November 11, 2016

Before Samson, Vietnam War veteran Jerry Martin stayed home to avoid being in public. After getting his service dog, Martin was able to cross the stage in front of hundreds of cheering supporters as he collected his high school diploma.

Martin was one of 22 World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans who received their diplomas this week through the Operation Recognition Veterans Diploma Project in San Bernardino County, California. The county's superintendent of schools and department of veterans affairs find veterans who were unable to earn their diplomas because of their service to the country, and making Martin's "goal a reality for him was our way of being able to say, 'Thank you for your service to your country,'" Director of Veterans Affairs Frank Guevara said. Martin was a Navy and Marines corpsman who earned a Bronze Star for valor. "To do my job was to heal and care for the wounded," he said. "The corpsman's motto is, 'To hell and back for a wounded Marine.'"

Martin said when he came home from the war, he felt deep regret and guilt over not being able to save everyone; he was short-tempered and "mad at the world," and would often have nightmares. He was first diagnosed with high-end anxiety; later, it was determined to be PTSD. That's when he was given a prescription for a service dog, and Samson entered his life. "His training has to be a partnership," Martin said. "We are together 24/7. We go everywhere and do everything together because he is an extension of me, he looks after me. If I should have an episode, he will get in my face and bring me back to reality. Samson has been a real stabilizer." Martin, who earned his GED while in the service but was never recognized, had Samson by his side as he accepted his diploma, and said he now feels complete: "It's like a missing piece to a puzzle that I always had to work around my entire life." Catherine Garcia

8:29 p.m.

The Colorado attorney general's office on Tuesday announced it has launched a civil rights investigation into the Aurora Police Department's "patterns and practices," following several high-profile cases of alleged excessive force and misconduct.

This review began several weeks ago, a spokesperson said, and is separate from an investigation into the 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black man who died after officers used a chokehold on him. Earlier Tuesday, McClain's family filed a lawsuit against the Aurora Police Department and paramedics, who injected him with ketamine.

Last week, a video went viral showing Aurora officers holding a Black family at gunpoint, after they mistakenly thought the family was in a stolen car. As they all lie face down on the pavement, one of the children is heard sobbing and screaming, "I want my mother!" The department later apologized, and interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said there will be a review of how officers are trained to conduct high-risk stops. Catherine Garcia

7:23 p.m.

President Trump hasn't gotten over the way Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) grilled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Senate confirmation hearing, saying on Tuesday that she was "nasty to a level that was just horrible."

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced on Tuesday afternoon that he has selected Harris as his running mate, and Trump was asked about this during his evening coronavirus briefing. By picking Harris, Trump said, Biden is "handing over the reins to Kamala while they jointly embrace the radical left," and criticized her for supporting the expansion of Medicare.

Trump then brought up Harris' pointed questioning of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. "She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing, the way she was, the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh," he said. "And I won't forget that soon." When asked if he thinks Harris will boost Biden's appeal to voters, Trump responded, "Well, I like Vice President Mike Pence much better, he is solid as a rock. I will take him over Kamala and the horrible way she again treated Justice Kavanaugh. That was a horrible event. I thought it was terrible for her. I thought it was terrible for our nation. I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate." Catherine Garcia

6:30 p.m.

President Trump's campaign may be calling her "Phony Kamala" now, but Trump once liked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) enough to twice donate to her re-election campaign for California attorney general.

The Sacramento Bee first reported the donations in 2019, but they are receiving renewed interest now that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has chosen Harris to be his running mate.

Before she became a senator, Harris was attorney general of California; she was first elected in 2010, and was re-elected four years later. Trump made two donations to Harris' re-election campaign — $5,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2013. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.

A spokesperson for Harris' campaign previously told McClatchy that in 2015, Harris donated the $6,000 she received from Trump to a nonprofit organization that advocates for civil and human rights for Central Americans. Catherine Garcia

5:53 p.m.

History has its eyes on Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) — in more ways than one.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, announced Harris as his pick to hold the position he once held under former president Barack Obama on Tuesday.

The former California attorney general is rightly being recognized as the first Black woman to sit on a major political party's national ticket, but the historic nature of Harris' position contains multitudes.

To start, Harris is the first person with Indian heritage to run on a national presidential ticket. Her late mother was born in India, and Harris has credited her maternal grandfather, a former Indian diplomat, with helping her to appreciate the "importance of democracy and a government that represents the people — all the people,” Politico reports.

Harris's nomination also marks the first time a major nominee has graduated from an HBCU, a.k.a Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986, receiving her B.A. after studying political science and economics.

Howard University president Wayne A.I. Frederick released a statement saying the senator's nomination "represents a milestone opportunity for our democracy to acknowledge the leadership Black women have always exhibited, but has too often been ignored.”

Harris went on to attend the University of California, Hastings where she received her J.D., making her the first person to sit on the Democratic ticket in over 35 years who did not attend an Ivy League school.

If Harris and Biden succeed in ousting President Trump from office, Harris will also hold the honor of being the first female and the first Asian American to be elected to national office, but we'll save that conversation for another day. Marianne Dodson

5:51 p.m.

The old boss approves.

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday said his old right hand man and the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, "nailed" his running mate selection. Earlier in the day, Biden tapped Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, and Obama said he "couldn't be more thrilled," describing Harris as "an ideal partner" for Biden.

Not only has Obama known Harris for many years, he's been an active supporter of her political career for a while. Back in 2010, when Harris was running for California attorney general, she was the only down-ballot Democrat the then-president raised funds for, Politico reported at the time. Tim O'Donnell

5:27 p.m.

There's a long way to go before California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has to seriously contemplate filling Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) seat in the upper chamber. After all, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, who was selected Tuesday as former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, will need to be part of a victory in November's general election before her Senate seat actually opens. But that hasn't stopped some speculation about who could replace her.

One of the candidates people are talking about is Harris' fellow vice presidential contender, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who has also been touted as a potential replacement for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) one day. Bass appears to have been seriously considered for the Biden ticket, but it seems unlikely that was her last chance to move into an even more prominent role.

A few other names have been floated as possible Harris replacements, including Bass' colleagues in the House, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Tim O'Donnell

Opinion
5:23 p.m.

Joe Biden just announced his running mate choice: Sen. Kamala Harris of California. That means Harris, if she can govern well, could be the leader of both the Democratic Party and the country through 2030. If she can't, she might well be the last democratically-elected vice president in American history.

Biden is the heavy favorite against Trump this year. Given his age and his track record of working closely with President Obama when he was vice president, Harris will presumably play a significant role in major governing decisions. It's unpopular for the media to talk about, but there's a decent chance she would need to step in before Biden's term is up. What's more, there is a reasonable chance that Biden would choose not to run for re-election in 2024. If so, Harris would be the overwhelming favorite to run in his place.

The stakes could hardly be higher. Donald Trump is blatantly trying to steal the 2020 election, and the next Republican candidate will very likely try the same trick. A Biden administration would have four years, and perhaps another four or eight under a Harris administration, to address the pandemic, rebuild the shattered economy and federal government, root out Trump's gangrenous corruption, and fortify America's democratic institutions. If Biden and Harris instead muddle through letting everything fester, as happened under the Obama administration, the next would-be authoritarian probably won't be as incompetent as Trump. Let's hope they seize the moment. Ryan Cooper

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