October 11, 2019

The Trump administration just keeps presenting us with twists that, in a political satire, would be deemed far too on-the-nose.

Two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday and indicted for campaign finance violations, being detained just before they were about to leave the country with one-way tickets. Giuliani reportedly met with the associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, for lunch the day of their arrest.

We're now learning more about Giuliani's relationship with the two men, with whom he reportedly worked to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and attempt to undermine former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 election interference. The New York Times reports a company Parnas co-founded retained Giuliani's services last year, paying him, Parnas has told associates, "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The name of that company? Fraud Guarantee.

Fraud Guarantee is, the Times reports, a fraud prevention and mitigation company, although giving it that name when you're allegedly going around committing campaign finance violations is perhaps not the world's absolute best idea. In a classic Giuliani move, the Times writes Giuliani "at first seemed to acknowledge having advised Fraud Guarantee in 2018, then backtracked."

"I can't acknowledge it's Fraud Guarantee, I don't think," Giuliani said. "I can acknowledge I gave them substantial business advice." Giuliani also wouldn't say to the Times he regrets working with Parnas and Fruman despite their indictment, asking, "Who else would I have turned to?" Brendan Morrow

8:40 p.m.

Each of the 12 candidates on the Democratic debate stage Tuesday night were undoubtedly hoping to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd, but there's at least one thing they can all agree on: impeaching President Trump.

The fourth debate of the 2020 primary season kicked off with the dozen candidates answering opening questions pertaining to the House's impeachment inquiry. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren led the charge, announcing that "no one is above the law and that includes the president." Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders agreed, contributing: "Mitch McConnell has got to do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate."

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who only recently added his voice to the chorus calling for Trump's impeachment, jumped on the pile, saying "this president is the most corrupt president in modern history." California Sen. Kamala Harris quipped that "as a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it" and that Trump "has committed crimes in plain sight."

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang also agreed that Trump ought to be held accountable. As South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg put it, "The president has left Congress with no choice."

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the only active House member on stage, said she was initially resistant to the calls for impeachment and warned that if it was "hyper-partisan," the inquiry could "further divide an already terribly divided country," although she also ultimately agreed it ought to go forward.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the line of questioning, though: "I am getting a lot of eye-rolling already from conservative voters watching re: impeachment," wrote Elizabeth Dias, the national religion correspondent for The New York Times. Jeva Lange

8:15 p.m.

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Tuesday night said Democrats have made "dramatic progress" in answering questions surrounding President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

They've learned more about the events that took place before and after the conversation, "thanks to the courageous testimony of State Department officials who have been put in an impossible situation by the administration, and that is urged not to comply with the law, urged not to comply with a lawful subpoena by the U.S. Congress," Schiff said. "They are doing their duty and people should make no mistake about that."



He singled out for praise Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, who testified before lawmakers last week, and criticized the State Department for missing a deadline to produce documents related to Ukraine. There is a "complete effort by the administration to stonewall," Schiff said. Catherine Garcia

7:45 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday evening decided to hold off on calling a full House vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

This doesn't mean the vote won't happen in the near future, Democratic aides told Politico, as Pelosi is keeping all of her options open. Pelosi shared the news with her caucus during a private meeting. Trump and his Republican allies are trying to paint the impeachment inquiry as illegitimate, but Democrats say a full House vote is unnecessary. "The only time a vote is required is if and when articles of impeachment come to the floor," Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told Politico. "This is an effort by the president to distract from the shocking and serious allegations of misconduct."

Pelosi spoke to reporters on Tuesday night after the meeting, and said the impeachment inquiry is "not a game for us. This is deadly serious. We're here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States." Catherine Garcia

7:30 p.m.

Republican voters say they prefer more progressive tax plans, at least when the plans are anonymous, a new poll from a progressive think tank shows.

Data for Progress, whose goal is to "show how a progressive agenda can win nationwide," worked in tandem with YouGov Blue to conduct a survey which pitted the tax plans of President Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) against one another. Those polled were presented with a graph that showed prospective income tax rates for people of different incomes under each plan, but the candidates' names were nowhere to be seen.

Per the poll, Warren's plan — which would aggressively tax the wealthy at higher rates than lower-income people — was the most popular and considered the fairest overall, even among Republican voters, 35 percent of whom preferred Warren's compared to 29 percent who favored Trump's regressive tax rate.

Among Democrats, Sanders' and Warren's plans were effectively tied. Biden, meanwhile, appears to be lost in the wilderness on this one. YouGov conducted a survey of 1,024 U.S. voters online. No margin of error was reported. Read more at Data for Progress. Tim O'Donnell

6:53 p.m.

Let's not forget that the record-breaking 12 candidates set to appear on the debate stage Tuesday night are somehow not even all of the people who are running for president. There is also, apparently, some guy named Wayne Messam, who is the mayor of Miramar, Florida.

You might be excused for not knowing Messam's name; he hasn't appeared on the debate stage quite yet. And, well, he is perhaps not doing the best job self-promoting, either; according to his Federal Election Commission filing on Tuesday, his campaign spent exactly $0 in the third quarter.

Even more surprising, though, is his fundraising haul. Between July and September, Messam reported raising just five dollars.

Take that number with a grain of salt. Adds The New York Times, "It is possible that the numbers Mr. Messam submitted are incorrect. That wouldn't be unprecedented; he submitted a corrected first-quarter report earlier this year after an accounting error led him to report raising nearly twice as much as he actually had." Jeva Lange

6:53 p.m.

If the video depicting a fake President Trump massacring members of the media — which was condemned by the White House — wasn't too much to handle already, ProPublica and WNYC released more disturbing audio from the conference where the footage was originally shown.

While speaking at the pro-Trump conference in Miami, Florida, at the Trump National Doral Miami, Mark Burns, a pastor, told the crowd multiple times that "we've come to declare war." As he continued, he reportedly asked if anybody was "read to go to war for Donald J. Trump, this nation?" as the audience reportedly cheered him on.

Additionally, radio host Wayne Allyn Root reportedly boasted about a time in his childhood when, as one of the few white students at a predominantly black high school, he knocked one classmate unconscious and shattered another kid's teeth. "My buddies and I were high-fiving and laughing," Root reportedly said during his speech. "Man, it was funny."

Root reportedly went on to say that "you've got to be a natural-born killer" to win in politics. Listen to the audio clips at ProPublica. Tim O'Donnell

6:43 p.m.

As part of a federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani, a grand jury has issued a subpoena for documents from former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a longtime friend who has also interacted with two Giuliani associates who were arrested last week, people with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reportedly looking into Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine and his role in the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine. They are asking Sessions to turn over documents related to both matters, as well as interactions with Giuliani and his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested last week for conspiracy and campaign finance violations.

Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, is the primary focus of the subpoena, people familiar with the investigation said, and there is nothing pointing to Sessions being the target of the probe; Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for Sessions said he is cooperating and will start turning over documents. The Journal reported on Monday that federal prosecutors have looked at Giuliani's bank records and have been questioning witnesses since at least August. Catherine Garcia

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