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Instead of Waiting for Impeachment, Americans Urged Look to Follow Puerto Rico’s ‘Blueprint to Remove Trump’ and Stage Mass Protests



Instead of Waiting for Impeachment, Americans Urged Look to Follow Puerto Rico's 'Blueprint to Remove Trump' and Stage Mass Protests

While many progressives were dismayed to learn on Thursday that Democratic leaders remain reticent to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, some looked with admiration at the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who successfully forced their governor from office with days of non-violent protests.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation Wednesday night followed nearly two weeks of historic, sustained demonstrations by Puerto Ricans angry over leaked messages showing the governor and his associates denigrating his constituents, as well as a corruption scandal.

Puerto Ricans have given “their fellow Americans the blueprint to remove Trump,” wrote one progressive critic on social media.

Meanwhile, in the wake of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly dismissed Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) suggestion in a closed-door meeting that House committees begin drafting articles of impeachment against the president.

At the hearing, Mueller testified that Trump was “not exculpated” for obstruction of justice. His testimony confirmed that Trump ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller and told former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to order the Department of Justice to limit the special counsel’s probe.

“Don’t wait for politicians—organize general strikes and get in the streets! It’s time we show Trump where the real power is!”
—Jesse Hagopian, Rethink Schools

A number of observers noted after the hearing that those facts—along with Trump’s alleged violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, advocacy for violence against his political opponents, attacks on the free press, and other alleged misconduct—provided enough evidence for Democrats to draft articles of impeachment.

“In less than 16 days from the time the first news broke of his horrible and hateful comments, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is expected to resign after mass protests,” tweeted Human Rights Campaign press secretary Charlotte Clymer. “I can’t even recall all the horrible shit Trump has done in the last 16 days.”

One observer noted that Puerto Ricans in New York rallied at Grand Central Station in support of people living on the island territory.

A poll taken this month by the Washington Post/ABC News showed that 37 percent of American adults currently support beginning impeachment proceedings. A survey released by Gallup on July 3 revealed that 45 percent of Americans, including 81 percent of Democrats, say the president should be impeached—a greater share than that which backed impeachment proceedings when officials began pursuing impeachment for Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

“The Puerto Rican people showed how you impeach a bigoted politician: Don’t wait for politicians—organize general strikes and get in the streets!” wrote author and educator Jesse Hagopian. “It’s time we show Trump where the real power is!”

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.



Top Cuomo aide DeRosa Emerges as Enforcer, Enabler in AG’s Sex Harass Report

New details have emerged about how Melissa DeRosa — a top aide and trusted confidante to Gov. Andrew Cuomo — allegedly helped try to bury the sexual harassment allegations against her boss.



New details have emerged about how Melissa DeRosa — a top aide and trusted confidante to Gov. Andrew Cuomo — allegedly helped try to bury the sexual harassment allegations against her boss.

The scathing official report confirming the three-term Democrat Cuomo’s potentially criminal behavior states that DeRosa played a key role in leaking the personnel file of one accuser in an attempt to discredit her — something Attorney General Letitia James’ independent probers found amounted to unlawful retaliation.

The Cuomo consigliere also pressured at least one former staffer to “surreptitiously record” a phone call with a government aide in the hopes of finding out what dirt she potentially had on the governor, the report alleges.

DeRosa, 38, was hired by Cuomo in 2013, after earlier jobs as acting chief of staff for since-disgraced ex-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and as the state director of the advocacy group Organizing for America.

The daughter of leading Albany lobbyist Giorgio DeRosa, she was promoted in 2017 to secretary to the governor, making her the first woman to hold the powerful position, which officially ranks her No. 1 on Cuomo’s staff.

New details from the state Attorney General’s probe into Gov. Andrew Cuomo reveal his aide Melissa DeRosa’s role in his sexual harassment and retaliation.

A source who has frequent contact with both DeRosa and Cuomo previously told The Post that, “Melissa is very fiercely loyal and protective of the governor.”

“She can be very tough to deal with,” the source said, adding, “DeRosa is feared … If you cross her, you’re crossing the governor.”

DeRosa played a major role as secretary to the governor, in Cuomo’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the administration’s alleged cover-up of nursing-home COVID-19 deaths.

As The Post exclusively revealed, DeRosa privately told Democratic lawmakers that his administration stonewalled their requests for complete data on nursing home deaths from the virus.

She also helped him craft his lucrative memoir about the crisis, a project that has since come under scrutiny by the feds.

DeRosa and other Cuomo administration officials reportedly didn’t report Charlotte Bennett’s sexual harassment complaint immediately.

The 165-page report into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, commissioned by state Attorney General Letitia James and compiled by independent investigators, mentions DeRosa’s name a whopping 187 times, including footnotes.

It describes how DeRosa, instead of seriously looking into the accusations from current and former aides, allegedly took part in dismissing and covering up the claims to protect the governor.

For instance, investigators alleged that DeRosa and other top aides, including counsel Judith Mogul and former Chief of Staff Jill Des Rosiers — dragged their feet on reporting former staffer Charlotte Bennett’s complaints to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, which they were supposed to have immediately done under state law.

After Bennett came forward with her allegations, the Executive Chamber instituted “changes in staffing” so that “they would avoid situations where the Governor might be seen as being in a compromising situation with any woman.” But DeRosa and Mogul apparently described the change as “really more for the Governor’s protection.”

DeRosa admitted to releasing accuser Lindsey Boylan’s record to the media in the report.

In interviews with the investigators, DeRosa also admitted that she decided to release ex-aide Lindsey Boylan’s personnel record, including internal complaints, to certain media outlets in December after she consulted with other staffers on the matter.

DeRosa said she made the decision because Boylan’s tweets about the governor — including that he was “one of the biggest abusers of all time” — had gotten “more and more escalating,” the report states.

Former aide Josh Vlasto told probers that if DeRosa decided to leak the files, it was “safe to say” the move “was consistent with what the Governor wanted or had been discussed with him and he approved it.”

A current aide who has since accused Cuomo of groping her, told probers she saw what she felt were attempts by the Executive Chamber — including DeRosa and fellow top aide Rich Azzopardi among others — to discredit Boylan, by calling her “crazy” and accusing her of having a political agenda, according to the report.

The investigators found that DeRosa also played a part in circulating a proposed op-ed, originally drafted by Cuomo, that contained “personal and professional attacks” on Boylan, and later sharing it with current and former Executive Chamber employees.

“The draft letter or op-ed attacking Ms. Boylan — particularly when combined with the release of the confidential internal records to the press — constitutes retaliation,” the investigators wrote.

The report claims that DeRosa created a “toxic” work environment in the governor’s office.

At another point, DeRosa allegedly asked a former staffer to call a current government employee — identified only as “Kaitlin” in the report — to find out if she was working with Boylan or if she “had her own allegations against the Governor or was talking to reporters.”

The former staffer testified that she called Kaitlin — who had tweeted in support of Boylan — and secretly taped the call, “at the insistence of Ms. DeRosa.”

In another instance, DeRosa — who serves as Cuomo’s “Chairwoman of the New York State Council on Women & Girls” — tried to dismiss reporting about a state trooper who accused the governor of sexually harassing her as a case of sexism, the report states.

Responding to an inquiry from the Albany Times-Union about the allegations, DeRosa yelled at the newspaper’s editor saying, “You guys are trying to reduce her hiring to being about looks. That’s what men do.”

But despite her excuses, investigators found that the unnamed trooper was transferred to Cuomo’s personal detail, “at the governor’s urging and that he then “proceeded to engage in a pattern of sexually harassing conduct toward her.”

Though she appears to portray herself as a champion of women, writing in a recent tweet that “Haven’t you heard? Women aren’t allowed to be mad or fight — being tough and direct makes you a ‘bitch,’ ” the report portrays DeRosa as helping to cultivate a “toxic” workplace for young female staffers.

The report states that Cuomo himself dubbed DeRosa and other members of his inner circle “mean girls.”

The governor denied using the term, investigators said, but DeRosa said she had heard him use it and told him to quit it.

She also grew enraged with Cuomo after hearing of Bennett’s complaints about his behavior to state officials, and fiercely confronted him in a car, the report says.

“I can’t believe that this happened. I can’t believe you put yourself in a situation where you would be having any version of this conversation,” DeRosa apparently told him, before getting out when the car stopped at a traffic light.

DeRosa was mentioned by the investigators 187 times in the report on Gov. Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusations.

Still, when the allegations against the gov started coming out, DeRosa was beside him during a press conference in which he apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”

The governor’s advisors then discussed what the “spin” from the March 3 presser should be, and DeRosa apparently texted the group she thought it was “getting back to work”
and “full throated emotional apology.”

DeRosa’s attorney declined comment to The Post on Wednesday. In a statement, Azzopardi, Cuomo’s communications director, said: “The report does not single out Melissa and suggestions otherwise are factually inaccurate.”

Now, Cuomo is facing growing calls to resign over the allegations, as well as an ongoing impeachment probe led by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. On Tuesday, Heastie said the gov should face impeachment proceedings.

But potential conflicts of interest could be raised, as DeRosa’s mother-in-law, Audrey Strauss, is the US Attorney for the Southern District, which is currently probing public corruption in Albany.

The federal prosecutors recently subpoenaed Patrick Jenkins, an influential lobbyist and close pal of Heastie.

Another federal probe, into the nursing home deaths, already appears to have landed with prosecutors in Brooklyn, instead of Manhattan, because Strauss’ son, Matt Wing, is married to DeRosa.

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Democratic Debates 2019 Full Recap: Biden Fends Off Attacks From All Sides In Second Round of Detroit Debate



Democratic Debates 2019 Recap: Biden Fends Off Attacks From All Sides In Second Round of Detroit Debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden came under fire from his fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls in the second round of the debate in Detroit on Wednesday, with challengers like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker hoping to put a dent in his status as the frontrunner for the party’s nomination.

Over the course of more than two hours in Detroit’s historic Fox Theater, Biden defended himself along two lines of attack: critiques that his current policy proposals aren’t progressive enough, and attacks on his extensive record, built up over the course of his decades-long career.

Biden, who got considerably more speaking time than the other candidates on stage, appeared far more prepared than he did in the first debate in June. He displayed a firm grasp of the details of his rivals’ proposals on health care and immigration, and showed a familiarity with their own records on issues like criminal justice and economic policy.

Kamala Harris, whose confrontation with Biden defined the first debate, continued to challenge the former vice president, most notably in touting her recently unveiled health care plan. But that plan also opened her up to criticism from candidates to her left, who charged her plan does not constitute a true “Medicare for All” model since it allows for a role for private insurers. The California senator also came under scrutiny for her record as a prosecutor in California, despite her attempts to turn that experience into an argument for why she can beat President Trump.

The most strenuous criticism for Biden came from those candidates in the middle and low tiers who see an opportunity to pull Biden to the left on their signature issues. Julián Castro challenged him on immigration, particularly his record on deportations in the Obama administration. Booker took him to task on criminal justice and Biden’s support for the 1994 crime bill. Jay Inslee insisted Biden’s climate change plan is inadequate to grapple with the current crisis.

But Biden survived the barrage of incoming fire and seemed to emerge with his frontrunner status intact, at least for now. Below are the key moments from the second night in Detroit, as they happened. — Stefan Becket

Biden dominates total speaking time

11:32 p.m.: Biden spoke for nearly 20 minutes and was called on by the moderators 29 times, including numerous times when he was allowed to respond to a direct critique. Harris was second in speaking time, and Yang spoke the least.

These times include crosstalk and interruptions, but don’t count opening or closing statements:

  • Biden: 19 minutes, 1 second; called on 29 times
  • Harris: 14 minutes, 19 seconds; called on 18 times
  • Booker: 9 minutes, 35 seconds; called on 11 times
  • Gillibrand: 8 minutes, 47 seconds; called on 11 times
  • Castro: 8 minute, 15 seconds; called on 10 times
  • Gabbard: 8 minutes, 7 seconds; called on 10 times
  • Bennet: 7 minutes, 56 seconds; called on 9 times
  • Inslee: 7 minutes, 54 seconds; called on 8 times
  • De Blasio: 5 minutes, 6 seconds; called on 8 times
  • Yang: 4 minutes, 24 seconds; called on 8 times

Aaron Navarro

​Candidates make closing statements

10:51 p.m.: Candidates used their closing statements to reiterate the core principles of their campaigns.

Castro repeated a popular line from the first debate for his closing statement, saying that on inauguration day in 2021 he would say: “Adiós, Donald Trump.”

Andrew Yang had an unusual statement, noting that in the last debate, the fact that he didn’t wear a tie received more attention than the automation of American jobs, his key issue. Yang also likened the Democratic debates to a “reality TV” show.

“We’re up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles on this reality TV show,” Yang said.

Harris called Mr. Trump a “predator,” saying that “predators are cowards.” She touted her experience as attorney general of California in going after predatory corporations as proof she could take on Mr. Trump.

Biden, who was targeted throughout the night by nearly every candidate on stage, repeated his common phrase that this election is “a battle for the soul of America,” focusing on Mr. Trump as his main competitor instead of the other Democrats.

“Eight more years of Donald Trump will change America in fundamental ways,” Biden argued.

— Grace Segers and Kathryn Watson

​Harris says she wouldn’t “direct” DOJ to prosecute Trump


10:22 p.m.: Harris, pressed on previous comments about prosecuting the president for obstruction of justice, said she’d never “direct” the Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Trump. But Mueller outlined 10 clear instances of obstruction of justice in his report that cannot be ignored, she said.

“There are 10 clear incidents of obstruction of justice by this president, and he needs to be held accountable,” Harris said. “I’ve seen people go to prison for far less.”

Booker said impeachment proceedings need to begin immediately, politics “be damned.”

Castro said he agrees no president should “direct” such a prosecution, but that the prosecution of Mr. Trump on obstruction charges is likely.

— Kathryn Watson

​Gillibrand challenges Biden over positions on working women

10:15 p.m.: Gillibrand challenged Biden over an opinion piece he wrote in 1981 opposing a bill to provide a tax credit to help parents pay for child care. Gillibrand quoted Biden as writing that the bill would cause the “deterioration” of family.

“That was a long time ago,” Biden said. He said his opposition to the bill was because it provided a tax credit to wealthier Americans. He also noted he had long been an advocate for women’s rights, and Gillibrand had previously praised him for his advocacy during an appearance at an event together.

“I don’t know what’s happened except that you’re now running for president,” Biden said, about Gillibrand’s newfound criticism of his positions.

Harris also targeted Biden for his recent flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions.

— Grace Segers

​Biden says he wouldn’t rejoin TPP as written

10:09 p.m.: The former vice president said he would not rejoin the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership as it was written. Mr. Trump withdrew from the world’s largest free trade deal in 2017, declaring it one of the worst deals ever made.”I would not rejoin TPP as it was initially put forward,” Biden said.Instead, Biden said, he’d renegotiate TPP and pledged to include labor leaders at the bargaining table.— Kathryn Watson

​Speaking times through second commercial break

10:04 p.m.: Through the second break, Biden has maintained his lead in speaking time, getting nearly three minutes more time than Harris. Times include crosstalk and interruptions, but don’t count opening statements:

  • Biden: 14 minutes, 47 seconds
  • Harris: 11 minutes, 53 seconds
  • Booker: 7 minutes, 54 seconds
  • Gillibrand: 6 minutes, 32 seconds
  • Inslee: 6 minute, 25 seconds
  • De Blasio: 5 minutes, 32 seconds
  • Castro: 5 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Bennet: 5 minutes, 16 seconds
  • Gabbard: 5 minutes, 6 seconds
  • Yang: 4 minutes, 24 seconds

— Aaron Navarro

​Biden explains how he would beat Trump in Michigan

9:58 p.m.: When asked how he could defeat Mr. Trump in Michigan, Biden mined his experience aiding the state during the recession as vice president.

“I was part of the organization … that pushed bailing General Motors out, saving tens of thousands of jobs in this state,” Biden said. He added he had worked with the mayor of Detroit to try to revitalize the city, and noted that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan had endorsed him.

Booker argued he would be able to defeat Mr. Trump in Michigan by appealing to black voters and black women in particular, a demographic critical to the Democratic Party which saw low turnout in 2016.

“We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the state and suppressing the votes of African Americans,” Booker said.

— Grace Segers

​Trump tweets about debate

9:46 p.m.: The president appears to be watching:

Gillibrand says the first thing she’d do as president is “Clorox the Oval Office”

9:43 p.m.: Gillibrand, pressed on the feasibility of the Green New Deal, which she has sponsored, started her answer with a dig at the current president.”The first thing that I’m going to do when I’m president is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office,” she said.— Kathryn Watson

​Inslee challenges Biden on climate change

9:39 p.m.: Inslee criticized Biden for not going far enough in his proposals to combat climate change.

“Middle ground solutions like the vice president has proposed … are not going to save us,” Inslee said. “Too little, too late is too dangerous.”

Biden responded that there was “no middle ground to my plan,” saying his administration would immediate rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and invest $400 billion in research for combating climate change.

Yang took a slightly darker perspective, arguing it was already too late to successfully ward off the effects of climate change.

“We are 10 years too late,” Yang said, adding that the best strategy now was to “start moving our people to higher ground.”

Grace Segers

​Gabbard says Harris would make a “prosecutor president”

9:35 p.m.: Gabbard insisted people suffered under Harris’ “reign” as a prosecutor in California, citing various ways in which the senator, in her eyes, punished people unfairly.

“She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said, referencing a February radio interview in which Gabbard laughed about smoking pot in college.

Gabbard claimed Harris would be a “prosecutor president,” saying, “There are too many examples to cite.”

— Kathryn Watson

​Harris hits Biden about his positions on busing

9:23 p.m.: In a callback to their fiery exchange over busing in the first debate, Harris again criticized Biden for his opposition to busing as a senator in the early 1970s.Harris also hit Biden over his comment that he should be trusted on criminal justice because he was chosen by Obama to serve as vice president, saying the segregationist senators whom Biden once praised would not have allowed Obama to become a senator in the first place.Biden turned to Harris’ tenure as attorney general of California, saying she failed to bring cases against two deeply segregated school districts in California.Harris was also slammed by Gabbard, who accused her of supporting disproportionately harsh penalties for marijuana offenders.”When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not,” Gabbard said.— Grace Segers

​Booker and Biden face off over criminal justice records

9:15 p.m.: As the debate turned to criminal justice reform, Booker insisted Biden can’t distance himself from his past record on criminal justice reform, particularly his support for the 1994 crime bill that led to increased incarceration. Biden suggested Booker failed on criminal justice reform as mayor of Newark. Eventually, Booker hit back by saying he was “shocked” Biden wanted to compare records on criminal justice reform.— Kathryn Watson

​Biden and Harris lead in speaking time

9:15 p.m.: Through the first commercial break, Biden and Harris spoke the most and fielded the most questions.

Here’s how much time each candidate got in the first portion of the debate, including crosstalk and interruptions, but not including opening statements:

  • Biden: 8 minutes, 27 seconds
  • Harris: 7 minutes, 16 seconds
  • Bennet: 3 minutes, 48 seconds
  • De Blasio: 3 minutes, 26 seconds
  • Booker: 3 minutes, 13 seconds
  • Gillibrand: 2 minutes, 39 seconds
  • Castro: 2 minutes, 29 seconds
  • Gabbard: 2 minutes, 14 seconds
  • Inslee: 1 minute, 47 seconds
  • Yang: 1 minutes, 7 seconds

— Aaron Navarro

Booker hits Biden for dodging question by invoking Obama

9:07 p.m.: De Blasio repeatedly questioned Biden about whether he opposed mass deportations of undocumented immigrants during the Obama administration. Biden demurred, saying he would not disclose private conversations he had with Obama as vice president.

Booker called Biden on his evasion by noting how often the former vice president invokes Obama’s legacy during campaign speeches.

“You can’t do it when it’s convenient and dodge it when it’s not,” Booker said about Biden’s repeated mentions of Obama.

Booker also hit Biden for his proposal to provide green cards for immigrants with advanced degrees, saying that immigrants without advanced degrees could also contribute to society.

“Some are from ‘sh–hole’ countries,” Booker said, referring to the term Mr. Trump once used to refer to third world countries.

— Grace Segers

​Candidates clash on border crossings and immigration

9:05 p.m.: Castro said he would repeal a part of U.S. code on unlawful border crossings.

Harris focused on the Trump administration’s handling of migrant children at the border, saying children “should not be treated like criminals” and highlighting her visit to a facility housing unaccompanied minors.

Bennet said one thing all candidates on the stage agree on is keeping families together. Not a single Democrat running for president would pry children from their parents, he said.

Gillibrand said she thinks about immigrants who had fled their countries for fear of violence. She said illegal border crossings should only be treated as civil violations.

Yang said immigrants are being “scapegoated” for problems that aren’t theirs, pointing to automation as a far greater concern in America.

Inslee said America shouldn’t allow a “white nationalist” to continue to be in the White House.

But it was Biden who had one of the starkest lines. The former vice president insisted asylum decisions need to be determined quickly, and Central American nations need more aid. But he drew a line that illegal immigration should stay illegal.

“The fact of the matter is if you cross the border illegally you should be able to be sent back, it’s a crime,” Biden said.

Castro hit back at Biden, alluding to a key challenge for Biden — overcoming his past. “Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one hasn’t.”Inslee, too, alluded to Biden’s past, pointing out that Obama deported hundreds of thousands of immigrants in his time in office. Biden skirted around that reality, talking instead about how it was Obama’s idea to create protections for so-called “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children with their parents.— Kathryn Watson

​Protesters interrupt Biden to criticize deportation

8:57 p.m.: In the second audience outburst of the night, protesters interrupted Biden’s answer on deportations during the Obama presidency.

Audience members appeared to be chanting “3 million deportations.”

Grace Segers

​“A bunch of malarkey:” Biden defends criticism of Medicare for All

8:47 p.m.: Bennet, who supports adding a public option, criticized Medicare for All, saying: “It doesn’t make sense for us to take away insurance from half the people in this room and put huge taxes on almost everybody in this room.”However, supporters of Medicare for All pushed back against the idea that it is too costly and unrealistic.”I don’t understand why Democrats on this stage are fear-mongering on universal health care,” de Blasio said, specifically accusing Bennet of using Republican talking points.Coming to the defense of the Affordable Care Act and adding a public option, Biden said it was “a bunch of malarkey” to say opposition to Medicare for All was a Republican concept.— Grace Segers

​Gabbard takes a shot at Harris over health plan

Tulsi Gabbard delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit on July 31, 2019. Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images

8:42 p.m.: Gabbard took a shot at Harris in the debate over health care coverage, after Harris noted former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius supports her proposal. Gabbard said that’s only because Sebelius stands to profit from the proposal, as Sebelius now works for a company providing Medicare Advantage plans.— Kathryn Watson

​Biden and Harris pitch competing health care plans

8:35 p.m.: Biden and Harris immediately got into an argument over Harris’ newly announced plan for universal health care.”I designed a plan where … there will be a public plan under my plan for Medicare and a private plan under my plan for Medicare,” Harris said.Biden rejoined that the plan would be expensive, and not be fully implemented for 10 years.”You can’t beat President Trump with double talk on this plan,” Biden said.

“Unfortunately Vice President Biden, you’re just simply inaccurate in what you’re describing,” Harris said.

“The plan, no matter how you cut it, costs $3 trillion,” Biden responded, noting it would also raise taxes on the middle class.

Biden argued his proposal would build on the Affordable Care Act. Harris noted that Kathleen Sebelius, who served as health and human services secretary in the Obama administration, supported her plan.

— Grace Segers

​Protesters interrupt Booker

8:33 p.m.: Protesters broke into Booker’s opening statement with chants of, “Fire Pantaleo,” a reference to the Staten Island police officer who was cleared in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 after Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold. The chants appeared to be aimed at de Blasio.The protesters, according to those in the debate hall, were escorted outside.— Kathryn Watson

​Candidates target Trump in opening statements

8:29 p.m.: Most candidates took aim at the current administration in their opening statements. Bennet charged that Mr. Trump “frankly doesn’t give a damn about your kids or mine,” while Gabbard said that the president “is not behaving as a patriot.”

Yang trotted out his popular line in his opening statement: “The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.”

Booker, whose statement was briefly interrupted by protesters, condemned Mr. Trump’s tweets targeting Rep. Elijah Cummings, a prominent black member of Congress.

Biden said that he was running to “restore the soul” of the country after Mr. Trump’s four-year term. He also highlighted the diversity of the candidates on stage.

“Mr. President, let’s get something straight. We love it, we are not leaving it, we are here to stay, and we are certainly not leaving it to you,” Biden said.

De Blasio criticized Biden and Harris by name, noting that Biden had promised wealthy donors that politics would not fundamentally change if he were elected.

“Kamala Harris says she’s not trying to restructure society. Well, I am,” de Blasio said, adding that he would “tax the hell” out of the rich.

— Grace Segers

​Biden to Harris: “Go easy on me, kid”

8:08 p.m.: Biden was the first to take the stage, followed by Harris.When they greeted each other, Biden — who was blasted by Harris over school busing and race issues in last month’s debate — told her, “Go easy on me, kid.”

— Kathryn Watson

De Blasio plans to roll out wealth tax

7:40 p.m.: The New York mayor plans to announce a tax reform plan in Wednesday night’s debate that he’ll tout as the most aggressive tax proposal of any presidential candidate in the race, according to spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg. The taxes would bring in an additional $1 trillion a year, she told CBS News.

He “would go farther than any other 2020 candidate to reshape society,” Rothenberg said in a statement that took aim at Warren and Sanders’ own tax plans.

De Blasio, who has been pitching himself as a candidate looking out for working people, has struggled to this point to attract attention amid the popularity of better-known populist candidates.

Read more about the proposal here.

— Zak Hudak

How to watch the debate

Wednesday’s matchup could show more confrontation between leading candidates, as they fight to raise their profiles — along with their polling numbers and donor figures — so they can make it to the next round, when the party’s higher thresholds for both these categories kicks in.

How to watch the second 2020 Democratic debate

Second Democratic debate rules

According to CNN, candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions from the moderators and 30 seconds for rebuttals and responses. Candidates at the debate will deliver opening statements and closing remarks.

— Grace Segers

Biden debate guests include mayor of Flint, Michigan

5:21 p.m.: Biden’s guests to the debate include allies of his campaign and mayors of major cities. A campaign aide told CBS News that the following guests will be attending the debate:

  • Rep. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chair
  • Sen. Chris Coons
  • Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
  • Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela
  • Karen Weaver, mayor of Flint, Michigan
  • Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP
  • Kellie Nelson and Amanda Bolt, Debate Contest Winners from Charlotte, North Carolina

Biden has been criticized by Booker and Harris for his previous stances on busing and criminal justice issues. His guest list to the debate includes several prominent black politicians, whose appearances could bolster his support among black voters. Biden’s invitation of Weaver, the mayor of Flint, indicates that he wants to raise awareness about the lack of access to clean water still plaguing the majority-black city.

— Bo Erickson and Grace Segers

4:29 p.m.: Harris, who has spent some time clarifying her stance on “Medicare for All,” is now proposing her own version of the single-payer insurance plan. She’ll remain a co-sponsor of the bill introduced by Sanders, a campaign spokesperson said.But there are key differences between Harris’ plan and that of the Vermont senator: Harris has proposed to double the transition period from the current health care system to the single-payer system, to reduce Sanders’ proposed tax on middle-class families to pay for the plan, and she would allow private insurance companies to offer Medicare options.

Harris’ plan would immediately give Americans the option of buying into a Medicare system. It would allow for Medicare for All to cover services like emergency room visits, hearing aids and substance abuse treatment.

The plan also calls for an audit of prescription drug costs. Harris is proposing a 10-year phase-in period, as opposed to Sanders’ plan, which called for a four-year transition. Her plan would automatically enroll newborns and uninsured individuals.

The Harris campaign said that extending the transition period would decrease the overall cost of Medicare for All, but it did not specify what that new estimated cost would be. Sanders estimates that his plan could cost up to $40 trillion over a decade.

— Stephanie Ramirez

Biden hoping to keep focus on Trump in debate

3:22 p.m.: Biden is hoping to keep the focus tonight on President Trump, but will not resist aggressively defending his record if confronted by fellow Democrats.

Biden is prepared to “take it Donald Trump and to not take any attacks on his record lying down,” a senior campaign official told reporters Wednesday afternoon ahead of the debate. “You’ll hear him articulate a strong case for why Donald Trump’s leaderships has been a failure for working-class people. Why it’s been a failure on the world stage.”

During the debate, Biden hopes to “make a case for transformational change in this country” and hopes to make the point that “consensus can’t be a dirty word and you have to work together to make change,” said the aide.

“You will certainly see him talk about some of the significant differences in the field,” the aide added. “Obviously, health care is one of them.”

Campaign aides refused to answer questions about how exactly Biden has been preparing — and wouldn’t even say which family members are in Detroit to watch the debate. But, they assured reporters that Biden “took prep very seriously.”

— Ed O’Keefe and Caitlin Conant

CNN sees steep drop in ratings from second debate

3:07 p.m.: Approximately 8.7 million viewers watched the first night of the second debate on Tuesday, a steep drop from the first Democratic debate in June. CNN also announced that 2.8 million people watched via live stream.

The debates in June, which aired on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, garnered 15.3 million viewers across networks on the first night, and 18.1 million viewers on the second night. More than 9 million viewers watched the first debates via live stream.

Tonight’s debate will feature two of the most high profile candidates, Harris and Biden, so ratings may once again go up for the second night.

Update, 7:15 p.m.: Later in the day, the president tweeted his take on the less-than-stellar ratings:

— Grace Segers

Sanders hauls in $1.1 million after Tuesday debate

2:41 p.m.: The Sanders campaign is hailing a victory after it reported a haul of $1.1 million and more than 70,000 contributions from small-dollar donors since Tuesday.

Sanders’ campaign manager credits the candidate’s breakout performance during Tuesday night’s debate for the fundraising milestone.

“Bernie Sanders commanded the debate, his vision and ideas dominated the stage, and he left absolutely no doubt that he is the best candidate ready to take this fight to Donald Trump and finally bring the change we need to America,” said Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir.

“Bernie Sanders stood out as a champion of working people and marginalized communities.”

The fundraising feat is nothing to scoff at either as candidates must pass even stricter thresholds to make the September debate stage.

A spokesperson for O’Rourke said that his campaign had the biggest fundraising day of the quarter after the debate, but declined to release any additional numbers.

— Emily Tillett

Warren, Sanders come out on top during Tuesday’s debate

The audience at Detroit’s Fox Theatre roared with applause for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the top contenders for the nomination.

Meanwhile, bottom-tier candidates like John Delaney, Tim Ryan and John Hickenlooper struggled to land their punches and connect with the audience, often choosing to attack Sanders and Warren rather than train their fire on the current administration.

Warren and Sanders emerged largely unscathed, having vigorously defended their proposals while upbraiding their opponents for failing to embrace bold policy positions.

“You know, I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren said, in one of the defining moments of the evening.

— Emily Tillett

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Robert Mueller: My Investigation “Is Not a Witch Hunt”



Robert Mueller: My Investigation "Is Not a Witch Hunt"

Former special counsel Robert Mueller condemned President Donald Trump’s tweets touting WikiLeaks’ stolen emails during the 2016 campaign, in what were his sharpest comments criticizing the President’s conduct.

“Problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity,” Mueller said after Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, read Trump’s tweets aloud during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, the second of two high-profile public hearings Wednesday.

Mueller also called Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter messages exchanged with WikiLeaks “disturbing” and said they were subject to investigation.

The exchange about WikiLeaks was one of the few cases where Mueller broke new ground or shared his views outside the report during his high-profile testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Repeatedly, he referred both Democrats and Republicans back to his report or declined to engage with them on a litany of questions, eliciting little new information.

And when he suggested to Rep. Ted Lieu Wednesday morning at the House Judiciary Committee that the special counsel’s investigation did not charge Trump because of Justice Department guidelines against indicting a sitting President, he then clarified the remark at the start of the afternoon session.

“I’d like to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the President because of the (DOJ Office of Legal Counsel) OLC opinion.’

That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said. “As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime.”

Still, Mueller made the point to the Judiciary panel that his investigation did not exonerate the President as Trump had repeatedly claimed — though he wouldn’t agree with Democrats that Trump’s actions amounted to obstruction of justice — and he staunchly defended his investigation and its team.

“Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?” asked House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat.

“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller responded.

Mueller testimony a make-or-break moment

Republicans lobbed a variety of attacks at Mueller, from his decision to document the President’s actions in his report when Trump wasn’t indicted to the make-up of his team.

Mueller reacted angrily when GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota suggested Mueller’s team was politically biased.

“We strove to hire those individuals that could do the job,” Mueller said. “I have been in this business for almost 25 years. And in those 25 years I have not had occasion, once, to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done. What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity.”

At the second hearing, the Intelligence Committee is questioning Mueller on Russian election interference, which was volume one of his report.

“Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign — including Trump himself — knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it,” Schiff said in his opening statement.

Mueller’s testimony Wednesday represented the most highly anticipated hearings of the Trump presidency, with the potential to reset the narrative about his two-year investigation into the President’s conduct.

The former special counsel’s testimony is the closest thing to a make-or-break moment as it gets for Democrats in their investigations into the President.

It’s a potential turning point for the House Democratic impeachment caucus that’s banking Mueller can reset the conversation about the special counsel investigation and convince the public — and skeptical Democratic colleagues — that the House should pursue an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Democrats have pointed to Mueller’s report as a reason to take up impeachment, but he declined to engage on the question or even say the word on multiple occasions.

“Is it true that there’s nothing in Volume II of the report that says the President may have engaged in impeachable conduct?” asked Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican.

“We have studiously kept in the center of our investigation, our mandate,” Mueller responded. “And our mandate does not go to other ways of addressing conduct. Our mandate goes to what — developing the report and turning the report into the attorney general.”

Mueller’s style: Keep it dry

Two sources close to Mueller said Mueller was trying to be careful and trying to keep his answers as close to the report as possible, while some of the questioners are using rapid-fire or long-winded questions to try to have him depart from the report’s language.

Mueller’s style is to try to keep it dry and not provide fodder for the ongoing political fights, which doesn’t do well in this kind of hearing, the sources said.
Mueller initially declined to engage with Republicans who tried to attack him directly.

After Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican accusing Mueller of having “perpetuated injustice” by running his investigation for two years, Chairman Jerry Nadler gave Mueller a chance to respond.
But Mueller deferred. “I take your question,” he said, instead just moving onto the next lawmaker.

After a brief break, Mueller appeared to push back more forcefully, particularly with Republicans. He disputed a charge Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who criticized him over Christopher Steele, the author of the opposition research dossier, and disagreed with Rep. Tom McClintock of California, who suggested the special counsel’s team had not “faithfully, accurately, impartially, and completely described all of the underlying evidence in the Mueller report.”

“I don’t think you reviewed a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us,” Mueller responded.

During their questions, Democrats walked Mueller through the key passages of his report they feel highlight obstruction of justice. Democrats did the reading because Mueller’s team told the committee ahead of time he would decline to read from the report, according to a congressional source involved in negotiations surrounding Mueller’s appearance.

Mueller defends work of his office

Republicans aggressively sought to undercut the special counsel investigation, raising questions about his decision to write a lengthy report about the President’s conduct when he did not decide to prosecute the Trump on obstruction of justice.

“Volume two of this report was not authorized under the law,” charged Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican and a former prosecutor. “I agree with the chairman, this morning, when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not. But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where this report puts him.”

In his opening statement, Mueller defended the work that his team did.

“My staff and I carried out this assignment with that critical objective in mind: to work quietly, thoroughly, and with integrity so that the public would have full confidence in the outcome,” Mueller said.

But Mueller also telegraphed that he would not engage on many of the questions both Democrats and Republicans will want him to answer, from the origins of the investigation to how he decided whether or not to prosecute the President.

“As I said on May 29: the report is my testimony. And I will stay within that text,” Mueller said.
Even if there isn’t a bombshell revelation, Democrats are hopeful that the recitation of the key points of Mueller’s investigation and what it uncovered about the President can move the needle.

“Although Department policy barred you from indicting the President for this conduct, you made clear that he is not exonerated. Any other person who acted this way would have been charged with a crime. And in this nation, not even the President is above the law,” Nadler said in his opening statement.

“We will follow your example, Director Mueller. We will act with integrity. We will follow the facts where they lead. We will consider all appropriate remedies. We will make our recommendation to the House when our work concludes,” Nadler added.

“We will do this work because there must be accountability for the conduct described in your report, especially as it relates to the President.”

But if Mueller’s testimony fails to shift the conversation, it could spell the beginning of the end for Democratic efforts to impeach the President.

The reluctant witness

Mueller and his team have said nearly nothing in the two years since he was appointed special counsel, preferring to let the special counsel’s indictments and then the 448-page report do most of his talking. It’s been six years since Mueller has been under the bright lights of a congressional hearing, and Wednesday’s testimony is likely to be far more contentious, every word exponentially more scrutinized.

Some Democrats have sought to tamp down expectations ahead of the Mueller hearing, hopeful that even if he recites the report it will nonetheless have a lasting impact.

“I am fairly realistic about the degree to which any single hearing, any single witness can really move the country in a particular direction,” said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat.

“People are quite dug in on their views of Trump and Russia, and more generally just on their views of this President. If the racist display by the President last week wasn’t enough to change attitudes, I don’t know that anything Bob Muller has to say will.”

Still, Democrats are cognizant that Mueller’s words carry significant weight. Mueller concluded his investigation in March, and the special counsel’s report was released in April.

But when Mueller finally spoke in May — emphasizing that the investigation did not exonerate Trump on obstruction and that he could not consider whether to indict Trump because of Justice Department guidelines — it moved a sizable tranche of House Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry.

Republicans argued that Wednesday’s hearing should be the close of the Democratic investigations into the President.

“This hearing is long overdue. We’ve had the truth for months — no American conspired to throw our elections. What we need today is to let that truth bring us confidence and closure,” said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel.

The President himself has said he may watch a “little bit” of the Mueller hearing, and he weighed in on Twitter before and during the hearing to criticize Mueller. He also claimed that Mueller had interviewed for the job of FBI director when he met with Trump in May 2017, but Mueller disputed that characterization in his testimony, saying he was advising Trump on the role.

Hearings months in the making

Mueller’s testimony before Congress appeared in doubt at several points. Congressional Democrats were hopeful they would get Mueller before their committees almost as soon as he concluded his investigation — arguing they needed Mueller to push back against what they considered Attorney General William Barr’s misleading narrative about the report and his decision that the President did not commit obstruction.

At first, Democrats pushed to gain access to the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence. But after the Justice Department resisted that endeavor, they turned their sights on the special counsel.

Weeks of negotiations followed, and Democrats believed they were close to securing an agreement in May. But Mueller did not want to testify before Congress, fearing a political circus. He spoke publicly in his final week as special counsel, where he said that that he did not want to testify, telling Congress: “The report is my testimony.”

But Democrats were not persuaded. They continued to publicly call for the special counsel’s appearance and negotiating with Mueller. Ultimately they struck an agreement for him to appear publicly July 17 before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees if they issued a subpoena to compel his testimony.

That still wasn’t the end of the drama over Mueller. Democrats fought with the Justice Department and the special counsel’s team about whether Mueller’s deputies would appear in a closed session after the special counsel. Junior members of the Judiciary Committee were furious that the arrangement would not give them time to ask questions.

And so one more twist was included in the special counsel’s appearance: His testimony would be delayed one week, and he would sit for an extra hour with the Judiciary Committee to allow all members to ask questions.

The deputies interview was also canceled, but Mueller still wanted his former chief of staff, Aaron Zebley, to appear with him. Just hours before Mueller was set to appear on Tuesday, yet another shift was included in the hearing: Zebley was expected to participate in some fashion as counsel to Mueller, to the protest of Republicans over the last-minute change.

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