Trump Caves Completely to Erdogan
Trump Unhappy with Mulvaney
Mattis Responds to Trump’s Jabs
Murkowski Slams White House on Ukraine Aid
Hickenlooper Holds Wide Lead In Senate Race
Impeachment Trial Could Hurt Presidential Campaigns
• The Parade of Witnesses Goes Marching On
• Trump's Inner Circle Could Be in Big Trouble
• Trump Is Betting That Isolationism Is a Winner
• This Is Not Normal Behavior
• ProPublica: Trump May Have Committed Financial Fraud
• Senate Democrats Will Force Republicans to Vote on Health Care
• Ohio Debate Takeaways
About a week ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) went into the hospital for what was characterized as a relatively minor procedure. He was supposed to be back at work quite soon but, in the end, he never left the hospital, passing away early Thursday morning at the age of 68. The cause of death is not publicly known, other than that it was related to chronic health issues the congressman had dealt with.
A lifelong Marylander, Cummings graduated from Howard University (sometimes called the HBCU Harvard) and the University of Maryland School of Law, and practiced law for nearly two decades, serving concurrently in the Maryland House of Delegates for much of that time. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, and—being quite popular with his constituents—was easily reelected every time thereafter, never claiming less than 69.9% of the vote. A leader of the Congressional Black Caucus and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he quickly rose through the ranks of the House's Democratic leadership.
Since the Democrats retook the House, Cummings' most prominent role has been chairing the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which put him on the front lines of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Next in line for that job is Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), though Pelosi is also at leisure to pick someone else, if she sees fit. Cummings was also an outspoken critic of the President's less-than-enlightened comments on race, and expressed particular irritation after Trump told the "gang of four" to go back where they came from. Given the tense relationship between the two men, along with the likelihood of a memorial service held in Washington so that all the movers and shakers can attend, it will create another awkward situation, etiquette-wise, along the lines of the John McCain funeral.
Cummings district, MD-07, is badly gerrymandered to make it 59% black. Maryland is one of the few states where the Democrats did the gerrymandering. The PVI is D+26. Under these circumstances, it is pretty likely that the winner of the special election to fill the seat will be a black Democrat, possibly a local member of the state legislature or a Baltimore City official. (Z)
Donald Trump & Co. are trying very hard to keep people from cooperating with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. It's not going very well, as a new witness with dirt to dish seems to be up on the Hill every day.
Wednesday's star was Michael McKinley, who last week quit his job as a top advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. McKinley explained that his resignation was prompted by Trump's attacks on former ambassador to Ukraine Masha Yovanovitch, and by his dismay that State Department careerists were being pressured to advance a partisan agenda, and were also being thrown under the bus whenever that served the administration's needs. "Since I began my career in 1982, I have served my country and every president loyally," McKinley said. "Under current circumstances, however, I could no longer look the other way as colleagues are denied the professional support and respect they deserve from us all."
McKinley will hardly be the last person to chat with members of the House. Axios has obtained a list of witnesses that the three House committees investigating impeachment expect to testify. Today it will be Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the E.U. Tomorrow they will hear from Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Cooper.
Next week, it will continue with Acting Ukrainian Ambassador Bill Taylor on Tuesday, OMB official Michael Duffey on Wednesday, Acting Assistant Secretary Kathryn Wheelbarger on Thursday, and Acting OMB Director Russell Vought on Friday. If you have noticed that there are a lot of acting officials, good for you. Donald Trump likes acting officials because they don't need Senate confirmation, which avoids nasty questions during a Senate confirmation.
Naturally, the list that Axios got its hands on was prepared prior to the passing of Elijah Cummings. Since he was hospitalized, his committee was undoubtedly prepared to do their work without him. On the other hand, they may postpone some or all of these appearances out of respect for the Congressman's memory, and possibly also to allow members to attend his funeral. Presumably, there will be clarity on this point later today.
We also don't know if any of these people have beans to spill or if they do, if they will actually spill them. All we know is that it is not an obvious list of people, so Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is running the show, carefully chose them, presumably for reasons known only to him and the other committee chairs. (V & Z)
While House Democrats peel back the layers of the Ukraine onion, many of the folks around Donald Trump are finding themselves in increasingly hot water. Most obvious among them is Rudy Giuliani, who seems to get fresh bad news every day. Wednesday's was particularly grim, as we learned that the investigation into the President's TV attorney is much broader than anyone knew. It not only involves federal prosecutors in New York, but also the FBI. Those are two entities who do not exactly concern themselves with things like jaywalking or unpaid parking tickets. Apparently, they are looking into Giuliani's "diplomacy," and also his personal finances, as well as "possible counterintelligence issues." That means that the feds think that Giuliani may have opened himself up to being blackmailed.
Another Trump intimate who is about to have a harsh spotlight focused upon him is acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. It's very clear that he was deeply involved in the Ukraine-related machinations, which is bad. Even worse, however, is that there is much evidence that he personally handled the freezing of funds that were supposed to go to Ukraine, and that were used to apply pressure to President Volodymyr Zelensky. If that accusation is sustained, that would mean that not only is there a smoking gun, but that Mulvaney was the one holding it when it went off.
Who knows where this will all end up, but we would be remiss if we did not point out that people who have put themselves at risk of a lengthy stay in the joint are people who are susceptible to plea deals. Something along the lines of, "You tell us what you know about Ukraine, and we'll see to it you don't spend 10-20 in the federal pen." So, as much as this news is going to make it harder for Giuliani and Mulvaney to sleep soundly, it could be even worse for the man whose secrets they are currently keeping.
Another person who may not be sleeping soundly is Chief Justice John Roberts. He probably doesn't really want to preside over a Senate trial where the key issue is whether a president can be convicted for obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutionally granted power to pardon people. (Z)
Isolationism is a recurrent theme in American politics. There have been many times in American history when Americans just wished the outside world would go away and leave them alone. It started before the Revolutionary War, when Thomas Paine warned against foreign alliances. George Washington warned against the same at the end of his presidency, in his farewell address. Thereafter, Americans strove mightily to avoid the Napoleonic Wars (unsuccessfully), to keep European nations out of the Western hemisphere (also unsuccessfully), and to stay out of World War I (unsuccessfully yet again).
When World War II began in Europe (September 1939), millions of people—with Charles Lindbergh most prominent among them—supported the America First Committee, whose purpose was to maintain American neutrality as the Brits fought the Nazis. Undoubtedly, everyone knows how that worked out. Thereafter, the great majority of the populace recognized that the United States was going to be affected by world affairs, whether Americans liked it or not, so the U.S. might as well take a lead role in running the show. Hence the establishment of the United Nations in 1945 (with its headquarters in New York City) and NATO in 1949, along with a bevy of other international partnerships.
Now it looks like Donald Trump is trying to revive American isolationism, dormant these 80 years. His pull-out from Syria is a calculated gamble that American voters are tired of being the world's policeman and don't understand why American soldiers are in the middle of a civil war in Syria. His hope is that the average American knows more about Little Miss Muffet's curds than ethnic Kurds, and doesn't understand why we care about them (Hint: because they wiped out ISIS for us).
Republican senators know a lot more about foreign affairs than the average voter and have been excoriating Trump for abandoning our Kurdish allies, whom the Turks are now slaughtering. But other than some complaining, it seems unlikely that they will actually do anything, like censuring Trump or passing a law by a two-thirds majority reining him in. Although who knows; see below.
As long as nothing really bad happens in the Middle East, Trump may just get away with it. Foreign policy is rarely a key campaign issue, unless American soldiers are being killed in large numbers somewhere in the world. Democrats want to talk about health care, so they are probably not going to bring up Syria much. So even if Russia and Iran gain a strong foothold in Syria, it is not likely to be a campaign issue. A Politico/Morning Consult poll taken this week shows that 56% of Republicans support Trump's decision to pull out of Syria, while 60% of Democrats oppose it.
Trump is no student of history, but his gut tells him that the situation in the volatile Middle East has rarely been a ticket to (re)election, so viva isolationism. (V & Z)
When it comes to Donald Trump's decision to pull out of northern Syria, we've tried to climb into his head, and to discern a reasonable underlying thought process. Earlier this week, we proposed that Trump may have had little choice but to withdraw, and compared his abandonment of the Kurds to FDR's eastern European dilemma after World War II. In addition, we suggest above that there may be a grander strategic vision in play here.
But while we may be able to make the case that the President's initial decision to withdraw had a rational basis, even if it was ill-conceived and driven mostly by "gut feel" rather than by any real knowledge of geopolitics, we cannot make that case when considering his actions since then. As he's come under attack from all sides, and as he's witnessed what the Turkish government has done once given free rein, his behavior has been erratic at best, and might better be described as downright bizarre.
To start, there is the letter that Trump sent to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While it became public in just the last 24 hours, it's dated October 9. Here's the text:
Dear Mr. President:
Let's work out a good deal! You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will. I've already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson.
I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal. General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received.
History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!
I will call you later.
For a man who claims to have "the best words," Trump certainly didn't use any of them here. That he signed off on such a document is remarkable. That he thought it might actually have an effect on Erdoğan is absolutely astounding. The letter has been ubiquitous on social media since it was made public. And every single time it is posted to Facebook or Twitter, someone invariably asks: "Is this real, or is it a parody?" The White House has already confirmed that it's no parody.
Things did not improve on Wednesday. Democrats are not backing down on this issue, nor are most Republicans. Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared on The Hill in an effort to calm the GOP caucus, and instead got roasted. In addition, the House passed a resolution condemning the withdrawal of troops from Syria by a vote of 354-60, with 4 members voting present. That means that at least 120 Republicans joined with the Democrats in rebuking Trump.
The President also had a White House meeting with the leaders of both parties in Congress, so that they could all discuss the situation. The meeting quickly devolved into a presidential temper tantrum, with Trump ripping into Nancy Pelosi, and slurring her as a "third-rate politician," (or, according to some sources, a "third-grade politician") while also accusing the Democrats of sympathizing with ISIS because both groups are full of communists. "This was not a dialogue; this was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). "What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say," said Pelosi.
Not surprisingly, the Democrats decided to walk out of the meeting. No longer able to vent on Pelosi in person, Trump promptly took to Twitter to keep up the harangue, sending several tweets, including this one:
Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown! pic.twitter.com/RDeUI7sfe7— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2019
Pelosi, who knows a little bit about how to deal with these things, responded by making that image into the background on her Twitter account:
The two most important Republicans at the meeting have, on some level, closed ranks around the President. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who lives in Trump's hip pocket, essentially reiterated his version of events. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who's a little more cagey, lambasted the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. That means that, technically speaking, we have two very different versions of events. However, one version comes primarily from a man known for bald-faced lying and for blowing his top. The other version comes primarily from a woman not known for bald-faced lying nor for blowing her top. It's also instructive that McConnell found a way to "support" Trump, but didn't actually affirm the President's version of events.
This isn't the only flailing around that the President did on Wednesday. While holding a joint press conference with the President of Italy, Trump (apparently) inadvertently let slip that the U.S. has 50 nuclear weapons stored in Turkey. This was a poorly kept secret, but official U.S. government policy for half a century was to never acknowledge the bombs' existence. At least, it was official government policy until yesterday.
The President also dispatched Vice President Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo to Turkey to try to negotiate a cease-fire, but then, shortly after they left, he essentially cut them off at the knees by declaring that he doesn't really care what happens in Syria because U.S. soldiers are "not in harm's way" and events in that part of the world have "nothing to do with us."
And finally, in case Trump had not had a full enough day, he got into a nasty sparring match with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham, of course, is generally one of the President's most loyal foot soldiers in Congress, but the two men disagree sharply on Syria. The climax of their argument came when Trump declared that "The people of South Carolina don't want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria," and Graham sniffed that he just might know better than the President what the voters of his home state do and do not want.
Many times over the past two or three years, we have used the word "unhinged" to describe Trump's behavior. However, all of this—the letter, the outbursts aimed at both friends and foes, the hour-by-hour 180-degree changes in approach, the "oops, I just leaked a national security secret" moments—goes far beyond unhinged. Something might be wrong with this man. Maybe it's something relatively minor, like he's under so much stress that he's not getting enough sleep. Or maybe it's something major, like he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We're not doctors, nor have we had an opportunity to examine the President, so we can't narrow it down any more than that. One can only hope that the people who surround him have taken steps to minimize the amount of damage he does, for however long the cheese is not squarely on the cracker. Given his propensity for attracting enablers and yes-men, however, we're not optimistic.
On the other hand, it is also possible that Trump is still in possession of his cheese, marbles, and other accessories. He's simply in way over his head. In the New York City real estate business, he dealt with people whose motive was always right there on the table: Make as much money as possible from the deal. Now he is forced to deal with conflicts like the Syria mess, involving Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Iran, all of which have their own motives, none of which are on the table. Even a very experienced diplomat would have trouble making the "right" decisions, and Trump is anything but that. (Z & V)
There are lots of things that could be contributing to Donald Trump's shaky mental state these days. And on Wednesday, ProPublica—a nonprofit organization that does investigative journalism to speak truth to power—added another item to the list. Its investigations have shown that the valuation Donald Trump placed on at least two buildings in Manhattan are quite inconsistent, between what he told the lenders that gave him mortgages on them and what he told the New York City property tax authorities. That could lead to an awkward conversation between Trump and the Manhattan DA later on, along these lines: "Mr. Trump, we see that the valuation you put on your buildings for tax purposes is much lower than what you wrote on your loan applications. If you lied to the lenders, we will charge you with bank fraud. However, if you lied to the tax authorities, we will charge you with tax fraud. Which would you prefer?"
ProPublica got its information on Trump's property tax from Freedom of Information Act filings. It got its information on the mortgages from legal documents filed when the lender, Ladder Capital, sold his debt so it could be securitized. So, the numbers are there in black and white and none of the information came from (illegal) leaks. Naturally, the DA can subpoena the original documents if he decides to press charges. And if a DA tells a court he needs Trump's tax returns for an ongoing criminal investigation, there is zero chance the judge would deny the request.
In his congressional testimony, now-felon Michael Cohen said that Trump did precisely this, and now his claim is backed by actual numbers. Trump's CFO Allen Weisselberg undoubtedly knows all the details and would probably spill the beans if required to testify under oath. He's not an "I'll do five years in prison to protect the boss" kind of guy.
ProPublica asked a dozen real estate professionals about the inconsistencies and none of them saw a plausible and legal explanation. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance at Berkeley, said the discrepancies are "versions of fraud."
What makes this especially harmful to Trump is that if it is true, he violated New York State law. The consequences are: (1) a criminal investigation would be led by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, whom Trump can't fire, since he doesn't work for the federal government, and (2) if Trump pardons himself on the way out the door (or if Mike Pence does so), federal pardons don't protect him from prosecution for state crimes. (V)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) normally maintains an iron grip on the Senate's agenda, but once in a blue moon the minority party actually has some power. In particular, the Congressional Review Act allows the minority to force a vote when the administration has changed a regulation. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is going to force a vote on an administration plan to allow insurance companies to sell "junk insurance," which is very cheap and covers almost nothing. If the administration's regulation is upheld, many people are likely to be enticed into buying the cheap insurance, only to discover if they get sick that it won't cover much, if anything (and only then after a massive deductible). For the insurance companies this is a win-win proposition: collect small premiums without being on the hook for much if the insured gets sick.
Schumer's plan, of course, is to force vulnerable Republican senators, such as Cory Gardner (CO), Susan Collins (ME), Martha McSally (AZ), and Thom Tillis (NC) to go on record supporting a scheme that would have the effect of tricking people into buying worthless insurance. The Democrats could then campaign against them under the slogan: "Your senator voted to take away your health care." It's not exactly true, but just making the incumbent explain puts the focus on health care, which is one of the Democrats' strengths. (V)
There was so much big news on Wednesday that it seems, on some level, like the fourth Democratic debate was weeks ago. But it wasn't, and now the media have weighed in. Here are the main takeaways, as the various outlets see them:
- The centrist, Midwestern candidates went after Warren with a vengeance
- Biden disappeared
- Warren still doesn't get it: Just answer the question
- Right or wrong, the field thinks Warren is in the lead
- The Democrats showed they're very capable of blowing it in 2020
- In a debate this big, Biden and Warren can't lose
- It's still a three-way race
- The losers? Voters who want to hear specifics on policy.
- Warren's one misstep was on foreign policy
- A good night for the old codgers on stage
- Wit and a dollop of charisma would be helpful
- Black women, and victims of police brutality, were ignored again
- As a debater, Warren still has a lot of work to do
- Buttigieg stood out, and Warren's weaknesses were exposed
- Warren won by keeping her cool
- The questions continue to disappoint
- Why are Biden and Buttigieg running?
- Warren looked elusive, while Biden emerged largely unscathed
- We had another debate that short shrifted black voters
- The Democratic Party is overflowing with talent and deep thoughts
Note that the Politico piece involved getting one takeaway from 22 different people across the political spectrum, which is why the list appears to be internally inconsistent.
- Warren draws fire, for a change
- Biden shrinks
- Sanders calms concerns post-heart attack
- Buttigieg's biggest night yet
- Booker and Harris settle for staying out of fray
- No game-changing moments for low-polling candidates
- Warren under attack for the first time
- Bernie Sanders won the night
- Echoes of 2016 as the front-runners fight
- Trouble for Biden?
- A more aggressive Buttigieg
- Klobuchar, unleashed
- Yang's 'Freedom Dividend' gets an airing
- Bernie's back
- Warren emerged as the one to beat
- Pete went on the offensive
- Medicare for All is still drawing fire
- Everyone felt that Trump's Syria policy is a disaster. Except Gabbard
- All the candidates backed the impeachment inquiry for the first time on the debate stage
- The Supreme Court finally got some love
- No one had a good answer for how to handle Trump's baseless allegations
- The issue of abortion access was mentioned for the first time
- Warren's proposal to break up Big Tech got air time—and pushback
- And the battle over Democratic hearts and minds will rage on
- Warren, Sanders defend the progressive agenda
- Health care takes center stage once again
- Moderates try to make their mark, maybe for the last time
- Candidates address Trump, recent racial controversies head on
- O'Rourke tries to regain his footing, Buttigieg takes aim at Trump, GOP
- The Democratic candidates are desperately lurching farther and farther to the left
- Joe Biden's son Hunter and his shady foreign business dealings were glossed over and badly mischaracterized
- The impeachment witch hunt led the discussion because the Democratic Party has no positive agenda
- Democrats are offering the American people big tax increases, job-killing over-regulation, and lawless open borders
- "Medicare-for-all," championed by Sanders, is so extreme that even some of the Democratic presidential candidates oppose it
- The debate will not change the trajectory of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination
- Despite the best efforts of Democrats, President Trump's amazing accomplishments to improve the lives of the American people simply cannot be explained away
- Warren in the firing line
- A bad night for Biden—again
- Bernie bounces back—with AOC's help
- Buttigieg seizes his moment
- Harris misfires with Warren attack
- Warren Won't Give a Yes or No on Taxes
- Rivals Rally Around Biden and His Son
- Sanders Is "Feeling Great" After Heart Attack
- Warren to Billionaires: It's Not Personal
- Trade Takes Center Stage
- Imagine There's No Pentagon
- Turkey's Invasion of Syria Is an Issue
The recurrent themes are: (1) Warren is now being treated like a frontrunner (or the frontrunner) by her rivals, (2) Biden had a shaky night, (3) Sanders and Buttigieg shone, and (4) the candidates outside the top three didn't change the dynamics of the race.
And finally, here's a slightly different list from the Washington Post, of ways the debates could be improved:
- Including questions about climate change and voting rights
- Framing the (apparently unavoidable) question about universal health care and how to fund it in a non-gotcha way
- Having fewer candidates onstage
- Making it a tight two hours instead of a mind-numbing three
- Eliminating the cringe-inducing last question
There's nothing on that list that we're not 100% in agreement with. (Z)
If you have a question about politics, civics, history, etc. you would like us to answer on the site, please send it to email@example.com, and include your initials and city of residence. If you have a comment about the site or one of the items therein, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your initials and city of residence in case we decide to publish it. If you spot any typos or other errors on the site that we should fix, please let us know at email@example.com.
Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct16 Kent: "Three Amigos" Ran Ukraine Policy
Oct16 No Formal Vote on Impeachment Inquiry, for Now
Oct16 Ocasio-Cortez to Endorse Sanders
Oct16 Aspiring Collins Challenger Is Raking It In
Oct15 Fiona Hill Piqued By Giuliani's Behavior
Oct15 Trump Sanctions Turkey
Oct15 Trump Reportedly Wanted to Release His Tax Returns in 2013
Oct15 Administration Loses another Border Wall Ruling
Oct15 Hunter Biden Tries to Quell the Storm
Oct15 Warren Gets Three Good Polls on the Eve of Debate #4
Oct15 Will the Democrats Find New Ground to Cover Tonight?
Oct14 It's a Real Mess in Syria
Oct14 Schiff: Whistleblower May Not Testify
Oct14 Tomorrow's Debate Could Be Crucial
Oct14 CBS Early States Poll: Warren 31%, Biden 25%, Sanders 17%
Oct14 NBC Poll: 55% Want Impeachment Inquiry
Oct14 If Trump Isn't the 2020 GOP Nominee, Who Might Be?
Oct14 Warren Buys Facebook Ads to Show the Need for "Censorship"
Oct14 General Election Debate Schedule Is Now Available
Oct14 Louisiana Gubernatorial Race Will Go to a Runoff
Oct13 Sunday Mailbag
Oct12 Three-Judge Panel: Surrender the Tax Returns
Oct12 Yovanovitch Appears Before Congress
Oct12 Giuliani Won't Work on Ukraine-related Matters Anymore
Oct12 Trump Has a (Trade) Deal, Sort Of
Oct12 Kevin McAleenan Quits Team Trump
Oct12 Shephard Smith Quits Fox News
Oct12 Saturday Q&A
Oct11 Two of Giuliani's Buddies Are Arrested
Oct11 Rick Perry Gets Subpoenaed
Oct11 Fox News Poll: 51% of Voters Want Trump Impeached and Convicted
Oct11 Seventeen of the Watergate Prosecutors Want to See Trump Impeached
Oct11 Trump Lambastes Jeff Sessions
Oct11 Steyer Pulls in a $2 Million Haul in Q3
Oct11 Gabbard Goes Full Sour Grapes
Oct11 Shimkus Dumps Trump
Oct11 Rep. Nita Lowey Will Retire
Oct10 Turkey Invades Syria and Republicans Condemn Trump for Enabling It
Oct10 Graham Warns Pelosi that the Senate Won't Impeach Trump
Oct10 House Democrats Are Planning Subpoenas
Oct10 Biden Calls on House to Impeach Trump
Oct10 CBS Has Published a Memo the Whistleblower Wrote the Day after the Call
Oct10 Sanders Is Scaling Back His Campaigning
Oct10 Biden Leads Warren in North Carolina
Oct10 Impeachment Is Helping the Republicans
Oct10 Manufacturing Sector Is Officially in Recession
Oct10 Republicans Are Trying to Get the Amish to Vote
Oct09 Impeachment Battle Lines Harden