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Examining A Few 2020 Presidential Hopefuls

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After 2 years of muddling through the Trump Administration, Presidential hopefuls are confident they can break America out of the fog. As more contenders throw their hats into the ring, now is a good time to get to know your candidates and vet their qualifications.

Donald Trump

As we await the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, democrats, and an increasing amount of republicans, have expressed their fervent disapproval of the sitting Commander-In-Chief. Still, that has not stopped him from announcing his bid for re-election. Donald Trump believes he will claim certain victory, as there is only one elected president before him that has not received his party’s nomination. Regarding qualifications, Trump is sure his recent tax bill that inadvertently lowered expected refunds along with tax rates for 80% of Americans, according to the Tax Policy Center, will secure his second term. His life in-and-out of politics has been marred with controversy. Between a massive collusion scandal, a refusal to disclose his tax returns, and a glaring mistreatment of migrant children, Trump has more than proven he is incapable of the esteemed position. However, should the Mueller probe end successfully, Trump will see prison bars before he sees the Oval Office again.

Bernie Sanders

The self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist has confirmed he is running for president in the 2020 elections. Famously admired among young voters, Bernie Sanders has a complicated relationship with the party he does not claim. Many blame Bernie Sanders for splitting the Democratic party during the 2016 elections. Running on a platform of progressive values, Bernie advocates for a livable minimum wage, Medicare for all, higher taxes for the rich, and aggressive measures to combat climate change. Registered as an Independent, it is unclear if Sanders will run within his 3rd party of if he will work to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination. Regarding scandal, Bernie was a target of a 2015 deal between the DNC and Hilary Clinton’s campaign as revealed by Former DNC interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile. The deal resulted in the DNC defaulting on the principle of supporting presidential candidates in equal fashion throughout the primaries. Ultimately this leak of information caused Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, then head of the DNC, to resign. The Vermont Senator also has a complicated voting record where his opinions on gun control waver and he was famously silent on issues regarding a wage gap and sexism during his 2016 campaign.

Kamala Harris

Announcing her run on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Harris is determined to make the jump from the Senate to the Oval Office. However, opinions vary on the former prosecuting attorney due to her record and relationship with the criminal justice system. Kamala is a Howard University alum that went on to study law at Hastings College. She advanced her career by becoming a fierce prosecuting attorney, securing the district attorney spot, and ultimately ascending to attorney general. Recently, Kamala made national waves while pressing Brett Kavanaugh during hearings ahead of his confirmation vote. Still, the fear of her enacting policies that would disproportionately affect marginalized communities lingers. Should she secure the democratic nomination, Harris would be the first African-American and Indian-American president as well as first female president.

Elizabeth Warren

Confident that she will help re-establish the middle class, Warren has announced her bid. The Massachusetts Senator has pledged to fight for structural change. Warren is an alum of both the University of Houston and Rutgers Law School. She is a progressive Democrat who champions for student loan reform. Having advocated for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren is committed to fighting corporate capitalism. In 2018, Senator Elizabeth Warren made the mistake of releasing her DNA results in an effort to end insults made by President Trump who frequently called her Pocahontas. She previously exploited her Native American ancestry and listed herself as a minority professor at Harvard Law School.

This post will be followed with updates as individuals enter the race.

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Ilhan Omar Calls Out AIPAC to Mixed Criticism

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Ilhan Omar

Representatives who were silent as Charlottesville Nazi’s were called “fine people” are having no difficulty raising their voices to condemn Ilhan Omar as an anti-Semite. I wonder why.

Speaking out about the influence of money from Israel on congressional support, Minnesota’s Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar criticized human rights violations toward Palestinians. She has been a vocal opponent of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, territories which were originally allotted to the Arab state in 1947. However, comments made at a bookstore are what sparked the current wave of outrage that conservative pundits are using to push Islamophobia under the guise of defending Israeli-American relations.

Dangerous Ideologies

February 27th, Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” This drew comparisons to an anti-Semitic trope that implies that Jewish citizens of any country will forever be more loyal to Israel than where they reside. These recent remarks, conservatives and centrist democrats have resorted to taking her tweets, which point out the problematic role of lobbyists, out of context to present a narrative that Ilhan is an anti-Semite. While Ilhan Omar has acknowledged that her language was offensive to some, she affirms that “whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry,” her views regarding their controversial contributions remain unchanged.

Those who openly refused to take on the President for his problematic language have jumped at the opportunity to condemn Ilhan Omar for her comments. However, they weren’t all on the same page when it came to a resolution that would effect their speech as well. Thursday, the House passed a resolution condemning both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination, but 23 Republicans voted against the change.

Progress

Democrats and Independents voted in favor of condemning anti-Muslim bigotry for the first time in our nation’s history. While many were reluctant to defend the young Representative, four Presidential hopefuls stood by Omar amid the harsh criticism for her opinions on the Israeli government. Senator Bernie Sanders stated that backlash from Omar’s comments were “aimed at stopping a discussion about American’s foreign policy toward Israel.” He added that what he feared was happening was “an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate.” Senator Kamala Harris chimed in with her own concerns and shared a brief statement:

We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America.”

Blood on the House Floor

As one of the first Muslims elected to Congress, she has been marked as a target by conservatives looking to eject her from politics altogether. One racist act, of particular note, resulted in a resignation and left one person injured.

In West Virginia, a physical fight broke out within Charleston’s Capitol building that spilled into the chamber of the House of Delegates. The fight began with an image connecting Ilhan to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Speaking out to condemn the poster, Mike Pushkin, who is Jewish, commented that “In 1933 in Berlin, they might have had a similar poster about somebody like me.” Asking Republican Congressmen to stand with him in condemnation, Pushkin told the Washington Post “not a single Republican elected official in this building could join me in saying it’s wrong.” Pushkin said he was met with Republicans who spoke about the First Amendment instead.

Despite the criticism that Omar is facing, little has been said directly to Republicans who are abusing this controversy as an opportunity to air their prejudices. The division in our current government has made it apparent that there is immeasurable room for growth when it comes to addressing the right-wing administration of Netanyahu, liberty for Palestinians, and denouncing hate speech across Semitic and Islamic lines. As the first term of Trump’s administration comes to a close and with Congressional elections approaching, we must continue to work toward a future that sets us on a path of progression.

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Paul Manafort Sentenced to 47 months in Prison

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Paul Manafort

Former Trump presidential campaign chairman and political consultant Paul Manafort has recently been sentenced for financial fraud. This conviction is the first of two cases levied against him.

As a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Paul Manafort has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison. His sentence is a far cry from the 19- to – 24 year prison term that was expected. According to the New York Times, Judge T.S. Ellis III of Alexandria, VA., gave Manafort such a light punishment because the guidelines were deemed too harsh.

Manafort plead for mercy before receiving his judgment. Members of Mueller’s prosecution team did not seek a specific sentence in the case. Still, Manafort received the harshest judgment out of the six former Trump employees to be prosecuted by Mueller.

Judge Ellis’ sentence has received much criticism from legal experts. While lighter sentencing is common in white-collar cases, the drop from 19 years to less than four has disappointed many onlookers of this high-profile case.

Defense attorney’s presumably swayed Judge Ellis into a lighter sentencing due to Manafort’s age. He is nearly 70 years old and has significant health issues. On top of time in prison, Manafort is expected to pay $25 million in restitution along with a $50,000 fine. Judge Ellis is crediting Manafort for nine months of time served, which means the convict could be out in roughly 3 years.

Other Trump advisers who have been sentenced include:

  • Michael Cohen – Sentenced to 3 years in prison
  • George Papadopolous – Sentenced to 14 days in prison
  • Alex van der Zwaan – Sentenced to 30 days in prison
  • Richard Pinedo – Sentenced to 6 months in prison

Trump advisers who have pleaded guilty or have been charged include:

  • Michael T. Flynn – Pleaded Guilty
  • Rick Gates – Pleaded Guilty
  • Roger Stone – Charged
  • Konstantin V. Kilimnik – Charged
  • Twelve Russian Intelligence Officers – Charged
  • Thirteen Russian Nationals – Charged

As a result of Mueller’s investigation, five additional parties faced charges due to inquiries that branched off from the initial probe.

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Cohen Airs Out Trump in Congress Testimony

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Michael Cohen Trump Testimony

Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hiil and bared the truth of Trump’s misdeeds, singing songs of the atrocities of Trump’s Administration.

The former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump admitted much to Congress during his testimony, quickly earning him personal attacks from disappointed fellow Republicans. Among his admissions, Cohen called Trump “a racist, a conman, and a cheat,” which many of us had known long before he hit the Oval Office. Although bits of his testimony were considered “not fake news, but old news”, Cohen did share some startling information.

Multiple Investigations

Donald Trump and Michael Cohen are under investigation by the Southern District of New York. Cohen’s revelation prevented him from answering certain questions as the investigation in New York is ongoing. Cohen was asked multiple times about records he refused to provide to Congress, which he says were obtained during the raid of his home last fall. When asked if he had continued contact with Donald Trump, Cohen said yes, but withheld details. Two months after the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s home, he spoke with Donald Trump, who he admits communicates in code.

Convicted Russian Mobsters on Payroll

In addition to revealing he purposefully wrote NDA’s to prevent people from coming forward with claims of wrongdoing, Cohen revealed a business relationship between Trump and Felix Sater. Sater is a convicted Russian mobster who was a real estate developer and former manager of the Bayrock Group, LLC. Sater listed himself as a Senior Advisor to Trump on business cards and held contracts with the President where he was paid through Michael Cohen. Bank records, which Cohen alleges were in boxes that were in his raided home and office, indicate payments to Sater’s company, AROC.

This brought a represetative to ask Cohen if he believed the Trump presidency ever stopped being about money. Cohen said yes, but it only stopped when he became president. Now, Cohen says Trump’s goal is autocracy. During his testimony, Cohen said, “he’s sending the message that this is his county; he’s becoming an autocrat.” Autocracy is the system of government with one person with absolute power, where while not officially, Putin has been operating Russia as such.

The testimony yet in progress, Cohen is still being grilled about his complicity in a corrupt campaign and administration.

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