Trump lies, screams, rants again

Donald Trump. (Jim Mone/AP)

The vile, corrupt, angry, coarse Donald Trump appeared in full, disgusting display Thursday night at a rally in front of his dwindling “core” of supporters in Minneapolis.

In just three minutes, he churned out five major lies as his pitiful defense of his impeachable actions against the Constitution, the nation and its people.

He told his remaining rabid — and clueless — “fans” that Joe Biden “as only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” That, of course, brought raucous cheers from the racists who dominate his base.

His displays of outright bigotry included attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Somali-American in Congress.

Trump also mocked Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress.

“How hell did that ever happen?” he said of her election, adding: “Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.”

Rep Omar is a frequent target of a bigot like Trump.  Earlier this year, he included her in an attack on four minority Democratic female members of Congress, saying they all should “to back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

When Elaine Duke was acting director of homeland security, Trump screamed at for not doing more to “ban refugees from fucking Somalia.”

He ignored that all four of the women are American citizens and three of them were born in the United States.

Trump’s tone at the rally in Minneapolis brought outcries from social media.

“This is the kind hate rally ween in authoritarian and fascist countries,” posted Elad Nehori. “We Jews have seen this before, as have countless other minorities.”

And speaking of “totally broken and crime-infested places,” that description could easily describe Washington, DC, which is ever more so since Trump became this nation’s accidental president and Manhattan, which he is from.

Trump tirades came as more and more facts emerge on his corruption and the criminal actions of his administration.  We’ve learned how he tried to get former Secretary of State Tex Tillerson to “intervene” in Ukrainian prosecution of an ally of his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“The modern day Hitler,” said Mara McEwin  on Twitter.  The red shirts, rec caps are the new brown shirts.  Truly terrifying.”

“The special hate that Trump and the alt-right have for Somalis, above and beyond all other immigrant groups, has always fascinated and disgusted me,” posted Noah Smith.

Erin Maye Quade, a former Minnesota state rep, notes that Trump supporters bombed a mosque in Bloomington, MN, made death threats against a member of the Minnesota Congressional delegation and mailed bombs to Democrats.

“Many elected officials (with Somali constituents) were in attendance tonight,” she adds. “They should be asked about this.”

A lot of people should also be asked why they elected such a vile, despicable degenerate for president.

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Trump calls on China to investigate Bidens


President Donald Trump speaks to the media. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ensnarled in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump Thursday called on another nation to probe former Vice President Joe Biden: China.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in remarks to reporters outside the White House. Trump said he hadn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Biden and his son Hunter but said it’s “certainly something we could start thinking about.”

Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence that the former vice president benefited financially from his son’s business relationships.

Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden, as well as Giuliani’s conduct, are at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week.

Trump’s comments came as he publicly acknowledged that his message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials was to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential contender. Trump’s accusations of impropriety are unsupported by evidence.

“It’s a very simple answer,” Trump said of his call with Zelenskiy. “They should investigate the Bidens.”

Trump has sought to implicate Biden and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.

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Biden fires back at Trump’s attacks

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a gun safety forum Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured supporters Wednesday night that his message to President Donald Trump is “I’m not going anywhere” as he laid out his most forceful pushback yet to Trump’s baseless attacks.

In a rebuke of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the former vice president said during a 20-minute speech at a rally that he’s not surprised Trump asked a foreign government for help to defeat him. Trump’s effort to enlist Ukraine has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House.

Trump and his allies have accused Biden and his son Hunter, without evidence, of participating in the kind of corruption that has plagued Ukraine. They point to Hunter Biden’s service on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Yet no one has produced evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

“Let me make something clear to Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me. I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said to loud cheers.

“It’s not about Donald Trump’s antics. It’s about what has brought Donald Trump, and the nation, to this sobering moment in our history and to the choice facing us in 2020,” he said. “What has brought us here is simply this: the abuse of power.”

A complaint by a government whistleblower helped make public Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president. House investigators said Wednesday they will issue a subpoena demanding all White House and Trump administration documents related to efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.

“Desperate and defensive, Trump sends one crazed tweet after another _ insinuating that the whistleblower should be dealt with extensively, using the word ‘executed,’ threatening to prosecute the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warning direly of civil war if he is impeached,” he said.

Biden praised the whistleblower and accused Trump of repeatedly smearing the Biden family.

“Now because of the courageous actions of a whistleblower, Trump’s scheme has been exposed,” he said. “He did it because, like every bully in history _ he’s afraid. He’s afraid of just how badly he may be beaten in November.”

More than 400 people crowded into the student center at Truckee Meadows Community College for Biden’s rally after he joined eight other White House hopefuls at a gun policy forum in Las Vegas earlier in the day. It marked the first time this year the early Democratic presidential front-runner had brought his campaign to northern Nevada.

Nevada’s caucuses in February follow Iowa and New Hampshire as third in the nominating process. It was one of the few key swing states that Trump failed to carry in 2016. Biden historically has enjoyed strong support from labor unions and others in Washoe County, including Reno and Sparks.

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Has Trump finally gone too far…again?

President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Very behind the scenes, a whistleblower from the intelligence community voiced urgent concern about a matter involving a conversation between Ukraine’s leader and President Donald Trump. It’s so hush-hush that even Democrats won’t say all that they know, or suspect.

Very much out in the open, Trump is calling for an investigation that involves Ukraine and could help him win re-election if it breaks his way.

Trump’s interest in getting dirt from abroad on prospective Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden has been hiding in plain sight for months. His fealty to standards that other presidents have either lived by or pretended to — as when it comes to chats with foreign leaders, for example — is thin.

This is, after all, the man who openly encouraged Russia to snoop on Hillary Clinton’s email and much more recently said that, sure, he’d listen to foreigners who come to him with dirt on an opponent. Why not? he wondered.

As the contours of the episode roiling the capital begin to flesh out, here are some questions and answers at the intersection of Trump, Ukraine and the whistleblower.

WHY THE WHISTLE?

Because someone in the government, who is under the umbrella of U.S. intelligence, saw or heard something that raised a credible and “urgent concern” about how someone else in government did or said something that “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community.” That’s according to Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for intelligence.

It’s no more spelled out than that so far, because the complaint remains a closely held secret.

But the complaint was based on a series of events, one of which was a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the issue by name and were granted anonymity.

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WHAT DOES TRUMP SAY ABOUT THE COMPLAINT?

“Just another political hack job.”

“I have conversations with many leaders. It’s always appropriate.”

As for the July 25 phone conversation he had with Zelenskiy: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed.”

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WHAT DO DEMOCRATS SAY?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says if reports about the complaint bear out, Trump faces “serious repercussions” and the nation will have “grave, urgent concerns for our national security.”

As the leader at the center of a months-long Democratic debate over whether to impeach Trump — she has resisted pressure from members to do so — Pelosi will find her every word on this matter scrutinized for signs of whether this makes her want to move ahead.

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WHERE DO UKRAINE AND BIDEN COME INTO IT?

Biden was vice president, with some influence over U.S. policy on Ukraine, when son Hunter was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian businessman. Trump for months has been calling for more scrutiny of that period and impugning corrupt motives to the business and government work of the Biden family, without putting forward evidence of wrongdoing.

“Someone ought to look into Joe Biden,” he said again Friday, undeterred by the revelation of the whistleblower complaint.

The question arising from this matter is whether Trump personally pressed Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens in that phone call or other times and, if so, whether seeking or accepting such help from a foreign leader to benefit his re-election constitutes a misuse of presidential power. That question can’t be answered with what’s known so far.

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IS THIS RUSSIA REDUX, JUST A DIFFERENT COUNTRY?

There are some similarities with the episode investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller as he tracked an aggressive effort by Russia to tilt the 2016 U.S. election to Trump. There are also differences, as well as much that remains unknown.

The Mueller report informed or reminded everyone that it’s illegal for a political campaign to accept a “thing of value” from a foreign government. It could be argued that an investigation by a foreign government meant to harm a political opponent would be a thing of value, and pressing for one could be perilous for a U.S. president.

It could also be argued that it is not. The Trump administration has had longstanding complaints about corruption in Ukraine and asking for corruption to be investigated is, on the surface, different than the potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign that Mueller looked into.

One striking twist here is that pressure for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens has come most publicly not from the government or the campaign, but from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani has been working for months to get Ukraine’s leadership to probe the Bidens.

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HOW?

In May, Giuliani scrapped plans to take his case for a Biden investigation directly to authorities in Kiev, when word got out about the trip. But he’s been talking to Ukrainians about it.

At the time, he tweeted: “Explain to me why Biden shouldn’t be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while He was VP and point man for Ukraine.”

Trump tag-teamed him on the Biden matter, telling Fox News “I’m hearing it’s a major scandal, major problem.”

Asked Thursday on CNN whether he’d pressed Ukrainian leaders to probe the Bidens, Giuliani said: “Of course I did” seconds after saying “No, actually I didn’t.”

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WHERE’S THE COMPLAINT?

Under wraps.

Only bits and pieces of information about it have emerged because the administration has balked at showing it to Congress, much less to the public.

The timeline is this: Atkinson, the inspector general, received the complaint Aug. 12, reviewed it and found it credible and urgent, and forwarded it two weeks later to Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence. Maguire’s office decided the complaint was outside the agency’s jurisdiction and not urgent, and informed Congress Sept. 9 of the situation without showing it the complaint. Atkinson said that was a break from normal procedure, which is to disclose the contents to lawmakers.

That’s when House Democrats began to suspect that Trump was the subject of the complaint and quickly followed with a subpoena, yet to be satisfied.

Atkinson appeared before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to tell lawmakers the substance of the complaint. Maguire has agreed to give public testimony Sept. 26 and both are expected to talk to the Senate intelligence committee during the week.

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Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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Biden sounds like the front runner…until he doesn’t

Former Vice President Joe Biden responds to a question Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner. And there were moments in Thursday night’s debate when he looked the part.

Standing between a pair of liberal senators offering radical change, he unabashedly embraced his more moderate position on health care, forcefully pressuring Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to level with Americans about the steep cost of implementing a fully government-run system. He was more polished and practiced than in previous contests. And he repeatedly leaned on the legacy of former President Barack Obama, who remains the most popular Democrat in the nation.

“I’m for Barack — I think the Obamacare worked,” he declared.

But the debate was punctuated by moments that highlighted why Biden can’t shake questions about his consistency and whispers about his fitness for office, despite his lead in most national polls and early state surveys. Most glaringly: a meandering answer near the end of the debate about his past statements on racial inequality. Biden said poor parents should play the “record player” for their children before veering off into comments about Venezuela.

Biden’s standing in the Democratic contest is the source of much debate within the party. Is he an experienced elder statesman who can calm an anxious nation and peel back some of the white working class voters who helped send President Donald Trump to the White House? Or is the 76-year-old past his prime and out of step with a party that is growing younger, more diverse and more liberal?

Thursday night’s contest provided fresh fodder for each of those theories.

Biden was at his best in his lengthy exchange with Sanders and Warren over the future of health care in America. He confidently pressed them over the cost of their sweeping “Medicare for All” proposals, exposing Warren’s unwillingness to say whether middle class Americans would see a tax increase under her plan (Sanders says they would, but argues the rise would be offset by lower health care costs).

In a retort to Sanders, who has said he expects employers would pass on health care savings to their workers, Biden exclaimed: “For a socialist you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”

Biden was the focus of fierce criticism from his rivals in both of the previous Democratic debates. But those attacks did little to diminish Biden’s standing atop polls, nor has a series of verbal flubs and misstatements throughout the summer.

The other reality: The candidates who have launched the sharpest attacks on Biden have gained little ground or already dropped out of the race. Sen. Kamala Harris, for example, bested Biden in the opening debate with a highly personal critique over his decades-old position on federally mandated school busing, but any boost for her candidacy was short-lived.

Perhaps mindful of that reality, most candidates sidestepped overt criticism of the vice president in Thursday’s debate.

The one notable exception was Julián Castro, who served as Obama’s housing secretary and is in need of a jolt to break out of the lower tier of candidates. In a highly charged moment, Castro challenged Biden’s memory — a barely veiled reference to questions about the former vice president’s age.

“Are you forgetting already what you just said two minutes ago?” Castro said during an exchange on health care.

In a post-debate interview, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker laid into Biden as well, saying there were many people concerned about Biden’s ability to carry the ball “across the end line without fumbling.”

Castro and Booker were zeroing in on real questions that are being asked about Biden. Is he too old to serve as president? If he were the nominee, would he make a mistake at a critical moment that could clear the way for Trump?

Biden’s stumbles later in the debate magnified those questions. He struggled through an answer about the war in Iraq and gave a grab-bag answer to a question about how to repair the legacy of slavery in America. He appeared to suggest that poorer families needed help learning how to raise their children.

Biden’s supporters argue that ultimately, those answers — and the questions they raise — matter less to voters than their overall impressions of the former vice president. Indeed, there is a deep reservoir of goodwill for Biden in the Democratic Party, shaped in large part by the eight years he served as Obama’s No. 2.

Which leaves little doubt as to why Biden spent much of the debate reminding Americans about those years, urging them to see him as the rightful heir to legacy of the last Democrat to occupy the Oval Office.

“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years — good, bad, indifferent,” Biden said.

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Editor’s note: Washington bureau chief Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for AP since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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Black voters hold the key to 2020 presidential election

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to community faith leaders after serving breakfast during a visit to Dulan’s Soul Food on Crenshaw in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

For all the strategic calculations, sophisticated voter targeting and relentless talk about electability in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential nomination will be determined by a decidedly different group: black voters.

African Americans will watch as mostly white voters in the first two contests express preferences and winnow the field — then they will almost certainly anoint the winner.

So far, that helps explain the front-running status of former Vice President Joe Biden. He has name recognition, a relationship with America’s first black president and decades long Democratic resume. Black voters have long been at the foundation of his support — his home state of Delaware, where he served as a U.S. senator for nearly four decades, is 38 percent black — and until another presidential candidate proves that he or she can beat him, he is likely to maintain that support.

In the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton held a strong lead among black voters over Barack Obama until he stunned her by winning the Iowa caucuses and proved to black voters that he was acceptable to a broad spectrum of Democrats. Those same voters returned to Clinton in 2016.

This cycle, many black voters are also making a pragmatic choice — driven as much or more by who can defeat President Donald Trump as the issues they care about — and sitting back to see which candidate white voters are comfortable with before deciding whom they will back.

At the same time, the early courtship of black voters, overt and subtle, is part of a primary within the primary that includes detailed plans on issues like criminal justice reform, reparations, maternal mortality among black women, voter suppression and systemic racism.

“As black voters and movers and drivers of national politics, our self-image and awareness of our power and influence is evolving,” said Aimee Allison, founder of the She the People network, which hosted the first presidential forum aimed specifically at female voters of color.

Trump appealed to black voters during the 2016 campaign by saying “What the hell do you have to lose?” and ended up with only 8 percent of the black vote. But the Republican president again is saying he will try to win over black voters, frequently citing low unemployment and his own success in signing criminal justice legislation. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that he will succeed.

But the first test of the decisiveness of black voters will come in the primaries. African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population but 24 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. That number is more formidable in the early primary state of South Carolina, where black voters are two-thirds of primary voters, and in other early voting states like Georgia, Alabama and Virginia.

Biden reminded black reporters in a recent roundtable that his strength is not just with working class whites, but with the black voters he’s known for more than half a century in politics.

“After all this time, they think they have a sense of what my character is and who I am, warts and all,” Biden said. “I’ll be surprised if you find any African Americans that think I’m not in on the deal, that I’m not who I say I am … I’ve never, ever, ever in my entire life been in circumstances where I’ve ever felt uncomfortable being in the black community.”

He acknowledged that his familiarity is no assurance of success. And he noted that black voters may ultimately prefer black candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris of California or Cory Booker of New Jersey. First, though, one of them would have to prove to black voters that they were viable alternatives.

Black voters can be decisive not only in determining the Democrats’ nominee but also the ultimate winner. While Democrats have peaked in recent cycles with white voters at around 40 percent, black voters have been their most loyal constituency.

But in 2016, a drop-off among black voters had consequences. Black voter turnout dropped from 65.3 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent, and Hillary Clinton received 89 percent of the black vote, compared with 93 percent for Barack Obama in 2012 and 95 percent in 2008.

“It comes down to a strategy decision that campaigns have to make: Do they believe that the way to win the White House is to win white voters, or do they believe that the way to White House is to mobilize voters of color?” said Leah Daughtry, who recently hosted a 2020 Democratic forum for black faith voters in Atlanta.

“Is there a strategy that allows you to do both? Perhaps,” Daughtry said. “But one is a sure bet. If you get us to the polls, we are most likely to vote Democrat. If you get white folks to the polls, you don’t know what they’re going to do.”

In the past, Biden would have been a prohibitive favorite, said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. But black voters are demanding that candidates deliver on their priorities in a way they haven’t done in recent history.

“Black folks are looking to figure out who white voters are going to align with, but I don’t think that’s the driver that it has been in the past,” she continued. “Black voters, like white voters, are increasingly frustrated with the process. No longer is it good enough to choose between the devil or the witch.”

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