Buttigieg Addresses Black Church, Taking Biden Voters Head On

Buttigieg Addresses Black Church, Taking Biden Voters Head On(Bloomberg) — Pete Buttigieg went straight to the heart of Joe Biden’s support in South Carolina on Sunday, bringing a message of healing and unity to a black church.The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, dressed in a crisp blue suit, joined parishioners in prayer at an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church worship in Rock Hill, before introducing himself and highlighting his plan for black Americans.This constituency is crucial, since African-Americans make up 60% of the Democratic electorate in the state that holds the fourth nominating contest. It’s also the first test of black support after primaries and caucuses in predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire and Latino-heavy Nevada.Biden has enjoyed overwhelming support from black voters in the state, and Buttigieg’s swing through the state was part of an effort to reach out to voters he’d not made inroads with so far.“I tremble for my country knowing how difficult it has become for us to stand together,” Buttigieg said, as he shed his prepared remarks and described a “crisis of belonging.”Focus on VisionButtigieg centered his speech on his vision for the country.“We will be a country even more torn up around politics, even more divided, even more hurting than we are right now,” he said about the days after Donald Trump is no longer in office.Buttigieg, whose plan for black Americans is named after the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, spoke about the need to address systemic issues. He referenced disparities in maternal health and incarceration rates between blacks and whites.“This is not just about the problems that have affected the black community,” he said. “It is about the solutions that I have seen with my own eyes in our community coming from within the black community. That’s why economic empowerment must be at the top of our list.”A number of congregants stood and applauded after Buttigieg spoke.Meanwhile, Biden attended services at the Jerusalem Baptist Church in Hartsville, where he sang along with the attendees, was greeted with a standing ovation, and was introduced by Pastor Reginald Ford as a “giant of a man.” He stayed after services for 45 minutes, hugging and greeting parishioners.‘Didn’t Over-Promise’Will Hinton, a 68-year-old resident of Rock Hill, said he appreciated the conciseness of Buttigieg’s remarks while still covering important issues. Hinton is leaning toward supporting Biden, but he said he’s considering Buttigieg, among others.“I like that he didn’t over-promise,” he said. “What he did is, he knew it’s not a one-man show. He knows you have to include everyone.”Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan aims to “dismantle racist structures and systems” and calls for a range of criminal justice reforms including abolishing the death penalty, reducing sentences for drug offenses, and legalizing marijuana.Still, Buttigieg may have trouble winning over black voters. His mayoral record on racial justice has drawn criticism and he got low marks for his handling of racial tensions after a white police officer killed an unarmed black man in South Bend.Focus GroupButtigieg, moreover, is gay, and his sexual orientation may be a hurdle, as evidenced by a focus group of black voters in South Carolina convened by the Buttigieg campaign that found that his marriage to a man was “uncomfortable” for some voters. McClatchy’s State newspaper of Colombia, South Carolina, first reported on the results of the focus group.A 2017 Pew Research Center poll showed the share of African Americans who favor same sex marriage was 51%. That’s up from 39% in 2015, but lagged the 62% support among Americans overall.Buttigieg didn’t directly address his marriage on Sunday. But he made a subtle reference to his personal experience with discrimination.“I know what it is to look on the news and see your rights up for debate,” he said. “All of us must extend a hand to one another.”‘Don’t Prefer That’Marshall Leslie, 73, complimented Buttigieg’s speech, saying the mayor showed “a compassionate heart not for some people but for all people.”But when Leslie found out Buttigieg was gay and married to a man, he paused. “I don’t prefer that,” he said. Leslie, a resident of Lawndale, North Carolina, said that would likely deter him from voting for Buttigieg in the primary, and he would be unsure about supporting him in a general election.According the Real Clear Politics polling average, Biden leads in South Carolina with 35% support, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren with 15.5%. Buttigieg is currently in sixth with 4%, but the most recent poll for the state showed him at 9% support.“I thought his speech was amazing,” said Paulette Heath, a 67-year-old resident of Charlotte, North Carolina. “I like the ideas that he has.”She added: “I’m leaning toward Biden, but my mind can be changed.”To contact the reporter on this story: Tyler Pager in Rock Hill, South Carolina at tpager1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Official Tells Impeachment Probe He Wanted Pompeo to Back Envoy

Official Tells Impeachment Probe He Wanted Pompeo to Back Envoy(Bloomberg) — The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe told impeachment investigators Saturday he was disappointed Secretary of State Michael Pompeo didn’t back the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine when she was targeted in a smear campaign by President Donald Trump and his associates, a person familiar with his testimony said.Speaking for more than eight hours in a rare Saturday session, Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, said he pushed department leadership to make a statement of support for Marie Yovanovitch to counter the push to get her recalled, led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.Giuliani had worked for months to have Yovanovitch removed, believing she was opposed to the president. She was recalled in May 2019.Reeker, who took the job in March, testified that he was disturbed by what was happening to Yovanovitch and opposed what Giuliani was doing at the time, the person said.The release of a rough transcript from a July 25 call showed Trump denigrating Yovanovitch to Ukraine’s president.Yovanovitch testified Oct. 11 that she was ousted after a “concerted campaign” by Trump and his allies, including Giuliani.In his testimony, Reeker said he was largely cut out from the policy process on Ukraine because it was already dominated by Giuliani as well as Kurt Volker, the U.S. envoy for the country’s conflict with Russia, and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Reeker said he was unaware at the time whether Trump was demanding an investigation into the Biden family or the 2016 election in exchange for military aid.“He is corroborating previous witnesses and their testimony,“ Representative Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told reporters outside the hearing room Saturday. “I think it is fair to say it’s a much richer reservoir of information than we originally expected.”Smear CampaignRepresentative Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, called Reeker “credible” but said there were no “earth-shattering” revelations.“The accusations against the president aren’t being corroborated in any of this witness testimony, and today in my opinion is not different,” Perry said.Since the disclosure of a whistle-blower’s complaint last month, Trump, his aides and a White House memo have publicly confirmed many of the allegations. Republicans have largely complained about process and avoided questions about whether the president’s conduct is impeachable.The inquiry is focused almost entirely on the question of whether Trump and a handful of close advisers put pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to conduct investigations of Trump’s political rivals, including by holding up U.S. military assistance.Internal emails disclosed to lawmakers by the State Department’s inspector general on Oct. 2 show that Reeker was notified of a campaign to smear Yovanovitch as a liberal opponent of Trump, a notion he said at the time was “without merit or validation.”Reeker’s testimony was originally scheduled for earlier this week before the House committees on Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight. A career foreign service officer who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, he has been in his current post since March.The State Department sent Reeker a letter late Friday directing him to not appear, which prompted a subpoena from the House panels to give him legal cover to testify, according to copy of the letter obtained by Bloomberg News. The congressional committees have issued similar so-called friendly subpoenas for other executive branch employees who were told to not participate in the inquiry.“Lots of Americans are asking themselves why does the White House keep trying to blockade witnesses, why does the White House keep on trying to prevent documents from going to Congress,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said Saturday. “What exactly are they hiding?”Trump and his Republican allies have continued to criticize Democrats for taking testimony in closed-door sessions, though Republican members of the three committees all have taken part in questioning witnesses.Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said Saturday that the committees are “making rapid progress.”“We are trying to work expeditiously, but we’re trying to be methodical in our work,” Schiff said.GOP DemonstrationThis week, a group of Republicans, including some who are on one of the committees conducting the inquiry, stormed the secure areas where the witness interviews are being conducted to stage a sit-in. The move delayed the interview of a Pentagon official for about five hours.Their complaints extended to scheduling Reeker’s appearance for Saturday.“Chairman Schiff has chosen to conduct his inquiry behind closed doors with only a limited number of members present, allowing selective leaks of cherry-picked information to paint misleading public narratives,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the Oversight committee, wrote in a letter to Reeker on Wednesday, referring to Schiff. “For these reasons, we were surprised and disappointed that you had agreed to appear for a deposition on Saturday.”The schedule for next week includes testimony from former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Charles Kupperman on Monday, and Timothy Morrison, a special assistant to the president, on Thursday.But on Friday, Kupperman asked a federal judge whether he must appear. He said in court papers that he faces “irreconcilable commands” — a subpoena from House Democrats requiring him to cooperate and an order from the White House not to testify.His lawyer, Charles Cooper, said in a statement late Friday night that Trump “has asserted that Dr. Kupperman, as a close personal adviser to the president, is immune from Congressional process, and has instructed Dr. Kupperman not to appear and testify in response to the House’s subpoena.”Kupperman, Cooper added, “cannot satisfy the competing and irreconcilable demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and there is no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail.”The House committee leaders dismissed that argument in a letter Saturday, saying the lawsuit is “lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House.” They warned that failure to appear for his deposition “will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding.”On Friday, the committee chairmen also sent subpoenas to Michael Duffey, the Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for national security programs, to testify Nov. 5 and to acting Budget Director Russell Vought to testify on Nov. 6. Vought had previously tweeted that the two wouldn’t testify voluntarily.Department of State Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl was subpoenaed to appear at a deposition on Nov. 6.(Updates to add length of hearing and lawmaker comments beginning in the second paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net;Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net;Nick Wadhams in Washington at nwadhams@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.