New story in Politics from Time: State Department Expels Two Cuban Diplomats Over Alleged ‘Influence Operations’

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. announced Thursday that it is expelling two Cuban diplomats and restricting travel of members of Cuba’s permanent mission to the United Nations as leaders gather from around the world for the annual U.N. General Assembly.

The Cuban diplomats who are being expelled are attached to the U.N. mission and tried to “conduct influence operations against the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. She provided no details on the allegations and the diplomats’ names weren’t released.

All members of the Cuban mission are being restricted to the island of Manhattan.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said the allegations were a “vulgar slander” against the two diplomats.

Rodríguez said on Twitter the expulsion seeks to “provoke a diplomatic escalation” and increase tensions between the two countries.

Relations between Cuba and the U.S. have deteriorated under President Donald Trump. His administration has restricted travel to the island and has imposed new economic sanctions.


New story in Politics from Time: Bernie Sanders Says He’s the First Democratic Presidential Candidate to Reach 1 Million Individual Donors

(WASHINGTON) — Bernie Sanders’ campaign says that it has received contributions from more than 1 million individual donors and that it’s the first in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field to do so.

In a statement Thursday, the Vermont senator’s campaign says more than 99.9% of those donors hadn’t reached maximum federal donation limits, meaning they could give more.

It says 125,000-plus donors had agreed to make recurring contributions.

Campaign manager Faiz Shakir says, “Our strength is in numbers, and that is why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is able to say his campaign will rely only on grassroots funding in both the primary and against Donald Trump.”

The announcement comes after the campaign announced staff shake-ups in Iowa and New Hampshire, which kick off the Democratic presidential nominating process.

New story in Politics from Time: Rep. Ayanna Pressley Declines to Weigh in on Kennedy vs. Markey Primary Battle. ‘The Electorate Will Decide’

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley has no plans to make an endorsement in the contested Senate primary in her home state, she said on Thursday.

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III will formally announce this coming Saturday his intention to challenge Democratic incumbent Edward J. Markey for his Senate seat in 2020.

Presssley, who herself successfully challenged longtime incumbent Michael Capuano in 2018, said that voters needed to make the decision for themselves.

“I am very fortunate in that I enjoy a great relationship with both Senator Markey and Representative Kennedy,” she said, noting in an interview with TIME Thursday that she had worked with both of them on many issues, from health care to environmental justice and gun violence. “I enjoy a productive partnership with both of them and I don’t expect that will change. But as for this race, the electorate will decide that.”

Pressley previously worked as an aide for Kennedy’s father, former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy II.

Pressed again if she would ever make an endorsement in the cycle, she reiterated “the electorate is the endorsement that matters. And they’ll decide.”

Two other candidates, Labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton, are also running in the primary against Markey — a fact Pressley was key to point out.

“I think it’s important to remember there is one incumbent and there are three challengers in this race,” she said. “People are framing this as if this is a contest between two people, but there is an incumbent and there are three challengers. And each of those people will make their case to the electorate.”

New story in Politics from Time: Donald and Melania Trump Prepare to Host Their Second-Ever State Dinner

(WASHINGTON) — It’ll be an alfresco Rose Garden soirée for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the White House throws its first state dinner in more than a year.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are hosting Morrison for a state visit on Friday. There will be a pomp-filled arrival ceremony on the South Lawn and meetings with Trump and his staff, capped by an opulent state dinner beneath the stars in the Rose Garden, just outside the Oval Office.

Australian pro golfer Greg Norman, a friend of Trump’s, told The Associated Press in a text message that he’ll be among the guests.

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born founder and owner of the parent company of Fox News Channel, one of Trump’s favored cable news networks, was a guest at the previous White House state dinner for Australia some 13 years ago. Murdoch was expected to show up again on Friday, though his representative did not respond to a request for comment on his plans.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said he’s attending.

The first lady’s office was keeping a lid on key details, such as the three-course menu, the table setting and who’ll provide the after-dinner entertainment, until a media preview set for late Thursday. A White House official not authorized to publicly discuss the first lady’s plans confirmed that dinner would be served in the Rose Garden.

Beyond socializing, the leaders plan talks on military, intelligence and economic issues, especially as they relate to the Indo-Pacific region. They intend to sign a memorandum of understanding to further U.S. and Australia cooperation in space, according to a senior administration official.

Trump and Morrison also will discuss how to ensure a stable market and supply of minerals known as rare earths, which are widely used in electric cars and cellphones, the official said. They will roll out programs for the countries to work together on recycling ocean plastics, which harm marine wildlife and fishing, said the official, who was not authorized to provide details of the meetings and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Australia last received the high diplomatic honor of a U.S. state visit in 2006, when President George W. Bush feted Prime Minister John Howard.

Trump’s first state visit went to French President Emmanuel Macron last year. Trump and his wife treated Macron and his wife, Brigitte, to a double date at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George Washington, the first U.S. president, on the banks of the Potomac River in northern Virginia.

Norman, a sometime golf partner of Trump’s, had a key role in helping Malcolm Turnbull, Morrison’s predecessor, beat other world leaders to an early telephone call with then-President-elect Trump by slipping Trump’s cellphone number to Australia’s ambassador to the U.S. after the November 2016 presidential election.


AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson and Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

New story in Politics from Time: Working Families Party Staffers Face Harassment After Warren Endorsement

In the days since the Working Families Party endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren for President on Monday, staffers at the progressive group have received hundreds of furious messages, including several using racial slurs against black staffers and at least one celebrating a junior employee’s rape.

Maurice Mitchell, the National Director of the Working Families Party (WFP) and an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives, received messages calling him a “half man” and “Uncle Tom,” and telling him to “go back to his slave masters,” according to emails and tweets reviewed by TIME.

WFP organizer Ember Ollom, a rape survivor who has tweeted about her assault, received a message that said: “We were raped by this process, so I’m happy it happened to you.”

When Ollom tweeted about the harassment, more people responded to tell her she was lying.

Staffers also received messages and tweets that vowed to “hunt all WFP down” and said “may you all get cancer.” One staffer received a threat that someone would find where she lived.

The backlash began after the party, which has an organizing presence in 20 states and is on the ballot in three, endorsed Warren’s 2020 bid on Monday after endorsing Sanders in 2016. The endorsement, one of the first from a progressive group, was seen a triumph for Warren and a setback for Sanders, who has praised the Working Families Party as an example of “my vision of Democratic socialism.”

In the days since, WFP staffers were inundated with messages calling them “liberal sellouts,” “corporate frauds,” and “just as corrupt as the DNC,” often accompanied with the hashtag #BernieorBust. It was not immediately clear how many of the messages were sent by real people, how many were sent by right-wing agitators, or how many were sent by bots.

Sanders himself has long refrained from personal attacks on his rivals or their supporters, and has been quick to decry harassment undertaken in his name. “This campaign condemns racist bulling and harassment of any kind, in any space” Sanders tweeted Thursday. “We are building a multiracial movement for justice—that’s how we win the White House.”

In response to requests from TIME, Sanders’ campaign declined to offer further comment.

“I do not personally think that Bernie Sanders would condone this behavior,” says Ollom. “It’s not all Bernie supporters, but people are doing this in his name. A lot of people have their picture as his profile picture. When it seems to come from a collection of people speaking on behalf of this candidate, it definitely looks bad.”

Many Sanders supporters expressed outrage at an endorsement process they viewed as too secretive. The WFP endorsement process—which was developed for the 2020 primary and was not used in 2016—gave equal weight to its National Committee (made up of activists, organizers and union leaders who had been elected to represent their respective constituencies, similar to party delegates) and its grassroots online membership (including non-paying party members and the general public on their email list.) The Party announced Monday that Warren received more than 60% of the vote through an endorsement process that gave equal weight to the two factions, but did not release vote breakdown.

“We think it’s counterproductive for supporters in two camps to engage like this,” says Mitchell. “Some people are disappointed with the outcome, so they’re raising questions about the process.”

The backlash to the endorsement hints at a turbulent mood in a progressive base that poses looming challenges for both Warren and Sanders. For Warren, the challenge will be to convince hardcore Sanders supporters that she is an equally progressive candidate. For Sanders, the challenge will be keeping some of his base from defecting.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that when they send these messages, the Working Familes Party is not answering them, the people who work there are answering them,” says Ollom. “We’re people with feelings. This kind of division is only harming us. It’s not furthering any of our candidates. This kind of behavior doesn’t make me want to help them. They’re going to end up alienating undecided voters.”

New story in Politics from Time: Justin Trudeau Says He Didn’t Remember Blackface and Brownface Photos and Admits There Could Be More

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted Thursday that he’s unsure whether there are more images of him in blackface or brownface beyond the ones that have already been released.

Trudeau has been under fire since Wednesday, when TIME published a photograph of him in brownface at a party at the private school where he was teaching in the spring of 2001.

In his initial apology on Wednesday night aboard his campaign plane in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Trudeau admitted to wearing blackface once before, during a high school performance of “Day-O,” a Jamaican folk song famously performed by African-American singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.

Since then, a third instance of the prime minister with darkened features has emerged—a video from the early 1990s that shows Trudeau in blackface, raising his hands in the air and sticking out his tongue. Zita Astravas, the media relations head of the Liberal Party of Canada, first confirmed that the video was of Trudeau.

On Thursday afternoon, Trudeau—who is currently in the midst of a reelection campaign—spoke in Winnipeg, Manitoba, about the scandal. After he was asked multiple times whether more photographs or videos of him in blackface or brownface exist, Trudeau said, “I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered.”

“And I think the question is: ‘How can you not remember that?’” he continued. “The fact is I didn’t understand how hurtful this is to people who live with discrimination every single day.”

The 47-year-old leader of the Liberal Party of Canada also reiterated his apology for the scandal while speaking to the press.

“I want to begin by saying a few words directly to racialized Canadians who face discrimination every single day in their lives, even in a country like Canada. What I did hurt them …. This is something that I deeply, deeply regret.”

Justin Trudeau in brownface at West Point Grey Academy
TIMEJustin Trudeau, now the prime minister of Canada, appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 “Arabian Nights”-themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught.

Trudeau was also questioned more than once on when he became aware that blackface was racist. The prime minister cited his time working with the community in Papineau—a diverse community in Montreal—as his moment of realization.

“Darkening your face, regardless of the context or circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface,” he also said.

When a reporter used the word “makeup” to describe Trudeau’s usage of blackface, the prime minister responded, “I appreciate you calling it makeup, but it was blackface. And that is something that is just not right.”

Justin Trudeau in blackface and an afro wig
TIMEJustin Trudeau also admitted to wearing blackface makeup to sing the Jamaican folk song “Day O” in high school for a talent show. TIME has confirmed this photo shows the Canadian prime minister.

“It is something that people who live with the kind of discrimination that far too many do because of the color of their skin, or their history, or their origins, or their language, or their religion, face on a regular basis. And I didn’t see that from the layers of privilege that I have. And for that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize,” he added.

The revelations have placed Trudeau’s reelection campaign under scrutiny, and the story has dominated Canadian media since TIME published the exclusive after obtaining a copy of the school’s yearbook, which included a photograph of the incident, earlier this month.

The picture was taken at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala and shows Trudeau, then the 29-year-old son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened. The photograph appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school where Trudeau was a teacher.

The United States has a fraught history of white performers darkening their faces to demean and dehumanize African Americans, including in minstrel shows in the 19th century. Minstrel shows were also performed in Canada, and McGill University in Montreal notes that blackface “dates back to the days of blackface minstrelsy—a form of 19th and early 20th century entertainment that expressed nostalgia for slavery and racist violence.”

New story in Politics from Time: House Passes Spending Bill to Prevent Possible Government Shutdown

(WASHINGTON) — The House has passed a short-term ending bill to prevent a federal shutdown when the budget year ends Sept. 30.

The bipartisan measure, approved by a 301-123 vote, would give lawmakers until the Thanksgiving break to negotiate and pass $1.4 trillion worth of annual agency spending bills.

The Senate is scheduled to approve the stopgap measure next week.

The agency spending bills would fill in the details of this summer’s budget and debt agreement between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The House-passed measure also extends some expiring federal programs and replenishes Trump’s bailout of farmers who’ve been hurt by the U.S. trade dispute with China.

Senators are tied up in knots over how to proceed on the 12 annual spending bills.