Lost in the Sauce: Dec. 1 – 7

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater.

Two important things:

FIRST, the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories.

SECOND, there is now an audio TLDR of the Main Course section. Go here to listen now – recorded with an actual microphone and better flow. I uploaded it to YouTube for the time being until I get a podcast hosting service set up, but next week I’d like to experiment with adding visual aids to the YouTube video: let me know if this would be of interest to you.


  • If you enjoy my work, please consider becoming a patron. I do this to keep track and will never hide behind a paywall, but these projects take a lot of time and effort to create. Even a couple of dollars a month helps.
  • If you’d like to be added to my newsletter, use this SIGNUP FORM and you’ll get these recaps in your inbox!

Let’s dig in!

The Main Course

Upcoming this week

  • Second hearing: The House Judiciary Committee’s second impeachment hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. (eastern) this morning and will feature two phases involving Democratic and Republican counsels. First, the House Judiciary Committee Majority Counsel Berry Berke and Minority Counsel Stephen Castor will present opening statements for up to 30 minutes each. Then the House Intelligence Committee Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman and Minority Counsel Stephen Castor (again) will present for up to 45 minutes each. In the second phase, Goldman and Castor will take questions from the Chair and Ranking Member for 45 minutes each, then from members of the Committee for 5 minutes each.
    • Collins objects: House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) demanded that Nadler postpone Monday’s hearing because he claims the Republicans do not have enough time to review materials transmitted from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Foreign Affairs Committee and Budget Committee on Friday. “The unfairness and dishonesty of this impeachment sham continue to be unprecedented,” Collins wrote.
    • New report: The House Judiciary Committee released a staff report entitled “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.” The report essentially summarizes the testimony of the four constitutional experts who appeared at the first Judiciary hearing (see below) and defines key terms like bribery: “The essence of impeachable bribery is a government official’s exploitation of his or her public duties for personal gain.” This report will serve as a touchstone for committee members while drafting articles of impeachment.
  • No participation: Just as the White House did not participate in last week’s hearing (see below), White House Counsel Pat Cipollone informed Chairman Nadler that it will not cooperate in any future House impeachment procedures, calling it “baseless” and “unjust.” Nadler responded: “If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the Committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair.”
    • Trump’s Republican defenders have been repeating two principal objections to the impeachment process: That it is moving too fast and that Trump must be able to defend himself. In a single letter, the White House damaged both arguments. Not only was Trump given the opportunity to defend himself, but he also asked the House to move faster: “House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings,” the letter said, adding: “As the president has recently stated: ‘If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.’”
  • Articles of impeachment: On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi announced that she has asked the House Committees to begin drafting articles of impeachment against Trump. Based on the focus of Democrats’ questioning during the first Judiciary Cmte. hearing, it seems likely the articles will cover abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, and obstruction of justice relating to the Mueller investigation.
    • In case you missed it: A reporter from Sinclair Media, notorious for a conservative bias, asked Pelosi if she hates President Trump as she was leaving her weekly press conference. In a rare moment for the Speaker, she fiercely pushed back on the notion: “I don’t hate anybody…This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the President’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me…don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
  • Emoluments in court: Two court cases dealing with Trump’s potential violation of the Emoluments clause are going to be heard this week.
    • TODAY: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments today in Blumenthal, et al. v. Trump, which focuses on whether the president needs congressional approval before doing business with a former government. Senator Blumenthal and multiple Democratic members of Congress won their case in District Court earlier this year.
    • THURSDAY: The full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, will hear arguments in D.C. and Maryland v. Trump. The Attorneys General of D.C. and Maryland sued President Trump for allegedly violating the Emoluments clause, citing the Trump International Hotel’s effect on business in the D.C. area as one reason for filing the suit. The AGs won their case at the District Court level last year, but the President won before a three-judge panel at the 4th Circuit in July. The hearing on Thursday is actually a rehearing by the full 4th Circuit Court (not a three-judge panel).
  • FISA report: Today, the Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz will release his report on the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign. As has been previously reported, Horowitz found that a former FBI altered a document tied to the FISA application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. However, the IG determined that the alteration did not affect the validity of the wiretap application – in other words, the surveillance of Page was legally valid. Horowitz is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. (eastern) on Wednesday.
    • According to The Washington Post: “Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign…Barr has not been swayed by Horowitz’s rationale for concluding that the FBI had sufficient basis to open an investigation on July 31, 2016”

Judiciary’s First hearing

  • Summary: On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing with four constitutional experts: Noah Feldman, of Harvard Law School; Pamela S. Karlan, of Stanford Law School; Michael Gerhardt, of the University of North Carolina School of Law; Jonathan Turley George Washington University Law School. Feldman, Karlan, and Gerhardt offered testimony that Trump has committed impeachable offenses, beyond a doubt, while Turley testified that the Democrats had not proved Trump’s offenses and were moving “too fast.”
  • Further reading:
    • “9 takeaways from the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing.” CNN. 12/4/19.
    • “Key takeaways on the House Judiciary Committee’s 1st hearing on Trump’s impeachment.” ABC News. 12/4/19.
    • OP-ED: “Jonathan Turley’s amazing impeachment flip-flop.” CNN. 12/5/19.
    • OP-ED: “The Democrats’ Missed Opportunity on Impeachment.” The Atlantic. 12/4/19.

House Intelligence Report

  • Summary: Last Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee released a 300-page report on its impeachment inquiry, detailing all the evidence it collected that is not currently classified. If you’ve been following the depositions and hearings held so far, you will be familiar with the majority of the report already: President Trump abused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into announcing two investigations that would benefit his re-election efforts, then Trump obstructed the impeachment inquiry by refusing to comply and instructing witnesses and agencies to ignore congressional subpoenas.
  • Phone records: In a surprising twist, the report revealed call records (non-paywalled option 1 and option 2) subpoenaed from AT&T that show over the course of 58 calls on six days, Rudy Giuliani spoke with Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA), indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, conservative columnist John Solomon, and numerous unidentified individuals that appear in the logs as at the White House and the Office of Management and Budget. These calls occurred during the time when Giuliani was engineering the successful attempt to oust Ambassador Yovanovitch and while he was developing an irregular foreign policy channel to pressure Ukraine.
  • Unidentified number: The report contains a number only identified by the prefix “-1” that was in frequent contact with Rudy Giuliani. Chairman Schiff told CNN that the committee cannot confirm who the number belongs to, but they are investigating the possibility that it is Trump’s phone number.
    • The circumstantial evidence: The phone logs display a reoccurring pattern wherein Giuliani attempts to contact the “-1” line multiple times, fails, then contacts the White House, speaks to someone for a very short time, and finally receives a call back from “-1.” This suggests that whoever owns “-1” can be reached by going through the White House. Additionally, the report identifies instances where a “-1” call preceded an apparently connected action by Trump, such as recalling Yovanovitch or a Hannity interview about Giuliani’s work in Ukraine. Finally, Schiff notes that court records from the Roger Stone trial demonstrate that “when Roger Stone was in communication with the president it showed up as a -1 number.”
  • Nunes implicated: The phone records in the report reveal that Nunes is a fact witness with firsthand knowledge of the events that led to the impeachment inquiry. Not only has he failed the disclose this conflict of interest, he has projected his conflicts onto Chairman Schiff, calling for his recusal. An example of Nunes’ contacts: In the span of 10 hours on April 12, a total of 27 documented phone calls were exchanged among Nunes, Giuliani, Parnas, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, John Solomon, Victoria Toensing, and phone numbers in the White House and the budget office. Nunes participated in four of those documented calls, including one with Parnas that lasted for over eight minutes.
    • Nunes’ defense: Hours after the report was released, Nunes went on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. He claimed that the calls with Giuliani were related to the Mueller report: “I remember talking to Rudy Giuliani. And we were actually laughing about how Mueller bombed out.” Asked about the calls with Lev Parnas, Nunes said “it’s possible” he spoke to Parnas, adding “I haven’t gone through my phone records. I don’t really recall that name…I remember the name now because he has been indicted…I will go back and check my records, but it seems very unlikely I will be taking calls from random people.” When asked what he discussed with Parnas in another Fox News appearance, Nunes doubled down, saying “I don’t even know because I never met Parnas.”
    • Parnas’ response: An attorney for Parnas took to Twitter in response to Nunes’ interviews: “Hey @Devin Nunes — Lev remembers what you spoke about,” he wrote, adding the hashtag “LetLevSpeak.”
  • WSJ raises doubts: The Wall Street Journal reported that the House Intelligence Committee may have mistakenly attributed certain numbers in the report to the Office of Management and Budget. These numbers “all correspond to a placeholder number that shows up when officials in several White House departments make calls, according to people familiar with the matter. The people said the number shows up on the caller ID of individuals outside the White House when some White House officials call them from a landline.”
  • Trump’s unsecured calls: Current and former officials told The Washington Post that Trump “has routinely communicated” with associates like Giuliani on unsecured cell phones vulnerable to eavesdropping by foreign intelligence services. Even if the President uses his secure government-provided cell phone – which he often does not, according to CNN – the fact that the other person on the line is on an unsecured phone defeats the purpose. This was illustrated in another call uncovered during the impeachment inquiry, when Ambassador George Sondland called Trump on his unsecured cellphone from a restaurant in Ukraine.
    • Former CIA deputy chief John Sipher told The Post “that it is so likely that Russia tracked the calls of Giuliani and others that the Kremlin probably knows more now about those conversations than impeachment investigators.” For someone who chanted “lock her up” ad nauseam in 2016, this kind of cavalier disregard for basic security reveals a deeper character trait: that of a hypocrite.

Giuliani in Ukraine

  • Summary: As the impeachment inquiry ramps up, Trump’s personal lawyer appeared to mock the process and its serious charges by traveling again to Ukraine to pursue dirt on Biden. The official reason for the trip was to conduct interviews for a documentary by far-right media outlet One America News Network (OAN) debunking “the impeachment hoax,” in their words. Giuliani and his associates documented the trip last week on social media, allowing us to piece together who he met with… and the picture isn’t pretty. Giuliani told OAN that Trump blessed his efforts in Ukraine: “The president of the United States, I can tell you this, is asking for this,” Giuliani said.
    • Key quotes: “It’s unbelievable to me the open way in which the administration and Giuliani are still pursuing this [Ukraine matter],” said Jeffrey Edmonds, who served as Russia director at the White House National Security Council under both Barack Obama and Trump. “The fact that Giuliani is back in Ukraine is like a murder suspect returning to the crime scene to live-stream themselves moon dancing,” said Dan Eberhart, a prominent Republican donor and Trump supporter. “It’s brazen on a galactic level.”
  • Admits the crime: While in Ukraine, Giuliani sent an astonishing tweet in which he admitted to one of the charges brought in the impeachment inquiry. “The conversation about corruption in Ukraine was based on compelling evidence of criminal conduct by then VP Biden,” Giuliani wrote. By admitting that “corruption” is just a stand-in word for “Biden,” Giuliani singlehandedly undermined Trump’s defense that he was actually concerned about general corruption in Ukraine.
  • Key figures: Giuliani met with Andrii Derkach, formerly a member of a pro-Russian party and graduate of an academy run by the KGB. “Derkach has previously led calls to investigate the Bidens and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections,” according to The Washington Post. On the way to Ukraine, Giuliani stopped in Budapest to meet with former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, who played a key role in the plot to oust Yovanovitch. Also among the cast of shady characters featured alongside Giuliani: corrupt former prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who promoted conspiracies taken up by Trump’s defenders; recently-fired prosecutor Kostiantyn Kulyk, another source for Giuliani’s smears; former parliamentarian Andrii Artemenko, who was officially stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in 2017 and expelled from the State Rada for meeting with Michael Cohen and proposing to rent Crimea to Russia.
  • The Giuliani report? On Saturday, Trump told reporters that Giuliani is going to deliver a “report” to Congress and Attorney General Bill Barr about his latest findings in Ukraine. “He’s going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress. He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information yet,” Trump said. “He has not told me what he found, but I think he wants to go before Congress … and also to the attorney general and the Department of Justice. I hear he has found plenty.”

Deutsche bank subpoena

  • Appeal loss: On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against Trump’s attempt to prevent Deutsche Bank and Capitol One from complying with a House subpoena for Trump’s private financial records. The 106-page ruling found that the House committees’ “interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions.”
    • The subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees are seeking more than 10 years of financial records on Trump, his three oldest children, and Trump’s businesses.
    • Circuit Judge Jon Newman, a Jimmy Carter appointee, joined with Circuit Judge Peter Hall, a George W. Bush appointee, to rule against Trump. Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston partially dissented, writing that she wanted more information from the House Committees about the legislative purposes behind their requests.
  • SCOTUS: In response to an emergency application from Trump’s lawyers, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a temporary stay in the case, preventing the two banks from complying with subpoenas. The stay expires at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13, with a response required on or before Dec. 11 by 11 a.m. In the meantime, Trump’s lawyers can prepare a formal appeal and the court will consider whether to grant a longer stay.

Mazars subpoena (from Congress)

  • Summary: President Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to take up his case seeking to block a Congressional subpoena for his financial documents from Mazars USA, his accounting firm. The high court had put a temporary hold on the subpoena to give Trump time to file his appeal, called a petition for a writ of certiorari. With the petition now filed, the stay will remain in place until the Justices either rule on the case or reject Trump’s petition, allowing the lower court ruling to stand.
  • Two Mazars cases: Last month, Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene in a similar case – also a subpoena for his financial documents from Mazars, but this one issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. The two cases can be distinguished as follows: The case involving Congress is referred to as “Trump v. Mazars” and the case involving the Manhattan DA is called “Trump v. Vance.” We may receive news on the latter before the former because it is farther ahead in the process, having reached the Supreme Court earlier.
  • Timeline: University of Texas Law Professor Stephen Vladeck writes that the House has 30 days to respond, though he believes they will act quickly to move the case along. Then Trump has 14 days to reply. Finally, the case would be given to the Justices to vote on whether to take it up, “probably at their Jan. 10 conference.”
  • Further reading:
    • “Understanding the Two Mazars Subpoena Cases Before the Supreme Court.” Just Security Updated 11/25/19.
    • “Trump Again Asks Supreme Court to Bar Release of His Financial Records.” The New York Times. 12/5/19.

Cases at SCOTUS

This makes four total cases involving oversight of Trump that have made it to the Supreme Court: Vance’s subpoena to Mazars, Congress’s subpoena to Mazars, Congress’s subpoena to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, and Congress’s subpoena to compel testimony from Don McGahn, former White House Counsel.

The sides

Giuliani’s foreign work:

The federal investigation into Giuliani’s work appears to be digging into his foreign work:

In recent weeks, prosecutors subpoenaed a consulting firm founded by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which hired Giuliani to write an August 2018 letter to Romanian officials calling for an amnesty for people prosecuted for corruption, a policy change that would have benefited a Freeh client, according to people familiar with the move. The subpoena has not been previously reported. (WaPo)

In 2018, Giuliani interfered in the nomination of an ambassador to Qatar:

President Trump had nominated a career Foreign Service officer to become the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, a key post in a Middle Eastern country with tricky regional relationships, an important U.S. military installation and vast oil reserves.

Giuliani, who has said he had held a cybersecurity contract with Qatar in 2017 and early 2018, proposed replacing her with someone he said would be a better fit — Scott W. Taylor, a Trump-supporting former congressman from Virginia defeated in his reelection bid in November 2018, according to people familiar with his outreach. (WaPo)

Pence’s Ukraine call:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Friday, asking him to declassify the contents of his Sept. 18 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Pence staffer Jennifer Williams told impeachment investigators about the call generally, but could not provide specifics due to the classification. “The Office of the Vice President’s decision to classify ‘certain portions’ of the Sept. 18 call … cannot be justified on national security or any other legitimate grounds we can discern,” Schiff wrote.

Zelenksy interview

In a Dec. 2 interview with Time, Ukrainian President Zelensky spoke his strongest words yet against Trump’s decision to hold military assistance from his country – yet he was careful not to go too far and risk incurring Trump’s ire: “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing… I don’t want us to look like beggars. 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.”

  • Asked about his country’s relationship with America, Zelensky explained: “The United States of America is a signal, for the world, for everyone. When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals…For me it’s very important for the United States, with all they can do for us, for them really to understand that we are a different country, that we are different people.”

Ukraine knew of hold

The Ukrainian government knew of Trump’s hold on military assistance in July, according to Ukraine’s former deputy foreign minister Olena Zerkal (non-paywalled version). This supports the testimony of Pentagon official Laura Cooper, who told lawmakers that her staff received emails on July 25 stating that the Ukrainian Embassy was asking about the aid. Crucially, Zerkal’s account completely contradicts Trump’s claim that Ukraine didn’t know of the hold – at all. “They didn’t even know the money wasn’t paid,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter last month.

Republican defenses undermined:

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has already debunked the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election:

Some Republican lawmakers continue to misleadingly say that the government of Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on the same level as Russia, despite the GOP-led committee looking into the matter and finding little to support the allegation. The committee went so far as to interview former Democratic National Committee operative Alexandra Chalupa — a central figure in theories that say Ukraine interfered in the election — before closing that aspect of their probe, according to the sources. (CNN)

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Barr’s attempts to prove Trump’s claims that Russia never interfered in the 2016 election hit a major snag:

The prosecutor handpicked by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize how U.S. agencies investigated President Trump’s 2016 campaign said he could not offer evidence to the Justice Department’s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence, people familiar with the matter said. (WaPo)

Central to [Trump’s theory] is the idea that the Maltese professor who first told a Trump adviser about dirt gathered by Russia on Hillary Clinton — which launched the original FBI probe — was a U.S. agent setting up the Trump campaign. Horowitz, who is also examining the probe’s origins, has reportedly determined that he was not, and asked Durham — and intelligence agencies — to produce evidence to the contrary. They couldn’t. (WaPo)

Parnas making a deal:

Guiliani associate Lev Parnas is currently negotiating a potential plea deal with federal prosecutors:

The talks appear to be in early stages, but the lawyer familiar with the investigation and ex-prosecutors say that pressure mounted on Parnas to cut a deal after prosecutors revealed on Monday that he and his business associate Igor Fruman, who was also indicted for making illegal campaign donations, are “likely” to face additional charges. (The Guardian)

“We think a superseding indictment is likely,” said prosecutor Douglas Zolkind during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in the case of Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and two other men, Andrey Kukushkin and David Correia.

However, the prosecutor said no firm decision has been made on whether to file additional charges against the men, who are charged with violating campaign finance laws.(CNBC)

Lavrov returns:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is visiting Washington D.C. this week – his first trip to the U.S. since his 2017 Oval Office meeting with President Trump. During that meeting, Trump disclosed highly sensitive classified secrets of an ally, Israel, to Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. A U.S. official at the time said that Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

This week Lavrov is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. According to White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, the administration is attempting to set up an official visit between Lavrov and Trump:

O’Brien: You’ll have to wait and see. But I think there’s a possibility that’ll happen. We’re working on it… When [Secretary Mike] Pompeo has gone to Russia, [Vladimir] Putin’s seen him. And one of the things that we’ve said with the- with the Chinese and the Russians is- and others, is we want reciprocity. And so Putin’s met with … Pompeo. I think as a matter of reciprocity, that’s something we’re looking at. But we’re also looking at some other things. And we’ll see if we can get there.

  • UPDATE: The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson tells CNN Sergei Lavrov will meet with President Trump tomorrow. So Lavrov gets his second Oval Office meeting before Zelensky gets his first.

Lebanon aid released:

The Trump administration quietly released $105 million in military aid to Lebanon after the assistance had been held up for months with no explanation:

In recent weeks, lawmakers and reporters had asked administration officials about the mysterious monthslong hold, which echoed the freeze of military aid to Ukraine over the summer, but got no answers. On Monday, a senior State Department official said the Lebanon aid was good to go.

Administration officials said that in the cases of Ukraine and Lebanon, the Office of Management and Budget, part of the White House, had shut off the aid. Two congressional officials said on Nov. 1 that members of the National Security Council staff had asked the budget office for the freeze on aid to Lebanon.

Administration officials halted the funding to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department had approved, at a critical time. Lebanon has been shaken by the country’s largest street protests since its independence in 1943 and a change in leadership forced by the demonstrations.

Analysts said the holdup could give Iran and Russia an opening to exert greater influence over the Lebanese military. (NYT)

Whitaker’s financial disclosures:

A federal judge has turned down the Justice Department’s bid to keep secret several financial disclosure forms former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker submitted before his filings were formally accepted by ethics officials.

Acting on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by BuzzFeed, District Judge Trevor McFadden ruled Wednesday that the draft financial disclosures are ineligible for protection under an exemption protecting the confidentiality of policy-making debates.

“The Court is unpersuaded by DOJ’s ‘deliberative process’ arguments,” wrote McFadden, an appointee of President Donald Trump. “Whitaker’s draft forms do not bear the mark of the deliberative process.” (Politico)

Corruption from head to toe:

Last night Attorney General Bill Barr held a 200-person holiday party at President Trump’s D.C. hotel “that is likely to deliver Trump’s business more than $30,000 in revenue.”

“Career ethics officials were consulted, and they determined that ethics rules did not prohibit him from hosting his annual party at the Trump hotel,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the party is not a Justice Department event.

Zuckerberg’s lies:

Be sure not to miss the new opinion piece by Daniel Newman, president of the nonpartisan, nonprofit political advocacy group MapLight, arguing that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “must be held accountable for allowing political deception to spread in our democracy.” The following is an excerpt:

Zuckerberg’s company screens some paid political advertising for lies. But since early October, it makes an exception: When candidates pay for the ads, it will run any ad — even those with blatant lies. Who does this exception help? Politicians who lie

…Trump’s re-election campaign quickly jumped through the door Zuckerberg opened, running ads with widely debunked lies about a Democratic presidential candidate. We can expect escalating amounts of vicious, paid lies from the Trump campaign on Facebook as the months go by. Other politicians are likely to follow suit, making it increasingly difficult for voters to make informed decisions.

What is Zuckerberg’s motive? He is afraid of a president that will rein in Facebook’s power. Several Democratic candidates have said that they would do exactly that: seek to break up Zuckerberg’s company. This would “suck,” said Zuckerberg in leaked audio recordings. “If someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.”

As ABC News reported over the weekend, Trump certainly has taken advantage of the opportunity to lie on Facebook:

The Trump campaign is flooding Facebook with anti-impeachment ads that misleadingly imply House Democrats are pushing “treason” allegations against President Donald Trump in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

The ads, which started running on the social media site Thursday, ask for donations and float the word “treason” in two different ways. One set of ads implies Democrats are making “treason” allegations against the president, while other ads could be interpreted as the campaign claiming Democrats pushing impeachment are treasonous—a loaded word the president himself has used against his critics.