Apple TV+ continues to set release dates for upcoming shows and movies. Apple has now announced a January 17 release date for the ‘Little America’ show from Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon, and renewed the show for a second season.
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Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, a fervent Trump supporter, was the Republican to finally take up Rep. Pramila Jayapal's challenge for someone to defend the specific principle of a United States president being in the right to ask a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. election. Ratcliffe says yes, presidents are allowed to do it. He also made the false claim that it happens all the time.
As he has throughout these hearings, Ratcliffe is lying. Ratcliffe pins his theory on the notion that it was the Obama administration that sought foreign interference by investigating Trump—but intelligence officials were basing their concerns about members of the Trump campaign not on administration requests for a probe, but after alarms were raised about numerous suspicious foreign contacts by individuals who had connected themselves to the campaign. Australian intelligence warned its American counterpart of George Papadopoulos' brag of Russian ties; Paul Manafort's dealings with pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs were cause for alarm apart from his for-free work on the Trump campaign, and the revelation of that work would quickly cause Trump to cut him loose.
As he has throughout his Trump defense, Ratcliffe is ignoring evidence to spin whichever overt lie would best advantage Trump. He is insisting that any law enforcement investigation of a campaign or candidate—which, despite his own amnesia, happened to both presidential candidates, and only one of those investigations was leaked incessantly by federal authorities during the last months of the election—is exactly equivalent to a president directly withholding military aid to an ally unless it grants a list of specific personal favors. He claims to be unable to tell the difference between everyday acts and criminal ones, and that we should take him, and his allies, at their word.
This is the answer Rep. Jayapal was fishing for, and the answer that should alarm every voter: Yes, a House Republican is asserting that using the tools of government to extort foreign countries into granting personal favors is not just defensible behavior, but commonplace. From this we can assume with near certainty that Ratcliffe—and, presumably, Devin Nunes, and each member whose campaign may have been a beneficiary of Lev Parnas' Russian cash—considers it acceptable to break those laws himself.
In a time of rampant administration and congressional corruption (see: Duncan Hunter), the blanket assertion by House and Senate Republicans that their candidates are allowed to break U.S. law to advantage themselves in their elections is a crisis of democracy. Ratcliffe, and more critically senators such as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, are attempting to institutionalize that lawbreaking as legitimate, if that lawbreaking works to their advantage. It is, indisputably, a fascist moment.
Rep. Jayapal has her answer. No House Republican was willing to say that demanding foreign election interference was improper. House Republicans instead make it clear that the Republican Party will do exactly that.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em: That’s what a range Democratic dark money groups have determined, and they're outspending Republican groups massively in six states to hit the Republicans most vulnerable in 2020.
The groups have spent $9.3 million so far in television advertising in those states, about three times as much as Republicans have spent to date. A group called Advancing AZ has spent $1.8 million against Republican Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona. In Colorado, Rocky Mountain Values, Conservation Colorado, and Giffords PAC have spent about $2 million combined against Sen. Cory Gardner. Iowa Forward has aired more than $1.4 million worth of ads against Sen. Joni Ernst. But the winner in earning progressive ire is, you guessed it, Sen. Susan Collins. Maine Momentum and Majority Forward have combined to spend nearly $2.3 million in advertising against the incumbent senator.
And guess who Republicans have spent the most so far in shoring up? You got it: Collins. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $531,000 for her. Mitch McConnell's dark money PAC, One Nation, has spent in the six figures in ad buys for her. The newly formed 1820 PAC had raised more than three-quarters of a million by this summer for her and spent about half of it so far.
Republicans are doing their best not to show their panic about the Democratic spending. "Any outside group is free to burn through its cash before voters actually tune in, and you won't hear us complaining when Democrats do it," Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, the top Republican outside group, told The Hill. "We're focused on deploying resources effectively when we can actually make a difference, not chasing headlines." As if voters weren't tuned in. As if there won't be more Democratic money next year. As if they have a prayer of matching the grassroots small-dollar contributions Democrats are going to get.
U.S. attorneys have asked that bail be revoked for Rudy Giuliani associate and Republican fundraiser Lev Parnas after learning that he received over $1 million from Russia. That money, which was paid into an account controlled by Parnas’ wife shortly before his arrest, was not revealed to prosecutors when Parnas’ bail was granted following his October arrest.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, prosecutors filed a letter in federal court on Wednesday evening asking that Parnas’ bail be revoked. The $1 million lump sum from Russia is listed as part of more than $1.5 million from unlisted sources in Russia and Ukraine. Parnas’ attorneys have asked for time to respond.
Parnas and frequent partner Igor Fruman were indicted on a raft of charges, including the use of a front company to disguise illegal foreign campaign payments that were funneled to Republican candidates across the country at both state and federal levels. Those who benefited from money coming from these illegal funds—funds that appear to tie back to an oligarch who is part of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle—include Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, and other Republicans taking part in the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.
Since that initial indictment, it has been made clear that the case is still wide open, with additional charges—and additional individuals—likely to join the case. Multiple sources have indicated that those under scrutiny include Giuliani. Giuliani himself received at least $500,000 that was directed through an LLC controlled by Parnas. It’s unclear just how much money Giuliani has taken through his involvement in Ukraine, or who is funding his ongoing efforts to find Ukrainians willing to help out with Trump’s corrupt investigations into his political opponents.
Parnas has provided some documents to the House Intelligence Committee in response to a subpoena after a court ruling freed his attorneys to release information. Fruman has refused to produce any material.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) stood her ground at an impeachment hearing on Thursday after Republicans tried to derail her arguments in favor of removing President Donald Trump.
Jayapal began her remarks by pointing out that Florida Republican Matt Gaetz was wrong to suggest that President Donald Trump was invested in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
“Why then did he decide he was so concerned about ‘corruption’ that he was not going to release military aid?” Jayapal said, prompting Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio to demand that she yield the floor.
“I am not yielding!” Jayapal exclaimed. “I am not yielding. I am not yielding.”
“They got a new president!” Jordan shouted, referring to Ukraine.
“The gentlelady has the time!” Chairman Jerry Nadler said, bringing down the gavel. “People will not interrupt.”
“That argument has no weight whatsoever!” Jayapal fired back at Jordan. “No where between the time that Donald Trump withheld aid and the time that he released that aid was there an additional assessment [on Ukraine corruption] required or done.”
“Forget about President Trump,” she said. “Will any one of my colleagues on the other side say that it is an abuse of power to condition aid on official acts?”
“Not a single one of you has said that so far,” Jayapal noted.
AirPods are set up to have an amazing holiday quarter and a new research note predicts that they will soon overtake the $4 billion quarterly revenue that Apple saw at the peak of iPod in 2007.
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Apple has already renewed its upcoming anthology series "Little America" for a second season.
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“President Trump must decide within days whether to proceed with the next round of tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods, which are slated to go into effect on Sunday. [Peter] Navarro, a senior trade adviser to Mr. Trump and a China skeptic, has cast doubt on the willingness of Beijing to meaningfully overhaul its trade practices and has advocated the tariffs as a tool to force China to change its behavior. He’s not the only one making that point. To illustrate those concerns, Mr. Navarro harnessed his literary muse, Ron Vara, in a memo that is circulating in Washington. Sent from an email address purportedly belonging to Ron Vara, the memo highlights public commentary in favor of keeping the pressure on China with more tariffs. “Much debate going on,” Ron Vara wrote, referring to the decision about whether to roll back or double down on China tariffs. “Here’s one side that has not been in focus. Thoughts?”
“Ron Vara is the fictional character that Mr. Navarro created and cited as an expert more than a dozen times in five of his 13 books, where he offered searing critiques of China. Mr. Navarro’s use of the fabricated source emerged in October after an Australian scholar reviewed all of Mr. Navarro’s writing and discovered that one of his sources was imaginary.”
As the impeachment hearings move toward a close, CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux reports.
"With the House entering its final stretch in impeachment proceedings, CNN has learned that Mitch McConnell is looking to make the Senate trial a quick one, without any witnesses. That would go against what sources have said President Trump wants. Behind closed doors, impeachment is weighing heavily on the president despite constantly downplaying it."This is the lightest, weakest impeachment.
"People familiar with President Trump's thinking say he's privately agitated and worried it will ruin his legacy. (Editor's note: "Legacy?" Say what?) And while Trump has been calling for what he prefers as a long, drawn-out process, a real show, a chance to defend himself with witnesses like Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff, a senior administration official is saying he might be warming to the possibility of what Mitch McConnell is talking about. Something quick and speedy and efficient because as this administration official put it, 'It's his chamber.' "
Personally, I think John Dean, famed Watergate witness, has the absolute best suggestion:
My brain seems empty today, so here’s a look at the current Democratic primary race polling as aggregated by RealClear Politics:
Biden and Sanders continue to be rock steady. The Warren boom is over, and she’s now tied with Sanders at around 15 percent. The Buttigieg boomlet also appears to have lost steam, though he’s still at 10 percent. And Mike Bloomberg has climbed to 5 percent on the strength of a gazillion dollars worth of TV ads.
Progressives don’t want to hear this, but it’s still Biden’s race to lose as long as the lefty vote is split between Sanders and Warren.
The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are doing democracy proud in their five-minute arguments during the debate on impeachment. While the GOP reps yell and speed-lie their way through this, throwing their arms and spittle about in faux outrage over "division" and "fairness" (HA), Democrats are making their arguments with facts, somberness, and care.
One of the absolute stars that shone in yesterday's debate was New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who crafted an oratory both historical and relatable, and managed to bring the issues into focus with, dare I say it? At risk of plagiarizing, clarity.
Here are some of the highlights from the transcript:
A media #fail tale in three tweets:
Trump supporters at the president's rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania tell CBS News their thoughts on impeachment and the possibility of his removal: "It would become the second Civil War." https://t.co/jPUmfWREbX pic.twitter.com/bzT0v9oaWN
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 11, 2019
Editor's note: After publication of this video, CBS News learned that the second man interviewed is Will Johnson, a media personality who has contributed to InfoWars.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 12, 2019
.@RepRaskin mocks GOP refusal to accept the facts behind impeachment, and adds, "They don't like the fact that the depositions took place in the basement? Where should they have been, on the first floor? The second floor? Will they accept the facts if we found some other room?" pic.twitter.com/Iwp0Vw2Ys0— Oliver Willis (@owillis) December 12, 2019
This was good. Here’s another impeachment hearings thread.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, argued for impeachment in a moving opening statement on the first day of the impeachment articles markup on Wednesday night, which has quickly gone viral on Twitter. Among other strong points, Jayapal argues that Trump has abused his power as president by putting pressure on a “fragile foreign ally” (making reference to Ukraine) by threatening to withhold aid if it didn’t try to dig up dirt on 2020 hopeful Joe Biden.
“The facts are clear: Donald Trump abused the power of the office of the presidency to pursue his own personal political gain,” Jayapal states, “and leveraged critically needed, congressionally approved military aid to coerce a fragile foreign ally to interfere in our elections.”
Perhaps most movingly, the congresswoman talked about her own experience of becoming a U.S. citizen, and what citizenship means for naturalized citizens like herself. She describes it as a “conscious choice” and a “dream we chase across deserts and seas to join the larger American story, one of generations overcoming every challenge and every obstacle because America is worth it.”
Jayapal also stressed that if Congress doesn’t act now, it’s basically giving Trump free rein to abuse his power as president again and again.
Here’s the clip from the House Judiciary Committee meeting on Twitter.
Democrats did not come to play Thursday during the House Judiciary Committee’s review of impeachment articles regarding President Donald Trump. After their Republican counterparts tried to strike down articles of impeachment against Trump, Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California cleared things up with a comparison to impeachment hearings of former President Bill Clinton in 1998. And they’re equally qualified to make the comparison, both having served as legislators during the 1998 hearings, Jackson Lee said.
The point of contention and the very basis for this probe into Trump is a July phone call in which he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden allegedly in return for security aid. “And let me be very clear. I hold in my hands that unclassified transcript,” Jackson Lee said at one point in the hearing. “I beg to differ with my friends.” The congresswoman then quoted from the transcript. “President Zelensky said these sentences: ‘I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We're trying to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically, we also want to be ready to buy javelins. That's equipment, military equipment from the United States for defense purposes.’”
Jackson Lee interjected with some context explaining that at the time of Zelensky’s request Ukraine was in the midst of a war against a nation that shot down “at least some of those alleged to be separatist” using Russian weapons, a commercial airliner. “This is a serious war where our men and women in the military are on the ground trying to assist,” Jackson Lee said. She said Trump responded in the very next sentence, “not yes let's get with the department of defense.”
“The very next sentence, ‘I would like you to do a favor, though,’” Jackson Lee said. “So, I would just offer to say that it is not frivolous or without facts that we proceed,” she later added. “We proceed with facts, and we take this in a very somber manner.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren added to that discussion further comparison between the Trump hearings and the Clinton impeachment hearings. The former president was accused of lying under oath regarding an alleged sexual relationship with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
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So Moscow Mitch McConnell has made it all but official: The Republican Senate will acquit Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. He may as well just have the vote to dismiss the charges and not even bother with the trial, since the outcome is already assured.
Republicans have already decided among themselves that it's not worth hearing from witnesses, likely because they can find no witnesses who can effectively defend Trump. The only testimony they would hear would undoubtedly be damning; better to avoid it entirely. And they admit that freely.
"Witnesses would be a double-edged sword," Sen. Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, told The Washington Post. Calling witnesses would be "mutually assured destruction," McConnell reportedly told his conference in a meeting this week. He's not positive, says the Post, that he's got 51 votes to arrange the hearing so that only Trump's witnesses get to speak, and if he had to get any Democrats to get to 51, then they'd have leverage to call their witnesses. So Trump won't be getting his wish—hauling Rep. Adam Schiff and the Bidens and the anonymous whistleblower before the Senate.
McConnell dismisses the idea of needing to call witnesses because he's sure the majority will decide "they've heard enough and believe they know what would happen." Meaning acquittal. Meaning everyone's minds are made up and he's going to have a sham hearing and none of the witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of what Trump did vis-a-vis Ukraine will have to talk. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, White House counsel Don McGahn, former national security adviser John Bolton, and Vice President Mike Pence won't have to spill the beans or perjure themselves.
All pretense of the Republican Senate under Mitch McConnell doing its constitutional duty is out the window. It’ll have a completely sham hearing with a foregone conclusion, merely because dismissing the impeachment charges without one would be hard for vulnerable Republicans to defend in their reelection bids. Never mind that the outcome is the same: an abdication of their oaths of office and full acquittal for Trump.
And so McConnell's systematic destruction of this 230-year-long experiment with a constitutional republic continues apace.