Headlines: November 14, 2019
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House Committees conducting the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump are scheduled to hear testimony on Friday from David Holmes, a political counselor at the US Embassy in Kyiv. Mr. Holmes is apparently the person that the US’s top diplomat to Ukraine, William Taylor referenced during his public hearing on Wednesday as having heard a conversation that Gordon Sondland had on the phone with Trump. The gist of that phone call, according to Taylor’s testimony, confirmed that President Trump was hinging US military aid to Ukraine on political investigations of his rival. Now, AP is reporting that, “A second U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard” the same call that Holmes reportedly overheard. That person is apparently, “Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv.” Democrats also plan to seek closed-door testimony on Saturday from an official at the Office of Management and Budget named Mark Sandy, to try to get to the bottom of whether US military aid to Ukraine was held up. But public hearings will continue with the televised testimony on Friday of former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who is expected to share how Trump administration officials improperly ousted her at the direction of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. There will be a slew of public impeachment hearings next week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, mostly from officials that Congressmembers have privately questioned.
Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a press conference on Thursday and slammed Trump’s conduct as far worse that Richard Nixon’s. She also challenged Trump to bring forward any evidence he might have to exonerate him – even going as far as explaining a word that the President may not understand.
With Republicans forcefully defending President Trump during the impeachment process in the face of damning evidence, Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released the result of a poll on disinformation. The poll found that many Americans have trouble telling truth from falsehoods when they read the news. According to AP, “47% of Americans believe it’s difficult to know if the information they encounter is true, compared with 31% who find it easy to do so.” Additionally, “Democrats are more likely to say they rely on scientists and academics, while Republicans are more likely to trust what they hear from President Donald Trump.”
In Southern California, news emerged early in the day of a school shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. So far one person is dead and 4 injured. The suspect is a 15-year old boy who has apparently been taken into custody. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Four people from the school were transported to Henry Mayo Hospital for treatment. One patient, a female, died there. Two male patients are in critical condition and one male is in good condition.”
President Trump’s battle to keep his taxes secret lost in yet another court this week. A Federal Appeals Court on Wednesday ruled that Congress has the right to review his records. Trump’s legal team said it plans to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified for two consecutive days on Wednesday and Thursday before Congressional panels about the state of the economy. Although he suggested that the nation’s economic outlook is positive, he warned of the uncertainty that President Trump’s trade war with China has brought to markets. On Thursday he also warned against the federal government’s growing deficit. What Powell did not mention is that the federal government’s revenues have been decimated by massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, fueling the rising deficit.
Powell also did not mention the continued financial drag on the nation by endless wars. The Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University has just released a new report on the mounting costs of the so-called “War on Terror.” The “Cost of War” project found that, “Since late 2001, the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $6.4 Trillion through Fiscal Year 2020 in budgetary costs related to and caused by the post-9/11 wars.”
In Election 2020 news, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has formalized his entry into the race for the Democratic Party nomination. Meanwhile, a new study has revealed that MSNBC has a deep bias against Presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator. The magazine In These Times, conducted the study and examined the liberal network’s coverage of Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden from August and September of this year. What it found was the Sanders received the least coverage, and when the network did cover his campaign, it often did so negatively. Biden received the most coverage. Sanders and Warren have continued pushing progressive policy platforms however. Together with New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Vermont Senator on Thursday released a 54-page bill called Green New Deal for Public Housing Act. Meanwhile Senator Warren released a new ad taking on the criticism she has faced from billionaires upset about her plans to tax them. When billionaire investor Leon Cooperman complained about the ad as “disgraceful,” Warren’s campaign responded on Twitter with two words: “ok billionaire.”
In international news, amid the impeachment drama centered on Trump’s extortionary conduct toward Ukraine, the embattled Eastern European nation is hoping for political support from the West as talks with Russia approach. An advisor to Ukraine’s President explained to the New York Times that the relationship between the US and Ukraine, “is a question of life and death for us.” The New York Times summarized that, “Ukraine seems to have joined a long list of foreign policy issues where Mr. Trump has intervened in such a way as to advance the Kremlin’s interest, whether in pressuring NATO, withdrawing from Syria, pushing Brexit, siding with right-wing European populists or defending Russia against charges of meddling in the 2016 election.”