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not holding back
October 18, 2018

Former Vice President Joe Biden is coming out swinging against President Trump, saying his handling of the mounting diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia is hurting the U.S. internationally.

Biden told CBS Thursday that while we don't yet know for sure whether Saudi Arabia was responsible for the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the allegations are "not inconsistent" with the kingdom's behavior, and it's worrying that Trump "seems to have a love affair with autocrats."

Trump has repeatedly floated the idea that the Saudi government may not be behind the killing of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He has emphasized the Saudi kingdom's denial of responsibility, and even suggested "rogue killers" could be to blame. But U.S. intelligence officials are growing more convinced that the Saudi crown prince himself is culpable, per The New York Times.

Biden went on to say that Trump is "already making excuses" for Saudi Arabia "before the facts are known," and this "hurts us internationally." He added that there "absolutely positively" should be consequences if the Saudi government truly was involved, suggesting canceling arms sales to the country could be an option. "The idea that we would not take retaliation against them is ridiculous," Biden said. Watch his comments below. Brendan Morrow

June 7, 2017

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested Wednesday that the scandal unraveling around President Trump and Russia is an even bigger deal than the Watergate scandal that brought down former President Richard Nixon. "I think, you compare the two, that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we're confronting now," Clapper said in a speech to Australia's National Press Club. His remarks came a day before former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired last month, will testify before Congress about his conversations with Trump regarding the Russia probe.

Clapper, who served under former President Barack Obama and who has testified before Congress on the Russia investigation, dubbed Trump's insistence on maintaining a pro-Russia stance "inexplicable," especially in light of U.S. intelligence agencies' overwhelming consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. "His subsequent actions, sharing sensitive intelligence with the Russians and compromising its source, reflect either ignorance or disrespect and either is very problematic," Clapper said, referring to Trump sharing highly classified information with Russian officials in the Oval Office just a day after he fired Comey.

On top of that, Clapper said he's worried about the Trump team's "extreme paranoia about and resentment of any doubt cast on the legitimacy of his election." He noted how Trump attacked U.S. intelligence agencies for their assessment of Russia's election meddling. "I am very concerned about the assault on our institutions coming from both an external source — read Russia — and an internal source — the president himself," Clapper said.

Catch a clip of Clapper's speech below. Becca Stanek

February 22, 2017

Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday became the latest Republican lawmaker to face fired-up constituents at a town hall meeting, this time in the conservative stronghold of Springdale, Arkansas.

At least 2,000 people attended the event, with many carrying signs asserting that they were not paid protesters and others chanting "Do your job!" Dozens of people waited in line to ask questions, and Cotton was confronted by constituents like Kati McFarland of Springdale, who told the senator that without the Affordable Care Act, "I will die." Cotton said the Republicans are working on a replacement plan that will keep her covered, but when she pressed for details, Cotton didn't have any. Cotton was also asked to take a closer look at ties between President Trump and his associates and Russia, and one protester carried a banner that read, "If Hillary [Clinton] did this, you would have already locked her up."

It wasn't all combative — one woman praised Cotton and said a majority of residents support him. A majority of the room disagreed, as she was drowned out by boos and jeers. Catherine Garcia

February 21, 2017

Fielding questions from her constituents for a whole 45 minutes wore down Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Tuesday, causing her to flee and the audience to roar.

Ernst was in the tiny town of Maquoketa, population 6,062, for a roundtable with veterans. When she arrived at city hall, slipping through a side door, she found 100 people crammed inside the room, CNN reports, with dozens more filling the hallways and atrium. The microphone being used by constituents repeatedly cut in and out, frustrating people in the room who couldn't hear what was being said, and Ernst only took one question from a non-veteran, a man who asked her about the Affordable Care Act. When she uttered the words "health savings accounts," Ernst was met with a chorus of boos.

The meeting came to a jarring end after only 45 minutes, despite a long line of people waiting at the microphone to ask more questions, causing the crowd to boo and jeer. One of the attendees, Deb Sperry, 61, told CNN she drove 45 miles to the event because Ernst "never has any type of town hall or meeting with her constituents" where she lives. The senator says she is in the "early stages" of visiting every county in Iowa, but critics say Ernst's visits often take the form of private tours of factories and businesses and she hasn't had any public events in towns where people outnumber livestock. If Tuesday's meeting — which ended with the crowd shouting "We want our voices heard!" and "Your last term!" as she made a hasty exit — is any indication of the events to come, Ernst might want to consider holding her next roundtable in an undisclosed corn field. Catherine Garcia

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