Bolton accuses White House of ‘suppressing’ his personal Twitter

The ex-national security adviser says the White House ‘refused to return’ access to his account after he was forced out.

Former National security adviser John Bolton said accused the White House of suppressing his Twitter account. [File: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press]
Former National security adviser John Bolton said accused the White House of suppressing his Twitter account. [File: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press]

Former United States National Security Adviser John Bolton has returned to Twitter, claiming the Trump administration had suppressed his account after he was forced out in September.

Bolton, in a series of posts on Frida, wrote “we have now liberated the Twitter account, previously suppressed unfairly in the aftermath of my resignation as National Security Advisor”.

“Since resigning as National Security Advisor, the @WhiteHouse refused to return access to my personal Twitter account,” Bolton continued in another post. “Out of fear of I may say?”

John Bolton

@AmbJohnBolton

We have now liberated the Twitter account, previously suppressed unfairly in the aftermath of my resignation as National Security Advisor. More to come…..

“To those who speculated I went into hiding, I’m sorry to disappoint!” he added.

Bolton’s most recent post before Friday’s salvo was on September 10, the day President Donald Trump announced Bolton had been fired. Trump cited that he and Bolton, who was appointed to the post in April 2018, had “strongly disagreed on major issues”.

John Bolton

@AmbJohnBolton

Re: speaking up — since resigning as National Security Advisor, the @WhiteHouse refused to return access to my personal Twitter account. Out of fear of what I may say? To those who speculated I went into hiding, I’m sorry to disappoint!

In his final September tweet, Bolton disputed that he had been fired, saying he had offered to resign the day before, and Trump responded, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow”.

Bolton, who formerly served as US ambassador to the UN and undersecretary of state, had initially been considered an unexpected pick for Trump. His reputation as a hawk conflicted with Trump’s campaign platform of isolationist “America First” policies.

Bolton clashed at some point with several major foreign policy areas of the Trump administration, including on policy towards Iran, Russia, China, North Korea and Syria.

The former national security adviser said on Friday that the White House had not returned the access to his account. “Thank you @twitter for standing by their community standards and returning control of my account,” Bolton said.

The White House did not immediately respond to Bolton’s charges.

Impeachment investigation

Bolton’s reemergence on Twitter comes as the House of Representatives continues its impeachment investigation of Trump.

Democrats leading a House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine have asked Bolton to testify. Bolton, who was the national security adviser during the period being investigated, has said that he would not testify unless forced to.

The White House and State Department have prohibited employees from testifying. Witnesses who have appeared before the House have done so under subpoena.

Bolton did not show for a scheduled hearing on November 7, and is reportedly awaiting a ruling by a judge about whether White House officials must testify if subpoenaed by Congress.

To date, legislators have not subpoenaed Bolton.

In public testimony on Thursday, Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs, said Bolton had described the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as a “hand grenade” whose work pushing the president’s political agenda in foreign policy would undermine the entire administration.

Hill also testified that a July 10 meeting of US and Ukrainian officials, which included Ambassador the EU Gordon Sondland, was so alarming that Bolton told her to tell the White House lawyer.

Sondland testified on Wednesday that under Trump’s orders he worked with the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who implemented a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma, a gas company linked to political rival Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and the 2016 US elections in exchange for a White House meeting. Legislators are also trying to determine if $400m in withheld military aid was also part of that pressure campaign.

Sondland “blurted” out details of his effort during the meeting, Hill testified, causing Bolton to noticeably “stiffen”, she said.

Bolton later told Hill to make clear to the lawyer that he was “not part of whatever drug deal” Sondland and Trump’s acting chief of staff were cooking up, Hill said.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Joe Biden’s and Pete Buttigieg’s Records on Race Come Under Scrutiny at 5th Democratic Debate

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Presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed on the Democratic debate stage Wednesday that he has broad support from black voters and the only black woman elected to the Senate, seemingly forgetting that 2020 candidate Kamala Harris is a California senator. Biden’s comment came amid multiple blunders during the debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post in Atlanta. For more on the 2020 candidates’ discussion of race in their campaigns, we speak with Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, and Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief for The Intercept.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we continue on the fifth presidential primary debate — Democrat — in Atlanta, Georgia.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re now joined for a roundtable on last night’s debate — in Washington, D.C., we have Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of several books, including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. In Berkeley, California, Gabriel Zucman is with us. He’s professor of economics at UC Berkeley and the co-author of The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay. And in Atlanta, Georgia, we’re joined by Ryan Grim, the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Intercept, who was at the debate last night.

AMY GOODMAN: And here in New York City, Rashad Robinson is with us, president of Color of Change, his latest piece for The Nation headlined “Forget About Plans, Which Candidate Can Get Things Done?” Let’s begin with former Vice President Joe Biden speaking last night.

JOE BIDEN: I’m part of that — that Obama coalition. I come out of the black community in terms of my support. If you notice, I have more people supporting me in the black community, that have announced for me, because they know me, they know who I am — three former chairs of the Black Caucus, the only African-American woman that’s ever been elected to the United States Senate, a whole range of people. My point is —

SENKAMALA HARRIS: No, that’s not true.

SENCORY BOOKER: No, that’s not true. That’s not true.

SENKAMALA HARRIS: The other one is here.

JOE BIDEN: No, I said the first. I said the first African American elected, the first African American. So my point is…

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Kamala Harris is putting her hands up, and she’s the one who corrects him: No, you don’t have the support of your rival – right? — Senator Harris. What are you talking about? Rashad Robinson, can you explain what happened there?

RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah. I think it’s always tricky when white folks try to outblack black folks. And I think Biden would do his self a favor at looking what Bill Clinton did back in ’07 and ’08 in South Carolina, where he sort of talked about his history and support with the black community, to undermine the insurgent candidacy of President Obama at the time, and folks began to turn on him and began to push back on that. Hillary Clinton enjoyed a lot of support back then from a wide range of black folks. But what she enjoyed and what Biden enjoys is a lot of support from insiders, from the establishment, from folks that are looking at sort of the calculation and think that this is the candidate that white people will accept and white people will vote for. And as we get closer and closer to Election Day, if Biden is not willing to consolidate support, when — we’re going to see people moving away. And we already see that in terms of young black folks, in terms of the activist community, and many others that just simply don’t think that Biden has the range.

And he hasn’t been there. He hasn’t showed up. Biden is the only candidate that we have not been able to get a sitdown meeting with. It’s absolutely outrageous that we, like, have reached out multiple times, and it’s almost like a joke now with his folks, where they say, “Oh, well, maybe. Well, sort of.” And I can’t even think of any next-generation black leader or organization in the movement right now that’s had a sitdown conversation with Joe Biden. If this is what he does when we’re dating, what’s going to happen if we marry? This is actually a really big problem. If he’s not willing to sit down and have conversations, to hear from us about our priorities, then we’ve got a lot of concerns about what the future looks like.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go to an exchange between Senator Kamala Harris and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. This is co-moderator Kristen Welker.

KRISTEN WELKER: Senator Harris, this week you criticized Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s outreach to African-American voters. You said, quote, “The Democratic nominee has got to be someone who has the experience of connecting with all of who we are as the diversity of the American people,” end-quote. What exactly prompted you to say that, Senator Harris?

SENKAMALA HARRIS: Well, I was asked a question that related to a stock photograph that his campaign published. But, listen, I think that it really speaks to a larger issue, and I’ll speak to the larger issue. I believe that the mayor has made apologies for that.

The larger issue is that for too long, I think, candidates have taken for granted constituencies that have been the backbone of the Democratic Party, and have overlooked those constituencies and have — you know, they show up when it’s, you know, close to election time and show up in a black church and want to get the vote, but just haven’t been there before. …

KRISTEN WELKER: Mayor Buttigieg, your response to that?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: My response is I completely agree. And I welcome the challenge of connecting with black voters in America who don’t yet know me.

And before I share what’s in my plans, let me talk about what’s in my heart and why this is so important. As mayor of a city that is racially diverse and largely low-income, for eight years I have lived and breathed the successes and struggles of a community where far too many people live with the consequences of racial inequity, that has built up over centuries but been compounded by policies and decisions from within living memory.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, that’s South Bend Mayor Pete speaking last night at the debate. Ryan Grim of The Intercept, you were there, and you’ve written a lot about the mayor. Your response to what he said and his performance last night?

RYAN GRIM: Well, it was interesting that Kamala Harris decided to kind of take a pass on coming directly at Mayor Buttigieg in that exchange. And nobody else really came at him throughout the entire debate. I think he was prepared for an onslaught, given that there had been recent polls showing him up in New Hampshire and Iowa, and normally the front-runner gets piled on. That may have been delayed until the next debate.

What she was referring to as a stock photo was related to a broader controversy over the way that he presented what’s known as his Douglass Plan for Black America. This is the primary piece of outreach that he has to the black community. And when he rolled it out, yes, it was kind of funny that he used a stock photo from a Kenyan woman and her little brother to kind of promote the project for Black America.

But, you know, more damaging to him, and which Harris did not get into, is that he listed 400 supporters of this plan, the top three of whom were leaders of the black community in South Carolina. You know, after it came out, they told The Intercept, two of them — Johnnie Cordero, who is the chairman of the South Carolina Black Caucus, said, “I explicitly told them I do not endorse this plan, and they used my name anyway.” State Representative Ivory Thigpen said the same thing. He explicitly told them that he was not endorsing the Douglass Plan, and they put his name on it anyway. He, in fact, is the co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign in South Carolina. The third endorser said, “I told them that it was OK to use my name for the Douglass Plan, but I said, ‘Please don’t make it look like I’m endorsing your candidacy.’” And she felt like they were intentionally vague in the way they rolled it out, to make it look like they had done that. And it’s very difficult to imagine a politician doing that sort of thing to a white state senator in Iowa or New Hampshire, for instance. It’s really difficult to imagine that happening to any community other than the black community in American politics.

And so, Harris pivoted to a conversation about what is your authentic connection with the black community. And Booker also hit later on a related point, which is if you can’t bring together the Obama coalition. And that was kind of a code for bringing together white progressives, LGBT community and the black community together — and the immigrant community — together into that coalition that’s able to get more than 50% of the vote. If you can’t make that entire coalition whole, you’re going to fall short. But they didn’t kind of name him when they were making that argument.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Rashad Robinson, I mean, the significance of this? Because you have Mayor Pete now polling number one — in one of the whitest states in the country, Iowa, number one. He has jumped something like, if you believe the polls, roughly 10%, against Warren, Sanders and Biden, which is why everyone was going after him last night, yet polling at almost zero within the black community.

RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah, I mean, I’ve had some time to talk with Mayor Pete, and, you know — and really have pushed him. I don’t even understand why he named his plan the Douglass Plan. Like, can you explain? Is Frederick Douglass someone that is really inspiring to you? Why? What is your relationship with the community? I think, you know, the problem that Mayor Pete has is that he comes across as a very good student, someone who has deeply studied and can understand issues, but doesn’t have a context oftentimes or a story to back it up. And people realize that and recognize that. He is a millennial who does not have right now black friends out there talking about him. And that’s worrisome, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain what happened in South Bend, Indiana —

RASHAD ROBINSON: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: — during his campaign, the killing of an African-American person there.

RASHAD ROBINSON: Absolutely, absolutely. The killing — both the police killing and the ongoing way that he’s had problems with police-community tension, the firing of the black police chief, who was working to expose racism in the force. You know, this is someone who’s had deep challenges with racial justice, in a relatively small city that most people probably can’t point to at the map — on the map, who now wants to be president of the United States.

Racial justice is not a side piece. It’s not charity. And while it is moral, it is actually strategy. It’s a strategy to actually win. And it’s a force multiplier for the type of change that we need on our side to get people mobilized out to the polls, to expand the base. If a candidate actually does not have the type of relationship where people feel like they’re known, like they’re going to actually be engaged and they’re going to be prioritized, then they’re not going to show up in big numbers. And I think the challenge for Mayor Pete is that the Douglass Plan, on paper, seems like a lot of good —

AMY GOODMAN: Of course, named for Frederick Douglass.

RASHAD ROBINSON: Named for Frederick Douglass — seems like a lot of good information — I’ve read through it, I’ve talked to him about it — but there is no story or context behind it. There’s also not a history of him implementing it and executing it. And with all of these candidates, I am not interested, and folks are not as interested, in the what, but the how. What is your experience and your relationship to movements to actually getting this done? We have a history, hundreds of years, of stalled progress, of inequality on race issues in this country. And we need someone that actually has experience, the ability to mobilize people and the ability to move people. And we need to know that it’s a priority, not something you have to do to check off a box. He still has some work to do in that regard.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to discuss this fifth Democratic presidential debate that took place in Atlanta, Georgia. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: iLe, singing “Temes” in our Democracy Now! studio. Her latest album, Almadura, was just nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award. To see her full performance and interview here at Democracy Now! about the protest movement that took down Puerto Rico’s governor last summer, visit democracynow.org.

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Report: Mike Pompeo Planning to Resign as Secretary of State

H8 mike pompeo secretary state time magazine resigning senate kansas

Time magazine is reporting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to resign from the Trump administration and run for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas next year. Pompeo has come under fire during the ongoing impeachment hearings against President Trump, with many criticizing him for failing to defend State Department officials and protect U.S. policies against Trump’s efforts to politicize foreign affairs. Pompeo has not publicly confirmed his planned resignation.

Sweden Drops Sexual Assault Investigation into WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

H10 sweden drops sexual assault investigation julian assange

In Sweden, prosecutors have dropped an investigation into sexual assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which Assange has always denied. Assange took refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden on the charges. British authorities dragged him out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. He’s since been jailed in London’s Belmarsh Prison on charges related to skipping of bail in 2012 when he first entered the embassy, which he did in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over the now-dropped sexual assault charges. The United States is now seeking Assange’s extradition to the U.S., where he faces up to 175 years in prison on hacking charges and 17 counts of violating the World War I-era Espionage Act.

Trump defends Biden over North Korea’s ‘rabid dog’ jibe

Joe Biden and Donald TrumpJoe Biden is seen as Donald Trump’s biggest rival in the Democratic race for the 2020 presidential election nomination

As the race for the 2020 presidential election gathers pace, the bitter war of words between US President Donald Trump and his main political rival Joe Biden is expected to escalate.

Seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Mr Biden has been the main target of Mr Trump’s verbal broadsides so far.

But some insults, it seems, go too far, even for President Trump.

On Sunday Mr Trump tweeted a rare, albeit backhanded, defence of Mr Biden in response to a vicious verbal attack by North Korea.

The surprising tweet was addressed to “Mr Chairman”, an apparent reference to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

In the tweet, Mr Trump said although Mr Biden was “sleepy and very slow”, he was “not a rabid dog”, as North Korea had called him.

The president’s comments were included in a retweet of a conservative commentator’s post about North Korea’s attack on Mr Biden.

North Korea had lambasted Mr Biden for having the “temerity to dare slander the dignity” of its leader, Mr Kim.

“Rabid dogs like Biden can hurt lots of people if they are allowed to run about,” a statement, carried North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, said on Thursday. “They must be beaten to death with a stick.”

Watch the moment Donald Trump met King Jong-un and stepped foot inside North Korea

It is not clear what drew the ire of North Korea, though Mr Biden has been critical of the Trump-Kim summits this year and last.

In response to the North Korean jibe, Mr Biden said he saw such insults “as a badge of honour”.

In contrast, Mr Trump’s relationship with Mr Kim has been more amicable as he seeks to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons through summitry rather than threats.

Mr Trump has lavished Mr Kim with compliments, describing him as “very sharp” and a “real leader”.

Mr Biden, on the other hand, has frequently been on the receiving end of Mr Trump’s jibes.

The impeachment inquiry, which centres on whether Mr Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Mr Biden and his son, has intensified their long-running feud.

US election 2020: Democrats respond to Obama’s warning

Bernie Sanders: “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice.”

Elizabeth Warren (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Julian Castro (R) are all contending for the Democratic presidential nomination

Elizabeth Warren (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Julián Castro (R) are all contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination

Democratic presidential candidates have given their reaction to a warning by former President Barack Obama against moving too far left in politics.

Mr Obama’s rare intervention into the Democratic race was a talking point at campaign events on Saturday.

Some Democrats called for unity, while others defended their policy agenda.

Nearly 20 candidates remain in the running and there is much debate over the best approach to taking on President Trump next year.

Speaking at a fundraising forum in Washington, the former president – considered a moderate – cautioned candidates against pursuing polices that were not “rooted in reality”.

Mr Obama, who was in office from 2009 to 2017, said “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to “completely tear down the system”.

“This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” Mr Obama said to an audience of wealthy donors on Friday.

Watch former US President Barack Obama talk about “woke” culture

The remarks represented Mr Obama’s most pointed intervention yet in a crowded race featuring 18 candidates.

Former vice-president Joe Biden and senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are leading the pack, but Mr Obama is yet to publicly back a candidate.

How did candidates respond to Mr Obama?

Although none of the Democratic candidates explicitly rebuked Mr Obama’s comments, Mr Sanders mounted the strongest defence of his policy platform.

Answering questions on a forum aired by Univision, a Spanish-language TV network, he was asked whether Mr Obama was “right” to say voters didn’t want systemic change.

Mr Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist and progressive, laughed and said: “Well, it depends on what you mean by tear down the system.”

Democratic presidential hopeful, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders speaks at the California Democratic Party 2019 Senator Bernie Sanders insisted that he was “fighting for justice”, not seeking to tear down the system

“The agenda that we have is an agenda supported by the vast majority of working people,” he said. “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice.”

Elizabeth Warren, another left-leaning frontrunner, struck a more conciliatory tone, choosing to praise Mr Obama’s trademark health care policy, the Affordable Care Act.

“I so admire what President Obama did,” Ms Warren said at a campaign event in Iowa, the New York Times reported.

“He is the one who led the way on health care and got health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans when nobody thought that was possible.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Holiday Inn in Concord, New HampshireElizabeth Warren said she admired Barack Obama’s health care achievements

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said the party ought to be focusing its energy on defeating Republican President Donald Trump, not internal political squabbles.

“Let’s stop tearing each other down, let’s stop drawing artificial lines,” he said.

Unlike Mr Obama, Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, said he was confident any Democratic candidate would beat President Trump, regardless of their political persuasion.

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro speaks at the Liberty and Justice Celebration at the Wells Fargo ArenaJulián Castro said he was confident any Democratic candidate would beat Donald Trump

“Their vision for the future of the country is much better and will be more popular than Donald Trump’s,” Mr Castro, former housing secretary in the Obama administration, said.

Conservative Barack Obama issues warning to ‘revolutionary’ Democrats

Former US President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Obama Foundation SummitBarack Obama said most “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to completely tear down the system

Former US President Barack Obama has issued a warning to Democratic presidential candidates, cautioning them against policies that are not “rooted in reality”.

Mr Obama said Democrats risked alienating voters if they lurched too far to the left politically.

The former president, speaking at a fundraising event, said most voters didn’t want to “tear down the system”.

Mr Obama is yet to publicly back a Democratic candidate.

The field is crowded, with 18 Democrats vying for the nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The frontrunners are former Vice-President Joe Biden, senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

At the event held in Washington on Friday, Mr Obama did not mention any candidate by name nor criticise any specific policy proposal.

Instead, he used the appearance to urge Democrats to “pay some attention” to voters on issues such as health care and immigration.

These voters, Mr Obama said, did not necessarily have the same views as what he called “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party”.

The comments, which come less than four months before the Democratic primaries, represent one of Mr Obama’s most pointed interventions in the race so far.

They may be seen as a critique of senators Sanders and Warren – widely seen as two of the most left-wing candidates in the field.

Both candidates have called for far-reaching political and economic change, including policies that would end private health insurance and decriminalise illegal border crossings.

But Mr Obama, who occupied the White House from 2009 to 2017, said the country was “less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement”.

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr Obama said at the meeting, reportedly attended by wealthy liberal donors.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden wave to their supporters after Obama gave his victory speech during an election night gathering in Grant Park on November 4, 2008Barack Obama, pictured here with Joe Biden after giving his election victory speech in 2008, is viewed as a moderate Democrat

The Democratic race is still largely up in the air even as the first of the state-by-state votes that will decide which of the contenders challenges Mr Trump for the White House looms in Iowa in February.

Some Democrats are concerned that Mr Biden, a moderate, will struggle to beat Mr Trump, prompting a flurry of latecomers to join the race.

In recent days Deval Patrick, the two-time former governor of Massachusetts, entered the field amid speculation that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may follow suit.

Meanwhile, political gossip about whether Hillary Clinton might enter the fray continues to set tongues wagging in Washington DC.

In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Clinton said she was “under enormous pressure” to challenge Mr Trump, who beat her in the 2016 presidential election.