By Robert A. Vella
Topics for this Tuesday include congressional testimony in the impeachment inquiry by former NSC advisor Fiona Hill, updates on Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria targeting the Kurds, several disturbing stories of right-wing extremism under the leadership of President Trump, a report on the geographical areas of the U.S. hit hardest by Trump’s trade war against China, the arrest of a white policeman in Texas who shot through a window and killed a black woman in her own home for no apparent reason, plus other news.
Fiona Hill, who served on the National Security Council and left the administration in August, testified for about nine hours before three House panels as part of the impeachment inquiry examining the president, his administration and his allies’ dealings with Ukraine, including a July call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and other matters.
In her testimony, she detailed a July 10 meeting she attended with senior Ukrainian officials, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other U.S. officials in which the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, raised the issue of the investigations, the people said.
Ms. Hill described to lawmakers efforts by Mr. Giuliani, which circumvented typical government procedures for foreign policy, to press Ukraine to mount investigations into the Bidens, as well as possible 2016 election interference, the people said. Mr. Giuliani has said he worked in conjunction with the State Department.
The announcement is an effort to contain the damage from Trump’s decision to stand aside if Turkey entered northern Syria, essentially giving Erdogan a green light to carry out the operation. Erdogan says the offensive is necessary to push back Kurdish militants and resettle refugees, but the rapid advance into Syria has drawn international condemnation and accusations of war crimes.
The penalties would raise steel tariffs on Turkey back to 50%, the level before a reduction in May, and the U.S. would halt negotiations over a $100 billion trade pact, Trump said in a statement. The administration also sanctioned the Turkish ministers of defense, energy and the interior, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
Experts on sanctions say the administration could have imposed restrictions last week if they had wanted to, and that Trump’s talk of future sanctions is more messaging to satisfy frustrated lawmakers who may have a veto-proof majority to pass legislation and force the president’s hand.
WASHINGTON — The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.
The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many in the online group, the person specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.
Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted the videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.
The connections underscore how the president’s escalating war on what he calls the “fake news” media has elevated people from the far-right fringe into allies who defend him with extreme language and images.
The U.S. Census Bureau is asking states for drivers’ license records that typically include citizenship data and has made a new request for information on recipients of government assistance, alarming some civil rights advocates.
The two approaches, documented by The Associated Press, come amid President Donald Trump’s efforts to make citizenship a key aspect of federal information-gathering in the run-up to the 2020 Census, despite this year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a specific citizenship question can’t be included in the 2020 Census questionnaire.
In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White denied the request.
Other states are weighing what to do. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received the request but hasn’t responded, spokeswoman Beth Frady said.
Mr. Ellis is one of more than 18,000 people who were cut from the Medicaid rolls after Arkansas embarked on a closely watched experiment in June 2018, when it became the only state to fully implement a work requirement for program recipients. The outcome in Arkansas could help shape the future of Medicaid, a state-federal program for low-income and disabled people that covers one in seven adults across the U.S. President Trump and Republicans promote the mandate as a way to rein in safety-net costs and increase employment.
In a blow to the GOP, a federal judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in March blocked Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement, saying federal officials didn’t adequately consider its potential to cause recipients to lose coverage.
The federal government appealed the decision, and oral arguments over the Trump administration’s legal authority to approve Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky took place in appellate court Friday. The same lower-court judge also has ruled against Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and New Hampshire.
The costs of the trade war with China are being borne most heavily in parts of so-called “Trump country” that are expected to be key battlegrounds in next year’s presidential election.
The Upper Midwest and swing states are hit the hardest, Michael Waugh, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of one of the new studies, told MarketWatch. “These results suggest that Chinese retaliation is leading to concentrated welfare losses in the U.S.,” he wrote. Waugh describes those states as or “Trump country.”
FORT WORTH, Texas — A Fort Worth police officer was arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson on Monday evening, hours after he resigned.
Aaron York Dean, 34, of Arlington, resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department on Monday morning. Early Saturday morning, he shot and killed Jefferson, 28, inside her home while responding to a call from a neighbor about doors at the house being open, police said.
Dean was listed as an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail as of 6:50 p.m. Monday, according to records.