The TAKE with Rick Klein
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Democrats are pursuing an impeachment inquiry where, in their view, the facts have gone from bad to worse.
Republicans are pursuing an impeachment defense where, in their view, it's not about defending those facts.
The parallel arguments will never meet, if President Donald Trump and his defenders get their way. Republicans are arguing and engaging in stunts about the process rather than the substance -- while also maintaining that there's nothing truly shocking about what happened.
"Abuse of power is not a crime," Trump's onetime acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, said on Fox News Tuesday night.
"Both sides have been involved with sort of a quid pro quo" when it comes to Ukraine, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is starting to worry about the White House strategy on impeachment. That strategy is relying almost entirely on Trump, who continues to exhort his party to stay loyal for loyalty's sake.
"We gotta stick together," the president said Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Democrats realize they're going to have to take private testimony public at some point. That looms as a potentially critical moment -- with the public being asked to sort out arguments about entirely different subjects for now.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that his company will not fact-check political ads, except maybe sometimes.
The tech-giant founder started off his congressional testimony saying his company would not engage in any censorship or fact-checking of political ads, much to the astonishment of some in the room, especially Democratic members who said the company had a role and responsibility to play in keeping disinformation campaigns at bay. Zuckerberg, in turn, said it was not about the money.
"We believe in a democracy, it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying," he argued.
Facebook works with independent organizations to flag some political content, but not necessarily remove it. Members such as Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., then asked: What's the line?
"I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year," Ocasio-Cortez said sarcastically. "Under your policy using census data as well, could I pay to target black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date?"
Zuckerberg said, "No."
"Could I run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying they voted for the Green New Deal?" Ocasio-Cortez pressed.
He said he did not know the answer to that murkier hypothetical, and Ocasio-Cortez repeated that there should be more transparency about the bounds and thresholds -- if some do in fact exist. Earlier this year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., paid for an ad with a completely false claim just to make the point that Facebook was willing to run it.
Zuckerberg ultimately stuck to his statement that this was about making sure people could see what politicians are doing, but Tlaib still wanted to know, "Why should the politicians who lead our country be held to a lower standard for truthfulness and decency than the average American?"
The TIP with Samantha Sergi
If you're not busy Friday and Saturday, two presidential candidates are looking for some company. John Delaney -- yes, he's still in the race -- is offering two tickets to Game 4 of the World Series if you donate "any amount" to his campaign and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will buy you a Coke if you go to Helena High School's Friday night, cross-town rival football game, which he expects to be a "barn burner."
The former Maryland congressman and multimillionaire said he will cover travel expenses and two club-level seats for one lucky donor and a guest. Club-level seats are going for at least $1,600 and on average are $2,633, according to StubHub.com. A can of Coke at the Helena High School concession stand will run the governor about $2.
Delaney's campaign said they've seen "a lot of donations" through their sweepstakes, but aren't releasing how many have donated. No one had taken Bullock up on his invite Wednesday night and the governor jokingly told ABC News, "Frankly it makes no sense."
ONE MORE THING
Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, has emerged as a cudgel in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. In explosive new testimony, the longtime foreign service officer provided lawmakers with painstaking details on how he came to suspect the White House was withholding aid unless Ukraine agreed to launch an investigation aimed at President Donald Trump's political rival, Joe Biden. It was, as he put it, "a weird combination of encouraging, confusing and ultimately alarming circumstances." Here's why Taylor's testimony matters.
THE PLAYLIST ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News' Trish Turner, who explains why Republicans stormed a secure deposition room Wednesday amid the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Then, ABC News Senior Investigative reporter Aaron Katersky explains what went down at a court hearing about President Donald Trump's tax returns. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. With President Donald Trump facing an eruption of dissatisfaction inside his own party over his military policy regarding Syria, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has emerged as a fierce defender of the idea that the U.S. has the right to wind down on "endless wars." Paul told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce that the Syrian Kurds should be more grateful for the opportunities and resources the U.S. troops provided for them. "They were able to win with our armament, with our Air Force, and they should be thanking us and throwing rose petals. And so, no, I'm offended by them throwing refuse at our troops. And it shows them to be ingrates." https://apple.co/2Zfz5nD
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