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Trump Seeks to Rally Supporters in Texas

U.S. President Donald Trump was in Texas on Thursday for a campaign rally in Dallas to drum up support from his base in a state that until recently could be counted on to vote Republican but might be shaping up to become a battleground. 
Trump arrived in Texas as news broke about the cease-fire agreement reached by the United States and Turkey, with Ankara agreeing to suspend its military operation in Syria to allow Kurdish forces to retreat from a designated safe zone. 
Speaking in Fort Worth before participating in a roundtable with supporters and a fundraising luncheon in the city, Trump called the cease-fire “an incredible outcome” and “something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years.” 
Trump said he was looking forward to the Texas rally, calling it “a record crowd.”  Supporters of President Donald Trump wait to enter a campaign rally as the sun rises, Oct. 17, 2019, outside the American Airlines Center in Dallas.Thousands of his supporters lined up outside the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, with several dozen having camped outside the venue since Tuesday evening. 
“I am so excited. I’m so pumped. Couldn’t sleep this morning. I just wanted to get here so bad,” said Daylene Randham of Fort Worth, adding that she loved Trump for his “America-first policies from day one.” 
“I think he’s gonna electrify this crowd,” said Gayle Roberts, who said he’d flown in from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to attend the event, his eighth Trump rally so far. 
The president has given Texas a lot of attention; this was his sixth visit to the state and third campaign rally here in the past year. He held a fundraising trip through Houston and San Antonio in April, visited El Paso in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in August, and joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a “Howdy Modi” event in Houston last month. 
 Impeachment ‘a lot of bull hockey’ 
Thursday’s rally was Trump’s first visit to the state since opposition Democrats began their impeachment inquiry — something his supporters here dismiss. 
“It’s a load of bull hockey,” said Vicky Debolt of north Texas. “If it was real, they would have brought it out sooner. So I think it’s just a lot of bull hockey and a bunch of lies and I don’t believe it.” Mike Adams of Decatur, Texas, said he did not believe Trump was pressuring the Ukrainian leader for dirt on his potential 2020 political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden — the allegation that House Democrats are basing their impeachment inquiry on. 
“If somebody knows that other people did something wrong in their country, and you can talk to them about it, and they can help share that, what’s wrong with that?” Adams said. 
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden, as Trump has alleged. Trump insists that he did nothing improper in his call with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy. But on Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff admitted the administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Democrats.Asked about Mulvaney’s statement that contradicts Trump’s position that there is no quid pro quo in his dealing with Zelenskiy, the president said he has “not heard anything about it”, adding that “Mick is a good man”.Trump also said that he has accepted Rick Perry’s resignation. The Secretary of Energy is also entangled in the the impeachment probe into Trump’s actions involving Ukraine. Trump said he will announce Perry’s replacement at the rally.Blue county in changing state 
The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is important to Trump, as it is a solidly blue region in a state that until recently was staunchly Republican. 
“Dallas is probably the number one target area,” said Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report, a publication focused on Texas politics. “I don’t think the president is vulnerable in Texas. But I don’t think his numbers are nearly as good as we would normally presume, and he’s got to keep the base fired up.” 
Dallas is also one of the largest cities in the United States with a large suburban area, where a lot of the election fight will take place, said Shannon Bow O’Brien, who teaches American politics at the University of Texas at Austin. 
“Texas is a growing state and it’s growing in the cities,” said O’Brien, “With the growth in the cities, a lot of the growth is Democratic voters.” 
A rally in an arena with a 20,000-person capacity in a conservative state may also provide a welcome diversion for a president embattled by an impeachment inquiry and a foreign policy crisis. 
“It’s a way for him to get a personal boost,” said O’Brien. “I think this is a way for him to feel better about the fact that many people out there still love him.” 
 Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross listen during an event with President Donald Trump at a Louis Vuitton workshop near Alvarado, Texas, Oct. 17, 2019.Louis Vuitton factory 
Prior to the rally, the president attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Louis Vuitton Rochambeau factory near Alvarado, Texas, with Bernard Arnault, chairman of the French luxury conglomerate. 
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, accompanied him to emphasize the administration’s job creation record. 
Louis Vuitton signed the “Pledge to America’s Workers,” a Trump administration initiative to bring “better jobs that deliver bigger paychecks” to American workers. The leather goods workshop in Keene, a small town near Alvarado, is expected to create about 1,000 jobs over the next five years. 
The luxury brand will be getting a 10-year, 75% tax abatement from the county, the maximum allowed, which amounts to about $91,900 in tax cuts a year. 
 Democratic rally 
Meanwhile Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was staging a counter-rally at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, about 22 kilometers away. 
“Our message is solidarity,” said Tramon Arnold, political director of the Dallas County Democratic Party. “We’re not here to make any ill light of the [Trump] event but to show solidarity that we’re here to make sure that we get President Trump out of office.” Saqib Ul Islam and Jesusemen Oni contributed to this report.

2 Plead Not Guilty of Conspiring With Giuliani Associates

Two businessmen pleaded not guilty Thursday of conspiring with associates of Rudy Giuliani to make illegal campaign contributions, as a prosecutor said evidence includes data from over 50 bank accounts and information gathered through 10 search warrants. David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin are among four men charged with using straw donors to make illegal contributions to politicians they thought could help their political and business interests, including committees supporting President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Andrey Kukushkin, center, leaves federal court Oct. 17, 2019, in New York. Kukushkin and David Correia pleaded not guilty of conspiring with associates of Rudy Giuliani to make illegal campaign contributions.Their next court date was set for Dec. 2, though U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken granted a request from Kukushkin to remain in California, where a $1 million bail package limits where he can go beyond home to work, legal visits and medical appointments. 
Two other men charged in the case, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, worked with Giuliani to try to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Democrat Joe Biden. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, has said he had no knowledge of illegal donations. Prosecutors say Correia and Kukushkin teamed with Parnas and Fruman in a separate scheme to make illegal campaign donations to politicians in several states to try to get support for a new recreational marijuana business. 
Money for those donations was actually supplied, prosecutors say, by an unidentified foreign national with “Russian roots.” 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos told the judge the indictment could be updated, but he made no mention of whether others might be arrested. 
It was fair, he said, “to characterize the government’s investigation as ongoing.” 
Besides the bank and search warrant records, Roos said, prosecutors have obtained emails and electronic records for over 10 accounts. 
The court hearing was finished in just over 15 minutes, and lawyers and their clients declined to speak afterward.  FILE – Lev Parnas, left, and Igor Fruman are shown in booking photos, courtesy of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office in Virginia and released Oct. 10, 2019.Meanwhile, officials in California announced they would review the dozen state marijuana distribution licenses granted to a partnership involving Kukushkin to make sure there were no improprieties, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. 
“We always have concerns when something like that happens, so we want to do our due diligence and look at them,” said Lori Ajax, chief of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. 
All the state licenses issued to the partnership of Garib Karapetyan and Kukushkin are provisional permits, Ajax said, pending detailed background checks and disclosure of major investors. 
Karapetyan’s attorney, Brad Hirsch, said his clients were in complete compliance with all regulations. 
 Separately, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for an investigation of his city’s permit system to determine how Kukushkin and another businessman obtained nearly one-third of the licenses issued by the city. 
All the defendants are U.S. citizens, but Kukushkin and Parnas were born in Ukraine and Fruman in Belarus. 

‘See you at the Polls’: Trump and Pelosi Have it out

He said she’s a “third-grade” politician. She said he’s having a meltdown.And with that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chalked up the latest explosive meeting that ended abruptly with a walkout at the White House.It’s a familiar ritual, with Trump and congressional leaders meeting on official business, only to see the session devolve into colorful, name-calling commentary that’s a new kind of addition to the history books. But this time, against the backdrop of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry, Pelosi arrived not just as the leader of the opposing party but as the speaker who could determine Trump’s political future.The administration called in congressional leadership to discuss the situation in Syria. The House had just voted, 354-60, to overwhelmingly oppose the president’s announced U.S. troop withdrawal, a rare bipartisan rebuke. Trump’s action has opened the door for a Turkish military attack on Syrian Kurds who have been aligned with the U.S. in fighting the country’s long-running war.Trump kicked off the meeting bragging about his “nasty” letter to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it. In the letter, Trump warned the Turkish leader, with exclamation points, not to be “slaughtering” the Kurds. The person called Trump’s opening a lengthy, bombastic monologue.Pelosi mentioned the House vote and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, started to read the president a quote from former Defense Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep U.S. troops in Syria to prevent a resurgent of Islamic State fighters.But Trump cut Schumer off, complaining that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough.” Trump went on, “I captured ISIS.”Pelosi explained to Trump that Russia has always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” and now it has one with the U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Democratic aide who was also granted anonymity.“All roads with you lead to Putin,” the speaker said.Then it began.Trump said to Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do.”Pelosi responded, “You don’t know that.”Schumer intervened at one point and said, “Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?”Trump replied, “Our plan is to keep the American people safe.”Pelosi said: “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”Trump turned to Pelosi and complained about former President Barack Obama’s “red line” over Syria. According to Schumer, he then called her “a third-rate politician.”At that point, the genteel Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, interjected, “This is not useful.”Pelosi and Hoyer stood and left the meeting. As they did, Trump said, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”From the White House driveway, Pelosi told reporters Trump was having some kind of “meltdown” inside. She said they had to leave because Trump was unable to grasp the reality of the situation.Later, she would insist he even botched the insult, calling her “third-grade” rather than “third-rate.”The impeachment inquiry never came up, she said.Trump insisted later on Twitter that it was Pelosi who had a “total meltdown,” calling her “a very sick person!”He also tweeted pictures from the room. “Do you think they like me?” he asked mockingly about one, showing Pelosi and Schumer looking exhausted and glum.“Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” he tweeted with another.In that photo, Pelosi can be seen, surrounded by congressional leaders and military brass around a table at the White House, finger outpointed. She is standing up, literally, to Trump.Pelosi turned the photo into the banner on her Twitter page.

US Envoy: Trump Demanded Diplomats Work with His Attorney on Ukraine

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told House impeachment investigators on Thursday that President Donald Trump ordered diplomats to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to get Ukraine to open investigations that would help Trump politically.”Mr. Giuliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy committing Ukraine to look into anti-corruption issues,” Sondland said in a prepared statement.Sondland, a major political donor to Trump before being named as the country’s top diplomat in Brussels, said, “Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election,” including whether Ukraine knew of the whereabouts of a computer server used by the Democratic National Committee in Washington three years ago, and energy company Burisma, “as two anti-corruption investigatory topics of importance for the president.”Hunter Biden, the son of one of Trump’s key political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, until earlier this year held a lucrative position on the Burisma board. Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing, although the younger Biden this week acknowledged “poor judgment” in taking the Burisma position because of the political fallout affecting his father.US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, center, arrives for a joint interview with the House Committees on Capitol Hill, Oct. 17, 2019.Sondland told the investigators he was disappointed that Trump directed diplomats to work with Giuliani, a former New York mayor, on Ukraine matters.”Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine,” Sondland said in the prepared remarks.He said envoys had a choice after a May 23 meeting with Trump, abandon the goal of a White House meeting with Zelenskiy or do as Trump wanted, work through Giuliani to promote the Ukraine investigations. He said the envoys worked with Giuliani, but that he did not know “until much later” that Giuliani would push for a probe of Biden “or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 reelection campaign.”When Trump talked with Zelenskiy in a late July phone call, he prodded the Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden at the same time that the U.S. was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine.  A whistleblower complaint regarding that phone call is at the center of the impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats.Sondland stressed that he was not on the call and did not see a transcript until the White House released a rough version of the call’s content last month.”Let me state clearly: Inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming U.S. election would be wrong,” Sondland said in his statement. “Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings.” Trump eventually released the military aid to Kyiv.Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrives to testify in the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Trump, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, October 11, 2019.The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees are taking several closed-door depositions this week delving into Trump’s actions pushing for the Ukraine investigations and his ouster of a well-regarded career diplomat, Marie Yovanovitch, as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the requests to Zelenskiy, but the Democratic-controlled House could impeach him in the coming weeks. That would lead to a trial in the Republican-majority Senate, although Trump’s removal from office remains an unlikely outcome.According to a U.S. intelligence whistleblower, Sondland and other diplomats exchanged a series of text messages in which the diplomats wondered why the military aid to Ukraine was frozen.Reports say there was a five-hour-long gap between text messages, during which Sondland telephoned Trump.The next message assured one diplomat there was no “quid pro quo” of any kind with Ukraine, followed by Sondland writing, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”On Wednesday, a former top aide to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told House lawmakers that he quit last week in growing frustration over the politicization of the State Department, with the final straw being  Trump’s ouster of Yovanovitch.In hours of congressional testimony, Michael McKinley, decried the agency’s unwillingness to protect career diplomats like Yovanovitch from political pressure.   Michael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, leaves Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 16, 2019.McKinley’s statements, recounted by people familiar with his closed-door testimony, are the latest in a string of unflattering accounts about the behind-the-scenes operations of the country’s foreign policy and national security agencies.McKinley has served as the U.S. ambassador in four countries, and he had other global postings before returning to Washington as an aide to Pompeo.His testimony, along with that of others, has helped buttress the account of the unnamed whistleblower.Yovanovitch testified last week that Trump dismissed her based on “unfounded and false claims” after Giuliani had attacked her performance in Kyiv.According to a rough recounting of the July conversation supplied by the White House, Trump told Zelenskiy, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news, so I just wanted to let you know that. The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, and that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look in to it … it sounds horrible to me.”Trump continued Thursday to attack the impeachment hearings against him, calling them “The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!”The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History! https://t.co/sPnloffJMT— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019A day before, he contended, “Republicans are totally deprived of their rights in this Impeachment Witch Hunt. No lawyers, no questions, no transparency! The good news is that the Radical Left Dems have No Case. It is all based on their Fraud and Fabrication!”Republicans are totally deprived of their rights in this Impeachment Witch Hunt. No lawyers, no questions, no transparency! The good news is that the Radical Left Dems have No Case. It is all based on their Fraud and Fabrication!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2019House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff defended the process in a letter Wednesday, saying Republicans have not been kept out of the process.”Questions have been primarily asked by committee counsels for both the majority and the minority, but also by members of both parties.  And the majority and minority have been provided equal staff representation and time to question witnesses, who have stayed until the majority and minority have asked all of their questions — often late into the evening,” Schiff wrote.He said transcripts of closed-door interviews will be made public at a time when doing so will not jeopardize the investigation, and that “at an appropriate point” witnesses will be questioned in public sessions “so that the full Congress and the American people can hear their testimony firsthand.” 

Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings Dead at 68

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.A sharecropper’s son, Cummings became the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated President Donald Trump, and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House.House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks to members of the media before Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan appears before a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 18, 2019.Trump responded by criticizing the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now,” and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.Long career in politicsCummings’ long career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.Cummings continued his rise in Congress. In 2016, he was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign” for president.Cummings was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008.Passionate oratorThroughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He was a firm believer in some much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS.Cummings was born on Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and he would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before he won his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become House speaker pro tem, the first black delegate to hold the position. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said about a month after entering office in Washington in 1996.Cummings chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.v He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had given Maryland its first black congressman in 1970 when Parren Mitchell was elected.

Trump: Democratic Challengers Are ‘Clowns’

U.S. President Donald Trump assailed his Democratic challengers on Wednesday after their latest debate, calling them “clowns” who would crash the economy.Our record Economy would CRASH, just like in 1929, if any of those clowns became President!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019.Another leading candidate, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, said, “Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics. Donald Trump broke the law. No one is above the law. Impeachment must go forward.”Trump’s opponents hurled some of their toughest attacks against Trump for his withdrawal in recent days of U.S. troops from northern Syria, leaving Kurdish fighters — U.S. battlefield allies in the war against Islamic State terrorists — vulnerable to an onslaught from Turkish troops invading from the north. Trump on Wednesday said the Turkish invasion is “not our problem,” declaring that the Kurdish fighters are “not angels.”Biden called Trump’s abandonment of Kurdish fighters the “most shameful thing I’ve ever seen a president do.” California Senator Kamala Harris called the bloodshed in northern Syria “a crisis of Donald Trump’s making,” while Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said, “Our president blew it and he’s too proud to say it.”While mostly targeting Trump, some of the candidates aimed salvos at Warren, who has surged in recent polling, even overtaking Biden in some surveys of Democratic voters. Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg attacked Warren’s call for a government-run national medical insurance plan, claiming she is being evasive about how she would pay for it.Tuesday’s debate was the fourth in a string of almost-monthly get-togethers for the Democratic challengers seeking to win the party’s nomination to face Trump. But with the candidates lined up on a stage at Otterbein University in the Midwestern state of Ohio, it was the largest such gathering and came as the new drama engulfed the U.S. political world just more than a year before voters head to the polls in the national balloting.Ukraine phone callDemocrats in the House of Representatives opened the quick-moving impeachment probe after a whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community raised questions as to whether Trump had put his political survival ahead of U.S. national security concerns when he asked Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for “a favor” in a late July call. Trump called for Kyiv to open an investigation into the role played by Biden in helping oust a Ukrainian prosecutor when he was former President Barack Obama’s second-in-command, and to probe the lucrative service of Biden’s son, Hunter, on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.FILE – Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019.Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing, although the younger Biden, 49, told ABC News this week that he exercised “poor judgment” in serving on the Burisma company board because it had become a political liability for his father.The elder Biden said he had never discussed with Hunter Biden the decision to join the Ukrainian company’s board. Hunter Biden left the board earlier this year and now pledges to not work for any foreign company if his father is elected president.Trump has repeatedly described his call with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” said he has done nothing wrong and assailed the impeachment probe as another attempt to overturn his 2016 election victory.Front-runnersThe elder Biden, at 76 on his third run for the U.S. presidency, is the nominal leader in national surveys of Democratic voters of their choice as the party’s standard bearer to face Trump, 73. Biden often defeats Trump in hypothetical polling matchups. So does Warren, a former Harvard law professor.FILE – Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019.Biden and the 70-year-old Warren were at center stage on Tuesday, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist who currently stands as the third choice among Democrats. The 78-year-old Sanders recently suffered a heart attack, raising questions about his health as the oldest of the presidential contenders.Asked about his stamina to campaign for the presidency, Sanders said he would be “mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country.” Biden, who would turn 80 during his presidency if he wins the election, deflected a question about his age, saying that with it “comes wisdom. I know what has to be done.”The nine other candidates on the debate stage besides Biden, Warren and Sanders faced a daunting challenge: how best to distinguish themselves from the front-runners and gain new traction in national polls and surveys of voters in states where Democrats are holding party nominating contests starting in February.All nine currently are polling in the single digits, compared to Biden and Warren in the upper 20% range, and Sanders at about 15%.Ahead of the next debate, on Nov. 20, the national Democratic party has set the standards even higher to gain a spot on the stage. The candidates must have bigger polling numbers — at least 3% support in four national polls or 5% support in polls of people in states that are early on the voting calendar — and more financial support, from at least 165,000 individual donors.

Democratic Leadership Walks Out of White House Meeting With Trump

Congressional Democratic Party lawmakers abruptly left a White House meeting with President Donald Trump on Wednesday concerning the crisis along the Turkish-Syrian border. 
The president called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California a “third-grade politician,” according to those who attended. 
“We were offended, deeply. Never have I seen a president treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, alongside Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York outside the White House West Wing. ‘A meltdown’
The House speaker told reporters Trump had “a meltdown” in the Cabinet Room because of the number of Republicans who had joined Democrats on Capitol Hill in approving a resolution condemning his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria. 
“And that’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting — because he was just not relating to the reality of it,” Pelosi said. The speaker added that Trump appeared upset, saying he had not invited the Democratic leadership to attend the bipartisan meeting. FILE – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 13, 2019.”We didn’t invite ourselves,” Hoyer told reporters. Schumer described the meeting as a diatribe, rather than a dialogue. Pelosi, later back on Capitol Hill, remarked, “I think now we have to pray for his health.” Democrats who were at the meeting said that when Schumer pointed to concerns raised by James Mattis as defense secretary that the Islamic State group would resurge if the United States withdrew its troops from Syria, Trump reacted by insulting the retired general, calling him overrated and saying he “wasn’t tough enough,” especially when it came to handling IS. 
Schumer told reporters that he inquired about whether there was “any intelligence evidence that the Turks and Syrians will have the same interest that the Kurds or we did in guarding ISIS [Islamic State]. And the secretary of defense — thank God he was honest — said, ‘We don’t have that evidence.’ So, I said: ‘How can we think this is a plan?’ ” 
Republicans who were in attendance said that it was Pelosi who was insulting toward the president and that her conduct was unbecoming of a congressional leader. Later talks
Some other Democrats remained for the discussion after their leadership left, with Republicans and the White House describing the meeting as productive from that point forward. 
“The president was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising. She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.”  House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, left, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, speak with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington.Representative Mike McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters the most significant outcome of the meeting was that Trump, in contrast to his earliest comments, stated that a residual U.S. force would be left in the region. McCaul also noted that the president had sent a stern letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning him of debilitating sanctions if he did not reverse course on Syria. Unusual style
That letter, which began circulating during the lawmakers’ meetings with the president, drew considerable attention for its unconventional style. 
The letter, dated October 9, begins, “Let’s work out a great deal!” Trump says the Turkish leader doesn’t have to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and he threatens, as the U.S. president, that he does not want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy by imposing sanctions. 
The letter goes on to warn Erdogan: “Don’t be a tough guy” and “don’t be a fool.” 

AP Fact Check: Democrats Flub Details on Guns, Syria in Debate

A dozen Democrats seeking the presidency tussled in a debate packed with policy, flubbing some details in the process.Several gave an iffy explanation Tuesday of why they’re not swinging behind a bold proposal to make people turn over their assault-style weapons. Sloppiness also crept in during robust exchanges over foreign policy, health care, taxes and more.How some of their claims from Westerville, Ohio, stack up with the facts:SYRIAJoe Biden: “I would not have withdrawn the troops, and I would not have withdrawn the additional 1,000 troops that are in Iraq, which are in retreat now, being fired on by Assad’s people.”The Facts: The former vice president is wrong. There is no evidence that any of the approximately 1,000 American troops preparing to evacuate from Syria have been fired on by Syrian government forces led by President Bashar Assad. A small group of U.S. troops came under Turkish artillery fire near the town of Kobani last week, without anyone being injured, but there is no indication that Syrian troops have shot at withdrawing Americans.Also, Biden was addressing the situation in Syria, not Iraq.GUN CONTROLPete Buttigieg: “On guns, we are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge.”Amy Klochubar: “I just keep thinking of how close we are to finally getting something done on this.”The Facts: No, the U.S. is not close to enacting an assault-weapons ban, as Buttigieg claimed, nor close on any significant gun control, as Klobuchar had it. Congress is not on the verge of such legislation. Prospects for an assault-weapons ban, in particular, are bound to remain slim until the next election at least.Legislation under discussion in the Senate would expand background checks for gun sales, a politically popular idea even with gun owners. But even that bill has stalled because of opposition from the National Rifle Association and on-again, off-again support from Trump. Democrats and some Republicans in Congress say they will continue to push for the background checks bill, but movement appears unlikely during an impeachment inquiry and general dysfunction in Congress. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he won’t move forward on gun legislation without Trump’s strong support.Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., center and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein…Buttigieg was citing the chance for an assault-weapons ban as a reason for not supporting the more radical proposal by Democratic presidential rival Beto O’Rourke to force gun owners to give up AR-15s and other assault-style weapons. Klobuchar spoke in a similar context.Kamala Harris: “Five million assault weapons are on the streets of America today.”The Facts: The California senator’s statistic on the number of AR- and AK-style firearms is not accurate. Even the gun industry estimates there are now 16 million “assault weapons” in circulation in the United States today. In 1994, President Bill Clinton enacted an assault weapons ban, at a time when there were an estimated 1.5 million of them in circulation. Current owners were allowed to keep them, however, and once the ban expired a decade later, sales resumed and boomed.JOBSElizabeth Warren: “The data show that we’ve had a lot of problems with losing jobs, but the principal reason has been bad trade policy. The principal reason has been a bunch of corporations, giant multinational corporations who’ve been calling the shots on trade.”The Facts: Economists mostly blame those job losses on automation and robots, not trade deals.So the Massachusetts senator is off.Let’s start by acknowledging that the U.S. economy has been adding jobs, just that the nature of those jobs has changed as factory work and other occupations have become less prevalent.Trade with China has contributed to shuttered factories and the loss of roughly 2 million jobs, according to research published in 2014.But the primary culprit that accounted for 88% of factory job losses between 2000 and 2010 was automation, according to researchers at Ball State University.Job figures show that the outbreak of the Great Recession in late 2007 also contributed to manufacturing’s decline.Warren is basing her claim that trade policy mattered more than automation on research from the Upjohn Institute that suggests relatively modest productivity gains in manufacturing outside of the computer and electronics sectors, a sign to those researchers that trade policy mattered more for job losses.But there is also a bigger threat from automation for workers outside factories. These are secretaries, bookkeepers and a wide array of professions. Automation can displace these workers and put downward pressure on their wages, forcing them to find other jobs.Presidential candidate former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, left, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times, in Westerville, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2019.Julian Castro: “Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them.”The Facts: Nope.Figures from the Labor Department show that the former Housing and Urban Development secretary is wrong.Ohio added jobs in August. So did Michigan. Same with Pennsylvania.So Castro’s statement is off.However, these states still have economic struggles. Pennsylvania has lost factory jobs since the end of 2018. So has Michigan. And Ohio has shed 100 factory jobs so far this year.HEALTH CAREWarren: Buttigieg’s Medicare buy-in option is “Medicare for all who can afford it.”The Facts: Warren ignored the fact that Buttigieg would provide subsidies to help people pay premiums for the plan.She was jabbing at Buttigieg’s proposal to create an optional health insurance plan based on Medicare. Individual Americans could join it, even those covered by employer plans.Buttigieg calls it “Medicare for all who want it.”His plan tracks with Biden’s health care proposal. Biden would also provide subsidies for those who pick his “public option.”Details are unclear on who would get financial assistance, and how much that would be. But Buttigieg and Biden have said they want to provide help to a broader cross section of Americans than are currently helped by the Affordable Care Act.RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONWarren: “Mueller had shown to a fare-thee-well that this president obstructed justice.”The Facts: That’s not exactly what special counsel Robert Mueller showed.It’s true that prosecutors examined more than 10 episodes for evidence of obstruction of justice, and that they did illustrate efforts by President Donald Trump to stymie the Russia investigation or take control of it.But ultimately, Mueller did not reach a conclusion as to whether the president obstructed justice or broke any other law. He cited Justice Department policy against the indictment of a sitting president, and said that since he could not bring charges against Trump, it was unfair to accuse him of a crime. There was no definitive finding that he obstructed justice. 

Democratic Debates: Comments by Each Candidate

The fourth Democratic presidential candidate debates took place Tuesday in Ohio. The Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, discussing the need for the country to be reliable in foreign relations, said, “If you’re Kim Jong Un, for example, why in the world would you believe anything that this president says to contain your nuclear weapons program when he tore up an Iran nuclear agreement we just signed four years ago, which was the strongest agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and now he’s abandoned the very people we’ve given our word to.”Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, when asked about her desire to pull U.S. troops from Syria, said, “The slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we’ve been waging in Syria.  Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand.  But so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011, along with many in the mainstream media who have been championing and cheerleading this regime change war.”Senator Kamala Harris, talking about the impeachment probe against Trump, said, “He has consistently, since he won, been selling out the American people, he’s been selling out working people, he’s been selling out our values, he’s been selling out national security, and on this issue with Ukraine he has been selling out our democracy.”Senator Amy Klobuchar, on the issue of what Democrats must do to defeat Trump, brought up campaigning in key swing states from the last election, saying, “I do it not by going just where it’s comfortable, but by going where it’s uncomfortable.  And that’s why I have been in Pennsylvania, and in Michigan, and in Wisconsin, and all over Ohio and in Iowa.  Because I believe we need to build a blue Democratic wall around those states and make Donald Trump pay for it.”ImmigrationFormer Congressman Beto O’Rourke, talking about gun control and plans for buybacks and seizures of high-powered weapons, said, “If the logic begins with those weapons being too dangerous to sell, then it must continue by acknowledging with 16 million AR-15s and AK-47s out there they are also too dangerous to own.  Every single one of them is a potential instrument of terror.”Senator Bernie Sanders, addressing his recent heart attack and questions about running for president at age 78, said, “We are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country.  That is how I think I can reassure the American people.  But let me take this moment if I might to thank so many people from all over this country including many of my colleagues up here for their love, for their prayers, for their well-wishes.”Climate ChangeBillionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, connecting U.S. cooperative foreign policy with addressing climate change, said, “Any problem that we’re going to do, but specifically climate, we’re going to have to lead the world morally, we’re going to have to lead it technologically, financially and commercially.  This is the proof that this kind of America first, go it alone, trust nobody and be untrustworthy, is the worst idea that I’ve ever heard and I would change it on day one in every single way.”Senator Elizabeth Warren, on the topic of her health care plan amid challenges she has not made its costs clear, said, “I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle class families costs will go down.”Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, discussing big tech companies and whether they have become too powerful, said, “There are absolutely excesses in technology and in some cases having them divest parts of their business is the right move.  But we also have to be realistic that competition doesn’t solve all the problems.  It’s not like any of us wants to use the 4th best navigation app.  That would be like cruel and unusual punishment.

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