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From Wednesday Nov. 13 to Thursday Nov. 21, Americans were glued to their televisions, computers and streaming devices, as the House Intelligence Committee held a series of long public hearings as part of a broader Democratic-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Here are all the things we learned from two jam-packed weeks of public testimony.

A new Trump phone call

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, kicked off the stretch of hearings with a revelation that one of his staffers overheard a phone call between Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Trump on July 26 — the day after the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that prompted the impeachment inquiry. The staffer, later identified as David Holmes, a counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, heard Trump ask Sondland about “the investigations,” Taylor said, referring to probes into the Biden family and a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

Holmes provides more details

Holmes said he was left out of a July 26 meeting in Kyiv between Sondland and Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelenskiy, but it was after that meeting that Holmes joined Sondland and others for a fateful lunch in Kyiv. Sondland dialed up Trump on his cellphone at the table, Holmes testified. He said he overheard “President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?'” and that “Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ and that Zelenskiy will do ‘anything you ask him to.'”

Volker becomes a quid pro quo believer

Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, also amended his testimony from his closed-door deposition, saying he now sees that others in the Trump administration sought an investigation into the Biden family and that they told Ukraine’s government that millions in military aid depended on it.

“We followed the president’s orders”

Sondland, in his testimony, directly pointed his finger at Trump, saying the president ordered that he, Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine policy, even though they were uncomfortable with Giuliani’s role and associations.

“Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States,” he said.

A direct line to Trump

Sondland also confirmed he’d held the July 26 phone call that Taylor had revealed. Sondland, who already corrected his prior closed-door testimony once before, had not previously revealed the existence of the call. His confirmation of it revealed he had a direct line to Trump, as others testified.

“Everyone was in the loop”

In an explosive part of his opening statement, Sondland implicated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser John Bolton and several other top officials in those two agencies.

Sondland said he’d made Pompeo and Bolton fully aware, at every turn, of what he, Volker and Perry were doing with regard to Ukraine policy at the direction of Giuliani. And, he brought the emails — including direct responses from Pompeo — to prove it.

Mulvaney a part of “irregular” channel

Taylor testified that White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was part of the “irregular” shadow communications channel between Washington and Kyiv that had sought a quid pro quo with Ukraine. That channel had already been known to include Giuliani, Sondland, Volker and Perry.

Witness intimidation

Just moments after Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified that she felt “threatened” after learning that Trump told Zelenskiy during their July 25 call that she was “bad news” and that she was going to “to go through some things,” Trump tweeted more attacks on her, including, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

Asked in real-time during the hearing about the president’s tweets, Yovanovitch called them “very intimidating.”

Sondland testifies about the deal

Sondland was unambiguous in saying that Trump, through Giuliani, attempted a quid pro quo under which a White House meeting for Zelenskiy was conditioned on Zelenskiy making a public statement announcing investigations into Burisma and a conspiracy theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes,” Sondland said.

Holmes cited “pre-condition” for meeting

Holmes testified that throughout the first several weeks of June, it had become apparent that the “anti-corruption efforts” in Ukraine “on which we were making progress” were “not making a dent in terms of persuading the White House to schedule a meeting between” Trump and Zelenskiy.

Holmes said it was at this time, on June 27, that Sondland told Taylor that Zelenskiy “needed to make clear” to Trump that he was not standing in the way of the investigations and that it “was made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting.”

Holmes alleges second quid pro quo

Holmes testified that by the time an Aug. 27 meeting in Ukraine by Bolton and the Ukrainians rolled around, “my clear impression was that the security assistance hold was likely intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction that the Ukrainians had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigation or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so.”

State Department in “crisis”

When it came to the broader effects she felt her ouster would have on her fellow State Department colleagues, Yovanovitch spoke passionately, saying that attacks on diplomats like her have led “to a crisis in the State Department as the policy process is visibly unraveling, leadership vacancies go unfilled, and senior and mid-level officers ponder an uncertain future and head for the doors.”

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“The State Department is being hollowed out from within at a competitive and complex time on the world stage,” she said.

GOP talking points

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the committee, often repeated arguments and lines of questioning.

More than a few times, he compared the Democrats’ closed-door depositions to something a “cult” would do, and he repeatedly brought up unusual and debunked conspiracy theories, including the disproved notion that the Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 election and the false allegation that Democrats sought nude pictures of Trump.

How Russia benefited

Yovanovitch and others — with the aid of some of the Democrats questioning her — expounded on the view that Russia stood to be the biggest beneficiary of the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine.

The potential benefit to Moscow is two-fold, Yovanovitch explained. Withholding security assistance, she said, painted a picture to Moscow that the U.S. may not be the staunch ally of Russia’s vulnerable neighbor it has signaled it would be. And at the same time, she said, allowing corruption to fester in Ukraine.

Focus on Giuliani’s role

Many witnesses testified that Giuliani seized on Ukrainian disinformation that Yovanovitch had been badmouthing the president and was blocking corruption investigations to orchestrate a broad smear campaign against the veteran diplomat that culminated with her ouster.

“What I can say is that Mr. Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” she said.

Volker’s “aha!” moment

Volker said that in hindsight he now understands the investigation desired by the White House into Burisma was, in fact, intended as an investigation into the Bidens.

“In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections” to a Trump administration push to investigate the Bidens.

The call was “unusual,” “improper”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a special adviser on Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, who had both listened in on the Trump-Zelenskiy July 25 call, offered stark and critical assessments of it.

Vindman said he was “concerned” with what he’d heard and that he felt it was “improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.” Williams said she “found the July 25 phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Efforts to unmask — and protect — the whistleblower

House Intelligence Republicans repeatedly used their question time, including of Vindman, to press witnesses on whether they’d had contact with the still-unnamed intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint touched off the inquiry.

Schiff repeatedly cut in when this happened to instruct everyone present that the committee “will not be used to out” the whistleblower.

A personal side of the witnesses

A poignant, poised and at times visibly nervous Vindman — who was born in Kyiv, then part of the USSR, and who fled with his family to the U.S. as a child — used a large part of his opening statement to deliver a moving personal message about how his family had come to America for a better life and how escaping an authoritarian regime instilled in him and his brothers a sense of duty to serve in the U.S. military.

Addressing his deceased father, Vindman concluded his statement by saying that “you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union.”

“Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” he added.

Republicans question Vindman’s loyalty to country

Vindman, an Army lieutenant colonel who received a Purple Heart after he was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2004, faced repeated character attacks from Republicans.

In one case, the counsel for committee Republicans asked if Vindman had at one point been offered the post of Ukrainian defense minister by a Ukrainian politician, hinting at a dual loyalty. The attacks seemed to be part of a clear effort by Republican to discredit the allegiance of Vindman.

The secret server

The September release of the whistleblower complaint revealed the existence of a secret electronic filing system that White House officials used, perhaps improperly, to “lock down” the transcript of the July 25 call.The whistleblower claimed in the complaint that the server was designed to house sensitive national security information, not politically sensitive information, and that its use for the latter constituted an “abuse.”

Vindman testified that the summary of the July 25 call was transferred to a more secure server “to avoid leaks” and to help “preserve the integrity of the transcript.” He added that he didn’t see that as “nefarious.”

Trump’s concerns about corruption

Vindman testified that he’d prepared talking points for Trump for his April phone call with Zelenskiy in which the president congratulated his counterpart on his election win, and that the points included Trump addressing corruption in Ukraine.

Trump, however, did not talk about corruption on the call, according to a record of the call released by the White House last week — even though a readout of the call released this year by the White House stated that Trump had expressed his commitment to working with Ukraine “to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity and root out corruption.”

That Trump didn’t bring up corruption, despite the wishes of his advisers, contradicts the White House’s claims that the president’s desire to see an investigation into Burisma was merely part and parcel of a broader concern within the administration over widespread corruption in the country.

Pence knew, Sondland says

Sondland said he directly told Pence of his concerns about a possible link between the release of military aid to Ukraine and the announcement of the investigations, putting the vice president squarely in the middle of the saga.

Pence, though his chief of staff Marc Short, denied having had this conversation with Sondland.

Ukrainians knew, too

Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, testified that, in the weeks following her closed-door deposition and the release of the transcript of that deposition, her staff informed her of two emails her office had received on July 25 that strongly indicated the Ukrainians knew about the hold on military aid, or were at least asking questions about it.

Those emails — sent just hours after the call between Trump and Zelenskiy at the center of the impeachment inquiry — suggest that Zelenskiy may have known that the aid was held up, or that something was at least amiss, when he spoke with Trump on that same day.

This could contradict the argument by Republicans, including Trump, that a quid pro quo could have never been possible because the Ukrainians hadn’t known at the time of the call that the aid was being held.

Hill rejects 2016 election conspiracy

Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, obliterated the already debunked conspiracy (promoted by Trump) that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in a way that favored Hillary Clinton and harmed Trump.

“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” she said. “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”



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What happened on Day 5

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President Donald Trump’s legal team began their defense of the president in Trump-ian fashion on Saturday, charging Democrats were the ones who are trying to interfere in the 2020 election and accusing lead House manager Adam Schiff of being dishonest.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow also gave an astonishing explanation for why his client turned to outsiders for his dealings with Ukraine — he doesn’t trust his own officials.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s abbreviated opening arguments in the president’s Senate trial, which will continue on Monday.

1. Dems are the real danger

The House of Representatives impeached Trump for abuse of power, essentially charging that Trump was trying to force Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 U.S. election. In his opening argument, White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued the Democrats were the ones trying to interfere.

Full coverage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial

“They’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months, they’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country on your own initiative — take that decision away from the American people, and I don’t think they spent one minute of their 24 hours talking to you about the consequences of that for this country,” Cipollone told the Senate.

Removing the president, he said, would be “an irresponsible abuse of power.”

“Let the people decide,” Cipollone said.

2. Targeting Schiff

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Trump’s team also took aim at Schiff, the California congressman who the president regularly derides as ‘Shifty Schiff’ (and did again on Saturday), telling the senators he’d made several misleading comments.

White House deputy counsel Mike Purpura, a member of Trump’s defense team, focused on Schiff’s summary of the president’s July 25 call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a hearing in the House, which Schiff said sounded like a “shakedown.”

“That’s fake, that’s not the real call,” Purpura said. “That’s not the evidence here.”

3. Matter of trust

Sekulow said Trump engaged in what Democrats have called “shadow diplomacy” in Ukraine because his faith in U.S. intelligence agencies was badly shaken by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.

“In his summation on Thursday night, Manager Schiff complained that the president chose not to go with the determinations of his intelligence agencies regarding foreign interference and instead decided he would listen to people that he trusted, and he would inquire about the Ukraine issue himself,” Sekulow said. “Mr. Schiff did not like the fact that the president did not apparently blindly trust some of the advice he was being given by the intelligence agencies.”

“The president had reason to be concerned about the information he was being provided. Now we could ignore this. We can make believe this did not happen. But it did,” Sekulow said.

He also accused Ukraine of interfering in the 2016 election, something FBI Director Chris Wray has denied.

4. The Bidens

What happened?

After expectations that Trump’s lawyers were going to after Joe and Hunter Biden and Burisma — Sekulow said earlier in the day that Democrats had “opened the door” to discussing the Bidens — it didn’t happen. Joe Biden was mentioned only in passing.

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But that doesn’t mean they won’t be in their crosshairs when the president’s team picks up their arguments again on Monday.

5. Short day

Trump’s team had said they anticipated Saturday’s arguments, which they described as “coming attractions,” would last about three hours but lasted only two.

A senior administration official told NBC News that Trump’s defense won’t take as much time as the House managers did to present their case, and might even wrap up their presentation on Monday. The trial resumes then at 1 p.m. ET.



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Bernie Sanders faces heat from allies for Joe Rogan endorsement

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Bernie Sanders faces heat from allies for Joe Rogan endorsement

DES MOINES, Iowa — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is under fire from some progressives for touting an endorsement from Joe Rogan, a popular but controversial podcaster and comedian.

Rogan, a former mixed martial arts announcer with unconventional political views hosts one of the most-listened-to podcasts on Stitcher, an on-demand podcast app. This week, he said on his show that he’ll probably vote for Sanders because the Vermont senator has been “insanely consistent his entire life.”

Sanders’ campaign highlighted the apparent endorsement Friday, prompting a backlash from some liberals who pointed out that Rogan has a history of making inflammatory comments about LGBTQ people, feminists, and other minority groups, along with flirting with conspiracy theories about former President Obama’s birthplace.

“Bernie Sanders has run a campaign unabashedly supportive of the rights of LGBTQ people. Rogan, however, has attacked transgender people, gay men, women, people of color and countless marginalized  groups at every opportunity,” Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country, said in a statement.

The group added that it was “disappointing that the Sanders campaign has accepted and promoted the endorsement” and called on the Democratic presidential candidate to “reconsider” it.

The progressive group MoveOn.org, which backed Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid, went even further, calling on Sanders to “apologize” for touting the endorsement. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared take a veiled shot at Sanders for accepting the endorsement, saying in a tweet Saturday, “There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.”

Sanders allies have defended the campaign’s decision to accept the endorsement, arguing Rogan’s is a powerful voice who reaches millions of Americans on the margins of politics who might otherwise vote for President Donald Trump or give up on the political system entirely.

“The goal of our campaign is to build a multi-racial, multi-generational movement that is large enough to defeat Donald Trump and the powerful special interests whose greed and corruption is the root cause of the outrageous inequality in America,” said the campaign’s national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. “Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we will never compromise our values. The truth is that by standing together in solidarity, we share the values of love and respect  that will move us in the direction of a more humane, more equal world.”

Bernie Sanders leads new Iowa poll, but race is still a jump ball

WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took the lead in the latest New York Times/Siena College poll of likely Iowa caucus goers released Saturday. The poll shows Sanders taking 25 percent of first-choice support, which is up from the 19 percent support he garnered in the last New York Times/Siena poll released in November. 

The poll found that support for former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and for former Vice President Joe Biden remained consistent from November — the two received 18 and 17 percent support respectively in both polls. However, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren slipped to fourth place with 15 percent support in the new poll. In November’s New York Times/Siena survey, Warren led the field with 22 percent. 

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at the Brown & Black Forum at the Iowa Events Center, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.Andrew Harnik / AP

And Sen. Amy Klobuchar doubled her support in the last two months in this poll. She is 8 percent of potential caucus-goers’ first-choice candidate in the newly released poll, up from 4 percent in November. The survey comes after a string of well-received debate performances, and receiving part of the New York Times’ editorial board’s presidential endorsement. 

The race in Iowa remains highly fluid, with the poll finding that 40 percent of those polled said they could still be persuaded to caucus for a different candidate than the one they listed as their first choice.

And what these caucus-goers are looking for in a candidate is still split: 42 percent of voters said they want a candidate who “brings politics in Washington back to normal”, while 51 percent want a candidate who “promises fundamental systematic change.” Those are the competing messages of progressives like Sanders and Warren, and moderates like Biden. While the progressives may tilt the scale on that question, 55 percent of voters said they want a candidate who is “more moderate” than other Democrats, while only 38 percent said they want someone who is “more liberal” than most Democrats. 

The Iowa caucuses are on Feb. 3, and the Des Moines Register, a top newspaper in the state, will be announcing its presidential endorsement on Saturday night. 

Iowa youth engagement ticks up ahead of Iowa caucuses, survey shows

WASHINGTON — Young voter turnout in the Iowa caucuses could surge from 2016 numbers, according to a new poll of young Iowans from CIRCLE-Tisch College and Suffolk University.

The new poll, released Friday, shows that 35 percent of Iowans between 18 and 29-years old say they are “extremely likely” to caucus on Feb. 3. In 2016, it’s estimated that only 11 percent of Iowans in this age range attended a caucus. 

Thirty-nine percent of young Iowans who are registered as Democrats or identify as Democrats plan to caucus for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren trails in second for the youth vote with 19 percent, followed by former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 14 percent. Only 7 percent of young Iowans said they planned to caucus for former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Attendees listen as Democratic presidential candidate, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign event on Jan. 15, 2020, in Newton, Iowa.Patrick Semansky / AP

While there’s always been talk about the impact of the youth vote in elections, this uptick in engagement could be from mobilization. According to this poll, 72 percent of young people in Iowa youth say they have been personally contacted and asked to support a candidate or a party. This eschews traditional thought that engagement efforts are focused on more reliable voting groups. 

Carolyn DeWitt, the president and executive director of Rock the Vote — a nonpartisan, non-profit group dedicated to upping political engagement of young people — said political candidates and parties tend to focus “their investments and their outreach to those voters they deem are going to be reliable voters who will turn out, and so, the reality is that they are not doing outreach to young voters.” 

DeWitt continued, “We have been seeing a huge increase in youth activism, engagement, and civic participation. In 2018, we saw a 50 percent jump from 2014 numbers in voter turnout.”

Since the 2018 election, according to DeWitt, nearly 9 million people turned 18 and became eligible to vote — which expands a voting electorate that tends to skew Democratic. 

“Youth have the incredible power to decide this election, not just at the presidential level but down the ballot as well,” Dewitt said. “Between millennials and voting eligible Gen-Z, they comprise 40 percent of American voters. If they show up and who they decide to vote for will determine the outcomes.” 

Warren campaign says it’s now hit 1,000 staffers across 31 states

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign said Friday it now has 1,000 staffers across 31 states, gearing up for what they expect will “be a long nomination fight.”

“Our immediate goal is to secure the close to 2,000 delegates necessary to win the Democratic nomination,” Warren campaign manager, Roger Lau, wrote in a memo to supporters — the third of its kind in the last year. “For the last 13 months we have built and executed our plan to win. We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins.”

Supporters listen as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a town hall event at a school on Jan. 19, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

While Lau acknowledges the four early voting states, the memo includes more detail on campaign’s plan for the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states and states with primaries between March and June — emphasizing direct voter contact, more than 100 field offices across the country, and grassroots organizers hyper focused on growing the campaign’s volunteer base. 

As the campaign calendar moves closer to the convention, Lau writes, they will be organizing in all 57 states and territories, both with the goal of earning their own delegates, but also of “lift[ing] organization efforts for the ticket up and down the ballot.” 

This later stretch of the campaign also means organizing with an eye towards key general election states — like Pennsylvania. 

Specifically, the campaign plans to keep its staff and offices in battleground states like Iowa even after those contests end, in an effort to “keep building for the even bigger contest in November.” 

And in November — their plan is to close out any possible path to an Electoral College victory for President Trump. 

Warren isn’t the only campaign building out an organization for the long term against Trump. The memo, with its boasts of big staffing numbers and commitment to stay on the ground in key states, directly challenges some of her competitors, like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who scaled up his campaign quickly and across the map.

“We also know that you can’t just stand up an organization overnight,” Lau writes, implicitly rebuking Bloomberg, a regular punching bag for Warren on the stump.

Pete Buttigieg gets backing from N.H. LGBT leader

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Pete Buttigieg on Friday received the backing of State Rep. Gerri Cannon, an influential figure in the state’s LGBT community as one of just four openly transgender state lawmakers in the country and one of the first elected in the Granite State. 

A supporter of Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., until his exit from the race earlier this month, Cannon told NBC News that she is now endorsing Buttigieg in the Democratic presidential nomination contest.  

“For too long, people have been forced to live fearfully in the shadows or hide their true selves — but Pete is building a country where we can all feel safe,” Cannon said in a statement about her endorsement.  

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the One Iowa and GLAAD LGBTQ Presidential Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sept. 20, 2019.Scott Morgan / Reuters

Speaking exclusively with NBC News, Cannon shared why she decided to publicly endorse again after Booker ended his presidential bid. 

“I originally went with Cory because I met him well over a year ago and the two of us had established our friendship,” Cannon told NBC News. “But at the same time, I knew that Pete was also hitting many of those same points — pulling people together, wanting to do good things, but do it with all people, all of us Americans just pull together and make it happen. And so I always took that to heart.” 

Cannon spoke to the “connection” she felt over overcoming obstacles associated with their identities. 

“I guess the best way to explain it is the connection, especially for me as also being a trans woman,” Cannon told NBC News. “When you’re looking at people running for office, if you’re an older white guy, it’s normal to get out and run for office, it’s not all that difficult. But if you’re a gay man or a black man or, in my case, a transgender woman, we’re breaking the stereotypes.” 

Cannon also spoke to the influx of pressure she felt to give her support to another 2020 Dem candidate after Booker dropped out of the race. 

“It was fascinating,” she said. “My phone was ringing off the hook. Even before I knew that Cory had pulled out, I had a phone call from someone asking me to endorse another campaign.” 

She emphasized that between now and when voting happens in New Hampshire, a mere 18 days away, Cannon feels that Buttigieg needs to “keep doing what he’s doing.” 

“He’s bold, he’s getting out and talking with people, he’s sharing good ideas and thoughts of what he can do for the country,” she said. “Pete talks about the areas that need to be addressed.” 

Earlier this week, Buttigieg picked up the support of State Senator Martha Hennessey, also a former Booker endorser. Buttigieg also received the endorsement last week from U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, the only member of the congressional delegation from New Hampshire to endorse so far this cycle. 

Trump campaign announces re-election rally on eve of New Hampshire primary

MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Donald Trump is set to hold a re-election “Keep America Great” rally here the night before the New Hampshire primary, his campaign formally announced Thursday.

With a flock of Democratic candidates descending onto New Hampshire for the eight days after the Iowa caucus before voting begins in the state, Trump’s campaign has also signaled it will have a heavy presence with top surrogates canvassing the state. 

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, in Milwaukee on Jan. 14, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

The rally will be held at the SNHU Arena in downtown Manchester on Feb. 10, just hours before the polls open. The 11,000-seat arena is where Trump held a rally in August.

The president will also be holding a rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 30, four days before the Iowa caucus. 

“Donald Trump’s visit to New Hampshire on the eve of the primary is the best thing that could have happened to New Hampshire Democrats,” the state party’s spokesperson, Holly Shulman, said in a statement to NBC News.

“With Trump reminding us of his broken promises to Granite Staters — from his refusal to lower prescription drug prices to his administration stacked with lobbyists to his efforts to end a woman’s right to choose — even more independent voters will be motivated to cast a vote in our primary and against Trump on February 11th,” Shulman added.

The New Hampshire rally will also be two nights after the NHDP McIntyre-Shaheen dinner is also set to be held at the arena, where every 2020 Democratic candidate on the New Hampshire ballot is invited to speak.

Joe Biden gets new round of New Hampshire endorsements

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Vice President Joe Biden is receiving a new round of New Hampshire endorsements Thursday, just 19 days until voting happens in the state, including notable state leaders and elected officials as well as some switches in support.

DNC Committee Member Bill Shaheen, husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is among a group a dozen new backers for Biden in the state formally announcing their support for Biden. In a statement, Shaheen said Biden is the best candidate to help Democrats win elections across the board in 2020. 

“We need a President and a Senate who can bring dignity back to our country and immediately command respect on the world stage,” Shaheen said. “Winning the White House is only half of the battle. In order to change our course we must win the Senate. I’m supporting Joe Biden because he can do both.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Brown & Black Forum at the Iowa Events Center on Jan. 20, 2020, in Des Moines.Andrew Harnik / AP

Other endorsers include former New Hampshire state Senate President Sylvia Larsen, who has hosted a number of 2020 Democratic candidates in her home for traditional house parties, and was a backer of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“After careful consideration of our many talented candidates, I believe Joe Biden is the best candidate to lead us forward to a moral, compassionate America which restores our faith in the American dream of equal opportunity, access to healthcare, innovation in industry, and  international stability,” Larsen said in a statement.

In noteworthy switches of support, Joe Keefe, the former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair, announced his support for Biden, saying, “When we choose a nominee, we need to pick the person who can unite the Democratic Party, unite the country, defeat Donald Trump, and work to heal our divided nation. Joe Biden has spent his entire career delivering Democratic wins and moving our country forward.”

Keefe previously endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) before she dropped out of the presidential race.

Jim Demers, a longtime political operative and former Obama co-chair in 2008 and 2012 is also endorsing Biden. Previously this cycle, Demers was a senior adviser to Sen. Cory Booker’s, D-N.J., campaign, helping to launch his candidacy and gain support in New Hampshire before he dropped out of the race just weeks ago.

And finally, Former Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., announced his endorsement of Biden on this list. Hodes endorsed Obama early on in 2008 and was previously Marianne Williamson’s New Hampshire state Director until she ended her presidential run.

Biden is scheduled to be in New Hampshire Friday and Saturday for his 10th trip to the state since announcing.

Marianne Williamson lends her support to Andrew Yang in Iowa

WASHINGTON — Former presidential candidate activist Marianne Williamson lent her support to businessman Andrew Yang in Iowa on Wednesday night. In a three-part post on Instagram, Williamson said she’ll support Yang in Iowa to help him “get past the early primaries & remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.” 

While Williamson is backing Yang in Iowa, she said in her first post that this was not endorsing a person, but endorsing issues. 

Williamson also said she supports Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but that they would not need her help in securing their place in the field past the four first nominating contests, and that they are “transactional politicians.”  

“They come from a political school of thought — dominated by a 20th Century perspective — which holds that who a candidate is, isn’t nearly as significant as what they say they’ll do,” Williamson wrote. “And that’s a huge mistake, because the part of the brain that rationally analyzes an issue isn’t always the part of the brain that decides who to vote for.

Williamson ended her unconventional presidential campaign in early January, after laying off her entire campaign staff. While Williamson struggled in national polls and fundraising, she appeared on two of the Democratic debate stages where she threw her support around harnessing love to defeat President Trump and reparations for descendants of slaves. 

Her campaign was repeatedly dogged though by past comments Williamson made on vaccine mandates and antidepressants. 

Yang responded to the endorsement on Twitter saying that he was looking forward to seeing Williamson on the trail. 

Warren picks up support from more New Hampshire switchers

MANCHESTER, N.H. — With less than three weeks left until the primary, more New Hampshire state legislators are switching their support, this time to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., her campaign tells NBC News.

After Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced a slate of local endorsements in September that featured New Hampshire State Rep. Wendy Chase, the legislator told the Associated Press that “publicizing her endorsement was premature.”

Now, Chase has decided to formally endorse Warren because she “has the record to prove she can get the job done.”

“Elizabeth is the progressive leader we need to beat Trump,” said Rep. Chase in a statement.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign rally in Keene, N.H., on Sept. 25, 2019.Brian Snyder / Reuters file

State Representatives Lee Oxenham and Jeff Salloway — former Sen. Cory Booker backers — are also shifting their support to the Massachusetts senator, citing her climate change policy and anti-corruption platform, respectively.

“Elizabeth’s comprehensive plans would help Granite Staters: putting power in the hands of working people and transitioning us to a clean energy economy,” said Rep. Oxenham in a statement.

“Her platform and record of fixing corruption in government is the perfect antithesis to what we see day in and day out from the Trump administration,” said Rep. Salloway, adding he believes Warren is “the strongest candidate to take on Trump and win.”

Since Booker dropped out of the presidential race, several of his former New Hampshire endorsers have spread out among the rest of the remaining field — announcing support for Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar, and Bennet.

“We’re building a movement in New Hampshire for big, structural change,” said Warren in a statement thanking her new endorsers.

Rep. Dave Doherty rounds out the latest endorsements for Warren, who now has the support of 55 state representatives from nine of New Hampshire’s 10 counties.

Earlier this week, Warren earned the sought-after support of DNC Committeewoman and former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan and N.H. State Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh.

“I think she’s got the best plans, and I think she’s a fire — she’s going to do what she can to institute reforms that will that will help everyday Americans,” Sullivan told NBC News.

Last week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar picked up support from local lawmakers who had previously endorsed Booker and Warren, and a Nashua alderman “un-endorsed” Sanders to support Andrew Yang.

Sullivan, like many Granite Staters, only made up her mind days ago and understands why both coveted elected officials and average voters are still undecided. 

“I think people need to take the time that they want to take, and if that means they make their decision while they’re walking into the voting booth, that’s okay as long as they walk into the voting booth,” she said. 

“There are a lot of good people running for president; it’s an important decision to make.”

Sanders campaign seeks to refocus messaging for Iowa’s final stretch

DES MOINES, Iowa — After nearly a week of back-and-forth with former Vice President Joe Biden, the Bernie Sanders campaign is aiming to get back on the policy messaging track with just days to go before the Iowa caucuses. 

“When you start to go up, obviously, you get a lot of fire,” senior Sanders campaign advisor said in an interview with NBC News Wednesday, noting state and national polls showing the Vermont senator surging. “The person in front has the biggest target on their back. And I think you’re starting to see that now.”

Asked if voters might be concerned about the negativity on display in the recent clashes with Biden, Weaver said, “it’s not really negative and this is not personal. This is about a very different view in terms of [Sanders and Biden’s] policy positions and their record. And that’s what voters need to know in the course of the caucus.”

The sparring between the two camps over the holiday weekend continued this week. After Biden expanded it to include Sanders’ record on gun control in the Senate, Sanders told reporters in Washington Wednesday that it was “fair” for Biden to look at his record. “Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq. I opposed it. Joe Biden voted for a terrible bankruptcy bill. I strongly opposed it. Joe Biden voted for disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and PNTR with China. I vigorously opposed them. And Joe Biden has been on the floor of the Senate talking about the need to cut social security.”

In his interview with NBC News, Weaver echoed the same criticisms, but wouldn’t say whether the campaign sees Biden as Sanders’ biggest competitor. Instead, Weaver said he believes the focus should remain on President Donald Trump. 

“Donald Trump is the most threatening competitor because he’s destroying America, as we watch,” Weaver said.

Weaver also touted Sanders’ ability to expand the Democratic vote in the general election, saying that the senator “does very well with independent voters. He does very well with the young voters that we need to bring out. He does very well with voters of color, particularly Latino voters, so we need to engage at higher levels in this process and if we do that, we’re going to defeat Donald Trump.”

But the criticism of Biden resurfaced when NBC News asked Weaver about the campaign’s involvement with “Our Revolution,” an organization that promotes the ideals of Sanders but also accepts high-dollar donations without disclosing contributors, a practice that has come under much criticism. 

“We have no relationship with Our Revolution, frankly. Just like we don’t have any former relationship with MoveOn or DFA or a host of other progressive groups who are out there fighting for progressive change in this country,” Weaver said. “On the other hand, Joe Biden has a sanctioned super PAC which is running hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising here in Iowa. We don’t need big donors coming in here and deciding who the Democratic nominee is going to be.” 

Weaver told NBC News, “We’ve been very clear we don’t want any outside help from any third party groups. The way the law is set up we can’t direct them not to do it, we don’t control them in any way.” While the law doesn’t explicitly prevent the campaign from asking them to stop, the organization is not required to adhere to the request. Weaver is the former president of Our Revolution, when it was founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders in the summer of 2016.

When Sanders was asked about Our Revolution in an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio this weekend, he called for the group to be shut down — on the condition that other candidates disavow their Super PACs as well. “I think that we should end Super PACS right now,” Sanders said. “So I will tell my opponents who have a Super PAC, why don’t you end it? And that’s applicable to the groups that are supporting me.”

Joe Biden says he won’t cut Social Security

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden said he would not cut social security funding if elected president during an interview on “Morning Joe” on Wednesday. Biden’s answer comes amid attacks he’s faced from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign that Biden has called for cutting Social Security benefits.

“I have 100 percent rating from the groups that rate social security, those who support Social Security. I think at a minimum [my comment] was taken out of context,” Biden said. “The plan I have to deal with Social Security not only makes it solvent for the next, for my grandchildren, it also increases payments for the very elderly.” 

On Tuesday night, Biden and Sanders’ camps released videos about Social Security funding. In the video, tweeted out by Biden, the narrator says “Bernie’s negative attacks won’t change the truth, Joe Biden is still the strongest Democrat to beat Donald Trump.”

Sanders’ new ad featured old floor footage from Biden where he discussed freezing government spending including social security. Sanders tweeted out, “Let’s be honest, Joe. One of us fought for decades to cut Social Security, and one of us didn’t.” 

When asked about Sanders’ new ad, and if he would consider cutting Social Security given his past comments on freezing it, Biden said “No, no, no.” 

Biden continued, “We go back and look at statements, many of them, most of them taken out of context of 10, 20, 30, 35 years ago. It’s like my going back and pointing out how Bernie voted against the Brady bill five times while I was trying to get it passed.” 



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Brexit celebration: London buildings to be lit up in British colours to toast exit from EU

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GREAT buildings in the heart of London will be lit up in red, white and blue on Friday night to celebrate Britain’s departure from the European Union.

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