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Eric Ciaramella

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About Eric Ciaramella

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  1. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., emerged this week as a central figure on the Republican side of the House Intelligence Committee in the public impeachment hearings -- and a top antagonist of Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The 35-year-old lawmaker featured prominently as tensions boiled over between lawmakers on Friday during the questioning of former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., attempted to give up the remainder of his time to her. But as Stefanik spoke, Schiff slammed down the gavel, arguing that it was not allowed under committee rules: "The gentlewoman will suspend." "What is the interruption for now?" she shot back. What followed was a debate between Nunes and Schiff as to whether the Republican could offer his time to a fellow member of Congress, rather than minority counsel. Stefanik repeatedly tried to speak, only for Schiff to bang his gavel again. "You're gagging the young lady from New York?" Nunes laughed at one point. "This is the fifth time you have interrupted a duly-elected member of Congress," Stefanik told Schiff, who repeatedly told her she was "not recognized" to speak. Before the testimony began Friday, Schiff shut down Stefanik for the first time after Stefanik asked if he would “continue to prohibit witnesses from answering Republican questions.” Schiff said it wasn’t a “proper” point of order, and then declined to recognize her colleague Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who also tried to raise a parliamentary question. “We know clearly you're going to interrupt us throughout this hearing,” Stefanik complained within minutes of the gavel. Tensions and spats between Republicans and Democrats were expected amid the partisan impeachment hearing, but eyes were generally on Nunes and Jordan -- who normally play the roles of attack dog at hearings. But instead, it was Stefanik who generated significant buzz, as well as viral clips that quickly zipped around conservatives and Republicans on Twitter. Another moment came later in the hearing when Stefanik read out comments from Schiff about how the whistleblower was going to testify “very soon” -- comments that he had not allowed to be submitted for the record. As she did so, Schiff sat emotionless with his arms folded. In this case, the fact that we are getting criticized by [Schiff] for statements he himself made early on in this process shows the duplicity and the abuse of power we are continuing to see," she said. She also scored some key narrative points for the Republican side too. In the questioning of Yovanovitch, she asked the ex-ambassador whether it was accurate that “defensive lethal aid” that she had pushed for was provided to Ukraine not by the Obama administration, but by the Trump administration. 28.5K people are talking about this “That’s correct,” Yovanovitch responded. Her performance in the hearings drew praise from fellow Republicans. “She’s effective. She’s a great spokesperson,” said Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, another member of the Intelligence committee, to The Associated Press. “And these issues are in her wheelhouse.” It was for Republicans, something of a mirror of another viral 2017 moment when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shut down remarks from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. When McConnell subsequently complained that he warned her she was breaking Senate rules, he added that “nevertheless, she persisted.” Those words formed a slogan for Democrats -- and sympathetic media outlets -- that carries on to this day. Some of those media outlets appeared less sympathetic to Stefanik, however, The Washington Post, which had once called Warren’s moment a “battle cry” called Stefanik’s a "transparently" "manufactured" moment and a "gender-centric stunt." It also accused her of making "political hay." Stefanik has indeed used the Friday moment, as well as the controversy it generated, to follow up with a fundraising push. “Since I’ve exposed Adam Schiff, radical liberals & never-Trumpers are launching disgusting attacks against me in an attempt to silence me,” she said. But so has her Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb, tweeting that “partisan political theatre is beneath the dignity of her office.” 11.9K people are talking about this "She skipped several important private hearings— now with the cameras on, she has repeatedly attempted to derail the public hearings," Cobb tweeted. "Stefanik should take her oath to the Constitution seriously." Hearings continue next week on Tuesday, and it will remain to be seen the role that Stefanik plays during those hearings as well.
  2. An Arkansas paramedic was arrested Monday for allegedly cutting a 1.7-carat diamond ring from a deceased woman’s finger at a hospital and selling it at a pawnshop. Authorities say Lisa Darlene Glaze, 50, cut off a single marquis cut diamond ring with a gold band from the hand Gloria Robinson, who had experienced a medical emergency and was transported Oct. 16 to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs and later pronounced dead. After her death, Robinson’s personal effects were given to her sister and her husband, who noted three of Robinson’s rings were missing, The Sentinel-Record reported. The victim’s sister asked a paramedic, later identified as Glaze, where the rings were and Glaze “did not answer her and walked away,” according to the probable cause affidavit. See The Sentinel-Record's other Tweets Two of the three rings were recovered two days later, but the third remained unaccounted for. Investigators said Glaze sold the third ring Oct. 24 at Hot Springs Classic Guns and Pawn for $45. The band of the ring had been cut, the affidavit stated. The victim’s sister and husband identified the ring, retrieved it from the pawnshop and had it appraised. It was reportedly valued at $7,946.63. Glaze was taken into custody Monday. She was charged with a felony count of theft by receiving over $5,000 and a misdemeanor count of unlawful transfer of stolen property to a pawnshop. Glaze was released on a $4,500 bond and is scheduled to appear Nov. 26 in Garland County District Court.
  3. WASHINGTON (AP) — In a sharply divided country, here’s something many Americans agree on: It’s hard to know what’s a true and honest fact. Related coverage: Politics A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and USA Facts finds that regardless of political belief, many Americans say they have a hard time figuring out if information is true. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they often come across one-sided information and about 6 in 10 say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources. “It is difficult to get facts. You have to read between the lines. You have to have a lot of common sense,” said Leah Williams, 29, of Modesto, California. A Republican, Williams says she relies on like-minded friends and family to help sort through conflicting information. “There are wolves in sheep’s clothing everywhere.” The poll found that 47% of Americans believe it’s difficult to know if the information they encounter is true, compared with 31% who find it easy to do so. When deciding whether something is factual, there is widespread consensus on the importance of transparency in how the information was gathered and if it is based on data. Democrats and Republicans alike frequently find the process challenging. But as a president with a history of making false statements and repeating debunked conspiracy theories faces public hearings this week in only the fourth impeachment inquiry in the nation’s history, the poll finds that differing political beliefs led Americans down different paths as they try to determine what’s a unquestionable fact. Democrats are more likely to say they rely on scientists and academics, while Republicans are more likely to trust what they hear from President Donald Trump. “When I hear him on Fox News — that’s where I get all my information,” said Al Corra, a 48-year-old Republican from Midland, Texas. Trump, he said, is the easiest way to cut through an otherwise confusing information environment. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to put a great deal of trust in the president’s statements, 40% to 5%. Overall, a majority of Americans (61%) have little to no trust in information about the government when it comes from Trump, Corra said he distrusts academics as too “liberal” and he’s not alone in that regard among Republicans. More Democrats than Republicans say they consider something to be factual if it’s been verified by scientists — 72% versus 40% — as well as academics — 57% versus 30%. Scott Austin, a Democrat from Aurora, Colorado, says he generally trusts scientists, but checks their affiliations carefully because he believes fraudulent information abounds. “If I see something that some scientist from Stanford says, I’ll believe that because it’s Stanford,” he said. Austin, a 52-year-old Army veteran, says he has to ping-pong from website to website to try to verify facts and has found himself increasingly skeptical of government information. Like 54% of Americans, he believes the president has a lot of sway over the information distributed by the government, and that’s made him increasingly skeptical given his lack of trust in what Trump says to be true. “I never had a problem trusting the government under Democratic or Republican administrations — until this administration,” Austin said. Close to half of Americans — 45% — also think members of Congress have a lot of influence on information that comes from the government, while just 3 in 10 say the same of federal agency employees. When it comes to assessing whether information is factual, at least three-quarters of Americans think it’s very important for it to be accurate, and that sources provide all relevant information and explain the way that information was gathered. Smaller majorities say the information should include opposing viewpoints and be devoid of opinion. About 6 in 10 say they are very likely to consider information factual if it is based on data. Many Americans say they rely on government websites, as well as news sources and social media, to get information. In total, 54% say they get information about the government from social media at least once a day, 52% say that about local TV news, 50% from national TV news networks and 47% from cable news. About 6 in 10 also say they have used government websites to look up information. And yet, poll found widespread skepticism about these sources — majorities say they have little to no confidence in information they get about the government from social media, the president, members of Congress and businesses. Lynn Joseph, a retired artist in Las Vegas, tries to ferret information out on the internet, but is skeptical of just about all sources nowadays. “Do I trust anybody? No,” she said. “My philosophy is everybody’s guilty until proven innocent.” Joseph, a Republican, is among the modest group of Trump supporters who don’t trust the accuracy of his statements. Overall, about a third of those who approve of the president say they trust information they get from him about the government only a moderate amount, and roughly another quarter say they have little to no trust. “I’m a Trump supporter, but I know about him,” she said. “He speaks before he should.”
  4. Love him or hate him, voters say impeachment hearings will not change their views on Trump As the first televised hearing of the impeachment probe unfolded on Wednesday on the screen in his home in Flint, Michigan, Quincy Murphy said there was no chance the proceedings would alter his view that President Donald Trump is unfit to hold the office. "I watch it in disgust," said the 45-year-old autoworker, who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. "I haven't found anything to convince me that he is doing what's best for this country." More than 450 miles (725 km) away in his Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, barbershop, Trump backer Joe D'Ambrosio was equally adamant that the inquiry into whether the Republican president improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival would have no effect on his opinion. "I fully support the president," said D'Ambrosio, 76, as a mounted television showed the hearing live on Fox News. "I talk to a lot of people who are happy with their 401(k)s (retirement plans), their stocks and their jobs. Democrats don't want to talk about that, and I think they are going to pay a price." Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives hope a series of televised hearings will help persuade Americans that Trump deserves to be ousted from office. But as the first day of the historic proceedings riveted Washington and dominated cable news, interviews with residents in two of the states likely to help decide the winner of next year's presidential election suggested voters on both sides had already made up their minds. A Nov. 4-5 Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 75% of Democrats supported impeachment, while 79% of Republicans were opposed. For many Trump supporters, the impeachment inquiry is nothing more than a partisan effort by Democrats to unseat a president they could not beat in 2016. Trump is accused of holding up military aid to Ukraine, which has faced Russian aggression, unless the country's president agreed to announce investigations into Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and the Ukraine business dealings of his son Hunter Biden. Trump has denied wrongdoing and calls the impeachment probe a sham. "To me, it's a coup," said retired construction worker Frank Buchualt, 70, as he sat in D'Ambrosio's barbershop. "I don't know what was illegal. We ask countries to do things all the time." But Murphy, who spends his nights assembling seats for the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, said the hearings offered Republicans a chance to prove they value the rule of law more than their own political survival. "The Republican Party is on trial," he said. 'JUST A SHOW' In 2016, Trump flipped Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three states that for decades had voted Democratic in presidential elections, by less than 1 percentage point each, ensuring his victory in the Electoral College. The states are widely expected to be closely contested again in 2020. John Cordisco, the Democratic chairman of Bucks County, a Philadelphia suburb that has historically served as a bellwether for the state and narrowly voted for Trump three years ago, said he doubted the hearings would have an impact given Trump's deeply polarizing presidency. He emphasized that members of Congress likely would have to cast votes on Trump's conduct, leaving them potentially vulnerable in their own elections next year. Some voters expressed frustration that the lawmakers themselves appeared to have prejudged the case. "What I don't appreciate is that many representatives and senators seem to have made up their minds already, before they've even seen the evidence and had a chance to discuss it in the appropriate setting," Amy Hussar, a 42-year-old U.S. Army retiree from Au Sable, Michigan, wrote in an email. Hussar, a self-described moderate, voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before casting a ballot for third-party candidate Gary Johnson in 2016, rather than for Clinton or Trump. Even voters on the fence about Trump next year were unconvinced the impeachment proceeding would help them decide. "It's just a show," said Kurt Zuhlke, a 64-year-old business owner in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, who voted for Trump in 2016 after supporting Obama and remains undecided for 2020. "Everyone knows all the facts, and they have already made up their mind. This is not going to do anything."
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