Governor-Elect Andy Beshear Names Transition Team Friday, Nov 15 2019 

Gov.-elect Andy Beshear has assembled his transition team, a group of 163 people who will help put together the administration that will run Kentucky’s government for the next four years.

Beshear’s announcement comes a day after Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the election, which he lost by more than 5,000 votes last week but challenged the initial returns.

Beshear said that he would try to build unity by putting together a transition team that includes people from different parties, backgrounds and regions.

“It’s been one of the key pillars to our success. That we are stronger with people from different backgrounds and different ideologies. That we are stronger having people that are from different regions in this state and come from different cultures,” Beshear said.

Beshear’s transition team is made up of mostly people from Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort — at least 101 people in the 163-person group come from the I-64 corridor between Lexington and Louisville.

The group also includes many familiar names from the administration of Beshear’s father, Gov. Steve Beshear.

Former Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen will chair the transition team group focusing on the budget. Kerry Harvey, a former U.S. attorney who was a top lawyer in Steve Beshear’s health cabinet will chair the transition team focusing on the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Michael Brown, Steve Beshear’s justice cabinet secretary and Andy Beshear’s top deputy in the attorney general’s office, is the chair of the entire transition effort.

Brown called on the transition team members to work with the outgoing administration to help move the state forward “sometimes in a new direction, but sometimes keeping the train that’s already on the track on that track.”

Republicans on the transition team include former Louisville state Sen. Dan Seum, who recently stepped down from his seat, and state Rep. Travis Brenda of Cartersville, an educator who took office amid a wave of backlash to Gov. Bevin’s policies.

Beshear said that he wanted to create a group that finds points of compromise and mutual respect.

“It’s about admitting that yes, people from different political sides are not always going to agree. But we should certainly start finding common ground and working together. And when we disagree, it’s very important that we act with decency and civility,” Beshear said.

Beshear has not hinted at who he will tap to be secretaries of the twelve cabinets that make up Kentucky’s executive branch.

During the press conference on Friday, Beshear said that cabinet secretaries might come from within the pool of transition team members, or from outside.

Matt Jones Won’t Run For U.S. Senate In 2020 Friday, Nov 15 2019 

Kentucky radio host Matt Jones says he won’t be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020.

Jones had formed an exploratory committee as he considered whether to seek the Democratic nomination to unseat longtime Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.

Jones made the announcement Friday morning on his Kentucky Sports Radio program.

He voluntarily stepped away from the show last week after the Republican Party of Kentucky filed a complaint alleging that he was essentially using the program to promote his candidacy.

Jones says his decision not to run was difficult but was the best decision for him personally.  He says it was unrelated to the complaint.

He says he’ll take some time off soon to finish a book he’s been writing about McConnell, the Senate Majority leader who’s seeking a seventh term next year.

WATCH LIVE: Impeachment Hearings Continue With Marie Yovanovitch, Ex-Ambassador To Ukraine Friday, Nov 15 2019 

House Democrats are set to convene their second open impeachment hearing on Friday with a witness expected to detail the shadow Ukraine policy run by President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from Ukraine this year, is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee at 9 a.m. ET.

Yovanovitch lost her post after a campaign led by Giuliani and associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, witnesses have told House investigators.

Those three worked with Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko to spread what Yovanovitch called lies about her, including that she was disloyal to Trump and that she had given Lutsenko a list of Ukrainians she didn’t want prosecuted.

That wasn’t so, Yovanovitch says, and she told investigators she suspected they spread those stories because they “were interested in having a different ambassador at post — I guess because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or different business dealings.”

Yovanovitch already has talked with investigators; read her closed-door deposition here.

Although some State Department officials have said they objected to what they saw happening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed to end Yovanovitch’s tenure early and spurned requests to defend her in public, witnesses have said.

Pompeo’s adviser, Michael McKinley, faulted what he called Pompeo’s willingness to sell out a career diplomat and resigned.

Parnas and Fruman have been arrested and charged with violating U.S. campaign finance law; they have pleaded not guilty. An attorney for Parnas has told NPR he’s open to working with congressional impeachment investigators, but the outlines of that aren’t clear.

Case For The Defense

Although Yovanovitch’s account adds context and detail to the role Trump gave Giuliani in the Ukraine affair, her withdrawal took place before core events in the saga, including the White House’s pursuit of investigations by Ukraine’s government against Trump’s political rivals.

Republicans are expected to emphasize Yovanovitch’s tangential involvement in the central narrative and repeat that Trump has broad powers to replace any ambassador — and many other officials — within the administration.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has argued that the impeachment case boils down to complaints by the foreign policy establishment about Trump.

But the administration works for the president, foreign policy is necessarily political and, Mulvaney said, critics need to “get over it.”

Afternoon Deposition

Also Friday, investigators are expected to hear behind closed doors from foreign service official David Holmes, a comparative newcomer in the Ukraine drama who could prove an important witness.

Holmes is understood to have been with a top diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant when Sondland got a call from Trump on his cellphone.

Holmes overheard Trump on that call ask Sondland about investigations he expected from Ukraine, according to testimony on Wednesday by another diplomat, Ambassador William Taylor.

Investigators want to hear from Holmes directly, and another question in the Ukraine affair is whether he might appear and tell his story in a public hearing.

The Associated Press reported that a second State Department staffer also was with Holmes and Sondland on the day of Trump’s call, but details about that hadn’t been confirmed by the Intelligence Committee and it wasn’t clear when or if investigators might hear from that person — or when the public might.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Recanvass Of Kentucky Gubernatorial Election Underway, Few Changes Thursday, Nov 14 2019 

Kentucky’s recanvass of last week’s gubernatorial election is underway and has produced few differences. Meanwhile all eyes are on Gov. Matt Bevin, who has not said he will concede the race if he loses the recanvass.

With more than two-thirds of all counties reporting, there is only one difference — an additional vote for write-in candidate Blackii Effing Whyte in Casey County.

Bevin requested the recanvass after initial results showed him losing to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes.

Outgoing Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes invited incoming Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams to oversee the recanvass, which requires local election boards to double-check their vote totals.

Adams said he was “very satisfied” with the process.

“I want to reassure all Kentuckians that this is being done by the book. I especially want to reassure supporters of the governor, and I’m one of them, that this is being done correctly and by the book,” Adams said.

If the recanvass still shows Bevin behind, his only other option to challenge the election results would be to file for an election contest, which allows the legislature to determine the outcome.

Lawmakers from both political parties have encouraged Bevin to not do that, but Bevin has not said how he will proceed.

Meanwhile Bevin continues to promote unfounded claims about “irregularities” in the election. On Wednesday he encouraged his supporters to attend a press conference in Frankfort held by a group that made erroneous claims of voter fraud in last week’s elections.

Meanwhile top vote-getter in the election, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, has already begun building his administration.

Will Bevin’s recanvass actually change anything? Thursday, Nov 14 2019 

If it doesn't (which is likely) what other options does Bevin have?

        

Recanvass Of Kentucky Gubernatorial Election To Take Place Thursday Wednesday, Nov 13 2019 

On Thursday, all 120 Kentucky counties will double-check vote totals collected during last week’s gubernatorial election and make sure they sent the correct results to state election officials.

The process is called a recanvass and has been requested by Gov. Matt Bevin after initial results showed him losing his race for reelection by about 5,000 votes to Attorney General Andy Beshear.

A recanvass requires local election boards to double-check the totals of all of their voting machines, add up the results again and make sure they match what they sent to the State Board of Elections on Election Day.

Officials will not double check the votes on every ballot, just the totals.

Recanvasses are common in Kentucky elections, but they rarely yield more votes for the candidates and have never changed the outcome of an election.

One of Bevin’s opponents in the 2015 Republican Primary Election — now-Congressman James Comer — requested a recanvass of that contest after he lost to Bevin by 83 votes. The recanvass produced no new votes.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders requested a recanvass of Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary election after initial returns showed him losing to Hillary Clinton by 1,924 votes. The recanvass produced 13 additional votes for Sanders.

At the time, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes attributed the vote difference to “provisional votes and a discrepancy in absentee ballot totals in two counties.”

State political leaders from both parties have encouraged Bevin to concede the election if the recanvass doesn’t produce different results.

But Bevin has hinted at challenging the election further. During a press conference the day after Election Day, he made unsubstantiated claims that thousands of absentee ballots had been improperly counted and other allegations.

Bevin’s only other option to challenge the election results is to file an official election contest, which would require the Republican-led state legislature to determine the outcome of the election.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers — who initially floated the idea of an election contest on election night — told the Courier Journal on Friday that Bevin should concede the election if the recanvass doesn’t significantly change vote totals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on Monday morning, saying that barring “some dramatic reversal on recanvass…that we’ll have a different governor in three weeks.”

WATCH LIVE: House Holds 1st Open Hearing In Trump Impeachment Inquiry Wednesday, Nov 13 2019 

After weeks of work behind closed doors, House Democrats plan to take their impeachment inquiry into the president of the United States into public view.

The House Intelligence Committee have called two witnesses on Wednesday to describe how President Trump asked the president of Ukraine to launch investigations that Trump thought might help him in the 2020 election.

In exchange for those investigations, witnesses say, Trump was prepared to meet in person with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and sustain financial assistance — appropriated by Congress — that Washington had been providing to Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia in 2014.

You can watch the hearing as it happens here:

The White House froze Ukraine’s aid for a period of weeks this year and then released it. Although Zelenskiy was close to booking a CNN interview in September, he never made the public commitment that witnesses have said Trump wanted.

Republicans argue this shows there was no inappropriate exchange and say the impeachment process has been a “sham.” Plus the case is based on hearsay, they argue and — for some supporters — Trump’s actions were legitimate or, at very least, not impeachable.

No, Democrats argue — they say that Trump has so abused his office that Congress has no choice but to reach for one of its rarest and most serious remedies — impeachment.

Their first hearing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. ET and will appear live here. Democrats have scheduled another hearing for Friday.

The witnesses

On Wednesday, Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has called two diplomats, George Kent and William Taylor, to tell their stories. They’ve already spoken to investigators in the closed depositions, and their earlier testimony is available in full for anyone to read (Kent’s deposition; Taylor’s deposition). But memorable moments on television could help move public opinion.

Kent is the senior State Department supervisor whose responsibility includes policy for Eastern Europe — except he was told to “keep his head down,” he says, and “keep a low profile” on Ukraine because the White House had hand-picked “three amigos” to take that portfolio.

Taylor is the acting boss of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. He told investigators that he learned about Trump’s desire for investigations from other diplomats and couldn’t explain to Ukrainians why their military assistance had been withheld.

Kent and Taylor opposed Trump’s policy, in part because it was run by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — not someone within the foreign policy establishment — and in part because they thought it was bad on its merits.

Ukraine is a strategic partner of the U.S. resisting aggression by an adversary, in Russia. Trump’s freeze in assistance raised doubt about America’s commitment in Eastern Europe, foreign policy and national security witnesses have told Congress.

Trump’s allies

Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., leads the defense for the president on Wednesday.

First, Republicans argue, the case is hearsay because neither Taylor nor Kent nor others from whom Congress has heard spoke directly with Trump and can say what his intentions were.

Moreover, corruption is endemic in Ukraine and that is a solid basis upon which the White House may act, Republicans argued in a policy memo circulated on Tuesday.

Other defenders who won’t be in the hearing room on Wednesday have offered other analyses: Trump’s administration was too incompetent to actually execute a quid pro quo with Zelenskiy and ineptitude shouldn’t be impeachable.

Another defense is that Trump’s invitation for foreign interference in the 2020 race might have been inappropriate, as Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman argued, but it isn’t impeachable.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Beshear unveils transition website Tuesday, Nov 12 2019 

Kentuckians can apply for employment in the administration; connect to new administration online on the new website.

        

Booker talks Green New Deal, Medicare for All at Louisville rally Tuesday, Nov 12 2019 

Kentucky Democrat announces exploratory committee to consider run for US Senate, wants to take on Mitch McConnell

        

Sen. Rand Paul attacker’s attorney appeals to Supreme Court Tuesday, Nov 12 2019 

Sen. Paul's attacker has asked for the Supreme Court's opinion after an appellate court vacated his 30-day jail sentence and suggested it was too lenient.

        

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