To win, a candidate needs at least 270 Electoral College votes.
O’Malley Dillon pointed out that Biden is within striking distance in Republican-heavy Georgia and Texas.
It’s not just battleground state polling that has Biden’s campaign swaggering.
Biden leads Trump nationally in most recent public surveys. And the internals of the polls have other “core problems that Trump has” particularly, but not solely, with female voters.
“We have seen recent polling that has the vice president running 15 percentage points better with seniors than Democrats did in 2016,” she said of this crucial demographic, which reliably votes and often leans Republican. And when it comes to non-college-educated voters, Trump’s advantage has dropped from 39 points in 2016 to 24 points today, she said.
The Trump campaign has watched Biden pull or stay ahead, and last week it announced plans to launch a negative ad onslaught to drag down the Democrat’s numbers.
In a statement, the Trump campaign mocked Biden as being unable to “put on a simple webcast without catastrophic technical failures.”
“So it’s hilarious that he thinks he can command an organized national campaign. … Americans know that President Trump has been leading the nation in fighting the coronavirus and they also know that Joe Biden has been nothing but a political crank, lobbing counterproductive criticisms from his basement bunker,” the Trump campaign said.
O’Malley Dillon emphasized that the Biden campaign is not taking the polls for granted — something Hillary Clinton’s campaign was accused of doing in her upset loss to Trump in 2016 — and is growing its staff and increasing its digital outreach as it figures out how to operate in “the New World Order of Covid-19.” By June, the campaign plans to have 600 field organizers for battleground states, she said.
While the Biden campaign says the former vice president’s advantage is partly rooted in his name brand, his advisers acknowledge that the biggest factor in the election is Trump, who is more disfavored than favored in polls and who hasn’t been able to increasing his standing during the crisis, in contrast with most governors, who have seen their approval numbers rise.
“One thing that’s a fact of life in this campaign is Donald Trump carries a very unfavorable rating in the mid-to-high 40s,” senior Biden adviser Mike Donilon said, calling the president’s approval ratings “the single biggest driver” of the campaign’s dynamics.
The data-driven presentation from the campaign served as a rebuttal to critics like former advisers to former President Barack Obama, who recently expressed concern in The New York Times about how Biden is virtually campaigning from home during the pandemic. Progressive critics as well as conservatives have weighed in with varying levels of concern and mockery as well, especially on social media.
The campaign, however, said Biden is being strategic with his virtual campaigning and is stepping up local media interviews while the campaign doubles its digital operation to reach more voters online. O’Malley Dillon said Biden’s campaign is also outspending Trump’s on social media, a sign of the Democrat’s improved fundraising.
Donilon rejected the critics, especially those who fretted that Trump was occupying the spotlight by holding nationally watched television briefings while Biden was webcasting from home.
The content of Trump’s briefings, however, ultimately made things worse for the president, Donilon said, obliquely referencing the president’s musings about injecting bleach as a coronavirus cure.
“People have seen him. They heard him,” Donilon said. “They’ve seen first of all him, pushing aside the experts on this issue they care a lot about. They’ve seen him put forward some dangerous ideas, they know are really sort of scary.”
But in 2016, Clinton’s campaign bet on Trump’s controversial statements to cost him on Election Day and similarly pointed to battleground state polls showing her ahead, albeit within the error margin, where Biden polls today.
Donilon said, though, that Trump is now president. And as an incumbent, he should be marginally winning.
“He’s the incumbent. He’s the sitting president of the United States. He’s the sitting president of the United States at a time of a national crisis. That’s where we are. And he’s losing,” Donilon said. “Go to Florida, Florida state, in which he’s got a real problem. And there’s a real chance he’s gonna lose it.”
A Florida loss for Trump, considering the polling and the vagaries of the Electoral College, would cost him reelection. The president recently moved his home address to the state and his top surrogates say it’s a must-win. He won it by just over a percentage point in 2016, when he swept Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than a point.
Unlike Trump’s team, Biden’s believes its candidate doesn’t need to win Florida. But it’s focusing more on the state as a kill shot as it looks to nontraditional swing states to get a boost.
“I am bullish about Arizona,” O’Malley Dillon said.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats shoved a massive $3 trillion coronavirus response bill toward passage Friday, designed to prop up a U.S. economy in free fall and a health care system dealing with a pandemic that’s killed over 86,000 Americans.
Friday’s vote sets up a long, difficult negotiation with the White House and Senate Republicans over what is likely to be the last major COVID-19 response bill before November’s presidential and congressional elections.
The enormous measure drafted by House Democrats would cost more than the prior four coronavirus bills combined, dramatically adding to the national debt. It would deliver almost $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of $1,200 direct payments to most individuals, and help for housing payments, the Postal Service and holders of college debt.
The bill is likely to go nowhere in the Senate. Its Republican leaders have urged a “pause” to assess prior efforts and have scheduled votes on federal judicial nominees next week as the party sorts through differences between conservatives and moderates, particularly over aid to state and local governments. They are also awaiting stronger signals from President Trump about what he will support.
“Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more,” warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say the next measure should protect reopening businesses from liability lawsuits. The president is also demanding a cut to payroll taxes.
House Democrats, meanwhile, want to pay off student loans, funnel almost $1 trillion for state and local governments now facing the same layoffs and service cuts the private sector has faced, and money for ordinary people’s rent, mortgage and utility bills.
Lawmakers have already negotiated four bipartisan efforts to pump almost $3 trillion into the economy, but the bipartisan consensus that drove those efforts is crumbling quickly. Polls show GOP voters are satisfied with the federal response so far and aren’t agitating for more.
The Congressional Budget Office didn’t have time to estimate the cost of Friday’s measure, which Pelosi’s office could only characterize as “more than $3 trillion.” Other offices said the total would breach $3.5 trillion or more. But a partial estimate of tax provisions alone revealed eye-popping costs — $412 billion to renew $1,200 cash payments to individuals, more than $100 billion to pay COBRA health insurance premiums for the unemployed, and $164 billion to make an “employee retention” tax credit for businesses more generous.
For residents panicking over a viral disease circling the globe and hoping for stricter government intervention, California’s Orange County answered their prayers.
Unfortunately for those living in the county, the mandate requiring many people to wear a face mask has also been a stroke of luck for criminals, some of whom may have been recently released in an attempt to thin crowded jails.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors originally voted late last month to institute the mandate, which took effect on April 24, according to The Orange County Register.
The rule requires many retail workers who have close contact with the public to wear a face covering.
Under the order, cashiers, gas station attendants, waiters and others must wear a mask, KCBS-TV reported.
While the order applies to workers within Orange County, certain cities in the county have enacted even stricter measures, with some requiring all residents and visitors to cover their faces.
Needless to say, the anonymizing accessories are now a common sight in the area.
This may be why a Santa Ana gas station clerk wasn’t alarmed when a man in a face mask and high-visibility vest strolled into his convenience store at around 2 a.m. on May 8.
Accompanied by another man in a safety yellow vest but with no mask, the pair of potential customers could have been returning from a job site or a factory.
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Any theories about the two men’s professional lives were instantly shattered when the maskless man pulled out a pistol and pointed it directly at the cashier.
The other thief quickly cleaned the store’s register of cash.
“It’s horrible,” store owner Elias Khawan told KCBS.
“I mean, I know we have to take certain measures because of what’s happening with COVID-19, but it’s the perfect script or manual for a robber — the mask, the sunshade and a hoodie. You don’t know who’s coming, who’s walking in.”
The threat of violent robberies is causing Khawan more than just what thieves are able to pry from his cash box.
To better safeguard his employees and property, the owner recently cut his convenience store’s hours.
Now instead of offering weary travelers snacks and other essentials all night long, Khawan will close his doors two hours before midnight.
The move may keep his nerves at ease, but the measure is costly — the lean hours have shriveled his bottom line by 25 percent.
Khawan isn’t alone in dealing with the inevitable fallout from government action, either. Last month, a masked criminal robbed a nearby doughnut shop. Although he cleared two cash registers, his face covering virtually guaranteed anonymity.
According to KCBS, Santa Ana police confirmed Thursday that the city’s robberies have indeed increased by a whopping 50 percent during the lockdown.
While it’s unclear exactly what factors are behind the shocking jump in crime, authorities have speculated that mass inmate releases (in Orange County, nearly 1,000 were released from jails in March over fear of a potential viral outbreak) could be a contributing factor.
Right now, it appears the widespread use of masks is giving criminals an easy way to avoid detection and continue their illicit careers.
President Trump barely has to lift a finger when it comes to strengthening his base.
The left is doing most of the heavy lifting for him.
Whether it is the mainstream media, Democrat politicians or out-of-touch celebrities, each is doing their part to help Trump in the same way they did in 2016 — by mocking his supporters.
Don’t get me wrong, a little ribbing is fine. None of us should take ourselves too seriously.
But for decades, Republicans have predominantly been the butt of the joke. Whether it is “Saturday Night Live” or televised award shows, the quips tend to go one way.
Most of us stopped caring and more importantly, all of us stopped watching.
But there was a noticeable shift in the left’s approach when Trump entered the political sphere. They went from poking fun of right-wingers to outright mocking them.
The current pandemic is making their contempt for Trump supporters more apparent than ever before.
When protesters gathered to oppose the shutdown, Hollywood actor Patton Oswalt tweeted, “Anne Frank spent 2 years hiding in an attic and we’ve been home for just over a month with Netflix, food delivery & video games and there are people risking viral death by storming state capital buildings & screaming, ‘Open Fuddruckers!’”
The tweet revealed much more about Oswalt than it did the protesters. It showed his utter disdain for people he does not know. It showed his disregard for their unique situations that he does not care to understand.
People who want to reopen the country are not selfish monsters.
Many just aren’t fortunate enough to be in the same plush financial situations as the elites demanding that they stay home indefinitely.
But Oswalt is not a trailblazer. He is only following the lead of his bold contemporaries.
So many arrogant liberals had to walk before Patton could run.
Hillary Clinton had to call Trump supporters “deplorables” so that one day Don Lemon & Co. could label them “credulous boomer rubes.”
The left was not humbled by their 2016 loss.
On the contrary, it made them more openly condescending.
For years, the likes of Nicole Wallace and Chuck Todd spoke ad nauseam about the gravity of the Russian collusion “scandal.”
It was a bombshell.
It was a constitutional crisis.
It was the end of Trump.
Until … it wasn’t.
Fast-forward to today and there is a deafening silence from the media when it comes to the real bombshell story — Gen. Michael Flynn. The story of a decent man who was railroaded by the FBI should be the Watergate-level scandal the media has been longing for. But alas, don’t expect any of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists to cover it.
Instead, liberals revert to ridiculing their opponents.
The investigators don’t like being investigated and therefore will label anyone who questions them “conspiracy theorists.”
Note to CNN — those who live in tinfoil houses should not throw stones.
Brian Stelter, the man who droned on night after night to his five or six viewers about Russia, who ranted in newsletters about collusion, who raved on Twitter about Putin — that same man now scoffs at the public interest regarding the Flynn story. The host mentions with disdain that Fox News is “obsessed” with covering General Flynn’s unmasking. Like most things, the irony of the situation is completely lost on the “Reliable Sources” host.
He would rather mock Fox News and its viewers than discuss the frame-up of General Flynn — a man whose life was ruined, part and parcel, by the bogus stories promulgated by Stelter and his Trump-Deranged colleagues.
Those same people think that the Trump base is made up of uneducated, Fuddruckers-eating, MAGA hat-wearing rednecks who don’t believe in science. To them, Trump’s base is laughable.
What they don’t realize is that a huge part of Trump’s base is exactly what makes this country work. Those boomer rubes might not take their quarantine advice from Joe Scarborough or get their legal tips from Jeffrey Toobin, but don’t underestimate them. Because many of those deplorables are hard-working, law-abiding, well-informed, persevering Americans. Oh, and most of them vote. Surely even Stelter can agree that there is nothing laughable about that.
When the House of Representatives acts on Friday to allow remote voting and virtual hearings, the coronavirus pandemic will have officially succeeded in doing what Philadelphia’s yellow fever outbreak of 1793, the Spanish influenza of 1918, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and generations of agitators for institutional change never could: Untethering Congress from its mandate to come together physically.
Those earlier crises prompted novel contingency plans and prolonged recesses. But for 231 years, since the founding members of the body first laid out their rules in 1789, to cast a vote or fully participate in a hearing, lawmakers were required to be present, notwithstanding the state of the nation. To be a Congress, as the word suggests, people had to come together.
“No member shall vote on any questions,” the rules adopted by the first House say, “in any case where he was not present when the question was put.”
No longer. With Friday’s vote, as long as the public health emergency persists, lawmakers from Alaska to Florida need not leave the safety of their own homes to question witnesses at a hearing, sign subpoenas or vote on legislation.
The new rules immediately allow for any member to vote remotely by giving precise, binding instructions to a proxy who is able to be present on the House floor. They also provide, pending certification, for a process in which lawmakers would eventually be able to cast their votes technologically from home, either via a secure online portal or a video conferencing system.
In redefining what “present” means in the 21st century, Democrats who control the chamber have stressed that they are simply trying to find a way for the House — a coequal branch of government and, they argue, a crucial counterweight to President Trump — to perform its basic functions at a time when the coronavirus has made congregating in Washington a dire health risk. They promise the changes will only be temporary, point to similar moves by legislatures around the world including British Parliament, and insist that the alternative is a House that cannot function as intended.
“It is in keeping with the vitality of the House that we are doing this, not in opposition to the traditions of the House,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said before the vote.
But in going forward so quickly with so major a change, Democrats are nevertheless plunging the House into a constitutional and institutional unknown.
Republicans, almost reflexively, are opposed to the changes and have denounced them as an unconstitutional power grab by Democrats who control the chamber.
But beyond the partisan considerations, a broad cross-section of congressional scholars, parliamentary experts and former officials warn that the decision could have unintended and long-lasting consequences, altering the course of the body in fundamental ways that few rules changes in the last two centuries have.
Most agree the shift to remote voting is unlikely to prompt a real constitutional challenge. Even if some third party were to sue to try to stop the plan, the courts tend to be reluctant to second-guess the ability of either chamber of Congress to set its own rules and function as it sees fit.
The more nagging questions, even to those who support the changes, have to do with what happens next. What will become of the in-person, back slapping, ear-whispering, wheeling and dealing that powers the Congress?
“Even if that is not a requirement, the institution is built on that practice and that understanding,” said Michael Stern, a former senior legal counsel to the House who writes about congressional legal issues. “It is not built upon the idea that members can sort of legislate independently from each other.”
He added: “There is a pretty strong argument that if you cut that out, you are losing something, and you may not know how significant it is until it’s gone.”
Losses may be hard to measure. Lawmakers, who are outfitted with large staffs employed to offer expert advice and draft the finer points of bills, nonetheless often do much of their most consequential legislative work in person. They hammer out a compromise amendment in a hushed conversation during a committee meeting. They provoke debates. They whip votes on the floor of the House, find unexpected allies and have to explain themselves, face to face, to their peers when they go back on their word.
Daniel Schuman, the policy director of Demand Progress, a progressive organization that presses for government transparency and accountability, said the absence of such interactions would accelerate trends in the modern Congress that have already concentrated power in the hands of the majority — particularly the speaker — at the expense of committees and ad hoc policy alliances between like-minded Republicans and Democrats.
“Who controls the mute button, who controls where the camera is positioned?” he asked, speculating about a future of congressional debates by video conference. “Do you silence the minority, do you give more power to the committee chair at the expense of the regular committee members? That is a problem because it looks like you are shifting where the power goes.”
Some Republicans privately support a remote House, but plan to side with their leaders on Friday and vote against it anyway. The vast majority, though, have resisted the changes, calling Democrats’ decision to move ahead over their objections “the most significant power grab in the history of Congress.”
On the House floor on Friday, an unmasked Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, accused Democrats of “suspending the Constitution,” and setting up a scheme where just 22 members “with 10 proxies in their back pocket could do the business of 300 million great people in this country.”
But their own proposed solution — to begin coming back to work in person and to rely on daily rapid testing — comes with steep risks, both to members’ health and public image if they are seen as cutting to the front of the United States’ very long testing line.
The Senate, even more reluctant to abandon its storied traditions than the House, has taken a more conservative approach. It has begun to allow senators and even witnesses to participate in hearings remotely by videoconference. But Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, rebuffed a bipartisan push for emergency remote voting and has reconvened senators in the Capitol to something approximating normal business.
Democrats argue that the House’s rules have always been malleable to adapt to the needs of the country at the time, even if tradition has provided guideposts.
Representative James McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee who drafted the changes, said he was just as worried about a “slippery slope” as Republicans were, and conceded his plan was not “perfect.” But he said he was willing to take a risk to get the institution functioning again.
“The more I see what is happening, the more I came to the conclusion we have to do something or we are not going to be able to function,” he said. “We’ve just passed trillions of dollars to address this crisis. We need to do oversight.”
Much of the anxiety may come from the speed of the changes. In March, when the scope of the pandemic had yet to be felt at the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi and her leadership team scoffed at the idea of a remote Congress.
“We are captains of the ship,” she said then, as she sought to quell any push by the rank and file for a work-from-home Congress.
A little over two months later — with many states and the District of Columbia under stay-home orders and social-distancing edicts — she is pushing through rules changes that effectively allow that ship to be steered remotely if necessary.
It took far longer — nearly a century of pushing — for the House to add an electronic voting system. It was nearly 50 years after the advent of commercial television before leaders acquiesced and allowed cameras to broadcast its proceedings. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Congress studied and debated for years before making modest rules changes that would allow it to better function in the event of a national catastrophe.
Even if the House returns to something approaching normalcy, the use of remote voting now could provide a precedent and justification for its expanded use in the future, said Raymond W. Smock, the former in-house historian of the House.
“There may be pressure to continue that way — these members are overworked to begin with,” he said. “I see it as a way to dissolve the cohesiveness of both the House and the Senate, because there is pressure to be someplace else all the time, doing other things.”
PBS affiliates that receive millions of dollars in federal funding each year are airing a pro-Beijing documentary produced in conjunction with CGTN, a Chinese government-controlled media outlet that is registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department.
The film “Voices from the Frontline: China’s War on Poverty” did not disclose CGTN’s links to the Chinese government. Nor did it detail the ties that the film’s producer, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, has to Chinese officials and the government’s State Council Information Office, which specializes in foreign propaganda.
PBS affiliate KOCE, known as PBS SoCal, helped produce the film and premiered it Monday. KCET, which merged with KOCE in 2018, will air the show on Saturday. Other PBS affiliates, including in Idaho and Las Vegas, have either already aired the film or plan to do so later this month.
The one-hour documentary touts Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative to alleviate poverty in China by this year.
“In the last forty years, China’s economic development has lifted more than 700 people out of poverty,” reads the introductory script in the film.
“To President Xi Jinping, ending poverty is his most important task,” the script states.
The closing credits of the documentary show that it was produced by “The Kuhn Foundation and PBS SoCal in association with CGTN.” One PBS SoCal employee is listed as an executive producer of the film and another is listed as a production assistant.
PBS and other publicly-funded news outlets like NPR have come under fire in recent years, with conservatives pushing to defund the organizations over a perceived liberal bias. Other news outlets have come under scrutiny for publishing propaganda promoted by the Chinese government.
President Donald Trump has proposed defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides the federal dollars that go to PBS affiliates and NPR.
KCET received $5.6 million in funding from CPB in 2019, according to CPB records. The station received more than $1.8 million in 2018. KOCE received more than $1.8 million in 2018 and more than $2.2 million in 2017.
PBS and its 350 affiliates are funded through a mixture of government grants, corporate sponsorships, and private donations. While federal funding makes up a small percentage of PBS affiliates’ revenue, the organization says that government money is crucial to its survival.
“There is no viable replacement for federal funding—which amounts to $1.35 per citizen per year,” PBS SoCal says on its website.
“The loss of federal funding would make it difficult for local stations to operate and would cause many of them to close, which would result in a collapse of the PBS system. Loss of federal funding would also have a devastating effect on PBS’s ability to produce the quality content our viewers love.”
The Los Angeles Times reported in March 2017 that KOCE receives between $2.5 million and $3 million in federal funding, or 11%-15% of its budget.
The Kuhn Foundation has given $70,000 in grants to KOCE between 2015 and 2018, according to tax filings. The foundation gave $35,000 in 2015 and $17,500 in both 2017 and 2018.
Kuhn, a former investment banker, appears to be highly regarded in China, though he is not as well known in the U.S. He has made appearances on channels like CNN and Bloomberg over the years to discuss issues in China, but appears frequently on Beijing-controlled news outlets like CGTN, CCTV, and China Daily.
In December 2018, Kuhn was awarded the China Reform Friendship Medal at an event held in Beijing and attended by Xi. Kuhn’s personal website shows a photo of him shaking hands with Xi at the event, and refers to the medal as “China’s highest award.”
Kuhn hosted a delegation that same year to Beijing to meet with Jiang Jianguo, who served as minister of the State Council Information Office, the office reported.
Kuhn’s name previously surfaced in connection to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who committed suicide while in jail on charges that he molested underage girls. Epstein through his nonprofit contributed $150,000 to the Kuhn Foundation in 2017, The Daily Beast has reported.
Epstein’s nonprofit also bankrolled a PBS series that Kuhn produced on spirituality called “Closer to Truth.” CNBC reported that Epstein contributed $500,000 to Kuhn’s project in 2018.
Kuhn offers his views on the Chinese government on a weekly segment hosted by CGTN and through documentaries he has produced in coordination with Chinese media outlets.
Xi’s program to fight poverty has been one area of focus for Kuhn, as has the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“To truly understand China, one has to recognize their genuine commitment to eradicating poverty,” Kuhn last year told China Daily, a government-controlled outlet, of his documentary.
“Today, in the Western world, especially in the United States, there is concern about China’s actions and suspicion of China’s motives. But one of the things I wanted this film to do was to undermine the stereotype of China as a ruthless giant out to dominate the world. It’s just not the case.”
“Xi’s commitment and determination frames the film, informing its open and close,” Kuhn said.
In a recent episode of “The Watcher,” a segment that airs on CGTN, Kuhn praised the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
“China’s mobilization is unprecedented in global health history. Nowhere could it work like it works in China. The reason it works is because the party works, the Communist Party of China,” Kuhn said.
“President Xi Jinping calls for fighting the outbreak in an open and transparent manner. That’s the key: transparency, complete transparency. As China has done and is doing updating all confirmed patients and updating all the data every day,” he added.
In a televised event aired by China Daily, another outlet controlled by Beijing, Kuhn asserted that China will win praise in future generations for its response to the coronavirus.
“Future historians may well look upon China’s fight against the coronavirus as a turning in worldwide efforts to contain outbreaks of novel diseases, and stop their spread,” Kuhn said at the event, which aired March 31.
“History may well thank China for pioneering how to deal with virulent contagions in a globalized world,” he said.
Kuhn’s view is not shared by health experts and government officials across the world who have blamed Chinese authorities for failing to contain the virus and for providing misleading information about the early stages of the outbreak.
China has been accused of releasing false statistics about the number of infections and deaths in China from the coronavirus. Authorities there also offered false assurances to the World Health Organization that the coronavirus was not transmitted person to person.
Kuhn’s praise for Chinese leaders has earned him blowback from some China watchers.
In 2005, The New York Times reviewed Kuhn’s book “The Man Who Changed China,” noting that a “secret state propaganda team” oversaw the writing of the book.
Kuhn rebutted some of those allegations, telling China Daily in 2011 that he was “indeed an adviser to the Chinese government.” Kuhn denied being paid by Beijing.
“I have never been paid by the Chinese government,” he said, adding: “I am paid by foreign companies that do business in China.”
It’s unclear if the PBS stations were aware of CGTN’s status as a foreign agent for the Chinese government.
A spokesman for KOCE and KCET provided The Daily Caller News Foundation with a press release for the Kuhn film but did not respond to a detailed list of questions. PBS did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the Kuhn Foundation. Requests for comment submitted through Kuhn’s personal website were also not returned.
The Chinese government has long used its propaganda arms to disseminate pro-Beijing narratives. The initiative has involved Chinese news outlets partnering with mainstream U.S. and Western newspapers, such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, to publish paid inserts in those newspapers that promote a pro-China view.
The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2017 that the Chinese government was partnering with Western TV companies to produce glossy documentaries aimed at burnishing Beijing’s image.
The story said that Xi “has also stepped up support for co-productions with foreign partners, including documentary tie-ups spotlighting the country’s culture, technological advancements, and infrastructure projects.”
The report pointed to “China: Time of Xi,” a documentary that Discovery channel’s Asia division aired. Kuhn was interviewed for the film.
Eighteen months after pleading guilty for lying about his communication with Russian officials, former national security adviser Michael Flynn is back in the spotlight following bombshell developments in his legal battle.
Last week, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop the charges against Flynn based on a review of the case tasked by Attorney General William Barr. The internal review found that Flynn’s false statements weren’t “material” to the Russia probe and therefore weren’t a crime.
The move immediately launched a contentious debate in the intelligence community. Former federal prosecutors slammed the decision, arguing it was inappropriate for Barr to step into the case. President Donald Trump and his allies, however, saw it as a fix to an improper prosecution of the former national security adviser.
But the saga isn’t over just yet. The case is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who signaled that he won’t be letting the issue go so quickly.
“This hearing that Judge Sulivan will eventually hold is a very big deal,” said former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi. “And I will predict this: The hearing will get very ugly.”
Here’s everything you need to know about what will happen next.
As he weighs whether to agree to the Justice Department’s request to exonerate Flynn, Sullivan will allow third parties to comment on the Trump administration’s effort to dismiss the case. That means that people outside the Justice Department and Flynn’s legal team can give input on what they think Sullivan should do.
It’s not clear what the timeline is for the additional briefs to be filed. Sullivan said earlier this week that he will give more guidance on how third parties can submit their arguments to the court about the case “at the appropriate time.”
Flynn’s attorneys immediately pushed back against allowing outside briefs, stating that “no further delay should be tolerated” in the case.
“There are countless people, including former prosecutors on both sides of the parties, who would like to express their views,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote to the judge. “But there are many reasons there is no provision for outsiders to join a criminal case in this Court.”
Sullivan also appointed former federal judge John Gleeson to present arguments opposing the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the case and to advise him on whether Flynn should be held in contempt of court for perjury.
“The $64,000 question at this point is what will Judge Gleeson do,” said national security law specialist Bradley Moss, “and how much will his arguments and explanations result in Judge Sullivan contemplating imposing criminal penalties upon General Flynn.”
Sullivan has requested that Gleeson advise him on whether in trying to rescind his guilty plea about lying the former national security adviser might have committed perjury.
But swapping one charge out with another would set a bad precedent, according to constitutional scholar and criminal defense attorney Jonathan Turley. That would mean that any time a defendant seeks to withdraw a plea they would face a judicially mandated perjury charge.
“Such an unsustainable decision would quickly careen out of control,” Turley said, adding that “if Sullivan is truly serious about substituting a criminal charge of his own, the case would in my opinion quickly crash on the rocks of reality.”
While Sullivan can weigh the matter and delay Flynn’s years-long case even longer, legal experts said he doesn’t have much leeway to ignore the Justice Department’s request for dismissal of the false statements case. And even if he does, the agency could appeal his decision and it’s likely he’d be overruled.
But what he can do is dismiss the charges without prejudice, which would mean that future administrations could revisit the charges against Flynn.
“If he does it without prejudice, that means the government can refile the charges if there is a new regime in the Justice Department. If he dismisses with prejudice then Michael Flynn is a free man on those charges,” Rossi explained.
There’s Still Room for a Presidential Pardon
“For the life of me, I do not know why the president did not simply pardon Michael Flynn,” Rossi said, adding that Trump could “get rid of all this circus, all this drama” by doing so.
President Trump has railed against the prosecution of Flynn and has long said he’d consider pardoning him. During an event at the White House on Wednesday night, Trump claimed that the FBI “tormented him” and “destroyed him” during their investigation.
“It looks to me like Michael Flynn would be exonerated based on everything I see,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “I’m not the judge, but I have a different type of power. But I don’t know that anybody would have to use that power. I think he’s exonerated.”
The coronavirus has become the focus of an internal battle within Iran between the government of President Hassan Rouhani and the Revolutionary Guard controlled by Ayatollah Khamenei. Rouhani reportedly wants to do more to slow the spread of the virus while Khamenei and the Guard have decided they want to save face by downplaying the real numbers and claiming Iran is doing well.
“[The Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard have been downplaying the extent of the COVID problem since the initial outbreak hit their guys hard in Qom at the start of the outbreak,” said a regional intelligence official in the Middle East who does not have permission to speak about a top military rival…
“Any of the numbers the Iranians have put out since late April are considered extremely suspect because we have indications that the Revolutionary Guard — which means this comes from Khamenei’s office directly — are not reporting cases from its health and military infrastructure and possibly intimidating reporting from other areas as well because the leadership has decided this is a national security issue, where too many cases will make Iran look inept and weak in the face of American pressure,” one source told Insider.
So what are the real numbers that Iran is trying to hide? Wednesday the Associated Press published a story about the regime’s efforts to hide the real coronavirus numbers. The AP cited a report connected to Iran’s parliament which suggests the real numbers of cases could be 10 times the official count:
Official government figures show that around 100,000 people were infected by the virus and around 6,500 have died. But a report by the research arm of Iran’s parliament said the number of cases could be eight to 10 times higher, making it among the hardest hit countries in the world. The report said the number of deaths could be 80 percent higher than officials numbers from the Health Ministry, about 11,700.
The feared paramilitary Revolutionary Guard kept health facilities under tight control and medical statistics were treated as top secret, the medical staffers said.
Death certificates were not recording the coronavirus as the cause of deaths — either because not all severe cases were tested or just for the sake of keeping the numbers down. Thousands of unaccounted deaths were attributed to secondary causes like “heart attack” or “respiratory distress.”
And a doctor in Tehran said the Health Ministry gave orders not to refer critical cases to hospitals to be tested for the virus — to keep the numbers low, she said…
A nurse at Shafa Hospital in the provincial capital of Rasht said ventilators were removed from dying patients to let others live.
“Death certificates were written before they died,” the nurse said with a hoarse voice. On the death certificates, the doctor scribbled, “heart attack” or “respiratory distress” as a cause of death.
But Business Insider reports that Rouhani is trying to regain some control because of the series of unrelated failures which have put the Guard in a terrible light. The first was the shooting down of a Ukrianian passenger jet full of Iranian citizens. More recently, a military test of a ship-to-ship missile resulted in the death of 19 Iranian sailors when their ship was struck by accident instead of the intended target.
“They have refused to say if the missile test last Sunday was the IRGC or the proper Iranian Navy, but it’s assumed that a high-profile test of a high tech weapon system in plain view of all their enemies in the Gulf would have only been a Revolutionary Guard production. But the incident as well as the tragedy in January with the airliner has given Rouhani a legitimate claim that the Guard is failing at both its international responsibilities with these failures as well as poorly responding to COVID,” said the regional intelligence source.
Finally, even the official numbers aren’t trending the way Iran wants them to.
Iran on Friday reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections in more than a month as it warned of clusters hitting new regions.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,102 new cases were confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall total to 116,635.
That’s the highest single day total of new cases since early April.
“I would sit down and talk to her and try to be encouraging and supportive,” said Wrye, who noted Reade “had heart and some good qualities.”
“This lack of money was hugely problematic for her, she was always on the ropes in that way.”
Reade had spoken highly of Biden, the former boss who employed her as a staff assistant from late 1992 to August 1993, and never mentioned assault or harassment, Wrye recalls. But what Wrye remembers most is that by the time Reade left their property and moved on, Wrye felt burned.
After her husband suffered a brain injury that forced the couple to sell the property, Wrye said, Reade turned on them.
“She became really difficult,” Wrye said. “She said, ‘You’re going to have to pay me to get me to leave.’”
“She was manipulative,” said Wrye, a self-described feminist and social activist. “She was always saying she was going to get it together, but she couldn’t. And ‘could you help her’?”
Wrye’s distressing experience with Reade wasn’t an isolated case. Over the past decade, Reade has left a trail of aggrieved acquaintances in California’s Central Coast region whosay they remember two things about her — she spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.
As part of an investigation into Reade’s allegations against Biden—charges that are already shaping the contours of his campaign against a president who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by multiple women—POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen people, many of whom interacted with Reade through her involvement in the animal-rescue community.
A number of those in close contact with Reade over the past 12 years, a period in which she went by the names Tara Reade, Tara McCabe or Alexandra McCabe, laid out a familiar pattern:Reade ingratiated herself, explained she was down on her luck and needed help, and eventually took advantage of their goodwill to extract money, skip rent payments or walk out on other bills.
The people quoted in this article provided copies of past emails, screenshots of Facebook Messenger or text exchanges with Reade, copies of billing invoices or court records detailing their grievances or correspondence. POLITICO also reviewed dozens of public records, including court documents, divorce filings and Reade’s 2012 bankruptcy records.
The accounts paint a picture of Reade’s life in the years leading up to her allegations, in which she spoke often of her connection to Biden but also of troubles in her personal life and a need for money. Sexual abuse victims sometimes offer contradictory information about their alleged abusers, so her comments do not necessarily refute her claims against the former vice president. But they add weight to the evidence that she spoke positively about him in the years before she accused him of digitally penetrating her in the early ’90s.
Reached by phone, Reade declined to answer specific questions and referred the matter to her attorney, Douglas Wigdor.
Wigdor argued that Reade’s favorable comments about Biden are no different than how some of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein’s accusers continued to have contact with him even after they said he abused them.
“Sort of like some of the late victims of Harvey Weinstein,” said Wigdor, who has represented several Weinstein accusers. “That is not uncommon.”
But many of those who knew her well in recent years said she frequently lied or sought to manipulate them, in many instances taking advantage of their desire to help a person they felt was down on her luck.
“You can use these words: manipulative, deceitful, user,” said Kelly Klett, an attorney who rented Reade a room in her home in 2018. “Looking back at it all now, that is exactly how I view her and how I feel about her.”
“She has a problem,” said Lynn Hummer, who owns a horse sanctuary where Reade volunteered for two years, beginning in 2014.
She described Reade as “very clever, manipulative. … I do think she’s a liar.”
Hummer provided an email from an exchange in which, within weeks of starting at the ranch, Reade asked whether she could bring her car on Hummer’s property to hide it from “the repo man.” Hummer declined.
In another instance, Reade came by the ranch desperately seeking $200 to pay the rent, Hummer said. On the way to Reade’s house, Hummer said she didn’t notice that Reade texted her and upped her request from $200 to $350.
Hummer also alleged Reade called a veterinarian to the ranch to service her personal horse, leaving Hummer to pay a $1,400 bill.
Hummer has publicly leveled that charge and others since Reade’s accusations against Biden have gone public. On social media last month,Reade denied them.
“A lawyer will be in contact with you for defaming me,” Reade said over Twitter. “You may not continue to spread false information regarding my life.”
In a brief conversation, Reade said she hoped POLITICO was doing its own reporting and not relying on a March post published on Medium that she said was false.
“I’ve been getting friends calling me and crying and saying ‘I never said that,’” Reade said.
Wigdor took issue with the premise of this article, saying such scrutiny discourages victims of sexual violence from coming forward.
“If the assertion is that someone who has lied to their landlord because they don’t have the money to pay rent so then they lied about a sexual assault, I don’t think that is fair journalism,” Wigdor said in an interview.
Like Wrye, Austin Chung, a Monterey-area real estate investor who rented Reade a house from 2008-10, learned of Reade’s charges against Biden from television.
“Look,” he told his wife when he first saw Reade on the screen, “she has gone big time. She’s going after the big fish now.”
Chung said Reade, who went by Alexandra McCabe at the time, claimed that she was on the run from domestic violence and trying to start over.
In 1996, a judge in San Luis Obispo Superior Court authorized a temporary restraining order against Reade’s then-husband. At the time, the couple had a young daughter together. They later divorced.
Her former husband has denied her claims.
Chung said Reade led him to believe she had just broken up with her ex-husband. He was so moved by Reade’s story, he said, that he did extra work on the house to prepare it for her and her daughter, who today is an adult. Chung provided emails showing he offered Reade the pick of paint colors for their rooms and the type of flooring in the Pacific Grove home he rented her.
But then the payments came in late, month after month. Her explanations always sounded sincere and convincing, Chung said, so he reduced her rent and tried to come up with a compromise. Eventually, however, he had to evict Reade.
When he returned to the house he had once fixed up for her, he said the floors had been damaged by animal waste. In the end, Chung recounted, he lost thousands of dollars in court-related fees, lost rent and repair costs.
When he confronted her, Chung said, “She knew exactly what she had done to me and there was no remorse. I knew there was never a chance I’d get my money back.”
Chung said he is in contact with others who have had similarly unpleasant run-ins with Reade.
“Did she think that all of the people she ran over would just roll over and die and forget about her? No. I recognize her face,” he said.
“We are actually starting to find each other and put the pieces together because we saw her face on CNN,” Chung said. “I thought to myself, ‘hey, I have a support group now. I think we are Alexandra/Tara survivors.”
One of them is Klett, who first met Reade in 2018, when Reade showed up at Klett’s 30-acre equestrian expanse in Santa Cruz County asking to rent a room.
Reade shared that she had been a victim of domestic abuse and was taking some time to study for the bar exam. Reade, who graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2004, asked Klett if she could have a break on rent. She also dropped a big political name, said Klett.
“She spoke to me about Joe Biden and her experience with him,” said Klett, who noted that Reade said she helped work on the Violence Against Women Act, which passed in 1994. “It was positive and in a bragging sense.”
Klett, an attorney and domestic violence victims’ advocate, was sold. She took in Reade, gave her a lower rent rate and even loaned her a battery of law books and test prep materials.
But Reade struggled to make even the reduced rent payments of $200 a month, always asking for more time or for a pass, according to Klett.Eventually, Klett told her she had to leave.
“I’m still waiting to get my law books back,” Klett said.
Klett said she cut her losses and was polite to Reade, who continued calling even after she moved out, asking for money on multiple occasions. Klett declined the requests.
Klett said she’s now struck by Reade’s allegations about Biden. Over months of talks about the law and women’s advocacy, Klett said Reade’s take on Biden never wavered. “In the time that she lived with me in close proximity,” she said, “there was never one allegation against Joe Biden that was disparaging.”
One area rancher described a different experience with Reade. Gina Kindscher, the owner of Morning Sun Ranch, whose daughter is friends with Reade, said, “She’s a wonderful person. She became part of my whole family.”
Kindscher added that she has heard Reade had run-ins with others, but, “I can only speak to my experiences with her.” Reade boarded her personal horse at Kindscher’s ranch for a part of 2017. When she couldn’t pay the boarding costs, “she would work it off” around the ranch, Kindscher said. She said she knew Reade had worked for Biden but didn’t know about the allegations until they came out.
Biden was a common theme with Reade, many of those interviewed for this story said. Five of her acquaintances have specific recollections where Reade spoke in positive terms about Biden, as recently as 2018, one year before she lodged an initial charge against Biden that he had sexually harassed her. (In 2020, Reade offered new details, claiming that Biden sexually assaulted her in a Senate hallway.)
According to their accounts, Reade proactively brought up the former vice president’s name, pointing to her time in his Senate office as a high point in her career. Those interviewed said they were under the impression that Reade spent years in his office or had played a role in helping write landmark legislation, though she actually served in a junior level position for less than a year.
“She presented it as ‘I can get my life together, I worked for Joe Biden. I had a really high-level job. I have that capacity.” Wrye said. “I’m a psychologist and she confided with me in a lot of things, but not that. She never talked about the sexual assault, period, or anything inappropriate with him.”
A former neighbor, however, told Business Insider that Reade spoke of the assault in the mid-1990s. A work colleague from around the same time told the publication that Reade complained to her of sexual harassment in Biden’s office. A document filed by Reade’s ex-husband in 1996 also states that Reade had complained of harassment.
Critics contend Reade’s history of heaping praise on Biden — including on social media — undermines her allegations today.They point to a number of occasions in early 2017 when Reade “liked” or retweeted a number of tweets favorable to Biden, including some dealing with his work against sexual assault.
After being provided with specific written questions about the allegations made against Reade in this article,Wigdor responded with this statement:
“To this day, Biden has not accounted for his actions other than to say ‘it never happened.’ Biden will not even consent to a review of his records housed at the University of Delaware. Ms. Reade, on the other hand, has answered hundreds of questions and did a sit down hour-long interview with Megyn Kelly,” Wigdor said. “Now, she is being asked to account for prior landlord tenant disputes. Enough is enough. This degrading and irrelevant inquisition does not advance the conversation. Instead, it explains why so many women suffer in silence — for fear of having their life turned upside down and questioned.”
Klett remains unconvinced.
Reade called Klett in 2019 after first publicly lodging allegations that Biden inappropriately touched her. At the time, Reade did not share details of an assault.
“I felt two things when she contacted me: that she was feeling me out to see if I would represent her pro bono. And there was a sense that she was trying to plant a story with me, so she could later say: ‘I told the story to this attorney I worked with,’” Klett said.
“I support women who have been assaulted. Unfortunately, I cannot support Tara Reade,” she said. “When she first contacted me regarding this issue, she could not provide enough credible information. And since that time the story has evolved in the media. I question her motives.”