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Westlake Legal Group > News Releases (Page 66)

Impeachment Hearing Updates: Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ While Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions

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Westlake Legal Group 09dc-livevid-sub2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Hearing Updates: Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ While Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

The House Judiciary Committee will hear evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers before it will consider articles of impeachment later in the week.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Republicans seized on a new talking point Monday, accusing Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee of improperly revealing phone records of members of Congress and journalists during their investigation of Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia angrily demanded that Mr. Goldman, the chief Democratic investigator for the Intelligence Committee, tell the lawmakers who made the decision to reveal the names of the journalists and lawmakers after their numbers were identified as part of subpoenas of phone company records.

“Who ordered it? You or Mr. Schiff?” Mr. Collins asked Mr. Goldman, referring to Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Mr. Goldman declined to say that anyone had specifically ordered the numbers be revealed in the report.

Mr. Goldman tried to explain that such identifications occur in the normal course of the examination of phone records during an investigation.

The information was collected when Democrats subpoenaed the phone records of several people being investigated as part of the impeachment inquiry. The telephone numbers of the journalists and lawmakers — including Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee — were included because they were talking to the people targeted by the subpoenas.

But Republicans sought to make an issue of the Democratic decision to reveal the names of Mr. Nunes and the others in the committee’s public report, saying that the decision amounted to an “abuse of power” by the Democrats.

Representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also lashed out at Mr. Goldman, accusing him of smearing innocent people by revealing the names of the people discovered by the phone records.

“Folks, you have made Joe McCarthy look like a piker,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said, adding: “This is a major step in the surveillance state getting out of control.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165680898_cbd306c8-5e45-47db-83b1-899c72db3467-articleLarge Impeachment Hearing Updates: Republicans Call Hearing ‘Unfair’ While Democrats Accuse Trump of ‘Brazen’ Actions United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Republican Party impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party

“This is a big deal,” Barry H. Berke told lawmakers.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Call it the clash of the lawyers. After several hours in which both sides spent more than an hour presenting their cases, largely undisturbed, Barry Berke, the Democratic lawyer took aim at Stephen Castor, the Republican lawyer from the committee, grilling him aggressively.

In one testy exchange, Mr. Berke accused Mr. Castor of mischaracterizing the testimony of Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Berke noted that the Republican impeachment report said Ms. Williams thought the call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine was “unusual.”

“Isn’t it a fact that she said the call struck her as ‘unusual and inappropriate’? Isn’t that what she said?” Mr. Berke insisted.

“It wasn’t a block quote,” Mr. Castor said, grimacing and scowling several times as Mr. Berke pressed him for an answer.

The remarkable back-and-forth between the two lawyers for the committee sparked more procedural objections from Republican lawmakers on the panel, who repeatedly tried to object to Mr. Berke’s questioning of Mr. Castor.

“Point of order, he’s badgering the witness” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a former Republican chairman of the committee. Mr. Nadler slammed his gavel, refusing to concede the point.

“He’s not,” Mr. Nadler said.

In what amounted to the opening argument in the effort to impeach President Trump, the lawyer for Judiciary Democrats told the committee that the president’s actions were “so brazen” that there was no question that he had abused his power to advance his own political interests over those of the nation.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Barry H. Berke, the lawyer, repeating the phrase to emphasize the point countering Republican arguments that the impeachment inquiry had been rushed and inadequate. The facts assembled in recent weeks were “uncontradicted” and “cannot be disputed,” he added, as he played video clips from witnesses who testified last month before the House Intelligence Committee.

Another Democratic lawyer, Daniel S. Goldman, the counsel for the House Intelligence Committee that gathered the evidence being presented on Monday, said that Mr. Trump continued to try to distort next year’s election with false allegations, pointing to his weekend statements to reporters that Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, would make a report to the Justice Department about Democrats.

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” Mr. Goldman said.

Mr. Berke placed the president’s actions with Ukraine in the context of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on his behalf, as investigated by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Berke played a video clip of Mr. Trump that year publicly calling on “Russia, if you’re listening,” to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and another of him as president telling reporters he wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Rather than leave the matter to voters next fall, as some Republicans have argued, Mr. Berke said the House had to act now because Mr. Trump was trying to corrupt the 2020 election. “That’s not a reason to postpone this discussion,” he said. “That’s a reason we must have this discussion.”

The Republican presentation to the committee is focused more on the actions of the Democrats than on Mr. Trump’s, arguing that the president has been the target of an illegitimate, partisan witch hunt.

Stephen Castor, the lawyer representing Republicans on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, devoted the majority of his prepared testimony to how the Democrats have conducted their inquiry and, in his view, distorted the facts to fit their preconceived narrative.

“This unfair process reflects the degree to which Democrats are obsessed with impeaching President Trump by any means necessary,” Mr. Castor told lawmakers. “The Democrats went searching for a set of facts on which to impeach the president — the emoluments clause, the president’s business and financial records, the Mueller report and allegations of obstruction there — before settling on Ukraine.”

Mr. Castor maintained that Mr. Trump was not pursuing his own interests, but was only concerned about corruption in Ukraine. “He was asking for assistance in helping our country move forward from the divisiveness of the Russia collusion investigation,” Mr. Castor said.

He noted that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said he did not feel pressured and Mr. Castor asserted that he did not know at the time he talked with Mr. Trump on the telephone on July 25 that the president had suspended American aid.

“If President Trump was truly orchestrating a pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden, one would think that Ukraine would have felt some pressure,” he said.

Mr. Castor embraced the blame-Ukraine defense, contending that Mr. Trump had genuine concerns about corruption there when he suspended American aid and was justified in asking for an investigation into supposed efforts by Ukraine to influence the 2016 election against him.

“Democrats dismiss these as conspiracy theories to suggest that President Trump has no legitimate reason — other than his own political interests — to raise these issues with President Zelensky,” Mr. Castor said. “The evidence, however, shows that there are legitimate questions about both issues.”

Mr. Castor did not explain, however, why Mr. Trump never mentioned the word “corruption” in either of his phone calls with Mr. Zelensky if that was his concern but instead mentioned only Mr. Biden and issues associated with Democrats. And intelligence agencies and former advisers to Mr. Trump have warned against advancing claims that Ukraine interfered in the election, attributing them to an effort by Russia to shift responsibility after its operation to tilt the 2016 election.

“Let me say very clearly that election influence is not binary,” Mr. Castor said. “I am not saying that it was Ukraine and not Russia; I am saying that both countries can work to influence an election. A systemic, coordinated Russian interference effort does not mean that some Ukrainian officials did not work to oppose President Trump’s candidacy.”

The White House refused to participate in Monday’s hearing, arguing that it was tilted against Mr. Trump and part of an illegitimate effort to overturn his election. But that did not stop Mr. Trump himself from participating — at least via social media.

After posting or reposting nearly 100 messages on Twitter on Sunday, most of them complaining about the impeachment effort and assailing Democrats, the president began lobbing digital missiles on Monday as the hearing progressed.

The House Judiciary Committee opened a new phase in the impeachment inquiry on Monday as Democrats accused President Trump of violating his oath of office by pursuing his own political interests above those of the nation.

“President Trump put himself before country,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, repeating the phrase five times during his opening statement as the panel prepared to hear evidence.

His Republican counterpart, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, said the Democrats were out to get “a president they don’t like” from the moment he took office regardless of the evidence. “They spent two years trying to figure out what do we impeach him on,” he said.

Republicans have lodged repeated complaints about the way Mr. Nadler is running the hearing and the larger impeachment process, raising parliamentary points and forcing party-line votes.

Among other things, Republicans pressed Mr. Nadler repeatedly to schedule a hearing day that they would be allowed to organize, including calling witnesses of their choice. Mr. Nadler said he would think about it, but made no commitment.

They objected to the content of Mr. Berke’s presentation, arguing that it violated the committee’s rules of decorum against making disparaging remarks about the president. Mr. Nadler shut down the criticisms, noting that those rules do not apply to staff lawyers.

Republicans also complained that the lawyers making the opening presentations had not been sworn in under oath and that committee Republicans had not received until last weekend 8,000 pages of information from the House investigation, giving them little time to digest them before Monday’s hearing.

Republicans also used the moment to jab at Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for not presenting the evidence his panel gathered himself.

“The author of the Schiff report is not here,” Mr. Collins said. “Instead he is sending his staff to do his job for him. I guess that’s what you get when you’re making up impeachment as you go.”

The hearing may be an important factor in shaping the articles of impeachment that House Democrats are drafting against Mr. Trump amid an intense debate about how expansive the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors should be.

Democrats appear poised to accuse Mr. Trump of abuse of power and bribery for pressuring Ukraine to help him incriminate Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid. They also expect to charge him with obstructing the congressional investigation by defying subpoenas, blocking current and former administration officials from testifying, and trying to intimidate those who have.

Less clear is whether they will include charges of obstruction of justice for trying to impede the Russia investigation by Mr. Mueller. In his report last spring, Mr. Mueller submitted evidence of 10 instances of possible obstruction but said he could not judge whether they were illegal. Attorney General William P. Barr, a Trump appointee, declared that the president’s actions were not illegal, but Democrats dismiss his judgment as skewed and partisan.

Mr. Nadler said he and his fellow Democrats would not decide the shape of the articles of impeachment until after hearing evidence on Monday.

“There are possible drafts that various people are writing,” Mr. Nadler said on “State of the Union” on CNN on Sunday. “But the fact is we’re not going to make any decision as to how broad the articles should be — as to what they contain, what the wording is — until after the hearing.”

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Juice WRLD autopsy results inconclusive, ‘additional studies’ needed to determine rapper’s cause of death

The autopsy performed on late rapper Juice WRLD on Monday was inconclusive and further tests were needed to determine exactly how he died, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office announced.

“The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined that additional studies are required to establish the cause and manner of death for 21-year-old Jarad A. Higgins,” a statement from the office read, referencing the 21-year-old rapper’s real name.

“Additional studies include cardiac pathology, neuropathology, toxicology and histology.”

JUICE WRLD FANS FAKED SEIZURES IN #LUCIDDREAMSCHALLENGE ON TIKTOK PRIOR TO RAPPER’S DEATH

The Illinois native, who reportedly toured with Nicki Minaj earlier this year, suffered convulsions that led to a seizure after landing at Chicago’s Midway airport early Sunday morning on a flight from Los Angeles, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The health emergency occurred while investigators were searching the rapper and his entourage’s luggage for weapons and drugs, the paper added.

JUICE WRLD DIED BEFORE ATTENDING 21ST BIRTHDAY PARTY, AFTER RAPPING ABOUT NOT LIVING PAST THAT AGE

Westlake Legal Group juice-wrld-5-GETTY Juice WRLD autopsy results inconclusive, 'additional studies' needed to determine rapper's cause of death Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/juice-wrld fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a5d30820-d54a-51f3-9509-36fe71cdb4d7

Juice WRLD, seen here in 2018, died Sunday. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for MTV, File)

The outlet further reported an ambulance was called while Narcan was administered to the rapper. He was rushed to a nearby hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. and doctors pronounced him dead at 3:14 a.m.

The search resulted in the arrests of two of Juice WRLD’s security guards, Fox News has confirmed.

JUICE WRLD VOWED TO QUIT PRESCRIPTION DRUG USE IN UNCOVERED TWEET MONTHS BEFORE DEATH: ‘ADDICTION KILLS ALL’

Christopher Long, 36, of Buena Park, Calif., was arrested on one misdemeanor count of carrying and possessing a firearm in the first degree. The second guard in Juice WRLD’s entourage arrested was Henry Dean, 27, of Chicago. Dean was charged with one misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed firearm in an airport and a second misdemeanor of sale and/or possession of a high capacity magazine and metal piercing bullets.

The rapper previously sang about dying young in a rhyme in his song “Legends.”

“What’s the 27 club? We ain’t making it past 21,” Juice sang. The “27 club” is a group of singers who all died when they were 27, including Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

Westlake Legal Group juice-wrld-9-GETTY Juice WRLD autopsy results inconclusive, 'additional studies' needed to determine rapper's cause of death Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/juice-wrld fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a5d30820-d54a-51f3-9509-36fe71cdb4d7

Juice WRLD, seen here in Chicago this past summer, reportedly suffered a seizure before his death. (Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images, File)

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The rapper reportedly was traveling to Chicago Sunday to celebrate his 21st birthday at a big bash with fellow artists later that night.

Juice WRLD rose to fame after releasing the songs “Lucid Dreams” and “All Girls are the Same,” followed by his 2018 debut album “Goodbye & Good Riddance.” “Lucid Dreams,” the rapper’s most popular song, amassed almost a billion streams on Spotify, WGN-TV reported.

Westlake Legal Group Juice-WRLD-4-AP Juice WRLD autopsy results inconclusive, 'additional studies' needed to determine rapper's cause of death Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/juice-wrld fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a5d30820-d54a-51f3-9509-36fe71cdb4d7   Westlake Legal Group Juice-WRLD-4-AP Juice WRLD autopsy results inconclusive, 'additional studies' needed to determine rapper's cause of death Melissa Roberto fox-news/person/juice-wrld fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article a5d30820-d54a-51f3-9509-36fe71cdb4d7

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Gohmert tears into Nadler over Dems’ treatment of counsel: ‘How much money do you have to give?’

Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132203875911190000-1 Gohmert tears into Nadler over Dems' treatment of counsel: 'How much money do you have to give?' fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/republicans fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/person/jerrold-nadler fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Charles Creitz article 2ba270db-54a6-5fe3-9004-67c75958484a

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, infuriated Chairman Jerrold Nadler during Monday’s impeachment hearing into President Trump, after he appeared to suggest a counsel for the Democrats had given money to members of the party in order to serve in a role of both witness and questioner.

The Judiciary Committee Democrats’ counsel Barry Berke, a high-powered defense lawyer, was seated on the dais near Nadler, D-N.Y., asking questions of Republican counsel Stephen Castor in a move that Gohmert, R-Texas, called “unprecedented.”

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., initially interrupted Berke’s questioning to make a formal “parliamentary inquiry” to Nadler about what Berke was being allowed to do.

Instead, Nadler slammed his gavel and told Johnson he was unable to make an inquiry. “Mr. Chairman, what is this?” Johnson asked, looking incredulously at the chairman as the New Yorker slammed his gavel.

At that point, Gohmert himself interjected and accused Nadler of ignoring committee rules to have Berke ask questions of the other party’s counsel and take the witness stand as he had earlier in the day.

“How many other rules are you just going to disregard?” Gohmert asked Nadler.

The Democrat slammed his gavel again and told Gohmert he was not acting “in order.”

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Gohmert ignored the reprimand and continued with his objection:

“This is not appropriate to have a witness be a questioner of somebody that was a witness when he was. It’s just wrong… There is no rule nor precedent for anybody being a witness and then getting to come up and question — The ‘point of order’ is [whether Berke] is inappropriate to be up here asking questions,” the Republican continued as Nadler repeatedly tried to gavel him down.

GOP LAWYER TURNS IMPEACHMENT TABLES BY SCORCHING BIDENS AT HEARING

Nadler again slammed his gavel, telling Gohmert that Berke was acting in accordance with House Resolution 660 — the framework of rules for the impeachment hearings that the House passed earlier this year.

In turn, Gohmert argued with Nadler: “How much money do you have to give to get to do th–?” The question incensed the chairman — who slammed the gavel once more, then turned and scowled at Gohmert.

“The gentleman will not cast aspersions on members or staff of the committee,” Nadler fumed. “Mr. Berke has the time. Mr. Berke has the time.”

During the ensuing furious crosstalk, an unidentified Republican member asked Nadler point-blank: “Is Mr. Berke a member of the committee?”

At that point, Johnson spoke up again, telling Nadler that Berke simply was offering his “opinions” rather than “material facts in the report” compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

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Nadler then leaned back to confer with an aide, then responded to Johnson and Gohmert: “The gentleman (Berke) has been designated by me to do this questioning pursuant to House Resolution 660… it is in accordance in the rules of the House.”

Berke then continued with his questioning of Castor.

Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132203875911190000-1 Gohmert tears into Nadler over Dems' treatment of counsel: 'How much money do you have to give?' fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/republicans fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/person/jerrold-nadler fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Charles Creitz article 2ba270db-54a6-5fe3-9004-67c75958484a   Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132203875911190000-1 Gohmert tears into Nadler over Dems' treatment of counsel: 'How much money do you have to give?' fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/republicans fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/person/jerrold-nadler fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Charles Creitz article 2ba270db-54a6-5fe3-9004-67c75958484a

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GOP Doubles Down On Temper Tantrums — Does Little To Counter Evidence

Westlake Legal Group 5deea9df210000170434f766 GOP Doubles Down On Temper Tantrums — Does Little To Counter Evidence

House Republican lawmakers went to the mat to defend President Donald Trump in an impeachment hearing on Monday, accusing Democratic colleagues of engineering the inquiry in order to remove Trump, ignoring standard procedures and blocking access to witnesses. 

The hearing frequently became disorderly and contentious, with theatrical outbursts from Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and repeated interruptions of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). 

But despite the numerous attempts to distract and disrupt the proceedings, Republicans and their lawyers did little to counter the evidence that Trump sought a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine and sought to target 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden for personal political gain. 

The hearing was the second in the House Judiciary Committee to discuss Trump’s potential impeachment. Democrats are expected to hold a House vote on impeachment before the end of the month, and will likely soon draft articles of impeachment that will formally state the case that Trump’s actions in Ukraine met the bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” needed for impeachment. The White House refused to cooperate with the hearing on Monday, as it has with the broader inquiry as it seeks to stonewall investigators and delegitimize the push for impeachment. 

Conservatives criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for not appearing at the hearings, accusing him of mishandling the inquiry and even printing out a poster of his face on a milk carton to highlight his absence. (House rules adopted in October dictate that Schiff’s top counsel, Goldman, is the one who should testify to the Intelligence Committee’s assessment.) They demanded to be able to call a series of witnesses, including Biden’s son Hunter and the anonymous whistleblower who first prompted the impeachment process.

During one bizarre disruption in the hearings, a host on the far-right conspiracy theory site InfoWars began screaming at Nadler and proclaiming Trump’s innocence before he was removed from the room. 

Despite the numerous attempts to distract and disrupt the proceedings, Republicans and their lawyers did little to counter the evidence that Trump sought a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Democrats laid out their arguments for why Trump should be impeached ― and why it needed to happen well ahead of the elections in November 2020.

“The integrity of our next election is at stake,” Nadler said in his opening statement.

“The evidence shows that Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, has put himself before the country,” Nadler said. “He has violated his most basic responsibilities to the people. He has broken his oath.”

Monday’s hearing featured Republican and Democratic legal counsel addressing the grounds to impeach Trump. Although both sides mostly reiterated their cases for and against impeachment without presenting new evidence, Democrats used the hearing to advance their argument that Trump undermined national security by seeking a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine and to highlight statements from prior hearings.

Democratic lawyer Barry H. Berke called the evidence against Trump “uncontradicted” and “overwhelming” as he argued that Trump committed numerous impeachable offenses that included abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections.

“What is so extraordinary is the conduct we’re going to be talking about today of President Trump didn’t violate one of these, but all three,” Berke said.

Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman warned that Trump’s actions represented an “imminent threat” to national security and U.S. elections. He summarized what witnesses had told the House Intelligence Committee and pulled together the various threads of the inquiry, insisting that Trump’s efforts presented “a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security.”

Republicans’ lawyers Ashley Callen and Steve Castor, the latter of whom was also involved in the previous House Intelligence Committee hearings, presented the case against impeachment. Castor again framed the inquiries as a politically motivated fishing expedition, arguing that Democrats were attempting to remove Trump simply because they opposed his policies.

But as in previous hearings, Castor did little to address the actual allegations against Trump and the evidence that witnesses had presented. He once again argued that Trump and Zelensky have both denied the existence of coercion or wrongdoing.

As Castor gave his opening statement, Trump described the proceedings as a “Witch Hunt!” on Twitter, saying “The Do Nothing Democrats are a disgrace!”

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Student Loans A Lot Like The Subprime Mortgage Debacle, Watchdog Says

Westlake Legal Group ap_19301627881179-46f673ccb99c050de37850fd2764631dac1ab607-s1100-c15 Student Loans A Lot Like The Subprime Mortgage Debacle, Watchdog Says

Mike Calhoun rang the alarm bell early on about the subprime mortgage debacle — before reckless lending drove the economy into recession. These days, he’s sounding the alarm about student loans. Orlin Wagner/AP hide caption

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Orlin Wagner/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Student Loans A Lot Like The Subprime Mortgage Debacle, Watchdog Says

Mike Calhoun rang the alarm bell early on about the subprime mortgage debacle — before reckless lending drove the economy into recession. These days, he’s sounding the alarm about student loans.

Orlin Wagner/AP

Mike Calhoun is a man on a mission. He’s flying around the country, warning state lawmakers and prosecutors, sounding the alarm at conferences, and with members of Congress.

Westlake Legal Group hfusa_rm2019_mcalhoun2_vert-bdd8a158228ee50cdf2b4ea58cc93c5ebb7aaefd-s800-c15 Student Loans A Lot Like The Subprime Mortgage Debacle, Watchdog Says

Mike Calhoun talks about how student loans are forcing younger Americans to delay homeownership at a housing conference in September. Bridgett Turner/Courtesy of the Center for Responsible Lending hide caption

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Bridgett Turner/Courtesy of the Center for Responsible Lending

Westlake Legal Group  Student Loans A Lot Like The Subprime Mortgage Debacle, Watchdog Says

Mike Calhoun talks about how student loans are forcing younger Americans to delay homeownership at a housing conference in September.

Bridgett Turner/Courtesy of the Center for Responsible Lending

He did the same thing back before the housing market crash, warning then about reckless subprime loans. “We projected over 2 million subprime mortgage foreclosures, and the response was we were ridiculed by the industry,” he says.

Of course, Calhoun was right. In fact, the wave of defaults and foreclosures was even worse and drove the economy into the worst recession in generations.

Back then, he was watching the number of risky mortgages grow and grow. Now he’s watching student loans, “and there are a lot of similarities,” he says. “You’ve had an absolutely explosive growth in the amount of student debt. In fifteen years it’s gone from about $300 billion to now $1.6 trillion.”

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Calhoun’s the president of the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending. For decades he’s been keeping watch to protect people from reckless lending. He says that with student loans, just like with the housing crisis, there’s no consideration about whether the person getting the loan will be able to repay it.

“Once again, it’s the mismatch between the debt and the borrower’s income, their ability to repay,” Calhoun says. This time around it’s the government making the vast majority of the loans. That’s effectively turned the Department of Education into the country’s largest consumer lender.

And, Calhoun says, more and more people can’t pay. “Already in the student loan world, we are seeing default levels that approach what there was in the subprime mortgage world,” he says.

Calhoun pulls up a slide on his computer monitor to show another parallel — minority groups were hit hardest by the subprime mortgage mess.

“And we’re seeing it again in student loans. As we sit here and talk today, over a fifth of black college graduates are in default on their student loans.” Calhoun cites “the amount of debt they took on and the fact that they typically still earn less in the job market.”

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All that may sound bad, but some experts say talk of a student loan crisis is overblown.

Michael McPherson is an economist and former college president who studies higher education financing. “I think of a crisis as being a situation which is getting rapidly worse,” he says. That’s not what’s happening with student loans, McPherson says.

“The amount of borrowing is lower year after year, now for eight years in a row, ” he says. “That doesn’t smell like a crisis.”

McPherson says the vast majority of people are clearly better off financially if they have a college or advanced degree, even if they do have student loans. And he says, “a lot of people borrow a small amount of money, so a third of all the people owe less than $10,000.”

McPherson acknowledges that a lot of people who owe relatively small amounts are still running into trouble paying it back. And some never finished college.

This time around, Calhoun says, it’s a different kind of lending debacle. It’s not going to make the banking system implode. And sure, he says, not everybody with student loans is getting hurt by them. But there are so many people with student loans, and a lot of them are running into serious problems that he says “the student loan crisis will affect tens of millions of families.”

Calhoun says people’s credit scores are being affected. Or they’re missing out on homeownership because they can’t qualify for a mortgage because of their student loans. And others are ending up tens of thousands of dollars deeper in debt because they’re getting bad advice from companies that manage student loans for the government, Calhoun says.

He says that’s another parallel with the housing crisis.

Back then, Calhoun says, loan servicing companies failed to connect millions of homeowners with programs that could have helped them avoid foreclosure. Now student loan servicing companies are failing to connect borrowers with loan forgiveness programs and other options that could help them, he says.

The loan servicing companies say they do the best they can to advise borrowers given the complicated array of loans and programs created by the government.

So where does Calhoun think all this is headed? “Hopefully it ends in a couple ways,” he says. “For some borrowers, you will need to write down some part of what they owe. They simply don’t have the capacity to repay that based upon their earning capacity.”

And Calhoun says the government needs to fix the programs that are already in place that could potentially help millions of people. One program in particular could forgive large amounts of debt for public service workers like police officers and teachers, but Calhoun says it’s being badly mismanaged. He also says the government should lower interest rates to ease the burden on people.

Millions of other borrowers, he says, could avoid defaulting on their loans if they were enrolled in existing “income driven repayment” plans that allow them to make very small payments if that’s all they can afford. But many borrowers don’t get enrolled in them. Until those problems get fixed, he says, it may not wreck the economy, but it will be a drag on it.

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Trump reacts to DOJ watchdog Horowitz’s report, says what was done to America was a ‘disgrace’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114388680001_6114377983001-vs Trump reacts to DOJ watchdog Horowitz's report, says what was done to America was a 'disgrace' Frank Miles fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 38152185-3962-5e73-a635-72775efd50d4

Although the  long-awaited internal watchdog findings from the Justice Department’s inspector general on Monday undercut his claim that he was the target of a “witch hunt,” President Trump fired back that the report concerning the origins of the Russia investigation showed “an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it.”

“It’s a disgrace what’s happened with the things that were done to our country … it’s incredible, far worse than what I ever thought possible,” he said.

He noted it shouldn’t happen to another president, and he called it an embarrassment.

“Never, ever again should this happen in our country.”

Trump asked former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to comment on the IG report, and she said the country should be outraged.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, added: “People lied, and tried to subvert democracy.”

READ: DOJ INSPECTOR GENERAL’S FISA REPORT

The report said that although the Russia probe’s launch complied with DOJ and FBI policies, there were “significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised.”

Specifically, the report concluded that investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding the probe’s launch and efforts to seek a highly controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the Russia investigation — but faulted the FBI over numerous errors in the application process.

The IG probe identified at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications, and said they would launch a new audit into the FISA process.

IG Michael Horowitz and his investigators probed how the unverified anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016 as well as other decisions at the outset of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, known within the FBI by the name “Crossfire Hurricane.”

The report confirmed that information obtained from Steele was instrumental in the FBI’s ability to acquire a FISA warrant on Page, saying the FBI omitted information that allowed them to obtain renewals.

The report revealed that when the FBI team handling the Russia probe first considered getting a FISA warrant for Page in August 2016, FBI attorneys thought it was a “close call” as to whether they had sufficient cause. The following month, right after the FBI received information from Steele, FBI attorneys gave the investigative team the go-ahead.

Horowitz conducted more than 170 interviews involving more than 100 witnesses, including former FBI director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Russia investigation, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, along with FBI agents and analysts.

“It’s a sad day when a lot of people see that,” Trump added about the IG report. “They know nothing — it was concocted.”

Trump reiterated he was more eager for the report of John Durham, the hand-picked prosecutor selected by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a separate review of the Russia probe.

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Barr rejected the inspector general’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation.

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114388680001_6114377983001-vs Trump reacts to DOJ watchdog Horowitz's report, says what was done to America was a 'disgrace' Frank Miles fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 38152185-3962-5e73-a635-72775efd50d4   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6114388680001_6114377983001-vs Trump reacts to DOJ watchdog Horowitz's report, says what was done to America was a 'disgrace' Frank Miles fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 38152185-3962-5e73-a635-72775efd50d4

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough defends Rudy Giuliani after panelist claims former mayor ‘exploited 9/11’

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough offered a rare, passionate defense for Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani after a panelist on his show claimed that Giuliani “exploited” the Sept. 11 terror attacks as the New York City mayor.

Giuliani, who has become deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal that sparked the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump, was attacked viciously by MSNBC commentator Donny Deutsch over his handling of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“For a few days, he did do something heroically for the city, yet he traded on it from then on,” Deutsch began his remarks on Monday. “Anybody that lives in this town knows that he exploited 9/11. I don’t even want to give him that because in the years to come, in the most self-serving way, he exploited the greatest tragedy we had lived through…”

Scarborough jumped in and offered a fiery response to Deutsch.

TRUMP RIPS ‘FAKE NEWS’ CNN, DEMANDS RETRACTION OVER REPORT HE STILL USES PERSONAL CELLPHONE 

Westlake Legal Group Scarborough-Giuliani_Getty-AP MSNBC's Joe Scarborough defends Rudy Giuliani after panelist claims former mayor 'exploited 9/11' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/joe-scarborough fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 12759951-14b1-50f2-8b9f-a4e5ad7269e2

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, left, jumped to the defense of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, seen at right with President George W. Bush, for his handling of the 9/11 attack response. (Getty/AP, File)

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” Scarborough reacted. “I can’t let you say that on my show… Listen, if you’ve got issues with Rudy Giuliani, take up those issues with Rudy Giuliani, what’s going on right now.”

Scarborough continued, “I know for myself and for a lot of Americans, when George Bush was stumbling the first week, it was Rudy who stepped into the void… Let’s just talk about what’s going on now and don’t bring up 9/11. I mean, if we want to talk about Rudy, I say this makes it more of a tragedy that Rudy Giuliani, along with the great people of New York City and a great police commissioner, turned this city around in ’93 and ’94 and ’95 and ’96… I think that’s makes what’s going on even more tragic.”

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Even liberal MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton joined the defense of Giuliani, saying that what he and President George W. Bush did after 9/11 was “needed” and how “shockingly, the city came together.”

Westlake Legal Group Scarborough-Giuliani_Getty-AP MSNBC's Joe Scarborough defends Rudy Giuliani after panelist claims former mayor 'exploited 9/11' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/joe-scarborough fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 12759951-14b1-50f2-8b9f-a4e5ad7269e2   Westlake Legal Group Scarborough-Giuliani_Getty-AP MSNBC's Joe Scarborough defends Rudy Giuliani after panelist claims former mayor 'exploited 9/11' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/joe-scarborough fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 12759951-14b1-50f2-8b9f-a4e5ad7269e2

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Republicans Throw A Tantrum During Second Impeachment Hearing

Westlake Legal Group 5deea9df210000170434f766 Republicans Throw A Tantrum During Second Impeachment Hearing

House Republican lawmakers went to the mat to defend President Donald Trump in an impeachment hearing on Monday, accusing Democratic colleagues of engineering the inquiry in order to remove Trump, ignoring standard procedures and blocking access to witnesses. 

The hearing frequently became disorderly and contentious, with theatrical outbursts from Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and repeated interruptions of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). 

But despite the numerous attempts to distract and disrupt the proceedings, Republicans and their lawyers did little to counter the evidence that Trump sought a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine and sought to target 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden for personal political gain. 

The hearing was the second in the House Judiciary Committee to discuss Trump’s potential impeachment. Democrats are expected to hold a House vote on impeachment before the end of the month, and will likely soon draft articles of impeachment that will formally state the case that Trump’s actions in Ukraine met the bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” needed for impeachment. The White House refused to cooperate with the hearing on Monday, as it has with the broader inquiry as it seeks to stonewall investigators and delegitimize the push for impeachment. 

Conservatives criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for not appearing at the hearings, accusing him of mishandling the inquiry and even printing out a poster of his face on a milk carton to highlight his absence. (House rules adopted in October dictate that Schiff’s top counsel, Goldman, is the one who should testify to the Intelligence Committee’s assessment.) They demanded to be able to call a series of witnesses, including Biden’s son Hunter and the anonymous whistleblower who first prompted the impeachment process.

During one bizarre disruption in the hearings, a host on the far-right conspiracy theory site InfoWars began screaming at Nadler and proclaiming Trump’s innocence before he was removed from the room. 

Despite the numerous attempts to distract and disrupt the proceedings, Republicans and their lawyers did little to counter the evidence that Trump sought a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Democrats laid out their arguments for why Trump should be impeached ― and why it needed to happen well ahead of the elections in November 2020.

“The integrity of our next election is at stake,” Nadler said in his opening statement.

“The evidence shows that Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, has put himself before the country,” Nadler said. “He has violated his most basic responsibilities to the people. He has broken his oath.”

Monday’s hearing featured Republican and Democratic legal counsel addressing the grounds to impeach Trump. Although both sides mostly reiterated their cases for and against impeachment without presenting new evidence, Democrats used the hearing to advance their argument that Trump undermined national security by seeking a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine and to highlight statements from prior hearings.

Democratic lawyer Barry H. Berke called the evidence against Trump “uncontradicted” and “overwhelming” as he argued that Trump committed numerous impeachable offenses that included abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections.

“What is so extraordinary is the conduct we’re going to be talking about today of President Trump didn’t violate one of these, but all three,” Berke said.

Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman warned that Trump’s actions represented an “imminent threat” to national security and U.S. elections. He summarized what witnesses had told the House Intelligence Committee and pulled together the various threads of the inquiry, insisting that Trump’s efforts presented “a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security.”

Republicans’ lawyers Ashley Callen and Steve Castor, the latter of whom was also involved in the previous House Intelligence Committee hearings, presented the case against impeachment. Castor again framed the inquiries as a politically motivated fishing expedition, arguing that Democrats were attempting to remove Trump simply because they opposed his policies.

But as in previous hearings, Castor did little to address the actual allegations against Trump and the evidence that witnesses had presented. He once again argued that Trump and Zelensky have both denied the existence of coercion or wrongdoing.

As Castor gave his opening statement, Trump described the proceedings as a “Witch Hunt!” on Twitter, saying “The Do Nothing Democrats are a disgrace!”

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Pete Buttigieg To Open Fundraisers To Press And Disclose Bundlers

Westlake Legal Group 5deeb0c02500000e5dd2f9f1 Pete Buttigieg To Open Fundraisers To Press And Disclose Bundlers

The presidential campaign of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Monday that it would allow members of the news media to cover future private fundraisers and would disclose the names of super donors known as “bundlers.”

Reporters will be permitted to cover Buttigieg’s fundraisers starting on Tuesday and the campaign will provide the names of bundlers, who solicit multiple donations from other wealthy individuals, by the end of the week, according to a statement from campaign manager Mike Schmuhl.

“From the start, Pete has said it is important for every candidate to be open and honest, and his actions have reflected that commitment,” Schmuhl said.

Buttigieg had been under growing pressure in recent days to improve his campaign’s financial transparency.

Of the four Democratic candidates leading in the polls, only Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden have requested donations in private, high-dollar fundraisers. Biden has allowed reporters to cover those fundraisers. And Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) do not raise money in private fundraisers.

Warren and her team have been engaged in a war of words with Buttigieg and his campaign, pressing the mayor to release more information about his donors and provide press access.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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With Paris Peace Talks, Putin And Zelenskiy Meet For First Time

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1187384454-d8edbc6150e49516e2448341896e0fda963fa861-s1100-c15 With Paris Peace Talks, Putin And Zelenskiy Meet For First Time

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting on Ukraine with German Chancellor at the Elysee Palace on Monday in Paris. Alexey Nikolsky/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Westlake Legal Group  With Paris Peace Talks, Putin And Zelenskiy Meet For First Time

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting on Ukraine with German Chancellor at the Elysee Palace on Monday in Paris.

Alexey Nikolsky/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met for the first time on Monday in Paris, in peace talks meant to resolve the simmering war in eastern Ukraine.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in the Russian insurgency in the region since it began five years ago with Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

Among Ukraine’s goals are prisoner exchanges, a cease-fire along the front, and Ukrainian control of the eastern border. Russia would like an end to Western sanctions that have led to economic stagnation.

There is public support for peace talks in Ukraine, and Zelenskiy is under significant pressure: as he headed to Paris his opponents rallied in Kyiv, warning him to not capitulate to Putin. And Russia is popular in the eastern portion of the country, especially in the cities Donetsk and Luhansk.

“Some say we can do without such dialogue,” Zelenskiy said in a recent video recorded in a gym, as the AP reports. “But it’s like running this treadmill — you are doing something, you are losing calories, but you remain in place.”

Putin and Zelenskiy were joined by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Macron has sought to reset relations with Putin after years of sanctions, but that warming has caused concern among the eastern European states of the EU.

The talks began with Zelenskiy and Putin each speaking to Merkel and Macron one-on-one, before the four sat around a table together. Zelenskiy and Putin are slated to meet alone only after a closing news conference.

The summit is far from an ideal scenario for Zelenskiy, a former comedian without political experience. After coming to office in a landslide, he has been unable to secure a White House meeting with President Trump. He hoped such a meeting would signal U.S. support of Ukraine, but he’s now meeting with Putin without it.

Instead, Ukraine has become entangled in Trump’s impeachment hearings, following a July phone call in which Trump urged Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Joe Biden, while the White House withheld about $400 million in military aid to Kyiv.

To drive home the power indifference at Monday’s meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is scheduled to meet in Washington with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — and possibly with Trump — on Tuesday.

“If Russia doesn’t want to agree to a deal, in this case we will be building a wall and life will go on,” Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said Thursday, according to Reuters. “We will be living unfortunately in a scenario of a frozen conflict.”

NPR Correspondent Lucian Kim contributed reporting from Moscow.

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