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April 24, 2019

Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report has been released, some people are demanding President Trump's impeachment while others say there's no need to act, but there is a middle ground, Hillary Clinton writes in an op-ed published Wednesday night by The Washington Post.

The Mueller report's "definitive conclusion" is simple, Clinton said: The 2016 presidential election "was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated." History has shown a way forward from here, she said, and that involves Congress holding "substantive hearings" and forming an independent and bipartisan commission to "help protect our elections."



Clinton admits that the matter is "personal for me, and some might say I'm not the right messenger," but while serving as a senator and secretary of state, she said, she saw the ascent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and "knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country." Congress must take the Mueller report and use it "as a road map," she writes. "It's up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not."

Along with hearings that "build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment," Clinton argues, a commission like the one created after the 9/11 attacks is necessary because "the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger."

She also has a message for House Democrats, reminding them that during Watergate, Congress was able to pass the Endangered Species Act, Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, and War Powers Act. "Stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure," Clinton advised, as it's "not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it's essential." Read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

9:41 a.m.

Apple is about to enter the streaming wars in a big way, and we're now learning more about how the new platform will compare to its main rivals.

Apple TV+ is now set to launch by November of this year, Bloomberg reports. If something about a streaming service launching in November is ringing some bells, it should: that just so happens to be the month that Disney is planning to debut its similarly-titled new streaming service, Disney+.

Apple is reportedly targeting a $9.99 price point for its service, which would make it more expensive than the $6.99 a month Disney+. It would, however, be less expensive than the standard Netflix plan, which costs $12.99 a month, although the cheapest Netflix option is $8.99 a month. Disney will also bundle Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month.

Unlike Netflix, Bloomberg reports that Apple is considering, at least for certain shows, releasing three episodes at once but then debuting episodes weekly from there rather than dropping the entire season in one go. It hasn't been confirmed how Disney+ will go about this, although weekly releases also seems likely, with a report earlier this year suggesting the Disney+ Star Wars show The Mandalorian won't drop its entire season on the same day like a Netflix original.

Plenty of original content for Apple TV+ is in the works like The Morning Show, a drama series about a Today-esque show starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, while Disney is planning originals based on some of its biggest brands, such as Star Wars and Marvel. The Financial Times recently reported that Apple has $6 billion set aside for original movies and TV shows, below the $15 billion that Netflix is spending this year, although NBC's Dylan Byers disputes this and reports the number is "significantly" smaller. Disney plans to spend $1 billion on original Disney+ programing by 2020.

Get ready to reach peak streaming when both services launch this fall. Brendan Morrow

9:33 a.m.

And then there were 10.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro on Tuesday became the 10th Democratic presidential candidate to qualify for the September Democratic primary debate in Houston. Castro had been close to qualifying for a while, after crossing the donor threshold and polling at 2 percent in three DNC-approved polls, but a new CNN poll, in which the former mayor of San Antonio hit 2 percent for the fourth time, put him over the line.

Castro joins fellow Texan former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on the stage in his home state.

The qualification means that the debate scheduled for Sept. 12 is at capacity, as the DNC is still capping the number of candidates on one stage at 10. So, if any other candidates — such as billionaire Tom Steyer or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — pick up the 2-percent polling numbers they need within the next eight days, there will have to be a second night of debates on Sept. 13. Tim O'Donnell

8:09 a.m.

The narrative of the 2020 Democratic primary shifted following a strong performance by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in the first debate in June. But two months later, a new poll puts us roughly back where we started.

While Harris experienced a major polling bump following her break-out first debate, during which she confronted former Vice President Joe Biden on busing, she's been slipping ever since the second debate in July. In the latest poll from CNN and SSRS released on Tuesday, she's down to 5 percent support, a 12-point drop from a post-debate June poll that had her at 17 percent support.

This poll brings Harris down to 10 points behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 9 points behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as 24 points behind Biden; she had been just five points away from the former vice president in June. CNN notes that this 5 percent support for Harris is about where she was before the first presidential debate.

Biden went up seven points in the CNN/SSRS poll compared to the one conducted in June, putting him at 29 percentage points, 14 points ahead of his closest rival, Sanders.

After a performance in the second Democratic debate that clearly did not make as much of an impression on voters as her first, Harris will next have a chance during the third debate in September, which will now have at least 10 candidates. With this CNN poll, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro has met the qualification requirements. Should just one more candidate qualify, the debate will be split into two nights again, meaning Harris may or may not get another rematch with Biden.

CNN's poll was conducted by speaking to 1,001 adults nationally over the phone from Aug. 15-18. The margin of error is 6.1 percentage points. Read the full results at CNN. Brendan Morrow

7:00 a.m.

"After the back-to-back attacks in Dayton and El Paso, this president once again signaled he was open to tougher background checks to help curb gun violence," CNN's Chris Cuomo said Monday night. "But once again, he's lost his spine." On Sunday, Trump was noncommittal and evasive, telling reporters that the U.S. already has "very strong background checks right now," echoing messaging from the National Rifle Association.

Cuomo pointed to internal congressional Republican talking points on gun legislation, including falsely blaming "violence from the left" and claiming universal background checks are a Democratic ploy to start a federal gun registry with an eye toward seizing guns. His guest, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said the NRA has gotten to Trump.

NRA officials have lobbied Trump and his top aides since Dayton and El Paso, arguing that background checks aren't effective at preventing mass shootings and that many states Trump needs to win in 2020 are rich in NRA members who don't want new gun restrictions, White House aides and other sources tell The Washington Post. Also, "Trump's campaign commissioned a poll on guns after this month's shootings, and his political advisers warned him that there is little support for significant action among Republican voters, and even some Democrats." An unidentified White House official insisted to the Post that "the president is not backing down."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has told advisers he won't allow consideration of gun legislation unless Trump is fully on board and it has widespread Senate Republican backing; Trump seems keen to let the Senate take the lead. "I think he personally wants to do something," Brendan Buck, a top aide to former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), tells the Post, "but I'm not sure how equipped he is to maintain his attention on it for the next two months — which this would require — in the face of pushback from people he cares about." Peter Weber

4:45 a.m.

President Trump is apparently at least half-serious about purchasing Greenland, and Conan O'Brien is all in. "What if we, the United States, did buy Greenland?" he asked on Monday's Conan. "It might just be a good idea, it seriously might. And as the elder statesman of late night, what if I negotiated the deal? Seriously, what if I handled this historic negotiation? I have as much, if not more, negotiation experience as Trump."

Greenland and its colonial overlord, Denmark, both insist the semiautonomous island territory is not for sale. "But if there's anything I've learned from watching hundreds of hours of Property Brothers, saying 'It's not for sale' is the classic opening gambit — that means you're ready to go, yeah?" O'Brien said. "Greenland is definitely for sale. And ladies and gentlemen, if we don't move fast, some other country is going to overpay for it."

"So all right, Denmark, you want to play hardball?" O'Brien asked. "I'm ready to sweeten the deal. There's a couple of ways we could do it. First, we could do a straight trade: Greenland for Florida, okay? Trust me, this is our best state — and please do not google 'Florida.' Not convinced yet? How about this, Greenland? Once you're part of the United States, you'll be enrolled in the U.S. health care system. Also, please do not google 'U.S. health care system.'" He listed some other perks of joining the U.S.

"And here's the best part: To make sure this purchase goes through, I, Conan O'Brien, am going to personally travel to Greenland," becoming "the first American host to visit Greenland since Arsenio Hall did a week of shows there in 1989," he joked. Andy Richter pretended to remember those fictional shows. And Conan laid out some pretty high stakes for his negotiation. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:00 a.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has quickly risen from an obscure Kansas congressman best known for pushing Benghazi conspiracy theories to President Trump's CIA director and then top diplomat, "the last survivor of the president's original national-security team and his most influential adviser on international affairs," Susan Glasser writes in a new profile of Pompeo in The New Yorker. But in early 2016, he backed Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in the Republican presidential primary, and on the day of the Kansas caucuses, he stood in for Rubio and savaged Trump.

Trump, like President Barack Obama, would be "an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution," Pompeo told a booing crowd of GOP caucus-goers in Wichita. Noting that candidate Trump said he would order soldiers to commit war crimes and they would obey, Pompeo said U.S. service members "don't swear an allegiance to President Trump or any other president. ... They take an oath to defend our Constitution." Backstage, Trump demanded to know who was thrashing him, Glasser recounts.

"I realized, listening to the speech of Mike Pompeo back in 2016, that I've never really heard him go off on Trump in a video form," Glasser recounts in a video accompanying her profile. "Mike Pompeo is very, very sensitive about even the appearance of being caught out disagreeing with Donald Trump. I think he is worried about the idea that Donald Trump is gonna remember back to March 5, 2016."

Trump reportedly was reminded of it after announcing Pompeo as CIA director, but he kept him anyway. Now Pompeo is "among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump," a former senior White House official told Glasser. A former U.S. ambassador was more blunt: "He's like a heat-seeking missile for Trump's ass."

Pompeo's biography is interesting and impressive — first in his class at West Point, former Army captain, Harvard Law graduate, unsuccessful Koch-funded Kansas businessman, congressman, and now Trump whisperer and, as Glasser puts it, probably "the most conservative, ideologically driven secretary of state ever to serve." Read the entire profile at The New Yorker. Peter Weber

2:04 a.m.

After 11 weeks of protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday said the government wants to hold "open and direct" conversations with demonstrators.

"Work will start immediately to build a platform of dialogue," she said. "We hope this dialogue can be built upon a basis of mutual understanding and respect to find a way out for Hong Kong." Lam also said political leaders will start investigating complaints against police, one of the demands made by protesters. "I sincerely hope this is the start of society returning to calm and turning away from violence," she said.

The protests started with the introduction of a bill that would let people arrested in Hong Kong be extradited to China. The measure has been shelved for now, but protesters want the bill to be totally withdrawn. The demonstrators have shut down Hong Kong's airport and clogged the streets near the financial district. On Sunday, a peaceful rally drew approximately 1.7 million protesters, and it was a very different scene from the earlier protests, when riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas; this time, there was a light police presence. Catherine Garcia

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