speaking out
June 7, 2020

Colin Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, said on Sunday that President Trump has "drifted away" from following the Constitution.

During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Powell joined the chorus of retired military leaders who have spoken out against Trump following last week's use of federal force to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park across from the White House, minutes before Trump walked over to take pictures in front of St. John's Church. Powell said the George Floyd protests are proof the country is at a "turning point," and "the Republican Party, the president thought they were immune, they can say anything they wanted. And even more troubling, the Congress would just sit there and not in any way resist what the president is doing."

Trump, Powell said, "lies all the time," starting from right after his inauguration, when "we got into an argument about the size of the crowd that was there." He gets away with it, though, because "people will not hold him accountable," he said. Powell, who did not vote for Trump in 2016, said in November he will cast his ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden and Trump both responded to Powell on Twitter, with Biden saying: "This isn't about politics. This is about the future of our country. Grateful for your support, Secretary Powell." Trump, in turn, called Powell "a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars" and "highly overrated." Catherine Garcia

June 3, 2020

In a stinging rebuke, Former Defense Secretary James Mattis criticized President Trump's response to peaceful protests, saying he is "the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership."

Mattis, a retired Marine general, resigned in 2018 in response to Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from eastern Syria. He broke his silence on Trump's behavior Wednesday, telling The Atlantic in a statement that watching protesters get tear gassed in Lafayette Square and hearing Trump threaten to use the military to crush demonstrations left him "angry and appalled."

The protests are "defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation," he said. The forceful removal of demonstrators in Lafayette Square for Trump's "bizarre" photo op in front of St. John's Church was an "abuse of executive authority," he said, and "we must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution."

The country can still come together without Trump, "drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society," Mattis said. It won't be easy, "but we owe it to our fellow citizens, to past generations that bled to defend our promise, and to our children." Read more at The Atlantic. Catherine Garcia

June 2, 2020

Mike Mullen, the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a retired Navy admiral, says he was so "sickened" by what he saw transpire on the streets of Washington, D.C., on Monday evening that he had to speak out.

"Our fellow citizens are not the enemy, and must never become so," Mullen wrote in The Atlantic. "This is not the time for stunts. This is the time for leadership."

Watching security personnel "forcibly and violently" clear out peaceful protesters so President Trump could stand outside of St. John's Church left Mullen aghast, he wrote. Whatever Trump's goal was, "he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces. There was little good in the stunt."

No one should condone violence, vandalism, or looting, Mullen wrote, but it's imperative that people also don't "lose sight of the larger and deeper concerns over institutional racism that have ignited this rage." Citizens must unite to "address head-on the issue of police brutality and sustained injustices against the African American community," he said, as well as "support and defend the right — indeed, the solemn obligation — to peacefully assemble and to be heard."

While Mullen said he's "confident in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform," knowing they "will obey lawful orders," he is "less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief, and I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops."

Mullen was not the only former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to condemn Monday's incident. His successor, retired Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, tweeted that "America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy." Catherine Garcia

November 8, 2019

Mary Cain joined Nike and their running group, the Oregon Project, because she wanted to be the best female athlete ever. Instead, she says, she was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Nike and coach Alberto Salazar.

On Friday, Nike launched an "immediate investigation" to hear from former athletes of the Oregon Project, which was shut down last month after a doping scandal that resulted in Salazar being banned from the sport for four years.

Cain, who at 17 was the youngest American track and field athlete to make a World Championships team, was signed to Nike in 2013 in what she calls a dream come true. In a video published Thursday by The New York Times, she explained how detrimental it was.

An all-male staff told her she had to get thinner, and encouraged her to take birth control pills and diuretics to do so, said Cain, now 23. Salazar told her she needed to be 114 lbs., and would publicly shame her if she wasn't losing weight, she said. Salazar denied Cain's claims in an email to the Times.

Amid declining health and after suffering 5 broken bones, she was running terribly, she said.

"I started to have suicidal thoughts," Cain said in the video. When Salazar was reportedly dismissive of her self-harming and mental health, she reached a breaking point.

"I wasn't even trying to make the Olympics anymore, I was just trying to survive," Cain said in the video. "I made the painful choice, and I quit the team."

In a statement, Nike said Cain had "not raised these concerns" before. On Friday, Cain responded, saying she continued to work with Salazar, because "when we let people emotionally break us, we crave their approval more than anything."

Nike needs to change, Cain says, remarking, "I plan to be running for many years to come ... I want to end this chapter and I want to start a new one." Taylor Watson

October 28, 2019

Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) released a video on Monday condemning the "coordinated campaign" she says forced her into resigning from Congress.

Hill announced on Sunday that she is stepping down, just a few days after she admitted she had an "inappropriate" relationship with a campaign staffer last year. She denied a new accusation that she is having a sexual relationship with her legislative director, and agreed to cooperate with a House Ethics Committee investigation.

Nude photos of Hill were recently published on a conservative website, and in the video, she blasted the leak. "I will fight to ensure that no one else has to live through what I just experienced," she said. "Some people call this electronic assault, digital exploitation. Others call it revenge porn. As a victim of it, I call it one of the worst things we can do to our sisters and our daughters."

Hill is in the midst of a divorce, and she believes there is a "coordinated campaign" being carried out against her by "the right-wing media and Republican opponents." They are enabling her husband by giving him a platform, she continued, something that is "disgusting and unforgivable, and they will be held accountable." Hill doesn't want her experience to "scare off other young women or girls from running for office," she said, adding, "I never thought my imperfections would be weaponized and used to try to destroy me and the community I have loved for my entire life. For that, I am so incredibly sorry." Catherine Garcia

September 30, 2019

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton is out of the White House, but he's not done talking about the United States' foreign policy.

Bolton spoke about the Trump administration's approach toward North Korea in less-than-glowing terms Monday during a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He reportedly said the U.S. should stop trying to organize summits between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and instead opt for a tougher path that could ultimately include regime change or even military force to halt North Korea's nuclear program.

"I don't think the North Koreans will ever voluntarily give up enough," Bolton said, referring to the negotiation strategy, which remains Washington's preferred option at the moment. "There is no basis to trust any promise that regime makes."

Bolton also reportedly added that the White House is not being harsh enough when it comes to North Korea's United Nations Security Council violations.

As The Washington Post notes, Bolton's comments are hardly surprising — he has long held a reputation for favoring forceful foreign policy — and his opinion, frankly, doesn't carry any actual decision-making weight at the moment. Still, his willingness to coyly, but publicly criticize the White House does raise some questions as to whether Bolton could eventually serve as a witness in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, the Post reports. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

September 9, 2019

Yet another woman has accused disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, with a former employee now coming forward after two decades to tell her story.

Rowena Chiu, who worked for Weinstein while she was an assistant at Miramax, spoke with journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for their new book She Said, alleging Weinstein assaulted her in a hotel room in 1998, as reported by The New York Times. She later received a settlement. Chiu spoke alongside Kantor, Twohey, and actress and Weinstein accuser Ashley Judd on Monday's Today, saying that when she was initially approached in October 2017, when the allegations against Weinstein were first reported, the idea of breaking her non-disclosure agreement was "terrifying."

At that point, Chiu says she had not spoken with her loved ones about the assault, and she "wasn't ready" to come forward, fearful of the "repercussions."

"It really has taken all of two years to square some of those things away," Chiu told NBC News.

Chiu said that Weinstein on numerous occasions asked her to give him a massage and that this escalated until "he pushed me back against the bed, and I was petrified and terrified as he tried to rape me."

According to the Times, Chiu says she struggled with depression after the alleged assault and attempted suicide, but she was inspired to come forward after meeting Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 2018. Weinstein, who has been charged with rape and predatory sexual assault and will stand trial in January, has denied Chiu's allegation. Brendan Morrow

Brendan Morrow

May 28, 2019

Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about being sexually abused by her stepfather as a teenager, saying she hopes to empower young girls to speak out.

DeGeneres spoke to David Letterman for an episode of his Netflix talk show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which will be released on Friday. In it, she describes her stepfather sexually assaulting her when she was 15 or 16 years old.

“He told me ... that he'd felt a lump in [my mom's] breast and needed to feel my breasts because he didn't want to upset her, but he needed to feel mine," DeGeneres says, Yahoo reports. "...He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time."

DeGeneres went on to say that when her stepfather tried to come into her room, she "kicked the window out and ran." But she says that she didn't tell her mother because "I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness." This is something she now regrets, saying, "I should never have protected her — I should have protected myself." When she did eventually speak up, DeGeneres says at first her mother didn't believe her.

The talk show host also said that the only reason she's detailing this "really horrible, horrible" story is that "I want other girls to not ever let someone do that," adding "it angers me when victims aren't believed, because we just don't make stuff up," The Wrap reports.

DeGeneres spoke with Today in October 2018, after Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, about being the victim of sexual abuse, saying she is "furious" at people who don't believe survivors. She also said on Ellen that "if anything, before I stop doing this show someday, I hope that I'm empowering women. We just have to not be quiet anymore." Brendan Morrow

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