Trump Administration, Week 148, Friday, 15 November – Thursday, 21 November 2019 (Days, 1,030-1,036)


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, 15 November 2019, Day 1,030:


Marie Yovanovitch, Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, ‘Devastated’ as Trump Vilified Her, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 15 November 2019: “The former United States ambassador to Ukraine told the House impeachment inquiry on Friday that she felt threatened by President Trump and ‘shocked, appalled, devastated’ that he vilified her in a call with another foreign leader, as Mr. Trump attacked her in real time on Twitter, drawing a stern warning about witness intimidation from Democrats. The extraordinary back-and-forth unfolded on the second day of public impeachment hearings as Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was ousted as the envoy to Ukraine on Mr. Trump’s orders, detailed an unsettling campaign by the president’s allies to undermine her as she pushed to promote democracy and the rule of law. In deeply personal terms, Ms. Yovanovitch described to the House Intelligence Committee how Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, worked hand in hand with a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor to circumvent official channels, smear her and push her out of her job.” See also, Key Takeaways From Marie Yovanovitch’s Hearing in the Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Marie L. Yovanovitch recounted in powerful and personal terms on Friday the devastation and fear she felt as she was targeted first by President Trump’s allies and later by the president himself, saying she felt threatened. Removed from her post as ambassador to Ukraine, Ms. Yovanovitch said she was bereft when she came under fire from the president’s personal attorney and eldest son last spring, but was even more stunned in September when she learned that Mr. Trump himself had disparaged her in his now-famous July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president. ‘It was a terrible moment,’ she told the House Intelligence Committee on the second day of public impeachment hearings. ‘A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction. I think, you know, even now, words kind of fail me.’ In the July call, according to a rough transcript released by the White House, Mr. Trump called Ms. Yovanovitch ‘bad news’ and said that ‘she’s going to go through some things.’ Asked her reaction when she read that, Ms. Yovanovitch said: ‘Shocked. Appalled. Devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that to a foreign head of state — and it was me. I mean, I couldn’t believe it.’ Asked what the words ‘going to go through some things’ sounded like to her, she said, ‘It sounded like a threat.'” See also, Read Marie Yovanovitch’s Prepared Opening Statement From the Impeachment Hearing, The New York Times, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Marie Yovanovitch’s Account of Acid Attack on a Young Anticorruption Activist Spotlights Ukraine’s Anticorruption Wars, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Friday, 15 November 2019: “On the April night she answered a 1 a.m. phone call instructing her to take the next plane back to Washington, Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted United States ambassador to Ukraine, was at her home in Kiev — after having just finished hosting an event to honor a young anticorruption activist who had been killed in horrific fashion. The activist, Kateryna Handziuk, was outside her home in the Ukrainian city of Kherson in July 2018 when someone splashed her with a quart of sulfuric acid, severely burning more than 30 percent of her body. After 11 surgeries over three months, Ms. Handziuk succumbed to her excruciating wounds. She was 33. In public impeachment hearings, the former ambassador testified Friday about the chronology of her abrupt recall from Ukraine after a campaign of unsubstantiated allegations against her that reached President Trump. Speaking before a House committee, she also spotlighted Ms. Handziuk’s story, and underscored why she had been honoring her legacy that April night in an official award ceremony attended by Ms. Handziuk’s father. ‘She very tragically died because she was attacked by acid, and several months later died a very, very painful death,’ Ms. Yovanovitch testified. ‘We thought it was important that justice be done for Katya and others who fight corruption in Ukraine because it’s not kind of a tabletop exercise there. Their lives are in the balance.'” See also, Who Is Marie Yovanovitch? Former Ambassador to Ukraine Testifies in Impeachment Hearing. The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Impeachment Briefing: What Happened Today, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Trump Attack on Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch During Her Testimony Raised Charges of Witness Intimidation, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 15 November 2019: “President Trump on Friday attacked Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine he summarily removed this year, even as she testified in the impeachment inquiry about how she felt threatened by Mr. Trump. Did his behavior amount to witness tampering? If the question is what could be charged in court, the answer is probably not. But impeachment is not limited to ordinary crimes. As House Democrats weigh bringing articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump — including one potentially based on his obstruction of congressional investigations — the president’s Twitter onslaught may well have handed them more fodder. As Ms. Yovanovitch was telling the House Intelligence Committee about the devastation and fear she felt this year when she was targeted first by Mr. Trump’s allies and later by the president himself during a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Trump fired off a tweet denigrating her anew. ‘Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?’ Mr. Trump wrote, assailing her on Twitter to his 66 million followers.” See also, Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified at the impeachment hearing of Trump, and State Department career diplomat David Holmes says Trump asked about ‘investigation’ into Bidens by Ukraine, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Democrats are seeking to build a case that Trump sought to withhold military assistance and an Oval Office meeting until Zelensky announced investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to hurt Trump.” See also, ‘Stand up’: Marie Yovanovitch uses moment in the spotlight to call on U.S. leaders to defend diplomatic corps, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch began her testimony in the House impeachment hearing Friday with praise for Ukrainians who took a stand against corruption in their country in a 2014 movement called the Revolution of Dignity. The reference doubled as a call to action that she directed at U.S. leaders — a pointed reminder of their obligation to defend the dignity of civilian career diplomats around the world. Yovanovitch — who was abruptly yanked from her post in Kyiv after being targeted in a smear campaign that reached President Trump — warned that the State Department was ‘being hollowed out’ and in ‘crisis.’ She called on its leadership ‘to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution the most effective diplomatic force in the world.’ The testimony of the former ambassador put a compelling human face on a complex international scandal that has involved a cast of unfamiliar Ukrainian characters, descriptions of shadowy back-channels and constitutional debates… [O]ver and over again, Yovanovitch sought to turn the focus away from her personally and back on the larger implications of her ouster. ‘Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want,’ she said. ‘After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the ambassador represents the president’s views? And what U.S. ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they cannot count on our government to support them?'” See also, 4 takeaways from Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Who is Marie Yovanovitch, and why does her public testimony matter? The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Defiant Yovanovitch says she was ‘kneecapped’ amid Trump ‘smear campaign,’ Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Friday, 15 November 2019: “The ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Friday she was the target of a ‘smear campaign’ by President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — an effort she said undermined U.S. national security interests and emboldened Russia. Marie Yovanovitch, delivering emotional public testimony before House impeachment investigators, told lawmakers she was ‘kneecapped’ by Americans who allied themselves with corrupt Ukrainian interests, and was abandoned by State Department leaders who refused to publicly defend her.” See also, Witness intimidation in real-time’: Democrats see more evidence of Trump obstruction, Politico, Sarah Ferris, Melanie Zanona, and John Bresnahan, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Ousted Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Testifies in Impeachment Probe–Live Coverage, The Wall Street Journal, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Impeachment inquiry hearing with Marie Yovanovitch, former US Ambassador to Ukraine, CNN Politics, Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Read: Adam Schiff’s opening remarks at second public impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Read: Devin Nunes’ opening remarks at second public impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Friday, 15 November 2019.

Rough Transcript of Trump’s First Phone Call With Ukrainian Leader Is Released. The call does not mention ‘corruption,’ which appeared in an earlier description of the conversation. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 15 November 2019: “President Trump on Friday released a memorandum of an April telephone conversation he had with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that differed from a summary of the call released by the White House months ago. The memorandum of the call, which took place after Mr. Zelensky won a landslide presidential election, shows the two men praising each other’s political acumen and predicting an era of warm relations between the United States and Ukraine….  But a White House readout of the call in April offers a different account. In that summary, provided to reporters shortly after the call took place, the administration said that Mr. Trump promised to work with Mr. Zelensky ‘to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity and root out corruption.'” See also, Read Trump’s First Call in April With the New Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, The New York Times, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, Rough transcript of call shows Ukraine leader Zelensky wanted Trump to attend his inauguration, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Ukraine’s incoming president, Volodymyr Zelensky, repeatedly asked President Trump to attend his inauguration during their first phone call in April, according to a White House rough transcript of the call released Friday…. The rough transcript of the call does not match the White House readout of the call from April 21. A White House readout is the administration’s post-call description of the conversation. The White House readout said the call underscored ‘the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’ The readout also said Trump spoke with Zelensky about ‘reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity and root out corruption.'” See also, White House releases rough transcript of Trump’s first Ukraine call, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Kaitlan Collins, and Kylie Atwood, Friday, 15 November 2019.

David Holmes, an Official From the American Embassy in Ukraine, Confirms Trump Asked About Whether Ukraine Was Going to Move Forward With an Investigation He Wanted Into One of His Leading Political Rivals, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 15 November 2019: “An official from the United States Embassy in Kiev confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he had overheard a call between President Trump and a top American diplomat in July in which the president asked whether Ukraine was going to move forward with an investigation he wanted. The official, David Holmes, testified privately that he was at a restaurant in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when he overheard Mr. Trump on a cellphone call loudly asking Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, if Ukraine’s president had agreed to conduct an investigation into one of his leading political rivals. Mr. Sondland, who had just come from a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and the country’s president, replied in the affirmative. ‘So, he’s going to do the investigation?’ Mr. Trump asked, according to a copy of Mr. Holmes’s opening statement posted by CNN and confirmed by The New York Times.” See also, David Holmes, a US official in Kiev, says he overheard Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, tell Trump that Ukraine would investigate Biden, CNN Politics, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, Friday, 15 November 2019: “David Holmes told lawmakers in a closed-door impeachment inquiry Friday that US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had told Trump the Ukrainian President would do ‘anything you ask him to’ and that Sondland had confirmed the Ukrainians were going to ‘do the investigation,’ one day after Trump had asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a copy of Holmes’ opening statement obtained by CNN.” See also, Read: State Department aide David Holmes’ opening statement, CNN Politics, Friday, 15 November 2019. See also, The Impeachment Inquiry Reveals the Absurdity of Claims That Trump Wanted to Clean up the Corruption in Ukraine, The New York Times, Editorial Board, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Republican defenders of Donald Trump have argued that he withheld congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine and a promised White House meeting because he wanted assurances that Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was serious about fighting corruption. Sworn testimony in the House impeachment inquiry on Friday obliterated that defense, revealing that Mr. Trump was interested in assurances of a very different kind. David Holmes, an official in the American Embassy in Kiev, testified to lawmakers privately that he had overheard a telephone conversation in which the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, assured the American president that his Ukrainian counterpart ‘loves your ass’ and will do ‘anything you ask him to,’ including to open investigations into the family of Mr. Trump’s leading Democratic rival, Joe Biden.” See also, Impeachment witness David Holmes provides firsthand account of hearing Trump demand ‘investigation’ of the Bidens by Ukraine, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, John Hudson, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 15 November 2019: “President Trump specifically inquired about political investigations he wanted carried out by Ukraine during a July phone call with a top U.S. diplomat who then told colleagues that the president was most interested in a probe into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, a State Department aide said Friday in closed-door testimony that could significantly advance House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. David Holmes, an embassy staffer in Kyiv, testified that he overheard a July 26 phone call in which Trump pressed U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would ‘do the investigation,’ according to three people who have read his opening statement and spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe its contents.” See also, A Friday night surprise: David Holmes throws a wrench in Trump’s impeachment defense, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Saturday, 16 November 2019.

Continue reading Week 148, Friday, 15 November – Thursday, 21 November 2019 (Days 1,030-1,036)

The Sober Clarity of the Impeachment Witnesses, The New Yorker, David Remnick, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Impeachment is a grave business, and the risks are manifest. But no democracy can overlook evidence of abuse of power, bribery, and obstruction in the hope that an election will set things right.” See also, The Key Moments of the Trump Impeachment Hearings, The New Yorker, Friday, 15 November 2019.

Roger Stone Is Convicted of Obstructing One of Congress’s Russian Investigations in a Bid to Protect Trump, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Zach Montague, Friday, 15 November 2019: “For decades, Roger J. Stone Jr. played politics as a kind of performance art, starring himself as a professional lord of mischief, as a friend once called him. He tossed bombs and spun tales from the political periphery with no real reckoning, burnishing a reputation as a dirty trickster. On Friday morning, a reckoning arrived, the consequence of his efforts to sabotage a congressional investigation that threatened his longtime friend President Trump. Mr. Stone, 67, was convicted in federal court of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies. Jurors deliberated for a little over seven hours before convicting him on all counts. Together, the charges carry a maximum prison term of 50 years.” See also, Roger Stone is guilty on all counts of lying to Congress and witness tampering, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 15 November 2019: “A federal jury on Friday convicted longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone of tampering with a witness and lying to Congress about his efforts to learn of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” See also, Roger Stone was found guilty. Now all eyes turn to Trump. Politico, Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Roger Stone is guilty, and now his future might rest in Donald Trump’s hands. A federal jury on Friday found the longtime Republican provocateur guilty on all charges for thwarting a House investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, opening up a political pandora’s box for a president already facing pressure from his conservative base to issue a pardon.” See also, Roger Stone Found Guilty of Lying to Congress and Witness Tampering. The trial focusd on the role of the Republican operative as conduit between the Trump 2016 campaign and the organization WikiLeaks. The Wall Street Journal, Byron Tau and Shelby Holliday, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Roger Stone, a flamboyant Republican operative and longtime adviser to President Trump, was found guilty Friday of lying to Congress and witness tampering, making him the latest member of the president’s circle to be convicted on federal charges. Mr. Stone was found guilty on all charges: five counts of false statements, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of a congressional proceeding. In a trial lasting just over a week, prosecutors made the case that he engaged in an effort to mislead Congress about his efforts to make contact with the organization WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.” See also, Trump associate Roger Stone found guilty of lies that protected Trump, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Geneva Sands, Veronica Stracqualursi, and Giulia McDonnell, Friday, 15 November 2019.

Trump pardons three service members in war-crimes cases, despite Pentagon opposition to the move, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Friday, 15 November 2019: “President Trump intervened in three cases involving war-crimes accusations Friday, issuing full pardons to two U.S. soldiers and reversing disciplinary action against a Navy SEAL despite opposition raised by military justice experts and some senior Pentagon officials…. The service members were notified by Trump over the phone late Friday afternoon, according to lawyers for Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn and former Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, the Navy SEAL. Golsteyn faced a murder trial scheduled for next year, while Gallagher recently was acquitted of murder and convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq. The third service member, former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, was expected to be released Friday night from prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013 and sentenced to 19 years for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three men in Afghanistan.” See also, Trump Clears Three Service Members in War Crimes Cases, Overruling Military Leaders Who Had Sought to Punish Them, The New York Times, Dave Philipps, Friday, 15 November 2019: “President Trump cleared three members of the armed services on Friday who have been accused or convicted of war crimes, overruling military leaders who had sought to punish them. All three have been championed by conservative lawmakers and commentators, who have portrayed them as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle…. The moves signaled that as commander in chief, Mr. Trump intends to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice in ways unlike any other president in modern times. Top military leaders have pushed back hard against clearing the three men. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy have argued that such a move would undermine the military code of justice, and would serve as a bad example to other troops in the field, administration officials said.”

Trump Asks Supreme Court to Block House Subpoena for His Tax Records. Trump’s request to Supreme Court is his second in as many days. Bloomberg, Friday, 15 November 2019: “President Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a House subpoena for his financial records, urging the court for the second time in as many days to insulate him from an investigation. A day after asking the justices to stop his tax returns from being turned over to a New York prosecutor, Trump on Friday filed an emergency request designed to ensure House Democrats don’t get access to his financial records while he presses an appeal in a separate case. Together, the two cases are pulling the Supreme Court into the divisive battle over alleged wrongdoing in Trump’s personal and business dealings.” See also, Trump appeals to Supreme Court again, this time to block House committee’s subpoena seeking his financial records, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 15 November 2019: “For the second day in a row, President Trump asked the Supreme Court on Friday to protect his personal and business financial records from disclosure, this time to a congressional committee. Trump’s private lawyers asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to put a hold on an appeals court decision that said the House Oversight and Reform Committee was within its rights to subpoena the information from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA.”

After Outcry, Court Stops Execution of Rodney Reed in Texas, The New York Times, Manny Fernandez and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Friday, 15 November 2019: “A Texas prisoner who has long claimed his innocence in the murder of a woman 23 years ago was days away from his execution on Friday when an appeals court stepped in to suspend his death sentence indefinitely. The dramatic decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas halted the execution of the prisoner, Rodney Reed, and ordered the court where he was originally tried to consider new evidence in the case, including testimony from eyewitnesses who have come forward in recent months pointing toward the victim’s fiancé as another suspect.”

Federal judge declares Florida ballots are unconstitutional and orders change, The Washington Post, Lori Rozsa, Friday, 15 November 2019: “A federal judge in Florida ordered the state Friday to change the way candidates are listed on election ballots — a decision that Democrats in the crucial swing state say will finally take away an unfair advantage Republicans have enjoyed for years. Democrats called the decision ‘monumental.’ The state said it will appeal. The current law says that whichever party holds the governor’s office can list its candidates first on the ballot in general elections. That hurts an opposing party, U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker said.”

Federal Prosecutors Probe Giuliani’s Links to Ukrainian Energy Projects, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Rudy Giuliani stood to profit personally from a Ukrainian natural-gas business pushed by two associates who also aided his efforts there to launch investigations that could benefit President Trump, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pitched their new company, and plans for a Poland-to-Ukraine pipeline carrying U.S. natural gas, in meetings with Ukrainian officials and energy executives this year, saying the project had the support of the Trump administration, according to people briefed on the meetings. In many of the same meetings, the two men also pushed for assistance on investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and alleged interference by Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election, some of the people said.”

Michael Bloomberg Will Spend $100 Million on Anti-Trump Online Ad Blitz, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Michael R. Bloomberg still has not declared whether he is running for president in 2020. He is about to become the single biggest spender in the presidential race anyway. Ahead of a potential campaign announcement, Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York City, is beginning a $100 million digital campaign designed to attack and define President Trump in the top battleground states seen as likely to decide the 2020 election. The ads will go online on Friday in four states — Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and run through the end of the primary season, even if Mr. Bloomberg is not in the race.”

Elizabeth Warren Vows to Expand Health Coverage in First 100 Days, The New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Thomas Kaplan, and Margot Sanger-Katz, Friday, 15 November 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren vowed on Friday to pass major health care legislation in her first 100 days as president, unveiling a new, detailed plan to significantly expand public health insurance coverage as a first step, and promising to pass a ‘Medicare for all’ system by the end of her third year in office that would cover all Americans. The initial bill she would seek to pass if elected would be a step short of the broader Medicare for all plan she has championed. But it would substantially expand the reach and generosity of public health insurance, creating a government plan that would offer free coverage to all American children and people earning less than double the federal poverty rate, or about $50,000 for a family of four, and that could be purchased by other Americans who want it. Ms. Warren has long endorsed a Medicare for all bill sponsored by one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But until now, she has not specified how quickly she would move to enact a health care plan. Friday’s proposal amounts to a detailed road map for eventually establishing Medicare for all, a single government-run health insurance program under which private coverage would be eliminated.”

California and nearly two dozen other states sue the Trump administration for the right to set fuel-efficiency standards, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 15 November 2019: “California and 22 other states sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, asking a federal court to block the Trump administration from stripping the nation’s most populous state of its long-standing authority to set its own fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks. ‘We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: California will not back down when it comes to protecting our people and our environment from preventable pollution,’ the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, said in a statement announcing the action. ‘No matter how many times the Trump administration attempts to sabotage our environmental progress, we will fight for clean air.'”


Saturday, 16 November 2019, Day 1,031:


Transcript: Marie Yovanovitch’s November 15th testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee, The Washington Post, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “On Friday, Nov. 15, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified to the House Intelligence Committee. Here is a full transcript of that hearing.”

Senior national security official Tim Morrison ties key official Gordon Sondland more closely to Trump on Ukraine in impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Karoun Demirjian, Michael Kranish, and Shane Harris, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “A former White House national security official told House investigators that Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, was acting at President Trump’s behest and spoke to a top Ukrainian official about exchanging military aid for political investigations — two elements at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, testified that between July 16 and Sept. 11, he understood that Sondland had spoken to Trump about half a dozen times, according to a transcript of his sworn Oct. 31 deposition released by House committees Saturday. Trump has said he does not know Sondland well and has tried to distance himself from the E.U. ambassador, whom Trump put in charge of Ukraine policy along with two others, even though Ukraine is not part of the European Union. ‘His mandate from the president was to go make deals,’ Morrison said of Sondland.” See also, White House Official Tim Morrison Testified John Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Withheld Aid to Ukraine, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, met privately with the president in August as part of a bid to persuade Mr. Trump to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators last month. The meeting, which has not been previously reported, came as Mr. Bolton sought to marshal Mr. Trump’s cabinet secretaries and top national security advisers to convince the president that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But Mr. Bolton emerged with Mr. Trump unmoved, and instructed the aide to look for new opportunities to get those officials in front of Mr. Trump. ‘The extent of my recollection is that Ambassador Bolton simply said he wasn’t ready to do it,’ said the aide, Timothy Morrison, referring to Mr. Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.” See also, Tim Morrison, a top White House national security aide, told impeachment investigators that Gordon Sondland said he was acting on Trump’s orders, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Blake Houndshell, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “Tim Morrison, a top White House national security aide, told impeachment investigators that Gordon Sondland — a U.S. ambassador at the center of the Ukraine scandal imperiling Donald Trump’s presidency — claimed to be acting on Trump’s orders, and in fact was regularly in touch with him. Though other impeachment witnesses have suggested Sondland has overstated his relationship with the president, Morrison said he was repeatedly able to confirm that the envoy did speak directly with Trump.”

Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, says the decision to delay aid to Ukraine was highly irregular, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Colby Itkowitz, and Erica Werner, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “A longtime budget official testified Saturday that the White House decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine in mid-July was highly irregular and that senior political appointees in the Office of Management and Budget were unable to provide an explanation for the delay. The testimony from Mark Sandy, the first employee of OMB to testify in the House impeachment probe, appeared to confirm Democrats’ assertion that the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in congressionally approved funds for Ukraine, including millions in lethal aid, was a political one. Sandy, the deputy associate director for national security programs at OMB, testified that he was instructed to sign the first of several apportionment letters in which budget officials formally instituted the freeze on funds, according to two people familiar with his testimony who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly. He was never given a specific reason as to why the letter was being sent out, the people added.”

Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence, said Trump’s Ukraine phone call was ‘unusual and inappropriate,’ Reuters, Jan Wolfe and Nandita Bose, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “The phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart at the center of Congress’ impeachment investigation was “inappropriate,” an aide to Vice President Mike Pence told lawmakers, according to a transcript released on Saturday. Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy aide to Pence who was listening to the call on July 25, testified that Trump’s insistence that Ukraine carry out politically sensitive investigations ‘struck me as unusual and inappropriate.’ She said the discussion was ‘more political in nature’ than phone calls with other foreign leaders, and included what she viewed as specific references to the president’s ‘personal political agenda.'” See also, Pence aide Jennifer Williams testified that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine were ‘inappropriate,’ Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Melanie Zanono, Saturday, 16 November 2019.

How a CIA analyst, alarmed by Trump’s shadow foreign policy, triggered an impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, and Paul Sonne, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “The lights are often on late into the evening at CIA headquarters, where a team of elite analysts works on classified reports that influence how the country responds to global crises. In early August, one of those analysts was staying after hours on a project with even higher stakes. For two weeks, he pored over notes of alarming conversations with White House officials, reviewed details from interagency memos on the U.S. relationship with Ukraine and scanned public statements by President Trump. He wove this material into a nine-page memo outlining evidence that Trump had abused the powers of his office to try to coerce Ukraine into helping him get reelected. Then, on Aug. 12, the analyst hit ‘send.’ His decision to report what he had learned to the U.S. intelligence community’s inspector general has transformed the political landscape of the United States, triggering a rapidly moving impeachment inquiry that now imperils Trump’s presidency. Over the past three months, the allegations made in that document have been overwhelmingly substantiated — by the sworn testimony of administration officials, the inadvertent admissions of Trump’s acting chief of staff and, most important, the president’s own words, as captured on a record of his July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine.”

In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump, The New York Times, Rick Rojas and Jeremy Alford, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, narrowly won re-election Saturday, overcoming the intervention of President Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to help Mr. Edwards’s Republican challenger and demonstrate his own clout. It was the second blow at the ballot box for Mr. Trump this month in a Republican-leaning state, following the Democratic victory in the Kentucky governor’s race, where the president also campaigned for the G.O.P. candidate. In Louisiana, Mr. Trump had wagered significant political capital to try to lift Eddie Rispone, a businessman who ran against Mr. Edwards in large part by embracing the president and his agenda. Mr. Trump campaigned for Mr. Rispone twice in the final two weeks of the race, warning Louisiana voters that a loss would reflect poorly on his presidency — the same appeal he made in Kentucky earlier this month to try to help Gov. Matt Bevin, who ultimately lost.” See also, In Louisiana, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards wins reelection, The Washington Post, Tim Craig and Derek Hawkins, published on Sunday, 17 November 2019.

Massachusetts Judge Shelley Joseph, Charged With Obstruction of Justice and Accused of Helping an Undocumented Immigrant Escape Detention, Has Signaled She Will Risk a Trial, The New York Times, Ellen Barry, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “When she was brought before a court this spring, charged with the federal crime of obstruction of justice, Judge Shelley Joseph did not look like a rebel. Her face was tear-streaked, and bore an expression of helpless dismay, as if she were struggling to take in the upside-down world in which she was the defendant. In April, she and a court officer, Wesley MacGregor, were accused of allowing an immigrant to evade detention by arranging for him to sneak out the back door of a courthouse. The federal prosecutor in Boston took the highly unusual step of charging the judge with obstruction of justice, setting off a debate over whether and how states can refrain from carrying out President Trump’s immigration policy.”

Elizabeth Warren’s Backup Backup Health Plan, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz, Saturday, 16 November 2019: “The Democratic presidential candidates have been fighting over whether they should try to replace the health insurance system with a single government-run plan or create a government-run plan that Americans could choose to join. But hidden outside this big debate is a harsh reality: If Democrats fail to retake control of the Senate, neither plan has much of a chance to become law. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, has allied herself with the ‘Medicare for all’ wing of the party, saying she would propose a single-payer system. But on Friday, she released a second plan, a sort of steppingstone along the way that would create a more optional government program. Her transition plan is engineered to pass with only a majority of Senate votes, instead of the 60 usually needed to overcome a filibuster.”


Sunday, 17 November 2019, Day 1,032:


Trump Retreats From Flavor Ban for E-Cigarettes, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman, and Sheila Kaplan, Sunday, 17 November 2019: “It was a swift and bold reaction to a growing public health crisis affecting teenagers. Seated in the Oval Office in September, President Trump said he was moving to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes as vaping among young people continued to rise. ‘We can’t have our kids be so affected,’ Mr. Trump said. The first lady, Melania Trump, who rarely involves herself publicly with policy announcements in the White House, was there, too. ‘She’s got a son,’ Mr. Trump noted, referring to their teenager, Barron. ‘She feels very strongly about it.’ But two months later, under pressure from his political advisers and lobbyists to factor in the potential pushback from his supporters, Mr. Trump has resisted moving forward with any action on vaping, while saying he still wants to study the issue.” See also, Trump backs off flavored vape ban he once touted, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Laurie McGinley, Sunday, 17 November 2019: “Everything seemed ready to go: President Trump’s ban on most flavored e-cigarettes had been cleared by federal regulators. Officials were poised to announce they would order candy, fruit and mint flavors off the market within 30 days — a step the president had promised almost two months earlier to quell a youth vaping epidemic that had ensnared 5 million teenagers…. As he had done so many times before, Trump reversed course — this time on a plan to address a major public health problem because of worries that apoplectic vape shop owners and their customers might hurt his reelection prospects, said White House and campaign officials. He also believed job losses tied to the ban would cost him as he sought to trumpet economic growth. It was the latest example of the chaotic way policy is made — and sometimes unmade — in a White House where the ultimate decider often switches gears after making a controversial vow, whether on combating gun violence, pulling troops from Syria or promising to deliver an Obamacare replacement plan.”

Republicans Shift Defense of Trump While He Attacks Another Witness, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sunday, 17 November 2019: “House Republicans, bracing for another week of impeachment hearings, asserted on Sunday that President Trump had done nothing wrong because his plans for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals never came to fruition — even as the president complicated their efforts by attacking another witness. On a day of back-and-forth on Twitter and the morning television talk shows that are a staple of Sundays in Washington, Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Mr. Trump to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, while the president’s allies shifted their emphasis away from the defense they offered last week, when they stressed that witnesses had only secondhand information against him. That argument may not work much longer, because lawmakers are about to hear from crucial witnesses who had direct contact with the president, including Gordon D. Sondland, a donor to and an ally of Mr. Trump who served as his liaison to Ukrainian officials while the president withheld — but later released — $391 million in military aid to Ukraine.”

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland Kept Several Trump Administration Officials, Including Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Apprised of His Effort to Get Ukraine to Launch Investigations That Trump Wanted, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Sunday, 17 September 2019: “A U.S. ambassador set to testify this week in the House impeachment inquiry kept several Trump administration officials apprised of his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations that President Trump would later discuss in a July call with his Ukrainian counterpart, emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who will be one of eight witnesses to testify in the inquiry’s second week of open hearings, is one of several people who has linked a holdup of security aid to Ukraine over the summer with investigations that Mr. Trump sought. Mr. Sondland’s conversations with Mr. Trump about the investigations, including one revealed last week in another ambassador’s testimony, has made him a central figure to Democrats’ investigation. Several witnesses have testified to impeachment investigators that they were alarmed by what they perceived as dual channels of U.S. policy on Ukraine—one traditional, and the other led by Mr. Sondland and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, which focused on the president’s push for certain investigations. Mr. Sondland kept several top officials—including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry—apprised of that push, according to the emails reviewed by the Journal, in the weeks leading up to Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart that spurred a whistleblower complaint and, ultimately, the impeachment probe.”

White House Official Timothy Morrison Feared Trump Transcript Leak Could Be Politically Damaging, The Wall Street Journal, Dustin Volz, Andrew Duehren, and Natalie Andrews, Sunday, 17 November 2019: “A White House official sought to restrict access to a rough transcript of a July call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart because the official feared that a leak of the conversation could be politically damaging, according to the official’s testimony to House impeachment investigators. Timothy Morrison, who until recently served as a senior national-security official in the Trump administration, said he approached White House lawyers after the call ended to ask whether the rough transcript should be closely guarded to prevent its contents from becoming public. The transcript of the call, which was later released by the White House after questions were raised about the conversation, was ultimately placed on a secure server typically reserved for national-security secrets.”


Monday, 18 November 2019, Day 1,033:


In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law, The New York Times, Lara Jakes and David M. Halbfinger, Monday, 18 November 2019: “The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, reversing four decades of American policy and removing what has been an important barrier to annexation of Palestinian territory. The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the latest political gift from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed in two elections this year to push for the annexation of the West Bank. His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has until Wednesday night to gather a majority in Israel’s Parliament or he will relinquish his chance to form a new government, raising the prospect of a third round of elections. The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the United Nations, European governments and American allies across the Middle East.” See also, Trump administration says Israel’s West Bank settlements do not violate international law, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Steve Hendrix, and John Hudson, Monday, 18 November 2019: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the Trump administration had determined that Israel’s West Bank settlements do not violate international law, a decision he said had ‘increased the likelihood’ of a Middle East peace settlement. The move upends more than 40 years of U.S. policy that has declared Israeli expansion into territories occupied since the 1967 war a major obstacle to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Impeachment Investigators Are Exploring Whether Trump Lied to Robert Mueller, The New York Times, Monday, 18 November 2019: “House Democrats are exploring whether President Trump lied in his written answers to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, a lawyer for the House told a federal appeals court on Monday, raising the prospect of an additional basis for an article of impeachment. The acknowledgment refocused attention on a quiet debate among Democrats about whether any impeachment of Mr. Trump should go beyond the Ukraine affair and also accuse him of obstructing the Russia investigation. Additional evidence, hidden in grand jury files, that Mr. Trump may have lied under oath to Mr. Mueller could bolster the case for an additional article of impeachment, Democratic aides said. The House lawyer’s statement was also striking because it came shortly after Mr. Trump said he may also be willing to provide written answers about the Ukraine matter to impeachment investigators.” See also, The House general counsel told a federal appeals court that the House is investigating whether Trump lied to Robert Mueller, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Spencer S. Hsu, and Rachael Bade, Monday, 18 November 2019: “House investigators are examining whether President Trump lied to former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, the House general counsel told a federal appeals court Monday in Washington. The statement came during arguments over Congress’s demand for the urgent release of secret grand jury evidence from Mueller’s probe of Russia’s 2016 election interference, with House lawyers detailing fresh concerns about Trump’s truthfulness that could become part of the impeachment inquiry.” See also, House investigating whether Trump lied to Robert Mueller, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Jeremy Herb, Monday, 18 November 2019.

Key Testimony in the Impeachment Inquiry: A ‘Threat,’ a ‘Drug Deal,’ and a ‘Troubling’ Call, The New York Times, Alicia Parlapiano, Weiyi Cai, and Karen Yourish, Monday, 18 November 2019: “In a stark break with diplomatic protocol, President Trump used a cadre of associates to conduct back-channel communications with Ukraine to pressure its government to investigate Democrats, according to witnesses testifying in the impeachment hearings. Here’s what key witnesses say happened.” See also, The full Trump-Ukraine impeachment timeline, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Philip Bump, and Irfan Uraizee, Monday, 18 November 2019. See also, Ukraine: The quid pro quo evidence so far, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Monday, 18 November 2019.

David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, says Ukraine ‘gradually came to understand’ Trump’s desired investigation was tied to military aid and to a meeting with Trump, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian, Ellen Nakashima, and Elise Viebeck, Monday, 18 November 2019: “A counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine told lawmakers last week that he was shocked to overhear a phone call in which a top diplomat assured President Trump that Ukrainian officials would pursue an investigation of interest to the U.S. commander in chief — a probe that the diplomat later suggested was of former vice president Joe Biden, Trump’s political rival. The counselor, David Holmes, also testified that the Ukrainians ‘gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something in exchange’ for a White House meeting or military aid, which was held back as the president and his allies pressed for the Biden investigation, according to a transcript of his testimony released Monday.” See also, Full transcript of testimony of David Holmes, embassy staffer in Kyiv, The Washington Post, Monday, 18 November 2019. See also, U.S. State Department officials knew that Ukrainian President Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate Joe Biden even before the July phone call, Associated Press, Desmond Butler and Michael Biesecker, Monday, 18 November 2019: “U.S. State Department officials were informed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden even before the July phone call that has led to impeachment hearings in Washington, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press. In early May, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were told Zelenskiy was seeking advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in, the two people told the AP. He was concerned President Donald Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race, the two individuals said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue.”

Jimmy Finkelstein, the owner of The Hill, has flown under the radar. But he has played a key role in the Ukraine scandal. CNN Business. Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter, Monday, 18 November 2019: “James ‘Jimmy’ Finkelstein, the owner of The Hill newspaper, is not a widely known media executive, but he is one of the era’s most consequential. Finkelstein resides at the nexus of President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and John Solomon, the now-former executive at The Hill and current Fox News contributor who pushed conspiracy theories about Ukraine into the public conversation. While Solomon has received significant media attention for his work at The Hill, Finkelstein has stayed out of the headlines, despite having himself played a crucial role in the saga. Beyond his relationship with Solomon, Trump, and Giuliani, Finkelstein was Solomon’s direct supervisor at The Hill and created the conditions which permitted Solomon to publish his conspiratorial stories without the traditional oversight implemented at news outlets. And he has kept a watchful eye on the newspaper’s coverage to ensure it is not too critical of the President…. Finkelstein has been friends with Trump for decades. In fact, according to a former employee at The Hill, he ‘boasts that he’s a close friend’ of the President.”

House Democrats Adopt a Sharper, Simpler Vocabulary in Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Monday, 18 November 2019: “House Democrats, confident that public support is growing for their impeachment inquiry as they head into a second week of nationally televised hearings, are sharpening their tone as they make their case that President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in a bid to force its leader to investigate his political rivals. Quid pro quo is out. Extortion and bribery are in. The shift was inaugurated last week by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when she said the ‘devastating testimony’ delivered by top diplomats ‘corroborated evidence of bribery.’ On Monday, the speaker kicked it up a notch, using the word ‘extortion’ to address Republican claims that there was no wrongdoing because Mr. Trump eventually released the aid. ‘The fact is, the aid was only released after the whistle-blower exposed the truth of the President’s extortion and bribery,’ she wrote in a letter to her Democratic colleagues, ‘and the House launched a formal investigation.'”

Chief Justice John Roberts Gives Trump Temporary Reprieve in Financial Records Case, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 18 November 2019: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Monday temporarily blocked an appeals court ruling that required President Trump to turn over financial records to a House committee. The brief order gave no reasons and served to maintain the status quo while the justices decided how to proceed. In a letter to the court earlier on Monday, lawyers for the committee said they did not oppose a brief interim stay. In entering one, the chief justice ordered the committee’s lawyers to file papers on whether to grant a longer stay by Thursday. If the justices grant a longer stay, they will next consider whether to hear Mr. Trump’s appeal.” See also, Supreme Court puts temporary hold on Trump financial records ruling, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 18 November 2019.

IRS whistleblower case advances as Senate staff looks at whether political appointee meddled with audit of Trump or Pence, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Tom Hamburger, Monday, 18 November 2019: “Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service. Staff members for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are expected to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.” See also, I.R.S. Whistle-Blower Met With Senate Staff Members, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Monday, 18 November 2019: “Senate Finance Committee staff members met this month with an Internal Revenue Service whistle-blower who has alleged that senior Treasury Department officials tried to exert influence over the mandatory audit of President Trump’s tax returns, a congressional aide said on Monday. The whistle-blower contacted the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee over the summer and accused political appointees in the Treasury Department of improperly involving themselves in the audit and putting pressure of some kind on senior officials in the I.R.S. The Ways and Means Committee has been reviewing the allegations, which were included in a complaint, and in early November the staffs of Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Finance Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the panel’s top Democrat, interviewed the I.R.S. employee.”

The White Nationalist Websites Cited by Stephen Miller, The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Jason DeParle, Monday, 18 November 2019: “Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDARE, believes that diversity has weakened the United States, and that the increase in Spanish speakers is a ‘ferocious attack on the living standards of the American working class.’ Jared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance, is a self-described ‘white advocate’ who has written that ‘newcomers are not the needy; they are the greedy.’ Their websites were among the sources cited by Stephen Miller, the White House aide who is the driving force behind President Trump’s immigration policies, in emails and conversations with conservative allies at Breitbart News when he was a young Senate aide. A cache of those emails, obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, provides new insight into the ideas that have shaped Mr. Miller’s thinking and suggest he has maintained deeper intellectual ties to the world of white nationalism than previously known.”

Senior Trump administration official Mina Chang resigns after embellishing her resumé, NBC News, Dan De Luce, Laura Strickler, and Ari Sen, Monday, 18 November 2019: “Senior Trump administration official Mina Chang resigned from her job at the State Department two and a half hours after NBC News went to her spokesperson to ask about newly discovered false claims she had made about her charity work. NBC News had previously reported that Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, had embellished her resume with misleading claims about her educational achievements and the scope of her nonprofit’s work — even posting a fake cover of Time magazine with her face on it.”


Tuesday, 19 November 2019, Day 1,034:


Impeachment Briefing: What Happened Today, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “It was a long day on Capitol Hill, as four witnesses testified before House impeachment investigators over a span of more than 11 hours. Here’s a recap of the biggest moments, and some analysis about what it all meant. In the morning, impeachment investigators held a joint hearing with Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Both listened to the July 25 phone call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is at the center of the inquiry. In the afternoon, they heard testimony from Kurt D. Volker, Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Ukraine, and Timothy Morrison, a former top National Security Council official. Both were on the witness list that Republicans submitted.” See also, Key Moments from the Impeachment Inquiry Hearing: Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, Jennifer Williams, Timothy Morrison, and Kurt D. Volker, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Vindman and Williams: What We Learned From their Testimony, New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Two top national security officials offered new details about President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine as they appeared for testimony during the second week of public hearings in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. At issue is whether Mr. Trump abused his power by holding out security aid and a coveted White House meeting from the Ukrainian government in exchange for an announcement from Ukraine’s president of investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically. Here are the new revelations from the officials, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams.” See also, Read Alexander Vindman’s Prepared Opening Statement From the Impeachment Hearing, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Read Jennifer Williams’s Prepared Opening Statement From the Impeachment Hearing, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Read Tim Morrison’s Prepared Opening Statement From the Impeachment Hearing, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Read Kurt Volker’s Prepared Opening Statement From the Impeachment Hearing, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Officials Testify That Trump Requests on Ukraine Call Were Inappropriate, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Two White House national security officials testified before the House’s impeachment inquiry on Tuesday that President Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic rivals was inappropriate, and one of them said it validated his “worst fear” that American policy toward that country would veer off course. Hours later, two more witnesses — another former White House national security official and a former top American diplomat — charted a more careful course but said under oath that the president’s requests on a July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were not in line with American national security goals.” See also, Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine, says he should have recognized push for investigation into Ukrainian company was connected to Biden, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine, testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon that he should have realized President Trump’s true motives in demanding that Ukraine investigate Burisma, a natural gas company that employed former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Volker testified alongside Tim Morrison, a former senior National Security Council official, as Democrats press forward with their impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Their remarks came after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, another NSC official, and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, testified earlier Tuesday. Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, said he was alarmed by Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which Vindman called ‘improper.’ Democrats are seeking to prove that Trump leveraged military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for investigations of the Bidens and other Democrats.” See also, 7 takeaways from Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “After three witnesses last week painted a broad picture of a U.S. foreign policy hijacked by political interests, this week the impeachment inquiry into President Trump began with testimony Tuesday from four people who serve inside the White House and on the front lines of U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.” See also, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman reveals in testimony that he told an intelligence official about Trump’s call with Ukrainian leader, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told a House investigative committee Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence official about President Trump’s July 25 request that Ukraine investigate his political opponents, but he declined to identify the official when pressed to do so. His refusal came as Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Republican — who kicked off the hearing by calling for the testimony of the whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment investigation — asked witnesses to identify anyone outside the White House with whom they shared details of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.” See also, ‘Improper’ and ‘unusual’: White House aides criticize Trump’s Ukraine call, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Election meddling, an ‘improper’ call, and twins: What we learned in Vindman and Williams’ testimony, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Quint Forgey, and Abbey Marshall, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Impeachment Hearing: Witnesses Testify on Concerns About Trump-Zelensky Call, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Dustin Volz, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Three current and former national-security officials testified that they were immediately concerned by a July 25 call in which President Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to undertake investigations that could benefit him politically, in the third day of public impeachment hearings. A fourth witness, the former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, shed new light Tuesday on the extent of the influence wielded by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, over Mr. Trump’s views toward Ukraine. Taken together, the marathon day of hearings portrayed a White House in which officials were grappling in real time with the significance and potential political fallout of Mr. Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which would ultimately set off the House impeachment inquiry. In that call, which came shortly after the president ordered a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, Mr. Trump pushed Mr. Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and alleged 2016 Ukrainian election interference.” See also, Four Witnesses Testify Tuesday in Impeachment Hearings–Live Analysis, The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Key witnesses tell of concern over Trump’s ‘inappropriate’ Ukraine call, The Guardian, Tom McCarthy and Lauren Gambino, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Two witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have described their concern over an ‘unusual’ call between Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president in July, in which Trump ignored official talking points about fighting corruption to instead ‘demand’ an investigation tied to Joe Biden. ‘What I heard was inappropriate and I reported it,’ said Lt Col Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine adviser on the National Security Council. ‘I did so out of a sense of duty.’ Vindman and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to vice-president Mike Pence, became the first public witnesses to offer a direct description of the 25 July call in which Trump asked Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a political ‘favor.’ ‘It was improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigation of a US citizen and a political opponent,’ Vindman said. In a further blow to Trump and his defenders, a witness requested by Republicans, former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, said the investigations Trump requested of Zelenskiy amounted to ‘conspiracy theories’ and that ‘the allegations against Vice President Biden were self-serving and not credible.'” See also, Four key impeachment witnesses testify, CNN Politics, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, and Amanda Wills, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Read: Adam Schiff’s opening statement at November 19 public impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, Read: Devin Nunes’ opening remarks at November 19 public impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Tuesday, 19 November 2019. See also, ‘I have learned many things’: Kurt Volker revises Ukraine testimony, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “In perhaps one of the most glaring updates to his earlier testimony, Volker said that during a July 10 meeting at the White House with top Ukrainian officials, he now recalled that Sondland made a ‘generic comment about investigations’ and that ‘all of us thought it was inappropriate.'” See also, ‘I’m not in the loop’: Live highlights from Kurt Volker’s and Tim Morrison’s testimony, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Caitlin Oprysko, and Abbey Marshall, Tuesday, 19 November 2019.

Trump Takes Aim at His Own White House Aides, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “As Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman sat in a stately chamber testifying on Tuesday, the White House posted on its official Twitter account a message denouncing his judgment. His fellow witness, Jennifer Williams, had barely left the room when the White House issued a statement challenging her credibility. In President Trump’s Washington, where attacks on his enemies real or perceived have become so routine that they now often pass unnoticed, that might not seem all that remarkable — but for the fact that Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams both still work for the very same White House that was publicly assailing them. With the president’s allies joining in, the two aides found themselves condemned as nobodies, as plotting bureaucrats, as traitors within and, in Colonel Vindman’s case, as an immigrant with dual loyalties. Even for a president who rarely spares the rhetorical howitzer, that represents a new level of bombardment. Mr. Trump has publicly disparaged cabinet secretaries, former aides and career officials working elsewhere in the government, but now he is taking aim at people still working for him inside the White House complex by name. ‘This White House appears to be cannibalizing itself,’ said William C. Inboden, a former national security aide to President George W. Bush. ‘While many previous White House staffs have feuded with each other and leaked against each other, this is the first time in history I am aware of a White House openly attacking its own staff — especially for merely upholding their constitutional duties.'” See also, White House unleashes attacks on its own employee during impeachment testimony, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Tuesday, 19 November 2019.

Partisan Lawyers Seize Leading Roles in Impeachment Hearings, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “Lawmakers in the House are using the public impeachment hearings to highlight their respective views of President Trump’s unusual foreign policy with Ukraine. But two Intelligence Committee lawyers are asking many of the questions. According to special House rules, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, Adam B. Schiff, and the top Republican on the panel, Devin Nunes, both from California, can delegate some or all of their time to staff lawyers to question witnesses about the interactions of Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. The lawyers are not elected officials but have seized attention by asking questions about the investigations Mr. Trump and his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani wanted Ukraine to pursue into Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here is what we know about the lawyers, Daniel S. Goldman and Stephen R. Castor.”

The Pentagon’s inspector general said Trump’s pullout from Syria allowed ISIS to gain strength, Politico, Connor O’Brien, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw troops from northern Syria, combined with Turkey’s assault against Kurdish forces, allowed the Islamic State to strengthen its position there, the Pentagon’s inspector general said in a new report released on Tuesday. The withdrawal and incursion allowed ISIS to ‘reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad,’ the quarterly report from the lead inspector general on the U.S. military campaign against ISIS stated. The report cited information from the Defense Intelligence Agency.”

Judge denies Trump’s request to dismiss Summer Zervos defamation case, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi and Athena Jones, Tuesday, 19 November 2019: “A Manhattan judge has cleared the way for President Donald Trump to be deposed in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former ‘Apprentice’ contestant who has accused Trump of sexual assault. Trump’s legal team had argued that a stay is necessary ‘given the novel and important Constitutional issues involved,’ the ‘special considerations due’ their previous requests to dismiss the case, and to prevent ‘irreparable harm.’ But Associate Justice Dianne Renwick, who sits on the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, denied Trump’s effort to dismiss or delay the case, but agreed to fast-track a Trump motion to appeal a March decision that allowed the case to go forward.”


Wednesday, 20 November 2019, Day 1,035:


Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Says He Followed Trump’s Orders to Press Ukraine to Announce Investigations, and Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Other Top Administration Officials Knew, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael Schmidt, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “An ambassador at the center of the House impeachment inquiry testified on Wednesday that he was following President Trump’s orders, with the full knowledge of other top administration officials, when he pressured the Ukrainians to conduct investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals in what he called a clear ‘quid pro quo.’ Gordon D. Sondland, Mr. Trump’s envoy to the European Union, told the House Intelligence Committee that he reluctantly followed Mr. Trump’s directive. He testified that the president instructed him to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, as he pressured Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unsubstantiated theory that Democrats conspired with Kyiv to interfere in the 2016 election. ‘We followed the president’s orders,’ Mr. Sondland said. His appearance amounted to an act of defiance by an official who has been described by other witnesses as a point man in the push to extract the investigations. In his testimony, Mr. Sondland linked the most senior members of the Trump administration to the effort — including the vice president, the secretary of state, the acting chief of staff and others. He said they were informed of it at key moments, an account that severely undercut Mr. Trump’s frequent claims that he never pressured Ukraine.” See also, Read Gordon Sondland’s Opening Statement, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, 5 Key Things We Learned From Gordon Sondland, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, Key Moments From Sondland, Cooper, and Hale Testimony, The New York Times, Michael Shear and Peter Baker, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, Impeachment Briefing: What Happened in Gordon Sondland’s Hearing, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, Gordon Sondland acknowledges Ukraine quid pro quo and implicates Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, and others, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Aaron Davis, and Matt Zapotosky, published on Thursday, 21 November 2019: “A U.S. ambassador on Wednesday explicitly linked President Trump, Vice President Pence and other senior officials to what he came to believe was a campaign to pressure a foreign government to investigate Trump’s political rival in exchange for a coveted White House meeting and hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. The potentially historic, if hotly disputed, testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is the most damaging yet for Trump in Congress’s intensifying inquiry into whether the president should be impeached. More forcefully than he has before, Sondland declared that the Trump administration would not give Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a chance to visit the White House — unless Zelensky agreed to announce investigations that could help the president politically.” See also, Gordon Sondland’s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s Republican allies scrambling, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Kayla Epstein, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “The White House and President Trump’s allies scrambled on Wednesday to contain the damage from new allegations from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, whose testimony in front of impeachment investigators detailed an explicit “quid pro quo” with Ukraine at Trump’s ultimate directive.” See also, Gordon Sondland says he told Vice President Mike Pence that military aid to Ukraine appeared conditioned on political investigations into Trump’s political rivals, The Washington Post, Rosalind Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “Vice President Pence was informed just before meeting with the president of Ukraine in September that a U.S. ambassador believed that stalled military aid to Ukraine probably would not be released until Ukraine agreed to announce political investigations sought by President Trump, the envoy testified Wednesday. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told the House Intelligence Committee that he informed Pence of his fears just before the vice president met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Warsaw on Sept. 1, a meeting where Sondland anticipated that Zelensky was likely to ask about frozen U.S. aid.” See also, 5 takeaways from Gordon Sondland’s blockbuster testimony, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, ‘It was no secret’: Gordon Sondland says Trump ordered Ukraine pressure campaign, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “President Donald Trump’s top Europe envoy Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators Wednesday that Trump conditioned a valuable White House meeting for Ukraine’s new president on his willingness to launch investigations into Trump’s Democratic adversaries, including former Vice President Joe Biden. ‘Was there a quid pro quo?’ Sondland — a close Trump ally and longtime GOP donor — said in his opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee. ‘The answer is yes.'” See also, Impeachment Hearing: Gordon Sondland Says He Pursued Ukraine Probes at ‘Express Direction’ of Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Dustin Volz, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said Wednesday at a public hearing that ‘at the express direction’ of President Trump he urged Ukraine to announce investigations that would benefit the president politically. Mr. Sondland testified there was a ‘quid pro quo’ between a White House meeting for the new Ukrainian president and the investigations Mr. Trump sought, and explained in detail why he believed nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine had been linked to those probes. Democrats said his account backed up the central issue in the impeachment inquiry. Republicans questioned his memory and truthfulness and said he was overstating the evidence for his conclusion.” See also, ‘It was no secret’: Ambassador Gordon Sondland says quid pro quo came at ‘express direction of the President,’ CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, Wednesday, 20 November 2019.

Trump fights back against Gordon Sondland’s testimony: ‘I don’t know him very well,’ Politico, Quint Forgey, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “Clutching handwritten notes scrawled with a Sharpie, President Donald Trump on Wednesday fought back against bombshell impeachment testimony from Gordon Sondland that tied the president even closer to a quid pro quo involving Ukraine and investigations into Trump’s political rivals.” See also, Republicans defend Trump as concerned with Ukrainian corruption, but aides tell a different story, The Washington Post,  Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “Some of President Trump’s allies have argued that his motivation for holding up almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine was his deep-seated concern about corruption — and that he needed to test the new Ukrainian administration’s dedication to rooting it out…. But while there is widespread agreement that Ukraine has long struggled with corruption, recent congressional testimony, along with interviews with officials who worked closely with the president, raise questions about how much Trump cared about corruption broadly in Ukraine as opposed to investigations that stood to benefit him politically.”

Defense official Laura Cooper testifies that Ukrainians asked about status of security assistance on same day as Trump call, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, testified Wednesday that her staff received an inquiry from the Ukrainian Embassy asking about the status of the funds July 25, the same day as President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.” See also, 3 takeaways from Laura Cooper’s and David Hale’s testimony, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, offers evidence Ukrainians may have known about a hold on U.S. military assistance well before news of it broke in late August, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Nahal Toosi, and Caitlin Oprysko, Wednesday, 20 November 2019.

Lt. Col Alexander Vindman’s Lawyer Asks Fox News to Retract Espionage Allegation, The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman is hitting back at the smear campaign against him. A lawyer for Colonel Vindman, the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert, sent a warning letter to Fox News on Wednesday seeking a retraction or correction of an October segment hosted by one of the network’s biggest personalities, Laura Ingraham, which baselessly suggested that the colonel, a decorated Iraq war veteran, might be guilty of espionage.”

FBI seeks interview with CIA whistleblower, Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoff and Zach Dorfman, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “The FBI recently sought to question the CIA whistleblower who filed a complaint over President Trump’s July 25 Ukraine call — a move that came after a vigorous internal debate within the bureau over how to respond to some of the issues raised by the complaint’s allegations and whether they needed to be more thoroughly investigated, according to sources familiar with the matter.” See also, FBI asked to interview whistleblower, CNN Politics, David Shortell, Zachary Cohen, and Pamela Brown, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “The FBI asked last month to interview the intelligence community whistleblower who first raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine that ultimately sparked the House impeachment inquiry, a source familiar with the request confirmed to CNN…. It is not clear why the FBI wants to interview the whistleblower, and the source did not elaborate on the communication between the two sides. Yahoo News first reported the interview request.”

There Are Two Separate Impeachment Hearings Happening Right Now–and Republicans Are Winning Theirs, BuzzFeed News, Ryan Broderick, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “[T]here are two impeachment hearings unfolding in the nation’s capital. One, carried out by the Democrats, is designed to ascertain the truth as to whether Trump sought a ‘quid pro quo’ deal with Ukraine to get the country to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 presidential election in exchange for aid money. The other, being carried out simultaneously by the Republicans, is quite different. Instead of trying to learn the truth, it seeks to create not just a counternarrative but a completely separate reality. Each round of GOP questioning is not meant to interrogate the witnesses, which today included Sondland, but instead to create moments that can be flipped into Fox News segments, shared as bite-size Facebook posts, or dropped into 4chan threads. Their alternate universe — built from baseless online conspiracy theories and reading the tea leaves of Trump’s Twitter feed — dominates Fox News and Facebook. And the Republicans’ strategy, as confusing and bizarre as it may seem to those on the outside, is working.”

With Impeachment as Backdrop, Democrats Direct Fire at Trump in Debate, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “The Democratic presidential candidates yielded to the furor surrounding the impeachment inquiry in Washington in their primary debate on Wednesday, for the first time training their fire more steadily on President Trump than on one another and presenting a largely united front on vital issues like climate change and abortion rights. One month after the party’s moderate wing led a ferocious attack against Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at the previous debate, the leading Democrats opted to mute their rivalries and restrain their language, mainly detailing their disagreements in gentle or at most passive-aggressive terms.” See also, Fact-Checking the November Democratic Debate, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 November 2019. See also, What happened in the Democratic debate: Candidates squabble over black voters and draw contrasts with Trump, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Annie Linskey, and Toluse Olorunnipa, published on Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Transcript: The November Democratic debate, The Washington Post, published on Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Fact-checking the fifth Democratic presidential debate, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, published on Thursday, 21 November 2019.

The latest Keystone Pipeline oil leak is almost 10 times worse than initially thought, CNN, Elizabeth Wolfe and Brian Ries, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “The amount of land impacted by an oil spill in North Dakota is almost 10 times larger than initially reported, officials say. The disclosure comes about a month after the Keystone 1 Pipeline leaked about 383,040 gallons of oil.”

Judge halts all scheduled federal executions, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: “A judge has blocked the scheduled executions of four federal death row inmates, effectively freezing the Trump administration’s effort to resume imposing the death penalty in a federal system that saw its last execution more than a decade and a half ago. The order issued Wednesday night by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan halts four executions that U.S. officials planned to carry out starting next month. See also, Federal judge blocks Trump administration’s plans to resume executions, The Washington Post, Mark Berman and Meagan Flynn, published on Thursday, 21 November 2019: “A judge late Wednesday blocked the Trump administration’s plans to resume federal executions next month, determining that the Justice Department’s proposed lethal injection procedure ‘is not authorized’ by federal law. The order at least temporarily calls off four executions scheduled for December and January, which would have been the first carried out by the federal government since 2003. The Justice Department filed a notice Thursday that it intends to appeal and filed a request to stay the judge’s injunction.” See also, Judge Blocks Scheduled Executions of Federal Death Row Inmates, The New York Times, Katie Benner, published on Thursday, 21 November 2019: “A federal judge on Wednesday halted the executions of four federal prisoners that were scheduled to begin next month, essentially stymieing the Trump administration’s plan to resume the use of the death penalty. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an injunction late Wednesday that said that the executions would prevent the inmates from pursuing legal challenges to the use of lethal injection. Attorney General William P. Barr vowed to appeal the case up to the Supreme Court if necessary.”


Thursday, 21 October 2019, Day 1,036:


Key Moments From the Testimony of Fiona Hill and David Holmes in the Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, said President Trump’s demands for Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the 2016 elections amounted to a ‘domestic political errand’ that diverged from American foreign policy goals. Her testimony made it clear that Dr. Hill, a longtime Russia expert, saw the pressure campaign on Ukraine as a purely political effort that had nothing to do with confronting corruption in Ukraine, the explanation that Mr. Trump and Republicans have frequently given for his actions…. Dr. Hill criticized Republicans on Thursday for propagating a ‘fictional narrative’ embraced by President Trump that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 elections. In an implicit rebuke to the president she once served, she argued that the story was planted by Russia and dangerously played into Moscow’s hands, by sowing political divisions in the United States that adversaries are eager to exploit…. David Holmes, a top aide in the United States Embassy in Kyiv, told lawmakers on Thursday that he became convinced by the end of August that Mr. Trump had frozen security aid for Ukraine because he was seeking to pressure the country to commit to an investigation into Mr. Biden…. Mr. Holmes provided the first public testimony about a now-infamous July cellphone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sondland, a conversation that Democrats believe establishes that the president was preoccupied with persuading Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations that benefited him politically. He told lawmakers that he could hear Mr. Trump, who was speaking loudly, asking Mr. Sondland whether Mr. Zelensky was ‘going to do the investigation.’ Mr. Sondland told Mr. Trump that Mr. Zelensky ‘loves your ass,’ and would conduct the investigation and do ‘anything you ask him to,’ Mr. Holmes said. In Mr. Holmes’s account, Mr. Sondland later told him that Mr. Trump cared only about ‘big stuff that benefits the president’ like the ‘Biden investigation.’ Mr. Sondland did not dispute that account when he testified on Wednesday, but said he did not recall specifically mentioning Mr. Biden.” See also, Read Fiona Hill’s Opening Statement, The New York Times, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, testified to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Ms. Hill had a front-row seat to dramatic events in the White House around the pressure campaign on Ukraine.” See also, Read David Holmes’s Opening Statement, The New York Times, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “David Holmes, the political counselor to the American ambassadors in Ukraine, testified to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Mr. Holmes was privy to high-level conversations between top American and Ukrainian officials, and was often expected to take detailed notes of their conversations.” See also, Fiona Hill Testifies That the ‘Fictions’ About Ukraine That Are Spread by Trump Help Russia, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “A former White House Russia expert on Thursday sharply denounced a ‘fictional narrative’ embraced by President Trump and his Republican allies that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election, testifying that the claim was a fabrication by Moscow that had harmed the United States. The expert, Fiona Hill, tied a pressure campaign on Ukraine by Mr. Trump and some of his top aides to an effort by Russia to sow political divisions in the United States and undercut American diplomacy. She warned Republicans that legitimizing an unsubstantiated theory that Kyiv undertook a concerted campaign to interfere in the election — a claim the president pushed repeatedly for Ukraine to investigate — played into Russia’s hands.” See also, What We’ve Learned From Hill’s and Holmes’s Impeachment Testimonies, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Impeachment Hearings Live Updates: Fiona Hill said she told Gordon Sondland that his efforts in Ukraine would ‘blow up,’ The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “Former White House adviser Fiona Hill testified Thursday that she had warned Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that his efforts in Ukraine on behalf of President Trump would ‘blow up.’ Hill, a Russia expert who reported directly to John Bolton when he was national security adviser, testified alongside David Holmes, a top staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry.” See also, 5 takeaways from Fiona Hill’s and David Holmes’s testimony, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Fiona Hill’s take on Gordon Sondland, annotated: ‘He was involved in a domestic political errand,’ The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Thursday, 21 November 2019.  See also, With a warning on Russia, blitz of public testimony in impeachment inquiry comes to an end, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Elise Viebeck, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “House Democrats on Thursday concluded a 72-hour blitz of impeachment inquiry hearings with testimony from two witnesses who reinforced that President Trump likely withheld military aid and a coveted White House meeting from Ukraine to sway that country to investigate his political rival. The testimony from Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia, and David Holmes, a counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, closed a dramatic week in which lawmakers summoned nine witnesses to describe what Democrats believe was a self-serving effort by Trump and his allies to coerce Ukraine into announcing an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden — to the detriment of U.S. national security interests.” See also, Republicans repeatedly counter inquiry witnesses by misrepresenting past testimony, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “In the context of a normal American living his or her life, the two-month-long impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine may seem like a deluge. Every day there is new testimony or there are new revelations building out a complex effort by Trump and his team to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce new investigations that would benefit Trump politically. What began with the rough transcript of a July phone call is now revealed to be a sprawling, multiagency effort spanning months. But that’s the view of a layperson. For members of the media and, presumably, members of the House Intelligence Committee, the nuances should be much more familiar. While most Americans are likely unclear about who David Holmes is or what job he performed for the government, it is presumed that those conducting the hearings should be familiar not only with those details but also with his past statements, the ramifications of his Thursday testimony and how his representation of what happened overlaps with what’s already known. During the committee’s public hearing on Thursday, though, a series of interlocutors from the Republican side demonstrated that they were not particularly familiar with the testimony that had already been given — or, at least, that they were willing to present that past testimony in a way that changed its significance.” See also, Fiona Hill, former White House adviser on Russia, clashes with Republicans over ‘fictional’ calims about Ukraine, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “President Donald Trump’s former top Russia aide sparred with Republican lawmakers on Thursday, accusing them of emboldening Moscow by pushing a ‘fictional narrative’ that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. In her opening statement before House impeachment investigators, Fiona Hill said lawmakers were weaponizing ‘falsehoods’ that advance Russian interests and distract from its aggression in eastern Europe and around the world.” See also, Fiona Hill and David Holmes Testify in Impeachment Probe–Live Coverage, The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Fiona Hill Pushes Back on Theory of Ukraine Election Interference, The Wall Street Journal, Vivian Salama, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “A former White House official said a theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections was a ‘fictional narrative’ fueled by Russian propaganda, rejecting President Trump’s rationale for pushing Kyiv to investigate the matter and arguing the effort amounted to a ‘political errand’ outside formal diplomatic channels. In her appearance Thursday before the House impeachment inquiry, Fiona Hill echoed testimony from other witnesses about efforts by a top U.S. ambassador and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer to convince Ukraine’s president to announce probes that could help Mr. Trump politically. In exchange, the Ukrainians over the summer sought to arrange a White House meeting with newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, she said.” See also, ‘I think this is all going to blow up’: Fiona Hill, Trump’s top Russia adviser until she left the administration this past summer, says European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland was running ‘domestic political errand,’ CNN Politics, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Two key impeachment witnesses, Fiona Hill and David Holmes, testify, CNN Politics, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Read: Adam Schiff’s opening remarks at November 21 public impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, Read: Devin Nunes’ opening remarks at November 21 public impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, A ‘Threat,’ a ‘Drug Deal’ and a ‘Troubling’ Call: Key Testimony in the Impeachment Inquiry, The New York Times, Alicia Parlapiano, Weiyi Cai, and Karen Yourish, Thursday, 21 November 2019.

The Impeachment Witnesses Not Heard, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “In recent days, lawmakers were told that when President Trump ramped up his campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping him against his domestic political rivals, he directed advisers to his personal lawyer. ‘Talk with Rudy,’ he instructed. But one thing lawmakers will not do is talk with Rudy. Rudolph W. Giuliani was hardly the only offstage character during two weeks of impeachment hearings that ended on Thursday. Lawmakers also heard that Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo were in the loop, that Mick Mulvaney organized the political equivalent of a ‘drug deal’ and that John R. Bolton was adamantly against it. But among those missing from the House Intelligence Committee’s witness list, besides Mr. Giuliani, were Mr. Pence, Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Bolton. Not that the panel’s Democratic majority was necessarily uninterested in talking with the vice president, secretary of state, acting White House chief of staff or former national security adviser. Democratic leaders have decided not to wage a drawn-out fight to force them to testify over White House objections.”

Why Isn’t a Rape Allegation Worth an Impeachment Inquiry? The Atlantic, Megan Garber, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “To watch the public impeachment hearings of Donald Trump is to experience a very particular form of whiplash. The House inquiry has featured a series of collisions, between Democrats and Republicans, yes, but also between accountability and its opposite. Here is a proceeding led in part by lawmakers who have, when it comes to the president, repeatedly prioritized fealty over facts. And here is the key question at hand—did Donald Trump extort a U.S. ally for his own political gain?—chafing against the other questionable matters not being addressed in the hearing: the reported frauds, the well-documented lies, the atmospheric fact of Trump’s bigotries. The precision guiding the House inquiry—bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors—is constitutionally mandated; it is a proportional response. Watching it play out, however, is a little like watching Hannibal Lecter getting tried for tax evasion. Here is another matter left largely unaccounted for in the proceedings: Donald Trump, currently accused of bribery, has also been accused of rape. He has been accused of other forms of sexual misconduct as well, by more than 20 women, their allegations ranging from kissing to groping and grabbing, all against their will. If you include allegations of nonphysical forms of sexual harassment, the number of accusers grows even larger. The president has, in reply to these claims, issued a blanket denial: The people making accusations against him, he has said, are lying. (That list includes, ostensibly, Donald Trump himself, who has made his own claims about assaulting women: ‘It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.’) It is easy, in the impeachment hearings’ tumult—the testimonies, the twists, the history made in real time—to ignore those accusations. They are not, after all, a direct element of the inquiry…. When the question at hand is whether Trump engaged in an abuse of power with Ukraine, his alleged abuse of power with women becomes less relevant. All the other facts of unfitness—the families seeking refuge, torn apart at the American border; Trump’s insistence that the tragedies of Charlottesville, Virginia, featured ‘very fine people on both sides’; the bigotry; the cruelty; the offenses both casual and sweeping—get consigned to the background.”

White House and Republicans discuss limiting impeachment trial to two weeks, ThWashington Post, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including rapid proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks, according to multiple officials familiar with the talks. The prospect of an abbreviated trial is viewed by several Senate Republicans as a favorable middle ground — substantial enough to give the proceedings credence without risking greater damage to Trump by dragging on too long.” See also, White House backs full Senate trial if House impeaches Trump, Politico, Marianne Levine, Burgess Everett, and Meridith McGraw, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “Top White House officials and Senate Republicans on Thursday agreed that a full trial should be conducted if the House impeaches President Donald Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. A group of Republican senators met Thursday morning with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to discuss impeachment strategy.” See also, Anticipating Impeachment, Republicans Debate Trial Timeline, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Emily Cochrane, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “The White House and the Republicans in the Senate, all but certain that the House will move forward to impeach President Trump, are divided over whether to embrace a lengthy trial that could give his allies a chance to mount an elaborate defense of his conduct before a polarized nation, or to move quickly to dispense with charges against him. Several Republican senators discussed the issue with some of Mr. Trump’s top aides on Thursday during a meeting at the White House that unfolded as the House Intelligence Committee capped off two weeks of public impeachment hearings exploring whether the president should be impeached on charges of pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals. The group, which included some of Mr. Trump’s closest allies in the Senate and his legal and political advisers, came to no final conclusions about what a person briefed on the matter said would be a ‘totally unpredictable’ situation as all of the senators meet in public session for only the third time in history to consider whether to remove a president from office.”

Trump administration scales back safety rules adopted after deadly chemical explosion, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “The Environmental Protection Agency weakened a rule Thursday governing how companies store dangerous chemicals. The standards were enacted under President Barack Obama in the wake of a 2013 explosion in West, Tex., that killed 15 people, including 12 first responders. Under the new standards, companies will not have to provide public access to information about what kinds of chemicals are stored on their sites. They also will not have to undertake several measures aimed at preventing accidents, such as analyzing safer technology and procedures, conducting a ‘root-cause analysis’ after a major chemical release or obtaining a third-party audit when an accident has occurred.”

Attempt to ‘Criminalize Basic Human Kindness’ Fails as Human Rights Activist Scott Warren Is Found Not Guilty on All Charges, Common Dreams, Jake Johnson and Jessica Corbett, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “An Arizona jury on Wednesday found human rights activist Scott Warren not guilty of ‘harboring’ undocumented migrants, charges that were levied by federal prosecutors after the geography teacher provided food, water, and shelter to two men traveling through the desert in 2018. ‘The government failed in its attempt to criminalize basic human kindness,’ Warren, a volunteer worker with advocacy group No More Deaths, said from the steps of the Arizona courthouse following his acquittal. ‘As we stand here, people’s brothers, sister, father, spouses, and children are in the midst of the perilous desert crossing. The need for humanitarian aid continues.'” See also, Jury Acquits Scott Walker, Humanitarian Aid Worker Accused of Helping Border-Crossing Migrants in Arizona, NPR, Bobby Allyn and Michel Marizco, Thursday, 21 November 2019. See also, After helping migrants in the Arizona desert, human rights activist Scott Walker was charged with a felony. Now, he has been acquitted. The Washington Post, Teo Armus, Thursday, 21 November 2019.

House Oversight and Reform Committee and Manhattan Prosecutors Urge the Supreme Court to Allow Release of Trump’s Financial Records, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “In a pair of filings on Thursday, a House committee and Manhattan prosecutors urged the Supreme Court to clear the way for disclosure of President Trump’s financial records. The filings concerned subpoenas in separate cases to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. Federal appeals courts have refused to block the subpoenas, and the firm has indicated that it will provide the requested records unless the Supreme Court orders it to withhold them.”

Trump Awards the First Arts and Humanities Medals of His Presidency, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “Throughout a brief and relatively sedate ceremony in the East Room presenting medals celebrating the arts and humanities for the first time since he assumed office, the president made it clear that his own relationship to the artists or patrons of the arts, and their support for him, were front of mind as much as their collective contributions to society.”

Trump says he will not allow the Navy to strip Edward Gallagher of SEAL status, The Washington Post, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “President Trump on Thursday pushed back on the military’s plans to strip a service member accused of misconduct of his status as a Navy SEAL, days after the president intervened to roll back other disciplinary actions against him and two other service members accused of war crimes. ‘The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,’ the president said in a tweet. ‘This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!’ The message followed reports that senior Navy officials had set in motion steps to remove the chief petty officer’s SEAL Trident, which would effectively end his status as a member of the secretive, elite force. Earlier this year, a military court acquitted Gallagher of the majority of war crimes charges relating to the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq, including charges of murdering a militant captive, but he was convicted of a lesser charge of posing for a photo with the man’s corpse.” See also, Trump Reverses Navy Decision to Oust Edward Gallagher From SEALs, The New York Times, Dave Philipps, Thursday, 21 November 2019.

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg files papers to join Democratic race for president, The Washington Post, Michael Sherer, Thursday, 21 November 2019: “Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg filed federal papers Thursday declaring himself a Democratic candidate for president, a potentially disruptive move that could upend the party’s nomination fight this spring. The filing, coming just eight months after Bloomberg ruled out a bid because he believed it would be too hard to win the Democratic nomination, reflects his view that the field of Democratic contenders was not well positioned to win next year and that a candidate with his experience, political moderation and deep pockets would have a better chance of defeating President Trump in a general election. Advisers said Thursday that the filing was a step toward running for president, following several state ballot registrations, but not an official announcement or public signal that he had made a final decision. An adviser said the timing of the filing was triggered by his earlier application for a spot on the Alabama ballot.”