September 12, 2019

There remains a "simmering bitterness" between many former Obama administration officials and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as described in a new Politico report containing some brutal quotes from both sides.

Former Obama administration officials in interviews with Politico go after Warren, who Obama in 2010 named special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as a "professional critic," "sanctimonious,” and a "condescending narcissist." Warren has frequently been critical of former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House National Economic Council chief Larry Summers, in particular.

"We're with Barack," a former Treasury aide told Politico of the administration's feelings toward with Warren. "We're the liberals. Why are you pissing in our face?" Another former administration official said, "She loved herself and some of her staff had a God view of her and that’s not aligned with government and bureaucrats which require teamwork."

Meanwhile, people who worked with Warren at the time but don't serve on her 2020 campaign hit back, with one telling Politico, "Tim and Larry and those guys, they are the villains of the Woody Guthrie song,” a reference to the lyric "some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen." Another Warren ally mocked the former administration officials by saying, "Obama called the bankers fat cats once and spent seven years feeling bad about it."

Read the full report, which details a "far more combative relationship" between Warren and the Obama administration "than she usually discusses on the campaign trail," at Politico. Brendan Morrow

8:53 a.m.

Ready for a return to the 2016 Democratic primary?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is bringing it back by blasting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the upcoming documentary series Hillary. A new piece in The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Clinton goes after Sanders in the documentary, saying, "He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It's all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it."

Clinton, asked by the Reporter if this assessment of Sanders still holds, simply responded, "Yes, it does." She declines to say whether she'll endorse Sanders if he wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 while criticizing "the culture around him."

"It's his leadership team," she tells the Reporter. "It's his prominent supporters. It's his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it."

Asked about the recent allegation from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that Sanders told her in a private 2018 meeting that a woman couldn't be elected president in 2020, which Sanders denies, Clinton called this "part of a pattern."

"If it were a one-off, you might say, 'OK, fine,'" Clinton said. "But he said I was unqualified. I had a lot more experience than he did, and got a lot more done than he had, but that was his attack on me."

Read the full interview with Clinton sure to generate tons of discussion at The Hollywood Reporter. Hillary will begin streaming on Hulu on March 6. Brendan Morrow

8:02 a.m.

Greta Thunberg returned to the World Economic Forum a year after famously observing that "our house is on fire" with a familiar warning.

The Swedish climate activist spoke Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, returning to the event after saying in a 2019 speech there that "our house is on fire." Opening a panel called "How to Save the Planet: Averting a Climate Catastrophe," Thunberg recalled her speech a year ago while advocating for "radical emission cuts at the source, starting today."

"From a sustainability perspective, the right, the left as well as the center have all failed," Thunberg said. "No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world. Because, in case you haven’t noticed, that world is currently on fire."

Thunberg went on to blast what she referred to as being "worse than silence" from leaders: "empty words and promises which give the impression that sufficient action is being taken." She also asked leaders at the forum "what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing the climate chaos you knowingly brought upon them?"

She concluded by echoing her previous warning, saying, "Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else."

Thunberg spoke after an address from President Trump, who said "we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse." Brendan Morrow

6:55 a.m.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has said he is willing to testify at President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, and "Trump's legal defense team and Senate GOP allies are quietly gaming out contingency plans" to make sure that doesn't happen, The Washington Post reports.

Under rules proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate won't vote on whether to allow testimony from new witnesses or other new evidence until after House impeachment managers and Trump's team lay out their arguments and senators ask questions, and four Republicans would have to join all 47 Democrats to approve witnesses. If 51 senators allow subpoenaing witnesses, "McConnell is expected to ensure that those individuals are questioned in a closed-door session rather than a public setting," the Post reports, and Bolton's deposition could be moved to "a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public."

"But that proposal, discussed among some Senate Republicans in recent days, is seen as a final tool against Bolton becoming an explosive figure in the trial," the Post reports. "First, Republicans involved in the discussions said, would come a fierce battle in the courts," with Trump invoking executive privilege to keep Bolton from talking then asking the courts for an injunction if Bolton "refuses to go along with their instructions."

Republicans are also warning Democrats that if they win on Bolton's testimony, Trump's team will subpoena Hunter Biden — though Senate Democrats seem pretty comfortable with that trade, or perhaps calling that bluff. Nobody's sure if Bolton would help or hurt Trump, but Republicans are not eager to find out. At the same time, a CNN-SSRS poll released Monday found that 59 percent of American adults and a 48 percent plurality of Republicans want the Senate trial to include testimony from witnesses not interviewed by the House. Peter Weber

5:37 a.m.

"Three years ago today, this country took on an extraordinary challenge, and that challenge was to answer the question: Can democracy survive the worst person on Earth?" Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live, celebrating the third anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. "And so far, the answer is: Barely."

"The moment Donald Trump put his hand on the Bible and swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, that was his first official lie as president," Kimmel said. "And he just kept going from there. According to The Washington Post, since taking office, Trump has racked up more than 16,000 false or misleading claims," including an average of 22 a day in 2019. To put that in perspective, he said, Trump's 16,241 documented falsehoods are "more than 7,000 more lies than there are visible stars in the night sky," or a pancake stack as high as the Empire State Building.

"It's three years of Donald Trump, which is a lot — it's too much, really," Kimmel said. "So much has transpired over the last 1,000-plus days, and tonight we decided to pay tribute to remember the highlights of these three years under our president, Donald Trump." Needless to say, these are not the clips Trump's campaign will use in his re-election ads or convention highlight reel.

The Daily Show also took a look back at Trump's three years in office, but with more of a toddler-in-chief vibe — and a snappier soundtrack. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:51 a.m.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer most famous for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, was arrested in California last week and transferred over the weekend to New York's federal Manhattan Correctional Center to face charges of extortion and embezzlement, his lawyers told a federal court on Monday. In fact, lawyer Scott Srebnick wrote, Avenatti is being housed, for reasons that are unclear, in the MCC's "Special Housing Unit on the notorious 10-South," the "most secure secure floor in the entire facility," in "a cell reportedly once occupied by El Chapo, on a floor that houses individuals charged with terrorism offenses."

Not only is Avenatti being held in the freezing cell that once housed notorious Mexican drug trafficker and escape artist Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Srebnick said, but he's on 24-hour solitary confinement with a guard and two cameras keeping watch on him from outside his cell 24 hours a day. MCC appears to have learned from the suicide of another recent inmate, Jeffrey Epstein, as Srebnick alludes to in his filing.

Srebnick asked for the court's help in finding out why Avenatti is under such strict lockdown and in getting him moved to regular incarceration amid the general population of MCC, saying the current conditions are hindering Avenatti's participation in his defense case. Peter Weber

3:59 a.m.

In 1998, when the Senate held an impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz argued that "if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime" to impeach. Now that he's part of President Trump's defense team, he argues that "without a crime, there can be no impeachment." Anderson Cooper asked Dershowitz about the apparent discrepancy between those views on CNN Monday night.

Dershowitz said he still believes you don't need a "technical crime," just "criminal-like behavior akin to bribery and treason." He said his argument is consistent, and when Cooper pointed out it isn't, he insisted he "wasn't wrong" in 1998, he just has "a more sophisticated basis for my argument now." Cooper wasn't persuaded by Dershowitz's logic and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin didn't agree with his legal argument that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress aren't impeachable offenses.

"What is clear is that Alan was right in 1998 and he's wrong now," Toobin said. "The idea that you can only impeach a president for criminal or criminal-like behavior is absurd on its face." Dershowitz disagreed and insisted again he hasn't changed his views. "I wasn't wrong, I'm just far more correct now than I was then," he said. "And I think your viewers are entitled to hear my argument without two bullies jumping on everything I say."

Cooper also spoke with Dershowitz's former Harvard Law colleague Lawrence Tribe, who said Dershowitz is clearly wrong and, sadly, appears to be "selling out, I don't think for money but just for attention." He "was a great teacher," Tribe added and "he's perfectly entitled to defend the president, although I don't like that he pretends he's defending the Constitution instead of the president. He's not the Constitution's client."

On MSNBC, former federal prosecutor Maya Wiley agreed that Dershowitz is dangerously "wrong" while anti-Trump conservative Rick Wilson compared Dershowitz to "a prank character on a reality TV show" spouting "performative B.S." on cable news to make his client happy. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:26 a.m.

Over the weekend, House impeachment managers laid out their case that President Trump was "the Framers' worst nightmare" and should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "In response, the president's lawyers say that abuse of power is not impeachable. Yes it is! It's the most powerful job in the world! That's why abuse of power is the thing a president is not supposed to do."

"With his presidency on the line, Trump is turning to his favorite legal scholar: television," Colbert said. Among the TV lawyers Trump hired is Alan Dershowitz, whose list of past clients is ... notable. Colbert turned on his Trump voice: "Get me Dershowitz! I'm exactly as innocent as Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson — but Jared, just in case, gas up the Bronco." Dershowitz is going on TV arguing Trump's technically-it-wasn't-a-crime impeachment defense, and Colbert played his exact opposite argument in Bill Clinton's impeachment, plus a doozy of a Dershowtiz quote from Richard Nixon's impeachment.

Trump's "all-star defense team" does include Dershowitz, who's past clients also include Claus von Bülow and Harvey Weinstein, "so he definitely has a type," Jimmy Kimmel deadpanned at Kimmel Live. But "Trump summoned all the ghosts of impeachments past, including Kenneth Starr, who led the case against Clinton and was attacked for it by a number of high-profile people," including Trump.

"Rudy Giuliani will not be on the Trump legal team, but he claims he wants to testify," though "Senate Republicans don't want any witnesses, and they're limiting press access," Kimmel said. "These guys really are something: They don't want witnesses, they don't want new evidence, they don't want reporting, and they don't want people watching — it's almost like they have something to hide. But what could that be? The phone call was 'perfect.'"

Trump is "desperately trying to soothe his ego and pretend he doesn't know the key players in the scandal," but he "knows that ultimately, in the eyes of history, it won't matter whether Republicans successfully rig his impeachment trial to let him off the hook," Late Night's Seth Meyers argued. "No matter what, he will be only the third president in history to face such a trial, and it follows him forever, especially as more damning evidence emerges." Watch below. Peter Weber

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