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Which 2020 Democrat would be strongest against post-impeachment Trump?

President Trump’s impeachment began with four possible scenarios, and Wednesday’s affirmative impeachment vote in the House of Representatives eliminated one. Though it’s technically still possible impeachment could be followed by Trump resigning or being convicted in the GOP-controlled Senate, the most likely remaining outcome is that the Senate will acquit him.

And you know what comes next. After the Senate trial lets Trump off the hook, probably sometime in January, he’ll shift into full campaign mode, crowing incessantly about how those lying, do-nothing, witch-hunting, illegal, short, small, sad, weak, dog-like Democrats couldn’t get him.

This raises the question: Which of the 2020 Democratic candidates would be best equipped to respond? Who in the primary election and, more important, as the presidential nominee, could muster the strongest defense against Trump’s impending narrative? Let’s consider the seven Democrats who will appear on Thursday’s debate stage.

Joe Biden: Holding steady at the front of the pack, former Vice President Joe Biden finds himself in a unique position, because it is his family Trump allegedly asked Ukraine to investigate. Depending on Biden’s reaction — and his options are no doubt undergoing extensive focus group testing right now — this could be a weakness or a strength.

Polling shows very few Americans’ opinions were changed by the impeachment inquiry. But some voters, mostly independents, really did go into this unconvinced or at least uncertain enough that they could be swayed. If Trump’s acquittal persuaded those people of his innocence, if it suggested to them that he legitimately wanted to root out corruption, Biden’s reputation could suffer among the swing voters he’d need in a tight race. On the other hand, if Biden can frame the situation as proof that he poses the greatest threat to Trump, his link to the impeachment may be an asset in the primary. In the general, it could present him as in a sense (namely, the theatrical political sense Trump cares about more than policy) the greatest rejection of Trump.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar: I group the three senators in the race together because I suspect their ability to respond to a post-impeachment Trump will depend significantly on how they conduct themselves in his Senate trial. The balance of campaign events and trial attendance will be tricky and tiring (and very possibly a boon to Biden), and each will have to demonstrate to marginal voters that their actions as impeachment jurors are not unfairly biased by their goals as presidential candidates. Accusations of partisanship valued over truth are already flying fast and thick in Washington, and these senators have a giant target on their backs.

As rival candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang has commented, the senators could skip the trial — the vote math makes it extremely unlikely theirs would be the decisive vote — but so far, none have indicated plans to play hooky. Warren, at least, has cast participation as her constitutional duty.

Pete Buttigieg

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the most popular candidate without a familial or official link to the impeachment. He’ll be able to continue campaigning, like Biden, but without the constant barrage of questions about Trump’s corruption claims. “Of course,” Buttigieg told The New Yorker, “as a presidential candidate, you have no real part in [impeachment]” — true, for him — “And so my perspective is to focus on the day after Trump is president. … [W]e need somebody capable of turning the page as well as winning the fight.”

This emphasis on moving on already, uniting after Trump’s division, may be difficult to maintain amid a steady stream of Trump’s taunts designed to never let Democrats forget their inability to remove him from office. I mean, you can see how this would go in the general election debates, right? Buttigieg makes a painfully earnest plea for good-faith cooperation to solve our nation’s problems, and Trump, snickering at Buttigieg’s age, height, and name, jumps into to envision himself as a golden Colossus astride the swamp.

Andrew Yang

Like Buttigieg, Yang has no impeachment connection. Unlike Buttigieg, his average poll numbers have never broken 5 percent. But also unlike Buttigieg — whose August comment that Trump voters are “looking the other way on racism” has been deemed by some Trump fans as a new “deplorables” moment — Yang has expressed a real concern for the communities that supported Trump.

“Things are disintegrating in communities around our country, and our government does not care,” he said in an interview. “You could say that Trump’s victory was a giant cry for something — help, anger, frustration — and the Democrats, to me, have not taken the message to heart.” From there, Yang could maneuver to respond to Trump’s impeachment by telling voters they deserve better. “Sure, Trump wasn’t removed from office,” he could say, “but don’t you think you deserve a president whose character isn’t so questionable, who cares about you more than he cares about his own political fate?” Unfortunately for Yang, if other, more popular candidates effectively make the same move in the primary, he’ll never get to do it in the general.

Tom Steyer

Before he ran for president, billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer spent two years and millions of his own money on Need to Impeach, an organization lobbying for Trump’s impeachment. The group has scaled back its activities since Steyer’s campaign began, but that history puts him in an unusual position for campaigning against a post-impeachment Trump.

On the one hand, Steyer could seek to claim partial credit for holding Trump accountable. On the other hand, after acquittal, will “It was right even though it failed” be a compelling story? If Democratic voters decide impeachment was a waste of time and energy that could have been more usefully devoted elsewhere (like retaking the Senate), Steyer might find himself in an awkward spot.

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Fox News Host Greg Gutfeld Defends Trump’s Dingell Insult: Just a ‘Joke’

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld rallied to President Donald Trump’s defense on Thursday, claiming the president suggesting deceased Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) was in hell was nothing more than a “joke” and the president doesn’t see the difference between dead and living people.

During a Michigan campaign rally on Wednesday night, Trump took aim at Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), the widow of John Dingell, for supporting impeachment. Claiming he gave the late Dingell “A-plus treatment” after he passed, he said the congresswoman told him “John would be so thrilled” as he looked down from heaven. “Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know,” Trump added, to groans from the pro-Trump crowd.

Fox News host Juan Williams referenced the cruel moment—which has sparked bipartisan condemnation—while discussing the House voting to impeach Trump during Thursday’s broadcast of The Five.

“The reality is plenty of things Trump does, I don’t like, you know that, but they are not impeachable,” Williams noted. “When he talks about John Dingell going to hell, I just—I don’t like it. Not impeachable.”

“You haven’t heard that joke before?” Gutfeld sneered.

Williams, clearly taken aback, pushed back: “It’s not a joke when you go after a dead man. Dead people. John McCain, John Dingell—”

“Trump doesn’t see live, dead, black, white, male, female,” Gutfeld reasoned. “He insults everybody! We’re in the fourth year of this.”

Gutfeld’s defense of Trump flies in the face of the reactions from Fox anchors Maria Bartiromo and Sandra Smith, who earlier in the day sympathized with Debbie Dingell, directly telling the congresswoman they were “sorry about this.”

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Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast With Bernie’s Consistency

Cohen writes: “In what is currently a four-way race for the Democratic nomination – featuring Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg – the recent war of words between Warren and Buttigieg has done little for them. But it has highlighted contrasts with Bernie Sanders.”

South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (photo: John Bazemore/AP)

By Jeff Cohen, Reader Supported News

10 December 19


n what is currently a four-way race for the Democratic nomination – featuring Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg – the recent war of words between Warren and Buttigieg has done little for them.

But it has highlighted contrasts with Bernie Sanders.  

As Senator Warren and “Mayor Pete” heatedly question each other’s career history, they put Sanders’s strongest suit into the spotlight: his remarkably consistent history. 

In case you missed it, Warren said this about Buttigieg last Thursday: “The mayor should be releasing who’s on his finance committee, who are the bundlers who are raising big money for him” – adding that Buttigieg should “open up the doors so that the press can follow the promises he’s making in these big-dollar fundraisers.” Earlier, Warren had complained that Buttigieg had “not released the names” of his corporate clients when he worked for three years at the controversial McKinsey & Company consulting firm.

Warren was completely correct here. In the face of demands for transparency, Buttigieg had declined to name his corporate clients, claiming he was bound by a non-disclosure agreement. On Monday, after the sustained public clamor, McKinsey released him from the NDA.

Meanwhile, big money continues to flood into Buttigieg’s campaign from corporate executives, lobbyists, and billionaires. While Warren and Sanders don’t hold high-dollar events for wealthy donors, Buttigieg and Biden do. Unlike Biden, Buttigieg had refused to allow reporters into those events. On Monday afternoon, the Buttigieg camp gave ground to Warren, announcing that it would name its bundlers and allow reporters into his numerous big-donor fundraising events.

Counterpunching at Warren last week, the Buttigieg campaign labeled Warren a “corporate lawyer” and demanded that she release her pre-2008 tax returns, during years she earned outside income representing corporations while a law professor.

Yes, Professor Warren represented some big corporations, while also representing consumer interests – and on Sunday, she provided details about her legal work, including compensation. Warren has been far more transparent than Buttigieg. But it wouldn’t hurt for her to further discuss her legal career, including when she was a registered Republican (until 1996).

While I’m impressed by Warren’s campaign and supportive of her far-reaching proposals to tax the wealthy to fund programs benefiting poor, working-class, and middle-class people, Buttigieg highlighted – in a hypocritical and overheated fashion – the main question I have about Warren: her Republican past and her years as a legal scholar who supported the “Law and Economics” movement that preached a corporate-friendly, free-market ideology.

Which brings me to Sanders and Biden – who both have longer and more consistent histories than either Warren or Buttigieg.

That’s Bernie’s strongest suit.

And Biden’s weakest.

Biden’s history is as pro-corporate as Sanders’ history is progressive. Biden was among the minority of Democrats in Congress who supported the devastating NAFTA trade pact, while Sanders was a leader of the opposition. Biden voted for media conglomeration via the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and supported Wall Street deregulation that led to the 2007/2008 financial crash. Biden has long served the interests of banks and credit card companies, and was key to passage of the notorious 2005 bankruptcy bill that continues to harm those with student debt – a measure that was vigorously opposed by then-Professor Warren.

Biden’s civil rights record is spotty at best. He has proudly referred to the mass-incarceration-intensifying 1994 crime bill as the “Biden Crime Bill.” (In Congress at the time, Biden and Bernie widely diverged on the bill, as this video shows.) In 2002, Biden was the most important Senate Democrat in enabling Bush’s disastrous Iraq invasion, while Sanders helped lead the antiwar forces in Congress.

Bernie Sanders’s history is undisputed. He’s been a fighter for the most vulnerable Americans his whole life, and a champion of civil rights since his college days. He’s defended the environment and unions 100% – from his days as a mayor in Vermont to today. He’s resisted corporate greed and corporate-friendly trade deals that undermine workers and our environment. Over the decades, he’s strongly opposed immoral, adventurist U.S. wars from Vietnam to Iraq.

And although Sanders has made history as the longest-serving independent in Congress, he’s been a skilled legislator in getting important amendments through Congress, as acknowledged in a New York Times article originally headlined “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years Via Legislative Side Doors.”

Establishment Dems may attack him as “not even a Democrat,” but it is Bernie’s independence that attracts many young voters, disaffected voters, and those who don’t identify with either major party.

With progressives focused on defeating Trump as mission number one, the finger-pointing by Warren and Buttigieg over their histories has helped showcase the one frontrunner whose history is consistent and progressive.

Jeff Cohen is co-founder of the online activism group and author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.”

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Ed Buck included in Elizabeth Warren’s list of Obama-era endorsements; campaign calls it ‘mistake’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign raised eyebrows after announcing that Ed Buck, an accused sexual predator and former megadonor for the Democrats, was among hundreds of Obama-era figures who endorsed her candidacy.

It was first reported Wednesday by CNN that Warren, D-Mass., was being backed by over 200 campaign aides and administration officials under former President Obama, all of whom signed a letter announcing their support for the progressive candidate in an effort organized by former senior Obama aides Sara El-Amine and Jon Carson. CNN highlighted some names on the list, including former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and former USAID official Sean Carroll.

However, CNN failed to highlight signature #39, which belonged “Edward P. B. Buck” and was listed as an alum of Obama’s 2012 campaign. He’s better known as the activist who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes championed by the Democrats, and who made headlines in 2017 after two men died of overdoses in his West Hollywood, Calif., home.

Warren had boasted the CNN article on her Twitter and Facebook pages.

“I’m grateful to have the support of these Obama campaign alumni and my fellow Obama administration alumni. Their work changed what we know is possible in our politics. Together, we can win in 2020 and build a government that works for everyone,” Warren tweeted.


Warren campaign spokesman Chris Hayden told Fox News, “This was a mistake considering Ed Buck was not staff or an alum. This was put together via Google doc by some Obama alums and they caught some non-staff that populated the list but obviously they missed one. They are removing it.”

Max Berger, another Warren aide, went even further, claiming that someone added “fake names” to the list.

“This was compiled by volunteers from the Obama network,” Berger tweeted. “Someone added fake names to the list. The volunteers caught most of them. They obviously missed one.”

He added, “Ed Buck is in prison. He has no access to email. He couldn’t have signed this letter.”

Buck was indicted this past October with distributing methamphetamine that resulted in the deaths of Timothy Dean in January and Gemmel Moore in 2017.

Federal prosecutors said Buck, 65, preyed on vulnerable gay black men and pressured them to let him inject them with drugs as part of a sexual ritual known as “party and play,” KNBC reported.


Buck was arrested Sept. 17 and hit with state charges of operating a drug house. Two days later, federal prosecutors charged him with distributing methamphetamine that resulted in Moore’s death.

The alleged predator was being held without bail, and his trial is set for August 2020 at the earliest.

Fox News’ Frank Miles contributed to this report. 

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Democrat opposed to Trump impeachment officially switches parties – live

Looming over the high-stakes debate are those who won’t be in attendance. The Democratic National Committee said candidates had to hit at least 4% in four national polls or at least 6% in two early-state polls in the weeks leading up to the event in order to qualify. The candidates also had to attract at least 200,000 donors.

That leaves no black or Latino candidates among the nearly all-white lineup of Democratic frontrunners. Senator Cory Booker and the former housing secretary Julián Castro both failed to qualify for the debate, and Senator Kamala Harris recently ended her campaign amid polling showing her far behind in California, her home state.

Also absent from the event will be Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire who made a late entrance into the race last monthand has poured an estimated $13.5m into TV ads in California. Steyer, the other billionaire in the race, has spent roughly $1.6m on ads in the state.

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Elizabeth Warren to meet with tribal leaders in Oklahoma this weekend

Warren is still trying to live down her own personal cultural appropriation. This weekend she has invited representatives from 40 Native American tribes to a meeting with her in Oklahoma. The Washington Post reports that about 12 have already said they plan to attend, but the final tally won’t be known until Saturday when the tribes meet to discuss it:

The previously unreported meeting will focus on Warren’s agenda for Native Americans and is part of a broader effort to highlight issues important to them. Warren is also trying to blunt the criticism she has faced over the years for appropriating Native American culture by identifying as such, according to three people familiar with the meeting who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it…

“It’ll be very heavy,” said NickyKay Michael, a member of the tribal council for the Delaware Tribe of Indians. “I don’t think they’ll be jumping up and down like they’d be for someone who was in their corner for a long time.”

Michael added that her tribal leaders will meet Saturday to determine whether to send a representative to the Warren event. The leadership, she said, is torn. “You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot just because you’ve had a bad taste in your mouth for a long time,” Michael said.

Rolling Stone published an interview with Warren today. She was specifically asked about her decision to take a DNA test and she offered a very stock, non-responsive answer to the question:

Before you kicked off your presidential campaign, you released a video about your family background that seemed like it was intended to answer Trump’s taunts — you took him up on his challenge to take a DNA test. Did the reaction to the video change the way you think about how you would respond to those kinds of attacks from him in a general election?

I’ve learned a lot. I’m grateful for many conversations that people have had with me. Running for president has been about recognizing where I’ve made mistakes and have regrets, and also about how to listen and build the bridges that we’re all gonna need if we are able to create a strong enough movement to repair our democracy and take back our country.

But did it change the way you would respond to him specifically?

Donald Trump has a strategy of turning people against people. He thinks so long as people are arguing against each other that no one will notice that he and his corrupt buddies are stealing both the wealth and dignity of this country. He’s wrong, and 2020 is our chance to prove it.

Warren was wrong to take the DNA test but she learned the wrong lesson from that debacle. She did it not just because Trump taunted her but because she refused to admit that she had been wrong all along. The DNA test was her last chance to try to win a losing argument. And frankly, she wouldn’t have done it if the media hadn’t worked so hard to give her a pass on what would have been considered an unpardonable sin by any Republican. She was surely counting on the media to ride to the rescue again when she released the test and, at first, they did. Here’s how the Boston Globe reported it at the time:

Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a DNA test that provides “strong evidence’’ she had a Native American in her family tree dating back 6 to 10 generations, an unprecedented move by one of the top possible contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

Warren, whose claims to Native American blood have been mocked by President Trump and other Republicans, provided the test results to the Globe on Sunday in an effort to defuse questions about her ancestry that have persisted for years. She planned an elaborate rollout Monday of the results as she aimed for widespread attention.

But reality finally popped the balloon she had inflated and now she’s content to blame Trump instead of her own foolish hubris. I hope the the trial leaders don’t fall for her mea culpa act. Elizabeth Warren is only sorry as a last resort and only when she’s caught. She hasn’t learned anything, not really.

Just last month she lied to a group of black charter school activists about her kids going to public schools. Then, once she realized her lie wasn’t going to hold up, she had her campaign correct the record. Her son actually went to private schools most of his life. As far as I know, Warren still hasn’t explained how she made that mistake (literally saying “No, my children went to public schools.”) and that probably because the mainstream media hasn’t asked. Once again, they are protecting her. Once again it will probably take Donald Trump making it an issue for the media to belatedly admit there’s a problem.

Finally, I have to take a point of personal privilege on one aspect of the Post’s story about this:

Warren identified herself professionally as a Native American at various points in her life. In April 1986, she listed her race as “American Indian” on her registration card for the State Bar of Texas, according to a copy of that document obtained by The Washington Post. She also listed herself as a minority from 1986 to 1994 in the Association of American Law Schools directory.

While teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Warren had her race changed to Native American from white, university records show. Later, she requested that Harvard Law School list her as Native American after she was hired in 1995, according to the Boston Globe, which reviewed her personnel records.

The Boston Globe stole that story from me. Back when I worked at Breitbart, a friend uncovered the document showing Warren had been listed as Native American and tipped me off to it. I wrote about it on May 11, 2012. On May 25, 2012, the Boston Globe published essentially the same story and proclaimed it a scoop. I was mad as hell about it and wound up having a conversation with the author who admitted to me that she’d read my story before writing hers. I tried to talk to the Globe’s editor and force them to at least credit me in the story, but he wouldn’t respond to my emails or calls. I realize it has been a few years but it’s still irritating that the Boston Globe routinely gets credited for an important story I had already written two weeks earlier.

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VICE News to Broadcast the 2020 Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum

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The 2020 presidential election will feature the most diverse group of voters in American history.

That’s why VICE News is proud to partner with multicultural agency Cashmere Originals to present the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum, the nation’s oldest and only nonpartisan presidential forum dedicated exclusively to addressing issues facing communities of color.

“VICE News Presents: The 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum” will be broadcast live January 20 across VICE platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and VICE TV will broadcast the day’s events in a news special at 9 p.m. ET/PT, featuring the best moments of the forum and highlights from the candidates.

Coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the forum will take place on Jan. 20, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. CT, at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines. It will give the 2020 presidential candidates the opportunity to address an electorate that will be one-third non-white for the first time, according to Pew Research Center.

The forum will be one of the last opportunities for the candidates to make their case before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus on Feb. 4.

“At VICE News, we are committed to telling stories that reflect all of America and strive to lead the conversation around issues affecting minority communities,” says Jesse Angelo, President, Global News and Entertainment, VICE Media Group. “The Brown & Black Forum has spent over three decades holding politicians accountable on these issues, and we’re proud that our diverse team of award-winning correspondents will be continuing that legacy.”

The forum will feature in-depth interviews with leading Democratic candidates for president, including Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Vermont Sen, Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen, Elizabeth Warren, and businessman Andrew Yang.

All of the candidates will have an opportunity to address questions and issues of concern, with the forum focusing on five topics: criminal justice, immigration, education, economic development, and health.

The forum will be moderated by VICE News’ award-winning team of correspondents, including: Antonia Hylton, Alzo Slade, Paola Ramos, Dexter Thomas, David Noriega, and Krishna Andavolu. Additional questions posed to candidates will be sourced from VICE News’ social audience and a live audience comprised of Iowa constituents.

Cover: 11 Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to appear at the Brown & Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Jan. 20, 2020.

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Elizabeth Warren boasts of endorsement from ‘dangerous sexual predator’ Ed Buck

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts trumpeted the support of an alleged serial predator in a list of 200 Obama alumni who have backed her presidential campaign.

On the list is “Edward B.P. Buck.” Ed Buck, 65, whose full name is Edward Bernard Peter Buck, was arrested in September on charges of three counts of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine, and maintaining a drug house in Los Angeles, California. Federal authorities also charged Buck with one count of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death.

“This was a mistake considering Ed Buck was not staff or an alum. This was put together via Google Docs by some Obama alums, and they caught some nonstaff that populated the list, but obviously, they missed one. They are removing it,” Warren spokesman Chris Hayden told the Washington Examiner.

Alleged victims of Buck told investigators that he would prey on black men with the promise of free drugs to lure them back to his home in Los Angeles. There, Buck would drug the victims against their wishes and sexually assault them. Buck, a major Democratic Party megadonor, has supported a number of past candidates, including President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and California Reps. Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff.

Linking via Twitter to an article about the endorsements, Warren said: “I’m grateful to have the support of these Obama campaign alumni and my fellow Obama administration alumni. Their work changed what we know is possible in our politics. Together, we can win in 2020 and build a government that works for everyone.”

In July 2017, Gemmel Moore, 26, who was homeless and working as a prostitute, fatally overdosed. Moore wrote in his journal that he blamed Buck for his out-of-control drug habit. “I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” Moore wrote. “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of crystal meth.”

In January this year, Timothy Dean, 55, was found dead in Buck’s home. Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, said at the time that the man ingested drugs before coming to the megadonor’s residence.

Buck delayed for 15 minutes before calling paramedics after Dean died, according to an autopsy report. That was disputed by Buck, who said he was in another room taking a shower when Dean fell unconscious.

“From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment,” his lawyer said. Dean’s sister, Joyce Jackson, described Buck as a predator. “I really believe he preyed on people. I think he’s sick. He really needs to get some help,” she said.

Prosecutors touched on the two deaths in court documents, writing, “Not deterred by the senseless deaths of Moore and Dean, [Buck] nearly killed a third victim last week.”

In the motion requesting bail be set at $4 million, prosecutors called Buck “a violent, dangerous sexual predator” who “mainly preys on men made vulnerable by addiction and homelessness.”

One individual told investigators in horrifying detail about the alleged terror Buck would inflict on his victims.

“Buck then became frustrated and obtained a power saw from a closet, turned it on, and approached Victim 7 with it,” a criminal filing states.

If convicted of the charges, Buck could face more than five years in state prison.

Buck made his millions in the 1980s while living in Arizona after buying an information services company out of bankruptcy. He then began bankrolling a number of political initiatives, starting with leading the impeachment charge against former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham. In 1989, he was crowned the grand marshal of the International Gay Rodeo.

Buck moved to a gay neighborhood of West Hollywood, Los Angeles, two years later and started funding the campaigns of various Democrats at the local, state, and national levels. Since the 1990s, Buck has donated over half a million dollars to Democratic candidates.

But as he was cutting checks to prominent Democratic politicians, Buck was allegedly engaged in a twisted game of manipulating some of the city’s most vulnerable.

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Top Republican calls on U.S. Senate to correct ‘toxic’ impeachment case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican in the U.S. Senate on Thursday called on his fellow senators to correct what he called the “toxic” impeachment of President Donald Trump, sending the strongest signal yet that lawmakers will not remove Trump from office.

In a harsh attack, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives of succumbing to “transient passions and factionalism” when it voted on Wednesday to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump, only the third U.S. president to be impeached, is likely to go on trial in the Senate early in January on the charges related to his attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic political foe Joe Biden.

It was unclear exactly what the trial would look like or when it would happen, however. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she will not send the case to the Senate until she gets a sense of the trial’s parameters, comments seen as an effort to win concessions for Democrats who want high-profile witnesses who might embarrass Trump to testify.

Republicans control the 100-member Senate and none of them has indicated a willingness to remove Trump, who is running for re-election in November 2020.

Dismissing the impeachment vote as “slapdash,” McConnell made it clear that he did not think the Senate should find Trump guilty.

“The vote did not reflect what had been proven. It only reflects how they feel about the president. The Senate must put this right,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“This particular House of Representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future,” he said.

McConnell has already said he is working in tandem with the White House on trial preparations, drawing accusations from Democrats that he is ignoring his duty to consider the evidence in an impartial manner.

Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said on MSNBC that Democrats were concerned McConnell may not allow a full trial.

“It’s very hard to believe that Mitch McConnell can raise his right hand and pledge to be impartial,” Hoyer said.

Trump, 73, is accused of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, a former U.S. vice president, as well as a discredited theory that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election.

Democrats say that as part of his pressure campaign, Trump held back $391 million in security aid for Ukraine and a coveted White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as leverage to coerce Kiev into interfering in the 2020 election by smearing Biden.

Trump is also accused of obstruction of Congress for directing administration officials and agencies not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

A Senate trial would kick off a politically-charged year heading into the presidential election, which will pit Trump against one of a field of Democratic contenders, including Biden, who have repeatedly criticized Trump’s conduct in office and promised to make it a key issue.

Trump’s presidency has polarized the United States, dividing families and friends and making it more difficult for politicians in Washington to find middle ground as they try to confront challenges like the rise of China and climate change.


Pelosi, who angered Trump by leading the impeachment process in the House, accused McConnell of being a “rogue leader.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) returns to his office after a speech on the Senate floor of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“I heard some of what Mitch McConnell said today and it reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue president. I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time,” she said.

Pelosi said after Wednesday’s vote that she would wait to name the Democratic House “managers,” who will prosecute the case, until she knew more about the Senate trial procedures. Those comments were widely interpreted as an attempt to pressure Republicans into agreeing to Democratic demands.

Democrats want a “fair and speedy trial” that hears testimony from four high-ranking administration witnesses and allows senators to review some documents related to the case, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

​ He said McConnell on Thursday “did not make one argument why the witnesses and documents should not be part of the trial.”

Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the impeachment inquiry launched by Pelosi in September a “witch hunt.”

He said the ball was now in the Senate’s court.

“Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!”

Trump’s political future now rests with McConnell, a self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper” who is widely known as a shrewd negotiator who plays hardball politics at a level unusual even by Washington standards.

On the surface, the 77-year-old six-term senator from Kentucky could not be more different from the president. The laconic McConnell eschews Twitter, sometimes sits silently listening in meetings, according to those who have attended, and can repel reporters’ questions by refusing to utter a syllable.

Trump regularly telephones McConnell, according to a former aide to the senator.

Slideshow (7 Images) 

Graphic: Articles of Impeachment, here

Graphic: U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Full Impeachment Report, here

Graphic: Impeachment inquiry against President Trump, here

Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker, Susan Heavey, and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Sonya Hepinstall

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What should the candidates debate tonight? Here’s what you told us

On the economy, readers frequently asked about Democrats’ various proposals to tackle income inequality:

What happens in 5 or 10 years when a $15 minimum wage is no longer considered enough? Do we stage a political battle for a $20 minimum wage and start all over again?

My girlfriend’s parents own a local business in their town. A $15 minimum wage would mean a few of their workers will have to lose hours, and new hires will be more infrequent in order for them to stay on-budget. The end result will be workers often having to finish the same tasks, but in less time. I suspect this will be the case in small businesses all over the country. I’m not saying people shouldn’t earn a living wage, but wouldn’t a UBI [Universal Basic Income] that raises everyone’s income accomplish the same thing without hurting my girlfriend’s parents’ business?

– Andrew Ma in Las Vegas, Nevada

Don’t just stick to policy. Readers also want a sense of candidates’ personal character and values.

It’s not just about picking the candidate with the best policy proposals. Readers told us they want to know whether candidates are aligned with their values and have the right level of emotional intelligence to unite the country.

No candidate is perfect, and humility is a rare trait in a politician. Tell us the best reason why you should not be president.

– Liam Sigaud in Rockland, Maine

Readers want to go deeper on environment and climate change.

Nine percent of all questions were about this policy area. Sixty-three percent of registered voters say they’re concerned about climate change and its impact on the environment, according to our latest poll with Morning Consult. While the 2020 Democrats broadly agree that climate change is an emergency that needs to be addressed with government intervention, that doesn’t mean there’s no need for further discussion on the debate stage. For example, all of the candidates have embraced a target of “net-zero” emissions by 2050 or earlier, but their plans are fuzzy on how to get there.

Would you pass an economy-wide carbon tax on all fossil fuels within your first 100 days? As a member of Gen Z, I’m going to face the consequences of climate change but I also want to ensure a prosperous economy into the future. We need to tackle the systemic issue of climate change, but need to do so efficiently by creating jobs and real economic opportunity.

– Tim Cronin in Weymouth, Massachusetts

Readers want to know about electability and governing plans.

More than a fifth of our readers had questions that were not about specific policy. Concerns over electability are lingering in some Democratic voters’ minds. Our latest poll with Morning Consult shows 30 percent of them would support the most electable candidate over the candidate who best represents their beliefs.

Of all the reader submissions for Democratic candidates, 17 percent mentioned Donald Trump.

What’s your sales pitch to sway someone from a swing state who passionately voted for Trump into voting for you?

– Dylan McCollum in Tucson, Arizona

Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang were the most-mentioned candidates.

Sanders was the most frequently mentioned candidate. Readers who submitted questions for the senator most commonly asked about health care, particularly concerning “Medicare for All.” But not everyone had a direct question for Sanders. His name often came up when readers mentioned concerns over equal speaking time and media coverage.