The 2020 election has already seen record-breaking numbers of early voters. The US Elections Project, a nonpartisan organization run by a professor at the University of Florida, puts the number of early votes at 97.6 million. Using the Election Project’s figures, the ballots already tallied have surpassed two-thirds of the total vote in 2016. The Texas Tribune reports that 9.7 million Texans cast ballots early, surpassing the state’s 2016 vote total. KUT Austin reports that Texas has seen its youth take charge, with over 3 million people aged 18-29 already having voted. Ahead of Tuesday’s election, I spoke with three first-time voters about what’s most important to them, and what’s driving them to the polls in 2020.
Jesse Farrar, 18
At first glance, Jesse Farrar’s eyes are full of a certain childlike joy. His mop of brown hair and giant smile are disarming, but make no mistake, Farrar has strong opinions about what he wants out of this election.
Farrar is transgender, and says that he’s driven to vote “because I’m a member of a marginalized community, and not voting when I have the ability to could be very dangerous for me.”
That fear isn’t baseless, either: in June of 2020, the administration moved forward with a rule that would write transgender people out of protections against sex discrimination in health care. Under this rule, the Kaiser Health Foundation says, a transgender man could be denied treatment of ovarian cancer, or the cost of a hysterectomy could increase if it’s related to a gender transition.
Among other issues, Farrar says he wants to see a Green New Deal emerge to combat climate change, and fundamental changes to the police system in America.
“Voting is one of the biggest steps you can take right now. Vote in conjunction with protests, petitions, and calling your senators. If you’re able to, vote.”
Anissa Mackay, 18
The pastel colors and ethereal energy of Anissa Mackay’s Instagram feed are punctuated with photos of the college student holding “I Voted” stickers. “
“As a Muslim woman, my rights to exist as an American citizen are on the line with this election. My status as an equal citizen is endangered,” she says.
During his 2016 campaign, President Trump called for “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Early on in his term, the president attempted to follow through on this claim, and instituted a series of travel restrictions on countries like Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria, all of which have a large population of Muslim people. Mackay called these restrictions ‘crushing.’ “To hear Trump so openly revile the religion cut deep, since I know most Americans don’t know the true version of Islam.”
Zaria Brownlee, 18
Zaria Brownlee’s shining sense of humor and quick-witted comments make her a standout in her age group. Usually, you would find Brownlee in the theatre, wielding a power tool as she builds sets for a new show.
On Tuesday, however, the Texas State University freshman will be at the polls, voting.
“I want to be the change in my age group that I want to see,” she says, “I want representatives that hold the same values I do.”
As a Black woman, Brownlee says it would be “inspiring” to see Kamala Harris elected vice president. Her strongest plea, though, is for others to go to the polls alongside her.
“Go vote. If you have the ability to vote, and you don’t, you have no room to pass judgement on political issues.”
TCU historian Max Krochmal made news in late September for an opinion he wrote in Fort Worth Weekly, calling on the city’s school board to extend virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. The opinion piece struck a chord within the community, and appeared in two Star-Telegram articles. Krochmal, an avid participant in community affairs and local politics, and an award-winning scholar of race and history, spoke to me about what’s at stake for North Texas as the 2020 election reaches its final days.
The Most Pressing Issues
Among the most pressing issues facing Texans in this election, Krochmal cites immigration, police reform, and labor issues.
Early this summer, protests rocked the region as outrage over recent police killings of unarmed Black citizens reached a fever pitch. In a September study by the Pew Research Center, 86% of Black adult respondents said they felt our country had “not gone far enough” in giving the Black community equal rights to white people.
“There’s huge masses of African Americans and Latinos who are concerned about basic civil rights and civil liberties, humane treatment and freedom from racism, and I think more broadly, lots of people in Texas who work for a living are tired of being trampled on by economic elites and Trump certainly represents them well,” he said.
Throughout our interview, Krochmal stressed the importance of paying attention to and voting in local elections, though he doesn’t think Democrats “put up the best candidate” in Air Force veteran MJ Hegar to run against John Cornyn for his seat in the United States Senate.
When I spoke with Hegar in August, she was enthusiastic about “bringing the voice of the everyday Texan to the table,” over what she called “rich and powerful special interests.”
Under The Radar Races
Another key race, Krochmal says, is the race for Sheriff in Tarrant County. Democrat Vance Keyes is facing off against incumbent Republican Bill Waybourn, a strong proponent of border security and DWI enforcement.
Keyes, a Black man, wants more transparency between government officials and their constituents, and does not believe in incarcerating nonviolent offenders or people with substance abuse or mental illness problems.
As far as statewide government, the historian has been paying attention to the office of Texas AG Ken Paxton, who was recently hit with a new round of allegations, among them being abuse of office and bribery.
“[Paxton] is already facing indictment for securities fraud and has been stonewalling the justice process at every phase for years now, so I’m not surprised to see more accusations leveled against him,” Krochmal said.
Paxton’s term does not end until 2023, and in that interim, the professor said he isn’t optimistic about the attorney general being removed from office or choosing to resign.
With voter turnout already reaching record highs, and the total in Dallas County alone standing at 464,759 early voters, the most important thing Krochmal says the public can do to protect against chaos on Election Day is to vote early.
“The earlier one votes, that vote can be counted and stored somewhere safely and secured, and have it not come down to election day.”
Early voting runs now through Friday, October 30th, and Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.
To find your polling location and other election information, visit www.VoteTexas.gov
It’s a sunny Thursday morning when MJ Hegar joins our Zoom call. To the left of her is a large, color-coded map of Texas, showing the state divided up by county. On the shelf behind her are two pilot’s helmets, and a child’s illustration of a dragon. In the center of my screen is Hegar, who burst onto the scene with ‘Doors,’ the viral ad for her 2018 congressional campaign. Viewed almost 3 million times and shared by the likes of Lin Manuel-Miranda and Patton Oswalt, ‘Doors’ arrived in the midst of the tumultuous 2018 midterm elections. Then-candidate Beto O’Rourke was on the rise, and voters from every party were wondering if a Democratic resurgence was really possible deep in the heart of Texas.
Much like her appearance in her infamous campaign ad, Hegar wastes no time getting to her point. Her first goal if elected? She says it’s to look out for the everyday Texan. “Right now we have a lot of people who are looking out for the very rich and powerful special interests,” she said. ”They don’t care that we have a broken immigration system that’s plaguing our communities. They don’t care that we have a broken healthcare system. I’m really looking forward to being able to bring that voice to the table.”
If Hegar is indeed elected, it’ll put her in the unique position of being the first Democratic senator from Texas since Bob Krueger in the 1990’s. Winning would also mean Hegar would have to work with Republican Ted Cruz in Washington. But Hegar does not shy away from talking about Senator Cruz, and certainly does not shy away from the prospect of working with him.
Cruz has often been painted as an outlier by his GOP colleagues. At the 2016 Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner, Lindsey Graham quipped, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” In 2018, former House Speaker John Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh.”
Hegar says she plans to capitalize on Cruz’s ‘outlier’ image if she reaches Capitol Hill.
“I see in him an ability, not that he does it often, to use his own brain, and not call Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump and ask him how he’s supposed to think, and I’m gonna take advantage of that,” said Hegar. “I’m going to work with him, even when he doesn’t wanna see me. I’m sure he’s not going to eat lunch alone anymore.”
With just a couple months to go until Election Day, and the COVID19 pandemic still raging on, Hegar and her team have had to find new ways to reach voters in the era of social distancing and self-isolation.
In July, the veteran held a virtual ‘tour.’ She hosted five live streams, followed by a day of phone-banking. In August, she did the same, this time celebrating her victory in the primaries.
“I think every challenge becomes an advantage or disadvantage based on how you respond to it. In the military we’re taught not just to overcome challenges but to turn them to our advantage, and I think we’ve done that,” Hegar said about the struggles presented by virtual campaigning.
Hegar said her digital campaigning efforts have gotten new life from undecided voters. She says many are more willing to participate in Zoom calls and online chats than traditional in-person events.
The Central Texan has also made efforts to get out and see people. She said she traveled “tens of thousands of miles” campaigning early on. And after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others who were brutally killed by police, she worked to uplift the voiced of protestors and attended a protest in Williamson County honoring Javier Ambler.
"It’s beautiful," Hegar said. "That’s America. Protesting and making our country better is the fabric of our soul."
The would-be senator is throwing her support fully behind Black Lives Matter. Hegar believes that police brutality and criminal justice disparities are “symptoms of a deeper problem.” She said, “We need to look at discrimination in education, in housing, in employment, in access to small business capital, healthcare disparities, there’s a lot more we need to look at.”
Movements like these are part of the reason Hegar says she’s running for Senate. Stirred by Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, and spurred on by what she called “a punch in the gut,” Hegar said that the point of protests such as these is to inconvenience. “That minor inconvenience is nothing compared to the disruption that communities of color have been facing in our country for centuries,” she said.
Ultimately though, Hegar says that her run is a fulfillment of the oath she took upon entering the military, specifically the part where domestic threat is mentioned. At first, she said, it was unclear to her what a domestic threat might be. Now, she has a definition.
And she plans to face it head on.
The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
It has been nearly a month since the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, but the protests and public outcry have yet to slow down. In the midst of this outcry, an idea that has long been proposed by black communities has now become mainstream: Defunding the Police. The phrase “Defund the Police” has become a favorite for protest signs and hashtags. However, there is some confusion on what the slogan really entails.
“Defund the Police” is a phrase used to demand that a large percentage of police funding be redirected into schools, mental health services, homeless services, addiction rehabilitation, and other means of positively reinforcing how communities function and serve their most vulnerable populations. By increasing public services and resources, supporters of defunding believe that crime rates will dramatically decrease, lessening the need for a large police presence. Many advocates of defunding the police also believe that the current policing system is too interwoven with systemic racism, and that it therefore must be brought down completely and replaced with a new policing system in order to truly solve the issues within today’s forces. It is important to note that there is no one way to “Defund the Police”: many individuals have proposed different forms of defunding as a solution to police brutality. In this article, RevNow examines three real-world applications of police defunding and how they are changing the policing landscape in cities across the United States.
Minneapolis Disbands Police Department: In response to the death of George Floyd and multiple claims of police brutality in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis city council vowed to defund and dismantle its police department earlier this month. "We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe," said Council President Lisa Bender. With nine of the council’s 13 members voting in favor of the resolution, a veto-proof supermajority exists. While little is known now about how Minneapolis plans to move forward with the dismantling of its police department, Bender indicated that “having no police department is certainly not in the short term,” and the city would shift to community-based safety solutions.
Portland Cuts Budget: The Portland, OR city council passed a budget that removed $15 million from its police bureau funding. This cut will remove 84 positions within the bureau. When it came time for the city council to hear public testimony on the budget, 742 citizens signed up to be heard and the meeting stretched on for hours, with nearly every citizen calling for the police bureau to be defunded. "If ever there was a time for white people to be quiet and listen...this is that time," Commissioner Amanda Fritz said. "The city budget is a moral document. It's also a document that comes from everybody in the city...wondering how they can do their jobs better and wanting to be public servants who serve our communities—all of our communities—the best we possibly can." Mayor Ted Wheeler also stated that he would put an end to the police bureau’s gun violence reduction team: a program that aimed to reduce the number of gun crimes in the city, but has been called out repeatedly for over-policing black communities without producing any tangible results. Furthermore, the Portland police would no longer take part in the city’s Transit Authority. The mayor also indicated that the officers in these sections of the department will be reassigned to other duties instead of being let go. This change is estimated to save the Portland Police Bureau $7 million. Wheeler pledged to spend that money, plus an additional $5 million, on programs to promote the general welfare of the black community in Portland, though the spending has not yet been portioned out.
San Francisco Decreases Police Presence: San Francisco mayor London Breed laid out a roadmap for her city’s police reforms, with one of the largest points being that the police department would no longer respond to noncriminal calls, like homelessness, neighbor disputes, and school disciplinary intervention. Breed also directed the department to cease use of military grade weapons like tear gas, bayonets, and tanks against unarmed citizens. This reform will also focus on improving the department’s hiring and training processes. "We know that a lack of equity in our society overall leads to a lot of the problems that police are being asked to solve," Breed said. "We are going to keep pushing for additional reforms and continue to find ways to reinvest in communities that have historically been underserved and harmed by systemic racism."
In attention to defunding the police, others have called for less all-encompassing reforms in the hopes they will decrease police brutality significantly:
“8 Can’t Wait”: The “8 Can’t Wait” is a campaign that details what some believe are the eight most urgent protocols that police departments must adopt nationwide: banning chokeholds, requiring de-escalation efforts, requiring a warning before shooting, exhausting all other means before shooting, requiring any by-standing officers to intervene in situations of brutality, comprehensive reporting requirements, banning shooting at moving vehicles, and the requirement of a use of force continuum. A mandatory reporting protocol would require police to document every time they use force or threaten to use force on a civilian, and a use of force continuum is a set of guidelines on which weapons can be used against certain types of force.
Incentivizing Reform: President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that would incentivize local police reforms through the Department of Justice. The order included incentives for the hiring of mental health, addiction, and homelessness experts as “co-responders” to “help officers manage these complex encounters.” In the text of the order, the Justice Department was directed to create a database to track when officers have been decertified, charged, convicted, or faced judgement for use of force. The president also claimed to have spoken with the families of nine victims of police or racially motivated killings, though none of those families appeared to be present when the President delivered his remarks in the Rose Garden Tuesday afternoon.
Beto O’Rourke built his name on high-intensity campaigns, including running as a Democrat in the 2020 presidential election. But after he suspended his campaign in November of 2019, he shifted focus to activism in one of the US’ newest battleground states. O’Rourke started a new organization, Powered by People, to leverage volunteer power to down-ballot Democrats in Texas. As a Dallas native who saw the effects of O’Rourke’s previous campaigns firsthand, I had the pleasure of speaking to him via phone earlier this spring to get his take on grassroots politics, youth activism, and the ongoing growth of the Democratic Party in Texas.
Running With Beto
As things began to heat up in the arena for the 2018 midterm elections, El Paso congressman Beto O’Rourke started down a path that would shake up the status quo in Texas politics. Seeking to unseat Ted Cruz as the junior United States Senator from Texas, O’Rourke pledged not to take donations from political action committees, or PACs, and visited every single one of Texas’ 254 counties, where he spoke with community members, hosted rallies, and went block-walking. Ultimately, election night brought the O’Rourke campaign 48.3% of the vote, the best performance by Democrats in Texas since Ann Richards was elected governor in 1990. One of O’Rourke’s invisible victories from that November night was something now coined “The Beto Effect”: his popularity drove more Texans to the Democratic party, in turn helping other Democrats unseat incumbent Republicans. For example, Dallas County’s 32nd District seat in the Texas House went to Colin Allred, an African-American Democrat, over Pete Sessions, a Republican who held the seat since 2003. “It brought literally tens of thousands of people off the sidelines and into the arena of picking up a clipboard, knocking on doors, making phone calls, organizing other volunteers, and that in and of itself was a positive. It changed people’s lives for the better,” said O’Rourke. Not even a year after his explosive Senate run against Cruz, O’Rourke took on an ambitious new goal: candidacy for president. The former Senate hopeful had several notorious moments on the campaign trail. In October, he hosted the “Rally Against Fear” in Grand Prairie, TX, at the exact same time President Donald Trump was holding a rally in Downtown Dallas. And while O’Rourke’s campaign may have ended a few weeks after that rally, he would eventually endorse Joe Biden, taking the former VP out for dinner at one of Texas’ famed Whataburger restaurants (which became a staple on trips to various counties,) and promising to support Biden in his future efforts.
So What Comes Next?
Even after two high-intensity runs for public office, the El Paso politician is showing no signs of slowing down. O’Rourke is leveraging his resources to a new organization, Powered by People, that seeks to harness the power of grassroots activism and volunteering to manifest a Democratic resurgence in Texas. “Powered by People… seeks to help Democratic candidates in Texas win elections by bringing the power of grassroots organizing to there, in the kinds of races that typically don’t get the attention or the resources they need,” he said in an interview with RevNow earlier this month. One of these races was a special election for the 28th District in the Texas House of Representatives, where O’Rourke lent his support to Dr. Elizabeth Markowitz by block-walking for her campaign and streaming it live from his Facebook page. Though the race was ultimately won by Republican Gary Gates, Dr. Markowitz improved her margin of votes by three points.
“You gotta keep fighting, and over time you’ll find that you’re making progress towards the ultimate goal of having a government that looks like and is reflective of us and our interests.” For his own political future, however, O’Rourke plans to remain an activist. Despite high speculation in the days after he endorsed Biden on whether or not he would accept a place on the ballot as vice president, he says he doesn't “think it’s in the cards that I’d be asked to run as or serve as a VP,” but did voice his support for Biden’s pledge to pick a woman. “I do think it’s a really important moment in US history that you have a major party candidate pledge to select a woman as his running mate. I think it’d be better if we had a woman serving as president, but I think this is an important step…. And it shows you that when people stand up and push for an idea that they believe in, and enough people do that, it creates the pressure that causes that kind of change. So I was really glad to hear Vice President Biden make that commitment.”
Youth Take Charge
In our interview, O’Rourke was adamant about his support for youth activists taking democracy into their own hands. “I would say, in some ways the world is counting on young people. And not just for idealism or ideas or energy, but for leadership. Literally, tell the world what it is we are supposed to do and enforce the world to do it,” he said. Having been surrounded by politics his entire life, with his father having served on the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and as the El Paso County judge, O’Rourke is no stranger to being a youth involved in politics.
When asked what he would say to his legislative colleagues who are quick to discount the voices of the younger generations, he responded: “I would point them to the history of this country. It is hard to find a critical moment in this country’s history where young people were not leading the way… you look at the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and so often it was young people, like John Lewis who was in his 20s, but it was even younger people… standing up for themselves and their rights, and for the best ideals of this country.”
The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
With schools shutting down, US President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency, and flight restrictions being imposed around the world, COVID-19 is pretty much all that anyone can talk about. We’ve summarized all the key info that you need to know to help you understand this rapidly changing situation.
Symptoms of COVID-19 and What to Do: According to the CDC, the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of the following emergency warning signs, seek medical attention immediately: pain or pressure in the chest, bluish lips or face and difficulty breathing. If you think that you might be infected with COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and explain your situation. Your doctor will determine whether or not you need to be tested for the virus, but since there is no treatment, people who are mildly ill or not at serious risk may be able to isolate and treat themselves at home.
National Emergency Declared in US: The Trump administration has officially declared the pandemic a national emergency, which gives the government access to billions of dollars of funds and activates the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to aid with response. The president also invoked the Stafford Act, which is a federal law that evokes systematic assistance for state and local governments. FEMA, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, have become the leading authority on the government’s response with this declaration.
Mass Cancellations and Postponements: The NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS have suspended play to minimize the spread of the virus, after Utah Jazz basketball players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell fell ill. Stars like Billie Eilish have postponed their concert tours until further notice. The National Collegiate Athletics Association has canceled all championships, including the famous March Madness basketball tournament, which supplies the majority of all its funding. Schools around the world have extended their spring breaks or moved to online lessons for the remainder of the semester.
Travel Advisories Placed: The United States Department of State has raised the Global Health Advisory to level 3, urging citizens to reconsider their travel plans abroad and avoid them if possible. “Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice,” the Department states on their website. Countries including Italy, Spain, and China have gone on full or partial lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
House Democrats accelerated the impeachment process following the release of their bombshell 300-page report, which accused President Trump of a quid-pro-quo with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. According to the report, Donald Trump allegedly withheld military aid from the country on the condition that Ukraine gave the White House damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, something that would improve President Trump’s 2020 campaign prospects. Following a tumultuous week of more hearings and further inquiry, the House has officially announced that they will be putting forth articles of impeachment.
Wednesday, December 4th - The ‘fact-finding’ phase of the impeachment inquiry came to a close, and the first public impeachment hearing took place. This hearing, featuring testimonies by four Constitutional law experts, sought to clarify the meaning of the Constitution’s impeachment clause, and define what an impeachable offense is. President Trump did not attend the hearing, nor did he send any of his counsel to question the witness panel, keeping with Donald Trump’s promise not to participate in impeachment proceedings.
Thursday, December 5th - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that congressional Democrats was beginning to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. "Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment," the Speaker said in her remarks.
Monday, December 9th - The final impeachment hearing took place. In this hearing, no new information was presented on President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. It did, however, give both sides an opportunity to present their cases to both the House and the public. The Democratic counsel, Dan Goldman, called the president’s actions with Ukraine “a persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign government to help him cheat and win an election,” branding Trump as a “clear and present danger” to US national security. Republican counsel Stephen Castor countered Goldman, accusing Democrats of “searching for a set of facts” to use against the president.
Tuesday, December 10th - The House of Representatives announces 2 articles of impeachment that they will bring against the president, one for obstruction of Congress, and the other for abuse of power. Outlined by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the articles state that in his affairs with Ukraine, President Trump “abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress in its investigation of his conduct regarding Ukraine.”
"We must be clear - no one, not even the president, is above the law,” said Nadler.
The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
After days of hearings, which included testimonies from former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and United States Army lieutenant colonel Alexander Vindman, the first phase of the impeachment inquiry came to a close. This first phase focused mainly on US President Donald Trump’s infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which it is alleged Trump attempted to engage Ukraine in a quid-pro-quo: withholding military aid to Ukraine until an investigation on Joe Biden’s son Hunter was complete, information that would aid Trump’s 2020 election prospects. On Tuesday, House Democrats released a 300 page report on this phase of the inquiry, shedding light on the inner-workings of the hearings and foreshadowing how the impeachment process will likely develop in the days to come.
What Were the Main Conclusions? The official conclusion of the House Intelligence Committee is as follows: “President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign. The President demanded that the newly-elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly announce investigations into a political rival that he apparently feared the most, former Vice President Joe Biden, and into a discredited theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 presidential election.” (pg. 1)
In the Republican report, it is stated that President Trump “was acting on genuine and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine” at the time of the July 25th phone call. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who was traveling with President Trump at the time of the release, called the Democratic report the end of a “one-sided sham process” by Adam Schiff, (D-CA). “Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump. This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing,” said Grisham.
House Democrats voted Wednesday night to send the report to the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee, controlled by Democrats, is the committee which will decide whether or not to bring forward official articles of impeachment against the President. This is the third time in history that this has happened. While the House report stops short of recommending impeachment, it could be where the Democrats are headed. According to Congressman Adam Schiff, “I'm going to reserve any kind of a public judgment on that until I have a chance to consult with my colleagues, with our leadership. As you can tell, I am gravely concerned that if we merely accept this that we invite not only further corruption of our elections by this President, but we also invite it of the next president."
What Happens Next? Tuesday’s release sets the government up for a hectic month, with speculation being that Democrats could move to impeach before Christmas. If this happens, and the House votes to impeach, Donald Trump will not be removed from office. Rather, a trial will be held in the Senate. It requires a two-thirds majority in Congress to remove a president from office, meaning that 20 Republicans would need to vote with Democrats to actually remove the president. If this were to happen, Vice President Micheal R. Pence would assume the office.
The immediate next step, however, is to hold another hearing at the House, which set to take place Wednesday. The White House legal counsel has announced that neither the President nor his lawyers will take part in this hearing. Wednesday’s hearing will instead focus on clarifying what exactly an impeachable offense is, with all witnesses being lawyers and legal professionals, who will seek to explain Article 2, Section 4 of the US Constitution: a president can be “removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
This article is part two of a double feature.
After the death of finance mogul and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the internet erupted in conspiracy theories about the details surrounding his 'suicide,' which was committed while he was at prison, after he was removed from suicide watch for reasons that remain unknown. Even after autopsy reports ruled out foul play, many internet theories remain popular. Most of these theories surround the fact that Epstein had numerous connections to extremely powerful figures, who theorists claimed could have assassinated him to cover up their involvement with his sex trafficking crimes. This article will examine two of the main conspiracy theories regarding Epstein's death and what the evidence says about them.
Theory 1: The Clinton Assassination Theory
The Theory: This theory gained traction when conservative commentator Terrence K. Williams tweeted that Bill Clinton, who was a social acquaintance of Epstein’s, had something to do with Epstein’s death, but it wasn’t until President Donald Trump retweeted this claim that it really took off. Trump also said that, in the days following Epstein’s death, Bill Clinton had traveled on Epstein’s private plane “27 or 28 times,” and questioned if this meant he’d travelled with Epstein to the island of the alleged crimes. “The question you have to ask is, did Bill Clinton go to the island? Because Epstein had an island. That was not a good place, as I understand it, and I was never there,” Trump said, “So you have to ask, did Bill Clinton go to the island? That’s the question. If you find that out, you’re going to know a lot.”
Original tweet by Terrence K. Williams, which Trump later retweeted. *Note: Falsely claims that Epstein was on 24/7 suicide watch.The Facts: Flight logs from 2002, brought forth in a lawsuit filed by one of his victims show nothing of the sort. While several figures linked to the Clinton family have died in the past, every one of those circumstances has been proven to have nothing to do with the Clintons.
Theory 2: The Trump Ties Theory
The Theory: This theory is rooted in Epstein’s connection to Donald Trump, and alleges that Trump, fearing that Epstein’s trial would unveil incriminating information against him, either assisted Epstein in his suicide, or had him killed to prevent the information from coming out. While Trump and Epstein were connected, Epstein frequently visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, and Trump even told a New York Magazine reporter, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy... He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” Screenshots from a lawsuit filed in 2016, in which an anonymous woman accused Trump and Epstein of raping her when she was 13 years old, were posted online in the days following Epstein’s death, with the caption, “this is why Epstein died.”
The Facts: Many journalists who tried to investigate the lawsuit deemed it messy and not credible. The lawsuit was then dropped on November 4, 2016, four days before the 2016 presidential election, and the claims were never proven.
While claims about the involvement of these high-profile political leaders in the Epstein's death are largely unfounded, numerous high-profile public figures, including British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and Duke of York Prince Andrew, remain under serious scrutiny for potential involvement in the sex trafficking crimes committed by Epstein. However, with Epstein's lips sealed forever, there's yet another obstacle blocking prosecutors from separating the rumors and the truth.
The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
This article is part one of a double feature.
Disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10th after accusations of sex trafficking minors. What followed was a myriad of speculation and conspiracy theories involving many prominent public figures, from the Clinton family to the United Kingdom’s Prince Andrew. What do we know surrounding Epstein’s sudden death, and how does it all connect?
Epstein had previous convictions. In June of 2008, he appeared before a judge in a Palm Beach County, Florida courtroom to plead guilty to felony charges for procuring a minor for prostitution. Epstein arranged a plea deal with former U.S. attorney Alex Acosta which allowed for all grand jury subpoenas to be voided, and the severity of Epstein’s charges to be lowered. He was released from jail in July 2009 after serving only 13 months of his 18-month sentence (most of which was spent on ‘work release’ in a private wing of the prison). After it was discovered that he had never originally registered as a sex offender, he was forced to do so in 2011.
His accusers challenged the prior statutory rape sentence in court, which developed into charges of child sex trafficking. As more girls came forward, his accusers challenged him in court in an attempt to get him to serve a more stern sentence. This time, he was accused of not only statutory rape, but also for running a sex trafficking ring. According to Federal prosecutors, Epstein paid girls as young as 14 hundreds of dollars in cash for sex at either his Manhattan townhouse or his estate in Palm Beach. He was arrested on charges of child sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He pled not guilty, and faced up to 45 years in prison.
He allegedly enlisted help from a group of female associates. In the wake of his suicide, federal authorities found a new focus in their investigation: the dozens of women, including Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein's ex-girlfriend, who solicited young girls to come to Epstein’s home and give him ‘massages.’ Police said these massages would become sexual, and some of the girls told police Epstein would use sex toys on them while he got a "massage."
Some of Epstein’s crimes allegedly took place on his private Caribbean island. Little Saint James, in the US Virgin Islands, was purchased by Epstein in 1998. Known to locals as “Pedophile Island,” his victims’ lawyers allege that this is where some of the worst abuses took place. Court documents claim that then-17 year old Virginia Roberts was made to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions: in London, in New York, and as part of an orgy on Little Saint James. Bill Clinton is widely said to have traveled to Little Saint James, but flight logs, security records and Clinton representatives have since dispelled this rumor.
Epstein’s death was mired in suspicion. Thirty-eight minutes before news of Epstein’s death broke in the mainstream media, an anonymous 4chan author published a message that read, “Don’t ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this.” The jail where Epstein was being held was also found to have made several errors in security, such as removing Epstein from suicide watch. In addition to this, the New York Times reported that two of the guards charged with surveilling Epstein slept through two of his scheduled checks, and falsified records that the checks took place. These suspicious details sparked speculation about whether his death could’ve been more complicated than suicide.
His death was ruled a suicide by examiners. The chief medical examiner in New York, Dr. Barbara Sampson, released a statement Friday that ruled out foul play, and placed Epstein’s cause of death as suicide by hanging. Alongside an autopsy, Dr. Sampson stated that there had been “careful review of all investigative materials.” Epstein’s legal team responded shortly after, saying, “The defense team fully intends to conduct its own independent and complete investigation into the circumstances and cause of Mr. Epstein’s death.” His lawyers also stated they were prepared to sue the government for access to surveillance video from the time of their client’s death.
He signed a will shortly before his suicide. On August 8th, just two days before Epstein was to be found dead in his jail cell, he signed a last will and testament. The executors of this will, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, are tasked with transferring all of Epstein’s property into a trust fund entitled the ‘1953 Trust.’ Though it is unclear who will receive the proceeds of Epstein’s estate, court documents show his brother, Mark, as the sole heir to the $577 million fortune.
What happens next? The criminal case involving Epstein himself is over, but now the focus shifts to the lawsuits filed against his estate. Jennifer Araoz, who says Epstein raped her when she was 15 years old, filed suit on August 14th. “I am here because today is my first step towards reclaiming my power. Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence and my self-worth,” said Araoz in an opinion piece published by the New York Times. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have stated that they will continue to investigate any and all conspirators who aided Epstein in his crimes, though the likelihood of charges being brought against them is uncertain.