The number of Republicans speaking at the Democratic National Convention had progressives on edge.
They shouldn’t have fretted. Even if a handful of estranged Republicans are along for the ride, the Left is steadily moving the Democratic Party in its direction. Would progressives prefer winning the optics at a virtual convention, or the substance over the longer term?
The Democratic Convention was, for the most part, bereft of policy, focusing instead on President Donald Trump’s character failings — rehearsed at length — and Joe Biden’s personal decency. Together with all of the speakers with a Republican pedigree, this reinforced Biden’s image of being more moderate than he is, which is perhaps his greatest political strength.
There is obviously no percentage in him running as the most progressive presidential nominee in a couple of generations. It’s much better for him to portray himself simply as a good guy whose tent is so broad it stretches from AOC to the former secretary of state for a Republican president many progressives think was guilty of war crimes.
It’s not as though Biden pulled from the Republican A-Team, though. At this point, it’d be shocking if Colin Powell didn’t endorse the Democratic candidate for president. Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey, found former President George W. Bush too divisive for her taste. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and the two-term governor of Ohio, was more of a get, but still, if all of these figures were collectively asked to go build an audience of Republican voters, they probably couldn’t fill out a moderately sized Zoom call.
Then, Kasich was followed on the program by Bernie Sanders, who boasted to his supporters, and not unreasonably, “Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered ‘radical,’ are now mainstream.”
While Sanders excoriated Trump, he also focused, more than others, on Biden’s agenda and implicitly took credit for his embracing more far-reaching measures on issues ranging from the minimum wage to universal pre-K.
It is true that Biden has avoided the most extreme and easily attacked versions of progressive proposals, whether the “Green New Deal,” “Medicare for All,” or defunding the police. But Biden is to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s left on most domestic questions. Bernie Sanders and others shifted the Overton window of Democratic politics, and Biden moved to stay smack in the middle of it.
The Biden campaign is, in this respect, trying to do what Hillary Clinton did four years ago, except even more so. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat pointed out at the time, the Clinton campaign wanted to reach out to Republicans who couldn’t abide Trump, but gave them nothing of substance, and in fact ran to the left of where she’d been most of her career.
This approach probably has a better chance of working this time, since Biden isn’t as radioactive as Hillary, and Trump can’t run again as a take-a-flyer-on-me outsider.
If Biden can actually pull off tacking Bernie’s way on issues while running as a boring moderate, maybe he doesn’t get the credit for political canniness that he deserves.
Yet, this is an evasion that represents a major vulnerability. The question is whether the Trump campaign can exploit it. If Biden is allowed to coast through the fall with his current image not being seriously contested, well then, campaign malpractice will have to be added to the long litany of charges against Donald Trump.
Democrats opened the most extraordinary presidential nominating convention in recent history on Monday night with a program that spanned the gamut from socialists to Republicans, from the relatives of George Floyd to family members of those killed by the coronavirus, in a two-hour event that was a striking departure from the traditional summer pageant of American democracy.
Truncated and conducted virtually because of the coronavirus crisis, the presentation at times resembled an online awards show, and it offered a vivid illustration of how both the pandemic and widespread opposition to President Trump have upended the country’s politics.
Capping the evening was an urgent plea from Michelle Obama, the former first lady, for voters to mobilize in overpowering force to turn Mr. Trump out of office and elect the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Breaking through the stilted online format, Mrs. Obama provided the emotional high point of the night as she confronted the president directly. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment.”
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, speaking before Mrs. Obama, gave voice to what he described as the historic stakes this November, arguing that “this election is about preserving our democracy” and alluding to his own family’s experience with Nazi Germany.
“This is not normal,” he said, “and we must never treat it like it is.”
Kicking off a four-day conclave during which they hope to both win over moderates who are uneasy with Mr. Trump’s divisive leadership and energize liberals who are unenthusiastic about their own nominee, Democrats reached for the recent past.They showcased Mr. Sanders, the leader of the left and their reigning presidential runner-up; a handful of Republican defectors, including former Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio; and the most popular figure from the previous administration, Mrs. Obama.
They hailed Mr. Biden, the former vice president, who will formally accept his party’s nomination on Thursday, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, and made clear their deep apprehension about the country’s future if Mr. Trump were to win a second term.
Mrs. Obama portrayed the Trump era as a gallery of social and political degradation: a government defined by “chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy” and guided by the ethos that “greed is good and winning is everything.”
With no arena, and no loudspeaker to introduce the presenters, Democrats turned to the actress Eva Longoria to serve as M.C. and keep the evening moving between prerecorded and live video presentations. A lineup of political luminaries delivered remarks in rapid-fire format, and only a few of them — Mrs. Obama, for one, and Mr. Sanders — possessed the sheer star power to linger in the perception of the audience.
“The past four years have left us, as a nation, diminished and divided,” Ms. Longoria said at the opening of the program, alluding to the pandemic, its economic devastation and much else.
Embracing rather than seeking to conceal the oddity of the event, Democrats began their program with a lighthearted montage of speakers making “Is this thing on?”-style remarks as they prepared to tape videos. That was followed by a rousing rendition of the national anthem sung by young people across the country who appeared in multiplying boxes on the screen like so many members of the Brady Bunch.
It was the first of several such interludes, breaking up sober discussions of racial injustice and other subjects with brief recordings of voters talking about their political support for Mr. Biden or Americana-infused video clips with musical accompaniment.
ImageDemocrats abandoned their plans to gather in Milwaukee for a convention in an effort to demonstrate more responsible leadership amid a pandemic.
Democrats abandoned their plans to gather in Milwaukee for a convention in an effort to demonstrate more responsible leadership amid a pandemic. Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
While in a traditional convention the presidential nominee does not speak until Thursday night, Mr. Biden made a recorded appearance on Monday. He conducted a question-and-answer session — spanning just a few minutes — to discuss systemic racism with figures including Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Derrick Johnson, the president of the N.A.A.C.P.
Mr. Sanders and Mr. Kasich, in notably different tones and styles, delivered an overlapping message about setting aside political differences to defeat Mr. Trump.
Mr. Kasich, appearing outdoors in what appeared to be a prerecorded segment, spoke the longest of any of the Republicans and sought to assuage his fellow party members’ concerns about voting for a Democrat. “In normal times something like this probably would never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said before directly addressing the fears of some conservative voters. “They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that; no one pushes Joe around.”
Striking a valedictory note, and pointing the way forward for future battles over control of the Democratic Party, Mr. Sanders directly addressed supporters of his two presidential campaigns, urging them to back Mr. Biden.
‘This Election Is About Preserving Our Democracy,’ Sanders Says
On the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders encouraged his supporters to back Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president.
This election is the most important in the modern history of this country. In response to the unprecedented crises we face, we need an unprecedented response, a movement like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency and against greed, oligarchy and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president. Our campaign ended several months ago. But our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for, that just a few years ago were considered “radical,” are now mainstream. But let us be clear: If Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy.
‘This Election Is About Preserving Our Democracy,’ Sanders Says
On the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders encouraged his supporters to back Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president.CreditCredit…Democratic National Convention, via Associated Press
At the same time, he continued to claim the upper hand in a long ideological struggle. “We have moved this country in a bold new direction,” Mr. Sanders said, “showing that all of us — Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian-American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant — yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love and compassion.”
Yet before Mr. Sanders appeared, in a reflection of Mr. Biden’s ungainly coalition, some speakers sought to nudge the former vice president in a different direction. Mr. Kasich argued that Mr. Biden would not be tugged to the left, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said he was the candidate for voters who recoiled at the country’s political extremes.
The program devoted a lengthy segment to the protests against racial injustice. Appearing above the Black Lives Matter logo painted on the street across from the White House, the mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel E. Bowser, recounted her anger over Mr. Trump’s deployment of federal troops against protesters this summer.
“I said ‘Enough’ for every Black and brown American who has experienced injustice,” Ms. Bowser said.
Ms. Bowser introduced an appearance by family members of George Floyd, the Black man whose death in the custody of the Minneapolis police this spring set off a national protest movement. Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, said it was “up to us to carry on the fight for justice,” naming a number of other Black men and women slain by the police in recent years, including Eric Garner and Sandra Bland.
‘George Should Be Alive Today,’ Floyd Family Says
George Floyd’s family held a moment of silence for the victims of police violence during the opening hour of the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.
George had a giving spirit, a spirit that has shown up on streets around our nation and around the world. People of all races, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds peacefully protesting in the name of love and unity. It’s a fitting legacy for our brother. But George should be alive today. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland. They should all be alive today. We do not know the faces — we’ll never see those who can’t mourn because their murders didn’t go viral. Please join me in a moment of silence to honor George and the many other souls we lost to hate and injustice. And when this moment ends, let’s make sure we never stop saying their names.
‘George Should Be Alive Today,’ Floyd Family Says
George Floyd’s family held a moment of silence for the victims of police violence during the opening hour of the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.CreditCredit…Democratic National Convention, via Associated Press
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the senior Black Democrat in Congress, struck the same theme of national reconciliation, promising Mr. Biden would be “a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job.”
Since the dawn of the television age, the presidential conventions have been aimed at the millions of Americans watching the festivities from their homes, with each party using its gathering to offer an uplifting case for its nominee and to savage the opposition. Those who spoke on Mr. Biden’s behalf on Monday made those same appeals — but almost everything else about the nature of this event was unique.
While the presentation had the unmistakable aura of life in a pandemic, the roster of speakers had a more vintage feel — less a vision of the Democratic Party’s future than a bridge to the 20th century. There were those nearing or in their 80s: Mr. Sanders and Mr. Clyburn; three Republicans who made their names in the 1990s, Mr. Kasich, former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and former Representative Susan Molinari of New York; and a current governor whose name evokes conventions past, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.
Mr. Cuomo’s remarks, however, were far less lofty than those delivered in 1984 by his father, Mario M. Cuomo, who gave a rousing speech that earned him national recognition. On Monday night, Governor Cuomo focused on New York’s response to the coronavirus crisis. “Only a strong body can fight off the virus, and America’s divisions weakened it,” said Mr. Cuomo, calling Mr. Trump’s response to the pandemic “dysfunctional and incompetent.”
Perhaps the most searing critique of Mr. Trump came not from an elected official but from Kristin Urquiza, a young woman whose father, a Trump supporter, died after contracting the coronavirus. Speaking briefly and in raw terms about her loss, Ms. Urquiza said of her father, “His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life.”
‘He Paid With His Life,’ Daughter of Trump Supporter Says
Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of the coronavirus, spoke before the Democratic National Convention about his misplaced faith in President Trump.
My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today. But he isn’t. He had faith in Donald Trump. He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that coronavirus was under control and going to disappear. My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump — and for that he paid with his life. I am not alone. Once I told my story, a lot of people reached out to me to share theirs. They asked me to help them keep their communities safe, especially communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected.
‘He Paid With His Life,’ Daughter of Trump Supporter Says
Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of the coronavirus, spoke before the Democratic National Convention about his misplaced faith in President Trump.
Beyond the pandemic, Democrats sought to use the first night of the convention to highlight the breadth of support Mr. Biden enjoys, hoping to send a signal to voters across a broad range of the ideological spectrum.
In this way, the program was reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s convention four years ago, when the party also tried to bring along its left flank but spent even more time seeking to portray Mr. Trump as an outlier far removed from the political mainstream.
The specter of a Trump presidency back then, however, was a theoretical proposition. This year, Democrats were able to lay out a more powerful indictment based on Mr. Trump’s tenure in the White House. And had Democrats nominated a more liberal candidate than the consensus-oriented Mr. Biden, they might not have been able lure former Republican office holders.
Not that every Democrat was happy that Mr. Kasich, an anti-union Republican, was allowed to speak in prime time at the convention: Some influential labor leaders complained bitterly to Mr. Biden’s senior aides about Mr. Kasich’s appearance, according to Democrats familiar with the conversations.
For his part, the president largely ignored the Republicans who spurned him, turning instead to racial demagogy. On a swing through the Midwest on Monday, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of representing left-wing extremism and, returning to the xenophobic themes of his first presidential campaign, argued baselessly that Mr. Biden would “overwhelm Minnesota with refugees from terror hot spots.”
Appearing at an airplane hangar in front of Air Force One, the president continued his bald campaign to sow doubts about the integrity of the electoral process — rhetoric that no modern president has dared use.
Mrs. Obama, alluding to Mr. Trump’s false claims about voter fraud, cited the challenges to voting access that some Democrats fear will prove inevitable this fall, and pleaded with Americans to do whatever it would take to cast their ballots. “We’ve got to be willing to spend all night in line if we have to,” she said.
Recognizing that her remarks would not be as powerful without applause, the organizers displayed a Zoom-style panoramic of Democrats applauding the former first lady.
Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing with Attorney General William Barr was really something to behold. Almost every Democrat played from the same playbook, starting with Chairman Jerry Nadler, who told Barr he should be ashamed of himself. One after the other, they heaped scorn on the attorney general in a build up to some question that they refused to allow Barr to answer.
Here is a good mashup if you missed out on the fun for yourself.
There is a serious giveaway in this tactic. When a member of Congress thinks he or she has a witness dead to rights for having made mistakes, or made false statements, the lawmaker tries to compel the witness to answer hard questions, not refuse to allow it. The problem Monday was that Barr clearly had very good answers for every question he was asked. There was no gotcha because he did nothing wrong and could explain that.
One of the best examples was the questioning from Rep. Pramila Jayapal. She engaged in a long rant about how when Trump supporters showed up at the Michigan capital with guns and Confederate flags Barr did not react, but in Portland and Washington D.C. he did react. She drew the conclusion that this was bias. When Barr tried to explain the situation, she simply talked over him. Why? If this was such a gotcha question, why not let Barr squirm?
The reason of course is that when Barr began his answer it was obviously going to make complete sense, diffuse the angry rhetoric from Jayapal, and destroy her sound bite, which is all she wanted in the first place. He began to explain that the White House and the federal courthouse in Portland are under his jurisdiction, whereas the Michigan state house is not, and the Michigan authorities are capable of handling that issue, which they did with no violence or property damage. She did not let him get a word in.
This was flat-out not a question. In fact, there were almost no questions from Democrats and nearly every time there was they refused to let the witness answer. At one point Barr said, “This is a hearing. I thought I was the one who was supposed to be heard.” It was the only wrong thing he said all day. This was never about Barr being heard. This was about speechifying and silencing the attorney general whenever he sought to explain why the Democrats have this all so wrong.
As bad as the Democrats’ behavior was, and it made toddlers on timeout look like C.S. Lewis, the real culprit here is the media. These pontificating blowhards know that MSNBC and CNN will present their bloviating as speaking truth to power. And power is really what this is all about. This had nothing to do with finding out what is happening across America and why the Department of Justice is undertaking the actions it is, but purely about political theater.
If you need further evidence of this, note that there was not one successful line of questioning that left Barr with no good answers. Had such a moment occurred, not only would it have been newsworthy, it would have been plastered on every screen in the country. That would have been gold. But the Democrats knew there was no gold to be mined here, so instead they threw yellow paint on a pile of something else and the media ate it up with relish.
It is extremely likely that, had Barr been given a fair hearing and had the media paid as much attention to reasonable answers when GOP members allowed him time to speak as they did to Democrats yelling, the American people would see right through this. It isn’t that hard to see who wins a fair debate. But this was not a fair hearing; this was a sick reality show pretending to be governance.
The United States is very lucky to have William Barr as the attorney general. There may be no more essential person in the government at the moment. Time and again, he applies the law and only the law to his sound decisions. For this, he is rewarded with media scorn and threats of impeachment.
But Barr isn’t on the ropes. He remains in the center of the ring, impervious, throwing his punches.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said Monday that his former writer who posted racist comments online was wrong but criticized “ghouls now beating their chests in triumph” after his staffer’s resignation.
“When we pose as blameless in order to hurt other people, we are committing the gravest sin of all,” the Fox host said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Carlson, who said the online commentary by Blake Neff had no connection to his show, said he would be taking the rest of the week off to go trout fishing.
Neff resigned Friday after CNN reported that he used the pseudonym CharlesXII to post bigoted remarks about Black and Asian people on the online forum AutoAdmit. He also repeatedly mocked a woman about her dating life.
Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace said Saturday in a memo to staff that the company “strongly condemns this horrific racist, misogynistic and homophobic behavior.”
Neff began working on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in January 2017 and was known as Carlson’s top writer. Neff previously worked as a reporter for the conservative news outlet The Daily Caller, which Carlson co-founded.
The Dartmouth College graduate was recently written about in the college’s alumni magazine, saying about Carlson that “anything he’s reading off the TelePrompter, the first draft was written by me.” He said he and Carlson “see eye-to-eye on most issues.”
Carlson addressed the story toward the end of his show Monday, noting that Neff was horrified and ashamed by the story.
“What Blake wrote anonymously was wrong,” Carlson said. “We don’t endorse those words. They have no connection to the show. It is wrong to attack people for qualities they cannot control. In this country, we judge people for what they do, not for how they were born.”
He added, though, that “we should also point out to the ghouls now beating their chests in triumph at the destruction of a young man that self-righteousness also has its costs.
“We are all human,” Carlson said. “When we pretend that we are holy, we are lying. When we pose as blameless in order to hurt other people, we are committing the gravest sin of all. And we will be punished for it. There’s no question.”
Carlson joined Fox’s prime-time lineup in 2016 and has made several controversial comments. He has said immigration makes the country dirtier and, following a mass shooting in 2019 by a man who targeted Latinos, said white supremacy was “not a real problem” in America.
He has been sharply critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “they flood the street with angry young people who break things and they hurt anyone who gets in their way.”
Last week, he took on Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who lost two legs in Iraq, calling her a “deeply silly and unimpressive person.”
On many nights lately, he’s been the most popular host on cable news, routinely drawing more than 4 million viewers a night, and he has had one of the top-rated shows in all of television.
Yet he’s seen an exodus of prominent national advertisers. Monday’s show featured three ads from Fox fan Mike Lindell and his MyPillow.com site, as well as ads touting Bible bedtime stories, medicine to cure toe fungus and a website selling coronavirus masks.
This story was published on July 13, 2020. It was corrected on July 15, 2020 to reflect that the My Pillow chief executive is Mike Lindell, not Mark.
On Saturday, just four months before the 2020 election, musician, provocateur and former ardent Donald Trump supporter Kanye West tweeted that he was launching his own bid to become president.
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION,” West wrote on Independence Day.
His tweet was boosted by his wife, reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, and was endorsed by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Fellow artists like rapper 2Chainz griped that he’s upset he voted in Georgia’s primary elections, implying that he’d rather have waited to cast his ballot for West, but that won’t be possible in many states where deadlines have already passed for names to be added to preprinted voting forms.
So far, however, there’s little indication that West intends to follow through with his campaign announcement. No official FEC filing has been made under West’s name this year (back in 2015, however, a parody filing was made by Kanye “Deez Nuts” West).
In 2020, West would be forced to run as an independent, as Joe Biden has already become the presumptive Democratic nominee and Republicans are unlikely to substitute him for Trump. Deadlines to appear on several states ballots as an independent are also quickly approaching, and the chance to run in six major states, including delegate-rich Texas and New York, have already passed. West would have to assemble a campaign and file paperwork at breakneck speed to even be considered a viable candidate in the most traditional sense.
Of course, a West win could be possible (though, again, highly improbable) through a series of grassroots, write-in-ballots, which is more pie-in-the-sky thought exercise than anything else.
Making his prospects even dimmer, write-in ballots aren’t even possible in eight states, and even if he were able to win the popular vote in other states, he would have had to file before Election Day with many other states for it to matter.
So what’s West’s ploy, then? Is his last-minute campaign a bid to peel votes away from Biden? Or is the whole endeavor simply a PR stunt?
West has always found his way into presidential politics. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, West declared live on television controversially that “George W. Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” West spoke openly about what he believed to be the president’s failure to reach ailing Black families in Louisiana in the aftermath of the deadly storm.
After West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, President Obama called him a “jackass.”
In 2012, West accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of not paying his taxes.
In 2018, West made fresh waves by coming out in support of Trump, calling the Republican president “his brother” who he said possesses “dragon energy.” In 2019 his defense of Trump became much sharper, accusing Democrats of controlling the Black community and teasing his own future run with a simple “2024.”
West and wife Kardashian helped promote criminal justice reform legislation and have visited the White House on a handful of occasions.
The Biden campaign has yet to make any public comment about West’s announcement to run for president. When asked for comment by ABC News, the Trump campaign simply said: “God bless America.”
Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools.
It does not mean counting cuts in overtime as cuts, even as NYPD ignores every attempt by City Council to curb overtime spending and overspends on overtime anyways. The fight to defund policing continues.
If these reports are accurate, then these proposed ‘cuts’ to the NYPD budget are a disingenuous illusion. This is not a victory. The fight to defund policing continues.
Lemme translate: She mad.
AOC — of all people — accusing anyone of “funny math” is like Barack Obama criticizing Donald Trump for saying “I” too many times in a speech. In other words, Alex, you might want to sit this one out.
Thing is, AOC was already riled up at the Democrat Party over the “Defund the Police” movement, as we reported in early June, when she warned that they might try to “repackage” the Left’s anti-police efforts.
In a series of rambling condescending tweets, the erstwhile bartender went off on “lots of D.C. insiders.”
President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in athat Mr. Trump pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping in trade negotiations to agree to purchase American agricultural products in order to boost Mr. Trump’s political standing with U.S. farmers and help him win reelection.
In an excerpt of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” published by The Wall Street Journal, Bolton condemns what he calls the “incoherence” of the president’s trade policy and his focus on winning a second term. The excerpt was published minutes after stories about the memoir’s contents appeared in The New York Times and Washington Post, both of which said they had obtained copies of the book ahead of its scheduled June 23 release.
The longtime conservative foreign policy hawk describes a meeting with Xi and Mr. Trump on June 29, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. Bolton says Xi told Mr. Trump “that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China.”Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox
“Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats,” Bolton writes.
“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton continues.
Bolton writes that he was prevented from reprinting Mr. Trump’s exact language due to the administration’s review of the book, meant to ensure that no classified information was included.
“I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” Bolton writes. The Justice Department on Tuesdayagainst Bolton, who resigned as national security adviser in December 2019, arguing the book contained classified material and should not be published.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to halt the publication of the book. “Disclosure of the manuscript will damage the national security of the United States,” the DOJ said in the application.
The memoir’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS, said in a statement that the filing “is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies of (the book) have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.”
The book includes assertions that Mr. Trump thought Finland was part of Russia and didn’t know the United Kingdom is a nuclear power. Bolton also claims the president called journalists “scumbags” who should be “executed.”
The president took to Twitter early Thursday, calling Bolton “incompetent.” He said, “Wacko John Bolton’s “exceedingly tedious”(New York Times) book is made up of lies & fake stories. Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him. A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”
Wednesday night, Mr. Trump said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that releasing the book means Bolton broke the law. “Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken. It’s highly classified information, and he did not have approval,” Mr. Trump said.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday evening, the president called Bolton “a liar” and said “everybody in the White House hated” Bolton. He also denied Bolton’s claim that, as the Journal puts it, he “gave his blessing” to Xi to build detention camps for China’s Uighur Muslims. The Journal says a Bolton spokeswoman declined to comment.
According to the excerpt in the Journal, Bolton says in the book that “Trump’s conversations with Xi reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in Trump’s mind of his own political interests and U.S. national interests.”
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton writes.
However, he also condemns House Democrats for their handling of the impeachment inquiry late last year, accusing them of being too narrowly focused on Mr. Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian president. Mr. Trump was impeached on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December, although he was acquitted of both in February.
“Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behavior across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different,” Bolton writes. Democrats argued that Mr. Trump abused his power by asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son.
Bolton refused to testify as part of the House inquiry, and was not called to testify at the subsequent impeachment trial. Democrats have accused him of cynically withholding pertinent knowledge of the president’s actions to boost his book sales.
“I have seen the reports that John Bolton is claiming the House should have impeached Trump for other matters. Well, thank you John Bolton for being the firefighter that shows up to the building that’s already burned with the fire hose and saying, ‘I’m here to help,'” Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
The White House disseminated talking points to allies Wednesday that emphasized they believe Bolton is breaking the law and just trying to make money, but did not refute any specific claims of presidential behavior as have been reported.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection.
In a letter sent on Wednesday, Pelosi asked the Joint Committee on the Library — led by Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, and House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat — to direct the Architect of the Capitol to remove the statues of soldiers and officials who represent the Confederacy.
Pelosi specifically mentioned two prominent Confederates — Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens — who served as president and vice president of the Confederate States of America, respectively, and who were charged with treason against the United States. Stephens’ statue was given by Georgia and Davis’ by Mississippi.
“While I believe it is imperative that we never forget our history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,” Pelosi wrote.
The request comes as the nation grapples with the prevalence of police killings of black people, including the death of George Floyd. The request also came on the day President Donald Trump said he would not consider renaming any military bases that derive from Confederate figures.
Adding to the context, NASCAR, the stock car-racing league born in the South, announced it was banning the Confederate battle flag from its events.
Lofgren said she agrees the Joint Committee and the Architect of the Capitol should quickly remove the Confederate statues.
“I stand ready, and call on the Chair of the Joint Committee to swiftly approve the removal of these statues,” she said in a statement. “The Capitol building belongs to the American people and cannot serve as a place of honor for the hatred and racism that tears at the fabric of our nation, the very poison that these statues embody.”
Mississippi is the only state with two Confederates in the collection: Jefferson Davis and James Z. George. Neither was born in Mississippi.
George was a Confederate colonel who became a U.S. senator and chaired Mississippi’s Democratic Executive Committee from 1875 to 1876, crafting the “Mississippi Plan,” a campaign of voter intimidation and violent repression.
George led the construction of Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution, which effectively reduced the number of qualified black Mississippi voters from 147,205 to 8,615, an action that resulted in a white electoral majority in every county, according to a 2017 report by the University of Mississippi Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context.
South Carolina is represented by Wade Hampton, a Confederate, and John C. Calhoun. Calhoun died before the inception of the Confederacy, but would have likely been a supporter of it.
States can ask the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to approve a replacement — if the request has first been backed by a resolution adopted by the state’s legislature and governor.
The statue up for replacement must have been displayed in the Capitol for at least 10 years; however, the committee can waive the requirement for cause at a state’s request.
Prosecutors in Sweden announced Wednesday the name of the man they believe gunned down Prime Minister Olof Palme more than three decades ago on a Stockholm street.
At a news conference in the capital, chief prosecutor Krister Petersson identified the likely assassin as Stig Engström, a graphic designer who was interviewed along with more than a dozen others who said they saw someone fleeing the scene immediately after the attack in 1986. At the time, Engström was briefly considered a suspect.
It’s too late, however, to pursue a case against him. Engström died, by apparent suicide, in 2000.
“Because the person is dead, I cannot bring charges against him and have decided to close the investigation,” Petersson said.
“How he acted was how we believe the murderer would have acted,” he added.
Much like the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, the killing of Palme — a long-time leftist prime minister credited with shaping modern Sweden — has been a favorite topic of conspiracy theorists, who have variously posited the involvement of the CIA, Kurdish separatists, the South African security services and Chilean fascists, among others.
Engström, who was dubbed by the Swedish media as “The Skandia man” because he worked at the headquarters of the Skandia insurance company near the site of Palme’s slaying, has figured prominently in much of the speculation over the years. Most notably, freelance journalist Thomas Petterson has been among those who have pointed to Engström as the likely assassin.
On the night of Feb. 28, 1986, Palme, who had dismissed his security detail earlier in the day, was fatally shot in the back at point-blank range on one of the busiest streets in downtown Stockholm as he and his wife, Lisbet, were leaving a movie theater.
Lisbet, who was slightly wounded in the attack on her husband, later identified Christer Pettersson, (unrelated to either the prosecutor or the journalist) as the killer. Palme’s son, Marten, who was also present at the assassination, identified Pettersson as well.
Pettersson, a petty criminal, was found guilty of the assassination in 1989, but his conviction was overturned the following year in a decision citing lack of evidence – most notably the absence of a weapon, which investigators believed to have been a .357 Smith & Wesson Magnum. Christer Pettersson died in 2004.
In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, Thomas Petterson, the journalist, said Engström, who had served in the military, had access to the same kind of weapon used in the assassination, had been active in a shooting club and had political and private motives.
The journalist, who said he had investigated the case for 12 years, also noted that Engström had lied to police, had “the right timing, the right clothing … unique information” and he had “a deep political interest and a deep anti-Palme sentiment.”
U.S. prosecutors and attorneys for Britain’s Prince Andrew sniped at one another across the Atlantic on Monday, each saying the other side was to blame for the duke’s failure to participate in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking probe.
Andrew’s lawyers said in a statement that he has offered three times this year to speak with U.S. investigators after being assured that he “is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein.”
That offer, though, came with a request that “our co-operation and any interview arrangements would remain confidential,” said the firm Blackfords LLP in London.
Hours later, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, issued a statement saying the prince had tried to “falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate” even as he repeatedly declined to schedule an interview.
“If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open, and we await word of when we should expect him,” Berman said.
Berman’s statement addressed only Prince Andrew’s willingness to be interviewed. It made no mention of the claims by his lawyers that the Department of Justice had advised them that Andrew is not a target of the investigation, or that they made any promise that whatever he told investigators would be confidential.
Before Monday, Berman had said that Andrew has provided “zero cooperation” to American investigators.
Attorney General William Barr told Fox News on Monday that prosecutors are not seeking to extradite Andrew.
“I don’t think it’s a question of handing him over,” Barr said. “I think it’s just a question of having him provide some evidence, but beyond that I’m not going to comment.”
Epstein killed himself in a U.S. jail last summer as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
One of the women who was sexually abused by Epstein as a teenager, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has claimed that the financier flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with powerful men, and that she had sexual encounters with Andrew in London and New York, starting when she was 17.
Andrew denies the allegation.
The contrasting views of what is going on behind the scenes came after The Sun newspaper and other media organizations reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had submitted a mutual legal assistance request to Britain’s Home Office. Such requests are used in criminal cases under a treaty and are generally used when material can’t be obtained on a police cooperation basis.
U.S. investigators are still examining potential criminality by Epstein’s associates. Multiple women have said the financier had helpers who recruited underage girls into a network of sexual servants.
Andrew’s help is being sought as a witness, his lawyers said.
“Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen,” Blackfords said. “Further, those same breaches of confidentiality by the DOJ have given the global media – and, therefore, the worldwide audience – an entirely misleading account of our discussions with them.”