November 6, 2019

House Democrats released hundreds of pages of transcribed impeachment depositions Tuesday, including testimony from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a key player in President Trump's Ukraine policy. Sondland, who testified two weeks ago that he did not recall U.S. military aid for Ukraine being conditioned on Kyiv opening investigations on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, changed his testimony in a "supplemental declaration" submitted Monday.

Sondland declared Monday that he did in fact tell a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that "resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks." He said Trump had not directly told him to offer this quid pro quo, but there was no other "credible explanation for the suspension" of the military aid. Five other administration officials have described a similar no-cash-unless-investigation scheme in their testimony.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that he isn't going to read any of the transcripts being released by House impeachment investigators, including Sondland's. "I've written the whole process off," he told CBS News. "I think this is a bunch of B.S." That's too bad, because Graham had some questions that Sondland's testimony might answer.

Graham also told Axios' Jonathan Swan in October that "if you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing." And Graham isn't the only Trump supporter who would be disturbed if he read the revised testimony from Sondland, a Trump donor seen as more loyal to the president than the career diplomats and national security officials whose testimony he is now corroborating.

You can, of course, find something both "off the rails wrong" and not impeachable. Peter Weber

2:19 a.m.

The House's public impeachment hearings start Wednesday, and President Trump appears determined to bury them under a blizzard of tweets and obfuscation, Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. "You know, people thought it was magnanimous when he decided not to take a presidential salary. Turns out it's because he doesn't do any presidential work. He's tweeting all day."

Trump is releasing a transcript Tuesday from an earlier call with Ukraine's president, Kimmel shrugged. "What he thinks this will prove, I have no idea. Just because you release a transcript of a second call where you didn't break the law doesn't mean you're off the hook for the first. ... The president is also ramping up his attacks on the whistleblower. This is his thing now, attacking the whistleblower. 'Never mind what I did — get the guy who told people I did it!'"

"Today we learned that another Pentagon official testified that Trump himself withheld aid money to Ukraine because he wanted an investigation of Joe Biden," Kimmel said. "That was damaging," but the White House is most worried about former National Security Adviser John Bolton and his copious notes. Meanwhile, Trump announced "he's thinking about making a trip to Moscow for a May Day parade," Kimmel sighed. "The idea that the president of the United States would go to Russia to celebrate their military might is absurd, and no one was more surprised than Joe Biden."

"Oh hey, speaking of people Donald Trump doesn't want to see: It was a rough weekend for Donald Trump Jr," Kimmel deadpanned. "DJTJ was here at UCLA promoting his new book, and he was heckled by what he thought was a group of liberals. Turned out it was a group of angry far-right-wingers who were upset there'd be no Q&A. And Don Jr., to his credit, stepped aside and let his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, handle the yellers for him." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:52 a.m.

Mexico flew former Bolivian President Evo Morales to Mexico City on Monday after offering him asylum amid what Morales and his supporters call a "coup" and protesters call a restoration of democracy in Bolivia. Morales resigned Sunday after weeks of protests following a controversial election in late October that international observers flagged for irregularities; the final straw was the country's military chief Gen. Williams Kaliman calling on him to step down to restore peace to Bolivia.

With Morales gone and all other officials in the line of succession also tendering their resignations, Bolivia has no clear leader. "It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned," Morales tweeted. "I will return soon, with more strength and energy." Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted a photo of Morales on the Mexican Air Force plane, explaining that "according to current international conventions, he is under the protection of Mexico. His life and integrity are safe."

The weeks of massive protests against Morales were sparked by the Oct. 20 election, in which he sought a fourth term despite constitutional term limits and a referendum that upheld those limits; a friendly top court later threw out the restrictions. Morales also declared victory before official results were in, and no results were released for 24 hours. Organization of American States election observers found a "heap of observed irregularities" in the election and called for a new vote. Morales had served since first winning the presidency in 2006, becoming Bolivia's first indigenous president. He leaves a legacy of increased economic equality, a long streak of stability, and accusations of corruption. Peter Weber

November 11, 2019

President Trump had some encouraging words for Sean Spicer on Monday night after his former press secretary was voted off Dancing With the Stars.

But they weren't Trump's first words of encouragement for Spicer on Monday — as he had before, Trump encouraged his Twitter followers to "vote for Sean Spicer on Dancing With the Stars. He is a great and very loyal guy who is working very hard. He is in the quarterfinals — all the way with Sean! #MAGA #KAG" After Spicer got the boot, Trump deleted that tweet.

"It's a minor thing but nonetheless telling that Trump deleted his tweet promoting Spicer," Washington Post columnist Daniel Drezner tweeted. "It's almost as if he can’t abide the fact that his endorsement lacks sufficient power." Other people saw a pattern with the people Trump endorses:

But Spicer probably had Trump — or at least Trump supporters — to thank for hanging on as long as he did. "Based on judges' votes alone, Spicer should have been eliminated (at least) two weeks ago," Entertainment Weekly notes, "but Karamo Brown and Kate Flannery — both of whom gave far superior performances — were cut instead." Spicer "can't dance, that's literally what it is," Karamo Brown told Bravo's Andy Cohen last week. "But it's also fan vote," and "our president, who should be doing other stuff, has been tweeting 'vote for the man.'" Peter Weber

November 11, 2019

If you can't thank a veteran today, do the next best thing and donate to a non-veteran!

President Trump's campaign fundraising team didn't miss a beat this Veterans Day, running a Facebook ad on Monday encouraging people to say "THANK YOU, VETERANS" by donating to the president's metaphorical war chest.

Trump, who is not a veteran, famously deferred the Vietnam War draft several times.

The ad, which includes a can't-miss 25 percent off coupon, provoked criticism of the president, with veteran Mark Hertling pointing out the somewhat bizarre timing of the Trump campaign's message. A judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million last week over his alleged mishandling of funds for veterans, which were instead used for political purposes, CBS News reports.

The president also celebrated the day by attending New York City's Veterans Day parade, where he took the time to honor Gold Star families, despite his history of feuding with several of them.

Although if Trump really is burying the hatchet this Veterans Day, he should be sure to get the date right in next year's Facebook ad. Marianne Dodson

November 11, 2019

It's safe to say the Game of Thrones ending proved a little polarizing for anyone whose favorite character wasn't Bran. (Yes, we see you! All 12 of you!)

But if you were a little let down by the finale of the HBO series, take solace in the wisdom of the Mother of Dragons herself, who says expectations were so high that there's no ending that "would have made everyone happy." Emilia Clarke also says she doesn't plan to act alongside dragons again anytime soon, so temper your expectations for Last Christmas accordingly. Read more at Indiewire. Scott Meslow

November 11, 2019

For 12 seasons, Kaley Cuoco starred on The Big Bang Theory as Penny, the sunny heroine who tolerated her weird neighbors rambling endlessly about Star Trek or Magic: The Gathering.

But according to Cuoco, the character of Penny was originally conceived very differently, as a "dark, brooding unhappy woman," which — while an admittedly unconventional choice for a breezy sitcom — makes a lot more sense for a woman stuck hanging out with those guys for 12 years. Read more at Yahoo Entertainment. Scott Meslow

November 11, 2019

Endings don't come much more definitive than Avengers: Endgame, which saw most of the original Avengers lineup dead or retired by the time the credits rolled.

But diehard fans might have a glimmer of hope that they'll get to spend a little more time with Captain America, who is elderly but still alive at the end of the movie. "You never say never. I love the character. I don't know," said Evans in a recent interview — so I guess we can all look forward to Captain America: Getting Mad At Teens Who Tweet "OK Boomer" sometime on the horizon.

Read more at Variety. Scott Meslow

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