Trump Administration, Week 151, Friday, 6 December – Thursday, 12 December 2019 ( Days 1,051-1,057)


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, 6 December 2019, Day 1,051:


White House Signals Trump Won’t Mount House Impeachment Defense, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 6 December 2019: “The White House signaled on Friday that it did not intend to mount a defense of President Trump or otherwise participate in the House impeachment proceedings, sending Democrats a sharply worded letter that condemned the process as “completely baseless” and urged them to get it over with quickly…. The White House position clears the way for House committees to debate and approve impeachment articles as soon as next week, allowing a vote by the full House by Dec. 20, the final legislative day of the year. And it all but ensures that the president’s defense will not be heard before early January, when the Senate is expected to begin a trial to hear whatever case the House presents. The White House stance is a departure from impeachments past. When the House moved to charge Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, their lawyers fully participated in the proceedings, including presenting lengthy defenses before the Judiciary Committee. In the case of Mr. Trump, the president and his allies have complained for months that they deserve legal representation in the inquiry. Now, they are refusing an invitation to avail themselves.” See also, White House rejects House Democrats’ invitation to participate in impeachment process as Trump focuses on friendly Senate, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Friday, 6 December 2019. See also, White House says it won’t participate in House impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Jim Acosta, Friday, 6 December 2019: “Nadler responded to the White House’s refusal to participate, saying, ‘If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the Committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair,’ he continued. ‘The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty. The White House’s decision removes one potential hurdle to the House voting on articles of impeachment before Christmas. After Monday’s hearing where two committees will present their evidence, the Judiciary panel could debate and approve articles as soon as the end of next week.”

House Passes Voting Rights Bill Despite Near Unanimous Republican Opposition, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Emily Cochrane, Friday, 6 December 2019: “The House voted on Friday to reinstate federal oversight of state election law, moving to bolster protections against racial discrimination enshrined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights statute whose central provision was struck down by the Supreme Court. Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, who was beaten in 1965 while demonstrating for voting rights in Alabama, banged the gavel to herald approval of the measure, to applause from his colleagues on the House floor. It passed by a vote of 228 to 187 nearly along party lines, with all but one Republican opposed. The bill has little chance of becoming law given opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate and by President Trump, whose aides issued a veto threat against it this week.” See also, House passes voting rights bill to restore protections struck down by Supreme Court in 2013, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 6 December 2019: “The House passed legislation Friday restoring protections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that were undone when the Supreme Court struck down federal oversight of elections in states with a history of discriminating against minority communities. The bill passed 228 to 187, with unanimous Democratic support and the vote of one Republican — Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.). See also, House passes voting rights package aimed at restoring protections, Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Friday, 6 December 2019: “The House on Friday passed a package of bills aimed at restoring protections of the Voting Rights Act rolled back by a key Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would, among other things, update the formula used to determine which states must preclear their voter registration practices, require public notice for voting registration changes, and allow the attorney general to send federal observers anywhere in the U.S.”

Trump still uses his personal cell phone despite warnings and increased call scrutiny, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Maegan Vazquez, and Zachary Cohen, Friday, 6 December 2019: “President Donald Trump has continued to use his personal cell phone to make calls, despite repeated warnings from his staff that the practice could leave him vulnerable to foreign surveillance, multiple officials told CNN. The Democratic impeachment inquiry has resurrected concerns about the security and potential vulnerability of the President’s communications. Witness testimony revealed some top officials repeatedly failed to follow protocol intended to prevent sensitive phone conversations, including those involving the President, from being intercepted by foreign intelligence services. Several former US officials have told CNN it is highly likely that US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s cell phone call to Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine over the summer was picked up by intelligence agencies from numerous foreign countries, including Russia.” See also, White House officials say Trump ‘routinely’ made sensitive calls on lines open to Russian Surveillance, Independent, Paul Sonne, Friday, 6 December 2019: “Donald Trump has routinely communicated with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other individuals speaking on mobile phones vulnerable to monitoring by Russian and other foreign intelligence services, say current and former US officials.” See also, Phone logs in impeachment report renew concern about security of Trump communications, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, Friday, 6 December 2019.

Continue reading Week 151, Friday, 6 December – Thursday, 12 December 2019 (Days 1,051-1,057)

Supreme Court to Decide if a State Can Consider Political Affiliation in Appointing Judges, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 6 December 2019: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether states can take account of a judge’s political affiliation in trying to achieve ideological balance on their courts. The case, Carney v. Adams, No. 19-309, concerns a provision of Delaware’s Constitution that says judges affiliated with any one political party can make up no more than a ‘bare majority’ on the state’s highest courts, with the remaining seats reserved for judges affiliated with the ‘other major political party.'” See also, Supreme Court will study whether states may require partisan balance for courts, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 6 December 2019: “The Supreme Court will consider whether states may require courts to be largely balanced with members of the major political parties, it announced Friday.”

Release of Trump’s Banking Records Is Delayed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Friday, 6 December 2019: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday put a one-week hold on a lower court’s order for President Trump’s bank records to be turned over to Congress. The stay issued by Justice Ginsburg came just three days after the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York said that Deutsche Bank and Capital One must cooperate with subpoenas of two Democratic-controlled committees in the House of Representatives. The release of the records had been expected to give Democrats a trove of documents about Mr. Trump’s financial dealings as they pursue impeachment. The stay is in effect until Dec. 13 and is not considered an indication of any potential ruling by the Supreme Court in Mr. Trump’s appeal of the disclosure order, as well as Justice Ginsburg’s leanings in the records dispute.”

Trump’s Rollback of Transgender Rights Extends Through Entire Government, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Friday, 6 December 2019: “Whether it means serving in the military, working for a federal contractor or seeking medical help, regulations that once protected transgender people are under attack.”

More than 500 law professors say Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct,’ The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 6 December 2019: “More than 500 legal scholars have signed on to an open letter asserting that President Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct’ and that lawmakers would be acting well within their rights if they ultimately voted to remove him from office. The signers are law professors and other academics from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and many others. The open letter was published online Friday by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy. ‘There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress,’ the group of professors wrote. ‘His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.'”

‘I Do Hate What He Is Doing’: House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff on Trump, Impeachment, and What’s Next, The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, 6 December 2019: “As Schiff was being called away from the interview, I asked him what had been the most memorable testimony of the hearings. Had there been a John Dean ‘cancer on the Presidency’ moment that would last in history? Schiff, with a writer’s eye perhaps more than a TV director’s, did not mention any of the hearings’ most dramatic episodes, such as when Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ambassador to Ukraine, offered a painfully personal description of being smeared, fired, and then threatened publicly by the President, or when the Russia expert Fiona Hill bluntly admonished Republicans, telling them to stop spreading debunked conspiracy theories from Russia about Ukraine’s nonexistent intervention in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election…. [One] conversation that Schiff cited was Sondland’s memorable encounter with David Holmes, a diplomat in the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Holmes overheard Sondland talking on the phone with Trump, who asked if Zelensky would pursue the investigations he wanted. After the call, Holmes asked Sondland, ‘Does the President give a shit about Ukraine?’ As Holmes testified, the answer was no, he only cares about ‘the big stuff.’ Well, Holmes pointed out, there is big stuff happening in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, but Sondland said no, that was not what he meant. Trump only cared about matters that concerned him, like the investigations. ‘That says it all,’ Schiff told me. ‘The President doesn’t give a shit about what’s good for our country, what’s good for Ukraine. It’s all about what’s in it for him personally and for his reëlection campaign.’ In that small moment in an obscure diplomat’s testimony, Schiff reflected, was the impeachment case in all its brazen simplicity. ‘That is a perfect summary,’ he said, ‘of this whole scheme.'”

Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says mass murderer Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ the meaning of the Confederate flag, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 6 December 2019: “Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Friday that the Confederate flag represented ‘service, sacrifice and heritage’ for people in her state before mass murderer Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ its meaning. Roof murdered nine African American churchgoers during an evening Bible study in Charleston, S.C., in 2015. He was an avowed white supremacist who posed for photos with the Confederate flag.” See also, Haley: Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ Confederate flag from people who saw it as symbolizing ‘service and sacrifice and heritage,’ CNN Politics, Devan Cole, Friday, 6 December 2019.

Republican Tactic on Impeachment: Turn Ukraine Allegations Against Biden, The New York Times, Katie Glueck and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 6 December 2019: “President Trump’s re-election campaign has run menacing and misleading ads this fall accusing Joseph R. Biden Jr. of corrupt dealings with Ukraine. Republicans in Congress are scrutinizing Mr. Biden’s son, pressing the State and Treasury Departments for information about his work for a Ukrainian energy company. The president himself has unleashed a stream of unfounded accusations against the Bidens and pushed for them to appear at a potential impeachment trial in the Senate…. There is no evidence that the elder Mr. Biden, while serving as vice president, improperly intervened in Ukraine to benefit his son. But the president’s advisers are betting that many voters will ignore the complexities of the allegations and absorb a simple message about a father using his influence to help his son, a senior Trump campaign official said.”


Saturday, 7 December 2019, Day 1,052:


Judiciary Committee Report Offers Legal Rationale for Impeaching Trump, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Saturday, 7 December 2019: “House Democrats released a report on Saturday intended to lay out the legal and historical underpinnings of their case for impeaching President Trump while also countering Republican accusations that the investigation of the president’s conduct in office has been unfair and illegitimate. Democrats have accused the president of abusing his power by trying to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into his political rivals. They also claim that Mr. Trump obstructed the congressional inquiry by blocking witnesses from testifying and refusing to provide documents. The 52-page report by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee argues that the framers of the Constitution intentionally provided a way to remove the occupant of the Oval Office for just such misconduct. ‘A president who perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends has unquestionably engaged in “high crimes and misdemeanors”— especially if he invited, rather than opposed, foreign interference in our politics,’ concludes the report, titled ‘Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.'” See also, House Judiciary Committee lays out ‘constitutional grounds’ for Trump impeachment in new report, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Saturday, 7 December 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee released a report Saturday afternoon making the legal case for why President Trump’s conduct rises to the level of impeachment as Democrats race to finish the inquiry before the end of the year. The 55-page document lays out the constitutional arguments Democrats will make in drafting articles of impeachment against the president and seeks to undermine Republicans’ main talking points against it. ‘The [Framers’] worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment. President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment,’ House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement accompanying the report.”

Editorial: We’ve seen enough. Trump should be impeached. Los Angeles Times, Saturday, 7 December 2019: “The House of Representatives’ inquiry into President Trump’s actions on Ukraine is not yet complete, but the evidence produced over the last two months is more than sufficient to persuade us that he should be impeached. Witness after witness testified that the president held up desperately needed, congressionally approved aid to Ukraine to extort a personal political favor for himself. In so doing, Trump flagrantly abused the power of his office. The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be — will be — acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration. But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.”

Trump’s Instinct After Florida Killings Is Simple: Protect Saudis, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Saturday, 7 December 2019: “When a Saudi Air Force officer opened fire on his classmates at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, he killed three, wounded eight and exposed anew the strange dynamic between President Trump and the Saudi leadership: The president’s first instinct was to tamp down any suggestion that the Saudi government needed to be held to account. Hours later, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had received a condolence call from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who clearly sought to ensure that the episode did not further fracture their relationship. On Saturday, leaving the White House for a trip [to Florida] for a Republican fund-raiser and a speech on Israeli-American relations, Mr. Trump told reporters that ‘they are devastated in Saudi Arabia,’ noting that ‘the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones.’ He never used the word ‘terrorism.’ What was missing was any assurance that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer the many questions about the vetting process for a coveted slot at one of the country’s premier schools for training allied officers. Or, more broadly, why the United States continues to train members of the Saudi military even as that same military faces credible accusations of repeated human rights abuses in Yemen, including the dropping of munitions that maximize civilian casualties.”

Medicare chief Seema Verma asked taxpayers to cover stolen jewelry, Politico, Dan Diamond, Saturday, 7 December 2019: “A top Trump health appointee sought to have taxpayers reimburse her for the costs of jewelry, clothing and other possessions, including a $5,900 Ivanka Trump-brand pendant, that were stolen while in her luggage during a work-related trip, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. Seema Verma, who runs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, filed a $47,000 claim for lost property on Aug. 20, 2018, after her bags were stolen while she was giving a speech in San Francisco the prior month. The property was not insured, Verma wrote in her filing to the Health and Human Services department.”


Sunday, 8 December 2019, Day 1,053:


The Shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola Last Week Is Probed for Terrorism Link. Saudi Suspect Clashed With Instructor. The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Sunday, 8 December 2019: “The investigation into the fatal shooting last week at a Navy training center in Florida was officially characterized as a terrorism inquiry on Sunday, as new details emerged about the Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three sailors on the base where he was a visiting student. As the F.B.I. continues to conduct interviews with everyone at the Pensacola Naval Air Station who may have had contact with the gunman, identified as Second Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, a new report emerged that the Saudi trainee filed a formal complaint earlier this year against one of his instructors, who left him ‘infuriated’ in class by tagging him with a derogatory nickname.” See also, Trump’s defense of Saudis grows more isolated after deadly shooting on military base. On Sunday, the FBI said it presumed the shooting was terrorism. The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 8 December 2019: “After a Saudi gunman killed three people at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., some of President Trump’s Republican allies took to the airwaves to condemn the attack as an act of terrorism, call for a halt to the training program that admitted the shooter and sharply press the Saudi government to cooperate in the investigation. Trump did none of that. Instead, he used his appearances before television cameras — and his Twitter account — to repeatedly offer cover for the Saudis, conveying Riyadh’s condolences with more fervor than he used in relaying his personal feelings about the shooting. ‘They are devastated in Saudi Arabia,’ Trump told reporters Saturday, unprompted. ‘And the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly. He’s very, very devastated by what happened and what took place. Likewise, the crown prince. They are devastated by what took place in Pensacola.’ Trump’s defense of the Saudi government, which began just hours after Friday’s shooting, steadily became a more isolated position over the weekend as more information trickled out about the gunman and other Saudi nationals who were receiving training at the base. On Sunday, the FBI said it presumed the shooting was terrorism.”

The Indispensable Man: How Rudy Giuliani Led Trump to the Brink of Impeachment, The New York Times, Jim Dwyer, Jo Becker, Kenneth P. Vogel, Maggie Haberman, and Sarah Maslin Nir, Sunday, 8 December 2019: “Step by step, [Giuliani] has escorted President Trump to the brink of impeachment. Mr. Giuliani himself is now under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in the very office where he enjoyed his first extended draughts of fame nearly four decades ago. The separate troubles he has gotten his client and himself into are products of the uniquely powerful position he has fashioned, a hybrid of unpaid personal counsel to the president and for-profit peddler of access and advice. Practically no name, other than Mr. Trump’s, was mentioned more than Mr. Giuliani’s at the impeachment hearings and in a subsequent Democratic report that described him as the hub of a grievous abuse of presidential power (or legitimate advocate for Mr. Trump, in the Republicans’ minority response).” See also, Inside Giuliani’s dual roles: Power-Broker-for-hire and shadow foreign policy adviser, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Devlin Barrett, Sunday, 8 December 2019: “In the three years since Trump took office, Giuliani has expanded his lucrative foreign consulting and legal practice, taking on clients that span the globe, from Turkey to Venezuela to Romania to Ukraine. Along the way, he also has used his singular perch to try to influence U.S. policy and criminal investigations — at times pushing the interests of foreign figures who could benefit him financially…. In several conversations in recent months, Attorney General William P. Barr has counseled Trump in general terms that Giuliani has become a liability and a problem for the administration, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations. In one discussion, the attorney general warned the president that he was not being well-served by his lawyer, one person with knowledge of the episode said.” See also, Washington Post: Attorney General William Barr told Trump he was not being well served by Rudy Giuliani, CNN Politics, Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 9 December 2019.

House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler says impeachment articles will ‘presumably’ be introduced this week, NBC News, Ben Kamisar, Sunday, 8 December 2019: “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Sunday that his panel will ‘presumably’ present articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump this week. ‘We’ll bring articles of impeachment presumably before the committee at some point later in the week,’ Nadler, D-N.Y., said in an interview with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ But he framed impeaching the president as an imperative, both aimed at holding the president accountable for what Nadler called ‘overwhelming evidence’ that Trump ‘put himself before the country’ as well as concerns about the fairness of the 2020 presidential election. ‘He put himself above the country, he sought to get foreign interference against the integrity of our election. This is a matter of urgency to deal with because we have to make sure the next election is conducted with integrity and without foreign interference.'”

How the Constitution Defines Impeachable, Word by Word, The New York Times, Alicia Parlapiano, Sunday, 8 December 2019: “‘The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ according to the U.S. Constitution. Here’s how experts interpret those final eight words.”


Monday, 9 December 2019, Day 1,054:


Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz finds the FBI was justified in opening Trump campaign investigation, but the case was plagued by ‘serious failures,’ The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian, and Ellen Nakashima, Monday, 9 December 2019: “A Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the FBI investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign rebutted conservatives’ accusations that top FBI officials were driven by political bias to illegally spy on Trump advisers, but also found broad and ‘serious performance failures’ requiring major changes. The 434-page report issued Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI had an ‘authorized purpose’ when it initiated its investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, into the Trump campaign. In doing so, Horowitz implicitly rejected assertions by the president and fellow Republicans that the case was launched out of political animus or that the FBI broke its own rules on using informants.” See also, Read the Inspector General’s report on the Trump-Russia investigation, The Washington Post, Monday, 9 December 2019: “A long-awaited Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the FBI’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia rebuts allegations of illegal spying and that political bias played a role in the probe begun ahead of the 2016 election, but finds serious faults in other areas.” See also, 4 takeaways from the Horowitz report on the Russia investigation, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, What Trump claimed about the Russia investigation–and what the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors but Debunks Anti-Trump Plot, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner, Monday, 9 December 2019: “F.B.I. officials had sufficient reason to open the investigation into links between Russia and Trump campaign aides in 2016 and acted without political bias, a long-awaited report said on Monday, but it concluded that the inquiry was a rushed and dysfunctional process marked by serious errors in documents related to a wiretap. The exhaustive report by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, faced an immediate challenge. Attorney General William P. Barr sought to undermine the key finding that investigators had an adequate basis to open the inquiry, known as Crossfire Hurricane. ‘The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,’ Mr. Barr, a close ally of President Trump who has begun his own re-investigation of the Russia inquiry, said in a statement. Yet Mr. Horowitz stressed that the standard for opening an F.B.I. investigation was low — echoing the sort of criticism that civil libertarians have made for years. He also exonerated former F.B.I. leaders, broadly rejecting Mr. Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him.” See also, Highlights From the Horowitz Report on the Russia Investigation, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Eileen Sullivan, and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr and Federal Prosecutor John Durham Publicly Disagree With Horowitz Report on Russia Inquiry, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 9 December 2029. See also, Who Is John Durham, the Prosecutor Investigating the Russia Inquiry, The New York Times, Liam Stack, Monday, 9 December 2019.  See also, Attorney General William Barr condemns IG report’s finding that FBI investigation of Trump campaign was justified, NBC News, Adam Edelman, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Another Inquiry Doesn’t Back Up Trump’s Conspiracy Charges. So, on to the Next. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Monday, 9 December 2019: “President Trump and his allies spent months promising that a report on the origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation would be a kind of Rosetta Stone for Trump-era conspiracy enthusiasts — the key to unlocking the secrets of a government plot to keep Mr. Trump from being elected in 2016. On that point, the report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, did not deliver, even as it found serious problems with how F.B.I. officials justified the surveillance of a Trump campaign aide to a federal court. But by the time it was released, the president, his attorney general, his supporters in Congress and the conservative news media had already declared victory and decamped for the next battle in the wider war to convince Americans of the enemies at home and abroad arrayed against the Trump presidency.” See also, Trump’s Russia-investigation defense, led by Attorney General William Barr, is already moving on from Horowitz, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Key takeaways from Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of the FBI’s handling of its investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016, Politico, Natasha Bertrand and Darren Samuelsohn, Monday, 9 December 2019: “A long-awaited review of how the FBI came to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible links to Russia has validated the agency’s decision to open its probe. The report, compiled by the Justice Department’s inspector general, stresses that political bias did not influence the bureau’s actions, as President Donald Trump and his allies have frequently alleged. But the document is also littered with criticisms of FBI officials and how they vetted some information, such as a dossier of salacious allegations compiled by a former British spy.” See also, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz Highlights FBI ‘Failures’ but Says Russia Investigation Was Justified, The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and Byron Tau, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz finds that the start of the FBI Russia investigation was justified and unbiased, but the investigation had significant errors, CNN Politics, David Shortell, Evan Perez, Marshall Cohen, and Katelyn Polantz, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr Allows for Release of Additional Details About Former British Spy Behind the Steele Dossier, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 9 December 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr recently approved making public new details about a former F.B.I. informant at the heart of conservatives’ allegations about the Russia investigation, deciding to release information that had been blacked out in a highly anticipated inspector general’s report due out on Monday. A representative from the office of the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, told the former F.B.I. informant, Christopher Steele, on Sunday that the Justice Department had decided to allow for the release of the information, two people briefed on the situation said late on Sunday.” See also, Ivanka Trump and controversial ‘dossier’ author Christopher Steele have a backstory, ABC News, Julia Macfarlane, Monday, 9 December 2019: “Nearly a decade before the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka met a British intelligence officer who ran the Russia desk — and when the agent left his covert service and moved into private practice in 2010, she stayed in touch, ABC News has learned. The two exchanged emails but never worked together, and the man, Christopher Steele, would one day re-emerge in a most unexpected way, taking a central role in the Russia scandal that consumed the early years of her father’s presidency, according to a source familiar with their past contacts. The prior relationship came to light as investigators with the Department of Justice Inspector General’s office was looking into allegations of political bias at the origins of the Russia investigation since May 2018.” See also, Ivanka Trump was friends with former British spy Christopher Steele, according to person familiar with the situation, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Monday, 9 December 2019: “The former British spy who authored several reports alleging links between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign had been a personal friend of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a relationship that he said made him ‘favorably disposed’ to the Trump family. The previously unknown friendship between former intelligence officer Christopher Steele and Ivanka Trump was alluded to in a new report released Monday by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which said Steele had ‘been friendly’ with a Trump family member, a relationship he described as ‘personal.’ Steele told investigators he had visited the Trump family member at Trump Tower in New York and had once gifted the person a family tartan from Scotland. A person familiar with Steele’s business Orbis confirmed that the family member was Ivanka Trump.”

Democrats Signal Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress Charges Against Trump. Democrats have narrowed their focus to two articles of impeachment against Trump after lawyers labeled his conduct a ‘clear and present danger’ to fair elections and national security. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 9 December 2019: “House Democrats signaled that they would unveil articles of impeachment on Tuesday morning that charge President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for conduct they called a ‘clear and present danger’ to the 2020 election and national security…. The [House Judiciary Committee daylong impeachment] hearing, which unfolded over nine hours in the stately House Ways and Means Committee Room near the Capitol, featured bitter rounds of partisan sparring between Democrats and Republicans and testy cross-examinations of lawyers from both parties. Republicans arrived primed to challenge the Democrats’ case and condemn the process they have used to assemble it. They repeatedly interrupted the Democrats’ public presentation, and their own counsel used two separate addresses to try to dismantle it…. During his 45-minute presentation, Mr. Goldman described ‘a monthslong scheme’ by the president “to solicit foreign help in his 2020 re-election campaign, withholding official acts from the government of Ukraine in order to coerce and secure political interference in our domestic affairs.” See also, Impeachment Hearing Takeaways: Democrats Allege ‘Brazen’ Trump Scheme While Republicans Lament ‘Unfair’ Process, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Who Is Barry Berke? A New York defense lawyer working for House Democrats, Mr. Berke has been an architect of their impeachment inquiry. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, Lawyer for Democrats calls Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he argues case for removal, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Monday, 9 December 2019: “A lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he summarized the party’s case for impeaching him for having abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation into his conduct in Ukraine. The testimony from Daniel S. Goldman came amid a contentious hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, called impeachment ‘baloney’ and said Democrats had failed to make a compelling case.” See also, 5 takeaways from the House Judiciary impeachment hearing, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Monday, 9 December 2019: “We could see articles of impeachment against President Trump this week. The precursor to those was a hearing Monday in the House Judiciary Committee in which impeachment investigators explained the evidence they have gathered against Trump. Here are five takeaways.” See also, Lawmakers clash as House Democrats present evidence for Trump’s impeachment, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Monday, 9 December 2019: “‘The presentation of evidence to the Judiciary Committee was in many ways a formality in the House’s broader impeachment push. But it served as a chance for Democrats to summarize the complicated case against Trump one last time — and provided Republicans another shot to defend him in public.” See also, House Judiciary Committee holds high-stakes impeachment hearing, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, and Mike Hayes, Monday, 9 December 2019. See also, The Trump-Ukraine scandal, explained in one minute, Vox, Zack Beauchamp, Monday, 9 December 2019: “The opening of the House Judiciary Committee’s second impeachment hearing took up the better part of the morning, and was often disrupted by procedural gambits from Republican committee members aiming to slow down the proceedings. You can be forgiven if you didn’t see every minute of it. But if you want to understand the big picture takeaways from the morning’s proceedings quickly, the best thing to do is look over the one-minute long closing comment from Democratic witness Daniel Goldman…. ‘The president’s scheme is actually quite simple. And the facts are not seriously in dispute,’ Goldman said. He summarized it in the form of ‘four key takeaways’: First, President Trump directed a scheme to pressure Ukraine into opening two investigations that would benefit his 2020 reelection campaign, and not US national interests. Second, President Trump used his official office and the official tools of US foreign policy, the withholding of an Oval Office meeting, and $391 million in security assistance, to pressure Ukraine into meeting his demands. Third, everyone was in the loop. His chief of staff, the secretary of state, and vice president. And fourth, despite the public discovery of this scheme which prompted the president to release the aid, he has not given up. He and his agents continue to solicit Ukrainian interference in our election, causing an imminent threat to our elections and our national security.”

FBI director Christopher Wray pushes back on debunked conspiracy theory that the government of Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, ABC News, Luke Barr and Alexander Mallin, Monday, 9 December 2019: “FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday undercut a theory pushed by President Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies that the government of Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. ‘We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election,’ Wray told ABC News in an exclusive broadcast interview on Monday. Wray is the most senior, currently serving, government official to undercut the claim — pushed as recently as Sunday by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in an interview about the ongoing impeachment inquiry.”

Supreme Court leaves in place Kentucky abortion law that mandates that doctors must perform ultrasounds and have women listen to fetal heartbeats before performing abortions, NBC News, David K. Li, Monday, 9 December 2019: “The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a Kentucky law, mandating doctors perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before they can perform abortions. The high court declined, without comment, to hear an appeal brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the state’s lone abortion clinic. The Kentucky law, which requires a doctor to describe an ultrasound in detail while a pregnant woman hears the fetal heartbeat, was passed in 2017.” See also, Supreme Court leaves in place Kentucky abortion restriction, Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Monday, 9 December 2019.

The Government Has Taken at Least 1,100 Children From Their Parents Since Family Separations Officially Ended, The Intercept, John Washington, Monday, 9 December 2019: “The U.S. government is still taking children from their parents after they cross the border. Since the supposed end of family separation — in the summer of 2018, after a federal judge’s injunction and President Donald Trump’s executive order reversing the deeply controversial policy — more than 1,100 children have been taken from their parents, according to the government’s own data. There may be more, since that data has been plagued by bad record keeping and inconsistencies. The government alleges that separations now only happen when a parent has a criminal history or is unfit to care for a child, but an ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that the current policy still violates the rights of children and families. Border Patrol agents, untrained in child welfare, make decisions that some parents are unfit to stay with their children based solely on brief interactions with them while they are held in custody.”

Trump is accused of ‘dipping into a deep well of anti-Semitic tropes’ during speech to Jewish voters, The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Monday, 9 December 2019: “Numerous Jewish groups castigated President Trump this weekend over his speech on Saturday to the Israeli American Council, accusing him of using anti-Semitic tropes while trying to appeal to Jewish voters. In a 45-minute speech in Hollywood, Fla., Trump sought to convince a Jewish audience that they had ‘no choice’ but to vote for him or else lose money to Democratic presidential contenders’ wealth tax plans. The president, while touting his administration’s relationship with Israel, also said some Jews ‘don’t love Israel enough,’ recalling the time in August that he questioned the loyalty of Jews who vote for Democrats.”

Amazon Said Trump Exerted ‘Improper Pressure’ on the Pentagon to Keep a Lucrative Cloud-Computing Deal From Going to His Perceived Enemy, Company Founder Jeffrey Bezos, The Wall Street Journal, John D. McKinnon, Monday, 9 December 2019: “In a complaint filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, Amazon said the president ‘launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks’ on the contract and the company to steer the contract away from Amazon and Mr. Bezos, according to the complaint, which was made public Monday. Amazon was long considered the favorite to win the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract, which is valued at as much as $10 billion over the next decade.” See also, Amazon claims the Pentagon ‘departed from the rules’ in JEDI [Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure] bid due to Trump’s pressure, Politico, Jacqueline Feldscher, Monday, 9 December 2019: “Amazon is accusing the Pentagon of awarding the military’s cloud computing contract to Microsoft based on ‘improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump,’ the technology giant said in a redacted version of a legal complaint released Monday. The complaint says Pentagon officials made multiple ‘egregious errors’ in its evaluation of bids from Amazon and Microsoft for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, program, an effort worth up to $10 billion to bring the Defense Department’s intelligence and other data into one system that can be accessed around the world.” See also, Amazon alleges Trump used Pentagon budget for personal gain, The Washington Post, Aaron Gregg and Jay Greene, Monday, 9 December 2019: “President Trump’s ‘repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks’ against Amazon led the Pentagon to choose a lesser bid from Microsoft for a massive cloud computing contract that officials have labeled a crucial national security priority, Amazon alleged in a complaint made public Monday. The e-commerce giant’s protest of the $10 billion, 10-year contract alleges that Trump’s stated efforts to ‘screw Amazon’ led the agency to opt for a proposal from Microsoft with ‘clear failures.’ Amazon pointed to alleged errors and an 11th-hour policy change as evidence that the Defense Department failed to follow the rules. And it said Trump’s alleged meddling with defense spending for personal gain threatens the integrity of the government procurement system itself.”


Tuesday, 10 December 2019, Day 1,056:


Democratic Leaders Unveiled Articles of Impeachment Charging Trump With Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “House Democratic leaders on Tuesday formally called for President Trump’s removal from office, asserting that he ‘ignored and injured the interests of the nation’ in two articles of impeachment that charged him with abusing his power and obstructing Congress. In nine short pages, the draft articles accused Mr. Trump of carrying out a scheme ‘corruptly soliciting’ election assistance from the government of Ukraine in the form of investigations that would smear his Democratic political rivals. To do so, Democrats charged, Mr. Trump used as leverage two ‘official acts’: the delivery of $391 million in security assistance and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president. ‘In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit,’ according to a draft of the first article. ‘He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.’ A second article charges that by ordering across-the-board defiance of House subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the Ukraine matter, the president engaged in ‘unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance’ that harmed the House’s constitutional rights.” See also, Read the Articles of Impeachment Against Trump, The New York Times, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic majority released two proposed articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday, setting the stage for a debate later this week over whether he should be only the third president in American history charged with high crimes and misdemeanors. The first article charges him with abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by damaging Democratic rivals. The second article charges him with obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry. If the committee approves the articles, they would go to the House floor for a debate and vote as early as next week. The following are the articles of impeachment with context and analysis by Peter Baker, The Times’s chief White House correspondent.” See also, Seeking Unity on Impeachment, Democrats Decided Against Charges of Obstruction of Justice Tied to Trump’s Attempts to Thwart the Inquiry of Robert Mueller, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants huddled in her office last week as Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who oversees the Judiciary Committee, made the case that the House should take up three articles of impeachment against President Trump. Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, countered that there should only be two. A vigorous debate unfolded, and in the end Ms. Pelosi made the call: There would be only two articles of impeachment, on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, narrowly focused on the investigation into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. A third, on obstruction of justice tied to the president’s attempts to thwart the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, was too much of a reach.” See also, Why Democrats sidelined Mueller in impeachment articles, Politico, John Bresnahan, Heather Caygle, and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, House Democrats unveil two articles of impeachment against Trump: ‘We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Kayla Epstein, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “House Democrats unveiled two narrowly drawn articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday, saying he had abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress in its investigation of his conduct regarding Ukraine. ‘We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law,’ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference where he was flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House leaders.” See also, Democrats charge Trump with two impeachment articles, setting up historic vote, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, John Wagner, Rachael Bade, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, The articles of impeachment against Trump, annotated, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, The articles of impeachment against Trump, explained, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, Assessing the case made by Democrats in the articles of impeachment, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Democrats unveil impeachment charges against Trump, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney, and Heather Caygle, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, House Democrats Announce Two Articles of Impeachment Against Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes and Natalie Andrews, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee will pursue two articles of impeachment against President Trump, a narrower approach than some Democrats had hoped, as the Republican-led Senate outlined plans for its trial early in the new year. The first of the two articles accuses Mr. Trump of abuse of power by soliciting election interference from Ukraine and also conditioning U.S. aid to Kyiv and a White House meeting on those probes. Democrats also allege Mr. Trump obstructed Congress by preventing at least nine officials from testifying and by blocking records from across the federal government from being shared with lawmakers.” See also, Democrats unveil two articles of impeachment against Trump, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, and Lauren Fox, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, ‘Solemn step’: Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against Trump, The Guardian, Tom McCarthy and Lauren Gambino, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, The case for impeachment. There is abundant evidence of Trump’s abuse of power on Ukraine and obstruction of Congress. The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The House of Representatives is moving toward a momentous decision about whether to impeach a president for only the third time in U.S. history. The charges brought against President Trump by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday are clear: that he abused his office in an attempt to induce Ukraine’s new president to launch politicized investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign, and that he willfully obstructed the subsequent congressional investigation. Because of that unprecedented stonewalling, and because House Democrats have chosen to rush the impeachment process, the inquiry has failed to collect important testimony and documentary evidence that might strengthen the case against the president. Nevertheless, it is our view that more than enough proof exists for the House to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, based on his own actions and the testimony of the 17 present and former administration officials who courageously appeared before the House Intelligence Committee.”

Attorney General William Barr thinks the FBI may have acted in ‘bad faith’ in investigating the Trump campaign’s links to Russia, NBC News, Ken Dilanian, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Attorney General William Barr said he still believes the FBI may have operated out of ‘bad faith’ when it investigated whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and he contends the FBI acted improperly by continuing the investigation after Donald Trump took office. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Barr essentially dismissed the findings of the Justice Department’s inspector general that there was no evidence of political bias in the launching of the Russia probe, saying that his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, will have the last word on the matter.” See also, Trump and Attorney General William Barr Escalate Attacks on the F.B.I. Over Report on Russia Inquiry, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr took aim at the F.B.I. on Tuesday, escalating their attacks on the bureau a day after an independent watchdog concluded that former F.B.I. officials had adequate reason in 2016 to open the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Mr. Barr said for a second straight day that he disagreed with the finding in a long-awaited report by the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, that the F.B.I. lawfully opened its inquiry. And he went further, saying that Obama administration officials had spied on the president’s associates and, in the process, jeopardized civil liberties.” See also, Trump lashes out at FBI director in wake of Justice Department inspector general’s report, The Washington Post, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday blasted the FBI as ‘badly broken,’ and suggested Director Christopher A. Wray may not have the right attitude to fix it, alarming current and former law enforcement officials who want to safeguard the bureau’s independence. Trump took aim at Wray’s reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report that found serious failures in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016, but no politically motivated conspiracy to harm the president. ‘I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,’ Trump tweeted. ‘With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!'” See also, Attorney General William Barr sharpens attacks on FBI’s Russia inquiry, dismaying some in his own department, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr suggests FBI acted in ‘bad faith’ over Russia investigation, The Guardian, David Smith and Martin Pengelly, Tuesday, 10 December 2019.

Trump Aides and Democrats Strike Deal on North American Trade Pact, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Ana Swanson, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The White House and House Democrats reached an agreement to strengthen labor, environmental, pharmaceutical and enforcement provisions in President Trump’s North American trade pact, a significant development that made it all but certain that the signature trade deal would become law. The agreement on a revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was announced on Tuesday by Speaker Nancy Pelosi after months of negotiations, handing Mr. Trump one of his biggest legislative victories less than an hour after she unveiled articles of impeachment. Ms. Pelosi went from a news conference on impeachment to another on the trade deal, where she and top Democrats, including Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, pointed to concessions they had secured in closed-door negotiations with the administration. ‘We’re declaring victory for the American worker,’ Ms. Pelosi said. ‘It is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.'” See also, Trump and House Democrats strike a deal on updated NAFTA, setting the stage for a vote, Politico, Sabrina Rodriguez and Megan Cassella, Tuesday, 10 October 2019. See also, Revised Trade Pact With Mexico and Canada Set for Likely Approval by Congress in 2020, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, William Mauldin, and Anthony Harrup, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. See also, Trump Aides and House Democrats secure revised trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Democrats hail changes to the agreement. The Washington Post, David J. Lynch, Mary Beth Sheridan, and Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Representatives of the United States, Mexico and Canada on Tuesday agreed to amend a North American trade deal, accepting significant changes demanded by House Democrats on workers’ rights, environmental protection and prescription drug prices. The compromise all but guarantees that President Trump will achieve one of his top priorities: a replacement for the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement that he says stripped the industrial Midwest of millions of good-paying factory jobs.” See also, Democrats announce new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement with White House, CNN Politics, Haley Byrd, Tuesday, 10 December 2019.

Trump pays $2 million in damages ordered by judge over misuse of charity funds, according to New York attorney general Letitia James, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “President Trump has paid $2 million in court-ordered damages for misusing funds in a tax-exempt charity he controlled, the New York attorney general said Tuesday. The payment was ordered last month by a New York state judge in an extraordinary rebuke to a sitting president. Trump had been sued in 2018 by the New York attorney general, who alleged the president had illegally used funds from the Donald J. Trump Foundation to buy portraits of himself, pay off his businesses’ legal obligations and help his 2016 campaign. The money was split among eight charities, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). The charities were the Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to the statement.”

Federal judge blocks Trump plan to spend $3.6 billion in military funds on border wall, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “A federal judge in El Paso on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to pay for border barrier construction with $3.6 billion in military funds, ruling that the administration does not have the authority to divert money appropriated by Congress for a different purpose. The Trump administration was planning to use those funds to build 175 miles of steel barriers, and the court’s permanent injunction is a setback for Trump’s pledge to erect 450 linear miles of fencing by the end of next year.” See also, Federal judge blocks use of billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to build border wall, CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez and Caroline Kelly, Tuesday, 10 December 2019.

ExxonMobil prevails over New York in high-profile climate fraud case, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni and Steven Mufson, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “ExxonMobil prevailed Tuesday in its much-watched legal battle with the state of New York, beating back claims that it misled investors for years in how it calculated the financial risks of climate change. The high-profile trial, which included testimony from former ExxonMobil chief executive and former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, marked the culmination of a four-year-old probe under three different New York attorneys general, during which Exxon handed over millions of documents about its internal dealings.”

The Trump Administration Is Poised to Gut Environmental Review. What’s at Stake? Center for American Progress, Sally Hardin and Claire Moser, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “In the coming weeks, the Trump administration is poised to make some major changes to how much—or more likely, how little—environmental review and public input is required for federal projects, including for roads and bridges, oil and gas development, and pipeline construction. In yet another handout to Trump’s corporate donors and oil, gas and coal industry allies, the administration is expected to gut implementation of the only law that requires the federal government to consider the environmental impacts of its actions and gives the public and communities a voice in federal decision-making. Thirty industry groups—including the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute—recently sent a letter to the Trump administration asking it to ‘expeditiously proceed’ with its changes to the law’s implementation. That 50-year-old bedrock environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), has never been under such grave threat. Simply put, these upcoming proposed changes could have extreme implications for every single federal project, action, and decision—and how those actions impact our health and communities.”

The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback, The Washington Post, Andrew Freedman, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The Arctic is undergoing a profound, rapid and unmitigated shift into a new climate state, one that is greener, features far less ice and emits greenhouse gas emissions from melting permafrost, according to a major new federal assessment of the region released Tuesday. The consequences of these climate shifts will be felt far outside the Arctic in the form of altered weather patterns, increased greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels from the melting Greenland ice sheet and mountain glaciers. The findings are contained in the 2019 Arctic Report Card, a major federal assessment of climate change trends and impacts throughout the region. The study paints an ominous picture of a region lurching to an entirely new and unfamiliar environment.” See also, According to a Peer-Reviewed Report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Climate Change Is Ravaging the Arctic, The New York Times, Kendra Pierre-Louis, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Temperatures in the Arctic region remained near record highs this year, according to a report issued on Tuesday, leading to low summer sea ice, cascading impacts on the regional food web and growing concerns over sea level rise. Average temperatures for the year ending in September were the second highest since 1900, the year records began, scientists said. While that fell short of a new high, it fit a worrying trend: Over all, the past six years have been the warmest ever recorded in the region…. The results are from the annual Arctic report card, a peer-reviewed assessment produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that takes a broad look at the effects of climate change in the region and compares current findings with the historical record. The Arctic is of interest to researchers because it is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, causing changes both in the ocean and on land.”

Greenland’s ice losses have septupled and are now in line with its highest sea-level scenario, scientists say, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The Greenland ice sheet’s losses have accelerated so fast since the 1990s it is now shedding more than seven times as much ice each year, according to 89 scientists who use satellites to study the area. The sheet’s total losses nearly doubled each decade, from 33 billion tons per year in the 1990s to an average now of 254 billion tons annually. Since 1992, nearly 4 trillion tons of Greenland ice have entered the ocean, the new analysis found, equivalent to roughly a centimeter of global sea-level rise. While a centimeter may not sound like much, that uptick is already affecting millions. ‘Around the planet, just 1 centimeter of sea-level rise brings another 6 million people into seasonal, annual floods,’ said Andrew Shepherd, a University of Leeds professor who co-led the massive collaboration with NASA researcher Erik Ivins. The results, from a scientific group called the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE), were published Tuesday in the journal Nature.”

At a Rally in Pennsylvania, Trump Claims He Has Heard FBI ‘Lovers’ Had a ‘Restraining Order,’ but Admits He Has No Evidence, The Daily Beast, Asawin Suebsaeng and Justin Baragona, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Not long after Donald Trump took to the stage at a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night, the president launched into one of his biggest crowd-pleasers: pillorying the ‘deep state,’ particularly by performing fan-fic-style dialogue between the ‘FBI lovers’ Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. It’s a routine that he’s been honing on the re-election campaign trail for months, perhaps most famously during an October campaign event in Minneapolis, where he appeared to make orgasmic, panting noises—much to the audience’s delight—while doing a mock-dialogue between the two ‘lovers’ about how much they ‘love’ each other and hate that ‘son of a bitch’ Trump.” See also, At a wild Pennsylvania rally, Trump called the FBI ‘scum’ and hit out at the report that discredited his theory that the Russia investigation was a deep-state plot, Business Insider, Tom Porter, published on Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, Trump’s speech in Hershey, Pennsylvania, was one of his ugliest yet, Vox, Aaron Rupar, published on Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Over the course of a more than 90-minute delivery, Trump pushed conspiracy theories and blatant lies, trashed law enforcement officials that aren’t blindly loyal to him, exhibited thuggish tendencies toward protesters, made misogynistic remarks, and demonstrated that he fundamentally misunderstands the Constitution. It was one of his most troubling performances in recent memory and served as a stark illustration of just how ugly Trump’s reelection campaign will be.”

How Pete Buttigieg Spent His McKinsey Days: Blue Cross, Best Buy, U.S. Agencies, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Stephanie Saul, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday released the names of nine clients, ranging from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to the retail giant Best Buy, that he advised while employed as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, a period of his life that has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks. Mr. Buttigieg’s client list also included some nonprofits, like the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as several federal agencies. Mr. Buttigieg was responding to pressure that had built in recent days over his work in his post-college years, which had begun to dominate the discussion surrounding his campaign and become fodder for opponents, notably Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who questioned why he had kept his client list secret.” See also, Under Pressure, Buttigieg releases names of former McKinsey clients, The Washington Post, Chelsea Janes and Amy B. Wang, Tuesday, 10 December 2019.

Amid Bernie Sanders’s ‘Resurgence,’ the Center for Popular Democracy Action, a Collective of Progressive Community Groups, Endorses Him, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “The Center for Popular Democracy Action, a coalition of more than 40 progressive community groups totaling about 600,000 members, will on Tuesday endorse Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic presidential nomination, signaling that Mr. Sanders’s political standing among the party’s left wing has rebounded — or even risen — in the months since he suffered a heart attack.”

Trump Targets Anti-Semitism and Israeli Boycotts on College Campuses, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday. The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — or B.D.S. — movement against Israel has roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked. In signing the order, Mr. Trump will use his executive power to take action where Congress has not, essentially replicating bipartisan legislation that has stalled on Capitol Hill for several years. Prominent Democrats have joined Republicans in promoting such a policy change to combat anti-Semitism as well as the boycott-Israel movement. But critics complained that such a policy could be used to stifle free speech and legitimate opposition to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in the name of fighting anti-Semitism. The definition of anti-Semitism to be used in the order matches the one used by the State Department and by other nations, but it has been criticized as too open-ended and sweeping.” See also, Trump to Sign Executive Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman and Catherine Lucey, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “President Trump plans to sign an executive order to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to cut off federal funds to schools that don’t curb discrimination against Jewish students, according to a senior administration official. The order, to be signed Wednesday, is designed to target the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel movement, popular on college campuses.” See also, The Real Purpose of Trump’s Executive Order on Anti-Semitism, The New Yorker, Masha Gessen, published on Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Donald Trump has a knack for taking some of humanity’s most problematic ideas and turning them on their head to make them even worse. He has done it again. On Wednesday, he signed an executive order that will allow federal funds to be withheld from colleges where students are not protected from anti-Semitism—using an absurdly defined version of what constitutes anti-Semitism. Recent precedent and the history of legislative efforts that preceded the executive order would suggest that its main targets are campus groups critical of Israeli policies. What the order itself did not make explicit, the President’s son-in-law did: on Wednesday, Jared Kushner published an Op-Ed in the Times in which he stressed that the definition of anti-Semitism used in the executive order ‘makes clear what our administration has stated publicly on the record: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.’… The new executive order will not protect anyone against anti-Semitism, and it’s not intended to. Its sole aim is to quash the defense—and even the discussion—of Palestinian rights. Its victim will be free speech.”

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page sues Justice Department for releasing anti-Trump texts to media, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Tuesday, 10 December 2019: “Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, a target of repeated attacks by President Trump, sued the bureau and the Justice Department on Tuesday, alleging officials unlawfully released a trove of politically charged text messages she exchanged with a senior FBI agent with whom she was having an affair. Page accused the agencies of violating the Privacy Act by showing reporters a document containing nearly 400 texts between her and former senior FBI agent Peter Strzok, in which the pair discussed their intense dislike of Trump and their fear that he might win the presidency.”


Wednesday, 11 December 2019, Day 1,056:


GRETA THUNBERG, TIME 2019 PERSON OF THE YEAR, Time, Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes, and Justin Worland, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: ‘School Strike for Climate.’ In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her image has been celebrated in murals and Halloween costumes, and her name has been attached to everything from bike shares to beetles. Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.” See also, How Greta Thunberg is using her fame to pressure world leaders to act on climate, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, Greta Thunberg Is Time Person of the Year for 2019, The New York Times, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Time on Wednesday named the young climate activist Greta Thunberg as its person of the year, in a nod to the next generation’s surging prominence in worldwide efforts to prevent the worst effects of climate change…. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump, the Ukraine whistle-blower and the Hong Kong protesters were all on the shortlist for this year’s selection, according to the anchors of the ‘Today’ show. Although Ms. Thunberg said she was ‘grateful’ for it, she said the honor should be shared with others taking action against climate change. ‘It should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together,’ she said.”

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Warns Against Exonerating the F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws, The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Senate Judiciary Committee members of both parties praised the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, during a hearing on Wednesday for unearthing a litany of serious problems with one aspect of the Russia investigation: the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. At a hearing to discuss his new long-awaited report, Mr. Horowitz underscored longstanding serious issues with how the F.B.I. wields its surveillance tools, and he portrayed the bureau during the time of the Russia investigation as dysfunctional. Though he said he found no evidence the mistakes were the result of political bias, as President Trump and his allies have long claimed, he cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of officials involved in the investigation. ‘The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,’ he said.” See also, Withering Criticism of F.B.I. as Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz Presents Russia Inquiry Findings, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the FBI is not vindicated by his report on Trump campaign investigation, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that the FBI was justified in opening its 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign, but he told sharply divided lawmakers that he could not vindicate the bureau’s former leaders because of other major errors — effectively offering both political parties fresh ammunition in their feud over the Russia case.” See also, 6 takeaways from the Michael Horowitz hearing, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, Department of Justice watchdog Michael Horowitz tells Senate he has deep concerns about FBI errors in Russia probe, NBC News, Ken Dilanian, Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz pushes back at Attorney General William Barr over basis for Trump-Russia investigation, Politico, Josh Gerstein and Natasha Bertrand, Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, Read Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s Senate testimony, CNN Politics, Wednesday, 11 December 2019. See also, We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “When a long-awaited inspector general report about the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation became public this week, partisans across the political spectrum mined it to argue about whether President Trump falsely smeared the F.B.I. or was its victim. But the report was also important for reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump. At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government’s secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.”

House Judiciary Committee Debates Impeachment Articles in Bid to Complete Charges Against Trump, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee opened debate Wednesday on two articles of impeachment against President Trump, starting a somber and deeply partisan confrontation over Democrats’ charges that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress. In a rare evening session that was only the third time in modern history the panel had met to consider removing a president, Democrats and Republicans clashed over the Constitution, the allegations against Mr. Trump and the political consequences of moving to oust him less than a year before the next election. The debate unfolded at the start of a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with a party-line vote to send the articles to the full House for final passage. Leaning with equal weight on the Constitution and the findings of their two-and-a-half-month inquiry, Democrats made their case that Mr. Trump put the 2020 election and the nation’s security at risk. Not only did he use his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, they asserted, but he then trampled on his oath of office and the separation of powers by seeking to conceal his actions from Congress.”

Vice President Mike Pence rejects calls to declassify new impeachment testimony, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel rejected House Democrats’ request to declassify details of a Sept. 18 call between Pence and Ukraine’s president, calling the request illegitimate because the impeachment inquiry has concluded.”

Movie Nights, Camp David, and Cable Messaging: A White House Impeachment Playbook, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “With the House vote [on impeachment] as well as a Senate trial all but foregone conclusions, the goal from now on will be to keep Republicans in lock step with the president — and on message — as impeachment runs its course. To make sure that happens, a charm offensive to keep congressional Republicans close started months ago. It has included movie nights in the East Wing, lunches and dinners at the White House with the president, and trips to Camp David. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, has hosted 56 House Republicans at the retreat in recent weeks.”

Federal Prosecutors Say Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas Hid Income and Should Be Detained, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to revoke bail for Lev Parnas, saying the associate of Rudy Giuliani’s has lied to authorities about his assets and income and should be detained while awaiting trial. In a letter filed Wednesday evening in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors said Mr. Parnas didn’t disclose to pretrial services or to investigators income including a $1 million transfer from a Russian bank account, weeks before his arrest in October, to an account held in the name of his wife, Svetlana Parnas.”

House Passes $738 Billion Military Bill With Space Force and Parental Leave, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “The House on Wednesday passed a $738 billion military policy bill that would authorize the creation of the Space Force championed by President Trump as the sixth branch of the military and secure paid parental leave for more than two million federal workers. The 377-to-48 vote reflected broad bipartisan support for the compromise package, one of the nation’s most expensive military policy bills to date. It passed over the opposition of a bloc of progressive Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans who objected to its steep price tag and its omission of provisions they had proposed to limit the president’s power on an array of military matters.”

Donald Trump Jr. Went to Mongolia, Got Special Treatment From the Government, and Killed an Endangered Sheep, ProPublica, Jake Pearson and Anand Tumurtogoo, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “The rocky highlands of Central Asia, in a remote region of Western Mongolia, are home to a plummeting population of the largest sheep in the world, the argali. The endangered species is beloved for its giant curving horns, which can run over 6 feet in length. On a hunting trip this August, Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed one. His adventure was supported by government resources from both the U.S. and Mongolia, which each sent security services to accompany the president’s eldest son and grandson on the multiday trip. It also thrust Trump Jr. directly into the controversial world of Mongolian trophy hunting — a polarizing practice in a country that views the big-horned rams as a national treasure. The right to kill an argali is controlled by an opaque permitting system that experts say is mostly based on money, connections and politics. Trump Jr. received special treatment during his summer trip, according to records obtained by ProPublica as well as interviews with people involved in the hunt. The Mongolian government granted Trump Jr. a coveted and rare permit to slay the animal retroactively on Sept. 2, after he’d left the region following his trip. It’s unusual for permits to be issued after a hunter’s stay.” See also, Donald Trump Jr. got approval to hunt an endangered sheep days after he killed it in Mongolia, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, published on Thursday, 12 December 2019.

University of Phoenix to cancel $141 million in student debt, NBC News/Associated Press, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “The University of Phoenix and its parent company have agreed to pay $50 million in cash and cancel $141 million in student debt to settle allegations of deceptive advertisement brought by the Federal Trade Commission. The deal, announced Tuesday, settles a dispute over an ad campaign the for-profit college launched in 2012 touting partnerships with companies including Microsoft, Twitter and Adobe. It suggested the school worked with those companies to create job opportunities for students, even though there was no such agreement, investigators found. The Federal Trade Commission said the settlement is the largest the agency has ever obtained against a for-profit college.”

Trump Administration Rejects Financial Relief for Nearly All Defrauded Students, U.S. News & World Report, Lauren Camera, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “When the Education Department dispatches the first round of notifications to some 17,000 student loan borrowers who applied to have their debt forgiven after being defrauded by for-profit colleges, 95% of them will be rejected. Documents obtained by U.S. News show a breakdown of 17,192 letters that includes more than 16,340 labeled as ‘ineligible.’ Those labeled ineligible include more than 6,314 letters going to borrowers who enrolled in Corinthian Colleges, the now-defunct for-profit giant that misrepresented job placement and expected salaries for graduates of its programs.” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Overruled the Education Department Findings on Defrauded Student Borrowers. Career staff in the Education Department’s Borrower Defense Unit came down firmly on the side of defrauded borrowers. NPR, Cory Turner, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Documents obtained by NPR shed new light on a bitter fight between defrauded student borrowers and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. These borrowers — more than 200,000 of them — say some for-profit colleges lied to them about their job prospects and the transferability of credits. They argue they were defrauded and that the Education Department should erase their federal student loan debt under a rule called borrower defense. DeVos disagrees: She says most student borrowers still got value from these schools and deserve only partial relief from their federal loans. Now, internal Education Department memos obtained by NPR show that career staff in the department’s Borrower Defense Unit came down firmly on the side of defrauded borrowers.”

Lawyers for Congress ask the Supreme Court not to delay access to Trump’s financial records, citing threat to 2020 elections, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Wednesday, 11 December 2019: “Lawyers for Congress urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday not to delay House committees’ access to President Trump’s financial records, saying the information could be crucial to investigating foreign involvement in American politics and legislative protections for next year’s elections.”


Thursday, 12 December 2019, Day 1,057:


House Judiciary Committee Delays Vote on Impeachment Articles, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “House Judiciary Committee Democrats on Thursday abruptly put off a pair of historic impeachment votes after a drawn-out battle with Republicans stretched late into the night, setting up final action on Friday to approve charges that President Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called off the votes moments before they were expected to take place, announcing just after 11 p.m. that he wanted lawmakers to have time to ‘search their consciences’ before the final roll call. The chairman said the committee would reconvene Friday at 10 a.m. to promptly finalize two articles of impeachment, with the outcome certain.” See also, Impeachment Highlights: Judiciary Committee Finished Debate and Recessed for Vote Friday Morning, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 12 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee abruptly adjourns after marathon debate and will vote on articles of impeachment Friday morning, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Toluse Olorunnipa, published on Friday, 13 December at 12:05 a.m. EST: “The House Judiciary Committee spent more than 14 hours Thursday locked in a rancorous and contentious debate about whether to approve two articles of impeachment against President Trump, with Democrats making an abrupt decision before midnight to hold off on the history-making vote until Friday morning. The all-day debate ended as it began, with angry exchanges, personal insults and recycled arguments about process and propriety as the committee moved toward voting to impeach Trump for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.'” See also, House Judiciary Committee Delays Its Vote on Articles of Impeachment, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes and Natalie Andrews, Thursday, 12 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee postpones approval of impeachment articles to Friday, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 12 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler suddenly ends impeachment hearing before final vote, enraging Republicans, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Manu Reju, and Phil Mattingly, published on Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, 6 takeaways from the marathon impeachment debate in the Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, Trump impeachment: House prepares for crucial vote amid whistleblower row–as it happened, The Guardian, Maanvi Singh, Oliver Laughland, and Joanna Walters, Thursday, 12 December 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House counsel agree to coordinate impeachment trial plans, CNN Politics, Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump’s top lawyer sketched out a plan Thursday to coordinate closely for an impeachment trial but haven’t reached agreement on a final strategy to defend Trump against charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, according to two sources familiar with the conversation. The closed-door meeting Thursday between the Kentucky Republican and White House counsel Pat Cipollone occurred as Senate Republicans and the White House have diverged on what they would like to see take place in the looming trial in the chamber. Trump has made clear he wants witnesses to testify, in person, while senators — including McConnell in private — have warned that going down that path could lead to a politically precarious slippery slope in the GOP effort to acquit the President.”

An Inside Look at the Impeachment Case’s Most Intriguing Moments, The New York Times, Carl Hulse with photographs by Erin Schaff, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Some of the most intriguing moments in the impeachment fight on Capitol Hill take place in private, away from the hearing rooms and news conferences that throngs of cameras can scrupulously document. Democratic and Republican representatives alike granted The New York Times unusual access to photograph their preparations for the Judiciary Committee hearing this week and the drafting of articles of impeachment. The photos yield a rare behind-the-scenes look at how Congress really operates — long days fueled by adrenaline, a sense of history and takeout food — and the interludes of quiet from the impeachment pressure cooker.”

Trump mocks teen climate activist Greta Thunberg after Time names her Person of the Year, Politico, Abbey Marshall, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “President Donald Trump revived his attacks on 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday, criticizing Time magazine for naming her Person of the Year and telling Thunberg to ‘chill!’ ‘So ridiculous,’ Trump, who was also on the shortlist to receive the honor, complained on Twitter. ‘Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!’ Thunberg, the youngest person to ever receive the honor, wasted no time in reclaiming the barb, changing her Twitter biography to read, ‘A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.'” See also, Trump Mocks Greta Thunberg on Twitter, and She Jabs Back, The New York Times, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Two things have long obsessed President Trump: Time’s person of the year and the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. This week they collided when Time picked her for its annual cover. It was never in doubt that the president would tweet about it. The only question was when…. People on Twitter weighed in on Mr. Trump’s remarks. Michelle Obama, in a message addressing Ms. Thunberg directly, wrote: ‘don’t let anyone dim your light. Like the girls I’ve met in Vietnam and all over the world, you have so much to offer us all,’ Mrs. Obama, who was recently in Vietnam to promote girls’ education, tweeted. ‘Ignore the doubters and know that millions of people are cheering you on.’ ‘Nothing like going after a young girl with Asperger Syndrome to drive home the point that you are fit for office,’ Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, an op-ed writer for The Washington Post and The Guardian, said on Twitter. (Ms. Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and has called it ‘a superpower.’)” See also, Michelle Obama to Greta Thunberg after Trump tweet: ‘Don’t let anyone dim your light,’ CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, published on Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, Trump mocks 16-year-old Greta Thunberg a day after she is named Time’s Person of the Year, The Washington Post, David Nakamura and John Wagner, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “On a day in which North Korea issued a fresh threat and a House committee set the stage for his impeachment, President Trump on Thursday found time to insult 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg after she was named Time’s Person of the Year, an honor he has coveted for years. Trump’s mocking of Thunberg, who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, as having an ‘Anger Management problem’ drew widespread umbrage from Democrats who accused the president of bullying a teenager.”

Trump goes on Twitter tear ahead of panel vote on articles of impeachment, Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Just hours before a House panel was set to approve articles of impeachment against him, President Donald Trump flexed his Twitter fingers, blasting out more than 100 tweets and retweets covering everything from the impeachment proceedings and trade to his Mar-a-Lago resort and his upset for Time magazine’s Person of the Year honor.”

Methane is a Vast, Invisible Climate Menace. We Made It Visible. The New York Times, Jonah M. Dessel and Hiroko Tabuchi, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “To the naked eye, there is nothing out of the ordinary at the DCP Pegasus gas processing plant in West Texas, one of the thousands of installations in the vast Permian Basin that have transformed America into the largest oil and gas producer in the world. But a highly specialized camera sees what the human eye cannot: a major release of methane, the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas that is helping to warm the planet at an alarming rate. Two New York Times journalists detected this from a tiny plane, crammed with scientific equipment, circling above the oil and gas sites that dot the Permian, an oil field bigger than Kansas. In just a few hours, the plane’s instruments identified six sites with unusually high methane emissions.” See also, These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse, Vox, Eliza Barclay, Umair Irfan, and Tristan McConnell, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Dozens of countries have extraordinary tropical forests, but three stand out: Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries not only have the largest areas of tropical forest within their borders; they also have the highest rates of deforestation. We traveled to protected areas deep inside these countries to learn the superpowers of three tree species that play an unusually important part in staving off environmental disaster, not just locally, but globally. These trees play many ecological roles, but most impressive is how they produce rainfall, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and support hundreds of other species. If these ecosystems collapse, the climate effects are likely to be irreversible. And so what happens to these forests truly affects all life on Earth. This is the story of three trees [the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa), the stilt mangrove (Rhizophora), and the Afrormosia or African teak tree (Pericopsis elata)] at the center of our climate crisis that provide big benefits to you, me, and the world. Meet the trees, get to know their superpowers, and learn how scientists are trying to protect them.”

A Child’s Forehead Partially Removed, Four Deaths, the Wrong Medicine–A Secret Report Exposes Negligent Health Care for Jailed Immigrants, BuzzFeed News, Hamed Aleaziz, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Immigrants held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails around the US received medical care so bad it resulted in two preventable surgeries, including an 8-year-old boy who had to have part of his forehead removed, and contributed to four deaths, according to an internal complaint from an agency whistleblower. The allegations appear in an explosive Department of Homeland Security memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News, containing reports of detainees being given incorrect medication, suffering from delays in treating withdrawal symptoms, and one who was allowed to become so mentally unstable he lacerated his own penis and required reparative surgery.”

Congressional negotiators reach tentative $1.3 trillion federal spending deal, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Top congressional negotiators said Thursday they had reached a deal in principle to approve $1.3 trillion in federal spending for 2020, probably averting a government shutdown next week.” See also, Top Lawmakers Say Bipartisan Spending Deal Reached, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren and Andrew Restuccia, Thursday, 12 December 2019.

U.S. Settles on Outline of Elusive China Trade Deal, The New York Times, Ana Swanson, Alan Rappeport, and Keigh Bradsher, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “The United States has settled on final terms of a partial trade deal with China, several people familiar with the negotiations said, a development that could ease tensions between the world’s largest economies just days before the long-running trade war is set to escalate. President Trump met with his top economic advisers Thursday afternoon at the White House, where the president agreed to significant reductions on tariffs he has placed on $360 billion of Chinese goods in return for China’s commitment to purchase American farm products and make other concessions, the people said.” See also, Trump signs off on deal to ease China trade war, The Washington Post, David J. Lynch, Thursday, 12 December 2019. See also, Trump Agrees to Limited Trade Deal With China, The Wall Street Journal, Lingling Wei, Bob Davis, William Mauldin, and Josh Zumbrun, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “President Trump has agreed to a limited trade agreement with Beijing that will roll back existing tariff rates on Chinese goods and cancel new levies set to take effect Sunday as part of a deal to boost Chinese purchases of U.S. farm goods and obtain other concessions, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Senate Confirms John Sullivan as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, The New York Times, Michael Levenson, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Trump’s nominee John J. Sullivan to be the next United States ambassador to Russia, succeeding Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who resigned in August after a turbulent tenure characterized by sanctions against Moscow and investigations into the Kremlin’s election interference. Mr. Sullivan, a close ally of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who had been serving as deputy secretary of state, was confirmed by a vote of 70 to 22. His confirmation has been closely watched as one of the key steps needed to pave the way for a possible Senate run by Mr. Pompeo in his home state, Kansas.” See also, Senate Confirms John Sullivan as the New U.S. Ambassador to Russia, The Wall Street Journal, Courtney McBride, Thursday, 12 December 2019.

Kentucky Gives Voting Rights to Some 140,000 Former Felons, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “Kentucky’s newly elected Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, signed an executive order on Thursday restoring the vote and the right to hold public office to more than 140,000 residents who have completed sentences for nonviolent felonies. With that move, Kentucky joined a fast-growing movement to return voting rights to former felons, leaving Iowa as the only state that strips all former felons of the right to cast a ballot. Since 1997, 24 states have approved some type of measure to ease voting bans, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington group that advocates criminal justice policy changes. Kentucky joins Virginia, Florida, Nevada and other states that have extended voting rights in the last few years.”

House Votes to Give the Government the Power to Negotiate Drug Prices, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “The House, delivering on one of Democrats’ central campaign promises, passed ambitious legislation on Thursday to lower the rising cost of prescription drugs by empowering the federal government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers. The bill, known as H.R. 3 — a numerical designation that reflects its position on Democrats’ priority list — would make significant changes to the federal Medicare program, which provides health coverage to older Americans. It passed largely on party lines, 230 to 192, and includes provisions to create new vision, dental and hearing benefits, and caps out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000.”

Pentagon watchdog plans to review award of $400M border wall contract to firm pushed by Trump, NBC News, Julia Ainsley and Courtney Kube, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “The Defense Department’s internal watchdog plans to review a recent Army Corps of Engineers decision to award a $400 million contract for border wall construction to a North Dakota company that has been publicly and privately endorsed by members of the Trump administration, including the president himself. The review of the award to Fisher Sand & Gravel is an audit by the Pentagon’s inspector general and comes in response to a request by Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson said the decision to award the contract should be reviewed because Fisher’s ‘proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’ and because of ‘concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence’ on the Army Corps of Engineers.” See also, Pentagon inspector general to review $400 million border wall contract given to firm that Trump favored, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “The Defense Department’s inspector general’s office will audit a $400 million border wall contract that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded to a North Dakota construction company run by a GOP donor whom President Trump repeatedly urged military officials to hire.”

Divided Court Hears Trump Emoluments Case: ‘We Are Up Here Winging It,’ The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “A federal appeals court in Virginia heard arguments Thursday about whether to revive a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from his hotel near the White House, in a spirited session that indicated sharp divisions among the judges over the legal consequences of the president’s conduct. The three-hour hearing in Richmond was the first time that a full federal appeals court has considered the so-called emoluments or anticorruption clauses of the Constitution. Mr. Trump is the first president to be sued for violating those clauses, and so far only lower courts or appellate panels have ruled on the three cases against him.”

In Defiance of Trump, the Senate Passes Resolution Recognizing Armenian Genocide, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 12 December 2019: “The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to recognize the Armenian genocide as a matter of American foreign policy, a move that was made over the objections of the Trump administration and that underscored lawmakers’ bipartisan rage at Turkey. The passage of the legislation, a symbolic victory for Armenians around the world, is the first time Congress has formally designated the 1915 mass killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.” See also, Senate passes resolution recognizing Armenian genocide, NBC News, Julie Tsirkin and Dareh Gregorian, Thursday, 12 December 2019.