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Tony Blair: US Memo Reveals Former UK Prime Minister Supported Iraq War 1 Year Before Invasion



Tony Blair: US Memo Reveals Former UK Prime Minister Supported Iraq War 1 Year Before Invasion

A bombshell White House memo has revealed for the first time details of the ‘deal in blood’ forged by Tony Blair and George Bush over the Iraq War.

The sensational leak shows that Blair had given an unqualified pledge to sign up to the conflict a year before the invasion started.

It flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s public claims at the time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

He told voters: ‘We’re not proposing military action’ – in direct contrast to what the secret email now reveals.

Scroll down to read the documents in full

All sewn up: President George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair at the infamous 2002 summit at Bush's ranch house in Crawford, Texas, where the two men spoke about invading Iraq

All sewn up: Tony Blair and President George Bush at the infamous 2002 summit at Bush’s ranch house in Crawford, Texas, where the two men spoke about invading Iraq

Bombshell dossier: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, left of Bush, wrote to the president to say the UK 'will be with us'

Bombshell dossier: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, left of Bush, wrote to the President to say the UK ‘will be with us’

The classified document also discloses that Blair agreed to act as a glorified spin doctor for the President by presenting ‘public affairs lines’ to convince a sceptical public that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction – when none existed.

In return, the President would flatter Blair’s ego and give the impression that Britain was not America’s poodle but an equal partner in the ‘special relationship’.

The damning memo, from Secretary of State Colin Powell to President George Bush, was written on March 28, 2002, a week before Bush’s famous summit with Blair at his Crawford ranch in Texas.

In it, Powell tells Bush that Blair ‘will be with us’ on military action. Powell assures the President: ‘The UK will follow our lead’.

Big man? Blair's ego was flattered by the President during his visit to his ranch home. He is pictured above embracing First Lady Laura Bush

Big man? Blair’s ego was flattered by the President during his visit to his ranch home. He is pictured above embracing First Lady Laura Bush

The disclosure is certain to lead for calls for Sir John Chilcot to reopen his inquiry into the Iraq War if, as is believed, he has not seen the Powell memo.

A second explosive memo from the same cache also reveals how Bush used ‘spies’ in the Labour Party to help him to manipulate British public opinion in favour of the war.

The documents, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, are part of a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton which U.S. courts have forced her to reveal.

Former Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: ‘The memos prove in explicit terms what many of us have believed all along: Tony Blair effectively agreed to act as a frontman for American foreign policy in advance of any decision by the House of Commons or the British Cabinet.

‘He was happy to launder George Bush’s policy on Iraq and sub-contract British foreign policy to another country without having the remotest ability to have any real influence over it. And in return for what?

‘For George Bush pretending Blair was a player on the world stage to impress voters in the UK when the Americans didn’t even believe it themselves’.

Davis was backed by a senior diplomat with close knowledge of Blair-Bush relations who said: ‘This memo shows beyond doubt for the first time Blair was committed to the Iraq War before he even set foot in Crawford.

‘And it shows how the Americans planned to make Blair look an equal partner in the special relationship to bolster his position in the UK.’

Blair’s spokesman insisted last night that Powell’s memo was ‘consistent with what he was saying publicly at the time’.

The former Prime Minister has always hotly denied the claim that the two men signed a deal ‘in blood’ at Crawford to embark on the war, which started on March 20, 2003.

The Powell document, headed ‘Secret… Memorandum for the President’, lifts the lid on how Blair and Bush secretly plotted the war behind closed doors at Crawford.

Powell says to Bush: ‘He will present to you the strategic, tactical and public affairs lines that he believes will strengthen global support for our common cause,’ adding that Blair has the presentational skills to ‘make a credible public case on current Iraqi threats to international peace’.

Five months after the summit, Downing Street produced the notorious ‘45 minutes from doom’ dossier on Saddam Hussein’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction. After Saddam was toppled, the dossier’s claims were exposed as bogus.

Nowhere in the memo is a diplomatic route suggested as the preferred option.

Instead, Powell says that Blair will also advise on how to ‘handle calls’ for the ‘blessing’ of the United Nations Security Council, and to ‘demonstrate that we have thought through “the day after” ’ – in other words, made adequate provision for a post-Saddam Iraq.

Critics of the war say that the lack of post-conflict planning has contributed to the loss of more than 100,000 lives since the invasion – and a power vacuum which has contributed to the rise of Islamic State terrorism.

Significantly, Powell warns Bush that Blair has hit ‘domestic turbulence’ for being ‘too pro-U.S. in foreign and security policy, too arrogant and “presidential” ’, which Powell points out is ‘not a compliment in the British context’.

Powell also reveals that the splits in Blair’s Cabinet were deeper than was realised: he says that apart from Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, ‘Blair’s Cabinet shows signs of division, and the British public are unconvinced that military action is warranted now’.

Powell says that although Blair will ‘stick with us on the big issues’, he wants to minimise the ‘political price’ he would have to pay: ‘His voters will look for signs that Britain and America are truly equity partners in the special relationship.’

The President certainly did his best to flatter Blair’s ego during the Crawford summit, where he was the first world leader to be invited into Bush’s sanctuary for two nights.

Tony and Cherie Blair stayed in the guesthouse close to the main residence with their daughter Kathryn and Cherie’s mother, Gale Booth. Bush took the highly unusual step of inviting Blair to sit in on his daily CIA briefing, and drove the Prime Minister around in a pick-up truck.

Mystery has long surrounded what was discussed at Crawford as advisers were kept out of a key meeting between the two men.

Sir Christopher Meyer, who was present in Crawford as Britain’s Ambassador to the U.S., told Chilcot that his exclusion meant he was ‘not entirely clear to this day… what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood at the Crawford ranch’.

But in public comments during his time at Crawford, Blair denied that Britain was on an unstoppable path to war.

‘This is a matter for considering all the options’, he said. ‘We’re not proposing military action at this point in time’.

Close: Bush and Blair are pictured above shaking hands at a meeting near Camp Davis in February 2001

Close: Bush and Blair are pictured above shaking hands at a meeting near Camp Davis in February 2001

Bush and Blair on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction in ’02

During his appearance before the Chilcot inquiry in January 2010, Blair denied that he had struck a secret deal with Bush at Crawford to overthrow Saddam. Blair said the two men had agreed on the need to confront the Iraqi dictator, but insisted they did not get into ‘specifics’.

‘The one thing I was not doing was dissembling in that position,’ he told Chilcot.

‘The position was not a covert position, it was an open position. This isn’t about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception. It’s a decision. What I was saying… was “We are going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this threat.” ’

Pressed on what he thought Mr Bush took from their meeting, he said the President had realised Britain would support military action if the diplomatic route had been exhausted.

In his memoirs, Blair again said it was ‘a myth’ he had signed a promise ‘in blood’ to go to war, insisting: ‘I made no such commitment’.

Critics who claimed that Mr Blair acted as the ‘poodle’ of the US will point to a reference in Mr Powell’s memo to the fact Mr Blair ‘readily committed to deploy 1,700 commandos’ to Afghanistan ‘even though his experts warn that British forces are overstretched’.

The decision made the previous October in the wake of the September 11 attacks led to widespread concern that the UK was entering an open-ended commitment to a bloody conflict in Afghanistan – a concern many critics now say was well-founded.

Mr Powell’s memo goes on to say that a recent move by the U.S. to protect its steel industry with tariffs, which had damaged UK exports, was a ‘bitter blow’ for Blair, but he was prepared to ‘insulate our broader relationship from this and other trade disputes’.

The memo was included in a batch of 30,000 emails which were received by Mrs Clinton on her private server when she was US Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.

Another document included in the email batch is a confidential briefing for Powell prepared by the U.S. Embassy in London, shortly before the Crawford summit.

The memo, dated ‘April 02’, includes a detailed assessment of the effect on Blair’s domestic position if he backs US military action.

The document says: ‘A sizeable number of his [Blair’s] MPs remain at present opposed to military action against Iraq… some would favor shifting from a policy of containment of Iraq if they had recent (and publicly usable) proof that Iraq is developing WMD/missiles… most seem to want some sort of UN endorsement for military action.

‘Blair’s challenge now is to judge the timing and evolution of America’s Iraq policy and to bring his party and the British people on board.

‘There have been a few speculative pieces in the more feverish press about Labor [sic] unease re Iraq policy… which have gone on to identify the beginnings of a challenge to Blair’s leadership of the party.

‘Former Cabinet member Peter Mandelson, still an insider, called it all “froth”. Nonetheless, this is the first time since the 1997 election that such a story is even being printed’.

The paper draws on information given to it by Labour ‘spies’, whose identities have been hidden.

It states: ‘[name redacted] told us the intention of those feeding the story is not to bring down Blair but to influence him on the Iraq issue’.

‘Some MPs would endorse action if they had proof that Iraq has continued to develop WMD since UN inspectors left.

‘More would follow if convinced that Iraq has succeeded in developing significant WMD capability and the missiles to deliver it.

‘Many more would follow if they see compelling evidence that Iraq intends and plans to use such weapons. A clear majority would support military action if Saddam is implicated in the 9/11 attacks or other egregious acts of terrorism’.

‘Blair has proved an excellent judge of political timing, and he will need to be especially careful about when to launch a ramped-up campaign to build support for action against Iraq.

‘He will want neither to be too far in front or behind US policy… if he waits too long, then the keystone of any coalition we wish to build may not be firmly in place. No doubt these are the calculations that Blair hopes to firm up when he meets the President’.

A spokesperson for Tony Blair said: ‘This is consistent with what Blair was saying publicly at the time and with Blair’s evidence given to the Chilcot Inquiry’.

Neither Mrs Clinton nor Mr Powell replied to requests for comment.


Why have these memos come out now?

The U.S. courts have ruled that 30,000 emails received by Hillary Clinton when she was U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 should be released.

She may have asked for these documents to grasp the background to the Iraq War.

What was the Crawford summit?

The meeting between Blair and Bush at the President’s Texan ranch in April 2002, 11 months before the outbreak of war. The pair spent long periods discussing Iraq without their advisers, leading to suspicion that they privately cut a deal for the conflict.

UK Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer said it was impossible to know whether a deal was ‘signed in blood’.

What did Blair say at Crawford?

At the start of the summit, Mr Blair said: ‘We’re not proposing military action at this point in time.’

For the whole of 2002, Blair claimed no decision had been taken and in the run-up to war. He said that Saddam Hussein could avoid conflict by co-operating with UN weapons inspectors.

What happened after Crawford?

In September 2002, in an attempt to prove Saddam was a threat, No 10 falsely claimed Saddam could deploy biological weapons ‘within 45 minutes’, and Mr Blair went around the world trying to drum up UN backing for action against Iraq.

Despite mass anti-war protests, Britain and America invaded Iraq in March 2003 without the backing of the UN.

Had the allies prepared for ‘the day after’?

The invasion was declared complete on April 15, 2003. But the reason for war proved spurious, and Saddam’s removal left a power vacuum filled by warring factions which some say helped Islamic State rise.

Have the memos been seen by the Chilcot Inquiry?

It is not thought the £10million, six-year inquiry has asked to see American Government material.

Stunning memo proves Blair signed up for Iraq even before Americans – comment by former shadow home secretary David Davis

This is one of the most astonishing documents I have ever read.

It proves in explicit terms what many of us have believed all along: Tony Blair effectively agreed to act as a front man for American foreign policy in advance of any decision by the House of Commons or the British Cabinet.

He was happy to launder George Bush’s policy on Iraq and sub-contract British foreign policy to another country without having the remotest ability to have any real influence over it.

And in return for what? For George Bush pretending Blair was a player on the world stage to impress voters in the UK when the Americans didn’t even believe it themselves.

Blair was content to cynically use Britain’s international reputation for honest dealing in diplomacy, built up over many years, as a shield against worldwide opprobrium for Bush’s ill-considered policy.

Judging from this memorandum, Blair signed up for the Iraq War even before the Americans themselves did. It beggars belief.

Blair was telling MPs and voters back home that he was still pursuing a diplomatic solution while Colin Powell was telling President Bush: ‘Don’t worry, George, Tony is signed up for the war come what may – he’ll handle the PR for you, just make him look big in return.’

It should never be forgotten that a minimum of 120,000 people died as a direct result of the Iraq War.

What is truly shocking is the casualness of it all, such as the reference in the memo to ‘the day after’ – meaning the day after Saddam would be toppled.

The offhand tone gives the game away: it is patently obvious nobody thought about ‘the day after’ when Bush and Blair met in Crawford.

And they gave it no more thought right through to the moment ‘the day after’ came about a year later when Saddam’s statue fell to the ground.

We saw the catastrophic so-called ‘de-Baathification’ of Iraq, with the country’s entire civil and military structure dismantled, leading to years of bloodshed and chaos. It has infected surrounding countries to this day and created the vacuum into which Islamic State has stepped.

This may well be the Iraq ‘smoking gun’ we have all been looking for.

In full: The Blair/Bush White House documents

  • Pictured below is the memo from Secretary of State Colin Powell to George W Bush
  • Part two: This second, explosive memo, drafted by the U.S. Embassy in London, reveals how Bush used Labour ‘spies’ to manipulate British public opinion
SOURCE [Daily Mail]

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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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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!”

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