The Devil Devours His Own – Crisis Magazine

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The sordid life of Jeffrey Epstein serves to highlight the decadence of the deplorable epoch in which we find ourselves, as do the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The web of vice and viciousness that he had spun was widespread, serving to entrap not only underage girls but also the rich and famous who preyed upon them. Using the allure of underage sex to lure his wealthy associates into his web, Epstein secretly filmed them in the act of sexually abusing minors, thereby turning his “associates” into his blackmail victims.

Epstein seems to have believed that the powerful people whom he’d entrapped in his “insurance policy” would have a vested interest in keeping him safe from the law, a strategy which worked for a while. In 2008, Epstein was convicted in Florida of sexually abusing a fourteen-year-old girl, receiving a scandalously light sentence, but due to a plea deal he was not charged with sexually abusing thirty-five other girls whom federal officials identified as having been abused by him.

After a further ten years in which Epstein masterminded the trafficking of young girls to satisfy the pornographic and pedophilic appetites of his powerful network of friends, he was finally charged in July of last year with the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. A month later, he was found dead in his jail cell. Although the medical examiner originally recorded the death as being a case of suicide, there are so many anomalies and mysteries surrounding the circumstances of Epstein’s death that many people agree with Epstein’s lawyers that the death could not have been suicide.

One thing that is certain is that Epstein’s death removed the possibility of pursuing criminal charges. There would be no trial, and therefore Epstein’s powerful associates would not be exposed by their victims in a court of law. Seen in this light, or in the shadow of this possible cover-up, it is tempting to see Epstein’s “insurance policy” as his death warrant. He was too dangerous to be allowed to live when the lives of so many others depended on his timely death. It is no wonder that “Epstein didn’t kill himself” has become a hugely popular meme, nor that HBO, Sony TV, and Lifetime are planning to produce dramatic portrayals of Epstein’s life and death.

One aspect of Epstein’s life which is unlikely to be the focus of any TV drama is his obsession with transhumanism. For those who know little about this relatively recent phenomenon, transhumanism is usually defined as the movement in philosophy which advocates the transformation of humanity through the development of technologies which will re-shape humans intellectually and physiologically so that they transcend or supersede what is now considered “human.” At the prideful heart of this movement is a disdain for all that is authentically human and a sordid desire to replace human frailty with superhuman or transhuman strength.

Transhumanism rides roughshod over the dignity of the human person in its quest for the technologically “created” superman. Its spirit was encapsulated by David Bowie in the lyrics of one of his songs: “Homo sapiens have outgrown their use…. Gotta make way for the Homo superior.”

Most of Epstein’s so-called “philanthropy” was directed to the financing and promotion of transhumanism. The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation pledged $30 million to Harvard University to establish the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. It also bankrolled the OpenCog project, which develops software “designed to give rise to human-equivalent artificial general intelligence.” Apart from his support for the cybernetic approach to transhumanism, Epstein was also fascinated with the possibility of creating the “superman” via the path of eugenics. He hoped to help in a practical way with plans to “seed the human race with his DNA” by impregnating up to twenty women at a time at a proposed “baby ranch” at his compound in New Mexico. He also supported the pseudo-science of cryonics, whereby human corpses and severed heads are frozen in the hope that technological advances will eventually make it possible to resurrect the dead. He had planned to have his own head and genitalia preserved in this way.

In addition to his bizarre association with the wilder fringes of technological atheism, Epstein also co-organized a conference with his friend, the militant atheist Al Seckel, known (among other things) as the creator of the so-called “Darwin Fish”—seen on bumper stickers and elsewhere, it depicts Darwin’s “superior” evolutionary fish eating the ichthys symbol, or “Jesus fish” of Christians. Seckel fled California after his life of deception and fraud began to catch up with him. He was found at the foot of a cliff in France, having apparently fallen to his death. Nobody seems to know whether he slipped, jumped, or was pushed.

Apart from his unhealthy interest in atheistic scientism, Jeffrey Epstein was also a major figure amongst the globalist elite. According to his lawyer, Gerald B. Lefcourt, he was “part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative,” which forces underdeveloped countries around the world to conform to the values of the culture of death. Even more ominously, Epstein was a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two of the key institutions responsible for fostering and engineering the globalist grip on the world’s resources.

As we ponder the sordid and squalid world of Jeffrey Epstein and his “associates,” we can’t help but see his life as a cautionary tale, the moral of which is all too obvious. It shows that pride precedes a fall and that it preys on the weak and the innocent. It shows that those who think they are better than their neighbors become worse than their neighbors. It shows how Nietzsche’s Übermensch morphs into Hitler’s Master Race and thence to the transhuman monster. It shows that those who admire the Superman become subhuman. It also shows that the subhuman is not bestial but demonic. It shows that those who believe that they are beyond good and evil become the evilest monsters of all.

Those of us who have been nurtured on cautionary tales such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength will know that fiction often prefigures reality. We see that the real-life figure of Jeffrey Epstein is a latter-day Viktor Frankenstein, reaping destruction with his contempt for his fellow man and his faith in the power of scientism to deliver immortality to those who serve it. We can also see that the transhumanism which Epstein financed is a mirror image of the demonic scientism of the secretive National Institute of Coordinated Experiments in Lewis’s prophetic novel. We may even be grimly amused by the fact that the “leader” of the demonic scientistic forces in Lewis’s tale is a severed head which has apparently been brought back to life.

There is one final lesson that the pathetic life of Jeffrey Epstein teaches us. It shows us that the adage “the devil looks after his own” is not true. It’s a lie told by the devil himself. The devil hates his disciples as much as he hates the disciples of Christ. Once he has had his way with them, he disposes of them with callous and casual indifference, much as Jeffrey Epstein disposed of his victims.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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7 takeaways from the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate

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7 highlights from the Democratic debate - CNNPolitics

Westerville, Ohio (CNN)Polls show that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination. And on Tuesday night in Ohio, her 11 rivals acted like it.

And moderate candidates — some, like South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, fighting to climb into the top tier; others, like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, just desperate to make the next debate stage — dropped the euphemisms and pressed their progressive foes in direct and sometimes personal terms.
Here are seven takeaways from Tuesday night’s debate:

    Warren under attack for the first time

    news

      Warren attacked from all sides on the debate stage

    Warren’s months-long march to the front of the polls finally put her in the position of being the most heavily targeted and scrutinized candidate on stage.
    Buttigieg and Klobuchar led the charge, assailing Warren over her answers on health care.
    Warren supports Sanders’ proposal for “Medicare for All” — replacing private insurance with everyone receiving coverage through a government-run plan. And while Sanders has acknowledged that Americans’ taxes would need to increase to pay for the plan, Warren refused to say whether the middle class’s taxes would go up — instead only saying that, because deductibles, premiums and co-pays would be eliminated, overall costs would decrease.
    Buttigieg accused her of dodging a yes-or-no question. “Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this. No plan has been laid out to explain how a multi-trillion dollar hole in this plan that Sen. Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in,” he said.
    Klobuchar accused Warren of being dishonest. “We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice,” she said.
    Warren later addressed the question of taxes, when former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke asked her — during a discussion about Warren’s proposed wealth tax and child care coverage — whether she would raise middle-class taxes. “No,” she said — but the moment was mostly lost amid cross-talk.

    Bernie Sanders won the night

    And it had nothing to do with what happened on stage.
    In the debate’s final moments, the Washington Post broke the news that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plans to endorse Sanders. CNN then reported that two other members of the “Squad,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, will do the same.
    The pick-ups are huge. Some Democratic strategists think that outside of the Obamas, Ocasio-Cortez represents the most influential potential endorsement of the 2020 primary race.
    It also comes at a key moment for Sanders. Warren’s months-long ascent, fueled in part by progressives as she advocated some similar policies to Sanders, was on display Tuesday night, when the rest of the field treated her as the front-runner. If Ocasio-Cortez had supported her, it could have been the beginning of the end of Sanders’ chances.
    Instead, he gets a major injection of energy — and sends the signal that he’s far from done yet.

    Echoes of 2016 as the front-runners fight

    politics

      Warren takes a jab at Biden while complimenting Obama

    For most of the night, as Warren wore the biggest target, Biden slipped into the background. That changed near the end of the debate, when the field’s top tier — Biden, Warren and Sanders — finally unloaded on each other.
    The question that loomed over their: Biden has a lengthy record — but is it one that’s in line with where the Democratic electorate is now?
    It began when Biden touted his record in former President Barack Obama’s administration, pressuring Republicans to vote for measures such as the federal stimulus package.
    “We all have good ideas. The question is who is going to be able to get it done? How can you get it done?” Biden said. “And I’m not suggesting they can’t, but I’m suggesting that’s what we should look at.”
    That’s when Sanders pounced, attacking Biden — in a moment that felt similar to the Vermont senator’s 2016 debates with Hillary Clinton — over legislation Biden had supported and Sanders opposed over the last three decades.
    “Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what, you also got done, and I say this as a good friend,” Sanders said. “You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle class families all over this country. You got trade agreements like NAFTA and (trade relations) with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs.”
    Then Warren jumped in.
    Responding to Biden’s assertion that he is best able to get things done, she pointed to her role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration.
    Seemingly miffed to be denied a share of the credit, Biden interjected, nearly shouting, “I went on the floor and got you votes. I got votes for that bill. I convinced people to vote for it, so let’s get those things straight, too.”
    Warren responded by thanking Obama — but notably omitting Biden.
    “I am deeply grateful to President Obama, who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law,” she said.

    Trouble for Biden?

    For the former vice president, fading into the background of a debate is a troubling sign because of what it suggests: that his foes view him as less of a threat than they once did.
    But just as the good news had come late for Sanders, the real bad news for Biden’s campaign came even later Wednesday night.
    In a scheduling oddity, reports covering the third quarter of 2019 were due in to the Federal Election Commission by midnight — an hour after the debate ended.
    Biden’s report revealed that his campaign ended September with just $9 million on hand. That’s far short of Sanders’ $33.7 million, Warren’s $25.7 million and Buttigieg’s $23.4 million — and is even below California Sen. Kamala Harris’ $10.5 million.

    A more aggressive Buttigieg

    7 highlights from the Democratic debate - CNNPolitics

      Buttigieg to O’Rourke: I don’t need lessons from you

    The South Bend, Indiana, mayor had made it obvious he planned to come out swinging. In the days before the debate, he’d launched an ad that was critical of Warren and Sanders over Medicare for All, criticized Warren’s grassroots fundraising strategy for the general election as being reliant on “pocket change,” and attacked O’Rourke over his support for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles in an interview on Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.”
    The exchanges with Warren over health care might be the night’s most memorable.
    But he also got a chance to tout an element of his own biography — his military service — in clashing with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the only other military veteran in the field, over her call to end “endless wars.”
    “The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this President of American allies and American values,” he said.
    Buttigieg also sharply criticized O’Rourke — at one point, in personal terms — over the former Texas congressman’s proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles.
    7 highlights from the Democratic debate - CNNPolitics
    “You just made it clear that you don’t know how this is going to take weapons off the street,” he said. “If you can develop the plan further, we can have a debate. But we can’t wait.”
    O’Rourke responded that mass shootings are a “crisis” and that Democrats should make the case for farther-reaching gun control measures. “Let’s decide what we are going to believe in, what we are going to achieve, and let’s bring this country together in order to do that,” he said.
    Buttigieg shot back: “The problem isn’t the polls, the problem is the policy. And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”
    “I don’t care what that meant to me or my candidacy,” O’Rourke replied. But to survivors of gun violence, and March For Our Lives, the gun control advocacy group founded by students after the Parkland, Florida, shooting last year, “that was a slap in the face to every single one of those groups,” he said. Moments later, the organization tweeted praise for O’Rourke’s position.

    Klobuchar, unleashed

    With the Democratic National Committee raising its fundraising and polling thresholds for the November debate, Klobuchar walked on stage facing the real possibility that this debate could be her last.
    Her response: Go hard at the Democratic primary’s most ascendant candidate, Warren.
    “The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done,” she said of Warren at one point, as she criticized her support for Medicare for All.
    Klobuchar’s performance on Tuesday stands in stark contrast to her first three debate performances, which were more muted.
    And there is a reason for that: After qualifying for the first four debates, Klobuchar is on the verge of not qualifying for the fifth Democratic debate in November. While Klobuchar has the required number of donors, she has yet to reach the polling threshold, something that her team believes she can boost with a well-reviewed debate.
    Then there’s the portion of her approach that’s in the eye of the beholder: One of her trademarks as a candidate — goofy humor — continued on Tuesday night.
    “Vladimir Putin is someone who has shot down planes over Ukraine, who has poisoned his opponent and we have not talked about what we need to do to protect ourselves from Russia invading our election,” Klobuchar said. “This wasn’t meddling. That’s what I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she’s doing.”

    Yang’s ‘Freedom Dividend’ gets an airing

    Andrew Yang launched his presidential campaign in 2017 with a plan to give every American $1,000 a month to combat job losses and automation — and very little attention from media and voters.
    Almost two years later, Yang’s plan for a universal basic income, which he’s calling a “freedom dividend,” remains his signature policy proposal. But his impact on the race has increased dramatically — a reality that was on display on Tuesday night when the candidates on stage debated a universal basic income and job losses to automation in depth on national television.
    “We have a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month, it recognizes the work in our families and communities. It helps all Americans transition,” Yang said. “When we put the money into our hands, we can build a trickle up economy from our people, our families and our communities up. It will enable us to do the work that we want to do. This is the sort of vision in response to the fourth industrial revolution that we have to embrace.”
    Yang has talked about his universal basic income at previous debates. What made Tuesday different was that other candidates — some of whom largely ignored Yang in previous debates — began to seriously debate automation and a basic income.
    “I believe that we need to address a community being impacted by automation,” said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
    “I agree with my friend Andrew Yang. Universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so people can make choices that they want to see,” Gabbard said.
      But what clearly cemented Yang’s rise is that the debate over universal basic income got him into a direct argument with Warren, who said the issue is broader.
      After the debate, Yang told CNN that Warren — who, with Biden, is at the top of the Democratic field — had asked him to send her details on his proposal. “She said she wanted to see the data,” he said.

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      Giuliani: I Provided Documents State Department Watchdog Gave To Congress

      President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN on Wednesday night that some of the documents in a packet the State Department inspector general handed to Congress just hours earlier had come from him. The revelation was the latest twist in the ongoing turmoil over Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine in July. 

      CNN’s report came the same day the State Department’s watchdog, Steve Linick, sent an urgent message to Congress saying he needed to meet and give them copies of documents related to the Ukraine call. Democrats were reportedly prepared for some kind of a bombshell but instead were handed a 40-page packet of documents that included conspiracy theories and news clippings. The pages also referenced a slew of names related to the scandal: Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, Hunter Biden and George Soros.

      The packet had a return address that matched that of the Manhattan office of Giuliani, who later confirmed that he was responsible for their production, telling The New York Times they came from a “professional investigator who works for my company.”

      The documents prompted consternation from top Democrats, who issued public calls that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explain how such misinformation made it to the top levels of government. Lawmakers also said the packet only provided more evidence that the White House had “sought to use the machinery of the State Department to further the President’s personal political interests.”

      “We are now in possession of this packet of propaganda and disinformation,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told Reuters on Wednesday. “The real question is where did it come from and how did it end up in our lap?”

      The chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees released a joint statement earlier Wednesday expressing concerns about the “urgent” briefing. 

      The statement said the meeting with Linick raised “troubling questions” about alleged efforts by the Trump administration to target former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Yovanovitch, who was removed from her ambassadorship in May after Trump allies accused her of participating in an alleged Ukrainian attempt to support Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

      “The documents provided by the Inspector General included a package of disinformation, debunked conspiracy theories, and baseless allegations in an envelope marked ‘White House’ and containing folders labeled ‘Trump Hotel,‘” the chairs’ statement read. 

      Giuliani told CNN that he had “routed” what he said was an “outline” of allegations against Biden and Yovanovitch to Pompeo’s office in March. He also reportedly sent details about his talks from earlier this year with top Ukrainian prosecutors who helped give him information for his outline.

      “They told me they were going to investigate it,” Giuliani told CNN.

      The attorney and former New York mayor has become one of the central figures in the political whirlwind over Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25. During the conversation, Trump repeatedly pressed his counterpart to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for five years. Before the call, the Trump administration had been withholding military aid from Ukraine.

      A whistleblower complaint about the call mentioned Giuliani multiple times, and Trump’s lawyer has said in television interviews that he met with Ukrainian operatives. But in recent days he’s moved to minimize his role in the scandal, saying he got involved only at the behest of the State Department.

      House Democrats have been moving quickly to investigate the Ukraine call as part of their impeachment inquiry while Trump has raged about the effort. This week the president called the inquiry a “coup” and has been refusing to answer some reporters’ questions about the information that’s come out of transcripts of the call.

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      Hillary Clinton Blasts Pompeo, Giuliani for Aiding Trumps Alleged Crimes

      Hillary and Chelsea Clinton made a rare joint late-night appearance on The Late Show Monday evening to promote their new Book of Gutsy Women, which takes a historical look at women who helped change the world for the better. But of course, host Stephen Colbert couldnt help but get the former secretary of states reaction to the latest developments in the Trump whistleblower scandal.

      Moments before the Clintons joined Colbert on stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, The Wall Street Journal reported that current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was listening in on President Trumps phone call with the Ukrainian leader that has now prompted a formal impeachment inquirydespite the fact that he previously pleaded ignorance about the whistleblower complaint.

      How many times when you were secretary of state did you have to say to Obama, You cant extort foreign countries to get dirt on your political enemies? Colbert asked, prompting a belly laugh from Clinton.

      Yeah, that never happened, she replied, shaking her head. She added that the secretary of states job in that moment is to make sure he knows, number one, what the president is going to say on those calls, implying that the Trump administration may not be as prepared for talks with foreign leaders as the previous White House was.

      But because youve got a president who doesnt listen to anybody and doesnt follow instructions whatsoever, Clinton said, Im not sure they havent just given up on trying to give him any sort of preparation.

      From there, Clinton pushed back on the Republican defenders of the president who are claiming the charges against him are hearsay. As she put it, It was an admission from the White House! I mean, the transcript of the phone call was put out by the White House. And the whistleblower has a depth of understanding that needs to be taken seriously about what happened.

      I think if the secretary of state was on the call as is now being reported, he should have been one of the very first people to say, Wait a minute, weve got to clean this up. You cant let that stand, she added. But we dont know what he did.

      As for Rudy Giuliani, who has been reportedly running what amounts to a shadow State Department on behalf of Trump, Clinton said, That would be a big problem if it had happened under Obama.

      Presidents often useas do secretaries of statethey might use an envoy or a special adviser to deliver a message, she said. But again, it is supposed to be carefully thought through. And from what weve seen on television, carefully thinking through is not one of Rudys strong points.

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      Elizabeth Warren Leads Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for First Time in New Iowa Poll

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took the lead in a new Des Moines Register Iowa poll on Saturday night, marking the first time the Massachusetts senator led both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the first caucus state in the poll.

      According to the new survey, Warren leads at 22 percent, with Biden following at 20 and Sanders at 11 percent. No other candidate reached double digits but South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg followed at 9 percent, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 6 percent to round out the top five. Additionally, the poll found that Warren was drawing the support of 32 percent of those who say that they caucused for Sanders in 2016 and that she narrowly led him among voters under age 35.

      Its the first time weve had someone other than Joe Biden at the top of the leader board, J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co. which conducted the poll, said.

      The poll comes as Sanders campaign has shaken up its staff in two early voting states.

      The Independent from Vermont remains at or near the top of most primary polls and no other candidate has matched his fundraising and grassroots organization capacity. But even with his staying power, he has been increasingly eclipsed in the eyes of opponents by Warren as the main progressive force in the race.

      Stuck in this position, Sanders campaign has shuffled staff in two early crucial primary states, where his operation replaced their New Hampshire state director and Iowa political director and a deputy Iowa field director. Some sympathetic to Sanders have noted that changing around staff at this juncture obviously demonstrates a sign of dissatisfaction with the senators status in the race. He continues to build and demonstrate a massive legion of support, hitting one million donors this weeka milestone no other candidate has reached yet.

      That explains why now, internally, the only message that Sanders team would convey is confidence, with one surrogate noting that the Vermont senators resources are so vast that his campaign will kick into an even higher gear with an anticipated television ad buy in the early states.

      There are two advantages that Senator Sanders has, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a campaign co-chair, told The Daily Beast. Hes got the largest grassroots fundraising base. He hasnt yet gone on television in the early states. Hes going to go on television in the early states. Some of the other candidates have already been on television. Once he goes on television, hes going to be able to sustain it and have more resources to do that not just in the early states but in places like California.

      Despite Khannas claim about the senators plans, a spokesperson for the campaign later quickly denied that there would be an ad buy soon.

      Whether or not there will be, Sanders campaign for now is chalking up the staffing changes to isolated incidents and natural growing pains through the course of a campaign.

      Pundits in the Beltway might not believe it, but Bernie Sanders campaign in Iowa is out-organizing the entire field, and this is all powered by the most grassroots volunteers and donors of any campaign in the country.
      Iowa State Director Misty Rebik

      For instance, there had been some annoyance with how Joe Caiazzo had been running the New Hampshire operation. That was made clear by reported cheering last weekend when members of the state steering committee heard that he had been reassigned to Massachusetts.

      Sanders dominated in his neighboring state in the 2016 primary, which helped propel his campaign to become a major threat against Hillary Clinton. Now, he is locked in a tight contest with Biden and Warren, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls.

      In Iowa, the campaign parted ways with political director Jess Mazour, though in that case there was far less apparent open negativity about the way in which she was running things.

      Well continue to make moves that we feel best position this campaign to win, campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement to The Washington Post about the move. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

      Sanders famously fought Clinton to a near-draw in the Hawkeye State in 2016, portending the strength of his campaign to come. Though famously difficult to poll, he is now basically deadlocked in second place with Warren behind Biden. Yet his campaign announced on Friday that they had surpassed one million voter contacts in the state, another sign of the strength of their ground operation that they hope pays off next year.

      Pundits in the Beltway might not believe it, but Bernie Sanders campaign in Iowa is out-organizing the entire field, and this is all powered by the most grassroots volunteers and donors of any campaign in the country, Iowa State Director Misty Rebik said in a statement.

      The purgatory status for Sanders campaign was demonstrated by an Iowa poll on Saturday night that showed him slipping. But theres no doubt that he remains among one of the top contenders for the nomination, with other campaigns even saying as much. In a memo on Saturday, Sen. Cory Bookers (D-NJ) campaign manager issued an urgent plea for fundraising in the next 10 days to effectively keep him in the race. Within it, he noted that Biden, Sanders, Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are the four campaigns with enough resources to compete for the long haul currently.

      Warren has completely out campaigned him. I scratch my head and go how is Bernie going to get around her?
      Unaffiliated Democratic consultant

      While he still is among the top tier of candidates in the crowded field, there is some evidence to suggest that Sanders opponents are more interested in training their fire on Warren for now. On Thursday, a number of the other presidential contenders leveled various criticisms at the Massachusetts Democrat, with Buttigieg explicitly invoking her by name to say that she was extremely evasive in answers about Medicare for All, the primary policy plank that has animated Sanders political vision for years.

      Warren also won the support this week of the Working Families Party, a left-wing political outfit that supported Sanders in the last primary. The voting process, and the lack of a revealed tally, has led to some acrimony from Sanders supporters who have leveled charges that the leadership of WFP essentially commandeered the process to back Warren.

      Maurice Mitchell, WFPs national director and Nelini Stamp, national organizing director at WFP, wrote about the selection process in response to criticism that they had heard. In turn, they also urged that supporters remain positive about both candidates.

      Both Warren and Sanders are fighting for the world we want to see, and both have brought new and vital ideas into the political debate, they wrote. Our endorsement of Senator Warren does not diminish our respect for Senator Sanders, and to be clear, were going to be relentlessly positive about both of them in the months ahead.

      Sanders and Warren appear poised to remain relentlessly positive about each other as wellas neither side has demonstrated a willingness or desire to go negative. In fact, Khanna defended both of them against Buttigiegs attack line in a tweet on Friday.

      But underscoring some of the recent moves by the campaign appears to be a notion from some that Warren is outflanking Sanders for now. And it remains to be seen whether she is having an ephemeral moment or steadily climbing her way to the nomination.

      Warren has completely out campaigned him, an unaffiliated Democratic consultant familiar with the campaign told The Daily Beast. I scratch my head and go how is Bernie going to get around her?

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      The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get | Richard Wolffe

      If youre wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it

      donald trump

      America has a grand tradition of the brazenly dumb criminal: the kind who is so desperately needy that he brags about his guilt.

      Back in the earliest days of the new media known as newspapers, a certain Chicago mob boss rose to fame by calling a press conference to proclaim everyone elses guilt, if not exactly his innocence.

      Al Capone claimed he played no role in the gunning down of a young states attorney called Bill McSwiggin. In fact he said he could have killed him any time but preferred to keep him alive. I paid McSwiggin, Capone said. I paid him plenty and I got what I was paying for.

      Sure enough, Capone was cleared of the murder and became the darling of an insatiable press pack. If you dont act guilty, will anyone really think youre guilty? Especially if everyone else is guilty too.

      Almost a century later, Donald Trump has cornered the Scarface strategy. If he didnt think neo-Nazis were very fine people, Trump could win a Maccabiah medal for chutzpah.

      In some corner of his orange-tipped cranium there are surely a handful of brain cells that are fully aware that his entire family has engaged with foreign dictators and their oligarchs for personal profit.

      But the rest of Trumps brain is an irony-free zone entirely empty of self-awareness. So he and much of his Cabinet fanned out across the gullible media to proclaim everyone elses guilt in a Ukraine scandal that would normally lead to certain impeachment.

      To be clear, the only scandal involving Ukraine is that Trump openly admits that he repeatedly pressed a foreign leader for dirt on his political opponents ahead of a presidential election. For the second election in a row. Only this time, he could use the promise of military and foreign aid to grease his request.

      Its worth quoting Trumps bizarre explanation of this gambit in full, describing his call to the newly-elected president of Ukraine as follows: The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, he told reporters on Sunday. It was largely corruption. All of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we dont want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.

      Now Donald Trump is something of an expert in corruption, if not creating to the corruption. It takes a great deal of creativity to get your own vice-president to stay at your Irish hotel when its 180 miles away from his meetings in Dublin. You cant even conceive of the creativity needed to explain away the US Air Force staying at a luxury golf resort in Scotland that just happens to be another Trump property.

      Trumps excuse was that he knew nothing about the military staying at his hotel, and had nothing to do with Mike Pences long commute from Doonbeg to Dublin. So what if Pences chief of staff said Trump had made a suggestion about the stay? He just had great taste like the military that loves Turnberry so much.

      Trump apparently knows nothing about his own officials lining his own pockets. But he does know a thing or two about Ukraine.

      It was at his own convention in 2016 when his own campaign chairman changed his own party platform to weaken US support for Ukraine against Russias annexation of Crimea and its interference in Ukraines politics.

      Ukraine has got a lot of problems, Trump explained to reporters. The new president is saying that hes going to be able to rid the country of corruption. And I said that would be a great thing. We had a great conversation. We backed I backed Ukraine from the beginning.

      Amnesia is a terrible problem for todays world leaders. Especially the morally dubious ones who are either too brazen or too lazy to think of a decent excuse.

      Somehow Trump has forgotten about how bad a liar his lawyer is, or why Ukraine is even enmeshed in the multiple scandals that would lead to the impeachment of any other president.

      Would Trump let Rudy Giuliani testify to Congress about his own efforts?

      Oh I would have no problem with it, he told reporters on Sunday. Rudy is a very straight shooter. And Rudy wants to see the same thing as a lot of other people with respect to your Ukraine. Ukraine has had a tremendous corruption problem. Somehow they were involved in a lot of different things that took place in our country, and hopefully it can be straightened out.

      Hopefully we can straighten this out for you, Mr President. Rudy shoots so straight that he can break land speed records for lying on national television. Did he ask Ukraines government to investigate Joe Biden? No, actually I didnt, he told CNN, before admitting 30 seconds later, of course I did.

      Somehow Ukraine was involved in a lot of things in American politics, Mr President. Most of them involving Paul Manafort, your old campaign chairman, now serving time in jail for tax evasion on all the cash he made from Ukraines former president. The one supported by Vladimir Putin, whom you asked for help to hack into the emails of your opponents in the last election during a press conference.

      It was a perfect call. A perfect call, Trump said on Sunday. What wasnt perfect is the horrible thing that Joe Biden said. And now he made it a lie when he said he never spoke to his son. I mean, give me a break. Hes already said he spoke to his son. And now he said, yesterday, very firmly. Who wouldnt speak to your son? Of course you spoke to your son. So he made the mistake of saying he never spoke to his son. He spoke to his son.

      The son thing is troubling, Mr President. Troubling because you sound unhinged.

      But more importantly, Trump continued, what he said about the billions of dollars that he wouldnt give them unless they fired the prosecutor. And then he bragged about how they fired the prosecutor and they got the money.

      Oh yes. The money thing. Its a beauty. Biden is smeared by the most braggadociously corrupt president for pushing Ukraine to have a prosecutor who will fight corruption.

      It may be no surprise that Trump is circling the drain while clinging on to his own dizzy conspiracies. His election prospects are miserable and he desperately needs another looney-tuned cartoon like the Clinton email saga.

      But its still surprising to see his secretary of state and Treasury secretary peddling the same smear as if it was just another Sunday talk show subject.

      Is there anyone left with any self-respect in the Republican party? Step forward Mitt Romney, the former Republican nominee and now Utah senator. No really, step forward.

      If the President asked or pressured Ukraines president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out, Romney tweeted.

      Damn the torpedoes. The senator is extremely troubled, if not rather exercised, by the possibility of something that Trump and Giuliani have already admitted on camera.

      If youre wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it. The poor citizens of Ukraine have been looking at it for the last five years, ever since Russian troops marched in and unleashed their disinformation on an unsuspecting world.

      Like Vladimir Putin, Al Capone knew that dont have to be smart to get away with murder. You just have to confuse everyone about what guilt looks like.

      • Richard Wolffe is a Guardian US columnist

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      The star of the annual Muslim convention was a Jewish man from Brooklyn

      news

      (CNN)This Labor Day weekend, thousands of Muslim Americans descended on Houston, Texas, for the annual three-day Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention. This year’s ISNACON featured many well-known figures, such as Trevor Noah, who shared his story of growing up in South Africa and joked about the ups and downs of “The Daily Show.”

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      Fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro also spoke. This was part of ISNA’s first ever presidential forum, as the Muslim community strives to engage in politics on all levels. Castro, a Catholic, received a great reception from the audience, especially when he declared, “Muslim Americans for generations have been part of the fabric of our American family. They have helped make America the great nation it is, and we need to fully embrace it.”
      But the night truly belonged to Sanders, or “Uncle Bernie,” as many Muslims affectionately refer to the junior senator from Vermont. And the reason for that is simple: Sanders has worked hard to earn the support of the Muslim community. It began during the 2016 presidential primary when he was running against Hillary Clinton. Many in the Muslim community were wary of Clinton, given her support of the Iraq War. Sanders opposed the war — a fact of which he reminded the audience on Saturday, earning him loud applause.
        And, during the 2016 campaign, Sanders was very passionate in standing up for our community and opposing then-candidate Donald Trump’s hateful lies about Muslims. For example, in December 2015, when Trump repeated the debunked tale that Muslims in New Jersey had cheered the 9/11 attack, Sanders slammed Trump as a “pathological liar.”
        Sanders also did something not often heard from mainstream politicians — and that’s speak of Palestinians as human beings. He told the audience at an April 2016 debate with Clinton that if we ever want to achieve peace in the Middle East, “we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”
        The star of the annual Muslim convention was a Jewish man from Brooklyn (Opinion) - CNN
        It’s no surprise that in the 2016 Michigan Democratic primary, a state that boasts a sizable Muslim population, the Muslim community came out in large numbers for Sanders and were credited with playing a role in his upset victory over Clinton.
        And, since 2016, Sanders has also been outspoken on issues that have impacted the Muslim community, including Trump’s travel ban, which Sanders slammed as “a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to divide us up.” At Saturday’s event, he renewed his commitment to rescind that measure if elected president. He also added, “We must speak out at hate crimes and violence targeted at the Muslim community and call it what it is: domestic terrorism,” generating even more applause for the 2020 presidential candidate.
        Sanders’ enthusiastic embrace by the Muslim community serves as a visible contrast to Trump’s vile attacks on Rep. Tlaib and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, the two female Muslim members of Congress, whom the President recently accused of hating “all Jewish people” because they question some of the policies of the Israeli government. (Both Tlaib and Omar deny any accusations of anti-Semitism.) Numerous Muslims I spoke to at ISNA expressed the concern that Trump’s true goal in attacking the two congresswomen is to divide Muslims and Jews. But the love shown to Sanders by this Muslim crowd was an inspiring rejection of Trump’s efforts.

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          In my conversations over the past few days with a large swath of attendees at ISNA about who they were supporting in 2020, Sanders’ name was continually, although not exclusively, cited. Many mentioned interest in Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with a few mentioning support for former Vice President Joe Biden. And all were greatly appreciative that Castro attended.
          But there’s no denying that on Saturday night, the audience belonged to a feisty Jewish politician from Brooklyn. He has made a concerted effort to meet with and listen to members of the Muslim community, and he has been at the forefront of advocating for our rights. Other 2020 candidates could benefit from taking a cue from him.

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          Beto O’Rourke is back in the mix. Will voters give him another look?

          America

          (CNN)Beto O’Rourke is fighting with Pete Buttigieg. He’s angering Democrats in Washington. He’s cussing, and being warned about his language. He’s being called “dummy Beto” by President Donald Trump.

          After five months of struggling to find his place in the crowded Democratic field, a campaign reboot following the early August shooting that left 22 dead in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, has moved O’Rourke into a position where he appears more comfortable than he was in the first five months of the race: An outsider attempting to lead a movement.
          His message, in campaign stops, emails to supporters and social media posts, has shifted in a way that shows his campaign has found an animating cause. His language has changed, with O’Rourke — an at-times profane campaigner in Texas who early in the race promised he’d stop dropping f-bombs — now back to cursing regularly, a decision being heard by supporters as plainly communicating the urgency of the issue and by critics as an attention-grabbing gimmick.
            So has his travel schedule: O’Rourke is setting aside the traditional path through the early voting states in favor of a new emphasis on those that vote on Super Tuesday. He’s campaigning with down-ballot candidates, visiting downtrodden Democratic Party organizations and stopping in cities and towns facing tumult.
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            It’s tough to tell whether Democratic voters are giving O’Rourke a fresh look in light of his new approach: A recent CNN poll found him with 5% support, which his backers hoped was a sign O’Rourke was beginning to climb out of the low single digits. But an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this week showed him with just 1% support. Given the margin of error, it’s possible O’Rourke hasn’t moved much at all.

            Battling with Buttigieg

            O’Rourke has drawn headlines since Democrats’ third primary debate in Houston last week — the one his aides said he prepared for the least, with zero sessions behind a podium and the one day that had been devoted to readying him for the showdown scrapped in favor of a last-minute trip to Midland, Texas, after a shooting there.
            Days before the debate, the Democratic National Committee passed on a warning to campaigns that ABC would be broadcasting the debate with no delay — which meant no chance to bleep out curse words. The warning didn’t name O’Rourke directly, but there was little doubt why it had been issued.
            On stage, O’Rourke delivered one of the night’s most memorable moments when he advocated for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles, telling a cheering audience: “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We are not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.”
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            The comment led to criticism from Republicans and Democrats — and it gave O’Rourke an opportunity to brawl with the foe his supporters have been angry at since he mocked O’Rourke’s habit of “standing on things” in New Hampshire in early April: Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
            The blowback began the morning after the debate, when Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Joe Biden supporter, said O’Rourke had given Republicans an opening to characterize Democrats as gun-grabbers, endangering a push for other reforms.
            Coons’ prediction proved accurate on Wednesday, when Trump did just what he’d warned of, tweeting: “Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!”
            The fallout with more potential to affect the 2020 Democratic race, though, came when Buttigieg was asked on CNN on Sunday whether Coons was right that O’Rourke’s push for mandatory buy-backs was playing into the GOP’s hands.
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            As Buttigieg built establishment support and fundraising might, O’Rourke’s camp has seethed. His aides and backers note Buttigieg’s private flights and point out that O’Rourke often drives himself around the campaign trail (and recently took the Bolt Bus from New York to Boston). They see — and want voters to see — a clash that’s geographical, with Buttigieg representing the industrial Midwest where Democratic support has slipped and O’Rourke from the Sun Belt, a more diverse region where the party is gaining strength.
            Even as O’Rourke supporters relish the fight with Buttigieg, the bigger picture of the race shows the steep hill O’Rourke must climb. Buttigieg a week ago released his first television advertisement in Iowa — a luxury O’Rourke likely cannot afford, since Buttigieg raised $25 million in 2019’s second quarter to O’Rourke’s $3.6 million.
            O’Rourke’s campaign sees evidence this new approach is working. Aides said the three days following the debate were O’Rourke’s best fundraising days since April, the month after he launched his presidential bid.

            A moment of doubt

            While O’Rourke has become a more critical player in the Democratic race in the seven weeks since the El Paso, Texas, shooting, there was a point in the immediate aftermath when he wasn’t sure he would remain a candidate at all.
            The day after a gunman who police say had posted online a racist screed warning of a “Hispanic invasion” killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart, O’Rourke had a moment he worried might have ended his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
            He was on his way to his van after a vigil outside Las Americas, an immigration advocacy center in El Paso — already emotional and unable to find his wife, who had been there, too — when he found himself boxed in between two cars and a handful of reporters behind the building. One asked him whether there was anything Trump could do to make things better.
            “Members of the press, what the f—?” O’Rourke said, chastising reporters for failing to draw what he saw as obvious connections between the violence and Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies that target immigrants.
            Everyone there knew they had seen a significant moment. Two O’Rourke aides nervously approached this reporter, asking about what had happened. Soon afterward, on Twitter, O’Rourke’s comment went viral.
            O’Rourke, meanwhile, was on his way to another vigil. He looked at his wife and said, “Look, I f—ed up,” he told The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere in a podcast interview this month.
            In the moment, O’Rourke said, it felt “like maybe this is over.”
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            “Nobody spoke in the van. I didn’t speak. I was pissed. I was pissed at myself, I was pissed at the world, I was pissed at that question. I was pissed that we were even having this conversation — like, how in the world could we be asking ourselves these questions as civilized, intelligent human beings, who report the news, make the news, you know, report on the policy, make the policy? Why are we even asking, is Donald Trump racist? Did he have something to do with this? Could he make this better?” O’Rourke said.
            “I think I was mostly mad at myself: Why have I not been able to figure this out? And why have I not been able to make these connections more clear? Why have we not been able to change this?”
            O’Rourke said he didn’t consciously work through what he might do other than run for president. Instead, he said, his thought after the shooting was, “What am I doing, at all?”
            Did he consider dropping out? What had happened in his hometown, he said, “just down in my bones or my essence, made me question myself. And so to some degree, yes.”
            There were also decisions to be made — such as whether O’Rourke would join the rest of the Democratic field and visit the Iowa State Fair, one of the rituals of the presidential campaign trail.
            “I was like, f— no, uh-uh,” he said. “I can’t pretend. I would be pretending.”
            “And to some degree, you’re performing when you’re running for office, right?” O’Rourke said. “You’re never fully, wholly, truly yourself, warts and all. You are on a stage and you’re projecting and you’re acting in a way that you want people to read and form their picture of you. No one can help that. … We’re all actors on that stage, and no one more so than perhaps someone running for president. But I couldn’t go do that.”
            His decision to skip Iowa forced O’Rourke and his aides to have bigger-picture conversations about where he would go and what kind of campaign he would run moving forward.
            At the same time, Trump’s administration had targeted undocumented workers in Mississippi in an immigration raid.
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            “The two seemed very connected to me in a very obvious way — this manner of terrorizing people and trying to terrify the country about immigrants and Hispanics and people who are really the most vulnerable and the most defenseless in America,” O’Rourke said. “And I said, I want to be there. I want to go there. And I want to go anywhere where people are being kept down or made to be afraid.”
            His return to the campaign trailnearly two weeks later started with a speech in El Paso in which O’Rourke for the first time called for mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles, and said he would take a new route — with fewer performative stops in the early states and more visits to vulnerable or forgotten places across the country.
            Since then, he has spent less time in the first four states to vote in the presidential primary process — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and more in the Super Tuesday states.
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            Among those Super Tuesday state stops: O’Rourke has campaigned with down-ballot candidates in Virginia. He visited Skid Row in Los Angeles. He delivered a speech that drew a large online audience in front of Democrats in Arkansas. And he visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in Oklahoma.
            The changes suggest O’Rourke’s strategy is merely to survive the first month ofprimary season and then begin racking up delegates in March, with Super Tuesday including his home state of Texas. In May, he tapped Jeff Berman, a delegate strategy veteran of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, as a senior adviser.
              The new approach to his schedule, the gun control advocacy and the more direct — and sometimes foul — language are all part of his reaction to the shooting that he told The Atlantic “just, at a really deep, fundamental level, made me wonder what I’m doing or what I’ve ever been doing or what we are doing.”
              “And all of the, you know, performance, the ritual, and the — you know, I don’t know, all the editing, that goes into speaking when you’re running for office,” he said, “just really evaporated or didn’t seem as important, or I didn’t even really know that I cared at that point.”

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              Al Sharpton on Donald Trump: ‘He’s a white nationalist’

              The civil rights activist, who recently found himself at the sharp end of the presidents tweets, discusses his history with Trump and the recent mass gun violence

              Barack Obama

              Among the many framed mementoes that clutter the white vinyl walls of the Rev Al Sharptons midtown Manhattan office, there is one he treasures just a little more than the others. Its an official program for the state memorial service held for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg back in 2013.

              Sharpton, the American civil rights stalwart, had been unable to travel to the event in person, and received a copy in the mail signed by a close friend. Across the programs gold lettering, a short message is scrawled in thin black marker: To Rev Sharpton A fellow warrior for justice! The signature is Barack Obamas, who back on that wet December day gave a speech in honor of Mandela that framed his legacy and post-apartheid reconciliation as a clarion call for global justice and peace.

              Theres a degree of beleaguered nostalgia as Sharpton looks at the frame, now a relic not just of a previous presidency but a different era of politics, defined by optimism, ideas and nuance.

              The Obama years thrust Sharpton, often a divisive and radical figure in American politics, further into the mainstream. It was during this time that the Baptist minister, once a direct action campaigner at the heart of some of New York Citys most torrid racial disputes, was given a primetime show on the cable news channel MSNBC and described as the White Houses informal adviser on race.

              I dont care if Donald Trump does 20 tweets on me. Nothing will ever mean more to me than the first black president calling me a warrior for justice on the program of Nelson Mandela, in his own penmanship, he says, pointing to the signature.

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              Barack Obama walks alongside Amelia Boynton Robinson, the Rev Al Sharpton, Michelle Obama, and Georgia representative John Lewis, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama, on 7 March 2015. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

              It has been less than a week since the 64-year-old preacher, born across the East River in Brooklyn, found himself at the sharp end of a typically divisive and inflammatory tweetstorm from the current president of the United States.

              Last week, Trump labelled him a conman, a troublemaker who Hates Whites & Cops! as Sharpton travelled to the majority African American city of Baltimore, Maryland, which the president had earlier described as a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess in an attack on the districts veteran black Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings.

              It was just the latest salvo in Trumps culture war, which has seen a potent mixture of thinly disguised racism directed at black leaders, hardened anti-immigrant rhetoric and Islamophobic slurs.

              A few days later, a 21-year-old white gunman killed 22 people in the border city of El Paso, Texas, in a domestic terror attack allegedly fueled by white nationalism and immigrant hatred.

              Sharpton was shocked, but not completely surprised, when he heard the news. This country is in a very dangerous place if we do not legislatively deal with this and set a different moral tone than this president, he says, his voice rising with the crescendo and intonation you would expect of a lifelong preacher.

              Since Trumps online attack, he claims, he and his civil rights group, the National Action Network, have received a substantial increase in threats.

              They have probably tripled since hes come into office, and quadrupled since he tweeted about me, Sharpton says. Youve got a president of the United States saying Im a troublemaker, so what does that say to someone like the guy that shot up El Paso? Even though you hope that it doesnt lead to that, youd be foolish not to take precautions, because you dont know what nut he may wake up.

              Of course, Sharpton is no stranger to volatile politics. His career as a civil rights campaigner has spanned over 30 years, and he has met his fair share of controversy and, on occasion, violence. He points to the left side of his chest, where in 1991 he was stabbed by a white resident in Brooklyn as he led a protest over the death of Yusuf Hawkins, a black 16-year-old, at the hands of a white mob.

              I know what it is to be hurt. I mean, physically, Ive paid the price. But that stabbing got me past the fear of [being threatened].

              Since then, Sharpton has been on the frontlines of many of Americas most notorious police brutality cases. He marched with the family of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager from Florida gunned down by a neighborhood watchman in Florida. He attended the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting of another unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. He has worked on nearly every high-profile police killing in New York City for the past two decades, none more so than the chokehold death of Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014.

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              Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of Trayvon Martin, talk to the lawyer Benjamin Crump and the Rev Al Sharpton on 11 April 2012. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

              Its a bright summer morning, and Sharpton is looking typically trim, his hair slicked back, a neatly fitted shirtdisplaying the weight loss he experienced about a decade ago. He leaves the television on throughout our conversation, keeping an eye on cable news and checking his phone, which buzzes constantly.

              Its a quirk he appears to share, ironically, with Trump also a cable TV addict. But their connection goes well beyond this and their recent spat. The pair have known each other for 25 years as flamboyant personalities in this citys social and political scene. Both are lifelong New Yorkers who moved from the outer boroughs to the bright lights of Manhattan, albeit under markedly different circumstances. Their paths have frequently collided.

              Sharpton recalls the first time he met Trump, on a helicopter ride to Atlantic City in New Jersey, accompanied by the boxing promoter Don King in the late 1980s. King and Trump were trying to broker a deal over venue and promotion rights to Mike Tysons fights and, according to Sharpton, had met resistance from the majority black city council. They lobbied him to get involved but he declined.

              I didnt even want to get on the helicopter because I didnt like Donald Trump, he says.

              Sharpton went on to protest outside a Trump building in the midst of the Central Park Five scandal, in 1989, during which the real estate tycoon took out advertisements in all the citys newspapers calling for the death penalty against five teenagers falsely convicted, and years later acquitted, over the rape of a white woman in the park.

              More than two decades later, in 2008, emails seen by the Guardian show that Trump called Sharpton to personally offer him a slot on The Apprentice. Sharpton declined.

              He begged me and I wouldnt do it.

              Trump, perhaps predictably, has characterized their relationship somewhat differently.

              Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He loved Trump! He would ask me for favors often, the president tweeted last week.

              Al
              Al Sharpton attends the 2016 Democratic national convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 25 July 2016. Photograph: Earl Gibson III/WireImage

              In 2002 and 2006 the billionaire appeared at Sharptons National Action Network conventions, now among the largest civil rights symposiums in America, as an invited guest. The pair posed for photos, both beaming.

              Does he regret bringing him now?

              I wanted to show bipartisanship, Sharpton says, striking a surprisingly defensive tone. You cant have a civil rights convention where you say Im only going to have one side, and so it was in that spirit.

              But it was after the election of Obama, he says, that his assessment of Trump went from being one of a cynical manipulator of race to a white nationalist, as he led the birther conspiracy movement.

              At our last sit-down meeting he argued with me about Barack Obama not being born here but being born in Kenya. If youre not one of us, youre one of them. Thats when I was convinced Thats who he is. Hes a white nationalist. This is not just some maneuver of his. He deep down inside believes that.

              In the years since Obamas presidential candidacy, Sharpton has played an increasingly prominent role during the Democratic primary season. In 2016, he invited Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to dine with him in Harlem, in carefully managed media events near the National Action Network headquarters. He declined to endorse either ahead of the New York primary.

              Barack
              Barack Obama and the Rev Al Sharpton greet patrons at the restaurant Sylvias before an Obama fundraiser in Harlem, New York, on 29 November 2007. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

              He was present for both Democratic debates in Detroit last month, and says he has spoken in depth with all of the frontrunners during the campaign. It was telling that shortly after Trumps attack, most candidates were quick to tweet their support for Sharpton, many of them describing him as a personal friend.

              Hes equally coy on endorsements this time around, too, undoubtedly aware that playing it cool will lead to more courtship from the key players, eager to appeal to the African American vote, which will be crucial in the early voting state of South Carolina.

              He is not shy when asked to define his own political capital, though. He lists off his now weekly cable show on MSNBC, his daily radio show, his televised weekly rallies in Harlem, and National Action Network offices around the country. All of this, he claims, is a way to tap tens if not hundreds of thousands of prime voters in black America.

              My role is that I represent a constituency that rallies around these issues, he says. You can say you dont want that constituency. Or you can get to them another way. Be my guest. But we have a proven track record.

              So, candidates aside, what sort of politics does he think will have a chance of beating Trump next year?

              A movement of people who dont want to see a president that is the personification of white nationalism and nativism, he says. The only way the Democrats can miss it is if they have a candidate that is not courageous enough to use that issue. But if they stand up, Trump beats himself.

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              American Crime Story drama

              Latest series of the US hit show will recount the former White House interns affair with the then president that led to his impeachment in 1998

              America

              Monica Lewinsky is among the producers on a new series of American Crime Story focusing on the Bill Clinton sex scandal.

              Titled Impeachment: American Crime Story, the Ryan Murphy-helmed anthology drama will recount the notorious affair between the then US president Clinton and former White House intern Lewinsky, and the subsequent impeachment proceedings called against him by the US House of Representatives.

              Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein will star as Lewinsky, with Sarah Paulson playing Linda Tripp, the civil servant who secretly recorded phone calls the 22-year-old made about her affair with Clinton, who was 27 years her senior.

              The series will premiere in September 2020 in the US, and is expected to air in the UK soon after. The previous two series of American Crime Story have been shown on BBC Two in the UK, as part of the broadcasters syndication deal with the US.

              Impeachment has been adapted by Murphy from Jeffrey Toobins book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Murphy originally optioned the book in 2017, but shelved plans to bring it to TV last year as he felt that such a project would be gross without the contribution of Lewinsky.

              However, with Lewinskys involvement, Impeachment is now going ahead. In a statement to Vanity Fair, she said that she had been hesitant to sign on to the series, but was swayed by the opportunity to reclaim my narrative.

              People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades, Lewinsky said. In fact, it wasnt until the past few years that Ive been able to fully reclaim my narrative, almost 20 years later.

              This isnt just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen.

              FX chairman John Landgraf said that the network would not be reaching out to Bill and Hillary Clinton for their input.

              The Clinton scandal has been the subject of renewed public interest in recent years, following the rise of the #MeToo movement and calls for the impeachment of current US president Donald Trump. Last year, Lewinsky contributed to docuseries The Clinton Affair, while the subject also formed the basis of the second season of popular current affairs podcast Slow Burn.

              American Crime Story has attracted critical acclaim and high ratings for its retellings of landmark events in recent US history. Its first season, 2016s The People Vs OJ Simpson, won a total of nine Emmy awards for its account of the 1994 murder case against former American Football player and actor OJ Simpson.

              The drama went on to win a further three Emmys in 2018 for its second season, which recalled the 1997 murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace. A further series, about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, had been in production but was scrapped by FX last year.

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