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The Ongoing Struggle of John Lewis

It was January, 2009, and I don’t think I’d ever seen someone so full of hope: on the Sunday before Barack Obama’s first inauguration, John Lewis arrived at Shiloh Baptist, an African-American church in Washington founded just after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, to preach “the King message.” Lewis told me that, for days, he had been walking around the capital in a “state of unreality.”

Lewis, who announced this Sunday that he will soon begin treatment for Stage IV pancreatic cancer, is seventy-nine, and he has represented Georgia’s fifth congressional district since 1987. He grew up in a sharecropper family near Troy, Alabama. Jim Crow ruled his early years: the Whites Only rule that kept him from reading books at the Pike County public library, the countless miseries and injustices that structured life. When he was barely twenty, Lewis was among the first Freedom Riders. He soon became chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he spoke alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The elders in the movement judged his original text to be too radical, too confrontational with the Kennedy Administration––“Which side is the federal government on?” Lewis had wanted to ask. The elders made him tone it down.

Days before Obama’s inaugural ceremonies, despite freezing temperatures, thousands of people, many of them African-American, wandered around the Capitol Building and the Mall just to get close to what they knew would be a historic event. At Shiloh Baptist, Lewis told the congregants that on inauguration day the crowds on the Mall would be joined by the “saints and angels”: by Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, John Brown, Nat Turner, W. E. B. Du Bois. Later, as Lewis was walking around the Mall, talking with people, a young black man approached shyly and introduced himself, saying he was the police chief in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Lewis smiled. “Imagine that,” he said. “I was beaten near to death at the Rock Hill Greyhound bus terminal during the Freedom Rides, in 1961. Now the police chief is black.”

Lewis initially supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 race–––he regarded the Clintons as longtime allies and was reluctant to abandon them––but, he said, he had “an executive session with myself” and switched to Obama. “I had to be on the right side of history.” Obama, for his part, kept a framed cover of Life magazine in his Senate office; the cover was from March, 1965, and it captured the standoff on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, between Alabama state troopers and the crowd of civil-rights protesters, led by John Lewis. In his remarkable memoir of the movement, “Walking with the Wind,” Lewis recalled the approach of the troopers on what came to be known as Bloody Sunday: “The clunk of the troopers’ heavy boots, the whoops of rebel yells from the white onlookers, the clip-clop of horses’ hooves hitting the hard asphalt of the highway, the voice of a woman shouting, ‘Get ’em! Get the niggers!’ And then they were upon us.”

Seconds later, a state trooper brought a truncheon down on Lewis, fracturing his skull. Lewis refused to go to the hospital. Instead, in a daze, his pale raincoat splattered with blood, he made his way to the pulpit of Brown Chapel, where many of the protesters, choking from tear gas, had assembled. Lewis told them, “I don’t know how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam. I don’t see how he can send troops to the Congo. I don’t see how he can send troops to Africa, and he can’t send troops to Selma, Alabama.”

Television coverage of Selma, and the outrage that grew out of it, insured that Bloody Sunday became one of the most important acts of nonviolent resistance since 1930, when Mahatma Gandhi led the long march against the colonial salt tax. Bloody Sunday sparked Lyndon Johnson to push through the Voting Rights Act by the end of the summer––and John Lewis, age twenty-five, had been at the head of it all.

As Obama left his swearing in, Lewis approached him with a sheet of paper and asked the new President, the first black President, to sign it. And he did. He wrote, “Because of you, John. Barack Obama.”

It is hard not to view this capsule history as naïve and sentimental. We are three years into a Trump Administration––and a year away from his quite possible reëlection. At Trump rallies, some supporters plainly revel in his cruelties and bigotry. Countless other Trump voters deny that they are racist or misogynist or xenophobic––they support him for other reasons, they tell pollsters and reporters––but in order to vote for him, they had to be willing, at a minimum, to tolerate his racism, his contempt for women, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, Central Americans, Africans. And to know that this is still possible tells a bleak story: no matter how carefully Obama calibrated his language about race, his sheer presence as President fuelled resentments and hatreds that Trump has been able to exploit. Though the election of a black President fulfilled at least a measure of what John Lewis and so many others had been jailed and beaten for, the Obama Presidency hardly eradicated the racist, nativist strain that has infected American life for centuries.

John Lewis refused to attend Trump’s inauguration. He said that that Russian interference in the campaign was unfair and the election “illegitimate.” Trump could not resist retaliating against Lewis, tweeting that the congressman from Atlanta ought to “spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart.” Trump, of course, smeared other members of Congress of color in similar terms. He attacked the late Elijah Cummings, in similarly racist language, calling the Baltimore congressman’s district, “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

When Trump said that four Democratic congresswomen of color––Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley––should “go back” to where they came from, Lewis did not hesitate to call things by their proper name. “I know racism when I see it,” he said before a House vote, in July, denouncing the President’s tweets. “I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of our government, there’s no room for racism.”

More recently, Lewis gave one of the most compelling speeches supporting Trump’s impeachment. “Our nation is founded on the principle that we do not have kings,” he said from the House floor. “We have Presidents. And the Constitution is our compass. When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

No one, over a long lifetime, gets everything right. John Lewis has come as close as anyone. Which is why the news of his illness is such painful news. But, on Sunday, it was Lewis himself who quickly made clear that he was not prepared to relinquish his struggles. His decency is matched by his relentlessness.

“I have been in some kind of fight—for freedom, equality, basic human rights—for nearly my entire life,” he said. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.” Despite the seriousness of his condition, doctors told him he has a “fighting chance”: “So I have decided to do what I knew to do and what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community.”

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3 big health care stories to watch for in 2020

Here’s a prediction: Health care will be a big story in 2020.

There is a joke among health care journalists that we benefit from a (fictional) Full Employment Act. Given the money involved and the stakes for patients, our beat is always going to be at or near the center of the news. It’s just too important.

The only question is which health care story is going to be big at a given time. After looking back at how health care changed in the 2010s, I thought I would glance ahead briefly and consider some of the questions I have as we head into 2020.

Is the surprise medical billing fix going to pass?

Congress failed to pass a (partial) fix for the surprise bills sometimes face in the end-of-the-year government it passed before the holidays. As the most must-pass of must-pass bills, the spending bill is always the best bet to get a policy like that enacted into law. Now the surprise billing fix faces an uncertain future.

The health care industry has fought fiercely over the bill, with insurance companies against doctors and hospitals, over how much providers get paid for out-of-network emergency care. The bill doesn’t cover every type of surprise billing (excluded from the provisions: ground ambulances, tricky to regulate because of local governments) but it would be a big safety net for patients. They would never have to pay more than their in-network rates for most kinds of emergency care. But then lawmakers have to figure out a system to determine how much insurers must pay providers they don’t already contract with.

Despite a deal reached by key House and Senate chairs from both parties, hesitation from lawmakers reportedly worried about their local hospitals and the last-minute announcement of a possible alternative plan kept the fix out of the spending bill.

So what now?

Well, nothing about the policy fight has really changed. Democratic and Republican leaders are going to have to decide whether to push through a plan that will surely leave one or both sides of the industry dispute angry or not pass anything at all. They should get a chance — Congress more or less must pass some health care bill in the coming year, to extend certain existing policies — but the last few weeks already proved there are no guarantees if money for the health care industry is at stake.

In fact, while the surprise bills provision didn’t make it into the spending bill, several industry taxes got repealed. It was quite a flex of influence.

How do Democrats campaign on health care against Trump?

Believe it or not, at some point, there will be only one Democratic candidate, the nominee, and he or she will be running a general election campaign against President Donald Trump.

Trump certainly seems to want to avoid the topic of his health care record, given it is replete with plans and administration policies that result in people losing health coverage, and Democrats in the very recent past succeeded in beating a lot of Republicans by running against the unpopular GOP agenda.

The question is how much the Democratic nominee runs on the merits of their own plan versus on their contrast with Trump. Or, in other words, what’s the message difference between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders — the latter of whom has proven the second-most durable candidate.

You can probably imagine Biden’s approach: tout Obamacare, slam Trump, and talk if necessary about your public option plan. But Sanders always puts health care first — he will bring it up unprompted at the debates — and he is uncompromising about Medicare-for-all.

One thing I’ve noticed: Sanders is promising to “introduce” a single-payer bill in his first week in the White House and fight for it. That’s different than promising to pass it. In the subtlest possible way, Sanders does seem to be nodding to political realities at a time when the chances of his actually being the nominee seem as good as they’ve ever been. After all, introducing and fighting for a bill is all any of these candidates can really promise. (He does also hit Trump from the stump for introducing plans to throw millions of people off their health care.)

Republicans will try to paint the Democratic health care plans as scary socialism. The argument from Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is this is why we should support public option plans, offering choice, which poll better at the moment. Sanders supporters would say any Democratic plan will be painted as too left-wing and so they might as well campaign on what they actually want.

Pete Buttigieg or Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaigns probably look more like Biden’s. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is kind of a big unknown after pundits attributed her relative decline in the polls to fumbles over Medicare-for-all. But all of them are sure to go after Trump.

Where does Trump’s actual health care agenda go?

A lot of Trump’s actual health care policy is either still in development or on hold in the courts. The administration has pursued some pretty big ideas on health care, but my question for 2020 is how close some of them actually get to becoming reality — and what is their real impact when they do.

Medicaid work requirements are temporarily stopped in Arkansas; meanwhile, they have been pulled in Kentucky after a Democratic win for governor. But the administration keeps approving them; Tennessee got the latest okay from the Trump health agency. They could be confident that more conservative higher courts will overturn the judicial ruling that’s currently keeping the work requirements on hold.

And the experience in Arkansas before the court intervention, remember, was upwards of 20,000 people losing their Medicaid benefits.

The administration is also finalizing regulations on drug costs (linking Medicare payments to international prices, allowing some importation from Canada) and price transparency for providers and insurers. But some or all of them are going to face legal challenges from the health care industry. Canada might not be keen to let Americans buy cheap drugs from there if pharma is going to raise their prices.

And now it looks like the Trump administration is ready to green light Medicaid spending caps, through block grants. Another legal challenge awaits.

One Trump agenda item that is probably stuck in stasis is the lawsuit to overturn Obamacare, which the president’s justice department is supporting. A conservative lower court has decided to postpone the resolution of that case, it appears, until after the election. Democrats have been attacking the Trump White House, in Congress and on the trail, over the case.

This story appears in VoxCare, a newsletter from Vox on the latest twists and turns in America’s health care debate. Sign up to get VoxCare in your inbox along with more health care stats and news.

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Democratic candidates decry Hanukah attacks: ‘We must fight flames of hatred’ | US news

Democratic 2020 presidential candidates have condemned a spate of antisemitic attacks and incidents over the holiday period, with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders telling a crowd at a Menorah-lighting ceremony, “If there was ever a time when we say no to divisiveness, this is that moment”.

Sanders, who was raised Jewish and lost relatives during the Holocaust but does not often talk about his religion, made his comments after an intruder stabbed five members of New Jersey’s Hasidic community at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, Rockland county, about 30 miles north of New York City, on Saturday night. The attack was called an act of “domestic terrorism” by New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

“We’re seeing people being stabbed yesterday in New York City because they were Jewish,” Sanders told a congregation at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, to light a public menorah on the final night of Hanukah.

Sanders described the latest attack, one of seven in as many days in the New York area, as part of an alarming rise in antisemitism in the United States and globally.

“If there was ever a time in American history where we say no to religious bigotry, this is the time. If there was ever a time when we say no to divisiveness, this is that moment,” he added, warning of a rise in tolerance against people targeted for their race, religion or identity.

Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, center, leads Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the inauguration of a Torah scroll ceremony on Sunday outside his home in Monsey, New York, where five people were stabbed on Saturday night.

Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, center, leads Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the inauguration of a Torah scroll ceremony on Sunday outside his home in Monsey, New York, where five people were stabbed on Saturday night. Photograph: Peter Foley/EPA

His remarks came hours after a separate incident in which a gunman opened fire on a church in White Settlement, Texas, killing two parishioners.

As political leaders grappled with the aftermath of the Monsey attack, alleged assailant Grafton Thomas, 37, is reportedly being investigated in connection with an earlier stabbing of a Jewish man near a synagogue in the same area. Grafton pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder on Sunday.

Grafton was reportedly covered in blood when he was arrested in Harlem following the attack, and is undergoing psychiatric evaluation. In a statement issued by attorney Michael Sussman, his family said: “Grafton Thomas has a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations. He has no history of like violent acts and no convictions for any crime.”

“He has no known history of antisemitism and was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races. He is not a member of any hate groups. We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness,” the statement said.

Antisemitic crimes rose 22% percent in 2018 compared with 2017, according to NYPD figures, and have risen again in 2019. The Anti-Defamation League recorded 1,879 antisemitic incidents in 2018, including an attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that left 11 dead and six wounded.

On Sunday, Donald Trump joined those decrying the 7th night of Hanukah “as horrific”.

“We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism,” Trump tweeted.

Other candidates in the 2020 election race were united in their responses to the attack.

“I’m heartsick for the victims of this horrific attack. This is unfortunately just the latest of a series of anti-Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey,” Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter. “We must fight anti-Semitism and make clear that hateful bigotry has no place in our society.”

Cory Booker, senator for New Jersey, where six people were killed in a shooting that targeted a kosher supermarket earlier this month, said: “The increasing frequency of antisemitic attacks is horrifying. We must all join to stop them in their tracks and root out the hatred and ignorance at their core.”

Former vice-president and 2020 contender Joe Biden offered his “deepest sympathies” to the victims, their families and the Jewish community.

“The horrifying rise of antisemitism is tearing apart the fabric of our communities and the soul of this nation,” Biden messaged. “We’ve got to stand together as a country and fight these flames of hatred.”

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg said his “prayers are with the victims of these horrific acts of antisemitism and hate. This cannot be tolerated.”

Entrepreneur and 2020 candidate Andrew Yang said: “Antisemitism is a horrifying scourge that has no place in America’, adding, “I have many Jewish friends and I can’t imagine how it must feel to have one’s community targeted in such a despicable fashion. It turns a time of celebration to one of fear and mourning.”

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Joe Biden: I will not comply with Senate subpoena in impeachment trial


In an interview with the editorial board of the De Moines Register in Iowa on December 27, former Vice President Joe Biden confirmed again that he won’t comply with Senate subpoena in Trump’s impeachment trial.

“What are you going to cover?” Joe Biden said to Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter in response to a question about the possibility of his participation in the trial.

“You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said,” Biden said to Hunter. “And (Trump’s) going to get away.”

“You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke …” Joe Biden added. “Think what it’s about. It’s all about what he does all the time, his entire career. Take the focus off. This guy violated the Constitution. He said it in the driveway of the White House. He acknowledged he asked for help.”


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Greta Thunberg, AOC, and America’s love and hatred of young women

When Greta Thunberg was chosen as Time’s Person of the Year earlier this month, the accolades quickly rolled in.

The hashtag #CongratulationsGreta went viral as everyone from celebrities to newscasters to ordinary people around the world offered their praise for the 16-year-old and her outspoken climate activism.

President Donald Trump, however, was unhappy with the choice, tweeting that Thunberg should “work on her Anger Management problem” and “go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend”:

It was part of a bigger pattern. While Thunberg has become a hero to many (perhaps more than she wants), she’s also become a perennial target for attacks by Trump and others on the right. And she’s not alone. In recent years, other girls and young women, from gymnast Gabby Douglas to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have found themselves in similar positions in American culture: held up as subjects of adulation by some, even as they’re torn down and vilified by others.

It’s a symptom of the position of young women in the 2010s: still so underrepresented in many spheres that when one rises to prominence, it’s an exciting event. And, by the same token, their relative isolation makes them a focal point for the collective anger of everyone who would prefer young women be seen and not heard.

Thunberg and other young women have been both lifted up and torn down

When Thunberg started her climate strike in August 2018, skipping school to stand outside the Swedish Parliament with a sign reading “School Strike for Climate,” she likely had no idea what was to come. But soon, others began to join her and she became one of the most widely recognized faces of a youth climate movement that’s inspired millions of people to strike around the world.

Thunberg was far from the first to sound the alarm on climate change and environmental degradation; indigenous activists of all ages, like those who protested the building of the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in 2016, have been doing so for generations. But she became a celebrity, with TV interviews, merchandise bearing her face, and then, in December, the cover of Time.

As much as Thunberg has won adulation from liberals, she’s also been attacked by Trump and other Republicans. Before his December tweet, the president had mockingly commented that “she seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” Meanwhile, others called her a “vulnerable young drama queen” or said she is “mentally ill.” (Thunberg has been open about having Asperger’s syndrome, which is not a mental illness.)

The treatment — high praise combined with intense vitriol — was likely familiar to many women who came to prominence in America in their teens or 20s. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2018 at the age of 29, certainly experienced it.

The New York Democrat has always made clear that she represents not just herself but a larger group of Americans with progressive priorities and values, as Prachi Gupta reports in a recent biography of the member of Congress. When asked in a primary debate if she’d support her opponent should he win the nomination, she replied, “I represent not just my campaign but a movement. I would be happy to take that question to our movement for a vote.”

Nonetheless, Ocasio-Cortez — or AOC, as she’s come to be known — has become perhaps the best-known face of that progressive movement. With 6 million followers on Twitter and 4 million on Instagram, she’s a social-media sensation. And like Thunberg, her image has been used to adorn T-shirts and other products. Look no further than this memorable mug that displays her riding on a unicorn, with the message, “I believe in AOC.”

She’s also been a target of ridicule and mockery since her election, with critics focusing on everything from her clothing to her haircut to her dancing. Trump has led the charge several times, as when he launched a series of racist tweets at “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” — presumably meaning Ocasio-Cortez and her political allies Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley — telling them to “go back” to their countries. All four Representatives are US citizens; Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, not far from Trump’s own birthplace in Queens.

Thunberg and Ocasio-Cortez haven’t been the only girls and young people who’ve found themselves the subject of combined fascination and fury. Activist Emma González rose to prominence after she survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She began giving speeches and helping to organize marches for gun safety, alongside other young activists, many of them young women. While many followed in her footsteps in calling for stricter gun laws, others lobbed homophobic attacks, with one Republican candidate for state office calling her a “skinhead lesbian.” (González, who is bisexual, responded: “Skinheads are bad and lesbians are good.”)

And such hatred hasn’t been reserved for young people who became famous through political action. Gabby Douglas became a worldwide sensation in 2012 when she became the first black American woman to become an Olympic all-around champion in gymnastics. Then, in 2016, she faced racist and sexist attacks, with critics going after her for failing to put her hand on her heart during the national anthem and other perceived slights. The experiences helped inspire Douglas to become an anti-bullying advocate.

Tennis superstar Serena Williams has faced similar treatment throughout her career, as Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos pointed out in 2016. Ever since she rose to fame as a teenager, she’s been subject to racist caricatures, attacks on her body, and an endless onslaught of criticisms that white male athletes simply don’t have to deal with.

All told, the 2010s were a decade when girls and young women could look around and see themselves represented in public life perhaps more than ever before — but that representation came at the price of hatred, sometimes from the most powerful men in the country.

It’s a sign of how American culture views young women

Overall, the 2010s have seen a hunger for female role models. The election of President Trump and the rise of the Me Too movement have inspired many women to activism and political action, and made many Americans think about the disproportionate power men still hold.

And yet, men still dominate. As one example, Trump remains president, despite reports by more than 20 women that he sexually assaulted, harassed, or otherwise violated them.

Meanwhile, women still face the social expectation that they be quiet, agreeable, and certainly never aggressive — even when they’re running for president. Those expectations are even more intense for girls and younger women (though older women face their own set of biases). And prominent young women of color face not just sexism and ageism but racism as well. As Vox’s Nisha Chittal writes, the attacks on Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow progressive congresswomen “feel all too familiar to many women of color; they’re part of a long, established pattern of attempts to silence those who step out of the roles society has ascribed to them.”

All this combined to make the 2010s a time when young women were widely celebrated for their achievements — in some cases made into celebrities even against their will — while simultaneously being vilified for breaking with the conventions that held previous generations back.

As a result, girls growing up today have more prominent women to look up to than perhaps ever before, some of them only a few years younger than they are. But they also see those women being treated with hatred and cruelty, time and time again. That constant barrage might well be discouraging for some would-be activists and politicians. Why run for office, give a public speech, or stand up for what you believe in when the result might be a hate tweet from the president of the United States?

On the other hand, Thunberg and others of her generation have shown how well they hold their own when attacked by those in power. When Trump tweeted about her in September, she changed her Twitter bio to make fun of him. When he accused her of having “Anger Management” issues in December, she did it again, changing her bio to read that she was “a teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

The 2010s have been, in many ways, a punishing time to be a high-profile young woman in America. But Thunberg and others are persevering in the face of criticism, offering a model of grace, strength, and humor to the generations that follow — and even to the generations that have preceded them.

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Juan Williams: GOP are hypocrites on impeachment

A Republican friend recently asked me what I remember about President Clinton’s impeachment. How do I compare it to the impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS launches airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria Trade, interest rates top finance fights for 2020 Five health care fights to watch in 2020 MORE?

I laughed. He insisted I tell him.

But before saying anything I warned him not to get partisan and angry.

Then I told him the truth: My strongest memory of those 1998 hearings is the hypocrisy of the Republican men in Congress.

It turned out that Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE (R-Ga.), who as Speaker led the charge to impeach Clinton for lying about sex with a White House intern, was having an extramarital affair with a congressional staffer.

It also was revealed at that time that Gingrich cheated on and divorced his second wife while she was being treated for multiple sclerosis.

Gingrich also cheated on his first wife — with the woman who became his second wife — while she was being treated for cancer.

And there was more hypocrisy.

Then-Rep. Bob Livingston (La.), the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was poised to take over as Speaker after Gingrich resigned. But he also had a sex scandal. He quit Congress after it was revealed he had had extramarital affairs, even though he was railing against Clinton’s infidelity.

Then-Rep. Henry Hyde (Ill.), the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who served as the chief prosecutor in Clinton’s impeachment trial, was also exposed for having had an extramarital affair while condemning Clinton’s behavior.

Hyde famously described his affair as a “youthful indiscretion.” Hyde was 41 years old at the time of the affair.

Now my friend looked upset. He tried to end the conversation by saying Democrats who defended Clinton now look like hypocrites for going after Trump.

But I told him the GOP hypocrisy extends from Clinton’s impeachment to Trump’s impeachment.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Giuliani should share info he has with intel community to ensure ‘it’s not Russian propaganda’ Senate GOP wants speedy Trump acquittal Netanyahu promises U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements  MORE (R-S.C.) is now one of Trump’s loudest defenders.

But here is Graham, as one of the GOP’s impeachment managers in 1998, talking about what it takes to remove the president from office:

“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job [as president] in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” Graham said. “Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

With Trump in the White House, Graham is singing a different tune.

“I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with… So, I don’t need any witnesses,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” earlier this month. “I am ready to vote on the underlying articles. I don’t really need to hear a lot of witnesses.”

And the hypocrisy does not stop there.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive health care fights to watch in 2020 Democrats worry impeachment acquittal will embolden Trump Sunday shows – Tensions simmer during break in impeachment process MORE (R-Ky.) is also trying to prevent witnesses who were blocked by Trump from testifying before the House from testifying in the Senate trial.

Here is McConnell speaking when the Clinton impeachment reached the Senate:

“There have been 15 impeachments [of federal officials] in the history of the country. Two of them were cut short by resignations. In the other 13 impeachments, there were witnesses,” he told CNN’s Larry King in January 1999.  “It’s not unusual to have a witness…in an impeachment trial.”

And one more hypocritical touch.

McConnell recently accused Pelosi of breaking precedent by not immediately sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate after the House voted to impeach.

But how can McConnell complain about breaking with precedent when, during President Obama’s time in office, he broke long Senate precedent by refusing to hold confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandJuan Williams: GOP are hypocrites on impeachment Finding an animating issue is Democrats’ biggest 2020 challenge — not Trump McCaskill: ‘Mitch McConnell has presided over absolutely destroying Senate norms’ MORE?

Along with this rich hypocrisy is a healthy dose of revisionist history about the Clinton impeachment.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthy2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics McConnell flexes reelection muscle with B gift for Kentucky McCarthy recommends Collins, Ratcliffe, Jordan to represent Trump in Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Calif.) tweeted on the eve of the impeachment vote: “For the Democrats sitting in districts that voted to send President Trump to the White House — if you vote to impeach tomorrow, you will be defying the vote of your own constituents.”

This drew a sharp rebuke from veteran political reporter Ron Brownstein, who corrected McCarthy on Twitter:

“In 1998 there were 91 House Republicans in districts that voted for Clinton in 1996. Almost all of them voted to “defy the votes of [their] constituents” by impeaching him.

“Over the next two elections (‘98 & 2000) just 7 of those 91 Clinton district Republicans were defeated,” Brownstein added.

As I have noted on this page before, public support for the Republican House majority’s effort to impeach Clinton never went above 29 percent.

That is quite different from the 50 percent of Americans who support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, according to a recent Fox poll. An even higher number, 54 percent, supports his impeachment but not his removal from office.

After 40 years of covering Washington politics, it once again feels to me that democratic norms are being tossed out by Trump and his GOP acolytes in Congress.

So, my friend, I’m sorry if I upset you. But you asked and that is what I will remember about both impeachments.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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Biden’s Subpoena Standard – WSJ

Donald Trump should keep a thank-you letter to Joe Biden on robo-write. In his latest favor to the President, the former Vice President told the Des Moines Register last week that he wouldn’t honor a subpoena to testify in a Senate impeachment trial.

“Former Vice President Joe Biden confirmed Friday he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in a Senate trial of President Donald Trump,” the Iowa newspaper reported.


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Rudy’s Ukraine Adventure  | National Review

I’ve finally worked my way through the long New Yorker profile of the former Ukraine prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who fed Rudy Giuliani supposedly bombshell information about corruption in Ukraine. The picture is about what you would expect: of Rudy on a wild-goose chase in a country he knew much less about than he thought, led on by people with their own self-interest in leading him on. The root of the Ukraine controversy is that Rudy, who must be the worst lawyer any president of the United States has ever had, convinced Trump to join this chase against the better judgment of almost everyone else around the president.

There are two other striking things about the piece. One is that it underscores how Rudy — and presumably by extension, Trump — sincerely believed he was about to unravel some kind of vast conspiracy involving the Bidens. This doesn’t speak well of his judgment, but it does go to his intentions (this is probably why Trump, near the end of the caper when he was saying he didn’t want a quid pro quo, averred he only wanted the Ukrainians to do the right thing).

The other is that Burisma and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, were legitimately shady and had in the past been deemed worthy of investigation.

The New Yorker piece notes this:

Burisma had announced that Hunter had joined its board in 2014, less than a month after Zlochevsky’s accounts in the U.K. were secretly frozen. The announcement received little sustained attention in the U.S., but the pro-Russia media jumped on the story and continued to push it as a matter of dark concern. Hunter, who had long struggled with severe drug and alcohol problems, had almost no expertise in the region or in energy, and many U.S. and Ukrainian officials suspected that Zlochevsky had put Hunter on the board in the hope of protecting himself from prosecution. Some White House and State Department officials disapproved of Hunter’s role at Burisma, concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest, but they mostly avoided discussing the matter with Joe Biden. The Vice-President had an unwritten “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it came to his family members’ business decisions. The issue seemed too sensitive to raise easily, particularly given that Biden’s elder son, Beau, had advanced cancer.

While U.S. authorities had pushed Ukrainian leaders to pursue the money-laundering case against Zlochevsky, Ukrainian law-enforcement officials became concerned, because Hunter Biden was on the Burisma board, that any steps they took might displease powerful people in Kyiv and Washington, and they slowed down their efforts. Andrii Telizhenko, who served as an adviser to Ukraine’s prosecutor general at the time, Vitaliy Yarema, told me, “I got calls from Yarema, from lower prosecutors, asking, ‘What should we do? Can you find out from the U.S.?’ They still have the Soviet mentality. They were afraid of power. They asked themselves, ‘What will happen to us and our families?’ ”


And this:

In January, 2019, Lev Parnas—who told me that he was “like Rudy’s assistant”—arranged a Skype call between Giuliani and Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general whom Poroshenko had fired at the urging of Joe Biden, two years earlier, and who had since retired. During the call, Shokin made the unsubstantiated claim that Biden had him removed from the job because he had been investigating Zlochevsky and Burisma. Ukrainian and American officials told me that the situation was quite the opposite, and that Shokin had in fact been fired for failing to investigate Burisma and other similar cases despite calls by Ambassador Pyatt and others for him to do so.

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When John Solomon was Rudy Giuliani’s toughest critic

At the time, Giuliani’s associates often found themselves blindsided. “We wondered where he was getting all this stuff,” a person who worked with Giuliani for a long time told POLITICO.

The intensity of Solomon’s reporting back then has stuck in the minds of Giuliani’s old allies — making his recent heel-turn as a fellow traveler with Giuliani in the current Ukraine scandal “very odd,” said this person. It was Solomon who, as a reporter and opinion journalist at The Hill, wrote many of the stories that promoted Giuliani’s narrative of a Joe and Hunter Biden running amok in Kyiv in league with the previous Ukrainian government.

It’s a narrative that became an obsession of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, landing him in a congressional probe that has led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives and placed his re-election in doubt.

Those stories are now under review by The Hill, according to executive editor Bob Cusack, amid questions about their accuracy and an uproar among the publication’s reporting staff. As for Solomon, he stands by his articles, but has left The Hill to start his own media company and continues as a contributor to Fox News.

Solomon’s 2007-vintage reporting has not undergone any similar scrutiny — nor has it been disputed — but Giuliani associates sometimes found it maddeningly granular. One story, for instance, hit the former mayor and his firm for hiring Pasquale D’Amuro, a former top FBI official, focusing on the fact that D’Amuro had once asked a subordinate to retrieve building remains from the post-9/11 wreckage of the Twin Towers as relics.

A spokesperson for Giuliani, Christianné Allen, slammed Solomon’s old Washington Post stories that were critical of her current boss. “Mayor Giuliani had very little involvement in Solomon’s stories in 2007 and 2008 and has in the past stated they were poorly sourced, exceedingly exaggerated, and had little impact on his campaign,” she said. Solomon didn’t respond to an email asking him to respond to that statement.

Peter Baker, the current chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, worked on at least one of those stories with Solomon when they were both at the Post. “Everything I worked on with him that we published was good reporting, and accurate and fair and all that good stuff,” he told POLITICO.

Those who interacted with Solomon during the 2008 Republican primary considered him “relentless,” “annoying” and a “dog with a bone” – a typical set of virtues for an investigative reporter.

“He was interested in telling a side that maybe other reporters weren’t,” said a former senior RNC operative in the 2000s who dealt with Solomon.

“He wasn’t afraid to call you out on your BS if even the slightest detail was off,” recalled a friend of Giuliani’s who worked on the campaign.

One person who worked with Solomon at the Post said they liked Solomon, but found him hard to work with and said that his proposed stories often didn’t pan out. “You just had to say, ‘John, what the fuck? You don’t have this thing.’ And he would say ‘OK, alright, I’ll do something else.’”

Twelve years later and in the swirl of Trump’s impeachment, Giuliani and Solomon seem to have become almost co-dependent as both men seek to investigate Hunter Biden’s stint on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company facing corruption allegations in Kyiv. The Bidens have denied any wrongdoing, and other reporters have been unable to substantiate the allegations.

As Giuliani himself claimed to Glenn Beck in November, he and Solomon had joined forces to turn the Ukraine narrative into a nationwide event. “I said to John, I think you should take the lead and we should put this all in the newspapers because if I go to the Justice Department now, they’re going to say Trump is forcing the Justice Department to do it. Let’s put the darn thing out, and let’s see if any of these crooked media people will follow up on a proven case of bribery.” Solomon’s own lawyers are Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, who also represent Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who has been fighting his extradition to the United States.

In a different interview, Giuliani boasted that he sling-shot Solomon’s Ukraine reporting into the public eye. “I said, ‘John, let’s make this as prominent as possible,’” Giuliani recently told The New Yorker. “‘I’ll go on TV. You go on TV. You do columns.’” He then included Solomon’s columns on Ukraine in a dossier to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who handed them over to the department’s inspector general.

Solomon himself contributed to the joint effort by sharing unpublished drafts of his columns with Toensing, diGenova, and Ukrainian-American businessman and Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, according to the New York Times. Several witnesses, in sworn congressional testimony during the House’s impeachment inquiry, said that critical reporting on former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — including Solomon’s — was inaccurate and amounted to an effort to smear a well-regarded, veteran diplomat.

The irony of how Solomon and Giuliani’s relationship has changed appears to elude both men.

Giuliani, in an email, said he didn’t remember Solomon from the 2008 campaign and his stories “had little real impact on my campaign, which failed for other reasons.”

And Solomon, for his part, said in a phone interview that the narrative that he worked with Giuliani on his Ukraine stories was wrong and that he never used any Ukraine information from Giuliani until a single column in September about how some State Department officials had encouraged and helped connect Giuliani to an adviser for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.