Texas poll a warning sign for Biden

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Texas poll a warning sign for Biden

Joe Biden’s Southern-focused primary strategy may be in danger, with a new poll of Texas Democrats showing his lead narrowing to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

According to a survey released by Texas Lyceum, the former vice president leads the rest of the Democratic pack with 28% support. Sanders, however, is right behind him at 26%.

The rest of the field had half of Sanders’s support or lower, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in third place at 13%. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came in fourth at 9%.

Those numbers will certainly set off alarm bells for Biden, whose path to victory relies on running up large delegate counts in the South. Poised for early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden has been telling supporters and donors that the South remains his firewall.

The last reputable poll of Texas conducted in December by CNN found Sanders with 15% of the vote — behind Biden at 35%.

On March 3, Super Tuesday, when Texas holds its primary, the map is nearly evenly split between Northern and Southern states. The demographics of states like Minnesota and Colorado, with heavy pockets of urban liberals, favor a candidate like Sanders. But states with large black populations, such as Alabama and Virginia, are slated to go for Biden.

A principle reason former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was able to fend off Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary was her ability to win by double digits in the South. That cycle, Clinton earned 65.19% of the vote to Sanders’s 33.19% of the vote.

Should Sanders and Biden split Texas’s 228 pledged delegates, Biden would be forced to try and compete more competitively in states such as Maine, which Sanders won handily in 2016.

On Tuesday, Sanders announced a $2.5 million TV campaign in California and Texas, his first major expenditure in Super Tuesday states. The day before, Sanders announced a Spanish ad campaign in Nevada in an effort to shore up Hispanic support.

Sanders, a Brooklyn native, has also started a campaign to win the New York primary, with an email to supporters sent Wednesday titled “The race to win New York.”

“There are 274 delegates up for grabs there on April 28,” the email reads. “And as a supporter of Bernie’s campaign, you’ve done more than most to help us win.”

In 2016, Clinton, a former New York senator, won the state’s primary by nearly 16 points, with 57.54% of the vote.

Although Texas Lyceum found that both Biden and Sanders lost to President Trump in a hypothetical match up, Sanders was 1 percentage point stronger than Biden, at 47% support. Those numbers will undoubtedly be used to strengthen Sanders’s argument that he is actually the more electable candidate in the field.

The firm asked 1,200 adults from Jan. 10-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.83 points.

2 Giuliani Associates Tied to Ukraine Scandal Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

2 Giuliani Associates Tied to Ukraine Scandal Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, were also part of the pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

ImageRudy Giuliani, left, and Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington last month.
Credit Aram Roston/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Two associates of the president’s private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who helped fund efforts to investigate one of President Trump’s political rivals, were charged in a separate case with violating campaign finance laws, according to court documents.

The two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, believed to be important witnesses in the House’s impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, were arrested on campaign finance charges. The arrests and charges were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Two other men, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, were also indicted.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman aided Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to gin up investigations in Ukraine into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, among other potentially politically beneficial investigations for Mr. Trump. Mr. Parnas had been scheduled to participate in a deposition with House impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and Mr. Fruman on Friday. Neither had been expected to show up voluntarily. House Democrats were preparing to issue subpoenas to force them to do so.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman were arrested and were expected to appear in court in Northern Virginia on Thursday, according to a spokesman in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.

The indictment said Mr. Parnas and Mr. Kukushkin are Ukrainian-born Americans, while Mr. Fruman was born in Belarus and became an American citizen. Mr. Correia is American-born. Mr. Kukushkin was arrested Thursday in California, and Mr. Correia was still at large, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman have acted as emissaries in Ukraine for Mr. Giuliani as he has sought to uncover information about, and encourage investigations into, Mr. Trump’s rivals, including Mr. Biden.

Mr. Parnas, who has known Mr. Giuliani for years, worked with Mr. Fruman to connect Mr. Giuliani to Ukrainian prosecutors who provided information to Mr. Giuliani, as The Times revealed in May.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman are based in South Florida, and are executives of an energy company that donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC last year, prompting a Federal Election Commission complaint by a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog accusing the men and the company of violating campaign finance laws.

Last month, Mr. Giuliani sought to minimize the significance of the campaign finance inquiry into the two men.

“They had a campaign finance issue,” he said in an interview late last month. “I referred them to a campaign finance expert who pretty much resolved it.”

Their lawyer, John M. Dowd, who previously represented Mr. Trump against the special counsel’s inquiry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the arrest.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Nicholas Fandos and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated the custody status of two men who were indicted. Andrey Kukushkin was arrested in California, and David Correia was still at large, not the reverse.

Eileen Sullivan is the morning breaking news correspondent in Washington. She previously worked for The Associated Press for a decade, covering national security and criminal justice. @esullivannyt

Adam Goldman reports on the F.B.I. from Washington and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. @adamgoldmanNYT

William K. Rashbaum is a senior writer on the Metro desk, where he covers political and municipal corruption, courts, terrorism and broader law enforcement topics. He was a part of the team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. @WRashbaum  Facebook

John Kelly reportedly used to mute the line: urge Trump not to discuss sensitive topics

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

John Kelly reportedly used to mute the line during calls with world leaders to urge Trump not to discuss sensitive topics

Trump on Phone
President Donald Trump is seen through a window speaking on the phone with King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, in the Oval Office of the White House, January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump is facing new scrutiny over his calls with world leaders after a whistleblower flagged a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, in which Trump urged him to investigate a political rival.
  • The whistleblower alleged that a number of presidential transcripts have been locked away in a codeword-level system “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”
  • White House advisers such as former chief of staff John Kelly even sought to prevent Trump from divulging sensitive information to world leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
  • Kelly reportedly used to mute the line and urge Trump to stop discussing sensitive information.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, used to mute the line during President Donald Trump’s calls with world leaders to tell him not to continue discussing sensitive information, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

The news comes amid political turmoil over a recent call in which Trump urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s main political rivals.

The July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky was the subject of an explosive whistleblower complaint and has spurred an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats.

Read moreThe White House reportedly tried to conceal transcripts of Trump’s calls with other world leaders, including Russia’s Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman

The controversy has cast new scrutiny over Trump’s previous communications with other world leaders. The whistleblower indicated in his complaint that a number of presidential transcripts have been locked away in a codeword-level system “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”

The Journal reported Saturday that White House advisers such as Kelly sought to prevent Trump from divulging sensitive information to world leaders on such calls, and other government officials sought to keep a tight lid on records of those conversations.

john kelly
John Kelly.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Their efforts began after a number of controversies at the onset of Trump’s presidency, including an infamous call with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which Trump lambasted a “rotten” refugee deal the Obama administration brokered with the Australian government.

Trump also took heat for another contentious phone call with then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, reportedly telling him, “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”

Read moreTrump’s actions with Ukraine were ‘profoundly stupid’ and beyond anything any president has ever done, historians and veteran diplomats say

After the Australia and Mexico calls, the National Security Council “severely cut back” on the number of people to whom those call records were sent, The Journal reported, citing people knowledgeable of the situation.

Instead, the call records were sent only to people directly involved in the issues discussed in the call, according to The Journal’s sources.

Did Trump Try to Extort the President of Ukraine Into Investigating Joe Biden’s Son?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORKER)

 

Did Trump Try to Extort the President of Ukraine Into Investigating Joe Biden?

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes a Trump development to trump them all—or most of them. On Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that a complaint from an anonymous intelligence whistle-blower, which has been the subject of a bitter oversight dispute between the Trump Administration and Congress, centers on a phone call that Trump had on July 25th, with Ukraine’s recently elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky. Many details about this story remain murky, but the implication seems to be that the whistle-blower is alleging that Trump promised to release two hundred and fifty million dollars in stalled aid for Ukraine if Zelensky would launch a corruption investigation into matters involving Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

You might think that sounds too outrageous to be plausible: a President who spent just under two years being investigated for possibly colluding with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election putting the squeeze on another foreign country to interfere in the 2020 race. But hang on a minute. Shortly after the Post’s story dropped, Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has for months been claiming (without any real evidence) that Joe Biden bribed Ukrainian officials to drop a corruption investigation involving his son, went on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show and said, “It is perfectly appropriate for a President to say to a leader of a foreign country, ‘Investigate this bribe, that was paid by a former Vice-President, that our media in America is covering up.’ ”

For the past few days, reporters have been trying to get more details about the whistle-blower’s complaint. Joseph Maguire, the acting director of National Intelligence, has ordered the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community not to pass it along to Congress, a decision that he says was based on legal advice from the Justice Department. The Administration’s refusal to cooperate has caused a mighty row with the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff, Democrat of California. Of course, the Trump Administration and the Democrats on Capitol Hill are involved in many disputes arising from congressional investigations into Trump and his associates. But until now none of them have involved the suggestion that Trump may have exerted pressure on a foreign leader to take actions to help his 2020 reelection bid, and may have even pledged something in return.

Even before this latest revelation, however, Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, a former comedian and screenwriter who was elected President of Ukraine in April, had attracted the attention of congressional Democrats, who were investigating what Trump and Giuliani were up to on the Kiev front. In August, reports emerged that Trump was threatening to withhold two hundred and fifty million dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which was supposed to be used to deter Russian aggression in the east of the country.

On September 9th, the leaders of three Democrat-controlled House committees demanded the transcript and a list of participants on the July 25th call. The Democrats said that Giuliani and Trump “appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels.” The Democrats also referred to a Ukrainian government readout from the July 25th call, which said that Trump told Zelensky he was “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

At that stage, there was no suggestion of a link to a whistle-blower. But on Wednesday night the Washington Post reported that the whistle-blower’s complaint “involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.” The report went on, “Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a ‘promise’ that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials.”

This Post story led to a lot of speculation about the identity of the foreign leader. The whistle-blower filed the complaint on August 12th. During the previous few weeks, Trump had spoken with a number of foreign leaders in addition to Zelensky. They included Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Holland’s Mark Rutte, and the Emir of Kuwait. The fact that Putin’s name was on the list produced a lot of excitement online, but no new details.

On Wednesday morning Trump weighed in, writing on Twitter, “Another Fake News story out there – It never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!” In a second tweet, he went on, writing, “Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

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The tweets didn’t solve the mystery of who the foreign leader was. But at about 8 p.m. on Thursday evening, the Post appeared to clarify the matter, posting its story under the headline “Whistleblower complaint about Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter.” The report didn’t say explicitly that the complaint concerned the call between Trump and Zelensky, but it did note that the call took place just two and a half weeks before the whistle-blower made the filing.

As the rest of the media was trying to digest this news, Giuliani appeared on CNN and, almost immediately, went off a cliff. In addition to claiming that it would be fine for Trump to pressure Zelensky and his government to investigate Biden, he admitted that he’d already done so himself, and also managed to contradict his story in the process. The first time that Cuomo questioned Giuliani about whether he had asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, he replied, “No, actually, I didn’t.” But then he went on to say he had inquired how a certain Ukrainian official had ended the corruption investigation that allegedly involved Hunter Biden. “So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?” Cuomo asked. “Of course I did,” Giuliani replied.

Although he defended Trump’s right to pressure the Ukrainian President to investigate Biden, Giuliani also insisted that he didn’t know anything about the conversation between Trump and Zelensky. Crazy as all of this undoubtedly was, the former New York mayor’s appearance was something of a sideshow. The crux of the matter is his client, and whether he attempted, effectively, to extort Zelensky into trying to find dirt on Biden. As they say in the news business, this story is still developing. The next step, surely, is for Congress to get access to the whistle-blower’s complaint. Only then will we find out what it amounts to.

2nd Democratic Primary Debate: See Which Candidates Made The Cut

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

2nd Democratic Primary Debate: See Which Candidates Made The Cut

From left, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand faced off in the June 27 debate. All will be back for next week’s rounds.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The 20-person lineup for the two-night Democratic presidential debate on July 30 and 31 will look familiar, with just one change from last month’s event.

Last week, California Rep. Eric Swalwell became the first major candidate to end his White House bid. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock — after only narrowly missing the mark last time — will take his place.

The criteria for the second debate was the same as the first, requiring hopefuls to meet either a polling or fundraising benchmark. A candidate must have registered at least 1% in three polls recognized by the Democratic National Committee. Or the candidates must have 65,000 donors, with at least 200 donors in 20 states.

Fourteen candidates met both requirements — former Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

The remaining six candidates made the cut because of their standing in the polls, but did not meet the donor threshold — Bullock, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel qualified based on donations alone, but under the DNC formula, polling is given greater weight, thus he didn’t make the cut. Ten candidates will be debating each night.

Other major candidates left off the stage include Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam. Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, who just entered the race late last month, and billionaire executive and activist Tom Steyer, who reversed his initial decision to pass on the race last week, also haven’t qualified, with little time to register in polls or raise money.

CNN, which is hosting this next series of debates in Detroit, will hold a live drawing on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET to determine which candidates will appear on which night. That’s where the real shake-up will happen, shuffling which White House hopefuls get to face off against one another and which will have a chance to take aim at the top-tier candidates.

In the first debate, Harris seized her chance against Biden in the second night of the debate. She went after him over his past opposition to mandated busing to integrate schools in the 1970s, and Biden faltered in his response. That helped her rise in many polls.

On the first debate night, Castro found a chance to emerge from the pack after taking a firm stance on decriminalizing illegal border crossings and taking on fellow Texan O’Rourke’s reluctance to back such a change. Castro saw his fundraising surge while O’Rourke has continued to struggle.

The stakes of performing well in the July debate could be high for several candidates.

The criteria for the third debate in September is expected to winnow the field further. Candidates will have to register at least 2% in at least four national or statewide polls recognized by the committee and get donations from at least 130,000 unique donors, along with 400 unique donors in 20 states. If a candidate does not hit both benchmarks, they will be off the stage.

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