Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief has pushed back against the Trump campaign’s claim that the outlet’s editors have “declared their bias openly” by saying reporters would not investigate Michael Bloomberg or any other Democratic presidential candidate.
The Trump campaign’s announcement sparked questions about covering the president’s rallies, given that Bloomberg is one of three outlets that consistently travel to the events.
Shortly after Michael Bloomberg announced he would seek the Democratic presidential nomination, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News sent a memo to staff outlining how the outlet would cover its owner.
“So Mike is running,” John Micklethwait wrote in the memo. “There is no point in trying to claim that covering this presidential campaign will be easy for a newsroom that has built up its reputation for independence in part by not writing about ourselves (and very rarely about our direct competitors). No previous presidential candidate has owned a journalistic organization of this size.”
Micklethwait said Bloomberg would suspend its editorial board but would strive to report on the billionaire’s campaign as it did everyone else’s. “We will describe who is winning and who is losing,” Micklethwait said. “We will look at policies and their consequences. We will carry polls, we will interview candidates and we will track their campaigns, including Mike’s.”
But the announcement that Bloomberg News would not investigate its owner or any other Democratic presidential candidate sparked outrage from some media commentators — and now from Trump’s reelection campaign.
Trump campaign no longer credentialing Bloomberg News reporters
Trump’s reelection campaign has just released a statement saying it will no longer issue credentials to Bloomberg News reporters for rallies or other events after the outlet announced it would not investigate Michael Bloomberg or other Democratic presidential candidates in light of the billionaire’s campaign launch.
“Bloomberg News has declared that they won’t investigate their boss or his Democrat competitors, many of whom are current holders of high office, but will continue critical reporting on President Trump,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said in the statement.
“Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events. We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-by-case basis. This will remain the policy of the Trump campaign until Bloomberg News publicly rescinds its decision.”
Trump applauds Senate Republican who peddled Ukraine conspiracy theory
Trump, who is en route to London for the Nato summit, is tweeting from Air Force One and applauding senator John Kennedy, who once again peddled a baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election while appearing on “Meet the Press” yesterday.
“Thank you to Great Republican @SenJohnKennedy for the job he did in representing both the Republican Party and myself against Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd on Meet the Depressed!” Trump tweeted.
Kennedy told host Chuck Todd yesterday, “I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.” However, the US intelligence community has only concluded that Russia did so, and intelligence officials have reportedly briefed senators about the Kremlin trying to frame Ukraine for the election meddling.
During a public impeachment hearing earlier this month, Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top expert on Russia, said the baseless accusation against Ukraine was “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services.”
“I wasn’t briefed,” Kennedy told Todd yesterday. “Dr. Hill is entitled to her opinion.”
Pete Buttigieg has released his first statewide television ad in South Carolina, which will start to air in the early voting state tomorrow as the Democratic presidential candidate makes his seventh trip there.
Buttigieg’s campaign is spending $2 million on the TV ad buy as the Indiana mayor struggles to win over voters in South Carolina. A recent poll showed Buttigieg hitting 6% in the state, but he attracted almost 0% of the support of African Americans, who made up more than half of the state’s 2016 primary electorate.
The video itself takes excerpts from Buttigieg’s speech at the Liberty and Justice Dinner in Des Moines last month. “In our White House, you won’t have to shake your head and ask yourself, ‘Whatever happened to, ‘I was hungry and you fed me. I was a stranger and you welcomed me?’” Buttigieg says in the ad.
“When I say we’ve got to unify the American people it doesn’t mean pretending that we’re all the same. It means unifying around issues from wages and family leave to gun violence and immigration. The hope of an American experience defined not by exclusion but by belonging.”
Former FBI lawyer smeared by Trump speaks out
Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer whose anti-Trump text messages have been used by the president to claim the existence of a “deep state” within the federal government, has spoken out for the first time in a Daily Beast interview.
“I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” Page said. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”
The president has repeatedly mocked Page and Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who had an extramarital affair with her, and pointed to their critical messages as proof that the bureau was biased against Trump.
However, the justice department’s inspector general has reportedly concluded that Page did not conduct herself unprofessionally while working on the bureau’s Russia investigation.
“While it would be nice to have the IG confirm publicly that my personal opinions had absolutely no bearing on the course of the Russia investigations, I don’t kid myself that the fact will matter very much for a lot of people,” Page said. “The president has a very loud megaphone.”
Trump misrepsents Ukrainian president’s Time interview
Speaking to reporters before he left for London, Trump falsely claimed the Ukrainian president had cleared him of wrongdoing in a recent interview with Time magazine.
“The Ukrainian president came out and said very strongly that President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. That should be case over,” Trump told reporters. “But it will never end it because [Democrats] want to do what they want to do.”
In reality, Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticized Trump for holding up Ukraine’s military assistance and said that the US president had harmed his country’s economic propsects by calling it corrupt.
“Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Zelenskiy told Time magazine. “But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
Zelenskiy added that Trump’s claims of corruption in Ukraine could spook companies with capital in the country. “The United States of America is a signal, for the world, for everyone,” the Ukrainian president said. “When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals.”
Trump briefly took questions from reporters before flying to London for the Nato summit, and the president said the Hong Kong bill he just signed could complicate efforts to secure a trade deal with China.
Trump signed the bill on Wednesday after much speculation about whether or not he would put his name to it. But the president didn’t have much choice because the legislation, which signaled support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and authorized sanctions against officials trying to suppress the demonstrations, passed both chambers of Congress with veto-proof majorities.
Trump restores tariffs on Brazil and Argentina
In addition to tweeting complaints about the impeachment inquiry, Trump was also taking care of some trade business this morning — restoring tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina.
The president blamed the two countries’ depreciating currencies for harming the prospects of US steel and once again urged the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.
The announcement marks a defeat for Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s right-wing president who appeared to have developed an alliance with Trump. But their shared conservative beliefs were apparently not enough to protect Brazil from these tariffs.
White House will not participate in House judiciary committee hearing
The White House announced last night that Trump would not send a lawyer to represent him at the House judiciary committee’s first impeachment hearing, which will take place Wednesday and focus on the constitutional standard for impeaching a president.
“We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the President a fair process through additional hearings,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to committee chairman Jerry Nadler.
“More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with an semblance of a fair process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”
The House intelligence committee is expected to transmit its report on the impeachment inquiry to the judiciary committee tomorrow, after the panel holds a vote on approving its findings. The timeline keeps the House on track to hold a vote on impeaching Trump by the end of the year, followed by a Senate trial in January.
Senate Republicans and the White House have reportedly discussed keeping the trial to two weeks, which means Trump would likely be acquitted before Democrats kick off their presidential primary in February.
Nearly everyone in Washington is betting that Trump will be impeached by the Democratic-controlled House before being acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. Even if Republicans didn’t control the Senate, it would take a two-thirds majority to remove Trump from office, which seems highly unlikely.
Like the president, House speaker Nancy Pelosi is abroad this week, attending the UN climate change conference in Madrid as Trump participates in the Nato summit in London.
Pelosi is leading a delegation of 14 other Democrats to the 2019 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “It is a privilege to accompany a high-level Congressional delegation to Spain to combat the existential threat of our time: the climate crisis,” Pelosi said in a Saturday statement announcing the trip.
During a news conference this morning, the House speaker specified that she would not discuss the impeachment inquiry while she was abroad.
Two more Democrats exit 2020 race
Neither Bullock nor Sestak were major players in the race, attracting nearly no support in polls and consistently failing to qualify for debates. (Bullock participated in one debate back in July, and Sestak never managed to qualify.)
Bullock argued he could capture Democrats’ attention without partcipating in the debates by touting his repeated victories in a state Trump safely carried in 2016, but the Montana governor failed to break through as the presidential field has remained crowded.
“While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates,” Bullock said in a statement announcing his decision.
Even with the withdrawals of Bullock and Sestak, 16 candidates remain in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, with just two months left until the Iowa caucuses.
Trump heads to London as impeachment threat looms
Good morning, live blog readers!
It will be a busy (and nerve-wracking) week for Donald Trump as the president heads to London for a Nato summit and awaits the release of the House intelligence committee’s report on the impeachment inquiry.
Members of the intelligence committee are expected to receive a draft of the report today and will have 24 hours to review it, with a vote on approving the findings likely to take place tomorrow.
This will leave enough time for the report to be transmitted to the House judiciary committee before the panel holds its first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Trump will be in London to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Nato, an alliance whose value he has repeatedly questioned. But if history is any indication, the president can be expected to weigh in on the progress of the impeachment inquiry by tweeting from the other side of the pond.
Here’s what else the blog is keeping an eye on today:
- Trump will depart the White House for London at 9:45 a.m. ET.
- A status conference will be held for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Rudy Giuliani’s former associates who are facing federal campaign-finance charges.
- Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will campaign in Iowa, with the state’s caucuses now two months away.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.