- The House voted 240 to 187 in favor of a resolution condemning Trump’s tweets that targeted several Democratic Congresswomen as racist.
- Despite the fact that the resolution is only symbolic, many have said the move is significant because it is very uncommon for the House to rebuke a sitting president, with the last instance happening more than 100 years ago.
- The debate on the resolution got heated after Nancy Pelosi was barred from speaking following a statement she made on the floor where she called Trump’s tweets racist.
- Trump defended himself on Twitter arguing that he was not racist, and that the Congresswomen in question should be condemned, not him. Other Republicans also made the same argument during the floor debate.
House Votes to Condemn Trump
The House of Representatives approved a resolution Tuesday condemning a series of tweets by President Donald Trump as “racist comments directed at Members of Congress.”
On Sunday, President Trump said on Twitter that “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” who came from other countries should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
The president’s tweets sparked a significant amount of backlash, largely because they seemed to be about a group of freshman representatives who are known as “The Squad.” The group consists of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
All of those representatives are women of color who were born in the U.S., with the exception of Omar, who was a Somali war refugee as a child and became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.
On Tuesday night, the House voted in favor of a resolution that “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries.”
The resolution was passed 240 to 187, mostly along party lines. Four Republicans and Independent Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who recently left the Republican Party, voted in favor of it.
The measure is a non-binding resolution, which means that there is no policy action or law connected to it. Even though the resolution is entirely symbolic, it still is significant because condemning a sitting president is just something the House does not do.
According to the New York Times, it was “the first House rebuke of a president in more than 100 years.”
Drama on the Floor
Making the decision to condemn the president was nowhere near unanimous.
Many members felt strongly about their support or opposition of the resolution, and what resulted was an incredibly polarizing floor debate. One of the most contentious and unusual things that happened during the debate came after a statement from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
“These comments from the White House are disgraceful and disgusting, and those comments are racist,” Pelosi said, speaking from the floor. “There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong, unified condemnation.”
“Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets,” she continued. “To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”
Immediately after that statement, Republican Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) asked Pelosi if she wanted to “rephrase that comment.” Pelosi responded that she had cleared her remarks in advance.
Collins went on to ask that Pelosi’s statements be removed from the record because they violated a rule outlined in an 1801 text by Thomas Jefferson. That text, known as the Jefferson Manual, sets the rules and precedents for House procedures on the floor.
Under a long-standing precedent set by that text, Congress members can not make disparaging comments about the president. In other words, members of Congress cannot call the president– or even his words, racist while speaking on the floor.
After Collin’s motion, the members debated for a full hour if Pelosi’s words should be struck. That debate got so heated that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), who was presiding over the House, banged his gavel and walked out of the chamber in anger.
“We don’t ever, ever want to pass up, it seems, an opportunity to escalate, and that’s what this is,” he said. “We want to just fight. I abandon the chair.”
A little later, it was announced that the members decided that Pelosi’s comments were not in order, which meant she was banned from making comments for the rest of the day.
However, Democrats voted to overrule striking her remarks from the record, and Pelosi was allowed to speak again.
The whole ordeal took about two hours, but eventually the resolution was passed, and afterward, Pelosi defended her words.
“I stand by my statement,” Pelosi said, speaking to reporters in the Capitol. “I’m proud of the attention that’s being called to it because what the president said was completely inappropriate against our colleagues, but not just against them, against so many people in our country.”
President Trump took to Twitter to respond to the vote on Tuesday, and defended his previous remarks.
“Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump said on Twitter. “This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country.”
…..Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country. Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said. Omar is polling at 8%, Cortez at 21%. Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
After the vote, Trump took to Twitter again to praise House Republicans.
“So great to see how unified the Republican Party was on today’s vote concerning statements I made about four Democrat Congresswomen,” Trump said. “If you really want to see statements, look at the horrible things they said about our Country, Israel, and much more.”
Trump was not the only one who said that the House should condemn the things that the four Congresswomen have said in the past. A number of the Republicans who spoke on the floor Tuesday night made the same argument.
Other Republicans defended Trump’s tweets and said they are not racist, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Rep. Sean Duffy.
“In those tweets, I see nothing that references anybody’s race — not a thing — I don’t see anyone’s name being referenced in the tweets, but the president’s referring to people, congresswomen, who are anti-American,” Duffy said.
As for the Democrats, despite their divisions, they appeared to be unified in Tuesday’s vote. However, that unity could be short-lived.
Right after the resolution was passed, Democratic Rep. Al Green (D-LA) reintroduced articles of impeachment against the president.
“What do you do when the leader of the free world is a racist?” Green asked. “You file Articles of Impeachment, impeaching the president of the United States of America.”
If Green can force a debate, Democrats could see renewed divisions between the more liberal members of the party and the more moderate members who have consistently opposed impeachment.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (NBC News)
Internet Slams Bill O’Reilly for Doubting Story of Mom With 4 Jobs
- During Tuesday’s Democratic Debate, Beto O’Rourke said he had met a woman in Las Vegas who works four jobs and is raising a child with disabilities.
- Disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was live-tweeting the debate and said he did not believe this story.
- People on the internet were quick to criticize O’Reilly for appearing out of touch with society.
- O’Rourke also responded himself, showing a picture of him with the woman and her daughter to prove he did not make the anecdote up.
O’Reilly Live-tweets Debate
Disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is facing backlash after accusing Beto O’Rourke of lying during the presidential debate on Tuesday.
During the debate, the former Texas representative was asked about wealth taxes as a solution to wealth inequality. In his response, he told a story.
“I think of a woman that I met in Las Vegas, Nevada. She’s working four jobs, raising her child with disabilities, and any American with disabilities knows just how hard it is to make it and get by in this country already,” O’Rourke said.
“Some of those jobs working for some of these corporations, she wants to know how we are going to help her,” he added, “how we’re going to make sure that her child has the care that she needs, that we strengthen protections for those with disabilities, that she just has to work one job because it pays a living wage.”
This story caught O’Reilly’s attention. The news personality, who was let go from Fox News in 2017 after reports showed had settled multiple sexual harassment claims at the company, including one for $32 million, said he did not believe the anecdote.
Twitter Responds to O’Reilly
O’Reilly’s tweet got a lot of backlash from those who thought it sounded out of touch. He ended up trending on Twitter as a result. Many brought up his settlements when responding to the message.
O’Rourke’s Team Responds:
O’Rourke’s team also responded to O’Reilly. The campaign’s Digital Director, Rob Flaherty, shared a photo of O’Rourke with the woman in the story.
“I was there. Her name was Gina. Her daughter is named Summer,” he wrote. Here’s their picture. Asshole.”
O’Rourke shared the same photo himself.
“The problem with our economy is she has to live in her car—while a disgraced TV host like you makes millions,” the candidate said.
O’Reilly continued to live-tweet the rest of the debate. He also tweeted again about it on Wednesday morning. He has not yet acknowledged his tweet and the controversy it stirred.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (The Hill) (Huffington Post)
#DeleteFacebook Trends After Reports of Zuckerberg Meetings With Conservatives
- #DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter after Politico reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been hosting informal and off-the-record dinners with prominent conservatives like Tucker Carlson, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Ben Shapiro.
- Facebook has recently received backlash from the left for allegedly appeasing the Trump administration, especially after the company announced a few weeks ago that anything politicians post will be exempt from the platform’s rules, including hate speech and false information.
- 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren responded to the new rule by running her own false ads saying Zuckerberg endorsed Trump in the 2020 election.
#DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter Monday after Politico reported that multiple sources confirmed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been hosting informal and off-the-record dinners with conservative pundits, journalists, and at least one lawmaker.
According to a source, the conversations at those dinners centered around “free expression, unfair treatment of conservatives, the appeals process for real or perceived unfair treatment, fact checking, partnerships, and privacy.”
A person familiar with the gatherings told Politico some of the people who attended the dinners included conservatives who have been critical of Facebook in the past, like Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and conservative radio talk host Hugh Hewitt.
The list also included conservative journalists like Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Guy Benson, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent and Fox News contributor Byron York, as well as conservative commentators like Ben Shapiro, among other prominent conservative voices.
A spokesperson for Graham confirmed to Politico that he had spoken with Zuckerberg, but all the others either refused to comment or did not respond.
According to Politico, the gatherings started back in July and were all held at one of Zuckerberg’s homes in California as part of “Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged ‘bias’ against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies.”
#DeleteFacebook Trends on Twitter
A number of people took to Twitter to respond to the report.
Some condemned Facebook, like actress Yvette Nicole Brown, who wrote, “I stopped actively posting on @Facebook in 2016 after it was revealed that it helped elect the orange fecal smear. Now #DeleteFacebook seems like the best course of action.”
Others posted screenshots of themselves deleting Facebook.
“Zuckerburg has allowed lies to spread on his platform and it was the last straw for me,” one user wrote. “His greed is clear so I have no need for his service.”
On the other side, some criticized the trending hashtag as hypocritical and intolerant.
“The Left is pushing the hashtag #DeleteFacebook, because Mark Zuckerberg had meetings with conservative politicians, and commentators… in an effort to make the platform less biased,” co-founder of Students for Trump Ryan Fournier wrote. “The Left give the most lip service on tolerance, yet they turn out to be the most intolerant.”
That sentiment was also echoed by conservative commentator Graham Allen.
Zuckerberg himself respond in a Facebook post.
“To be clear, I have dinners with lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time,” he wrote. “Meeting new people and hearing from a wide range of viewpoints is part of learning. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do!”
Facebook’s alleged efforts to work with conservatives come as the company faces mounting criticism from the Trump administration and others on the right who say Facebook is biased against conservatives.
After the 2016 election, Facebook changed its policies to try and limit the spread of false information and foreign-bought ads.
But conservatives have pushed Facebook to minimize and correct bias within those policies after a report in 2016 alleged that Facebook employees may have suppressed stories from right-leaning publications in the “Trending Topics” section.
Part of those efforts included Facebook launching a yearlong “conservative bias audit” in 2018, which was led by former Republican Senator Jon Kyl and a team from his law firm. That effort resulted in Facebook changing some advertising policies.
Other conservatives have also criticized Facebook for how it defines hate speech. President Trump himself said back in June that the U.S. should sue Facebook and Google because of bias against conservatives.
However, many have pointed out, a lot of claims that Facebook censors conservatives have been largely unsubstantiated, with those who accuse Facebook of liberal bias providing little evidence.
In fact, just this past May, conservative publications like Fox, Breitbart, and Shapiro’s Daily Wire were some of the top publishers on Facebook, according to data from Newswhip.
Those factors have pushed people on the left to condemn Facebook and Zuckerberg for caving to appease the Trump administration.
“The discussion in Silicon Valley is that Zuckerberg is very concerned about the Justice Department, under Bill Barr, bringing an enforcement action to break up the company,” an anonymous cybersecurity researcher and former government official based in Silicon Valley told Politico.
“So the fear is that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the Trump administration by not cracking down on right-wing propaganda.”
This idea that Facebook and Zuckerberg are trying to cater to Trump and his administration is not new.
Facebook sparked controversy in May after the company refused to remove a video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) which had been slowed down to make her appear drunk or otherwise impaired.
Several Democrats responded to the incident in a letter to Facebook in June, where they asked Facebook what they were doing to address “the spreading of political disinformation by real accounts.”
“We are concerned that there may be a potential conflict of interest between Facebook’s bottom line and immediately addressing political disinformation on your platform,” they added.
Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy responded in another letter three weeks.
There, he said Facebook was working to reduce misinformation by “removing fake accounts, disrupting the financial incentives behind propagating false and misleading information,” and letting users know “when they are reading or sharing information (excluding satire and opinion) that has been disputed or debunked.”
“Leading up to 2020 we know that combating misinformation is one of the most important things we can do,” he added later.
Just a few weeks ago, Facebook again came under fire when it announced that anything politicians post will be exempt from the platform’s rules, and that it will not remove or label posts by politicians that violate community guidelines, even if it contains fake information or hate speech.
That policy change was met with a lot of outrage, but some people have been pretty creative with it.
Last week, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ran an ad on Facebook falsely claiming that Zuckerberg endorsed Trump in 2020.
“You’re probably shocked, and you might be thinking, ‘how could this possibly be true?’” the ad said. “Well, it’s not. (Sorry.) But what Zuckerberg *has* done is given Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform — and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters.”
Warren also took to Twitter to address the ads and go after Facebook.
“Facebook holds incredible power to affect elections and our national debate. They’ve decided to let political figures lie to you—even about Facebook itself—while their executives and their investors get even richer off the ads containing these lies,” she wrote in one tweet.
“Once again, we’re seeing Facebook throw its hands up to battling misinformation in the political discourse, because when profit comes up against protecting democracy, Facebook chooses profit,” she continued in another post.
Warren also condemned Facebook for airing a Trump campaign ad NBC and CNN refused to run because it made false statements about former Vice President Joe Biden.
In a rare occurrence, Facebook responded to Warren on Twitter, saying that they also ran pro-impeachment and anti-impeachment ads that aired nationally.
“FCC doesn’t want broadcast companies censoring candidates’ speech. We agree it’s better to let voters—not companies—decide,” it added.
Top Diplomat Blocked From Testifying in Impeachment Inquiry
- U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland was barred from giving a scheduled testimony before Congress regarding President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky and other matters involving the impeachment inquiry.
- Sondland was revealed to be a key organizer of the call with Zelensky in a series of released text messages between U.S. diplomats, Rudy Giuliani, and a top Zelensky aide.
- Democrats have accused Secretary of State Pompeo, who recently revealed he was on the July call, of obstructing the inquiry by preventing witnesses in the State Department from testifying before Congress.
Sondland Barred From Testimony
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, was blocked by the Trump administration from giving a planned testimony before Congress in a last-minute move Tuesday.
“Early this morning, the U.S. Department of State directed Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to appear today for his scheduled transcribed interview before the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Committee,” the law firm that represents Sondland said in a statement hours before his deposition.
“Ambassador Sondland had previously agreed to appear voluntarily today, without the need for a subpoena, in order to answer the Committee’s questions on an expedited basis,” the statement continued.
“As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department’s direction.”
The administration’s efforts to bar Sondland’s testimony angered Democrats, who have sparred with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his attempts to prevent State Department officials from testifying in the ongoing impeachment investigations into President Donald Trump.
The Democrats impeachment inquiry centers around a whistleblower complaint that claims Trump pressured Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his 2020 opponent Joe Biden during a July phone call.
Democrats also are looking into whether or not Trump decided to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine so he could have leverage over Zelensky.
Pompeo Blocks Testimonies
On Sept. 27, Congress sent Pompeo a letter informing him of the dates they had scheduled testimonies from State Department officials.
Pompeo responded by writing to the House Foreign Affairs Committee accusing Democrats of “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly” State Department officials.
Several representatives chairing the committees leading the impeachment inquiry responded in a letter shortly after. In the letter, the members noted that there were reports that Pompeo had been on the Ukraine call, and as a result, had a conflict of interest.
“Any effort by the Secretary of the Department to intimidate or prevent witnesses from testifying or withhold documents from the Committees shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” the chairs wrote. Obstructing an impeachment inquiry is an impeachable offense.
A few days later Pompeo confirmed for the first time that he was on the July call with Zelensky.
On Oct. 6, Pompeo said that the Department of State will follow the law in the impeachment investigation. But Democrats seem skeptical.
Following the news that Sondland’s testimony had been blocked, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said that House Democrats are seeking “additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress.”
On the other side, some Republicans defended the move.
“The way [Schiff] treated Volker last week, that treatment is the reason why the State Department and the White House said we’re not going to subject Ambassador Sondland to the same treatment,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told reporters Tuesday, referring to the testimony of the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
Trump also appeared to justify his administration’s efforts on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public,” he wrote.
Volker Testimony and Text Messages
In addition to upsetting Democrats, the administration’s endeavor to bar Sondland’s testimony will likely have major repercussions, especially because of Sondland’s role in Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and Zelensky.
Before serving as the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Sondland was a major donor to Trump and reportedly donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Sondland was appointed to his position back in March 2018, despite the fact that he appears to have no official political or diplomatic experience.
Sondland was mentioned by name in the whistleblower’s complaint alongside Volker.
In the complaint, the whistleblower wrote that Volker and Sondland “reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy.”
The complaint also notes that the two men, along with other State Department officials, “had spoken with Mr. Giuliani in an attempt to ‘contain the damage’ to U.S. national security”
Volker testified behind closed doors on Thursday. Later that night, the House released a set of text messages between Volker, Sondland, and other officials including Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a top aide to Zelensky named Andrey Yermak, and Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine.
In one of the exchanges between Sondland and Volker from July 19, a few days before Trump’s call with Zelensky, Volker texted Sondland about plans for the call.
“Most [important] is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation—and address any specific personnel issues—if there are any,” he wrote.
In another text preparing for the call two days after that, Taylor noted that Zelensky “is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”
To which Sondland responded, “Absolutely, but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built, irrespective of the pretext. I am worried about the alternative.”
Then, on July 25, the morning of the call, Volker texted Yermak, “Heard from White House—assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck!”
Skipping ahead a month to Aug. 28, Yermak texted Volker a news story titled “Trump Holds Up Ukraine Military Aid Meant to Confront Russia” and said “we need to talk.”
A few days later on Sept. 1, Taylor pressed Sondland on the aid to Ukraine.
“Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” he asked. Sondland responded by asking Taylor to call him.
After that, the conversations started to shift heavily towards the decision to withhold aid. In a Sept. 9 text, Taylor expressed doubt about the plan in his messages to Sondland.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” he wrote.
“I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Sondland responded. “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
House Democrats said Tuesday they plan on issuing a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony.