August 13, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday accused The Washington Post of writing biased articles about him due to his criticism of the newspaper's owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

While Sanders did not mention any specific articles, the Post published a piece last month about an internal conflict between his 2020 presidential campaign's management and unionized campaign workers. Sanders has been a vocal critic of Amazon's labor practices, pressuring the company to bump its minimum wage up to $15 per hour, and was outraged over reports that Amazon may not have paid any taxes in 2018.

During a town hall in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Sanders brought up the tax issue, and said, "See, I talk about that all of the time. And then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why. But I guess maybe there's a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to $15 an hour as well." The Post reports he said the same thing later in the day during a town hall in North Conway, New Hampshire.


In a statement, the Post's executive editor, Martin Baron, said Sanders is "a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage. Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest." Catherine Garcia

2:36 a.m.

Stephen Colbert recapped where things stand with President Trump's impeachment at the start of Monday's Late Show. "For those just joining us, it looks like Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to try to pressure that country into announcing a bogus investigation of Joe Biden, and I'm happy to say, people understand that simple story. In a new poll, 70 percent of Americans say Trump's actions tied to Ukraine were wrong."

This week's impeachment hearings are expected to peak with Wednesday's testimony of Gordon Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the European Union. "Sondland is in deep," Colbert said, but his biggest "slip-up was when he called Donald Trump from a public restaurant in Kyiv, where several witnesses at the table heard Trump over the phone demanding an investigation of Biden. That's a direct link." Also last week, he added, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified she "was ousted after a smear campaign involving Rudy Giuliani. And if there's one thing Rudy Giuliani knows, it's how to destroy a reputation — so far just his, but he burned that mother to the ground."

Trump and Giuliani knew Yovanovitch "would be an obstacle to their corrupt scheme," Seth Meyers said on Late Night, and "as she was testifying, Trump decided to attack her" on Twitter, potentially committing another impeachable crime. "That's like punching the bailiff during your assault trial," he joked. Meyers ran through the public evidence against Trump, suggested it's enough to impeach and convict him already, then said if "you still needed more evidence tying Trump directly to this scheme to extort a foreign country to investigate his political rivals by dangling hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money," Sondland's call with Trump should seal the deal.

"Trump talking investigations on the call with Sondland looks pretty bad," Trevor Noah agreed at The Daily Show. "What's even worse is that after the call — and this is crazy — after the call, Sondland recaps what just happened for everyone at the table." He laughed at Sondland's alleged assurance to Trump that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "loves your ass," quipping, "A few days ago, Fox news was saying impeachment wasn't 'sexy' enough." He imagined Wednesday's hearings: "'Mr. Sondland, does Zelensky really love Trump's ass?' He'll be like, 'That's correct. He likes big butts and I cannot lie ... to Congress.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

2:00 a.m.

When a San Diego police officer went to inspect a stolen car last month, he had no idea he was about to meet his new best friend.

Inside the abandoned car, Officer Andre Thomas discovered a scared yellow Labrador in the back seat. The dog reminded him of Melakai, his own yellow Lab who died in March. For more than 10 years, Thomas and Melakai were always together, and because they were so close, it was hard for Thomas to ever imagine getting another dog.

Per protocol, Thomas brought the dog to the Humane Society, but he couldn't stop thinking about him. After three weeks, the owners hadn't yet claimed him, so Thomas stepped up and filed the adoption paperwork. The two have become inseparable, and the pup is now known as Victor, "a name worthy of the adversities the dog has overcome," the San Diego Police Department said. Catherine Garcia


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When Police Officer Andre Thomas responded to the call of a stolen car on Oct. 7, he was surprised to find a yellow Lab abandoned in the back of the vehicle. Only a few months prior, Officer Thomas had lost his beloved yellow Labrador, Melakai, a life-companion who had walked alongside him for over a decade. The two had made the move from their native Fresno to San Diego when Andre was just 18 years old. Andre and Melakai were so close that when his faithful, canine friend passed away of old age in March, Andre made a vow to never get another dog, a promise that he kept until he spotted a frightened, lone pup in the back of the stolen vehicle that Andre was called to investigate. Following protocol, Andre immediately took the dog to the San Diego Humane Society hoping that his owners would reclaim him. Yet when three weeks went by and nobody had come to pick up the dog, Andre knew exactly what to do. He adopted the pup, took him home and gave him a name worthy of the adversities the dog had overcome: Victor. The two have been best friends ever since. ❤️ Andre has been with the San Diego Police Department for four years. As a Police Officer II, he patrols the streets of the Central Division. #SDServes #FeelGoodFriday #yellowlab @sdhumanesociety @sandiegopd

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1:28 a.m.

During his closed-door testimony to House impeachment investigators last week, David Holmes, a counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, said hearing U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland call President Trump from the middle of a Kyiv restaurant was "an extremely distinctive experience in my foreign service career."

The House released the Holmes transcript Monday night, and he is expected to attend a public impeachment hearing on Thursday. Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor first discussed the overheard Trump-Sondland call during his public testimony last week.

The call took place July 26, one day after Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and requested he launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a baseless conspiracy theory about Ukraine meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Holmes said Sondland placed the call to Trump through a switchboard, and he overheard Trump ask if the Ukrainians were going to "do the investigation." Sondland responded, "He's gonna do it."

Holmes testified that he was shocked by Sondland's brazenness. "I've never seen anything like this, someone calling the president from a mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language," he said. "There's just so much about the call that was so remarkable that I remember it vividly." Holmes said most of the local mobile networks are "owned by Russian companies, or have significant stakes in those. We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored."

Click here to read the entire transcript. Catherine Garcia

12:07 a.m.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) probably made some important points on Monday night's Hardball about President Trump's alleged bribery, high crimes, and/or misdemeanors through subverting U.S. law and government apparatuses in service of his personal political benefit. But nobody will remember his point because in the middle of his interview with Chris Matthews, this happened:

Did Swalwell really submit to a massive attack of flatulence on live national television that was so loud his lapel microphone picked it up? He says no.

Hardball briefly toyed with turning the entire kerfuffle into an audio version of he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it.

But cooler minds prevailed. Or something.

Luckily, as we all know, conspiracy theorists are often persuaded by plausible explanations. Peter Weber

November 18, 2019

Hoping to end speculation about President Trump's surprise weekend visit to Walter Reed Medical Center, the White House released a memo on Monday night written by Trump's physician, who said the "trip was kept off the record" due to "scheduling uncertainties."

On Saturday, Trump underwent a "routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year," Dr. Sean Conley said. Trump has "not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues," he continued. "Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations."

When a president or other notable person visits Walter Reed, staffers are usually notified ahead of time, people familiar with the matter told CNN, and this didn't happen on Saturday. Several doctors who treated former presidents and vice presidents said they found the unannounced hospital visit worrisome, including Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist who treated former Vice President Dick Cheney. "It's concerning that there hasn't been any transparency in what occurred on Saturday," he told CNN before the memo was released.

In the memo, Conley said next year, he will put together a report with a full summary of Trump's labs and exam. With the president's consent, Conley did share Trump's cholesterol numbers, which are down from earlier this year. Catherine Garcia

November 18, 2019

On the eve of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's public testimony before House impeachment investigators, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent a letter to House Republicans, questioning Vindman's credibility.

Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert and a Purple Heart recipient, is set to testify on Tuesday. He listened to President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and immediately shared his concerns over Trump's request that Zelensky launch an investigation into a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter.

In his letter, Johnson opines that there are "bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch" who have "never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their 'turf.' They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile."

Johnson tried to defend Trump throughout the letter, saying he could not recall Trump ever talking to him about the Bidens, while also attacking the whistleblower whose complaint about Trump's call launched the House impeachment inquiry. "If the whistleblower's intention was to improve and solidify the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine, he or she failed miserably." Catherine Garcia

November 18, 2019

Since being deported from the United States, Maria Butina has received several job offers in Russia, including one with the human rights commission.

Butina, 31, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia. She infiltrated the National Rifle Association and influenced Republican and conservative activists to promote Russian interests in the 2016 presidential election. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but was released last month after serving 15 months. She was deported on Oct. 26.

When she arrived back in Russia, Butina was greeted by cheering supporters. She made her first public appearance since then on Monday, alongside the country's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova. Moskalkova invited Butina to "work in our group defending compatriots abroad," explaining: "I'm sure together we'll be able to do a lot of good for people who've ended up in tough situations abroad." Butina did not say if she'll take the job or if she'll accept another offer to work in Russia's lower house of parliament, Reuters reports.

Also on Monday, Butina's former boyfriend, conservative political operative Paul Erickson, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Authorities say the South Dakota businessman promised dozens of clients returns of up to 150 percent, but in reality stole $2.3 million from them. He was accused of using this money on personal expenses for Butina. Catherine Garcia

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