READ: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s opening statement for impeachment hearing

Washington (CNN)The House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing into President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, led the hearing. “That call was part of a concerted effort by the President, and by his men, to solicit a personal advantage in the next election—this time, in the form of an investigation of his political adversaries by a foreign government. “To obtain that private, political advantage, President Trump withheld both an official White House meeting from the newly elected president of a fragile democracy and vital military aid from a vulnerable ally. “When Congress found out about this scheme and began to investigate, President Trump took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to cover up …

Possible impeachment witness Kupperman tries to keep lawsuit afloat

Washington (CNN)Attorneys for Charles Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser who hasn’t testified about President Donald Trump and Ukraine after he tied up his House subpoena in court, are doing what they can to keep his lawsuit alive. “Even if the House Defendants are immune from suit, the Speech or Debate Clause does not here apply to the Sergeant-at-Arms,” Kupperman’s attorney, Charles Cooper, wrote on Wednesday. He notes the White House has no opinion on whether Irving should be added to the case, but the House might respond at a later time. Kupperman had already sued the chairs of the House investigative committees, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump. Kupperman filed his case after receiving a House subpoena and …

Wealthy US donors gave millions to rightwing UK groups

Revelations raise questions about influence of foreign funding on British politics Eleven wealthy American donors who have given a total of more than $3.7m (2.86m) to rightwing UK groups in the past five years have been identified, raising questions about the influence of foreign funding on British politics. The donations have been given to four British thinktanks that have been vocal in the debate about Brexit and the shape of the UKs future trade with the EU, and an organisation that claims to be an independent grassroots campaign representing ordinary British taxpayers. Many of the donors have also given significant sums of money to a series of like-minded American groups which, like the British organisations, promote a free market agenda …

Diplomat who overheard bombshell call between Trump and Sondland set to testify

Washington (CNN)A US diplomat who overheard President Donald Trump ask the US Ambassador to the EU about the status of “investigations” during a cellphone conversation in a Kiev restaurant is set to appear before the House impeachment inquiry behind closed doors on Friday. Holmes has also served as a special assistant for South and Central Asia to former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns and spent time on the National Security Council staff at the White House as director for Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. “He is a decent guy and a smart, competent foreign service officer,” said a second source who has worked on US policy in Ukraine and knows Holmes. Political specialist As political counselor, …

Trump focuses on ‘perfect’ Ukraine call despite allegations of broader pressure campaign

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump can’t stop talking about his “perfect” call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and disparaging the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the House impeachment inquiry. Later that morning, he tweeted: “Read the Transcript!” The tweets followed a weekend during which Trump repeatedly falsely accused the whistleblower of mischaracterizing his call with Zelensky, said he would like the whistleblower’s identity to be outed and suggested that his phone call with Zelensky was the core reason why Democrats are marching toward impeachment. “I think that whistleblower gave a lot of false information and you have to see who the whistleblower is. Once I released the transcript, which was almost immediately, the whistleblower’s report was very wrong because as you know …

Boeing CEO to Congress: ‘we understand and deserve this scrutiny’

Washington (CNN)Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg admitted to Congress on Tuesday that his company made mistakes with the design of its 737 MAX jet and deserves the scrutiny it is receiving after two fatal crashes. Investigators and the company have linked the crashes to a flawed stabilization system that repeatedly pushed the planes’ noses down and overwhelmed the pilots. Senators pressed Muilenburg on how Boeing allowed the faulty design, which was based on a single sensor with no redundancy, to market, and concerns the company and Federal Aviation Administration have an inappropriately close relationship. “We cannot have a race for commercial airplanes become a race to the bottom when it comes to safety,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, the committee’s top Democrat, said. …

Obamacare premiums are dropping 4% for 2020 plans

(CNN)The Affordable Care Act is looking stronger for 2020 — and the Trump administration is claiming credit for it, even as officials try to upend the landmark health reform law. Twenty more insurers are joining the federal exchanges, bringing the total to 175 for 2020, up from a low of 132 in 2018. The number of states with only one carrier is dropping to two, down from five this year. States that run their own exchanges are also seeing improvements for 2020. In California, for instance, rates are rising by a record low 0.8%. The Golden State restored the individual mandate, requiring residents to have insurance or pay a penalty, and expanded subsidies to middle-income Californians. Washington will see two …

Book: Trump raged against refugees from Somalia in private meeting

Washington (CNN)In the first few months of his administration, President Donald Trump asked then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke why he could not ban refugees from “f*****g Somalia” in a bout of rage at his Bedminster golf club. In October 2017, weeks after Trump complained to Elaine Duke, the then-acting Homeland Security secretary received a call from White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller who insisted that Duke “shut off refugee flows from 11 countries the administration had identified as high-risk,” particularly Somalia, according to the book. Duke refused. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the administration has chipped away at the refugee ceiling — the number of refugees …

Giuliani’s case rests on two Ukrainians with checkered pasts and suspect motives

Kiev, Ukraine (CNN)There are two Ukrainians at the heart of US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s allegations against former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Both headed Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office — Viktor Shokin between 2015 and 2016, and Yuriy Lutsenko between 2016 and 2019. Asked by CNN this week whether he knew of Lutsenko’s visit, Petro Poroshenko, who was Ukraine’s President at the time, said: “I would never have any information about that.” CNN has obtained a document — translated into English — that Lutsenko prepared for the January meeting. It’s unclear whether the document was actually given to Giuliani’s team. Giuliani’s office has not responded to CNN’s multiple requests for confirmation. But like the …

The New American Gothic by Criselda Vasquez (Oil on Canvas 72 x 48)

In this oil on canvas painting by Criselda Vasquez, she uses her parents to reinterpret and contemporize the iconic 1930 painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic. Completed in 2017 and measuring 72 inches tall and 48 inches wide, Vasquez adds: As the American-born daughter of two Mexican immigrants, I illustrate their plight and the plight of many in my community with my art. I want to expose the heart-breaking pain of what a Mexican immigrant’s family goes through. I focus on bringing my family’s world into the light and out of the shadows. My paintings are best described as visual comments on the hidden daily reality of the Mexican-American experience. These portraits and still lifes reveal my family in their …

Pompeo blames Iran for drone attacks on Saudi oil field

Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pinned the blame on Iran for an attack at a Saudi oil field in a pair of tweets Saturday. “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo tweeted, referencing Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” Pompeo continued, providing no evidence that Iran was behind the attacks. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, rejected the accusation that Iran was behind the attack. “Such blind accusations and inappropriate comments in a diplomatic context …

Democratic cattle call ignites New Hampshire primary

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)The Democratic field has flocked to New Hampshire as the first-in-the-nation primary that may be even more pivotal than usual grabs the spotlight for the first time in the 2020 campaign. New Hampshire’s primary could also provide a hope of redemption for Joe Biden should he underperform in the Iowa caucuses. But front-runners mustn’t lose, so it’s possible the former vice president may be face a win or bust scenario here. If he stumbles, the state could usher alternative moderates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker or Pete Buttigieg into contention. As fall approaches, the dominant theme of the primary is already clear: Candidates are learning at town halls, ice cream socials and in their selfie lines that …

NRA rips San Francisco Board of Supervisors after being labeled a ‘domestic terrorist organization’

(CNN)The National Rifle Association on Wednesday ripped the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for declaring the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization,” calling the vote “worthless and disgusting.” The resolution is a largely symbolic one. It calls for the city and county to “take every reasonable step to limit” San Francisco’s “financial and contractual relationships” with vendors who do business with the NRA. But the resolution does not, for example, carry the law enforcement implications of designation as a foreign terrorist organization. Despite the rise in cases that law enforcement describes as domestic terror-related, there is no federal charge for “domestic terrorism.” The US doesn’t have a domestic terrorism law and no government agency designates domestic groups as being terrorist organizations. …

Where Trump’s ’emergency power’ on foreign business comes from

(CNN)President Donald Trump is threatening to use his broad executive authority in a new and unprecedented way in his escalating trade war with China, arguing he can order companies to start doing business elsewhere. One key thing to know is that the emergency powers he wants to use evolved from the need for the President to act with decisive authority during war, specifically World War I. The Great Depression prompted the expansion of emergency powers to include economic emergencies, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service. (This piece uses many facts from that analysis, which is worth reading.) These powers were used throughout the Cold War until the 1970s, when, according to CRS, Congress basically realized the US …

What Anthony Scaramucci gets dead wrong in his turn against Donald Trump

(CNN)Anthony Scaramucci is done with Donald Trump. THE POINT — NOW ON YOUTUBE! In each episode of his weekly YouTube show, Chris Cillizza will delve a little deeper into the surreal world of politics. Click to subscribe! In a tweet shortly after that CNN interview, Scaramucci wrote this:

Nigel Farage attacks Harry and Meghan, jokes about ‘overweight’ Queen Mother

Exclusive: Brexit party leader labels Duke of Sussex terrifying while disparaging Queen Mother in Sydney CPAC speech Nigel Farage has derided the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for their irrelevant social justice and environmental campaigns while abusing Prince Charles and describing the late Queen Mother as an overweight, chain-smoking gin drinker, in an incendiary speech to an Australian rightwing political conference. Farages speech to Sydneys Conservative Political Action Conference from which media were barred ranged across his views on Brexit, media bias and the United Nations, but he reserved his fiercest condemnation for members of the royal family, including princes Charles and Harry, and the Queen Mother. The Brexit party leader was laudatory about the Queen an amazing, awe-inspiring woman, …