Nov 19, 2019

Vindman refuses to answer questions amid fear of outing whistleblower

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman faced a round of questioning from House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) over people with whom he discussed the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: After Vindman said he discussed the call — as a part of his position on the National Security Council — with State Department official George Kent and an unnamed intelligence official, the questioning devolved into a squabble over the impeachment inquiry's rules protecting the identity of the whistleblower.

  • Vindman said that his counsel had advised him against discussing any specific members of the intelligence community.
  • Schiff interjected during the line of questioning to state: "If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we are here for — and I want to advise the witness accordingly."

Worth noting: Vindman testified in his closed-door hearing — and repeated today — that he did not know the identity of the whistleblower.

The big picture: The impeachment inquiry's laid-out rules have a section on "Whistleblower Protection and Confidentiality," which states that the House Intelligence Committee will not "facilitate any efforts by President Trump or his allies to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against the whistleblower."

  • It also implies that any committee members who break those rules could face an investigation from the House Ethics Committee.

The state of play: The name of the whistleblower has been at the heart of a war in the Republican Party as some Trump allies — including the president's own son, Donald Trump Jr. — have publicly stated the whistleblower's alleged identity, which has been promoted by right-wing media.

Go deeper: Live updates from the Vindman-Williams impeachment hearing

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Minneapolis will ban police chokeholds following George Floyd's death

A memorial for George Floyd at the site of his death in Minneapolis. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minneapolis has agreed to ban the use of police chokeholds and will require nearby officers to act to stop them in the wake of George Floyd's death, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched an investigation into Floyd's death while in police custody, will be enforceable in court.

Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios

The S&P 500 jumped nearly 3% on Friday after a stronger-than-expected May jobs report showed that an economic recovery could be underway.

The state of play: Stocks have rallied since the worst of the coronavirus sell-off ended in late March and looked past a spate of ugly economic reports — not to mention civil unrest.

The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut

Adam Hansmann (left) and Alex Mather (right), co-founders of The Athletic. Photo: Steph Gray, courtesy of The Athletic

The Athletic is laying off nearly 8% of staff, 46 people, according to an internal memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It's the latest media company that's been been forced to take drastic measures to survive the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Like many sports media outlets, The Athletic has been particularly impacted by the loss of live sports.