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Journal Archives

Was any of Yovanovitch's 10+ hour testimony public, and if not, why? Seems like a big missed oppo.

Will any of Fiona Hill's testimony be public?


538: What Happened To The Kamala Harris Campaign?


Kamala Harris was being described by some pundits as the Democratic front-runner before she even formally announced her candidacy. By early July, she seemed poised to challenge the polling leader, Joe Biden, who she had sharply criticized in the first Democratic debate. Harris stood at 15 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, narrowly ahead of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Everything was coming up peaches. Since then, however, Harris’s support has plunged. She’s down to mid-single digits in most national polls, trailing Biden, Sanders, Warren and even Pete Buttigieg. Her numbers are also dismal in the early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

So, what went wrong?

It’s too early to write Harris off; she remains well-liked by Democratic voters and has raised enough money to keep her campaign running for months. In other words, she is decently positioned to make gains if one of the top three candidates falters, or if she can create another moment, like in the first debate, that gets Democrats excited about her. But it’s worth thinking about why Harris has stumbled from that post-first-debate high. We can’t know for sure, but here are some theories (most of these are not mutually exclusive, and many likely played a role, but I ordered them from strongest to weakest, in my view):

1. 2020 was never going to be her year in the first place

This theory views Harris’s brief rise to 15 percent in national polls as something of a fluke. Instead, Harris’s “theory of the case” was never going to truly work in 2020 — the problem isn’t Harris, really, it’s that Democratic voters are looking for something else. At least four 2020 candidates — Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Buttigieg and Harris — have run campaigns that echo Barack Obama’s 2008 run: a youthful candidate without much Washington experience runs on charisma and personality more than a defined ideology or particular policy stands. Obama is beloved by Democrats, and his 2008 campaign was iconic, so it’s natural that 2020 candidates would try to emulate him. But Harris, Booker, Buttigieg and O’Rourke are at 14 percent combined in national polls, suggesting that Democratic voters aren’t looking for an Obama re-run.

In some ways, Harris has the same problem that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had in the 2016 Republican primary, when they (wrongly) thought that the GOP would be excited about nominating a youngish, non-white standard-bearer with a solid conservative record. There is evidence to support the theory that Harris just isn’t a good fit for 2020. To take just one example, Obama was 47 years old in 2008. (Harris is 54.) The three leading Democratic candidates are 78 years old (Sanders), 76 (Biden) and 70 (Warren.) Moreover, Harris’s uptick in national polls was an outlier. She was in only the high single digits for most of February, March, April, May and June, and has gradually receded back to single digits after surging in early July. Also, as mentioned, the other Obama-esque candidates aren’t really doing any better.

Even on ideological grounds, Harris has had “fit” issues. In her rise through California politics, Harris positioned herself as a left-but-not-that-left, establishment-friendly figure. But that may not be a great profile in today’s Democratic Party, which has grown increasingly liberal. Indeed, Harris has struggled to defend her sometimes more conservative decisions as a district attorney and later attorney general of California and even her choice of becoming a prosecutor in the first place. Her positioning might be just fine if Biden were not in the race winning the votes of African-Americans and Democrats to the right of Warren and Sanders, but Biden is in the race.


much more at the top link

How 'Deep State' book disputes accusations of Trump bias at FBI, DOJ (Video and transcript)


In a new book, Pulitzer winner James B. Stewart explores two controversial recent investigations by the FBI and the Justice Department: Probes into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Stewart talks to William Brangham about how his research contradicts President Trump's "deep state" narrative.

Read the Full Transcript

Judy Woodruff:

Even as impeachment consumes much of Washington's attention, the president, as well as his critics and supporters, still focus on Robert Mueller's investigation and its continued fallout.

William Brangham is back now to dive into a new book that reexamines the story with a tough take of some of the central characters in that drama.

It's part of our "NewsHour" Bookshelf.

William Brangham:

In his new book, Pulitzer Prize winner James B. Stewart gives an in-depth look at the two of the most controversial recent investigations by the FBI and the Justice Department, first, the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state, and then the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, and whether anyone in the Trump campaign participated in that effort or tried to block the subsequent inquiry.

The book is called "Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law."

And James Stewart joins me now.


James B. Stewart:

Thank you. Good to be here.


A Momentous Week in May: Book Details Early Days of Russia Inquiry


Splinter is shutting down.


In an internal memo sent Tuesday to staff, Paul Maidment, the editorial director of Splinter’s parent company G/O Media, praised the site’s journalism, but said the publication struggled to gain large numbers of readers.

“Despite the hard work of everyone on that staff, which has produced much outstanding journalism and great scoops, establishing a steady and sustainable audience for a relatively young site proved challenging in a fiercely competitive sector,” Maidment said. “Given that reality, the leadership team made the difficult decision to cease operation of Splinter and redistribute the headcount to the other sites to increase the impact the editorial department can have overall.”

Maidment claimed there would be “no reduction of G/O Media’s editorial workforce as a result of this decision,” and Splinter’s headcount would be “reallocated” across other sites at G/O, the network of former Gizmodo Media Group sites including Deadspin, Jezebel, Gizmodo, and Jalopnik, among others. “Our goal, wherever possible, will be to retain current Splinter staff members in open positions at other G/O Media sites.”

Some Splinter staffers, however, said they’ve been laid off. Deputy editor Jack Mirkinson tweeted “Splinter is shutting down and we’re all being laid off,” and staff writer Sam Grasso wrote: “I’m getting laid off.”



Giuliani associate embroiled in Trump Ukraine drama raised money for DeSantis Florida Gov. campaign


A Soviet-born businessman who helped President Donald Trump’s personal attorney dig for dirt in Ukraine on his political opponents also helped raise significant sums of money last year for Ron DeSantis as he campaigned to become Florida’s governor.

Lev Parnas, one of two South Florida businessmen called to testify before Congress as part of an impeachment investigation, hosted two fundraisers for DeSantis in the summer and fall of 2018, the Miami Herald has learned. One of the events was an exclusive affair held at a South Florida residence with fewer than 30 people attending, including the governor. The other gathering was headlined by Donald Trump Jr.

A DeSantis spokeswoman told the Miami Herald Wednesday that the governor has had little to no contact with Parnas or Igor Fruman, both of whom worked as unofficial emissaries in Ukraine this year for Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

“It is my understanding that the governor did not have a one-on-one meeting with these individuals,” DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferré wrote Tuesday in response to questions about DeSantis’ relationship with Parnas and Fruman. “They may have attended some large events related to the 2018 elections.”


From Trump to Nixon: "Watergate" Film Explains "How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President"

President Donald Trump called openly Thursday for the leaders of Ukraine and China to investigate Trump’s campaign rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter for corruption. Trump’s explicit remarks during a press conference came as leaders of the Democratic-led House pushed ahead rapidly with their impeachment investigation. President Trump is just the fourth U.S. president to face a formal impeachment inquiry, joining Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. We spend the hour looking at back at the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974 and is the focus of a documentary titled “Watergate — Or: How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President.” Drawing on 3,400 hours of audiotapes, archival footage and declassified documents, the film chronicles the dramatic events surrounding the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in 1972, which precipitated Nixon’s eventual resignation two years later under threat of impeachment. We play clips from the film and speak with its director, Charles Ferguson, who won an Academy Award for his documentary “Inside Job.”


Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET: https://democracynow.org

Please consider supporting independent media by making a donation to Democracy Now! today: https://democracynow.org/donate

NYT: Analysis: Trump's Audacious Move on Impeachment Tests Political Order

Trump’s Sweeping Case Against Impeachment Is a Political Strategy

The White House’s decision not to cooperate is aimed less at convincing a judge than convincing the public.


WASHINGTON — Breathtaking in scope, defiant in tone, the White House’s refusal to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry amounts to an unabashed challenge to America’s longstanding constitutional order. In effect, President Trump is making the sweeping assertion that he can ignore Congress as it weighs his fate because he considers the impeachment effort unfair and the Democrats who initiated it biased against him, an argument that channeled his anger even as it failed to pass muster with many scholars on Wednesday.

But the White House case, outlined in an extraordinary letter to Democratic leaders on Tuesday, is more a political argument than a legal one, aimed less at convincing a judge than convincing the public, or at least a portion of it. At its core, it is born out of the cold calculation that Mr. Trump probably cannot stop the Democrat-led House from impeaching him, so the real goal is to delegitimize the process.

Just last week, Mr. Trump acknowledged that Democrats appeared to have enough votes to impeach him in the House and that he was counting on the Republican-controlled Senate to acquit him. By presenting the inquiry as the work of an unholy alliance of deep-state saboteurs and Democratic hatchet men, he hopes to undermine its credibility, forestall Republican defections and energize his voters heading into next year’s re-election campaign.

“As a general matter, painting the process as highly partisan should rally the G.O.P. and Trump base, as those groups will see the current inquiry as merely a continuation of the past three years,” said Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington research organization, and a student of conservative thought.


Read the White House Letter in Response to the Impeachment Inquiry

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, called the House’s impeachment inquiry illegitimate, saying the administration will not cooperate unless until the House votes to open an investigation.




October 8, 2019

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Adam B. Schiff
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Eliot L. Engel
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Madam Speaker and Messrs. Chairmen:

I write on behalf of President Donald J. Trump in response to your numerous, legally unsupported demands made as part of what you have labeled — contrary to the Constitution of the United States and all past bipartisan precedent — as an “impeachment inquiry.” As you know, you have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.

For example, you have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans. You have conducted your proceedings in secret. You have violated civil liberties and the separation of powers by threatening Executive Branch officials, claiming that you will seek to punish those who exercise fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives. All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent. Never before in our history has the House of Representatives — under the control of either political party — taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue.

Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen. Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away. As one member of Congress explained, he is "concerned that if we don't impeach the President, he will get reelected.” Your highly partisan and unconstitutional effort threatens grave and lasting damage to our democratic institutions, to our system of free elections, and to the American people.

Interview with Rep. Al Green, MSNBC (May 5, 2019).

Speaker Pelosi, and Chairmen Engel, Schiff, and Cummings
Page 2

For his part, President Trump took the unprecedented step of providing the public transparency by declassifying and releasing the record of his call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. The record clearly established that the call was completely appropriate and that there is no basis for your inquiry. The fact that there was nothing wrong with the call was also powerfully confirmed by Chairman Schiff’s decision to create a false version of the call and read it to the American people at a congressional hearing, without disclosing that he was simply making it all up.

In addition, information has recently come to light that the whistleblower had contact with Chairman Schiff’s office before filing the complaint. His initial denial of such contact caused The Washington Post to conclude that Chairman Schiff“clearly made a statement that was false." In any event, the American people understand that Chairman Schiff cannot covertly assist with the submission of a complaint, mislead the public about his involvement, read a counterfeit version of the call to the American people, and then pretend to sit in judgment as a neutral “investigator.”

For these reasons, President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.


(the rest of the letter is at the link)

Ellen DeGeneres's George W. Bush Debacle Is a Lesson in the Drawbacks of Assimilation Politics

Ellen DeGeneres has been criticized this week after footage from an NFL football game appeared to show her sharing a laugh with former president George W. Bush. At issue with the TV host’s jovial antics is the fact that Bush is considered by some on the left a war criminal who helped revitalize social conservatism at the federal level. The entire debacle is an important lesson in the drawbacks of assimilation politics.


DeGeneres addressed the controversy on her show, The Ellen Show, on Tuesday, telling the crowd she had been invited to a Dallas Cowboys game by Charlotte Jones, the daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose public persona is so large even the Cowboys stadium is unofficially known as “Jerry World.” While there, she ended up sitting next to Bush. “There were 100,000 people in this stadium — beautiful stadium, by the way, that Dallas has,” DeGeneres said on her show. “We get to sit in this very fancy suite because, you know, he owns the whole place, so his suite is fancy and he’s got fancy friends, and I don’t mean fancy like Real Housewife fancy, I mean, like, fancy.”

DeGeneres then played a video that showed Bush sitting next to her, making a surprised face that gave way to a smile. When it was over, she said, “Yeah! Fancy!” “When we were invited, I was aware that I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs,” DeGeneres said. “And I’m not talking about politics — I was rooting for [the Cowboys’ opponent] the Packers.” “During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together, and so people were upset,” she continued. “They thought, Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president? Didn’t even notice that I’m holding the brand-new iPhone 11.” DeGeneres then launched into a lecture about being nice to people with different viewpoints and showed a tweet saying that her meet-up with Bush gave someone “faith in America again.”

The son of a rich and powerful family, Bush skated through elite schools on his way to working in the family business and winning the presidency in an election that forced many to question the fundamental nature of our democracy. (Sound familiar?) Though it may seem naive or even cute in post-Trump retrospect, for much of Bush’s presidency, he was loathed by liberals, including (as DeGeneres hints at) many in Hollywood. The controversy surrounding the vote in Florida in 2000 — where his brother Jeb happened to be governor at the time — started his entire tenure off with questions about his election’s legitimacy.

His presidency was defined early on by September 11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. But it was the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, publicly predicated in part on the false claim that Iraq’s leadership had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), that gave him a reputation as a president who lied to get into a war that is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. The invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by U.S. military forces have also been criticized as an oil war and resulted in heavy scrutiny of Bush’s ties to the fossil fuel industry, where he launched his career. Meanwhile, on domestic social issues, Bush in 2004 backed a constitutional amendment to forbid gay marriage. Before the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made marriage equality the law of the land, a bitter fight played out across the country, and Bush’s answer was to slog through the nearly impossible constitutional amendment process in order to end the debate.


Talk Radio's America: How an industry took over a political party that took over the United States

A history of how US conservatism was reinvented over the airwaves


What brought Donald Trump victory in the 2016 US presidential election? Plenty of ink has been spilled trying to answer that question. Among the proposed factors are Russian interference, third-party candidates, and the conservative media supporting him. From Fox News, to The Daily Wire, to The Gateway Pundit, cross-pollinating news sources defended Mr Trump from what they considered liberal bias.

Brian Rosenwald, an academic and journalist, argues that central to that media ecosystem was talk radio. Rejecting claims that the medium acted as a Republican puppet, he describes a curious relationship between the Grand Old Party and talk radio hosts, one that has had seriously deleterious consequences for American political life.

The book begins in 1987, with the abolition of the US Federal Communications Commission’s “fairness doctrine” that had obliged radio stations to present both sides of controversial issues. Ironically, the decision made in the twilight of Ronald Reagan’s administration would lead to the hollowing out of his party. Among those pioneers of talk radio in the late 1980s was Rush Limbaugh. While earlier conservative ideologues had been dogmatic and monotonous, he fused ardent rightwing politics with the interactivity of talk radio and his own brand of high-energy comedy. AM radio executives, unable to compete with FM on music sound quality, found shows like his were an good way to boost revenues.

Talk radio predated social media as a tool for younger and lower-profile politicians to hijack the news agenda. Canny individuals, such as former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, forged friendships with the hosts, giving them easy access whenever they needed to push a point. But as shows grew increasingly influential, even more established politicians had to pay attention. President George W Bush’s one-on-one meetings with Mr Limbaugh and his fellow host Sean Hannity in early 2009 illustrate the power they wielded even 10 years ago.


How Conservative Talk Radio Paved The Road For Donald Trump (interview)


Why Teens Are Creating Their Own News Outlets

Teens care about the news. They just don’t like traditional media.


In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Olivia Seltzer, now 15, noticed a shift at school. “Basically overnight, all we could talk about was politics and what was going on in the world,” she tells Teen Vogue. Many of her peers in Santa Barbara, California, had parents who were undocumented immigrants, so they issues in the news hit close to home. Suddenly the personal felt very much political. “This massive interest in the news and politics came with an equally massive gap in the media,” Seltzer continues. “Traditional news sources are primarily written by and geared toward an older demographic, and unfortunately, they don’t always connect to my generation.”

That’s a problem, and an urgent one. Though a free press is crucial to democracy, more than one in four local newspapers have closed since 2004, and more Americans are getting their news from social media than traditional print media. Keeping young people engaged is necessary to foster civic engagement, and Seltzer wants to help close the gap.

In February 2017, she launched theCramm, which offers a daily look at major stories from around the world, distilled into a newsletter that lands in email and text inboxes each weekday. Every day, she rises at 5 AM to read the news before school, poring over outlets, including the BBC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, Politico, and Reuters, among others, to ensure readers are receiving an “unbiased point of view with the news.” Seltzer works with an editorial team that helps research stories and finds inspiring individuals to interview for the newsletter, an advisory board comprised of “trusted adults,” and "theCramm Fam," ambassadors from around the world who promote theCramm. After reading, she compiles about 30 headlines into the Notes app, then divvies up articles of the day into sections before writing her coverage, which works to make the news “engaging, informative, and easily digestible.”

Despite the perennial tsk-tsking from older generations who fret that today’s young people are obsessively scrolling social media on their phones, a recent survey by Common Sense Media found that 78% of American teens ages 13 to 17 say it’s important to them to follow current events. Young adults are more likely to consume news through social media sites than they are traditional news organizations, online or in print, but that isn’t necessarily a negative when it comes to news. Teens who use social media are more likely to be civically engaged, and smartphone users who engage with social media report they're more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds, and feel like they have more diverse networks. Claiming young adults are zoning out on current events instead of zooming in ignores the fact that they’re digital natives, who grew up navigating an increasingly tech-reliant culture. Instead of staring at cable news, they’re pioneering new ways to engage with the stories that meet them where they are.


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