Trump wanted to release his taxes in 2013 to show how smart he was for paying so little

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New York (CNN)President Donald Trump’s fight to keep his tax returns private is at odds with his own thinking in 2013 and 2014 that releasing them as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time.

Sam Nunberg, Trump’s political adviser from 2011 to August 2015, tells CNN that during a meeting he had with Trump in the summer of 2013 at Trump Tower, the future president said he was comfortable releasing his tax returns and, even, that he thought it would be a good idea. Nunberg assumed this was because of how little Trump must pay in taxes.
“He thought he could defend the return,” says Nunberg, who did not himself view Trump’s returns. “I inferred from the conversation that he believed that it was a low number and he’d look savvy.”
    A second person, a former senior adviser to Trump, who also joined them for lunch that day, recalls Trump being enthusiastic about releasing his returns for this reason.
    Nunberg remembers that at the time Trump had recently returned from delivering a political speech in Iowa and that his motivation to look like a scrappy businessman was fueled by the failed presidential bid of Mitt Romney. “He felt that Romney had avoided looking successful,” says Nunberg. “Romney had posed beside a shopping cart in his jeans. Trump wanted to appear to be the opposite of that. He was proud of his business track record.”
    In May 2014, Trump told an Irish television station that he would “absolutely” release his tax returns if he entered the race. “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely,” he said. “And I would love to do that.”
    It wasn’t until November 2014 that Trump abandoned the idea, according to Nunberg. At that point it was still eight months before Trump announced for president. At another one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, Nunberg says he convinced Trump to change tack, and told him that federal election rules obliged him to release only a broad financial statement, rather than his full tax returns. Trump liked the idea because he could show how rich he was, says Nunberg.
    “He wanted to look rich rather than smart,” Nunberg says.
    Neither the White House, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, nor the Trump Organization responded to a request for comment.

    A losing fight

    That change of heart nearly five years ago has had massive repercussions. During the 2016 campaign, Trump became the first major party nominee not to release his taxes in more than 30 years.
    As President, he has faced numerous legal challenges seeking the release of his tax returns, including from House Democrats and the New York district attorney.
    In fighting to keep them private, Trump has deployed an assortment of arguments both legal and prosaic, ranging from claims he’s under audit by the IRS to simply stating his taxes are “none of your business.” Trump has also acknowledged that he has fought to “very hard to pay as little tax as possible.”
    But after a string of court losses, Trump’s unprecedented struggle to block the release of his tax returns is looking legally tenuous and appears more likely to head to the Supreme Court.
    On Friday, Trump lost his appeal to stop House Democrats from subpoenaing his taxes from his longtime accountant Mazars USA. In a 2-1 ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling saying the firm must turn over eight years of accounting records.
    Trump can appeal to the Supreme Court to stop Mazars, but courts, including the Supreme Court, previously have refused to curtail Congress’ subpoena power.

    A matter of vanity

    Speculation has swirled around why Trump hasn’t released his taxes, including that they could reveal long-denied ties to foreign interests or that he has donated embarrassingly little to charitable organizations. Trump’s critics have also suggested that a full public airing of his tax records might prove that he has exaggerated his wealth and isn’t as rich as he claims to be.
    It’s this last reason that is closest to the truth, according to Nunberg, who told CNN it’s his impression that Trump’s real motivation for not releasing his taxes was a simple matter of vanity.
    A tax return of a New York real estate developer typically makes them look much less wealthy than they really are, on account of complex rules that include the ability for owners of profit-making buildings to write them off as losses.
    Nunberg says the reason he suggested Trump not release his tax returns came down to three factors. First, by then Trump had told him that he was in fact under audit by the IRS. Secondly, he and Roger Stone, a mentor to Nunberg and himself a former Trump adviser, had started to realize that some of Trump’s business history — the bankruptcy of the Trump Organization in the 1990s in particular — would come under attack and the returns might highlight that.
    Third, Nunberg assumed, given his knowledge of the common tax practice of New York real estate magnates, there would likely be a vast discrepancy between Trump’s net worth and what his tax returns showed — and that this might be difficult to explain to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Nunberg knew that tax laws for commercial real estate developers are notoriously riddled with loopholes peculiar to that industry.
    “I wanted him to run. I wanted him to feel as comfortable as he could. I didn’t want any complications or hiccups. I tried so that this wouldn’t hurt the Trump brand in any way,” Nunberg said.

    Changing his story

    By early 2015, Trump was starting to slightly change the way he answered questions about his taxes. In February of that year, he told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he would “certainly show tax returns if it was necessary.”
    By October, he was hedging even more, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he was considering releasing his tax returns. “I’m thinking about maybe when we find out the true story on Hillary’s emails,” he said of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
    The financial statement Trump filed with the Federal Election Commission in July 2015 was 92 pages long and claimed $1.4 billion in assets and $265 million in liabilities.
    Nunberg was fired from the campaign in August 2015, shortly after the financial statement was released.
    During the presidential campaign Trump used the excuse of being under audit as the chief reason he could not release his taxes. He’s repeated that defense as President. It’s true that every president is audited every year, but there is no law that forbids them from releasing their returns while under audit.
    “The President has fought releasing his tax returns since the early days of his campaign,” said the former senior Trump adviser who says they still regularly speak with the President. “He has no interest in showing them or he would have released them. As usual I expect the Democrats will be disappointed if they are released, as they might just show Trump is a savvy, successful wealthy businessman.”
    But in May The New York Times reported that 10 years of Trump’s tax records the paper had viewed, starting in 1985, appeared to show the exact opposite, and that Trump had lost $1.17 billion during that period.
    The paper reported that, according to the tax records, Trump would have “lost” more money than any individual taxpayer in the entire country. Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, told the Times that statements about the records were “inaccurate” but pointed to no specific inaccuracies. He later added that IRS transcripts “are notoriously inaccurate.”
      In a response to the Times, a senior White House official said, “The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes.”
      In other words, Nunberg’s assumptions about why Trump’s tax returns would be damaging to the Trump brand were spot on.

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      Hunter Biden sits down for TV interview amid Trump’s attacks on his business dealings

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      Hunter Biden sits down for ABC interview amid Trump's attacks on his business dealings - CNNPolitics

      Washington (CNN)Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will speak about President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on his foreign business dealings in a television interview set to air on Tuesday, the same day of the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate.

      “Hunter always understood that his father would be guided, entirely and unequivocally, by established U.S. policy, regardless of its effects on Hunter’s professional interests,” according to a statement released by his attorney. “He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the President of the United States.”
      Biden spoke with ABC News over the weekend. The Biden campaign was informed of Hunter Biden’s Sunday statement and new TV interview, but the decisions about when and how to speak have been Hunter Biden’s, not the campaign’s, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported.
        Hunter Biden has been under fire from Trump for an unproven accusation that his father as vice president improperly tried to help him by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country’s prosecutor general. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company at the time.
          The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
          Trump faces an impeachment probe in the Democratic-led House over his urging the Ukrainian President in a July phone call to investigate the Bidens. That phone call led to a whistleblower complaint that in part alleges Trump withheld US aid to Ukraine over the matter. The President has denied doing anything improper.

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          The Disgusting Matt Lauer News, and Vindicating Ann Curry

          NEWSLETTERS
          The Daily Beasts Obsessed
          Everything we cant stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.
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          This week:

          • Were still thinking about Ann Curry.
          • Go see Parasite.
          • The wildest detail of the Rihanna Vogue story.
          • Dont be jealous of my pumpkins.
          • Goodenough.
          Once Again, Vindication for Ann Curry

          In light of the disgusting revelations that surfaced this week, there are many things I wish for Matt Lauer. Because of those revelations, among many other reasons, I wish to know how NBC News bosses Andy Lack and Noah Oppenheim still have jobs. And because of all the horseshit Ive witnessed covering TV news and morning television over the last decade, there are many things, as always, I wish for Ann Curry.

          I wish for her to rise each morning, well-rested, to a breath of crisp, invigorating air. Maybe theres a whiff of warm croissants coming in through the window, stoking an appetite for the knowledge she will immerse herself in that day. I wish for her curiosity about the world to be satiated, but I wish for her to have found the balance between being activated by the news without being too traumatized by the horror of it all. I wish for her to feel things, but not so deeply it hurts.

          I wish for her to be greeted every day at 4:30 p.m. with a healthy pour of white wine. I wish for a non-stop parade of knowing, warm smiles from passersby on the streets. I wish for her to stumble on a $20 bill on the street, though I know she will do something saintly with it, rather than indulge in spending it on herself. I wish for her weekends to be spent at the beach, a relaxing convalescence from this crazy thing we call life, energizing her to return to her journalistic pursuits when Monday morning calls.

          I wish for her to see, as it already appears she has, the Matt Lauer news, breaking seven years after his role in forcing her exit from the Today show, as a call to continue to mentor and galvanize female journalists.

          And for everyone who, in response to the grotesque Lauer news, has called for Curry to get her own show, I wish for you to know that she hasChasing the Cure Liveand I wish for you to watch it.

          Over a decade ago when I first started my career, I interviewed Curry at an event. The conversation turned personal, for both of us, and in the middle of it she reflexively gripped my hand and stared deeply into my eyes, forging an electric, compassionate connection as she spoke.

          I have come to terms with the fact that I will never understand what the hell TV executives and, presumably, audiences value in hosts and journalists; what, really, did Matt Lauer bring all those years to justify tolerance of his behavior? But the way Curry led her thirst for facts and truth with empathy always struck me and still does. (For what its worth, those same traits are why I think Hoda Kotb is so good in her new role at Today.)

          Anyway, these developments are heinous and pathetically emblematic of a broken system in television. Every time things like this come out, I think about Ann Curry and how she was treated. And then I wish the world for her.

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          Parasite Is the Best Movie of the Year

          I dont think Ive ever experienced a movie quite like Parasite. In the time since I first screened the new film, out Friday, that is what has stuck with me, that watching it is an experience. It sounds like such hooey cinephile nonsensean experience that I am rolling my eyes at myself while typing the words. But it is so true.

          It is the best movie Ive seen this year. I implore you to see it! I can also tell you nothing about it!! Sorry!!!

          The film is written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, best known for his English-language titles Snowpiercer and Okja. It is about an unemployed, impoverished family who infiltrate the lives of a wealthy and glamorous upper-class clan. I refuse to tell you anything else about it, and beg you not to seek out much more information than that.

          Maybe youre a spoiler-phobe or maybe your entire 90s wasnt ruined by knowing that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time before you saw The Sixth Sense. Wherever you are on that spectrum, I truly, deeply believe that knowing what happens in this movie is a significant detriment to your viewing experience.

          I dont want to overhype it, or make you think youre in for twists so unbelievably good that the wig is going to leap right off your head. But the film is one of the most stressful cinematic experiences Ive had. It drives up your heart rate to lethal levels, and once youve come to terms with the fact that your heart just lives in your throat now, it changes gears completely. Now all of a sudden your heart is over there in your forehead, and then exploding out your back, and then making its way to your left pinky. I dont know how it happens, I just know that it is what Bong Joon-ho does!

          The film has been called a black comedy, which it sort of is. Its been ruled a horror film, which it sort of is, too, as well as a thriller, which, yeah, that fits. But its also really none of those things either. I am very aware that none of this information is helpful but I hope you take the spirit of itGO SEE PARASITE, YOU GUYS!!!and run with that all the way to the theater.

          The Rihanna Vogue Detail That Shocked Me

          There were a lot of details in the new Vogue profile of Rihanna that made headlines. Theres just how much money shes made by injecting long-overdue diversity and inclusivity into the worlds of beauty and fashion, tapping into a traditionally ignored market: actual people. Her next album is being worked on and it will be reggae-inspired, though there is still no time frame for its release.

          The juiciest bits, of course, are about politics: She confirms that she turned down the Super Bowl Halftime Show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, and she called Donald Trump, in specific reference to his response to the mass-shooting epidemic, the most mentally ill human being in America right now.

          But there was a passage in the profile that has rattled me so viscerally that my bones shook and heart moaned when I read it. It is when writer Abby Aguirre says this: Normally I bring a list of questions, but I didnt have time to prepare one, which I make a split-second decision to confess.

          A person showed up to interview Rihanna for Vogue without having prepared.

          Everyone has different reporting styles. Staying awake at night poring through everything thats ever been written about an interview subject, scripting questions, ordering and reordering them, strategizing, and even pre-planning small talk and icebreakers isnt for everyone. And the writer is candid about the fact that the interview snuck up on her after Rihanna moved the appointment several times.

          Would I have still scribbled down an outline, a handful of questions, or some mantras of encouragement before I even put presumed to put pants on for this interview? Yes. But hey, as Rihanna herself says in response, were all winging it, I guess.

          The Only Good Thing About Halloween Are My Pumpkins

          I do not like Halloween. I do not like people who like Halloween. But cranky as I get anytime someone uses the word spooky or tries to tell me about their costume, there are two traditions I partake in: eating candy cornscrew you, its deliciousand having an absolutely ridiculous jack-o-lantern carved.

          I do not know if Brent Heuser, pumpkin carver extraordinaire, is delighted or embarrassed each year when I assign him an uber-gay design to craft during his residency at the High Line Hotel. This year, he carved me a fabulous rendering of Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler during the You Dont Own Me finale of The First Wives Club, which I very much look forward to my boyfriend rolling his eyes at as it rots on our dining room table for the next three weeks.

          Last year, he carved me Ryan Phillippes butt scene from Cruel Intentions, a photo of which made its way to the actor himself, who appeared good-naturedly baffled by it.

          If Im being honest, it was a tough call to go with The First Wives Club this year over my second choice, Andrew Scott as the Hot Priest cradling a guinea pig in Fleabag. But Brent will be at the High Line Hotel for a few more weeks should any of you be looking for some gourd-eous temporary art.

          More Than Goodenough

          The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded this year to a man named John B. Goodenough. I read this news on Wednesday and havent stopped laughing since.

          What to Watch This Week:

          Parasite: Duh!

          The Addams Family: Charlize Theron as Morticia Addams? Sure!

          Looking for Alaska: Finally, a good teen drama this fall.

          What to Skip This Week:

          Gemini Man: Will Smith is in this movie and Im not kidding when I say I only found it existed five minutes ago.

          Insatiable: I cannot BELIEVE this show is coming back.

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          Gordon Sondland, hotelier turned diplomat, wasn’t always a Trump supporter

          Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, finds himself in the center of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry after the State Department blocked him from appearing before three congressional committees on Tuesday.

          Sondland has been a player in Republican politics for a number of years but wasn’t always a Trump supporter.
          Sondland was previously the founder and CEO of the Provenance Hotels chain, which boasts 19 hotels across the country.
          Sondland was confirmed to the ambassador role on June 29, 2018.

          A frequent donor to the GOP

          During the 2016 election, Sondland donated to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and to the former Florida governor’s Super PAC, FEC filings show. After Trump locked up the nomination, Sondland, a frequent donor to the Republican National Committee, joined Trump and the RNC’s joint finance operation.
          George W. Bush
          However, after Trump attacked a Gold Star family, Sondland sought to distance himself from Trump after The Seattle Times obtained an invitation to a August fundraiser for Trump that showed Sondland listed as an event sponsor.
          A spokeswoman for Sondland said at the time that he would not be hosting or attending any Seattle or Portland fundraisers for the Trump campaign, Willamette Week reported.
          “Mr. Trump’s statements have made it clear that his positions do not align with” his personal beliefs and values, Provenance Hotels spokeswoman Kate Buska told the Portland newspaper.
          “Historically, Mr. Sondland has been supportive of the Republican party’s nominees for President,” she added. “However, in light of Mr. Trump’s treatment of the Khan family and the fact his constantly evolving positions diverge from their personal beliefs and values on so many levels, neither Mr. Sondland or Mr. Wali can support his candidacy.”
          After the election, Sondland donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee through four limited liability companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
          Although the bulk of his donations have been to GOP candidates, he gave over $5,000 to Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s reelection campaign in 2015, according to FEC filings.
          Wyden had vouched for Sondland during his confirmation hearing in 2018, saying he knew the hotelier for a quarter century by way of Oregon’s “really small Jewish community.”
          He also touted Sondland’s contributions to the Oregon community, including a $1 million endowment to the Portland Art Museum, where he served as its chairman from 2009 to 2011, to allow free admission for children.

          Limited prior work in government

          Sondland is a first generation American of refugee parents, who fled Nazi Germany and eventually settled in Seattle, Washington.
          Before he took on the diplomat role, Sondland’s work in government had been limited. He was appointed by George W. Bush to serve on the Commission for White House Fellowships.
          He had worked on the transition team for Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who was governor from 2003 to 2011. Sondland also worked as a principal Republican liaison for Oregon and the White House. He also chaired the governor’s Office of Film and Television.
          While he is ambassador to the European Union, he has stated that he has a specific interest in Ukraine.
          “President Trump has not only honored me with the job of being the US ambassador to the EU, but he’s also given me other special assignments, including Ukraine,” he told a Ukraine media outlet in July.
          Sondland was set to be on the hot seat Tuesday as House investigators pressed him about text messages he exchanged related to Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky and the freezing of foreign aid to Ukraine.
          In text messages released last week by the former US special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, Sondland told a US diplomat concerned over the withhold of funding in exchange for an investigation that he is mistaken about Trump’s intentions.
          But on Tuesday morning, the State Department ordered Sondland not to appear before Congress.
          “He is a sitting ambassador and employee of State and is required to follow their direction,” Sondland’s attorney Robert Luskin said.

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          BBC criticised for ‘lack of transparency’ on Naga

          BBC
          Media watchdog Ofcom has said it has “serious concerns around the transparency of the BBC’s complaints process” following its handling of the Naga Munchetty case.

          The BBC’s director general Lord Hall recently reversed a decision to partially uphold a complaint against the BBC Breakfast host for comments she made about US President Donald Trump.

          Ofcom criticised the “lack of transparency” around the original ruling, which sparked a public outcry, and Lord Hall’s subsequent U-turn.

          The regulator has decided not to investigate Munchetty’s exchange with co-host Dan Walker, saying it did not break its broadcasting rules around impartiality.

          But it said the corporation should have published more details of the reasons behind both the BBC Executive Complaints Unit [ECU]’s original decision and the subsequent change of mind.

          Ofcom said: “The BBC ECU has not published the full reasoning for its partially upheld finding. Neither has the BBC published any further reasoning for the director-general’s decision to overturn that finding.”

          ‘A matter of urgency’

          The case “highlights the need for the BBC to provide more transparency on the reasons for its findings”, the watchdog said, adding that it “will be addressing the BBC’s lack of transparency as a matter of urgency”.

          Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom’s director for content and media policy, said: “We have serious concerns around the transparency of the BBC’s complaints process, which must command the confidence of the public.

          “We’ll be requiring the BBC to be more transparent about its processes and compliance findings as a matter of urgency.”

          In response, a BBC spokesman said: “We note Ofcom’s finding and the fact they agree with the director-general’s decision.”

          The BBC’s complaints framework says that, whenever the ECU upholds or resolves a complaint, it publishes a summary of its findings, rather than its full reasoning.

          Ofcom received 18 complaints, mostly about the ECU’s original decision, which said Munchetty was wrong to criticise Mr Trump’s motives after he said four female politicians should “go back” to “places from which they came”.

          news

          Letters between the BBC and Ofcom were published by the regulator and revealed a disagreement over whether Ofcom had the right to investigate a BBC programme for breaches of content standards.

          The BBC took legal advice on the matter and declined to supply additional information to Ofcom while the regulator was deciding whether to investigate the Breakfast hosts’ comments.

          The ECU’s full reasons for partially upholding the original complaint were sent to the complainant, but had not been provided to Ofcom, the watchdog said.

          Ofcom said: “We had an exchange of correspondence with the BBC in which we invited the BBC to provide any further background information that it considered relevant for the purposes of helping us to carry out our assessment of the programme against the code.

          “The BBC stated that it did not wish to provide any further information at this time. It also questioned whether it was within Ofcom’s remit under the BBC Charter and Agreement to assess this programme.”

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          Fact check: Trump tells elaborate false story about Van Jones apologizing to him

           

          Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump criticized CNN host Van Jones at length on Friday during a speech to the Young Black Leadership Summit, a conservative event at the White House.

          “The only one he didn’t mention was me,” Trump said.
          “I kept waiting for my name,” Trump continued. “I said, ‘Darling, come over here. I’m going to have a great little name mention. Yes, darling’ — First Lady. How good is the First Lady? So she came over. And I kept waiting. And I kept waiting. And then he named a lot of people — that was the end. I said — I was a little embarrassed in front of my wife. I said, ‘He didn’t name me! I’m the one that did it!’ I called up Jared (Kushner), right Jared? I said, ‘What the hell is this?’ “
          Trump complained that Jones had called for his defeat in the election on the same show. And he then claimed that Jones later apologized for omitting him.
          “And then he spoke to Jared and he apologized, didn’t he? He apologized. But I don’t accept those apologies,” Trump said.
          Facts First: Jones said Friday that he has never made any such apology to Trump or Kushner. He has never praised Sharpton on his CNN show, and he has habitually given Trump credit for the First Step Act — including in a CNN appearance three weeks ago, in which he said, “I think Trump has gotten too little credit for what he did on criminal justice reform.”
          Jones said Friday: “I literally do not know what he’s talking about.”
          “I have not apologized for not mentioning Trump because I’ve never not mentioned Trump,” he said. “Why would I apologize for not doing something that I did?”
          Jones said he thinks Trump might have been confusing him with entertainer and activist John Legend.
          Legend, a vocal Trump critic, participated in a town hall event on criminal justice that aired on MSNBC in September. According to The Washington Post, Trump’s role in signing the First Step Act was not explicitly mentioned on the show.
          The night the MSNBC show aired, Trump lashed out at Legend on Twitter while complaining that he and Republicans were not being given enough credit for the First Step Act. He mentioned Jones in the same Twitter thread, though Jones did not appear on the show.
          “….A man named @VanJones68, and many others, were profusely grateful (at that time!). I SIGNED IT INTO LAW, no one else did, & Republicans deserve much credit. But now that it is passed, people that had virtually nothing to do with it are taking the praise. Guys like boring musician @johnlegend, and his filthy mouthed wife, are talking now about how great it is – but I didn’t see them around when we needed help getting it passed,” Trump said.
          Legend, winner of the Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards, responded by tweeting: “Imagine being president of a whole country and spending your Sunday night hate-watching MSNBC hoping somebody—ANYBODY—will praise you. Melania, please praise this man. He needs you.”
          Legend’s wife Chrissy Teigen, the model, television host, author and popular online personality whom Trump disparaged as “filthy mouthed,” responded with a profane insult that went viral on Twitter. She added, “The absolute best part of his tweet is I literally didn’t speak in the special, nor was I mentioned.”
          The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
          Conservative media outlets have taken note of Jones’ repeated praise of Trump over the law, words for which Jones has received criticism from some liberals. In May, for example, the right-wing Daily Caller quoted Jones saying, “We’ve got to give Trump credit where credit is due. He did fight hard to pass the bill and he made it possible for other Republicans to also be in the pro-criminal justice camp.”
          Jones thanked Sharpton for his support and guidance in a 2018 appearance he made on Sharpton’s radio show to discuss the First Step Act. But that radio show bore no resemblance to the story Trump told about a recent television show.
          Jones briefly mentioned criminal justice reform on his CNN show in August, and called for Trump’s defeat on that program, but the program also was not at all similar to the one Trump described; Jones did not mention Sharpton or recite a long list of people responsible for the First Step Act.

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          Bernie Sanders and the 2020 age debate

          (CNN)With only120daysuntil the Iowa caucuses, the 2020 election will be here before you know it.Every Sunday, I round up the5BIG storylines you need to know to understand the upcoming week on the campaign trail. And they’re ranked — so the No. 1 story is the most important of the coming week.

          5. Trump, unleashed: Donald Trump has spent the last week talking and tweeting almost nonstop as he tries to fight his way out of mounting allegations over his pressure campaign to get the Ukrainians to look into debunked allegations of wrongdoing against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
          And the rhetoric from Trump has gone to previously unseen heights — even for Trump. He’s accused Rep. Adam Schiff (California) of treason, he’s attacked Mitt Romney in deeply personal terms — more on that directly below — and he’s repeating, repeating, repeating long disproven lies.
          All of which means that when Trump travels to Minneapolis on Thursday for a “Keep America Great” rally, well, look out. Trump is always at his most, well, Trump-y at these campaign rallies — and, given the walls closing in on him in Washington, he could well use the Minnesota rally as a venting session the likes of which even longtime Trump observers rarely see.
          Stay tuned. It’s going to be a doozy.
          4. Any other Mitt Romneys out there?: Republicans have, almost uniformly, closed ranks around Trump even as a second whistleblower has emerged regarding the President allegedly using the power of his office for political gain during interactions over the summer with Ukraine.
          Only Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) has publicly criticized Trump in any way, calling the President’s urgings of China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “wrong” and “appalling.” Trump immediately struck back, referring to Romney as a “pompous ‘ass'” (I have no idea why he put “ass” in quotes) and suggesting that the 2012 Republican nominee was “begging” to be his secretary of state.
          Any Republican who was weighing speaking out about Trump’s behavior with Ukraine (and his plea for China to investigate his main rival for the 2020 nomination) now can have no illusions about what such criticism will be met with: Pure, unadulterated anger from Trump — and likely vilification from the President’s base.
          Is any prominent Republican other than Romney willing to risk speaking out when that reaction is assured? Principle vs. politics, anyone?
          3. Fundraising losers…: With the third fundraising quarter ending at the close of last month, most of the major candidates have released how much they brought in and how much they spent between July 1 and September 30.
          Let’s go through the losers first.
          * Joe Biden: When you are a former vice president and the race’s frontrunner, you need to be at or very close to the top of the money chase. Biden’s $15 million raised in the third quarter is well off the pace and a significant drop-off from when Biden raised $21.5 million from April 1 to June 30 — his first three months of active fundraising. His numbers will re-ignite the debate over whether he has real grassroots energy behind his establishment candidacy. Think about this: The mayor of South Bend, Indiana — Pete Buttigieg — raised $4 million more than Biden in the third quarter and has now out-raised the former vice president for six months straight.
          * Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator’s plea for $1.7 million in the final days of the quarter — in order, he said, for him to remain in the race — drew a ton of publicity. Even though Booker met his goal, he still only brought in $6 million for the entire three-month period. That likely means he will be facing another dire financial deadline in the not-too-distant future.
          2. … and fundraising winners: 
          * Bernie Sanders: Even as his poll numbers have stagnated somewhat, the Vermont senator’s small-dollar, online fundraising network continues to deliver. Sanders topped the field in the third quarter with more than $25 million raised and has now raised more than $71 million this year. That ensures he will not only have real organizations in all of the early states but will also be able to continue fighting for the nomination for months.
          * Elizabeth Warren: While Sanders edged out Warren for the top spot by about $500,000, Warren’s third quarter fundraising is yet another data point proving how much momentum she has built behind her candidacy. Warren already has the best organization in Iowa, and fundraising like she put on the board over the last three months ensures her campaign will be able to fund a (TV) air assault as well.
          * Andrew Yang: The tech entrepreneur raised $10 million in the third quarter, which, at least to me was the single most surprising result of the fundraising race. Yang’s total put him well above what Booker, as well as Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado) and Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana) raised, and within shouting distance of Sen. Kamala Harris (California). That’s a stunner, and shows how far he’s come since the year started and almost no one knew who he was.
          1. The age/health debate is here: It was probably inevitable, given that the four most likely candidates to be president in 2021 are 70+ years old, but Bernie Sanders’ recent heart attack has officially injected the issue of age and health into the 2020 campaign.
          After several days of uncertainty, Sanders’ campaign confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail and, following his release from the hospital late last week, he has returned to Vermont. His campaign has canceled its events until further notice but has said Sanders will be at the next debate — set for October 15 in Ohio.
          While the relatively advanced ages of Sanders (78), Joe Biden (76) and Elizabeth Warren (70) has been a sort of low buzz in the background of the Democratic race so far, those days are now over. All three candidates had previously pledged to release their medical records before the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020, but the urgency of those releases is significantly higher now than it was even a week ago.
          (Remember that Donald Trump was the oldest person ever elected to a first term when he won the presidency in 2016 at age 70. During the campaign, his personal physician released a letter proclaiming that Trump “would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Trump is now 73. In January of this year, he underwent a physical which found him in “very good health overall.”)
          In a May Pew Research Center poll, just 3% of Democrats said their ideal candidate would be in their 70s. A near- majority — 47% — said a candidate in their 50s would be best. On the other hand, more than 6 in 10 people told Gallup in May they would vote for a presidential candidate over 70 years old.

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          Progressives Are Divided On How To Approach The Impeachment Process

          Algorithmia AI Generated Summary

          When House Speaker support for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump last week, some of the most pointed criticism of her leadership evaporated in an instant.

          Need to Impeach, the nonprofit funded by billionaire Tom Steyer that had been a thorn in Pelosi’s side for the better part of two years, only had good things to say.

          “People will look back at this moment as the day Congress stood up for democracy, American values, and our constitution and fought back against the corrupt, criminal president, Donald Trump,” Nathaly Arriola, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

          Need to Impeach has now turned its attention to vulnerable Senate Republicans, whom it announced on Tuesday it will be pressing to back impeachment with over $3 million in television and digital advertisements. 

          But beneath the praise and comity, there is some disagreement among progressive groups as to how to proceed.

          At one end of the debate is a smaller group of progressive activists and experts worried that the impeachment inquiry risks at once dragging on too long and covering too few of the president’s infractions.

          And on the other side of the spectrum are groups like Need to Impeach, as well as officials, activists and strategists who see no need, for the time being, to exert additional public pressure on congressional Democrats.

          “We’re getting it right here,” said Greg Pinelo, a veteran Democratic media strategist who helped develop advertisements for both Obama campaigns. “You can argue about whether we should have got here sooner. But facts on the ground change ― and the facts on the ground right now suggest a really focused effort.”

          news

          Speaker Pelosi, right, addressed reporters alongside Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Her support for an impeachment inquiry has largely quieted critics.

          Not everyone is content though. Heidi Hess, who runs the progressive phone company Credo’s issue campaigns at Credo Action, expressed disappointment in Speaker Pelosi’s press conference on Tuesday. 

          Hess is calling for a timeline for completing the investigation and a deadline to vote on articles of impeachment that are reported out. She fears that allowing the process to drag on could give Trump an opportunity to sow more chaos and diminish public support for the process.

          “Unless we have deadlines, then for us, that is still them telegraphing that what [Democrats] want is to stall,” she said.

          Credo Action, the nonpartisan, pro-democracy nonprofit Free Speech for People and several other groups have called for the House Judiciary Committee to report out articles of impeachment against Trump by Nov. 1 and a vote on those articles by Nov. 15. They are also demanding an immediate end to the current congressional recess in the interest of expediting the process.

          Another priority for these liberal critics is impeaching Trump on the broadest possible grounds, which they worry Democratic leadership is not adequately interested in. Credo Action is part of a coalition of liberal groups and legal experts, under the intellectual leadership of Free Speech for People, calling for Trump to be impeached for at least 12 different reasons. The reasons, which the groups outlined in a July 30 letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, fall under the broad categories of abuse of power, corruption of the electoral process, promotion of racial hostility, and corruption and self-enrichment.

          “We remain deeply concerned that Congress is not addressing this constitutional crisis with the urgency that’s required at the moment,” said John Bonifaz, an attorney and co-founder of Free Speech for People. 

          Bonifaz helped develop the coalition’s list of impeachable offenses and advised Democratic Reps. Al Green of Texas and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan on their earlier efforts to initiate impeachment inquiries. He worries that failure to hold Trump accountable for the full scope of his misconduct could again set an “extremely dangerous precedent” for presidential impunity.

          Hess cited the possibility of a repeat of the articles of impeachment against then-President Richard Nixon. Congress chose not to issue articles of impeachment related to Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia, which Hess and other left-leaning activists regard as a mistake that helped future presidents prosecute foreign interventions illegally.

          Pelosi has not set any explicit deadlines for the House Judiciary Committee to report out articles of impeachment. But at a press conference on Wednesday, the speaker warned that refusals by the Trump administration to cooperate with the House’s investigation into Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter would be regarded as obstruction of justice. 

          “We do not want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the [White House’s] strategy,” Pelosi said. 

          A lot of the work on the other misconduct has already been done. I think [impeachment] will be broad and fast. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)

          Pelosi has also said that House committees investigating other elements of Trump’s potential misconduct will report their findings to the Judiciary Committee, leaving open the possibility that impeachment will cover a broader range of matters.

          Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stood out among his colleagues with a public appeal last week for Congress to postpone its two-week recess in order to work on the impeachment inquiry. He predicted that focusing on a broad range of Trump’s misdeeds is compatible with a rapid process. 

          “A lot of the work on the other misconduct has already been done,” Khanna told HuffPost. “I think [impeachment] will be broad and fast.” 

          But assurances like those are not enough for Hess, Bonifaz and some other outspoken progressives who worry that the absence of firmer commitments from Pelosi right now, when the pressure to placate the grassroots is perhaps greatest, raises the risk of a looser approach going forward. 

          The trouble for these Pelosi critics is that many of their normally allied organizations and activists are thus far unwilling to publicly criticize the speaker’s management of the process. 

          Spokespeople for the Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Indivisible all expressed support for an impeachment process that is both prompt and broad in scope without joining in criticism of Pelosi.

          Meagan Hatcher-Mays, who runs Indivisible’s democracy program, shared Hess’ commitment to a rapid process, as well as a wide-ranging inquiry. “Every day that he’s in office is a new threat to our election security,” she said. But Indivisible is not setting out a hard deadline; Hatcher-Mays said the group hopes it nears completion before Thanksgiving. 

          Similarly, PCCC spokeswoman Maria Langholz called Pelosi’s approach of having committees of jurisdiction submit to the Judiciary Committee the results of their investigations into Trump “smart.”

          And Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, which rivals Credo Action and PCCC in online organizing heft, suggested a middle path in terms of the scope of the impeachment articles ― something shy of 12, but more than just one about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.

          Chamberlain said he is “not really concerned” with the speed of the process so far, but he would like to see the House move on it quickly so it can proceed to the Senate. The sooner it gets there, he argued, the sooner it can be used against Republicans senators up for reelection in swing states.

          “The Senate has the most to lose here,” he said.

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          The Impeachment Story Is Simple. Republicans Are Trying To Confuse You.

          WASHINGTON ― The story behind why Democrats are moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is simple.

          The president repeatedly pressured a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 U.S. election to help him win. It’s all there in the White House summary of Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. It’s corroborated by the subsequent whistleblower complaint. And Trump keeps telling other countries to do it, too, on live television.

          The Republican strategy to respond to this is to create total confusion, namely by focusing on the arcane legal process of whistleblower law. Not only are their claims false, they are irrelevant to the facts of Trump’s abuse of power.

          House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is out in front trying to lose people in the arcana of process and distract from what Trump did. He seized on a Wednesday New York Times report that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) got advance word of the whistleblower’s report and falsely claimed that Schiff orchestrated the complaint.

          “Democrats have rigged this process from the start,” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, linking to the Times story.

          What the story actually said was that the whistleblower initially approached an Intelligence Committee staffer with a vague accusation. The staffer told the whistleblower to file a formal complaint through proper channels, per protocol, and then shared some of what the whistleblower said with Schiff, who never even knew the whistleblower’s identity.

          The whistleblower did exactly what they were supposed to do. The intelligence community whistleblower process lists the congressional intelligence committees as a venue that a whistleblower may take their complaint or approach about how to proceed with a complaint.

          Republicans already know that whistleblowers are encouraged to go straight to committees with a complaint. The GOP’s own page on the House Oversight and Reform website prominently features a link that literally says “blow the whistle” and offers a form for filing a complaint.

          “In my experience, it’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing,” Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert at the Government Accountability Project, told HuffPost.

          “The process by which intelligence community employees and contractors can report wrongdoing is extremely complex and convoluted,” he added. “You need someone that can help usher you along that process, whether that is a congressional intelligence committee staff or an experienced attorney.”

          news

          House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is among the GOP leaders spreading false information about the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. It’s all part of a strategy to take attention off of what Trump actually did.

          Aides to Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member, said on Wednesday that the whistleblower followed proper procedure by asking the House Intelligence Committee for guidance on how to file a complaint. That’s on top of the intelligence community inspector general and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, both publicly stating that the whistleblower had done everything by the book.

          Another glaring hole in McCarthy’s claim is that the White House, Trump’s personal attorney and Trump himself have all separately corroborated the whistleblower’s claims. Even before releasing the transcript, the president admitted that he brought up Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has repeatedly said he was right to do so.

          The president said his conversation with Zelensky was about corruption, too. “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption [sic] already in the Ukraine,” Trump said on Sept. 22.

          Additionally, the call summary revealed Trump tying talks about U.S. military aid to Ukraine to his request for investigations into his potential 2020 rival Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. At the time of the call, Trump had suspended the provision of all aid to Ukraine. Zelensky was not aware of the U.S. suspension of aid until weeks after the call.

          It’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing. Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert

          Republicans are trying to paper over these facts with confusion, conspiracies and flat-out lies about how Democrats are proceeding in their investigation.

          “This is looking more & more like a deep state scheme,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tweeted Wednesday, invoking an insane conspiracy theory as an explanation for how Schiff got wind of a whistleblower complaint before it was filed.

          “Schiff told the media on September 17: ‘We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.’ He lied. The question is why?” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, falsely claiming Schiff had spoken with the whistleblower when he had not.

          GOP senators, meanwhile, have been spreading misinformation to try to smear the credibility of the whistleblower. They have argued that in order to be considered a “real” whistleblower, you have to have firsthand information of a situation, which is false.

          “By definition, he’s not a whistleblower because he was reporting hearsay,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) incorrectly told reporters last week. “I think that we are giving too much credence, or at least credit, to someone who does not meet the definition of a whistleblower.”

          “It’s not a whistleblower because he wasn’t in the room. He wasn’t on the phone call,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said last week, also falsely.

          They were publicly corrected on Tuesday by one of their own colleagues, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime advocate of whistleblower safeguards.

          “The distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones,” said Grassley. “It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy.”

          He added, “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

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          ‘We’re not fooling around’: Pelosi and Schiff stand firm as Trump fumes

          Were not fooling around: Democratic pair say inquiry will not be slowed and condemn president over blatant effort to intimidate witnesses

          Democrats

          Donald Trump has been accused of incitement to violence and threatened with obstruction charges in the fast-escalating battle over impeachment, as the president maintained his aggressive counter-attack against Democratic leaders and the whistleblower who precipitated the inquiry.

          Were not fooling around here, Adam Schiff, the chair of the powerful House intelligence committee, said in Washington on Wednesday.

          Elijah Cummings, the chair of the House oversight committee, revealed that it would issue a subpoena to the White House if it failed to hand over documents on contacts with Ukraine by Friday.

          I do not take this step lightly, Cummings said, saying the White House had stonewalled on demands for cooperation for several weeks.

          The Democrats investigative steps have infuriated Trump, who was live-tweeting their press conference on Capitol Hill. He denounced the impeachment process, in block capitals, as BULLSHIT and later repeated an extreme claim that Schiff should be investigated for treason.

          The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the start of the impeachment inquiry eight days ago, focusing on a whistleblower complaint that emerged the week before about a July phone call between Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

          The complaint and a memo of the call issued by the White House have since been released, indicating that Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, a leading rival for the White House in the 2020 election, while the US was withholding vital aid from Ukraine.

          Schiff insisted on Wednesday that the inquiry would not be slowed down by presidential stonewalling or threatening language against potential witnesses.

          Were very busy, Schiff said. We are proceeding deliberately but at the same time we feel a real sense of urgency here.

          Democratic-run House committees heard from the state departments inspector general, an independent watchdog, on Wednesday, followed by the former special envoy on Ukraine on Thursday and the former ambassador to Kyiv next week. But they are battling with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, about other depositions by state department officials and the handover of relevant documents.

          Schiff and Pelosi condemned Trump for rhetoric directed at an intelligence agency whistleblower who revealed details of the phone call at the core of the impeachment proceedings.

          Trump has referred to the whistleblower and the officials who provided information included in the complaint as spies and implied they should face the death penalty. Senior officials and some leading Republicans have confirmed the whistleblower used recommended legal channels but Trump repeated the spy allegation on Wednesday.

          Donald
          Donald Trump at the White House with the Finnish PM on Wednesday. Pelosi and Schiffs press conference infuriated the president. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

          Schiff said the president was engaging in a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses.

          Its an incitement of violence, he said.

          The president probably doesnt realize how dangerous his statement is, Pelosi added.

          Trump, who was clearly watching the press conference live, unleashed an expletive-laced Twitter tirade.

          The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyones time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, he said.

          The president continued to tweet every few minutes, lashing out at Schiff, who he called a lowlife, until it was time to greet the visiting Finnish president Sauli Niinist. The fury of Trumps commentary reflected how impeachment has come to consume his focus and attention.

          At a press conference at the end of his meeting with Niinist, Trump, who repeated one of his favourite self-descriptions as a very stable genius, repeatedly refused to answer a question about what he had been asking Zelenskiy to do in relation to the Bidens, and lost his temper at the Reuters journalist asking it.

          Are you talking to me? Trump shouted. Did you hear me? he demanded, telling the journalist to ask the Finnish president a question instead.

          Play Video
          1:25

          ‘Are you talking to me?’: furious Trump takes aim at journalist over Ukraine question video

          In his own struggle with Congress, Pompeo was forced to admit on Wednesday he took part in the July phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

          Pompeo made the admission while on a trip to Rome, after his participation in the call had been reported in the US press. When asked in a television interview 10 days ago about the Trump conversation with Zelenskiy, Pompeo had looked quizzical and implied he was hearing about it for the first time.

          On Wednesday, Pompeo said: As for was I on the phone call? I was on the phone call. But he presented the conversation as part of normal state department business, trying to bolster a new Ukrainian government against the threat of Russia.

          He referred dismissively to the growing scandal engulfing the Trump administration as all this noise.

          It has become clear Pompeo has only limited power to stop committees from gathering evidence for an impeachment inquiry.

          One of the five witnesses deposed, Kurt Volker, former special envoy for Ukraine who resigned last week, confirmed he would speak to the committees in closed session on Thursday. The Daily Beast reported on Wednesday that Volker resigned as Pompeo was attempting to push him out of his post, in the hope of reducing the pressure on the state department.

          Schiff said Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Kyiv, would appear next week. Press reports said she was due to give a deposition on 11 October.

          The state departments inspector general, Steve Linick, went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to brief Congress on documents related to relations with Ukraine. After the briefing, the Maryland Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin described the material as a collection of unfounded allegations involving the Bidens and Yovanovitch.

          Its essentially a packet of propaganda and disinformation spreading conspiracy theories, Raskin said.

          The presidents personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has played a central role in the Ukraine scandal, later told CNN that he had sent at least some of the material to Pompeos office earlier this year and that it included information he had been given by previous Ukrainian prosecutors.

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