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Former Defense Secretary Gates calls for renaming military bases, moving Confederate statues to museums

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told “Special Report” Wednesday the U.S. should rename military bases named after Confederate military officers and remove Confederate statues from public squares, warning that the nation shouldn’t be in the position of celebrating “traitors.”

“I think the names should be changed,” he told host Bret Baier. “I think it’s a question of placement and time and we don’t want to be in a position of celebrating people who were, in fact traitors to the United States.


“When it comes to statuary and so on, that kind of thing, I think, belongs in museums rather than in places where it appears that we’re celebrating them,” Gates added. “I’ve said I don’t know why we don’t have a Fort Ulysses S. Grant or a Fort George Patton or a major facility named for a Medal of Honor recipient So, I think this is an opportunity to make some changes that frankly bring us into the 21st century.”

Gates — who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — offered a stark contrast to President Trump’s take on the issue, which has come to the forefront in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

“We must build upon our heritage,” Trump said Tuesday, “not tear it down. And we must cherish the principles of America’s founding as we strive to deliver safe, beautiful, elegant justice and liberty for all.”

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In a tweet last week, Trump said: “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”

Gates, a longtime Soviet scholar, told The New York Times on Sunday that he was “very sensitive to the notion of rewriting history” but said Confederate symbols represented “the dark side of our history.”

On Sunday, Gates joined a number high-ranking military officials who have attacked Trump’s use of the armed forces for political purposes

“I think all the presidents I’ve worked for like to use the military as a prop,” Gates told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press”. “And I think this president has probably taken that to a new level, but the military has to be very sensitive about being exploited in that way.”


Todd had asked Gates about the apology from Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff, for walking with the president through Lafayette Square after police scattered protesters in the area June 1. Media outlets initially reported that police used tear gas in order to give the president a “photo-op,” something both the Secret Service and U.S. Park Police have denied.

The Secret Service recently admitted that it used pepper spray on an “assaultive individual.” The administration has claimed that Attorney General William Barr made the decision to expand the security perimeter outside of the White House. Protesters were ultimately dispersed when the U.S. Park Police determined they were getting violent.

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John Bolton book claims Trump asked China’s Xi Jinping for reelection help

John Bolton is publishing a book that recounts his tenure as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. The Trump administration on Tuesday sued to delay its release, a week before it was set to be published. So, naturally, major news outlets have now “obtained” the book and are releasing the most explosive passages from memoir.

And oh, boy.

Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, contains numerous remarkable allegations about things President Trump said and did during his interactions with foreign leaders — none of which, it’s worth remembering, Bolton felt compelled to speak publicly about in the months since he left the administration or to testify about unless he was formally subpoenaed during the Senate’s impeachment trial.

But now that he has a book to sell, the longtime Republican foreign policy hand seems ready to dish.

In the book, Bolton — who, again, declined to voluntarily testify under oath during the impeachment trial because the White House told him not to — accuses the Democrat-led House of Representatives of committing “impeachment malpractice” by not going beyond Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to investigate other disturbing actions of Trump’s. Like, for example, Bolton’s claim that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for electoral help and other instances where Trump sought to use his power for personal or political gain. (Vox hasn’t seen the book in its entirety, so we are relying on reports and excerpts published elsewhere.)

John Bolton listens to President Trump speak during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi on April 9, 2019.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As national security adviser, Bolton was definitely in the room where stuff happened, and as such was privy to Trump’s conversations with world leaders, maybe more than most. Which lends some degree of credibility to his claims.

At the same time, this is Bolton’s account, and it’s not like he and Trump parted on great terms. Bolton, a conservative hawk, didn’t always seem like the right fit for Trump’s more isolationist foreign policy approach, and the two clashed over issues like North Korea and not being able to start wars. So some of Bolton’s claims may be self-serving, or tough to verify.

Of course, verifying his claims might have been easier had Bolton testified before Congress under threat of perjury.

Acknowledging that there are no heroes here, below are some of the wildest and most disturbing tidbits from Bolton’s memoir. Read them, and imagine an alternate universe where Bolton’s mustache is moving up and down as he delivers an opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee in the fall of 2019. It kind of helps.

Trump asked Xi for help with his electoral prospects

According to Bolton, President Trump brought up his reelection prospects with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan. Xi mentioned China’s critics in the US, and according to Bolton, Trump thought the Chinese leader meant Democrats. So Trump apparently thought he had an opportunity.

Per the Washington Post:

“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

Of course, Trump had already publicly asked China to investigate his political rivals back when he was already being investigated for pressuring Ukraine to do the same, so it’s not actually as bad as the other thing that allegedly happened in this meeting.

Trump told Xi to go ahead with the internment of Muslims in China

According to the Washington Post, Bolton writes that at the same meeting between Trump and Xi at the G20, the Chinese leader defended the detention of 1 million Uighurs in internment camps.

“According to our interpreter,” Bolton wrote. “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.” The meeting was attended only by the two leaders and their interpreters, so Bolton is relying on what the interpreter told him after the meeting.

The Uighurs, a Muslim population in China’s Xinjiang province, have been forced into so-called “re-education camps,” characterized by reports of torture and political indoctrination. A Pentagon official has described them as “concentration camps.”

Beijing has imposed repressive policies on the group, and has Uighurs closely surveilled. It is a clear violation of human rights and ethnic cleansing, one Trump has at least condemned publicly.

Bolton’s book said Trump opposed putting sanctions on China for the issue because of trade negotiations, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Wednesday, the same day as Bolton’s book was released, Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, according to the White House.

Trump learns about nukes …

According to Bolton, Trump was apparently surprised that the United Kingdom — one of America’s closest allies — had nuclear weapons during a meeting with former British Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018. “Oh, are you a nuclear power?” Trump said, according to Bolton.

The UK was the third country to acquire the nuclear bomb, following the US and the Soviet Union. It conducted its first successful test of an atomic bomb in 1952.

So, a while ago.

… and about geography

Bolton writes that Trump once asked his then-Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly if Finland was part of Russia.

Maybe this is more forgivable when you consider Bolton also claims that at an August 2018 White House meeting, Trump “asserted that Venezuela was ‘really part of the United States’ and requested military options to invade the South American country and keep it under U.S. control,” the Wall Street Journal writes.

Trump also apparently said invading Venezuela would be “cool,” according to the Washington Post’s account of Bolton’s book.

Trump wanted to withdraw from NATO with a dramatic made-for-TV scene

Bolton claims that during a NATO summit in 2018, Trump decided he had had enough with the historic alliance and wanted out:

“We will walk out, and not defend those who have not [paid],” read a message Trump dictated to Bolton.

Bolton tried to stop Trump from delivering the threat, and became even more alarmed when Trump told him, “Do you want to do something historic?”

Trump had some issues with the Constitution

Bolton claims in the book that Trump told China’s Xi that Americans wanted him to get rid of the two-term limit imposed on presidents by the US Constitution.

Bolton also claims that Trump, apparently mad about leaks to the media coming from inside his administration, complained in 2019 that journalists should be jailed. Bolton says Trump said: “These people should be executed. They are scumbags.”

Meddling in Ukraine, yes, but so many other things

Bolton’s book, according to excerpts, also confirmed that the former national security adviser saw the military aid to Ukraine as tied to investigations involving Hunter Biden, former vice president Joe Biden’s son, and Hillary Clinton. Per the Times:

On Aug. 20, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Trump “said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over.” Mr. Bolton writes that he, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper tried eight to 10 times to get Mr. Trump to release the aid.

Bolton also claimed that Trump was fine meddling in US law enforcement if it meant helping out his buddies, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Per the Washington Post:

“Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Bolton writes.

Bolton says he warned Attorney General Bill Barr about Trump’s behavior at a meeting, where Barr expressed concerns about the “appearances” of Trump’s behavior, according to the Post.

Bolton, too, says that the House, by just focusing on Ukraine, committed “impeachment malpractice, because if they focused elsewhere, Bolton claims “there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.”

If only there were someone who could have changed that.

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Trump asked China for help getting reelected, Bolton book claims

“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote. The president “stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

“I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” he added.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who was in the meeting, denied the episode ever took place when asked multiple times about Bolton’s allegation during a Senate hearing.

But the potentially explosive revelation comes amid a monthslong back-and-forth between Bolton and the White House over the contents of the book. The Department of Justice is suing to prevent the 592-page tome from being published.

And it comes as Republicans seek to portray Trump’s presumptive 2020 rival, former vice president Joe Biden, as too soft on China. The two campaigns have traded accusations in dueling campaign ads, fueled by the public debate over how much blame to place on Beijing for the death and economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The administration has claimed that Bolton’s memoir, which was set to be released next week, contains classified information and could represent a threat to national security. Bolton and his attorney deny that charge, saying that the book went through an arduous pre-publication review with the White House.

Bolton’s accusations about China draw a striking parallel to the events that landed Trump in an impeachment trial earlier this year. Trump was accused of freezing military aid to Ukraine as a means of pressuring the government to conduct potentially politically beneficial investigations involving Trump’s potential political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and was later acquitted of both articles against him.

According to Bolton, who lays out a damning portrait of a commander in chief eager to appease authoritarian leaders, “Trump’s conversations with Xi reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in Trump’s mind of his own political interests and U.S. national interests.”

Furthermore, Bolton claims, “Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security. I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations.”

The president’s actions, he later adds, “formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”

The White House has already begun to mobilize against what are expected to be further bombshell revelations contained in Bolton’s book, with the president and his allies already beginning to question Bolton’s trustworthiness and his motivations while pointing out that the former national security adviser declined to voluntarily testify in Trump’s impeachment trial even as he criticized congressional Democrats’ impeachment approach.

Asked about the book on Wednesday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters “the book is full of classified information, which is inexcusable.”

Bolton’s accusations also threaten to explode a major Trump narrative about Biden, whose statements about China have featured in campaign ads widely amplified by the president’s allies.

But despite Trump’s claims that “Nobody … has been WEAKER on China” than Biden and accusation that “He gave them EVERYTHING they wanted, including rip-off Trade Deals,” Bolton portrays Trump in a similar light, writing that Lighthizer feared what the president would give away to China in one-on-one trade talks.

Bolton, a China hawk, claims that Trump repeatedly sought to appease Xi, at one point calling Xi “the greatest leader in Chinese history” after he agreed to resume trade talks that included U.S. agricultural purposes.

In other anecdotes, Bolton writes of Trump’s willingness to overlook Chinese human rights issues, suggesting that Trump wanted to avoid angering Xi and at one point arguing that “we have human-rights problems too.”

Last summer when unrest was mounting in Hong Kong over an attempt by Beijing to crack down on the semi-autonomous territory, Trump acknowledged “that’s a big deal” but added “I don’t want to get involved,” according to Bolton.

And when resisting putting out a White House statement on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the president misstated the timing of the event while responding: “Who cares about it? I’m trying to make a deal. I don’t want anything.”

Bolton also writes that Trump questioned why the U.S. was mulling sanctions on China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims, a minority ethnic group in parts of northwest China who Beijing has been accused of placing in modern day concentration camps.

At the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Bolton claims that during a meeting between Trump and Xi with only interpreters present, according to the U.S. interpreter, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

Within hours of the excerpt of Bolton’s book publishing, the White House announced that Trump had signed into law legislation condemning treatment of the Uighurs and calling for the United States to sanction Chinese officials and entities over their detention and torture.

Democrats reacted with fury to the revelations detailed in Bolton’s excerpt and in news accounts. California Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the House impeachment inquiry, tweeted, “Bolton’s staff were asked to testify before the House to Trump’s abuses, and did. They had a lot to lose and showed real courage. When Bolton was asked, he refused, and said he’d sue if subpoenaed. Instead, he saved it for a book. Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot.”

And New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, used the occasion to swipe at his colleagues across the aisle, who declined to subpoena Bolton’s testimony during the president’s impeachment trial. “The revelations in Bolton’s book make Senate Republicans’ craven actions on impeachment look even worse—and history will judge them for it,” he tweeted.

Doug Palmer contributed to this report.

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‘Mockery of the pain’: Lawmakers clash during police reform hearing

But as the day wore on, Democrats increasingly sniped at Republicans over what they claimed were efforts to drag in extraneous issues that turned the focus away from questions of race. That dynamic turned heated when Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, accused the all-white Republican side of the dais of racial bias, “unconscious” or otherwise, and said they were making “a mockery of the pain that exists in my community.”

Richmond’s remarks, which included a reference to his son, prompted an exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who questioned how Richmond could be certain none of the Republicans on the panel had black children.

“I already know there are people on the other side who have black grandchildren,” Richmond replied. “It is not about the color of your kids. It is about black males, black people in the streets that are getting killed. And if one of them happens to be your kid I’m concerned about him too. And clearly I’m more concerned about him than you are.”

Gaetz shot back angrily, saying Richmond went over the line: “You’re claiming you’re more concerned for my family than I do? Who in the hell do you think you are?”

The exchange encapsulated a day of raw emotion on Capitol Hill. To Democrats, speed is of the essence — not only because of the realities of the political calendar but because after decades of failed efforts to implement sweeping reform, the national landscape has shifted after the killing by police of George Floyd and created an opening for genuine action.

Republicans on the committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), emphasized that they wanted a more deliberative approach, citing measures offered by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and an executive order by President Donald Trump as thoughtful steps in the right direction.

Those measures beef up police reporting requirements and encourage reforms — but don’t mandate them. Republicans also offered amendments to ask the FBI for a report on whether “antifa” is a domestic terrorist organization and to bar federal grants to a so-called “autonomous zone” in Seattle that Republicans have described as a lawless antifa stronghold but local Democrats and the mayor have said is a venue for peaceful protest. Other GOP amendments would have struck the qualified immunity provision in the bill and would raise the maximum sentence for lynching crimes to the death penalty.

“The vast majority of police officers do a great job. They’re the individuals who rushed into the towers on 9/11 …They’re the individuals who put on their uniforms every single shift and risk their lives,” Jordan said, urging Democrats to support some of the GOP amendments. “It didn’t start off that way. Not one single Republican was consulted. I hope today that you will embrace our thoughtful amendments that we plan to offer.”

The debate stretched late into the evening Wednesday, despite what seemed to be an inevitable result: the party-line advancement of the bill, which could come to the House floor as soon as next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that the Senate will take up the GOP’s policing bill next week. But senior Democrats on the Judiciary panel were quick to dismiss to GOP bill during the midday recess, calling it a half-measure that doesn’t match the needs of those protesting for reform.

“What Senator Scott is offering is a sham,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, also panned the Republican bill, saying it “mimics” Democrats’ proposal “but without the teeth.”

“In our bill we are concerned about chokeholds, ‘no knock’ provisions as well as a registry, so that if there is an officer that has committed violence, an officer that is corrupt, that would be a transparent process,” Bass said.

“The registry that Sen. Scott calls for, there is no transparency there, it would only be known by law enforcement. On no knock [warrants], what Sen. Scott wants to do is compile data. On chokeholds, what he wants to do is study the situation.”

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the GOP proposal “window dressing” and “toothless” in an interview on CNN Wednesday.

The Judiciary Committee itself is part of the story: the Democratic side of the panel includes a slew of minority lawmakers, including Bass, the House’s fifth-ranking Democrat Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Richmond, a liaison to the campaign of Vice President Joe Biden.

The Republican side of the panel features an array of members closely allied with President Donald Trump, including Jordan, Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who closely aligned himself with Trump during impeachment proceedings and is running for Senate.

Yet, unlike previous efforts at police reform, there appears to be room — however narrow — for bipartisan compromise. Members of the Judiciary Committee like Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a former public defender, have engaged with Democrats to find areas of agreement on policies like police body cameras, qualified immunity and sentencing disparities.

Armstrong said he’s had productive discussions with committee Democrats including Richmond, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Joe Neguse of Colorado, on potential bipartisan legislation. But he noted that the committee, historically an emblem of congressional partisanship and strained this Congress by impeachment, has “a lot of trust problems.”

And that was apparent in the panel’s first vote Wednesday — with Democrats voting down Armstrong’s amendment to require federal law enforcement agencies to record all interviews with potential suspects.

Democrats initially asked Armstrong to withdraw the amendment so they could work together on incorporating the idea into the final bill. But Armstrong refused as he and several other Republicans connected the proposal to the FBI’s 2017 interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who Trump allies allege was railroaded by law enforcement.

Democrats slammed Republicans’ repeated efforts to reignite the Flynn debate, saying this hearing was about the countless unarmed black men and women who have lost their lives at the hands of police.

“We’re not here to talk about Michael Flynn. That’s beneath the dignity of this institution and the lives that have been lost,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries then gave powerful testimony about having to have “that conversation” with his teenage son before he participated in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brooklyn recently.

“Some may even look at you as a threat because of the color of your skin…Do not respond or react to any unjustified abuse against you,” Jeffries recounted to the committee. “Even if you’re completely in the right, you’re being harassed, you’re being abused, you can’t respond — because it may result in your life being taken.”

Though there’s a long road before any potential bipartisan compromise reaches Trump’s desk, the rush of activity belies the typical election-year gridlock that all but stifles major policy-making in the sensitive months before the vote. The ongoing coronavirus crisis, which already spurred lawmakers to enact multi-trillion-dollar legislation, seemed certain to sap the enthusiasm for additional major legislation this year.

Yet, Floyd’s death and the nationwide demonstrations that followed galvanized public opinion so rapidly that it spurred typically cautious lawmakers to action.

Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this story.

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Senate Democrats weigh shutting down GOP police reform plan

“A lot of this is determined by whether McConnell wants to ram this through or whether he wants to have an actual debate,” said Murphy, who is undecided on how he will vote on a critical procedural vote. “If this isn’t a fair process, I don’t know that Mitch McConnell’s going to be able to convince people that it is.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his members will debate strategy this week, according to multiple Democratic senators. And the vote isn’t likely to occur until Wednesday of next week so they have a little bit of time. But Democrats have to tread carefully, particularly in an election year where the party’s base is eager for action.

Schumer called the GOP proposal on Wednesday a “bad bill” and said that Democrats are “figuring out what to do with it.”

Privately, Democrats say enough of their members may be inclined to at least debate the bill, though no final decision has been made.

Some say it could be a mistake to even advance what they view as a bad bill that lacks a federal chokehold ban and doesn’t make it easier to sue police who commit misconduct, key Democratic asks in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and nationwide protests.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said if the “bill is as limited as I understand it to be, then I don’t think it’s valuable to get on the bill.” And she’s not alone.

“You have to remember who the leader of their party is and what he’s all about. And you have to remember how he’s conducted himself in other instances like this with gun safety, with immigration,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) of McConnell, a Democrat who is leaning toward a filibuster to block the bill. “We’re not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe.”

But others in the party are open to proceeding to the measure in the hopes that McConnell would at least give them the opportunity to offer their own proposals.

“I would like to think that we would all be inclined to start this debate,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who said Republicans had indicated they’d allow amendments to be considered. “Unless McConnell’s not genuine.”

Regardless of their views on procedure, Democrats are mostly in agreement about the substance of the GOP bill. Manchin said not including a strict ban on police chokeholds makes “no sense” and Schatz said the “baseline” should be competing legislation from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Harris, Booker and House Democrats are pushing a proposal that takes a strong federal grip over police standards, while Scott and Senate Republicans try to encourage states and cities to decrease use of force and misconduct. Both parties favor better data collection and more transparency.

But while House Democrats can jam through their legislation on a simple majority, Senate Republicans need at least seven Democrats to join them to first open debate and then close it before final passage.

Scott said if the bill can’t even get to the floor, “folks will have less confidence in this nation because we missed a moment.” But even if it makes it to the floor, there are still plenty of hurdles ahead.

Cutting deals on amendment votes — particularly on controversial social issues — is always tricky, requiring buy-in from all 100 senators to get to a finite list. A truly free-wheeling amendment process is rare in the Senate, and rarer still in a presidential election year. Most amendments will also likely need 60 votes to be adopted.

“If we can get on the bill and have an open amendment process, then they get the chance to offer as many as they want,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “The best thing is to get on the bill, open it up and let’s let the Senate do its work and its will and see where it goes.”

But it’s hard to see how the process ends in a bill with the supermajority support needed to pass the Senate.

As written, it’s unclear whether any Democrats will support it.

“I want to work with people that want real police reform unlike the people that want to just act like they’re doing reform,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “McConnell’s going to always do what plays to his bigoted base and his money base.”

Harris and Booker said that the GOP’s bill falls short because it doesn’t allow consequences for bad-acting police officers and doesn’t ban no-knock raids, among other things. Harris said Scott’s proposal “does not meet the moment, his bill would literally not save a life.”

“This bill is highly problematic and won’t save lives. Our bill will,” Booker said. “It wouldn’t prevent Breonna Taylor from dying. It wouldn’t prevent people from being shot by police. It won’t change the culture.”

Republicans counter that making the changes requested by Democrats would lose GOP votes and end prospects for a deal.

Currently the legislation has nearly uniform support among Republicans. And an effort to remove qualified immunity, which protects police officers from legal action will result in a “short conversation,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Republicans, in other words, won’t go for it.

“The qualified immunity line is not one we’re going to cross,” added Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), however, said addressing qualified immunity is “critical” to Democrats. He said there might be ways to compromise with Republicans — but not if the Senate debate shuts down next week before it even starts.

The question “is whether or not McConnell is offering this in good faith. If this is a high-noon moment and [Republicans] want to embarrass the Democrats by having them vote ‘no’ and then we’ll adjourn, it’s a waste of time,” Durbin said. “But we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Senate could actually be the Senate.”

Marianne LeVine and Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.

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Federal prosecutors ponder criminal charges against John Bolton

Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to criminally charge John Bolton with disclosing classified information in his upcoming White House memoir, and the Justice Department is expected in coming days to ramp up its legal campaign to block publication of a book that is being billed as a scathing rebuke of President Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department is expected to seek a temporary restraining order from a federal judge as soon as Wednesday that would block Bolton and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, from releasing the memoir as planned on June 23, the people said. It is not clear how successful such a legal fight would be. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy excerpt of the book. It is also in the hands of journalists who have begun to chronicle its findings in stories.

Nevertheless, such a legal maneuver would amp up the fight begun Tuesday when the Justice Department filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to order Bolton to halt the release of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” pending the conclusion of a prepublication scrub of the manuscript for classified information.

The suit alleges that Bolton is in breach of nondisclosure agreements that required such a review and clearance by the National Security Council before he can publish a book.

The Justice Department described the book as a “500-plus page” tome “rife with classified information.” The internal discussion about whether to charge Bolton with releasing classified information are occurring at the highest levels of the Justice Department and involve Atty. Gen. William Barr, the person said.

An attorney for Bolton, Charles Cooper, did not respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment. Cooper has said that Bolton labored for months with National Security Council officials to remove classified information and that the White House is using the review process as a pretext to censor his client.

The Justice Department is under pressure from Trump to block the book’s release. On Monday, Trump said that his former national security advisor faced a “criminal problem” if he didn’t halt publication.

Bolton, a conservative foreign policy hawk who served as national security advisor from April 2018 through September 2019, clashed with Trump throughout his tenure, officials have said.

Bolton is just the latest former Trump administration official to emerge as a critic of the president’s leadership. Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis early this month sharply criticized the president’s handling of protests over police violence and racial inequality.

Simon & Schuster has touted the book as an inside account of the Trump White House in which Bolton describes “the president’s inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process and his dealings with allies and enemies alike, from China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.”

Bolton, the publisher said in a statement, “argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy — and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.”

In the excerpt of the book published by the Wall Street Journal, Bolton described how Trump tried to enlist China’s president, Xi Jinping, to help his reelection effort.

In a meeting with Xi in June 2019, Bolton wrote, “Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

The New York Times and Washington Post both published stories Wednesday by reporters who read the book, with the Post describing the memoir “as the most substantive, critical dissection of the president from an administration insider so far.” In a review, the New York Times said the book “toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged.”

House Democrats asked Bolton in the fall to testify in their impeachment inquiry, but he declined to participate, saying he would only testify if a federal judge ruled in an unusual lawsuit brought by a former deputy who sought clarity on whether he should comply with a similar subpoena or follow White House orders not to cooperate. The House, in the end, dropped its subpoena for the deputy’s testimony and never sought one for Bolton. Democrats said fighting in court over such a subpoena would have dragged impeachment out for months.

Democrats have since blasted Bolton for withholding his knowledge for a lucrative book deal. The Justice Department estimates Bolton is being paid at least $2 million for the memoir. On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that “Bolton may be an author, but he is no patriot.”

Trump was impeached by the House in December for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, over his son’s work for a Ukrainian energy company. The Senate voted to acquit Trump in February along a mostly party-line vote. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voted to convict the president of abusing his power but acquitted him of a charge of obstructing Congress.

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Trump encouraged China to build concentration camps, said journalists should be executed


Not me, though. Nothing would have changed if Bolton had testified. The Senate’s acquittal would have been even more embarrassing than it was, sure. But no one would have voted differently. Public opinion wouldn’t have moved much, if at all.

This is who Trump is. There are many things that can be said about the details from Bolton’s book published this afternoon at the NYT and WaPo, and about the longer excerpt on Trump and China from his book published at the WSJ, but none of it is surprising.

I’ll quote a few bits but there’s no way to reprint all the newsworthy details here while remaining within the bounds of fair use. Read all three pieces, starting with the WSJ excerpt. There, Bolton describes how Trump’s pursuit of a trade deal with Beijing was motivated by the same thing as all of his other foreign-policy moves, which is simply getting reelected in 2020. “Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security,” writes Bolton in an observation highly germane to the money-for-Biden-dirt quid pro quo that ended up getting Trump impeached. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations.” With respect to China, that meant trying to undo some of the more painful aspects of the trade war he’d launched, especially the economic consequences to plains states as Chinese demand for U.S. agricultural products dried up. According to Bolton, Trump was frank with Xi Jinping about the political consequences of that to him personally:

Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.

Trump naturally sought to woo Xi in other ways in order to make the trade deal happen, which he thought would boost the economy, which he in turn thought would ensure his reelection. In one case, says Bolton, that involved reversing penalties on the Chinese firm ZTE, in another case offering to intervene to ensure that Huawei wasn’t prosecuted even though the behavior of both firms implicates U.S. national security. (“These and innumerable other similar conversations with Trump formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”) Sometimes Trump’s courtship of China involved symbolic gestures, like declining to mark the anniversary of Tiananmen Square or signaling privately that he wouldn’t defend Taiwan if conflict with China erupted.

But here’s the passage that’ll get the most attention from the media:

At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.

Can he prove that Trump said that? No. Is it believable that the president might say? Oh, sure. But the things Trump says and the things his administration does aren’t always the same. Russia’s a good example. Despite his interest in detente with Putin and the disgusting display at their joint press conference in Helsinki, he did in fact end up sending military aid to Russia’s enemies in Ukraine under pressure from his aides. Same with China and its concentration camps: The feds have blacklisted multiple Chinese companies for human-rights violations against Uighurs in Xinjiang, whatever Trump may think of them personally. Whether the president supported that move or just didn’t care enough to resist it is unknown, but this strange duality between words and deeds has been a recurring theme of his presidency. When you pair a nationalist isolationist president with a fondness for dictators with a Republican bureaucracy composed mainly of hawks, neoconservatives, and internationalists, weird policy contradictions can result. Look no further than the fact that Trump chose Bolton, one of the most oustpoken hawks in the GOP, as his NSA.

Here’s Marco Rubio reminding us of the disjunction in a statement released this afternoon, no doubt in response to the Bolton excerpt:

Maybe all sides can settle on the proposition that what his administration does publicly is more important than what Trump says privately.

Strange policy contradictions can inhabit the person of Trump himself, not just his administration. WaPo notes in its story that Bolton claims Trump said at one point “I want to get out of everything,” referring to all U.S. deployments abroad. But on another occasion he supposedly said “invading Venezuela would be ‘cool’ and that the South American nation was ‘really part of the United States.’” Bolton describes him as being so prone to being charmed by sleazebags like Putin and Erdogan in phone calls that he had a meeting with Bill Barr about it, with Barr supposedly agreeing that the appearances were worrisome:

In one May 2019 phone call, for example, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, part of what Bolton terms a “brilliant display of Soviet style proganda” to shore up support for Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. Putin’s claims, Bolton writes, “largely persuaded Trump.”

In May 2018, Bolton says, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan handed Trump a memo claiming innocence for a Turkish firm under investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for violating Iranian sanctions.

“Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Bolton writes.

He also claims that Trump was interested in his summit with Kim Jong Un as a glorified publicity stunt, not meaningful diplomatic outreach, and that he somehow got bogged down in the fate of an Elton John “Rocket Man” CD which he had autographed for Kim and wanted Mike Pompeo to deliver personally. (That’s my favorite detail from today’s stories, with the president reportedly ranting privately about Pearl Harbor after his advisors started talking about our alliance with Japan a close second.) “He second-guessed people’s motives, saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government,” Bolton writes at one point.

Which, yeah.

And there’s this:

He also describes a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey where Trump says journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: “These people should be executed. They are scumbags,” Trump said, according to Bolton’s account.

The most interesting detail of the Times’s account is how much contempt Bolton had for the House’s impeachment inquiry, which he thought wasn’t nearly searching enough given how many dubious things he had witnessed Trump do while conducting foreign policy. Why’d they stick to Ukraine when they could have explored his conversations with China, Russia, Turkey and so on, Bolton wonders? “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” he says of Trump’s habit of doing “favors” for dictators by trying to get the DOJ and Commerce Department to back off of investigations. Which actually does make me want to screech, WHY DIDN’T BOLTON TESTIFY TO ALL OF THIS IN NOVEMBER WHEN THE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT TEAM ASKED HIM TO?

Granted, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the trial. But it would have put the Ukraine quid pro quo into a broader context that would have made Trump’s motives clearer.

Exit question: Were these really “favors” he was doing for the likes of Xi and Erdogan or were they “favors” in return for other “favors,” i.e. quid pro quos? “Favor” was the word Trump used when broaching the Burisma matter with Ukraine’s president in the transcript of their famous phone call. What did he get in return for his generosity towards the world’s strongmen?

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Justice Department declines to rule out civil rights probe of Minneapolis police department

After completing a pattern or practice investigation, the Justice Department enters talks with the police department and usually negotiates a court order mandating reforms. Civil rights activists argue the court orders are powerful tools for forcing departments to make changes. But many Republicans argue they can be too burdensome for departments and can damage officer morale.

In a letter responding to Klobuchar, the DOJ’s head of legislative affairs indicated the department is considering launching such a probe into the Minneapolis police department. The letter noted that DOJ has the authority to investigate “systemic violations of the Constitution” or of the law by police forces.

“Where an investigation reveals a pattern or practice of such misconduct, the Section may initiate a civil action in the name of the United States against state or local officials and seek appropriate injunctive relief,” wrote Stephen Boyd, DOJ’s legislative affairs chief. “We will carefully consider the evidence in this case, as well as any additional information that comes to our attention, regarding your request for a civil pattern or practice investigation.”

The letter did not earn any adulation from Klobuchar.

“It’s been 23 days since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), and yet the DOJ has still not committed to investigate the patterns and practices of racially discriminatory policing at the MPD,” she said in a statement to POLITICO. “Any insinuation that there is not enough evidence to justify an immediate pattern and practice investigation is willfully ignoring the facts.”

And the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, recently joined more than 200 groups to call on Barr to open a pattern or practice investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department. Vanita Gupta, the Leadership Conference’s president and CEO and the head DOJ’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, said there is ample evidence now to open such a probe.

“It is imperative for the Department of Justice to open a pattern or practice investigation into the Minneapolis police department,” she said in a statement to POLITICO. “Both Attorneys General Session and Barr abdicated their responsibilities in this area and failed to use this key, strategic tool to address systemic constitutional violations by law enforcement agencies.”

The DOJ, meanwhile, remains noncommittal––but hasn’t ruled out such a move.

Asked about whether the Justice Department should launch a pattern and practice probe into the Minneapolis police department during a June 7 interview with CBS News, Barr said he didn’t see it as “warranted,” citing investigations underway by the state of Minnesota.

Somewhat ambiguously, however, he added: “We still have to look into what kinds of use of force policies are used in that department, what the training has been and things like that. That’s not something we can do overnight.”

It’s not clear whether Barr was referring to DOJ specifically conducting such an inquiry, or the justice system more generally.

“The department considers a number of factors in determining the appropriate remedy to resolve a pattern or practice of constitutional violations by a law enforcement agency,” a DOJ official told POLITICO. “It is the mission of the Justice Department to ‘ensure public safety,’ and we will continue to encourage the proven, constitutional, and proactive policing required to keep American neighborhoods safe from violent crime.”

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House Republican leaders condemn GOP candidate who made racist videos

Republicans had just felt relief after they finally ousted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a controversial member with a long history of making racially charged remarks, in a primary earlier this month.

Now GOP lawmakers, aides and operatives fear Greene — a wealthy businesswoman who already drew national attention because of her belief in a trove of “QAnon” conspiracy theories — could create an even bigger black eye for the party if she wins the nomination. Greene will face neurosurgeon John Cowan in the Aug. 11 primary runoff.

“These comments are appalling, and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them,” said Drew Florio, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) went further, throwing his weight behind Greene’s opponent.

“The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great,” Scalise said in a statement. “I will be supporting Dr. Cowan.”

In recordings obtained by POLITICO, Greene described Islamic nations under Sharia law as places where men have sex with “little boys, little girls, multiple women” and “marry their sisters” and “their cousins.” She suggested the 2018 midterms — which ushered in the most diverse class of House freshmen — was part of “an Islamic invasion of our government” and that “anyone that is a Muslim that believes in Sharia law does not belong in our government.”

In other videos, she directly compared Black Lives Matter activists to the Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who marched at a white nationalist rally three years ago in Charlottesville, Va., denouncing them all as “idiots.” And Greene forcefully rejected the notion there are racial disparities in the U.S. or that skin color impacts the “quality” of one’s life: “Guess what? Slavery is over,” she said. “Black people have equal rights.”

When asked for comment on quotes from the videos, Greene campaign manager Isaiah Wartman did not deny their veracity but declined to elaborate.

“Thank[s] for the reminder about Soros. We forgot to put him in our newest ad. We’re fixing that now,” he wrote in an email to POLITICO. “Would you like me to send you a copy?”

Sitting cross-legged on the floor and sporting an American flag baseball cap, Greene said in one video that unemployment — which affects people of color at disproportionately higher rates — is simply the product of “bad choices” and being “lazy.”

Minorities, Greene added, are being held back in society by gangs, drugs, a lack of education, Planned Parenthood and abortions — “not white people.”

“I know a ton of white people that are as lazy and sorry and probably worse than black people,” she said. “And that has everything to do with their bad choices and their personal responsibility. That is not a skin-color issue.”

Greene later implied that black women have it easier because of affirmative action, complaining they are more likely to get into a college than a white male if they have the same G.P.A.

“The most mistreated group of people in the United States today are white males,” Greene said as she wrapped up one of the videos.

The recordings, in which Greene spends hours ranting to her social media followers, were taped direct-to-camera. The date of the videos is not clear, but they appear to have been recorded between late 2017 and early 2019. She initially launched a campaign in June of last year for Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Ga.) seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, but switched to the staunchly conservative 14th District when Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) announced his plans to retire.

The top three House GOP leaders, as well as the head of the party’s campaign arm, denounced Greene’s rhetoric upon learning from POLITICO of her derogatory comments about blacks, Muslims and Jews.

While the National Republican Congressional Committee does not get involved in primaries, NRCC spokesman Chris Pack said Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) is “personally disgusted by this rhetoric and condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”

And a spokesman for GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — who forcefully rebuked King and called on him to step down — said, “obviously, Rep. Cheney opposes these offensive and bigoted comments.”

McCarthy already pulled his support for another controversial GOP candidate in California, Ted Howze, after POLITICO uncovered dozens of social media posts that demeaned Muslims and immigrants.

Despite Greene’s penchant for controversy — she has already faced public criticism for taking a photo with a white supremacist, floating a conspiracy theory that the Las Vegas shooting massacre was a plot to abolish the Second Amendment and calling one of the student activists from Parkland high school “little Hitler”— Greene has earned some congressional support.

She nabbed endorsements from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill; Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), a Freedom Caucus member and former pastor; and the House Freedom Fund, the political arm for the Freedom Caucus. Jordan and Hice both said they disagree with her statements but have not yet pulled their endorsements; Biggs did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

There is now a growing effort in the GOP to rally around Greene’s opponent. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) both backed Cowan on Wednesday morning, as did Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). Ferguson called her comments “abhorrent” and said in a statement that she “shouldn’t have a place in Congress.”

Scott echoed a similar sentiment, saying “her statements would render her incapable of being an effective member of Congress.”

“This isn’t something that happened 10 years ago, when she said something out of context,” Scott said in an interview.

House Democrats have also pounced on Greene, even before the publication of the videos. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chair of the House Democratic campaign arm, called her a “next-generation Steve King” in a statement.

And Greene’s opponent, Cowan, is making a similar argument ahead of the runoff.

“These comments do not reflect the views of the people of the 14th District,” he said in an interview. “I think she would embarrass our state, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep her from representing northwest Georgia in Congress.”

In one of the videos, Greene offered a full-throated defense of Confederate statues, saying that if she were a black person she would be “proud” to see a Confederate monument “because I’d say, ‘Look how far I have come in this country.’”

Her comments are surfacing amid a heated national debate over whether Confederate statues should be removed and whether military bases named after Confederate leaders should be renamed — a debate that is also unfolding in Congress.

Greene blamed the country’s racial wounds on “identity politics” and President Barack Obama, whom she said only won black voters because of “the color of his skin.” She also suggested that’s why Obama identifies as black, even though he is “half-white” and “American,” Greene noted.

And during another offensive diatribe, Greene accused Democrats of “trying to keep the black people in a modern-day form of slavery” and said black Republicans get called “coon” and “Uncle Toms” by liberal black voters.

“It’s a slavery system to keep their vote,” she said.

In her videos, Greene is particularly preoccupied with the increase in Muslim members of Congress. She referred to freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as “that woman out of Minnesota” who “has got to wear a head covering.” She said members should not be able to take the oath of office on a Koran: “No! You have to be sworn in on the Bible.”

In 2018, Omar and freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) became the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. They have become top targets of the right, along with freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who are also women of color.

“There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now,” Greene said. “You saw after midterm elections what we saw so many Muslims elected. I don’t know the exact number but there were quite a few.”

She said that Muslims “are not being held back in any way” because the Constitution guarantees equality. “But what you people want,” she said, “is special treatment. You want to rise above us, and that’s what we’re against.”

And in another rant, she urged adherents of Sharia law to stay in their own countries and leave the U.S. alone.

“If you want Islam and Sharia law, you stay over there in the Middle East,” she said. “You stay there, and you go to Mecca and do all your thing. And, you know what, you can have a whole bunch of wives, or goats, or sheep, or whatever you want. You stay over there. But in America, see, we’ve made it this great, great country. We don’t want it messed up.”

She also spends several minutes attacking Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad, a man who was running for the Florida state House, because he is Muslim and an immigrant.

“So let me tell you something. This man is not born in America. He’s from Pakistan. Ok?,” she said, warning he was the only candidate who had filed for the seat, and that “his last name is Mohammad.”

She then attempted to recruit a challenger: “Anyone that lives in that district, you better sign your butt up and run against this guy,” she said. “Because we cannot let him win.”

In a video and on social media, Greene has also touted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Soros, a Holocaust survivor, collaborated with the Nazis.

“George Soros says dark forces have been awakened by Trump’s win. I don’t think so,” she said in one video. “George Soros is the piece of crap that turned in — he’s a Jew — he turned in his own people over to the Nazis.”

In February 2019, Greene replied to a tweet that included several memes accusing Soros of being part of a secret totalitarian world government. One picture showed Soros as a vampire who controls “every single Democrat politician.” In her reply, Greene called Soros “the Nazi himself trying to continue what was not finished.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition was one of the first GOP groups to denounce her publicly after the primary.

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Tucker Carlson Leaps to Top of Cable News Ratings Following Controversy Over BLM


Fox News host Tucker Carlson topped all comers in cable news ratings on Monday after a week in which the conservative pundit lost advertisers over comments he made about protests following the death of George Floyd.

Carlson drew nearly 4.2 million viewers during Monday’s 8 p.m. Eastern prime-time slot, coming in ahead of fellow Fox News personality Sean Hannity, who normally enjoys the largest news audience on cable, TVNewser reported.

Hannity drew approximately 3.7 million viewers at 9 p.m. Eastern and FNC’s “The Five” came in third, with about 3.3 million.

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” was the top drawer among non-Fox programming, with an audience of 2.7 million at 9 p.m. Eastern.

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Carlson lost some high-profile advertisers last week after he said the protests following the death of George Floyd are “definitely not about black lives.”

Among those pulling ads were ABC, whose parent company is Disney, T-Mobile and Papa John’s Pizza.

In a segment that aired on on June 8, Carlson said regarding the protests, “No matter what they tell you, it has very little to do with black lives. If only it did.”

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“If Democratic leaders cared about saving the lives of black people — and they should — they wouldn’t ignore the murder of thousands of black men in their cities every year.”

“They wouldn’t put abortion clinics in black neighborhoods,” Carlson said.

“They would instead do their very best to improve the public schools and to encourage intact families.”

He concluded, “This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through, but it is definitely not about black lives and remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.”

The hashtag “IStandWithTuckerCarlson” was trending on Twitter on Friday.

RELATED: Tucker Carlson Loses Big-Name Sponsors Over His ‘Black Lives Matter’ Stance

BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer was among those voicing his support.

“The mob will stop at nothing to destroy the lives of anyone who criticizes them,” he wrote.

“Advertiser exodus is the new book burning, canceling anyone you disagree with,” Schaffer added.

Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe tweeted on Wednesday that she believes Carlson is drawing such a large audience because people are looking for independent thinking.

“I think there is a reason Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan are thriving right now in the current media landscape,” Boothe wrote.

“People are hungry for fearlessness and independent thinking when so many engage in groupthink.”

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