What Vindman’s testimony shows us about Trump’s idea of loyalty

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump wants a Lt. Col. Oliver North. What he’s got is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Vindman made that clear on Tuesday. While the whistleblower and the anonymous New York Times op-ed writer are keeping their identities hidden, Vindman — still a White House employee — showed up to testify in person. He arrived on Capitol Hill in a dress uniform displaying a Purple Heart and declared himself an American patriot in his opening statement. Vindman making the choice to testify about his concerns that Trump was inappropriately pressuring Ukraine and his efforts to fix omissions in the July 25 call transcript that proves the point. The vile attacks on his patriotism were dismissed even by Trump’s Republican …

New twists put Republicans on spot in impeachment saga

(CNN)Washington’s impeachment battle over President Donald Trump’s conduct with Ukraine is intensifying with news of a second whistleblower while new testimony this week brings the prospect of more stunning revelations to deepen the crisis. The weekend’s political exchanges suggested that despite a week of barely believable drama, Trump’s feverish efforts are having some success in stopping any serious slippage in support among Republican lawmakers, especially ahead of any eventual Senate impeachment trial. But recent developments also sharpen the core questions at stake in the impeachment saga that are critical to the office of the presidency going forward and US democracy itself. Given the evidence that is already public, the question is becoming — is it permissible for a President to …

Erdogan to meet with Pence and Pompeo

Washington (CNN)Despite earlier reports to the contrary, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are expected to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to discuss the situation in Syria, according to a spokesman for the Turkish presidency. Altun also published a video of Erdogan saying, “At this time, It is out of the question for me to meet anyone except Pence and Pompeo.” Responding to Trump’s Wednesday remarks, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and fierce defender of the President, tweeted that the comments “undercut” Pence and Pompeo’s “ability to end the conflict.” Earlier Wednesday, Pompeo voiced optimism about the prospects of a deal to halt the ongoing Turkish military operation. “I’m very …

House passes bill aimed at fighting foreign influence in American elections

(CNN)House Democrats on Wednesday night approved a sweeping election security bill, known as the SHIELD Act, in an effort to combat foreign influence in American elections. Republicans widely voted against the bill, with many arguing the legislation could undermine free speech. It is unlikely to advance in the GOP-held Senate. “It’s a transparent attack on the First Amendment that has united an unlikely band of opponents across the political spectrum,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of the measure prior to the House vote. The bill’s passage contributes to the larger ongoing debate between Democrats and Republicans over how to address foreign election interference. Last month, after repeatedly clashing with Democrats on election security funding, McConnell threw his support behind …

Giuliani talks money and Bidens in dual accidental phone calls to reporter

(CNN)Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, left two apparently unintended voicemails on a reporter’s phone this fall in which he discussed his need for hundreds of thousands of dollars and disparaged the Biden family, NBC reported on Friday. Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash on Friday that the voicemail is “helpful because it shows that I don’t do anything dishonest,” saying it was completely unrelated to anything in Ukraine but declined to specify to what it was related. “The $200,000 is for another project in another country,” Giuliani said. He called the project a “non-legal security matter” completely unrelated to anything related to Ukraine or Trump, but declined to specify what it was related to. Giuliani said that the call …

‘A deadly problem’: should we ban SUVs from our cities?

Statistically less safe than regular cars and with higher CO2 emissions, campaigners argue the heavily-marketed cars have no place in urban areas SUV insanity shouted the front page of German business newspaper Handelsblatt earlier this month, showcasing a weekend special questioning the aggressive marketing by carmakers of highly profitable 4×4 vehicles. That evening, at a busy Berlin intersection, the driver of a Porsche Macan SUV lost control of his vehicle and mounted the pavement, 11% more likely to die in a crash inside an SUV than a regular saloon. Studies show they lull drivers into a false sense of security, encouraging them to take greater risks. Their height makes them Europe legislation is being brought in to end such outdated …

Trump’s focus on Biden also highlights his own questionable business arrangements

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has spent the last few weeks holding up former Vice President Joe Biden as the poster child of political corruption, relentlessly harping on discredited allegations that Biden abused his powers to protect his son’s business interests. Hunter Biden announced on Sunday that he would resign from the board of a Chinese-backed company and pledged that he would not do business with any foreign-owned companies if his father is elected in 2020. This plan, if Hunter Biden sticks to it, offers a much cleaner break from foreign business entanglements than Trump’s family has pursued during his first term in office. It looks like Trump’s family has done some of the same things that he now says create …

The New American Gothic by Criselda Vasquez (Oil on Canvas 72 x 48)

In this oil on canvas painting by Criselda Vasquez, she uses her parents to reinterpret and contemporize the iconic 1930 painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic. Completed in 2017 and measuring 72 inches tall and 48 inches wide, Vasquez adds: As the American-born daughter of two Mexican immigrants, I illustrate their plight and the plight of many in my community with my art. I want to expose the heart-breaking pain of what a Mexican immigrant’s family goes through. I focus on bringing my family’s world into the light and out of the shadows. My paintings are best described as visual comments on the hidden daily reality of the Mexican-American experience. These portraits and still lifes reveal my family in their …

Democratic National Committee votes against virtual caucusing in 2020

(CNN)The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to remove “virtual caucusing” from Iowa’s and Nevada’s 2020 caucus plans on Friday, giving the states about two weeks to form an alternative proposal. “While today’s decision is not unexpected, we are still disappointed,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said in a statement after the vote. “We continue to have confidence in the abilities of our vendors to enact this process, but if the DNC does not believe the virtual caucus can be secure, then we cannot go forward. With less than five months to go, we are continuing to explore as quickly as possible what alternatives may exist in order to securely expand accessibility for the 2020 caucuses.” Price, …

Fact check: Trump makes numerous false claims at Cincinnati rally

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s rally speech in Cincinnati on Thursday was littered with false claims — several of them egregious, several of them trivial, and most of them repeated from previous remarks. “The previous administration, they liked windmills. You know windmills: if a windmill is within two miles of your house, your house is practically worthless.” Facts First: While some homes might fall in value when turbines are erected close by, studies in the US have not found that homes generally become anywhere close to “practically worthless” in such cases — and some have found no significant decline at all. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Real Estate Research, for example, analyzed “more than 122,000 home sales, between 1998 …

Dem lawmaker to her party: ‘Take action’ on impeachment by September or ‘shut it down’

Washington (CNN)California Democrat Rep.Jackie Speiersaid Thursday if Democrats don’t “take action” on impeachment by September 1, “we should just shut it down.” Mueller’s testimony does not initially appear to be a turning point that will take the party down a path toward impeachment, and Democrats remain deeply divided on the subject. Minutes after the former special counsel’s testimony ended, House Democrats debated their next steps internally at a caucus meeting, where lawmakers pressed leadership about impeachment and the process with moving forward with an inquiry, multiple sources told CNN. Speier noted more than 90 Democratic lawmakers have publicly come out in support of impeachment, and said there are “easily another 20 to 30 that would” but are “holding back, in part …

Exclusive: Red flags on family separation were raised internally in Trump admin, documents show

Washington (CNN)Hundreds of red flags were raised internally within the Trump administration about how families were being separated at the US-Mexico border, including some from months before the controversial “zero tolerance” policy was announced, according to documents reviewed by CNN. HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is charged with the care of unaccompanied migrant children, instructed staff to submit significant incident reports for alleged cases of family separation once the agency started seeing an uptick in cases, according to the agency. The refugee agency was unaware of the “zero tolerance” separation policy prior to its public announcement in April 2018, and the reports were submitted as incidents of abuse in Homeland Security custody and sent to DHS’ Office of Civil …

9th Circuit rules in DOJ’s favor in sanctuary cities case

(CNN)The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled in favor of the Trump administration, saying the Department of Justice could give preference in awarding grants to cities that would use the money to focus on illegal immigration, as the federal government prepares to seek out undocumented immigrants in raids this weekend. The court’s decision comes ahead of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids scheduled for Sunday in nine major cities, including Los Angeles. City officials have come out against the impending raids — the Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday that it “does not and will not participate in the enforcement of civil administrative law,” and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted suggestions Friday for how to deal with …

Jeremy Hunt suggests career diplomat should replace Kim Darroch

Brexit party chair, whose partner is the journalist who revealed leaked cables, called for a pro-Brexit envoy Jeremy Hunt has suggested a career diplomat should replace Sir Kim Darroch as ambassador to Washington as the row over leaked diplomatic cables threatened to engulf the Brexit party. abel Oakeshott, the journalist who provided a string of new revelations from the cables in the Mail on Sunday, denied her partner, Richard Tice, the chair of the Brexit party and a newly elected MEP, had any sight or knowledge of the leak before it was published. Tice has argued Darrochs replacement should be a pro-Brexit businessman who can do what is vital including repairing ties with the US president, Donald Trump, and seeking …

The Debates Will Be About ClimateDisguised as Other Issues

Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone, but Jay Inslee is going to get a presidential debate focused on climate change. Inslee, the governor of Washington state and one of two dozen candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, has been agitating for such a single-topic debate for months. Other candidates have signed onto the idea, and activists within the party have amplified the message. But Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said nuh-uh. “I concluded the DNC could not allow individual candidates to dictate the terms of debates or limit the topics discussed,” Perez wrote in a post on Medium. Starting Wednesday night, when 10 candidates kick off debate season … and then Thursday, when a second tranche …

Palestinian snub of Kushner’s conference highlights failure of admin’s outreach effort

Washington (CNN)As the architects of the Trump administration’s Palestinian-Israeli peace initiative meet in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspect of their plan — which aims to attract ideas and boost the Palestinian economy before they reveal their political blueprint at a later date — those who are supposed to benefit are absent. Kushner, speaking in New York at the Time 100 event earlier this year, claimed his team was employing a bottom up strategy to “make the lives of the Palestinian people better” by ensuring that their homeland is “investible.” Kushner’s ‘new reality’ During his opening speech in Bahrain. Kushner laid out his vision. “Imagine a new reality in the Middle East. Imagine a bustling tourism and commercial center in …