Headlines: November 22, 2019
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After three whirlwind days of public impeachment hearings hosted by House committees this week, Democratic lawmakers say the public part of the inquiry is done. On Thursday evening, after the very last of the witnesses testified, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff closed the proceedings with this powerful statement. Meanwhile Supreme Court justices planned to meet on Friday to discuss whether or not to take up the case over the House having access to Trump’s tax returns. Lawyers for House Democrats on Thursday told justices they need the returns for the impeachment process.
Meanwhile rightwing media outlets like Fox News wasted no time in maligning the star witness from Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former member of the National Security Council at the White House with expertise in Russia. Hill had spent much of her testimony debunking the many conspiracy theories that Republicans and President Trump have been promoting. Some media personalities implied that Hill – a British-born US citizen – was “unAmerican.” On Friday morning President Donald Trump called in to his favorite television program Fox and Friends and for almost an hour ranted about the impeachment hearings, barely giving the hosts a chance to speak. Trump continued to repeat the conspiracy theories that Hill had debunked including a false claim that Ukraine has the DNC server. Even the Fox and Friends hosts were skeptical. PLAY VIDEO. That’s President Trump admitting that he wanted to withhold military aid from Ukraine and basing it on a debunked idea that Ukraine had the DNC’s email servers.
News media are reporting on an internal debate between Senate Republicans and the White House over how to proceed when the House inevitably impeaches Trump. According to the New York Times, “President Trump wants an aggressive defense, but White House officials and Republicans are divided over whether to aim for a brief process or a drawn-out spectacle.” And, top-ranking Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has just announced an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and a position he assumed on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma. The investigation is a thinly-veiled attempt at legitimizing Trump’s withholding of military aid from Ukraine.
A day after ten Democratic contenders for the Presidential nomination debated one another in Atlanta, frontrunner Joe Biden spoke at an event where he was called out by an immigrant rights activist over Obama-era deportations. Mr. Biden’s response was stunning. Meanwhile Trump’s latest Acting Secretary for Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, toured the US-Mexico border on Thursday and insisted that the controversial border wall would be built by the end of next year. The Trump administration has also official begun a controversial policy to send asylum seekers to other nations while they wait for their cases. On Thursday a Honduran man who applied for asylum became the first under the policy to be flown to Guatemala by the US.
Trump is promoting his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for an open Senate seat in Kansas, saying that he would win the seat by a “landslide.” Pompeo has been deeply implicated in the impeachment inquiry and there is speculation he might leave his position soon.
The President’s son Donald Jr. is thrilled about his new book being on a best-seller list. But aside from the fact that his father improperly promoted it on his official Twitter feed to his millions of followers, now the New York Times is reporting that the book, Triggered, has benefitted from bulk purchases by the Republican National Committee (RNC). The RNC has reportedly spent about $95,000 buying up copies of Trump Jr.’s books as mementos for donors. And in other news of Trump’s self-dealing, a watchdog group has obtained Secret Service expenditures from the first six months of the President’s tenure and determined that the agency spent a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayer funds at Trump properties.
Soon after Senate Republicans blocked a version of the Violence Against Women act, they released their own version of the bill – one that predictably targets the demographics that the party most loves to hate: LGBTQ Americans. It also weakened protections for Native American women survivors of domestic violence; and removed a key gun safety provision. The vast majority of fatal domestic violence incidents occur from gun violence. Meanwhile Attorney General William Barr planned to announce a new plan called the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative on Friday during a visit to a Montana reservation.
A jury in Southern California just awarded $13.2 million to the family members of a man killed by police in Anaheim. More than 3 years ago, police used a stun gun and fatally choked 32-year old Fermin Vincent Valenzuela even though he was unarmed and running away from police. The city of Anaheim defended its officers’ actions claiming that they, “took measured, reasonable actions,” and “acted in the best interest of public safety.”
And finally the actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League ripped into social media companies for facilitating hate and helping to spread propaganda across the world. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen slammed what he called the “Silicon Six.” His comments came a day after news emerged that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had a secret dinner meeting with Trump at the White House in October.