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Aaron Colen

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Anybody but Bernie?

Former President Barack Obama has not endorsed a Democratic presidential primary candidate yet, but one adviser told Politico that Obama has said there’s only one candidate he would publicly oppose in the fight for the nomination — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Obama, who is still extremely popular among Democratic voters, has avoided directly influencing the Democratic primary. He hasn’t even publicly supported Joe Biden, his former vice president during his two terms (although Biden claims he has asked Obama not to endorse him).

According to those close to him, and his own public remarks, Obama has no intention of affecting the race by throwing his support behind a specific candidate. But, if Sanders gained momentum and began to look like the presumptive nominee, Obama might be compelled to speak out.

As Ryan Lizza wrote for a Politico Magazine peace titled, “Waiting for Obama”:

Publicly, he has been clear that he won’t intervene in the primary for or against a candidate, unless he believed there was some egregious attack. “I can’t even imagine with this field how bad it would have to be for him to say something,” said a close adviser. Instead, he sees his role as providing guardrails to keep the process from getting too ugly and to unite the party when the nominee is clear. There is one potential exception: Back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him. (Asked about that, a spokesperson for Obama pointed out that Obama recently said he would support and campaign for whoever the Democratic nominee is.)

Another adviser told Lizza that he could not confirm Obama’s stance on Sanders directly, but that “we would all” have to speak out if the Democratic socialist were running away with the nomination. A Sanders landslide is, at this point, seemingly unlikely.

“Bernie’s not a Democrat,” one Obama friend told Politico.

Obama took a slow approach to the 2018 election as well, mostly staying out of it until the fall of 2018 when he was actively campaigning for candidates across the country. While that may have helped in some cases, there were some high-profile disappointments.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Obama has said he would publicly oppose Bernie Sanders if he gains momentum in the primary, adviser says

Protecting the ‘anonymous’ whistleblower?

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) prevented impeachment inquiry witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from disclosing the intelligence official with whom he discussed President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, citing a need to protect the anonymous whistleblower.

While Vindman was being questioned by the House GOP lawyer about who outside the White House he had discussed the call with, Vindman readily named Deputy Secretary of State George Kent (another impeachment witness), and then referred to an intelligence community official.

While he was being pressed for a name, or even the agency the person works for, Schiff jumped in and cut off the line of questioning.

“We need to protect the whistleblower. Please stop,” Schiff interrupted. “I want to make sure that there is no effort to out the whistleblower through these proceedings. If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we’re here for. I want to advise the witness accordingly.”

Vindman has previously testified, and reaffirmed Tuesday, that he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, but that he had been instructed by his counsel not to be specific about who he has spoken to within the intelligence community.

Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) appeared troubled by the idea that Vindman would be prevented from identifying an intelligence community official when testifying before the Intelligence Committee, but ultimately questioning proceeded without naming the official.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) did not drop the issue, however. He noted that Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and Tim Morrison, former European affairs official on the National Security Council, fully disclosed who they discussed the July 25 call with in their testimonies. And, Jordan noted, Schiff allowed them to do so.

However, despite the fact that Schiff said he does not know the whistleblower, and Vindman said he does not know the whistleblower, Schiff is preventing Vindman from naming a particular intelligence community official out of concern that it would expose the whistleblower’s identity.

A recent report in the Washington Post has fueled speculation that Vindman discussed the call with Eric Ciaramella, who has been alleged to be the CIA analyst who filed the whistleblower complaint that kicked off the impeachment inquiry.

Ciaramella worked on former President Barack Obama’s national security council as the Ukraine director, and as an acting senior director for European and Russian affairs under President Trump. He now works on the National Intelligence Council. Attorneys for the whistleblower have neither confirmed nor denied that it is Ciaramella.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Adam Schiff blocks impeachment witness from identifying intelligence official he discussed Ukraine call with

One step closer to a potential vote

House Democrats announced that the impeachment inquiry is moving to a new phase next week — public hearings. Starting Nov. 13, the public will be able to hear directly from witnesses who have already been interviewed behind closed doors, according to Politico.

The announcement comes as transcripts from the closed-door depositions are being released providing more detail about the perspectives or current and former officials about whether President Donald Trump improperly withheld aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky into investigating, or announcing an intention to investigate, Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden.

Who is set to testify? The first public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 13. Top Ukraine diplomat William Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent will testify. On Nov. 15, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify.

Who is running this show? These hearings will take place before the House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Republicans on the committee will be allowed to participate in the hearings, although they will have less control over the nature of the proceedings as the minority party.

Why are they testifying publicly if we know what they’ll say? For the Democrats, the impeachment inquiry is less about fact-finding than it is about presenting the existing information in a way that is persuasive to voters and, as a result, representatives who will likely be called eventually to vote on articles of impeachment.

Public hearings are more productive toward that goal than closed-door hearings and transcripts, which are unlikely to be read by most people in the general public. Schiff confirmed this motive.

“Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses, but also to learn first-hand about the facts of the president’s misconduct,” Schiff said, according to Politico.

Although the Democrats had enough votes to formalize the impeachment inquiry, it is less clear whether or not they have the votes to pass articles of impeachment with the current available information. Two Democrats from conservative districts even opposed the impeachment inquiry itself.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: House Democrats announce public impeachment hearings to begin next week

No limits on abortion

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke took the pro-abortion stance to its furthest extreme Monday when questioned on the issue during an event at the College of Charleston, according to the Washington Examiner.

O’Rourke, who has avoided specifics on abortion policy while choosing to stick to more general talking points about a woman’s right to choose, was forced into a corner by a very pointed question from an event attendee.

“My question is this: I was born Sept. 8, 1989, and I want to know if you think on Sept. 7, 1989, my life had no value,” the man asked.

“Of course I don’t think that,” O’Rourke replied. “And of course I’m glad that you’re here. But you referenced my answer in Ohio, and it remains the same. This is a decision that neither you, nor I, nor the United States government should be making. That’s a decision for the woman to make.”

O’Rourke’s answer contains a striking set of seemingly contradictory conclusions: Yes, an unborn life has value. And at the same time, yes, a woman should be able to choose to end that unborn life even the day before it is set to enter the world.

Even more notable, this question was not framed in the context of the mother’s health or the unborn child’s health. It was simply a question of the value of a life, and O’Rourke, in his answer, grants women unilateral authority to get an abortion at any point before birth, apparently for any reason.

O’Rourke has previously deferred to a woman’s choice regarding late-term abortion. In March, during an Ohio town hall event, he was asked if he supported third-trimester abortions for viable fetuses that could be removed by C-section.

“…that should be a decision that the woman makes about her body,” O’Rourke said. “I trust her.”

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: Beto O’Rourke says women should be able to choose abortion even the day before birth

To send a message?

David Hogg, one of the founders of the March For Our Lives gun control advocacy group, said if he is ever shot and killed he wants his dead body to lay outside the front door of the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, according to The Daily Caller.

Hogg has been a gun control activist since surviving the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. He said he wants his death to be used to advance the gun control cause.

“If I die from gun violence I want my photo published, there will be those that say you are politicizing tragedy — They are wrong, not doing anything to stop it this (sic) violence is politicizing tragedy. #MyLastShot,” Hogg wrote on Twitter. “In the event I am killed, organize, mobilize and get the Peace Plan passed and put my body on the NRA’s doorstep in Fairfax, VA.”

Hogg called for his followers to use the hashtag #MyLastShot to express their desire to have their photos published if they die from gun violence.

The Peace Plan Hogg references is the recent gun control agenda released by March For Our Lives that is essentially a compilation of the most ambitious gun control initiatives that have been proposed over recent years.

The Peace Plan for a Safer America calls for a national gun ownership registry, an assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines “and other weapons of war,” red flag laws, and a national gun buyback program.

The plan proposes a minimum gun ownership age of 21 and a limit of one firearm purchase per month.

Another March For Our Lives co-founder, Jaclyn Corin, referred to the plan as a “Green New Deal, but for guns,” referencing the unrealistic climate change plan co-written by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that was so extreme that not a single Democratic senator voted for it.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: David Hogg wants his corpse laid outside NRA headquarters if he is shot and killed

So much for that media narrative

President Donald Trump was heavily criticized online and by some media outlets for a picture he and first lady Melania Trump took with the infant son of two parents who died in the El Paso, Texas, massacre, but the child’s uncle refuted those criticisms, according to the Washington Post.

The harsh criticism, which included a CNN analyst calling it “not a normal human response,” prompted Tito Anchondo, who lost his brother and sister-in-law in the attack, to defend the president.

It was not that President Trump had used the baby as an easy photo opportunity following the tragedy, Anchondo said. Rather, he wanted to meet the president and first lady and chose to take the baby to the hospital for that meeting.

“He was just there as a human being, consoling us and giving us condolences,” Anchondo said of Trump.

Also, he said he did not feel he and his family were being used to politicize the tragedy. In fact, Anchondo told the Post, his family is Republican and his late brother was a Trump supporter. Anchondo said the conversation was comforting, declining to divulge the details of the discussion.

“I want to see if he’s genuine and if my political views are right or wrong, and see if he feels maybe some kind of remorse for statements he’s made,” Anchondo said to NPR before the meeting. “I just want to have a human-to-human talk with him and see how he feels.”

The photograph, particularly the thumbs-up the president was giving in the photo, angered some observers, including a CNN panel that brushed past the context of the uncle’s desire for the meeting to criticize the optics and “tone-deafness” of the photo.

“What you have is a picture of a president who has an empathy deficit,” one panelist said. “He keeps acting like a malfunctioning automaton with these opportunities. … it’s not too much to expect that the president would act like a normal human being.”

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: The Blaze: President Trump criticized for picture with infant son of El Paso victims — but the family set the record straight

Seemed like a fair offer

Congressional Democrats, even before the Mueller report was released, have expressed outrage that portions of the report would be redacted by special counsel Robert Mueller and Attorney General William Barr. When the report was released, however, they turned down a chance to see more of the report than the general public, according to The Hill.

Barr offered certain congressional leaders the chance to view some of the redacted portions of the report pertaining to ongoing investigations and national security issues. Democrats rejected his offer.

Here’s what they said, in a letter authored by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Democratic leaders in the congressional judiciary and intelligence committees:

“Unfortunately, your proposed accommodation — which among other things would prohibit discussion of the full report, even with other Committee Members — is not acceptable,” the letter to Barr read. “Given the comprehensive factual findings presented by the Special Counsel’s Report, some of which will only be fully understood with access to the redacted material, we cannot agree to the conditions you are placing on our access to the full report. Nor can we agree to an arrangement that does not include a mechanism for ensuring access to grand jury material.”

The Democrats reportedly rejected Barr’s offer because they wanted more people to be allowed to view the sensitive material, and they wanted access to everything, including grand jury material.

House Republicans criticized the Democrats for their rejection of Barr’s terms.

“Democrats demand answers but put their hands over their eyes every time those answers appear,” read a House Judiciary Committee Republicans statement. “Attorney General Barr has given unprecedented accommodations to Chairman Nadler, and it’s unconscionable the chairman refuses receipt of information he’s claimed for weeks Democrats are ‘entitled to.’ Who subpoenas a report and publicly refuses to read it in the same day?”

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: Theblaze: AG Barr gave Dems a chance to see some redacted portions of Mueller’s report. They said no.

She says he tried to obstruct justice

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) became the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment in the wake of the release of the Mueller report, according to CNN.

Dealing with the reality that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find cause to charge the president with any crimes, some Democrats are now hoping to use Mueller’s findings to gain some momentum toward impeachment.

“The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack. Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: ‘Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.’ The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.”

A Warren aide cautioned that the senator did not want impeaching Pres. Trump to become the focus of her presidential campaign, according to CNN. The aide said Warren still wants to focus on her policy proposals.

This current Democratic talking point that Pres. Trump “tried” to obstruct justice is a notable pivot from previous accusations that the president had committed treason or was an agent of the Russian government.

There have long been some impeachment advocates in the House of Representatives, but some representatives shied away from impeachment due to the unlikelihood that a Republican-controlled Senate would vote to convict a Republican president. After the Mueller report, however, some are changing their minds about that.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been against impeachment, citing the political uphill battle an impeachment effort would face. Some believe Democrats would be better served allowing the American people to take the information from the Mueller investigation and make their voices heard in the 2020 election.

But, with a high-profile presidential candidate like Warren coming out in favor of impeachment, peer pressure could lead more prominent Democrats to follow her lead.

Author: Aaron Colen

Source: Theblaze: Elizabeth Warren joins other Democrats calling for Pres. Trump’s impeachment

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