Trump Administration, Week 146, Friday, 1 November – Thursday, 7 November 2019 (Days 1,016-1,022)


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, 1 November 2019, Day 1,016:


Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, White House official who heard Trump’s call with Ukraine leader, testified that he was told to keep quiet by John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security council, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Miller, and Ellen Nakashima, Friday, 1 November 2019: “Several days after President Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine, a top White House lawyer instructed a senior national security official not to discuss his grave concerns about the leaders’ conversation with anyone outside the White House, according to three people familiar with the aide’s testimony. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that he received this instruction from John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, after White House lawyers learned July 29 that a CIA employee had anonymously raised concerns about the Trump phone call, the sources said. The directive from Eisenberg adds to an expanding list of moves by senior White House officials to contain, if not conceal, possible evidence of Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide information that could be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden.” See also, White House lawyer John Eisenberg told Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman not to discuss Trump’s call with Ukrainian president Zelensky, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Friday, 1 November 2019: “The senior White House lawyer who placed a record of President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president in a top-secret system also instructed at least one official who heard the call not to tell anyone about it, according to testimony heard by House impeachment investigators this week. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who served as the National Security Council’s director for Ukraine, told lawmakers that he went to the lawyer, John Eisenberg, to register his concerns about the call, in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, according to a person in the room for Vindman’s deposition on Tuesday. Eisenberg recorded Vindman’s complaints in notes on a yellow legal pad, then conferred with his deputy Michael Ellis about how to handle the conversation because it was clearly ‘sensitive,’ Vindman testified. The lawyers then decided to move the record of the call into the NSC’s top-secret codeword system—a server normally used to store highly classified material that only a small group of officials can access. Vindman did not consider the move itself as evidence of a cover-up, according to a person familiar with his testimony. But he said he became disturbed when, a few days later, Eisenberg instructed him not to tell anyone about the call—especially because it was Vindman’s job to coordinate the interagency process with regard to Ukraine policy.”

As Trump moves to bully witnesses and derail impeachment, Democrats see obstruction, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Rachael Bade, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 1 November 2019: “President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as ‘Never Trumpers’ and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a ‘scam’ overseen by ‘a totally compromised kangaroo court.’ To the Democratic leaders directing the impeachment proceedings, Trump’s actions to stymie their investigation into his conduct with Ukraine add up to another likely article of impeachment: obstruction.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggests impeachment inquiry could expand beyond Ukraine, The Hill, Christina Marcos, Friday, 1 November 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday it’s possible that controversies beyond Ukraine could be part of the impeachment case against President Trump. House Democrats have recently sought to narrow their impeachment inquiry to the allegations stemming from an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that said Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to initiate politically charged investigations in return for the release of congressionally approved security aid. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine have united nearly all House Democrats around their impeachment probe, though many had previously pushed for impeachment over the president’s efforts to undermine former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russia’s election interference. Pelosi on Friday emphasized that the decision on articles of impeachment will be up to the committees handling the inquiry. She did not rule out the possibility that the obstruction of justice allegations against Trump in Mueller’s report could come up.”

Elizabeth Warren Proposes $20.5 Trillion Health Care Plan, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Abby Goodnough, and Margot Sanger-Katz, Friday, 1 November 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday revealed her plan to pay for an expansive transformation of the nation’s health care system, proposing huge tax increases on businesses and wealthy Americans to help cover $20.5 trillion in new federal spending. The plan represents a significant bet that enough voters will favor an approach that dismantles the current system and replaces it with ‘Medicare for all,’ a government-run health insurance program. And it comes after decades in which Democrats have largely tiptoed around policy proposals that relied on major tax increases and Republicans ran on tax cuts.” See also, Ending the Stranglehold of Health Care Costs on American Families, Medium, Elizabeth Warren, Friday, 1 November 2019. See also, Elizabeth Warren’s Plan Is a Massive Win for the Medicare for All Movement, The Intercept, Ady Barkan, Friday, 1 November 2019: “The movement for single-payer health care has taken some big strides forward in recent years. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., put the issue at the center of the Democratic Party’s debate with his run for president in 2016. In partnership with the nurses union and other champions, he then got 19 senators to co-sponsor his bill in 2017. After Democrats took back the House of Representatives, we demanded and got hearings in multiple powerful committees on the fantastic bill spearheaded by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. (The successor to that of the progressive hero and former Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who died this week.) These were our victories, earned by a movement that has been fighting for many decades. The plan that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren just released is another enormous win for us. It will help persuade our friends and families and neighbors to support Medicare for All, and in the not-too-distant future, to convince Congress too.” Elizabeth Warren Unveils a Medicare for All Financing Plan, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, published on Saturday, 2 November 2019: “On Friday, Warren unveiled a Medicare for All financing plan, which her campaign developed in consultation with a number of experts, including two veterans of the Obama years: Donald Berwick, the former head of the federal agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid programs, and Betsey Stevenson, a former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers…. [Warren’s plan] would transform an industry that represents roughly a sixth of the U.S. economy and come with a price tag of at least $20.5 trillion over ten years. Rather than tacking to the center, she is betting that Democratic voters—and members of the American electorate—are so fed up with the current health-care system, even after the Obamacare reforms, that they are ready to rip it up and start again. That is an audacious move.” See also, Elizabeth Warren rolls out a $20.5 trillion health-care plan, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Friday, 1 November 2019: “Warren’s plan, a version of the Medicare-for-all idea that has become a mantra for many on the Democratic Party’s left, includes a raft of new taxes on businesses and the wealthy but, she insisted, would not be funded on the backs of middle-class Americans.”

Continue reading Week 146, Friday, 1 November – Thursday, 7 November 2019 (Days 1,016-1,022)

Trump abandons proposing ideas to curb gun violence after saying he would following mass shootings, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Friday, 1 November 2019: “President Trump has abandoned the idea of releasing proposals to combat gun violence that his White House debated for months following mass shootings in August, according to White House officials and lawmakers, a reversal from the summer when the president insisted he would offer policies to curb firearm deaths. Trump has been counseled by political advisers, including campaign manager Brad Parscale and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, that gun legislation could splinter his political coalition, which he needs to stick together for his reelection bid, particularly amid an impeachment battle.”

Democrats sue three battleground states over law that Republican candidates’ names be listed first on ballot, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 1 November 2019: “Democratic organizations filed lawsuits in Georgia, Arizona and Texas on Friday saying Republicans are given an unfair advantage by being listed first on those states’ general election ballots. The traditionally red states Democrats hope to make competitive in 2020 have slightly different rules about ballot placement, but in each case, because Republicans control the governorships, every other race from president on down is listed with the Republican candidate first.”

White House Freezes Military Aid to Lebanon, Against Wishes of Congress, State Department, and Pentagon, The New York Times, Edward Wong, Vivian Yee, and Michael Crowley, Friday, 1 November 2019: “The Trump administration has frozen all military aid to the Lebanese army, including a package worth $105 million that both the State Department and Congress approved in September, congressional officials said Friday. The halt to American funding of the Lebanese Armed Forces, an important multisectarian group, comes at a critical time for Lebanon, as officials are grappling with the country’s largest street protests since its independence in 1943 and a change in leadership forced by the demonstrations. A freeze on the assistance could give Iran and Russia an opening to exert greater influence over the Lebanese military, analysts say, and perhaps even allow the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to gain greater footholds in the country.”


Saturday, 2 November 2019, Day 1,017:


The Mueller Report’s Secret Memos, BuzzFeed News, Jason Leopold, Zoe Tillman, Ellie Hall, Emma Loop, Anthony Cormier, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “BuzzFeed News sued the US government to see all the work that Mueller’s team kept secret. We have published the first installment, with revelations about the Ukraine conspiracy theory, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and more…. The documents revealed Saturday, known as ‘302 reports,’ are summaries of interviews with former White House official and Trump campaign manager Stephen Bannon, [Michael] Cohen, [Rick] Gates, and more. They are some of the most important and highly sought-after documents from Mueller’s investigation. They reveal what key players in the campaign told FBI agents about Russia, Trump, the email hack during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump’s associates’ handling of the special counsel’s investigation. Mueller’s 448-page report last March was the most hotly anticipated prosecutorial document in a generation, laying out the evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump administration’s efforts to obstruct the inquiry. The report, however, reflected only a small fraction of the billions of primary-source documents that the government claims Mueller’s team may have amassed over the course of its two-year investigation. Those documents are a crucial national legacy, a key to understanding this important chapter in American history. But the public has not been allowed to see any of them. Until now.” See also, Paul Manafort Spread Conspiracy Theory That Is Now at the Center of the Impeachment Investigation–That Ukraine, not Russia, Hacked the Democratic National Committee–as Early as Five Months Before the 2016 Election, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, published on 3 November 2019: “Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, spread a conspiracy theory now at the center of the impeachment investigation — that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee — as early as five months before the 2016 election, according to newly released documents from the special counsel’s investigation. Mr. Manafort told his deputy on the campaign about the theory shortly after emails stolen from the Democrats were published in June 2016, and questions arose about whether Russia hacked the emails to help the Trump campaign, according to the documents. The documents have no information about when Mr. Trump embraced the conspiracy theory, which he later asked Ukraine’s president to investigate in a July 25 phone call even as he was withholding military aid for the country. Those revelations helped touch off the impeachment inquiry. The details of what Mr. Manafort told campaign officials are included in a trove of records from the special counsel’s investigation obtained by BuzzFeed News through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The documents — including F.B.I. interview reports with several key witnesses and emails of Mr. Trump’s top campaign officials — contain few startling details that were not in the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, but they underscore the notion that Mr. Trump’s campaign eagerly welcomed Russia’s help in the election and show how concerned campaign officials were about being tied to Russia.” See also, Internal Mueller documents show Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pushed unproven theory that Ukraine hacked Democrats, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Spencer S, Hsu, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, suggested as early as the summer of 2016 that Ukrainians might have been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign rather than Russians, a key witness told federal investigators last year. Newly released documents show that Manafort’s protege, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, told the FBI of Manafort’s theory during interviews conducted as part of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Gates told the FBI that Manafort had shared his theory of Ukrainian culpability with him and other campaign aides before the election. The new information shows how early people in Trump’s orbit were pushing the unsubstantiated theory about Ukraine’s role. And it illustrates a link between Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March, and the current House impeachment investigation of Trump.”

How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan, and Keith Collins, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “In the Oval Office, an annoyed President Trump ended an argument he was having with his aides. He reached into a drawer, took out his iPhone and threw it on top of the historic Resolute Desk: ‘Do you want me to settle this right now?’ There was no missing Mr. Trump’s threat that day in early 2017, the aides recalled. With a tweet, he could fling a directive to the world, and there was nothing they could do about it. When Mr. Trump entered office, Twitter was a political tool that had helped get him elected and a digital howitzer that he relished firing. In the years since, he has fully integrated Twitter into the very fabric of his administration, reshaping the nature of the presidency and presidential power…. Early on, top aides wanted to restrain the president’s Twitter habit, even considering asking the company to impose a 15-minute delay on Mr. Trump’s messages. But 11,390 presidential tweets later, many administration officials and lawmakers embrace his Twitter obsession, flocking to his social media chief with suggestions. Policy meetings are hijacked when Mr. Trump gets an idea for a tweet, drawing in cabinet members and others for wordsmithing. And as a president often at war with his own bureaucracy, he deploys Twitter to break through logjams, overrule or humiliate recalcitrant advisers and pre-empt his staff.” See also, Trump’s Twitter Presidency: 9 Key Takeaways, The New York Times, Mike McIntire and Nicholas Confessore, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “Donald J. Trump has exploited social media like no other American president, using it as a springboard to change policy, as a cudgel against critics and as an outlet for self-affirmation. ‘He needs to tweet like we need to eat,’ said Kellyanne Conway, his White House counselor. Along the way, he has lent credibility to unsavory Twitter accounts through his habit of retweeting posts that catch his attention, seemingly without regard for who is behind them or their motives. In three articles, The New York Times analyzed Mr. Trump’s posts, studied the accounts he follows and interviewed dozens of administration officials, lawmakers, Twitter executives and ordinary Americans caught up in his tweets.” See also, In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists, and Spies, The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Karen Yourish, and Larry Buchanan, Saturday, 2 November 2019.

Adoption Groups Could Turn Away L.G.B.T. Families Under Rule Proposed by the Trump Administration, The New York Times, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “A proposed rule by the Trump administration would allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to L.G.B.T. families on faith-based grounds. The proposal would have ‘enormous’ effects and touch the lives of a large number of people, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, said on Saturday. The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discrimination regulation instituted by the administration of President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Any organization — including foster care and adoption agencies or other entities that get department funding — is ‘now free to discriminate’ if it wants to, Ms. Brogan-Kator said.”

Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “Smuggling gangs in Mexico have repeatedly sawed through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.”

Paula White, Newest White House Aide, Is a Uniquely Trumpian Pastor, The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters and Elizabeth Dias, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon turned to Billy Graham, the evangelist so ubiquitous he was known as America’s Preacher. Barack Obama turned to Rick Warren, the author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life,’ which was the best-selling nonfiction hardback in American history after the Bible. Donald J. Trump has a televangelist from Florida: Paula White, an outsider whose populist brand of Christianity mirrors Mr. Trump’s conquest of the Republican Party. And she is in many ways a quintessentially Trump figure: a television preacher, married three times, who lives in a mansion. For years he has called her his longtime friend and personal pastor. When he ran for president in 2016, he turned to her to drive his evangelical support. And on Thursday the White House confirmed that Ms. White had officially joined the administration to advise Mr. Trump’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which aims to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs devoted to issues like defending religious liberty and fighting poverty. Her new role gives her a formal seat at the table as Mr. Trump tries to ensure that evangelicals — the foundation of his political base — remain united behind him in his bid to win a second term.”

Under Trump, Iraqis Who Helped U.S. in War Are Stalled in Refugee System, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “The Trump administration is refusing to take in thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives helping American forces during the Iraq war, cutting the number of high-priority refugees allowed into the United States this year and drastically slowing background checks they must undergo. Only 153 Iraqi refugees whose applications were given high priority were admitted in the fiscal year that ended in September — down from a high of 9,829 in the 2014 fiscal year, according to government data obtained by The New York Times. An estimated 110,000 Iraqis are waiting to be approved as refugees based on their wartime assistance. But on Friday, the Trump administration capped the number eligible this year at 4,000.”

Children were told to ‘build the wall’ at White House Halloween party, Yahoo News, Jana Winter, Hunter Walker, and Caitlin Dickson, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “A Halloween party on Oct. 25 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building featured candy, paper airplanes and — concerning for some attendees — a station where children were encouraged to help ‘Build the Wall’ with their own personalized bricks. Photos of the children’s mural with the paper wall were provided to Yahoo News.”

Judge Blocks Trump’s Plan to Bar Immigrants Who Can’t Pay for Health Care, The New York Times, Aimee Ortiz, Saturday, 2 November 2019: “A federal judge on Saturday blocked the Trump administration from implementing a policy that would require immigrants to prove they have insurance or the financial resources for medical costs in order to obtain a visa. The ruling, by Judge Michael Simon of the Federal District Court in Portland, Ore., was the latest in a string of court decisions to derail administration initiatives that would limit the admission of certain legal immigrants into the United States. Judge Simon issued a nationwide temporary restraining order preventing the government from carrying out a proclamation by President Trump that would have gone into effect on Sunday.”


Sunday, 3 November 2019, Day 1,018:


Lawyer Says the Whistle-Blower Is Willing to Answer Republicans’ Questions, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “The whistle-blower who touched off an impeachment inquiry with his explosive complaint about President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is willing to answer House Republicans’ written questions, his legal team said on Sunday. The offer was intended to deter Republican attacks and show that the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer, is above the political rancor unleashed by House Democrats’ inquiry. But it appeared not to satisfy House Republicans, who, led by Mr. Trump, have assailed the whistle-blower as politically motivated and demanded his identity be revealed. Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer for the whistle-blower, directly challenged those attacks on Sunday. ‘Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective,’ he wrote in a long statement on Twitter. ‘That is not our role.’ He continued, ‘We stand ready to cooperate and ensure facts — rather than partisanship — dictates any process involving the #whistleblower.'” See also, Attorney says whistleblower is willing to answer questions from House Republicans, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Paul Kane, and Felicia Sonmez, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “An attorney for the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Trump’s apparent efforts to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals said Sunday that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee could submit questions directly to his client instead of going through the panel’s Democratic majority. Mark Zaid confirmed his client’s offer to the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (Calif.), to answer written questions under oath and with penalty of perjury, while also protecting the individual’s identity. In recent days, Trump and his allies have ramped up efforts to expose the whistleblower’s identity, amplifying theories regarding the person’s motives.” See also, Trump rejects offer of written answers from whistleblower. He says the anonymous intelligence official must instead testify publicly. Politico, Quint Forgey, published on Monday, 4 November 2019: “President Donald Trump on Monday rejected an offer by the lawyer for the anonymous whistleblower at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry to submit written answers to questions from Republican lawmakers. ‘The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff,’ Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the leaders of the impeachment probe. ‘He must be brought forward to testify,’ the president continued. ‘Written answers not acceptable!'”

Mueller interview notes obtained by CNN show Trump’s push for stolen emails, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “President Donald Trump and other top 2016 Trump campaign officials repeatedly privately discussed how the campaign could get access to stolen Democratic emails WikiLeaks had in 2016, according to newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller‘s special counsel investigation. CNN sued the Justice Department for access to Mueller’s witness interview notes, and this weekend’s release marks the first publicly available behind-the-scenes look at Mueller’s investigative work outside of court proceedings and the report itself. Per a judge’s order, the Justice Department will continue to release new tranches of the Mueller investigative notes monthly to CNN and Buzzfeed News, which also sued for them.” See also, READ: Newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, CNN Politics, published on Saturday, 2 November 2019.

Allies of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to try to stonewall Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, officials say, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey, and Erica Werner, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “One of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s top allies is preparing to deliver what President Trump wants but has failed to achieve so far in the impeachment inquiry: unquestioning loyalty from administration staff. Russell Vought, a Mulvaney protege who leads the White House Office of Management and Budget, intends a concerted defiance of congressional subpoenas in coming days, and two of his subordinates will follow suit — simultaneously proving their loyalty to the president and creating a potentially critical firewall regarding the alleged use of foreign aid to elicit political favors from a U.S. ally. The OMB is at the nexus of the impeachment inquiry because Democrats are pressing for details about why the White House budget office effectively froze the Ukraine funds that Congress had already appropriated.”

Adam Schiff, a Trump Punching Bag, Takes His Case to a Bigger Ring, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “These are heady but perilous days for Mr. Schiff, the inscrutable and slightly nerdy chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who is leading the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Adored by the left, reviled by the right, he has become a Rorschach test for American politics. Depending on one’s point of view, he is either going to save the republic, or destroy it.”

Pentagon pushed to use vast swath of desert wildlife refuge ‘primarily’ for military purposes, draft bill says, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “The U.S. Air Force is seeking to assert control over as much as two-thirds of a wildlife refuge in Nevada for training troops and testing weapons, according to a legislative proposal sent by military planners to the Department of the Interior and obtained by The Washington Post. The military’s Nevada Test and Training Range already encompasses much of a vast stretch of southern Nevada desert originally set aside for bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and other wildlife. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service retains primary authority over the refuge to halt military drills that would otherwise disturb key habitat for plants and animals.”

Environmental Protection Agency to scale back federal rules restricting waste from coal-fired power plants, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday plans to relax rules that govern how power plants store waste from burning coal and release water containing toxic metals into nearby waterways, according to agency officials. The proposals, which scale back two rules adopted in 2015, affect the disposal of fine powder and sludge known as coal ash, as well as contaminated water that power plants produce while burning coal. Both forms of waste can contain mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals that pose risks to human health and the environment. The new rules would allow extensions that could keep unlined coal ash waste ponds open for as long as eight additional years. The biggest benefits from the rule governing contaminated wastewater would come from the voluntary use of new filtration technology.” See also, Environmental Protection Agency Weakens Rules Governing Toxic Water Pollution From Coal Plants, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, published on Monday, 4 November 2019: “The Trump administration on Monday moved to weaken an Obama-era regulation aimed at limiting the seepage of toxic pollution into water supplies from the ash of coal burning power plants, a change that coal industry leaders say could keep plants open longer and which environmental groups fear will increase the risk of water contamination. Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued the proposed regulation, which relaxes rules set in 2015 imposing stringent inspection and monitoring rules at coal plants and requiring plants to install new technology to protect water supplies from arsenic, lead, selenium and other toxic effluent. The rules are part of President Trump’s vast environmental deregulation agenda aimed largely at eliminating rules the fossil fuel industry finds burdensome and extending the life of coal burning power plants. In addition to discharging pollutants into the air and water, coal plants are the top source of United States carbon dioxide emissions, the principal greenhouse gas warming the planet.”

California governor Gavin Newsom hits back at Trump over wildfire criticism and threat to cut aid, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Sunday, 3 November 2019: “President Trump on Sunday criticized California’s Democratic governor for his handling of wildfires and made a vague threat to cut aid as blazes continue to burn in the northern and southern parts of the state. The comments are the latest installment of the president’s long-standing grievance with California, a state that has clashed with Trump’s administration, particularly on issues of environmental regulation. In Trump’s first significant mention of California’s wildfires on Twitter since the massive Kincade Fire broke out in late October, the president accused Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of doing a ‘terrible’ job of forest management. Newsom later responded with his own tweet: ‘You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.’ The governor’s criticism was a jab at Trump’s long-standing refusal to acknowledge the impact of climate change or the man-made factors that accelerate it.”


Monday, 4 November 2019, Day 1,019:


Trump Serves Notice to Quit Paris Climate Agreement, as Diplomats Plot to Save It, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations on Monday that it would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, leaving global climate diplomats to plot a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy. The action, which came on the first day possible under the accord’s complex rules on withdrawal, begins a yearlong countdown to the United States exit and a concerted effort to preserve the Paris Agreement, under which nearly 200 nations have pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and to help poor countries cope with the worst effects of an already warming planet.” See also, Trump makes it official: U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The Trump administration notified the international community Monday that it plans to officially withdraw from the Paris climate accord next fall, a move that will leave the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases as the only nation to abandon the global effort to combat climate change…. Environmental and public health activists quickly condemned the decision, even as it came as no surprise. ‘Abandoning the Paris agreement is cruel to future generations, leaving the world less safe and productive,’ Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement. ‘It also fails people in the United States, who will lose out on clean energy jobs, as other nations grab the competitive and technological advantages that the low-carbon future offers.'” See also, Trump begins year-long process to formally exit the Paris climate agreement, The Guardian, Emily Holden, Monday, 4 November 2019: “Donald Trump is moving to formally exit the Paris climate agreement, making the United States the only country in the world that will not participate in the pact, as global temperatures are set to rise 3C and worsening extreme weather will drive millions into poverty.” See also, Trump administration files paperwork to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Politico, Eric Wolff, Monday, 4 November 2019.

Ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Testified She Felt Threatened by Trump, and Michael McKinley, Adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Made Multiple Attempts to Get Pompeo to Defend Marie Yovanovitch in a Public Statement. McKinley’s Testimony Contradicted Pompeo. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The former United States ambassador to Ukraine told impeachment investigators last month that she felt ‘threatened’ by President Trump after it emerged that he told the Ukrainian president she would ‘go through some things,’ adding that she still feared retaliation. That was just one detail that emerged Monday as the House released hundreds of pages of testimony from Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled in May and remains a State Department employee, and Michael McKinley, a top diplomat who advised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and has since retired. The transcripts also revealed multiple attempts by Mr. McKinley — all unsuccessful — to get Mr. Pompeo to come to Ms. Yovanovitch’s defense in a public statement as she was being publicly discredited by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and other Republicans. That testimony contradicted Mr. Pompeo himself, who has publicly denied having heard any concerns from Mr. McKinley about the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch. ‘From the time that Ambassador Yovanovitch departed Ukraine until the time that he came to tell me that he was departing, I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision that was made,’ Mr. Pompeo told ABC in an interview last month.” See also, Impeachment Inquiry Transcripts: Excerpts and Analysis, The New York Times, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry on Monday moved to open their proceedings to the public, releasing the first two transcripts of hours of testimony they have taken behind closed doors. The transcripts were the leading edge of a series of expected releases this week, and include witness testimony from two diplomats — Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. New York Times reporters combed through the transcripts, identified key excerpts and added context and analysis…. Read the transcript of Michael McKinley’s interview and of Marie L. Yovanovitch’s interview.” See also, Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies she felt threatened by Trump’s comments about her, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Karoun Demirjian, and Devlin Barrett, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testified that she was the target of a shadow campaign to orchestrate her removal that involved President Trump’s personal attorney and Ukrainian officials suspected of fostering corruption, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday by House impeachment investigators. In one of the most gripping passages of her testimony, which took place Oct. 11, Marie Yovanovitch said that she remained worried that she would be a target of retaliation by Trump, who referred to her in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president as ‘bad news’ and someone who was ‘going to go through some things.’ ‘I was very concerned’ upon reading Trump’s words when the rough transcript of the call was released, Yovanovitch testified. ‘I still am.’ Asked whether she felt threatened, she replied, ‘Yes.'” See also, 7 takeaways from Marie Yovanovitch’s and Michael McKinley’s Ukraine testimony, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake and Amber Phillips, Monday, 4 November 2019. See also, Ex-Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch felt threatened by Trump, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Monday, 4 November 2019. See also, Impeachment deposition: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other State Department leaders ignored pleas to help U.S. ambassador to Ukraine amid Giuliani campaign, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen, and Manu Raju, Monday, 4 November 2019.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Faces Political Peril and Diplomats’ Revolt in Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, Monday, 4 November 2019: “As President Trump’s first C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo was briefed by agency officials on the extensive evidence — including American intercepts of conversations between participants — showing that Russian hackers working for the government of Vladimir V. Putin had interfered in the 2016 American presidential campaign. In May 2017, Mr. Pompeo testified in a Senate hearing that he stood by that conclusion. Two and a half years later, Mr. Pompeo seems to have changed his mind. As Mr. Trump’s second secretary of state, he now supports an investigation into a discredited, partisan theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the Democratic National Committee, which Mr. Trump wants to use to make the case that he was elected without Moscow’s help.”

Don’t reveal the name of the whistleblower on Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine, USA Today, The Editorial Board, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The fundamental promise of whistleblower protection is to create a safe space for a witness of wrongdoing to come forward and report it — and, for the sake of his or her professional reputation or even physical safety, to remain anonymous in doing so. Nothing chills truth-telling in the halls of power like the risk of retribution, and no risk is more harrowing than unmasking potentially impeachable offenses by a president. So it may come as little surprise that Donald Trump — with his legacy and potentially even his job hanging in the balance — would turn the promise of whistleblower protection on its head. He has launched a vitriolic campaign to publicly identify the person who exposed his problematic July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine.” See also, News organizations resist Trump’s pressure to release whistleblower’s name, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, published on Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “President Trump and his allies say there’s a gaping hole in the middle of the biggest news story in years: the name of the federal whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry that now threatens Trump’s presidency. They’ve called on news organizations to reveal the name of the CIA officer who first raised concerns about Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine. Yet despite apparent knowledge of the individual’s identity among people in Washington, his name hasn’t been widely reported…. How come? The answer appears to lie in several factors: concerns that revealing the name could jeopardize the whistleblower’s safety; legal questions about whether the whistleblower’s identity is protected by federal law; and potential adverse public reaction to such a disclosure. There’s also a question about whether the person identified in news accounts and bandied about the Internet so far actually is the whistleblower…. Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti said The Post wasn’t naming an individual because it ‘has long respected the right of whistleblowers to report wrongdoing in confidence, which protects them against retaliation.'” See also, ‘Do your job and print his name’: Rand Paul demands media identify the whistleblower, The Washington Post, Allyson Chiu, published on Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Addressing a packed arena in Lexington, Ky., Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) claimed on Monday night that he knows the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Then, Paul delivered a pointed message to the media. ‘Do your job and print his name!’ the senator yelled, prompting the crowd to raucously chant, ‘Do your job!’ As the House Democrats’ effort to impeach Trump heats up, the president and his allies have fixated on unmasking the whistleblower, whose identity is protected by federal law, and the person’s alleged political motives. Earlier on Monday, Trump demanded public testimony from the whistleblower. But Paul’s comments drew intense criticism from many who accused him of putting the anonymous U.S. intelligence officer in danger, a firestorm that turned the senator’s name into a top trending term on Twitter with more than 63,000 mentions. ‘A member of Congress who calls for the identity of any lawful whistleblower to be publicly revealed against their wishes disgraces the office they hold and betrays the interests of the Constitution and the American people,’ Mark S. Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s attorneys, told The Washington Post in an emailed statement Monday night.” See also, Media outlets reject Rand Paul’s demand that they identify Trump’s whistleblower, Politico, Michael Calderone, published on Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Media organizations rejected Senator Rand Paul’s demand Monday night that they identify the whistleblower who sparked the Ukraine scandal, with some saying the identity of the individual is no longer newsworthy in light of the growing accumulation of information about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. ‘We published some identifying information about the whistleblower weeks ago to help our readers access the person’s credibility,’ a New York Times spokesperson told POLITICO on Tuesday, referring to coverage in late September. ‘At this stage, with much of what the whistleblower had reported confirmed as fact, it’s not imperative to publish further detail.'”

Inside Ukraine’s Push to Cultivate Trump From the Start, The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Eric Lipton, and Andrew E. Kramer, Monday, 4 November 2019: “Long before a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that prompted an impeachment inquiry, President Trump was exchanging political favors with a different Ukrainian leader, who desperately sought American help for his country’s struggle against Russian aggression. Petro O. Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president until May, waged an elaborate campaign to win over Mr. Trump at a time when advisers had convinced Mr. Trump that Ukraine was a nest of Hillary Clinton supporters. Mr. Poroshenko’s campaign included trade deals that were politically expedient for Mr. Trump, meetings with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the freezing of potentially damaging criminal cases and attempts to use the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a back channel. From the start, Mr. Poroshenko’s aides also scrambled to find ways to flatter the new American president — advising their boss to gush during his first telephone call with Mr. Trump about Tom Brady, the star New England Patriots quarterback whom Mr. Trump has long admired.”

White House officials spurn demand to testify in impeachment inquiry, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Monday, 4 November 2019: “Four senior White House officials refused to testify Monday to House impeachment investigators, a sign Democrats have exhausted their best leads for evidence against President Donald Trump. Those witnesses, including the White House’s top national security lawyer John Eisenberg, blew off subpoenas to testify…. National Security Council lawyer Michael Ellis, national security aide Robert Blair and budget official Brian McCormack also refused to appear for their scheduled depositions Monday, a major victory for a White House that has largely failed to prevent senior officials from across the administration from showing up.” See also, All four White House officials scheduled for House inquiry depositions Monday won’t testify, CNN Politics, Pamela Brown, Rene Marsh, and Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 4 November 2019.

Lev Parnas, Giuliani Associate, Opens Talks With Impeachment Investigators, The New York Times, Ben Protess, Michael Rothfeld, and William K. Rashbaum, Monday, 4 November 2019: “An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani who was involved in a campaign to pressure Ukraine into aiding President Trump’s political prospects has broken ranks, opening a dialogue with congressional impeachment investigators and accusing the president of falsely denying their relationship. The associate, Lev Parnas, had previously resisted speaking with investigators for the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings, which are examining the president’s pressure attempts in Ukraine. A former lawyer for Mr. Trump was then representing Mr. Parnas. But since then, Mr. Parnas has hired new lawyers who contacted the congressional investigators last week to notify them to ‘direct any future correspondence or communication to us,’ according to a copy of the letter.” See also, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas offers to comply with subpoena, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Monday, 4 November 2019: “An indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani is offering to participate in Congress’ impeachment inquiry, although major legal hurdles remain before lawmakers seem likely to be able to tap the potential source of information on President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen under house arrest in Florida on campaign finance charges, is offering an olive branch to Congress after rebuffing a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee last month.” See also, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas is willing to comply with House impeachment inquiry, his attorney says, The Washington Post, Deanna Paul, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 4 November 2019.

Republicans Try Different Response to Ukraine Call: Quid Pro Quo Isn’t an Impeachable Offense, The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson, Monday, 4 November 2019: “Since the impeachment inquiry into President Trump began, most Republicans in Congress have made the argument that the president’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigating a political opponent was not a quid pro quo or an abuse of power. But after a partisan House vote last week opening up a public phase of the inquiry — and a parade of government officials who testified to Congress that there was a quid pro quo — some in Mr. Trump’s party are testing out a new refrain: Even if a quid pro quo existed, it is not grounds for impeachment. They are merely concerned.”

E. Jean Carroll, New York writer who accused Trump of sexual assault, sues him for defamation, The Washington Post, Beth Reinhard, Monday, 4 November 2019: “A writer and longtime women’s advice columnist on Monday sued President Trump, accusing him of defaming her this summer after she claimed he sexually assaulted her two decades ago in an upscale New York City department store. E. Jean Carroll publicly described the alleged assault for the first time in June, in a published excerpt of a memoir. At that time and in the new lawsuit, she said that after running into the then-real estate developer at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, they chatted and shopped together before he attacked her in a dressing room. She said he knocked her head against a wall, pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she pushed him off and ran out. Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. ‘I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,’ Carroll said in a statement. ‘No person in this country should be above the law – including the president.'” See also, E. Jean Carroll, Who Accused Trump of Rape, Sues Him for Defamation, The New York Times, Jan Ransom, Monday, 4 November 2019: “E. Jean Carroll publicly shared a secret in June that she had kept largely to herself for more than two decades: Donald J. Trump, she said, had raped her in the dressing room of an upscale department store in New York City. President Trump vehemently denied the allegations. He called Ms. Carroll a liar, intent on selling a new book. He said he had never met her, despite a photo of the two of them together in the 1980s. He told reporters that he would not have assaulted Ms. Carroll because ‘she’s not my type.’ Now Ms. Carroll, a journalist and columnist for Elle Magazine, has sued Mr. Trump for defamation, saying in a lawsuit filed in state court on Monday that Mr. Trump had damaged her reputation and her career when he denied her allegation in June.” See also, E. Jean Carroll is suing Trump for defamation, Politico, Abbey Marshall, Monday, 4 November 2019: “E. Jean Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump for the president’s comments denying the journalist’s claims that he raped her in a department store in the 1990s.” See also, E. Jean Carroll sues Trump and says he defamed her over her sexual assault claim, CNN Politics, Erica Orden, Monday, 4 November 2019. See also, E. Jean Carroll Is a Hero for Stepping Into the MAGA Meat Grinder, The Daily Beast, Molly Jong-Fast, Monday, 4 November 2019.

Trump Taxes: Appeals Court Rules President Must Turn Over 8 Years of Tax Returns, The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and Adam Liptak, Monday, 4 November 2019: “A federal appeals panel said on Monday that President Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, a setback for the president’s attempt to keep his financial records private. Almost immediately after the ruling, one of the president’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said Mr. Trump would appeal to the Supreme Court. The president maintains that the Constitution shields him from any criminal investigation.” See also, Federal appeals court rules Trump tax returns must be turned over to a local grand jury in Manhattan, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Monday, 4 November 2019: “A federal appeals court has ruled that President Donald Trump’s tax returns must be turned over to a local grand jury in Manhattan — a legal blow for the president’s attempts to stymie a broad array of investigations. A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the president is not immune from investigative steps taken by state prosecutors, such as a grand jury subpoena. Trump now plans to go to the Supreme Court to try to block the disclosure, said Jay Sekulow, an attorney for the president.” See also, Appeals court rejects Trump’s attempt to withhold tax returns from local prosecutors, setting the stage for Supreme Court fight, The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell, Ann E. Marimow, and Deanna Paul, Monday, 4 November 2019: “A federal appeals court on Monday rejected President Trump’s effort to block New York prosecutors from accessing his tax records and Trump’s sweeping claims of presidential immunity. In trying to block a subpoena for his private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election, Trump’s attorneys have argued that as president Trump is immune not only from prosecution but from investigations. But in the decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that ‘any presidential immunity from a state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such subpoena.'”

Democratic Strategists Set Up $75 Million Digital Campaign to Counter Trump, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Monday, 4 November 2019: “A progressive organization is plunging itself into the presidential campaign, unveiling plans to spend $75 million on digital advertising to counter President Trump’s early spending advantage in key 2020 battleground states. The effort, by a nonprofit group called Acronym and an affiliated political action committee, is an outgrowth of growing concern by some Democratic officials that Mr. Trump could build an insurmountable edge in those key states through massive early advertising efforts. Mr. Trump has spent more than $26 million so far nationally just on Facebook and Google, more than the four top-polling Democrats — Joseph R. Biden Jr., Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg — have spent in total on those platforms.”

Justice Department is trying to ‘intimidate’ author of anonymous anti-Trump book, agents say, CNN Business, Brian Stelter, Monday, 4 November 2019: “The Justice Department is going on the offensive against the anonymous author of ‘A Warning,’ telling them in a letter obtained by CNN Business that he or she may be violating ‘one or more nondisclosure agreements’ by writing the anti-Trump book. The author’s publisher is rejecting the argument and saying the book will be released as scheduled. And the author’s agents are accusing the government of trying to unmask the author. ‘Our author knows that the President is determined to unmask whistleblowers who may be in his midst. That’s one of the reasons A WARNING was written,’ the literary agency Javelin said in a statement. ‘But we support the publisher in its resolve that the administration’s effort to intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels will not prevent this book from moving forward.'”

As Elizabeth Warren Gains in the Presidential Race, Wall Street Sounds the Alarm, The New York Times, Kate Kelly and Lisa Lerer, Monday, 4 November 2019: “From corporate boardrooms to breakfast meetings, investor conferences to charity galas, Ms. Warren’s rise in the Democratic primary polls is rattling bankers, investors and their affluent clients, who see in the Massachusetts senator a formidable opponent who could damage not only their industry but their way of life.”


Tuesday, 5 November 2019, Day 1,020:


Virginia Election: Democrats Take Full Control of State Government, The New York Times, Trip Gabriel, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Democrats completed Virginia’s historic partisan shift from red to blue on Tuesday, winning majorities in both chambers of the legislature and consolidating power across state government for the first time in a generation. In an election where passions about President Trump and the impeachment inquiry drove voters on both sides, a revolt against the president in Virginia’s rapidly growing suburbs helped remake the state’s political map. Now, under Gov. Ralph Northam, who survived scandal earlier this year, Democrats are positioned to advance a set of sweeping liberal priorities.” See also, Democrats Win Control in Virginia and Claim Narrow Victory in Kentucky Governor’s Race, The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Democrats won complete control of the Virginia government for the first time in a generation on Tuesday and claimed a narrow victory in the Kentucky governor’s race, as Republicans struggled in suburbs where President Trump is increasingly unpopular.” See also, Democrats flip Virginia Senate and House, taking control of state government for the first time in a generation, The Washington Post, Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Democrats gained control of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday, tapping strength in the suburbs to consolidate power for the first time in a generation and deliver a rebuke to President Trump.” See also, In New York City, Ranked-Choice Voting Was Approved, The New York Times, Vivian Wang, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “New Yorkers overwhelmingly backed a system of ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, rather than selecting only their top choice. The goal, supporters said, was to reduce runoff elections and minimize the risk of split votes: If no single candidate won a majority, the last-place finisher would be eliminated, and his or her votes would be redistributed to supporters’ second choices. The system will be used only in primary and special elections and will apply to elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president and the City Council. It will debut in 2021.”

In New Testimony, Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, Confirms His Involvement in Essentially Laying Out a Quid Pro Quo to Ukraine, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “A crucial witness in the impeachment inquiry reversed himself this week and acknowledged to investigators that he had told a top Ukrainian official that the country would most likely have to give President Trump what he wanted — a public pledge for investigations — in order to unlock military aid. The disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, an ally of Mr. Trump who is the United States ambassador to the European Union, confirmed his role in laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that conditioned the release of security assistance from the United States on the country’s willingness to say it was investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. That admission, included in a four-page sworn statement released on Tuesday, directly contradicted his testimony to investigators last month, when he said he ‘never’ thought there was any precondition on the aid. ‘I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,’ Mr. Sondland said in the new statement, which was made public by the House committees leading the inquiry, along with the transcript of his original testimony. Mr. Sondland’s disclosure appeared intended to insulate him from accusations that he intentionally misled Congress during his earlier testimony, in which he frequently said he could not recall key details and events under scrutiny by impeachment investigators. It also provided Democrats with a valuable piece of evidence from a critical witness to fill out the picture of their abuse-of-power case against the president. Unlike other officials who have offered damaging testimony about Mr. Trump, Mr. Sondland is a political supporter of the president who has interacted directly with him.” See also, Read the Transcript of Gordon Sondland’s Testimony, The New York Times, Tuesday, 5 November 2019. See also, Read the Transcript of Kurt Volker’s Testimony, The New York Times, Tuesday, 5 November 2019. See also, Impeachment Inquiry Transcripts: Key Excerpts of Sondland’s and Volker’s Testimonies, The New York Times, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday released transcripts from two more closed-door depositions as the proceedings move to a more public phase. The transcripts include witness testimony from two figures central to the inquiry, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine. Reporters from The New York Times combed through the documents and highlighted key parts, offering context and analysis.” See also, With revised testimony, Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, ties Trump to quid pro quo, The Washington Post, Shane Harris and Aaron C. Davis, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “In a significant revision to his earlier testimony before House impeachment investigators, U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland now says he told a Ukrainian official that security assistance to the country would only resume if the authorities in Kyiv opened investigations requested by President Trump and potentially damaging to former vice president Joe Biden. Sondland’s ‘supplemental declaration,’ provided to the House impeachment inquiry Tuesday, offered further evidence of an effort directed by Trump and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to leverage nearly $400 million in security assistance for investigations that could politically benefit the president.” See also, 5 takeaways from the Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker testimonies, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 5 November 2019. See also, Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine, confirming quid pro quo, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Gordon Sondland, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, revealed that he told a top Ukrainian official that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid would ‘likely’ be held up unless the country’s government announced investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals — a major reversal from his previous closed-door testimony. The acknowledgment of a quid pro quo is an explosive shift that threatens to upend claims by the president’s allies that military aid was not used as a bludgeon to advance his domestic political interests.” See also, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland changes his testimony and admits quid pro quo with Ukraine, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “In a significant reversal, a top US diplomat revised his testimony to impeachment investigators to admit a quid pro quo linking US aid to Ukraine with an investigation into President Donald Trump’s political rival. US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on Monday sent the committees a three-page addition to his testimony, saying he had remembered a September 1 conversation in which he told a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the security aid was linked to investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election.”

Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he won’t read newly released impeachment transcripts, and the White House plays down the importance of the testimony of Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday that he would not be reading two newly released deposition transcripts, calling the Democratic-led impeachment probe a ‘bunch of BS.’ Graham’s comments came hours after House investigators released transcripts of the depositions of Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine.”

House Investigators Summon Mick Mulvaney to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “House impeachment investigators on Tuesday called on Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s acting chief of staff, to testify this week in their inquiry into President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, closing in on the upper echelons of Mr. Trump’s staff as they near the end of their fact-finding phase. Mr. Mulvaney has emerged as a central figure in House Democrats’ investigation because of his proximity to the president as well as his own actions. He undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo when he admitted at a news conference weeks ago that the White House withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to further the president’s political interests. ‘I have news for everybody: Get over it,’ he told reporters at the time. ‘There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.’ He backtracked hours later and tried to deny that he had ever confirmed such an arrangement.” See also, Impeachment investigators ask Mick Mulvaney to testify, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “House impeachment investigators asked President Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to appear for a deposition later this week. Lawmakers leading the impeachment inquiry believe Mulvaney can provide firsthand details about Trump’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine at a time he was pressing Ukraine’s government to launch investigations into his political rivals.” See also, Inside Adam Schiff’s Impeachment Game Plan, The New York Times, Jason Zengerle, Tuesday, 5 November 2019. See also, Inside the Impeachment Testimony: Dry Questions and Flares of Drama, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 5 November 2019.

What Happens When a President and Congress Go to War? The New York Times, Emily Bazelon, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “[I]n some ways, [Trump] has fit the model of an ‘imperial presidency,’ historians say, by asserting in court — as no president has done before — that he is beyond the reach of criminal law. In a hearing before a federal appeals court in New York in October, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, William Consovoy, said that a sitting president cannot be held accountable for any crime, even if he shot someone. (‘Local authorities couldn’t investigate?’ Judge Denny Chin asked. ‘Nothing could be done? That is your position?’ Consovoy answered, ‘That is correct.’) Trump’s Justice Department has also argued for vanishingly narrow readings, as applied to the president, of the crime of obstruction of justice and the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which was written to prevent foreign governments from exerting a corrupting influence. Since the nation’s founding, Congress has exercised its oversight authority over the workings of the presidency by opening investigations, asserting its power to wrest information out of the executive branch. Its most important tool in this endeavor is the subpoena, which Congress can issue on its own, without the approval of a court, to interview witnesses and obtain documentary evidence. In 1821, the Supreme Court recognized Congress’s power to enforce its subpoenas by holding noncompliant officials in contempt, including by sending a sergeant-at-arms to arrest and detain them. But over the last half century, the executive branch has grown bolder about withholding information in the name of national security or executive privilege, to keep the president’s communications confidential. And Congress has become the branch least able to enforce its own orders. It hasn’t sent a sergeant-at-arms to arrest or detain anyone since 1935.”

More than 11,000 scientists from around the world declare a ‘climate emergency,’ The Washington Post, Andrew Freedman, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “A new report by 11,258 scientists in 153 countries from a broad range of disciplines warns that the planet ‘clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency,’ and provides six broad policy goals that must be met to address it. The analysis is a stark departure from recent scientific assessments of global warming, such as those of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in that it does not couch its conclusions in the language of uncertainties, and it does prescribe policies. The study, called the ‘World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency,’ marks the first time a large group of scientists has formally come out in favor of labeling climate change an emergency, which the study notes is caused by many human trends that are together increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The report, published Tuesday in the journal Bioscience, was spearheaded by the ecologists Bill Ripple and Christopher Wolf of Oregon State University, along with William Moomaw, a Tufts University climate scientist, and researchers in Australia and South Africa.”

Trump Phoned Summer Zervos, One of the Women Who Has Accused Him of Sexual Assault, On the Day Ms. Zervos Says He Assaulted Her, The New York Times, Ed Shanahan, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “President Trump exchanged several calls with a former contestant on ‘The Apprentice’ who has accused him of sexually assaulting her about a decade before he was elected, according to cellphone records made public on Tuesday as part of a lawsuit against him. Mr. Trump and the woman, Summer Zervos, were in touch six times during a three-month period in 2007 and 2008, redacted versions of Mr. Trump’s cellphone bills show. Two of their exchanges happened at a time in December 2007 when Mr. Trump was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California, according to the phone records and copies of his personal calendars. That is when and where Ms. Zervos says he assaulted her.” See also, Phone records show Trump phoned Summer Zervos around the same time that she says he sexually assaulted her, The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “More than a decade ago, Donald Trump made phone calls from his cellphone to a former candidate on ‘The Apprentice’ around the same time that she says he sexually assaulted her, according to phone records made public Tuesday. The excerpts from Trump’s Verizon cellphone bills over a three-month period in 2007 and 2008 show that Trump exchanged calls with Summer Zervos on at least six occasions, including on a day that Trump’s private calendar has shown that he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel.”

Trump Tax Return Case Confronts Supreme Court With a Momentous Choice, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “In a matter of days, President Trump will ask the Supreme Court to rule on his bold claim that he is absolutely immune from criminal investigation while he remains in office. If the court agrees to hear the case, its decision is likely to produce a major statement on the limits of presidential power — and to test the independence of the court itself. Mr. Trump has been the subject of countless investigations and lawsuits since he took office, including a 22-month inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to look into his campaign’s ties to Russia. But the new case, concerning an investigation by Manhattan prosecutors into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, will be the Supreme Court’s first chance to consider the president’s arguments that he is beyond the reach of the justice system.”

Iran Steps Further From Nuclear Deal With Move on Centrifuges, The New York Times, Michael Wolgelenter and David E. Sanger, Tuesday, 5 November 2019: “Iran announced plans on Wednesday to reactivate its most sensitive nuclear production site, a deep, underground uranium enrichment center, in a step that dismantles more of the last major restrictions on the country under the 2015 nuclear deal.… Since the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear pact and imposed economic sanctions, Iran has steadily backed away from the agreement.”


Wednesday, 6 November 2019, Day 1,021:


William Taylor, the Top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine, Testified Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Spearheaded Pressure for Investigations of Trump’s Political Rivals, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “The top American diplomat in Ukraine identified Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, as the instigator behind the drive to get Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals, telling impeachment investigators last month that Mr. Giuliani was acting on behalf of the president. House Democrats on Wednesday released a transcript of the private testimony by the diplomat, William B. Taylor Jr., as they named him as the first of several witnesses who will testify publicly next week in a slate of impeachment hearings. They will begin laying out a case that Mr. Trump abused his office to secure political favors from Ukraine.” See also, Impeachment Inquiry Transcripts: Key Excerpts From William Taylor’s Testimony, The New York Times, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “House investigators released the interview transcript of a witness who provided one of the most damning accounts about the actions at the heart of the inquiry…. The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript on Wednesday from a closed-door deposition of a figure central to the investigation as the proceedings move to a more public phase. The first public hearings are scheduled for next week. The witness testimony, from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, provided one of the most vivid accounts about the actions at the heart of the inquiry. Much of that was detailed in his opening remarks on Oct. 22, including his explicit understanding that there was a quid pro quo linking military aid for Ukraine to investigating President Trump’s political rivals. The New York Times reporters read through his deposition, highlighting key parts and offering context and analysis.” See also, The Trump Impeachment Inquiry Latest Updates: The House Intelligence Committee Will Hold the First Public Hearings in the Impeachment Inquiry Next Week, The New York Times, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “House Democrats will begin convening public impeachment hearings next week, they announced on Wednesday, calling three marquee witnesses to begin making a case for President Trump’s impeachment in public. They plan to kick off hearings next Wednesday, with testimony from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a top State Department official, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. On Friday, Mr. Schiff’s committee will hear from Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, he said.” See also, Read the Transcript of William Taylor’s Testimony, The New York Times, Wednesday, 6 November 2019. See also, William Taylor, Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, says it was his ‘clear understanding’ U.S. military aid would not be sent until Ukraine pursued investigations that could help Trump, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “House investigators released a transcript Wednesday of the closed-door testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, who told lawmakers that it was his “clear understanding” that U.S. military aid would not be sent until that country pursued investigations that could politically benefit President Trump. The impeachment inquiry moved forward on other fronts, with House Democrats announcing that the first public hearings would be held next week and David Hale, the State Department’s third-ranking official, testifying privately at the Capitol on Wednesday.” See also, Testimony of William Taylor, Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, offers window into the impeachment inquiry’s first public hearing to be held next week, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Mike DeBonis, Karoun Demirjian, and Elise Viebeck, Wednesday, 6 November 2019. See also, 4 big takeaways from Bill Taylor’s full transcript, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 6 November 2019. See also, Trump makes falsehoods central to impeachment defense as incriminating evidence mounts, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Philip Rucker, Wednesday, 6 November 2019. See also, ‘I sensed something odd’: What William Taylor told Trump impeachment investigators, Politico, Nahal Toosi and Natasha Bertrand, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Impeachment investigators on Wednesday released the much-anticipated deposition transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. In his bombshell testimony last month, Taylor said he learned that ‘everything’ — including hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance and an Oval Office meeting with Trump — was contingent upon Ukraine’s President Volodymr Zelensky launching the investigations President Donald Trump demanded, and linked Trump directly to an attempted quid pro quo. He also described how he ‘sensed something odd’ when a political appointee with direct ties to the president asked to exclude other officials from a phone call with Zelensky.” See also, William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, says Rudy Giuliani pushed Ukraine to ‘intervene’ in US politics in impeachment transcript, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, Wednesday, 6 November 2019.

Impeachment transcripts reveal a consistent, damaging narrative for Trump, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Rudy Giuliani was President Donald Trump’s enforcer, circumventing official channels and bewildering professional diplomats as he pressured Ukraine to target Trump’s political opponents. Along the way, career foreign service officers became collateral damage — and questions of a Trump-authorized quid pro quo emerged, blowing up into a scandal that now imperils the Trump presidency. Those are the unchallenged details revealed so far in five transcripts of depositions released this week as part of the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats prepare for public hearings next week, they are underscoring the common thread running through the witnesses’ accounts.”

First public impeachment hearings will take place next week, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “The House will begin holding public impeachment hearings next week, Democrats announced Wednesday, a move that marks the end of the closed-door phase of their inquiry and brings lawmakers one step closer to impeaching President Donald Trump. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whose panel is leading the impeachment inquiry, said the first hearing will take place on Nov. 13. It is expected to feature William Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of State — two key figures in the Ukraine scandal endangering Trump’s presidency. The second hearing will take place two days later, on Nov. 15; Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after a smear campaign backed by Trump, is slated to testify. The Intelligence panel is expected to hold several additional public hearings as Democrats seek to make the case that Trump abused the power of his office when he pressured Ukraine’s leaders to investigate his political opponents.” See also, Impeachment investigators announce first public hearings will begin next week, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, Wednesday, 5 November 2019.

Trump wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold news conference saying the president broke no laws in call with Ukrainian leader, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, and Carol D. Leonnig, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “President Trump wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that the [president] had broken no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, though Barr ultimately declined to do so, people familiar with the matter said. The request from Trump traveled from the president to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The president has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say. In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked.” See also, Attorney General William Barr Declined Trump Request to Declare Nothing Illegal in Ukraine Call, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Michael S. Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “President Trump asked that Attorney General William P. Barr hold a news conference to declare that he had broken no laws in a telephone call with Ukraine’s president that is now at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, but Mr. Barr declined, according to two people with knowledge of the matter…. The request was first reported by The Washington Post.”

Roger Stone Lied to Protect Trump, Federal Prosecutor Says, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “A federal prosecutor on Wednesday charged that Roger J. Stone Jr. lied repeatedly to a congressional committee about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election because ‘the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.’… In his opening statement in Mr. Stone’s trial in the federal courthouse in Washington, the prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, promised jurors that reams of documentary evidence, buttressed by testimony of witnesses including the former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, would prove Mr. Stone’s guilt. In a riveting outline of the government’s case, Mr. Zelinsky painted a portrait of Mr. Stone, a self-described ‘dirty trickster,’ trying to aid Mr. Trump’s campaign through underhanded dealings and subterfuge and later concealing his work. The prosecution is one of the few cases still outstanding from the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.” See also, Prosecutor says Roger Stone lied ‘because the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,’ The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 6 November 2019.

How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups, ProPublica, Yeganeh Torbati, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Officials at USAID warned that favoring Christian groups in Iraq could be unconstitutional and inflame religious tensions. When one colleague lost her job, they said she had been ‘Penced.’… Last November, a top Trump appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development wrote a candid email to colleagues about pressure from the White House to reroute Middle East aid to religious minorities, particularly Christian groups. ‘Sometimes this decision will be made for us by the White House (see… Iraq! And, increasingly, Syria),’ said Hallam Ferguson, a senior official in USAID’s Middle East bureau, in an email seen by ProPublica. ‘We need to stay ahead of this curve everywhere lest our interventions be dictated to us.’ The email underscored what had become a stark reality under the Trump White House. Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. Over the last two years, political pressure, particularly from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, had seeped into aid deliberations and convinced key decision-makers that unless they fell in line, their jobs could be at stake.”

Exclusive: Book Claims Senior Officials Believed Vice President Mike Pence Would Support the Use of the 25th Amendment to Remove Trump From Office, HuffPost, Yashar Ali, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “The much-anticipated book ‘A Warning,’ reportedly written by an unnamed senior White House official, claims that high-level White House aides were certain that Vice President Mike Pence would support the use of the 25th Amendment to have President Donald Trump removed from office because of mental incapacity. According to the exposé, which is written by someone that The New York Times and the publisher of the book say is a current or former senior White House official, using the pen name ‘Anonymous,’ highly placed White House officials did a back-of-the-envelope tally of which Cabinet members would be prepared to sign a letter invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that if the president is deemed unfit to discharge the duties of his office, the vice president would assume the role.” See also, Vice President Mike Pence denies he entertained the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, Politico, Trent Spiner, published on Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Vice President Mike Pence strongly denied that he would have considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president, calling the thought appalling. A soon-to-be-published book reportedly claims White House aides were certain Pence would sign a letter to remove President Donald Trump from office if a majority of the Cabinet wanted to. The senior aides claimed they put together a back-of-the-envelope list of Cabinet secretaries who were open to the idea of removing Trump because of mental incapacity, according to pages obtained by HuffPost.” See also, Book by ‘Anonymous’ describes Trump as cruel, inept, and a danger to the nation, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, published on Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Senior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a ‘midnight self-massacre’ to sound a public alarm about President Trump’s conduct, but rejected the idea because they believed it would further destabilize an already teetering government, according to a new book by an unnamed author. In ‘A Warning’ by Anonymous, obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release, a writer described only as ‘a senior official in the Trump administration’ paints a chilling portrait of the president as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation he was elected to lead…. The author describes senior officials waking up in the morning ‘in a full-blown panic’ over the wild pronouncements the president had made on Twitter. ‘It’s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him,’ the author writes. ‘You’re stunned, amused, and embarrassed all at the same time. Only your uncle probably wouldn’t do it every single day, his words aren’t broadcast to the public, and he doesn’t have to lead the US government once he puts his pants on.’ The book depicts Trump as making misogynistic and racist comments behind the scenes. ‘I’ve sat and listened in uncomfortable silence as he talks about a woman’s appearance or performance,’ the author writes. ‘He comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and around his orbit. He uses words like “sweetie” and “honey” to address accomplished professionals. This is precisely the way a boss shouldn’t act in the work environment.'” See also, Mike Pence dismisses ‘Anonymous’ book claim that senior officials believed he would back 25th Amendment push to remove Trump, CNN Politics, Karl de Vries, published on Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Senior White House officials were certain Vice President Mike Pence would back an effort to have President Donald Trump removed from office over concerns about his mental state…. The book doesn’t say Pence actually said he would support such a move, according to a summary of an excerpt first reported by HuffPost, which the source described as accurate. The Vice President dismissed the report Thursday and called on the book’s author — who has been described as a senior Trump administration official who previously alleged there’s an internal administration resistance to Trump in a 2018 New York Times op-ed — to resign.” See also, Anonymous author writes Trump’s decision-making is eroding over time, NBC News, Alex Johnson, published on 7 November 2019: “President Donald Trump’s behavior can be so erratic that most top administration officials have pre-written resignation letters ready to submit, an anonymous author claiming to be a senior official in the Trump administration says in a book scheduled to be published this month. To complicate matters, the president’s decision-making abilities are getting worse with time, according to excerpts of ‘A Warning’ that were obtained and read Thursday night on MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show.'” See also, ‘A Warning’ by ‘Anonymous’: 5 Takeaways, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, published on Friday, 8 November 2019.

The Equal Rights Amendment May Pass Now. It’s Only Been 96 Years. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Virginia, soon to be under Democratic control, will likely be the 38th state to ratify the amendment. The Supreme Court could decide what happens next…. Of all the things that Virginia may pass now that Democrats have won control of the state legislature, none have been so long in the making as the Equal Rights Amendment. First proposed almost a century ago and passed by Congress in 1972, the constitutional amendment — whose main clause reads, ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex’ — has sweeping implications. For women, it would bolster pay equity, domestic violence laws and pregnancy discrimination protections, among many other things. It could also affect men, such as by guaranteeing paid paternity leave equal to maternity leave.”

The Trump Administration Launched a Secretive Program to More Quickly Deport Mexican Asylum-Seekers, BuzzFeed News, Hamed Aleaziz, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “The Trump administration has implemented a secretive pilot program along the Texas border that slashes the time Mexicans seeking asylum in the United States have to prepare their immigration cases and aims to speed up a decision while in government custody, according to internal government documents obtained by BuzzFeed News.”

Bill to make animal cruelty a federal felony passes unanimously in Senate and heads to Trump’s desk, Daily News, Theresa Braine, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Republicans and Democrats can agree on one thing: Do not be cruel to animals. On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed a bill known as the PACT Act that would make cruelty to animals a federal felony. It had passed the House of Representatives last month. Now it goes to President Trump’s desk and, on Wednesday, Congress people from both sides of the aisle in both houses urged him to sign it into law. Currently, animal cruelty is only illegal if it’s videotaped and sold, according to CNN. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act allows for someone to be prosecuted if they crush, burn, drown, suffocate, impale or sexually exploit animals. It builds on previous legislation from 2010 that outlawed the videotaping of such cruelty but did not address the perpetration of the cruelty itself.” See also, Bill Making Animal Cruelty a Federal Crime Is Headed to Trump’s Desk, The New York Times, Laura M. Holson, Wednesday, 6 November 2019.

Leading Democrats in the House and Senate Increase Criticism of ‘Opportunity Zone’ Tax Break, The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Lawmakers are voicing mounting concerns about a federal tax incentive, known as an ‘opportunity zone,’ that is supposed to encourage investors to pump money into the nation’s poorest neighborhoods. Leading Democrats in the House and Senate have sent a flurry of letters demanding answers and action by federal agencies after recent New York Times articles detailed how wealthy investors and real estate developers, including those with ties to the Trump administration, are poised to profit on the initiative.”

Two former Twitter employees are accused of spying for Saudi Arabia, CNN Business, David Shortell, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Federal prosecutors accused two former Twitter employees of spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi national, and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, used their access at the social media giant to gather sensitive and nonpublic information on dissidents of the Saudi regime, the Justice Department alleged in a criminal complaint. The case, unsealed in San Francisco federal court, underscores allegations the Saudi government tries to control anti-regime voices abroad. It also recalls a move reportedly directed by the country’s controversial leader to weaponize online platforms against critics. The accusations are certain to renew scrutiny of tech companies’ abilities to protect the privacy of their users.” See also, Former Twitter Employees Are Charged With Spying for Saudi Arabia, The New York Times, Katie Conger, Mike Isaac, Katie Benner, and Nicole Perlroth, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Ali Alzabarah was an engineer who rose through the ranks at Twitter to a job that gave him access to personal information and account data of the social media service’s millions of users. Ahmad Abouammo was a media partnerships manager at the company who could see the email addresses and phone numbers of Twitter accounts. On Wednesday, the Justice Department accused the two men of using their positions and their access to Twitter’s internal systems to aid Saudi Arabia by obtaining information on American citizens and Saudi dissidents who opposed the policies of the kingdom and its leaders.” See also, Former Twitter employees are charged with spying for Saudi Arabia by digging into the accounts of kingdom critics, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Bensinger, Wednesday, 6 November 2019.

Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts Endorses Elizabeth Warren for President, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Representative Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, the only member of the group of progressive first-term congresswomen nicknamed ‘the squad’ who had not yet backed a Democratic presidential candidate, has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime ally…. ‘Elizabeth has made it her life’s work to pursue justice for working families and put economic and political power in the hands of people,’ Ms. Pressley said in a statement. ‘We find ourselves in a fight for the soul of our nation, and I know Elizabeth can win it.'”

Jeff Sessions Will Run for His Old Alabama Senate Seat. Trump Does Not Approve. The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 6 November 2019: “Jeff Sessions, the former senator from Alabama whose tumultuous tenure as President Trump’s attorney general lasted less than two years, plans to announce on Thursday that he will enter the race to reclaim his old seat in 2020, a Republican official said. Mr. Sessions has remained largely out of the public eye, and has been effectively exiled from Republican politics, since he was forced out of the Trump administration last November. He had repeatedly clashed with the president over his decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump relentlessly attacked Mr. Sessions both in public and in private, calling him ‘scared stiff’ and his leadership ‘a total joke,’ among other insults, ultimately forcing him to resign. By choosing to run for office now, Mr. Sessions risks reigniting attacks from his former boss, who could undermine his standing among the Republican voters he needs to win next year’s crowded primary election on March 3.” See also, Ex-attorney general Jeff Sessions announces bid for Senate seat he relinquished in Alabama, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Colby Itkowitz, published on Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, Jeff Sessions dares Trump to flex his kingmaking abilities in Alabama, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, Jeff Sessions, Praising Trump, Formally Announces Senate Campaign, The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters, published on Thursday, 7 November 2019.


Thursday, 7 November 2019, Day 1,022:


Top State Department Official George Kent Complained of Trump’s Politicization of Ukraine Policy, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “The senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine told impeachment investigators last month that he was alarmed at President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine ‘initiate politically motivated prosecutions,’ casting the effort as the kind of tactic the United States typically condemns in the world’s most corrupt countries. George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified that he regarded the push for investigations — spearheaded by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer — as ‘injurious to the rule of law,’ and to decades of American foreign policy. ‘There is an outstanding issue about people in office in those countries using selectively politically motivated prosecutions to go after their opponents,’ Mr. Kent said in his interview with the House Intelligence Committee, according to a transcript released on Thursday. ‘And that’s wrong for the rule of law regardless of what country that happens.'” See also, George Kent Testimony: Key Excerpts From the Impeachment Inquiry Transcripts, The New York Times, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “House impeachment investigators on Thursday released a transcript of the testimony of George P. Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy. Mr. Kent said in his deposition that he was all but cut out of decisions regarding the country after a May meeting organized by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff. New York Times reporters read through the transcript, highlighting key excerpts and offering context and analysis.” See also, Read George Kent’s Testimony to Impeachment Investigators, The New York Times, Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: What Happened Today, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, Top State Department official George Kent says Rudy Giuliani was engaged in a campaign ‘full of lies and incorrect information’ about Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, for engaging in a smear campaign against former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to the transcript of his closed-door deposition released by House investigators Thursday. Kent testified that Giuliani’s ‘assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.'” See also, George Kent’s testimony states that Trump’s demands of Ukraine came down to three words: ‘Investigations, Biden, and Clinton,’ The Washington Post, Greg Jaffe and Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, Top State Department Official George Kent Says Trump’s Ukraine Pressure Campaign Undermined the ‘Rule of Law,’ NPR, Domenico Montanaro, Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, ‘Campaign of lies’: What George Kent told impeachment investigators, Politico, Nahal Toosi, Andrew Desiderio, and Natasha Bertrand, Thursday, 7 November 2019.

Impeachment inquiry turns to Jennifer Williams, Mike Pence adviser who heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian leader, The Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “The House impeachment probe shifted its focus Thursday to what Vice President Pence knew about the shadow campaign to compel Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit the Trump administration. Efforts to fill out the picture have been stymied by the White House’s insistence that top administration officials defy congressional subpoenas. Former national security adviser John Bolton did not appear for scheduled testimony Thursday, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to skip his hearing Friday. That leaves Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to the vice president for Europe and Russia, as possibly the last witness in the month-long closed-door sessions of the impeachment investigation. She spent about four hours on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office Is Reviewing the Trump Administrations Hold on Aid to Ukraine. The review focuses on whether the Trump administration violated the law by not notifying Capitol Hill. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “The Government Accountability Office is reviewing the Trump administration’s hold on nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine after a Democratic senator asked if the freeze violated appropriations law. The pause on the aid to Ukraine this summer is at the center of the impeachment investigation Democrats are conducting in the House. The review by Congress’s nonpartisan investigative arm, confirmed by a GAO spokesman, adds another layer of scrutiny to the freeze. At the State Department, Pentagon, and on Capitol Hill, officials tried to understand why the aid had been frozen and called for it to be released, according to testimony from current and former administration officials before impeachment investigators and people familiar with the matter. Lawmakers and aides didn’t receive clear answers about the reason for the hold, and Congress received no formal notification about it, according to the people. The money was released in mid-September after bipartisan pressure on Capitol Hill.”

John Bolton failed to appear at impeachment deposition, ABC News, Rebecca Shabad, Geoff Bennett, and Haley Talbot, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Former national security adviser John Bolton failed to appear Thursday for his closed-door deposition in the House impeachment inquiry, following the lead of other current and former Trump administration officials who have chosen not to show up. Last week, Bolton — who was fired by Trump in September — was formally invited to testify before the three congressional committees leading the inquiry, but his lawyer, Charles Cooper, quickly made clear that his client was unwilling to appear voluntarily.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky Bowed to Trump’s Demands, Until Luck Spared Him, The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “It was early September, and Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, faced an agonizing choice: whether to capitulate to President Trump’s demands to publicly announce investigations against his political enemies or to refuse, and lose desperately needed military aid…. Elements of this internal Ukrainian debate have appeared in the Ukrainian news media and seeped into congressional testimony in the United States, as part of an impeachment inquiry undertaken after accusations surfaced of Mr. Trump’s demands. But interviews in Kiev with government officials, lawmakers and others close to the Zelensky government have revealed new details of how high-level Ukrainian officials ultimately decided to acquiesce to President Trump’s request — and, by a stroke of luck, never had to follow through.”

Democrats unveil three questions to guide public impeachment hearings, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “House Democrats on Thursday unveiled a narrowly tailored set of questions that they say will guide their public impeachment hearings, with a focus squarely on President Donald Trump’s behavior in the Ukraine saga. The topics will be used to steer the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, with a series of public hearings set to begin Wednesday featuring testimony from two State Department officials on efforts by Trump to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and other political opponents.”

Trump’s allies turned to online campaign in quest to unmask Ukraine whistleblower, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Craig Timberg, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Tweets on Wednesday by Donald Trump Jr. capped more than a month of efforts by President Trump’s allies to surface the supposed name of a whistleblower whose complaint about a July 25 phone call led to the House’s impeachment inquiry. Most news organizations, including The Washington Post, have withheld the name of the whistleblower, whose complaint about Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been largely confirmed by diplomats and others with firsthand knowledge as well as by a reconstructed transcript released by the White House. The whistleblower’s name has been kept confidential by U.S. officials, in line with federal law designed to prevent retaliation. But the supposed name of the whistleblower has been circulating in conservative corners of social media since at least Oct. 3, culminating in Trump Jr.’s Wednesday morning retweet of a Breitbart News article that named an individual. During one 24-hour period last week, the CIA officer’s name was mentioned in more than 150,000 tweets.”

Lawyer for Ukraine whistleblower sends White House cease and desist letter to stop Trump’s attacks, CNN Politics, Paul LeBlanc, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “A lawyer for the Ukraine whistleblower, whose complaint document triggered the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, has sent a letter to the White House warning the President to ‘cease and desist’ attacking his client. ‘I am writing out of deep concern that your client, the President of the United States, is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower, and their family in physical danger,’ Andrew Bakaj wrote to White House counsel Pat Cipollone in a Thursday letter obtained by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. ‘I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates’, behavior,’ he said.”

Trump ordered to pay $2 million to charities over misuse of funds from his tax-exempt charity, court documents say, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “A New York judge on Thursday ordered President Trump to pay $2 million in damages for misusing funds from a tax-exempt charity — taking the charity’s money to pay debts for his for-profit businesses, to boost his 2016 campaign and to buy himself art, according to court documents. That order, from state judge Saliann Scarpulla, settled a lawsuit filed against Trump last year by the New York attorney general. The lawsuit — based on information first uncovered by The Washington Post — alleged ‘persistently illegal conduct’ at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, where Trump served as president for 32 years. As part of the settlement, Trump also agreed to disburse the $1.8 million remaining in the foundation to a set of charities, and to shutter it for good. In a statement signed by Trump’s attorney, the president admitted to poor oversight of the charity and to seven specific instances where its money was misspent.” See also, Donald Trump ordered to pay $2 million to settle New York Attorney General civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation and his children, CNN Politics, Erica Orden, Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, Trump Must Pay $2 Million in Settlement of Suit Over Foundation, The Wall Street Journal, Corinne Ramey, Thursday, 7 November 2019. See also, Trump Ordered to Pay $2 Million to Charities for Misusing Money Raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 7 November 2019.

Exclusive: State Department officials warned Trump not to revoke protections for immigrants, Vox, Nicole Narea, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Senior State Department officials and career diplomats repeatedly warned the Trump administration that taking away legal protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti would put national security, foreign relations, and the immigrants’ American-born children at risk, according to internal State Department documents. But Trump did it anyway — and concerns about the 2020 election appear to have helped determine the timeline for requiring immigrants to leave, according to the documents, which will be released in a report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.”

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee Advance Contentious Judicial Nominee Steven Menashi, HuffPost, Jennifer Bendery, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to move forward with one of President Donald Trump’s most contentious judicial nominees yet: Steven Menashi, a 40-year-old White House legal aide with a record of opposing and undermining rights for women, LGBTQ people and communities of color. Every Republican on the committee voted to send Menashi’s nomination to the Senate floor for his confirmation vote. Every Democrat voted no.”

Bernie Sanders Says Migrants Who Have Spent 5 Years in the U.S. Should Get to Stay, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday called for ending virtually all of the Trump administration’s immigration policies and creating a ‘swift, fair pathway to citizenship’ for undocumented immigrants, including by allowing people who have been in the United States illegally for five years to stay without the risk of deportation. Mr. Sanders’s immigration proposals are among the most progressive offered by a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date and, should they be enacted, would substantially reshape federal policy.”

Elizabeth Warren wins 2020 backing of influential group of black women, Associated Press, Errin Haines, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “A group of more than 100 black female activists is endorsing Elizabeth Warren for president, saying her stances on a range of issues speak directly to black voters. In a letter released on Thursday, the group Black Womxn For says its endorsement is an extension of activism that has helped shape a progressive agenda in the 2020 Democratic primary. The group calls Warren a ‘leader’ and ‘partner’ with a proven track record and understanding of structural racism and inequality who is willing to be held accountable. The group’s director, Angela Peoples, says she hopes the letter will encourage other black women to support the Massachusetts senator publicly.”

Bill Gates Objects to Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax, and She Offers to Explain, The New York Times, Jacey Fortin, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday invited the billionaire Bill Gates to meet so she could allay his worries about her plans to raise taxes on the wealthy and explain ‘exactly how much’ he would pay.”

Joe Biden: An Anti-Endorsement, The Nation, Editorial, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Biden’s long record of poor judgment—on everything from the 1994 crime bill that fueled mass incarceration to his botched handling of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas to his defense of Bill Clinton’s brutal welfare cuts to his support for the Iraq War to his role as cheerleader for Wall Street deregulation—renders him [a weak] opponent for a president whose reelection poses a clear and present danger to America’s survival as a constitutional republic…. On issue after issue, Biden’s candidacy offers Trump a unique opportunity to muddy what should be a devastatingly clear choice. The Nation therefore calls on Biden to put service to country above personal ambition and withdraw from the race.”

Top Environmental Protection Agency official Ryan Jackson and the agency’s independent watchdog are engaged in a standoff that the inspector general calls a ‘flagrant problem,’ The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 7 November 2019: “Environmental Protection Agency officials are in a standoff with the agency’s independent watchdog over a probe of EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson’s efforts to influence a scientist ahead of her congressional testimony, with each side questioning the other’s legal authority. In a letter released publicly Wednesday, acting EPA inspector general Charles J. Sheehan informed Congress that his office had encountered a ‘flagrant problem’ in light of Jackson’s refusal to cooperate with an ongoing audit and investigation focused on his activities while in office.”