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Politics

Lee Moran
January 18, 2020, 5:10 AM CST 0:39 0:47

A group of prominent anti-Trump conservatives on Friday released a new ad that urges GOP senators to conduct a fair impeachment trial of President Donald Trump over the Ukraine scandal.
The Lincoln Project demands in the caption for its video that Republican lawmakers “consider the impeachment charges against Trump on their merits” instead of simply taking sides along party lines.
Senators must uphold their sworn oaths to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the project adds.
The ad itself shows footage of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stating they’ve already decided to support Trump in the trial, as the following text appears:
President Donald Trump thinks he’s above the law. He believes he’s untouchable. Senate Republicans want to prove him right. They know who Trump is. They’ve forgotten their oaths. Let’s remind them.
It then encourages people to sign a petition demanding a fair trial.
The Lincoln Project, which aims to end Trump’s presidency at the ballot box in November, was launched by George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and anti-Trump GOP strategists Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt and John Weaver.
“We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks,” they wrote in a New York Times op-ed last month. “Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.”

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Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for January 17, 2020


Can you be impeached for knowing nothing about anything and caring less?” Esquire
Politics

Jack Holmes
January 17, 2020, 11:23 AM CST
While even his most prodigious spokespeople teeter under Fox News questioning (!) about his relationship to Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine henchman Lev Parnas, it’s worth considering that the scheme that led to the president’s impeachment is just one of his various foibles. He could have been impeached, after all, for relentlessly obstructing justice in the Mueller probe. He could have been impeached for his blatant public corruption, which has reached the point where people have started renting large blocs of rooms in his hotels and not even bothering to stay in many of them. Gee, I wonder what they’re getting out of it. Oh, and can you be impeached for knowing nothing about anything and caring less?
It’s a question worth asking as a new book from Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, A Very Stable Genius, begins to trickle out via excerpts. A New York Times review calls it “a comic horror story.” The latest section published in the Post details a meeting Trump had at the Pentagon where he unwittingly laid out his attitude towards, well, everything, but specifically American military power: We can make some money off this. That was the only through-line as his senior defense and diplomatic and national-security advisers tried to tutor him in basic geopolitics and American history. Money. They owe us. We can get them to pay us.
“We should charge them rent,” Trump said of South Korea. “We should make them pay for our soldiers. We should make money off of everything.”
Trump proceeded to explain that NATO, too, was worthless. U.S. generals were letting the allied member countries get away with murder, he said, and they owed the United States a lot of money after not living up to their promise of paying their dues.
“They’re in arrears,” Trump said, reverting to the language of real estate. He lifted both his arms at his sides in frustration. Then he scolded top officials for the untold millions of dollars he believed they had let slip through their fingers by allowing allies to avoid their obligations.
“We are owed money you haven’t been collecting!” Trump told them. “You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own business.”
The president appears to view American military alliances as some kind of protection racket. He has openly mused recently about having Saudi Arabia straight-up pay for American troops. This is not the vision of service to the American republic and its Constitution most people have in mind with respect to our military service members. This is reportedly part of a general pattern in the book wherein Trump basically does not know anything about American history, the values and institutions of a democratic republic, or even geography.

In fairness, Trump offered some refreshing pushback against military brass who insist we must have bases everywhere, all over the world, always. The map of our installations abroad is mind-blowing. They’re everywhere. Do we really have business deploying our troops and assets all over the place? Do we think there have been some negative consequences for our relentless meddling and interventionism?
The Adults in the Room in this scene talked a lot about The Post-War International Order, and that’s been mostly good for us, but has it been good for everyone? Are their elements of it we might, uh, revisit? (Not that this president is the one to do it. That would require some capacity for strategic thinking.) We have Iran boxed in with bases all around and we wonder why they’re getting twitchy, particularly after Trump shredded the Iran Deal because Obama—despite the fact they were complying—and re-instituted crushing sanctions on their economy.
Speaking of, that came up.
Trump then repeated a threat he’d made countless times before. He wanted out of the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama had struck in 2015, which called for Iran to eliminate its uranium stockpile and cut its nuclear weaponry.
“It’s the worst deal in history!” Trump declared.
“Well, actually . . .,” Tillerson interjected.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Trump said, cutting off the secretary of state before he could explain some of the benefits of the agreement. “They’re cheating. They’re building. We’re getting out of it. I keep telling you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it.”
I don’t want to hear it! the president said of dissenting information. And that right there, folks, is a nice microcosm of this presidency, which took the Bush-era disdain for inconvenient expertise and shifted it into overdrive. Who cares if they’re abiding by the deal, reached in coordination with the other Western powers over many long years? I want it gone! The repercussions for this spasm of impulsive stubbornness was merely a war narrowly avoided, at least partly due to Iran’s restraint.
Later on, Trump circled another decent point, demanding to know why we are still in Afghanistan. But of course he had to call it a “loser war” and attribute the attrition to military incompetence, rather than, as an ex-Navy SEAL once said on Fox News: “If you remember what Osama bin Laden said, he’s willing to fight this for generations. Is the American people, and the western world, are we as committed as they are to this battle? I doubt that, highly.” At some point, we will have to accept that the people who live there are more invested in the outcomes of our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq than we are, not least because only a small slice of our population is truly fighting these wars.
Anyway, here’s the president.
“You’re all losers,” Trump said. “You don’t know how to win anymore.”
Trump questioned why the United States couldn’t get some oil as payment for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. “We spent $7 trillion; they’re ripping us off,” Trump boomed. “Where is the f—ing oil?”
Even the Bush ghouls used to pretend this was about freedom and democracy.
It was at this point that the descriptions of the president went closer and closer to what you’d expect to hear about a large baby. This is a common trope in Presidential Coverage, wherein the president’s staff and advisers talk bout him like he’s a toddler and stories are framed around The Presidential Mood—as if he has no obligation to get his emotions in check and run the country. Surely, these outbursts of emotion would be similarly tolerated coming from a woman.
Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.
“I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.
Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”
The emotional meltdowns and irrational spasms from the world’s most powerful man are, according to the Times review, littered throughout the book. He reportedly considered awarding himself the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He suggested staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wife, who accused him of assaulting her, had given herself a black eye to shake Porter down for cash. Nothing sticks out more consistently than the venality. Everything is a transaction, everything is about leverage, everything is about getting ahead no matter what the cost or what the rules are.
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” the president once whined to a group of aides. All that matters is money and power. How can I use one to get the other? But Times reviewer Dwight Garner really nailed the situation while bouncing off an incident at Pearl Harbor. Trump seemed to have no idea what’d happened in Honolulu. “Throughout,” Garner says of the book, the president “is misinformed and confused while at the same time utterly certain of himself.”

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Aila Slisco  Newsweek
8 hrs ago

McConnell has explicitly indicated he has no intention of being impartial, vowing to work closely with White House counsel and Trump as the trial approached. Richard Painter, Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, denounced the senator on Twitter for contradicting himself by taking the oath.
“This man just swore an oath saying the exact opposite. This man is a perjurer,” Painter tweeted, accompanied by a December NPR article featuring McConnell vowing to be anything but partial in the trial.
“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There’s not anything judicial about it,” McConnell told reporters on December 17, according to the article. “The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
Newsweek contacted Painter for additional comments but did not receive a response in time for publication.
The text of the oath McConnell took Thursday, which was administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, offers a clear pledge to remain impartial: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, So help me God.”
Painter is a longtime Trump critic and one of several legal experts who have been critical of McConnell’s actions and statements regarding the impeachment trial. He voiced his displeasure with the majority leader when he announced he would refuse to be impartial shortly after Trump was impeached in December.
“For Mitch McConnell to say he’s working with the White House, coordinating with the defendant in this trial before the trial has even begun is atrocious,” said Painter during a CNN panel discussion. “He may think he’s a judge impaneling an all-white jury for a Klansman trial in Mississippi in 1965. That’s not the kind of trial we have.”
“It shouldn’t be partisan. It should be about America. Our loyalty is to the United States of America, and senators take an oath to their country,” Painter added.
McConnell is one of several Republicans who have indicated that they feel no obligation to remain impartial, due to the partisan and non-judicial nature of the House impeachment proceedings. The Constitution mandates that impeachment trials are the exclusive domain of the Senate.
In the lead up to the trial, senators of both parties have come under fire for publicly announcing their conclusion before the trial begins. Although the specifics remain to be seen, observers largely agree that Trump is unlikely to become the first president to be convicted in an impeachment trial.
Newsweek reached out to McConnell for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Tariffs are good for us? MA

Jeff Cox 9 hrs ago
Though it’s not clear yet whether massive tariffs against French wine will take effect next month, Moore Brothers Wine Company isn’t taking any chances.
The retailer, which operates in New York, New Jersey and Delaware, ordered more than 35,000 cases of imported wine to be delivered by Feb. 1, just in case the White House follows through on its threat for tariffs that could be around 100% and levied on a host of other goods.
“It’s just really terrible,” said David Moore, a co-owner of the sprawling business. “But what we hope to do is make sure that we aren’t doubling prices overnight.”
Wine imports from the European Union already face 25% duties, but the U.S. Trade Representative’s office has floated the idea of hiking them to 100% as part of an ongoing battle over tariffs on Airbus airliners. The USTR did not respond to a request for comment.
Though the U.S. and China have worked out a phase-one deal of their respective tariff battle, the wine issue is just one of many unresolved trade issues around the world.
The Federal Reserve’s latest “Beige Book” update on economic conditions in the various districts around the country, released Wednesday, contained 17 references to tariffs. “In many Districts, tariffs and trade uncertainty continued to weigh on some businesses,” it says. The report specifically mentioned an unnamed retailer in the Philadelphia area that had loaded up on wine to fend off the potential dramatic increase in costs.
For Moore’s business, tariffs have a huge knock-on effect, from the vintners in the French countryside to the shipping industry to customers and employees.
“If the tariffs go into effect, it’s not just some little guy in France who’s not going to be able to sell his wines to the U.S.,” he said. “It’s going to put us out of business, and we have 35 employees. We’re not the only ones. There are going to be hundreds of distributors who are smaller.”
In all, Moore estimates that the tariffs could cost more than 100,000 jobs, though industry estimates have been smaller.
That’s why he’s bracing now for the impact.
“We hope it’s a year’s supply,” he said of the big order. “You don’t want to have a rosé that you sold last year for 20 bucks to be 40 bucks. You ain’t gonna sell that. The whole thing is just crazy. We await the return of the adults in the room.

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By E.J. Dionne Jr. Columnist The Washington Post

January 8
President Trump’s incoherent recklessness is not the only problem for U.S. foreign policy dramatized this week. Also troubling is the eagerness of Republicans to fall in behind whatever he does and turn to demagoguery to paint his political opponents as traitors, a term Trump regularly deploys himself.
The surprise winner of the prize for the most mendacious and shameful partisan attack is former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley for her statement on the Democratic response to the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Many Republicans — and some outside the party’s ranks — once praised her for a certain measured independence and civility.
Not this time. “The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates,” Haley told Fox News. “No one else in the world.”
Wow. Clearly this is a politician who has decided there is no future in GOP politics for anyone but a Trumpian distorter of reality and divider of the American people, even at a moment of crisis.
“The claim is objectively false,” The Post’s Aaron Blake wrote of Haley’s words. It sure is. Former vice president Joe Biden explicitly said on Facebook, “No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing.” He added that the Iranian had “supported terror and sowed chaos.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called Soleimani “a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.” Warren and Biden reflected the tenor of comments from across their party.
At the heart of the Democrats’ criticisms is a proper warning against Trump’s preference for bombast and dramatic actions over sustainable foreign policy strategies. In conflating this with support for an enemy, Haley was engaging in a particularly egregious version of behavior that has become routine in her party.
Republicans keep trying to pretend they believe that what Trump does is normal and that anyone who says otherwise is out of line. Their behavior in the impeachment controversy is of a piece with this. They act as if there is not overwhelming evidence that Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Biden. They criticize Democrats for not obtaining evidence that Trump kept from them — and then say no more evidence is needed to acquit him.
Both the Iranian and Ukrainian affairs reveal who Trump is and how he behaves. What’s dangerous about him is not that he’s a hawk — or a dove. He’s not a foreign policy realist or a principled noninterventionist. He’s not a Wilsonian or a Jacksonian. He has absolutely no sense of what he is trying to do in the world. He’s just a jumble of bad and selfish instincts.
He acts less as a president than as a gamer. He loves to push buttons to do amazing things with our military prowess and then move on to something else. He also decides that certain people (usually dictators) are his friends and that these personal feelings take precedence over long-established alliances with countries that share our values.
This incoherence may have one advantage for the rest of us: He seems to prefer the satisfactions of moving a joystick to the burdens of full-scale war. He wants to show his political base he’s a tough guy and an opponent of war at the same time. So, having taken out Soleimani, he used the opening that Iran’s limited retaliation offered to back off, at least for now.
His comments on Wednesday were classic Trump: a lot of tough-sounding words, self-congratulation over Soleimani’s death and condemnations of earlier administrations for not doing what he did.
He promised he would stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons without telling us how. He said he would impose new sanctions — even though the ones imposed so far haven’t achieved the results he seeks. He asked for help from the very allies he regularly scorns. “The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” he said, suddenly channeling St. Francis of Assisi rather than Genghis Khan.
What he did not do, and this is hopeful, was immediately threaten new military action. At least some around him seem to understand just how dangerous a situation Trump created.
His decision not to escalate immediately is good news, but it’s far from the end of the story. Our enemies have a serious, long-term strategy. Trump doesn’t. This weakens us. And the president’s erratic approach could yet blunder our country into war. At what point will his party take responsibility for this danger?

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Rob Rogers Comic Strip for January 15, 2020 Drew Sheneman Comic Strip for January 14, 2020 Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for January 13, 2020 Tom Toles Comic Strip for January 15, 2020 Mike Luckovich Comic Strip for January 15, 2020


A few of the many proven facts belying TOTUS’s veracity.MA

January 13, 2020, 10:24 AM CST

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump made a striking claim Monday, insisting it was he who ensured that people with preexisting medical problems will always be covered by health insurance.
He wasn’t.
He also complained anew that Democrats didn’t allow him to send lawyers to the impeachment inquiry. The opposite is true: Democrats invited him to send lawyers to the inquiry and he said no.
HEALTH CARE
TRUMP: “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate.” — tweet.
TRUMP: “I stand stronger than anyone in protecting your Healthcare with Pre-Existing Conditions. I am honored to have terminated the very unfair, costly and unpopular individual mandate for you!”
THE FACTS: People with preexisting medical problems have health insurance protections because of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which Trump is trying to dismantle.
One of Trump’s major alternatives to Obama’s law — short-term health insurance, already in place — doesn’t have to cover preexisting conditions. Another major alternative is association health plans, which are oriented to small businesses and sole proprietors and do cover preexisting conditions.
Neither of the two alternatives appears to have made much difference in the market.
Meanwhile, Trump’s administration has been pressing in court for full repeal of the Obama-era law, including provisions that protect people with preexisting conditions from health insurance discrimination.
With “Obamacare” still in place, preexisting conditions continue to be covered by regular individual health insurance plans.
Insurers must take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and charge the same standard premiums to healthy people and those who are in poor health, or have a history of medical problems.
Before the Affordable Care Act, any insurer could deny coverage — or charge more — to anyone with a preexisting condition who was seeking to buy an individual policy.
___
TRUMP: “…and, if Republicans win in court and take back the House of Represenatives (sic), your healthcare, that I have now brought to the best place in many years, will become the best ever, by far. I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!” — tweet.
THE FACTS: Trump and other Republicans say they’ll have a plan to preserve protections for people with preexisting conditions. The White House has provided no details.
___
IMPEACHMENT:
TRUMP: “’We demand fairness’ shouts Pelosi and the Do Nothing Democrats, yet the Dems in the House wouldn’t let us have 1 witness, no lawyers or even ask questions.” — tweet.
THE FACTS: Not true. The House Judiciary Committee, which produced the articles of impeachment, invited Trump or his legal team to come. He declined.
Absent White House representation, the hearings proceeded as things in Congress routinely do: Time is split between Democratic and Republican lawmakers to ask questions and engage in the debate. Lawyers for Democrats and Republicans on the committee presented the case for and against the impeachment articles and members questioned witnesses, among them an academic called forward by Republicans.
The first round of hearings was by the House Intelligence Committee and resembled the investigative phase of criminal cases, conducted without the participation of the subject of the investigation. Trump cried foul then at the lack of representation, then rejected representation when the next committee offered it.
His lawyers will participate in the Senate’s impeachment trial.
___
Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.
___
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.
___
Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd
Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com

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By AMANDA SEITZ, ERIC TUCKER and RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press 1 hr ago
With President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial set to begin in the Senate, some Republican allies continue to promote a discredited theory that accuses Ukraine of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election to keep him from winning.
The notion, which is not supported by U.S. intelligence agencies, has nonetheless been embraced by a president reluctant to acknowledge the reality of Russian election interference, and anxious to show he had reason to be suspicious of Ukraine as the U.S. withheld crucial military aid last year.
The effect: blurring the facts of the impeachment case for many Americans before it even reaches trial.

“The ultimate victim is democracy, is the stability of our nation,” said Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert at the nonpartisan Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
The president’s demand that Ukraine look into its own purported interference and investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, while the U.S. withheld the aid is at the heart of the congressional investigation that produced Trump’s impeachment in the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
An Associated Press review shows the idea of Ukrainian interference took root during Trump’s presidential campaign, was spread online and then amplified by Russian President Vladimir Putin before some of America’s elected officials made it their truth.
As U.S. authorities collected evidence in 2016 that Russia had hacked Democratic National Committee servers, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort suggested Ukraine, not Russia, had likely committed the attack, his deputy Rick Gates later told the FBI.
That September, Trump confidant Roger Stone tweeted, “The only interference in the U.S. election is from Hillary’s friends in Ukraine,” referring to Trump opponent, Hillary Clinton.
But Trump’s FBI director rejected those allegations. U.S. intelligence agencies blame Russia for interfering on Trump’s behalf, and special counsel Robert Mueller has charged 25 Russians with hacking Democratic email accounts and waging a covert social media campaign to sway public opinion.
Yet, against all evidence, the theory’s shape-shifting nature over the years has compounded its staying power. Stone’s 2016 tweet, for instance, referenced a nebulous type of “interference,” centered around Ukraine officials reportedly favoring Clinton over Trump.

The tweet highlighted a Financial Times article that described efforts by ex-Ukrainian parliament member Serhiy Leshchenko, who opposed Trump’s bid, to expose off-the-books payments by Ukraine’s pro-Russia political party, including to Manafort.
Leshchenko maintains his efforts don’t amount to interference. Still, some Republican lawmakers, including a few contacted by AP, have cited the article to support the Ukraine interference argument.
“I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election,” Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said last month on “Meet the Press.”
Internet suspicions casting doubt on Russia’s hack of the DNC and Clinton campaigns intensified as Trump prepared to take office.
“So how and why are they so sure about hacking if they never even requested an examination of the computer servers? What’s going on?” Trump tweeted on Jan. 5, 2017, the day after a BuzzFeed News article revealed the FBI did not physically examine the Democrats’ servers to determine Russia infiltrated the system
In February 2017, Putin publicly claimed Ukraine’s entire government had supported Clinton and now needed to “improve relations” with the new Trump administration.
By that April, Trump himself promoted the theory, falsely suggesting in an AP interview that CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that traced the hack to Russia, had strong ties to Ukraine.
“I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian, that’s what I heard,” Trump said. “Why didn’t they allow the FBI in to investigate the server?”
In fact, CrowdStrike is a California company founded by two U.S. citizens — George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch, who was born in Russia and lives in America.
And the FBI didn’t need to physically take the DNC servers to confirm CrowdStrike’s findings. CrowdStrike gave the FBI digital images that captured everything from emails, browsing history and files of the DNC system, the company says.
But Trump took his suspicions about the servers directly to newly elected Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a now infamous July 25 phone call that spurred the articles of impeachment against Trump.
“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people…” Trump asked. “The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
CrowdStrike released a blog post rebuffing Trump’s claims. The president’s own advisers rebutted the theory to no avail, former White House aide Fiona Hill told impeachment investigators.
Trump keeps the claim alive. He insisted to Fox News viewers in November that he only withheld aid from Ukraine to investigate corruption there, hinting once again that’s where the DNC’s servers are hidden.
“You know, the FBI has never gotten that server,” Trump said. “That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”
Parts of the Ukraine theory have been echoed by the president’s Republican allies — some of whom concede Russia interfered but posit Ukraine did too.
“Russia’s campaign to interfere in our election was real and systematic. It is also true that Ukrainian officials did not want…then-candidate Trump to win. The two are not mutually exclusive,” the office of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement. Cruz himself has said there’s “considerable evidence” of Ukraine interference.
As his Senate trial nears, Trump has pressed GOP senators to rally behind him — asking personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to brief them on his trip to Europe, where he searched for witnesses and documents.
Hill, a Russia expert, told Congress in November that political leaders who spread such falsehoods about Ukraine polarize the U.S., making it a target for misinformation campaigns by foreign powers like Russia.
She warned: “These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.”
_____
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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Afua Hirsch 2 days ago

The British press has succeeded in its apparent project of hounding Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, out of Britain. The part it perhaps didn’t bargain for, however, is the loss of Prince Harry — a much loved royal and a key part of the family’s global brand — along with her.
In a statement released this week, the couple said they want to “carve out a progressive new role” within the royal family and will “step back as ‘senior’ members, and work to become financially independent.”
The British press reacted with surprise at the “shock move abroad,” described variously as “seismic,” “selfish,” “rogue” and “an atrocious lapse of judgment.”
If the media paid more attention to Britain’s communities of color, perhaps it would find the announcement far less surprising. With a new prime minister whose track record includes overtly racist statements, some of which would make even Donald Trump blush, a Brexit project linked to native nationalism and a desire to rid Britain of large numbers of immigrants, and an ever-thickening loom of imperial nostalgia, many of us are also thinking about moving.
From the very first headline about her being “(almost) straight outta Compton” and having “exotic” DNA, the racist treatment of Meghan has been impossible to ignore. Princess Michael of Kent wore an overtly racist brooch in the duchess’s company. A BBC host compared the couple’s newborn baby to a chimpanzee. Then there was the sublimely ludicrous suggestion that Meghan’s avocado consumption is responsible for mass murder, while her charity cookbook was portrayed as somehow helping terrorists.
Those who claim frequent attacks against the duchess have nothing to do with her race have a hard time explaining these attempts to link her with particularly racialized forms of crime — terrorism and gang activity — as well as the fact that she has been most venomously attacked for acts that attracted praise when other royals did them. Her decision to guest-edit British Vogue, for example, was roundly condemned by large parts of the British media, in stark contrast to Prince Charles’s two-time guest editorship of Country Life magazine, Prince Harry’s of a BBC program and Kate Middleton’s at Huffington Post, all of which were quietly praised at the time.
Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.
In Britain’s rigid class society, there is still a deep correlation between privilege and race. The relatively few people of color — and even fewer if you count only those who have African heritage — who rise to prominent success and prosperity in Britain are often told we should be “grateful” or told to leave if we don’t like it here.
The legacy of Britain’s history of empire — a global construct based on a doctrine of white supremacy — its pioneering role in the slave trade and ideologies of racism that enabled it, and policies of recruiting people from the Caribbean and Africa into low-paid work and then discriminating against them in education and housing, is with us today: The scandal surrounding the wrongful deportation of black British people in recent years is still reverberating.
Meghan’s decision to join the family that is the symbolic heart of the establishment responsible for this troubled history was perplexing to many black British people, as we wondered whether she fully appreciated the institution she had entered.
Both she and Harry appear to have gained crystal clear vision as to their reality. It’s no wonder the couple want to leave and — as the coded statement that they want to raise their son Archie “with the space to focus on the next chapter” seems to suggest — protect him from the bile to which they’ve been exposed.
The British press, having attacked the couple continuously, now reacts with shock at this move. But the clues have been there for some time for anyone willing to read them.
There was the decision not to give Archie a title from birth — something that is expected among royal children of this rank but which Meghan and Harry appear to have chosen to avoid. Then there were the rumors last spring that they might relocate to a country in southern Africa.
In recent months, the couple have begun bypassing official royal channels and communicating with the press directly — most notably when the duchess said in a television documentary that she found adjusting to royal life “hard,” and Harry revealed that the tragic experience of the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, made him want to “protect” his wife and family.
All were signs that the couple would not abide by royal business as usual, to the extent that even announcing this decision to step down from their roles as senior royals appears to have taken Buckingham Palace by surprise.
I am not at all surprised. This was the bitter shadow of their sunny May 2018 wedding. How many of us suspected — hoping but doubting we were wrong — that what would really initiate Meghan into her new role as a Briton with African heritage would be her experience of British racism. And ironically, by taking matters into their own hands, Harry and Meghan’s act of leaving — two fingers up at the racism of the British establishment — might be the most meaningful act of royal leadership I’m ever likely to see.
Afua Hirsch teaches journalism at the University of Southern California. She is the author of “Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging,” which won a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood award.

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