December 4, 2019

Impeachment witness Pamela Karlan, a Stanford University law professor, believes President Trump should be impeached, but her reasoning points to something that's often been left unsaid.

Karlan said during Wednesday's initial House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing that the "most chilling" aspect from previous testimony before the House Intelligence Committee was when U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky needed only to announce, but not necessarily execute, anti-corruption investigations.

In Karlan's eyes that debunks the idea that Trump and his allies like Rudy Giuliani were legitimately concerned about corruption in Ukraine and were only focused on going after the president's domestic political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden. Tim O'Donnell

3:09 p.m.

Over the course of the last three months, the Treasury Department has disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits to Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

That's more than in all of 2009, when unemployment peaked following the financial crisis, but it's still reportedly only two-thirds of what's actually owed. The total bill, Bloomberg reports, should have reached $214 billion by now, which means millions of Americans have yet to receive their benefits.

Things aren't going to get easier, either — millions still haven't had their jobless claims processed, and Bloomberg reports that its calculations about what's currently owed are probably understated. A spokesperson for the Labor Department told Bloomberg that "it is also challenging to use these numbers because states are struggling to keep up with demand and some have backlogs they are working through," even as some, like Texas, have expanded call centers and brought in other government workers to help with the claims. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

3:09 p.m.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) was already in hot water after not returning to his Bronx district amid the COVID-19 crisis. This probably won't help.

On Tuesday, Eliot, who represents parts of Bronx and Westchester counties, joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for press conference following violent protests in the area the night before. A livestream of the conference began before Diaz actually began speaking, and at one point, Engel can be heard asking for a speaking slot, repeatedly saying "if I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care."

Diaz initially outlined exactly who would be speaking after protests turned into vandalism in the borough, noting that if every elected official was allowed to talk, "you would never get out of here." Engel then chimed in to say "if I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care," and Diaz quickly shut him down. "Don't do that to me. Everybody has a primary," Diaz said.

If I didn't have a primary I wouldn't care

Engel is trying to avoid a repeat of 2018, in which longstanding Democratic congressmember Joe Crowley of Queens and the Bronx was ousted in a primary by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). A field of several progressives challenging Engel narrowed down to one on Monday as Justice Democrats-backed Andom Ghebreghiorgis dropped out and endorsed Working Families party pick Jamaal Bowman. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:42 p.m.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were walking with President Trump when he posed for a photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., on Monday, shortly after police dispersed peaceful protesters in the surrounding area with tear gas and flash grenades. Now, a senior defense official claims Esper and Milley weren't aware police had cleared the area prior to Trump's arrival, PBS Newshour reports.

Moreover, the official said Esper and Milley didn't know Trump was going to get his picture taken in front of the church; they thought they were headed outside the White House "to review efforts to quell the protests" against police brutality.

Despite Trump threatening to call in the military to supplement city police across the country, the defense official said the Pentagon isn't keen on deploying any troops, and that Esper referring to demonstration sites as a "battlespace" was merely jargon used to discuss the situation.

Nevertheless, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wants both Milley and Esper to testify about the possible role the military played in clearing the protesters, even though he was told it was not involved. Tim O'Donnell

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has some strong words for what's happening in the U.S. — but not necessarily for President Trump.

In a Tuesday press conference, a reporter acknowledged that Trudeau had been "reluctant" to discuss Trump in the past, but asked him to comment on Trump's call for "military action against protesters" and the use of tear gas to "make way for a presidential photo op." After a 22-second pause, Trudeau responded.

"We all watch in horror and consternation what's going on in the United States," Trudeau said, calling it a "time to listen" and "learn what injustices continue despite progress." And then, without mentioning Trump's name, Trudeau pivoted toward discussing his own country's "challenges" and "systemic discrimination."

In September, multiple photos and videos were unearthed showing Trudeau in blackface and brownface. Trudeau apologized for the photos and videos from the 1990s and early 2000s, saying he "should have understood" the "racist history of blackface." Kathryn Krawczyk

12:48 p.m.

Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory on Tuesday released a blistering statement about a visit by President Trump to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, slamming the "reprehensible" misuse of Catholic facilities.

Trump on Tuesday was scheduled to pay a visit to the John Paul II shrine in Washington, D.C. after on Monday, he held up the Bible for a photo-op outside of St. John's Episcopal Church. Law enforcement used tear gas to clear protesters out of Lafayette Square before Trump did so.

"I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree," Gregory said ahead of Trump's visit to the shrine, per The Washington Post.

Gregory wrote that Saint Pope John Paul II, "an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings," would "certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace."

Trump's Monday photo op previously drew criticism from Episcopal bishop Mariann Budde, who said she was "outraged" by it, as well as from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who said Tuesday he's "against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop." Brendan Morrow

12:34 p.m.

President Trump on Monday threatened to call in the United States military in an effort to curtail protests across the United States, and it turns out most Americans — even some of those who think the president is doing a poor job of handling the demonstrations against police brutality — would support such an action, a new Morning Consult poll revealed Tuesday.

Among all registered voters surveyed, 58 percent said they would somewhat or strongly support having the military supplement city police forces compared to only 30 percent who said they somewhat or strongly oppose the measure.

There are some differences among demographics — younger people are a little more likely to oppose the move than older people, and Republicans were more far more likely to support it than Democrats. But there was still a plurality of 48 percent of Democrats who would back the decision, compared to 43 who wouldn't, though it's worth noting that when splitting the categories more specifically, "strongly opposed" became the most frequent response among Democratic voters.

The Morning Consult poll was conducted online between May 31-June 1 among 1,624 registered voters. The margin of error is 2 percentage points. See the full results here. Tim O'Donnell

11:24 a.m.

Carole Baskin appears to have won the great tiger war, but Joe Exotic's camp is already preparing for a new battle.

Baskin, the antagonist of the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, was awarded the wild animal park once owned by Exotic on Monday. The GW Zoo, which Exotic owned before he was convicted of a murder-for-hire scheme against Baskin, will have to be vacated in 120 days and will enter under Baskin's control, an Oklahoma judge decided.

Tiger King centered around Exotic's perpetual fight with Baskin, who owns Big Cat Rescue in Florida and was constantly trying to get Exotic's zoo shut down. The lawsuit that was decided Monday started back in 2016, with Baskin suing Exotic's business, Greater Wynnewood Development Group, and Exotic's mother for control of the zoo, including its buildings and vehicles. The judge's order does call for "the removal of all zoo animals for the Zoo Land."

Still, Jeff Lowe, who bought the zoo from Exotic, wasn't surprised with Monday's outcome. "We anticipated Carole Baskin getting the title to the former park that once belonged to Joe Exotic, and we did not challenge her attempts to do so," Lowe's attorney told CNN. Lowe's "focus" is now on opening a new "Tiger King Park" elsewhere in Oklahoma, supposedly within the next 120 days. Kathryn Krawczyk

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