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2020 Democrats roll out new policy proposals on paid family leave, corporate interest   

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While some Democratic presidential candidates offered a chorus of tough words for President Trump from the campaign trail over the weekend, others, like Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Bernie Sanders, chose Monday to roll out new policy ideas. Lisa Desjardins reports.

          

Amy Walter and Tamara Keith on Trump's Ukraine call defense, Sanders' heart health   

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Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and NPR's Tamara Keith join William Brangham to discuss the impeachment inquiry into President Trump's actions related to Ukraine, whether the controversy hurts former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, plus the political fallout of the news that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders had a heart attack.

          

James Bryce on the autocratic oligarchy which controls the party machine in the American democratic system (1921)   

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James Bryce on the autocratic oligarchy which controls the party machine in the American democratic system (1921)


          

Sumner criticizes the competing vested interests and the role of legislators in the "new democratic State" (1887)   

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Sumner criticizes the competing vested interests and the role of legislators in the “new democratic State” (1887)


          

Tocqueville on the form of despotism the government would assume in democratic America (1840)   

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Tocqueville on the form of despotism the government would assume in democratic America (1840)


          

Five questions about the presidential race   

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The Democratic race is in flux.

          

As Trump abandons Syrian Kurds, a top commander pleads for U.S. support   

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“If ethnic cleansing happens in our area, or they kill Kurds and bring Arabs in, this will be the U.S.’s responsibility,” says the Kurdish commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

          

Huge blow for APC ahead of Bayelsa governorship election as 6,000 members defect to PDP   

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At least 6,000 members and loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa ahead of the state's governorship election.

          

Kogi election: APC already scared of defeat - PDP campaign DG   

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The governorship election slated for November 16, in Kogi state, is becoming more interesting as both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its main challenger, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) engaged in verbal attacks

          

Does USA want world peace?   

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If you were to examine the 243 year history of the United States Government (USG) you would honestly have to conclude that it is not interested in seeking world peace. In fact, the world considers today the USG as being the greatest threat to world peace! More: https://God.blue/splash.php?url=5Ct8u1QzukrHWaosvInuNBkqScdZzKRYkhtjkxjCm6wLSOcYh0PA5757ZCJFkEKkAPDV8YcXX0ZmtxLZ2rsOUfjLkaJ3di6ryRAUQSGsIkjChEV0BOgXajiqTZ_PLUS_qGAKI7No8Dnu2kuUFcwnB7yfQXsvKsMXgaj5Ng5XKgoaJh12Ntg3SxU9UeXPrKRKduZ5OWrPPmHp0ICPjwNg_PLUS_YVHAlw_EQUALS__EQUALS_

Where is the United Nations (UN) located? This organization, charged with eliminating all threats to world peace, is in the United States of America (USA)! Wouldn’t you say that that poses a conflict of interest, to say the least?



Puerto Rico had already attained self-government from Spain in 1897 when the USG militarily invaded her. That is why, instead of holding a democratic plebiscite to see if the Puerto Ricans wanted to become a USA colony, it decided on a military invasion on July 25, 1898.

After the October 30, 1950 Puerto Rican Nationalist Insurrection led by Pedro Albizu Campos, the USG’s looked to conceal its colony. The USG tried to buy off Albizu Campos, but couldn’t. It then persuaded Luis Muñoz Marin to aid in its cover-up. https://God.blue/splash.php?url=1Cswaiwp_PLUS_xiNiRkze4IvR5T7pxnUL2J9m2gFtev4xVDOi6oaxbOLyeIx3sY9EF_PLUS_mbHdDmMbtrHVcnaoi_PLUS_9Xynt_SLASH_78_PLUS_9ylDC0sAai0wut6b4_EQUALS_

That was the genesis of what is deceptively called, “The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico” of 1952. It is impossible for a colony to share the wealth with the imperial power. Why do you think that more Puerto Ricans live away than in their own national territory? Why do you think that the USG recruits more people for its military in Puerto Rico than any of the 50 states of the Union?



The USG asked the UN to take Puerto Rico off its list of colonies in 1953, alleging that, in 1952, she had attained self-government. The UN removed Puerto Rico from the list. But, if the USG really cared about Puerto Rico having self-government, it would had never invaded her in the first place!


Although the UN today celebrates a yearly hearing to discuss Puerto Rico decolonization in June, it has never returned Puerto Rico to its list of colonies. That clearly proves that the USG controls the UN. How else would it be possible that the oldest and the most populated colony in the world not be on the UN’s list of colonies?


People who want world peace should engage in permanent resistance to force the USG to comply with the UN’s Charter that prohibits colonialism since 1945, and the 38 UN resolutions asking it to immediately return Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to the Puerto Ricans. https://God.blue/splash.php?url=hp_SLASH_G9NMGvqFeY8F1LbSCUKvjYH3V7IrFULqMJCb7P5ompd9ZiJLnUEDe7RGetx5u815edGqb9kLkLx04V1kBcVYHXNF9C_PLUS_bKkXYtOS9USXUKtVbfFYHd0OhL6UxqntiE4FyDYhEBA68mm6juUN_SLASH_veF1o6xvd_SLASH_qB7nbtil0b34A5SE641bUZ8_PLUS_IjHNEAzFilvRF4ms1ri_PLUS_fnqpnEYzXHzHw_EQUALS__EQUALS_

USA has never sought world peace.


          

Pres. candidate Tom Steyer unveils economic agenda, 'People over Profits'   

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Tom Steyer, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, joins Squawk Alley' to discuss his economic agenda, which he calls, 'People over Profits.'

          

Force Reboot? Controversies Dog Queen City Cops, and There's No Consensus on Solutions   

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Burlington City Council President Kurt Wright (R-Ward 4) thought his resolution was a no-brainer. During a September 23 meeting, the council's lone Republican offered a straightforward message of support for Burlington police officers, writing that the council "recognizes the difficult but incredibly important work they perform on a daily basis." Rather than sailing through, the measure touched off an hourlong debate on police accountability and morale. A majority eventually passed it, 7-5, with all five Progressive councilors voting no. Wright touched a nerve. For the past six months, the Burlington Police Department and its chief, Brandon del Pozo, have been on the defensive, enmeshed in controversy after controversy. And more than the trust of the public has been shaken, according to Cpl. Dan Gilligan, the Burlington Police Officers' Association president. He told Seven Days that officers feel unsupported by department leadership. While crises have enveloped the department before, some city councilors say they've never seen such a sustained run of bad news out of 1 North Avenue. Yet in nearly two dozen recent interviews, elected officials, members of the public and police officers themselves offered little in the way of solutions. As the issue grows more and more polarizing, some fear that politics will impede needed reform. "We're picking sides: You're either for police or against police," Dave Hartnett, a former longtime Democratic city councilor known for his independent streak, said of the current climate. "If we continue down that road with that message, it's not going to be productive for the City of Burlington." The string of controversies began in March, when a Burlington man with health problems died days after an officer punched him. Both the police chief and Mayor Miro Weinberger disputed the state medical examiner's findings that the death was a homicide. Weeks later, two black men sued the department, claiming excessive use of force, and their lawyers produced footage of cops knocking each of the men unconscious in separate incidents last fall outside downtown bars. Some residents subsequently formed BTV CopWatch and began following officers on patrol, cameras at the ready. The council formed a committee to review police practices and, after a contentious debate in June, appointed three black men as new members of the police commission, an advisory group that reviews citizen complaints. Then del Pozo went out on a six-week medical leave without explaining why. While he was gone, Councilor…

          

Democrat Buttigieg floats plan to slash rising drug costs   

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WASHINGTON, Oct 7- Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg unveiled his plan on Monday to slash prescription drug costs for senior citizens and target pharmaceutical companies for rising prices, the latest 2020 candidate to detail policies to tackle the issue. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said his plan would cut out-of-pocket...

          

Khashoggi After a Year   

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David Dreier at The Hill:
One year ago, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. He was working for the Washington Post because he was in exile from his Saudi Arabia. He was a vigorous advocate for openness, accountability, and transparency. He used his platform to urge the Saudi leadership to embrace these important values and was assassinated by their agents as a result.
Khashoggi knew that using his voice in this way carried risks. He nevertheless pushed for democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia. His commitment to democracy aligned him with a foundational element of our democracy here in the United States, which is a free and independent press. In the year since his murder, his legacy has become even more profound.
A commitment to openness, accountability, and transparency is a hallmark of journalism. These principles deserve to be memorialized in a permanent way. The Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation was recently launched to build a memorial in Washington so that we never forget Khashoggi and others like him. The memorial will not include any names. Instead, it will be a testament to the commitment shared by journalists to the values of democracy all over the world.

          

US, UK, and Canada on Universal Basic Income   

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R.J. Reinhart at Gallup:
A recent survey by Gallup and Northeastern University finds a slight majority of Americans opposed to a universal basic income (UBI) program as a way to support workers displaced by AI adoption. Conversely, about three-fourths of residents in the U.K. and Canada favor the idea.
These findings come from a Gallup/Northeastern survey of over 10,000 adults in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. conducted from April to June 2019. By some estimates, up to 50% of jobs are expected to be automated within the next decade. An OECD study across 21 countries suggests that while only 9% of jobs are currently at high risk of automation, low-skilled workers are most vulnerable to job displacement.
The way that colleges, universities, governments and businesses can respond to this disruption is the topic of a recent report by Gallup and Northeastern University detailing the results of the three-country survey. The probability-based survey was conducted online with 4,394 Americans, 3,049 Canadians and 3,208 U.K. adults.
In the survey, UBI was defined for respondents as a government-instituted program that would provide every adult with a specific amount of money each year. These funds would serve as income support for people who lose their jobs or occupations because of advances in artificial intelligence. UBI programs have been endorsed by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, as well as high-profile business leaders such as Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg.
  • 43% of Americans support a universal basic income program
  • 77% of U.K. adults and 75% of Canadians also support UBI
  • Majorities in all three countries support taxing tech companies to fund it

          

With Elections Approaching, Pakistani Journalists and Activists Face Rising Risk of Assault, Abduction   

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This election will mark the second time a democratic transition of power will occur in the country's history.

          

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi Discusses His Recent Trip To Ukraine    

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Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, talks with NPR's Ari Shaprio about his recent trip to Ukraine with a bipartisan delegation.

          

'We're Not Fooling Around': Democrats Defend Inquiry As Trump Calls Efforts A Waste   

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET House Democrats defended their impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Wednesday, while opening another front in the ongoing battle with the White House over documents they are seeking for their probe. Three House committee chairmen threatened to issue a subpoena for the documents. "We're not fooling around here," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said at a news conference with fellow California Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Schiff said White House attempts to stonewall the investigation "will be strengthening the case on obstruction" of justice. At a White House press conference alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinistö later on Wednesday, Trump said, "I always cooperate" with congressional subpoenas, but went on to repeatedly denigrate Democratic investigations moving toward impeachment as a "hoax." "We'll work together with shifty Schiff and Pelosi and all of them," Trump said. Pelosi repeated her argument that the president's July

          

Trump: Reports Of Alleged Improper Conversation With Foreign Leader Are 'Ridiculous'   

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Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET President Trump blamed "a political hack job" for reports that a whistleblower has charged he had an improper conversation with a foreign leader. The Washington Post on Friday reported that the conversation in question involves Ukraine. Trump dismissed the reporting as a "ridiculous story" and said he did not know the identity of the whistleblower, "but I hear it's a partisan person." Trump said it was a "totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation," although he did not specify with whom. Asked if he mentioned former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the conversation, Trump said, "Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it's disgraceful." Trump alleged that Biden "talked [about] billions of dollars that he's not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor was taken off the case." Trump supporters have alleged that Biden, while in office, urged the firing of a Ukrainian

          

Bernie Sanders, resting at home, announces plan to curtail money in politics   

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Prominent friends and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., say he should cut back on his relentless campaign pace and speak openly about his recent heart attack when he returns to the campaign trail, urging a shift toward a more personal and less hectic campaign than he has run so far.

The comments reflect what supporters describe as a deeply personal decision with big implications for Sanders’s candidacy: how the 78-year-old democratic socialist, viewed by many of his backers as the leader of a movement, should proceed after a health scare that has sidelined him for days and raised questions about whether he can - or should - maintain the punishing demands of a presidential campaign.

“I would be very open about the experience he had,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a national co-chair of the Sanders campaign who made his pitch to the senator in a brief telephone conversation last week. “I think it can show a resilience, a sense of empathy and a sense of vulnerability.”

Sanders supporters privately acknowledge concern that the heart attack could give voters second thoughts about the candidate, who would be the oldest president in history if elected. In an effort to move beyond the setback, some hope he can seize on the event to transmit a softer side that’s eluded him.

The goal, said Khanna, would be to “make a very human connection.” He said he texted the senator’s wife, Jane Sanders, last week to tell her that this could be Sanders’s “FDR moment,” referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose battle with polio is sometimes said to have contributed to his empathy for the less fortunate.

The sensitivity of dealing with the heart attack has been evident since the episode occurred. The campaign did not immediately disclose the heart attack, initially saying only that Sanders had experienced chest pains and had two stents inserted in an artery.

Advisers and friends also say Sanders should consider easing his breakneck campaign pace. Sanders has been sprinting across the country, holding multiple events per day, maintaining a speed that has surpassed his top rivals.

“If I were giving him advice, I would tell him just slack up a little bit,” said former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who visited Sanders in a Las Vegas hospital last week. “Even if he slacks up a little bit, he’s campaigning more than anybody else.”

Sanders spent Monday recuperating at home in Burlington, Vermont. On a conference call with staff, he reiterated that the movement he has been leading is not about him, a theme he often hits in campaign speeches.

“If there’s anything that this event kind of tells us, it is the importance of what our message is in this campaign. And our message is ‘Us, not me,’ ” Sanders said, according to a person with knowledge of his remarks.

Campaign officials have signaled that he is not expected to return to the trail until the Oct. 15 debate near Columbus, Ohio. That makes the debate a critical event for the campaign, as Sanders will face considerable scrutiny from voters and rivals sizing up his health and vitality.

“Bernie is raring to go, and his campaign staff has been trying to hold him back until the debate,” said Ben Cohen, who co-founded Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and serves as a national co-chair of the campaign. “The plan is for the debate to be his reentry into the race.”

People with knowledge of the situation said there had been a period of uncertainty about the campaign’s future in the immediate aftermath of Sanders’s hospitalization for chest pains last week. The campaign suspended an Iowa ad buy and made reassuring calls to supporters during those first hours.

But in recent days, the campaign has shown determination to move full speed ahead. The Iowa ad touting Sanders will be on the airwaves starting Tuesday.

The campaign rolled out a new policy proposal Monday aimed at curtailing the role of money in politics. It would eliminate big-dollar fundraising for all federal elections, enact a constitutional amendment to declare that campaign contributions are not speech and end corporate contributions to the party conventions.

Surrogates campaigned for Sanders in the key early states over the weekend, a strategy the campaign plans to continue. Cohen said he plans to campaign for Sanders this weekend in New Hampshire.

The campaign is also aggressively calling voters. After establishing a goal of making a million calls in the early primary states over the past 10 days, it beat that goal by 300,000 calls, the campaign said.

Sanders and his allies have also used his heart attack to call attention to his push to enact a Medicare-for-all universal health-care system. They note that while Sanders was fortunate to have access to good doctors and treatment, many Americans do not.

And Sanders has already begun showing a more personal side of himself. When he left the hospital on Friday, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his wife, Jane, smiling and waving. When he returned to Burlington, reporters there noted Sanders saying he was “happy to be home” before walking inside where family was waiting.

On Monday, he and Jane took a walk in the rain, and he joked with reporters he said should get paid more for working in the drizzle.

Early this year, when he launched his second campaign for president, advisers encouraged Sanders to speak about his participation in the civil rights movement and his modest upbringing in Brooklyn. He mentioned those things at early campaign stops. But as time went on, they faded from his stump speeches.

“He’s somewhat reticent to talk about his own … life experiences,” said Cohen. “But I think it’s helpful for him to do that and it’s certainly only a decision that he can make, but I do think this is an opportunity for him to talk.”

Sanders has been trailing former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in many recent polls, sparing him the pressure that can face the front-runner. His Democratic rivals have either wished Sanders well or brushed aside questions about his physical fitness for office. President Donald Trump and his allies have been preoccupied with the impeachment inquiry.

These external events have led some Sanders allies to conclude that he does not have to rush back onto the national stage.

“The next months are going to be dominated by the impeachment inquiry, not the presidential race,” said Khanna. “His volunteers can do a lot of the work and he just needs to focus on recovering.”

In a sign of how the Sanders movement has charged ahead without him on the trail, a video created by a supporter arguing that he’s been criticized unfairly by the media had received 6 million views as of late Monday.

As Sanders recovers, his campaign has taken steps to reassure staffers and supporters, scheduling calls and other outreach to keep allies focused.

“The campaign reached out to me to let me know that he was doing fine. They gave me the details, which made me feel really comfortable,” said Deb Marlin, an Iowa small-business owner who has endorsed Sanders.

Reid recalled spending 30 to 45 minutes with Sanders on Thursday. They reminisced about their work in the Senate and talked about health care, Reid said. As for the next debate, Reid said Sanders ought to take things slowly before then.

“He should take it easy until then,” said Reid. “As far as I understand, that’s what he’s going to do.”


          

1 of 2 men wanted in deadly Kansas bar shooting arrested   

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – One of the two men accused of opening fire inside a Kansas bar early Sunday, killing four people and wounding five others, was arrested Sunday afternoon while the other remained at large, police said.

Javier Alatorre, 23, and Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 29, were each charged with four counts of first-degree murder, police in Kansas City, Kansas, said in an early Monday release. Alatorre was arrested late Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, Missouri, but police were still looking for Villanueva-Morales, who is considered “armed and dangerous.” Bail for each was set at $1 million.

The two men, both with criminal records, apparently had a disagreement with people inside Tequila KC bar, left, and then returned with handguns a couple hours later, police spokesman Officer Thomas Tomasic. The shooting was captured on surveillance video, which police weren’t releasing.

Bartender Jose Valdez told The Kansas City Star that he had refused to serve one of the suspects on Saturday night because the man had previously caused problems at the bar. Valdez said the man threw a cup at him and left, but returned later with another man shortly before closing time.

Around 40 people were inside the small bar when gunfire erupted, Tomasic said. The gunfire sent people running for the exits, with the injured leaving trails of blood as they fled. One of the injured was trying to get a ride to the hospital when ambulances arrived.

Valdez said he thought the building was “going to cave in” and that three of the people killed were regulars whose parents also frequented the neighborhood bar.

“I don’t know what to make of it. A sad day for everybody who lost their lives and their families,” he said, choking up. “How can you go into a place full of people and just start shooting?”

Alatorre is currently jailed in Missouri after he was arrested without incident at a home that court records listed as his place of residence. Kansas City, Missouri, police, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted in the arrest, Tomasic said.

He will have a first appearance in coming days in Kansas, said Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Jonathan Carter. Alatorre doesn’t yet have an attorney. Carter said it’s too soon to determine whether prosecutors will consider the death penalty in the case.

Villanueva-Morales and Alatorre each faced criminal charges in Missouri, and Alatorre’s criminal record also included previous convictions, according to online court records in Missouri and online Department of Corrections records in Kansas.

Villanueva-Morales had a pending third-degree assault charge in Missouri. Alatorre, meanwhile, had past convictions for fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement in Kansas and for driving while intoxicated in Missouri. He also had pending charges in Missouri for tampering with a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and resisting or interfering with arrest, detention or stop. And in 2017, an order of protection had been ordered, barring him from abusing, stalking and possessing a firearm.

All four men who were killed were Hispanic, but Tomasic had said authorities did not believe the shooting was racially motivated. The shooting happened in a neighborhood with a large Hispanic population.

Among the dead was a man in his late 50s, another in his mid-30s and two in their mid-20s, police said. Authorities did not immediately release their names.

However, Juan Ramirez, of Kansas City, Kansas, told the newspaper that his 29-year-old nephew was among those killed. He said his nephew left behind a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.

“I don’t wish this upon anybody,” Ramirez said.

The state’s congregational delegation also weighed in, with Republican Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts and Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids describing the shooting as “senseless.”


          

As impeachment looms, GOP revolts against Trump on Syria   

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WASHINGTON – They may have his back on impeachment, but some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal allies are suddenly revolting against his decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria.

On Monday, one chief Trump loyalist in Congress called the move “unnerving to the core.” An influential figure in conservative media condemned it as “a disaster.” And Trump’s former top NATO envoy said it was “a big mistake” that would threaten the lives of Kurdish fighters who had fought alongside American troops for years.

Trump’s surprise move, which came with no advance warning late Sunday and stunned many in his own government, threatened to undermine what has been near lockstep support among Republicans. It also came against the backdrop of a congressional impeachment inquiry in which the backing of Republicans in the Senate is the president’s bulwark against being removed from office.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been among Trump’s most vocal defenders, called the Syria decision “a disaster in the making” that would throw the region into chaos and embolden the Islamic State group.

“I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is,” Graham told Fox News. “I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has shrugged off the key allegation in the impeachment inquiry – that Trump pressured foreign powers to investigate a top Democratic rival – tweeted that Trump’s shift on Syria is “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”

And Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has been more willing than many Republicans to condemn Trump’s calls for foreign intervention in the 2020 election, called the Syria move “a terribly unwise decision” that would “abandon our Kurdish allies, who have been our major partner in the fight against the Islamic State.”

A more frequent Republican Trump critic, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, cast Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal.”

“It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.

Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the United Nations, also cast the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Iraq as a betrayal of a key ally.

“The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” she wrote on Twitter.

Former Rubio aide Alex Conant highlighted the risks ahead for a president whose political future depends on Republican support.

“For Trump to make a very controversial move on Syria at the exact moment when he needs Senate Republicans more than ever is risky politics,” Conant said, noting the significance for many Senate Republicans of the United States’ policy in northern Syria, where Kurds would be particularly vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

“They’re not just going to send out a couple of tweets and move on,” Conant said. “At the same time, the White House is going to need these guys to carry a lot of water for them.”

While a number of Republicans criticized Trump’s decision, one of their most important leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was sanguine, offering little concern about Syria or impeachment during an appearance at the University of Kentucky.

“There are a few distractions, as you may have noticed,” McConnell said. “But if you sort of keep your head on straight and remember why you were sent there, there are opportunities to do important things for the country and for the states that we represent.”

After the appearance, McConnell issued a statement warning that Trump’s proposed withdrawal “would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

“As we learned the hard way during the Obama Administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal,” McConnell said.

Outside government, leaders of conservative groups backed Trump.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent evangelical leader, said Trump was simply “keeping his promise to keep America out of endless wars.”

He suggested Trump could easily reengage in the region if the decision backfires.

“The president has got to do what’s best for the country, whether it helps him with this phony impeachment inquiry or not,” Falwell said in an interview.

Former Trump campaign aide Barry Bennett noted that the president has been talking about reducing troop levels in the Middle East since before the 2016 election.

“I understand that they don’t like the policy, but none of them should be shocked by the policy,” Bennett said. “He’s only been talking about this for four or five years now. I think he’s with the vast majority of the public.”

Still, the backlash from other Trump loyalists was intense.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, called it a “misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests.”

And on Fox News, a network where many rank-and-file Trump supporters get their news, host Brian Kilmeade said it was “a disaster.”

“Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?” Kilmeade said on “Fox & Friends.”

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the controversy reminds him of former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ decision to resign late last year after Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria.

“Ultimately, Trump reversed himself,” Aliriza said. “The question is whether he will actually reverse himself again in view of the opposition from Capitol Hill led by several of his closest allies.”


          

Whistleblower’s attorney says team now representing ‘multiple’ officials   

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WASHINGTON – An attorney for the whistleblower who sounded the alarm about President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine said Sunday that “multiple” whistleblowers have come forward, deepening a political quagmire that has engulfed the president as well as several of his Cabinet members.

The news comes as House Democrats are accelerating their impeachment inquiry and subpoenaing documents related to Trump’s efforts to push foreign countries to investigate one of his political opponents, former vice president Joe Biden.

“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” the whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, said in a tweet. “No further comment at this time.”

Mark Zaid, who also is a member of the original whistleblower’s legal team, confirmed to the Washington Post that the team is now representing a second whistleblower, someone who works in the intelligence community. The second individual has spoken to the inspector general of the intelligence community and has not filed a complaint.

“Doesn’t need to,” Zaid said in a text message, adding that the person has “first hand knowledge that supported the first whistleblower.”

News that the original whistleblower’s team is representing a second person was first reported Sunday by ABC News.

Trump seized on the latest development in a Sunday night tweet.

“Democrat lawyer is same for both Whistleblowers? All support Obama and Crooked Hillary. Witch Hunt!” he said.

The crisis, which began last month with media reports revealing the original whistleblower’s complaint, has quickly metastasized across the Trump administration, ensnaring senior officials such as Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who came under further scrutiny over the weekend.

Trump largely stayed out of public view, spending Saturday at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, and Sunday at the White House. In tweets, he attacked Democrats and some Republican detractors, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, whose ouster he demanded Saturday after Romney criticized him.

He also appeared to directly link the 2020 presidential race to his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Biden, contrary to a tweet on Friday declaring that “this has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens.”

“And by the way, I would LOVE running against 1% Joe Biden – I just don’t think it’s going to happen,” Trump tweeted Sunday, arguing that Biden and his family were “PAID OFF, pure and simple!”

“Sleepy Joe won’t get to the starting gate, & based on all of the money he & his family probably ‘extorted,’ Joe should hang it up,” Trump added. “I wouldn’t want him dealing with China & [Ukraine]!”

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates responded by calling it “puzzling” that Trump would claim to love the prospect of a matchup against Biden, “seeing as how he just sent his administration into a tailspin by trying to bully a foreign country into spreading a comprehensively debunked conspiracy theory about the vice president.”

Biden’s son Hunter served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.

As vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, whom Biden and other Western officials, including Republicans, accused of not sufficiently pursuing corruption cases. At the time, the investigation into Burisma was dormant, according to former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.

On Saturday, Perry’s discussions with Ukrainian officials came to attention amid reports that Trump told Republicans on Friday that he made the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president at the request of Perry.

Asked about Trump’s comments, which were first reported by Axios, Energy Department spokeswoman Shylyn Hynes said in an email that Perry encouraged Trump to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to discuss energy security.

Pompeo, who was scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday, is facing growing pressure from Democrats seeking Ukraine-related documents.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Pompeo, who had spent much of the past week in Europe, missed a Friday deadline to comply with a subpoena for information about the State Department’s dealings with Ukraine. Pompeo asserts that a letter sent to the committee constitutes the department’s initial response.

The whistleblower complaint accused Trump of asking the Ukrainian government to help him with his reelection bid by launching an investigation into Biden. Democrats are also probing whether Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance from Ukraine was linked to his push for the government there to pursue political investigations that could bolster the president’s reelection bid.

Text messages between State Department officials, revealed by House Democrats last week, show that there was at least some concern that Trump was pursuing an improper quid pro quo.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” diplomat William Taylor wrote on Sept. 9 to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Sondland, who has denied that Trump sought a quid pro quo, has agreed to meet privately on Tuesday with the three House panels – Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight – spearheading the probe, according to a committee aide.

On Friday, those three committees subpoenaed the White House for documents and wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence demanding that he turn over documents related to his talks with Zelensky.

Speaking at a Republican event in Louisiana on Saturday, Pence criticized Democrats but gave no indication about whether he would comply with their document request.

“Do-Nothing Democrats launched a partisan impeachment inquiry in a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the American people in the last election,” he said.

On Sunday, Trump’s campaign announced that the president would be traveling to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to hold a rally on Friday. The president will also have a rally on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

No White House officials made appearances on the Sunday morning news shows, leaving it up to congressional Republicans and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to defend the president in heated interviews during which they offered at-times-contradictory explanations for the president’s actions.

In a combative exchange on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd urged Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to explain why he told the Wall Street Journal about his concern in the summer that Trump had sought to link Ukrainian military aid to an investigation of the Bidens.

Johnson repeatedly declined to answer, instead raising a conspiracy theory and criticizing the media before finally stating that Trump had “adamantly denied” any quid pro quo.

Johnson also at one point said he does not trust U.S. intelligence agencies. “Something pretty fishy happened during the 2016 campaign and in the transition, the early part of the Trump presidency, and we still don’t know,” he said.

“We do know the answer,” an exasperated Todd responded, adding: “You’re making a choice not to believe the investigations that have taken place.”

Giuliani issued a defiant defense of Trump in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz” in which he argued that the president “has every right to ask countries to help us in a criminal investigation that should be undertaken.”

Giuliani was named in the whistleblower’s complaint and in a rough transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky as being a key intermediary in back-channel efforts to pursue the allegations against Biden.

But other Republicans sought to play down Trump’s comments, including his exchange with reporters outside the White House on Thursday in which he urged China to investigate Biden.

In an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, echoed a suggestion on Friday by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that Trump’s China statement was not “a real request.”

“George, you really think he was serious about thinking that China’s going to investigate the Biden family? … I think he’s getting the press all spun up about this,” Jordan told host George Stephanopoulos.

During the interview, Stephanopoulos repeatedly sought an answer from Jordan on whether he thinks it is appropriate for Trump to ask China and Ukraine to investigate Biden. Jordan dodged the question more than a dozen times.

Democrats on Sunday defended their party’s efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of the Intelligence Committee, supported Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s view that no vote by the full House is necessary for an impeachment inquiry to move forward.

She added that she thinks the House “will have to take a serious look at articles of impeachment” based on the evidence that has emerged.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, N.Y., a key member of House Democratic leadership, said on “This Week” that “the evidence of wrongdoing by Donald Trump is hiding in plain sight.”

“The administration, without justification, withheld $391 million in military aid from a vulnerable Ukraine,” he said. “The president then pressured a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 elections and target an American citizen for political gain. That is textbook abuse of power.”


          

Powell picks up a vote for House speaker   

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Rachel Maddow corrects an earlier misstatement, clarifying that the vote for Colin Powell for speaker of the House was cast by Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

          

Rick Scott delays debate over Crist’s fan   

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Rick Scott loses his cool over Charlie Crist's small electric fan, causing a long, awkward delay in Florida’s gubernatorial debate. Ed Schultz asks Mitch Ceasar of the Broward Democratic Party for reaction.

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