Presidents: How Old Is Just To Damn Old?

Presidents: How Old Is Just To Damn Old?

 

I just finished reading a CNN article on the Democratic candidates for President and I would like to share some ideas with you. Being there are at least 23 people vying for this job within the Democratic Party I have chosen the top five candidates (what the polls say) to discuss with you today.

 

As I am sure that you have garnered from the title I am going to talk with you about the ages of these candidates. Simply put, in your opinion does age matter? Via the U.S. Constitution you must be at least 35 years of age to hold the Office yet there is no maximum age set.

 

The ages I am going to give you are the age these people would be on the day they would be sworn into Office on January 20th of 2021. It is just my personal opinion that if a person will reach their 72nd birthday during an term for any Office, they should be barred from being able to seek the Office. As I said earlier, these five folks are leading in the Democratic Presidential polls. I have added one person to the list as he just announced his candidacy yesterday. He is the California Billionaire who has been paying out of his own pocket for the commercials saying that President Trump needs to be impeached. His name is Tom Steyer.

Name:                                                         Day Born:                                 Age as of January 21st of 2021:

Tom Steyer                                                  June 27, 1957                           63

Bernie Sanders                                           September 8, 1941                   79

Joe Biden                                                    November 20, 1942                  78

Kamala Harris                                             October 20, 1964                     56

Elizabeth Warren                                         June 22, 1949                           71

Pete Buttigieg                                             January 19, 1982                      39

 

I am only going to mention two other people who are on the Republican side.

Donald Trump                                             June 14, 1946                           74

Mike Pence                                                 June 7, 1959                              61

 

I am a registered independent voter who personally does not like the Democratic nor the Republican Parties. I don’t believe that either Party cares at all about the American people as a whole. But today’s Republican Party of Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell totally discuss me. So, in the next Presidential election cycle I would vote for a dead dog before I would vote for any Republican. Personally, of the candidates that I mentioned my top two choices would be Tom Steyer or Elizabeth Warren. If my 72 guideline were the law Mrs. Warren could not be on the ballot. But then neither could Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

 

This article is just the thoughts and ideas of an old man. But personally I am sick and tired of these old fart career politicians with there way out of date ideas running/ruining our Country. The old folks whom many of them have been in office for 40-50 years need to be made to retire. Do you/we really want people running our Country who are in their 80’s? I just don’t, I am sick and tired of their partisan B.S..

 

These two people are not running for the office of President but they are the two leaders of the House and the Senate who pretty much tell all the members of their political party how to vote on every issue, every bill. First, Nancy Pelosi who was born on March 6th of 1940.  She will be 80 when the next President takes Office. Then there is Mitch McConnell who is the top Republican in the Senate, he was born on February 20th of 1942. So, he will be 78 when the next President is sworn in and he has already stated just like Nancy Pelosi has that he is running for reelection. So, one more term for each of them and Mrs. Pelosi will be 82 and Mr. McConnell will be 84.

 

What is your thoughts on this issue? Do you even care about this issue, or maybe is it not even an issue at all to you? If you would, please leave me a comment, I thank you for your time, I appreciate you taking of your time to read this.

 


 

Democratic Presidential Politics: 5 Candidates Starting To Pull Away From The Pack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

2020 ELECTIONS

The 2020 front-runners are pulling away from the field

The latest fundraising figures prove there’s a new top tier in the Democratic primary — and everyone else is running out of time.

The top tier of the Democratic presidential primary is now reshaped around five candidates. The latest fundraising numbers prove it.

Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have raised about $100 million in the past three months combined. Together, they share a large majority of public support.

They were already spending millions of dollars more than many lower-polling contenders have even raised. Now, in a powerful compounding effect for their campaigns, these top tier candidates are poised to plow that new money back into their field and digital operations — further reinforcing their fundraising and organizing advantages in the 23-candidate field.

It’s too early to be an inflection point, but late enough that the rest of the field needs to start worrying.

“The front-runners are pulling away, absent a blunder,” said Bob Mulholland, a Democratic National Committee member from California. “It’s like any season as you get closer, some teams are headed to the World Series or the Super Bowl. … The difference between winning and losing is pretty severe.”

The consolidation of Democratic money in the primary — and the now-flattened top tier — became evident this week, after Warren, a Massachusetts senator, announced Monday that she had raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of the year. Buttigieg raised $25 million, Biden raised $21.5 million, Sanders raised $18 million and Harris raised $12 million in the same time period.

That money is not just a benchmark. Buttigieg, while raising his staggering sum, began hiring dozens of organizers in Iowa and New Hampshire and plans to have 300 people on staff by Labor Day. Warren added more than 100 staffers in the past three months and already has more than 300 in total.

Harris in recent weeks has dramatically expanded her operation in the four early-nominating states, with more than 65 staffers in Iowa, 49 in South Carolina, 35 in Nevada and 30 in New Hampshire.

While lower-polling candidates are still struggling just to qualify for upcoming presidential debates, candidates with money can now return to their expanding donor lists for repeat contributions. By late summer, they are expected to begin reserving time for TV advertisements in select early-primary states.

“From this point forward, it gets harder for” every candidate outside the top tier, said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist. “Because if you’re at the bottom of the pile and you’re punching up for donors, trying to move polling numbers or obtaining traction with a viral moment and you haven’t been able to do it so far, what makes somebody think they can do it when people are starting to consolidate around the top five?”

Democratic voters, Herman said, are “starting to rule people out.”

“They’re not consolidating, but they’re narrowing it to five or six,” he said. “They’re starting to figure out who they’re not for.”

The same five front-runners are pulling more than 80 percent of the Democratic electorate’s support nationally, according to the most recent Morning Consult poll. And while many voters have yet to settle on a single candidate, voters’ second-choice candidates tend to be from the same group of contenders.

In part, the focus on those candidates reflects not only name recognition, but an electorate yearning for a more manageable number of candidates to assess. In a finding reflective of other polls, a CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll last month found an overwhelming majority of Iowa caucus goers felt the candidate field was too large. The media is starting to assist them by turning public attention increasingly to skirmishes among the top-performing candidates.

The school busing spat between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris simmered for more than a week after the first primary debates last month. Warren’s rise has been significant in large part because of its implications for Sanders, a fellow progressive — and fellow top-tier contender.

When Rep. Eric Swalwell abandoned his long-shot campaign Monday — the first major candidate to end his campaign — he said one of the plainest challenges to his candidacy was “a lot of heavyweights in that field.”

“You have people who, you know, have had high name recognition,” he said. “Two of the candidates have run for president before that I stood on a stage with. We have a senator in California who’s running who is … quite talented and quite popular.”

Asked if he had any advice for Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic mega donor who announced the next day that he is running, Swalwell joked, “It’s rough out there.”

Advisers to the front-running candidates caution that the primary remains volatile. So do major donors and unaffiliated strategists. Karen Hicks, a Democratic strategist in New Hampshire, said a financial crisis, an international incident or some other unplanned event could propel a candidate who rises to “meet the moment somehow in a way that sticks.”

The primary, she said, is “still super fluid.”

The newest entrant into the race, Steyer, could make a mark with his immense wealth — he is expected to spend at least $100 million on his bid.

“When you have one guy who’s coming with $100 million, you can’t discount that,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive consultant who advised Cynthia Nixon in her primary campaign against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.

However, she said candidates who aren’t already gaining traction, who cannot afford to self-fund, and “who have dedicated their lives to public service, they’re SOL.”

Julián Castro is a telling example. The former Obama Cabinet secretary and former mayor of San Antonio had a breakout debate performance last month challenging his fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke on immigration.

On Monday, he sent supporters an email celebrating that his campaign now has 130,000 different donors, meeting a difficult threshold for the September presidential debates.

But Castro is still polling at 1 percent, according to Morning Consult. O’Rourke stands at 3 percent.

“I think there is still time for the second tier candidate to resonate, but they need to get with it because time is slipping away,” said Gilda Cobb-Hunter, an influential state lawmaker in early-voting South Carolina. “Once the media zeroes in on who they perceive to be the front-runners, it’s really hard for other candidates to get any air space or ink.”

Welcome to Donald Trump’s Big Dumb Fourth of July Festival of Narcissism! A real show of farce.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Column: Welcome to Donald Trump’s Big Dumb Fourth of July Festival of Narcissism! A real show of farce.

Column: Welcome to Donald Trump’s Big Dumb Fourth of July Festival of Narcissism! A real show of farce.
A worker washes an M1A1 Abrams tank on July 2, 2019, at a rail yard in Washington. President Donald Trump asked the Pentagon for military hardware, including tanks, to be displayed during Thursday’s July Fourth Salute to America celebration on the National Mall. (Mark Wilson/Getty)
Greetings, fellow Americans* (*designation of “Americans” does not apply to critics of President Donald J. Trump) and WELCOME to President Donald J. Trump’s “Salute to America” celebration of the Fourth of July and of President Donald J. Trump.

For the first time in our nation’s history, we have a president (Donald J. Trump) who is recognizing the Fourth of July and the important role it plays in American history, as well as the important role he (President Donald J. Trump) has played in finally getting Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July, a holiday never celebrated under previous presidents.

We’re so glad you decided to join us (and patriotically donate to President Donald J. Trump’s reelection campaign) and we’re VERY EXCITED to share with you all the America-loving fun you’re about to experience thanks to our great and benevolent president. (Shout his name! And buy something with his name on it from one of the President Donald J. Trump merchandise kiosks located throughout the National Mall.)

This day will be a celebration of all the things America holds dear: the honoring of one man above all others; the flaunting of giant machines of war; and soldiers marching in unison before a political leader who personally involved himself in every detail of a celebration for which he is the keynote speaker.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Big 4th of July in D.C. “Salute to America.” The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!

47.2K people are talking about this

While media outlets like The Washington Post are reporting that the National Park Service “is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration” and the event will also “likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” we want to assure you that we will, as the Founders intended, patriotically call that Fake News without providing any evidence that’s true.

The last thing you should be worrying about while you’re in Washington, D.C., for the FOURTH OF JULY EVENT OF A LIFETIME (brought to you by President Donald J. Trump) is what it might be costing or whether bridges at your local parks might collapse. Lighten up! Worrying is for liberals!

The best way you can honor American greatness is to enjoy all this event has to offer, which includes:

— A first-ever Fourth of July fireworks display. The president himself had the idea to develop these decorative sky explosions that he dubbed “fireworks.” The night will conclude with a massive fireworks show, with Donald Trump Jr. lighting all the fuses himself!

— Jumbo high-definition television screens will be located throughout the Salute to America event grounds showing streaming video of DANGEROUS illegal immigrants being patriotically deprived of basic human rights in camps along the country’s southern border.

— A Virtual Reality Outrage Booster tent will allow visitors to put on VR headsets and watch as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do some of the same things President Trump has done. Your blood will boil as you watch Obama making money off foreign diplomats staying at a Washington, D.C., hotel he owns. And you’ll be filled with anger as you see Clinton letting her daughter, Chelsea, act as a representative of the U.S. government at high-profile meetings with world leaders! Can you imagine anyone besides President Trump doing that?!? The fury will engulf you for days!

— The Indoor Skydiving Trump Donation Experience uses a giant wind turbine to simulate skydiving while also sucking all the money out of your pockets and shooting it into a life-sized replica of President Trump’s pockets. You’ll have no idea you’re being taken for a ride!

— An entire row of all-American carnival games for kids and adults, including favorites like “Whack-A-Lib”; a tricky magnetic fishing pole game called “Put the Migrant Kids in Cages”; and a high-stakes guessing game called “Who’s the Daughter Who’s Not Ivanka?”

There will be, as the president promised, “the brand-new Sherman tanks” on display in the Definitely-Not-Overcompensating-for-Something Dome of Manliness. (Don’t believe the LYING MEDIA claims that Sherman tanks were last used in the 1950s. These Sherman tanks will be new, and they will be MAGNIFICENT!)

Rex Huppke

@RexHuppke

BREAKING: Donald Trump has now ordered the U.S. Navy to “sail two huge air craft carryings” onto the National Mall for his Fourth of July celebration

29 people are talking about this

There will be powerful military jets flying overhead, accompanied by Eric Trump making “ZOOOOOOOM!!!!” noises over the loudspeakers.

And of course, the highlight of the night will be a speech by our great leader, the best president in the 1,000-year history of America.

Best of all? Everyone will have great seats to hear President Trump detail how great he has made America and how grateful we should be for his greatness. And by “everyone,” we mean everyone who has done their civic duty and donated large amounts of money to President Trump.

In keeping with our all-American ethics, the White House has reserved prime seats for Republican donors and political appointees. This is truly “the people’s event,” and the people seated closest to the president will be the ones who donated the most money, as well as those who served their country by not responding to congressional subpoenas or flipping like rats.

So welcome to President Donald J. Trump’s glorious Salute to America. Enjoy your day, donate money until you feel American glory coursing through your veins and give a full-throated cheer to CELEBRATE ALL AMERICANS, except for: the pro-crime liberal LOSERS; the late Sen. John McCain; Robert Mueller; certain Gold Star families who have criticized the president; anyone who has ever criticized the president; all the president’s ex-wives; all former presidents; and the entire U.S. women’s soccer team.

God Bless (Certain Parts of) America!

Trump and Putin Share Joke About Election Meddling, Sparking New Furor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Trump and Putin Share Joke About Election Meddling, Sparking New Furor

 
President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday had their first formal meeting in a year in Osaka, Japan.Credit Credit Erin Schaff/The New York Times

By Peter Baker and Michael Crowley

OSAKA, Japan — They were having a good time. Like old friends reuniting, they warmly shook hands, smiled and chatted amiably. And then President Trump brushed off Russia’s interference in American democracy with a joke as President Vladimir V. Putin chuckled.

The first encounter between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin since the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reported that Russia conducted a “sweeping and systematic” operation to sway the 2016 election proved more convivial than confrontational. Rather than challenge Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump treated it as a laughing matter.

In the process, he triggered a fresh furor over his accommodating approach to Russia and brought back old questions that have haunted him since he took office. Angry at perceived challenges to his legitimacy, he has long dismissed or at most grudgingly accepted the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia sought to help his campaign.

But while Mr. Trump once hoped to leave the investigation behind and finally recalibrate the Russian-American relationship, he instead put the issue back in the spotlight as House Democrats prepare to question Mr. Mueller on camera next month.

As he sat down on Friday with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of an international summit in Japan, Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he would tell Russia not to meddle in American elections.

“Yes, of course I will,” Mr. Trump said.

Turning to Mr. Putin, he said, with a half-grin on his face and mock seriousness in his voice, “Don’t meddle in the election, President.”

As Mr. Putin smiled and tittered, Mr. Trump pointed at another Russian official in a playful way and repeated, “Don’t meddle in the election.”

His appointment with Mr. Putin came amid a busy visit for the annual Group of 20 summit meeting. His talks with President Xi Jinping of China, aimed at defusing a costly trade war, were the most eagerly awaited. As the two men opened their meeting on Saturday morning, Mr. Trump said that “we’re getting a little bit closer” to a deal that he thought could be “monumental and great for both countries.”

In keeping with his unpredictable streak, Mr. Trump caught many diplomats and even his own advisers off guard by publicly inviting North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to meet him this weekend at the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea. Mr. Trump was already scheduled to fly to Seoul on Saturday afternoon and pay a no-longer-secret visit to the DMZ on Sunday, but no preparations had been made for a meeting with Mr. Kim.

The levity with Mr. Putin, however, dominated his first full day in Osaka and came at a time when the Kremlin leader has felt emboldened on the world stage, flexing Russian muscle in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and even South America. In an interview published just hours before the meeting, Mr. Putin celebrated the rise of the populist right in Europe and the United States and declared that traditional Western-style liberalism “has become obsolete.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, among other leaders, at a photo shoot on Friday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times
Credit Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump did not dispute Mr. Putin’s view and seemed almost to share it. As reporters and photographers entered their meeting room to set up cameras and microphones on Friday, the American president offered the sort of disdain for journalists sure to resonate with an authoritarian like Mr. Putin.

“Get rid of them,” Mr. Trump said. “Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”

“We also have,” Mr. Putin insisted in English. “It’s the same.”

In fact, Mr. Putin has made a hallmark of his nearly two decades in power a takeover of major news outlets. Russia’s relatively few independent journalists often come under intense pressure and, in some cases, have even been killed.

It fell to other leaders gathered in Osaka to volunteer the rebuttal to Mr. Putin’s worldview that Mr. Trump did not. “What I find really obsolete are: authoritarianism, personality cults, the rule of oligarchs,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. “Even if sometimes they may seem effective.”

The bonhomie between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin came in sharp contrast to Mr. Putin’s frigid meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, their first since a former Russian spy living in her country was poisoned by agents that Britain has traced to Russia. Stiff and severe, Mrs. May refused to smile or exchange pleasantries as she sat down with Mr. Putin. Aides later said she upbraided him behind closed doors over the poisoning, calling it a “truly despicable act.”

Mr. Trump’s friendlier session touched off another domestic backlash like the one he endured after their last official meeting in Helsinki, Finland, last year when, standing at Mr. Putin’s side, the president challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies about the Russian election operation and credited the Kremlin leader’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial.

“As Robert Mueller said, Russian interference in our democracy should concern every American,” Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter on Friday. “But not the president, apparently, who thinks it’s a joke.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, who at times has been sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s complaints about media coverage, responded sharply on Friday to the president’s comments in Osaka. Going further than some Democrats, he even suggested that the president did not genuinely earn the office.

“I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Mr. Carter said at a conference sponsored by the Carter Center. “He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

That assessment goes to the heart of Mr. Trump’s resistance to taking the Russian interference more seriously, according to his advisers. In his view, the intense focus on the matter is mainly a partisan effort to undermine his legitimacy as president.

And he has argued that there was nothing wrong about accepting incriminating information about an election opponent from a hostile foreign power, saying recently that “I’d take it” and did not necessarily see a need to call the F.B.I.

Mr. Trump during the summit’s opening plenary session on Friday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin,” Mr. Trump said as they sat together. “We’ve had great meetings,” he added. “We have had a very, very good relationship. And we look forward to spending some pretty good time together. A lot of very positive things going to come out of the relationship.”

Mr. Putin said they would discuss trade, disarmament and other issues. “All this will be built on a very good relationship that will be between us,” he said. “I think that the results of this meeting will be excellent.” Russian officials later reported that Mr. Putin had invited Mr. Trump to visit Moscow next spring for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and that the American president seemed positive.

The White House summary of the leaders’ meeting indicated that they talked about Mr. Trump’s proposed three-way arms control agreement with China, as well as about disputes in Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine. The summary made no mention of election interference, nor anything about two Americans who have been arrested by the Russian authorities on disputed charges.

Likewise, it said nothing about an international investigation this month that pointed to Russia in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board. International prosecutors have indicted three men with ties to Russian military and intelligence agencies in the destruction of the passenger jet and implicated, without charging, a senior aide to Mr. Putin.

Nor did the summary indicate that the leaders talked about Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships and two dozen sailors last November, events that prompted Mr. Trump to cancel a scheduled meeting with Mr. Putin, and that remain unresolved. When a reporter asked about the ships and sailors on Friday, the president said, “We haven’t discussed them.”

While Mr. Putin did not address the election issue with reporters on Friday, he scoffed at the idea of Russian involvement during an interview before flying to Osaka. He advanced the same line of argument that Mr. Trump does: that he won in 2016 because he was in better touch with Americans.

“Russia has been accused, and, strange as it may seem, it is still being accused, despite the Mueller report, of mythical interference in the U.S. election,” Mr. Putin told The Financial Times. “What happened in reality? Mr. Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this.”

He complimented Mr. Trump’s political skill. “I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems,” Mr. Putin said. “But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person. He knows very well what his voters expect from him.”

Following the interview, however, the Kremlin pulled back Mr. Putin’s rejection of liberalism, saying he was “still very close to the ideas of liberalism.”

“We agree completely that authoritarianism and the rule of oligarchs are obsolete,” Dmitri S. Peskov, his spokesman, told reporters. “ At the same time, if authoritarianism exists somewhere, this is a question of the people of these countries. We should not judge them and change the regime and government in these countries.”

Andrew Kramer, Ivan Nechepurenko and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting from Moscow.

Follow Peter Baker and Michael Crowley on Twitter: @peterbakernyt and @michaelcrowley.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump and Putin Share a Chuckle About Meddling. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 following a subpoena

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 following a subpoena

(CNN)Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump.

The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees announced Tuesday that Mueller had agreed to testify after they issued subpoenas for his testimony, and Mueller would appear in public before the two panels next month.
“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement.
Schiff said Tuesday that the committees would be questioning Mueller separately the same day, and that his committee would question Mueller’s staff in closed session following the public hearing so they can discuss the counterintelligence portions of the investigation.
Mueller’s testimony is poised to be the most-anticipated congressional hearing in years, and represents a huge moment for House Democrats who have wrestled with whether to dive into a politically divisive impeachment process following the Mueller investigation and White House stonewalling of congressional probes.
The subpoenas to Mueller come after weeks of negotiations between Democrats, the special counsel’s team and the Justice Department. Democrats are proceeding with subpoenas to Mueller after he spoke publicly last month and said he did not wish to testify publicly about the investigation, and that his testimony would not go beyond what was written in the special counsel’s 448-page report.
In a letter to Mueller, the Democratic chairmen said that they understood Mueller’s concerns about ongoing investigations referred by the special counsel, but still felt it was necessary for him to testify.
“We will work with you to address legitimate concerns about preserving the integrity of your work, but we expect that you will appear before our Committees as scheduled,” Nadler and Schiff wrote.
Democrats have been talking about bringing Mueller in to testify since his investigation wrapped in March, and their decision to issue subpoenas comes more than a month after the initial date that Nadler had floated for Mueller to appear.
Since then, Democrats have continued to negotiate with Mueller, holding out hope he would agree to testify voluntarily. While Mueller stated he did not wish appear before Congress, Democrats — and some Republicans — have said they still believe Mueller should testify. Democrats have argued that the American people can hear directly from the special counsel in a public setting, and lawmakers in both parties have said they want to ask him about some of the decisions made during the investigation.
Mueller’s report was written in two parts: a volume on Russian election meddling and one on obstruction.
In the first volume, the special counsel did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but it did detail numerous contacts between Russians and members of Trump’s team that Democrats charge are troubling, even if they aren’t criminal. In the second volume, Mueller documented nearly a dozen episodes of possible obstruction of justice. The special counsel wrote that DOJ guidelines did not allow a sitting president to be indicted, and that the investigation could not exonerate Trump.
Mueller’s public statement last month — in which he emphasized that the investigation did not exonerate the President and that his team followed the DOJ guidelines — sparked a wave of House Democrats to call for the opening of an impeachment inquiry.
Their numbers have grown amid White House stonewalling of testimony and documents to congressional investigations, and now more than 75 have come out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to resist the move, arguing that Democrats are winning their court fights with the Trump administration and impeachment should only be pursued if the public is on board.
Schiff and Nadler have both publicly refrained from calling for the opening of an impeachment inquiry. Behind the scenes, Nadler has lobbied Pelosi to do so, while Schiff has argued against it.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

Turkey: Istanbul mayoral re-run: Erdogan’s ruling AKP set to lose

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Istanbul mayoral re-run: Erdogan’s ruling AKP set to lose

Ekrem ImamogluImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Ekrem Imamoglu hailed the result as a “new beginning” for the city

Turkey’s ruling party is set to lose control of Istanbul after a re-run of the city’s mayoral election, latest results show.

The candidate for the main opposition party, Ekrem Imamoglu, has won 54% of the vote with nearly all ballots counted.

He won a surprise victory in March which was annulled after the ruling AK party complained of irregularities.

His opponent, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, has conceded.

The result is a major setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has previously said that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey”.

In his victory speech, Mr Imamoglu said the result marked a “new beginning” for both the city and the country.

“We are opening up a new page in Istanbul,” he said. “On this new page, there will be justice, equality, love.”

He added that he was willing to work with Mr Erdogan, saying: “Mr President, I am ready to work in harmony with you.”

Mr Imamoglu’s lead of more than 775,000 votes marks a huge increase on his victory in March, when he won by just 13,000.

Who were the candidates?

Mr Imamoglu, 49, is from the secular Republican People’s Party and is mayor of Istanbul’s Beylikduzu district.

But his name was barely known before he ran for mayor in the March election.

Binali Yildirim on his final campaign before the election on June 23Image copy right EPA
Image caption Binali Yildirim is an Erdogan loyalist

Mr Yildirim was a founding member of Mr Erdogan’s AKP and was prime minister from 2016 until 2018, when Turkey became a presidential democracy and the role ceased to exist.

He was elected Speaker of the new parliament in February and before that served as minister of transportation and communication.

Why was the previous result annulled?

Mr. Imamoglu’s narrow victory of 13,000 votes in March was not enough for Mr Yildirim to accept defeat.

The ruling party alleged that votes were stolen and many ballot box observers did not have official approval, leading the election board to demand a re-run of he vote.

Critics argue that pressure from President Erdogan was behind the decision.

Why is this election so important?

Mr Erdogan, who is from Istanbul, was elected mayor in 1994.

He founded the AKP in 2001 and served as prime minister between 2003 and 2014, before becoming president.

President Erdogan voting in Istanbul election - 23 JuneImage copy right AFP
Image caption Mr Erdogan, seen voting, is a native of Istanbul and a former mayor of the city

But cracks in the party are now beginning to show and analysts suggest these could be exacerbated by this loss.

“Erdogan is extremely worried,” Murat Yetkin, a journalist and writer, said ahead of the vote.

“He is playing every card he has. If he loses, by whatever margin, it’s the end of his steady political rise over the past quarter of a century,” he added.

“In reality, he’ll still be president, his coalition will still control parliament – although many will perceive his defeat as the beginning of the end for him.”

Israel: Liberman: We’ll force gov’t with Likud, Blue and White to block ultra-Orthodox

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Liberman: We’ll force gov’t with Likud, Blue and White to block ultra-Orthodox

Yisrael Beytenu leader promises ‘liberal-national’ coalition after elections; Likud: Cat is out the bag — Liberman wants leftist government; Blue and White: Better late than never

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman leaves after a faction meeting at the Knesset, on May 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman leaves after a faction meeting at the Knesset, on May 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said Saturday that after the upcoming elections he would force an “emergency” coalition with the Likud and Blue and White parties to block ultra-Orthodox parties from entering the government.

“We will impose a government with the Likud and Blue and White parties — it will be an emergency government, a liberal-national government. We will do everything to block the ultra-Orthodox; not to let them enter the government,” he told Channel 13 news.

Liberman, who used his party’s five seats to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a coalition after the April 9 elections, is aiming to again be kingmaker or king-breaker after September’s elections. His call for an emergency government involving both Likud and Blue and White amounts to a demand for a government without Netanyahu — though he did not spell this out in Saturday’s interview — since Blue and White, under its leader Benny Gantz, has said it will not sit in a coalition with Netanyahu, who is facing indictment, pending a hearing, in three criminal cases.

Asked whether he would again recommend Netanyahu as prime minister, might recommend another candidate, or would seek to become prime minister himself, Liberman was non-committal. But in recommending Netanyahu after April’s elections, he specified, Yisrael Beytenu had been “committing to an agenda” which it then became clear the coalition Netanyahu sought to build would not have followed. Yisrael Beytenu, he said dryly, had not been “crowning” Netanyahu “for life.”

Later Saturday, in a Facebook post, he added that “the representative of the party that wins the most seats will be the candidate to form a government.”

“Netanyahu is trying to focus the campaign on who will be prime minister,” Liberman said in the TV interview. “I think the much more critical question is what kind of government it will be.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman seen with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) in the assembly session in the plenum hall of the Israeli parliament, as the Israeli parliament vote on the Governance Bill, which among others will raise the electoral threshold. March 11, 2014. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90 )

A Likud, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu coalition, without the ultra-Orthodox, Liberman added in his Facebook post later Saturday, would represent the will of “an overwhelming majority of the citizens of Israel.” He also ruled out a coalition in which the far-right Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir would be present.

He said he hoped Yisrael Beytenu would win enough seats in September in order to impose such a coalition. He said he’d heard ultra-Orthodox leaders saying they’d refuse to sit in a government with Liberman, and he accepted this completely. “You’ve convinced me,” he said. What was required, he said, was a government without the ultra-Orthodox. He referred to his longtime friend Aryeh Deri, leader of the Shas ultra-Orthodox party, as “my former friend.” And he complained that while Israel was currently facing a budgetary crisis, “the only place they’re not planning to cut is [in funding for ultra-Orthodox] yeshivas.”

The Likud party responded to Liberman, saying: “The cat is out the bag — Liberman says explicitly that he is willing to go with [Blue and White No.2 Yair] Lapid and Gantz, and force the establishment of a leftist government. Anyone who wants a right-wing government must vote only for the Likud party, headed by Netanyahu.”

Gantz’s Blue and White party also issued a statement, saying: “Better late than never. If Liberman had come to this conclusion before he and his party voted for the dispersal of the Knesset, they would have avoided unnecessary elections for the people of Israel.”

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz at the Knesset, June 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ben-Gvir slammed Liberman, saying he “once again proves that he is deep on the left, and lacks any ideological backbone.”

The Knesset voted to disband itself and called new elections for September 17, after Netanyahu failed to broker a compromise between right-wing secular Yisrael Beytenu and ultra-Orthodox parties in the wake of the April 9 elections. Netanyahu was thus unable to muster a majority coalition.

Initial polls have suggested Liberman may emerge from the coalition standoff in a stronger position, and increase his party’s five Knesset seats to eight or nine in the September election.

Liberman had repeatedly said he backed Netanyahu for prime minister, but would only join the government if there was a commitment to pass, unaltered, the Defense Ministry version of a bill regulating the draft of the ultra-Orthodox into the military. That version of the bill is opposed by ultra-Orthodox parties, who want to soften its terms.

Liberman said last month that he would not back Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for prime minister, but refused to be drawn on whether he would support Netanyahu.

Last week the Kan public broadcaster reported that during the failed coalition talks a month ago, Netanyahu agreed to an ultra-Orthodox demand to allow for gender segregation in public spaces.

A leaked draft of Likud’s agreement with the Haredi United Torah Judaism party stated that “within 90 days the government will amend the law in such a way that it will be permissible to provide public services, public study sessions and public events in which men and women are separated. This separation will not constitute discrimination according to the law.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hosted by Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party (left), at a meal to celebrate the birth of Litzman’s grandson, June 18, 2017. (Shlomi Cohen/FLASH90)

The draft agreement also barred individuals from filing a civil suit against municipal organizers of such events on the grounds of gender discrimination.

Ultra-Orthodox groups have pressed in the past to have gender segregated events or facilities, like public transport, but the moves have been knocked down by the courts, which ruled it constituted discrimination.

On Saturday, Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova condemned the army’s punishment of a soldier who put dairy and milk in the same fridge on a base, warning it could portend further religious strictures on troops.

“Today they forbid putting milk and meat together in the same fridge. Tomorrow they’ll forbid girls from enlisting in the army. In two days we’ll become the army for the defense of Jewish law,” Sova said.

Liberman on Saturday also attacked the Likud party’s recent announcement of the appointment of a new “special adviser” for Israel’s Russian-speaking community.

Ariel Bulshtein (Courtesy of EAJC)

The adviser, attorney Ariel Bulshtein, will help Likud target a demographic that will be vital for its campaign — right-leaning immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The move is meant to help the party’s efforts to siphon votes away Liberman, whose hard-nosed demands stymied Netanyahu’s efforts to build a coalition by the May 29 deadline.

“It’s an insult to the intelligence and an insult to the dignity of the [Russian] immigrants — Netanyahu has no idea what he is talking about,” Liberman said.

Netanyahu has blamed the Yisrael Beytenu party chief for “dragging the country to unnecessary elections.” Notably, it was Netanyahu who decided to call new elections. The more natural course of events would have been to inform President Reuven Rivlin that he had failed to form a coalition, at which point the president could have tasked another member of parliament with trying to do so.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS

JUNE 16, 2019
CURRENT TOP STORIES

US envoy Greenblatt backs Friedman on Israel’s ‘right’ to annex some settlements

White House could delay rolling out long-awaited peace plan until November, due to political turmoil in Israel, says special envoy

L-R: US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 12, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO/File)

L-R: US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 12, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO/File)

US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt on Sunday backed comments by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in support of Israel retaining some parts of the West Bank.

Greenblatt participated in the annual Jerusalem Post conference in New York, where he was asked about comments made by Friedman published by the New York Times last weekend.

“I will let David’s comments stand for themselves,” said Greenblatt. “I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.”

In an interview published by the New York Times last Saturday, Friedman said that some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman said.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks during the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, on March 26, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP)

An anonymous American official later said Israel has not presented a plan for annexation of any of the West Bank, and no such plan is under discussion with the US.

Greenblatt spoke days before the US is set to lay out an economic component of its long-awaited Mideast peace plan on June 25 and 26 in Bahrain, where Gulf Arab states are expected to make pledges to boost the troubled Palestinian economy.

But it is not clear when the political aspects of the plan — which is expected to avoid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state — will be unveiled.

At the conference Sunday, Greenblatt also signaled that the White House might delay the full publication of its long-awaited peace plan until November, due to political turmoil in Israel, though he said no final decision had been made.

He said that the Trump administration would have published a blueprint for its peace plan this summer if Israel had not dissolved its parliament last month and declared another election — the second in a year — for September 2019.

“The new elections have thrown us off,” Greenblatt said.

Trump’s own reelection campaign for US president “should not be an obstacle,” he added.

In his remarks, Greenblatt conceded that there were limits to Arab concessions to the Jewish state.

Jared Kushner alongside a member of the Saudi delegation at a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, March 20, 2018. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images via JTA)

“There is a limit how far the Arabs will go with Israel, they don’t want to sell out the Palestinians,” he said. “We are not going to push any country to go further than they are comfortable.”

However, he warned that “failure will put this in the box for a long time.” Such a development would be “a tragedy for the Palestinian people.”

Greenblatt also stressed that Washington is not seeking to oust the current Palestinian Authority leadership, which has already said it will reject the peace plan, but rather is hoping that the Palestinian people will be able to decide for themselves if they want to accept the peace deal or not.

“We are not looking for regime change in PA,” he said, before adding that “there is no question” the Palestinian people have the right to see what the plan offers before they decide.

During campaigning for the general election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to gradually annex West Bank Jewish settlements, a move long supported by nearly all lawmakers, in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties, and said he hoped to do so with US support.

Friedman, in the New York Times interview, declined to specify how the US might respond to unilateral Israeli annexation, saying: “We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves… These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS
MORE

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

Protestor’s near the Sudanese army headquarters in Khartoum in April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When protesters forced Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan this April after 30 years of dictatorial role, it was an unalloyed good for the world. Bashir has been wanted by The Hague since 2008 for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and his ouster was a key step towards a free and democratic Sudan, as well as justice for Darfuris.

But what’s followed in Sudan has been far less encouraging. Sudan’s military has promised elections, but not for as much as two years. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), the military leaders now in charge of the country, have included Bashir confidantes like Lt. General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was suspected of leading Janjawid militia massacres in Darfur. Many Sudan observers Believe that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the person really pulling the strings on the TMC, where he serves as vice president. Hemedti not only recruited and led many of the Janjawid fighters who brutally suppressed dissent in Darfur—he has also been accused of having recruited child soldiers from Darfur to fight in Yemen’s bloody civil war on behalf of the Saudis.

Despite the obvious dangers, Sudanese pro-democracy protesters are back out in the streets, demanding immediate transition to a civilian government. Their demands have been met with brutal violence. On June 3, security forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose members are veterans of the Janjawid militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres—killed over 100 protesters, dumping bodies into the Nile River, raping and robbing civilians stopped at military checkpoints.

Despite these horrific incidents, Sudanese citizens have continued to fight, launching a mass general strike on Sunday June 9.

The struggle over the internet

As with most conflicts today, there’s an important information component to the struggle between activists and the Sudanese military. The protests that ousted Bashir and have confronted the military have been organized by groups of middle-class Sudanese like the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors using social media, especially Facebook. Since the June 3 massacre, Sudan’s mobile internet has been largely shut down, making online organizing and reporting on conditions on the ground vastly more difficult. Sudan’s government previously shut down the internet for 68 days to combat the protests that ultimately led to Bashir’s ouster.

Facebook was an especially significant force in bringing women into the streets to protest against Bashir. Tamerra Griffin reported on a set of women-only Facebook groups that were initially used to share gossip, but which were mobilized to identify abusive state security officials, who were then hounded and sometimes chased out of their own neighborhoods. The presence of women in the protest movements and the Zagrounda chant—a women’s ululation—has become a signature of the uprising. Bashir memorably declared that the government could not be changed through WhatsApp or Facebook. His ouster suggests that the power of social networks as tools for mobilization is routinely underestimated by governments.

But now social media seems to be leveraged at least as much by the military as by the opposition. The internet has not been completely shut down—the government has been able to maintain its presence on Facebook, which features at least four pages controlled by the RSF, which are advertising the militia veterans’ version of events. Sudanese activist Mohamed Suliman is organizing a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

In addition to combatting Sudanese propaganda on Facebook, Sudanese activists inside the country and in the diaspora are looking for ways to return internet access to the general population, so they can continue organizing protests and document government violence. Activists are organizing information-sharing networks on top of SMS and voice phone calls, but I’m also getting calls from Sudanese friends who wonder whether technologies like Google’s Loon could be used to put a cloud of connectivity over Khartoum. (The answer: maybe. Loon acts as an antenna for existing telecoms networks, and those networks in Sudan have been forced to cut off connectivity. In addition, a balloon floating 20km over a city is a very attractive missile target.)

Until very recently, the few Sudanese who had access via ADSL had been opening their wifi networks or sharing passwords with friends and inviting them to post messages from their houses. A couple of days ago I was seeing reports—unconfirmed—that even ADSL has been turned off. This may signal the start of a new phase of the crackdown.

Space Cadet@nourality

🔻🔻🔻
Last available internet route “Sudani ADSL” is now reported to be down.

This completes a dark ring over sudan as internet are now Almost completely disabled, this gives the TMC milita “janjaweed” enough lack of media attention to continue abusing and killing the Sudan.

Ahmed Abdalla@A_Abdalla

الآن قطع خدمة انترنت سوداني ADSL أيضاً
الخدمة الوحيدة التي استمرت تعمل منذ إيقاف المجلس الانقلابي الانترنت في السودان قبل عدة أيام.
الآن اكتمل التعتيم على جرائم الجنجويد في السودان والعالم يتفرج#العصيان_المدني_الشامل

85 people are talking about this

On the morning of June 10 Yassir Arman, a major figure in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, which fought a war against Khartoum leading to the independence of South Sudan, was deported from Khartoum to Juba by military helicopter.

Yassir Arman@Yassir_Arman

I have been deported against my will by a military helicopter from Khartoum to Juba. I was not aware of where they were taking me. I asked them many times. They tied me up in the helicopter together with Comrade Ismail Khamis Jalab and Mubarak Ardol.

1,201 people are talking about this

One major channel for information from Sudan in the future may be from Sudanese who are in touch with organizers on the ground who have been forced to flee the country and report from neighboring countries.

Countries are known by the company they keep, and the military government’s supporters are well resourced: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $3 billion in aid to the military leaders. Given the Trump administration’s tight ties to the Saudi and UAE governments—which have extended to overruling Congress in selling arms to those regimes—it seems unlikely that a petition to the White House to recognize the RSF as a terrorist organization will meet with approval any time soon. (By contrast the African Union—which has a regrettable history of ignoring misbehavior by African military rulers— has suspended Sudan after this weekend’s crackdown.

A few things we can do to help

It’s hard to know what to do as a private citizen when faced with a situation like the one in Sudan. Some thoughts on what might actually be helpful:

– Pay attention and ask others to do so as well. All governments, including military governments, are limited in what actions they can take by public perception. If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates understand that people are actually watching what the Sudanese military is doing, it may limit their willingness to support a government run in part by experienced génocidaires. Reporter Yousra Elbagir is reporting from the ground in Khartoum and her Twitter feed is deeply helpful. Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief, is doing excellent reporting from the groundReem Abbas, a Sudanese journalist and blogger, is sharing excellent content, much of it in Arabic. Al Jazeera’s synthesis of the conflict has been excellent, but I worry that their reliance on Skype interviews to cover events may limit their coverage going forward:

– In the spirit of getting people interested in what’s going on in Sudan, I recommend Hasan Minhaj’s occasionally silly but good-hearted Patriot Act episode on Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the military government’s violent reaction.

– Pressure organizations that are helping legitimate the military government. That includes Facebook, which should not be hosting pages for the Rapid Support Forces, or for any entities associated with the transitional military government.

Sudan’s two telecom operators—MTN and Zain—are international companies which could (in theory) be pressured to violate the military’s demands that they shut down. Zain is a Kuwaiti company, which means they are heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia, but MTN as a South African company might be susceptible to shareholder pressure, lawsuits, etc. The Internet Society has released a statement calling for Sudan to turn the internet back on. It’s unclear whether they would be an organizing point for protests to pressure MTN.

– It can be difficult to get money to the ground in Sudan. While the Trump administration removed some financial sanctions on Sudan in 2017, other sanctions stemming from the Darfur conflict remain in place. My friends in Sudan have pointed me to Bakri Ali and the University of Khartoum Alumni Association USA, a US 501c3 which is using their tax-exempt status to deliver aid to democracy protesters.

It can be hard, in retrospect, to remember the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the Egyptian revolution and the broader Arab Spring. But after only a year of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a military dictatorship took over. The fear right now is that Sudan could go directly from one dictatorship to another—from one Arab winter to another without an intervening Spring. Some Sudanese protesters have been using the slogan “Victory or Egypt”, looking at the return to dictatorship as the worst possible outcome. The worse outcome is even worse—it’s the prospect of systemic military violence like in Darfur, without intervention by the international community. The same folks are in charge, and we are already looking away.

Israel: Netanyahu’s legal problems mount as AG won’t delay his hearing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

TV report: Netanyahu’s legal problems mount as AG won’t delay his hearing

Following his resort to new elections, PM may now run out of time to pass legislation aimed at evading prosecution in three graft cases

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on May 30, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on May 30, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Taking a stance that could drastically reduce Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chances of avoiding prosecution in three corruption cases, Israeli state prosecutors will reportedly reject any request by his lawyers to defer his pre-indictment hearing beyond its scheduled date at the start of October.

The reports Thursday night also said that the attorney general is aiming to wrap up the Netanyahu cases before the end of the year. If so, Netanyahu, who on Wednesday night called new elections for September 17 having failed to build a governing majority after the April 9 elections, may not now have time to pass planned legislation aimed at protecting him from prosecution.

Netanyahu is facing indictment on three counts of fraud and breach of trust, and one of bribery, pending the hearing — his final opportunity to persuade the attorney general not to file charges against him. The hearing was originally set for July, but was postponed earlier this month to October 2-3, with the possibility of a final session a week later. The prime minister’s lawyers had sought a full year’s delay — a request that was dismissed by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who ruled that a speedy resolution of the matter was in the public interest.

Now that Israel is to hold new general elections in September, with Netanyahu having failed to put together a majority coalition after the April 9 election, his lawyers are widely expected to seek another delay in the hearing process. But senior officials in the state prosecution and law enforcement hierarchies quoted at length in TV news broadcasts Thursday night firmly rejected the idea.

“We will not agree to a further delay in the hearing,” a source quoted by Channel 13 news said. “Netanyahu has enough time to prepare for it. He intends to use the matter of [new] elections to seek another postponement? Let him try. It won’t work for him. He has plenty of time to prepare as necessary.”

In similar vein, Channel 12 quoted sources declaring that the announcement of new elections would “not have slightest impact” on the Netanyahu corruption cases. “The date for the hearing has been fixed, and it won’t move a millimeter,” a source was quoted saying.

The officials also noted that it is Netanyahu’s lawyers, rather than the suspect himself, who will appear at the hearing.

Netanyahu is widely reported to have tried to build a coalition after April 9’s election in which his Likud MKs and their allies would initiate or back legislative efforts to enable him to avoid prosecution — first by easing his path to gaining immunity via the Knesset, and then by canceling the Supreme Court’s authority to overturn such immunity.

This latter change would be achieved as part of a wide-ranging reform of the Supreme Court’s role, under which Israel’s justices would be denied their current quasi-constitutional authority to “override” legislation, and Knesset and government decisions, deemed unconstitutional. Plans for this “override” legislation have been described as marking a potential constitutional revolution in Israel, that would shatter the checks and balances at the heart of Israeli democracy.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit addresses an Israel Bar Association event in Eilat, May 27, 2019 (screen grab via Channel 13)

Mandelblit earlier this week castigated planned changes to the current immunity law as being apparently designed to help Netanyahu rather than being in the genuine interest of constructive reform. As for the so-called override bill, he said that it would cause “direct harm to the country’s citizens, who will be left exposed to the possibility of arbitrary decisions by the government. The individual will not have any protection from actions which… may in an extreme case, ignore the individual’s rights and so harm him illegally.”

Earlier this week, as Netanyahu struggled to muster a majority coalition, his associates were said to have warned him that snap elections would likely deny him the time needed to pass legislation shielding him from prosecution. Nonetheless, on Wednesday night, when he concluded that he could not muster a majority, he pushed through a vote to disperse the 21st Knesset, which was only sworn in a month ago, and set Israel on the path to new elections on September 17. He chose this course rather than allow for a different Knesset member, possibly opposition leader Benny Gantz, to have a turn at trying to build a majority coalition.

Netanyahu is widely expected to now seek a delay in the hearing process, by arguing that the recourse to new elections means he will not have sufficient time to prepare for the October hearing. “He chose to support new elections,” Channel 12 quoted a legal official saying in response. “That’s up to him.”

Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust in the three cases against him, and for bribery in one of them, in February. The prime minister’s attorneys requested, and were granted, that the case files not be handed over prior to the April 9 national election in order to prevent information from leaking to the media and affecting the vote.

But after the election, the lawyers refrained for another month from collecting the material, citing a dispute over their fees. They have been accused of engaging in delay tactics.

Shaul Elovitch arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for extension of his remand in Case 4000, February 22, 2018. (Flash90)

Netanyahu denies all the allegations against him, and has claimed they stem from a witch hunt designed to oust him, which he claims is supported by the left-wing opposition, the media, the police and the state prosecution, headed by a “weak” attorney general.

Case 1000 involves accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors; Case 2000 involves accusations that Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth; and Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious against the premier, involves accusations that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from its Walla news site.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

Israeli Parliament Schedules Unprecedented Early Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Israeli Parliament Schedules Unprecedented Early Elections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Voters in Israel will go the polls for the second time this year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed a midnight deadline to form a coalition government.

The Israeli parliament, prompted by Netanyahu, has voted to hold new elections Sept. 17. The move comes after elections were just held in April and appeared to give Netanyahu a fourth consecutive term in office.

The Knesset voted 74-45, on a bill sponsored by Netanyahu’s Likud party, to dissolve itself and call for new elections.

Had Netanyahu not prompted the call for new elections, Israel’s ceremonial president could have chosen someone else to try to form a government.

The call for new elections is a surprising turn of events for Netanyahu who is widely considered Israel’s most powerful politician.

As NPR’s Daniel Estrin reported on All Things Considered, it is unprecedented to have new balloting scheduled just a month after the previous elections.

Estrin said there were two sticking points keeping Netanyahu from forming a majority government:

“The official reason given was that former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had very high conditions. He demanded a mandatory military draft for Orthodox Jews and ultra-orthodox parties refused that.

“But the bigger picture here is that Netanyahu is facing legal troubles. That is his chief concern. And by the end of this year he is going to be facing likely corruption charges. So he had been trying to build a coalition that would grant him immunity from prosecution while he’s in office. So things got complicated because he was trying to weave in his immunity into the deals he was trying to make with these parties.”

Estrin also reported that the new elections could delay the political components of a peace plan, such as borders and the issue of a Palestinian state, that is being fashioned in the White House by President Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu is months away from being Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, having held the job for one term in the 1990s and for the last decade.