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Westlake Legal Group > News and News Media (Page 34)

Impeach Trump or Work With Him? Democrats Are Pushing Forward on Both

WASHINGTON — On the day that House Democrats formally accused President Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors, something unusual happened in the capital: Divided government actually started to work.

Within minutes of announcing on Tuesday that Democrats would charge Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was behind closed doors with her rank and file, informing them that she was ready to deliver the president his biggest economic priority: passage of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

That was not all. Democrats are also on the brink of approving a bipartisan defense bill, the largest in the nation’s history, after weeks of negotiations with Republicans, and intend to pass legislation this week on another issue that Mr. Trump has made a top priority: lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

The sudden outbreak of bipartisan cooperation, almost certain to be fleeting, was hardly an accident. Ms. Pelosi has long insisted that Democrats could “walk and chew gum at the same time” — that they were willing to work with the president on legislation even as they tried to oust him from office.

But she needed to prove it. Ms. Pelosi is well aware that if she is going to keep her majority, and her job as speaker, she cannot send her members — especially nervous moderates in Trump-friendly districts — home for the holidays empty-handed after they had voted to impeach the president.

Westlake Legal Group 10impeach-tear-articleLarge-v2 Impeach Trump or Work With Him? Democrats Are Pushing Forward on Both United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy International Trade and World Market impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party

Read the Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump

House Democrats released two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. See them with context and analysis by The Times’s chief White House correspondent.

So Tuesday turned into a split-screen morning in the Capitol, as Democrats and the press grappled with what amounted to a case of whiplash. Ms. Pelosi appeared before cameras at 9 a.m. with her top lieutenants to announce the impeachment articles, and again at 10 a.m. to announce a deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Some Democrats were blunt about the strategy.

“U.S.M.C.A. being brought up at this moment is a very strange diversion,” Representative Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio, who has expressed concerns about the trade pact, told reporters. “It’s a way of trying to get you to talk about more than one issue in the news.”

Ms. Pelosi insisted it was not politics, but the calendar itself, that dictated the one-two punch of calling for the president’s removal in one moment and handing him one of his biggest priorities in the next.

“It’s just as we get to the end of a session, there have to be some decisions made,” she said during the news conference on trade, adding, “We didn’t know what day it would be.”

But the optics were hard to miss. Wearing an American flag pin with the words “One Country, One Destiny” on her lapel, Ms. Pelosi turned the trade news conference into a show of Democratic strength. She surrounded herself with more than two dozen of her members, including relieved-looking freshmen who represent districts won by Mr. Trump and have been pining for broadly popular accomplishments to show to voters ahead of their re-election races.

The impeachment articles, narrowly focused on Mr. Trump’s effort to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, also reflected Ms. Pelosi’s worries about protecting those moderates facing political risk. Democrats opted not to charge Mr. Trump with obstruction of justice based on his attempts to thwart Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian election interference in 2016.

Congressional Democrats “are getting more done in two weeks than the U.S. Senate has done in the last year,” said one vulnerable freshman, Representative Tom Malinoswki of New Jersey, adding, “The heart of the Democratic Party right now is the Democratic Congress and the House of Representatives.”

With time running out before the end of the legislative year, Democrats will be in a rush to get everything done. There is likely to be a vote on the defense bill in the House on Wednesday, with the final passage expected next week in the Senate so that the bill can be sent to Mr. Trump. Next week in the House, there will be back-to-back votes on the trade bill and impeachment.

That creates the specter of one, or perhaps two, presidential bill-signing ceremonies at the White House on legislation that Democrats will have delivered to Mr. Trump at the precise moment that they have impeached him. While it is unclear whether Mr. Trump will need to sign the trade pact, the president will certainly sign the defense bill into law — perhaps, if tradition holds, with Ms. Pelosi at his side.

Democrats are already highlighting that as a win — the first time that “paid family medical leave for millions of federal workers, including military workers, will be the law of the land,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in an interview.

There was so much news breaking on Tuesday that Mr. Jeffries postponed his usual Tuesday morning news conference until Wednesday; he plans to use it to promote the prescription drug bill.

When Ms. Pelosi became speaker in January, Democrats sought to pursue a triangulation strategy of circumventing the Republican-led Senate to work directly with the White House on issues like prescription drugs and infrastructure. Democrats thought they might replicate what happened in 2018, before they took the majority, when they worked with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, on an overhaul of criminal justice laws.

That strategy has yet to work, and Republicans on Tuesday accused Democrats of pushing a partisan prescription drug bill that has little chance of being signed by Mr. Trump. But nothing clarifies the congressional mind as much as the end of the year, and Democrats, who ran for office on kitchen-table economic issues like jobs and the high cost of prescription drugs, are clearly in a hurry to make good on that promise.

And as to the case of whiplash she was inflicting on the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi had a wry answer: “The day is young.”

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Dems announce two impeachment charges

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114633701001_6114625133001-vs Dems announce two impeachment charges fox-news/columns/fox-news-halftime-report fox news fnc/politics fnc Chris Stirewalt article a6948557-db80-5c13-8409-4917ad8d964e

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On the roster: Dems announce two impeachment charges – House Dems, Trump admin reach trade deal – Warren continues to drop – GOP does Election Day ‘dry run’ – Calendar grille

DEMS ANNOUNCE TWO IMPEACHMENT CHARGES
AP: “House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol for what she called a ‘solemn act.’ Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House. Trump insisted he did nothing wrong and his reelection campaign called it ‘rank partisanship.’ … The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president. Approval of the charges would send them to the Senate in January, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump.”

Senate looks to push impeachment trial to January – Politico: “Senators are unlikely to let a little thing like impeachment ruin their holiday plans. As soon as the House impeaches President Donald Trump, the Senate is, in theory, required to immediately begin a trial. But for a multitude of reasons, both strategic and mundane, senators say they are aiming to reach an agreement to take a breather and come back for the trial in January. Despite bipartisan hopes of not letting impeachment drag on, no one in the Senate seems to want to sacrifice their Christmas or New Year’s. And though nothing has been finalized, senators expect party leaders who have sway on the matter to agree in the coming days. ‘That’s the last thing we want to do is be here over Christmas,’ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. … ‘Impeachment is a huge issue. And I don’t think we should rush into it,’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. ‘We ought to find a way to wait till January, get through the holidays and then tackle it.’”

Trump lashes out at FBI director – WaPo: “President Trump lashed out Tuesday morning at FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, saying that ‘he will never be able to fix the FBI’ based on his reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign. ‘I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,’ Trump tweeted. ‘With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!’ The 434-page report rebutted conservatives’ accusations that top FBI officials were driven by political bias to illegally spy on Trump advisers as part of the investigation of election interference by Russia, but it also found broad and ‘serious performance failures’ requiring major changes. In a statement Monday, Wray, a Trump appointee, said he had ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations, adding that he would not hesitate to take ‘appropriate disciplinary action if warranted.’”

Poll: Trump approval remains steady – Monmouth University: “Just over 4-in-10 (43%) registered voters feel that Trump should be reelected, while a majority (54%) say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office. These numbers have not really budged in the past month (42% reelect and 55% someone new in November). The current results are statistically similar to late September when news broke about the Ukraine call (39% reelect and 57% someone new) and August when the House impeachment inquiry was just getting started (39% reelect and 57% someone new). … Trump currently has a personal rating of 46% favorable and 52% unfavorable among registered voters. The president’s personal rating has grown slightly more positive since news of the Ukraine call first broke, but the shifts so far are not statistically significant.”

HOUSE DEMS, TRUMP ADMIN REACH TRADE DEAL
Fox Business: “The United States, Mexico and Canada have reached a historic trade deal. ‘There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference announcing her caucus’s support of the agreement. Major U.S. stock indexes turned positive after the announcement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland are expected to be in Mexico City on Tuesday for a signing ceremony. The deal must now be ratified by all three countries. A House vote, delayed as Democrats fought to improve enforcement mechanisms after winning a majority in the chamber in November 2018, is slated for next week. The modifications had delayed Congressional approval, raising the possibility that the deal might not be ratified this year since Congress adjourns Dec. 20, and prompted criticism from President Trump and his allies.”

THE RULEBOOK: AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 51

TIME OUT: UP, UP AND AWAY
Smithsonian: “Near the beginning of the new film The Aeronauts, a giant gas-filled balloon called the ‘Mammoth’ departs from London’s Vauxhall Gardens and ascends into the clouds, revealing a bird’s eye view of London. To some moviegoers, these breathtaking views might seem like nothing special: Modern air travel has made many of us take for granted what we can see from the sky. But during the 19th century, the vast ‘ocean of air’ above our heads was a mystery. These first balloon trips changed all that. Directed by Tom Harper, the movie is inspired by the true story of Victorian scientist James Glaisher and the aeronaut Henry Coxwell. (In the film, Coxwell is replaced by a fictional aeronaut named Amelia Wren.) In 1862, Glaisher and Coxwell ascended to 37,000 feet in a balloon – 8,000 feet higher than the summit of Mount Everest, and, at the time, the highest point in the atmosphere humans had ever reached.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26.6 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 18.2 points (↓ 1.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.4 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 10 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, CNN, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points 
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove.]

WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? 
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!

WARREN CONTINUES TO DROP
Monmouth University: “Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to be divided over who they want to put up against Trump in 2020. The top contenders continue to be [Joe] Biden (26%), [Bernie] Sanders (21%), and [Elizabeth] Warren (17%). However, these three are in a slightly different order than where they stood last month (23% Biden, 23% Warren, and 20% Sanders) or in late September (28% Warren, 25% Biden, and 15% Sanders). [Pete] Buttigieg is the preferred choice of 8% of Democratic-identifying voters (similar to 9% in November and 5% in September). [Mike] Bloomberg enters the race at 5% support nationally. … Other candidates registering support in the current poll are Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4%), [Andrew] Yang (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%) and seven other candidates who earn 1% or less. The poll also finds that more Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to prefer a candidate who would be stronger against Trump even if they disagree with that candidate on most issues (56%) than say they want a nominee who aligns with them on the issues but would have a hard time beating Trump (30%).”

Move over Green New Deal, Warren wants it blue – Axios: “Elizabeth Warren is out with new plans to speed up offshore wind projects, expand marine sanctuaries, and bolster use of oceans to soak up carbon emissions. Those are three pillars of the far wider ‘Blue New Deal’ — a riff on the ‘Green New Deal’ concept — on ocean policy that the Democratic White House hopeful unveiled Tuesday. Politically, the plan’s arrival follows Warren’s recent slide in the polls after challenging Joe Biden for frontrunner status in the fall. There’s plenty of competition for the green mantle as Bernie Sanders, Warren’s rival for progressive voters, touts his plans. Billionaire climate advocates like Mike Bloomberg — who is at UN climate talks in Spain today — and Tom Steyer are spending heavily.”

Warren shakes up campaign strategy – Fox News: “From Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is shaking up her routine, changing her format on the campaign trail to include more interaction with voters and getting more aggressive with a top-tier rival for the Democratic nomination. And the progressive senator from Massachusetts appears to continue to back away from a once-orthodox approach toward a government-run, ‘Medicare-for-all’ health care system. The changes come as the one-time co-front-runner in the Democratic nomination race has seen her poll numbers deteriorate the past month in national surveys… Out was the long stump speech and in was an abbreviated version, which allowed for a big increase in the number of questions she takes from the audience.”

Consulting group gives Buttigieg okay to disclose clients – NYT: “Mayor Pete Buttigieg will disclose his management consulting clients, open his fund-raisers to reporters and reveal the names of people raising money for his presidential campaign, his campaign announced Monday, a series of significant concessions toward transparency for a candidate under increasing pressure to release more details about his personal employment history and campaign finances. The announcements follow several days of intense questioning surrounding Mr. Buttigieg’s work for McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm that was his first post-college employer. The company said on Monday that it would allow Mr. Buttigieg to disclose the clients he worked for at the firm from 2007 to 2010, acceding to a request the Buttigieg campaign made last month and the candidate himself amplified in public last week.”

Gabbard opts out of next Dem debate without qualifying – Fox News: “Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced late Monday that she won’t be attending the Democrats’ next debate ‘regardless’ of whether she qualifies. Gabbard, who previously flirted with the idea of skipping an earlier debate, appeared more assertive about bowing out of the upcoming debate being hosted by PBS and Politico on Dec. 19. ‘For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls,’ Gabbard tweeted. ‘I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.’ Gabbard had met the donor requirement to qualify for the December debate but had yet to meet a requirement that she earn 4-percent support in at least four national or early-state polls…”

GOP DOES ELECTION DAY ‘DRY RUN’
AP: “A full year before Election Day 2020, Republicans quietly executed a ‘dry run’ of President Donald Trump’s massive reelection machine. They activated tens of thousands of volunteers and tested phone bank capabilities and get-out-the-vote operations in every state in the nation. Before and after the sprawling exercise, GOP officials coordinated thousands of so-called ‘MAGA Meet ups’ to organize and expand their network of Trump loyalists, paying close attention to battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And on Tuesday, Trump himself will face thousands more cheering supporters in Pennsylvania, his fourth appearance in the swing state this year. … Defiant Democrats insist that Trump is not getting a free pass in the nation’s top general election battlegrounds. They note that the ‘dry run’ played out on the same week that Republicans suffered embarrassing losses across several states. But others are willing to acknowledge the reality: Much of the Democratic Party’s energy and star power will ignore critical swing states like Pennsylvania for much of the next six months.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., to retire from Congress, honor term-limit pledge – Fox News

Former Trump physician Ronny Jackson running for congress as a Republican – Texas Tribune

US deficit soars to $342 billion in two months – Fox Business

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to be deposed in election fraud suit – AJC

The Editorial Board: How Purdue is changing how we do higher education – WSJ

AUDIBLE: SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT
“He’s a politician with a thin skin and a fondness for the limelight and the music of his own voice — sound familiar? — and his political success drives his political adversaries to political apoplexy. That, too, sounds familiar.” – Journalist Philip Terzian in his NYT opinion piece, “Whom Does President Trump Remind You Of?”

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“[In Monday’s note], you called for the real Main Street citizens to ‘stage a rebellion of informed, optimistic liberty.’ May I suggest a fresh outbreak of the traditional Merry Christmas greeting?” – James Kinney, Houschton, Ga.

[Ed. note: For those who celebrate, they should most certainly say “merry Christmas” with hale heart and good cheer. I sometimes even drop in a “feliz Navidad,” “Fröhliche Weihnachten” or “joyeux Noël” for good measure. And certainly no one who does not celebrate should take offense at being wished a joyous Christmas unknowingly. Now, when I know someone does not celebrate or have context cues that suggest they may not, I refrain. I wouldn’t seem to match the joyous occasion of mankind’s manumission to use the greeting to poke at someone else. I also understand why corporations avoid the term. Three in ten Americans aren’t Christian and it would be bad business to antagonize them.] 

“What’s up with the criticism of Apple’s new show – The Morning Show? My expectations were low, yet I have enjoyed it. The writing is good, characters are interesting, plots have some twists and a few turns and even some surprises. It focuses on how corrupt a News Organization can be and how they don’t care about ‘goings on’ until their dirty laundry becomes public. In no way does the show demean viewers of news programs – your critique. What am I missing? Sure it’s not Aaron Sorkin level craft but that does not come along very often. Well done Apple, I’ll take another bite.” – Rick McGee, Longmont, Colo.

[Ed. note: As what we would have once called a “Primetime soap opera” in the tradition of “Dallas,” I’m sure it’s plenty good. People love that stuff. I personally love “House.”   

“I thought this and then a local pundit said it. Kamala Harris won’t be a VP choice.  She’s from California which is already a lock for the Dems. Not to mention she didn’t even poll well in her home state.” – Ruth Anne, Folsom, Calif.

[Ed. note: You could argue that Joe Biden helped Barack Obama with Pennsylvania, but Democrats weren’t particularly worried about the Keystone State in 2008. You have to go back quite a ways to find a vice presidential candidate chosen as a running mate for their home-state clout. Lyndon JohnsonRichard Nixon? Running mates are more about the vibe the candidate wants to emit. The Democratic nominee may need to shore up things with black voters or women and Harris, regardless of her home state, could still answer those questions.]

“Your commentary today put me in mind of the fact that it is the end of the year. I would love to see and expanded end of year review on Fox Nation. Will you do it?” – Martin Jarvis, Wright City, Mo.

[Ed. note: You better believe it, Mr. Jarvis. And don’t forget to send you submissions for the best in journalism 2019 to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

CALENDAR GRILLE
NJ.com: “Capt. Andy Grossman knows a good idea when he sees it. A few years back, Grossman, the owner of RipTide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine, [N.J.] created a beach tow membership service for 4x4s that run into trouble on the sometimes all-too-soft sand on the beach. And that is what led to his next great idea: the Beached Cars of Brigantine calendar, featuring photos of some of the ‘mishaps’ when people try to drive their non-4×4 vehicles out to the water’s edge. ‘Cars are not allowed on the beach,’ said Grossman. ‘That’s why I kinda think they’re fair game and I’ve been posting them (on Facebook).’ Before helping them get off the beach, Grossman or a member of his Brigantine Beach 4×4 Assist crew takes a photo, and locals usually get a good laugh out of it. …He sold out the first run in just a few hours, and is now taking orders for more. … The proceeds are being donated to True Spirit Coalition, a local organization which helps provide meals to local families.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The women’s movement, to which the idea owes its currency, is right to insist that the father do more. … But we both know, we all three know, the truth: Nature has seen to it that anything I can do, she can do better. Mine is literally a holding action.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 28, 1985.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114633701001_6114625133001-vs Dems announce two impeachment charges fox-news/columns/fox-news-halftime-report fox news fnc/politics fnc Chris Stirewalt article a6948557-db80-5c13-8409-4917ad8d964e   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114633701001_6114625133001-vs Dems announce two impeachment charges fox-news/columns/fox-news-halftime-report fox news fnc/politics fnc Chris Stirewalt article a6948557-db80-5c13-8409-4917ad8d964e

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Elizabeth Warren Seeks a Second Act After Slip From the Top

Westlake Legal Group 10warrenreset1-facebookJumbo Elizabeth Warren Seeks a Second Act After Slip From the Top Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Iowa Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

BOSTON — Faced with questions about her viability in a general election and ceding ground to opponents in the primary, Senator Elizabeth Warren is abandoning her above-the-fray approach and delivering her most forceful and direct criticism yet of her Democratic opponents.

That is one of a series of adjustments Ms. Warren is implementing as she seeks to recapture the energy and excitement of the late summer and early fall, when she emerged as a top contender for the nomination. Over much of the last two months her ascent has stalled as opponents, led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., have questioned her stance on “Medicare for all” and portrayed her far-reaching policy agenda as a ripe target in a potential matchup against President Trump.

Now Ms. Warren and a Boston-based campaign team that has long resisted snap reactions to the day-to-day developments of the primary are nodding to the reality of a reshuffled race with no true front-runner. Her campaign is leaning into her role as the leading woman in the race and she is directly engaging with Mr. Buttigieg, after months of preferring to pick fights with the billionaire critics of her populist proposals.

Entering December, Ms. Warren has overhauled the format of her town halls in pursuit of more organic moments to connect with voters. She has zeroed in on the billionaire former mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, as a leading villain in her tale of corruption and inequality in America, running an ad and appearing on his own television network to needle him.

And, for the first time, she has challenged Mr. Buttigieg by name, demanding that he disclose the wealthy contributors gathering money for him and open his private fund-raisers to the news media. After days of pressure from Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign agreed Monday to do both.

“They’re just saying the quiet part out loud now,” said Adam Jentleson, a Democratic strategist close to the Warren campaign.

The new, aggressive phase amounts to an acknowledgment that Ms. Warren’s penchant to pull her punches for much of the year has run its course. It is also an effort to move past damaging questions about her plan to pay for Medicare for all, a sweeping transformation of health care that would abolish private insurance.

After her dip in the polls, Mr. Buttigieg has now overtaken her in the crucial state of Iowa, which has always been at the center of Ms. Warren’s path to the nomination, even more so than New Hampshire, where a win might be discounted given her neighbor status as a Massachusetts senator.

Behind the tactical maneuvering is the search to answer a simple, urgent question: How does Ms. Warren, who captured the imagination of progressives with her ambitious policy plans, continue to drive the political conversation now that she has rolled out all of her biggest plans?

Ms. Warren’s core anti-corruption message remains unchanged, and several of the new flourishes seemed designed to amplify it. Her argument that Mr. Buttigieg must disclose his bundlers is cast as a concern about corruption, as are her attacks on Mr. Bloomberg leveraging his multibillion-dollar fortune.

She began airing two new ads in Iowa this week that touch on corruption, and this Thursday, she will deliver a speech about corruption and the economy in New Hampshire.

The Warren campaign declined to comment.

In particular, Ms. Warren is pressing to ward off concerns that her call for “big structural change” is too much, too fast. “Fear and complacency don’t win elections,” she has taken to saying. Yet a growing worry among Warren allies is voters — including some at her own events — who say they love her agenda but have concerns about her appeal with crucial swing voters elsewhere.

Michael Winnike, a 65-year-old from West Point, Iowa, who came to a recent Warren town hall in Ankeny, Iowa, described himself as a left-of-center Democrat but said, “I’m not sure left of center can win.” He was especially uneasy about Medicare for all.

“I think this country needs a good enema,” Mr. Winnike said, pausing for a moment before adding, “but this country probably works best when it’s gently pushed.”

The surprise exit of Senator Kamala Harris of California from the race last week delivered Ms. Warren a fresh opportunity as the lone female candidate among the top four leaders, which include Mr. Buttigieg, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is also competing aggressively in Iowa). While Ms. Warren had already built her three biggest campaign speeches around the history of leading American women, she has noticeably injected more references to gender into her campaign since Ms. Harris quit.

Ms. Warren has bought dozens of Facebook ads featuring Ms. Harris and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in recent days, lamenting that two women are out of the 2020 race while Mr. Bloomberg has joined. She updated her website to name-check the contributions of both Ms. Harris (on abortion) and Ms. Gillibrand (on paid family leave). And she pledged to wear a pink Planned Parenthood scarf at her presidential inauguration, as she did at Mr. Trump’s.

“Tough women know how to get things done,” Ms. Warren said in a speech last week at a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Boston, offering praise for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that doubled as a pitch for herself. “Tough women unafraid of holding this president and this administration accountable.”

Castigating the billionaire class remains a crucial part of her campaign. Her “billionaire tears” mug is the best-selling item in her campaign store. There was such demand — and a shortage of white, union-made mugs — that a blue version was rolled out. Now both are on back-order.

But Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg, the leading moderates, have raised questions about the expansiveness of Ms. Warren’s agenda. In one recent ad in Iowa, Mr. Buttigieg critiqued those calling for free college as she has, and he pitched his own “big ideas” that could be achieved without “turning off half the country.”

One group that has endorsed Ms. Warren, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, surveyed its members in recent weeks and found that there was apprehension about her electability. Adam Green, a co-founder of the group, blamed Mr. Buttigieg’s attacks.

“Pete’s use of false talking points hatched in insurance industry focus groups has temporarily scared some electability voters who psych themselves out by trying to predict what other voters will think,” Mr. Green said.

Mr. Buttigieg has pitched his proposal as “Medicare for all who want it,” offering an option for public insurance to compete with the private sector.

Ms. Warren had originally endorsed Mr. Sanders’s health plan, rather than roll out her own. But at the October debate, her opponents pushed her on whether she would raise middle-class taxes. Ms. Warren repeatedly dodged, speaking only about overall costs in what allies now say hurt her brand as a wonky truth teller.

Two weeks later, she released a financing plan that taxed only the wealthy and corporations — her favorite foils. Two weeks after that, she announced a transition plan that would delay phasing out private insurance until later in her administration.

“It’s scaring people off,” Connie Johnson, a 78-year-old in Knoxville, Iowa, who came to a recent Warren town hall, said of Ms. Warren’s health plan.

Over the weekend in New Hampshire, Ms. Warren ripped a line from Mr. Buttigieg’s script in defending her plan, saying she would be offering voters a “choice,” at least in the first step of her transition plan. “We’re going to ‘Medicare for all’ for everyone but we’re going to give all people the choice to buy into the system,” she said.

One potential upside of Ms. Warren’s recent slide is the dampening expectations in Iowa, where two months ago she was seen as the candidate to beat. The caucuses remain a tossup, according to almost everyone, while Ms. Warren still boasts an operation that Iowa officials describe as perhaps the most robust in the field.

The candidate most immediately in her way there is Mr. Buttigieg.

In addition to sparring on health care, Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg have traded transparency demands as he called for her to release her taxes from more than a decade ago (late Sunday, she instead listed her compensation from private clients when she was a law professor) and she demanded his bundler list. Mr. Buttigieg has also gotten the go-ahead from McKinsey & Company to disclose the clients he worked for at the firm from 2007 to 2009.

The flare-up between Ms. Warren, who is running to the left, and Mr. Buttigieg, who is running to the center, is a sign of how the multidimensional primary is now breaking down along demographic as much as ideological lines. Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg have been favorites of an influential cohort in the Democratic Party — white, college-educated voters — who hold particular sway in the less diverse early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Beyond those opening contests and Mr. Buttigieg, the looming obstacle for Ms. Warren — and everyone else in the field — remains Mr. Biden, whose support among black voters and working-class whites has remained durable despite uneven performances on the campaign trail and at the debates.

“The great mismatch that’s happening right now is Biden looks like he could beat Trump on paper but not in person,” said Mr. Jentleson, the Warren-supporting strategist, “and Warren looks like she could beat Trump in person but not on paper.”

Astead W. Herndon contributed reporting.

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Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114076219001_6114074968001-vs Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox news fnc/politics fnc Bill Mears article 0f0ab16f-f50c-5635-916f-7ab9c917fa82

Private health insurers are poised to prevail Tuesday at the Supreme Court over claims the federal government owes them billions of dollars from a now-defunct financial incentive program in the Affordable Care Act.

It is the fifth time the justices have heard legal challenges to the 2010 Affordable Care, but the current issue has little of the partisan rancor of previous disputes, such as individual mandates and contraception coverage.

SUPREME COURT LEAVES KENTUCKY ULTRASOUND LAW IN PLACE

At issue now is whether Congress appropriately limited funding to private companies after earlier promising them a financial stopgap against losses.

Health providers in six states say they are the victims of a federal “bait-and-switch,” by agreeing to participate in an Obamacare program designed to expand coverage plans to uninsured and underinsured customers.

Those companies say they are owed $12 billion in subsidies from the pooled funds, to compensate for losses. But the Trump administration argues Congress properly made the choice to stop funding, and that the companies were never in a contractual relationship with the government.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the insurers went into the so-called “risk corridor” program with its eyes wide open.

“You make a case at some length about the reliance of the insurance companies, they were basically seduced into this program, but they have good lawyers,” he said. “I would have thought at some point they would have sat down and said: well, why don’t we insist upon an appropriations provision before we put ourselves on the hook for $12 billion?”

RUTH BADER GINSBURG TEMPORARILY BLOCKS RELEASE OF TRUMP’S FINANCIAL RECORDS

But Justice Elena Kagan was skeptical.

“Are you saying the insurers would have done the same thing without the promise to pay?” she asked, turning aside the government’s argument. Insurance firms “pay in, that’s obligatory.  We [the government] commit ourselves to paying out. It turns out, if we feel like it. What kind of a statute is that?”

The original funding program was designed as a safeguard to lure private insurers into the health market exchanges, amid initial uncertainty over how many people would participate and how much it would cost. Those companies with customers with more expensive medical needs would be reimbursed, while companies with lower costs would pay into the pool.

But Congress in 2016 let the program expire amid concern over the program’s rising deficits, and stopped further government payments.

At issue in the high court’s subdued oral arguments was what further financial obligation the government had, and the limits of “must pay” reimbursement in the initial language of the law.

Justice Samuel Alito wondered whether courts should offer “special solicitude for insurance companies” to bring these kinds of cases.

Justice Stephen Breyer countered, “Why does the government not have to pay its contracts, just like anybody else?”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh worried about the broader implications.

“If we were to rule for you, everyone will be on notice going forward, private parties and Congress itself, that “shall pay” doesn’t obligate actual payments,” he said. “If we rule against you, Congress also will be on notice going forward that it needs to include ‘subject to appropriations’ kind of language in any mandatory statute. My question is, if we rule against you, are there other existing statutory problems lurking out there in the interim?”

The consolidated cases argued Monday are: Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. (18-1023); Moda Health Plan, Inc. v. U.S. (18-1028); Land of Lincoln Mutual Health v. U.S. (18-1038). A ruling is expected by spring 2020.

There are currently a range of legal challenges to other provisions of the ACA, including executive orders by the Trump administration seeking to eliminate or reduce sections of the law.

And the Supreme Court is likely to be confronted in coming months with another Obamacare case, one with far greater implications.

A federal judge in Texas late last year struck down the law’s individual mandate, and with it the entire ACA. A federal appeals court is now expected to issue a ruling shortly, and the justices could then put it on the docket and rule on the merits next year.

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Texas and 19 other states had brought suit, saying when Congress eliminated the tax penalty for Americans who fail to purchase health insurance, the main funding mechanism of the law made the entire law invalid.

The Trump administration is no longer defending the law in court, leaving it to about 21 other states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to serve as main plaintiffs.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114076219001_6114074968001-vs Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox news fnc/politics fnc Bill Mears article 0f0ab16f-f50c-5635-916f-7ab9c917fa82   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114076219001_6114074968001-vs Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox news fnc/politics fnc Bill Mears article 0f0ab16f-f50c-5635-916f-7ab9c917fa82

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Trump ‘Ignored and Injured’ the National Interest, Democrats Charge in Impeachment Articles

WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders on Tuesday formally called for President Trump’s removal from office, asserting that he “ignored and injured the interests of the Nation” in two articles of impeachment that charged him with abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

In nine short pages, the draft articles accused Mr. Trump of carrying out a scheme “corruptly soliciting” election assistance from the government of Ukraine in the form of investigations that would smear his Democratic political rivals. To do so, Democrats charged, Mr. Trump used as leverage two “official acts”: the delivery of $391 million in security assistance and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president.

“In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit,” according to a draft of the first article. “He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”

A second article charges that by ordering across-the-board defiance of House subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the Ukraine matter, Mr. Trump engaged in “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” that harmed the House’s constitutional rights.

Westlake Legal Group 10impeach-tear-articleLarge-v2 Trump ‘Ignored and Injured’ the National Interest, Democrats Charge in Impeachment Articles Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives

Read the Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump

House Democrats released two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. See them with context and analysis by The Times’s chief White House correspondent.

Democrats unveiled them on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee as soon as Wednesday, where the panel will debate and vote on the charges. The panel could vote by Thursday to recommend them to the full House of Representatives for final approval. If the House follows through as expected next week, days before Christmas, Mr. Trump could stand trial in the Senate early in the new year.

Less than a year before the 2020 election, the action sets up a historic and highly partisan constitutional clash between Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats — one that is likely to have broad political implications for both parties and exacerbate the divisions of an already polarized nation.

But Democrats argued that the political calendar made their endeavor even more urgent, given the nature of the charges against the president, which they called part of a pattern of behavior that began when Mr. Trump welcomed Russia’s help in the 2016 election and would continue into 2020 if they did not act to stop it.

“The argument ‘Why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?’” Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who oversaw the House’s Ukraine investigation, said at a news conference steps from the Capitol dome to announce the charges. “Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?”

In announcing a pair of charges that was narrowly focused on the Ukraine matter, Democrats made a careful political calculation designed to project unity and protect moderate lawmakers who face steep re-election challenges in conservative-leaning districts. They left out an article that had been the subject of internal debate among Democrats in recent weeks that would have charged Mr. Trump with obstruction of justice based on his attempts to thwart Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russian election interference in 2016.

It had been championed by progressives including Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but moderate lawmakers, many of them freshmen, had long signaled they would not support impeaching Mr. Trump based on Mr. Mueller’s report.

Mr. Trump responded angrily to Democrats’ announcement, taking to Twitter to proclaim their charge that he pressured Ukraine “ridiculous.”

The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, accused Democrats of “manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people.” Their goal, she said, was to try to use the House’s impeachment power to weaken Mr. Trump’s chances of re-election.

“The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the president, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our nation,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “The president will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.”

The introduction of formal charges was a major milestone in a more than two-month impeachment inquiry and the long, slow-building partisan showdown that has defined Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Speaking earlier in Tuesday morning from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.

“Our president holds the ultimate public trust,” Mr. Nadler said. “When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security.”

While individual lawmakers will be able to propose amendments to the articles during this week’s debate and potentially force a committee vote on additional charges, they are not expected to substantively change.

Though the details differ substantially, the articles of impeachment Democrats outlined on Tuesday echo those the Judiciary Committee approved in 1974 charging President Richard M. Nixon with abuse of power, obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress. Mr. Nixon resigned before the full House had a chance to vote on the articles, amid clear indications that the charges had broad support from members of both parties.

There is less overlap with the other modern presidential impeachment. In 1998, the House approved impeachment articles charging President Bill Clinton with perjury and obstruction of justice. Two other counts, of perjury and abuse of power, failed in votes on the House floor. It was that kind of split decision that Democratic leaders are determined to avoid this time around.

With all but a handful of House Republicans firmly united behind Mr. Trump, the charges Democrats have settled on are all but certain to face monolithic Republican opposition. If that does not change, and Mr. Trump continues a defiant defense, the impeachment vote against him could take place strictly along party lines, save for one independent, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who has signaled he will join Democrats.

Representative Peter T. King, a moderate New York Republican who is retiring and sometimes crosses the aisle to work with Democrats, echoed other members of his party when he decried the articles as “shameless, baseless abuse of Congressional power by House Democrats.”

The impeachment effort would also face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it would take the support of two-thirds of the chamber to convict Mr. Trump and remove him from office — a highly unlikely scenario, particularly in an election year.

Democratic lawyers for the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee, which carried out the Ukraine inquiry, argued for the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges during a hearing on Monday.

Citing testimony from senior diplomats and White House officials, they accused Mr. Trump and his agents of pressuring Ukraine’s president to announce investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unsupported claim that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 election. As part of the scheme, they asserted, Mr. Trump withheld a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance for the country as leverage.

They also said that Mr. Trump had systematically sought to halt their investigation by ordering government officials not to testify and refusing to hand over documents subpoenaed by the House related to the Ukraine matter.

Republicans pushed back against both conclusions, arguing that Democrats had manufactured a scandal to satiate their hunger to impeach Mr. Trump, a president whose policies they despise. They argued that the evidence gathered by the House had not proved Mr. Trump was acting to benefit himself politically when he pressed Ukraine to announce investigations into his political adversaries.

The decision to forgo a vote on an article of impeachment based on obstruction of justice was not entirely unexpected. Since the public release of Mr. Mueller’s report in the spring, House Democrats have debated whether the behavior detailed in it — including 10 possible instances of obstruction — warranted such action. The issue never unified their caucus in the way the Ukraine allegations have.

Progressive lawmakers including Mr. Nadler pushed repeatedly to include an article on obstruction of justice in the final impeachment case against Mr. Trump. But the resistance by moderates would have risked splitting the party in a vote on the House floor.

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Sen. Thom Tillis: Senate trial will expose Dems’ ‘weak’ case for removing a president

Westlake Legal Group thom-tillis Sen. Thom Tillis: Senate trial will expose Dems' 'weak' case for removing a president Talia Kaplan fox-news/shows/americas-newsroom fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/newsedge/politics fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 44caa0a0-20a6-58e1-bbe4-34c1080069c2

Shortly after House Democrats on Tuesday introduced two articles of impeachment against President Trump alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress regarding his interactions with Ukraine, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said the case is “weak” and it will be exposed in a Senate trial.

“I think it’s a trial where the president for the first time will have his defense counsel asking questions, potentially asking for depositions of the whistleblower and others that we haven’t seen any sort of records on,” said Tillis on “America’s Newsroom.”

“I believe that the president wants his case to be heard and I think it will further undermine what I think is a very weak case, one that certainly doesn’t rise to the Senate convening as a jury and then considering removal of the president of the United States,” he added.

DOJ WATCHDOG FINDS NO BIAS IN LAUNCH OF TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE, BUT UNCOVERS ‘SIGNIFICANT’ FBI ERRORS

Tillis also addressed the release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s report on the origins of the Russia investigation and the issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for a Trump campaign official.

Tillis spoke out less than 24 hours after Monday’s release of the 476-page report and one day before Horowitz is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The inspector general found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding either the launch of the Trump-Russia investigation or the efforts to seek the controversial FISA warrant to former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early stages of that probe.

However, the report revealed that there had been at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Carter Page FISA applications.

“We’re going through the report,” Tillis said on “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday. “My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have dismissed it, but there are several things. You heard the attorney general talk about things where it looks like they were less than stellar in the way they went about getting warrants and conducting the investigation.”

READ: DOJ INSPECTOR GENERAL’S FISA REPORT

Attorney General William Barr ripped the FBI’s “intrusive” investigation after the release of Horowitz’s review, saying it was launched based on the “thinnest of suspicions.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller acknowledged in his report that investigators did not find evidence of a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians in 2016 – which the FBI probed extensively.

“This is about a two-year investigation, tens of millions of dollars being spent,” Tillis said Tuesday. “You would have expected this investigation to be an A-plus. But we do see some lapses that we will cover in the committee and I suspect it won’t be the last committee we hear on it.”

He added that the oversight process will begin Wednesday, but will likely continue through the first part of the year.

“This investigation was sweeping,” Tillis noted. “It looks like in many instances people were a little bit less than focused on some of the information that they used as a basis for going forward with the warrants.”

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“This is not just about the investigation of the president or Russia collusion or obstruction, this is about the integrity of the Department of Justice and we owe it to all the great people in the Department of Justice to get to the facts and then have consequences if we think there was something that went beyond what we think is acceptable behavior.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group thom-tillis Sen. Thom Tillis: Senate trial will expose Dems' 'weak' case for removing a president Talia Kaplan fox-news/shows/americas-newsroom fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/newsedge/politics fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 44caa0a0-20a6-58e1-bbe4-34c1080069c2   Westlake Legal Group thom-tillis Sen. Thom Tillis: Senate trial will expose Dems' 'weak' case for removing a president Talia Kaplan fox-news/shows/americas-newsroom fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/newsedge/politics fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 44caa0a0-20a6-58e1-bbe4-34c1080069c2

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Sydney shrouded in ‘unbreathable’ smoke as Australia wildfires rage

A thick haze from raging wildfires in Australia engulfed Sydney on Tuesday, creating dangerous air conditions and smoke so thick it was enough to trigger fire alarms in buildings across the city.

The winds on Tuesday from the north pushed smoke into the city, causing a haze that was so thick in some places it was 11 times worse than the air quality level considered “hazardous.”

Thomas Costa, assistant secretary of Unions New South Wales, said that due to the dire air quality, workers should not be forced to work on outdoor job sites as long as the haze sticks around.

“Toxicity is very, very high,” Costa told reporters.

SMOKE HAZE PROVIDES ADDED HAZARD AT AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Australia’s fire season normally peaks during the summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but started early this year after an unusually dry and warm winter. Last month, authorities reported more than 50 wildfires burning mainly in northern New South Wales.

Westlake Legal Group sydney1 Sydney shrouded in 'unbreathable' smoke as Australia wildfires rage Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/world/disasters fox-news/weather fox news fnc/us fnc dcad6edb-f5b6-5af2-9330-f1cb0b16d5aa article

Thick smoke from wildfires shroud the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

As Sydney was engulfed with smoke on Tuesday, city officials canceled ferries and some offices in the downtown area were evacuated.

Local health officials advised people to stay indoors as much as possible and those with heart and lung problems were told to avoid all outdoor activity.

Westlake Legal Group sydney2 Sydney shrouded in 'unbreathable' smoke as Australia wildfires rage Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/world/disasters fox-news/weather fox news fnc/us fnc dcad6edb-f5b6-5af2-9330-f1cb0b16d5aa article

A ferry sails on the harbor as thick smoke settles in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

“The smoke here in Sydney is extremely bad today, it is some of the worst air quality we’ve seen,” Richard Broome of New South Wales Health told reporters. “We are just urging people once again to take these (conditions) seriously.”

As the smoke settled into the metropolitan area of five million people, ambulances have been answering dozens of respiratory-related calls a day, according to the head of NSW Ambulance, Brent Armitage.

Sydney Trains also warned that fire alarms at train stations might be set off by the thick smoke drifting into the city from fires ringing Sydney.

AUSTRALIAN FIREFIGHTER ACCUSED OF ARSON AMID BUSHFIRE CRISIS, POLICE SAY

Westlake Legal Group sydney3 Sydney shrouded in 'unbreathable' smoke as Australia wildfires rage Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/world/disasters fox-news/weather fox news fnc/us fnc dcad6edb-f5b6-5af2-9330-f1cb0b16d5aa article

Thick smoke from wildfires shroud the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Winds are forecast to shift, which may help air quality in greater Sydney but also fan the ongoing wildfires even further.

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The early fire season has reignited the debate on whether Australia has taken enough action on climate change.

“These are the health consequences of a changing climate that health professionals have been warning us about,” said public health expert professor Hilary Bambrick and Climate Council member in a statement to Australia’s Nine News. “Climate change is supercharging bushfires and that is what we are seeing now with massive, unprecedented fires producing unbreathable air.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group sydney1 Sydney shrouded in 'unbreathable' smoke as Australia wildfires rage Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/world/disasters fox-news/weather fox news fnc/us fnc dcad6edb-f5b6-5af2-9330-f1cb0b16d5aa article   Westlake Legal Group sydney1 Sydney shrouded in 'unbreathable' smoke as Australia wildfires rage Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/world/disasters fox-news/weather fox news fnc/us fnc dcad6edb-f5b6-5af2-9330-f1cb0b16d5aa article

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Now Playing: The Investigation Into The Russia Investigation

Westlake Legal Group michael-horowitz---ap_18170581761608_wide-bef2778c0ef653ecf83a22ebca4714b33884becd-s1100-c15 Now Playing: The Investigation Into The Russia Investigation

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, shown here in 2018, released a report Monday on the 2016 Trump campaign and its links to Russia. He found the FBI was justified in opening the investigation but sharply criticized the way the bureau pursued surveillance warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

toggle caption

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Now Playing: The Investigation Into The Russia Investigation

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, shown here in 2018, released a report Monday on the 2016 Trump campaign and its links to Russia. He found the FBI was justified in opening the investigation but sharply criticized the way the bureau pursued surveillance warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

A newly released watchdog report on how the FBI carried out the Russia investigation offers something for everyone.

The report, the work of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, found that the FBI had ample evidence to open the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and its links to Russia. For Democrats, that was long-awaited vindication.

Republicans seized on the report’s sharp criticism of the FBI, which suffered from “serious performance failures” as it pursued surveillance warrants against one of Trump’s campaign advisers, Carter Page.

In addition, FBI directors, past and present, accepted the findings released Monday and said the bureau needed to learn from the multiple mistakes spelled out by Horowitz in a report that runs more than 400 pages.

Read the report here

But there’s one thing this report was not: the final word on the Russia investigation.

Shortly after the Horowitz report was released Monday afternoon, Attorney General William Barr lambasted the FBI, saying it conducted “an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

The Horowitz report actually says that the bar for opening such an investigation is relatively low and concludes that the initial information “was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the [Justice] Department and the FBI.”

The next report

Nonetheless, Barr earlier this year ordered another investigation into the Russia investigation.

This one is being carried out by the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, and has a broader scope that will also examine the CIA’s role.

While Durham’s investigation is still underway, he took the unusual step of commenting publicly and suggesting he was heading toward different conclusions from Horowitz’s.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” he said.

There’s no word on when Durham’s report will be completed.

As Democrats formally call for President Trump’s removal from office over his “corruptly soliciting” help from Ukraine in an attempt to smear Democratic rivals, the president and Republicans are pushing a counternarrative that focuses on the way the Russia investigation was carried out.

“It’s a disgrace what’s happened with the things that were done to our country,” Trump said in response to the Horowitz findings. “It’s incredible, far worse than what I ever thought possible.”

Horowitz is scheduled to testify about his report before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Democrats stressed that the report validated many of their arguments about the Russia investigation.

“This report conclusively debunks the baseless conspiracy that the investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russia originated with political bias,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

FBI shortcomings

Horowitz began working on the report in March 2018 following requests from the Justice Department and lawmakers. He focused on the FBI’s warrant, obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, that looked into Carter Page, who played a minor role as a foreign policy adviser in the Trump campaign from March to September in 2016.

Investigators found 17 significant errors and omissions in the initial application and the three renewals to surveil Page from October 2016 until September 2017.

Page has a long history of working in and traveling to Russia and met with at least one senior Russian government official during a July 2016 trip. He has not been charged with any crime and has always insisted he did nothing wrong.

The Horowitz report found, among other shortcomings, that the FBI relied on uncorroborated information provided by British ex-intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The report said the bureau also failed to pass on information that could have weakened its case as it sought to renew the surveillance warrants for Page.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau intends to take “more than 40 corrective steps.”

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of the bureau when the Russia investigation began in July 2016, told NPR on Monday that he accepted responsibility for the findings.

“As the leader, you have to take responsibility when there are mistakes in your organization, no matter how far down they are. It’s your responsibility. And if I were still director, I’d be doing what Chris Wray is doing, which is figuring out how we make sure they don’t happen again,” he said.

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Prosecutors: Mueller Witness Whose Testimony Doomed Manafort Was Offered Money Not to Cooperate

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Billie Eilish Shocks Alicia Keys With ‘Fallin’ Cover She Did At 12

Westlake Legal Group 5defc53b2100002f0634f8f8 Billie Eilish Shocks Alicia Keys With ‘Fallin’ Cover She Did At 12

Keys, who was serving as guest host on the CBS talk show, heaped praise on Eilish, telling this year’s multiple Grammy nominee that she had covered Eilish’s song “Ocean Eyes” on Instagram. Eilish, who had seen the clip, responded with quite the surprise ― a video of her covering Keys’ monster hit “Fallin’” at age 12 for a talent show.

Keys grooved to the clip, as seen above. “I got one for you and you got one for me,” she told the “Bad Guy” singer afterward. “We even. We gonna do the next one soon.”

The two performed an instantly viral duet of “Ocean Eyes” on the show. See that below:

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