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Breaking The Law. Wonkagenda For Fri., Nov. 22, 2019

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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.


In the fifth and final scheduled impeachment hearing before the House Intel committee, former National Security Council Russia adviser Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a US diplomat in Ukraine, testified how Trump administration officials attempted to leverage military aid in exchange for the furthering of an investigation of Trump's political rivals based upon a Russian-backed conspiracy theory. In her opening statement, Hill immediately quashed the conservative effort to delegitimatize the impeachment inquiry by creating an "alternate narrative" that it was Ukraine -- not Russia -- that fucked around in the 2016 US election. Hill said, "These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes." Holmes testified that he heard US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland speak with Trump in an open-air restaurant on an unsecured cellphone about the pressure campaign, with Sondland later clarifying to Holmes that Trump didn't care about the Russian invasion and hot war in Ukraine, only about "big things" -- which Hill explained was "code for the Bidens." Holmes would later say that he had "never seen anything like it."

The AP's Julie Pace has a good piece breaking down the mountain of evidence revealed over the course of the impeachment investigation; how coat-tail riding Republicans don't give a shit about facts or evidence; and where Democrats go from here. Politico has a piece about what the House Judiciary Committee is going to do now that the Intel committee seems to be done dragging current and former Trump officials up to the Hill.

In case you need help explaining the plot and characters of this sprawling Russian novel to skeptical relatives over the holidays, Stephen Colbert wrote a little jingle.

Stephen's Catchy Jingle Makes The Trump Impeachment Inquiry Easy To Understand www.youtube.com


Lindsey Graham is doing his Inspector Clouseau impression (again), asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for EMAILS and communiques Joe Biden might have sent former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about the "You're Fired"-ing of the country's former crooked prosecutor, and EMAILS from a former aide to John Kerry who worked with Biden's kid on Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

A former FBI lawyer is under criminal investigation for ALLEGEDLY altering a document related to the surveillance of former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. This latest HASHTAG SCANDAL is expected to be a part of Attorney General Bill Barr's investigation into the investigation of Trump-Russia fuckery in in 2016 from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Trump found time in his busy schedule of obsessive shitposting and screaming at reporters about impeachment on the South Lawn of the White House to sign a continuing resolution that keeps the government chugging along through Dec. 20. Roll Call reports there are still a dozen fiscal spending bills that need to be dealt with, including yet another funding fight for Trump's goddamn wall, and the usual cheapskate Republicans who love to whine about every nickel and dime.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't think there will be enough time in the legislative schedule to hammer out Trump's NAFTA 2 thing. Blue Dog Democrats and Trump World have been bitching and moaning about the terribly named USMCA. Political fortune tellers think Trump will try to frame it as a win all through 2020, even if the shady and hastily assembled deal falls apart.

A federal jury in Tucson, Arizona, has acquitted Scott Warren, an aid volunteer who was arrested for providing food, water, and shelter to undocumented immigrants walking around Trump's non-existent wall.

The California teenager who killed two of his classmates and injured several others used a so-called "ghost gun" or "kit gun" that was assembled from various parts of other weapons. Kit guns are sold as DIY projects that come almost fully assembled, and have no serial numbers.

David Fahrenthold reports the US Secret Service spent more than $250,000 at Trump's trash palaces in the first five months of his presidency. Some of the incidents match days Trump was putzing around one of his golf courses, while others remain a mystery, and could be related to top officials or members of the Trump family.

The Navy is moving forward with a hearing that will decide the fate of Special Operations Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher, the Navy SEAL convicted of war crimes for posing with the corpse of a fallen ISIS(/ISIL/IS/whatever). (EDITRIX: He's also the one who shot the girl by the river.) Last week Trump restored Gallagher's rank and pay, pissing off a host of current and former service members, nerds, and Not Americans. The Navy is considering stripping Gallagher of his Trident pin, a symbol of membership in the SEALs, though a Navy spox tells Reuters that "lawful orders" from Trump in the case would be followed, and that they're "awaiting further guidance." The hearing has been set for Dec. 2.

California's state Supreme Court has ruled Trump does not have to release his tax returns in order to appear on the state's 2020 ballot after finding a new bill was "in conflict with the (state) constitution's specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot." In a rather ironic twist, state Republicans had worried the law could suppress turnout in the 2020 election.

A pro-charter/choice school advocacy group interrupted a stump speech by Rep. Ayanna Pressley for Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Atlanta last night. HuffPo reports the groups was funded by the mega-rich Walton family. The internet has rushed to conclusions, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a full read-out and a report that includes context and remarks from Warren, Pressley, and attendees of the rally. [Bad Video / Silly Video]

Michael Bloomberg, the super rich former mayor of New York, has filed paperwork with the FEC that says #HesRunning, though there has NOT been an official announcement yet. The Democrat-turned Republican-turned Democrat has similarly filed to appear on the ballot in Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas, but not the early state primaries like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Bloomberg has been pouring millions into Democratic GOTV efforts, including a recently announced $100 million anti-Trump ad-campaign in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The student government at the University of Florida is impeaching the student government president, Michael Murphy, for funneling $50,000 of student funds to secure a speech by Donald Trump Jr. In an op-ed, Zachariah Chou, a senator in the school's student government, details how and why the student body is impeaching Murphy, the backlash they received from conservative talking heads, and why he thinks the pay-to-play scheme wasn't a "free speech" event as DJTJ is "a barren banana stand in the marketplace of ideas." There's always money in the banana stand!

The Atlantic has a real long piece on how Joe Biden's "senior moments" MIGHT be the result of a stuttering problem he spent years trying to overcome as a child. Biden disputes the theory, saying he hasn't had a stuttering problem in decades.

In a speech before the Anti-Defamation League, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen called out social media companies for giving platforms to hate speech and bullshit, calling them "a sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories." Cohen took particular aim at Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, comparing him to Julius Caesar and a restaurateur serving uniformed Nazis. Cohen concluded, "In every other industry, a company can be held liable when their product is defective. When engines explode or seat belts malfunction, car companies recall tens of thousands of vehicles at a cost of billions of dollars. It only seems fair to say to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, 'Your product is defective, you are obliged to fix it no matter how much it costs and no matter how many moderators you need to employ.'" [Video]

And here's your morning Nice Time: WILD HAMSTERS!

Adorable wild hamster gets a little stuck | Seven Worlds, One Planet | BBC Earth www.youtube.com


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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.

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