With Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump tweeted last week about his own “great and unmatched wisdom” as he defended his controversial conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was a window into his certitude and self-confidence that belies a lack of careful study or deep knowledge of the world.
That Oct. 6 call, just like his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, would have played out very differently if Trump had listened to the warnings of his advisers at the White House and appointees in the national security apparatus.
“Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a contraction of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively,” David Sanger reports in today’s New York Times. “The horrors that have played out with lightning speed were clearly not anticipated by Mr. Trump, who has no fondness for briefing books and meetings in the Situation Room intended to game out events two or three moves ahead. Instead, he often talks about trusting his instincts. ‘My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,’ he said late last year.”
-- Some of this is a result of Trump surrounding himself with more “yes men” than during the first two years of his administration. Jim Mattis, you might recall, resigned as secretary of defense last December after Trump initially announced he would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
“During deliberations in the past, Trump has repeatedly pushed to remove troops from Syria but has usually been dissuaded by top officials, such as John F. Kelly, his former chief of staff,” Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey reported on Sunday. “The usual argument against removing troops, according to former senior administration officials, would be that doing so would cause widespread deaths and chaos and Trump would be blamed for it. ‘Normally, convincing him he would be blamed for death and chaos could keep it from happening at least at that moment,’ one former senior administration official said. But current administration officials say many moderating officials like Kelly are gone, and longtime friends say the move is consistent with Trump’s worldview — and that he has long wanted to do this.”
-- Even then, though, Trump has repeatedly disregarded warnings from well-intentioned aides who appear to have been trying earnestly to keep him from making unforced errors or wading into legally perilous waters.
Fiona Hill, who was Trump’s top adviser on Russia in the White House, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s fixer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented American officials and diplomats in order to personally benefit the president. “In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she testified, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy,” Karoun Demirjian, Shane Harris and Rachael Bade report. “Hill testified Monday that [then-national security adviser John] Bolton was furious over Giuliani’s politically motivated activities in Ukraine, two officials familiar with her testimony said. She recounted how Bolton likened the former New York mayor to a ‘hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,’ one of these people said…
“Bolton and Sondland met in early July with then-special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Hill and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. During the meeting, Sondland’s agenda for Ukraine began to become clear, when he blurted out to the other officials present that there were ‘investigations that were dropped that need to be started up again’ … Hill told lawmakers that after the meeting, Bolton instructed her to go raise their concerns about the shadow Ukraine operations with White House lawyers. Bolton said he didn’t want to be part of any ‘drug deal’ that was being cooked up on Ukraine, one person familiar with Hill’s testimony said. Hill met with NSC lawyer John Eisenberg to express her concerns about Giuliani’s activities and how they were being carried out by Sondland and Volker…”
-- It remains unclear whether or when Eisenberg passed these concerns up the chain of command. The Post reported last week that at least four national security officials sounded alarms before Trump’s call. That meeting with Sondland and the others was on July 10, for example, a full two weeks before the July 25 call in which Trump asked for a “favor,” according to the rough summary released by the White House.
Hill, who finally left the Capitol at 8:25 p.m., is the first former Trump White House official to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry. She left the NSC voluntarily this summer and appeared before Congress after a subpoena was issued, despite White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s stated desire to block administration witnesses from appearing and his refusal to turn over documents. Eisenberg reports to Cipollone.
-- The Times has a fuller version of the “drug deal” quote that includes the acting White House chief of staff: “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and [Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, purportedly told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people who were at the deposition. “Another person in the room initially said Mr. Bolton referred to Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mulvaney, but two others said he cited Mr. Sondland,” Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos report.
“At one point, she confronted Mr. Sondland, who had inserted himself into dealings with Ukraine even though it was not part of his official portfolio … He told her that he was in charge of Ukraine, a moment she compared to Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr.’s declaration that he was in charge after the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt … According to whom, she asked. The president, he answered. …
“Ms. Hill testified that she opposed the idea of the July 25 telephone call … because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April after his own election. She was not told that Mr. Trump would use the call to press for an investigation into [Hunter] Biden, nor did she know about the president’s decision to withhold $391 million in American assistance to Ukraine until shortly before her departure, according to one person informed about her account.”
-- This should be viewed as part of a pattern. The president, no doubt, thinks his wisdom is “great and unmatched.” This prompts him to not follow traditional decision-making channels and to ignore advice from seasoned foreign policy hands, which has in turn led to some of the blunders that now cloud the future of his presidency.
In some cases, it’s not clear what information has been passed along to him. Volker, who was the special U.S. envoy to Ukraine, testified under oath that he warned Giuliani against trusting the information he was receiving from Ukrainian political figures about Joe Biden and his son. He said during his deposition on Oct. 3 that he tried to caution Giuliani that his Ukrainian sources were unreliable and that he should be careful about putting faith in their theories, but it was to no avail.
In other cases, though, aides say they’ve expressed concerns to the president directly – only to have them ignored. Tom Bossert, Trump’s former top homeland security adviser at the White House, said he personally told the president on multiple occasions that a conspiracy theory about Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election was “completely debunked.” Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on Sept. 29, Bossert faulted the president for still bringing up the baseless idea during his call with Ukraine’s president that the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike played a role in shielding the Democratic National Committee’s server. Bossert blamed Giuliani and others outside the national security apparatus for “repeating that debunked theory to the president.” Bossert said there is no doubt that Russia behind the hack.
“It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and, for clarity here, ... let me just repeat that it has no validity,” Bossert said. “That conspiracy theory has got to go. … If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”
There are many other examples: Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers last year when he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection — which experts said was rigged. A section in his briefing materials literally said in all-capital letters “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”
Trump also reportedly refused to stop using his personal iPhone in the White House, despite repeated warnings from U.S. intelligence officials that Chinese and Russian spies are routinely listening in on his conversations.
Mattis and Rex Tillerson, then the secretary of state, warned Trump about the destabilizing repercussions that would follow if he pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement. He ignored them, and their warnings have come to fruition.
Chris Christie, who chaired Trump’s transition team, has said he warned the president-elect not to hire Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Flynn only survived a few weeks on the job and has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Nationals are one win from the World Series after crushing the Cardinals 8-1 last night, taking a 3-0 lead in the National League Championship Series. “Some crowd roars in sports are different,” writes Thomas Boswell. “Especially if those roars have been on hold for 86 years. The explosion in Nationals Park on Monday night as Howie Kendrick’s line drive smacked off the right field scoreboard, scoring two runs and putting the Washington Nationals ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 in the third inning, … was like nothing heard in a ballpark in D.C. since the Great Depression.”
“This run, dating back to the eight-game winning streak that closed the regular season, is now 15 wins in 17 games,” adds Barry Svrluga. “During it, the Nats snuffed the postseason hopes of both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cleveland Indians. [And the Milwaukee Brewers.] Since the playoffs started, they kneecapped the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers and are in the process of absolutely suffocating the Cardinals. Pick your stat to show the dominance, but here’s a favorite: There have been 27 innings played in this series. The Nats have been tied after five of them — and led after the other 22. …
“In order for the Cardinals to push this series back to St. Louis, they have to beat the Nationals in back-to-back games, games that will be started by $140 million lefty Patrick Corbin and veteran right-hander Aníbal Sánchez, who was last seen carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his start against the Cards in Game 1. The last time the Nats lost consecutive games: a month ago, Sept. 13 and 14, to the Atlanta Braves.”
Even if goes to STL, Washington needs to win just one of the next four games to advance past the NLCS: “Only one team in history, the 2004 New York Yankees, had a 3-0 lead in a seven-game series and didn’t win,” Jesse Dougherty and Sam Fortier note in their game recap.
Washington’s lineup is fully healthy again: “Their every day center fielder, Victor Robles, returned … after a mild right hamstring strain he suffered last week,” Sam Fortier reports.
St. Louis vows to “bite, scratch, and claw” its way back, Isabelle Khurshudyan reports from their clubhouse.
Split-screen: Game 4 starts at 8:05 p.m. on TBS, and the Democratic presidential debate starts at 8 p.m. on CNN.
THE WORLD IS ON FIRE:
-- Trump called on Erdogan to implement a cease-fire in northern Syria, and imposed sanctions against Turkey, in response to its military aggression. Vice President Pence and national security adviser Robert O’Brien will lead a delegation to Turkey in an effort to end violence in the region. Seung Min Kim and Karen DeYoung report: “Pence said that Erdogan and Trump spoke by phone on Monday and that the president ‘communicated to him very clearly that the United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, to implement an immediate cease-fire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence.’ … The sanctions are aimed at Turkey’s Defense and Energy ministries, as well as three senior Turkish officials. Among them was the interior minister, a powerful position responsible for domestic security. … Along with the sanctions, Trump also said that tariffs on steel imports from Turkey will be raised 50 percent and that the United States has halted negotiations over a $100 billion trade deal with the country.”
-- The markets don't see Trump's new tariffs as significant: The Turkish lira actually rose as markets opened. per CNBC.
-- Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad advanced into several additional key towns across northeastern Syria after striking a last-minute deal with Kurdish fighters to help them fight the Turks, dramatically altering the balance of power inside the country. Erin Cunningham, Sarah Dadouch, Asser Khattab and Dan Lamothe report: “Kurdish authorities reached a surprise agreement with the Syrian government to return Assad’s forces to the northeast of the country. Government forces lost control of the territory amid the civil war that erupted after the Arab Spring protests of eight years ago. The Syrian deployments represent a stunning reversal for the Kurdish-led administration and allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which had partnered with the United States to battle the Islamic State in the area. The deal was made to allow Syrian government forces to take over security in some border areas, according to Syrian Kurdish officials, who said their administration would maintain control of local institutions. Syria’s government, however, sees the agreement as effectively killing Kurdish ambitions to establish a de facto state in the country’s northeast, said Kamal Jafa, a pro-government military analyst in the Syrian city of Aleppo.”
-- “Over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border,” the Times reports. “Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago. ‘I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,’ Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week. For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said he ‘cannot accept’ rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.”
-- Erdogan’s moves have generated little public backlash or even debate back home in Turkey. Kareem Fahim reports: “Turkish celebrities and athletes have rallied behind the military. Opposition parties have been broadly supportive. Flag-waving Turks greet soldiers in border towns as they prepare for battle, and the news media memorializes Erdogan’s utterances in headlines. At the same time, critical voices in Turkey have been cowed, shouted down and in some cases detained. … Trump’s threats against Turkey — including the imposition Monday of sanctions on Turkish ministries and senior officials — were unlikely to dent Erdogan’s support.”
-- The Saudi ambassador to the U.K. accused Turkey of causing chaos in Syria, but he also said that Riyadh is losing confidence in Trump. From the Guardian: Prince Khalid bin Bander bin Sultan Al Saud “also claimed his country had much more to lose than Iran from a conflict between the two countries and wanted to behave as ‘the adults in the room’ by not escalating tensions with Tehran. He said Saudi Arabia would have further to fall if a conflict took place. Breaking with the normal Saudi diplomatic silence in the UK, the ambassador, speaking at the Royal United Services Institute defence thinktank, said: ‘The Turkish assault is creating chaos. The last thing we need is another front of chaos in the region and I think we just got it.’”
-- When it comes to Middle East policy, there’s one country everyone is talking to now: Russia. Will Englund reports: “Analysts say that American confusion, bungling and missteps — especially in the past few days — have opened the door to the Middle East for Russia. Moscow, by not talking about human rights and transparency, is a welcome change of pace from the West, they say. … But experts question whether Russia, having established diplomatic beachheads, has the means to bend the Middle East to its will. … Vladimir Dzhabarov, the deputy head of the Federation Council foreign affairs committee, suggested that Russia and the United States could jointly broker further talks between the Kurds and Assad’s government. Syria is just one item on the agenda during Putin’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The price of oil is another — both Riyadh and Moscow believe its price should not be allowed to go too high. … It is a balancing act for Moscow: Sow some friendship with one side, then the other; sow some uncertainty at the same time, get some deals done, some boots on the ground. Katz argues that Russia does not have an actual strategic goal for the Middle East. It wants to continue as a player and prevent any one side from becoming dominant.”
-- Russia said its units are patrolling the area between Turkish and Syrian forces around city of Manbij, filling a security vacuum left behind by American troops. (Kareem Fahim, Sarah Dadouch and Erin Cunningham)
-- How the Syrian crisis is playing:
- Guardian of London: “Russian shadow falls over Syria as Kurds open door for Assad.”
- AP: “Foreigners exit northeastern Syria fearing government reach.”
- Atlantic: “ISIS is gloating.”
- Financial Times: “Assad regime emerges as big winner in Turkey-Syria chaos.”
- Air Force Times: “Concerns mount over nukes at Incirlik.”
-- Notable commentary from The Post’s opinion page:
- The Editorial Board: “Trump’s blunder in Syria is irreparable.”
- David Ignatius: “For U.S. soldiers, ‘it’s a dagger to the heart’ to abandon the Kurds.”
- Robert D. Kaplan, managing director at the Eurasia Group: “The most fundamental, slow-moving geopolitical damage caused by Trump’s foreign policy goes barely noticed … China and Russia are bonding, while India has no choice but to quietly reach out to both.”
- Max Boot: “Are you happy now, Trump supporters?”
-- In Hong Kong, protesters are pleading for American protection as the government expands police powers and imposes new restrictions. Shibani Mahtani reports: “‘Our citizens do not have any kind of power to fight against the government,’ said Crystal Yeung, 23, standing among thousands of protesters spilling out onto roads from a small square that couldn’t contain the rally. ‘We are relying on the U.S. to punish those who are trying to breach the Hong Kong law.’ Protesters are specifically hoping for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a piece of legislation that has broad bipartisan support. The bill, which will require the annual review of the special treatment afforded by Washington to Hong Kong and allow sanctions on those found to be ‘suppressing basic freedoms,’ was fast-tracked through the House and could be discussed as soon as this week. In the Senate, it remains in committee.”
-- Struggling Deutsche Bank launched a brazen campaign to win business in China by charming and enriching the country’s political elite, according to the New York Times: “Millions of dollars were paid out to Chinese consultants, including a business partner of the premier’s family and a firm that secured a meeting for the bank’s chief executive with the president. And more than 100 relatives of the Communist Party’s ruling elite were hired for jobs at the bank, even though it had deemed many unqualified. … It worked. By 2011, the German company would be ranked by Bloomberg as the top bank for managing initial public offerings in China and elsewhere in Asia, outside Japan. The bank’s rule-bending rise to the top was chronicled in confidential documents, prepared by the company and its outside lawyers, that were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. … The documents show that Deutsche Bank’s troubling behavior in China was far more extensive than the authorities in the United States have publicly alleged. And they show that the bank’s top leadership was warned about the activity but did not stop it.”
THE LATEST ON THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY:
-- “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are examining Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine, including his finances, meetings and work for a city mayor there,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Investigators also have examined Mr. Giuliani’s bank records, according to the people. Witnesses have been questioned about Mr. Giuliani since at least August by investigators, who also want to know more about Mr. Giuliani’s role in an alleged conspiracy involving two of his business associates … The investigation is being led by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and on Monday said he hadn’t been informed of any investigation. …
“It couldn’t be determined how far along the investigation stands. The scope of the inquiry also isn’t known. Since April 2018, Mr. Giuliani has been President Trump’s personal lawyer, work for which he isn’t paid. Mr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested last week on campaign-finance and conspiracy counts. The indictment accuses the two men of misrepresenting the sources of hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. campaign contributions they made … Messrs. Parnas and Fruman remain in federal custody on $1 million bonds, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said, and haven’t yet entered pleas. They are scheduled to appear in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday.”
-- Giuliani was paid $500,000 by the company co-founded by Parnas. Giuliani told Reuters that Parnas' company, which is literally called Fraud Guarantee, hired his firm around August 2018.
-- House Democrats are feeling much more confident about their impeachment inquiry after spending two weeks in their home districts. Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade report: “Facing constituents at home, many lawmakers said they have gotten more encouragement — or at least less backlash — than they might have anticipated as public opinion polls now show more Americans supporting impeachment. ... Said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.): ‘I think we’re much further along after two weeks away from Washington than people could have imagined.’ … On the central question of whether Trump ought to be investigated for potentially committing high crimes and misdemeanors worthy of removal from office, Democrats are now largely united: Only seven of 235 House Democrats have stopped short of endorsing the impeachment inquiry, and the White House position [to stonewall] has hardened the resolve of many Democrats.”
-- Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is expected to testify behind closed doors on Wednesday. “The testimony of McKinley, who resigned his position last week, could shed light on Pompeo’s actions and how they have affected the State Department,” Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Brittany Shammas report. “Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper is expected to appear in closed session on Friday.”
-- Gordon Sondland, who is scheduled to appear on Thursday under subpoena, spent years angling to get his ambassadorship. Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Michael Birnbaum have a profile: “To realize his goal, Sondland made a political about-face and backed Donald Trump, a candidate he once said was out of touch with his ‘personal beliefs and values on so many levels.’ After the election, Sondland contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. And he began calling in political favors — including from Republican National Committee chairman turned White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus — to convince Trump that he could be a team player. … Current and former U.S. officials and foreign diplomats say Sondland seemed to believe that if he delivered for Trump in Ukraine, he could ascend in the ranks of government. A person close to Sondland disputed that notion, but other officials said Sondland had been talked about in the administration as a possible successor to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.”
-- Democrats asked to interview White House acting budget director Russ Vought on Oct. 25, as part of their focus on the withholding of nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.
THE OVERSHADOWED DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- The white police officer in Fort Worth who fatally shot a black woman in her own home has been charged with murder. Derek Hawkins and Deanna Paul report: “The officer, Aaron Dean, who resigned earlier in the day, was booked into the Tarrant County Jail ... Bond has been set at $200,000, jail records show. Authorities moved quickly to arrest Dean after he shot Atatiana Jefferson through a closed window in her Fort Worth home while responding to a welfare call in the early hours of Saturday morning. In fatal officer-involved shootings, police seldom face criminal charges, and they are rarely charged with murder. … The department has also asked the FBI to review Dean’s actions for possible civil rights violations, according to the chief.”
-- Twelve presidential hopefuls will take the stage tonight in Westerville, Ohio, for the fourth Democratic debate. Here are 2020-related developments that should be on your radar:
- A new Quinnipiac University poll has Elizabeth Warren narrowly leading Joe Biden, 30 percent to 27 percent. These results suggest that Warren has broken the “electability ceiling,” writes Philip Bump.
- Biden, who will certainly face questions about his relationship with Ukraine and his son's foreign buckraking, unveiled an ethics plan. (NPR)
- Bernie Sanders, recovering from a heart attack, introduced a plan to reverse Trump’s tax cuts for businesses and return the corporate tax rate to 35 percent. (CNBC)
- Beto O’Rourke continues to clarify his stance on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom after his rivals distanced themselves from the comments he made last week, in which he appeared to back ending tax-exempt status for churches that oppose same-sex marriage. (NBC)
- Billionaire Tom Steyer, appearing onstage for the first time, believes Ohio is no longer a swing state, per the Columbus Dispatch.
- Mike Bloomberg, another billionaire, continues to hint that he might run for president if Biden drops out. “People close him say that the only way he could even go down that path is if Biden’s fortunes suffer so much that he drops out before or during the early stages of the primary," CNBC reports.
-- Hunter Biden, in an interview with ABC News that aired this morning, insisted he did nothing wrong but acknowledged that “it was poor judgment” to “be in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways.” Sitting down in the kitchen of his Los Angeles home, the former vice president’s son said: “I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That’s where I made the mistake. So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever. … Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah. But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.”
-- Ohio was set to purge 235,000 voters last month, but around 20 percent of the names on the list shouldn’t have been on it. From the Times: “Around 40,000 people, nearly one in five names on the list, shouldn’t have been on it, the state determined. And it only found out before anyone was actually turned away at a polling place largely because of volunteer sleuthing. Few people had expected a problem at that scale. But the process gave hope to people working on voting rights, who for years had pushed the state to be more transparent in how it was maintaining its voter rolls. Moderate Republicans, caught between advocacy groups pushing for fewer purges and more conservative leaders in other states urging for more, think they may have found a way to thread the needle. ‘We’re talking about crowdsourcing, in simply putting the list out there,’ said Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state, whose office oversaw the purge and who manages the election here.”
-- House Democrats will release a plan to make college more affordable. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports: “Compared with some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ higher education proposals, including student debt forgiveness, the House bill is pretty tame. Still, the legislative package … reforms that top the wish lists of many liberal policymakers. Yet it may not go far enough for some student advocates. … The bill calls for expanding federal aid to low-income families by increasing Pell Grants and tying them to inflation so the value doesn’t diminish. It would also create a grant program to help needy students address emergencies such as loss of housing or not having enough to eat.”
-- Border Patrol agents detained a woman, followed her to the emergency room and stayed with her as she received treatment, refusing to budge even as doctors came to ask her questions and give her medication. Teo Armus reports: “Thomas Kennedy, who filmed videos documenting the incident, [said] the incident raises questions about the line — or lack thereof — between immigration enforcement and emergency medical care. ... ‘A hospital should be a place where a patient is protected from interrogation,’ Kennedy, the political director at the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said in an interview. ‘You shouldn’t have a Border Patrol agent right there with you while you’re getting treatment.’”
-- Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been inviting conservative pundits to his home in California for private dinners in an apparent bid to deflate growing pressure on the right for breaking up his company. Politico reports: “The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by [Trump] and his allies over alleged ‘bias’ against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies. ... News of the outreach is likely to further fuel suspicions on the left that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the White House and stay out of Trump’s crosshairs. … Facebook has been criticized in recent days, including by [Warren], for its ad policy, which exempts politicians from third-party fact-checking and arguably facilitates the spread of disinformation. …
“As part of the series, Zuckerberg met earlier this year with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who insinuated that Facebook had become a monopoly during a congressional hearing last year; Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has fingered Zuckerberg as contributing to ‘the death of free speech in America’; and conservative radio talk host Hugh Hewitt, who has cautioned against a DOJ enforcement action but has called for a ‘new regulatory regime’ to minimize ‘big tech bias’ against conservatives. … Facebook’s critics on the left have argued that the company is overcorrecting and trying to curry favor with the Trump administration as it faces increasing scrutiny over its sloppy privacy practices and potential monopoly in social media.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for saying it may not be necessary for the first whistleblower to testify before Congress in person. But Trump falsely claims that the reason was that the whistleblower “has lost all credibility because the story is so far from the facts on the Transcript.” In fact, the whistleblower’s account closely tracks a rough transcript of the call released by the White House:
Shifty Schiff now seems to think they don’t need the Whistleblower, who started the whole Scam. The reason is that the Whistleblower has lost all credibility because the story is so far from the facts on the Transcript. Also, the second Whistleblower is no longer even mentioned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2019
Trump also criticized Hunter Biden:
Wow! Hunter Biden is being forced to leave a Chinese Company. Now watch the Fake News wrap their greasy and very protective arms around him. Only softball questions of him please!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
The manager of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign called on Nancy Pelosi to resign:
Democrats have crossed over the line of partisan politics and have undertaken a seditious conspiracy to overthrow the people’s president.— Brad Parscale (@parscale) October 14, 2019
Nancy Pelosi should step down for betraying her oath of office and attempting to overthrow our great Republic. pic.twitter.com/fSB05qYRmA
Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) claim that the impeachment inquiry was a factor in the Turkish invasion of Syria prompted pushback from some Democrats. From a Massachusetts congressman:
In the last week, Trump has:— Rep. Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) October 14, 2019
-Endangered our troops
-Allowed ISIS to regroup
-Abandoned our allies
-Empowered Putin & Assad
But instead of taking responsibility and standing up to their incompetent leader, the @GOP is blaming Democrats. Unbelievable.https://t.co/uFRoJD0ysj
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee but none of the three panels conducting the impeachment inquiry, attempted to sit in on Hill’s deposition. “If Adam Schiff and the House Democrats were so proud of their work, they would be willing to show it,” he said. After Schiff objected to Gaetz’s presence, the question was put to a parliamentarian to decide. When the parliamentarian told Gaetz he would have to leave, he did. Republicans and Democrats then clashed over depositions taking place behind closed doors:
.@RepAdamSchiff is conducting his secretive impeachment proceedings in the basement of the Capitol, and now he’s kicked @mattgaetz out of today’s deposition.— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 14, 2019
This testimony should be available to every member of Congress and every single American. What is Schiff hiding?
Why does GOP keep making process arguments? Because they can't defend the conduct of @realDonaldTrump.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 14, 2019
House Impeachment investigation is like a grand jury investigation. Investigations are not done publicly. And we give more transparency by letting GOP cross examine witnesses. https://t.co/iAeEeWzmDd
NBA star LeBron James is under fire from the right and the left for claiming that Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated on the situation" when he expressed support for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong:
The real victims are the millionaires who will never get to be billionaires without Chinese money. https://t.co/UyIJ7DCuM3— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 15, 2019
Having just been in Hong Kong - on the streets & with the protestors - this kind of garbage is hard to take. LeBron, are YOU educated on “the situation”? Why don’t you go to Hong Kong? Why don’t you meet the people there risking their lives for their most basic liberties https://t.co/KvphH9RiAl— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 15, 2019
Clearly @KingJames is the one who isn’t educated on the situation at hand.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) October 15, 2019
It’s sad to see him join the chorus kowtowing to Communist China & putting profits over human rights for #HongKong. I was there 2 weeks ago. They’re fighting for freedom & the autonomy they were promised. https://t.co/tVI1XB7g6I
Hong Kong protesters probably had a tougher week than you. https://t.co/Pdq51h2E3n— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 15, 2019
I would love to see LeBron James meet with the Hong Kong protesters and tell them "My team and this league just went through a difficult week."— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 15, 2019
This is a great example of 'sometimes it's better to just say nothing at all.' https://t.co/iKVWmnYbVz
Another NBA player, a Turkish national whose constant criticism of Erdogan has cost him, subtweeted James:
-Haven’t seen or talked to my family 5 years— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 15, 2019
-Jailed my dad
-My siblings can’t find jobs
-Revoked my passport
-International arrest warrant
-My family can’t leave the country
-Got Death Threats everyday
-Got attacked, harassed
-Tried to kidnap me in Indonesia
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
A Times reporter noted why some Trump administration officials are not on television:
Amid the questions about who is on TV for the White House, there have been efforts to put administration officials on TV but some have been rejected by some of the networks, per ppl involved.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 14, 2019
The State Department prominently featured a speech on religion by Pompeo:
The Landing page for the US State Department website as of noon on Monday October 14. pic.twitter.com/NKWpJvCFzU— aderson francois 🇭🇹 14th Amendment Baby (@abfrancois) October 14, 2019
The Trump campaign attacked Warren for her past claims of being Native American:
This garbage is from the official campaign account. Everyone working for him is actively condoning constant racist trolling. https://t.co/66GUgnyyZZ— Tim Miller (@Timodc) October 14, 2019
And former White House communications director Sean Spicer is still on "Dancing With the Stars":
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “My divorce is my personal business,” Rudy Giuliani texted reporter Roxanne Roberts last week. “Anyway my opinion on it is the least objective as is my soon to be ex-wife. This is third divorce for both of us and thank goodness no children. If you can figure out the truth in a divorce proceeding, you should be on the High Court, the one above the Supreme Court.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah took a look at the mayhem caused by Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria:
MSNBC host Chris Hayes offered words of support for Ronan Farrow, who alleges in his new book that NBC didn't run his story on Harvey Weinstein because of concerns that doing so could lead to damaging revelations about Matt Lauer. NBC denies this vigorously. Many perceive Hayes's comments as criticism of his own bosses in the NBC News division:
Bravo, @chrislhayes. Bravo. pic.twitter.com/FUMi80EJ5K And to go a bit further. I see three possibilities. Leadership change at NBC. Independent, outside review of events around Ronan Farrow's departure. Or: continued pressure from below forces Comcast's hand. Status quo won't hold.— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) October 15, 2019
And the British once again found a way to creatively protest: