Trump Administration, Week 152, Friday, 13 December – Thursday, 19 December 2019 (Days 1,058-1,064)



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, 13 December 2019, Day 1,058:


House Judiciary Committee Approves Impeachment Articles and Sends Charges for a House Vote, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 13 December 2019: “A fiercely divided House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Friday, setting up a historic vote as early as next week before the full House that would make him only the third president to be impeached. The impeachment articles, passed over fierce Republican protests, accused the president of abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress. The votes and a fractious two-day debate preceding them reflected the realities of the hyperpartisan divisions in American politics that have grown wider during Mr. Trump’s three years in office.” See also, House set for historic floor vote next week after the House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment against Trump, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, John Wagner, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 13 December 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Friday, officially laying out charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a historic step toward removing him from office. With the party-line 23-to-17 vote, Trump became only the fourth president in U.S. history to face impeachment for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ The committee took just 10 minutes to approve both articles, following a 14-hour session Thursday, teeing up a history-making floor vote next week and a Senate trial in January to determine Trump’s fate.” See also, House Judiciary Committee sends articles of impeachment to the floor for vote next week, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee approves articles of impeachment, paving way for floor vote, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee Approves Trump Impeachment Articles, Setting Up a Full House Vote Next Week, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes and Natalie Andrews, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee votes to advance articles of impeachment against Trump, The Guardian, Tom McCarthy, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, The House Judiciary Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment, The Nation, John Nichols, Friday, 13 December 2019: “‘Abuse of presidential power and obstruction of Congress are the highest of constitutional crimes and the gravest of betrayals,’” Pramila Jayapal said during Friday’s vote.” See also, Fact-based impeachment can’t penetrate the pro-Trump Web, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Friday, 13 December 2019: “As the House Judiciary Committee convened Friday to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump, a watch party got underway in a private Facebook group that rallies its more than 75,000 members around the banner, ‘THE TRUMP DEPLORABLES.’ The comments that streamed forth in the group illustrate how Trump’s most ardent supporters have fashioned alternative realities for themselves — as well as for Republican lawmakers aiming to turn the charge of corruption back on those investigating the president. The feed — from Fox News, a major source of news for the president’s supporters — showed the same scene available to viewers tuning in on various networks all over the country. But in the online enclave where the self-described ‘deplorables’ had gathered to watch the committee vote, Democrats are the lawbreakers who ‘should be impeached,’ as one viewer wrote. Trump’s word is truth. And the federal employees who question his version of events are not just mistaken, they are ‘scum,’ as Trump labeled members of the intelligence community at a rally this week in Hershey, Pa. The decision by the committee’s Republicans to close ranks around the president, as Democrats in a party-line vote approved two articles of impeachment, may have prompted head-scratching among Americans who learned on the nightly news or read on mainstream websites or in the morning paper how Trump had turned American policy in Ukraine toward his own ends. But the defense mounted by Trump’s allies made perfect sense to those following live on social media, in groups sealed off from general scrutiny, where facts are established by volume, and confirmation comes from likes.”

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Trump Can Block the Release of His Financial Records, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 13 December 2019: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether President Trump can block the release of his financial records, setting the stage for a blockbuster ruling on the power of presidents to resist demands for information from prosecutors and Congress. The court’s ruling, expected by June, could require disclosure of information the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect. Or the justices could rule that Mr. Trump’s financial affairs are not legitimate subjects of inquiry so long as he remains in office. Either way, the court is now poised to produce a once-in-a-generation statement on presidential accountability. The case will test the independence of the court, which is dominated by Republican appointees, including two named by Mr. Trump. In earlier Supreme Court cases in which presidents sought to avoid providing evidence, the rulings did not break along partisan lines.” See also, Supreme Court will take up Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 13 December 2019: “The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether President Trump may shield disclosure of his financial information from congressional committees and a New York prosecutor, raising the prospect of a landmark election-year ruling on a president’s immunity from investigation while he is in office. Trump asked the court to accept the cases, and they will be heard in March, with a ruling before the court’s session ends in late June. It means that whatever the outcome of Trump’s separate impeachment proceedings, the controversies over investigations into Trump’s conduct will continue into the heart of the presidential election campaign.” See also, Supreme Court to hear Trump pleas to block subpoenas for financial records, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Friday, 13 December 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Coordinating With the White House, Lays Plans for Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 13 December 2019: “With the House headed to a vote to impeach President Trump next week, Senator Mitch McConnell was working hand in hand with the White House to make plans for a Senate trial, a proceeding steeped in tradition and rules but one fraught with political peril for vulnerable Republicans. Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had no preference for how the trial — expected to begin in early January — unfolds, but he has privately pushed for a prolonged process that would allow him to mount a theatrical defense. Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has resisted that idea in favor of a shorter, more dignified event. Outraged Democrats, meanwhile, accused Mr. McConnell on Friday of abandoning his duty to render ‘impartial justice’ in an impeachment trial — a response to a television interview in which Mr. McConnell dismissed House Democrats’ articles of impeachment as ‘so darn weak.’ He added that he was ‘taking my cues’ from the White House in shaping the trial…. Representative Val B. Demings, Democrat of Florida and a member of the House Judiciary Committee who is being mentioned as a possible House manager during the impeachment trial, … called Friday for Mr. McConnell to recuse himself from the proceedings. ‘No court in the country would allow a member of the jury to also serve as the accused’s defense attorney,’ Ms. Demings said in a statement. ‘The moment Senator McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation of that oath.'” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vow of ‘total coordination’ with the White House on Senate impeachment trial angers Democrats, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 13 December 2019: “In a late Thursday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, McConnell (R-Ky.) all but guaranteed a Trump acquittal, saying there was ‘zero chance’ the president would be removed from office, and promised ‘total coordination’ with the White House and Trump’s defense team. ‘The case is so darn weak coming over from the House,’ he said. ‘We all know how it’s going to end.’ Those remarks infuriated House Democrats as they voted to advance the fourth-ever set of presidential impeachment articles toward a Senate trial where, they said, the fix appeared to be in…. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) [called] on McConnell to recuse himself from the Senate proceedings based on his Fox News remarks. ‘He’s working hand in hand with the White House, the president’s attorney, and yet we are supposed to expect him to manage a fair and impartial impeachment inquiry?’ she said.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will work in ‘total coordination’ with the White House on impeachment trial. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reminds senators they will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice.’ ABC News, Mariam Khan and Libby Cathey, Friday, 13 December 2019: “[Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer released a statement Friday on the heels of McConnell’s comments, reminding his colleagues about the oath they must take before the trial to ‘render impartial justice. If articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate, every single senator will take an oath to render “impartial justice.” Making sure the Senate conducts a fair and honest trial that allows all the facts to come out is paramount,’ Schumer said, citing the Senate rules for impeachment trials.”

Continue reading Week 152, Friday, 13 December – Thursday, 19 December 2019 (Days 1,058-1,064)

U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Ana Swanson, Keith Bradsher, and Chris Buckley, Friday, 13 December 2019: “When President Trump and China confirmed on Friday that they had reached an initial trade deal, it helped defuse tensions in a 19-month trade war and avoided another round of punishing tariffs scheduled for this weekend. But a trade deal that took nearly two years to reach and inflicted global economic damage in the process does little to resolve the United States’ biggest concerns about China’s trade practices, including its use of industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises to dominate global industries like steel and solar panels. If signed, the deal would increase Chinese purchases of American farm and energy products, place limits on Beijing’s ability to weaken its currency and provide greater protections to American companies operating in China. It would also reduce some of Mr. Trump’s tariffs and forestall new tariffs slated for Sunday. Yet its main benefit may be to help Mr. Trump politically — allowing him to promote large gains to American farmers devastated by the trade war, calming anxious investors and convincing voters before the 2020 election that he has lived up to his promise to get tough on China.” See also, U.S. and China Agree to Limited Deal to Halt Trade War, The Wall Street Journal, William Mauldin, Lingling Wei, and Alex Leary, Friday, 13 December 2019: “Details emerged Friday from the U.S.’s first-stage trade deal with China, which marked a milestone in President Trump’s initiative to rebalance trade with Beijing but left questions over how far it goes to level the playing field for U.S. businesses. The limited agreement, capping months of sometimes-testy negotiations, calls for China to purchase more products from American farmers and other exports, U.S. officials said. In return, the U.S. put the brakes on new tariffs set to take effect Sunday and agreed to reduce some existing levies. Both sides termed it a ‘phase one’ deal and said negotiations would continue on remaining issues. See also, Trump and China confirm agreement on ‘phase one’ trade deal, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Charles Riley, Steven Jiang, and Donna Borak, Friday, 13 December 2019.

White House further limits officials on Trump’s foreign leader phone calls in wake of Ukraine scandal, CNN Politics, Alex Marquardt, Zachary Cohen, and Pamela Brown, Friday, 13 December 2019: “President Donald Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President’s phone calls with foreign leaders since his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President was revealed and became the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, according to multiple White House sources. Transcripts of Trump’s calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a far smaller group of people inside the White House, those administration sources say, continuing an effort to limit the number of people with insight and information about the conversations.”

Matt Bevin, Ousted Kentucky Governor, Sets Off Furor With ‘Extreme Pardons,’ The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, Friday, 13 December 2019: “Delmar Partin was convicted of strangling a woman and stuffing her body in a barrel. Micah Schoettle was sent to prison after a middle schooler testified that he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her, starting from the time she was 9. Patrick Baker was found guilty of killing a man and impersonating a United States marshal during a robbery. All three men walked out of prison this week after Kentucky’s outgoing governor, Matt Bevin, issued more than 400 pardons and commutations during the final days of his administration. His actions set off a controversy that continued to ripple across the commonwealth on Friday, days after Mr. Bevin, a Republican whose administration was fraught with conflict and who lost re-election in a red state by more than 5,000 votes, officially left office.”

‘Just Having Fun’: Rudy Giuliani Doubles Down on Ukraine Investigations, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Julie Bykowicz, and Thomas Grove, Friday, 13 December 2019: “Some of Rudy Giuliani’s friends told him to keep a low profile. Instead, Mr. Giuliani is escalating his push for Ukraine to conduct investigations, undeterred by federal prosecutors probing his business dealings and an impeachment inquiry into his client, President Trump. In recent weeks, as a dozen witnesses told impeachment investigators that they were alarmed by Mr. Giuliani’s efforts, the president’s attorney has been working on a TV series about the need for investigations in Ukraine into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and claims that Kyiv interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Mr. Giuliani traveled to Kyiv—his first trip to Ukraine in two years—to interview officials and gather information this month, as the Democrats started to draft articles of impeachment. When he returned to New York last Saturday, the president called him as his plane was still taxiing down the runway, Mr. Giuliani said. ‘What did you get?’ he said Mr. Trump asked. ‘More than you can imagine,’ Mr. Giuliani replied. He is putting his findings into a 20-page report.”

A Great Big Gift Not on Trump’s Disclosure Form: Rudy Giuliani’s Legal Advice, The New York Times, Jim Dwyer and Eric Lipton, Friday, 13 December 2019: “For the past 20 months, President Trump has received free personal legal services from one of America’s highest-paid lawyers, who has traveled around the country and across the ocean to defend him in the special counsel’s inquiry and press Ukraine to investigate a political rival and unfounded conspiracy theories. The lawyer, of course, is Rudolph W. Giuliani, but Mr. Trump did not mention Mr. Giuliani or his unpaid labor on the annual financial disclosure he filed in May, which requires that the value and source of gifts — including free legal work — be publicly listed. That requirement is cut and dried, said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. She cited guidance from the Office of Government Ethics, issued in November 2017, that states federal officials must disclose ‘gifts of legal defenses — in kind or by payment of the fees. The purpose is to ensure the public has an opportunity to see whether there is any kind of corrupting influence,’ said Ms. Clark, who has written on ethics issues involving government employees in need of lawyers.”


Saturday, 14 December 2019, Day 1,059:


Impeach, The New York Times, Editorial Board, Saturday, 14 December 2019: “In the end, the story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning: President Donald Trump abused the power of his office by strong-arming Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid until it agreed to help him influence the 2020 election by digging up dirt on a political rival. When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing ‘unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance’ in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic. To quote from the articles, ‘President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.’ The case now moves to the full House of Representatives, which on Wednesday will decide, for just the third time in the nation’s history, whether to impeach a president. To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.” See also, Clinton’s Impeachment Was Suspenseful. Trump’s Grip on Republicans Means His Won’t Be. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 14 December 2019: “Back in 1998, the impeachment battle felt like the ultimate drama, so intense that the rest of the world seemed to have stopped spinning on its axis, yet so fluid and suspenseful that it was never entirely certain how it would play out. This time it feels like one more chapter in an all-out clash that has been fought for three years, hugely consequential yet of a piece with everything that has come before, with less suspense and an outcome seemingly foreordained…. The Clinton impeachment felt like the most divisive moment in a generation. As it turns out, it does not hold a candle to today’s factionalized politics. ‘There were divisions back then as well, but the big difference is the lack of a common agreement on reality,’ said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, one of five members of the Judiciary Committee still on the panel from 1998.”

A Wisconsin judge ordered up to 234,000 people to be tossed from the registered voter list in a swing state, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Saturday, 14 December 2019: “A Wisconsin judge ordered the state to take as many as 234,000 people off its registered-voter list Friday because they may have moved — a decision that could impede residents of this swing state from voting in next year’s presidential election. The case centers on a letter that the state Elections Commission sent in October to hundreds of thousands of voters, asking them to respond if they were still at that address or to update their registrations if they had moved. Conservatives filed a lawsuit alleging that to avoid fraud, the commission should have thrown out the registrations of voters who did not respond to the mailing within 30 days, the Associated Press reported. The Elections Commission, composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, is challenging the suit by arguing that it has the legal power to manage the registered voter list and that removing people now would cause confusion if some of them had not actually moved.”


Sunday, 15 December 2019, Day 1,060:


Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Lays Out His Plan for Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear, Sunday, 15 December 2019: “As the House prepared to make President Trump only the third president in American history to be impeached, the Senate’s top Democrat on Sunday laid out a detailed proposal for a Senate trial ‘in which all of the facts can be considered fully and fairly’ — including subpoenas for documents the White House has withheld and witnesses it has prevented from testifying. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, presented the proposal in a letter to his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell, in an opening move to force Republicans to negotiate over the shape and scope of the proceedings. Mr. McConnell had said last week that he was ‘taking my cues’ from the White House, prompting Democrats to accuse him of abandoning his duty to render ‘impartial justice’ in the trial. In the letter, Mr. Schumer proposed a trial beginning Jan. 7 that would give each side a fixed amount of time to present its case, and called for four top White House officials who have not previously testified — including Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, and John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser — to appear as witnesses. Mr. Schumer also called for the Senate to subpoena documents that could shed light on the events at the heart of the charges against Mr. Trump: his campaign to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. And he set forth a specific timetable for each side to present its case, modeled on the one used when President Bill Clinton was tried in 1999. Mr. Clinton’s trial lasted about five weeks.” See also, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls for testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton in proposal to Republicans on parameters for Trump impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Karoun Demirjian, and Steven Mufson, Sunday, 15 December 2019: “The top Senate Democrat on Sunday called for subpoenaing several senior Trump administration officials who have yet to testify in the House’s impeachment probe as witnesses for President Trump’s likely trial — part of an opening salvo in negotiations that could determine the parameters for the Senate proceedings next month. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) outlined a number of procedural demands that Democrats say would make the Senate trial fair and able to be completed ‘within a reasonable period of time.’ That includes subpoenas issued by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney; former national security adviser John Bolton; and Michael Duffey, a top official at the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney, Blair and Duffey had been subpoenaed by the House committees and defied the summons; Bolton has not been subpoenaed but indicated he would fight one in court.” See also, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tells Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Senate Democrats want to hear testimony from four administration witnesses, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, Politico, Burgess Everett, Sunday, 15 December 2019.

U.N. climate talks end with hard feelings, few results, and new doubts about global unity, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Chico Harlan, Sunday, 15 December 2019: “Global climate talks lurched to an end here Sunday with finger-pointing, accusations of failure and fresh doubts about the world’s collective resolve to slow the warming of the planet — at a moment when scientists say time is running out for people to avert steadily worsening climate disasters. After more than two weeks of negotiations, punctuated by raucous protests and constant reminders of a need to move faster, negotiators barely mustered enthusiasm for the compromise they had patched together, while raising grievances about the issues that remain unresolved. The negotiators failed to achieve their primary goals. Central among them: persuading the world’s largest carbon-emitting countries to pledge to tackle climate change more aggressively beginning in 2020.”

Top Democratic candidates ask the DNC to allow more candidates to participate in debates, Vox, Riley Beggin, Sunday, 15 December 2019: “Nine Democratic presidential candidates sent a letter to the Democratic National Committee Saturday urging the party to ease the qualification requirements for upcoming debates, highlighting tensions within the party over the decline of candidates of color in a primary field once heralded for being the most diverse in US history.”

Military Is Investigating Suspected ‘White Power’ Hand Gestures Flashed During a Nationally Televised Pregame Show Before the Army/Navy Football Game on Saturday, The New York Times, Johnny Diaz, Sunday, 15 December 2019: “United States military officials said they were investigating whether Army cadets and Navy midshipmen had flashed hand symbols associated with hate groups during a nationally televised pregame show before their football matchup on Saturday. A broadcast showed cadets from the United States Military Academy and midshipmen from the Naval Academy in the stands displaying the sign at least five times behind ESPN broadcaster Rece Davis before the game, which was held at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday.”

Trump goes after Pelosi’s teeth as the House gears up for impeachment vote, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Sunday, 15 December 2019: “President Trump opened a new, dental front Sunday in his periodic feuding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting on Twitter that her teeth were falling out as she answered a reporter’s question about why bribery was not made an article of impeachment.”


Monday, 16 December 2019, Day 1,061:


Rudy Giuliani Provides Details of What Trump Knew About the Removal of Marie Yovanovitch, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Monday, 16 December 2019: “Rudolph W. Giuliani said on Monday that he provided President Trump with detailed information this year about how the United States ambassador to Ukraine was, in Mr. Giuliani’s view, impeding investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump, setting in motion the ambassador’s recall from her post. In an interview, Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, described how he passed along to Mr. Trump ‘a couple of times’ accounts about how the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, had frustrated efforts that could be politically helpful to Mr. Trump. They included investigations involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukrainians who disseminated documents that damaged Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. The president in turn connected Mr. Giuliani with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who asked for more information, Mr. Giuliani said. Within weeks, Ms. Yovanovitch was recalled as ambassador at the end of April and was told that Mr. Trump had lost trust in her. The circumstances of Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster after a smear campaign engineered in part by Mr. Giuliani were documented during testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, where she was a key witness in impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump. Mr. Giuliani has made no secret of his role in flagging concerns about Ms. Yovanovitch to Mr. Trump. But Mr. Giuliani’s account, in an interview with The New York Times on Monday evening, provided additional detail about the president’s knowledge of and involvement in one element of a pressure campaign against Ukraine.”

Democrats accuse Trump of criminal bribery and wire fraud in 658-page report that explains articles of impeachment, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Brittany Shammas, Monday, 16 December 2019: “Democrats accused President Trump of ‘multiple federal crimes,’ including bribery and wire fraud, in a new report released early Monday that explains the articles of impeachment that the House is expected to approve mostly along party lines Wednesday.” See also, Read: House Judiciary Committee report on impeachment, The Washington Post, Monday, 16 December 2019. See also, Judiciary Committee impeachment report alleges Trump committed ‘multiple federal crimes,’ Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Monday, 16 December 2019.

Over 750 Historians, including Robert Caro and Ken Burns, Signed Onto a Statement Condemning Trump’s ‘Numerous and Flagrant Abuses of Power,’ The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Monday, 16 December 2019: “Not long ago, Sean Wilentz, a professor of American history at Princeton, talked to other historians who were frustrated about not having an easy way to voice and organize their concerns over Mr. Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign. So, working with Brenda Wineapple, the author of a recent book on President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, he drafted a statement and sent it to a long list of historian friends. The resulting text, which they shared with The Times, now has over 750 signatures from historians across the nation, including some of the field’s most well-known figures: Robert Caro, Ken Burns and Ron Chernow. (Read the full statement here.) ‘President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president,’ the statement says. ‘The President’s offenses, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election from Russian disinformation and renewed interference, arouse once again the Framers’ most profound fears that powerful members of government would become, in Hamilton’s words, the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption.’ The statement ‘is a form that historians and others have used over the decades to express collective opinions. It’s a kind of petition to the public,’ Mr. Wilentz said. ‘We have a civic role, as keepers in some ways of the nation’s heritage, as people who have devoted our lives to studying this country.’” See also, Historians’ Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump, Medium, Monday, 16 December 2019. See also, More than 700 scholars pen letter urging House to impeach Trump, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 16 December 2019.

Moderate Democrats Back Impeachment of Trump as House Vote Nears, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Monday, 16 December 2019: “Democratic lawmakers representing conservative-leaning districts announced one by one on Monday that they would cast votes this week to impeach President Trump, signaling that a critical bloc of the most politically vulnerable Democrats is pulling together behind the party’s effort to seek his removal from office. Ahead of a historic vote on two articles of impeachment, about a half-dozen first-term Democrats in districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016 — all impeachment skeptics — said they had become convinced that they had no choice but to move forward with official charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against the president.” See also, Centrist Democrats line up behind impeachment, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez, and Philip Rucker, Monday, 16 December 2019. See also, More On-the-Fence Democrats Back Impeachment of Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes, Lindsay Wise, and Natalie Andrews, Monday, 16 December 2019. See also, Vulnerable Democrats to vote to impeach Trump, Politico, Sarah Ferris, Monday, 16 December 2019.

House says it still needs Mueller grand jury details for impeachment proceedings, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Monday, 16 December 2019: “The US House told a federal appeals court on Monday that it still needs access to confidential grand jury information from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for use in the current impeachment proceedings. Some of the still-secret information may have to do with Ukraine, the House argued in a court filing with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.”

Yuriy Lutsenko, the Ukrainian Prosecutor Behind Trump’s Impeachment: How the efforts of Yuriy Lutsenko and Rudy Giuliani to smear Joe Biden led to a Presidential crisis, The New Yorker, Adam Entous, Monday, 16 December 2019: “If all the names featured in the private depositions and public testimonies of the Presidential impeachment inquiry—Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor FrumanJoe Biden and his son, Hunter—that of Yuriy Lutsenko has been cited more often than almost any other. In the sworn depositions of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, Lutsenko’s name appears two hundred and thirty times, nearly twice as often as Trump’s. Lutsenko, sometimes referred to simply as ‘the corrupt prosecutor general’ of Ukraine, has been portrayed, hardly without reason, as an unscrupulous politician prone to telling lies to further his personal ambitions. As those closely following the news have learned, Lutsenko fed information to Giuliani, which Giuliani, Trump, and their allies spun to smear the reputations of the Bidens and of Yovanovitch, whom Trump fired in April. One of the House’s star witnesses told me, of Lutsenko, ‘I don’t think we’d be here if not for him.'”

Russia’s State TV Calls Trump their ‘Agent,’ The Daily Beast, Julia Davis, Monday, 16 December 2019: “As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returned home from his visit with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week, Russian state media were gloating over the spectacle. TV channel Rossiya 1 aired a segment entitled ‘Puppet Master and “Agent”—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.’ Vesti Nedeli, a Sunday news show on the same network, pointed out that it was Trump, personally, who asked Lavrov to pose standing near as Trump sat at his desk. It’s almost the literal image of a power behind the throne.”

Supreme Court Won’t Revive Law Barring Homeless People From Sleeping Outdoors, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 16 December 2019: “The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would not hear a closely watched case on whether cities can make it a crime for homeless people to sleep outdoors. The case was brought by six people in Boise, Idaho, who said a pair of local laws violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. One prohibited ‘camping’ in streets, parks and other public property. The other prohibited ‘lodging or sleeping’ in any place, whether public or private, without the owner’s permission. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled for the plaintiffs and struck down the laws, saying the Constitution does not allow prosecuting people for sleeping outdoors if there is no shelter available. The Supreme Court typically understands the Eighth Amendment to address acceptable punishments rather than what conduct can be made criminal. But in 1962, it struck down a California law that made being a drug addict a crime on Eighth Amendment grounds. Relying on that decision and quoting from an earlier Ninth Circuit rulingJudge Marsha Berzon, writing for the panel, said ‘the Eighth Amendment prohibits the state from punishing an involuntary act or condition if it is the unavoidable consequence of one’s status or being.'” See also, Supreme Court won’t review decision that protects homeless from getting tickets for sleeping and camping on city sidewalks and in parks, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 16 December 2019: “The Supreme Court will not review a lower court decision that protected those experiencing homelessness from being ticketed for sleeping and camping on city sidewalks and parks if no other shelter is available. Without comment or noted dissent, the court turned down a petition from Boise, Idaho, whose law against camping and sleeping on sidewalks was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit as a violation of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

Long Lines as Undocumented Immigrants in N.Y. Rush to Get Licenses, The New York Times, Tracey Tully and Michael Gold, Monday, 16 December 2019: “On the New York side of the Hudson River, lines outside some Department of Motor Vehicles offices stretched for blocks on Monday, as people sought to take advantage of a new state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The same day, the first that New York’s so-called Green Light Law went into effect, lawmakers in neighboring New Jersey approved similar legislation. The action unfolding in the two heavily Democratic states came against a backdrop of President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies that aim to limit entry into the United States and have included separating children from their parents at the border. The administration’s moves set off an intense national debate over immigration — one that New York addressed in June, when lawmakers approved a bill allowing licenses for undocumented residents. That move was celebrated by undocumented immigrants and activists alike. On Monday, offices in New York were swamped as people previously ineligible to apply for licenses lined up, documents in hand, to seek the legal right to drive.” See also, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Signs Bill Allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Get Driver’s Licenses, NBC New York, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed a bill that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Murphy, a Democrat, signed the measure in Elizabeth, making New Jersey the 14th state, along with the District of Columbia, to permit immigrants without legal status to obtain a driver’s licenses…. A 2018 study from New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank, estimated about nearly 500,000 residents without documentation are of driving age in New Jersey.”

President Trump has made 15,413 false or misleading claims over 1.055 days, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, Monday, 16 December 2019: “In 2017, President Trump made nearly 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added another 5,689, for a total of 7,688. Now, with a few weeks still left in 2019, the president already has more than doubled the total number of false or misleading claims in just a single year. As of Dec. 10, his 1,055th day in office, Trump had made 15,413 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered. That’s an average of more than 32 claims a day since our last update 62 days ago.”

Trump Threatens to Bypass the Nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, Attacking Its Integrity, The Wall Street Journal, Ken Thomas, Monday, 16 December 2019: “President Trump threatened to pull out of a system of presidential campaign debates that has been in place for more than three decades and accused the nonpartisan commission that oversees them of bias. The president said in a series of tweets Monday that he would consider participating in more than the three scheduled debates, bypassing the Commission on Presidential Debates, which he said was ‘stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers,’ without elaborating on that claim. He went on to put forth other options, ‘including doing them directly & avoiding the nasty politics of this very biased Commission. I will make a decision at an appropriate time but in the meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates is NOT authorized to speak for me (or R’s).'”


Tuesday, 17 December 2019, Day 1,062:


Senate leaders battle over impeachment trial after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejects Democrats’ calls for witnesses, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Paul Kane, and Elise Viebeck, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The Senate’s top two leaders Tuesday engaged in a battle over the structure of President Trump’s impeachment trial, underscoring a new level of tension between the two sides before negotiations over the Senate proceedings even begin. It started Tuesday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected a call from his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), to subpoena new witnesses for the proceedings, which are expected to begin next month, calling Schumer’s demands ‘dead wrong’ and suggesting he didn’t understand the Constitution.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejects Schumer’s opening offer on impeachment trial, Politico, Burgess Everett, Tuesday, 17 December 2019. See also, Impeachment developments on Tuesday, 17 December, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Elise Viebeck, Tuesday, 17 December 2019.

Trump Diatribe Belittles Impeachment, Describing the Process Enshrined in the Constitution as an Attempted Government Overthrow, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday angrily denounced the looming House votes to impeach him as a ‘Star Chamber of partisan persecution’ by Democrats, describing the effort to remove him from office as an ‘attempted coup’ that would come back to haunt them at the ballot box next year. On the eve of the historic votes, Democrats reached a critical threshold, gathering majority support to impeach Mr. Trump, as the president raged against the proceedings. In an irate and rambling six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Trump portrayed himself as the victim of enemies determined to destroy his presidency with false accusations. ‘This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,’ Mr. Trump declared, describing a process enshrined in the Constitution as an attempted government overthrow. In a missive full of unproven charges, hyperbole and long-simmering grievances against his own government — at one point, he referred to leaders of the F.B.I. as ‘totally incompetent and corrupt’ — Mr. Trump angrily disputed both of the impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The letter ignored the extensive evidence uncovered during a two-month inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee, based in part on the testimony by members of his own administration. It found that Mr. Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while holding back nearly $400 million in military assistance the country badly needed and a White House meeting for its president.” See also, Trump Wanted to Get Something Off His Chest, and in His Letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, He Did, The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The letter read like a Twitter tirade published on White House stationery. The words ran together with the cadence of a Trump rally script, just before the president veers from the teleprompter. The accusations, untruths and wayward exclamation points piled up by the paragraph…. Five and a half pages long, signed in Sharpie and sent the afternoon before the House of Representatives was due to impeach him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the letter officially underscored — for the ‘permanent and indelible record’ — how angry he had become over the prospect of becoming only the third president in history to have this happen to him. Extensive in its grievances and laced with different words for what he perceives the House is about to do to him and what its reason is for doing it — such as ‘assault,’ ‘destruction’ and ‘derangement’ — the letter was a rambling diatribe that played loose with facts, sometimes disregarding them outright.” See also, Read Trump’s Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “We fact-checked President Trump’s rambling and angry letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which he expressed his ‘most powerful protest’ against the impeachment process.” See also, Trump rips Democrats for ‘attempted coup’ on eve of likely impeachment, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Elise Viebeck, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 17 December 2019. See also, Fact-checking Trump’s impeachment letter to Pelosi, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, published on Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, Trump’s written tirade to Nancy Pelosi, annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “Trump sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a lengthy and scathing letter Tuesday, raising a litany of complaints about Pelosi’s handling of the impeachment process on the eve of the House’s expected vote Wednesday on the articles of impeachment against him. The letter is chock-full of angry rhetoric and ominous warnings about the impending doom of American democracy, and it is also littered with false and misleading claims.” See also, Trump Denounces House Democrats as Impeachment Vote Looms, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Lindsay Wise, and Siobhan Hughes, Tuesday, 17 December 2019. See also, Trump sends scorching letter to Pelosi ahead of House impeachment vote, The New York Times, CNN Politics, Maegan Vazquez, Tuesday, 17 December 2019.

Rudy Giuliani says Trump still supports his dirt-digging in Ukraine, CNN Politics, Dana Bash and Michael Warren, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “Rudy Giuliani told CNN that President Donald Trump has been ‘very supportive’ of his continued efforts to dig up dirt on Democrats in Ukraine, including his most recent trip to the Eastern European country. The admission bolsters a central Democratic argument of the impeachment proceedings: that the President has allowed his personal attorney to push Ukraine for investigations that benefit Trump’s political agenda.”

Rallies Spread on Eve of House Impeachment Votes. A coalition of liberal groups that included and Indivisible organized hundreds of protests across the country. The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “From Boston Common to the French Quarter in New Orleans, a series of protests reverberated across the country on Tuesday evening to call for President Trump’s removal from office, a prelude to momentous impeachment votes set for Wednesday in the House of Representatives.”

See also, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff says Pence’s office may have purposefully misled panel about contents of his Zelensky call in September, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “Vice President Pence has refused to declassify testimony that is ‘directly relevant’ to the impeachment debate, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote Tuesday in a letter that raised further questions about what Pence said in a September phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In a letter to Pence, Schiff wrote that classified witness testimony gathered during the impeachment inquiry ‘raises profound questions about your knowledge of the President’s scheme to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.'”

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Orders F.B.I. to Fix National Security Wiretaps After Damning Report, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “A secretive federal court accused the F.B.I. on Tuesday of misleading judges about the rationale for wiretapping a former Trump campaign adviser and ordered the bureau to propose changes in how investigators seek their permission for national security surveillance targeting Americans. In an extraordinary public order, the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, gave the F.B.I. a Jan. 10 deadline to come up with a proposal. It was the first public response from the court to the scathing findings released last week by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general about the wiretapping of the former Trump adviser, Carter Page, as part of the Russia investigation. ‘The frequency with which representations made by F.B.I. personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other F.B.I. applications is reliable,’ Judge Collyer wrote. The court ‘expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing,’ she added, using italics to emphasize the court’s anger.”

Russian disinformation network is said to have helped spread smear of Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The story that appeared on the Hill website on March 20 was startling. Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, had given a ‘list of people whom we should not prosecute’ to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, according to a write-up of an interview Lutsenko gave to the conservative columnist John Solomon…. [The State Department has denied that such a list existed, and Lutsenko has since sought to clarify what he reportedly told Solomon.]… Five days later, an image of that purported list appeared in a post on the website Medium and on some other self-publishing platforms in locations as disparate as Germany, South Africa and San Francisco. In less than a week, the Medium essay had been translated into Spanish and German and posted to other websites. Now, a social media analysis firm, Graphika, has traced those posts to a Russian disinformation campaign — in the first evidence that a network of accounts involved in spreading disinformation before the 2016 presidential election also participated in circulating the false claims about Yovanovitch that earlier this year led to her recall from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The smear campaign against the American diplomat lies at the heart of the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Those proceedings come to a head Wednesday with an expected House vote on two articles of impeachment.”

Bill Taylor, top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, to leave post at the end of the year, NBC News, Abigail Williams and Dan DeLuce, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine, Bill Taylor, will leave his post at the end of the year, a current and a former U.S. official told NBC News on Tuesday. Taylor, who questioned the White House’s decision to withhold an Oval Office meeting with the Ukrainian president and military aid for Kyiv, was a key witness in the congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump…. Trump has castigated diplomats who testified in the inquiry, calling them ‘Never Trumpers,’ and it’s highly unlikely Pompeo would set foot in Kyiv until Taylor has left the post.” See also, William Taylor, Top Diplomat in Ukraine and Key Impeachment Witness, Is Stepping Down, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, Tuesday, 17 December 2019.

Senate Approves $738 Billion Defense Bill, Sending It to Trump, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to pass a bipartisan $738 billion defense policy bill, sending President Trump one of the most expensive military measures in the nation’s history and one that he has championed as a critical priority…. The legislative package contains a pair of specific victories for Mr. Trump, who is expected to sign the bill this week. It authorizes the Space Force, which he proposed last year — initially, in his own telling, as a joke — as the sixth branch of the American military. It would also provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian federal employees, a Democratic priority that was embraced by his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.”

Congress agrees to millions in gun violence research for the first time in decades, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The $25 million for federal research into gun violence that’s included in the massive spending bill agreed to on Capitol Hill represents the first time in over two decades that Congress has allocated funding for the issue. The House voted Tuesday to approve the nearly $1.4 trillion spending deal that includes $12.5 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $12.5 million for the National Institutes of Health. The funding comes as the nation continues to grapple with the effects of frequent mass shootings.”

Fossil fuel companies claim they’re helping fight climate change. The reality is different. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Kathy Mulvey, Myles Allen, Peter C. Frumhoff, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “[B]ehind the fossil fuel companies’ climate charm offensive, they are betting that global temperatures will rise well above the Paris Agreement targets. For example, in ExxonMobil’s 2019 Outlook for Energy, the company projects no reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector through 2040—and no date at which emissions reach net zero, implying indefinite warming. And ExxonMobil is not alone: Only 13 percent of the energy companies that follow the disclosure framework recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures are even testing the resilience of their business strategies in a scenario where global warming is kept below 2 degrees.”

Georgia purged 309,000 voters from its rolls. It’s the second state to make cuts in less than a week. The Washington Post, Reis Thebault and Hannah Knowles, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “Overnight, the number of registered voters in Georgia shrank by more than 300,000 in a contested but court-sanctioned action that could redefine the 2020 election, critics warned. State officials have downplayed the mass cancellation, arguing it is routine ‘list maintenance.’ Others say the practice amounts to a large-scale and undemocratic voter purge, which comes just over three months before Georgia’s presidential primaries.”

Trump says Armenia massacres were not genocide, directly contradicting Congress, BBC, Tuesday, 17 December 2019: “The Trump administration has said it does not consider the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 to be a genocide, contradicting a unanimous vote by the US Senate. The historic vote last week incensed Turkey, which has always denied that the killings amounted to a genocide. Turkey’s foreign ministry on Friday summoned the US ambassador to express its anger over the vote, accusing the US of ‘politicising history.’ Armenia says 1.5 million were killed in an effort to wipe out the ethnic group. The killings took place in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, the forerunner of modern-day Turkey.”


Wednesday, 18 December 2019, Day 1,063:


Trump Impeached for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate. On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines, after a bitter debate that stretched into the evening and reflected the deep polarization gripping American politics in the Trump era. Only two Democrats opposed the article on abuse of power, which accused Mr. Trump of corruptly using the levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in the form of investigations to discredit his Democratic political rivals. Republicans were united in opposition. It passed 230 to 197, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveling the vote to a close from the House rostrum. On the second charge, obstruction of Congress, a third Democrat joined Republicans in opposition. The vote was 229 to 198.” See also, Timing of Trump Impeachment Trial Is in Limbo as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Holds Out for Assurances of a Fair Trial in the Senate, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated Wednesday night that the House could indefinitely delay sending the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, leaving ambiguous the timing of a trial to decide whether to acquit him or convict and remove him from office. After historic nearly party-line votes to impeach Mr. Trump for two articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Ms. Pelosi told reporters that she would hold the articles back until it was clearer that the upper chamber would give the case a fair hearing. The strategy suggested she was keeping the charges as leverage in a coming negotiation over the terms of a Senate trial. But it could leave the matter in limbo until early January, delaying the start of a trial for an unknown period of time.” See also, Key Moments: The Day the House Impeached Trump, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, Trump Was Impeached. Here’s a Recap of the Day. The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, A President Impeached, and a Nation Convulsed. The impeachment battles over Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Bill Clinton came at turning points in the American story. The time that produced Trump has proved to be another one. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “For the most unpredictable of presidents, it was the most predictable of outcomes. Is anyone really surprised that President Trump was impeached? His defiant disregard for red lines arguably made him an impeachment waiting to happen. From the day he took office, Mr. Trump made clear that he would not abide by the conventions of the system he inherited. So perhaps it was inevitable that at some point he would go too far for the opposition party, leading to a historic day of debate on the House floor where he was alternately depicted as a constitutional villain or victim…. Over nearly three years in office, he has become the most polarizing figure in a country stewing in toxic politics. He has punished enemies and, many argue, undermined democratic institutions. Disregarding advice that restrained other presidents, Mr. Trump kept his real estate business despite the Constitution’s emoluments clause, paid hush money to an alleged paramour and sought to impede investigations that threatened him.” See also, Trump Has Been Impeached. Republicans Are Following Him Down. Ignoring facts and trashing the impeachment process is no way to protect democracy. The New York Times, Editorial Board, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “On Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives impeached the president of the United States. A magnificent and terrible machine engineered by the founders, still and silent through almost all of American history, has for only the third time in 231 years shifted into motion, to consider whether Congress must call a president to account for abuse of power. So why does it all seem so banal? The outcome so foreordained?… It isn’t supposed to be this way. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the intense — really, infantilizing — degree of polarization that has overwhelmed American politics across the past 40 years. But the nihilism of this moment — the trashing of constitutional safeguards, the scorn for facts, the embrace of corruption, the indifference to historical precedent and to foreign interference in American politics — is due principally to cowardice and opportunism on the part of Republican leaders who have chosen to reject their party’s past standards and positions and instead follow Donald Trump, all the way down.” See also, Trump is impeached by the House, creating an indelible mark on his presidency, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “The House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach President Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress, with Democrats declaring him a threat to the nation and branding an indelible mark on the most turbulent presidency of modern times.” See also, Trump becomes the third U.S. president to be impeached as the House approves both articles against him, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Elise Viebeck, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, The case for and against impeachment, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, Assessing the ‘four facts’ that a prominent Republican insists prove Trump’s innocence, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, 4 takeaways from the impeachment of Trump, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, Pelosi says House may withhold impeachment articles, delaying Senate trial, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “Moments after a historic vote to impeach President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could at least temporarily withhold the articles from the Senate — a decision, she suggested, that could depend on how the other chamber chooses to conduct its trial on Trump’s removal. ‘We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,’ she said, referring to the House ‘managers’ who present the case for removal to the Senate. ‘So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair. And when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.'” See also, Trump impeached in historic rebuke, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “The nearly party-line vote to recommend Trump’s removal from office and label him a national security threat was met by a defiant president who vowed to prevail in a Senate trial overseen by his Republican allies — but whose presidency will be forever blemished by an impeachment.” See also, Pelosi threatens to delay Senate impeachment trial, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and John Bresnahan, Wednesday, 18 December 2019. See also, House Votes to Impeach Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes and Natalie Andrews, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “The House impeached President Trump in a momentous set of votes late Wednesday, making him the third president since America’s founding to face a Senate trial, and laying bare the deep partisan divisions on Capitol Hill and across the country.” See also, House of Representatives impeaches Donald Trump, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, published on Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, Why Is Trump Finding More Protection Than Nixon Did? The New York Times, Emily Bazelon and Beverly Gage, published on Friday, 20 December 2019.

Trump, Unbowed, Uses Rally to Strike Back Against Impeachment Vote, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Annie Karni, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “President Trump angrily responded to the impeachment he had long been dreading on Wednesday, lashing out at his Democratic accusers in a rambling two-hour speech and calling for their defeat in November…. [I]n his mostly unscripted remarks, Mr. Trump claimed he was enjoying himself…. But more often he seemed embittered, mocking the physical appearance of his rivals, attacking the news media, calling a female protester a ‘slob’ and a ‘disgusting person,’ and suggesting that John D. Dingell Jr., a Democratic congressman from Michigan who died in February after serving 59 years in the House, had gone to hell.” See also, Impeachment split screen: As the House votes in Washington, Trump rallies in Michigan, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “[Trump’s] rally, which lasted almost exactly two hours, also took on a manic tone, with Trump denouncing everyone from sitting members of Congress (Pelosi and Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Carolyn B. Maloney from New York), former residents of the White House (Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama), current 2020 Democratic hopefuls (former vice president Joe Biden; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts), failed 2020 Democratic hopefuls (former congressman Beto O’Rourke), and a slew of media outlets (including the New York Times and The Washington Post).” See also, After Trump suggests John Dingell is in hell, Representative Debbie Dingell says: ‘My family is still hurting,’ The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Meagan Flynn, and Alex Horton, published on Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Less than an hour after being impeached, President Trump suggested during a campaign rally that the late Michigan congressman John Dingell might be ‘looking up’ from hell — remarks that Dingell’s widow said ‘really hurt.’ ‘Mr. President, let’s set politics aside,’ said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), whose husband, a World War II veteran and the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, died in February at age 92. ‘My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.'” See also, Representative Debbie Dingell Calls for Civility After Trump Insults Her Late Husband, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, published on Thursday, 19 December 2019: “One day after the House impeached President Trump largely along party lines, Republicans and Democrats found themselves in agreement on something: the president’s swipe at a beloved late Democratic congressman was neither funny nor appropriate…. The president’s comments, suggesting that Mr. Dingell went to hell after he died, came during a rally in Western Michigan on Wednesday, as Democrats in Washington voted to impeach him…. The president’s decision to go after the Dingells, a long-respected political family in Michigan — a key state in the upcoming presidential election — struck a familiar tone. Mr. Trump repeatedly attacked Senator John S. McCain, Republican of Arizona, for months after his death in 2018.”

As House votes to impeach Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushes 13 judge nominations through the Senate, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Ted Barrett, and Dan Berman, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “While the rest of Washington focused on impeachment proceedings Wednesday, Mitch McConnell successfully pressed forward on a subject that has been the one knockout success for the Republican Senate and President Donald Trump: judges. Wednesday afternoon, the Senate majority leader forced a deal with Democrats to expedite 11 federal district judge nominations. McConnell’s thrust is emblematic of what he sees as his crowning achievement. So far, he has led the charge changing the landscape of the federal courts across the country with a record number of appellate court judges — currently at 50 — and Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.”

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the FBI should have reassessed whether to continue investigating former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that he was concerned the FBI did not reevaluate whether to continue investigating a former Trump campaign adviser as agents failed to uncover evidence of wrongdoing in late 2016, and that missteps in the case might indicate a broader problem within the bureau. Testifying at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Horowitz criticized how the FBI handled its probe of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, asserting that agents used inaccurate information to obtain court orders to surveil Page, even as they discussed among themselves that the investigation was coming up empty. While Horowitz said he did not find evidence of those problems ‘infecting’ the rest of the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election, he asserted he was so alarmed that he launched a broader review of the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.” See also, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says FBI could have ended Carter Page surveillance months earlier, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Wednesday, 18 December 2019.

Obamacare Insurance Mandate Is Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court, The New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down a central provision of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that the requirement that people have health insurance was unconstitutional. But the appeals panel did not invalidate the rest of the law, instead sending the case back to a federal district judge in Texas to ‘conduct a more searching inquiry’ into which of the law’s many parts could survive without the mandate. The 2-1 decision, by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, left the fate of the nearly decade-old health law in limbo even as access to health care has become a central issue in the presidential race. Republicans, for whom a decision to throw out the law heading into the presidential election year could have been a political nightmare, seemed relieved, while Democrats issued a flurry of statements emphasizing that the law was still in grave danger.” See also, Affordable Care Act is in limbo after the individual insurance mandate is ruled unconstitutional, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “A federal appeals court Wednesday struck down part of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that its requirement that most Americans carry insurance is unconstitutional while sending back to a lower court the question of whether the rest of the law can remain without it. The long-awaited decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has little immediate practical effect on consumers because Congress already has removed the penalty for people who flout the insurance requirement. But the panel’s 2-to-1 ruling leaves the rest of the sprawling statute in limbo, catapulting questions of insurance coverage and consumer health-care protections to the forefront of the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.” See also, Democrats want a 2020 Supreme Court hearing on the lawsuit that could upend Obamacare, The Washington Post, Paige Winfield Cunningham, published on Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, 3 Legal Experts on What the Obamacare Ruling Really Means, The New York Times, Jan Hoffman, published on Thursday, 19 December 2019.

Trump Administration Proposes Adding Minor Crimes to List of Offenses That Bar Asylum, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “The Trump administration moved on Wednesday to bar immigrants convicted of minor crimes in the United States from obtaining asylum, the latest effort to limit protections extended to those fleeing persecution. The new rule, issued by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, would expand the list of crimes that bar migrants from asylum to include misdemeanor offenses, including driving under the influence, possession of fake identification and drug possession, including having more than 30 grams of marijuana. The administration would also deny asylum to migrants caught crossing the border after receiving a deportation order and those who illegally received public benefits.”

Republican Senator Susan Collins announces reelection bid in closely watched race, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Ted Barrett, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced her reelection bid on Wednesday, formally kicking off a race that will be among the most closely watched of the 2020 season. It was expected that Collins would run for reelection, but as one of two Republican senators up for reelection who represent states that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election — Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is the other — she is uniquely vulnerable. The Maine Republican is known as a moderate within the Senate Republican conference and is frequently in the spotlight as a potential key vote on high-profile issues. That was the case during the Senate confirmation fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court last year with Collins facing intense pressure from liberals and conservatives over the vote. Ultimately, she voted to confirm Kavanaugh, a move that sparked liberal fury.”

Paul Manafort’s fraud case in New York was dismissed, blocking local prosecutors’ effort to undercut a potential Trump pardon, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “A state judge in Manhattan dismissed Paul Manafort’s residential mortgage fraud case Wednesday, deciding the local charges brought against President Trump’s disgraced former campaign chairman amounted to a double-jeopardy violation. It is a significant victory for Manafort, 70, who was previously convicted in a pair of federal cases stemming from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of 2016 election interference. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office brought its case in an effort to ensure that Manafort, who is serving a 7½ -year prison sentence, would be held accountable and remain in custody should Trump pardon him for the federal convictions.” See also, State Charges Against Paul Manafort Dismissed by Judge in New York, The New York Times, Jan Ransom, Wednesday, 18 December 2019: “A New York judge on Wednesday threw out state fraud charges against Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, dealing a setback to efforts by the Manhattan district attorney to ensure Mr. Manafort would still face prosecution should Mr. Trump pardon him for his federal crimes.”


Thursday, 19 December 2019, Day 1,064:


Trump Impeachment Trial in Doubt as Democrats Weigh Withholding Articles, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The day after the House cast historic votes to impeach President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi put an abrupt halt on the proceedings, holding back from sending the charges to the Republican-led Senate in a politically risky bid to exert influence over the contours of an election-year trial. With some leading Democrats pushing to delay transmittal of the articles and others advocating that they be withheld altogether, the limbo is likely to persist until the new year. The House left town on Thursday for a two-week holiday recess without taking the votes to appoint impeachment managers, which is required to start the process in the Senate. ‘We are ready,’ said Ms. Pelosi, who has said she would not send the charges or name the lawmakers who would prosecute the case against Mr. Trump until she was certain of a fair process for a Senate trial. ‘When we see what they have, we will know who and how many we will send over.'” See also, Pelosi’s delay sparked standoff with Senate Republicans over Trump impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, and Rachael Bade, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Congress was paralyzed Thursday over President Trump’s impeachment as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed acting to initiate the Senate trial that will determine whether Trump remains in office — a dramatic procedural move that places the two chambers at a bitter standoff. A day after the House voted to impeach Trump, Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she would refrain from transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sets rules for the trial that are accepted by Senate Democrats.” See also, Questions swirl around timing and scope of anticipated Senate trial, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Elise Viebeck, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The day after President Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, questions continued to swirl about the timing and scope of an anticipated Senate trial regarding his conduct toward Ukraine. House leaders suggested a possible delay until they can get a guarantee of a fair trial in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, in a floor speech, sharply criticized the House process as rushed and unfair and suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is ‘too afraid’ to transmit ‘their shoddy work product.’ Meanwhile, Trump, who is just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, praised Republican unity Thursday in opposing the move, claiming that is ‘what people are talking about.'” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplays threat to withhold impeachment articles from the Senate, Politico, Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday downplayed the possibility that she would delay the impeachment trial into President Donald Trump, saying she’s merely waiting for Senate leaders to reach an agreement on ground rules before moving forward. Pelosi, in a wide-ranging interview, said she can’t name impeachment managers — the House Democrats who will essentially serve as prosecutors in the Senate trial — until she knows the terms of the proceedings…. The terms will ultimately be set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The two will need to reach an agreement on the parameters of the trial — including the time frame, witness testimony and obtaining documents — that will require 51 votes. Democrats have questioned the impartiality of the Senate trial after McConnell said he’s coordinating with the White House on strategy.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Delay Sending Impeachment Articles to the Senate, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes and Natalie Andrews, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated Thursday that she would delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, seeking more clarity on the rules for President Trump’s trial and potentially pushing the proceedings well into the new year. Mrs. Pelosi’s comments drew condemnation from Republican lawmakers and President Trump, but the California Democrat said that she couldn’t select impeachment managers and advance the matter without more details about the Senate’s plans for a trial, which she has said should be conducted in a manner that she considers fair.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer fail to strike impeachment trial deal, Politico, Burgess Everett, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “After sniping at each other all week, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer held a pivotal face-to-face meeting about President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Thursday afternoon. It did not produce any tangible results. McConnell and Schumer each walked into a room off the Senate floor around 3 p.m. and filed out about 20 minutes later. But the meeting did not break the logjam, leaving the critical details of the approaching trial up in the air…. McConnell wants to begin the trial and hear from Trump’s lawyers and the House impeachment managers before trying to call witnesses, which many Republicans oppose to begin with. Schumer wants the decision to be made simultaneously and haul in top administration officials who might reveal new information on the Trump administration’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine and the president’s request for the country to announce investigations of Joe Biden.” See also, Chuck Schumer Joins Nancy Pelosi in Backing Plan to Sit on Impeachment Articles, The Daily Beast, Sam Brodey, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump, the person who will be leading Democrats in the impeachment trial, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said that he backs the idea of withholding the articles of impeachment until Senate Republicans offer them more favorable terms for the trial. In his office on Thursday, Schumer told reporters that he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are on ‘the same page’ when it comes to the speaker’s decision to sit on the articles of impeachment instead of immediately sending them to the GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.” See also, Mitch McConnell blasts impeachment effort as ‘most unfair’ in history, CNN Politics, Ted Barrett and Veronica Stracqualursi, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, After Impeachment, an Angry Trump Looks to Vindication in November, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Jeremy W. Peters, and Eliana Plott, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “President Trump sat forward on the edge of his chair and chatted at length with reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday, unbowed but for him a little subdued. The day after he was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, he dismissed the judgment of the House of Representatives and punched back by celebrating with a Democratic congressman who switched parties to stand with him. ‘I don’t feel like I’m being impeached because it’s a hoax, it’s a setup,’ Mr. Trump insisted as he showcased Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, the newly minted Republican, and looked beyond his seemingly certain acquittal in a Senate trial to next fall’s election. ‘I’m beating everybody by a lot,’ the president said, ‘and I think that’s where we’re going.'”

Russian President Vladimir Putin Hints at Holding Power Past 2024 and Defends Trump on Impeachment, The New York Times, Andrew Higgins, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Just hours after President Trump became only the third American leader to be impeached, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday mocked what he described as an attempt by Democrats to reverse the 2016 election, and hinted that he could, himself, stay in power for many more years. Taking questions for more than four hours at his annual end-of-year news conference, the Russian president embraced Republican talking points, deriding the impeachment process in Washington as baseless and destined to fail. ‘This is nothing but a continuation of an internal political struggle, with the party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, trying to reach its goal by different means,’ Mr. Putin said during the 15th edition of the news conference, a well-worn ritual that the president uses to parade his mastery of domestic policy detail and take swipes at political tumult overseas.” See also, Putin says Trump won’t be removed on ‘trumped-up charges,’ Politico, Manon Jacob, Thursday, 19 December 2019.

Former White House officials say they feared Putin influenced Trump’s views on Ukraine and the 2016 campaign, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, and Carol D. Leonnig, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House. After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions. The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign — and the blame he cast instead on a rival country — led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because ‘Putin told me.’ Two other former officials said the senior White House official described Trump’s comment to them.”

Evangelical Magazine Christianity Today Calls for Trump’s Removal, The New York Times, Elizabeth Dias, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Christianity Today, a prominent evangelical magazine, called for President Trump to be removed from office in a blistering editorial on Thursday, a day after he became the third president in history to be impeached and face expulsion by the Senate. The move was the most notable example of dissent among the religious conservative base that has supported Mr. Trump through controversy after controversy, and came at one of the most vulnerable moments of his presidency. ‘The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,’ Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today, wrote in the editorial. ‘That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.’ The editorial was a surprising move for a publication that has generally avoided jumping into bitter partisan battles. But it was unlikely to signal a significant change in Mr. Trump’s core support; the magazine has long represented more centrist thought, and popular evangelical leaders with large followings continue to rally behind the president.” See also, Christianity Today’s Editorial on Trump: 5 of Its Sharpest Rebukes, The New York Times, Sean Plambeck, Friday, 20 December 2019. See also, Trump Should Be Removed from Office, Christianity Today, Mark Galli, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, Christianity Today’s Editor-In-Chief Mark Galli Talks About Calling for Trump’s Removal from Office, NPR, broadcast on Friday, 20 December 2019. See also, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, says Trump ‘should be removed from office,’ The Washington Post, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Friday, 20 December 2019: “The evangelical magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham published a surprising editorial Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal and describing him as ‘a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.‘”

Senate confirms 12 more Trump judicial nominees, Politico, Marianne Levine, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The Senate on Thursday confirmed 12 more of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, just hours before leaving for Christmas recess. The final confirmations for 2019 come as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has turned his attention to approving district court nominees, after filling virtually every circuit court vacancy. The confirmations this week bring the total number of judicial confirmations for 2019 to 20 circuit judges and 67 district judges. Senate Republicans last week confirmed Trump’s 50th circuit judge. The slew of confirmations in 2019 illustrates the effect of a rules change, when McConnell invoked the so-called nuclear option to cut down debate time for lower court nominees and speed up the confirmation process.”

Democratic Candidates Go on the Attack, and Pete Buttigieg Is the Target, New York Times, Katie Glueck and Alexander Burns, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., was repeatedly pushed onto the defensive in the sixth Democratic presidential debate on Thursday night, as several of his rivals challenged his political ascent by bluntly questioning his fund-raising practices and credentials for the presidency in a contentious and deeply substantive forum.” See also, Full Analysis of the December Democratic Debate, The New York Times, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, 6 Takeaways From the December Democratic Debate, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Shane Goldmacher, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, Fact-Checking the December Democratic Debate, The New York Times, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, A pointed and personal clash over the corrupting influence of wealthy campaign donors dominated the Democratic presidential debate, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Michael Scherer, and Amy B. Wang, published on Friday, 29 December 2019: “A pointed and personal clash over the corrupting influence of wealthy campaign donors dominated the Democratic presidential debate Thursday, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg tangled over each other’s ability to govern with integrity. The confrontation, which ignited after weeks of simmering disagreements between the two, provided the biggest fireworks in a night filled with elevated voices, waving arms and some of the most aggressive exchanges of any of the debates this year.” See also, Transcript: The December Democratic debate, The Washington Post, The Fix team, published on Friday, 20 December 2019. See also, Fact-checking the sixth Democratic debate, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, published on Friday, 20 December 2019. See also, A collegial start gives way to fireworks at sixth Democratic debate, The Washington Post, Dan Balz, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, Wine caves, health care clashes, and age attacks: Biggest Democratic debate moments, Politico, Marc Caputo and Nolan D. McCaskill, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, Live Analysis and Fact Check: The 6th Democratic Primary Debate, NPR, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, 5 takeaways from the last Democratic debate of the year, PBS, published on Friday, 20 December 2019. See also, The 2020 Democratic Candidates Were Told They Could Give a ‘Gift’ to Someone Onstage or Ask For Forgiveness. The Men All Chose Gifts, Including their Own Books; the Women Asked for Forgiveness. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, published on Friday, 20 December 2019: “These responses, in the final minutes of a two-and-a-half-hour debate, threw into stark relief a dynamic that is not often so visible. Many women feel a sense of obligation, reinforced by daily double standards, to apologize for taking up space. Physical space. Political space. Rhetorical space.”

Bernie Sanders nabs endorsement of People’s Action, a key progressive group, Politico, Holly Otterbein, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “Bernie Sanders has won the endorsement of People’s Action, a coalition of 40 progressive groups that said it represents more than 1 million members in key early-voting states and others across the country. The nod is a triumph for the Vermont senator in the competition with Elizabeth Warren to become the leading left-wing candidate in the presidential primary.”

Revised North American Trade Pact Passes House, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Ana Swanson, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The House overwhelmingly approved a revised North American trade pact by a vote of 385 to 41 on Thursday, giving President Trump and the Democratic majority an improbable bipartisan victory less than 24 hours after Mr. Trump was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. The implementing legislation for the revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was the culmination of months of negotiations among the Trump administration, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group of Democratic lawmakers, an unlikely collaboration in the middle of a highly fraught impeachment inquiry. For Mr. Trump, the deal represents the fulfillment of a signature campaign promise: to overhaul the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement, signed a quarter of a century ago. But after months of closed-door negotiations with Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, House Democrats were also able to put their own stamp on the final deal with new language that strengthened labor, environmental, pharmaceutical and enforcement provisions.” See also, House passes reworked North American trade deal in victory for Trump and Democrats, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The House of Representatives voted Thursday in favor of a new trade deal for North America, delivering a hard-fought victory to President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just a day after Democrats impeached the president. The legislation passed on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 385-41, with a large majority of Democrats voting in favor of the deal, upending the party’s longstanding skepticism toward massive trade bills like the North American Free Trade Agreement that the new deal would replace. In a further reordering of the politics of trade, the new pact has the endorsement of major labor unions including the AFL-CIO. The Senate is expected to act on the package next year.” See also, House Passes North American Trade Pact With Bipartisan Support, The Wall Street Journal, William Mauldin and Natalie Andrews, Thursday, 19 December 2019.

Trump Ally Mark Meadows Will Not Seek Re-election, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “One of President Trump’s most loyal supporters, Representative Mark Meadows, announced on Thursday that he would leave Congress at the end of his term in January 2021. ‘For everything there is a season. After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I’m announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term,’ Mr. Meadows said in a statement. ‘My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning.'” See also, North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows, a close ally of Trump, to retire from Congress, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Robert Costa, and Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 19 December 2019. See also, Trump Ally Mark Meadows Won’t Seek Re-Election to the House, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews and Michael C. Bender, Thursday, 19 December 2019.

Trump’s Fox obsession reshaped the political universe in 2019, Media Matters for America, Matt Gertz, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “In 2019, President Donald Trump’s obsession with Fox News had a major impact on the nation’s political environment, driving the administration’s responses to a sea of scandals and crises that have culminated with his impeachment and regularly dictating the domestic and foreign policies of the United States. Trump sustained his well-documented fixation on the network, continuing his practices of giving the vast majority of his national televised interviews to Fox hosts, maintaining a revolving door between his administration and the company, and relying on Fox personalities for private counsel. He kept watching hours of daily programming from Fox News and its sister network, Fox Business, basking in sycophantic coverage from shows like Fox & FriendsLou Dobbs Tonight, and Hannity. And continuing the Trump-Fox feedback loop, he maintained his habit of firing off hyperaggressive tweets in response to what he saw on those networks, sending 613 such live tweets this year through December 17. But more than ever before, Trump’s Fox fanaticism this year drove the federal policymaking process and political reality, with a tangible impact on the lives of the American public.”

Federal Prosecutor John Durham Is Scrutinizing Ex-C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s Role in Russian Interference Findings, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Julian E. Barnes, Thursday, 19 December 2019: “The federal prosecutor scrutinizing the Russia investigation has begun examining the role of the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in how the intelligence community assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference, according to three people briefed on the inquiry. John H. Durham, the United States attorney leading the investigation, has requested Mr. Brennan’s emails, call logs and other documents from the C.I.A., according to a person briefed on his inquiry. He wants to learn what Mr. Brennan told other officials, including the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, about his and the C.I.A.’s views of a notorious dossier of assertions about Russia and Trump associates. Mr. Durham’s pursuit of Mr. Brennan’s records is certain to add to accusations that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. The president has long attacked Mr. Brennan as part of his narrative about a so-called deep state cabal of Obama administration officials who tried to sabotage his campaign, and Mr. Trump has held out Mr. Durham’s investigation as a potential avenue for proving those claims.”