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Kamala Harris cornered Bill Barr in his hearing — now she’s exploiting the weakness she uncovered

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a 2020 presidential candidate, followed up her noteworthy performance on Wednesday questioning Attorney General Bill Barr with an aggressive move: calling for an investigation from the Justice Department inspector general.

In an exchange she transcribed for a letter to the department, Harris had asked the attorney general if the White House had ever asked or suggested that Barr or the justice department open any specific investigations. He struggled to answer her clearly:

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Senator Harris: Attorney General Barr has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?
Attorney General Barr: Um. I wouldn’t … I wouldn’t. uh—
Senator Harris: Yes or No?
Attorney General Han: Could you … could you repeat that question?
Senator Harris: I will repeat it. Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no please, sir.
Attorney General Barr: Urn, the President or anybody…
Senator Harris: Seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.
Attorney General Barr Yeah, but I’m. I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest.’ I mean, there have been discussions of, of matters out there that. uh- – they have not asked me to open an investigation. But…
Senator Harris: Perhaps they’ve suggested?
Attorney General Barr: I don’t know. I wouldn’t say suggest…
Senator Harris: Hinted?
Attorney General Barr I don’t know.
Senator Harris: Inferred? You don’t know?
Attorney General Barr: No.

Watch the clip here:

The letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that she had “grave concern about the independence” of Barr, saying that the White House directing the opening of investigations “strikes at the very heart of the rule of law and threatens to undermine the longstanding independence of the Justice Department.”

She also noted that there’s good reason to think the president might be trying to corruptly influence the department.

“Such inappropriate requests by the President have been well documented,” she wrote. “For instance, in addition to investigating the Russian influence operation, Special Counsel Mueller also examined the President’s conduct with regard to the Russia probe and documented a disturbing pattern of behavior on the part of the President—repeated attempts to target his perceived opponents using the power of federal lass enforcement.”

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In particular, Mueller documented Trump asking then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions at least three times to open an investigation into Hillary Clinton. Some, including Lawfare’s Ben Wittes, has argued that this request alone is an impeachable offense.

She noted that Barr was “unable or unwilling [to] answer the question” of whether such requests have been made of him. She therefore asked that the inspector general investigate “whether the Attorney General has received or acted upon requests or suggestions, whether implied or explicit, to investigate the president’s perceived enemies.”


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Florida reports record number of coronavirus deaths one month ahead of GOP convention

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Florida, the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, reported a record 156 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday and nearly 14,000 new infections.

The total number of virus cases in the "Sunshine State" has now surpassed 315,000 and there have been 4,782 deaths, according to Florida Department of Health figures.

The reporting of 156 virus deaths in the state in a 24-hour period surpasses the previous high of 132 deaths announced just two days earlier.

Florida is now reporting more COVID-19 cases daily than any other state in the country. California and Texas are next with about 10,000 new cases a day.

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GOP officials admit 2020 platform is basically whatever’s on Trump’s Twitter account

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President Donald Trump has shaped the Republican Party into his own image in less than four years on the job, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.

Nearly half of the House Republicans on the job when Trump took office in 2017 have either retired, resigned, been defeated or are retiring in 2020, and many of the GOP newcomers are devoted Trump loyalists, reported Politico.

“Whether the president wins or loses, his policy views and style have firmly taken over the Republican Party — nationalism and white grievance, those kinds of things,” said Matt Moore, former chairman of South Carolina's GOP. “I don’t think that Trumpy politics will be leaving the stage anytime soon.”

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Coronavirus data disappears from CDC dashboard after Trump hijacks info

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The Trump administration on Tuesday forced all hospitals and states to make a significant and immediate change in how they report coronavirus patient data, hijacking the information to be funneled into the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Experts warned the move could allow the administration to politicize the data, hide it, be less transparent, all of which interferes in the real-time usage of information to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

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