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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 341)

Bernie Sanders endorses progressive challenger to incumbent Texas Dem

Westlake Legal Group image Bernie Sanders endorses progressive challenger to incumbent Texas Dem Sam Dorman fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/person/alexandria-ocasio-cortez fox news fnc/politics fnc article a4db27d1-59ae-5211-80ba-0b2b4d595bb1

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., added more national support to progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros as she runs to unseat Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, a man she has described as “Trump’s favorite Democrat.”

Cisneros is one of nine endorsements that Sanders announced on Wednesday. The others included “squad” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

“This is the most important election in our lifetime and I’m proud there are so many candidates running for Congress who understand that real change comes from the bottom on up, not the top on down,” Sanders said, according to The Hill.

“They’re all strong advocates for real change, and together we will build a movement to transform this nation so that it works for all our people,” he added.

AOC RILES DEMS BY REFUSING TO PAY PARTY DUES, BANKROLLING COLLEAGUES’ OPPONENTS

The 78-year-old socialist, who’s proven to be a powerhouse in small-donor fundraising, also threw his weight behind Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Pocan, D-Minn.; Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Georgette Gomez, who is running to fill California’s open 53rd District.

While most of Sanders’ endorsements are incumbents, his support of Cisneros seemed to signify a growing trend of progressive leaders lending their name to insurgent candidates.

If Cuellar wants to beat Cisneros, he’ll have to counter both Sanders’ and Ocasio-Cortez’s influence on the campaign trail. Ocasio-Cortez previously endorsed Cisneros while taking a shot at Cuellar.

“The people of South Texas deserve a Democrat like Jessica who is going to fight for real people, not big corporate donors like the Koch Brothers, GEO Group and Exxon,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Pressley have also endorsed Cisneros.

DEM REP’S CAMPAIGN HITS BACK AT ‘SQUAD’ ENDORSEMENTS FOR PRIMARY CHALLENGER

Cuellar, who has spent more than a decade in Congress, has received criticism over support for anti-abortion legislation. He also received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and took donations from KochPAC, a political action committee (PAC) representing the interests of Koch Industries.

According to the Texas Tribune, Cuellar spokesman Colin Strother derided Sanders’ endorsement.

“While our opponent focuses on out-of-district and celebrity endorsements, we are focused on endorsements from people who actually live and work in the district,” he said. “That’s why we have over 225 local elected officials endorsing Henry Cuellar for reelection.”

Wednesday’s endorsements were just the latest signs of a progressive revolt within the party. Ocasio-Cortez also endorsed Marie Newman, who is challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., and went so far as to refuse paying Democratic Party dues over issues surrounding challenges to incumbents.

“One, I don’t agree with the policy around blacklisting groups that help progressive candidates,” she said, referring to a DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] effort to sideline vendors who assist challengers to members of Congress. “I think we need to evolve as a party and make room for that.”

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Cisneros also received backing from the Sunrise Movement, a climate group that supports Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal.” In December, the group released a list of “insurgent” candidates it supported against Democratic incumbents.

Sunrise Political Director Evan Weber said at the time: “These insurgent campaigns are a clear indicator of the appetite for an entire new way of doing things, and a restructuring of our society under a populist agenda that guarantees things like living wage jobs, affordable and safe housing, universal clean air and water, and Medicare for All — all policies which we see bundled into the Green New Deal framework.”

Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group image Bernie Sanders endorses progressive challenger to incumbent Texas Dem Sam Dorman fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/person/alexandria-ocasio-cortez fox news fnc/politics fnc article a4db27d1-59ae-5211-80ba-0b2b4d595bb1   Westlake Legal Group image Bernie Sanders endorses progressive challenger to incumbent Texas Dem Sam Dorman fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/person/alexandria-ocasio-cortez fox news fnc/politics fnc article a4db27d1-59ae-5211-80ba-0b2b4d595bb1

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Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit

Westlake Legal Group 29facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit Suits and Litigation (Civil) Social Media Privacy facial recognition software Facebook Inc Face Decisions and Verdicts Corporations Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet Company Reports

Facebook said on Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology in Illinois, giving privacy groups a major victory that again raised questions about the social network’s data-mining practices.

The case stemmed from Facebook’s photo-labeling service, Tag Suggestions, which uses face-matching software to suggest the names of people in users’ photos. The suit said the Silicon Valley company violated an Illinois biometric privacy law by harvesting facial data for Tag Suggestions from the photos of millions of users in the state without their permission and without telling them how long the data would be kept. Facebook has said the allegations have no merit.

Under the agreement, Facebook will pay $550 million to eligible Illinois users and for the plaintiffs’ legal fees. The sum dwarfs the $380.5 million that the Equifax credit reporting agency agreed this month to pay to settle a class-action case over a 2017 consumer data breach.

Facebook disclosed the settlement as part of its quarterly financial results, in which it took a charge on the case. The sum amounted to a rounding error for Facebook, which reported that revenue rose 25 percent to $21 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier, while profit increased 7 percent to $7.3 billion.

David Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, noted in an earnings call with investors that the settlement added to the social network’s rising general and administrative costs, which increased 87 percent from a year ago.

“We decided to pursue a settlement as it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

Jay Edelson, a lawyer whose firm represented Facebook users in the facial recognition suit, said the settlement underscored the importance of strong privacy legislation.

“From people who are passionate about gun rights to those who care about women’s reproductive issues, the right to participate in society anonymously is something that we cannot afford to lose,” Mr. Edelson said.

The privacy settlement coincides with heightened public concern over the spread of powerful surveillance technology like facial recognition. Companies like Amazon and Clearview AI are marketing face-matching software to law enforcement agencies to help them identify unknown suspects. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have warned that the spread of such services could end people’s ability to remain anonymous in public.

The case also illustrates the protections that strong state laws may offer consumers. Of the three states that have stand-alone biometric privacy laws, Illinois has the most comprehensive one. It requires companies to obtain written permission before collecting a person’s fingerprints, facial scans or other identifying biological characteristics. The law also gives residents the right to sue companies for up to $5,000 per violation, which could add up to billions of dollars in payouts for tech giants that lose such class-action suits.

“The Illinois law has real teeth. It pretty much stopped Facebook in its tracks,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit group that filed a brief in the Facebook case. “Tech firms and other companies that collect biometric data must be very nervous right now.”

Since the Illinois law was enacted in 2008, it has vexed companies that market voice assistants, doorbell cameras, photo labeling and other technology that may collect biometric details from people without their knowledge or consent.

Many of the companies have argued that people should not be able to sue over violations of a consumer privacy law if they cannot prove they suffered concrete harms like financial losses. Facebook made similar claims in the facial recognition lawsuit, including in a petition in December asking the United States Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court last week denied Facebook’s appeal.

But last January, in a case against an amusement park that had collected and stored a child’s fingerprints, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that violating a person’s biometric privacy could constitute a harm in and of itself, enabling consumers to pursue privacy claims. An appeals court judge later issued a similar ruling in the Facebook case, denying the company’s bid to have the lawsuit dismissed.

“Courts have recognized that the very loss of control over this highly sensitive, highly personal information itself causes harm to people,” said Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, which also filed a brief in the Facebook case.

Facebook has been dogged by complaints over its use of facial recognition since 2010, when it rolled out Tag Suggestions as the default option for users. People could turn it off, but privacy experts said the company had neither obtained users’ opt-in consent for the technology nor explicitly informed them that it could benefit by, for instance, using scans of their photos to improve its face-matching technology.

In 2012, Facebook deactivated the technology in Europe after regulators there raised questions about its consent system. Last year, as part of a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations, Facebook agreed to provide “clear and conspicuous notice” about its face-matching software and obtain additional permission from people before using it for new purposes they had not agreed to.

In 2018, Facebook reintroduced facial recognition as an option for users in Europe. Last year, Facebook updated its facial recognition notices and settings for certain users, providing more details on how it uses the technology.

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Trump Defense Can’t Offer Evidence He Cared About Corruption Before Biden 2020 Run

Westlake Legal Group 5e320cdc1f0000320b859915 Trump Defense Can’t Offer Evidence He Cared About Corruption Before Biden 2020 Run

WASHINGTON ― In a closely watched exchange during Wednesday’s Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump’s defense team struggled to point to any instances of his interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine or Joe Biden’s involvement with that nation before the former vice president launched his Democratic presidential campaign last April.

The key moment came in response to a question posed to Trump’s lawyers by Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two Republicans who may prove crucial to whether the chamber agrees to hear from witnesses and allow the presentation of new evidence in the case. For that to happen, Democrats need at least four GOP senators to break with their leadership 

The timeline of Trump’s interest in Ukraine corruption is potentially crucial to the validity of the impeachment charges against him leveled by the House: that he withheld military aid to the country in exchange for its government opening an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of an energy company there while his father was vice president. If Trump and his team can establish that he cared about the issue before Biden began his campaign, or was gearing up for his run, it would undermine the charge that the president was acting merely in his own political interest ― his re-election.

But deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin acknowledged he couldn’t point to a specific example of an earlier interest in the corruption matter by Trump, arguing that the president’s defense was limited to addressing only evidence presented by the House impeachment managers.

“There’s not something in the record on that. It wasn’t thoroughly pursued in the record. So I can’t point to something in the record that shows President Trump at an earlier time mentioning specifically something related to Joe or Hunter Biden,” Philbin said. 

Philbin did try to establish that Trump’s interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine predated Biden’s presidential run because the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, expressed a desire to travel to the country a month before Biden’s formally announced his presidential bid (speculation that he would run had been rampant for months).

Philbin also argued that one could draw a “reasonable inference” that Trump had simply gotten new information about the Bidens because of news coverage about his son’s business ties in Ukraine prior to the president’s now-infamous call last July 25 with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump’s prodding of Zelensky to investigate the Bidens kicked the impeachment push into gear.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House impeachment manager, rebutted Philbin by noting the president’s lawyers could call a witness to offer evidence of Trump’s interest in Ukraine prior to Biden’s presidential run if they so chose. 

Republicans are eyeing a quick acquittal vote after senators later this week consider the issue of whether to call witnesses and allow for new evidence. 

Collins and Murkowski, along with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), offered the first questions of the day. They asked Trump’s lawyers how the Senate should respond if it could be determined that Trump had more than one motive in withholding the military aid to Ukraine.

Philbin argued that House managers had to argue that there was no possible public interest in an investigation into the Bidens.

“Once you’re into mixed-motive land, it’s clear that their case fails. There can’t possibly be an impeachable offense at all,” Philbin said.

In response to another question from Romney about the specific date Trump ordered the hold on security assistance to Ukraine, and whether he gave a reason for doing so, Trump’s defense team again struggled to say.

“I don’t think there is evidence in the record of a specific date,” Philbin said, only pointing to testimony that U.S. officials were aware of the hold in early July.

But Romney, a Trump critic who has expressed an interest in hearing from witnesses, wasn’t satisfied with that answer.

“I’d like more information than they were apparently able to give, given the fact that that information was not in the record,” he told HuffPost on Wednesday.

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5 cases of coronavirus confirmed in US, risk of spreading remains low, CDC says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday confirmed only five cases of the deadly coronavirus in the United States but noted that risk to the general American public remains low.

The five were among 165 suspected cases of the coronavirus, said Nancy Messonnier of the CDC. Of those, 68 have tested negative, while the remaining 92 are unconfirmed, she said.

The CDC has uploaded the full genetic sequence for all five viruses detected in the U.S. and expanded entry screening to 20 U.S. ports of entry where it has quarantine stations.

Westlake Legal Group AP20029259567915 5 cases of coronavirus confirmed in US, risk of spreading remains low, CDC says fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc Bradford Betz article 4f6e84d3-114d-5d9d-9380-bd0d7b9e325a

Carrying more than American diplomats and citizens, a Boeing 747 aircraft sits on the tarmac of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.  (AP)

In cooperation with Customs and Border Protection, the agency is also expanding the distribution of travel health education materials to all travelers from China, including 350,000 travel education cards.

“Despite an aggressive public health investigation to find new cases, we have not. The situation in China is concerning, however we are looking hard here in the United States. We will continue to be proactive. I still expect that we will find additional cases.”

The CDC’s announcement comes after the U.S. government successfully returned 195 U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak — to the United States. A plane carrying the passengers landed at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California Wednesday after briefly stopping in Alaska Tuesday night to refuel.

The Boeing 747 was originally headed to Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County before it was diverted to the military base in Riverside County “for the logistics that they have,” according to an official.

“We have taken every precaution to ensure their safety, while also continuing to protect the health of our nation, and the people around them,” Messonnier said, adding that all 195 passengers had been screened, monitored and evaluated by medical personnel throughout the journey.

Twenty CDC staff are helping to manage the process and all of the passengers are without the symptoms associated with the coronavirus, she said, adding that the passengers have been given assigned living quarters at the military base and have agreed to stay in isolation for 72 hours.

CORONAVIRUS: DELTA AIRLINES REDUCES FLIGHTS BETWEEN U.S. AND CHINA AMID OUTBREAK

The CDC has begun a second stage of screening and information gathering from the passengers. The passengers will be offered further testing as part of a “thorough risk assessment” and the samples will be sent to CDC, Messonnier said.

“Outbreaks like this are always concerning, particularly when a new virus is emerging. But we are well-prepared and working closely without federal, state and local partners to protect our community and others nationwide from this new public health threat,” Messonnier said. “At this time, we continue to believe that the immediate health risk from this new virus to the general American public is low.”

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The World Health Organization on Wednesday confirmed more than 6,000 global cases of the coronavirus, surpassing the number during the SARS outbreak that spread across mainland China between 2002 and 2003. In that outbreak, China confirmed 349 deaths, more than twice the lives claimed by the coronavirus.

Westlake Legal Group AP20029259567915 5 cases of coronavirus confirmed in US, risk of spreading remains low, CDC says fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc Bradford Betz article 4f6e84d3-114d-5d9d-9380-bd0d7b9e325a   Westlake Legal Group AP20029259567915 5 cases of coronavirus confirmed in US, risk of spreading remains low, CDC says fox-news/health/infectious-disease/coronavirus fox news fnc/health fnc Bradford Betz article 4f6e84d3-114d-5d9d-9380-bd0d7b9e325a

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Kobe Bryant Split Washington Post Newsroom During 2018 Visit

Westlake Legal Group merlin_122260691_47c54d73-c359-466b-b000-ed8f7ac00152-facebookJumbo Kobe Bryant Split Washington Post Newsroom During 2018 Visit Washington Post Sonmez, Felicia Social Media Sex Crimes Newspapers News and News Media Bryant, Kobe Baron, Martin D #MeToo Movement

The suspension of a Washington Post reporter who referred to a 2003 sexual assault charge against Kobe Bryant on Twitter in the hours after his death led to an uproar among the newspaper’s staff members.

It wasn’t the first time the N.B.A. star had been at the center of a debate at The Post.

On Monday, more than 300 newsroom employees signed a letter sharply critical of top editors who had placed the reporter, Felicia Sonmez, on administrative leave while they reviewed her social media activity. In an article that same day, Erik Wemple, a media columnist for The Post, called the suspension “misguided.” On Tuesday, the newspaper announced that Ms. Sonmez had not violated The Post’s social media guidelines and allowed her to go back to work.

The tension in the newsroom was partly about how the paper’s journalists use social media. But it also concerned differing opinions of Mr. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash Sunday along with eight others, including his daughter Gianna. Was the man who led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships someone worthy of uncritical veneration, or was his reputation irreparably tarnished by the 2003 allegations?

This week, journalists at The Post recalled an earlier time when a disagreement concerning Mr. Bryant had divided the newsroom. It happened in October 2018, when Mr. Bryant was given a welcome worthy of a V.I.P. at the paper’s Franklin Square headquarters in downtown Washington.

He posed for photos with staff members. There were smiles and handshakes. Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor since 2013, chatted with him in the newsroom as a staff photographer captured the moment. Mr. Bryant was also granted an audience with the paper’s White House reporters, who met with him in a conference room on the seventh floor. Journalists caught glimpses of the talk through the room’s glass walls.

Mr. Bryant, who retired from basketball in 2016, also met with a sports reporter who had been working for months on a profile focused on his forays into new media ventures. He also sat for portrait photographs that illustrated the article when it was published the next month.

Before the story was assigned, Mr. Bryant called Mr. Baron and described his post-basketball career ambitions, according to a person with knowledge of the call. Mr. Baron later shared what they had discussed with a sports editor, the person said.

Shortly after Mr. Bryant’s visit, Amy Brittain, one of The Post’s investigative reporters who had broken the news of sexual misconduct allegations against the television anchor Charlie Rose, drafted a letter to Mr. Baron in Google Docs expressing her discomfort with what she described as the “spectacle” surrounding the N.B.A. star’s newsroom appearance, according to an internal email that was reviewed by The New York Times.

Ms. Brittain, who did not reply to requests for comment, shared the Google Doc with others at the paper. More than 100 of her colleagues signed their names, according to two people with knowledge of the letter. But she ended up not sending it to Mr. Baron, opting to meet with him privately to share her concerns, a person with knowledge of the meeting said.

Mr. Baron and The Post declined to comment.

The contingent who was not pleased with the visit pointed to the 2003 case against Mr. Bryant, who was charged with felony sexual assault after an encounter with a 19-year-old front-desk clerk at a hotel near Vail, Colo. The criminal case was dropped in 2004. In a statement through his lawyer, Mr. Bryant said at the time that he believed the encounter was “consensual,” but he added that he had come to understand that she did not see it the same way. The next year, Mr. Bryant reached a settlement with the accuser in a separate civil suit. The terms were not disclosed.

Mr. Bryant tried to rebuild his public image. But as his growing success on the court won him new fans, not everyone was ready to offer him the uncomplicated fan worship that attended star players like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. When “Dear Basketball,” an animated short produced by Mr. Bryant, was nominated for an Oscar in 2018, more than 17,000 people signed an online petition urging the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind the nomination. The film went on to win an Oscar.

The activism against the film stemmed from the #MeToo movement, which was fueled, in part, by deeply reported articles from many publications, including The Post. A year before Mr. Bryant’s newsroom visit, the paper had published an investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who was running for a United States Senate seat. Post reporters had also published articles on sexual misconduct allegations against other powerful men.

The tweet in the hours after Mr. Bryant’s death from Ms. Sonmez, the Post reporter who was briefly suspended, included a link to a 2016 Daily Beast article on the 2003 case. Almost immediately, she found herself on the receiving end of online abuse, including death threats, at a time when tributes to Mr. Bryant poured in from President Trump, former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg and Taylor Swift.

Hundreds of Ms. Sonmez’s colleagues objected to the suspension the next day partly because, as stated in the letter to Mr. Baron and the managing editor, Tracy Grant, Ms. Sonmez’s tweet was “a statement of fact.” The Post’s social media guidelines ask journalists to be informative and factual in their online posts.

Mr. Baron sent an email to Ms. Sonmez on Sunday telling her, “A real lack of judgment to tweet this. Please stop. You’re hurting this institution by doing this.” On Tuesday, the newspaper reversed course, saying in a statement that, after a review, it had concluded that Ms. Sonmez “was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy.”

The Post’s statement also referred to her tweets as “ill-timed” and continued: “We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths.”

Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

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Republicans Move to Block Impeachment Witnesses, Driving Toward Acquittal

Westlake Legal Group 29dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo Republicans Move to Block Impeachment Witnesses, Driving Toward Acquittal United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schiff, Adam B Romney, Mitt Roberts, John G Jr Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch impeachment Dershowitz, Alan M Democratic Party Collins, Susan M Bolton, John R Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate Republicans worked aggressively on Wednesday to discount damaging revelations from John R. Bolton and line up the votes to block new witnesses that would bring President Trump’s impeachment trial to a swift close.

As the Senate entered a two-day, 16-hour period of questioning from senators, Mr. Trump laced into Mr. Bolton, his former national security adviser, whose unpublished manuscript contains an account that contradicts his impeachment defense. The president described Mr. Bolton on Twitter as a warmonger who had “begged” for his job, was fired, and then wrote “a nasty & untrue book.”

Mr. Trump’s aides circulated a letter on Capitol Hill informing Mr. Bolton that the White House was moving to block publication of his forthcoming book, in which he wrote that the president conditioned the release of military aid for Ukraine on the country’s willingness to investigate his political rivals. That is a central element of Democrats’ impeachment case against the president, which charges him with seeking to enlist a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf.

Off the floor, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and other Republicans signaled that they were regaining confidence that they would be able cobble together the 51 votes needed to block new witnesses and documents and bring the trial to an acquittal verdict as soon as Friday, after the revelations from Mr. Bolton, reported Sunday by The New York Times, had threatened to knock their plans off course.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Senate Republican, declared that he had “heard enough” and predicted that the Senate would vote to acquit the president by week’s end.

“I’m ready to vote on final judgment,” Mr. Barrasso told reporters. Asked if Republicans planned to move directly to a vote on the two articles of impeachment on Friday, Mr. Barrasso said, “Yes, that’s the plan.”

By Wednesday afternoon, Democrats were sounding a note of pessimism about the prospect of witnesses and securing new evidence in the trial.

“We’ve always known it will be an uphill fight on witnesses and documents, because the president and Mitch McConnell put huge pressure on these folks,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said during a break in the trial.

“Is it more likely than not? Probably no,” Mr. Schumer said. “But is it a decent, good chance? Yes.”

In answering questions, Mr. Trump’s lawyers offered their most expansive defense of the president to date, effectively arguing that a president cannot be removed from office for demanding political favors if he believes his re-election is in the national interest.

“Every public official I know believes that his election is in the public interest,” said Alan M. Dershowitz, the celebrity defense lawyer and constitutional scholar who is part of the Mr. Trump’s legal team. “Mostly, you’re right.”

“If the president does something which he believes will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” he said.

Many of the arguments and much the day was tailored to persuading a few Republicans who remained holdouts on the question of whether to call witnesses. Mr. McConnell gave his party’s first question on Wednesday to Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in an effort to allay the concerns of the three lawmakers, Republican moderates who are swing votes on the matter. The trio teamed up to ask Mr. Trump’s lawyers how they should judge the president if they conclude he acted in the Ukraine matter with both political and policy motives.

The selection of Ms. Collins, who is facing the toughest re-election campaign in her long Senate career, was revealing: It suggested that Mr. McConnell was keenly focused on giving her every opportunity to have her voice heard before moving forward.

Notably absent from the group was the fourth Republican who had expressed interest in witnesses: Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a close friend of Mr. McConnell’s who has said he will not decide whether to support witnesses until after the question period has closed.

On Tuesday, Mr. McConnell warned Republicans privately that he did not currently have the votes to stop Democrats from summoning them. One after the other on Wednesday, in statements and hallway interviews, they made clear they would side with their leader.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who had previously floated the idea of a witness deal, said Wednesday that he was “very, very skeptical” of new witnesses. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, facing a tough re-election in a swing state, issued a statement saying that he had heard enough and would vote against hearing from more witnesses.

Democrats need the votes of four Republicans to compel the Senate to subpoena witnesses and new documents. But it seems increasingly likely that Mr. Alexander, who is retiring from the Senate and is thus free to do as he chooses, will break from his party.

Mr. Trump is charged with abusing his power and obstructing Congress by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, and concealing evidence of it from lawmakers who were investigating. Republicans have said that if Mr. Bolton testifies, so too should Hunter Biden, who drew Mr. Trump’s interest because he sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company.

In the first hint of a possible crack in Democratic unity, Senator Doug Jones of Alabama suggested Wednesday that he might vote to acquit Mr. Trump on the charge of obstruction of Congress, though he said that the president’s own behavior was strengthening the case against him. And Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia said he thought that Hunter Biden might be a relevant witness.

“I’m still looking at that very closely; there are some things that trouble me about it,” Mr. Jones said, without elaborating. “But I will tell you this about the obstruction charge: The more I see the president of the United States attacking witnesses, the stronger that case gets.”

Fielding friendly questions from Democratic senators, House managers reiterated the heart of their case and accused Mr. Trump’s lawyers of incorrectly stating that there was no evidence that Mr. Trump linked security assistance to investigations. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House impeachment manager, responded to Mr. Dershowitz’s argument by saying it was “very odd.”

“If you say you can’t hold a president accountable in an election year where they’re trying to cheat in that election, then you are giving them carte blanche,” Mr. Schiff said. “All quid pro quos are not the same. Some are legitimate and some are corrupt.”

Democrats have argued that Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was precisely the kind of corrupt scheme that the nation’s founders had in mind when they created impeachment, fearing that an out-of-control executive would abuse his power for personal gain. But throughout the day, lawyers for Mr. Trump argued that all elected officials make policy decisions to help themselves get re-elected.

Answering the question from the three Republican moderates, Patrick Philbin, a deputy White House counsel, said a president could not be removed for a “mixed-motive situation” in which he is acting out of both personal and policy concerns.

“There’s always some personal interest in the electoral outcome of policy decisions and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Mr. Philbin told senators. “That’s part of representative democracy.”

Mr. Trump’s legal team also argued that the House needed to prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt” — a standard of proof that legal experts say has no basis in either the Constitution or the rules of the Senate. And the legal team said that the case was merely “based on a policy difference” between the president and the career diplomats who sounded the alarm on his pressure campaign in Ukraine.

The questioning is a formal affair: Senators submit questions in writing and they are read aloud by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. The chief justice set a five-minute time limit for answers, citing a similar limit imposed by his predecessor Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

White House lawyers have a system to help their speakers stay within the five minutes: a stack of small white cue cards showing when the clock is about to run out. They hold them up when 2 minutes, 1 minute 30 seconds and 10 seconds are left.

The Democratic House members do not appear to have such a system — which may explain why Mr. Schiff was cut off by the chief justice when his first answer ran long.

Catie Edmondson, Nicholas Fandos and Patricia Mazzei contributed reporting.

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‘Days of our Lives’ renewed for Season 56 on NBC

There’s more life ahead for the NBC daytime serial “Days of our Lives,” renewed for a 56th season.

It will continue to air on NBC, the network said Wednesday, despite speculation it might move to the Peacock streaming service set to arrive this year.

‘DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ CAST RELEASED FROM THEIR CONTRACTS AS SERIES’ FUTURE REMAINS UNCERTAIN: REPORT

Executive producer Ken Corday said in a statement that “we are excited to continue delivering compelling stories to our loyal family of fans into this new decade.”

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives” is the show’s now-classic voiceover opening, accompanied by the image of an hourglass.

Westlake Legal Group daylives 'Days of our Lives' renewed for Season 56 on NBC fox-news/entertainment/tv fnc/entertainment fnc Associated Press article 4d4656a0-ecae-5f9b-839f-54c09c2b590b

Ken Corday, center, and the cast and crew of “Days of Our Lives” accepting the award for outstanding drama series at the 45th annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, Calif. NBC announced that their longest running series has been renewed for a record 56th season.  (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

“Days of our Lives,” NBC’s longest-running series, is set in the fictional Midwestern city of Salem and revolves around the Brady, Horton and DiMera families. The serial debuted in 1965 and has collected 57 Emmy Awards including, in 2018, its most recent best daytime drama trophy.

‘DAYS OF OUR LIVES’ STAR SAYS SOAP IS MORE THAN A SHOW, IT IS ‘A PIECE OF FURNITURE’ FOR FANS

The cast includes Deidre Hall and John Aniston.

Changes in viewing habits have thinned the ranks of daytime soap operas, with ABC’s “General Hospital” and CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” among the few survivors.

Westlake Legal Group daylives 'Days of our Lives' renewed for Season 56 on NBC fox-news/entertainment/tv fnc/entertainment fnc Associated Press article 4d4656a0-ecae-5f9b-839f-54c09c2b590b   Westlake Legal Group daylives 'Days of our Lives' renewed for Season 56 on NBC fox-news/entertainment/tv fnc/entertainment fnc Associated Press article 4d4656a0-ecae-5f9b-839f-54c09c2b590b

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Republicans Argue Impeachment Witnesses Would Just Be A Waste Of Time

Westlake Legal Group 5e31ff531f0000fd0a85990f Republicans Argue Impeachment Witnesses Would Just Be A Waste Of Time

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is hurtling toward a showdown over whether the Senate will call witnesses to testify ― namely, former national security adviser John Bolton, who has written a book manuscript that effectively confirms the quid pro quo at the heart of the impeachment charges. 

Republican senators argue that calling Bolton or virtually any other witnesses would be a waste of time — because their vote won’t change. That argument is an accidental admission of the essential truth of this trial: Republicans are prepared to acquit Trump no matter what. 

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), for example, said he was “very, very skeptical” that there would be a witness who would change his mind “about how I ought to vote on the final question.”

“For the sake of argument, one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement Wednesday. 

Graham’s colleagues have taken a similar stance. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said that “I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” despite Bolton’s new information. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) similarly argued that the House had already made its case and “additional witnesses are not necessary.” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) warned that calling witnesses would lead to a long string of people testifying and allow Democrats to “string this thing out.”

“Unless there’s a witness that’s going to change the outcome, I can’t imagine why we’d want to stretch this out for weeks and months,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said earlier this week.

This is a far different stance than Graham and others took as recently as a few months ago, when they suggested that there was simply a lack of evidence to support the charges against the president.

“If you could show me that Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing,” Graham told Axios in October. 

Trump and allies such as Graham have continuously tried to narrow the scope of the impeachment investigation and direct attention solely to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Although the call alone includes Trump bringing up groundless conspiracy theories and asking Zelensky to investigate a political rival, recent months have provided additional evidence and testimony that Trump directed a quid pro quo campaign to pressure Ukraine into launching a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.  

Republicans have been eager to ignore and suppress that evidence, especially when it comes to Bolton. Trump’s lawyers in the impeachment trial have argued that Bolton’s book draft is inadmissible and the White House has warned him against publishing it. 

Senators are expected to debate and vote on whether to call witnesses on Friday, with Democrats needing four Republicans to side with them in order for it to pass. If witnesses are allowed, it could extend the impeachment proceedings and start a fight over who should be required to testify. 

The fact that allowing witnesses would take time came up repeatedly on the Senate floor on Wednesday, as Trump’s defenders cautioned that anything but a swift acquittal could tie up the chamber indefinitely. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said that if the Senate allows witnesses, his side would demand some as well, including the lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.); Hunter Biden; and the whistleblower whose concerns about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president brought the matter to light. Many Republicans have said they’d like to hear from Hunter Biden if witnesses are called. 

Sekulow accused the House ― which was unable to obtain certain testimony and documents because the president blocked them ― of speeding through its inquiry and sending the matter to the Senate to figure out. 

“Is that going to be the new norm for impeachment?” Sekulow said. 

Schiff said the Trump team was trying to dissuade them from calling witnesses. He said the process would not necessarily be the slow one Trump’s attorneys warned of, because the Senate could vote to subpoena Bolton and would have Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, on hand to make quick decisions on whose testimony was material, whether to out the whistleblower and what part of a document was privileged. He later pledged that House impeachment managers would not push back on decisions made by Roberts and challenged the defense to agree to the same. 

If senators want a fair trial, they must approve witnesses, Schiff said.

“Don’t be thrown off by this claim, ‘If you even think about it, we’re going to make you pay with delays like we’ve never seen. We’re going to call witnesses that will turn this into a circus,’” Schiff told senators. “It shouldn’t be a circus; it should be a fair trial.”

Elise Foley contributed reporting. 

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Schiff, in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, denies knowing whistleblower

Westlake Legal Group TrumpSchiff093019 Schiff, in Trump's Senate impeachment trial, denies knowing whistleblower Nick Givas fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc article a1faa56d-9b14-5df0-9d1a-37b5236ab4f2

House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, D-Calif., denied knowing the identity of the Trump whistleblower during the president’s trial on Wednesday and claimed that no one from the House Intelligence Committee was ever involved in coaching them.

Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., submitted a question to the House managers about the whistleblower’s possible political bias and asked if they ever had any professional relationship with former Vice President Joe Biden.

Schiff discussed the importance of maintaining the privacy of the whistleblower, before addressing rumors that he and his staff were in communication with them before they lodged their official complaint.

“Let me be clear about several things about the whistleblower. First of all, I don’t know who the whistleblower is,” he began. “I haven’t met them or communicated with them in any way. The committee staff did not write the complaint or coach the whistleblower what to put in the complaint. The committee staff did not see the complaint before it was submitted to the inspector general.

“The committee, including its staff, did not receive the complaint until the night before,” Schiff continued. “We had an open hearing with the active [intelligence] director on September 26, more than three weeks after the legal deadline by which the committee should have received the complaint.”

ADAM SCHIFF THREATENS TO DEFUND INTEL COMMUNITY UNLESS TRUMP WHISTLEBLOWER DETAILS DISCLOSED

The House Intelligence Committee chairman called rumors of his behind-the-scenes involvement a “conspiracy theory” and said he wouldn’t elaborate further, for fear of revealing sensitive information.

“In short, the conspiracy theory, which I think was outlined earlier that the whistleblower colluded with the Intel Committee staff to hatch an impeachment inquiry is a complete and total fiction,” he said.

“This was, I think, confirmed by the remarkable accuracy of the whistleblower complaint, which has been corroborated by the evidence we subsequently gathered in all material respects. So I’m not going to go into anything that could reveal or lead to the revelation of the identity, the whistleblower.”

Schiff also defended his congressional staff against accusations of wrongdoing and collusion.

“I can tell you, because my staff’s names have been brought into this proceeding, that my staff acted at all times with the most complete professionalism,” he explained.

“I am very protective of my staff, as I know you are. And I’m grateful that we have such bright, hardworking people working around the clock to protect this country and have served our committee so well. And it really grieves me to see them smeared.”

TRUMP SAYS SCHIFF ‘HELPED WRITE’ WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT, AFTER HOUSE PANEL ADMITS ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, accused Schiff in October of helping stage the whistleblower’s complaint to orchestrate political upheaval, with the goal of damaging Trump.

“I think they were complicit in working with the whistleblower to come forward with his complaint and start this entire impeachment inquiry,” McCaul said on “Fox & Friends.”

“I think that’s why Adam Schiff is so protective of the whistleblowers[sic] because he is concerned about the truth that will come out if we get access to him.”

Schiff also squared off against Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, during a hearing in November after Jordan accused him and his staff of speaking with the whistleblower in private.

“I do not know the identity of the whistleblower and I’m determined to make sure that identity is protected,” Schiff replied. “But as I said … you’ll have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena any witness and compel a vote.”

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Trump called Schiff a “fraud” during a White House press conference in October and said he believes the California Democrat helped write the whistleblower complaint.

“It shows that Schiff is a fraud. … I think it’s a scandal that he knew before,” Trump said. “I’d go a step further. I’d say he probably helped write it. … That’s a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it too. It’s a scam.”

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Cathrine Herridge contributed to this report 

Westlake Legal Group TrumpSchiff093019 Schiff, in Trump's Senate impeachment trial, denies knowing whistleblower Nick Givas fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc article a1faa56d-9b14-5df0-9d1a-37b5236ab4f2   Westlake Legal Group TrumpSchiff093019 Schiff, in Trump's Senate impeachment trial, denies knowing whistleblower Nick Givas fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/adam-schiff fox news fnc/politics fnc article a1faa56d-9b14-5df0-9d1a-37b5236ab4f2

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Republicans Argue Impeachment Witnesses Would Just Be A Waste Of Time

Westlake Legal Group 5e31ff531f0000fd0a85990f Republicans Argue Impeachment Witnesses Would Just Be A Waste Of Time

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is hurtling toward a showdown over whether the Senate will call witnesses to testify ― namely, former national security adviser John Bolton, who has written a book manuscript that effectively confirms the quid pro quo at the heart of the impeachment charges. 

Republican senators argue that calling Bolton or virtually any other witnesses would be a waste of time — because their vote won’t change. That argument is an accidental admission of the essential truth of this trial: Republicans are prepared to acquit Trump no matter what. 

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), for example, said he was “very, very skeptical” that there would be a witness who would change his mind “about how I ought to vote on the final question.”

“For the sake of argument, one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement Wednesday. 

Graham’s colleagues have taken a similar stance. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said that “I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” despite Bolton’s new information. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) similarly argued that the House had already made its case and “additional witnesses are not necessary.” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) warned that calling witnesses would lead to a long string of people testifying and allow Democrats to “string this thing out.”

“Unless there’s a witness that’s going to change the outcome, I can’t imagine why we’d want to stretch this out for weeks and months,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said earlier this week.

This is a far different stance than Graham and others took as recently as a few months ago, when they suggested that there was simply a lack of evidence to support the charges against the president.

“If you could show me that Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing,” Graham told Axios in October. 

Trump and allies such as Graham have continuously tried to narrow the scope of the impeachment investigation and direct attention solely to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Although the call alone includes Trump bringing up groundless conspiracy theories and asking Zelensky to investigate a political rival, recent months have provided additional evidence and testimony that Trump directed a quid pro quo campaign to pressure Ukraine into launching a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.  

Republicans have been eager to ignore and suppress that evidence, especially when it comes to Bolton. Trump’s lawyers in the impeachment trial have argued that Bolton’s book draft is inadmissible and the White House has warned him against publishing it. 

Senators are expected to debate and vote on whether to call witnesses on Friday, with Democrats needing four Republicans to side with them in order for it to pass. If witnesses are allowed, it could extend the impeachment proceedings and start a fight over who should be required to testify. 

The fact that allowing witnesses would take time came up repeatedly on the Senate floor on Wednesday, as Trump’s defenders cautioned that anything but a swift acquittal could tie up the chamber indefinitely. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said that if the Senate allows witnesses, his side would demand some as well, including the lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.); Hunter Biden; and the whistleblower whose concerns about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president brought the matter to light. Many Republicans have said they’d like to hear from Hunter Biden if witnesses are called. 

Sekulow accused the House ― which was unable to obtain certain testimony and documents because the president blocked them ― of speeding through its inquiry and sending the matter to the Senate to figure out. 

“Is that going to be the new norm for impeachment?” Sekulow said. 

Schiff said the Trump team was trying to dissuade them from calling witnesses. He said the process would not necessarily be the slow one Trump’s attorneys warned of, because the Senate could vote to subpoena Bolton and would have Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, on hand to make quick decisions on whose testimony was material, whether to out the whistleblower and what part of a document was privileged. He later pledged that House impeachment managers would not push back on decisions made by Roberts and challenged the defense to agree to the same. 

If senators want a fair trial, they must approve witnesses, Schiff said.

“Don’t be thrown off by this claim, ‘If you even think about it, we’re going to make you pay with delays like we’ve never seen. We’re going to call witnesses that will turn this into a circus,’” Schiff told senators. “It shouldn’t be a circus; it should be a fair trial.”

Elise Foley contributed reporting. 

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