyer.”


Thursday, 24 October 2019, Day 1,008:


Making History in the Capitol on Thursday, Elijah Cummings Is Remembered as a ‘Master of the House,’ The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the powerful Democrat whose booming baritone and impassioned cries for decency reverberated through the halls of Congress for more than two decades, made history one final time on Thursday, as the first African-American elected official to lie in state in the United States Capitol. A son of sharecroppers, he rose to the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which gave him a towering perch from which to investigate President Trump. Mr. Cummings, 68, who died last week after a series of health challenges, was memorialized by congressional leaders in both parties as a man of faith and dignity, and a dedicated public servant, but also as a friend.”

Republicans Fight Trump’s Impeachment by Attacking the Process, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Republicans in Congress struggled for a second consecutive day Thursday to defend President Trump against Democrats’ impeachment inquiry amid a steady stream of damaging revelations about his conduct, leveling another symbolic objection to a process they said was fundamentally unfair. One day after House lawmakers tried to block an impeachment witness by sowing chaos with a protest in the Capitol’s secure meeting rooms, Senate Republicans joined the fray by offering a resolution condemning the House investigation and demanding that Democrats hold a formal vote authorizing the inquiry. But the move left the president’s allies in the same awkward place they have been for more than two weeks: unable or unwilling to mount a vigorous defense on the substance of the allegations and focused instead on trying to shake the public’s faith in the House’s impeachment process.”

Read the Trump Administration’s Warning Letter to Laura Cooper. The Number 2 Pentagon official told Ms. Cooper, the military’s Russia-Ukraine expert, not to talk to Congress. She did anyway. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “The White House has declared that the executive branch will not cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry, but some officials have nevertheless provided testimony to Congress about what they know about whether President Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating his political rivals were a quid pro quo in return for aid. One such witness, Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official, received a warning letter that shows how the administration has attempted to persuade officials to keep silent. Ms. Cooper appeared before impeachment investigators on Wednesday during a closed-door session that was delayed by Republican lawmakers who burst into the House Intelligence Committee’s secure suite to protest the inquiry.”

Democrats say whistleblower’s testimony is unnecessary as other witnesses come forward, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “The whistleblower who initially unmasked President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for political favors has moved steadily toward the periphery of the House impeachment inquiry as several Democrats said Thursday they have ample testimony from senior Trump administration officials to back his claims. Democrats were once prepared to take extraordinary steps to preserve the whistleblower’s identity under questioning, considering him central to their investigation. But over the past month, they have grown cold to the idea of exposing him to additional scrutiny after several witnesses described how Trump leveraged access and military aid to secure a promise from Ukraine to launch investigations that could help his 2020 reelection bid.”

Justice Department investigation of the Russia probe is criminal in nature, person familiar with the case says, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “The federal prosecutor tapped by Attorney General William P. Barr to examine the origins of the FBI’s probe of President Trump’s 2016 campaign is conducting an investigation officials consider criminal in nature, according to a person familiar with the matter. Barr tapped Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham in May to review the FBI’s investigation, looking specifically at whether the U.S. government’s ‘intelligence collection activities’ in the probe of possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia were ‘lawful and appropriate,’ a person familiar with the matter said then. Durham’s appointment came amid calls from Trump and his allies to investigate the FBI personnel and those in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office involved with the probe of Trump’s campaign. At the time, the Justice Department inspector general was conducting a similar probe.” See also, Justice Department Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “For more than two years, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began. Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges. The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.”

Federal judge holds Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt in loan case and slaps the Education Department with $100,000 fine, The Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “A federal judge on Thursday held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt for violating an order to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco slapped the Education Department with a $100,000 fine for violating a preliminary injunction. Money from the fine will be used to compensate the 16,000 people harmed by the federal agency’s actions. Some former students of the defunct for-profit college had their paychecks garnished. Others had their tax refunds seized by the federal government.” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Is Held in Contempt Over Judge’s Order on Loan Collection, The New York Times, Erica L. Green and Stacey Cowley, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “A federal judge on Thursday fined Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for contempt of court, ruling that she had violated an order to stop collecting on loans owed by students from a now-defunct for-profit chain of colleges.” See also, Arthur Wayne Johnson, an official appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, resigns and calls for sweeping student loan forgiveness, The Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Arthur Wayne Johnson, appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a top post in the federal government’s trillion-dollar financial aid operations, resigned Thursday, calling the student loan system ‘fundamentally broken’ and urging the elimination of millions of Americans’ student debt.” See also, Trump Education Official Wayne Johnson to Resign and Call for Mass Student-Loan Forgiveness, The Wall Street Journal, Josh Mitchell, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “A senior student-loan official in the Trump administration said he would resign Thursday and endorse canceling most of the nation’s outstanding student debt, calling the student-loan system ‘fundamentally broken.’ A. Wayne Johnson was appointed in 2017 by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, overseeing the $1.5 trillion student-loan portfolio. After seven months, he moved into a different role as chief strategy and transformation officer, leading a revamp of how the agency deals with borrowers and the companies that service the debt. Mr. Johnson said repayment trends suggest much of the debt will likely never be repaid, and he is calling for moving toward a system that gets the government out of student lending.”

Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal says Trump’s heralded whistleblower office at the VA is failing in its most basic mission, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “One of President Trump’s signature initiatives to turn around a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs is an office in disarray that instead has punished them — and held almost no wrongdoers accountable. Those are the conclusions of a scathing report released Thursday by the agency’s inspector general, which found that the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection created early in Trump’s term in 2017 has failed in its core mission.” See also, Veterans Affairs Investigators Fault Whistleblower Office Created by Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Ben Kesling, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Department of Veterans Affairs was instead used to stifle claims and retaliate against those trying to expose problems at the agency, according to an inspector general report released Thursday. First created by presidential order in 2017 and later mandated by Congress, the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection was set up as a clearinghouse for employees exposing wrongdoing at the department and was part of the president’s efforts to carry out campaign pledges to overhaul the VA.”

Trump Cancels Subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post and Is Moving to Force Other Federal Agencies to End Their Subscriptions to the Papers as Well, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “President Trump has called members of the press ‘enemies of the people,’ deemed critical coverage ‘fake,’ accused news organizations of treason and threatened to make it easier to sue journalists for libel. But not until this week had Mr. Trump turned to the ultimate recourse of the unhappy reader: He canceled his subscription. Officials in the West Wing on Thursday announced that copies of The Washington Post and The New York Times would no longer be delivered to the White House. The administration is moving to force other federal agencies to end their subscriptions to the papers, as well. ‘Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving — hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved,’ the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement.” See also, Trump to Tell Federal Agencies to Cut New York Times and Washington Post Subscriptions, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “The White House is planning to instruct federal agencies to not renew their subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post, administration officials said, escalating President Trump’s attacks on the media outlets.”

Biden Campaign Drops Opposition to Super PAC Support, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign effectively dropped its longstanding opposition to receiving the assistance of super PACs on Thursday, opening the door for wealthy supporters to spend unlimited amounts of money to try and lift him in the Democratic primary. The move represents a stark reversal and an implicit acknowledgment of his weakened position in the contest. He entered October with only $9 million in the bank, a fraction of his leading rivals.” See also, Biden appears to drop his opposition to a super PAC, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Joe Biden is apparently dropping his long-held opposition to the creation of an outside group that would supply an infusion of money to benefit his campaign, a recognition that financial struggles are becoming a major problem for his presidential prospects.”

Bernie Sanders offers marijuana legalization plan, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Sen. Bernie Sanders released a proposal Thursday to legalize marijuana across the country and expunge criminal convictions related to the drug, embracing an overhaul of federal laws on the eve of a presidential forum expected to renew the debate on race, drugs and police violence. Sanders becomes the latest Democratic White House aspirant to issue a plan for more tolerant drug laws, a shift from past presidential elections when Democrats, like Republicans, often promoted more toughness. Changing attitudes toward drug crimes, and a growing number of states legalizing cannabis, have ushered in a primary where ideas once seen as provocative have become mainstream.”

The Student Vote Is Surging. So Are Efforts to Suppress It. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “After decades of treating elections as an afterthought, college students have begun voting in force. Their turnout in the 2018 midterms — 40.3 percent of 10 million students tracked by Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education — was more than double the rate in the 2014 midterms, easily exceeding an already robust increase in national turnout. Energized by issues like climate change and the Trump presidency, students have suddenly emerged as a potentially crucial voting bloc in the 2020 general election. And almost as suddenly, Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths. Not coincidentally, the barriers are rising fastest in political battlegrounds and places like Texas where one-party control is eroding. Students lean strongly DemocraticIn a March poll by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, 45 percent of college students ages 18-24 identified as Democrats, compared to 29 percent who called themselves independents and 24 percent Republicans.”

‘Is Wyoming Invading?’: Trump mocked for saying he’s building a wall in Colorado, The Washington Post, Allyson Chiu, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Cheers filled a convention center in Pittsburgh as President Trump touted his long-promised border wall during a Wednesday event. But then, some in the crowd started to laugh. Others shook their heads and exchanged looks. That’s because Trump, in the middle of rattling off states the proposed barrier would run through, said, ‘We’re building a wall in Colorado.’ He added, ‘We’re building a beautiful wall. A big one that really works, that you can’t get over, that you can’t get under.’ The brief, and incorrect, utterance instantly sparked widespread confusion and derision with many politicians and public figures pointing out that Colorado — located hundreds of miles north of Mexico — is not a border state. ‘Well this is awkward …’ tweeted Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D). ‘Good thing Colorado now offers free full day kindergarten so our kids can learn basic geography.'” See also, Trump says the US is building a wall in Colorado, a state that doesn’t border Mexico, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak and Caroline Delly, Thursday, 24 October 2019.

Documents show that Trump and ‘Apprentice’ contestant Summer Zervos were at Beverly Hills hotel around the time she says he assaulted her, The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Thursday, 24 October 2019: “Excerpts of President Trump’s private calendar from a dozen years ago made public on Thursday appear to show Trump was at a Beverly Hills hotel around the same time a former ‘Apprentice’ contestant alleges he assaulted her there. Email exchanges from 2007 also released Thursday show that the woman, Summer Zervos, had sought a lunch meeting with Trump in New York around the time she claims he kissed her inappropriately in that city. The calendar records and email correspondence came to light in court filings related to Zervos’s ongoing defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York State Court. Zervos is one of about a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct shortly before the 2016 election, and her case could reach its conclusion before voters return to the polls next year.”