Impeachment furor throws the Democratic campaign into uncertain territory

The eruption of impeachment proceedings against President Trump has thrown the Democratic presidential campaign abruptly off track, as the candidates scramble to respond forcefully on the scandal while simultaneously focusing on the bread-and-butter policies they have touted for months.

The unusual split messaging pushes the primary into complicated terrain just four months before the first nominating contest in Iowa. While the candidates are vying for the chance to unseat Trump in 2020, Democratic leaders in Congress have initiated an inquiry focusing on a different question entirely — whether to remove him from office before then.

The response has sometimes been awkward. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently delivered impassioned remarks on unions, but tacked on a statement about impeachment beforehand after consulting with aides. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) fielded questions about Medicare-for-all at a town hall last week, then faced inquiries from reporters on impeachment. Former vice president Joe Biden spent a few minutes discussing impeachment at a recent stop before turning to an abbreviated version of his usual speech.

“It definitely throws a monkey wrench into everybody’s talking points,” said Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-Pa.), who supports Biden and endorsed an impeachment inquiry for the first time last week. “It’s something extra that they have to talk about.”



Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at the Polk County Steak Fry in Iowa. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

While leading Democrats increasingly demand forceful statements on Trump’s actions, many voters and activists are urging candidates not to stop talking about how they would provide health insurance to more Americans, shrink the gap between rich and poor, and combat climate change. Some bluntly warn that devoting too much attention to impeachment could be a costly mistake.

“Impeachment is an afterthought for a lot of people,” said Elesha Gayman, the chair of Scott County Democratic Party in Iowa. “I appreciate them coming out with a statement, but that’s about where it needs to end. I think the most important thing to carry forward for the Democrats is going to be having a message and a vision for what they are going to bring to the table.”

She added: “I think, especially in the Democratic Party, we lose elections when we make it about ‘we’re better than the other guy’ and we don’t lay out a vision.”

What’s clear is that the furor in Washington injects another huge dose of uncertainty, at a critical moment, into a contest that was already highly fluid. The field is likely to winnow soon, and the impeachment focus threatens to take even more oxygen from hopefuls who already had limited time to make an impact.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the rare step of beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump last week after he acknowledged urging the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Many Democrats say dislodging Trump from office is unlikely, given the strong support for him in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds vote is needed for removal.

Nevertheless, the Democratic presidential field has largely lined up behind Pelosi, endorsing her inquiry and vocally condemning Trump’s conduct. A whistleblower complaint at the center of the controversy alleges that Trump misused his office for personal gain and that unidentified White House officials took improper actions to keep it a secret. Trump has said he did nothing wrong.

Some voters expressed concerns about the Democrats forging ahead on impeachment. Diana Kroeger, 52, an independent from Hollis, N.H., who stood in line for a photo with Warren after her Friday town hall event there, said “I’m worried” about the process, fearing it will further divide the country.

Will Norona, an autoworker from Flint, Mich., who walked a picket line in front of a GM plant in Detroit last week with Sanders, said he worried that focusing on impeachment could take attention away from other issues.

“Our focus is on this,” said Norona, 43, speaking of the autoworkers strike.

But other Democrats, believing Trump to be increasingly vulnerable, want to see the candidates call him out more aggressively than ever.

“They’ve got to keep the focus on Trump while hot lights are on him,” said Gilda Cobb-Hunter, president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and a veteran South Carolina Democrat.

Shawana Love, 42, an undecided voter who also joined the picket line in Detroit, said seeing the Democrats take steps toward impeaching Trump gets her more excited about the election. “Impeach his a–!” Love said.

The fast-moving developments and clashing voter sentiments are prompting many of the candidates to dedicate valuable time at campaign events — and devote space on their social media pages — to responding to the latest Trump news with outrage.

But they are taking different tacks.

Warren has been pointing out that she advocated impeachment proceedings long before the recent revelations about Trump’s conversation with the Ukrainian president. Warren has been rising in the polls, and some of her rivals have begun criticizing her policies, but the impeachment furor could make that harder with so much attention focused on Trump.

“The way to hold this president of the United States accountable is to impeach him,” Warren told reporters after Friday’s town hall. “So I hope we go forward with care and deliberation, but that we do it quickly. I think it’s important. The American people are counting on us.”

Some Warren allies say that she is well-suited to talk about the issue because it is in line with one of her core campaign themes — tackling corruption.

“For Elizabeth Warren, it’s right in the middle of the bull’s eye,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has endorsed Warren. “Assuming this keeps going, I would be surprised if she didn’t integrate it more and more into her stump speech.”

Still, the current landscape presents the paradox that if Trump were to be removed — a remote prospect at the moment — the Democratic nominee would presumably be running against Vice President Pence, not the figure they’ve been railing against for months.

Sanders has been more cautious about the prospect of impeachment. While he also supports an inquiry, a point he has emphasized repeatedly in recent days, he has long focused on policy, and he warned Democrats not to abandon work on other important issues.

“The Congress of the United States must show the American people that it can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Sanders said last week in Davenport, Iowa.

Warren, Sanders and the four other senators in the race have to keep another variable in mind: They would effectively become jurors in a Senate trial if the House votes to impeach Trump and Senate leaders move ahead with a judicial proceeding.

“Let’s have that trial in the United States Senate,” Sanders said in Plymouth, N.H., on Sunday. “I will do my best to look at the facts as objectively as I can.”

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has sought to use the impeachment inquiry to remind voters of her experience as a prosecutor and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Harris canceled a recent fundraiser in Los Angeles to fly back to Washington for a meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to which she also belongs.

Biden is tethered to the situation more directly than any other candidate. During a July 25 phone call, Trump requested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate Biden, according to a rough transcript of the conversation that the White House released. Biden’s son Hunter had served on the board of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power. Hunter was not accused of wrongdoing.

As vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who many Western officials said was not sufficiently pursuing corruption. At the time, the investigation into Burisma was dormant, according to former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.

Despite the centrality of his role, Biden has been more reticent than some of his rivals when it comes to impeachment.

At a recent fundraiser in Southern California, Biden said he and his family had done nothing wrong and accused Trump of trying to “hijack an election so we do not focus on the issues that matter in our lives.” He added, “This is not about me.”

Rufus Gifford, a former ambassador to Denmark and who has donated to Biden and other candidates this year, said he sees both opportunity and peril for the former vice president.

“It’s very much a double-edged sword. On one hand, anyone kind of wants to be mano a mano with Trump right now,” said Gifford, who was finance director for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. At the same time, Gifford said, it could prompt some Democrats to question whether the Ukraine situation would be a vulnerability for Biden — chipping away at his assertion that he’s the most electable Democrat — and “those questions have to be answered.”

In the meantime, the drama set to unfold in coming weeks — likely to feature explosive congressional hearings, angry partisan debates, bitterly contested votes on the House floor and possibly further revelations about Trump — adds a daunting, unpredictable dynamic that, even more than the campaign so far, is outside the candidates’ control.

As South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said recently, “Nobody knows what the political consequences of impeachment are.”

Annie Linskey in Hollis, N.H., Chelsea Janes in Plymouth, N.H., Cleve R. Wootson Jr. in Las Vegas and David Weigel in Austin contributed to this report.

McConnell says Senate would have no choice but to take up impeachment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell | Getty Images

“How long you’re on it is a different matter,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNBC on Monday. | Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he would “have no choice” but to take up impeachment proceedings if a majority of the House of Representatives approves articles of impeachment.

During an interview with CNBC, McConnell made it clear that under the rules, the Senate cannot ignore a House vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

Story Continued Below

“I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment.”

He further noted that it would take 67 votes to change the current Senate rule for impeachment.

McConnell’s remarks come after Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week endorsed formal impeachment proceedings against Trump. The House impeachment effort gained new momentum after Trump’s call pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President and 2020 hopeful Joe Biden and his family came to light.

McConnell also said previously in an interview in March that the Senate would have “no choice” but to hold a trial if the House voted to impeach Trump.

“McConnell is already blaming the House Democrats and the Senate rules for forcing him to arrange for a trial if the President is impeached,” said Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. “If his base attacks him, he can shrug his shoulders and say the Democrats (and the rules) forced me to hold a trial. “

Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this report.

Last of 4 Ohio jail escapees caught in North Carolina

All four inmates who broke out of an Ohio jail after overpowering two female guards were back in custody Monday.

Three of the escapees — Christopher Clemente, 24, Brynn Martin, 40 and Troy McDaniel Jr., 30 — were caught in Cary, N.C., around 2 a.m. Monday.

Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin announced the capture of the fourth Monday afternoon.

4 OHIO INMATES ESCAPE FROM JAIL AFTER OVERPOWERING GUARDS

“I am pleased to report that just a short while ago the fourth and final escapee, Lawrence R. Lee III was taken into custody by law enforcement officials in Durham, N.C.,” Champlin said.

The escape from the Gallia County Jail in Gallipolis happened around 12:14 a.m. Sunday.

​​​Mugshots show, left to right, Lawrence Lee, 29; Troy McDaniel, 30; Christopher Clemente, 24; and Brynn Martin, 40. The four inmates escaped from the Gallia County Jail early Sunday after overpowering two female guards, investigators said. (Gallia County Sheriff's Office)

​​​Mugshots show, left to right, Lawrence Lee, 29; Troy McDaniel, 30; Christopher Clemente, 24; and Brynn Martin, 40. The four inmates escaped from the Gallia County Jail early Sunday after overpowering two female guards, investigators said. (Gallia County Sheriff’s Office)

The four men overpowered the two guards with a jailhouse knife called a “shank,” investigators said.

They then made their getaway from the jail in a stolen corrections officer, driving one block to where another vehicle was waiting for them, Champlin said, as the Gallipolis Daily Tribune reported.

3 OF 4 MEN WHO ESCAPED OHIO JAIL CAPTURED IN NORTH CAROLINA, REPORT SAYS

Clemente was being held on a charge of complicity to deal drugs. Martin, who had a long rap sheet, was being held on charges of failure to appear and escape. McDaniel was being held on a charge of failure to appear in a Gallia County Juvenile Court matter and Lee was being held on a charge of identity fraud.

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Martin was charged with an escape after investigators said he and another inmate bolted from a vehicle transporting them to the Gallia jail earlier this month. They were caught the next day, according to reports.

Trump is using Facebook to run thousands of ads about impeachment

More than 1,800 ads on Trump’s Facebook page mentioning “impeachment” have run in the past seven days. The ads have been viewed between 16 and 18 million times on Facebook and the campaign has spent between $600,000 and $2,000,000 on the effort, according to
data analyzed by Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.

The President is using ads to enlist people in what his campaign is calling the “Official Impeachment Defense Task Force.”

“I want to know who stood with me when it mattered most, which is why my team is making me a list of EVERY AMERICAN PATRIOT who adds their name and joins the Official Impeachment Defense Taskforce,” one Trump ad reads.

Trump allies concerned he doesn't understand gravity of impeachment fightTrump allies concerned he doesn't understand gravity of impeachment fight

Edelson, who has been tracking political ads on Facebook for more than a year, said many of the ads are being used to harvest contact information. She said data about ad engagement can also be a useful way for the Trump campaign to take the temperature of current supporters on specific issues.

Vice President Mike Pence’s Facebook page has also been enlisted in the effort spending more than $700,000 on Facebook ads between September 22 and 28. The amount is the biggest ad spend through Pence’s Facebook page since the social media network began releasing ad spend data in May 2018. The Pence ads are primarily about upcoming Trump rallies and impeachment.

“There are now over 150 House Democrats who back Impeachment,” one ad on Pence page reads, “These Impeachment claims have nothing to do with me, President Trump – the Democrats thrive on silencing and intimidating my supporters, like YOU. They want to take YOUR VOTE away.”

The Trump campaign has spent almost $20 million on Facebook ads since Facebook began publicly disclosing political ad spend in May 2018. The ad-buys eclipse that of all Democratic presidential primary candidates.

Nick Clegg, former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom and now Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs and communications, confirmed in a
speech last week in Washington that Facebook would not fact-check ads run by political campaigns.

The company has partnered with third party fact-checking groups to downrank content they deem to be false but politicians will largely be exempt from this.

Republican ex-lawmaker tells colleagues to ditch Trump and save their souls

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, in an op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “Fellow Republicans, there’s still time to save your souls,” on Monday made the case for President Trump‘s impeachment.

To his former colleagues, he wrote: “Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”

He then asked Senate Republicans to refuse to support a second term for Trump, claiming: “With what we now know, the president’s actions warrant impeachment.”

THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY: HOW DOES REMOVING A PRESIDENT WORK?

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, in an op-ed published in The Washington Post titled "Fellow Republicans, there's still time to save your souls," made the case for President Trump's impeachment. (Getty-AP)

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, in an op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “Fellow Republicans, there’s still time to save your souls,” made the case for President Trump’s impeachment. (Getty-AP)

Democrats recently announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over a whistleblower’s claim he improperly pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of an energy company in Ukraine.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma as his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Trump has claimed that Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to shut down a corruption investigation of Burisma. The former vice president has denied doing anything wrong.

In the July call, Zelensky appeared to make an effort to stay in Trump’s good graces, telling him at least twice that he was “absolutely right.” But, after the White House released a rough transcript this week based on officials’ recollections of the call, Zelensky told reporters he didn’t feel pushed, emphasizing that “no one can pressure me.”

He also sought to play down the situation involving Biden and his son’s activities in Ukraine, calling it just one of “many cases that I talk about with leaders of other countries.”

“My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles. Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection,” wrote Flake.

“Our country will have more presidents. But principles, well, we get just one crack at those. For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that.”

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Flake retired from the Senate this year. He has frequently criticized Trump, as well as the Republican Party, since the president’s election in 2016. Earlier this year, he called on others in his party to condemn the president’s recent controversial comments about several Democratic congresswomen.

He has also previously backed the idea of a Republican challenging Trump for the party’s nomination in 2020.

Bolton blasts Trumps North Korea policy in first speech since White House departure

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton never directly mentioned his old boss Monday in his first public remarks since departing the White House, but the fierce Republican firebrand made clear he does not believe in the president’s North Korea strategy.

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In a detailed repudiation of Trump’s North Korea policy, Bolton warned of a “grave and growing threat” from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, condemned the administration for not condemning North Korea’s recent spate of ballistic missile tests, and argued that, in his “unvarnished” view, Kim Jong Un and his regime will never give up their nuclear weapons voluntarily.

Instead of Trump’s belief that he can personally negotiate with Kim to surrender his nuclear weapons, Bolton said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that the U.S. should be considering regime change in Pyongyang, working with China to reunify North and South Korea, or using military force.

PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea, June 30, 2019. Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea, June 30, 2019.

“These are questions that need to focus our attention, not, ‘Can we get another summit with Kim Jong Un or what the state of staff-level negotiations are to achieve a commitment from North Korea it will never honor,” Bolton said.

In fact, he argued, Kim was operating on the strategic decision to “do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further. He may try to get relief from international sanctions, he may make some concessions, but under current circumstances, he will never give up his nuclear weapons voluntarily.”

Two summits between Trump and Kim have yielded a vague joint declaration that committed their countries to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and a change in their relations. But the two sides still don’t have a shared definition of that vague term, and the leaders’ second meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February ended when North Korea offered only to dismantle its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, but not its existing nuclear weapons stockpile or its other secret sites, in exchange for economic sanctions being lifted.

Bolton warned there is a “world out there that’s ready to fall sucker to that kind of argument” of a partial or interim deal — something Trump may be now considering to get talks back on track. After he and Kim met at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea in June — a meeting which Bolton did not attend — the two sides said they agreed to working-level talks resuming in July. Three months later, those talks still haven’t taken place, and there is no meeting scheduled.

When asked by the CSIS Korea Chair Victor Cha whether Trump’s “bromance diplomacy” is the best way forward, Bolton offered a no comment. As the audience laughed, Bolton added, “Nice try.”

Trump has already hit Bolton, who said he quit while Trump said he was asked to resign, for playing a spoiler role in North Korea talks, in particular after Bolton mentioned the “Libya model” for how to dismantle Kim’s nuclear weapons program. Bolton meant that as offering incentives only after a country dismantles its nuclear weapons program, like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi did, but North Korea points to the deposing of Gadhafi and his torture and death years later as a sign giving up nuclear weapons increases the risk to a strongman leader.

PHOTO: This screen grab image taken from North Korean broadcaster KCTV on August 1, 2019, shows a ballistic missile being launched from an unknown location in North Korea early on July 31.Handout/KCTV via AFP/Getty Images

This screen grab image taken from North Korean broadcaster KCTV on August 1, 2019, shows a ballistic missile being launched from an unknown location in North Korea early on July 31.

“I don’t blame Kim Jong Un for what he said after that, and he wanted nothing to do with John Bolton. And that’s not a question of being tough. That’s a question of being not smart to say something like that,” Trump said in the Oval Office the day after Bolton was ousted.

In a shot at Trump, Bolton said Monday the “Libya model” is not “properly understood.” But Bolton also relishes his role as North Korea foil: “I am delighted to be here today. I’m also sure the leadership of North Korea is delighted that I’m here today in a private capacity,” Bolton said to laughs. “Perhaps they’ll be less delighted now that I can speak in unvarnished terms about the grave and growing threat that the North Korean nuclear weapons program poses to international peace and security.”

While Trump has downplayed the nearly dozen ballistic missile tests that Kim has conducted since the Hanoi summit, Bolton argued that it undermines U.S. security and sanctions enforcement against Pyongyang: “When you ask for consistent behavior from others, you have to demonstrate it yourself, and when we fail to do that we open ourselves and our policy to fail.”

The tests have also allowed North Korea to enhance their missile capability, Bolton said.

And while Trump has halted major U.S. and South Korean joint military exercises and parroted North Korea’s complaint that they are “war games,” Bolton said the readiness of U.S. forces is now in question and called for a review by the Pentagon or Congress.

Senate has no choice but to take up impeachment if House votes in favor: McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday the Senate would have “no choice” but to also take up articles of impeachment if the House were to vote in favor of the move against President Donald Trump.

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“The Senate impeachment rules are very clear,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in an interview with CNBC. “The Senate would have to take up an impeachment resolution if it came over from the House.”

“Under the Senate rules we are required to take it up,” McConnell reiterated in the interview. “If the House goes down that path, we will follow the Senate rules.”

His statement puts to rest any speculation that McConnell would ignore the House if it passed articles of impeachment against the president.

McConnell also added that he would likely not have the 67 votes he would need to change the Senate rules related to impeachment.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at a lectern to speak to reporters following the Republican policy luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, Sept. 24, 2019.Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at a lectern to speak to reporters following the Republican policy luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, Sept. 24, 2019.

“It is a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change. I would have no choice but to take it up,” he said. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment.”

In a historic move last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats were moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry into Trump.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said. “Therefore, today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said. “The president must be held accountable.”

Pelosi likely has the votes to impeach Trump, but two-thirds of the Senate is needed to convict and remove Trump from office. As it stands now, with Republicans in control of the Senate, that is not likely to happen.

The fast-moving developments came amid new questions about whether Trump had made millions in military aid to Ukraine contingent on President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreeing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremonial swearing-in for Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House in Washington, Sept. 30, 2019.Leah Millis/Reuters

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremonial swearing-in for Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House in Washington, Sept. 30, 2019.

Trump, who said previously he was concerned about sending aid to Ukraine because of his allegations of corruption, gave a new explanation Tuesday, saying he had ordered the aid frozen — before the call — because he was unhappy with how much European countries were contributing to Ukraine.

He has always said there was nothing wrong with the call he made to Zelenskiy.

In her formal announcement late Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi said the Trump administration blocking the whistleblower complaint from being sent to Congress was a “violation of the law” and said Trump calling on a foreign leader to interfere in a U.S. election was “a breach of his constitutional responsibilities.”

The intelligence community’s inspector general found that the whistleblower’s complaint was “credible” and of “urgent concern.” That complaint was released to the public last Thursday, ahead of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on his handling of the complaint.

Flake tells GOP: Trump does not deserve reelection | TheHill

Former Sen.
Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeRepublicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Cindy McCain: I can see Arizona ‘going Democrat’ in 2020 Flake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.) is urging Republican lawmakers to not support
President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash calls McCarthy incompetent, dishonest after ’60 Minutes’ interview GOP lawmaker blasts Trump for quoting pastor warning of civil war over impeachment ’60 Minutes’ correspondent presses McCarthy on impeachment inquiry MORE‘s 2020 reelection campaign amid an impeachment inquiry fueled by Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

Flake, in a Washington Post op-ed, warned that regardless of the outcome of the impeachment fight, Republicans will have to decide whether, “given what we now know about the president’s actions and behavior, to support his reelection.”

“Obviously, the answer is no,” Flake added.

 

Flake, a vocal Trump critic who retired from the Senate in January, acknowledged that opposing Trump’s 2020 bid would likely have political consequences. Flake, had he decided to run for reelection in 2018, was expected to have faced a tough primary challenge from the right. 

“My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles. Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection,” Flake added in the Post op-ed. 

“Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul,” Flake continued. 

 

A few GOP senators have held back from endorsing Trump’s reelection bid. Sen.
Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP’s best play GOP battens down the hatches after release of Trump whistleblower complaint MORE (R-Maine), who is up for reelection,
said earlier this year that she was “not prepared at this point to make that decision.” Sen
Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP lawmaker blasts Trump for quoting pastor warning of civil war over impeachment Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Sizing up Trump’s primary opponents MORE (R-Utah) told CNN earlier this month that he was “not planning on endorsing in the presidential race.” 

But Flake’s op-ed comes amid a growing fight over impeachment in the wake of a whistleblower complaint tied to Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. 

Amber Guyger trial: Case against Dallas officer who killed neighbor heads to jury today — live updates

A Dallas police officer’s belief that she was in her own apartment when she fatally shot a neighbor in his home is “absurd,” a prosecutor said during closing arguments at the officer’s murder trial Monday. Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine said Monday that Amber Guyger was “an intruder” in Botham Jean’s home when she killed him last September.

The jury heard closing arguments from attorneys for the prosecution and the defense Monday. They were expected to begin deliberations Monday afternoon. 

Dallas Officer Mistaken Apartment
Fired Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger becomes emotional on the stand as the defense begins their case in her murder trial Friday, September 27, 2019.

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool


Guyger tearfully testified last week that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own after a long shift. Speaking publicly for the first time about the events of that night, she said she feared someone had broken in and that she opened fire using her service weapon when a silhouetted figure walked toward her in the dark apartment.

In her testimony Friday, Guyger, 31, repeatedly apologized for killing Jean.

“I hate that I have to live with this every single day of my life and I ask God for forgiveness, and I hate myself every single day,” she said as she looked across the courtroom at Jean’s family.

Guyger should have known she was in the wrong apartment, Fine said Monday, calling her claims “garbage.” He said the case comes down to what is reasonable, and what is “absurd.”

“It’s not a mistake. It’s a series of unreasonable decisions,” Fine said.

Prosecutors said Jean, who grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, was unarmed and eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream in his living room when Guyger killed him. Fine said self-defense shouldn’t apply because Jean posed no threat.

“He’s not gonna throw the ice cream at her and kill her, he’s not gonna throw the spoon at her and kill her,” Fine told the jury. “He’s sitting there the same as y’all are right now.”

Botham Jean, Amber Guyger
Amber Guyger, right, and Botham Jean.  

AP


In a closing statement, defense attorney Toby Shook accused prosecutors of attempting to appeal to the jury’s emotions, but asked them to review the evidence “coolly and calmly” and apply it to the law.

He emphasized testimony from a Texas ranger that many others in the same apartment complex had mistakenly gone to the wrong apartment. He said the state failed to prove that Guyger’s belief that Jean was an intruder in her own apartment was unreasonable, and that “the law recognizes that mistakes can be made.” 

He argued that Jean was coming towards Guyger when she opened fire, not getting off his couch as prosecutors suggested.

“A wonderful human being has lost his life, but the evidence shows it’s just a tragedy — a horrible, horrible tragedy,” Shook said.

Black Virginia 6th grader who claimed white classmates cut off dreadlocks made story up, family says

A Virginia sixth grader who claimed three of her white male classmates held her down and cut off her dreadlocks is now saying she made up the entire story.

Amari Allen, an African-American 12-year-old who attends Immanuel Christian School in Springfield — a private school where second lady Karen Pence teaches art — reported the alleged incident last week. She told several media outlets that three boys at school pinned her down and cut off her hair, and local police opened an investigation.

“They said my hair was nappy and I was ugly,” she told WRC-TV. “They put their hands over my mouth. They put my hands behind my back. And they started cutting my hair and saying it was ugly.”

WHITE NEW YORK GIRL, 11, CHARGED WITH HATE CRIME AFTER ALLEGEDLY ATTACKING BLACK CLASSMATE ON BUS, POLICE SAY

The girl’s grandmother said she was doing Amari’s hair one day when she realized portions of her dreadlocks were missing, which is when the girl told the story.

“It was like she just died. That’s how painful it was for me,” the girl’s grandmother, said after the girl made the allegations.

Her grandfather said his “heart just broke” and that he “was just paralyzed.”

The family of Amari Allen, 12, walked back the girl's claims that she was pinned down by three white classmates who then cut her dreadlocks off.

The family of Amari Allen, 12, walked back the girl’s claims that she was pinned down by three white classmates who then cut her dreadlocks off.
(WTTG)

But on Monday, her family released a statement saying the accusations made by the 12-year-old girl had been fabricated.

“To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused,” said a statement from the girl’s grandparents obtained by The Washington Post. “To the administrators and families of Immanuel Christian School, we are sorry for the damage this incident has done to trust within the school family and the undue scorn it has brought to the school. To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologize for betraying your trust.”

Immanuel Christian Academy in Springfield, Va., said in a statement Monday that they are "relieved to hear the truth" about the girl's allegations.

Immanuel Christian Academy in Springfield, Va., said in a statement Monday that they are “relieved to hear the truth” about the girl’s allegations.
(Google Earth)

The family added they “understand there will be consequences and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them. We know that it will take time to heal, and we hope and pray that the boys, their families, the school and the broader community will be able to forgive us in time.”

The school generated a statement that said, “We can now confirm that the student who accused three of her classmates of assault has acknowledged that the allegations were false.”

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“We’re grateful to the Fairfax County Police Department for their diligent work to investigate these allegations,” wrote Stephen E. Danish, the head of the school. “While we are relieved to hear the truth and bring the events of the past few days to a close, we also feel tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict. We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing.”

The 12-year-old, WRC reported, is a straight-A student and violin player who has attended the private Christian school since kindergarten.