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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 95)

Marine deserter’s mother names him in fatal shooting

Westlake Legal Group 18021767_G Marine deserter’s mother names him in fatal shooting

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Virginia, on Wednesday shows Vanessa Hanson told a U.S. Marshal that she witnessed Michael Alexander Brown fatally shoot her boyfriend, Rodney Wilfred Brown, last Saturday at a home in Hardy.

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Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records

Westlake Legal Group Trump111219 Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records Washington fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fnc/politics fnc b497330c-df41-521c-9d34-02cb1fa07eb3 Associated Press article

President Donald Trump wants the Supreme Court to keep House Democrats from getting his financial records at least until the justices resolve a broader fight over efforts to subpoena a sitting president’s records.

Trump filed an emergency appeal with the court Friday in a case from Washington, D.C., over a subpoena from a House committee for financial records held by Trump’s accountants. The request comes a day after he urged the high court to rule that a president cannot be prosecuted or even investigated for crimes while in office.

The Thursday filing involves a subpoena issued by the Manhattan district attorney demanding Trump’s tax returns from the same accounting firm.

A temporary order blocking the enforcement of the House subpoena could allow the court to consider the two cases together. The New York dispute is on a fast timetable under which the high court is being asked to render a decision by late June.

Without an order from the justices, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform would be able to ask for the records from the Mazars USA firm as early as Wednesday. Mazars has indicated it will comply with the subpoena unless ordered not to.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Trump directed his request to Chief Justice John Roberts because he handles emergency matters arising from courts in the nation’s capital. Roberts could ask the full court to weigh in, but he has the authority to issue an order on his own.

The two subpoenas are similar. Indeed, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has said he copied the House subpoena, although he substituted tax returns for the financial records the House is demanding. The House subpoena does not specifically mention Trump’s tax returns.

Westlake Legal Group Trump111219 Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records Washington fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fnc/politics fnc b497330c-df41-521c-9d34-02cb1fa07eb3 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group Trump111219 Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records Washington fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fnc/politics fnc b497330c-df41-521c-9d34-02cb1fa07eb3 Associated Press article

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Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records

Westlake Legal Group Trump111219 Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records Washington fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fnc/politics fnc b497330c-df41-521c-9d34-02cb1fa07eb3 Associated Press article

President Donald Trump wants the Supreme Court to keep House Democrats from getting his financial records at least until the justices resolve a broader fight over efforts to subpoena a sitting president’s records.

Trump filed an emergency appeal with the court Friday in a case from Washington, D.C., over a subpoena from a House committee for financial records held by Trump’s accountants. The request comes a day after he urged the high court to rule that a president cannot be prosecuted or even investigated for crimes while in office.

The Thursday filing involves a subpoena issued by the Manhattan district attorney demanding Trump’s tax returns from the same accounting firm.

A temporary order blocking the enforcement of the House subpoena could allow the court to consider the two cases together. The New York dispute is on a fast timetable under which the high court is being asked to render a decision by late June.

Without an order from the justices, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform would be able to ask for the records from the Mazars USA firm as early as Wednesday. Mazars has indicated it will comply with the subpoena unless ordered not to.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Trump directed his request to Chief Justice John Roberts because he handles emergency matters arising from courts in the nation’s capital. Roberts could ask the full court to weigh in, but he has the authority to issue an order on his own.

The two subpoenas are similar. Indeed, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has said he copied the House subpoena, although he substituted tax returns for the financial records the House is demanding. The House subpoena does not specifically mention Trump’s tax returns.

Westlake Legal Group Trump111219 Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records Washington fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fnc/politics fnc b497330c-df41-521c-9d34-02cb1fa07eb3 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group Trump111219 Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records Washington fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fnc/politics fnc b497330c-df41-521c-9d34-02cb1fa07eb3 Associated Press article

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‘Baby Shark’ Smells Money Onstage

By the time the confetti cannons burst, the toddlers were shouting in ecstasy, their eyes fixed on the superstars onstage. Ten costumed performers were delivering the climax of “Baby Shark Live!” — a 75-minute adaptation of a two-minute music video, and an edge case in translating viral popularity into an enduringly profitable real-world franchise.

The global premiere took place on a Thursday night in October at South Carolina’s Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, and the crowd was split between very young children and their adult caregivers. Siauna Yeargin of nearby Greenville was there with her daughter, Mireya. “When I wash her hair, she wants me to sing ‘Baby Shark,’” Ms. Yeargin said. “I had her first birthday party — ‘Baby Shark.’ Second birthday party — ‘Baby Shark.’”

Four years after the song’s release, by a South Korean media company called SmartStudy, the “Baby Shark” conquest of the planet may well have seemed complete. With just 18 words of lyrics, the song — a zippy story of a shark family out on a hunt — has been streamed on YouTube 3.9 billion times. During the World Series, entire baseball stadiums acted out the video’s shark-bite hand jive. In Dubai, water fountains dance to its beat. Its title alone has become shorthand for an earworm propelled through social media to become 21st-century digital folk culture.

Yet SmartStudy seemed unprepared at first to exploit its hit meme — and is still trying to build a business around it, with the goal of transforming its smiling ocean predator into a children’s brand on the scale of Elmo. To get Baby Shark into every shopping aisle it can, the company has struck licensing deals with Kellogg’s (for limited-edition boxes of “Berry-Fin-Tastic” cereal) and the makers of bedsheets, bath toys, coloring books, clothing, finger puppets and Halloween costumes. A Nickelodeon TV show and a feature film are also in the works.

The newest test of the property’s commercial viability is “Baby Shark Live!” If ticket sales hold strong, it will stay on the road for at least three years. Featuring about 20 songs, three of which are versions of “Baby Shark,” the show has a lot riding on it.

SmartStudy’s push into ancillary businesses may be its only way to wring big profits from its hit, given the minimal standard royalty rates paid by YouTube. And the deeper cultural origins of the song — a popular camp singalong for decades, the material is widely considered to be in the public domain — means the company lacks an airtight hold on the intellectual property behind it.

Then there is the question that must be asked of all viral memes. Will anybody still remember “Baby Shark” — and care enough to buy a $50 concert ticket — once the next online distraction comes along?

To put “Baby Shark” onstage, SmartStudy looked to Mick Jagger.

Five months ago, as the Korean studio sought an American partner to put on a traveling show, it struck a deal with Stephen Shaw and Jonathan Linden, two concert-industry veterans who learned the business working with rock giants like the Rolling Stones and Genesis. During their negotiations, Mr. Shaw recalled, one concern was paramount for SmartStudy: “They wanted a tour out as soon as possible.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161122704_e06fcac2-63fd-4a09-ae98-dc015d85c730-articleLarge ‘Baby Shark’ Smells Money Onstage Video Recordings, Downloads and Streaming Trademarks and Trade Names Music Intellectual Property Counterfeit Merchandise Copyrights and Copyright Violations Baby Shark (Song)

Stephen Shaw, left, and Jonathan Linden, the executives behind “Baby Shark Live!,” at the Round Room offices in New York.Credit…David Williams for The New York Times

Mr. Shaw and Mr. Linden’s three-year-old company, Round Room, specializes in producing children’s entertainment, a corner of the touring business long dominated by adaptations of TV franchises. When they first dipped into the kids sector about a decade ago, it was to fill out blank spots on their annual touring calendar. At the time, they were working for Michael Cohl, the Canadian impresario who helped usher in the era of the rock megatour with the Stones and U2.

The typical kids’ show, by contrast, was a sleepier affair, with low production values and modest profit potential. “Back then, the kids-and-family business was a bit quiet,” said Mr. Linden, a lawyer who speaks with a mixture of deadpan corporate speak and showbiz pragmatism. “Some of the shows were a little long in the tooth.”

Their strategy with Round Room — whose other shows include “PJ Masks Live!,” based on a Disney Junior animated series — is to bring some of the high-tech dazzle of a stadium rock show to the preschool set. That means a faster-paced show, V.I.P. upsells and some flashier stagecraft. For “Baby Shark Live!,” an LED backdrop displays continuously shifting scenery and animation, using visual elements borrowed from SmartStudy’s studio to recreate the underwater environment of the viral video.

To hold the attention of such young audiences, Round Room designed “Baby Shark Live!” as a simple and quick-moving spectacle — a toddler’s version of a jukebox musical.

The two-act show draws from the catalog of Pinkfong — SmartStudy’s preschool brand — including takes on nursery-school chestnuts like “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Down in the Jungle” and “Bingo.” A booming EDM remix of “Baby Shark” closes the second act.

SmartStudy approved nearly every aspect of the show in protection of its golden-goose franchise. The players behind the three main characters — Baby Shark, a fox named Pinkfong and a hedgehog named Hogi — are cloaked head to toe in fuzzy mascot costumes, and mime their lines to taped vocal performances by singers that SmartStudy deemed most suited to the brand.

The show was carefully scripted to resemble a pop concert, with the cast performing a crescendo of one athletic dance number after another. Even the stage banter was modeled after a rock concert’s, as Mr. Shaw explained before the Spartanburg show, sitting with Mr. Linden in a small backstage office dominated by the presence of a yellow Baby Shark costume lying on the floor.

“‘Do you have a best friend, kids? What’s your best friend’s name?’” Mr. Shaw said, quoting from the show. “That’s Freddie Mercury. That’s Mick Jagger. That back and forth with the audience, where you create this environment, where you are all one collective — that’s universal.”

Mr. Cohl, a former chairman of Live Nation who has also put on Broadway shows like “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” described this as a fundamental lesson of show business. “What they’re doing now is the same, only different,” he said of the “Baby Shark” tour. “You have an audience, and you have to give them value and entertain them. A story’s a story’s a story.”

One aspect of the concert business that Round Room wants to replicate with kids’ shows is the mechanics of tour routing — the complex choreography of sending one show after another on the road in the most efficient manner possible. Each night, the LED screen for “Baby Shark Live!” is dismantled and, along with the show’s lighting rigs, props and costumes, trucked out overnight.

“That’s the same way that it works for Beyoncé or U2,” Mr. Linden said. “You take apart the wall and move it to the next show.”

The company’s touring calendar is also planned with precision to allow a single crew of about 12 people go from show to show, for months on end. Recently, as “Baby Shark Live!” ended its fall run, the crew made its way back to Spartanburg to launch the winter leg of “PJ Masks Live!” just six days later. After that, in February, comes the next Round Room show, “Blippi Live!” — based on a goofy YouTube character with a series of popular educational videos — followed by the return of “Baby Shark Live!,” which is booked for nearly 100 shows in the spring.

Trimming those costs can help Round Room compete in what has become a crowded market of brand-driven kids’ shows. Over the next few months, that will include tours based on long-running TV and toy properties like “Paw Patrol,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Trolls.”

Shows like these have started to draw more investment. Last year, Cirque du Soleil’s parent company acquired VStar Entertainment, which produces the “Paw Patrol” and “Trolls” tours. And in August, Hasbro, the toy giant, agreed to pay $4 billion for Entertainment One, a film, TV and music conglomerate that has “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and owns a majority stake in Round Room.

Ryan Borba, the managing editor of Pollstar, a trade publication that covers the touring industry, said the competition had led to higher production standards. “You can’t just put on a Ninja Turtle mask anymore and hope to sell tickets,” he said.

Yet while prices for pop concerts have continued to skyrocket, the economics of most kids’ shows are more earthbound. “PJ Masks Live!” has played about 300 shows in the last two years, selling $22 million in tickets, Round Room said. That is about the same ticket gross as Lana Del Rey had in just 32 shows for her headlining tour last year, according to Pollstar.

In other words, it takes many more performances, over a much longer period — and at a lower ticket price — for a kids’ show to collect as much money as even a moderately successful pop tour. Ms. Del Rey’s tour, with an average ticket price of about $74, was only the 82nd highest grossing in North America last year.

Keeping a show on the road for two years is expensive, but smart touring can significantly reduce expenses. To maximize ticket sales, Mr. Shaw said, they are considering adding a second cast and crew for “Baby Shark Live!,” which would allow multiple versions of the show to crisscross the world at once — the kind of bonus more commonly associated with the touring productions of Broadway shows.

“The beautiful thing about kids’ theatrical,” Mr. Shaw said, “is that you can have multiple units touring at the same time.”

There’s only one Mick Jagger, but it doesn’t much matter which human being is occupying Baby Shark’s costume each night. There is no star threatening to take time off to make a record, or be in a movie, or go on vacation.

“Baby Shark is not writing a book next semester,” Mr. Linden said.

“He’s not having heart surgery,” Mr. Shaw added.

SmartStudy, which opened its doors in 2010, is in many ways a characteristic company of the social-media age, trying to build up its Pinkfong brand through apps and YouTube videos.

Its rise has coincided with the explosion of K-pop — the most prolific and tightly controlled corner of the global music industry. Less a genre than a production ecosystem, K-pop is a world dominated by producers and talent managers, where songs are carefully engineered for maximum catchiness and virality.

With a zapping electronic beat and a kinetic energy that builds to a climax, “Baby Shark” resembles a K-pop dance hit far more than the mellow, static numbers that make up most kids’ fare.

As each line of the song introduces the members of a shark nuclear family — Baby, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa — the beat grows bigger and the track adds more layers of instrumentation. Then producers add some tension by speeding it up and raising its key by one semitone, before the whole thing abruptly stops — at just the point where we want to hear it again. If “Baby Shark” were a little longer, it might not be so addictive.

Heesun Byeon, SmartStudy’s content director, said in an email that the company avoided “typical nursery rhyme style” and, since the barriers of genre matter little to small children, that its producers borrowed sounds from hip-hop, EDM and disco. Harking to the golden age of American bubble-gum, they also craft their hooks from lots of doo-doos, yoi-yois and boom bodi boom-booms.

“We try to design sounds that can instantly capture the attention of our audience,” Ms. Byeon said.

The company uploaded “Baby Shark” to its Pinkfong channel on YouTube in 2015, then replaced it the next year with the current video, which features two children acting out dance moves. After first going viral in Asia, the video caught on in the English-speaking world in 2018, helped by attention from celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and James Corden. It was only that fall that “Baby Shark” truly opened for business on a global scale, as SmartStudy began signing its raft of consumer product licenses in the United States and Britain.

Marina Lee is the head of consumer products for Pinkfong USA, a SmartStudy subsidiary, and through the rollout of “Baby Shark Live!” has acted as a gimlet-eyed brand monitor. “If you look at typical kids’ properties, they start maybe as TV shows, then they have toys, then maybe live shows. Music comes in later,” she said. “But we were very different from that. We started from music and digital content, and built a program around it. In that aspect, Baby Shark has been a bit of a pop star, not just an animated character.”

“Baby Shark” has seemingly reached the summit of virality. Its main clip is now the fifth-most popular video in YouTube’s history. Counting the dozens of other “Baby Shark”-adjacent songs on the Pinkfong channel — “Ghost Baby Shark,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Shark,” “Sharky Pokey,” etc. — and versions in other languages, the full franchise has neared eight billion streams.

But the value of those videos is limited. SmartStudy stands to collect only about $8 million so far from its various “Baby Shark” titles, according to Jordan Bromley, a music industry lawyer who has published estimates of streaming royalty rates. Those numbers put SmartStudy in a position familiar to many current pop stars: Its fame depends on a streaming hit, but to bring in the big money it must look elsewhere.

“What this company is doing is akin to what an artist does with a hit song,” Mr. Bromley said. “An artist will go out on tour and do a merch line, maybe a TV show, maybe an endorsement. Those are all verticals based on the success of the song.”

SmartStudy reported $35 million in revenue in 2018, a 47 percent jump from the year before. It does not break out the performance of its individual properties, and the company declined to answer questions about the financial success of “Baby Shark.”

Complicating its strategy, SmartStudy does not have complete control over the exploitation of “Baby Shark.” In part that is because the market abhors a vacuum — especially if it involves cute animal T-shirts.

In Spartanburg, the majority of the assembled crowd — both kids and adults — arrived in some form of “Baby Shark”-related apparel. There were T-shirts in every variation of familial nomenclature (Nana Shark, Uncle Shark, Brother Shark), and enough girls clad in pink “Baby Shark” dresses to populate an Easter parade.

As the crowd began to settle in, Mr. Shaw, who began his career manning the merch table at Rolling Stones tours in the early 2000s, ran to meet Ms. Lee. “Have you ever seen so many counterfeit T-shirts in your life?” he asked. Ms. Lee winced.

SmartStudy may have simply waited too long to catch the viral demand. One mother, Caitlin Bowlin — whose daughter, Lorelai, was wearing a “Baby Shark” dress that Ms. Bowlin said she had ordered from China — said that when she went shopping for “Baby Shark” swag, there simply was not much of it to be found.

“When ‘Baby Shark’ came out, it was so hard to find things,” Ms. Bowlin said. “You go out to Walmart and find all the other major cartoon characters — ‘Paw Patrol,’ ‘Scooby-Doo’ — and they’re everywhere. But ‘Baby Shark,’ it’s so limited.”

Another question is who truly controls the intellectual property behind “Baby Shark.” SmartStudy owns its videos and recordings, and it has applied for trademarks on branded items ranging from clothes, toys and Christmas ornaments to fishing tackle. Yet the raw material behind the hit is most likely in the public domain — which has provided an opening for competitors to sell their own products. Companies with no SmartStudy affiliation have applied for trademarks for Baby Shark snack cakes, aquarium kits, mushrooms and coffee grounds.

A parent scanning Amazon might notice little difference between the books “Baby Shark and the Balloons,” “Bedtime for Baby Shark” and “I Love You, Baby Shark.” But the first is an officially sanctioned title from HarperCollins, while the second and third are from a rival publisher, Scholastic, that has no deal with SmartStudy. Scholastic said its five unlicensed titles have sold more than one million copies.

The source of this confusion is “Baby Shark’s” origins, in a modern version of oral folk tradition. Long before “Baby Shark” was a meme, it was a zipper song — a tune, like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” that allows verses and variations to be tacked on, one after another after another.

For decades, “Baby Shark” was a favorite at summer camps across the United States and Canada. As recalled by many camp professionals, the song usually began with its now-familiar family roll call but — in possible inspiration from the 1975 film “Jaws” — inevitably turned into a jokey horror show about a shark attack, as campers added stock or improvised lines about being torn limb from limb.

The song has had occasional brushes with fame — in 2008, a techno version became a viral hit in Europe — but nothing like the success that came after SmartStudy cut its version. The company has described its song as being based on a “traditional nursery rhyme.”

That description rankles Jonathan Wright, a children’s performer near Binghamton, N.Y., who goes by the stage name Johnny Only. According to Mr. Wright, he came across “Baby Shark” “about a dozen years ago” at the local Jewish Community Center. Finding the original too gruesome for the toddlers he usually sang for, Mr. Wright created his own G-rated version, editing out the blood and guts and giving the song a short, streamlined narrative that focused on the shark family. His homemade video, posted to YouTube in 2011, features a brisk pop melody and beat, with doo-doos sung like Beach Boys harmonies.

Then, about two years ago, Mr. Wright said in an interview, he was alerted to the Pinkfong version. He said he was stunned at how similar it sounded to his own. “I did feel a bit violated,” Mr. Wright said. “They didn’t even change the key. The rhythm is identical, and other elements were very similar, the way they brought in the harmonies and brought in the Daddy Shark voice.”

He sued SmartStudy in South Korea, arguing that while the roots of “Baby Shark” are public domain, he holds a copyright to a distinct derivative version, which was infringed by the Pinkfong track.

Jennifer Jenkins, a law professor at Duke who specializes in music copyright and the public domain, is skeptical that Mr. Wright has a case. The crux of his claim is that SmartStudy copied him in turning a gory and amorphous old singalong into a toddler-friendly pop song; the lyrics and melodies of Mr. Wright’s and SmartStudy’s songs are not identical. Under American law, Professor Jenkins said, the mere idea of making the adaptation is not copyrightable.

“He doesn’t own the idea of sanitizing something,” she said. “He owns the way that he sanitized it, and what he added to it, and Pinkfong did not copy any of that.”

Mr. Wright’s case has been slowly making its way through the South Korean courts. His lawyer, K.S. Chong, said they were considering bringing another suit in the United States.

Mr. Wright said that he wanted recognition for his work but now rarely performed his version of the song. The children in his audience, he said, “will now tell me that I’m doing it wrong.”

“And they’re toddlers,” he added. “They’ll say it loudly.”

The song has also begun to disappear from the repertoire of some camps, driven away by overexposure or distaste. “Camp songs are sacred and not to be sung mainstream, and that’s what makes them special,” said Alyson Bennett Gondek, the director of Camp Woodmont in Cloudland, Ga. “Therefore we don’t sing it anymore.”

After the concert ended in Spartanburg, stagehands set up a small backdrop on the stage for the V.I.P. offering: For $50 per person, ticket holders lined up for a quick smartphone snapshot with the costumed Baby Shark and Pinkfong characters. The line was 120 people deep, with some little ones struggling to stay awake as the clock neared 8 p.m.

Mr. Shaw and Mr. Linden readily acknowledge that there is no guarantee for the lasting appeal of “Baby Shark.” But they compare it to the risks they faced in the rock business: With nearly every tour (minus U2 or the Stones, maybe), they were always taking a chance on a new band, a new album, a new trend in pop culture.

Mr. Linden noted that after they had signed on with SmartStudy to produce “Baby Shark Live!,” they faced some incredulity in the business at the prospect of building an entire show around a single song, and one of such minimal content. Not anymore.

“We’ve had some friends who said, ‘You’re building a show based around a song?’” Mr. Linden said. “Then later they call back, interested in tickets.”

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Marie Yovanovitch Explains How Trump Opened The Door For Corruption

Westlake Legal Group 5dcee40d1f00004609dee8a8 Marie Yovanovitch Explains How Trump Opened The Door For Corruption

President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the former ambassador to Ukraine from her post over bad-faith smears dramatically undermined U.S. efforts to fight corruption worldwide, she told Congress in a public impeachment hearing Friday morning. 

Over hours of testimony, Marie Yovanovitch described how the Trump administration bought into and advanced a coordinated campaign of lies about her launched by a Ukrainian official accused of corruption, right-wing pundits and Trump’s own lawyer. Trump warned that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things on his now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Even as Yovanovitch testified, Trump continued to attack the career foreign service officer who had served under every president since Ronald Reagan. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he tweeted. The president’s live commentary led House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to interrupt the hearing and ask Yovanovitch what she thought of his tweet. “It’s very intimidating,” she said.

But Trump’s attacks only bolstered Yovanovitch’s argument. As Trump tweeted, Yovanovitch told Congress that although the campaign against her was not based in fact, Trump had given U.S. enemies worldwide a road map for how to remove U.S. officials they don’t like.

“Shady interests, the world over, have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want,” Yovanovitch testified on Friday. 

The process Yovanovitch described is simple:

  1. Invent some barely plausible lies about the U.S. official you don’t like. (In Yovanovitch’s case, this was the smear that, rather than fighting against corrupt Ukrainian officials, she was actually trying to discourage investigations of corruption, particularly against Trump’s political rivals.)

  2. Make sure the lies validate the president’s beliefs. (For example, that a “deep state” of government officials is out to get him.) 

  3. Next, get the attention of someone close to the president. (Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, discussed Yovanovitch — and her supposed lack of loyalty — with a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor. Giuliani’s associates went on to spread rumors about Yovanovitch disparaging the president.

  4. Make sure your smear gets to the American right-wing press. (In this case, the key figure was John Solomon, then an opinion contributor to The Hill.)

  5. Finally, get that smear onto Fox News. (Solomon took the smears about Yovanovitch straight to Sean Hannity’s show, where he appears regularly.) 

The smear campaign against Yovanovitch worked remarkably quickly.

Late last year, the ambassador began hearing from Ukrainian officials that Giuliani was in touch with Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s prosecutor general at the time. In an earlier closed-door hearing, Yovanovitch testified that a senior Ukrainian official had told her that “I really need to watch my back.” She was told that Giuliani and Lutsenko “had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me,” she said. 

Giuliani and his associates started planting false rumors that Yovanovitch was an Obama administration loyalist who used her post in Ukraine to undercut Trump. The false allegations became public in March when Solomon quoted Lutsenko claiming that Yovanovitch gave him a list of people he should not prosecute. The claim — which Lutsenko later retracted — helped fuel right-wing rumors that Democrats had pressured Ukrainian officials to ignore wrongdoing by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company headed by an oligarch accused of corruption.

Trump — who believes he is the victim of a so-called deep state conspiracy by Democrats who colluded with Ukraine to block him from becoming president — was receptive to this false rumor. He and his son both tweeted about Solomon’s story shortly after it went up. (The Hill has not updated Solomon’s original story to reflect Lutsenko’s retraction.)

Yovanovitch knew it would be impossible for her to effectively represent U.S. policy in Ukraine with the president and his son publicly denouncing her, she testified on Friday. She tried to get Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to issue a statement of support but learned that he declined to do so out of concern that Trump would undermine that statement in another tweet. 

Soon Yovanovitch began hearing ominous warnings about “concern” from her colleagues back in Washington. She received a phone call at 1 a.m. in April, after hosting a dinner honoring a Ukrainian anti-corruption activist, ordering her to take the next flight back to D.C. Once she returned, she met with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who told her Trump had lost confidence in her.  

“Individuals … were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting ambassador, using unofficial back channels,” Yovanovitch said Friday. “They shared baseless allegations with the president and convinced him to remove his ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect.”

When other countries, other actors … see that private interests, foreign interests can come together and get a U.S. ambassador removed, what’s going to stop them from doing that in the future in other countries? Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine

Yovanovitch asked Sullivan how he would explain her removal from Ukraine. “Everybody is watching,” she said. ”If people see that I, who have been promoting our policies on anti-corruption — if they can undermine me and get me pulled out of Ukraine, what does that mean for our policy?”

Sullivan didn’t have an answer, she testified.

Yovanovitch said her ouster sets a dangerous global precedent. “When other countries, other actors … see that private interests, foreign interests can come together and get a U.S. ambassador removed, what’s going to stop them from doing that in the future in other countries?” 

Trump’s crusade against Yovanovitch wasn’t limited to derailing her career. The president told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that Yovanovitch was a bad ambassador and that “she’s going to go through some things,” according to a White House transcript of a July 25 phone call. During that same call, Trump praised Lutsenko, the prosecutor-general who helped spread false information about Yovanovitch and who was dismissed by Ukraine’s parliament the following month. 

Yovanovitch first learned about Trump bad-mouthing her to another foreign leader when the White House released the call transcript in September. It felt like a vague threat from the president, she said on Friday. 

Trump, whose spokesperson said the president didn’t plan on watching Yovanovtich’s testimony, continued attacking the former ambassador as she testified. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” he tweeted during the hearing. 

Asked by Schiff if Trump’s real-time attacks would influence other witnesses’ willingness to testify in the impeachment inquiry, Yovanovitch responded, “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.” 

Trump denied his tweet constituted witness intimidation. “I have the right to speak, I have freedom of speech, just as other people do,” he said.

Fox News’ Bret Baier, typically a reliable Trump ally, appeared to disagree

“The whole hearing turned on a dime when Trump tweeted about her,” Baier said. Trump’s tweet allowed Schiff to characterize the president’s behavior as witness intimidation or witness tampering, Baier continued. “Adding essentially an article of impeachment [in] real time as this hearing is going on.” 

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Clive Owen cast as Bill Clinton in ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’

Clive Owen is set to play former President Bill Clinton in the new season of FX’s “American Crime Story.”

Owen joins stars Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein and Annaleigh Ashford for the third season of the hit television series, titled “Impeachment: American Crime Story.”

“Impeachment: American Crime Story” will revolve around Bill Clinton’s sex scandal and will tell the story through the eyes of Monica Lewinsky (Feldstein), Paula Jones (Ashford) and Linda Tripp (Paulson). The role of Hillary Clinton is still being cast.

BILL CLINTON ‘KNOWS NOTHING’ ABOUT FINANCIER JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S ‘TERRIBLE CRIMES,’ FORMER PRESIDENT’S SPOKESMAN SAYS

Westlake Legal Group Bill-Clinton Clive Owen cast as Bill Clinton in 'Impeachment: American Crime Story' fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4459a924-ebac-5f59-86a0-21fe0fa41dc1

“Impeachment: American Crime Story” revolves around Bill Clinton’s sex scandal involving Monica Lewinsky. (Say Cheese!/GC Images)

The latest season will revolve around Jeffrey Toobin’s bestselling book, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.”

Toobin’s book, “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” was used as a basis for the first season of the anthology series.

In an interview with Deadline, producer Ryan Murphy stated, “We do a show that is very thoroughly fact-checked and vetted and based on the best-selling book by Jeffrey Toobin.”

“I think the reason why it’s interesting is because you don’t have to change anything to feel modern. And I think that idea of impeachment obviously with [Donald] Trump is fascinating. I wouldn’t say that we’re changing things that much or mentioning Trump at all in our narrative.”

BILL MAHER URGES CLINTONS TO SKIP DEMS’ 2020 CONVENTION: ‘THEY’VE GOT TO GO AWAY

Westlake Legal Group Lewinsky-Getty Clive Owen cast as Bill Clinton in 'Impeachment: American Crime Story' fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4459a924-ebac-5f59-86a0-21fe0fa41dc1

Monica Lewinsky serves as a producer on the latest season of “American Crime Story.” (Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images)

Production for “Impeachment” is set to commence in March 2020 with Sarah Burgess writing alongside previous “American Crime Story” executive producers Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Falchuk, Larry Karaszewski, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Scott Alexander and Monica Lewinsky herself.

Production was initially set for February but was put on hold due to Murphy directing “Prom” starring Meryl Streep, James Corden and Nicole Kidman. Paulson is also taking time off to prepare for her role as Tripp.

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“Impeachment: American Crime Story” is set to premiere on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 — though plans may change given Murphy’s “Prom” commitments.

Westlake Legal Group clive-clinton Clive Owen cast as Bill Clinton in 'Impeachment: American Crime Story' fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4459a924-ebac-5f59-86a0-21fe0fa41dc1   Westlake Legal Group clive-clinton Clive Owen cast as Bill Clinton in 'Impeachment: American Crime Story' fox-news/politics/the-clintons fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4459a924-ebac-5f59-86a0-21fe0fa41dc1

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Neil Cavuto’s favorite part of Thanksgiving is reliving old memories, even the embarrassing ones

The best part of Thanksgiving for Neil Cavuto is the opportunity for his family to “reconnect and remember.”

The host of “Your World with Neil Cavuto” and “Cavuto Live” on Fox News Channel and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” on Fox Business Network explains that given the hubbub of daily life, precious moments with loved ones can feel “rare,” making slow-down time during the holiday season all the more special.

Of course, catching up over a delicious Thanksgiving feast only sweetens the deal.

JOHN RICH CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING WITH A WILD AFTER-DINNER TRADITION

“What I love about Thanksgiving is everyone getting together and eating like pigs,” Cavuto says. “I always try to get first dibs on the turkey if I can; my sons usually beat me to it. But it’s just a great time for everyone to be together and have fun.”

But one typical Thanksgiving side that won’t be dished out at the dinner table is any kind of political beef.

“Lately, our big thing has been to avoid political fights. We have extremes in our family, so we try to leave that away from the table,” the host laughed. “Invariably, certain things will come up, but it’s always in good fun.”

Westlake Legal Group neil-cavuto Neil Cavuto's favorite part of Thanksgiving is reliving old memories, even the embarrassing ones Janine Puhak fox-news/lifestyle/thankful-nation fox-news/lifestyle/fox-news-traditions fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 3de3de80-1b1f-5b17-849e-5896018cc04a /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

The greatest aspect of Thanksgiving is the opportunity for families to “reconnect and remember,” Neil Cavuto says.

More importantly, Cavuto said he’s most grateful for time with loved ones over the holiday season.

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“I know that sounds cliché, but I think at the holidays, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond, moments are rare,” he said.

“It’s a chance for families to reconnect and remember. I don’t think we get a chance to do that a lot,” he added.

In years past, Cavuto said that his father “loved to take pictures of everything” and was keen on catching family adventures on his old Bell and Howell and Polaroid cameras.

“I’ve digitized all of that, like a nerd, but I’m so glad he [captured those moments], because we have these [photos] from when I was little, and my brother was little, and my sisters were little,” he said of the images. “We treasure them.”

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Watch the rest of the clip above to learn which old pictures the Cavuto crew often crack jokes about during the holidays. (Hint: It might have something to do with Neil’s high school fashion statements.)

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6104546224001_6104544761001-vs Neil Cavuto's favorite part of Thanksgiving is reliving old memories, even the embarrassing ones Janine Puhak fox-news/lifestyle/thankful-nation fox-news/lifestyle/fox-news-traditions fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 3de3de80-1b1f-5b17-849e-5896018cc04a /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6104546224001_6104544761001-vs Neil Cavuto's favorite part of Thanksgiving is reliving old memories, even the embarrassing ones Janine Puhak fox-news/lifestyle/thankful-nation fox-news/lifestyle/fox-news-traditions fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 3de3de80-1b1f-5b17-849e-5896018cc04a /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

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Texas Democrat accused of cocaine possession in arrest warrant, surrenders

A prominent member of the Texas State Legislature turned himself in Thursday after an arrest warrant was issued accusing him of dropping an envelope containing small plastic bags of cocaine at an Austin airport in September.

Rep. Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass, was arrested, fingerprinted, photographed and then released Thursday, with bond set at $10,000, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“I do not have anyone to blame but myself,” he said. “I accept this because it is true and it will help me get better.

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Westlake Legal Group Rep-Poncho-Nevarez Texas Democrat accused of cocaine possession in arrest warrant, surrenders Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc f69772db-8476-50ad-b512-a0ffce6ebf10 article

Texas State Rep. Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass. (Ponchonevarez.com)

“In a weird way I am grateful. Grief and addiction were consuming me, but oddly enough, I feel better now than I have in a long time, and I mean that,” Nevarez said. He added that he would seek treatment.

The Democrat chairs the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee in the Texas House, which is in recess until January 2021.

AUSTIN CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON TURNING HOTELS INTO HOMES FOR THE HOMELESS

According to police, Nevarez dropped the envelope after a flight to Austin in September on a plane owned by his law firm. The envelope remained on the ground as Nevarez drove away. It was later picked up by airport workers, who found baggies of white powder inside and alerted police.

Tests determined the white powder was cocaine and police sought a DNA sample from Nevarez in October as part of the investigation.

Nevarez announced earlier this month he would not run for another term without saying why.

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The drug charge against Nevarez carries a sentence of 10 years in prison, Fox 7 Austin reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Rep-Poncho-Nevarez Texas Democrat accused of cocaine possession in arrest warrant, surrenders Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc f69772db-8476-50ad-b512-a0ffce6ebf10 article   Westlake Legal Group Rep-Poncho-Nevarez Texas Democrat accused of cocaine possession in arrest warrant, surrenders Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc f69772db-8476-50ad-b512-a0ffce6ebf10 article

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Céline Dion Celebrated Her New Album By Surprising Fans At NYC Drag Bar

Céline Dion rang in her “Courage” era this week by popping in to a New York drag bar.

The venue, Lips Drag Queen Show Palace Restaurant & Bar, was hosting a Céline-themed karaoke contest on Thursday night. After fans belted out hits like “My Heart Will Go On” and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” Dion herself emerged onstage at midnight. 

Wearing a floor-length, futuristic-looking silver gown, the five-time Grammy winner offered a brief but heartfelt tribute to her late husband and manager, René Angélil, who died in 2016

Westlake Legal Group 5dcee3e61f00003507dee8a7 Céline Dion Celebrated Her New Album By Surprising Fans At NYC Drag Bar

Eric Lagg Céline Dion popped by Lips Drag Queen Show Palace Restaurant & Bar to celebrate the release of her new album, “Courage.” 

“This album has been a long process. It has been making me struggle through different emotions,” she told the crowd. “I hope that René will like the album. I hope you like it as well. I put my heart into it.”  

She then took the stage for a semi-impromptu performance of her current single, “Flying on My Own.” 

Dion, 51, has been enjoying a cultural resurgence as of late. Last year, she launched a gender-neutral clothing line for children. In May, she wowed at the 2019 Met Gala in a dazzling, Ziegfeld Follies-inspired ensemble that was singled out by many fashion publications as one of the evening’s best. 

“Courage,” Dion’s 27th studio album, sees her teaming up with the likes of Sia and David Guetta to explore an edgier, more dance-oriented sound.

Westlake Legal Group 5dcee7a6210000906434d1a3 Céline Dion Celebrated Her New Album By Surprising Fans At NYC Drag Bar

Eric Lagg At midnight, Dion took the stage to perform her current single, “Flying on My Own.” 

Critics have been mostly impressed by the album, which hit retailers and streaming platforms Friday.

“There’s plenty here for new and longtime fans to latch onto, the most important takeaway being that after a trying few years, the ever-resilient Queen Céline will be OK,” USA Today critic Patrick Ryan wrote

Rolling Stone’s Brittany Spanos echoed those sentiments in her review, noting that she considers “‘Courage’ to be Dion’s version of Cher’s ‘Believe’: an album that arrived at exactly the right time, and proved to a new generation that she’s worth revisiting and recognizing as a diva very capable of keeping up with the times.” 

Watch video of Céline Dion’s New York appearance below. 

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Even Kate Middleton, Future Queen, Loves Some Reality TV

Royals, they’re just like us! At least when it comes to certain TV habit. 

Prince William revealed at a charity gala on Thursday that his wife, Kate Middleton, is a big fan of the British program “Strictly Come Dancing,” according to The Telegraph. (The show is basically the U.K. version of “Dancing with the Stars.”)

“Catherine is a huge fan and my mother-in-law loves it,” he said.

The Duke of Cambridge told some of the stars of the BBC program who were at the gala that he himself has “watched the show a couple of times.” 

While Prince George prefers to watch “The Lion King” and “Fireman Sam” and Charlotte likes “The Clangers,” William is more of a “Killing Eve” fan.

But if there’s one show Kate and William likely aren’t watching, it’s “The Crown.”

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Chris Jackson via Getty Images The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Edward attend the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance on Nov. 9 in London.

Actress Olivia Colman, who took over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Claire Foy for the third season of the Netflix show, recently revealed on “The Graham Norton Show” that William didn’t shy away from expressing his feelings about the series.

“He asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, ‘Actually, I know what you’re doing,’” she said. “I was so excited and asked, ‘Have you watched it?’” 

Colman said that the prince’s answer “was a firm, ‘no,’” but added that he kept his cool. 

“He was very charming and very lovely,” Coleman said. 

Officials at Buckingham Palace made their opinions on “The Crown” very clear in a September article in The Guardian. Donal McCabe, the queen’s communication’s secretary, said that the show represents a “fictionalised interpretation of historical events.” 

Westlake Legal Group 5dcef5c82500008f08d2d3f0 Even Kate Middleton, Future Queen, Loves Some Reality TV

Toby Melville / Reuters Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of Cambridge attend a National Service of Remembrance in London on Nov. 10. 

“The royal household has never agreed to vet or approve content, has not asked to know what topics will be included, and would never express a view as to the programme’s accuracy,” he added. 

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