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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Gordon Sondland’s Explosive Impeachment Testimony Implicates Trump: A Cl...

Robert De Niro v Trump: a complete history of a (mainly one-sided) beef | Film | The Guardian

Robert De Niro v Trump: a complete history of a (mainly one-sided) beef

The actor has predicted the president might start a war to get a third term. It’s far from the first time De Niro has made his views clear

Deniro: not a Trump fan.
DeNiro: not a Trump fan. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
Robert De Niro has a dire prediction about the presidency of Donald Trump. Were the president elected to a second term, it wouldn’t surprise De Niro if Trump started a war to keep himself in office for a third term, he said in an interview with the Daily Beast this week.
The harsh words for the president are nothing new from the actor: he’s been one of the more outspoken anti-Trump critics since the 2016 campaign began. Here are some of his sharpest rebukes.

‘He’s totally nuts’

A few months before the election in 2016, De Niro joined a chorus of celebrities pointing to the absurdity of Trump’s campaign.
“What he’s been saying is really totally crazy, ridiculous ... he is totally nuts,” he told an audience in Sarajevo marking the 40th anniversary of his film Taxi Driver.
“I don’t know, it’s crazy that people like Donald Trump ... He shouldn’t even be where he is, so God help us,” he said.

‘Blatantly stupid’

As part of a campaign urging people to vote in the 2016 election, De Niro made what would prove to be some of his most withering comments about Trump in September of that year. “He’s so blatantly stupid. He’s a punk. He’s a dog. He’s a pig. A con. A bullshit artist. A mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” he said, among many other things, in a video.
“I’d like to punch him in the face,” he added.


After Trump’s victory, De Niro adopted a more sober tone.
“He’s president now … half the country is horrified, many parts of the world are, and we’re gonna see how he does. That’s it … I give the benefit of the doubt that’s he going to try his best to do the right thing,” he said in an interview.
His openness to the administration would not last long.

‘Enemy of the arts’

In May of 2017, De Niro took aim at Trump’s immigration policies, telling a crowd at a benefit in New York that they might prevent future artists and immigrants like Charlie Chaplin, being honored that night, from entering the country.
“The administration’s mean-spiritedness towards our art and entertainment is an expression of their mean-spirited attitude about people who want that art and entertainment, people who also want and deserve decent wages, a fair tax system, a safe environment, education for their children and healthcare for all,” he said.

‘Tragic, dumbass comedy’

In a speech at the Brown University commencement, also in May of that year, De Niro contrasted the America of the past with the Trump era.
“When you started school, the country was an inspiring, uplifting drama,” he said. “You are graduating into a tragic, dumbass comedy. My advice is to lock the [university’s] Van Wickle gates and stay here.”

‘Fuck Trump’

In June of 2018, De Niro earned a standing ovation at the Tony Awards for cursing out the president. “I’m gonna say one thing. Fuck Trump,” he exclaimed.
Robert de Niro's 'Fuck Trump' speech at Tony awards - video
“It’s no longer down with Trump. It’s fuck Trump,” he said as the crowd rose to their feet.

Trump interlude: DeNiro is ‘brain-damaged’

The president responded not long after on Twitter, suggesting the actor was brain-damaged.
“Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies,” Trump tweeted. “I watched him last night and truly believe he may be ‘punch-drunk’.”

‘A real racist’

Speaking to the Guardian in January of this year, De Niro said he was wrong to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, and that it was clear that he was a “real racist” and a “white supremacist”.
He also compared him to some of history’s worst fascists.
“If he had his way, we’d wind up in a very bad state in this country. I mean, the way I understand it, they laughed at Hitler. They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny.”
He also compared him, unfavorably, to mob bosses, after Trump had recently called his own longtime lawyer Michael Cohen a “rat”.
“I mean, a mob boss calls people ‘a rat’. That means you lied and somebody snitched on you, so you did commit the crime. So that’s interesting, and he makes mobsters look bad because there are mobsters who will shake your hand and keep their word. He can’t even do that.”


A few months later De Niro touched on the mafia comparisons again, calling Trump a “wannabe gangster” and “total loser” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
He reiterated that Trump had less honor than a common criminal.
“Even gangsters have morals and they have ethics. They have a code, and you know when you give somebody your word, it’s your word, because it’s all you have is your word. This guy, he doesn’t even know what that means.”

‘He should not be president’

In September of this year, De Niro was characteristically blunt in speaking about Trump, saying that he “should not be president, period”.
“We are in a moment in our lives, in this country, where this guy is like a gangster,” he said. “We say over and over again: ‘This is terrible, we’re in a terrible situation, we’re in a terrible situation,’ and this guy just keeps going on and on and on without being stopped.”

‘Obvious gangsterism’

This October, he once again returned to the gangster motif, calling Trump a “gangster president” at the premier of a film in London.
“Oh, I can’t wait to see him in jail. I don’t want him to die, I want him to go to jail,” he said.

‘President for life’

“He’s going to be history at one point, though he’d love to be president for life,” De Niro told the Daily Beast this week. “He jokes about it. I think that if he became president for a second term he’d try to have a third term, and let smarter people manipulate it into getting us into some kind of altercation: a war.”

“Trump joked about being ‘president for life’ with [Chinese president Xi Jinping] and so on. He’ll pardon anybody, he’ll do anything. The day after he was elected, I went on a TV show and said I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and say that I hope he won’t be as bad as I think he will be, but he’s turned out to be a lot worse.”

Robert De Niro v Trump: a complete history of a (mainly one-sided) beef | Film | The Guardian

Trump is lying about the ‘new’ ‘Apple’ factory - The Verge


"In advance of Trump’s factory tour today, I took a look at the strange relationship that’s developed between Tim Cook and Donald Trump over the past three years. One of the things that popped up was one specific story that Trump would tell about Apple, in rally after rally and meeting after meeting. The idea was that Trump had somehow induced the company to build a new factory in the US, through some combination of tax cuts and trade policy, which was both very politically useful and also very much not true.

Today, perhaps not surprisingly, he told the lie again.

“We’re seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant,” Trump said at the factory. “Anybody that followed my campaign, I would always talk about Apple, that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States. And that’s what’s happening.”

This is not true for a couple reasons — one of them nitpicky and one of them a lot more serious. The nitpicky problem is that Apple isn’t actually building a manufacturing plant. The company is building a new campus in Austin, but it’s miles away from the factory and the jobs are going to be very similar to the kind of white-collar design and engineering work that Apple does in Cupertino. Apple doesn’t do its own manufacturing, and the plant Trump is standing in belongs to a contractor called Flex Ltd (formerly Flextronics)."

Trump is lying about the ‘new’ ‘Apple’ factory - The Verge

Ambassador to EU addressed withholding aid at briefing with Vice President Pence #ImpeachTrumpAndPence

Opinion | The Democrats Are in Georgia. The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher. - The New York Times

"The Democrats Are in Georgia. The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher.
By Joseph CrespinoNov. 20, 2019, 6:00 a.m. ET
With tonight’s presidential primary debate, Georgia Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief. Finally, they are saying, the national party is recognizing that demographics really are destiny, that Georgia can and should be a central part of any plan to win back the White House and the Senate.
For nearly two decades now, the demographic trendline in Georgia has been favorable to Democrats. Particularly compared with aging, white, Midwestern states like Michigan and Ohio, Georgia is younger, more diverse and more economically dynamic, with educated, progressive voters moving to the state each year.
The 2016 election was a great indicator. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by eight points in Ohio but only five in Georgia. Imagine what the results would have been, Georgia Democrats say, if the national party had committed more resources to the state. The 2018 election cycle only heightened expectations. Stacey Abrams, who waged a historic campaign as the first African-American woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor, came within about 55,000 votes of defeating her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, whose campaign was historic in its own way. Not since the days of Eugene Talmadge or Lester Maddox had a candidate for governor conducted such a polarizing, divisive campaign.
Even more exciting was the fact that in 2018 Democrats moved beyond close calls to actual victory. Lucy McBath defeated an experienced Republican candidate in the Sixth Congressional District, which included areas that have traditionally been among Atlanta’s wealthiest, most reliably Republican suburbs. Ms. McBath’s tragic personal history as the mother of a young man killed by gun violence dramatized the problem of gun control, the issue that, perhaps more than any other, puts the Republican Party outside the mainstream of American voters.
In Georgia, the stakes of the 2020 election could not be higher. Because of the announced resignation of Senator Johnny Isakson for health reasons, both United States Senate seats will be contested.
Yet turning Georgia blue in 2020 remains an uphill battle. That’s because, outside of metro Atlanta and other urban areas like Savannah, Georgia remains a deeply conservative state. The defenders of the demographics-are-destiny thesis should remember that destiny is shaped by history, too.
In many ways, American politics today resemble an earlier era in Southern history, when candidates who only a few years before their election had been dismissed as jokes or nobodies stoked reactionary impulses to win the highest office in the state. That’s what happened in Georgia in 1966 when Lester Maddox, a folksy restaurateur and longtime failed candidate, was elected governor. After Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, forcing the desegregation of public accommodations in the South, Maddox leapt to public prominence by wielding an ax handle to chase away African-Americans who attempted to eat at his restaurant. He attracted the same voters that George Wallace won in neighboring Alabama — white Southerners embittered by social and political changes that they felt were being forced upon them by sanctimonious, out-of-touch elites."
For several years now, journalists and historians have compared Mr. Trump to George Wallace, but Wallace is just the tip of an iceberg. There is a much deeper tradition of demagogy in American politics — it runs like a bright line through the history of the South — to which Mr. Trump is heir. In Georgia, before Lester Maddox, there was Herman Talmadge, who led the forces of racist reaction following the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Talmadge supporters in the Georgia legislature altered the state flag to include the old Confederate battle flag as a symbol of Georgia’s defiance of the federal government. Before Herman there was his father, Eugene, a man who stoked some of the pride and a lot of the prejudices of white Georgians to advance his own political interests. In the midst of the Great Depression, when Georgia was among the poorest states in the nation, Eugene tried to build a national campaign by vilifying Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was the best and only hope that poor Georgians had to pull themselves out of an entrenched poverty that had bedeviled the state and region since the end of the Civil War.
History reminds us that, as repugnant as they are to their political opponents, demagogues like Mr. Trump are not easily defeated. In Georgia, the more that Atlanta’s newspaper editors and influential citizens castigated Eugene Talmadge as corrupt, uncouth and dangerous, the deeper his rural supporters dug in their heels. Ultimately, it wasn’t any moral reckoning that ended political machines like the Talmadges’; it was structural change, when the Supreme Court overturned Georgia’s county unit system, which had given disproportionate power to rural interests.
Even history has its limits. That’s because, as any historian will tell you, there’s no such thing as destiny. The future is merely what all of us make of it. That is why Wednesday night’s debate, and all of the Democratic primary and general elections to follow, is so important. In the Massive Resistance era, Georgia and the rest of the South eventually turned to honest, competent, responsible leaders. Lester Maddox was followed in office by Jimmy Carter, who, despite being the son of a loyal Gene Talmadge man, took office with an Inaugural Address declaring that “the time for racial discrimination is over.” He brought Georgians together across racial lines, and the state survived its brush with political demagogy. Whether or not Americans today will survive theirs remains unclear.

Joseph Crespino (@CrespinoJoe) is a history professor at Emory University and the author of, most recently, “Atticus Finch: The Biography — Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon.”

Opinion | The Democrats Are in Georgia. The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher. - The New York Times:

Why I’m Endorsing Elizabeth Warren | The Nation

Ady Barkan DACA Protest

"I have spent my entire career at the messy and vital intersection of movement-building, electoral politics, and governance. And for the past three years, I’ve done that work under the debilitating weight of ALS, a deadly neurological illness that’s robbed me of my ability to do almost all the things that most people take for granted: hug my son, go for a walk with my newborn daughter, or speak to my wife. I was diagnosed three weeks before the 2016 presidential election, and I vividly remember wondering, on that tragic November night, whether I was going to die under President Donald Trump.

Whom would I like to see replace him? Of the hundreds of elected officials, activists, and policy wonks I have worked with over the past two decades, Elizabeth Warren is the individual who I believe would make the best president. I believe that she, more than any other person in America, has the skills, the temperament, and the knowledge to lead us toward a more just and equitable future.
Please keep reading, especially if, like me, you’re an admirer of Bernie Sanders. Because I have no intention to diminish his incredible work building our progressive movement or the ways in which his historic campaigns for president have shifted American political discourse. This is, rather, a declaration of how I plan to vote in the California primary, and why.
I believe in Warren because during her whole career, she has fought to put economic and political power in the hands of working families. I’ve seen up close how she confronts a problem: She listens to the people most affected, does her homework, and then comes up with a plan. A brilliant, workable plan.
I’ve worked with Warren since before I was sick. She was a key partner for the Fed Up campaign, an effort I led to demand that the Federal Reserve use monetary policy as a vehicle for good, instead of as a handout to Goldman Sachs. And here are the characteristics of hers that make me believe she would be the best president in modern history:
  1. Moral clarity. Warren understands that the central challenge of our time is the unequal distribution of power in America, and the grave human consequences of that imbalance. From climate change and unaffordable housing to police brutality and the health care crisis, the major issues of our day feel intractable because of the vicious feedback loop between racial, economic, and political inequality. She has spent her career studying and describing and fighting against those inequalities, putting the lived reality of working families first.
  2. Policy chops. Warren is the wonk’s wonk. Beyond her deep expertise in many policy fields, she has a track record of surrounding herself with creative thinkers who dream big and reimagine what is possible. It is a crucial skill set for this political moment, and will make her especially effective at using executive action to accomplish progressive goals.
  3. An eagerness to listen and learn. In their endorsement of her, Black Womxn For commended Warren for being “willing to learn, open to new ideas, and ready to be held accountable by us and our communities.” Warren is the polar opposite of Donald Trump: self-confident enough to seek out and thrive upon constructive criticism. And out on the campaign trail, you can see something special when she holds a little girl’s hand and looks her in the eye: Warren actually views herself as a public servant, working for us and our children.
  4. The courage to fight. Over 10 years ago, as the economy collapsed, Warren seized the political moment and proposed creating a consumer financial protection bureau that would deliver for working families every day. Wall Street spent millions lobbying against it. The insiders said that she should give up. Nevertheless, she persisted. She marshaled a grassroots movement. And she won. That kind of determination, married with the powers of the presidency, is what we need if we are to defeat the modern-day robber barons driving our political economy into the ground.
  5. A mastery of leadership. Leading the federal government well requires serious management skills. Setting a vision, assembling the right leadership teams, deciding what to prioritize and how, inspiring action, demanding and obtaining the results you want… Sorry, I’ll stop, since I’m starting to sound like a terrible book jacket. But this stuff actually matters, and Warren can do it.
Since my diagnosis with ALS three years ago, I have spent much of my time advocating for Medicare for All. Warren shares that goal. And ├╝ber-wonk that she is, Warren has recently articulated in detail how to pay for and transition to a single-payer health care system. I’ve written previously about why I think her funding plan is smart policy and even smarter politics. Now, I want to explain why I think the same is true of her transition plan.
The plan begins on Day 1 of her presidency, with some important executive actions to lower prescription drug prices and constrain the political power of big health care companies. Then, in her first hundred days, she will ask the Congress to pass a massive expansion and enhancement of Medicare, including a generous Medicare for All option. Here’s what that law would do:
  • Radically improve Medicare so it fully covers long-term, dental, vision, hearing, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.
  • Lower the eligibility age for Medicare to 50, giving 57 million people the ability to enroll immediately.
  • Create a Medicare for All option that offers totally free, comprehensive health care to 135 million Americans—every child under 18 and every person making at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (roughly $51,000 for a family of four). Everyone else would have the option to enroll at low cost, capped at 5 percent of income with costs automatically going to zero over time. Giving people the ability to buy in to Medicare immediately ensures that the insurance companies won’t game the system. We know that they, seeing they are getting pushed out of the marketplace, will likely raise premiums for the sickest people and kick many off their existing insurance plans. The buy-in—which is in both the House and the Senate bills—allows us to make sure we protect everyone.
We can and should talk about our strategy and our tactics. But what matters most to me is that Warren is all in for Medicare for All. Her plan says clearly that by the end of her first term, everyone will have comprehensive guaranteed Medicare—whether you are rich or poor, young or old; that there will be no co-pays, premiums, or deductibles; and that we will bring down the costs of health care because private insurance companies will no longer be able to put profit over patients.
There are two facts about the Warren proposal that I especially like. First, it lowers the age of Medicare eligibility to 50 immediately, getting even more people onto Medicare in the first year than Sanders’s bill, which has an eligibility age of 55. Second, Warren also adds in full long-term care, which matches Representative Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All bill in the Hosue. That is an enormous addition for our seniors and people with disabilities. I know firsthand just what this will mean for millions of people across our country to have this kind of care available to them.
Warren’s proposal boldly states that she will use budget reconciliation to get many of the changes in her first and second year. This is important, because budget reconciliation requires only 51 votes in the Senate. Republicans use this all the time, and used it for the tax scam they passed last year. But unfortunately, even past Democratic presidents have balked at availing themselves of this simple tool. Warren makes clear that she will use all the tools available to provide Medicare for All–type care to as many Americans and as quickly as she can—and then she will complete the final part of her plan in the last two years by transitioning the remaining people into that same comprehensive care.
Across the country, people are dying because they do not have the health care they need. And we need to keep focused on achieving universal health care for everyone. Our movement is making so much progress, with over half the Democratic caucus signed on to the House version of the bill, three hearings in major committees in the House for the first time ever, and three more upcoming hearings also in major committees. More than three dozen labor unions, a powerful racial justice coalition, and hundreds of businesses across the country have said this is the necessary step for the richest country in the world to take. That’s what we are all ultimately fighting for.

For progressives like me—and maybe you—the choice in this primary is between Warren and Sanders. It is a difficult and wonderful choice to have. The two of them are close allies in the Senate, with deep admiration for each other. Sanders himself said that Warren “blew me away with her ability to deal with complicated economic issues in a language that people could understand.… So I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Warren.” I believe that either one of them would be the best, most progressive president in modern US history. (Neither’s record, I am confident, would have flaws as devastating as LBJ’s atrocities in Vietnam and FDR’s acceptance of Jim Crow.)
Inside the progressive movement, some of the most sophisticated and effective organizers have endorsed Warren and others Sanders, some organizations Sanders and others Warren. I admire and love Bernie. I have schemed with him, worked with him, and campaigned by his side. He has done more than anyone else to build the movement for Medicare for All. He is a human being, with human shortcomings—just like Warren. But I don’t want to highlight those or criticize him, because I think he, like she, would be a transformative president.
I believe it is healthy for progressives to get involved in the campaign now and start building our muscles for the general election. In 2020, we face a battle with fascism for the future of our democracy and our planet. Before that, we must fight a corporate establishment for the soul of the Democratic Party. I believe that Warren is the leader we deserve for those battles. You may prefer Sanders, and I have deep respect for that choice. But during the primary, I think we should keep perspective. We are, ultimately, on the same side. When the dust settles, Warren will enthusiastically endorse Sanders, or vice versa, and then we will need to all struggle together, as one progressive movement."
Why I’m Endorsing Elizabeth Warren | The Nation

Chris Cuomo: If GOP is desperate for truth, why hide witnesses?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

#PrimariesSoWhite: Why Do Two of the Whitest States Vote First For Presi...

'Here, right matters': Vindman stands ground amid Republican onslaught | US news | The Guardian

Lt Col Alexander Vindman arrives to testify before the House intelligence committee on Tuesday.

"His family fled Ukraine when he was three and found refuge in the United States. He enlisted in army alongside his brothers, was wounded by a roadside bomb during a 2003 combat deployment in Iraq, and was later awarded a Purple Heart. He went on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard in Russian, eastern Europe and Central Asian studies and served at US embassies in Kyiv and Moscow.

But a fateful call between the president of the adopted country that he serves and the president of the country where was born has put Lt Col Alexander Vindman at the center of the historic House impeachment inquiry.
Vindman entered the velvet-draped hearing room on Tuesday to testify in the inquiry against Donald Trump wearing his dark blue Army dress uniform, his chest decorated with medals and ribbons.
“I never thought I would be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions,” Vindman, who still serves as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, said over the ritual flurry of flashes and clicks that followed his every movement.
In the weeks since Vindman first testified privately that he was so alarmed byDonald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rivals that he reported the president – twice – to his superiors, the decorated war veteran has become a political Rorschach test for the impeachment inquiry. Where the president’s critics saw a patriot, his supporters saw a “deep state” saboteur.
The colonel, in staccato delivery, stated that he was motivated to act only out of a sense of duty. He said he was proud to follow in the footsteps of “distinguished and honorable public servants” who have endured “vile character attacks” for testifying before the committee in defiance of the White House. He was not a “Never Trumper,” he insisted. He was “Never Partisan”.
“Dad, my sitting here today, in the US Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family,” he said. “Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.”
But Vindman posed a problem for Republicans, whose strategy until that moment had been to accuse the witnesses who have passed the review in the investigation of hearsay. Both witnesses who testified on Tuesday morning – Vindman and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to the vice-president, Mike Pence – were on the 25 July call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
So Republicans went on the attack.
The president and his allies accused Vindman, without evidence, of being a “Never Trumper”. Conservative TV hosts and commentators questioned his loyalty, even going so far as to insinuate he might be a spy for Ukraine. On the eve of his testimony, the Republican senator Ron Johnson accused him of being a member of a “deep state” working to undermine the president. And while he testified on Tuesday, the White House assailed Vindman from its official Twitter account.
Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence committee, saw no reason why Vindman might have been concerned. Indeed, he saw no reason for Vindman to be there at all. In his first comments at the hearing, he welcomed viewers to “today’s circus”, “farce” and “drug deal” designed to “overthrow a duly elected president”.
“Mr Vindman,” Nunes said, starting his line of questioning.
Vindman leaned into his microphone before he could finish.
“Ranking member,” he said. “It’s Lt Col Vindman, please.”
Nunes acquiesced, but moments later the Republican congressman Chris Stewart, veteran of the air force, revived the matter.
“Do you always insist on civilians calling you by your rank?” Stewart asked, after drawing attention to his dress uniform - a “great reminder of your service” – while noting that “you wear a suit” to the White House.
“The attacks I’ve had in the press and [on] Twitter have kind of … marginalized me as a military officer,” Vindman replied, haltingly.
Nearly every back-and-forth with the minority party brought a new line of attack. Steve Castor, the counsel for the Republicans on the committee, seemed to imply that Vindman harbored dual loyalties when he pressed the colonel on whether he considered accepting job offers to serve as defense minister of Ukraine.
“I’m an American,” Vindman replied. “I came here when I was a toddler. I immediately dismissed these offers – did not entertain them.”
Mike Turner, a Republican of Ohio, appeared to accuse the witness of inflating his status within the White House. And Jim Jordan, another Ohio Republican, who was dispatched to the committee to serve as Trump’s attack dog, raised questions about Vindman’s judgment and job performance. Ever prepared, the army officer read from a glowing July performance review.
Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman are sworn in prior to testifying.
Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman are sworn in prior to testifying. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock
Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut, laced into the Republicans for accusing Vindman of “espionage and dual loyalties”.
“That may have come cloaked in a Brooks Brothers suit and in parliamentary language but that was designed exclusively to give the rightwing media an opening to question your loyalties,” Himes said, addressing Vindman. “It’s the kind of thing you say when you’re defending the indefensible.”
As Vindman’s testimony neared the end, Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from New York, asked the witness to reread the message he delivered to his father in his opening statement. He obliged.
His father was “deeply worried” about his son’s testimony before Congress on matters related to the president of the United States, Vindman explained. Having spent the first 37 years of his life in Ukraine when it was still under the thumb of the Soviet Union, Vindman said his father reflexively understood that in some parts of the world such an act would carry the “ultimate risk”.
Why, then, do you have the confidence to “tell your dad not to worry?” Maloney asked.
“Congressman, because this is America,” he replied without hesitating. “This is the country I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters.”
From the back of the Longworth hearing room, members of the public broke into spontaneous applause. It seemed, if only for a fleeting moment, that Vindman was right.

But beyond these columned walls – in American living rooms and TV green rooms, online and on social media, where his “truth” was being condensed and repackaged, analyzed and distorted, memed and mocked – there was little agreement over what was right – and even less agreement over whether it mattered."

'Here, right matters': Vindman stands ground amid Republican onslaught | US news | The Guardian

Officials Testify That Trump Requests on Ukraine Call Were Inappropriate - The New York Times

“On July 25, along with several of my colleagues, I listened to a call between President Trump and President Zelensky, the content of which has since been publicly reported. I found the July 25 phone call unusual because in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, It involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter. “Dad, I’m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals — talking to our elected professionals, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. It was improper for the president to request an — to demand an investigation into a political opponent, especially a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation. What is it about the relationship between the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine that leads you to conclude that when the president of the United States asks a favor like this, it’s really a demand?” “Chairman, the culture I come from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it’s polite and pleasant, it’s not — it’s not to be taken as a request. It’s to be taken as an order. In this case, the power disparity between the two leaders — my impression is that in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations.” “In no way shape, or form in either readouts from the United States or Ukraine did you receive any indication whatsoever or anything that resembled a quid pro quo — is that correct?” “That’s correct.” “And the same would go for this new allegation of bribery?” “I’ve only seen an allegation of bribery in the last week.” “It’s the same common set of facts — it’s just instead of quid pro quo, now it’s bribery.” “I was never involved in anything that I considered to be bribery at all.” “O.K. Or extortion?” “Or extortion.” “O.K.” “Ambassador Volcker thinks it’s inappropriate to ask a foreign head of state to investigate a U.S. person, let alone a political rival. But you’ve said you had no concern with that. Do you think that’s appropriate?” “As a hypothetical matter, I do not.” “Well I’m not talking about a hypothetical matter. Read the transcript — in that transcript, does the president not ask Zelensky to look into the Bidens?” “Mr. Chairman, I can only tell you what I was thinking at the time. That is not what I understood the president to be doing.” “But nonetheless, this was the first and only time where you went from listening to a presidential call directly to the national security lawyer, is it not?” “Yes, that’s correct.” “Ms. Williams, on Sunday the president personally targeted you in a tweet. This is after he targeted Ambassador Yovanovitch during her hearing testimony. I’d like to show and read you the tweet. It reads: ‘Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read both transcripts of the presidential calls and see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know and mostly never even heard of, and work out a better presidential attack.’ Did that tweet make an impression on you when you read it?” “It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name.” “Lt. Col Vindman, did you discuss the July 25 phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25 or the 26th? And if so, with whom?” “Yes, I did. I spoke to two individuals.” “And what agencies were these officials with?” “Department of State. And an individual in the intelligence community.” “What agency was this individual from?” “If I could interject here. We don’t want to use these proceedings —” “It’s our time, Mr. Chairman —” “I know, but we need to protect the whistle-blower.” “Lt. Col. Vindman, you testified in the deposition that you did not know who the whistle-blower was or is.” “I do not know who the whistle-blower is. That is correct.” “So how is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistle-blower?” “Per the advice of my counsel, I’ve been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community.” “You’re here to answer questions and you’re here under subpoena. So you can either answer the question or you can plead the Fifth.” “Excuse me. On behalf of my client, we are following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair with regard to this issue. And this does not call for an answer that is invoking the Fifth or any theoretical issue like that. We’re following the ruling of the chair.” “What — counselor, what ruling is that?” “If I could interject: Counsel is correct. The whistle-blower has the right, statutory right to anonymity. These proceedings will not be used to out the whistle-blower.”

Officials Testify That Trump Requests on Ukraine Call Were Inappropriate - The New York Times

Melber: Lt. Col. Vindman was most devastating witness we've seen to date

Melber: Lt. Col. Vindman was most devastating witness we've seen to date

New York man pleads guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar

New York man pleads guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar

Patrick W. Carlineo, Jr., 55, faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced. He allegedly called in threats to Omar's office.

A New York man pleaded guilty on Monday to threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in March, prosecutors said.

Patrick W. Carlineo, Jr., 55, of Addison, a village southwest of Ithaca, pleaded guilty to threatening to assault and murder a United States official, and being a felon in possession of firearms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York said in a statement.

Carlineo faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14.

Carlineo was arrested in April for the March 21 call to the offices of Omar, a Democrat who represents Minnesota.

Image: Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks at the Capitol on July 25, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP file

During the call, he asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, called Omar a “terrorist” and said, “somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull," the prosecutor’s office said. Omar is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

The staff member who reported the call recalled that he said, "I'll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull," the U.S. attorney's office said.

Carlineo's attorney, Sonya Zoghlin, said in an email to The Associated Press that Carlineo never intended to harm Omar.

"He has taken responsibility for using threatening and inappropriate language to express those beliefs in this instance," Zoghlin said.

Carlineo is a convicted felon and possessed a loaded .45-caliber handgun, three rifles, two shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition at his home, prosecutors said. He was convicted of criminal mischief in 1998 and was legally barred from possessing a firearm.

James P. Kennedy, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said the case highlights that rights of free speech carry responsibilities.

"The First Amendment right to freedom of speech carries with it the responsibility that individuals not make threats to harm lawmakers simply because they may disagree with them," Kennedy said in a statement. "The Second Amendment right to bear arms carries with it the responsibility that individuals who desire to possess firearms not commit felony crimes."

Alexander Vindman: ‘heroic’ witness who Trump will struggle to dismiss 

Decorated Iraq war veteran is the marquee witness scheduled for Tuesday, with Jennifer Williams, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison

Published: 02:15 Tuesday, 19 November 2019
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When Lt Col Alexander Vindman first spoke privately to Congress last month, Donald Trump baselessly attacked him as a “Never Trumper” and questioned what business Vindman had listening in on presidential phone calls.

But when Vindman returns to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to testify in public, nationally televised impeachment hearings, Trump might find the decorated Iraq war veteran, who is director of European affairs on the national security council, much more difficult to dismiss.

Vindman is the marquee witness in a blockbuster day for impeachment hearings scheduled for Tuesday. Also testifying will be Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice-president Mike Pence; Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine; and Tim Morrison, a senior national security council (NSC) official.

All four witnesses were previously deposed in closed-door meetings with the House intelligence committee, which is leading the investigation of whether Trump abused the power of his office by soliciting foreign interference from Ukraine in the 2020 US election.

Trump has denied wrongdoing, but his war on the three career public servants called to testify last week has not been taken up by Republicans in the hearing room and has threatened to backfire, drawing accusations of witness intimidation.

“These last three witnesses are witnesses from heaven, if you’re a prosecutor or the Democrats,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor turned defense attorney. “And they are witnesses from hell if you’re a Republican or Donald Trump. These are literally heroic people who are intelligent, articulate, sincere – you just don’t get witnesses like that.”

The committee continued on Monday to add witnesses to the public schedule, announcing that state department official David Holmes, who said he overheard a phone conversation between the ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, and Trump, would testify on Thursday.

Vindman is likely to be the star of Tuesday. An active-duty military officer who emigrated with his family to the United States from the former Soviet Union at age three, Vindman is expected to appear in his US army dress uniform, bearing a combat infantry badge and a Purple Heart medal, bestowed when he was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.

Vindman has told investigators “there was no doubt” about what Trump was demanding from the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a 25 July phone call, which Vindman listened to as a top Ukraine expert in the White House. Vindman took his concerns about the call to top NSC lawyers and later discovered an official summary of the call was missing key words, he

Vindman was witness to other key events in the impeachment proceedings, including a 10 July White House meeting in which Sondland pressed Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation tied to Hunter and Joe Biden, according to multiple accounts.

Paul Rosenzweig, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute who was senior counsel to Kenneth Starr in the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration, said Republicans have been struggling to mount an effective defense for Trump.

“The factual development is continuing to put the Republicans in a position of defending a difficult set of facts, and they haven’t figured out a way to do that yet,” Rosenzweig said.

Two of the witnesses scheduled to testify on Tuesday, Volker and Morrison, were on a list of witnesses requested by Republicans and could dispute other testimony. Morrison, who also listened to the July call, testified he did not think it was improper, and he has questioned the decision of Vindman, his subordinate, to report on the call to NSC lawyers.

Volker, who was the first key witness to be deposed, six weeks ago, could find himself torn between his denial at the time that there was any effort by US officials to urge Ukraine to investigate Biden, and a preponderance of testimonysince indicating that there was such an effort and that Volker was one its leaders.

The American public remains receptive to the impeachment proceedings, an ABC News/Ipsos poll published on Sunday indicated. In the poll, 58% of Americans said they were following the hearings very or somewhat closely, and 51% said that “President Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached by the House and removed from office by the Senate.”

Opinion THE PRIVACY PROJECT ‘1984’ in China Communist leaders engage in modern-day totalitarian brainwashing, bizarre lies and industrial-level indoctrination to suppress Muslims.

‘1984’ in China

“Ying shou jin shou” — “Round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

The echo of “1984,” “Brave New World” or “Fahrenheit 451” is unmistakable. But this is not dystopian fiction. It’s a real bureaucratic directive prepared by the Chinese leadership, drawing on a series of secret speeches by Xi Jinping, China’s authoritarian leader, on dealing ruthlessly with Muslims who show “symptoms” of religious radicalism.

There’s nothing theoretical about it: Based on these diktats, hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in the western Xinjiang region have been rounded up in internment camps to undergo months or years of indoctrination intended to mold them into secular and loyal followers of the Communist Party.

This modern-day totalitarian brainwashing is revealed in a remarkable trove of documents leaked to The New York Times by an anonymous Chinese official. The existence of these re-education camps has been known for some time, but nothing before had offered so lucid a glimpse into the thinking of China’s bosses under the fist of Mr. Xi, from the obsessive determination to stamp out the “virus” of unauthorized thought to cynical preparations for the pushback to come, including how to deal with questions from students returning to empty homes and untended farms.

The latter script is eerily Orwellian: Should students ask whether their missing parents had committed a crime, they are to be told no, “it is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts. Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.”

That someone from within the unforgiving, secretive Chinese leadership would take the enormous risk of leaking 403 pages of internal documents to a Western newspaper is in itself amazing, especially since the documents include an 11-page report summarizing the party’s investigation into the activities of Wang Yongzhi, an official who was supposed to manage a district where Uighur militants had staged a violent attack but who eventually developed misgivings about the mass detention facilities he had built. “He refused,” said the report, “to round up everyone who should be rounded up.” After September 2017, Mr. Wang disappeared from public view.

It becomes clear from the documents that Mr. Xi is far more concerned by any challenge to the Communist Party’s image of strength than foreign reaction. Already in May 2014 he told a leadership conference, “Don’t be afraid if hostile forces whine, or if hostile forces malign the image of Xinjiang.” Accordingly, the Chinese government made no effort to deny the leaked documents, but rather portrayed the crackdown in Xinjiang as a major success against terrorism and accused The Times of smearing China’s “antiterrorism and de-extremism capabilities.”

What the documents really reveal is not an effective antiterrorism campaign, but rather the paranoia of totalitarian leaders who demand total fealty in thought and deed and recognize no method of control other than coercion and fear. Mr. Xi and other top government officials reveal in these papers a conviction that the Soviet Union collapsed because of ideological laxity and spineless leadership, and a top security official attributed terrorist attacks in Britain to the British government’s “excessive emphasis on ‘human rights above security.’” And Mr. Xi argued that new technology must be part of the broad campaign of surveillance and intelligence-gathering to root out dissidence in Uighur society, anticipating Beijing’s deployment of facial recognition, genetic testing and big data in Xinjiang.

Whoever leaked these revealing documents obviously disagreed and had the courage to do something about it. His or her brave action is a cry to the world. 

International outrage could turn that into a wake-up call for China’s leaders, despite their totalitarian swagger, if the world begins to see them as pariahs, not just trading partners. The whistle-blower, and the untold thousands of Chinese Muslims suffering under the yoke of Mr. Xi, deserve that