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Witnesses From Third Day Of Impeachment Hearings Offer Information Defending And Implicating Trump

Day three of the public impeachment hearings offered few positives for President Trump as the House Intelligence Committee heard from four more witnesses on Tuesday. The first part of the hearing featured vivid testimonies from two key witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who heard President Trump’s call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. The later part of the day was devoted to two witnesses called forth by Republicans, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Trump foreign policy adviser Tim Morrison.

Unlike previous witnesses in the impeachment investigation, three of the four individuals who testified on Tuesday actually listened in on the July 25th phone call with Trump and Zelensky. All of them expressed serious concerns with President Trump’s phone call and spoke at length about the implications of his conversation with Zelensky. They say Trump used foreign policy to benefit his reelection campaign by using military aid in an effort to force Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. 

One of the most pivotal moments on Tuesday was the testimony from Lt. Col. Vindman who said that the phone call was “improper” and was concerned.

 The Iraq War veteran called out Trump saying that he acted out of duty and told a senior lawyer at the National Security Council about his concerns.

 “Without hesitation, I knew that I had to report this to the White House counsel,” Vindman said. “I had concerns and it was my duty to report my concerns to the proper people in the chain of command.”

 Vindman told committee members that he found many of the things that Trump discussed in the phone as troublesome. He implied that Trump could do further damage to both Ukraine’s efforts to establish itself as an independent nation as well as the national security of the United States.

“It was improper for the president to request to demand an investigation into a political opponent,” Vindman said. “This would have significant implications if it became public knowledge…It would undermine our Ukraine policy. It would undermine our national security.”

Republicans countered by questioning Vindman and his political standing throughout his testimony. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the head Republican on the Intelligence Committee, repeatedly jabbed at Vindman asking him if he could identify the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint helped trigger the impeachment proceedings. 

There was even some shots taken at Vindman from the White House’s social media page that tried to discredit his testimony. Vindman affirmed his loyalty to the U.S. and dismissed the idea that he was a “never-trumper”.  

“I’m an American,” Vindman said. “I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them…the whole notion is rather comical.”

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who also listened to the July 25 phone call, said it was “unusual and inappropriate.”

Credit: @KyleGriffin1 / Twitter

Williams said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.” She said that she wasn’t sure why aid was being withheld from Ukraine. Williams couldn’t recall any national security official in the U.S government who supported the decision to withhold the security aid for Ukraine. 

“I found the July 25 phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter,” Williams testified. 

President Trump took to Twitter to attack Williams and her testimony. “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Throughout the day Republicans attempted to discredit witnesses and testimonies. 

Committee Republicans quickly took to criticizing testimonies throughout the day claiming that Vindman and Williams were simply giving his personal opinion about the phone call. President Trump also chimed in on the hearings throughout the day portraying Vindman as a liar and a Democratic pawn. 

This seems to be continuing theme during the first few days of these hearings and show no sign of stopping anytime soon.  If these are the best defenses Trump and fellow committee republicans can come up, there is trouble on the way when it comes to a vote against impeachment.

READ: Democratic Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Discusses The Primary Process, DACA, And The Legacy Of His Campaign

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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

Phil Roeder / Getty Images

The drama over the 2020 Census continues.

First, was a Supreme Court decision that found the Trump administration wasn’t being totally honest about it’s reasoning for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census – so the court effectively removed the question from the census. 

Then, Trump tried to delay the constitutionally mandated census to give his administration more time to come up with a better reason to tell the courts.

None of that worked as planned by the administration, and the Census has continued as normal. However, so many in minority communities – particularly migrant communities – have been fearful of completing this year’s census. Well, a new Supreme Court case could erase all the progress we made to make sure all residents – regardless of immigration status – were fairly counted.

The Supreme Court will hear a case that could allow the Trump Administration to exclude undocumented residents from Census data.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments next month over whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion congressional districts to the 50 states.

The court’s announcement means that the court – which could soon have a 6-3 conservative majority – will hear arguments in the case on November 30.

In July, Trump issued a memorandum asking the Census Bureau to subtract undocumented immigrants from the count for the purposes of congressional apportionment — the reallocation of the nation’s 435 House districts every 10 years. Trump’s memo came after the Supreme Court had rejected his last minute efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.

By the time the high court hears this case, federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be confirmed as the ninth justice, cementing a conservative majority. Senate Republicans hope to confirm her nomination to the Supreme Court before the election on Nov. 3.

However, the U.S. Constitution explicitly calls for the counting of all residents within the country.

Credit: Tetra Images / Getty Images

The 14th Amendment requires districts to apportion congressional seats based on “counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

Since the first U.S. census in 1790, the numbers of U.S. residents who are counted to determine each state’s share of congressional seats have included both citizens and noncitizens, regardless of immigration status.

“President Trump has repeatedly tried — and failed — to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again,” said Dale Ho, a lead plaintiffs’ attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully argued against the now-blocked citizenship question the administration wanted on the 2020 census forms.

Removing those immigrants from the population counts would shift power to less diverse states. A Pew Research Center study last year found that it could result in House seats that would otherwise be assigned to California, Florida and Texas going instead to Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio — each of which is set to possibly lose a House seat in the next decade due to population shifts.

And drawing new districts within the states based only on the counts of citizens and legal immigrants would likely benefit Republicans, shifting power from cities and immigrant communities to rural parts of the states, which vote for GOP candidates at higher rates

The announcement comes shortly after the court also allowed the Trump Administration to end the Census count early.

Earlier last week, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to stop the census count, blocking lower court orders that directed the count to continue through the end of the month. 

The decision, which the Trump administration favored, came with a candid dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor – the court’s only Latina justice.

“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress. This Court normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms.”

But it wasn’t long ago that Trump tried to completely derail this year’s census.

The Trump administration has decided to print the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question, and the printer has been told to start the printing process, Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco confirms to NPR.

The move came shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to keep the question off census forms for now and just a day after printing was scheduled to begin for 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings.

President Trump had said he wanted to delay the constitutionally mandated headcount to give the Supreme Court a chance to issue a more “decisive” ruling on whether the administration could add the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” A majority of the justices found that the administration’s use of the Voting Rights Act to justify the question “seems to have been contrived.”

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ICE Launches Billboards With Images Of Undocumented Migrants In An Unprecedented Attack On The Community

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ICE Launches Billboards With Images Of Undocumented Migrants In An Unprecedented Attack On The Community

Olivier Douliery / Getty Images

In what many say is an unprecedented move, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday it is launching a billboard campaign in Pennsylvania highlighting immigrants who have been labeled “at-large immigration violators.”

The billboard campaign is taking place in one of the nation’s most hotly contested swing states, just weeks out from the 2020 presidential election. And ICE says they’re want to highlight immigrants who were released by local law enforcement under so-called sanctuary policies who ICE says, “may pose a public safety threat.”

The agency has launched the billboard campaign as a boost to Trump’s “law & order” campaign, despite evidence showing that so-called sanctuary policies often have a positive impact on crime rates.

ICE has plastered immigration billboards across Pennsylvania.

In its continued attacks on the immigrant community in the country, the Trump administration has launched a billboard campaign across Pennsylvania that highlights immigration violators. ICE announced that it had placed several “WANTED” billboards across the state depicting immigrants recently arrested by local authorities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Experts are calling this an unprecedented move taken in a swing state a month before the November election.

The immigrants, who ICE said were not authorized to be in the U.S., were released after being charged — but not convicted — with crimes ranging from public intoxication and disorderly conduct, to robbery and aggravated assault. The billboards don’t attach a name to the mugshot but include charges like assault. A phone number for an ICE hotline is also listed.

According to John Sandweg, former acting ICE director, in an interview with CNN, billboards singling out immigration violators raise questions about what purpose they serve. “How are they getting funding for it? How does that advance their mission?” he said. “Running billboards, it’s political messaging.”Hotlines to solicit tips or campaigns to recruit personnel are common, Sandweg noted, but those are more clearly linked to helping to advance the agency’s enforcement mission.

The move is meant to target sanctuary cities and to bolster Trump’s campaign message of ‘law & order.’

The billboard campaign is part of a larger strategy meant to target the policies of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Trump has repeatedly gone after these jurisdictions, arguing that they put public safety at risk, despite several studies that contradict his claims.

“Too often sanctuary policies limiting cooperation with ICE result in significant public safety concerns,” said Tony Pham, the senior official performing the duties of the ICE director. “ICE will continue to enforce immigration laws set forth by Congress through the efforts of the men and women of ICE to remove criminal aliens and making our communities safer.”

Many of the largest cities in the country have sanctuary policies in place. The leaders behind them argue that such policies make communities safer because undocumented immigrants are more likely to report crimes  if they don’t fear deportation.

Several ex-officials have come out against the move, calling it “wildly inappropriate.”

As many experts call the billboard campaign an unprecedented move, several former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have criticized the Trump administration for erecting the billboards. They say that the public messaging campaign exacerbates concerns about the politicization of immigration enforcement.

“The placement and the timing — the placement being Pennsylvania and the timing being a month before the election — make it clear that this is a political move, not related to operational matters,” David Lapan, a retired U.S. Marine colonel and former DHS press secretary during the Trump administration, told CBS News. “We’re almost four years into the administration. Why wasn’t this done sooner if that was something they thought was important?”

John Sandweg, who led ICE on an acting basis during the Obama administration, said he doesn’t believe the agency “has ever done anything” like the billboards. “It’s a political advertisement in favor of the president or at a minimum, against politicians that they disagree with. And that’s just wildly inappropriate,” Sandweg told CBS News.

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