Headlines: November 1, 2019
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Two new polls on impeachment of President Donald Trump have confirmed that large segments of the US population want to see an end to this presidency. A Washington Post/ABC Poll has found that support for impeachment tracks very closely with party affiliation. The paper explained that, “49 percent of Americans say the president should be impeached and removed from office, while 47 percent say he should not,” and that “Among Democrats, support for removing the president from office is overwhelming, with 82 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed. Among Republicans, it is almost the reverse, with 82 percent opposed and 18 percent in favor, even as the president’s approval rating reached a new low among members of his party.” The poll also found that Trump’s standing did not change in light of the raid that led to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s death. According to the paper, “While Obama received a short-term boost in popularity after bin Laden’s killing, the successful raid against Baghdadi does not appear to have helped Trump’s image as a leader.” Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also released their poll results on Friday and concluded that, “47% said they support the impeachment inquiry, while 38% disapprove.” However, a majority of Americans also felt that Democrats were motivated by political concerns rather than the merits of impeachment. One woman who responded to the survey told AP, ““I was getting very frustrated with Congress and those investigating because I felt like they were just dragging their heels. I wish they’d stop worrying about getting reelected themselves and get down to the business they’re supposed to be doing.”
There are two parallel court battles playing out over those caught in the competing demands of House subpoenas to testify in the impeachment inquiry and the Trump White House’s blanket ban on testimonies. Charles Kupperman, an aide to former National Security Advisor John Bolton had his case addressed in court on Thursday over his request that a judge decide for him whether he should testify before House committees or not. The judge in the case set a date of December 10th for oral arguments for lawyers from all sides. The second case is around former White House Counsel Don McGahn who Trump has claimed is absolutely immune from having to testify. A lawyer for the Justice Department on Thursday claimed that, “The Constitution does not allow this. It does not allow the House and the executive branch to sue each other in court.” The federal judge in that case sharply pushed back on the DOJ. The outcomes of both cases will determine how the impeachment inquiry can proceed.
A man who served as ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration has harsh words for President Trump’s decision to fundraise for the campaigns of those GOP Senators who are loyal to him in the impeachment inquiry. In a tweet, Richard Painter said, “Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery …. Criminal.” Meanwhile, a Republican Congressman, Don Young of Alaska refused to answer a reporter’s repeated questioning about soliciting election help from a foreign government and instead resorted to head butting the camera. Meanwhile Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge has become the latest to leave her employer. Herridge, who worked at the outlet since 1996 said she would be leaving the President’s favorite outlet and start work as a senior investigative reporter at CBS – an outlet where she said, “facts and storytelling will always matter.”
News broke on Thursday that Trump has decided to claim the state of Florida as his new home. The President and his wife filed documents in late September to change their primary residence from New York to Florida. Some speculate that Florida’s state tax laws are more generous to wealthier Americans. Trump justified the move saying, “I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to news of the move saying, “Good riddance…It’s not like Mr. Trump paid taxes here anyway. He’s all yours, Florida.”
Just a day after the Federal Reserve was reported to be reducing interest rates for a third time this year Trump demanded that it go further and chided Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, who he appointed. Trump stands to personally benefit from low interest rates on the mountains of money he holds in debt. In other financial news there are reports that the Republican Party is considering rolling out a new plan to cut taxes next year even though last year’s law did not deliver the economic miracle Trump claimed it would and has been proven to benefit the ultra-rich just as critics pointed out it would. Meanwhile the latest jobs report is out and shows that the US economy added 128,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate crept up to 3.6%. And Chicago teachers are back in their classrooms on Friday after a record-breaking 11 days on strike. The teachers union hailed the agreement with the city that resulted in millions more being spent on classrooms, a raise for teachers, and hundreds more social workers, counselors, nurses and other support staff. The vote to approve the deal was not overwhelming however, suggesting some union members felt it didn’t go far enough.
The Trump White House is considering adding more countries to its existing travel ban. According to CNN, there are five or fewer countries that are being considered for the controversial ban that many have denounced as clearly anti-Muslim. The US Supreme Court upheld the ban last year. Meanwhile the ACLU has launched a lawsuit against the Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Agency and FBI, over their use of facial recognition surveillance tools. In its suit, the civil rights group said, “This dystopian surveillance technology threatens to fundamentally alter our free society into one where we’re treated as suspects to be tracked and monitored by the government 24/7.”
A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the Trump administration could not withhold federal funds from Los Angeles as a penalty for the city’s refusal to participate in immigration enforcement. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law that authorized the federal grants does not give the Justice Department, “broad authority to impose any condition it chooses.” Meanwhile President Trump apparently plans to name Chad Wolf as acting Homeland Security Secretary after Acting secretary Kevin McAleenan resigned. Wolf is currently the Acting Undersecretary for Policy at DHS. Many officials in the agency have not been confirmed and are in temporary positions as per standard practice under this White House.
A new fire has broken out in Southern California as dry conditions and gusty winds fueled by climate change continue to stoke the flames. The Maria Fire in Ventura County started late on Thursday afternoon and has burned thousands of acres resulting in evacuations. And the state’s largest utilities company, PG&E, says there are still 6,500 Californians without power as part of their deliberate outages to address fire-hazardous infrastructure. And the internationally renowned Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joined climate activists in downtown Los Angeles on Friday afternoon speaking alongside activists who are demanding a shutdown of oil drilling wells in their communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new data showing that vaping-related illnesses continue to increase and have totaled 1,888 with 37 deaths. Last week alone there were 284 new cases – the highest total of October. And Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading Presidential candidate has finally responded to criticism of her healthcare position by releasing a detailed plan for how she would pay for Medicare-for-All. As President Warren would heavily tax big businesses and billionaires but not middle class Americans to fund a plan to the tune of $20.5 trillion. Her plan includes $800 billion in cuts to the US military.