THE BIG IDEA: Sunday started with President Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, saying he was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of his call to the Ukrainian president and ended with a GOP congressman, Adam Kinzinger, calling one of Trump’s tweets “beyond repugnant.”
While key Republicans have rallied to the president’s defense since House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry last week, the bookends to the day underscore the riskiness of a scorched-earth defense strategy that is predicated on an insistence that Trump did absolutely nothing wrong.
The president is running the smashmouth playbook he learned from Roy Cohn, his mentor and Joe McCarthy’s hatchet man. It’s worked repeatedly for Trump, from fighting the Justice Department’s investigation of racial discrimination at his family’s rental properties in the 1970s to overcoming Bob Mueller’s investigation the past two years. Among other things, this strategy involves denying everything and counterattacking critics by accusing them of whatever you’ve been accused of.
The don’t-give-an-inch mentality is what prompts someone like White House policy adviser Stephen Miller to declare on “Fox News Sunday” that “the president of the United States is the whistleblower, and this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a democratically elected government.” And it is why Trump allows Rudy Giuliani, his ferocious personal attorney, to keep defending him on television despite the messes he seems to make each time he goes on the air.
-- Bossert’s appearance Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” showed that even Trump loyalists cannot always be counted on to espouse Trump’s I-know-what-you-are-but-what-am-I talking points. The former homeland security adviser strongly criticized the president for furthering the unfounded conspiracy theory that the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike played a role in shielding the Democratic National Committee’s server and perhaps the true origins of the hackers. Bossert noted that the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Russians hacked the Democratic servers.
“That conspiracy theory has got to go,” Bossert said, explaining that Trump is motivated to spread the “completely debunked” theory because he had “not gotten his pound of flesh yet” over being “wrongly accused of colluding with Russia” to win the 2016 election. But Bossert warned that he risks taking it too far: “If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down,” he said.
Bossert resigned as the top homeland security official in the White House in April 2018 at the request of John Bolton, one day after Bolton took over as national security adviser. On ABC, where he has a contributor contract, Bossert also criticized Giuliani for pushing conspiracy theories on the president because “it sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again.”
Bossert’s comments were measured. He said he’s not convinced that Trump leveraged U.S. aid to Ukraine for political dirt, noting that there might have been legitimate reasons to hold back the money, such as getting other European countries to put up more. “That said,” Bossert added, “it is a bad day and a bad week for this president and this country if he is asking for political dirt on an opponent.”
Appearing later in the program, Giuliani told anchor George Stephanopoulos: “Tom Bossert doesn't know what he's talking about.”
-- Kinzinger’s tweet on Sunday night suggested that there’s some limit to how much congressional Republicans will defend Trump’s tactics. The president vigorously defended himself on Twitter all weekend and continued to attack the whistleblower whose complaint set in motion the impeachment inquiry. At one point, the president highlighted a quote he apparently heard on Fox News from an evangelical pastor who supports him.
“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump tweeted, adding his own parenthetical to a comment from Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist preacher who is based in Dallas.
Kinzinger, a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan and represents the Chicago suburbs in Congress, quickly replied: “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war,” he tweeted. “I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President.”
THE LATEST ON THE INVESTIGATION:
-- Nancy Pelosi, mindful of her front-line moderates, is counting on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to keep the impeachment inquiry focused on Ukraine. She thought the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Corey Lewandowski the week before last was a debacle for Democrats. By coincidence, that embarrassing fiasco came just days before the deluge of revelations about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president. Those two events prompted the speaker to change up strategy. For now, she’s largely sidelined Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to elevate Schiff. Pelosi wants the investigation to focus narrowly on Ukraine and believes it’s easier for the public to understand than what was covered in the Mueller report. (Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis have more on the internal machinations.)
-- “On a conference call with House Democrats on Sunday afternoon, Pelosi told her colleagues that public sentiment — something she had frequently cited as an obstacle to pursuing impeachment — had begun to swing around,” per Felicia Sonmez and DeBonis. “‘The polls have changed drastically about this,’ she said, urging a careful approach, according to notes taken by a person on the call: ‘Our tone must be prayerful, respectful, solemn, worthy of the Constitution.’”
-- Here’s the jurisdictional breakdown by committee: Intelligence will focus on allegations that Trump coerced Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponent. Foreign Affairs will focus on any wrongdoing by Trump appointees within the State Department, especially pertaining to Giuliani. Oversight will scrutinize why the summary of the Ukrainian call was moved to a more classified system, which the whistleblower alleged was done in an effort to keep the misconduct from getting out. Judiciary would retake center stage when it comes to drafting articles of impeachment.
-- Schiff said his panel has reached a tentative agreement to secure testimony from the still-anonymous whistleblower “very soon,” pending a security clearance from acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire. “We’ll get the unfiltered testimony of that whistleblower,” Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the whistleblower, said no date or time for the testimony has been set. He said bipartisan negotiations in both chambers are ongoing, and “protecting the whistleblower’s identity is paramount.” Andrew Bakaj, another attorney for the whistleblower, sent a letter to Maguire expressing fears for his client’s safety.
After CBS News reported last night at the top of “60 Minutes” that the whistleblower is “under federal protection,” citing that letter, Zaid replied that the network “completely misinterpreted contents of our letter.” CBS responded that it “stands by its sources and reporting.”
-- Coming attractions: On Wednesday, House investigators from the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees are scheduled to depose Marie Yovanovitch, a career foreign service officer who was recalled early from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. On Thursday, the investigators will depose Kurt Volker, who resigned on Friday night as Trump’s special State Department envoy to Ukraine and who Giuliani was in contact with. On Friday, intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson – another Trump appointee – is scheduled to testify behind closed doors about his determination that the whistleblower’s complaint was urgent and credible.
-- Subpoenas were issued late Friday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, giving him a week to turn over documents.
-- Giuliani said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Pompeo told him he was aware of his shadow diplomacy to prod Ukraine's government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his family. “I did not do this on my own,” he said. “I did it at the request of the State Department, and I have all of the text messages to prove it. And I also have a thank you from them from doing a good job. … When I talked to the secretary last week, he said he was aware of it.”
-- Giuliani was not the only attorney linked to Trump trying to get damaging information on Biden from Ukraine, Fox News’s Chris Wallace reported on “Fox News Sunday”: “Joe DiGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, worked alongside the former New York City mayor. According to a top U.S. official, the three attorneys were working ‘off the books’ – not within the Trump administration – and only the president knows the details of their work. DiGenova and Toensing have been staunch supporters of Trump and were close to joining his legal team during Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. That ultimately did not happen due to conflicts, as Toensing had previously represented witnesses who had already spoken to Mueller’s team. In a tweet on Sunday, Toensing denied that her husband and she were working with Giuliani and called the reporting ‘categorically false.’ Wallace later responded, ‘We stand by our story.’”
-- Fox News also reported that Trump’s order to withhold assistance for Ukraine was made despite “unanimous” support for delivering the aid from the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council.
-- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has not suffered politically back home for kowtowing to the American president’s demands -- at least not yet. Will Englund and Natalie Gryvnyak track the fallout in Kiev: “It might not say much for his adherence to the rule of law that he appeared amenable to [Trump’s] suggestion, analysts say. But in Ukraine, it’s hardly shocking. And, importantly, he hasn’t actually done anything about it since he hung up the phone. ‘This scandal is not affecting Ukrainian politics at all,’ said Sviatoslav Yurash, a Zelensky ally in the Rada, or parliament. ‘American politics isn’t on top of the agenda.’
“But some members of the Rada appear ready to turn up the heat. Prominent among them is Oleksiy Honcharenko, a member of former president Petro Poroshenko’s party. Honcharenko told The Washington Post on Sunday that ‘sources’ within the government have told him Ukraine has both a transcript and an audio recording of the call — and he plans to ask Zelensky to release them. The chances of that happening are slim, which raises the possibility that Honcharenko is merely trolling. He said he plans to hold an informal hearing later this week. ‘He’s doing a stunt,’ Yurash said. ‘Some people like that.’”
-- An ABC News-Ipsos poll released Sunday shows that just about half of Americans said they are “not surprised at all” to hear of Trump’s actions. An additional 32 percent said they are “not surprised,” Scott Clement and Colby Itkowitz report. “The national poll, conducted Friday and Saturday, also finds that 63 percent of adults say it is a serious problem that Trump pushed the president of Ukraine to investigate the son of his potential 2020 opponent … Less than half of the public, 43 percent, said Trump’s action was ‘very serious.’ The survey did not ask whether Trump should be impeached or about accusations that White House officials tried to keep the July phone call secret…”
-- A CBS-YouGov survey, also released Sunday, found that 55 percent of Americans support an impeachment investigation, though independents remain evenly divided. The poll showed that only 42 percent said Trump deserves to actually be impeached, with 22 percent saying it’s too soon to know.
-- That topline number tracks with what Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials say their internal polling shows. In the conference call yesterday afternoon with Pelosi, DCCC chair Cheri Bustos told members that their private poll – in the field on Thursday and Friday – showed that 54 percent of likely voters support Democrats opening an impeachment inquiry, and that voters preferred a pro-impeachment Democrat over an anti-impeachment Republican by 11 points. But Politico reports that Bustos urged anyone who might be vulnerable to gauge local support and test messages through polling in their own districts — and promised the party committee will help pay for these surveys.
-- “Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries outlined a plan to message the issue with ‘repetition,’” Politico adds. “He named six words that Democrats will use — ‘betrayal, abuse of power, national security’ … On the call, Pelosi reiterated that Democrats would remain focused on their legislative agenda and said she hopes Trump doesn't walk away from a deal on trade or drug pricing — a dual approach that many moderates have said is key to keeping the House.”
-- The House is on a two-week recess, which means members are back in their districts. Vulnerable Democrats appear to be treading carefully as they arrive home. From the New York Times: “Orange County was the epicenter of the 2018 House Democratic takeover, where Republicans lost four seats … On Saturday night, as three of the victorious Democrats were honored at an annual political dinner, a new battle was on everyone’s minds: How to protect those gains in 2020 by selling voters on the impeachment inquiry … At the dinner, Representative Harley Rouda warned Democrats not to ‘sit on our laurels.’ Representative Mike Levin solemnly said ‘the times have found us.’ And Representative Gil Cisneros, who came out for the inquiry only last week, plugged his campaign website twice to ask for donations and noted, ‘The Republicans are coming after me now.’
“That Democratic messaging challenge came into sharp relief during interviews with voters like Donna Artukovic, a retired teacher who was volunteering at the Orange County dinner. Ms. Artukovic expressed nervousness about what an impeachment battle could mean for Democratic candidates. ‘I am afraid it’s going to hurt them,’ she said. ‘A lot of people — even who don’t like Trump — don’t like impeachment.’
“Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey, a Democrat who ousted a Republican incumbent in 2018 by focusing on issues like health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, held a town hall-style meeting in his district on Saturday where only one voter asked about impeachment (and even then, it was part of a multipronged question). In an interview afterward, Mr. Kim noted the paucity of questions on a topic that has engulfed Washington."
-- The presidential campaign has entered uncertain territory, and campaigns are still figuring out how they should try to adjust messaging and scheduling, Sean Sullivan reports.
-- Some of Biden’s supporters are voicing growing concern that his campaign is not prepared to weather the dual political rip currents suddenly reshaping the 2020 race — an onslaught of attacks on his family from Trump and a tightened contest for the Democratic nomination. Matt Viser reports: “Several allies, including top financial backers, are weighing whether to create a super PAC to independently defend Biden and go after the president, who has repeatedly accused the former vice president of corruption and whose campaign last week launched a $10 million ad blitz aimed largely at attacking Biden. …
“Biden, who has insisted his election would return the country to normalcy, has over the past several days largely sought to avoid the political spasm in which he is now a central figure. His campaign has sent out daily statements on health care and other issues, as if leaning toward predictability in a highly unpredictable time. He has only sporadically talked about Trump’s attacks on him and his son Hunter. At a fundraiser Saturday in Park City, Utah, the host, Barry Baker, called Trump a ‘lying, narcissistic traitor, cheater,’ while Biden over the course of a 20-minute speech did not mention impeachment or the president’s dealings with Ukraine. …
“On Sunday, two top Biden campaign officials sent a letter to the heads of major news and cable networks, urging them not to book [Giuliani]. ‘By giving [him] your air time, you are allowing him to introduce increasingly unhinged, unfounded and desperate lies into the national conversation,’ the letter from Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield reads.”
-- The White House is preparing to activate an impeachment-focused war room: “Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone will be among those who present the president with the plan for a rapid-response effort that could come as early as Monday,” NBC News reports. “It was unclear who would lead the internal effort, but one person expected to play a role was White House spokesman Steven Groves, who has spent time in both the White House counsel’s office helping manage the Mueller inquiry and the press shop as a spokesman on issues related to congressional investigations … ‘We’re not going to get caught flat-footed, and we’re not going to take it lying down,’ said one source.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia denied ordering the murder of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, despite a CIA assessment that found he probably authorized it. But, in an interview that aired last night on CBS's "60 Minutes," MBS said he takes “full responsibility” because Khashoggi's death was committed by Saudi government employees. "If there is any such information that charges me, I hope it is brought forward publicly," he told Norah O’Donnell. "Mohammed appeared to deny that any of his confidants were involved in the plot to kill Khashoggi ... in comments that appeared to contradict the assertions made by Saudi prosecutors," Kareem Fahim reports. "The crown prince also played down the kingdom’s notoriously harsh suppression of free speech. ‘There is no threat from any journalist,’ the crown prince said, speaking of Khashoggi. ‘The threat to Saudi Arabia is from such actions against a Saudi journalist.’”
-- To mark the first anniversary of Khashoggi’s death on Wednesday, The Post’s Global Opinions section collected a number of essays on the journalist's legacy and the quests that animated his life.
-- Yemen's Houthi rebels claim to have killed or wounded 500 Saudi-led coalition fighters and captured 2,000 in a major assault near the border between the two nations. They released footage they said shows hundreds of captured troops and destroyed Saudi vehicles. Sudarsan Raghavan reports: “The Saudi-led coalition has yet to respond to the rebels’ claims. If confirmed, the assault would be one of the most significant victories for the Iranian-aligned rebels … in the nearly five-year civil war gripping the Middle East’s poorest nation. The Houthi-owned Al-Masirah television network broadcast footage showing a long, snaking line of what the rebels said were captured troops walking in rugged terrain. Many of the men, who apparently surrendered to the rebels, were dressed in flip flops and the traditional sarong-like clothing worn in Yemen and parts of Saudi Arabia. A handful wore tan camouflage uniforms. At least two said on camera that they were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Other images showed burning armored vehicles with Saudi markings and weapons that the Houthis said they seized. Houthi fighters are shown apparently launching attacks on coalition troops, clashes that left what appears to be corpses in Saudi military uniforms. [The Post] could not independently verify any of the images.”
-- Amid growing tensions with Iran, the U.S. Air Force shifted its Middle East command center from Qatar to South Carolina. Adam Taylor reports: “For 13 years, the United States has used a single building in [Al Udeid, Qatar] to command fighter jets, bombers, drones and other Air Force assets in a region that stretches from Northeast Africa through the Middle East to South Asia. And yet on Saturday … hundreds of seats at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar sat empty. Instead, the air power of the United States and its allies was being controlled by teams at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina — more than 7,000 miles away. Though the move was only temporary — Al Udeid took back control on Sunday after 24 hours — it was a significant tactical shift. The unannounced operation, which [The Post] was invited to observe, was the first time U.S. command and control had been moved out of the region since the center was established in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.”
-- American officials are warning of a rising threat from an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. From the Times: “The rise of this latest Qaeda branch in Syria, as well as the operations of other Qaeda affiliates in West Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, underscore the terrorist group’s enduring threat despite the death of Osama bin Laden and being largely eclipsed in recent years by the Islamic State, or ISIS, as the terrorist group of choice of global jihadis. The new Qaeda branch, called Hurras al-Din, emerged in early 2018 after several factions broke away from a larger affiliate in Syria. … Hurras al-Din is considered so dangerous that the Pentagon in at least one instance took the unusual step of using a special hotline with Russian commanders in Syria to allow the American military to conduct uncontested airstrikes against Qaeda leaders and training camps in Aleppo and Idlib provinces in June and August.”
-- Dismal turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential election could weaken the country’s next government. Susannah George and Pamela Constable report: “With just over half the votes counted, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission estimated that only 2.2 million out of 9 million registered voters cast ballots in the election Saturday, the country’s fourth. The last presidential election here was in 2014. … A combination of security concerns, fear of fraud and voting irregularities kept people away, election monitors said. The two front-runners were President Ashraf Ghani, who is a seeking a second term, and Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive. Preliminary results aren’t expected before Oct. 17; final results are due Nov. 7.”
-- Exit polls show Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz may have survived a scandal that forced him to call snap elections. Loveday Morris reports: “His party has won 38 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results published by the Austria Press Agency, which excludes absentee ballots. That would be an increase of almost 6 percent since elections in 2017, although he will still need to form a coalition to govern. What remains unclear is whether he will team up again with the Freedom Party after a campaign that has focused more on personality politics than on policy. The country of 8.8 million has been run by a nonpartisan caretaker government since June. ... The Freedom Party’s decline could make Kurz more likely to look elsewhere for a coalition, a move that would strike a symbolic blow to the far right in Europe.”
-- Several people were seriously injured in another anti-China demonstration in Hong Kong, including an Indonesian journalist hit in the eye by a projectile while live-streaming the event for her publication. Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin report: “Despite the forceful police response, the protesters persevered and scattered across central areas of the city. Some set fires, broke windows at subway stations and threw bricks at officers. Street battles broke between protesters and police who struggled to keep the demonstrators at bay with rubber bullets and tear gas. Residents and tourists were caught in the crossfire, clutching their faces and running in fear in several areas, including the neon-lit luxury shopping district of Causeway Bay. About 5 p.m., police launched an aggressive clearance operation against protesters occupying Harcourt Road, where clashes have broken out frequently during the past four months. Police pushed young demonstrators to the asphalt road and dragged them away, leaving pools of blood.”
-- Thousands rallied in Moscow to demand the release of protesters jailed during political demonstrations over the summer. From the Journal: “The protesters were arrested during demonstrations that began in July in objection to authorities’ refusal to allow several prominent antigovernment candidates to be placed on the Sept. 8 Moscow City Council ballot. Swarms of police in riot gear broke up the demonstrations and more than 2,000 people were detained amid complaints of police brutality. Five people have been convicted and sentenced to prison on charges relating to the summer protests … Sunday’s rally, organized by the Libertarian Party of Russia, was authorized by the Moscow mayor’s office … It drew around 20,000 people, according to the press service of the Moscow department of the Russian Interior Ministry.”
-- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied any wrongdoing over allegations that an American businesswoman, Jennifer Arcuri, received money and perks from his London office when he was the city’s mayor. From the BBC: “Mr Johnson said everything had been done ‘with full propriety.’ The allegations, first reported in the Sunday Times, claim Ms Arcuri joined trade missions led by Mr Johnson when he was mayor of London and that her company received several thousand pounds in sponsorship grants. The paper has also reported Ms Arcuri told four friends that she had an affair with Mr Johnson while he was mayor of London.”
-- A growing number of migrants are using riskier tactics to cross the U.S. border after being blocked by Trump’s immigration policies. From the New York Times: “Thousands of Central American migrants … have been clustered in Mexican border cities like Matamoros for months, blocked from seeking asylum in the United States by a series of escalating restrictions. … While some have given up, taking free transportation provided by the American government and United Nations back to their homes in Central America, many others who are stuck in Matamoros said that desperation had led them to consider treacherous and potentially life-threatening border crossings — by charging across the river, climbing into hot and airless tractor-trailers driven by human smugglers, or both. … The number of migrants caught hiding in tractor-trailers along the border has gone up by 40 percent this year, according to the Border Patrol. … Agents have pulled more than 2,700 migrants so far this year out of tiny rooms in homes and hotels, known as stash houses, that are used by smugglers to hide people temporarily between legs of their journeys into the United States. Stash house raids have gone up 50 percent in Laredo this year.”
-- While Trump touts his border wall, Los Angeles will unveil a monument to migrants. From the Los Angeles Times: “A bronze migrant worker holds el cortito, a short-handled hoe that required field workers to be bent over for their 10- to 12-hour shifts. To the left of the worker, his wife holds their son, clutching a toy Ford truck in one arm while stretching out the other arm in search of his father. To the right, there’s a pile of workers’ tools and other symbols depicting how migrants were exploited. The Bracero Monument, unveiled Sunday, was created by artist Dan Medina, 51, as part of a $3.2-million streetscape and pedestrian improvement project that also highlights Native American, African American and immigrant cultures from many L.A. communities. … ‘These men left their families to go north and endure difficult working conditions for little pay to support their families,’ L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar said in a statement, adding that his father and uncles were part of the bracero program. ‘It is important that we honor them, their hard work and their contributions to this country.’”
-- The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into how one of its recruitment ads landed on alt-right website Breitbart. Alex Horton reports: “The advertisement, noted first by Daily Beast Editor in Chief Noah Shachtman, triggered a backlash on social media. Seeking to distance itself from Breitbart entirely, the department said the advertisement was ‘a negative juxtaposition to our core values.’ ‘The LAPD celebrates diversity and embraces it within our ranks, and within the city we serve,’ the department said Saturday. The LAPD also said it has opened an inquiry into how the ad landed on the Breitbart page in the first place. The discovery was so bewildering to the department that Police Chief Michel Moore said on Twitter that the LAPD wondered whether the ad was a ‘spoof’ or an effort to discredit the department by linking it to the far-right operation.”
-- Houston police are building a case against the alleged killer of a trailblazing Sikh sheriff’s deputy shot twice in the back of the head while returning to his patrol car. From USA Today: “Sandeep Dhaliwal [was] a 10-year member of the Harris County force who in 2015 was granted an accommodation to wear a turban and beard on patrol to honor his Sikh faith. … Dhaliwal, 42, was the first Sikh sheriff’s deputy in Harris County, part of a Gulf Coast region where an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 people share his faith, according to the Houston Chronicle. His hiring in 2009 was regarded as a step toward improving relations with the Sikh community. … Authorities have given no indication that the killing was a hate crime.”
-- One year after the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, community members have struggled to do something constructive with their tragedy as they remain divided on whether politics should guide their reaction. From the Atlantic: “In the months since the shooting, not everyone in the Pittsburgh Jewish community has agreed on what it means to be ‘stronger than hate,’ much less on why the attack happened in the first place. Three different views, roughly, have emerged. Some people have called for the return of American civility, preaching that tolerance and dialogue can beat back the shooter’s unfathomable bigotry. Others believe this shooting was part of the Jew hatred that reemerges in every generation, convinced that it might have taken place no matter the state of American politics. And then there are the Jews who have turned to activism, guided by the conviction that the right political solutions can prevent future injustices. This response to the shooting, more than any other, exposes the hopefulness, and fragility, of the American Jewish experience. Jews in the United States are safer than Jews have been anywhere at any point in history. That stability has nurtured a liberal theology that prizes tikkun olam—a dedication to ‘repairing the world’—above all else. But this deadly act of anti-Semitism is testing whether universal, progressive principles adequately address targeted violence against Jews. Politics can feel like a thin solution to evil.”
-- Members of the billionaire Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, are profiting from the sale of ski resorts in regions plagued by the opioid crisis. Christopher Rowland reports: “Some members of the billionaire Sackler family … will reap about $60 million in financial gains from the sale of 17 ski resorts in the Northeast and Midwest, according to financial disclosure filings. Many of the ski areas in the transaction sit in places that have been hit hard by prescription narcotic abuse over the past 20 years, including those in New Hampshire, as well as hills in Vermont, the Catskills in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. … Within the complex network of family business interests, the Sackler stake in the company that sold the ski areas, Peak Resorts Inc., represents just one strand. Court records indicate the wealth of Sackler family members who own Purdue is mostly tied up in private trusts and business entities domestically and overseas.”
-- A teen’s private and intimate conversations with another boy were leaked by his classmates. Hours later, he killed himself, his family said. Allyson Chiu reports: “Channing Smith’s final Instagram post was a terse message to his followers. ‘I’m gonna get off social media for awhile,’ the 16-year-old from Manchester, Tenn., wrote last week. ‘I really hate how I can’t trust anyone because those I did were so fake. Bye.’ Hours later, Channing was dead, his older brother, Joshua Smith, wrote on Facebook. The teenager committed suicide after discovering that sexually explicit messages he exchanged with another boy had been shared on social media by classmates who wanted to ‘humiliate and embarrass’ him, Smith told WZTV. … Channing’s death continues to send shock waves through his community with his family accusing the local district attorney, who has previously stated anti-LGBT views, of failing to seriously investigate the incident. The news even caught the attention of country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, who made a trip to Manchester on Sunday to perform at a memorial for Channing.”
-- Elizabeth Warren, while surging in the national polls, continues to have major problems in South Carolina because of her failure to make inroads with black voters. From CNN: "On the campus of a small historically black college this weekend [in Rock Hill] that was very much evident -- she only drew a handful of black voters in a crowd of about 1,000 people. Event attendance, particularly on a Saturday afternoon in 90 degree weather, is a very rough metric -- Biden's crowd at the same venue was mostly white as well. But it's clear that Warren, like Bernie Sanders before her, is struggling with black voters. She is all the rage on black twitter, not so much elsewhere. A new CNN poll has her lagging Biden in this state among black voters by 41 points -- she notches 4% among black voters. (Sanders gets 13%).”
-- Warren’s campaign has made a science out of the rapid selfie, and it is quickly becoming a hallmark of her campaign. From the Boston Globe: “Far from the existential despair and rage that one usually encounters among people who are waiting in a very long line, the people sticking around to meet Warren at Keene State were eager, rule-abiding, optimistic — matching almost perfectly the tone of the event."
-- Are Warren and Sanders “100% grassroots-funded?” Not really. Salvador Rizzo checks the facts: “Sanders and Warren say they’re running presidential campaigns funded '100%' by grass-roots donors. It’s a big claim with no wiggle room. Money is fungible, so it’s an artifice to claim that money from wealthy donors last time around isn’t being used this time around. The key here is that Sanders and Warren define their presidential campaigns as entirely grass-roots-funded because of their self-imposed restrictions: no hobnobbing with rich donors in closed events and no PAC money, for example. But Warren held high-dollar fundraisers for her 2018 Senate run, and then transferred $10.4 million from that campaign account to her presidential committee. Her Senate run raised $6 million from donors who gave $1,000 or more, and she also took some PAC contributions. Sanders in 2015 sought and received big checks from wealthy donors. Sanders’s 2020 committee so far has gotten $4.6 million from his prior presidential campaign. These are omissions worthy of Two Pinocchios. As a share of total fundraising, however, Sanders was less dependent than Warren on high-dollar contributions in his previous campaign.”
-- A cold call from Harry Reid changed Warren’s life. From NBC News: “Warren was a professor at Harvard Law … preparing barbecue and peach cobbler for a group of students … The phone rang. The owner of the faint voice on the other end of the line was well known, but they had never met. ‘Who?’ Warren asked. ‘Harry Reid,’ he replied. ‘Majority leader, U.S. Senate.’ That was November 2008, when the economy was imploding, and Reid was offering her a spot on a new commission overseeing the Wall Street bailout Congress had just approved. … At the time, Professor Warren was blogging for Talking Points Memo and about as well known as a policy wonk can be — which is to say not very. She had expressed zero political ambition, never run for office and her only real brush with Washington ended years earlier in a demoralizing loss when Congress passed a bankruptcy bill over her objections. … Warren said yes right away and so began ‘When Harry met Liz,’ a political saga that continues to this day. ‘Everyplace she's been, she's been extremely good, for lack of a better way to explain it,’ the understated Reid told NBC News in an interview.”
-- Sanders is pushing an “inequality tax” to punish companies where CEOs earn far more than workers. Jeff Stein and Chelsea Janes report: “Under Sanders’ plan, the government would increase a firm’s corporate tax rate if its highest-paid employee earns more than 50 times that of its average worker -- an attempt to encourage companies to distribute their profits more equally. The plan would only apply to companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue. … Critics say Sanders’ plan would likely hurt companies with a large number of low-wage workers by forcing them to hire less talented CEOs, reducing the overall competitiveness of U.S. firms. Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the conservative think-tank the Manhattan Institute, said such a tax could dramatically affect industries like fast food or retail that naturally pay lower wages, while leaving others -- such as Silicon Valley -- relatively unscathed.”
-- Biden’s campaign has sharply scaled back his online advertising, a move strategists say reflects his lack of popularity among the digitally active. From the Times: “In a race where many voters are following politics on their smartphones, Mr. Biden’s pullback is an unusual and potentially worrisome sign about his appeal among the Democratic activists, young people and donors who are especially engaged on social media. … ‘It’s clear that there’s something in the numbers that’s directing them to go in that direction, and the likeliest explanation is that the rate of return just wasn’t there for Facebook and Google,’ said Tim Lim, a veteran Democratic digital strategist unaligned in 2020. ‘Which is very, very unusual.’”
-- Today is the final day of the third fundraising quarter. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) may still quit the 2020 race by Tuesday, despite receiving an “avalanche of support.” “We have nearly 35,000 donors helping us make this goal, we’ve raised $1.5m plus, we’ve actually already crossed the threshold for the November debates of 165,000 unique donors. So the surge and the momentum’s great but yeah, I still need help in this final 36 hours,” he said. (The Guardian)
-- Julián Castro’s campaign manager said the former Obama housing secretary won’t end his presidential bid if he’s unable to qualify for the fifth Democratic debate. Last week, though, Castro wrote an email to supporters saying that if he does not make it to the next debate in Ohio, it would be the end of his campaign. (CBS News)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Bossert emphasized last night on Twitter that he doesn’t see evidence of an impeachable offense, but he didn’t walk back his comments:
I also said I do not see evidence of an impeachable offense. https://t.co/Ed0onCkcDD— Thomas P. Bossert (@TomBossert) September 30, 2019
Rep. Justin Amash, who declared his independence from the GOP on July 4 after calling for Trump’s impeachment, criticized Kevin McCarthy’s defense of Trump on “60 Minutes”:
Kevin McCarthy again displays his unique brand of incompetence and dishonesty. pic.twitter.com/KAijpPMk6R— Justin Amash (@justinamash) September 30, 2019
A quick reminder that this false historical plaque is on display at Trump's golf course in Virginia, where the president played on Sunday:
Trump's Energy secretary is drawing scrutiny:
For a long while I was genuinely surprised that Perry, of all Trump's cabinet secretaries, was the only one to avoid the taint of scandal, but then he got up to his eyeballs in nuclear technology transfers to the Saudis and now this, so order has been restored to the universe. https://t.co/NL19Pavt4a— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) September 29, 2019
A Stanford professor who formerly served as U.S. ambassador to Russia wondered why the White House had a domestic policy adviser defend the president's Ukraine activities:
I just watched this entire interview. Kind of shocked at how weak Miller's arguments were in defense of the president. I think that I even could have done a better job. (Helps to know the facts; why is an "immigration" adviser speaking on national security matters?) https://t.co/nDrUa3bqPY— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) September 29, 2019
The chair of the House Judiciary Committee asked the American public to stay focused:
Don’t let the President change the subject. He got caught soliciting a foreign leader for help with his campaign at the expense of U.S. national security. Again. https://t.co/MPWId73use— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) September 28, 2019
Trump spent Sunday morning retweeting several comments that were critical of Fox News host Ed Henry. One of the tweets he shared was, perhaps, an accident:
The president just retweeted 18 tweets criticizing Ed Henry on Fox News - and one of them appears to be a bot that takes Trump’s own tweets and inserts the word shark? pic.twitter.com/v79i5VvoLY— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) September 29, 2019
Trump's daughter-in-law shared a flawed and misleading map to push back on impeachment talk:
Here’s the 1972 map when Nixon won the popular vote by 23% instead of losing by 2% like your father-in-law. Guess what happened to Nixon 21 months later? pic.twitter.com/DHyH4yD4Rw— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) September 29, 2019
Kamala Harris seemed quite pleased to see herself played by Maya Rudolph on SNL:
YES SHE WAS SENATOR HARRIS!!! https://t.co/nW9tRdJu6D— Maya Rudolph (@MayaRudolph) September 29, 2019
A BuzzFeed editor noted that the skit was not at all kind to California's junior senator:
Am I... losing it? The Maya Rudolph impression was funny, but... if you are a big fan of Harris’s, and I know we’re all good sports here, it included lines such as “Can I win the presidency? Probably not” and “who will give you weed, then arrest you for having weed”— Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) September 29, 2019
And Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) explained why she doesn’t golf:
We have an @amyklobuchar update: "I did one time try to play golf…misfired on my first try. The ball hit the duck in the head, and it appeared to perish. So I don’t think it’s a good idea for the bird population of America if I play golf." pic.twitter.com/GxRwG8aMxH— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) September 29, 2019
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I am proud of what I did," Rudy Giuliani said on ABC's "This Week."
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) got fact-checked while on air after making unsubstantiated claims about the Bidens:
After Rep. Jim Jordan launches a barrage of accusations about the Bidens, @JakeTapper fact-checks, and adds, "I would think somebody who's been accused of things in the last year or two would be more sensitive about throwing out wild allegations against people." pic.twitter.com/BKIg5VGSaT— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) September 29, 2019
"Saturday Night Live" is back and this season's first cold open was all about impeachment:
SNL also held its own Democratic town hall:
And the show featured a sketch in which a skeptical professor doubts any of last week's news will get Trump removed from office:
And John Oliver explained why compounding pharmacies could cause big problems: