June 20, 2019

"Last winter, the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro seemed a sure bet to President Trump, a quick foreign policy win at a time when other initiatives in Asia and the Middle East appeared stalled or headed in the wrong direction," The Washington Post reports. Since a U.S. backed uprising led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó fizzled in April, senior administration officials tell the Post, Trump "is losing both patience and interest in Venezuela."

Trump is clearly frustrated about Venezuela, a foreign policy issue he "always thought of ... as low-hanging fruit" on which he "could get a win and tout it as a major foreign policy victory," one former Trump administration official involved in Venezuela policy tells the Post. Now Trump rarely talks about Venezuela in public and his Twitter account has dropped all mentions of the country, save for one tweet earlier this month in which he claimed "Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela," the Post notes. Russia denied both leaving Venezuela and talking about leaving Venezuela with the Trump administration, and "it was never mentioned again."

In private, Trump "chewed out his staff" about the failed Venezuela regime change, blaming National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Latin America policy director Mauricio Claver-Carone for getting "played" by both Guaidó and key Maduro figures, current and former administration officials tell the Post. Some current officials disputed that characterization of Trump's reaction and said his Venezuela policy was always long-term and is on track. But Maduro appears safely ensconced in the presidential residence, the Post says, and "while Trump appears to have withdrawn from the fray, Bolton tweets about Venezuela more than on any other foreign policy issue," and he's still bullish on thwarting Maduro. Peter Weber

12:12 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party notched a landslide victory in national elections Thursday. Thanks largely to gains in long-held Labour areas that supported Britain's departure from the European Union, Johnson is on track to have the largest Tory majority since the 1980s. The Labour Party lost dozens of seats, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced early Friday that he will not lead the party in future elections. He did not step down immediately, though, pledging to stay on as party leader during a post-defeat "process of reflection."

Jo Swinson, the leader of the center-left, anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, won't have that option: She lost her Glasgow-area seat by 149 votes on Thursday, contributing to Liberal Democrats losses and strong gains by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).

Johnson called his win "a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done," likely starting with formal withdrawal from the European Union at the end of January. Corbyn said the results were "very disappointing" and that the divisive Brexit issue "contributed to the results," though he also blamed Labour's roughly 71-seat loss on bad press. Many Labour members blamed Corbyn, who is widely unpopular, and called on him to step down as party leader immediately.

With a projected 52 seats, the SNP will be the third-largest party in the 650-seat House of Commons, after the Conservatives (362) and Labour (199). SNP leaders said they will push for a new referendum of indepdence from the United Kingdom. Johnson now has "a mandate to take England out of the EU but he must accept that I have a mandate to give Scotland a choice for an alternative future," SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC early Friday. Peter Weber

December 12, 2019

After a session that lasted more than 14 hours, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Thursday night abruptly postponed the panel's vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Lawmakers had planned on voting Thursday, but Nadler delayed what is expected to be the approval of charges against Trump until Friday morning. "I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences before we cast our final votes," Nadler said.

The committee's ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), was furious, saying Democrats moved the vote to the morning because they want a "prime time hit," adding, "That was the most bush league play I have ever seen in life." Democrats told NBC News they want the vote to take place in the day so Trump can't say they carried out the impeachment under cover of darkness. The full House is expected to debate and vote on the articles next week. Catherine Garcia

December 12, 2019

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) spent his last few weeks in office issuing 428 pardons, with his list including a woman who threw her newborn in the trash, a convicted child rapist, and a man who murdered his parents when he was a teenager.

Bevin was defeated last month by Democrat Andy Beshear, who was sworn into office this week. Bevin's pardoning spree has left many of the state's prosecutors stunned, The Washington Post reports, with Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele, a prosecutor for Knox and Laurel counties, saying, "What this governor did is an absolute atrocity of justice. He's put victims, he's put others in our community in danger."

Steele told the Post she was shocked to see Patrick Brian Baker on the pardon list. In 2017, Baker was convicted of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace officer, and tampering with evidence in connection with a 2014 home invasion that left one man dead. Baker's brother was a Bevin donor, who raised $21,500 to pay off Bevin's 2015 campaign debts. Baker was sentenced to 19 years in prison, but only served two years before his release on Dec. 6. Bevin did not pardon Baker's co-conspirators.

There were some pardons that didn't raise eyebrows; Gregory Wilson, a death row inmate, had his sentence commuted to life with the possibility of parole after 30 years. Wilson's 1988 trial was described as being "a travesty of justice and a national embarrassment for Kentucky," the Courier Journal says. Bevin told the Post he is "a big believer in second chances. I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life." Catherine Garcia

December 12, 2019

Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson wants to change the way nondisclosure agreements are used.

In an op-ed published Thursday night in The New York Times, Carlson said that when she settled her 2016 retaliation and sexual harassment complaint against Roger Ailes, the late Fox News chairman and CEO, she signed a nondisclosure agreement, which prevents her from talking about her experiences at the network. Nondisclosure agreements were "originally designed to safeguard the sharing of proprietary corporate information (think the formula for Coca-Cola), not to protect predatory behavior," she writes, and her NDA with Fox News has essentially "forced" her into silence.

Two 2019 projects — the movie Bombshell and the Showtime limited series The Loudest Voice — focus on Carlson and other Fox News employees who filed harassment claims, but because of the NDA, she "cannot consult with filmmakers, writers, journalists, or anyone else telling my story ... nor can I comment on the accuracy of a final product." Carlson wants her "voice back," she said. "I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."

NBC recently announced it will release former employees from their nondisclosure agreements, and Carlson hopes Fox News will follow suit. "We have a right to say what is factually correct or incorrect about what happened," she said. "We have a right to our voices and our truths. I urge executives at Fox to do what's right and take this step today." Catherine Garcia

December 12, 2019

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) sharply rebuked President Trump during the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on Thursday night, saying that because of his "selfish" actions, Ukrainians died.

"In my colleagues' efforts to defend this president, you want him to be someone he's not," Swalwell said. "You want him to be someone he is telling you he is not." Trump's decision to freeze security aid to Ukraine, given to help the country fight Russian military aggression, resulted in the deaths of innocent Ukrainians, he continued, adding, "People died, and you may not want to think about that, but they died when this selfish, selfish president withheld the aid for his own personal gain."

Swalwell then pivoted to Russia. "To my colleagues who believe we have such an anti-corruption president in the White House, I ask you this: How many times did this anti-corruption president meet with the most corrupt leader in the world, Vladimir Putin?" he said. "How many times did he talk to him? Sixteen times, between meetings and phone conversations. And how many conditions did the president put on Vladimir Putin to get such an audience with the most powerful person in the world at the highest office? Zero conditions. That's who you're defending. So keep defending him. We will defend the Constitution, our national security, and our elections." Catherine Garcia

December 12, 2019

A resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide unanimously passed the Senate on Thursday.

"From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire carried out a force deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians, of whom 1.5 million were killed," bill co-author Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. "We must never be silent in the face of atrocity."

Turkey has denied a genocide occurred, and after the House passed its version of the bill in October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained about it to President Trump, NBC News reports. Previously, the resolution was blocked three separate times by three Republican senators, at the request of the White House.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a co-author of the bill, said he is "thankful this resolution has passed at a time in which there are still survivors of the genocide. [They] will be able to see the Senate acknowledge what they went through." Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also praised the move, calling it a "victory of justice and truth. On behalf of the Armenian people worldwide, I express our profound appreciation to the Senate for this landmark legislation." Catherine Garcia

December 12, 2019

During the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearing on Thursday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tried to shift the focus away from President Trump to former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

Gaetz introduced an amendment to the articles of impeachment that would refer to the "corrupt" hiring of Hunter Biden by the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Hunter Biden has a history of alcohol and drug abuse, which Gaetz gleefully mentioned. "It's a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car," he said.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) was next to speak, and without uttering any names, he reminded the entire room that Gaetz himself was arrested for driving under the influence (the case was later dropped). "I would say the pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do," Johnson said. "I don't know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in a DUI, I don't know, but if I did, I wouldn't raise it against anyone on this committee. I don't think it's proper." As Johnson spoke, CSPAN's cameras zoomed in on Gaetz, who looked pained. Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

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