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Trump gives away the game on his last possible defense in the Ukraine scandal

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- Commentary
Donald Trump Nicholas Kamm, AFP

It’s been almost funny how quickly each new argument to defend President Donald Trump against the looming impeachment inquiry has fallen apart, all of which miss the central point that the White House should never be used to pressure a foreign government to investigate a political opponent of the current occupant of the Oval Office.

But there has been one throughline in Trump and his defenders’ claims about the Ukraine scandal that, while not actually exculpating him, gave the president some room to deny that the charges against him were as grave as they sounded. When he asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump claimed, he wasn’t targeting a political opponent, he claimed — he was just going after “corruption.”

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Now, there were many reasons that we never had reason to take this claim seriously. First, Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to go after Biden only emerged when the 2020 Democratic primary ramped up and the former vice president emerged as a top competitor. Second, Trump has never seemed to care about corruption in countries like Russia, which he frequently praises, or Azerbaijan, where he has conducted business. Third, Trump doesn’t care about corruption among his own Cabinet members, friends, and family. And fourth, when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions oversaw the Justice Department prosecuting two Republican congressmen ahead of the 2018 election — one of whom is set to plead guilty — Trump lashed out at him. So he certainly doesn’t care about fighting corruption in his own party.

For all that, Trump was still clinging desperately to the “corruption” line on Friday morning when he spoke to reporters.

“I don’t care about Biden’s campaign,” Trump said. “But I do care about corruption. His campaign, that’s up to him. Politics, that’s up to them. I don’t care about politics.“

This is important if Trump’s actions are ever analyzed through a legal lens. If Trump was just pressuring Ukraine to root out corruption, that’s just typical American diplomacy. But if he was asking for and hoping to receive services that would benefit his presidential campaign, that could be a criminal violation of the federal election law.

But then a reporter asked a fateful question which clarified the issue: “Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don’t involve your political opponent?”

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Trump looked upward.

“You know, we would have to look,” he said. “But I tell you: What I ask for and what I always will ask for is anything having to do with corruption with respect to our country. If a foreign country can help us with respect to corruption and corruption probe, and — I don’t care if it’s Biden or anybody else. If they can help us.”

So in the face of all the other evidence that Trump doesn’t care at all about corruption, the president was asked to name a single instance — just one could have sufficed — of his asking for a specific corruption investigation that wasn’t about Biden or a political opponent.

He was stumped.

The man who “always will ask for … anything having to do with corruption with respect to our country” can’t name a single other time when he’s brought up the issue. The only reasonable conclusion is that he’s lying. He doesn’t care at all about corruption. He cares about leveraging criminal investigations to smear his general election opponent. Just like he did in 2016.

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2020 Election

Lindsey Graham announces Amy Coney Barrett hearings — full Senate vote could occur days before the election

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Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced on Saturday that confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett would commence on October 12th.

Graham made the announcement on Fox News, hours after Trump officially nominated Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Shortly after Graham made the announcement on Fox News, the Judiciary Committee confirmed the timeline, CNN's Phil Mattingly reported.

https://twitter.com/Phil_Mattingly/status/1310025495623409674

PBS Newshour correspondent Lisa Desjardins did the math on confirmation hearings beginning on October 12th and concluded the final Senate vote could occur on October 28th or 29th -- which are the Wednesday and Thursday immediately preceding the Novermber 2nd election.

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2020 Election

Trump whines press didn’t cover the ‘two Nobel Prizes’ — that he didn’t win

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The leader of the free world spoke of the Nobel Peace Prize as if he had repeatedly won the award.

Trump made the complaints he has not received the recognition he thinks he deserves during a campaign rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

"They didn't cover two Nobel Prizes," Trump says he told first lady Melania Trump. "I got two in one week, did you ever hear of that?"

Trump received two nominations, he has never won a Nobel Peace Prize.

"And my only complaint is, I should have gotten about seven or eight, because if you knew some of the other things -- some of the other things I have done much better," Trump argued, despite having not won the award a single time. "I should have gotten seven."

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Portland police search for white man who kicked Black journalist in the head at ‘Proud Boys’ rally

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On Saturday, the far-right group the "Proud Boys" held a rally at Delta Park in Portland, Oregon.

Zane Sparling, of The Portland Tribune documented the scene, with many attendees wearing militia dress.

https://twitter.com/PDXzane/status/1309945564922961920

Sparling captured video of a man pushing a Black journalist to the ground and kicking him in the head:

Man pushes live-streamer to the ground and kicks him in the face at Proud Boys is rally in Portland pic.twitter.com/SAdHShqir3

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